Plant vs Zombie 2: Awesomely addictive. [Review]

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PopCap has finally gotten around to releasing the new zombie game that everyone and their grandmother has been waiting for — Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time.

Plants vs Zombies 2 by PopCap
Category: iOS Games
Price: Free

It’s been three long years since we were swept away with the original Plants vs Zombies, but we’re happy to say that Plants vs Zombies 2  is just as fun and addictive as ever, if not more so. Yes, you still plant sunflowers, harvest sun, and then use that to get more plants to destroy armies of zombies. But even though the gameplay is still the same, the adventure is more fun than ever.

What’s New

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Once again players are joined by Crazy Dave from the first game, except now he has a time-traveling RV that can transport you to three different time periods on his Time-Space Taco Map: Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas, and Wild West. To advance to new time periods, though, players have to collect stars by beating levels and accomplishing objectives.

Each time period comes with over 20 levels full of new zombies to destroy, which would be fun enough as is, but this go around, players will have to repeat levels later with new puzzles to gain more stars and unlock new areas of the map. Some of the levels have to be replayed three times, with each new attempt bringing new objectives to earn stars.

You can also go back and replay levels to find keys that unlock new branches of your map as well, leaving players with even more gameplay than the original. With so many levels to beat, you’d think that dropping plants on a board for hours on end would get boring, but PopCap has done a great job of mixing gameplay up by including new mini-games.

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To help you defend your home in the crazy new worlds, Crazy Dave gives you a new power-up, called Plant Food, that the zombies drop and can be dragged over to one of your plants to activate its temporary super-powers. You can also save up to 3 bottles of plant food to use whenever you’re facing a big wave.

Coins play a different role in the worlds of Plants vs Zombies 2 than they did in the original. Rather than being used to unlock plants, the new game comes with three power-ups that can be purchased in the heat of battle using coins, granting the player phenomenal cosmic powers long enough wipe the board clean.

The new power-ups include Power Pinch, Power Toss, and Power Zap, which can be activated at the price of 800, 1000, and 1200 coins, depending on which power you want. All three are incredibly powerful and incredibly pricey, but you can usually beat levels without them.

Along with the big  new gameplay features, PopCap tossed in a few smaller features that make conquering PvZ2 a delight. Now the game syncs your progress through GameCenter so you can beat a few levels on your iPhone, and then pick up right where you left off on your iPad. They’ve also included slots for five different player profiles, so your spouse or kids can play on your device too and progress at their own pace without messing up your game.

Free-to-play

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When PopCap made the announcement that Plants vs Zombies 2 would be ‘free-to-play’, a lot of PvZ fans were worried the game would try to squeeze every dollar it could from you to open up content, but that’s not at all the case here.

Yes, you can buy coins, plants, upgrades and other bundles that will make the game easier for you, but none of them are worth it. You can beat the entire game without spending a penny, and you unlock different plants and upgrades along the way.

Ads do pop up every so often after beating a level, but nothing obtrusive that ruins gameplay. The only reason to spend money in PvZ2 is if you’re nostalgic for some of the plants from the original, or you just need a mountain of coins to dominate a level with your super powers because you’re too lazy to beat it the regular way.

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Product Name: Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time
The Good: Gameplay is just as fun and easy to pick up as the original, but new power-ups and plant food add a new dimension. New plants are even more entertaining and badass. Lots of depth and challenging puzzles that will keep players engaged for hours.
The Bad: In-app purchases are always a bummer, but PvZ2 pulls it off as well as can be expected.
The Verdict:  Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time is a solid sequel to the original hit. Rather than departing from the original, PopCap kept with what works best and upped the ante, with bigger worlds, better plants, and some phenomenal cosmic powers that make for one of the best games of the year.

Download it not in Apple App Store for free!

[Via]

2013 Google Nexus 7 from Asus: Mini Review

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Google recently announced the new Nexus 7 and it is really impressive. Apple will have alot of work to do to top this with its iPad Mini. Here we have a mini review on the new Nexus 7 for you. Its a very good review from ITProPortal.com. Have a good read. We apologize for being late.

Balance – that’s the key. Last year’s Nexus 7 set the bar for small tablets with just the right balance of features, size, and price. This year, Google and Asus have done it again, balancing size, performance, and a wallet-friendly price to hit the sweet spot for a compact tablet.

Physical features

The new Nexus 7 is slimmer, lighter, and more comfortable to hold than the original, which was already more comfortable to hold than the oddly wide Apple iPad mini. This model measures 200 x 8.6 x 114mm (WxDxH) and weighs 290 grams, with tapered sides and a soft-touch back that somehow feels a little classier than the weird faux-leather of the original Nexus 7. Asus still understands that narrowness, more than anything else, is key to making a device you might sometimes want to hold in one hand.

There are very few ports here – just microUSB, a headphone jack, and a microphone – and narrower, but not very narrow, side bezels framing a sharp 1,920 x 1,200 screen.

The screen is the big advance here. Asus swapped out the Nexus 7’s original 1,280 x 800 screen with a gorgeous 1,920 x 1,200-pixel IPS LCD panel. At 323 ppi, it’s almost exactly the same density as the iPhone 5’s Retina display and higher than any iPad. It’s bright enough for most circumstances, colours are very true, and the viewing angle is good – but it’s also small enough that the screen doesn’t totally kill battery life. We got 7 hours and 37 minutes of video playback with the screen turned up to max brightness. While that’s definitely shorter than the 10 hours that last year’s model, with its less dense screen, managed, it’s still quite respectable.

The Nexus 7 comes in three models. The first two are Wi-Fi only, with support for 802.11a/b/g/n on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands – the support for faster 5GHz Wi-Fi is another upgrade from last year’s version. The 16GB Wi-Fi model has gone on pre-order for £199 (expected to be RM999), and the 32GB version (which we were sent for review) retails at £239 (possibly RM1199). The third unit packs 4G LTE support and will retail at £299 (RM1499) (with 32GB of storage – there’s no 16GB option with the LTE slate).

All of the models have GPS, which makes this bright little tablet an absolutely killer in-car navigation system. The GPS on my test tablet locked in very quickly. The tablet also has Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, although surprisingly there’s no support for Google Wallet. Maybe Google Wallet is a thing of the past.

Performance, OS and apps

The Nexus 7 is the first Android 4.3 tablet, running a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm S4 Pro APQ8064 processor. Think of it as about two-thirds of the way up the current performance ladder, with the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone at the top. It almost doubles the performance of last year’s Nvidia Tegra 3-based Nexus 7 on pure processor and graphics benchmarks, and positively crushes the iPad mini on the Geekbench system benchmark: The mini scored only 748, while this guy registers 2,643. The Chrome browser beats the iPad mini on the Sunspider browser benchmark by about 30 per cent.

Real-world performance isn’t solely dependent on processor speed: It’s dependent on how many pixels you’re pushing, the OS, and third-party apps. That’s where the Nexus 7, running Android 4.3, runs into a bit of trouble. I run the same bunch of Android apps every time I test a tablet, and some of them either didn’t show up in the market or got buggy on the Nexus.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted, for instance, suffered from weird graphics artifacts. The UI in Netflix was sluggish, although videos played just fine. Asphalt 7: Heat, one of my standard test games, didn’t even show up on a search. Sometimes when searching Google’s own Play store, animations would get jittery or the text entry box would lose focus. The popular video player MX Player quit on launch. I suspect a lot of these problems are Android 4.3 issues which will get solved quickly as the app creators update their work.

I didn’t see any such problems in Google’s other built-in apps, and other apps such as Riptide GP2, Paper Monsters, Dead Trigger, and Photoshop Touch ran just fine. Most importantly, Google’s Chrome browser runs very, very well here, as do Netflix and Amazon’s Kindle app. I’d still recommend e-ink e-readers to many people because of their vast reserves of battery life and sunlight readability, but this will do a great job with children’s books and comics.

This has always been Google’s struggle with Android tablets: Making sure third-party apps are up to speed with the platform. Google has changed the home page of its Play store so only tablet-friendly apps show up, although you can still find “ugly” apps not designed for tablet screens by searching for them. Those apps still don’t look too bad on a 7in screen; it’s really with 10in tablets that you’ll run into problems.

Apple’s iPad mini has a superior app experience, it’s true. You’ll find more and better apps in Apple’s app store, and they’re pretty much all guaranteed to run smoothly. But the Nexus 7’s app situation is good enough for that not to be a deal-breaker.

Android 4.3’s other flagship feature makes this an excellent kids’ tablet. Android 4.2 allowed for the creation of multiple user accounts on your tablet, and now “restricted profiles” have been introduced to let you create accounts that can only use certain apps. I created one and found that the restricted account was locked out of the Google Play store. YouTube threw up an error message but worked anyway; all the other apps I allowed my virtual child to use worked fine.

Multimedia

With no memory card slot, I suggest buying the 32GB Nexus 7 (with 26GB of storage available) over the 16GB unit. The price difference is only £40, and you’ll want the space. The new Nexus 7 adds a 5-megapixel rear camera to the tablet, keeping the 1-megapixel front camera as well.

The new Android 4.3 camera app’s UI is extremely simple, although you still get some options like capture size, a countdown timer, a few scene modes, panorama and Photo Sphere. Photos taken with the main camera were clear enough in good light, although bright areas were washed out and there was some visible colour noise. In low light, the noise really ramped up. Front camera images tended to be very soft, even smeary (but not blurry) in low light. The main camera captured 1080p video at 30 frames per second indoors and out; the front camera captured 720p at 30 frames per second. There’s no image stabilisation, but there is a time-lapse mode.

The front camera is fine for video chatting, and the main camera will do just fine for augmented-reality apps, bar code scanners, language translators, and all the things you really should be using a tablet camera for. People taking snapshots with tablet cameras generally look like idiots – don’t be one.

Asus amped up the volume of the stereo speakers here, and they’re now quite loud, although they’re still tinny. Fraunhofer surround sound gives some real stereo separation in material coded for it, like Google Play movies. Still, the only way you’re going to get bass is with headphones.

The Nexus 7 had no problem playing MPEG4 and H.264 videos in resolutions up to 1080p, as well as streaming Netflix and Google Play movies. There’s no DivX or Xvid support by default.

The Nexus 7 doesn’t come with any wired means to output video to a TV, but it works with Google’s new $35 (£23) Chromecast to play some streaming (not local) media on TVs, and there’s also a SlimPort micro-USB-to-HDMI adapter available that works with this Nexus 7 and last year’s Nexus 4 smartphone.

Verdict

The new Google Nexus 7 will be the right small tablet for most people when it comes across to the UK (hopefully pretty soon, according to Currys it will be September). Regarding rivals, the cheaper £159 Amazon Kindle Fire HD is only the right choice right now if you’re heavily invested in Amazon’s media world, although a new and more competitive model is probably coming soon. If you want to go a lot cheaper, then obviously you’ll be sacrificing a great deal for a really budget Android slate – not the least of which will be the new Nexus 7’s superb screen.

At the higher end, the £269 iPad mini has an unmatched range of apps, but you’ll pay for that heavily in terms of a grainier screen, higher price, and more awkward form factor. And the £339 Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 has a Dirk Diggler-like “one special thing” in terms of its pen support, although you should only commit the cash if you need that pressure-sensitive pen.

Small tablets are most often used for some media, some gaming, some web browsing, and some e-reading. Provided third-party developers update their apps for Android 4.3 – and I think they will, soon – the new Nexus 7 is ideal for all of those, thanks to its sharp screen, comfortable ergonomics, and solid performance at an ideal price. All this means that Google’s latest tablet effort gets one of our Best Buy awards.

Write in to us for any queries!

[Via]

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Unveiled: New King of Android Smartphones or perhaps the New King of Smartphones?

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Earlier, Samsung held an event to announce it’s highly anticipated Galaxy S4 device (successor of the highly successful Samsung Galaxy S3) and it appears to meet all the expectations thrown at it. It is one of the most important event for Samsung this year (Check out how HTC and LG troll Samsung in the event). As a successor to the S3, it looks fairly similar to the GS3 physically (yeah the plastic build remains) but internally, it packs a much powerful package.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes either an Exynos 5 chip from Samsung or a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor (depending on your region), with a full 2G of RAM and a huge 2,600mAh batter. You’ll be able to get this beast with 16, 32, or 64 G of storage, along with a microSD slot for expansion. We have an improvement in camera to 13MP from 8MP and many great software which come along with it. Though most of the software is not very useful or not something which will be useful in everyday usage, but the question is why not? Anything is better than nothing right?

It spots a 5-inches 1080p Super AMOLED screen which is longer. Yeah longer. And no one says anything this time. But undoubtedly, the screen looks amazing with over 400ppi available for your eyes to lust. 441ppi to be exact. It is also thinner and lighter than the Galaxy S3. In fact, it is only 0.1mm thicker than the iPhone 5. And it runs the most current version of Android which is the Android 4.2.2. And yes, yes the smart scroll is there which allows you to scroll up and down by tilting the device up and down and to pause videos when you are not paying attention. Sounds neat.

We dont have any pricing yet but it is expected to be priced similarly to the price of Samsung Galaxy S3 when it is first launched last year. We can start seeing it available as early as April and when it arrives in our shores, it will be May at the earliest.

So what is your verdict? Will the Samsung Galaxy S4 be the ONE? Will the iPhone remain at the top with iPhone 5S? Will HTC or NOKIA come out with an answer?

Photo credit to The Verge.

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iPad mini and 4th Generation iPad review round-up [Review]

Ahead of the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad becoming available to customers Friday, early reviews of both devices have hit the web. You can see in the collection below that the reviews are fairly positive, discussing how great the build quality is, the lightness of the tablet, and how well it fits in your hand. Starting with the iPad mini:

The Loop:

I use my iPad mini for tasks rather than watching videos or playing games, but I use it a lot. This is a Wi-Fi model, which was on all the time and I have yet to see anything cause a significant drain on the battery. The battery is lasting days for me and it is on 24/7.

Engadget:

In fact we found the brightness and color reproduction to be improved over the iPad 2, comparable to the latest Retina displays. Colors are very pleasing to the eye and viewing angles, as ever with an Apple display, do not disappoint. You can line up as many friends as you like and sit them shoulder-to-shoulder, they’ll all have a bright, clear picture. Yes, mini owners may have to make do with some resolution envy, but they at least won’t be lacking in any other regard.

The Verge:

And it does raise the floor here. There’s no tablet in this size range that’s as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who’s been living with (and loving) Google’s Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don’t say that lightly.

TechCrunch:

While we’re on the subject of the screen, let’s not beat around the bush — if there is a weakness of this device, it’s the screen. But that statement comes with a very big asterisk. As someone who is used to a “retina” display on my phone, tablet, and even now computer, the downgrade to a non-retina display is quite noticeable. This goes away over time as you use the iPad mini non-stop, but if you switch back a retina screen, it’s jarring.

Telegraph:

On the other hand, what will make some think twice about buying an iPad mini is the price. Starting at £269 for a WiFi only model, this is £100 dearer than the Kindle Fire HD or the Nexus 7, which is now available in a 16GB version for £159.

Whether it’s worth it depends on how much of a premium you put on great design and a vast ecosystem of apps. Apple will sell a lot of these little beauties, that’s for sure.

TIME:

Even though this screen isn’t state of the art, it’s O.K. If you’ve ever laid your eyeballs on the ultra-smooth text rendered by the Retina iPad, its text will look fuzzy by comparison, especially at teensier type sizes. But the tradeoff it presents compared to the 7-inchers — fewer pixels, but more space — is reasonable enough.

AllThingsD:

In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat. It has managed to create a tablet that’s notably thinner and lighter than the leading small competitors with 7-inch screens, while squeezing in a significantly roomier 7.9-inch display. And it has shunned the plastic construction used in its smaller rivals to retain the iPad’s sturdier aluminum and glass body.

Guardian:

What will surprise you is the weight. The specs already show that the iPad mini is lighter than the Kindle Fire, 308g v 395g (and 340g for the Nexus 7); even if you add on a Smart Cover, it’s still lighter than the uncovered Kindle Fire. It’s thinner too. This is a device that will be ideal for holding in one hand for reading on train rides or other commuting; or you might even forget it’s in that coat pocket.

SlashGear:

Apple quotes up to 10hrs of wireless browsing over Wi-Fi for the iPad mini, or up to 9hrs if you’re using the tablet’s cellular connection. In practice, with a mixture of browsing, some video playback, games, music – both locally-stored and streaming – and messaging, we comfortably exceeded Apple’s estimate. In fact, we exceeded 11hrs of use before encountering a battery warning.

Fox News:

Those tablets don’t have the complete experience that the iPad does. Come on: The iPad is still the gold standard for tablet computing after all. With stellar hardware and hundreds of thousands of apps, the iPad is the Kleenex of facial tissue. The Tivo of DVRs. It has all the perks of using an iOS device: AppStore, iMessages, FaceTime, etc. 

Moving on to the 4th gen iPad:

TechCrunch:

If you were going to get an iPad before, obviously, you’ll want to get this one now. In fact, you don’t even have a choice — Apple has discontinued the third-generation model. The prices remain the same across the board as do all of the other features (WiFi/LTE, Retina display, etc).

Yes, it is kind of lame for those of us who bought third-generation models that Apple updated the line so quickly, but well, that’s Apple. To me, the fourth-generation leap doesn’t seem to be nearly as big as the leap from the first to second generation or from the second to third generation, so perhaps take some solace in that.

SlashGear:

The third-generation iPad arguably didn’t need refreshing; in fact, if Apple hadn’t opted to change to Lightning, it could realistically have held off changing its largest tablet until early 2013, as per its typical yearly refresh cycle. That makes for a reasonably straightforward upgrade decision if you’re a 3rd-gen iPad owner. Unless you’re desperate for Lightning – perhaps you’ve also got an iPhone 5, and want to use all the same accessories rather than buy the adapter dongle – then we’re yet to see apps that really demand the potent A6X chipset.

The Verge:

The fourth-generation iPad is the very definition of an iterative change: Apple made important things better, but neither overhauled nor revolutionized anything. If the iPad’s history is any indication, the fourth-generation iPad’s advantages over the third-gen model will be most apparent two years from now, when apps are designed for the better processor and the Lightning connector has spawned a much larger universe of accessories. Then you’ll want the extra power and the adapter-free lifestyle.

For now, if you’re within your return window you should probably swap for the newest iPad, but if not? Rest assured you’re not really missing that much. Not yet, at least.

Telegraph:

In my testing, battery life seems to have remained the same despite the processor, and so have the cameras. In fact, the camera is one of the places where the impact of the A6X processor can be seen: taking pictures is an astonishingly fast and picture quality is improved thanks to the A6X’s image signal processor.

[Via]

Windows Phone 8: The new horse in the mobile OS race [Review]

Microsoft held an event to introduce the Windows Phone 8 mobile OS right after the introduction of Windows 8. We can say that it is a huge improvement from the previous Windows Phone versions and finally, yes, finally qualified to be in the new player in the mobile OS race dominated by Android and iOS. It is far from perfect yet but it is certainly on the right track, catching up on many functionality on it’s competitors but at the same time differ from them in a good way. We found a very simple yet thorough review of the newly introduced Windows Phone 8 and we would like you to know more about it and be as excited as we are.

The new Start Screen is customizable. Choose from three different sizes of Live Tiles.

When Microsoft launched its totally new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system two years ago, it signaled Redmond’s first real step into the smartphone market.

The 2-D, tile-based platform was visually stunning, and it showed Microsoft was intent on taking the smartphone operating system into new conceptual territory. It was different, and different looked good.

Windows Phone devices got good reviews for being speedy and intuitive when they rolled out, but people didn’t actually buy them. Windows Phone now commands a meager 3.5 percent of the global smartphone market share today, while iOS and Android dominate the field at around 17 percent and 68 percent respectively, according to IDC (though iOS is significantly higher in the U.S.).

This is still Windows Phone, but more grown up, and now truly ready to challenge the big kids on the playground.

With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is trying to give its smartphone business another shot in the arm. It’s stacked with new features, as well as enhancements to all the things that made previous versions enjoyable to use. This is still Windows Phone, but more grown up, and now truly ready to challenge the big kids on the playground.

First off, using Windows Phone 8 is as refreshing and fun as using Windows Phone 7.5. It maintains the same colorful, tile-based interface that’s now also shared with Windows 8, yet it still feels new. The new Windows Phone is more slick. Navigation is fast, the apps and the interface are more customizable.

Hardware support that was missing in previous versions is now here: support for multi-core processors, higher screen resolutions, microSD card expansion controls, and built-in NFC. Whether these features show up in the WP8 devices depends on Microsoft’s hardware partners, but the company has tried to make sure nobody will end up choosing another platform purely based on specs.

As for the actual software, the most noticeable improvement is the new Start Screen. The tiles now take up the entire screen — no more empty black right rail — and you can choose between three tile sizes. While this might seem like a small tweak, it makes a big difference for a customized experience. I love being able to now change the size and placement of each app’s tile on my Start Screen to find a configuration that works best for me.

The Live apps, or Live Tiles, still work beautifully in this OS, and now each of the three sizes can support information snippets of different depths. For example, if you make the Calendar app large so it takes up a whole row on the screen, it can show specific information like the length and location of each calendar event. Set the Calendar app to the medium size, and it shows a more condensed version. The smallest size shows just the date.

An event from Calendar, Kid’s Corner, and the Windows Phone Store

The Windows Phone 8 Lock Screen also becomes its own useful Live Tile. You can choose a few apps that will show quick status updates on the screen, and one that will show detailed notifications. This is similar to Notification Center in iOS, though you can only choose five apps for this Lock Screen experience. I did appreciate having one constant app that showed more information. I used Calendar, and it was great to see what I had coming up at a glance.

The web browser is now Internet Explorer 10, and it’s a big improvement. It’s incredibly quick; not once did I grow irritated with sluggish performance. If I had decent Wi-Fi — or at least a couple bars of service — IE10 worked great. It was stunningly fast when I had full bars on HSPA+, and I can’t imagine anybody will have complaints on a 4G LTE network.

The web browser is now Internet Explorer 10, and it’s a big improvement.

The IE10 address bar button can now be customized with one of three functions: Stop/Refresh (the default), Favorites, and Tabs. This little gimmick is not intuitive. It took me a minute to figure out how to open a new tab: by tapping the “More” menu, and then tapping “Tabs.” Swapping tabs shouldn’t be a multi-tap process, so I ended up setting the Tabs function as the default on my address bar button. A better solution would be a quick gesture for switching through tabs so I can keep the refresh button on the address bar.

Sure, that’s nitpicking. But that’s the great thing about Windows Phone 8: All of my complaints are pretty minor and quirky. I’ve grown to really prefer Windows Phone to Android, and can imagine people switching from there. I didn’t experience any crashes or stuttering during the several days I used a new HTC 8X loaded with WP8 as my sole phone. Usually, I depend on an iPhone 4 running iOS 6. The only things I missed were iMessage, since so many of my friends and family use iPhones, and my favorite day-to-day apps like Instagram, Path, and public-transportation apps.

I’ll talk more about the lack of apps later, but first: Maps. All eyes are on Windows Phone’s mapping capability since Apple fumbled the maps in iOS 6. And alas, WP8′s built-in Maps app is suspiciously missing public transportation directions on non-Nokia devices. Windows Phone’s maps app is built on Nokia’s maps platform, and for the most part, it’s accurate and useful. But on non-Nokia phones like the HTC 8X, it looks like public transit directions didn’t make the cut, which is incredibly unfortunate. It does, however, make sense for Nokia, which wants its phones to have unique software offerings, and when you buy a Nokia Lumia phone, you’ll get an “enhanced” map app. Bare Windows Phone 8 Maps still gets the job done. It has turn-by-turn directions, downloadable offline maps, traffic updates, and aerial views. I didn’t get lost once while using the app to navigate Brooklyn on foot. In short: It works, even if you have to figure out which bus to catch and where.

I tested the other new features like Kids Corner, Xbox Music and Videos, Skype integration, the improved Camera app (for which you can collect third-party Lenses), Office, and OneNote. Each worked without problems. The updated SkyDrive makes it easy to access and save files, and every Windows Phone 8 user gets 7GB of free storage. (If Microsoft’s trying to be cute with a weird number, why not 8GB?) I imagine business-oriented people who depend on Office will love the built-in Office hub, which supports Word, Excel and PowerPoint. By saving to SkyDrive, you can start a Word Doc on your phone and pick up where you left off on a computer, or vice versa. Kids Corner is also a good tool for parents with young children; it sequesters your kids — who cannot be trusted — to their own child-proof area of the phone.

The multitasking capabilities in Windows Phone 8 have been updated, and for the most part, it’s smoother. Apps can run in the background, and Windows Phone 8 will remember where you left off in a previously used app. For example, if you’re in the middle of tapping out a text, you can leave, go do something else, and then tap the back button to return where you left off with the text intact. One glitch: If I left the Messaging app in the middle of a text, and then went back by tapping the Messaging tile from the Start Screen, it wouldn’t remember where I left off. I had to tap the built-in back button, or tap and hold the back button for the “Task-switcher display,” which shows thumbnails of most recently used apps.

Beyond a few such quirks — and to be fair, every OS has its share — Windows Phone 8′s biggest problem is its lack of volume.

There are more than 120,000 apps available for Windows Phone. They just aren’t the apps you want.

Just like Windows 8, Microsoft’s smartphone OS doesn’t have enough app-makers on board yet. It’s lame to admit, but the main reason I don’t want to switch to Windows Phone 8 is because I don’t want to give up Instagram, and I’ve heard the same sentiment from Android and iPhone users alike. Instagram is a true “killer app,” and there are likely countless potential switchers with a similar complaint. The platform’s also missing the latest app fads that all your friends are addicted to. Take Letterpress, for example, the breakout word game released last week that currently has iPhone users staying up until 3 a.m. Windows Phone doesn’t have it — it only just now got Draw Something, months after it peaked.

Nonetheless, Microsoft continues to assure us it’s getting developers to create Windows Phone apps. Maybe we’ll even see Instagram in the near future. Windows Phone does core basics like Kindle, Facebook, Twitter, Zite and (just announced) Pandora. And it’s not like the store is empty — there are more than 120,000 apps available. They just aren’t the apps you want.

The other volume problem is the tiny user base. It’s most noticeable in the new “Rooms” feature in the People hub, where you can have group chats, or share albums, calendars and notes. Since I don’t know anybody who uses a Windows Phone, this feature was totally useless. I’d love to tell you it works great, but I have no way of knowing.

GOOD Slick, intuitive interface with nice animations that just works. Customizable Live Tiles and Lock Screen. People hub, which centralizes your social activity, is incredibly handy. IE10 is fast and smooth. Support for better handset hardware. Improved camera software is easy to use. Comes with wireless data tracking tool Data Sense. Built-in Office is a boon for business users. More room for developers to take advantage of. Hopefully to build a better ecosystem.

BAD Key apps are missing. Windows Store is cluttered, with reviews appearing in different languages. Rooms is useless unless you know a lot of Microsoft employees. Multitasking has some strange bugs. Same annoyance from WP7 persist. There is not one big improvement, just many small improvements. Incompatible with any of the current devices.

Our Verdict: Windows Phone 8 can do everything you expect a mobile operating system to do. If you just need a simple and basic functionality of a smartphone and doing every task without any interference, the Windows Phone 8 is certainly the mobile OS for you. But the downside is that you probably will not be the first to get certain apps or will never get them anytime soon or ever since developers wont be developing for Windows platform as the first OS or will ever considering to develop for it. This all will heavily rely on the user base of Windows Phone 8 in the upcoming months. The ecosystem is not matured yet in our opinion but apart from that Windows Phone 8 is a great OS which offers a new experience for everyone who are looking for something different and unconventional out there. You be the judge.

[Via]

Best iPad Styluses to Date

Best ipad styluses
I found this article to be very useful for those who like art and iPad at the same time. Here you go!

You only need look at a child’s drawing to know why you need a stylus.

“If you see a stylus they failed.” That might be everybody’s favorite Steve Jobs quote about touch screens, but the fact is the finger is terrible at both drawing and writing — just look at your kid’s scrawlings up on the refrigerator door if you don’t believe me.

If you want to make pictures and words that the rest of the world can recognize as such, you need a little help. Luckily, iPad accessory makers also ignored Jobs’ complaints and set out to fill the world with wonderful iPad pens. Here are the best you can buy.

 

Best Stylus That’s Also A Pen

Alupen Pro 1

AluPen Pro — RM120

Slimmer than the original AluPen, and with a thinner, more accurate tip, the Pro stylus adds a replaceable ballpoint pen to the mix. Just twist the tip and the pen pops out, meaning you never need to carry an extra pen again.

Best Stylus For Drawing

Bamboo

Wacom Bamboo Stylus For iPad — RM90

Wacom’s years of pen and tablet experience show in this excellent iPad stylus. It is perfectly weighted, the tip is thin and glides over even dirty screens and you can even remove the pocket clip. Replaceable tips round out the most professional stylus on this list.

Best Stylus For Portability

trueglide 1

TruGlide Mini — RM50

The TruGlide might be tiny (it’s the little blue one in the photo above), but it is solidly built and will fit into even the smallest pocket. It also has LynkTec’s metal mesh tip to let it really slide easily across the glass screen of your chosen iDevice (don’t worry, it won’t scratch). And if you don’t have a pocket? No worries! The TruGlide has a tail with a plastic tip that slots into the iPad’s headphone socket. It’s possible that this is the first stylus you can’t lose.

Best Stylus For Accuracy

Feature 39

Adonit Jot Pro — RM90

The Jot Pro started out as a Kickstarter project, and is now ready to buy. It uses a see-through circle as its tip so you can precisely align strokes, has an embedded magnet for sticking to the iPad, and a rubber grip for, well, better grip. If your regular stylus feels a little inaccurate, this is the one for you.

Best Stylus For Fat Fingers

Cosmo overview

Cosmonaut — RM75

Studio Neat’s Cosmonaut is probably a pun on the Russian space pen, which was a pencil. It’s chunky, and designed to feel more like a dry-erase marker than a ballpoint pen, which makes sense in the iPad’s shiny screen.

Best Stylus For Serious Use

hand stylus

The Hand Stylus — RM90

The Hand Stylus might be the best stylus, period. From its anodized aluminum shell to the tip that rotates every time you retract it to even out the wear, to the replaceable packs of tips you can buy, it oozes quality. What’s more, the tip is 4mm in diameter — this is the smallest a tip can get before a capacitive screen stops seeing it.

Best Stylus For Artists

Nomad

Nomad Brush — From RM60

The best stylus for “painting” pictures on the iPad is not a stylus, but a brush. Nomad’s range of bristle-tipped capacitive brushes really feel like you’re painting onto the screen. I have used several, and they are also well made and come in a variety of sizes and stiffnesses. You can even get one with a single shaft that takes interchangeable, screw-on tips.

Best Stylus For Kids

Griffin Crayola

Griffin Crayola – RM90

To be honest, any stylus would do for kids. In fact, given that they are so “good” at finger painting, no stylus is probably the best stylus for your rugrats. But if you insist, go for something chunky, plastic and colorful. Chunky, for their under developed grasps, colorful, to make it harder to lose and plastic so they don’t crack the screen when they inevitable drop it.

The Best Pressure Sensitive Stylus

Pd bluetiger preview demo

Ten One Blue Tiger  RM TBA

Currently only a prototype, Ten One’s Blue Tiger is the holy grail of iPad styluses: a capacitive pen with a pressure sensitive tip. It beams pressure information to the iPad 3 using low-power Bluetooth 4 (requiring apps to include the Ten One APIs), and has an LED on the side which shows the color of the currently-selected ink. Who knows when it will ship, but when it does, I’m totally buying one.

[Source]

Samsung Galaxy Note [Quick Review]

Recently, I get to put my hands on the new big toy from Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy Note. This is a huge device with a 5.3 inch Super AMOLED HD screen which makes this device a one of a kind device closing the gap between phones and tablets. And the attempt from Samsung to bring back the stylus or in this case, it is called the S-pen, is very good and fresh. After the announcement of iPhone a few years back, the stylus is generally dead until now!

So after playing with the Galaxy Note for awhile, I would like to write a quick review on the device. And by quick, i mean real quick! =)

Screen. The Note’s screen is one of the best screen in the market today. With the size of 5.3 inches, the screen resolution is 1280×800 pixels which gives around 285ppi (pixel per inch). From what i know, the pixel density comes second only to the iPhone’s pixel density of >300ppi but the iPhone has a screen way smaller than the Note. The Note’s screen is also very sharp and bright and it is just beautiful to look at.


Samsung Galaxy Note’s Screen


Comparison of screen size with iPhone 4


Comparison of screen size with Samsung Galaxy SII

Design. This phone is a big phone. And i mean BIG! The size of the device (dimensions: 146.9 x 83 x 9.7 mm) does not fit into all pockets. The device is big but it is very slim. Overall, the device looked good and classy. It also feels expensive with nice built, Gorilla glass front and plastic back.


Front view with leather cover


Back view with the S-pen


Top view


Bottom view


Side view


Screen view!


Size comparison with iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy SII


Thickness comparison with iPhone 4


Thickness comparison with Samsung Galaxy SII


Thickness comparison. From left: Galaxy Note, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, Blackberry Curve 8520, Nokia N97.

Performance and User interface. The Galaxy Note comes with Android Gingerbread with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI version 4.0. Personally i think the HTC Sense is superior to the TouchWiz but with such large screen, everything is nice! LOL. The performance of the device is quite smooth but I encounter lag sometimes which is such turn off with a Dual-core 1.4GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor with 1GB of RAM. One of my favorite games on mobile is the Fruit Ninja, and very sad to say, the game lags in the Galaxy Note. But overall, the performance of the device is pretty good. And with the S-pen and S Memo app, it is really fun in taking notes, drawing stuffs, cropping pictures and etc. Although at times the application will crash. >.<


Home Screen


Application screen


My masterpiece using the S Memo app. Tell me it is awesome!


Error message using S Memo app

Camera. Galaxy Note have an 8MP camera with autofocus and LED flash and a 2MP secondary camera. The primary camera also shoots 1080p videos with 30fps (frame per second). There are some sample photos taken using the Samsung Galaxy Note. I would say that the camera takes good picture. It is not the best but the quality of the photos taken are more to the good side. Take a look at these shots taken using the Galaxy Note.


Photo taken without flash


Photo taken with flash


Pencils focused


Galaxy Note brochure focused

Others. There are other things about Galaxy Note which are worth mentioning in this quick review such as the battery life. It has a Li-Ion 2500 mAh battery which give you up to 13hours of talk time. I am quite impressed with how long the battery lasts even with a screen that big. But don’t get me wrong, the battery still does not take you anywhere more than a day. Other stuffs such as the S-pen and the S Memo app is really fun to use (if you don’t lose your S-pen). Another cool thing about the Note is that while playing a video, you can just place your palm over the screen and the video will pause. Once you lift up your palm, the video will continue the playback. This is handy when you always have friends bothering you when you are watching a video, just place your palm on the screen, shoo away your friend and continue watching the video without missing anything. I like it. 2GB memory card included on top of the 16GB internal memory. Memory expendable to 32GB.

Conclusion. The only drawbacks of this device is the size of it (which some can also consider it as a good thing) and the once in a while lag. If you can live with that, the Samsung Galaxy Note is certainly one of the most powerful and promising smartphone in the market today. Ofcourse, it comes with a really beautiful screen and the S-pen. I would say that the device is one of the best from Samsung, apart from the flagship Galaxy SII.

For more information on the device, please write on the comment section. Thanks.

There is a office app called Polaris Office which is just great to be used on the Galaxy Note. Review on the app is coming soon.