I’ve been playing around with the a Microsoft’s Windows Surface tablet for more than a week now and I think it is more than enough time to get to know the system.
The device is very well made the build quality is of that what people associate with Apple products. Microsoft went all the way with this one. The Surface isn’t too heavy and comparable to the 10” Android and Apple tablets. The kickstand is a great idea but because it isn’t adjustable you end up adjusting your seating position eliminate any reflections or glare on the screen.
The 10.6” 1366×768 screen looks great and the touch sensitivity is on par with the top tier tablets already available in the market. The 16:9 screen also makes it great for watching videos on the device. There is just 1 USB slot on the Surface sadly, but that is 1 more than the iPad, but I would have loved it if there were 2 slots but I guess you can use a hub to get extra slots (haven’t tried it).
The Windows Surface has a front-facing camera which had very good quality. And the rear facing 5MP camera is nothing spectacular and is there if you need it.
The Surface uses a hindered version of Windows 8 called Windows RT and it is basically just the Tiles interface of Windows 8. The new Windows “Metro Style” or “Tiles” or whatever they want to call it is a very good tablet interface concept, much better than a grid of icons anyway. But the problem I had with it that it was very laggy. Launching apps was a slow and a painful experience both 1st and 3rd party apps alike. But after the app launches you can jump right back to it without any delay or lag.
Also, being a new ecosystem, the Windows store is very low on apps and is lacking in both quantity and quality of apps. But Microsoft is pushing this real hard so I think it will get there eventually. Especially that Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 all share almost the same kernel and porting apps to the other platform should be a breeze.
Gestures and swipes work great on the RT/Surface and the touch-sensitive windows button and the bottom of the screen jumps you to the home screen. A swipe from the right bring out the charms bar and a swipe from the left cycles through previous apps.
You can also make an app occupy one third of the screen and keep the other two-thirds fee to do something else. I used the Twitter app/browser combo and t was great. I wish both iOS and Android did this natively.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
There are 2 types of keyboards for the new Windows tablet. A regular physical keyboard that was really good and preferred it to the other touch-sensitive keyboard which I had a hard time getting used too but looks great. I couldn’t tell if I pressed the key or not and had to look at both the screen and keyboard as there is no button feedback. The issue is made worse by the slight lag in typing. It can be frustrating when backspace-ing when you hit it one time too many as the cursor takes a moment to catch up with your inputs. As for the touchpad, it works great. I didn’t experience any lag on it.
The Surface has very good battery life. I charged the device just twice in the week that had it with low to moderate use. I was very impressed with that but I didn’t do a lot processor intensive task such as gaming or video watching so that effect the battery life a bit more.
The Windows Surface is a wonderfully built product that is being held back by the software and ecosystem. The latter will get there with time but I’m not sure about the performance of the tablet getting better with future updates.
My brother got his surface from Microsoft’s Store in Times Square in New York (where he actually stood in line to get his hand on one). The General Manager of Microsoft Surface Mr. Panos Panay was at the store and he managed to get him to sign hi Surface RT.
The summer season is coming to a close and most of the shows are showing their finales. But are you sure they are coming back next season? Well, There’s an app for that.
RENEWED is a very nifty little app that tracks the airing and continuity of your favorite TV shows. I really wanted to know if “The Newsroom” is coming back next season and I was relieved it is.
It seesms it’s a hit and miss with the app being stable or not. There are a lot of bad reviews due to the app constantly crashing but I haven’t had that problem.
With games like Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 hailed as the best online multiplayer experience you can have if you are a FPS guy. But what about old school gamers? How about Mario multiplayer but with a twist?
I posted about Mari0 (that’s with a 0 not an O) about six months ago [here] when it was a work in progress. It got released a few weeks back with some few elements, namely multiplayer.
I really encourage trying out the game. Its available Windows, Mac and Linux.
Edit: The video contains explicit language.
I have no idea why Google needed all these years to get this on android but they finally releasing Chrome for Android. Google claims better smoother performance and now you can view your open tabs from your desktop (using Chrome for desktop of course) and also sync you bookmarks.
It is still in beta and doesn’t support all countries or devices but you still get it via installing the apk file.
Download it [here].
If you haven’t got much apps installed on your mac then this is a good time to start purchasing some. There are some crazy saving with these bundles and they have a good software collection.
Mac Legion’s bundle only has a few hours left but it might be the least desirable from the bunch as most heavily discounted apps are Motion Composer and Nisus Writer Pro, which I have no interest in.
Productive Macs bundle is the least discounted, selling at $40 down from $264 but has a pretty good collection of apps such as Fantastical and Default Folder X among others. The bundle has 8 days to go.
Bundle hunt has remarkable savings as its the most discounted app bundle of the bunch, selling at $50 down from $1100. But again, the app collection is not for everyone as a Vector Collection wont do everyone some good. The bundle has 4 days left.
I have written about Mac Update and their bundles before. They usually have the best app collection and this time its no different. The Winter 2011 bundle has some essential apps and I like there software management system. The bundle has just under 10 days left.
If you are one that does a lot of online purchases from a number of retailers, you know that its hard to keep track of all of those receipts and orders.
A cool new website is Slice. What it does is simple but clever, it scans your e-mail for receipts and slowly starts building up your online purchase history. It also has very good search features and filters that helps when looking at your orders. You can also track your shipments directly from the website.
There is also an iPhone app available for free.
One of the best features of Android is that if you don’t like anything in the OS you can easily change it. Android’s default keyboard is pretty good, but not as good as SwiftKey X. It is the best keyboard I have ever used on any platform. One of my main gripes with SwiftKey X was that it didn’t support arabic. But with the latest update They included an Arabic keyboard. So now I don’t have to switch to keyboard every time I want to type anything in Arabic.
SwiftKey X is currently on sale on the Android Market and is being sold for $2 (down from $4).
Got an iPhone? Thinking about jailbreaking it? don’t be fooled by the $10 app in the app store that doesn’t have sufficient description and tricks you into thinking it actually jailbreaks your phone. Its just a cheap game. I remember when the App Store was much more strict, but then again, I also remember the I Am Rich app that was being sold for $1000
Google and Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Nexus “Nexus Prime” and Ice Cream Sandwich today at their Hong Kong event. The phone and the softeware should be available in November.
It turns out the they Galaxy Nexus’s specs are the underwhelming ones that I previously mentioned. having 1.2Ghz CPU, 5MP rear camera, 1750 mAh battery. But its still considered one hell of a device.
The current phone specs are lacking the 2100Mhz band. I wonder how will this effect us here or are we going to wait for an international version.
The iPhone 4S was a bit of a disappointment, waiting almost 18 months for a just a camera and processor upgrade. But Apple had a trick up their sleeve, making the coolest feature in iOS 5 an iPhone 4S exclusive even though most -if not all- voice to text transcribing is not done on the device itself but in the cloud.
Google in the other hand had simple voice search/command linked to its search app in Android. It is used even by Google Translate with its latest update giving it one hell of a functionality.
Vlingo Virtual Assistant:
The original is still the best voice-powered Virtual Assistant on Android.Looking for Siri-like functionality on your Android device? Look no further.
Voice Action takes it a step further by enabling you to set alarms, reminders and ask it other various questions and it will answer. Its based on Google Voice Search so you must have it installed.
Another Google Search based app is Edwin, this app also lets you turn on stuff like bluetooth, wifi, ask it the time and weather. The searches are done via Wolfram Alpha (same as Siri)
With that said, Apple’s implementation of voice commands is the most elegant of the bunch. Hope Google does the same in the next Android update.