PureView 808 was the last new Symbian device from Nokia

January 27, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Operating Systems, Smartphones

The Symbian OS has been in the mainstream usage since 1998 when the joint venture between Psion (the original developers of the OS) and Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola started coming out with their latest smartphones using the Symbian OS. A decade later Nokia took over completely as Symbian gave some of the most popular smartphones known to the world in early to mid 200os.

However, as Apple came out with the iOS powered iPhone (and other iOS devices) followed by Google with their Android OS, the Symbian OS simply couldn’t match their features and sales started faltering. And so in their latest earnings call Nokia has confirmed that the PureView 808 launched last year was the last Symbian powered smartphone they will release.

“During our transition to Windows Phone through 2012, we continued to ship devices based on Symbian,”Nokia wrote in their earnings call. “The Nokia 808 PureView, a device which showcases our imaging capabilities and which came to market in mid-2012, was the last Symbian device from Nokia.”

In Q4 2012 alone Symbian devices sold just 2.2 million units while the Windows Phone powered Lumia handsets sold double that at 4.4 million. While Nokia will continue to sell their low-end smartphones using the S40 OS on their Asha series of handsets, it seems that the PureView 808 was the swan song for Symbian OS.

Quick Look – ASUS RT-N12HP Router/AP/Range Extender

The ASUS RT-N66U tested last week was quite the crowd pleaser, but sometimes it’s important to enjoy the simpler things in life. Not everyone needs 5GHz signals with multiple guest connections and sharing data half way around the world over VPN. Sometimes all we need is strong signal in a house, and that’s where the ASUS RT-N12HP comes in.

Design

The router itself is very small, measuring just 18 x 13 cm, looking like a baby RT-N66U. However, don’t judge it by its size just yet, as the RT-N12HP comes with two large antennas, each measuring almost 38 cm in length. This makes the RT-N12HP give a supposed 300% increase in signal power compared to standard 802.11n routers.

Range Test

And just to see this claim I went outside our office, and on the same floor, through the corridor and past another two offices (all with concrete walls), I still got 2 of 3 bar connection on my iPhone 5 standing about 30ft. away from the ASUS RT-N12HP. Got down to the ground floor and I got the signal about 25ft. away from the office on the first floor. In comparison our resident Cisco dual-band router (with no antennas) didn’t show up on the iPhone 5 under half the same distance as the ASUS RT-N12HP! So, ASUS’ claim of having 300% more coverage than regular Wireless N routers is pretty much spot on!

Features

Now digging into the main UI, which is identical to the high-end RT-N66U, you’ll see some very basic, but easy to use options and settings. Parental Control, VPN, QoS and Guest Network are some essential settings that the RT-N12HP allows you to tweak with ease.

While I was impressed with the wireless coverage of the RT-N12HP, testing the bandwidth also yielded similar satisfaction. Rated at a maximum of 300Mbps, the ASUS RT-N12HP gave an average file transfer rate of 10.5 Mbps using Performance Test 8.

Conclusion

Given its low price point, the ASUS RT-N12HP can also be easily used as an Access Point for your wired router, or indeed as a Range Extender for your existing wireless setup.  Regardless of what you use the ASUS RT-N12HP as, high wireless coverage is guaranteed, as are rated speeds. And with its extreme ease of setup through a simple UI with some decent options to dig down into, the ASUS RT-N12HP is one of the best wireless routers out in the market.

Ex-Microsoft exec. says Steve Ballmer needs to step down and not force authority

January 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Industry, Microsoft, News, Software

Joachim Kempin, a Microsoft executive in charge of Windows OEM sales from 1983 to 2002 is coming up with a new book called ’Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s “secret power broker” breaks his silence’. In an interview with Reuters, Kempin talked about how Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO since 2000, has been stifling competition by forcing out up and coming managers who threaten to take over his job.

Working with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs since 1983, Kempin is one of the most senior employees of Microsoft to come out with the way the company’s management works. Or doesn’t, in many cases as Kempin points out.

They missed all the opportunities they were talking about when I was still in the company. Tablets, phones…we had a tablet going, we had tablet software when Windows XP came out, it was never followed up properly.”

While this led to the missed opportunity in trying to get to the tablet and smartphones market, Kempin also claims that Microsoft’s mismanagement of hardware manufacturers (OEMs) has led to the decline of PCs in general. Brining out their own tablet (Surface RT and Pro) has further led to OEMs getting worried about Microsoft’s way of work.

Is he a great CEO? I don’t think so. Microsoft’s board is a lame duck board, has been forever. They hire people to help them administer the company, but not to lead the company. That’s the problem,” said Kempin.

They need somebody maybe 35-40 years old, a younger person who understands the FacebookInc generation and this mobile community. They don’t need this guy on stage with this fierce, aggressive look, announcing the next version of Windows and thinking he can score with that.

ASUS PA248Q ProArt Monitor Review

January 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Components, Displays, Reviews, Spotlight

The ASUS PA248Q is a monitor designed for professionals and enthusiasts whose primary purpose is editing films or pictures, where color grading and precise measurements are the first priority for a satisfactory experience.

To that end, ASUS has a done a remarkable job of providing a pre-calibrated screen with a host of options to tweak the color settings as per your requirements. Beyond that, though, the ASUS PA248Q also provides some very useful connectivity options which make it great for daily usage by non-professionals as well.

Design

So first off, the ASUS PA248Q 24-inch monitor with an unusual aspect ratio of 16:10, giving it a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. The thick black plastic housing is just 1.8cm thick around the screen, where the bottom and right edges have an etching of 52cm x 32.5cm. This is sort of useless as there’s an on-screen display of various paper and photo sizes at the touch of a button.

Menus & Navigation

The buttons are another interesting facet of the ASUS PA248Q, with seven in total. The topmost button is actually a 5-way navigation nub which would normally be used to navigate the on-screen menus. However, just pressing it will show you grid alignments in centimeters and inches, as well as paper and photo sizes. Using this allows any designer to have a realistic preview of what the finished page or photo will look like on the target size.

 

The menus themselves allow you to delve in deep into color customization including hue and saturation in six different shades, not just the regular RGB. You can setup picture-in-picture easily as well, but you have to dig into the menus a bit. To bypass all of this, however, you have two shortcut keys which can be set to PIP settings or anything else. By default these are set to brightness and contrast.

Connectivity

The ASUS PA248Q comes with a 3.5mm audio jack, DVI, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity. Additionally there are four USB 3.0 port on the left side for those times when you need to instantly transfer photos or videos. Honestly that’s more convenient that USB ports on the PC case; infinitely more accessible than the rear USB 3.0 ports on motherboards.

Color Modes

The Standard mode worked fine, but I was personally a fan of the sRGB mode which showed true color reproduction on the lagom.nl LCD Monitor Test’s ‘Gamma calibration’ test. In fact, other important tests like ‘Contrast’, ‘Black level’, ‘White saturation’ and ‘Gradient banding’ gave near perfect results.

The Scenery mode had the hue more towards red, while also bumping the contrast and sharpness a bit. It’s good for giving pictures a more ‘punchy’ feel, but otherwise not so good. In Theater mode everything has a cool blue tint, with black levels suffering a lot. It’s fine in some movies, but not most.

Honestly the sRGB mode is great for pretty much everything, including editing pictures and video if you want some color correction. If you want to tweak things further, the ASUS PA248Q allows you to easily do that in the menus. For games and movies in general I found the Standard preset to work best, for a more dynamic feel.

Conclusion

It’s easy to recommend the ASUS PA248Q for its great color reproduction, connectivity options, and incredible viewing angles (at 178°). It may need some extra bit of tweaking to get the truest possible color reproduction, but for the price though, and even then may leave a little to be desired by true professionals. Whether you’re a video editor or competitive gamer, the ASUS PA248Q will give you a brilliant experience and great bang for your buck.

MEGA already being targeted by anti-piracy group

January 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Internet, News

With the recently inaugurated Mega.com, Kim Dotcom’s new cloud storage site is already being actively targeted by anti-piracy groups to stop it from becoming what it’s predecessor, MegaUpload had become. As Torrent Freak reports, Rovert King of Stop File Lockers has started a campaign, “to have the payment processing of all Mega resellers terminated.”

Stop File Lockers is an anti-piracy group who’s purpose is to stop file-hosting services suspected of having content that infringes upon copyrights; their latest victim being hotfile whose Paypal account is now terminated. In the case of Mega, the site uses other resellers to manage payments. So even though PayPal isn’t directly working with Mega, this campaign is aimed at the, “couple of Mega resellers [which] have PayPal and they are being terminated,” said King.

Due to the nature of its encryption, Mega cannot proactively search through uploaded files to see if the content is copyrighted or not, thus PayPal isn’t dealing with the site. “Given the site lacks many of these safety features,” said King, “We believe that Mega is no different to various other file locker services which have had various payment services canceled or suspended.”

“We haven’t and wont go after legitimate services like Dropbox – however from its inception the new Mega was never intended to be a legitimate cloud storage service as it has all the fundamental qualities of an infringing file locker service, the only thing missing at this stage is an affiliate program,” King adds.

How quickly this spirals out of control remains to be seen, since PayPal potentially sources millions of dollars to the various resellers Mega is affiliated with, an cutting off funding in this way essentially means Mega could fall face down before it even starts to be run properly.

Samsung Galaxy S III LTE

January 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

Samsung GALAXY S III just gets us. Little things, like staying awake when you look at it and keeping track of loved ones. designed for humans, it goes beyond smart and fulfills your needs by thinking as you think, acting as you act.

Some evolutions move fast. Very fast. LTE speeds currently run between 30 to 60 megabytes per second and it’s only going to get faster. Stream videos, upload your content to the cloud, or play the latest graphics-rich online games.

Check out our speed tests to see what makes the S III LTE so great.

ASUS Orion Pro Gaming Headset Review

January 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Audio Equipment, Reviews, Spotlight

Features

The ASUS Orion Pro gaming headset is designed to provide you with a larger than life experience. Firstly it has 50mm neodymium drivers, one of largest in this segment of headphones, with even larger 100mm earcups.

The main headline in the Orion Pro headset is the Republic of Gamers Spitfire USB amplifier that provides 7.1 surround sound as well as an enhanced audio mode specifically for FPS games. The Orion Pro is a direct plug & play device, not requiring any drivers to function properly.

The ASUS Orion Pro comes with three modes, AMP, Surround and FPS, each giving a distinctive sound experience. All of these can be activated at the push of a button and can be run in various combinations as each mode is independent of the other.

Design

Overall the ASUS Orion Pro has a nice solid feel, with thick plastic for basic constructions and both the head restraint and ear cushions come in leatherette. The braided cord with in-line volume controls has a clip too, for easy wearing. So let’s see if the ASUS Orion Pro sound as good as they look.

Sound

AMP – Boost the general audio levels, heightening bass and vocals and general mid-range audio. This mode is generally great for both movies and high bitrate music.

Surround – The 7.1 mode actually just makes everything sound hollow, making it difficult to discern the direction from which the sound is coming. It’s decent in movies, but only just. In games this will actually make things harder as background sound of environment and general audio cues is increased too much.

FPS – Any semblance of surround sound is eliminated as the player gets a more personalized feel of what’s going on screen. To help this feeling of isolation, treble is boosted while vocals feel a bit subdued, and mid-range is reduced as well. The end result is a very crisp experience where you can easily detect enemy movements, but at the cost of not getting a more fulfilling experience due to lack of ambient sound and music. While this mode is abysmal for movies and general music, trance tracks did sound good.

Without Spitfire USB – The audio clarity on the Orion Pro headset is surprisingly good with a direct analog connection to your PC’s soundcard. So good in fact, that when I plugged in the USB amplifier, the normal audio (without any mode turned on) sounded a bit muddy. The 50mm drivers come into their own when directly connected, giving you a more realistic sound experience that was great in movies and especially music.

Conclusion

In all honesty I actually enjoyed the ASUS Orion Pro without the Spitfire USB amplifier, even in games. Sure, the AMP mode gives a nice boost to the audio, but at the cost of clarity. The Surround mode is average at best, while the FPS mode admittedly does give an advantage in competitive games.

That said, you’re paying a premium mostly for the USB amplifier, otherwise the regular (non Pro) Orion headset is an awesome headset. The 50mm drivers with large earcups are make a powerful package, and should be considered by any PC gaming enthusiast.

 

ASUS RT-N66U N900 Router Review

January 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Internet, Network Devices, Reviews, Spotlight

The ASUS RT-N66U is the company’s flagship broadband router designed to cater to the many demands of today’s users. No longer are people satisfied with just high transfer speeds (something which the majority still cannot use due to high charges from ISPs) but also need a myriad of extra features that makes wireless data transmission more integrated into daily devices.

With the RT-N66U, ASUS plans to do all that, but with the added convenience of an easy UI and setup process. As a dual-band router, the RT-N66U runs at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, each with a maximum transfer rate of up to 450Mbps, giving you a total bandwidth of 900Mbps. To help achieve this, and also to provide decent coverage, the RT-N66U comes with three detachable antennas. This was enough to give me full signal through thick walls up to 13ft, dropping to 4 bars (out of 5) up to 15ft and 3 bars beyond that, with connection drops. Well, you can increase the signal, but more on that later.

Design

So the RT-N66U itself is designed in a very nice way, with black diamond patterns with grooved edges. It looks smart and will fit in nicely within any modern home. Interestingly ASUS has decided to put the WPS switch on the back, and not the center of attention as other routers do, nowadays. Personally I prefer that so that not everybody who comes into our office or home can abuse the button.

Looking at the back panel you’ll also see two USB 2.0 ports, used for plugging in hard drives which you can then use as a mass storage over a network, to the point where you can access it anywhere in the world through ASUS’ AiCloud service, even on Android and iOS devices. Of course, you can plug in a printer which can then be shared over the entire network.

Features & Operations

Once you plug in the internet cable in the back, all you have to do is start up your browser, where you’ll automatically be taken to the router’s setup page. Simply enter your login details (if any), followed by a setup of your SSID name and password and you’re good to go.

Once you open up the dashboard of the RT-N66U in your browser, you’ll be greeted with an easy to navigate UI. The main page shows how many devices are connected to your router, along with basic details of the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz wireless bands.

Moving on from there you can easily setup up to 6 guest networks (three on each bandwidth), manage your traffic via QoS settings (default giving priority to streaming and games), and parental control (with detailed timing controls on specific devices). If you want to control what domains can be visited, the Firewall tab will also give you extensive settings.

Speaking of extensive, the various tabs within the main UI will allow you to customize and control an exhaustive amount of features in the RT-N66U, including VPN, FTP and other wireless settings, including boosting the signal from the default 80mW up to 200mW. Sure, custom software like dd-wrt allows you to do that, but it’s nice to know that ASUS has taken care of the enthusiast community by providing most of the options themselves in the stock UI.

As far as performance is concerned, the RT-N66U delivers on that front too, getting an average of over 12Mbps in PassMark PerformanceTest.

Conclusion

All said and done, the ASUS RT-N66U provides a simple interface for you to startup your home or business wireless network, giving you a plethora of options to choose and customize should you decide to dig in. The best part is that to use most of these advanced features, ASUS helps you by providing easy to understand instructions on how to set things up so you’re not so daunted by task of networking.

With stellar performance, good looks and an expansive set of features, the ASUS RT-N66U is an easy buy if you’re looking for something more than just a WiFi router in your home or office.

ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band N900 Router

January 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

The ASUS RT-N66U dual-band wireless-N900 gigabit router delivers incredible performance and coverage range. With new ASUSWRT UI, quickly setup your network, customize user access, and monitor signal strength. Following the award-winning RT-N56U, the RT-N66U increases Wi-Fi speed for both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz transmission by 50% up to 900Mbps that makes it ideal for bandwidth demanding tasks such as 3D HD video streaming, multiplayer gaming, USB hard drive file sharing, and USB connected printer sharing. Built-in Wi-Fi amplifiers make the RT-N66U the perfect wireless router for larger, multi-level homes and buildings with signal range that reaches virtually any area.

Whether you’re a tech-savvy enthusiast or a first-time user, the RT-N66U is exceptional easy to use with CD-free, Quick Installation Setup (QIS) that lets you plug-n-surf right out of the box and connect PCs, smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices quickly. Thanks to its refined interface tools, you get control like never before, letting you monitor signal strength, setup parental settings, and other useful functions in a robust yet intuitive way.

Check out our review to see what makes the ASUS RT-N66U such an amazing router.

HTC Windows Phone 8X

January 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Product of the Week

It’s here: A new, iconic design that keeps you connected while also reflecting you. Unique color options, a seamless look, a screen to personalize—all serving up people and passions that matter most.

8X features an ultra-wide-angle front camera lens that fits in every face in the group and the surrounding scenery. Share it all on the brilliant screen that is rich and vivid—even when viewed in bright sunlight.

Check out our review to see what makes the HTC 8X so great.

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