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.
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.
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.
If you are a SimCity fan or someone that has enjoyed the game in the past you can sign up for the beta of the new SimCity Closed Beta. From what I have seen it looks like the game is going to be fun and have lots of great updates that make it exciting along with more detail to the worlds and the game also includes Multiplayer mode so you can build a City with your friends. This beta is Windows only, but they will have a MAC version out on release.
The defining city simulation is back! Create the city you desire and make the choices that shape your city and power the Sims within it. Every decision, big or small, has real consequences.
To sign up for the beta check out the link below and login with an EA user and agree to the long long long agreement and fill out your gaming experience. The one problem you may have problems with is getting a “DxDiag” but it’s not hard, just go to C:\Windows\System32\dxdiag.exe and get a DirectX Diagnostics report by running that program and clicking “Save all information” then upload that file “DxDiag.txt” when asked.
Beta Link: http://www.simcity.com/en_US/beta/info
A few weeks ago I quit my normal crummy job that wasn’t helping me with my goal of working with computers, technology, or the internet. I had gotten my degree as an Information System Administrator but the job market for IT workers is very hard because there aren’t that many jobs where I live, but I had a few ideas on how I can still have an income.
First I have done some service calls for a company installing Internet, and those pay good for the work, I also have some friends that has been offering to get me doing the service calls they do but in my area. Because these calls aren’t consistent I plan to do some other stuff with my time when I’m not just taking care of my kids.
So my plan is to write on my Technology and Gadget blog Tek4.ME as much as I can. It will have topics such as news about upcoming Apple, Microsoft, Google, and other Companies new products and services. The blog will also have tips and tricks for best using your technology and online services. Some of the articles already up include my Hands on Review of the Nexus 7, information on why YouTube won’t be part of iOS 6, and what’s new in Windows Essentials 2012.
Finally I would also like to start building a few websites a month; this would be things like setting up and building a site using WordPress or Drupal for any type of business or organization. If interested check out more information at Grand Junction Computers web site.
If you have a Windows 7 computer you most likely had Windows Essentials installed by the maker or would want to get this set of applications that help do more with your Windows system. It was also called Windows Live Essentials but they seem to have dropped the “Live” from the name.
The main pack includes the following programs: Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Messenger, Mail, Writer, Outlook Connector, SkyDrive, and Family Safety. Lots of these applications were part of Windows in the past, but they now get updated more often than when Windows OS gets updated.
The two applications they are showing the biggest updates include Movie Maker and Photo Gallery. Movie Maker is a free video editing package that lets you easily edit home videos and put them up on sites such as YouTube.com or make them into DVDs. Photo Gallery is a photo organization and manipulation tool, it lets you fix problems with your images and do things like panoramas.
The update to Movie Maker includes a new Video Stabilization to reduce the shake that may be in your videos if the camera wasn’t on a tripod or a windy day. There are also more options for adding music from online music sites and how they are added to your video. They also improved adding text overlays to the videos so it will be easier to read. And finally they now by default encode video in H.264 rather than Windows Media Video making sharing easier.
As for the Photo Gallery they only did a few little updates such as making a Auto Collage and updating services you can export to.
Another note that the other applications get bug fixes if you had them installed and will require you to restart your computer for them to be setup so expect that. But this is a nice set of additional applications that make using Windows better, there are a lot of other applications that do all of this but these integrate with Windows. In most cases you can do all of this Online now using Google or Office Live.
Got my Nexus 7 a few hours ago and after spending some time with it I am very impressed with the performance and how nice of a device it is. First thinking after getting it out of the box, and no I didn’t have the hard time that every unboxing video seemed to show about how the box was a hard thing to open, I turned it on and it was saying I had only 6% battery. That is kind of a bummer because you will spend a long time waiting for it to charge up, after about 2 hours charging on my old Nexus One charger I am only at 32%, and it will charge my Galaxy Nexus in about 1 ½ hours. It may be faster now that I’m using the supplied charger.
As for the software you will have to update a lot of the stock apps right away, and there is an Android 4.1.1 update that you will need to do, but will have to wait until you get your device to above 25% battery. If you are an Android user already you will probably have a set of apps to install this takes time because you end up scrolling through a list of every app you have installed on any device using the Play Store to get the ones you want. I got a lot of news and reading apps loaded along with some video apps such as Netflix and Hulu along with my music apps like DI.FM and SKY.FM.
Because I got it from the Play Store I got a $25 credit that showed up in my email after I logged into the Nexus 7. It also came with Transformers: Dark of the Moon as a free movie to show how it works, and it streamed easy and fast over my Cable Internet connection. It also came with some magazines that you can look at. The Popular Science that they give you was nice, you can go to a page and then zoom in on a piece of text and it makes it look good, or you can just read the text in a different layout without the images though.
I did open the Kindle book app and look it over, it was nice on the bigger screen I have used it on a phone but didn’t seem to want to read much because it was a lot of page scrolling and not much reading, and on my big ASUS EP121 Windows Tablet it was nice but too big and heavy, but I did like it on the Nexus 7. As for Google Books I loaded the manual but it was spending a lot of time loading the next page trying to scroll though the book, that problem went away after letting it finish downloading the book.
Using apps like Flipboard and Currents was nice to read news and articles. Also using Chrome as a web browser was nice because it displayed content like a desktop but easily zoomed in when the text was too small to read easy. Google+ is also optimized for a tablet experience but Facebook was just an expanded mobile version.
The sound from the speaker was ok for watching YouTube and having some music playing but wasn’t that good that you wouldn’t want to have some headphones for longer listening sessions. The microphone was able to pick up my speech to text input easy enough using the Google Now cards and search. As for the camera you don’t get a full Camera app, but you can install other camera apps or use one called “Camera Launcher for Nexus 7” that will add an icon to use the Jelly Bean camera. Also some camera apps such as Camera ZOOM FX won’t install. The quality of the camera was ok and only good enough for video chat and things like that any ways.
As an update to the battery charging make sure you use the supplied charger it took me 45 minutes to work through this article and I went from 32% to 51% in the time I started to getting to this point, so the charge time isn’t that bad with the right charger.
Overall I like the Nexus 7 and expect to have lots of fun with it, I think I’ll get a case for it, Amazon.com had a few that have the magnets to make it wakeup and sleep depending on if the cover is open or closed like the iPad “not so” magic cover that only cost $20. So if you were thinking of getting a Nexus 7 go ahead and get it, the price is right at $199 and the hardware is good!
Now that CES 2012 is over lets look over what came from the show. There were a lot of new products introduced over the week, but it wasn’t anything all that new.
Some of the most innovative things out were the OLED TV’s that were 55″ from LG and [OTHER NAME]. These were very thin screens with great colors, and they were looking as if they were going to be put into production not just showing that they could make it but will be selling it soon. But I would have to say hold off on getting one of these screens when they first come out and give it one to two years from when they come out so that the price will drop, sizes will increase, and more options on who makes them will increase.
Another big deal at this CES was the Ultrabooks being introduced. These were thin and light laptops that are built to exceed the Ultrabook spec by Intel in most cases. What makes these different from normal laptops is that they are thin, light, long battery, and fast. Most of the laptops that were thin and light were slow and didn’t get much in the way of battery, but most of the ones shown looked very nice. If you were looking at a nice portable system then these would be one to get, and the prices weren’t all that much more than a normal laptop with the same specs.
There were a lot of Android phone announcements most having big screens, LTE, and having fast processers. One thing to look past on these when hearing the hype matchean is that they will be running Android 2.3, while this sounds bad because Android 4 just came out, it has to do with the fact that Android 4 is only a few months old and these were developed when Android 3 was a tablet only version and Android 2.3 was all there was. I’m sure by the end of the year a new set of phones will come out in the summer and will be all build running Android 4 and also be faster. But for now these phones will be running faster processers, have more storage, and be able to run on LTE 4G networks for the carrers who are working on setting them up. But one thing to know about LTE is that it is only avalible in a select set of Major Cities and you would want to see if your city is on their list.
Android tablets were also a big item, but not as much as last year, most of these will run Android 3.2 and be able to update to Android 4 at some point. There are a few good looking ones, and also a bunch of cheep tablets that are also lacking in a lot of specs. The less expensive, but better tablets are contract locked with phone companies.
Windows 8 was a big thing for some of the tablet makers and PC makers, they were showing it running and talking about products that will have it when it is out, but Microsoft talked only a little on it and how it is part of their phone stratigy coming up. But from what I see it may be good on a tablet but not so good on a desktop.
Windows Phone 7 had some press and also a few new phones including Nokia making a comeback, but we will have to see if anyone will every buy these phones. I think all the hype seems a lot like the Palm Pree [FIX NAME]. Most people only know the iPhone and they want an Android Smartphone, but that may change because Microsoft will be paying the people at stores commissions to sell the phones so who knows marketing is what sells products, that’s why the iPhone is doing good.