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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

The new Google / Samsung Chromebook for $249

Google has updated the line of Chromebook laptops with a new Chromebook that will only cost $249. This is the point where these computers start to look like a good deal. They run Chrome OS, which is a Linux distribution that is focused on only running the Chrome Web Browser. It makes it secure and keeps the system always up-to-date because you are expected to be working online all the time with this system. Lots of people have said this is a great system for their parents so they can get online to check email, Facebook, and get info on the Internet but not have to worry about the system getting messed up. But by having a limited system they have made a lot of changes to the OS to make it more like a traditional OS. Also with the new price drop this makes the system seem like a good deal now.

The main difference with this new Chromebook is the change from an Intel processor to an ARM process that would account for the main reason why the price is so low now, along with reduced RAM down to 2GB from the 4GB of older devices. You also get 100GB of Google Drive storage along with the built in 16GB SSD that most of the storage would be used by the OS giving a smaller than expected storage area on the computer, Google expects you to be storing everything in the Cloud so you could just login on any Chrome OS device and it seems like you were always there.

The full specs are listed below, but this is only an 11.6 inch screen, gets 6.5 hours of battery, and runs on a Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor. Also check out the full gallery of what things look like.

Processor ARM Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor
RAM 2GB
Screen 11.6 inch (1366×768)
Battery 6.5 hours
Size and Weight 0.8 inch thick, 2.5 lbs
Storage 16 GB SSD with 100GB Google Drive for 2 years
Wireless Dual band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0
Camera VGA
Ports 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI

Samsung GALAXY S III mini

Samsung put out an announcement today that they are making a smaller 4 inch GALAXY S III smartphone that will be running Android 4.1 but still have similar design of the 4.8 inch GALAXY S III. Some other things other than the smaller size it also comes with a slower 1 GHz Dual Core processor only a 5MP back and VGA front camera and the largest size is only 16GB of storage. One thing that is interesting in there release is that it shows having 8Gb RAM, this may just be a typo because they messed up other parts of the specs in that part but its most likely 1GB of RAM.

The system runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz customization along Samsung’s other apps. They also included a FM Radio, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and runs on HSPA/EDGE/GPRS and no LTE. The phone comes in both 8 and 16 GB storage sizes and with only 32GB of microSD storage slot. Check out the specs below and gallery of product shots.

Display 4.0′ WVGA Super AMOLED
CPU Dual Core 1GHz
OS Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Camera 5MP AF + LED Flash / VGA Front
Network HSPA 14.4/5.76 900/1900/2100

EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

Storage 8 + 16 GB / microSD up to 32 GB
Battery 1,500mAh
Connectivity WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, FM

Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone 8

If Android is not your style the new Windows Phone 8 phones (wow that is repetitive) are coming out and Samsung has their new Samsung ATIV S is not a bad looking device. One thing about Windows Phone is that the makers have to have a preset of specifications that each phone should have, this is to help make better devices. The phone that Samsung released at IFA is said to look like a Galaxy S III but running Windows Phone 8. Below are some specs…

  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core processer
  • 8 MP rear / 1.9 MP front camera
  • HSPA+ / GSM
  • 16/32GB storage with 1GB RAM and microSD (SDXC) card slot
  • Bluetooth 3.0, NFC, GPS

Some people really like there Windows Phone phones, I think it’s an interesting interface but I like others are already invested in other systems like Android or iOS. Also Windows Phone has lots of apps but may not have as many of the big ones that you will find on other systems.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

More IFA releases this from Samsung, the Galaxy Note II. This is the new version of the popular large screen Android smartphone that comes with a stylus dubbed the S Pen. This phone has a large 5.5″ screen, Android 4.1 and 1.6 GHz quad-core processer. Full specs below.

  • 5.5″ HD Super AMOLED screen
  • Android 4.1
  • 8MP front, 1.9MP back camera
  • 1.6 GHz quad-core processer
  • S Pen and digitizer
  • 16/32/64 GB Memory, microSD (up to 64GB), and 2 GB RAM
  • Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, mHL, GPS
  • 4G LTE / 3G HSPA+
  • S Pen applications

The Note II comes with a lot of extra applications and customizations to make using the S Pen more useful on Android. They also include a bunch of Samsung apps that you may or may not want to use. But from the looks and specs this is a good upgrade to the Galaxy Note.

Samsung GALAXY S DUOS

If you’re looking for a Dual SIM phone but want a good smart phone you may want to check out the Samsung GALAXY S DUOS. It has 2 SIM card slots that are always on, Android 4.0, 4.0″ screen, and 4GB internal storage. No info has been given on the processer or speed and is said to be out in September in Europe.

  • Network: HSDPA 7.2 M 900/2100 EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900
  • Display: 4.0″ WVGA(480×800) TFT
  • OS: Android Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Camera: Main(Rear) : 5 Megapixel camera with LED flash Front: VGA Camera
  • Memory: 4GB internal memory microSD (up to 32GB)
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-ion 1,500 mAh
  • Other: A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, WI-FI, MicroUSB, Samsung TouchWiz, Stereo FM Radio

Dual SIM isn’t something popular in the United States, part because half the carriers use CDMA and part because plans are so expensive. But in Europe and Asia most people like dual SIM so they can have their work and personal phone numbers on the same device and only have to carry one phone with them.

Will keep an eye out for more details and release dates.

Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1

If you are looking for an Android Tablet with a stylus you may want to check out the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 that includes what they call the S Pen that is like a WACOM pen and not the nub that most touch screen devices get. It uses an active digitizer so if you the creative type this can make drawing or writing on the screen easy and accurate. Many people who had the 5″ Samsun GALAXY Note phone liked how good the pen was and how big the screen was.

As for specs it has a 1.4 GHz quad-core processer, Android 4.0 ICS, HSPA+ Quad Band, 5 Megapixel and 1.9 Megapixel cameras, S Pen, and loaded with a bunch of S Pen friendly apps.

  • 1.4 GHz quad-core processor
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • HSPA 21-Mbps (HSDPA 21Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps) Quad Band 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
  • Main(Rear): 5 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera
  • 16/32/64GB User memory 2GB (RAM) microSD (up to 64GB)
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 7,000mAh
  • Bluetooth v4, WiFi, mHL, IR LED, USB 2.0 Host, 3.5mm Ear Jack

Below is a video put out by Samsung showing off what you can do with the S Pen and some of the extra apps built into the tablet.

Nook Color & Nook Tablet Price Cut

Barns & Noble just posted new lower prices for their Nook Color and Nook Tablet. These 7-inch tablets are built using Android OS and have a good amount of power for reading books, watching streaming video and playing music. This lower price is most likely a response to slowing sales of the now lower powered tablet and the introduction of new tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. This also follows reports of Amazon Kindle Fire sales dropping off.

If you’re looking for a cheaper reading tablet the prices are now $159 for the Nook Color, $199 for the 16GB and $179 for the 8GB version of the Nook Color. But I would say you may just want to spend the extra or the same amount on a Nexus 7 and get more power and the full and new Android 4.1.

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