Category: tech

The nexus 7 review


Two weeks ago I was in a dilemma, I was in Kuwait and returning to India after my vacation without a new computing device was almost taboo.
I had to get something to show for my 2 months of stay here and the problem was that, I was in a moment where I was completely satisfied (gasp!) with all the devices I have.
I have my galaxy ace for my whatsapp + calls and my laptop for my entertainment and productivity (games) need.

I was initially inclining towards a new phone, the nexus 4 (the only phone in the market that excited me, the Samsung galaxy S line is way too common now). But reviews and complaints by customers spoke of terrible battery life. Plus I just got my ace a year ago, so I was in no rush for a change.

Then I decided to check out the “tablet” options. I was focusing on using it for its E-book reading capabilities (I’ve got tons of books I need to catch up on) and to use it as a media player device for my travels.
After researching on a lot of products at different price points, I had no choice but to settle on the   Google Nexus 7 (made by Asus)

and was boy was I right on getting it.

price and models : 

2 wifi models :  16 and 32 gb
1 3G   model  :   32gb (does not make calls , the 3g is just for mobile internet)
I got the 16gb wifi model for 63 Kuwait dinars or 11000 rupees (I hear it costs 16k in India) .

The form factor and build quality:

It’s perfect.  The 7 inch HD screen is gorgeous and the size is just right for a tablet.
The device is ample thin too and it fits in a jeans pocket easily. The back of the device is made of a rubberized texture material that feels great to hold. The device weights a bit, but also has the necessary heft to make it feel like a quality device.  Almost apple-like.


 The only physical buttons are the power and volume buttons. Don’t worry though u won’t need others. The bezels (black bars) around the screen are great as they let you hold the device without blocking the screen. There is a micro-usb port for charging and data transfers, a 3.5mm jack for music, front facing camera and 2 mics for calls (Skype).
There is no rear camera.   

User interface and performance:

First of, the screen has very high pixel density (better than the ipad mini) so everything looks amazing on it.  It’s quite bright too, but I did feel the colors were a bit washed out especially when compared to the more expensive galaxy tablets vibrant displays.
Its great for reading books (even if the font is small, u will be able to read it without flinching) and comics look gorgeous on here too. The form factor supplements the screen too.

The OS on here is the stock android4.2.2   jelly bean and it works flawlessly. Its google’s baby and how they want you to experience it, pure android, so no bundled unnecessary apps or launchers running on top (like Samsungs touch wiz).
Google’s “project butter” was implemented here, so the interface is smooth and seldom do u experience any form of lag.
You could play a game, listen to music, browse the net, all in the background and u still wouldn’t make the device slow.

It’s also thanks to the 1.2 GHz quad core nvidia tegra processor that’s powering the device. It’s quite the beast, and nothing seemed to have been pushing it enough. Even installation of large software happens in a blink of an eye.
high end 3d tegra games work flawlessly with almost console like graphics (gta 3, max Payne)

Music player is the normal music player u find on the other jelly bean devices (your free to anything else, I use playerpro) and the video player supports mp4 but doesn’t play .mkv and other HD files but all u need is mx player (free) and it runs them flawlessly.

If you have a Google account , life becomes much more easier ,  all your devices  integrates itself . My contacts(from my ace) , my settings , even the bookmarks in my PC sync automatically into the nexus 7 .

Battery life:

The device comes with a 4235mah battery and holds up quite well even with high usage.
The wifi seems to be the biggest battery consumer followed by the bright screen.
Google promises 8.5 hours  , real world results don’t agree to it , I’d say about 6-7 hours of good use  u should be able to draw out of it .
Videos don’t seem to be taking a lot of battery life, so I think the nexus would make a great companion for flight.
(Go for the 32 GB one for filling in TV shows)

The competition:

I had the opportunity to use tabs of other companies (hcl, Acer, huawei, Samsung) and even the more expensive tabs couldn’t hold a threat to the nexus. Even the much more expensive Samsung galaxy tab ranges are much inferior.
The lesser powered ipad mini (no retina display) 16GB model could cost u around 100 KD (21,000 INR).
4o KD more than the nexus 7!

The nexus 7 is the best value for money tablet out there. This tablet was meant to be ultra-affordable yet powerful – it has done that and then some. If you look at the tablet market today, you won’t find many that can compete with the Nexus 7 in specs, let alone price.
If you want a tablet and do not want to spend a lot of money on it, this is a must buy.

9/10  …
1 point deduced for the battery (Google should’ve put in some battery optimizing software) and the lack of a rear camera
(imagine you’re reading a book in the train on the N7 during a train journey and u see a something worthy to be photographed , the N7 with its amazing speed would’ve made a brilliant camera at times like these (now i have to use another device to take the pic ,but by then the moment could be gone)

Oh and I’m typing this on my nexus 7 , using the word press app (i love how there are tons of free apps for android).


The “Samsung Galaxy Ace” review

Before buying a phone, I spend a lot of time searching other reviews and user opinions. But you can never be sure of any device until you try it for a week at least on your own.  This phone retails at around 14000 rs, so I was a little doubtful when I saw the other reviews, considering that most medium – high end android phones were more expensive.

This phone is actually Samsungs answer to the mid-range category of android phones. This is more of a medium end version of the galaxy s-2, with a lot of features dropped, but retaining a lot of features too , so that  it helps maintain the android experience.  I did not root (hack) the phone yet, because an important official update is coming soon, so I don’t want the phone to be incompatible with the update, plus the phone is just a week old, so i’m not taking a lot of risks, not yet anyway.

the iphone pose

I will begin with the look and feel. This thing looks like the love child of the galaxy S and the iphone. It’s beautiful at one end, and practical on the other end. At this price point, you won’t find a better looking device.

I love the back cover, it’s not glossy, but has an almost carbon fiber texture, that just feels great to rub your fingers on and it provides excellent grip.  The phone comes with an extra white glossy back cover too.
At the front, besides the middle button, there are also 2 touch sensitive buttons for “options” and “return” that show only during usage, they work fine and I haven’t found any problems with them so far. The phone weighs pretty light too .

Calling and messaging, both are good and I haven’t encountered any problems.
There are 2 keyboards for messaging, the standard iphone-like keyboard, and Samsungs swype keyboard.
The swype keyboard is Amazing. You just swipe your fingers across the letters to form a word, and the phone predicts the word , Its almost like playing snake . In case you want to enter a unique word, you can just type the word, instead of swyping. I don’t think I can go back to normal phone keyboards ever again.

On the performance side, the phone runs on the android 2.2 froyo operating system and runs fine. The phone has an 800 MHz processor (underpowered these days), but runs most apps run fine without any problems. I’ve tried a lot of quite demanding games (asphalt 5, PES 2011, speed forge and plants vs. zombies), and all of them work at full speeds.
The menus and home screens are fluid , work relatively smooth and is pretty much iphone-like . The only slowdown I’ve encountered is with angry birds at certain later levels of the game , the game is not optimized fully for froyo, but should be running fine when the gingerbread (the next version of android, 2.3.4) update arrives for the galaxy ace. The ram is slightly lesser than needed, so a lot of heavy multitasking isn’t recommended.

The stock android music player is decent , and sounds great ,  But it lacks support for a lot of high definition  audio formats  and the equalizer that comes along with it doesn’t make a lot of difference .  But, the android market is filled with music playing apps that can solve these problems. I use Poweramp, a 3d party music player that plays everything just great.

The screen is a normal LCD (the higher end phones have amoled ) and the resolution is HVGA and not high definition (HD), so the screen clarity isn’t up to mark with the galaxy s or the galaxy s2 but should be on par with the iphone 3GS. I also noticed a slight lack of color. But the lack of a high def screen does help retain the battery life.
(I did try out the elder galaxy S  recently and its screens are much richer in color and supports high definition videos )
The video player doesn’t come with built in support for divx/xvid video formats. I found this to be quite disappointing. I tried getting other video players that support the formats, but to no avail. The standard iphone (mp4,m4v) and 3gp formats work fine and without any problems whatsoever.  I tested 2 movies (the adjustment bureau and Rio) on this, and both ran fine.

There are a lot of free android apps that are just a treat to use. I personally love the adilko eBook reader, which is just great for me, because real books take a lot of space while travelling  but now I have the entire game of thrones (“a song of fire and ice” series) eBook collection in my phone, and is a breeze to read.

On the gaming side, because of its comparatively smaller screen size, it is quite hard to find games that support the HVGA resolution. But I found a lot of games ported to hvga resolutions on android forums.
The galaxy ace has a 5 megapixel camera that is good enough for casual photography. It is accompanied by a not so powerful led flash, so night shots are slightly bearable. The video capturing is not that great. The camera shoots only at 15 fps, but I heard rumors that the gingerbread update enhances it to 30fps and at higher resolutions.

this quick access widget helps shut off battery draining features of the phones without having to search the settings

The battery life , this was the part that worried me the most cause the last Smartphone I owned was the nokia n95  which was an awesome phone but probably had the worst battery life of all time .
The galaxy ace in comparison to all my previous phones is just phenomenal. I’m easily getting a day and a half of moderate (eBook reading and hearing music) to heavy usage (browsing and movie watching) with one charge.
I tested the movie watching battery backup while travelling from manipal to kerala , I was able to see both movies , one after the other , after which   it still had battery charge left for me to read a couple of chapters from a eBook , and the rest of the way I just put it on sleep , and used it only to make calls and check Facebook , I charged it only when i got back to kottayam .
I am following the charging schedule strictly , I make sure the battery is almost empty before, I put the phone to charge fully.  Keep in mind that, during long travels I put the phone on airplane mode, because searching for networks by the phone takes a lot of useful charge.
The phone comes with a whole list of nifty features to enable maximum battery life. There is a widget to help easily disable heavy battery draining features such as GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. There are even options to switch of data transfers (internet) while on roaming.

The galaxy ace’s direct competition is the apple iphone 3gs 8gb (apple has reduced its price to 19000 rs) and its elder brother  last years galaxy S (now old , but still quite powerful).
So , if you pay around 3000 rs more , you can get the iphone 3gs 8gb , but specs wise the iphone 3gs is far behind ( but then again the entire android vs. iphone , is like comparing a Mac to a PC )
There are 2 other options in the mid range segment ,  the HTC wildfire and LG optimus one , both of them look ugly, have lesser features and cost cheaper .

If your tight on budget, but want a phone that can pretty much hold its own, look no further. This seems like a perfect time to get the ace, cause in august the gingerbread update to ace is arriving, bringing with it a whole list of improvements and features.

“Quick” laptop buying guide

dont let the wallpapers and looks fool you . This is probably some stupid netbook .

* graphics :
ALWAYS go for a laptop with at least a low-end nvidia or ATI graphic card   (direct x 11 at least).
I prefer nvidia coz they have a feature called digital vibrance that really enables amazing colors and clarity on the screen , TRUST ME  it makes a lot of difference (especially for watching HD movies).
ATI card enabled laptops  generally have slightly more power and are cheaper . but screen clarity is often sacrificed .
The graphic card can contribute a hefty amount of processing power to the laptop .
Other than games and videos , graphic cards are also used to  run the aero and visual features of  windows 7
Graphic cards usually come in 3 ranges  low , medium and high-end graphic cards.
LOW end cards  : in laptops usually within 250 kd ,  can play most games , though not in their highest resolutions and without full settings . (geforce 9200 , gt 320m ,  gtx 420 , gtx 530 ..etc) . u need at least , a low-end card to play games like street fighter 4 (the gameplay i posted below this post , im playing it with a geforce 9200m gs)  or call of duty black ops .
MEDIUM end cards : should be in below 400 kd laptops . can play games smoothly in high resolutions and with most settings on high. (geforce 9600 , gtx 450 , gtx 560 ..etc)
HIGH end cards : usually in laptops above 400 kd  ( like alienware , most of them are hard to find in stores , must be preordered ) . For playing games in their highest resolutions (1900X1080) and every setting on HIGH ( even anti aliasing).  (geforce 9800 , gtx 580 , gtx 680 + )
oh and get laptops with at least 15 inch screens .
13 inch screens provide slightly better sharpness and better battery life , but they are terrible to look at and have pathetic aspect ratios and colors .
DO NOT , buy a laptop with intel HD graphics .

*processor :
considering current generation intel processors , anything ” i5 and above” should be sufficient for the next couple of years .
i3 range of processors  are quite underpowered so DO NOT buy  i3 .
I suggest getting a  “medium end”  last gen (core 2 duo) processor than getting an i3 . (people who bought it here encountered slowdowns during heavy tasks)
if u just want to play videos  , documentation and presentation work , play  small games (CS , old need for speed games,fifa)  then the  i3 is more than sufficient .
(processors usually heavily effect tasks such as  multi tasking , file transfers , video conversion , video playing ..etc)

*RAM :
At least  3GB ram is highly required for running windows 7 smoothly.
(I have tried it on a 512 mb ram PC , windows 7 without its aero effects take around 256 mb ram on startup  , so you will only have 50 % (around 200mb) of memory to run applications , plus if you try to multi task apps , expect a lot of slowdowns and hungups )

*disk space :
350 GB is usually sufficient , but more the merrier . I say 1TB if u can afford it 🙂 .
its safer to keep important files in an external hard disk .

*additional features :
security features like face detection and fingerprint scanners are awesome , and works great on most laptops . a bundled anti-virus is also great . new features like USB 3.0 and thunderbolt will be awesome .  more USB ports , the merrier and don’t forget to look for laptops with HDMI ports , so you can easily plug it into HDTV screens .

* operating system  :
If you are technically able , getting a laptop WITHOUT an operating system is actually an excellent choice  as it removes a large amount from the total price tag .
you can install an OS of you choice later 😉
I recommend windows 7 ultimate .

*warranty :
Extremely important in . Things can get damaged or stolen EASILY in India . Get an international warranty if you are buying from abroad   else get a laptop from India with 3 years warranty.

*battery life :
6 cell batteries at least . if u have a powerful laptop , chances are it will have pathetic battery life .
if u want great battery life go for laptops with below 15 inch screens , graphic cards, crappy processors  and net books.

Always try to get a laptop within the 200 – 300 kd mark with the above configurations.
Cause most of the laptops can’t be future upgraded ,  you will feel sorry 3 years later when new powerful systems arrive .
Make sure the price is justifiable .
Sometimes laptops cost a lot (because it is designed well) , BUT wont have  highly desired features (a descent graphic card or a proper OS) and is not comparable to cheaper models .
eg. dell alienware’s are great for gaming , but they aren’t exactly justifiable , since most games do not actually require all that power , most high-end other brand laptops can easily play the games at slightly lesser setting and  cost  much lesser too.
same situation for MAC’s , you can’t play games and software support for the mac is limited compared to the windows laptops .

*important :
Sometimes cheap laptops will have just what u need .
friend of mine bought a Toshiba satellite laptops for 38,000 rs . it has a low-end processor , crappy screen , terrible built-in speakers (headphones are louder)  BUT it had a  “medium end” ATI graphic card  and amazing battery life (6hrs+) .
I have a laptop with a medium end processor , beautiful screen , amazing speakers  BUT   a  low-end Nvidia graphic card  and average battery life ( – 4hrs).
I WANT his laptop . HE can  play new games at high-resolution and all setting on high . I can’t  ;(
( I hope you understand what I am implying here)

*brand  :
chose one with a descent amount of service centers in your area . and with less technical issues .
HP (the current generation models are amazing)  and TOSHIBA (amazing build quality but very few service centers here) are my top favorites .
ASUS is also makes excellent powerful laptops for descent prices .
DELL is great but slightly over priced . friend of mine bought a dell xps  and it was a mess . he had to replace pretty much everything .
BUT they have the best warranty and service centers . they replaced everything except the screen of my friends laptop under the warranty (he didn’t have to spend a dime ).

u have LOTS OF MONEY and DO NOT  want to game or  run powerful applications , get an APPLE MAC BOOK 😛  or a netbook 😀 .

recomendable MODELS :   HP envy and dv6 series , dell xps (only the high-end ones) series , toshiba satellite series (the one my friend got) ,  ASUS g-series

Review – Nokia X2

Before you guys start reading, please note that the pictures aren’t arranged properly. Still learning how to do that in WordPress. Forgive and read. I finally got some time and laziness off my schedule to write this in. Let me know what you guys think .

Build Quality:-

The X2 feels strong. Nothing feels out of place and nothing wobbles. Kinda like the Nokia 6300. But a little bigger and heavier. Not too heavy. Just the right amount of heavy. It boasts an aluminium battery cover and it looks shiny. Very professional looking if you pick the White and Blue combination of colors. The Black and Red makes it look like an Xpress music phone which makes YOU look like you bought the phone only for the music.

What’s in the box: –

The Nokia X2, In-ear Nokia headphones, Charger. The box doesn’t include the USB-Cable so you might have to buy one from a store if you don’t already have one.

The Display : – 

The Nokia X2’s display has got to be one of the brightest and most clearest display I’ve ever seen in the Nokia brand of phones. The only disadvantage in the display are it’s viewing angles. You won’t be able to see much from the sides. But at the rate my friends are buying “privacy screens” and “Mirror screens”, I’m sure this feature would not make it a problem. 

Sound Quality(Telephone, NOT music):- 

So far so good. I’ve been able to hear everything clearly and people I’ve spoken to haven’t increased their volume.

Speakers: – 

The speakers have got be my favorite part about the phone. They’re the loudest I’ve heard yet. Stereo speakers. One on the top of the phone and one on the bottom. Crazy loud. The best speakers I’ve heard so far. The phone practically shakes when a song is played. And it sounds crystal clear too. Really happy with the speakers for a guy who consistently breaks his headphones. Here are the tests results for the X2 which I found on the net. 

User Interface : – 

Okay, I have to be honest with you guys. The UI isn’t the best. It’s S40. But it’s got everything for the price it’s offered at. Music, photos, facebook app, etc. But it could’ve been better. The photo browsing is simple and fast. The zooming feature in the phone is pretty neat and really fast too. Not bad, but you can’t expect to play symbian games or get alot of applications for the phone.

Music Player : – 

Before I get to the music player, please note that the phone has a built in radio antenna which lets you listen to the radio without headphones. Useful for my friends in Kuwait. Now, The music player the new S40 music player available in the new phones. Pretty neat and simple and there’s nothing to worry about over here. It even has album art. 

Music Quality : – 

Well, this is where it gets interesting, doesn’t it? The music quality in the Nokia X2 is….wait for it….Awesome. 😀 I was amazed at how clear and loud the music was. I won’t recommend you use the Nokia headphones they give, though. It just spoils all the fun that the phone has to offer. And with the battery life the phone offers, you’ll be listening to songs all day long. 🙂 Here are the results for the music quality test with headphones. The straighter the line, the better.

Battery life : – 

The battery life for the Nokia X2 is 27 hours of music playing. You heard it right.27 HOURS!!! And it ain’t some false advertising like the Nokia company usually do. It stayed for around 22 hours for me WITH calls and continuous messaging. It’s crazy. I was shocked. But I guess it’s because of my previous phone’s(Nokia N95) battery life which was basically an hour without using the phone at all. 😛

Conclusion : – 

The X2 is an amazing phone for it’s price. KD. 28 in Kuwait and Rs. 4600 in India. I’m really happy with the phone. But you can add a little more money and get the sony erricson Zylo. AND AND AND, this phone is perfect for the ones who think theirs are going to get stolen by their college seniors. 😛 But if you’re willing to pay more, I can recommend you MANY more cellphones. This one’s really cheap and gives you the bang for your buck.