Saturday, January 26, 2013

Very short review of TOP 3 tablets on the market

Yesterday I bought second tablet in my Android carrier - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (N8000). Internet is full of different reviews about this device, so I wont be writing essay about it. What I want to do, is to write about 3 current high-end tablets you can find on the market and why non of them are worth to buy. This concerns: Galaxy Nexus 10, Galaxy Note 10.1 and Asus Transformer Infinity. I will mostly write short pros and cons of each.

Every of these three devices presents different approach of using a tablet:
  1. Galaxy Nexus 10 ---> hand only
  2. Galaxy Note 10.1 --> hand & active pen
  3. Asus Transformer Infinity ---> hand & keyboard dock
Galaxy Nexus 10
The build quality of Nexus 10 is superb. Screen is actually the best on the market. Hardware (CPU, GPU) are top components as well. However, using N10 with only a hand makes this device nothing more then a overgrown phone. You can browse internet, zoom in or zoom out 100 times the same pictures, watch a movie (if you have some battery bank with you), chat with friends etc. You can do all these amazing things... Oh wait... no, you can't! There is no 3G connectivity. So if you are not close to some Wi-Fi hot-spot (you can make one yourself if you have enough mobile data-plan in your smartphone) you can only watch photos, read some e-book or listen to the music. Or you can browse the Internet on your tablet sitting home on the couch with your notebook next to you. I don't know what's so cool in browsing Internet on 10" screen, if you can do it on 15"4 screen as well, with full keyboard and mouse. Let's get back to that hot-spot. Why it sucks? Because now you need 2 battery banks. One for your tablet, and one for your mobile phone.

You might say there are many advanced active pens on the market you can buy and use with your Nexus 10. Sure, you can. Try to make a note having your hand lying on the screen. It's not possible to write anything (at least nothing readable) if there is no software protection against random hand touch (like Samsung has in Note 10.1). So forget about using pen with Nexus 10. Pure Android is not ready yet for active pens.

  1. Great screen (2560 x 1600)
  2. Great hardware
  3. Great design
  1. No 3G connectivity
  2. Not ready for active pens, so using this device is limited just to entertainment.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Now... let's be honest. I'm not disappointed with this device. But I'm also not that excited as I was when I bought my first tablet - Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101. So what's wrong about it? It's Samsung design, so it feels plastic. And no matter how great and innovatory this plastic will be, it still feels like plastic. Other tablets are plastic too, but when you hold Samsung you feel like holding a cheap plastic. Sorry, it's they way I feel. But what is worse, it's creaking here and there. Samsung, please! For that price you give us cheap, noisy plastic? I'm not saying it's creaking a lot. But it shouldn't be creaking at all. Another things is the screen. 1280 x 800 is embarrassing resolution for 10'1 tablet. This should not happen. Screen quality is just bad. And there is no Gorilla Glass. By the way - S-Pen feels cheap too.

When it comes to connectivity, it's one of not many tablets on the market with 3G connection. So if you have a SIM card with at least 2 GB mobile data plan, it's a perfect solution to have your tablet connected all the time.

The best thing about this tablet is not S-Pen. It's Samsung software. And trust me - I'm a HTC fan so it's not easy for me to say that I like anything about Samsung software. But when it comes to using a pen, this is the only tablet on the market with such advanced software for handwriting. There is also great multitasking - you can have active applications on the desktop and work without closing each other. It would take too long to write about all amazing things you can find using this tablet together with S-Pen. If you're looking for a tablet that you can use not only for fun - Note 10.1 it's the only right choice.

  1. Great active pen (S-Pen)
  2. Amazing software for handwriting and great multitasking features
  3. 3G connectivity
  1. Plastic design
  2. Low resolution (1280 x 800)
  3. No Gorilla Glas protection
  4. Cracking body
Asus Transformer Infinity

The last one from the TOP 3. Asus tablets are well known from their keyboard dock stations. What is so great about it? In my opinion - nothing. But let's start from the beginning. Screen in this model is somewhere in between Nexus 10 and Galaxy Note 10.1. It has 1920 x 1200 resolution. Not as good as Nexus 10, but decisively much better than Galaxy Note 10.1. It also has IPS+ panel instead of TFT (guess which one have TFT...?). Also there is 3G connectivity. Of course if you find TF700TG version. So far 3G variant seems to be a ghost version, almost like Nexus 10 in some countries. Build quality is very good, I like the design as well. Again, it's between Nexus 10 and Samsung. Not that good as N10, but much better then Note 10.1.

When it comes to software I must say I pretty like it. GUI is not as expanded as HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz, but it gives you some more widgets and applications than pure Android (Galaxy Nexus 10).

Now the best part - keyboard. This is the approach I find the most ridiculous. And the useless touchpad is lovely too! Just one question - if you need to write fast on your portable device - why using limited Android with quasi-keyboard is better then using ultrabook with Windows (or Linux) Intel CPU, big SSD drive, HD graphic and 4 GB RAM? If you want to carry 10'1 tablet with external keyboard, you can get Asus or Samsung ultrabook for the same price. With much more features and power under the hood.

Of course you can buy an active pen. But like I mentioned before in Nexus 10 part, using an active pen without a special software is pointless. It just wont work as you could expect.

  1. Good screen (IPS+ 1920 x 1200)
  2. Nice design
  3. Good build quality
  1. Almost not possible to find model with 3G
  2. Not ready for active pens, so using this device is limited just to entertainment (if you don't have keyboard dock)
  3. If you actually have keyboard dock, think about functionality of such combo against e.g. HP Envy ultrabook.

As you can see, there is no perfect tablet on the market. At least not for me. Some of them are missing 3G, some of them are not yet ready for handwriting. And if there is a tablet with 3G and great handwriting software, it doesn't look as good as it could. Maybe it's time for HTC to show some tablet? We haven't seen from HTC anything new with 10'1 screen since a long time.

So what the best tablet should be and look like?
  1. Galaxy Nexus 10 build quality and design
  2. Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity (additionally variant with LTE instead of 3G)
  3. Samsung handwriting software & S-Pen
  4. IPS+ panel with 2560 x 1600 resolution, covered with Gorilla Glass
  5. Top CPU, GPU and sufficient amount of RAM memory
  6. MicoSD card slot
For such tablet I will pay every price.

At the end, here is some thought - do you think tablets have a chance to survive in a world where more and more ultrabooks and notebooks have touch screens or even rotating screens (like Dell XPS 12, Lenovo ThinkPad Twist) or dual-screen like Asus Taichi.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

More pictures of HTC M7 and HTC Sense 5.0

It seems that leaked yesterday pictures of the HTC M7 were not a fake. Today we have another portion of a promising photos, this time published by


Watermark on the screen makes those images trustworthy. It's a common watermark used by HTC in beta-software. Looking at the lock-screen I can say that HTC 5.0 is not that minor update as some have stated. I must say I'm getting more and more excited about it. And this is the back of the device:

The back of the device seems to be made from the same material as HTC One X+. Actually it looks quite the same with only flash led moved to the other side and slightly different camera body.

There are also more screenshots of HTC Sense 5.0.


The one on the left seems to be some kind of weather app connected with initial setup screen or some social center. In the center and the right you can see more details about incoming software like HTC SDK API or kernel version. The rest is protected by HTC, which is also very common in beta-software. It looks quite promising, don't you think so?

UPDATE 24.01.2013

Here are some more screenshots taken on HTC Droid DNA device by mdeejay from xda-developers:

This looks very good! Hopefully we'll see new HTC UI on HTC One X/X+ as well.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

HTC M7 - next HTC flagship device

Today came up with a nice photo of incoming HTC flagship model - HTC M7.


In a matter of fact, this picture shows not only new, incoming device but also the main screen from HTC Sesne 5.0 UI. Obviously not much can be concluded based only on this photo, but it seems that HTC is following the fashion of angular and edgy graphic elements. The same happened to Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Personally I'm not yet sure if I like it. Actually I find HTC Sense 4+ very good UI and I'm not really sure if this direction of squares is good one. Maybe it's just a matter of habits and in fact HTC Sense 5.0 will be an improvement over Sense 4+ when it comes to the graphic design.

This angularity concerns the overall design of the device as well. As you can see, HTC M7 is very similar to HTC Butterfly. Corners are even more tightened in HTC M7.
What else is interesting? Look at the capacitive buttons. It seems that home button and multi-tasks button are  in reversed order. Isn't it more intuitive to have home button in the middle? Also, based on this photo you can see that no % battery icon will be presented in HTC Sense 5.0. Furthermore, it seems that HTC didn't remove stock Android browser, so out of the box you'll have two browsers in the system.

My final thoughts? Well... hard to say. I'm excited as everyone when new HTC flagship device is almost to come. Without premature judgment I can only say that if the screen wouldn't be turned on showing HTC Sense 5.0 UI, I would blindly say that it's next HTC Windows Phone device.

There are some rumors that this photo might be a fake. I guess we need to wait a bit longer to know if this is a real HTC M7 or not.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

HTC battery bank short review

Lately I've been using one of the best phone accessory I've ever had. And the funny part is, I didn't suspect it to be that great. But let's start from the beginning!

Full name of that red & black little thing is "HTC External Battery Bank for all Micro USB Handsets".

What is so great about it? In simple words - it's small and can save your butt in many situations. The capacity of 6000 mAh is enough for full two charges. What is more - due to dual charging port - USB port and micro USB port - it's compatible with most new smartphones.

It's quite small (9,7 x 4,2 x 2,2) so you can take with you everywhere. Not really useful when you are in the car (better to use car charger) but quite handy in the train, bus, boring lecture or long day trip outside the city.

At the top you'll find a button. Once pressed, the lights in front of the battery bank will indicate how much power left inside. Very nice!

As I wrote before, the size is great, but as most of you probably think - things can always get smaller! I don't know if it's possible to make such battery bank smaller (at least now) but the current size should not be an issue. If you have enough space to carry 4-inch screen device or bigger, then you surely will find extra space for this external battery bank.

When battery bank is discharged, simply plug it to any device with USB port (can be notebook) or regular charger. It will take few hours to full charge, but afterwards it's ready to be your lifelong companion!

Described battery bank comes with a micro USB cable with a length of 15cm. What I really miss here is some kind of holder for that cable integrated with the battery bank. Some simple plastic holdfast would be really great and wont take much space. HTC, maybe something worth to consider?

Reviewed subject was delivered by HTC.

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More cores, more power and still no effective cooling system

I think we really have a problem here. Watching the world of technology, there is a clear tendency to equip mobile devices with more and more power. Looking at the specifications of fleshly unveiled Nvidia Tegra 4 (72 custom Nvidia GeForce GPU cores, new quad-core variant of ARM's Cortex-A15 CPU) I can say I'm already pretty amazed. But this enthusiasm might be suppressed very soon!

Where is the issue? You might say we've already been there few years ago, when multi-cores CPUs were gaining more and more attention from non-professional desktops/notebooks users. Marketing did a great job then. Nobody cared that most of consumers wouldn't be able to use the power of multi-cores. Nobody told them, that powerful CPU in pair with 1 GB of RAM memory and 5.400 RPM hard drive will be a waste of money and power. But it's not the point here.

What matters is the method of heat extraction. Air or water cooling systems are very advanced these days and can be very effective when it comes to PC. So if you really want to use 4 cores CPU for MS Word Editing or Internet browsing on your PC, there is nobody stopping you, apart of your own pocket. But what about mobile phones, tablets or so popular these days ultrabooks? Cooling systems on those devices are really bad. And what makes it even worse, there is no revolution coming. At least not for mobile phones or tablets.

Most of new ultrabooks (equipped with powerful CPUs and dedicated GPU) suffers from so called "throttling", caused by too much heat generated by the CPU and GPU when under heavy load together. Extra thin constructions are not effective when it comes to cooling, because the size of cooling heaps and fans needs to be reduced to minimum. Of course there is some room for improvements. For example, in  new MacBook Pro you can find two fans and quite smart arrangement of cooling pipes. Notebooks/ultrabooks designers surely have more options and more space than mobile phones designers. So I believe this might get better in time.

What's the situation when it comes to mobile phones? As I mentioned before, I think it's really bad. First of all, you can't put any fan inside your phone. The space inside is so limited, so forget about advanced system of micro cooling pipes. So what is the current solution? For example, idea of 5th companion core presented by Nvidia in Tegra 3. When device is in idle state, 5th core is taking care of low level tasks, running at very low frequency. Yes, this is quite smart. Tegra 4 will have the same mechanism. Another example - smart governors. When you turn your screen off, you CPU frequency will be limited to let's say 340 MHz. When turning screen on, it will go back to let's say 1,7 GHz. Nice, huh?

So... wait a minute!

It seems that from one hand we are buying super powerful devices, and from the other hand there are plenty of methods to limit this power. People are happy these days when they can use their super phone for more then 16 hours without charging. They do everything to achieve that - they are limiting GPU power, CPU power, turning off capacitive buttons lights or changing screen backlight to minimum (and they can barely see what's written on the screen). So take a moment, sit on the chair and count - how many times have you actually used the power of your device? Do you really need 4 cores and 2GB of RAM for Gmail, Chrome or Andry Birds? I don't think so. You might say you are playing heavy 3D games. Okay - how long can you play Need For Speed on your device in the bus? I'm pretty sure your device will be discharged after less then 1 hour. So, you might say you can always play it at home, with a device connected to the charger. Personally, when sitting home I prefer playing Need For Speed on PC or notebook.

What's the point in having 4 cores CPU, 2GB RAM and 72 custom Nvidia GeForce GPU cores if you can't use it? In idle this will be limited to 1 hidden core running something like 70 MHz. When using the phone for daily tasks (photos, internet, mail, calling) it will use about 20% of the potential power. When playing games it might use the full power for some period of time, then will be down-clocked because of generated heat. Is it comfortable to hold a device in your hand that have a temperature of 59 °C? I don't think so...
Of course there is a matter of reducing the size of the chipsets. Newer production processes mean lower power consumption. But this wont help.

So is it a right and good direction, when a companies are making more and more powerful hardware, trying to figure out better and more effective way to limit this power at the same time? It's like putting in and out. And all for the money from customers.

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This is the first post on my new blog -

I want to post here some reviews of devices I own, some mobile news etc. Some information concerning my ROMs as well. Basically I don't know yet what form will this blog have, but I'm sure it's worth to give a shot this way of communicating with Android fans. This surely wont be personal blog :)

You can find my blog at

See you around!