October 21, 2014

Google announces line up of new Nexus devices

Another year means another addition the the Nexus Family. Google has just announced three new devices that will be added to the Nexus line up, the Nexus 6, 9, and the Nexus Player. All three devices are manufactured by different companies all working alongside Google - Motorola, HTC, and Asus respectively - to provide a pure Android experience. All of the new devices will launch with the latest version of Android, Android L, dubbed "Lollipop".

The Nexus 6 as the name suggests sports a six'' (5.9 actually) display, which even compared to the Note 4's 5.7'' display, is huge. The Nexus 6 is set to release on the 23 October for $649, a huge leap from the $350 Nexus 5. With the price tag that competes with other high end phones, you get a 2560x1440 2K display, a 13MP rear facing camera, 3220mAh battery, Adreno 420 paired with a  2.7GHz quad-core processor and 3GB RAM in 32GB and 64GB packages. The large battery capacity sounds promising as well as the quick charge feature that should give 6 hours of usage from a 15 minute charge.

Even with the massive 5.9'' display, the phone is only marginally taller (~1mm) compared to the 5.5'' iPhone 6 Plus. Speaking of appearances, since the phone is manufactured by Motorola and not Google itself, the phone shares many visual similarities to the much cheaper Moto X such as the ring flash around the rear shooter and the back of the phone.

The Nexus 9 tablet fits somewhere between the now "old" Nexus 10 and the small, inexpensive, but powerful Nexus 7. It sports a 8.9 inch IPS display with a 2048 x 1536 resolution and the choice to use a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the 16:9 we have all been accustomed too (unless you're an iPad user). Under the 8.9'' display lies the first Nexus 64-bit processor courtesy of NVIDIA and its K1 chip. The processor runs at 2.3GHz and is paired with a Kepler DX11 graphics chip and 2GB of RAM. The camera gets a welcome upgrade to 8MP, up from the 5MP on the Nexus 7. The storage stays the same with Google's 16GB and 32GB offerings.

The detachable keyboard accessory is also a first for the Nexus lineup. It acts as a protective folio cover when closed and a physical bluetooth keyboard when open. They keyboard will cost you the large sum of $129 though.

With the larger screen, we see a larger 6700Mah battery which is significantly larger than the Nexus 7's 3950mAh.

The last new product to the table is the Nexus Player, possibly Google's second attempt at the not so successful Google TV. The Nexus Player comes with a reasonable enough $99 price tag and does feature more apps that the Google TV. Users can also purchase the optional $44.99 gamepad to play games on their TV. The Nexus Player does offer features found on the chromecast so you can send content from your Android phone or tablet to your TV.

Devices are available for preorder, as of now!

October 20, 2014

OnePlus One Available for Pre-Pre-Order

Tired of entering contests or chasing after OnePlus One invite codes? Well, you're in luck. The OnePlus One is available for pre-pre-order. Yep, you read that right. Pre-pre-order. Just like teasers for movie trailers, that's now a thing.

So... what's a pre-pre-order you ask? Well, because OnePlus is anticipating large amounts of pre-orders, they're allowing you to setup your order now and actually pre-order the device on 27 October 2014 at 15:00-16:00 GMT, which translates to 11 AM - 12 noon on the East Coast (that's 8-9 AM for those of you on the West Coast).

All you need to do is setup an OnePlus account, choose items you want (up to two of each), throw in your shipping and billing address, and save your order. All you need to do from here is to come back on the 27th and put in your PayPal information to process your pre-order.

From what I can tell, you can only pre-order the 64GB Sandstone Black model, which retails for $349. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU with 3GB of RAM, powered by a 3100 mAh battery to support its 5.5'' screen and LTE radio.

Of course, if you were lucky enough to get a OnePlus invite code, you can still purchase before pre-orders start, but once they do, you can use your code to "skip the queue". You can also send a tweet which enters you to win a phone - this is available on their pre-order site.

Looking to pre-pre-order your very own OnePlus One? Check out the ordering site, or if you want a bit more information about the phone, try the main site!

October 19, 2014

Forget 4K, Apple Announces 5K iMac

At Apple’s October event, Apple has announced their brand new iMac. The main focus of the new model is its display. According to Apple, the 17’’ iMac has the highest resolution display in the world. It is a pixel dense “Retina 5K Display” with a resolution of 5120x2880. This comes to a whopping total of 14.7 million pixels on a single display.

With the new super high-res display, the contrast ratio is now greater which maximizes color and detail. Apple is also using new power saving LEDs which can save up to 30% in power consumption.

It also includes faster processors with a 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, with turbo boost to 3.9 GHz in the base model, which is upgradeable to a 4.0 GHz Intel Core i7, which turbos to 4.4 GHz. Apple’s fusion drive is also now standard on the base model with 8GB of RAM. Apple says the new iMacs are 45% faster in graphics than the previous model. They will also feature Thunderbolt 2 ports for faster I/O.

The aesthetics of the iMac are largely unchanged. In fact, it looks identical to its predecessor. It still features a thickness 5mm at its thinnest point, an aluminum body design, and an edge-to-edge glass panel.

Apple is nearing an all-Retina product line up. The few devices left waiting to receive Retina Displays are the Thunderbolt displays and the very popular MacBook Airs.

The Retina iMacs are available today starting at $2749 CAD.

October 17, 2014

Skype Qik: The new mobile video messaging.

With all the buzz around snapchat, Instagram video, and the like, Microsoft of course wanted a piece of that. Qik, which started off as a video streaming service which actually beat YouTube to streaming video directly from mobile devices, was acquired by Microsoft a few years back and was just recently retired in April. Now it's making a comeback as a new light weight video-messaging app: Skype Qik.

Skype Qik strives to make sharing video as simple as possible, and they couldn't have made it any simpler if they tried. You install the app and sign up with your phone number, after that, you simply start sending video to you friends. The interface is extremely simple, there's a red record button on the bottom as well a a button to switch between the rear and front facing camera. Unlike all the other video messengers out there like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook messenger, or even Skype itself, Qik is pure video, no audio, no chat, just video. The person you send the video do does need the app in order to see your video, but they'll get a nice text telling them how to download the app, and then your videos will be there waiting for them.

Skype Qik offers users better control over sent videos as well. If you realized you sent your friends something you didn't want to send, deleting it from your phone will wipe it of all of theirs as well. There is also no way to save videos within the app and taking a screenshot of a video doesn't so a whole lot.

Qik Flik is an option in the app to take a 5 second video to be stored and used later, sort of like a reaction GIF you want to save for later. While a android and iOS versions can both send and receive Qik Fliks, the Windows Phone version can only receive them at the time of writing this. Odd for Microsoft's own device.

Skype Qik is available to download for Android, iOS, and Windows phone. For more information and a link to the download visit their website here: http://www.skype.com/en/qik/

Facebook Safety Check: Connect with Friends and Loved Ones During a Disaster

Facebook Safety Check - at first, it sounds like a privacy feature of sorts, but it's far from that. After an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011, a team of Facebook engineers worked on a system that allowed friends and family to check in with their loved ones and make sure that they were doing alright. Now, Facebook is releasing this feature to everyone.

If you happen to be involved in a natural disaster - or happen to be near one, Facebook will push a notification to you asking you to let your friends know you're safe. To determine your location, Facebook pulls some information from your profile - your current location. If they can't find it, because it's not listed, it'll also check where you last logged in from.

The new Crisis Centre will let you update your friends on your status - "I'm Safe" or "I'm not in the area". It'll also tell you which of your friends are also in the area, which in turn updates you on how they're doing.

Here's a short video from Facebook to show how it's used: