Google – Android Wear

After months of rumors, Google is officially entering the wearables market. On March 18th, 2014, the company unveiled a specialized version of Android — Android Wear — designed to power smartwatches and other wearable products. On the same day of its major announcement, Google also revealed that it’s already signed on a number of hardware partners including LG and Motorola to help realize its vision.

Android Wear promises to deliver notifications, reminders, and navigation directions. Google says it also puts a huge focus on fitness tracking. The first smartwatches running the platform are set to arrive this year. Google has already released a preview of Android Wear to ensure that smartphone apps are optimized with support for the operating system by the time it reaches consumer devices.

Link: TheVerge

The Simple Known Facts:

  • Automatic Passive Reminders – Sort of like Google Now – Requests are started by saying “Ok Google”
  • Connects Automatically
  • Touch & Voice Reply
  • Circular (Motorola 360) & Square (LG) – They are working with a few other manufacturers
  • The new Android Wear is promised to be released around summer so I have high expectations to get my hands on it by then
  • Screen Resolution is Unknown, but from the video it looks impressive
  • Battery Life hasn’t been disclosed yet

Now seeing this I got excited, Google is throwing their full force into this and here I thought Apple would be releasing a wearable product first, but it seems Google stayed quiet just a few months before release. I’m hoping its going to be much more reasonably priced then the $1500 Google Glass, and I still haven’t tried it out. The best part is that Google is working with multiple manufacturers to bring these to people as soon as possible and to give you options. The Sony Smartwatch 2 was a pretty good watch to give you information but not seemlessly and not all features worked with every phone, and honestly the Samsung Galaxy Gear was a good effort but really fell short in my opinion, it even failed to connect with a lot of the S4s the samsung application store left a lot to be desired, and I think they realized people don’t care about a crappy camera on a watch. I for one tried both of them out and really wanted to like them but they couldn’t replace my watch, it was fun to get the information but it didn’t have everything I wanted and needed. I’m hoping that Android Wear learned from other manufacturer’s mistakes and made something that can work seamlessly and provide all the information that you would want with a decent battery, and one important thing, I really hope it’s water proof.

Loved the music that went with this video, gets you excited to use it.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD or X

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I was in love with all things Android, the freedom and flexibility with all the functionality. The Amazon product line was always trying to get you to work within the framework of the Amazon, the content all collected nicely and delivering TV Shows & Movies through Amazon Prime, but you have to be within the US for that to work.

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What got annoying about the Amazon Kindle over time was that it was so stiff, the iPad is restricted within the iPad Framework but there is so much that you can do with an iPad it never really bother’s you, there is so much to choose from.

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But only certain Apps from Android is allowed to install on your Kindle Fire/HD/HDX when the Android platform has a lot more Apps. It is honestly frustrating that I can’t get to all the Apps, and not all the ones I use are formatted for the Kindle. The Kindle has a great feature of integrating your Amazon details into your payments and subscriptions making it easy to use but I was still frustrating with the stiffness of it. The Kindle PaperWhite seems more useful since it is dedicated for those who want to read, to get that feeling that it isn’t a screen yet it is bright.

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At first the Kindle Hardware was disappointing, but when the HD came out it was great and the HDX is eve better, even the PaperWhite is great for it’s purpose. But at the end it became a paper weight in my office with no other real use since I have an iPad which I use for all sorts of things and my Samsung Nexus 10 does have the flexibility of an Android device that I love.

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The Haswell Desktop Built

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Took a bit to get all the parts together, this was the first time a processor was flagged before they could ship it from my mailbox, but after a few days they shipped it out. Got all the parts together and a few pieces from Professional and I was good to go.

Hardware

  • Thermaltake Urban S41 ($130)
  • CoolMaster 1000W
  • Samsung 840 SSD 500 GB SATAIII (Windows 7) ($331)
  • OCZ 256 GB SSD SATAIII (Windows 8) ($239)
  • Intel Core i7-4770 ($320)
  • Gigabyte Z87 LGA 1150 Dual LAN ATX ($230)
  • Corsair 16 GB DDR3 1600Mhz Vengence ($128)
  • Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB GDDR5 ($400)
  • Digistar BlueRay Drive (Slot Loading)
  • 2 x Seagate 3TB SataIII

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The other components I got from Kuwait for 254 KWD which isn’t too bad overall the most expensive parts in Kuwait was the original OS and I wanted both on it since I do love Windows 7 and I wanted to try Windows 8 on a Desktop, but its going to be missing the Gestures still an interesting item to try.

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Installed Windows 7 First and then installed Windows 8, then it comes up as an option which one Operating System to Start at Boot, and when you choose, its up in only a few seconds. Years ago it would have taken over a minute and a half, and now its 10 seconds tops, I love SSDs.

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I’m planning to install a few games on the Windows 7, nothing crazy just StarCraft II & the latest addition as well as Diablo III. Just worth having on my machine, and I do want to play those games. And what I love about this machine is that it is powerful and VERY quiet, no sound from it what so ever, I wouldn’t know it was on without that blinking lights on top.

The Haswell Desktop – Another Build

ThermaltakeUrbanS41A

Recently my desktop has had a few hiccups but being almost 3 years old it has taken a beating. A lot of things I do myself and around the house revolves around the Lian Li machine which was repurposed from a Windows Home Server to a Heavy Weight Single Desktop use. With the launch of the new Intel Haswell Processors and a few interesting pieces of hardware I had laying around I decided to put this new machine together and also add some more gaming capability to it.

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Hardware

  • Thermaltake Urban S41
  • Thermaltake 1500W
  • Samsung 840 SSD 500 GB SATAIII
  • Intel Core i7-4770
  • Gigabyte Z87 LGA 1150 Dual LAN ATX
  • Corsair 16 GB DDR3 1600Mhz Vengence
  • Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB GDDR5
  • Digistar BlueRay Drive (Slot Loading)
  • OCZ 128 GB SSD SataIII
  • WD 3TB SataIII

For the software I want to dual boot both Windows 8 & Windows 7, honestly Windows 7 is amazing and does the job and extremely stable. I have one Windows 8 laptop with a touch screen, and for Windows 8 to work smoothly it has to be a Touch Screen integrated into it. So dual boot option looks like its something I’m contemplation at this point, but the first install is going to be Windows 7 at least. Then the Windows 8 install on the other SSD and W8 can handle the dual boot option on start up, but lets see how it develops.

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Samsung S4 – It’s Out

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All this wait and finally this phone is out and it hasn’t changed too much in the looks department but the guts of the phone looks very impressive, its packing a punch. I think Samsung is taking a page out of Apple’s book, the design is fine but they did a major upgrade on the internal parts of the device. They are aiming to release it towards the end of April and knowing what happened last time, these are going to sell out quickly.

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Samsung S4 Specifications:

  • 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
  • 1.9 GHz quad-core processor or 1.6 GHz octa-core processor (depending on market)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/ 32/ 64 GB internal storage, microSD slot
  • Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850/900/1800/1900 MHz; 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850/900/1900/2100 MHz; 4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps) : up to 6 different band sets (dependent on market)
  • 13 Mega pixel auto focus rear camera with flash and zero shutter lag, BIS
  • 2 Mega pixel front camera, full HD recording @30fps with zero shutter lag, BIS
  • Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • GPS / GLONASS
  • NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, IR LED, MHL 2.0
  • 2,600 mAh battery

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What I like about the Hardware:

  • One hell of a camera!
  • Powerful CPU
  • Comes with Android 4.2.2
  • 2,600 mAh battery, so it will last a bit longer, which is more then the S3
  • Up to 64GB Memory
  • Has a MicroSD Slot, very few phones seem to have that these days
  • This time they made it in black, not blue!
  • With all those new hardware features and a bigger battery, its still ligher then the Samsung S3

What I Don’t like About the Hardware

  • Why is the LTE based on location, why don’t they have a multiband LTE like they do for the 3G/2G so it can work across all networks not just LTE in one region or another.

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I would like to talk about the camera since that is a feature which is essential to our media dependent lives and the ability to share pictures in all directions. Now this is an interesting features, the dual-camera setup on the S4 can be used in video chat like everyone else and photographs, so a pic of you and what you have your camera pointed at, and the camera as mentioned about in the Specs is 13MP which is very impressive, the S3 camera was great, this one looks to be even better. They even took features from the Samsung Galaxy Camera and set it up with the S4 which is a smart move on their part.

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You have several choices from the new Android Devices that are coming out:

  • Samsung S4
  • HTC One
  • Sony Xperia Z

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My opinion is that Sony makes good looking devices, but the OS is always lacking something and they NEVER update their phone, and that makes a huge difference, if you really like it then get, but other then that I would go with either the HTC One or the Samsung S4. If you like HTC then you will love the HTC One, very solid build, and they really worked on the software this time around. And Samsung as usual has come out with the full featured monster. If I had to describe HTC and Samsung’s software philosophies in a single sentence, it’d be this: HTC puts more emphasis on design, whereas Samsung packs in more features. Overall I love the metal design of the HTC One over the Samsung S4, but I like the camera use of the S4. When it comes down to these two its a matter of preference.

Link: AndroidCentral

My Favorite Gear From 2012

This has been an interesting year with a lot of new hardware being introduced from everyone, from TVs, Cameras, Laptops, Tablets, Phones and a whole lot more. My list for electronics was freaking long, I had about 20 items on her and it was hard bringing them down to this, so many good pieces of hardware but I wanted to just list the gear that I really use. Basically what was abused, even if it was in a short period of time like the Nexus 4, but I have been waiting for that phone for so long and I’m happy that I’m using it. A few items didn’t make it to the list like the GoPro Hero 3 because its a bit too soon to judge, it has its crappy moments and its great moments. Still too many pieces of hardware to review but I will get to them.

  • Nexus 4 – Best Google Phone Yet
  • Nexus 7 – Still The Perfect Size Tablet
  • Canon G15 – Awesome Camera, Reviewing it Later
  • Nike Fuel – Loved it when I used it, and now don’t want to see my crappy numbers
  • Canon G1X – Great Camera, except for the Macro shots
  • Apple iPod Touch Gen 5 – Loving it! And so small
  • Asus Zenbook – Best Windows Laptop Ever!

Gadget Overdose

This month has turned into the month of Gadgets.

I seriously think I overdosed on a lot of these things and I don’t think I will have enough time to totally play with them.

On the way:

  • Google Nexus 10
  • Apple iPod Touch
  • Google Nexus 4 (Got It From Ebay)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9″

Those are too many gadgets at one time, I feel like a gadget whore, and I wasn’t expecting all of them to come at the same time. This is going to be an overload of geekiness at this rate. My last iPod touch was from 2009 and I said I wouldn’t get one unless they made it with more space or overhauled it, well they overhauled it and I liked it, so I placed an order after Apple kept cancelling because of my account. The Amazon Kindle Fire HD I ordered a while back so I wasn’t expecting it to coincide with the Google products that were coming out, and now they are all out for delivery.

Too many boxes to rip open! The only delay I’m facing is my Nexus 4, delayed three weeks, damn you Google!

Logitech Harmony Touch

The last iteration of the Universal Remote from Logitech was the Harmony One and it was an excellent device but it had a few kinks. Logitech has finally returned to the universal remote game — with a new flagship in tow. The Logitech Harmony Touch melds a traditional remote form factor with a smartphone-like interface that fills its centrally-located 2.4-inch touchscreen. Instead of typing in numbers or grazing through pages of guide listings, the Harmony Touch lets you place tappable channel icons right on the screen, so your favorite channels are never more than a swipe and tap away.

The best thing about Logitech’s Harmony line is that you program it online very simply and 99% of the time they recognize most of your hardware, and it my case it helps reduce the number of remotes on the table from 8 to 3. With this new device it seems to be a bit smaller with a lot of buttons integrated into the touch screen. As usual you have your activities which are preprogrammed command to get devices in the right settings or control devices themselves. I’m probably going to purchase one to try it out and see how it works out with my devices overall.

For $250 its a bit on the higher side but I am a fan of Logitech products so I’m willing to try it out. Initial reviews have a few key points, but I really want to try it out to see what its capable of.

Link: Logitech

Google LG Nexus 2012

This is a prototype unit and usually the Google Nexus gets released around the end of the year so the specifications might change. According to the site that got it’s hands on the prototype it’s rocking a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 1280 x 768 4.7-inch screen, 2GB of RAM, and just 8GB of storage, all of which matches earlier rumors. It’s also running Android 4.12, but there have been rumors flying around that it will be released with Android 4.2, but we would never really know.

When it came to the choice of manufacturer I honestly I’m not too happy, I was hoping they would go back and try HTC since I love their designs or they could try the Motorolla Razr Android since they were very cool designs, Samsung was always a good choice, but LG? really?

I think the back looks cool, it reminds me of the nexus wallpaper. And yes the screen looks crappy, but I they have the brightness turned completely down. I am very interested in seeing how this turns out. I’ve never had an LG phone but I keep hearing their phones have questionable quality. Im not sure exactly how they pick the manufacturer but I have heard that they put in a bid with a mock up design and it google picks the one they like. Well I just hope Google knows what they were doing, and I know I’m going to buy it because its the next Google phone. In Google We Trust.

Link: Gizmodo


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Review: Boxee D-Link

If you are looking for a decent media player to plug into your network wired or wirelessly then I would recommend the Boxee D-Link. In my opinion there are two kinds of Media Players out there, the dumb and the smart kind. The dumb is usually the type that just plays what ever you point it too or what ever USB you plug into it. A smart player is the on that gets information for you, tracks your history, gets all the information of TV Shows & Movies with the backgrounds and images to make for a very nice user interface. You can build your own smart player like XBMC or Plex Media Server but in both cases it would require some work and finese to put together a system like that but a lot of people don’t have the patience or know how to make something like this and this case I would recommend the Boxee Media Player because it does about 80% of the smart actions without the difficulty of configuring every little detail of the device.

Pros:

  • Lots of Updates for it, and its been around long enough to have fixed most of its kinks
  • Very simple and clean interface
  • Recognized about 90% of the TV Shows that I have, and 9%5 of the Movies
  • Plug & Play no difficulty setting it up
  • Scans materials and updates your shows when you add new episodes every few hours
  • Keeps track of shows that you have watched and those that you haven’t, and if you are half way through a show you can play where you stopped
  • The remote is simple on one side and has a qwerty keyboard on the other, very useful for when you browse online
  • Works very well over a wireless network, and in my case the accesspoint is a far from it so I’m impressed with its wireless capabilites
  • You can use an iPhone or iPad to control it

Cons:

  • Its a bit too dumb on certain parts, I keep having to enter my storage server password everyday which gets annoying, they should give the option to remember
  • If you leave it on all day you have to restart it when you use it because it hangs a bit but overall it doesn’t have a negative effect

Overall:

Honestly, Boxee got off on the wrong foot when they first started in 2010 but the hardware is great. The box is small and silent, the RF remote is fantastic, and the hardware overall is a good value over buying an ATOM/ION nettop and IR remote, and installing Boxee or XBMC. I still think this is a geeky product that is trying to be usable for non-geeks which is a step in the right direction.

Price: $179
Link: Amazon
Rating:


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