Verizon Nokia Lumia 822 – Mini Review + Verizon 4G

The first stop on my Field Trip was the Verizon store and I was also glad to find out yesterday that I can now get 4G data, and speed tests show that I get 4-6MBs so not bad for wireless data, I did give it a try that first hour or two of it being on and did get a test of 25MBs but not now that people know about it doh!

There weren’t that many new devices to play with and there were a lot of people at this store so I kind of wanted to look at something I haven’t had much time with and that was a Windows Phone 8 device. So I saw the Nokia Lumia 822, its one of the flagship Windows Phone 8 devices and I wanted to see if there was anything special. Turns out there weren’t.

The screen and apps loaded smooth and looked nice, things like navigating messages and people worked well, but I kept feeling like a lot was missing. All of the core apps such as messages, email, contacts, and the like were showing up, but I didn’t see much in the way of other things the phone does. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it almost as much as most people would right before they ask someone “where is the iPhone or Galaxy SIII”, and nothing jumped out. It felt more like one of those “Smartphone Features like MySpace” phones with a good touch screen.

I may need to spend some more time with one of these devices to “Get how cool Windows is” but I don’t think it would change what I think of the OS, it also could be one of those things where the hardware could have been better with a different OS too.

Also the Windows 8 Tablet built into the display was interesting and even though they want you to stay in the Tile interface my son who was with me got it back to the normal desktop and he is only 3. Kind of shows how Microsoft is missing the game one what things are moving to and what people really want their devices to do.

Kindle Fire HD – Mini Review

My Field Trip took me on to see the Kindle Fire HD that was setup, and it made me happy I have a Nexus 7 tablet. It did have some store app showing how things worked and I closed that because I don’t need it, and I went in to seeing how things looked.

The first thing I could see was that when swiping through the apps and content it would stutter and wasn’t all the smooth. This should be something that would always be nice since people are going to do that first thing. So I took note of how it was not performing well and went on.

I saw Cut the Rope was installed and having played it on my Nexus 7 though it would be a good comparison. But again the system was very slow to load the game; it took almost 30 seconds to load and also took some time to load the level. The game performed as it should and seems fine but the low-speed had made me not so interested in the device. I also was seeing that the price was just too close to a Nexus 7 where I could get a full Android experience.

With the modified Android OS that Amazon hides you miss out on a lot of things that the content doesn’t always make up for. Mostly missing those Google Apps that just add the full experience you would want such as good email, maps, and even the Google Now search that is way better than anything Siri can give you.

I would not recommend one of these for someone looking for a mid-sized tablet especially when you can get the Nexus for the same price but with more power and a better app selection. You do miss out on the Amazon Prime video and books but you can make up for that by getting the Amazon Kindle App and Netflix.

Mac Book Pro with Retina Display – Mini Review

New Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Today on my Field Trip I got to play with the Mac Book Pro with Retina display at Best Buy and I was impressed with the system, while the extra cost and not so obvious benefit of the Retina display seemed to underwhelmed me.

After looking at the iPad Mini I looked for the Mac Books to see how they were, I didn’t even see any Mac Pro desktops but there was a nice 27″ display sitting there. I skipped over the Mac Airs and found the newer 15″ Mac Book Pro with Retina and I didn’t seem to find any difference between how the display looked with a 15″ Mac Book Pro right next to it. I could see a difference in contrast the Retina seemed to be darker but still easy to use.

As for the upgrade to the system it was very clean, thin and light. It seemed like a system you could just slip in a case and take everywhere you went to have a powerful computer. I also liked how it seems to have no fans or cooling at all. Also the connectors all were located along the back sides of the system making it so no connections would be sticking out in strange places, most PC laptops have USB ports right in front or the power cord on the back, on the Mac Books it was all clean in the back.

The Mac OS was seemed very responsive and loaded programs and switched around fast. I did some testing using the keyboard, it was strange for me because I use an older mechanical keyboard on my desktop when I do most of my typing and a no space plastic keyboard on my older laptop. But the chiclet keys that Apple use are very easy to press but you have to get use to the gaps of aluminum that separate all the keys. I made only 1 or 2 mistakes typing on the keyboard and when I did the OS was able to help me fix the problems very easily in the note application.

While I wasn’t able to test the full power the system was nice and worked well, I liked the quality of the camera built-in and the display was good but I didn’t see any difference. If you are going to buy a Mac Book Pro I may be worth it for the better screen and just the updated system specifications. This makes me want to go Mac but the price is way more than I can afford right now. You can also check out the full specs of these systems on the release article.

iPad Mini – Mini Review

Yes the title is kind of strange. But I got to play with an iPad Mini on today’s Field Trip.

I have played with iPads before and didn’t see a reason to go away from the Android systems I like, but lots of people like iOS. As for the iPad Mini its operation seemed smooth and things loaded fast and the screen was nice and crisp. As for the size, I have bigger hands than most but the feel of it was too big to the point that my hand was stretched way out to hold on to the device, making it hard to hold and at that point you may as well get the extra 2 inches. But if you wanted the smaller form this would be good if you are already in the iOS world and have only an iPhone or an old iPad but you wouldn’t want to get this if you have a newer iPad.

One other thing is the flaw of only having that Home button, I opened up the iBooks app to see how a book looked, and while it was nice there is no obvious way to get to all of your books or the table of contents. I tried holding Home but Siri wanted to help me find something, swiped from the edges but only a small bit of something came from the top but wouldn’t pull down, double tapped and even did a long tap and only got page turns. While this is only one app it does point to the fact that if there is no menus on-screen and no buttons what are you supposed to do if you have no other instructions. At least on Android you know that the menu button will get you some kind of menu, but also on Windows 8 I see this as a problem until you know that if you slide from one side a menu opens.

My experience with this app should not say if you are going to get an iPad Mini for the smaller size it should be a good experience, but it isn’t something you would go buy the iPad 4th generation and then need one of these. You would kind of just pick one based on the size you want since all of the same apps work on both devices.

Field Trip – iPad Mini, Mac Book Pro Retina, Kindle Fire HD, Nokia Lumia 822

Just took a Field Trip to the Verizon and Best Buy stores after lunch today, I’m going to call these posts Field Trips because I have to go out and play with new tech. Some of the main things I played with at the store were the iPad Mini, MacBook Pro with Retina display, Kindle Fire HD, and Nokia Lumia 822. I also played with some of the ASUS gaming laptops and a dead Samsung Chromebook.

While these aren’t the best settings for playing with them because I could not spend a lot of time playing and they were tethered to the display I did my best just playing with them. I also would like to get some of these in as review units or if some donations come in for a specific product I would review it also.

iPad Mini looks nice and would be a great smaller screen iPad if you don’t already have the newer full size iPad, I wouldn’t think you would need both. Check out the full mini review.

Mac Book Pro with Retina Display is a very powerful laptop computer, and with the higher resolution screen it looked nice but is it going to be worth the extra $500 or so for that nicer screen. I liked how it worked and had the older model side by side and couldn’t see much difference other than the Retina had more contrast, I’m sure more using it from the older model you may see a difference. Read the full mini review for more.

Kindle Fire HD is a good device for consuming Amazon content but it doesn’t seem as powerful as a Nexus 7 that I am use to. More in the mini review.

Nokia Lumia 822 is one of the flagship Windows Phone 8 devices while it has smooth operation and looked good, Windows Phone 8 seemed empty and just lacking in non-core apps even from a display model. See what I saw in the mini review.

Those are the big ones I played with but I did look over some other devices such as the ASUS gaming laptop that had good specs and all the keyboard was kind of clunky and seemed overpriced for what I could get a Mac Book for almost the same specs. I also don’t like Windows 8 all that much on a non-tablet or touch screen.

The Samsung Chromebook was set up kind of off to the side in an under equipped display that only had one left in a box that looked like it was taped closed after being opened at Best Buy I wanted to see it work but the system said click to start but I only got a spinning indicator and even after trying to power cycle it nothing came up so I left not knowing how things will work on that system. Too bad because I wanted to know how the system performed but bad displays will not sell these even with a low price tag.
New Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Acer C7 Chromebook

More Chromebooks are out this time a new one from Acer and is only $199. That’s an amazing price for a laptop, while it is a glorified web browser it is still a great deal. A few weeks ago Google put out the Samsung Chromebook for $249 that had an ARM processor but this one from Acer has a Dual-Core Intel Celeron Processor and a 320GB hard drive. Not sure how open the platform is you could probably put Linux or Windows 7 on this could be fun.

But for it running ChromeOS it seems like a good enough device and also has that cool deal of getting 100GB Google Drive for 20 years. There is also a set of 12 GoGo Inflight Internet connections included along with both HDMI and VGA connectors so you can have more than one screen. If you’re looking for a second or even third laptop for say your kids or just to have around these Chromebooks may be a good way to get it on the cheap.

Screen 11.6″ 1366×768
Thickness + Weight 1″ + 3 lbs.
Battery 3.5 hours
processor Dual-Core Intel Celeron
Storage 320GB HDD + 100GB Google Drive
Network Dual Band WIFI + Ethernet
Camera HD Camera
Ports 3x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA

Halo 4 Single Player Review

Halo 4 for the Xbox 360 came out this week putting you in control of Master Chief (John-117) and his AI companion Cortana to fight once again in the year 2557. After Halo 3 you were left on a damaged ship the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn after saving the human race once again. The game gives you first thing a back story and new information on where the SPARTON power armor super soldiers come from. And at this point you are trying to survive before getting sucked on the Forerunner world Requiem. Now to find out the rest of the story you will have to play the game. But I’ll give you some understanding of what you will get into.

First thing I would like to say for the first time that 343 Industry’s, the game developer who took the story that originated from Bungie who made the first three Halo games for Microsoft and the Xbox and Xbox 360, they did a good job at keeping things feeling as they are just a continuation of the series with updated technology and story. While I would like to see the original developers able to continue their game things happen and this game turned out to be a money printer for Microsoft.

For me it only took me about 8 hours to play though the single player campaign on easy. This took place for a few hours after getting it to rent from RedBox (one day after the release at midnight might I add) and then playing though the next day while taking care of kids now and then. There were times when it was not so hard but frustrating to get past an area not so much being killed by any enemy but by getting pushed off an edge or just falling off in a strange way into a place you expected to have more room to walk.

As for how the game looked, I would like to say they did an excellent job on the almost 1 hour of cut scenes. People and environments in those videos looked almost real and while the game engine looked good the scenes looked as if they were in the same place so you didn’t get ripped out of the reality you were in because they did so well on the video. Also like I said the game engine made large areas look good an natural including a jungle area that helped you keep moving in the right way but seemed like you were just wondering for a while to what you thought was the right way. There was also times when I though JJ Abrams came in with a few too many lenses flairs or bright washouts of your screen. And the persistent overlay of the HUD seemed to annoy me when I would see a blue outline that should not be covering the screen were no information was being displayed such as around the top bottom and all four corners. But you can get use to some of these things.

The game play was good for a console game, I like PC games that use a mouse and keyboard for better control but things worked out good enough. I did have some problems with in a big fight ending up crouched and not being able to run, I don’t think they needed to have a button right by the switch weapon that put you in a crouch mode, I never used it once in the game. As before the only major time I had problems with dying was falling off ledges or being shoved off when some enemy gets too close, they could have put more railings and such.

Story wise, it was short but took you though what was fun to play. It kind of plays out like this without giving anything away; find yourself having to fight for your life, you try and save some people, meet some new enemies, get some new stuff, try and save more people from enemies, save the world, game ends. Ok that’s about it for story without giving anything away. I would have liked a longer story with more game play, but you did get a mix of different landscapes, enemies, and even fight types including a fast passed flight simulator. But as I finished this up I was glad I rented this, I know most people will play hours and hours of multiplayer but that’s only half the game, and they don’t even rent that to you. I don’t play much of the multiplayer on console because it’s limiting so the single player being so short would not make this worth the $59.99 price tag.

From messages on the starting load screen and at the end after the credits and final video they make mention of more to come from 343, I would like to see the quality that they put into this game, but increase the content for when they most likely put out Halo 5 with the new Xbox whenever it comes out.

I would say if you like shooters, have an Xbox 360, and like single player games, rent this game it will be fun and you should at least experience every Halo game once. If you like the multiplayer and all things Halo you should buy the game, or ask for it these holidays. As for a rating I would give this a 4.5/5 based on it being a quality game, good videos and graphics, but had problems with short game play and some frustrating points, but I would recommend this to anyone with an Xbox 360.

Google Helps People Vote TODAY! 2012

Google has made a big effort to help people find information about the 2012 Elections in the United States, this includes there YouTube page that has had lots of live video events along with video from major news networks on the Elections. But one of the things that I found interesting is how not only are they providing information on who you can vote for, but helping people find out where they can vote. On Google+ they reported that voter information data has been accessed over 16 million times.

While they do have some problems with the YouTube page today, I was able to load it up but live video and normal YouTube clips did not load in the page they would load on the standard page for that video. It also seems as the comment feed on the election page was stuck at over an hour old.

I was able to use the Google voting location tool to fine where I needed to go vote and also find more info on things I would have to vote on. At the voting location there was a line at 8:45 AM MST, and only took 10 minutes to get in. Then waited to have my address updated and went to the electronic voting systems. They used some kind of combination of paper print outs, a block that had some kind of near field wireless data transfer and a touch screen that was not as good as a phone or tablet touch screen. After you voted on each person it would print a log that showed up next to the screen, and then when you did finish voting it would show it and real that paper into the back of the voting device. I was of course almost more interested in the technology then the voting going on. Then when you were done a person would take that block with what seemed to store the data back to another system to unload the data and clear it for the next use.

Either way you vote its cool to see that you can get more information online than ever, it was surprising when looking at things I would vote on who many of the people didn’t have good websites or any at all. Get out and vote and if you can comment on your experience with electronic voting or if you are one that doesn’t like the idea of it.

CBS content coming to Hulu Plus January 2013

CBS has held out on getting there content on Hulu for a while but announced today they will be adding over 2,600 episodes of CBS shows to Hulu Plus starting in January 2013. This will include new and old shows such as CSI: Miami, Star Trek, I love Lucy, Numb3rs, and The Twilight Zone. They will also add clips from Entertainment Tonight on the day-of broadcast and other shows will rotate though the free Hulu.com service.

While I don’t watch much Hulu my wife dose and this should make her happy to have more shows to watch, this deal also won’t affect other deals that are made with Netflix and other streaming services so we won’t lose shows like Star Trek from those services. Now all they need to do is stop thinking that if people watch the shows the next day on Hulu they are losing money on the Cable / Satellite networks, most people who watch content on Hulu / Netflix do it because they don’t have a subscription or want it when they can watch it, it’s one reason people are willing to play for Hulu Plus!

Google Nexus: Ask Me Anything

A new video from Google shows off the Nexus 10, Nexus 7, and Nexus 4 and how you can use Google Now to search for information. Check it out below or on the YouTube Page.

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