Review: AUAUA iPad Mini 4 Case, iPad Mini 4 Leather Case With Smart Cover Auto Sleep/Wake

Manufacture Description

  • Automatic adsorption after closing, easy&convenient to use, while solving the WIFI signal problems of traditional magnetic button impact .
  • External high-quality leather, delicate texture, screen protection with more effective internal flocking lining.
  • 1MM spacing between the leather edge and the liner , effective buffer drop damage, better protection for the iPad mini 4.
  • Upgrade the pressure-process of iPad mini 4 case, using explosion-proof voltage processing technology, the wear resistance is improved , and the durability is increased by 6 times.
  • Automatically wake/put to sleep your iPad mini 4 ,use more convenient, more power saving. High quality heat dispersing materials, effectively alleviate heating phenomenon of the iPad.

Review

The good points are how it looks. I love the look, with the red strip on the front and the small silver strip towards the top. Design wise it looks great. The exterior case feels durable and hard waring, and will definitely protect the iPad. It also doubles up as a stand, and there are two angles provided which both work well, offering a stable base for the iPad when it is kept upright. Finally, it locks and unlocks the iPad when flipped open or closed.

So those are some of the good bits, but the problem is, it’s not overly great to use and makes the iPad almost difficult to hold. The front part of the case doesn’t fold into a triangle grip like most cases for the mini do which is really disappointing. This wouldn’t be the hugest issue if the back of the case just folded flat when flipped over, but because it’s designed to allow the iPad movement to become a stand, the case will often move too much while you try and hold it.

I mentioned that the front flap of the case feels very durable which is great, but it’s less impressive inside. The plastic that grips the iPad seems like it’s almost too small, only gripping the lower half of the bezel at the top and bottom. This leaves the screen edge, and the top of the bezel completely exposed, so if you drop it, well, there’s no protection. It also makes using the power key very awkward because of its positioning.

So, as I mentioned, it looks great, but doesn’t perform as well which is a real shame.

Uncharted Goes Mobile

If you’re a console gamer you’re likely aware that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was just released as the latest addition to the Uncharted series. Published by Sony, it’s exclusively available for the PS4, though it’s still being regarded as one of the biggest game releases we’ve seen yet in 2016. Reviews will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but in the meantime I wanted to take a look at a smaller release that came out as a sort of companion to A Thief’s End: the UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter app by Playstation Mobile, which was uploaded to app stores earlier this month.

While some might envision a console-like app game the likes of which we’ve begun to see related to some other titles, what Fortune Hunter provides is actually more akin to some other spinoff games we’ve seen of late. The clearest example might be Lara Croft GO, which accompanied the release of Rise Of The Tomb Raider on consoles. It basically took the setting and image of the larger console game but twisted into a puzzle solver/obstacle course game built for mobile. A similar spinoff was designed in the form of Hitman GO (to accompany the recent console game, Hitman), and both of these titles were developed by Square Enix.

Regarding the Uncharted series, there have actually even been some similar arcade and mobile games that almost seem like indirect adaptations of the main series. Perhaps the most intriguing is Betfair Casino’s Daring Dave & The Eye Of Ra, a slot machine game that closely resembles Uncharted in image and character. “Daring Dave” has a similar Indiana Jones vibe to Nathan Drake (indeed, the game even says it allows you to channel your inner Indiana Jones), and the idea is to spin a slot reel into a treasure hunting adventure.

Others might imagine a mobile spin on the Uncharted series and think of games like Imangi Studios’ Temple Run series. That particular series has been around for some time now and has gone through different themed versions, but the original game does evoke the same general sense of adventurous treasure hunting.

However, while all of these games certainly seem similar to the Uncharted series in their own respective ways, UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter is the true mobile accompaniment in the spirit of Lara Croft GO or Hitman GO. In this game, your only task is to guide Nathan Drake along different puzzle grids (basically from a bird’s eye view), avoiding obstacles and “switches” as you work your way toward a prize on a pedestal. That’s about it as far as what the game entails, though there are plenty of little features built in to keep it more engaging than the average mobile puzzle experience.

To begin with, there’s at least some action involved in the form of little animations of Drake taking on obstacles, and that sets the game head and shoulders above Hitman GO, at least. You’re also tracking down famous treasures from history (as you do to some extent in the larger console games) and interacting with Sully, another key character, along the way. Naturally the puzzles grow progressively more difficult, and the prizes more significant – but unlike in some similar games there’s actually value to the greater prizes. You can essentially use them to unlock new puzzles, get new character outfits, or even link to your PlayStation Network account to earn rewards in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

UnchartediOS_1Ultimately, it may not be the most intricate or mind-bending puzzle game you’ll be able to find on a mobile device, but it may still be the most satisfying game of its type. Both as a mobile version of an Uncharted game and as a specific side game to A Thief’s End, it’s quite a lot of fun.

Review: Avantek iPad Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

Features

  • Connects perfectly to your iPad Pro via the Bluetooth 3.0 technology; super-thin (only 8mm) and lightweight for easy portability during travel
  • Standard Mac keyboard layout with larger keys for a more relaxed typing experience
  • Unique slot-in hinge securely attaches your iPad Pro in place; just clip it on and you’re ready to use
  • 130-degree adjustable tilting angle allows for a more comfortable viewing experience
  • Built-in magnets for auto wake-up and sleep; instantly wake up your iPad Pro when you open it and your iPad Pro goes into the sleep mode when you close it

Review

This case is very nice, adding some real functionality to the iPad Pro. The keyboard is a great size, and the keys feel fantastic to use, with a good level of response. They felt well spaced, with no cramping unlike other tablet keyboards I’ve used in the past.

The only thing that would have made the laptop experience feel better is if this had a trackpad and Apple finally supported a mouse in iOS. Why they don’t is beyond me. I get that they want people to interact with the touch screen, but when we have a device this size it could really benefit from mouse input! Oh well, maybe in the future?

The keyboard case feels robust, and has a good amount of weight to it which helps to balance the iPad Pro. I was able to use this comfortably on my lap without it constantly falling over.

The hinge has rubber lining on the inside of it to clamp the iPad in place. At first it felt a little tight getting the iPad into place, but it also meant it didn’t budge when slotted in. This is handy as I was able to lift the iPad and keyboard without it ever slipping out. The rubber is also handy as it will prevent the edges of the iPad from getting marked by metal.

When closed, the entire thing fits snuggly, with the entire screen protected.

This case really helps to convert the iPad Pro into a mini laptop at a fraction of the cost of the Apple keyboard. Granted, it’s not quite as easy to switch into tablet mode, but I’m sure once the rubber loosens a little that will become quicker. I’m really impressed by this!

Review: KVAGO for iPad Air 2 Case with Keyboard

This is a very neat and compact keyboard case that transforms your iPad Air 2 into a mini Macbook. I was very impressed with how nice this case was, with a premium feel and fantastic keyboard.

The keys are well spaced and very easy to use, despite this being relatively compact. I was able to type comfortably, and unlike with other bluetooth keyboards, there were no incorrect keypresses or missed keys. The connectivity is strong, and the keyboard kept on going, remaining reliable throughout my usage. The addition of having backlit keys is also very welcome, adding to the overall usability of this keyboard.

The one downside with this case is that it becomes very top heavy. It’s fine when using it on a desk, or when you are seated with your legs completely flat, but if you move slightly, or if you’re in a less than perfect position, the case tends to tip over. I expected this almost straight away, feeling how light the base feels, but it would have been nice if the keyboard could have been a little heavier to help prevent this.

Protection wise, this case feels pretty durable. It offers sturdy protection and I feel this would be a great case to pair up with anyone who needs to be more productive on the go while also protecting their device from damage. I quite happily popped my iPad in my bag with this case on, not needing to worry about the screen.

To sum up, you can’t really beat this case in this price bracket. I’ve used plenty of keyboard cases before, but at this price range you won’t find much better. It’s durable, functional, and the keyboard layout and design is fantastic.

First Impressions: Surface Pro 3

Well, I finally caved and picked up a Surface Pro 3. I’ve been toying with the idea for some time now, looking to replace my Nvidia Shield Tablet with something a little better for writing. I loved the idea of having something with a large screen and full desktop experience, but my previous use of a tablet running Windows had been less than ideal.

It’s been just less than a week of using the Surface Pro 3 and so far I love it. I’ve even come to the conclusion that it’s time to finally give up my Macbook Pro (maybe). With the Windows 10 update the Surface Pro 3 has gone from being a good device to being an amazing device.

Finally both tablet and laptop mode work well. Unlike my previous experiences with Windows 8.1, everything flows, there’s no horrid interruptions like users had to face before.

The device is fast and powerful, handling pretty much everything I do without batting an eyelid. Throw in good battery life and I’m onto a winner. When it comes to my writing this thing is awesome.

The Surface Pen is a welcome addition to my usage. Note taking feels natural and drawing works well.

Basically, the Surface Pro 3 has combined all of my devices into one. I’ll write as more in depth review after using it for a little longer, but so far, I’m more than glad I decided to give this device a chance!

Review: Snugg Surface Pro 3 Case

I picked this up after getting my Surface Pro 3 and I’m glad that I did. The case looks and feels great and offers enough room to fit the Surface with all of its accessories attached (keyboard and Surface Pen)

At first I was concerned that the case wouldn’t fit right considering it was advertised as having room for the Surface and its keyboard. However its a great fit, not overly large like some other cases I tired. This was made for the Surface, not just a generic case that fits everything ‘around’ that size.

There’s a second pouch on the back of the case for slotting papers or other slim devices in and on the front there’s a business/credit card sized slot.

The case is basic, but looks great and feels fantastic.

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Review: Surface Pro 3 Type Cover

So, this is one of those essential accessories that Microsoft Surface users will want with their shiny tablet/laptop hybrid. It’s advertised as being a must have, something that transforms your tablet from just being a tablet, into a fantastic portable laptop. The question is how well does it do that?

I’m in two minds about this keyboard. On the one hand, it is a must have, there’s no denying this, but it’s not a great keyboard and it’s definitely not good value for money. The form factor and design is spot on, and the ease in which it attaches and detaches from the Surface makes switching between tablet and laptop an absolute breeze.

The keyboard is thin and flimsy though, it flexes far too much which can make lengthy typing a pain. The key spacing is also a little odd, with there being no real gaps between keys which will lead to a fair few duplicate key presses.

I love the fact that you can either lay the keyboard flat, or, by using the magnet it can clip against the Surface’s lower screen so that it sits at a slight angle. This makes typing easier, but unfortunately the dreaded flexing kicks in.

It was also a nicer design choice to allow users to decide if they want to clip the Surface pen to the keyboard or not. In the box you’ll find a pen loop which has a peel off stick tab. You can then decide if, and where you want to attach the loop and store your pen. This is good if you don’t want to use the Surface pen as it means you won’t have a random loop attached to your keyboard. However the loop has dropped off a few times now.

One thing that is very hit and miss is the trackpad. Now you could forgive Microsoft, considering this is attached to a touchscreen device, but a good trackpad makes all the difference. Unfortunately this isn’t a good trackpad. It’s ok, but it seems intermittent. Sensitivity seems all over the place, responsiveness isn’t spot on, and within a few days the finish around the trackpad had started to wear down.

Speaking of finish, I love the cyan! I also really like the feel of the keyboard, but the material does get dirty and worn down very quickly. I’m not convinced that this will last very long which is very disappointing.

So is the keyboard worth it? Well, yes and no. If you have a Surface Pro 3 then you will probably find yourself benefiting from this accessory. Just be aware, it’s not good value for money and it’s not really very good, with far too many flaws. Fingers crossed Microsoft will bring us a better keyboard dock style accessory later down the line. For now, this is what we are left with.

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Offer: Surface Pro 3 Discounted and Free Keyboard

Well this is tempting! If you’re in the market for a tablet/laptop hybrid device then now might be the time to pick one up. The device is currently on offer with a nice bit of discount, but it also comes with the Type Cover free of charge.

All in all, that’s not a bad package and price for such a good bit of kit. The Surface Pro 3 supports the best of both worlds, offering a full desktop experience in a gorgeous package. The device is capable of running as a tablet or laptop, the 12 inch touch screen giving enough space to work comfortably, which when combined with the Type Cover offers a desktop experience.

So as I mentioned above, if you’re in the market for a device like this, or like me you’ve been tempted by the Surface, then now is the time to buy!

If you’re after something smaller then Microsoft did recently launch the Surface 3, a smaller version of the Surface Pro. It’s not quite as powerful as its bigger brother, but still it offers a full desktop/tablet experience to the user and can be paired up with a Type Cover.

If you’re interested in the promotion, which runs until 11th of June, then you can find the link here: Surface Pro 3

Review: 1byone® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

I was sent this product to offer an unbiased review and I was pretty excited to see how this keyboard and trackpad combination performed. I’ve been keeping my eye out for this sort of product for a little while now to combine with my Nvidia Shield Tablet so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review this product. So, did it live up to what I was hoping for?

The Good

  • Stylish and slim
  • Keys feel good with no skipped presses
  • Micro USB charging
  • Good battery
  • Function keys for Android and Windows
The Bad
  • No grip for the bottom
  • A little too slim, flexes when typing
  • Trackpad sometimes stops working for a few seconds

The keyboard is very easy to pair with your device, literally hold the function key and the C key and then search for the keyboard in the bluetooth settings on the device you wish to pair with. Within only a couple of minutes of unwrapping the keyboard I was paired and ready to play.

It’s comfortable to use, with keys that feel great to type on. They offer a good click and are adequately spaced unlike some portable keyboards that have a plushy and cramped feel to them. My only criticism of typing on this product is that due to the keyboard being so slim it does seem to flex a little when in use.

Moving onto the trackpad is a slightly mixed bag. On the one hand it works straight off the bat with Android and offers something closer to a laptop experience on your tablet. The trackpad is large enough to use for browsing, but it does feel a little cramped, but I suppose that’s to be expected. The one thing that really let the mouse side of things down was its tendency to either lag or just disappear entirely for a few seconds. However, it performed well enough that I didn’t need to carry a portable mouse around with me.

The design of the device is great. It’s slim, lightweight, and the keys fill up pretty much all the space on the device, giving the user a great typing experience. However, the biggest flaw with this product is in the design. It has four rubber nubs on the top, obviously to help protect your tablet screen if its faced down while in your bag, however it doesn’t have the same nubs on the bottom. It does have four, very tiny and recessed slivers of rubber in each corner on the bottom.

The issue with this design flaw… Well if you type on a smooth surface it causes the keyboard to go sliding all over the place. In the end I had to seek out some form of rubber to stick on the bottom of it because out of the because the keyboard was just too slippery to use on a smooth surface. It’ not the end of the world, but it does require some additions in order to be usable.

So in conclusion this is a pretty good keyboard, especially at the price range. Are there better keyboards out there? Of course there are, but you’ll be paying extra for that. If you’re after something to combine with your tablet for some on the go use without paying a premium then this is going to cover everything you need.

Yes it has its flaws, but for the price being asked you can’t go wrong.

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First Impressions: Half Life 2 Android Nvidia Shield

Recently I picked up a new Nvidia Shield Tablet and so far I love it. Obviously one of the first things I did was redeem my free copy of Half Life 2 and take it for a spin. So how does this amazing game hold up on an Android device? Are we anywhere near the stage of being able to use tablets for serious gaming?

Well the answer to the above is that it plays surprisingly well. Feel free to check out my gameplay videos that have all been recorded directly from my Nvidia Shield Tablet. The game handles well and I’ve only encountered a few slow downs in my 5 hours of gameplay so far. It tends to struggle a little when I blow everything on screen up or go a little mad with the gravity gun, but apart from that the device plays Half Life 2 amazingly smoothly.

If you really want to have a good time you’ll need a gamepad, in fact Half Life won’t run without one. Even if you hook a mouse and keyboard up to your device Half Life still won’t run. A minor issue but it works well enough with a decent games controller.

But what about that small screen? Well for starters it’s pretty much next to my face so it doesn’t really limit the experience. On top of that the display looks fantastic and really helps to bring the game to life. No issues with the screen size here! Although if I were to play on the Nvidia Shield Portable I’m not so sure I’d find it as enjoyable.

The 8 inch display on the Shield Tablet is just about perfect for gaming at the coach. My perfect set up is my Shield Tablet on the arm of the chair as I kick back and relax.

I’ve taken the game for a test run in console mode and I’m pleased to say it runs just as smoothly. Outputting onto my TV allowed for a true console like experience playing the game which again left me exceptionally surprised. The game looks awesome on a larger display and you can easily forget that you’re running it from a tablet.

I think it’s quite incredible to think how far Tablets and other mobile devices have come in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that Half Life 2 was running on a current gen console! Within the year I honestly believe that Tablets will begin to really find a place in the gaming market, especially if they continue to get the support from developers such as Valve.

So is it worth playing? Definitely! If you’re a fan of Half Life and you happen to own an Nvidia Shield Tablet then why on earth are you not playing this game?

 

 

 

 

 

Apple announces October 16th event

Well it looks like the time for the latest announcements from Apple are fast approaching! So what can we expect?

Well it’s that time of year when the iPad’s seem to get their refresh. I feel it is a safe assumption that we will see a new iPad Mini and iPad Air wielding touch ID and slimmer designs. Fingers crossed we will see a 13 inch iPad Pro/Plus (with mouse input support)

A refresh to Apples Mac line is most likely incoming, seeing their 27 inch display Mac gain Retina Display and perhaps we will see an updated Macbook Pro’s? Of course to go hand in hand with this I’m sure we will see a final build of Yosemite and find out exactly when it will see a public launch.

Should you be excited? Well I know I am, but only if that 13 inch iPad makes an appearance!

My Top 5 Productivity Apps for the iPad

Introduction

So I decided to throw together a quick list of my top 5 productivity tools and apps for the iPad. These are apps that I use myself and find extremely handy, in fact I couldn't do without them! My iPad has come pretty close to replacing my Macbook and without some of these trusty little apps it wouldn't even come close to achieving that.

So take a peak and see if any of them might help you out.

Pages

Pages is Apples take on Microsoft Word and I'm a big fan. Out of every application I have for my iPad, this is top of my list. The entire user interface is very touch friendly and there are plenty of tools to make your documents look absolutely fantastic. This isn't just some cheap word processor like some you would normally find on a tablet, it's a full blown piece of kit that allows real work to be completed.

Another great feature is that all of your documents will automatically sync with your iCloud information, allowing you to access them anywhere that has an internet connection. If you have an iPhone or Mac then it gets even better, with documents automatically syncing across all of your devices, allowing you to start something on one device then resume it on another.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a mobile and tablet friendly spreadsheet application. It works in the cloud, allowing you to edit on the go through any browser, simply by logging in with your Google information.

The application works great and is pretty touch friendly. Although you probably won't find yourself throwing together huge spreadsheets using this, the app is more than capable and easy to use. As mentioned above, due to it being cloud based you can do some more serious work on a browser and then complete or use the spreadsheets on your iPad. This comes in great if you're using any form of trackers on the go!

Keynote

Keynote is a powerful presentation creation tool. It allows the user to throw together great looking presentations using nothing but their iPad and it's designed from the ground up to work with touch screens. Although sometimes the lack of mouse input and the smaller screen can make things fiddly, the overall experience is pretty good using the app. The app really helps the user by helping to align images and text boxes, helping you to avoid those little mistakes.

When combined with an iPhone the app becomes even more powerful. Not only do you have the same iCloud sync options like you have in Pages, but you also have a host of presentation tools. You can add notes for each of your slides and use your iPhone to view these while also using your iPhone as a remote for your presentation. This comes in really handy when you give the iPad to someone to view and you can guide them through your presentation with nothing in your hands but your iPhone.

Garage Band

Now this might not really be a super productive app, but if you like to create music then this is a very nifty little app. For anyone who has used the app on a Mac then you will immediately feel at home, with a whole host of tools to help you record real instruments or software instruments. It's powerful and I've never had any issues with input lag etc, recording a range of guitars, vocals and bass using this tool to create tracks.

There is a huge range of virtual/software instruments and rum kits to help really flesh your track out and experiment. Editing your tracks couldn't be easier as the app has been designed to work with just touch input. Throw in the fact that like other Apple apps it syncs across iCloud, this makes the app a really valuable tool for those who want to record music on the go!

Dropbox

For all your online storage needs Dropbox is the perfect companion. It is easy to use with a range of mobile apps and desktop apps, synchronizing with a large range of productivity tools. A large range of my desktop applications allow me to save directly to Dropbox and that's the same within my iPad. Although you'll probably already be using iCloud, Dropbox offers better compatibility with other operating systems.

Dropbox also offers a good range of picture and folder back up for your iPad and mobile devices. You can enable auto backup of your photos and built into the tool you can share any files saved, helping you to work collaboratively with others.

iPad Pro/Plus

With rumors of Apples next iPad’s coming up there is one that has really caught my attention, the larger screened iPad. I had it in my head that Apple would align their naming with their Mac and Macbook range, running with a mini, air and pro, but after the announcement of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus it looks like maybe Pro won’t be appearing anytime soon. Regardless of the name it comes with, if it does come I’m very excited for it!

Some people think I’m a little mad wanting a larger iPad than my Air that I have already, but the only thing that really lets my iPad Air down right now is the screen size. The device itself is very close to being able to replace my Macbook, but the screen is just a little too small. Rumors suggest that the iPad Pro/Plus will come with a 13 inch display which is perfect. Combined with a keyboard dock then it will offer a near perfect solution for portable productivity.

I do a lot of writing on the go and my iPad Air, keyboard dock and Pages app really make work easy to accomplish. I’ve even gone a little crazy at times and completed Keynote presentations and spreadsheets on my iPad, but due to the screen size things get fiddly.

The 13 inch screen size would help to make things a lot easier to complete, removing the fiddly process of constantly zooming in and out of certain areas on the screen. Even with the added weight and potentially added discomfort of holding something so big, that can be easily cancelled out by using a keyboard dock which normally act as a stand as well.

The only issue I have with the idea of a 13 inch iPad is that iOS doesn’t support mouse input unless you jailbreak. Now if I’m going to go keyboard dock, larger display, and potentially replace my Macbook, then I’d love to see Apple implement this into the software. Considering their refusal to do this in the past, insisting that the touchscreen is the only input needed, this could be unlikely. However there are a lot of things happening over at Apple that they always insisted would never happen, so maybe mouse input will show up?

Only time will tell what new devices are coming. We don’t have long to wait, with Apple usually announcing new iPad’s within October. I’ll be keeping a close eye out and really hope Apple come out with something bigger and if they do, maybe I’ll finally give up my Macbook.

Nexus 7 2013

So I recently acquired a Nexus 7 2013 and so far my impressions are mixed. Its a lovely little device, small, compact and powerful. Despite this however there’s something I’m just not getting on with.

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look and feel

As I mentioned above the Nexus 7 is a small and compact device, perfect for portability. It has a lovely matte finish and the screen quality is superb. I’ve found that due to its light weight the Nexus is easy to hold in one hand for a relatively long time making it perfect for all you eBook readers out there.

What I do dislike about the Nexus is the huge bezels above and below the screen. They’ve got such slim bezels on the side that this makes the Nexus ridiculously long and partially uncomfortable for portrait typing due to the corners being so far from the screen. To me it just feels like wasted space,Im sure its not and that there is a perfectly good internal reason but nonetheless it really puts me off the design.

User Experience

Pure Android is always a good thing. There are far too may manufactures out there who destroy perfectly good hardware with their poor launchers and awful bloatware. With a Nexus device theres no need to worry about this.

The result is something lightning fast, responding without lag almost every time. There’s the odd stutter but its rare. Users also have the ability to customise from the ground up, either selecting the pre loaded apps and widgets or choose from a huge range and selection from the Play Store.

I can’t really fault the Nexus when it comes to using it. My only gripes are that the screen is a little too small for my taste and it also suffers from the occasional ghost press which drives me mad when typing. Apart from these two things the Nexus is a superb device when it comes to experience.

Stand Out Feature

The stand out feature has to be how powerful the Nexus is despite its size. Gaming on the go is superb due to the monstrous specs Asus have managed to squeeze in. Combined with the 7 inch screen this make a the Nexus 7 comfortable to game on unlike larger tablets where your thumbs are stretched.

For those who are a fan of mobile gaming the Nexus is the perfect companion. Comfortable, small and powerful.

Conclusion

I can’t really fault the Nexus 7. Its a gorgeous little device that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. I feel its a little small but that’s personal taste.

For anyone who is looking for a well priced smaller tablet then the Nexus 7 should definitely be on the top of your list.

CES 2014

So CES is just around the corner and I must admit I’m intrigued to see what this years show has to offer.

I’m sure we will see a whole range of wearable tech being shown off with manufacturers battling to be the first to get this right. So far no one has really brought a product to market that has had a large market appeal so 2014 could prove to be exciting for wearables.

Tablets have my attention. I’m tired of the increasing specs and what I really want to see is something with a larger screen. Samsung are rumoured to be working on something around the 12 inch mark. With bezels getting smaller there’s so much more room to increase screen size. We’ve seen it happen with mobile phones so fingers crossed that will translate into the tablet market.

My Top 10 Gadgets 2013

Below is a list of my top 10 favourite gadgets that I used throughout 2013. I got to play with a whole load of different toys and enjoyed most of those. Check out my thoughts below and click the links for more details in Amazon.

1: Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch 

 

Recently I took the plunge and upgraded from my 11 inch Macbook Air and I’m very glad I did. The Macbook Pro is a stunning machine. Its fast, responsive and above all the screen is beautiful.  

I’m no Apple fan boy, far from it in fact, but I’ve got a place in my heart reserved for MacBooks. So far my pro has served me well and is a fantastic step up from my Macbook Air. I love the larger screen size and the retina display is to die for. 

The device just feels premium and is everything I could ask for. For what I need, the Macbook Pro Retina is perfect and I would recommend it above everything else. True love has been found in 2013. 

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was my personal phone for the best part of 2013 and I loved it. I recently changed to the Sony Xperia Z1 and find that I miss the screen size and stylus from my Note. Even it’s cheaper plastic finish isn’t enough to put me off, in fact its a bonus, making the device light weight. The Note 2 is easily my favourite phone that I used in 2013. 

Sony hit a niche market with this product. The camera on my phone is one of the biggest features I use and now with the QX10 lens I don’t really need to worry about the camera quality onboard my chosen phone. The device has god battery, is small and compact and relatively easy to use even for an amateur like myself.  

The zoom is absolutely fantastic and snapping pics in low light conditions is amazing. The lens far exceeds any dedicated camera built into a smart phone that I have used so far and that includes the Nokia Lumia 1020. 

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So I felt it was time to upgrade my graphics card in 2013 and I’m glad I did. This was the first year that I played some big name single player games from start to finish and actually enjoyed them. Games like Bioshock Infinite ran like a dead dog on my previous card but after installing my GTX 680 it ran like a dream. 

Nvidias physx also added a little spice compared to my previous AMD card. Its nothing to really shout about but there were a few noticeable differences in certain games that caught my eye, the biggest being in Planet Side 2 with its oddly beautiful teleporter effects. 

2013 was the year that I returned to dedicated portable gaming hardware thanks to Pokemon’s lure. I had always used a tablet or phone for casual gaming, singing the devices praises and condemning portable gaming hardware, saying how redundant it was. It wasn’t until I returned to true hardware controls that I realised how wrong I had been. 

The 3DS is a lovely size and very comfortable to hold. Its got a great sized screen and has a pretty good catalogue of games. I’m glad I made the move back to a portable console and couldn’t be more impressed with this device. 

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I have a love hate relationship with Sony. I want to love their products but I’ve always been unlucky in the past with all my Sony branded products going faulty. So with great reluctance I gave up my note 2 and got myself an Xperia Z1. 

Am I glad I did? Kind of. The camera is hit and miss, half of the time it takes better quality photos than I’ve ever taken before, the other half it captures horrid blurs. It feels so solid and premium unlike most Android devices which is a welcome change and the waterproof feature actually works! Its beyond fast, responding like lightning and very rarely lagging. 

The downside is its huge and my device is already faulty which is a real shame. I’ve had it exchanged and the second unit was faulty so it appears my bad luck with Sony has continued. 

The Nexus 7 is my tablet of choice at the moment. Its a relatively low cost, yet powerful device. Sporting pure Android with no manufacturer interference leaves the Nexus running blazingly fast. 

Its light weight and feels great in the hand, its rubberised back and sides stopping it from sliding all over the place and making it easier to grip. The screen size is both a positive and a negative, small enough for light browsing, gaming and work but too small for anything more. 

Overall I’m impressed with the Nexus and have so far enjoyed using it on the train to work.  

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Ah the iPad mini. This would easily be my device of the year if it wasnt for a certain software update. The iPad mini feels and looks fantastic. The screen size is perfect for on the go work and gaming. Its not too big and not too small, the best tablet size I have used. The battery life was good and it ran smoothly, never skipping a beat. 

So what changed? iOS 7 landed, turning my iPad mini into a horribly slow device. My iPad was so slow it had become unbearable to use. I understand that older Apple hardware begins to run terribly slow as new software updates land but the iPad Mini was still a current device at the time of iOS 7. In my opinion this was a terrible move by Apple. 

I miss my iPad mini as it was easily the best tablet I have ever used. After the way Apple destroyed my device I don’t think I’ll be taking the plunge and updating to the latest model. 

My first Windows 8 tablet. There is huge potential from these hybrid devices but I still don’t feel like any manufacture has gotten dit right so far. I really enjoyed my time with the Ativ Smart PC Pro but it ultimately felt like a jack of all trades. As a tablet it was average and as a laptop it was average. 

The keyboard dock was plagued with disconnection issues and as tablet the device was just too big and bulky. The thing that really killed my experience was Windows 8 which offered a very jarring experience. Modern UI and desktop mode just don’t fit together at all killing any seamless experience you would expect from a device such as this. 

The concept is sound and the potential is massive but I can’t help but feel that these hybrid devices are just lacking. 

So I mentioned already that I have a love hate relationship with Sony and the same applies with the Xperia Tablet Z. I loved the feel of it. Its so slim, with a beautiful screen and gorgeous matte finish. Its probably the nicest looking Android tablet out there. 

However its incredibly slow. Almost everything I did on the device was laggy unless I installed a custom launcher. Web browsing was poor and just navigating menus was slow. I’m not entirely sure what Sony did to this device to make it respond so poorly! Needless to say my time was short lived with this device.

 

 

Samsung Ativ PC Pro Day by Day

Well my Samsung Ativ PC Pro has just arrived and I’ll be writing my thoughts on the device one day at a time. So far I’m very impressed by it and I look forward to using it more and seeing how it really performs in real world usage. So what will I look at when reviewing this beast?

Samsung

Right now I use a MacBook Air which I absolutely love. Its a great piece of kit and does most things that I need but its getting old and lacks power now. I also love the form factor of something like the Ativ PC Pro and I’m intrigued to see how well it performs as a tablet and also ultrabook. Obviously I do a lot of writing and the Mac has proved to be a great companion for all of my notes and work. I’ll take the Ativ PC Pro for a real spin and see how productive it really can be!

I’ve ordered myself a larger 256GB SSD (http://amzn.to/Z43Ec9) which I will fit into the tablet. This will hopefully be arriving this week and I’ll let you know how well the installation goes!

Day One

I’ve been using the Ativ PC Pro for just over 24 hours now and I must say I’m pleasantly surprised. I felt that I was going to be underwhelmed by this tablet due to the negativity that Windows 8 has received but I’ve got to admit that the OS actually performs very well. The tablet feels premium and performs well handling pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it. I’ve spent most of my time installing my applications and customizing the device but so far I’m impressed.

My first impressions of the OS is that it offers the best of both worlds. On the one hand I have the traditional desktop mode which I’ve spent most time using with my tablet docked in the keyboard. This performs exactly how you would expect from a Windows device. I’ve not had a chance to spend much time with Modern UI but from my brief play it handles well and gives a touch friendly environment. The thing that I love about this device when compared to other tablets is that it offers me everything. There’s no need to worry about where I will download my media content for example, I’ve got the choice to use iTunes or Google Music and I don’t need to worry about converting files. This is a full Windows experience and I love it so far.

So the device itself, what’s it like? Nice, very nice. It’s obviously bigger than your traditional tablet but that suits me just fine. It feels premium and when docked in it’s keyboard it feels and handles like an ultrabook. It’s on the heavy side so one handed use will get uncomfortable after a while and it’s also very long so using this device in portrait seems odd. It has all the ports I require and doesn’t really compromise on anything.

One of the biggest advantages is also the biggest let downs. I went for the Samsung Ativ PC Pro over the Microsoft Surface Pro due to it’s keyboard dock. The keyboard is great to use and the trackpad works well although it is a little on the small side. However the keyboard disconnects that are so widely reported are exceptionally annoying causing the keyboard to disconnect at even the slightest movement. The dock also feels extremely cheap and light which is odd considering how well made the tablet itself feels. It’s a shame that Samsung didn’t really go to the same effort in building the keyboard dock as they did the tablet. What I would have loved to see is something that employs the same materials as the tablet and perhaps uses bluetooth to connect with the tablet to avoid disconnection issues.

I’ve installed a couple of games onto the tablet just to test out how well it handles them. So far I’ve tried out Torchlight 2 and Guild Wars 2 and both games have handled well. As I mentioned I’ve not had a great deal of time yet to really test out the tablet but I’ll get some benchmarks etc in my day 2 experience.

Day Two

Well another day down and I’m still impressed by the Ativ. One thing that has struck me is how well the battery performs. I expected a couple of hours at best but I’ve squeezed over to 5 hours of screen on time and a couple of these were spent playing Guild Wars 2. Considering the power needed to keep this going it doesn’t overheat even when gaming and just keeps on performing.

So when it comes to gaming how well does it actually do it? It’s acceptable but won’t blow your socks off. If you’re looking for something that’s going to act as your gaming machine then look elsewhere, perhaps the Razer Edge? Yes the Ativ can game but it doesn’t deliver stellar performance. My session in Guild Wars was relatively smooth but bear in mind I had to drop all settings to low and lower the resolution to 720. The other problem I faced when gaming with this tablet was the keyboard dock. For whatever reason you cannot use the trackpad simultaneously with the keyboard which makes controlling your character difficult. I just hooked up a bluetooth mouse and problem solved but still it’s just another flaw with the dock.

I also decided to spend a few hours using the Ativ as a tablet because lets face it Windows 8 has been marketed at the touchscreen crowd. Desktop performed reasonably well with only a few icons being too small to hit
but at the end of the day it’s what you would expect. What I really wanted to find out is how well Modern UI performed. It was all lovely, pleasant boring. It just felt like a really dumbed down windows and left me constantly longing for my keyboard and mouse. It’s ok for those occasions when space is limited but in comparison to the likes of Android left me feeling underwhelmed. The other issue with using the Ativ as a tablet only is its weight! After a few minutes of using this I had to rest it somewhere because it is big. It’s also long which makes using it in portrait feel a little bit odd.

So to sum up if you plan on using it as a tablet only it maybe worth looking at other options unless you need the sheer power of this machine. However if like me you want a good mix and a hybrid machine then don’t let my experience of using it as a tablet put you off.

Day Three

I think I’ve got a good grasp of how well this tablet performs now. I went into this wondering if I would be getting rid of my MacBook and using only one device. My expectations were low, Windows 8 hasn’t exactly had a great ride since it’s launch. So what’s the outcome?

I love it! Sure there are things that aren’t up to scratch within the OS but for the most part it does what it needs to and its got a lot of polish and even better it offers a full desktop OS unlike any others offer right now. I can load up all my old applications and also play full PC games on my tablet. No other OS gives me this power right now and that’s where Windows 8 beats Android and iOS hands down.

When it comes to hardware I love pretty much everything about the tablet. It gets a little hot when under heavy load but its not uncomfortable. The biggest let down is the keyboard dock which has an appalling trackpad and is missing so many features. It’s just too light so tips over on non flat surfaces, could have been solved with an additional battery and the disconnection issues… the less said about that the better. If Samsung can manufacture a better dock then this device will be absolutely fantastic.

The tablet market is about to get flooded with Windows 8 devices but in my opinion the Samsung Ativ PC Pro is head and shoulders above the rest. I just really hope that manufactures don’t start pulling out of the Windows 8 space. I thought I was going to hate it but this has been a refreshing experience. It’s a no compromise device and I all I can say is that if you’re in the market for something portable but with power then this is your device.

For a full spec list and current prices check out Amazon for details:

http://amzn.to/Yb7ih6

For a full list of accessories available check out Amazon for details:

http://amzn.to/11Ul2kL

Ordered My Samsung Ativ Pc Pro

Just got around to ordering my Samsung Ativ Pc Pro so I can see how well it performs in replacing my MacBook Air for productivity and writing! I was holding out for the Microsoft Surface Pro but it seems like they have no interest in letting us in the UK know pricing or availability so I gave up.

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