Archive for the ‘ Hardware ’ Category

Canada is a year behind in Mobile Trends

Online Graphing

I could pretty much just post this chart and call it a day. The numbers are taken from the just released data from Quorus Consulting for Canadian statistics and from Nielson for the US numbers. It clearly shows the Canadian market in 2011 mirroring what the US looked like a year before.

So why the discrepancy? Well it’s likely a number of factors but ultimately it boils down to three; loyalty, pricing and marketing.

Loyalty is the obvious one, RIM is a Canadian company and people enjoy supporting a product of Canada. Also since so many businesses, schools and government are built around the blackberry it makes moving to an alternative more difficult.

Pricing is definitely another proponent of slowing down progress and has much to do with Canadian carriers and their three year contracts. I’m still on a contract from my 2008 purchase of a Windows Mobile HTC Touch Pro. To upgrade before August of 2011 I have had to buy my Android phone at full price.

It’s not just contract pricing but also device pricing that has helped Blackberry stay on top. RIM has done well due to inexpensive devices like the Curve and the Pearl. These devices were often given away for free with contract and offered a better experience than the competition could provide at that price point. But Canada is finally starting to get some inexpensive Android devices worth owning that offer the better experience in lower price bracket.

The biggest reason for the discrepancy is marketing and is something that Apple excels at. What has kept Android behind is the lack of centralized marketing. Google doesn’t push Android like Apple or RIM does with iOS and BlackBerry. It’s up to the carriers and manufacturers to do so and as a result the message is fairly fragmented.

It is in this very area that US differs drastically and is all thanks to Apple’s bad decision to limit the iPhone to AT&T. Verizon (AT&T’s biggest competitor) in an effort to stay relevant in the smartphone space heavily promoted Android. The Droid namesake was bought and sold by Verizon with a consistent message, Droid Does. The recent change in Apple’s approach which brought the iPhone to Verizon has done very little to slow Android down. The damage was down and it all started with the original Droid back in late 2009. It was the spark that lit the fire and brought Android to the mainstream and informed the masses of a true alternative to iOS.

No carrier in Canada has done for Android what Verizon did in the US. But with recent increases in Android alternatives on all Canadian carriers and no new iPhone in sight the summer of 2011 could turn out to be a big quarter for Android. I’ll have to come back to this next year and see just how much Canada has progressed.


Best Gaming Laptop February 2011

by Dave Loft

If your looking for a gaming laptop, this is what I recommend.

$2100 – ASUS G73jW-3DE
(Core i7-740WM, 8GB, 2 x 500GB, Geforce GTX 460M w\ 1.5GB, Blu-Ray, 17.3″, 1080P 3D)

High End
$1600 – ASUS G53JW-A1
(Core i7-740QM, 6GB, 750GB, Geforce GTX 460M w\ 1.5GB, 15.6″, 1080P)

Mid Range
$1200 – ASUS G53JQ-A1
(Core i7-740QM, 4GB, 500GB, Geforce GT 420M w\ 1GB, 15.6″, 720P)

Entry Level
$800 – Acer AS5820TG-6406
(Core i5-480M, 6GB, 640GB, Radeon HD 6550 w\ 1GB, 15.6″, 720P)

Best Graphics Card February 2011

by Dave Loft

With the latest addition of cards and price shifting we now have an equal playing field between Nvidia and ATI. Choose your favorite brand and rest assured your getting the best performance for any budget.

Budget Gaming

$125 – ATI Radeon  5750 w\ 1024MB GDDR5

$140 – Nvidia Geforce GTS 450 w\ 1024MB GDDR5

Mainstream Gaming

$190 – ATI Radeon HD 6850 w\1024MB GDDR5

$210 – Nvidia Geforce GTX 465 w\1024MB GDDR5

Performance Gaming

$260 – ATI Radeon HD 6870 w\ 1024 MB GDDR5

$260 – Nvidia Geforce GTX 560  w\ 1024MB GDDR5

Enthusiasts Gaming

$370 – ATI Radeon HD 6970 w\ 2024MB GDDR5

$380 – Nvidia Geforce GTX 570 w\ 1280MB GDDR5

Best Graphics Card October 2010

by Dave Loft

The Nvidia Geforce GTX 460 was going to be on this list but with the newly released Radeon 6800 series providing better performance for the same price it has made the Geforce obsolete. The Radeon 6800 series nails the midrange performance per dollar catagory while also improving the performance per watt when compared with the previous 5800 series.

Budget Gaming

$100 – ATI Radeon 5670 w\ 1024MB GDDR5

Mainstream Gaming

$145 – Nvidia Geforce GTS 450 w\ 1024MB GDDR5

$185 – ATI Radeon HD 6850 w 1024MB GDDR5

Performance Gaming

$245 – ATI Radeon HD 6870 w\ 1024 MB GDDR5

Enthusiasts Gaming

$490 – 2 x ATI Radeon HD 6870 w\ 1024MB GDDR5 in Crossfire

$500 – Nvidia Geforce GTX 480 w\ 1536MB GDDR5

Order your customized Android handset…soon

A company based in Germany just launched their site with an option to order a customized Android handset with pricing starting at just €299 (just over $400). Unfortunately due to popularity the site is currently down so I haven’t had a chance to see just how much each upgrade adds the total. Even still I do love the idea of handsets being sold this way and hope to see more of this in the future.

Here are the specs you start with:

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • 1GHz processor
  • 4-inch Super-AMOLED screen
  • microSD card slot, expandable to 32GB

After that, customizable options include:

  • Radio (3G or 4G, including LTE and WiMAX)
  • Bluetooth
  • Camera (including: front and back-facing camera options, up to 12MP and whether or not to include flash)
  • Mini-HDMI
  • Physical or capacitive buttons
  • Body color (black or white)
  • Working memory
  • Built-in memory
  • Mobile television built-in
for more info head over to customize your own Synapse-Phone

Apple Music Event Sep 1st 2010

Stats – Apple Store in 10 countries with as much as 1 million visitors a day. There are now 120 million iOS devices and 230,000 new iOS activations per day. The App Store has 250,000 iOS apps and 25,000 for the iPad. 200 apps downloaded every second.

iPod Shuffle – Much improved over last generation, physical controls are back with all the voice capability of the last generation model. You get 15 hours of music playback for $59 with 2GB. Personally I would get the SanDisk Sansa Clip with 8GB for that price and you even get a screen but I’m no Apple lover.

iPod Nano – Smaller square design, no physical buttons on the face, multi-touch display with a clip on the back so you can wear it. No more camera capability, it never really made sense to add it to the last generation but if you liked it, too bad it’s gone. Also gone is video playback, I guess they really want you to spend that extra $80 and just get an iPod Touch. That way you can give them even more money with the addition of apps and games. You can see 4 buttons on a screen at one time and you can rearrange the icons as you see fit. No physical control means you must be looking at the device to use it. The commercial showed it clipped to your clothing while using it which would be pretty hard to do with a touch screen. It’s small and pretty but I don’t see it selling near as well as the iPod Touch, which has a funny name considering that the Nano now does touch but I digress. You get 24 hours of music playback for $159 with 8GB and $189 with 16GB. I still can’t believe they haven’t added Bluetooth stereo support, I can’t go back to wires. For that price it should really have that capability. I think the old Nano is a more compelling product but at this time I don’t see any reason investing almost $200 in a music only player. If you like Apple, get the Nano or go all out and get the iPod Touch which offers so much more.

iPod Touch – It’s just what everyone expected, an iPhone 4 without the phone. Finally it has a camera on the front and back for FaceTime and HD Recording. The very high res retina display, Apple A4 processor and Gyroscope for more precise control. It brings Face Time calling to those who don’t want a contract and a monthly fee. You get 40 hours of music playback for $249 with 8GB, $319 with 32GB and $429 with 64GB.

iPod Classic – No mention of it at the event but I have confirmation that it will still be available and nothing has changed. I thought this was going to bend of the iPod Classic but alas it’s still alive and kicking for at least another year. You get 36 hours of music playback for $279 with 160GB. I suspect we will see a 128GB iPod Touch next year and the Classic will be put to pasture.

iOS 4.1 – Will be available next week for iPhone 3, 3GS and 4. Many bug fixes and performance improvements especially to iPhone 3. A new addition to the camera app is the ability to take High Dynamic Range photos. It takes 3 photos at once at different exposures and combines them into one image. It brings out detail in overblown areas of the photo as well as in the shadows. A great addition if it actually works as well as it demoed. Game Centre finally makes an appearance. It creates a social gaming network, allowing you to add your friends and see what they are playing and what achievements they recently acquired. It allows you to invite a friend into a multiplayer game and should provide a great experience as long as you don’t add to many friends and get bombarded with game invites. The notification system in iOS is so pathetic that adding more to it will probably get annoying real fast.

iOS 4.2 – Will be available in November and is geared towards the iPad and will bring all of the features the iPhone got with 4.0 and 4.1 like multi-tasking and gamer center finally to the iPad. The so called computer replacement will finally get multitasking this November.

iPad – No new iPad mentioned. Rumors were that they were going to announce a smaller iPad but I guess we will have to wait for January for that. Personally my usage scenario for a pad like device makes me want something smaller like a 7″ device. Reading for any extended amount of time can be tiring. Not to mention how ridiculous people look walking around in public using a 10″ iPad, i just don’t get it.

iTunes 10 – A slight refinement to iTunes with the addition of Ping a social network for music. A change to the icon removes the cd in the background and it ss available now.

AppleTV – It’s 1/4 the size of the original AppleTV. It uses the same processor and graphics chip used in the latest iPod Touch and iPhone 4. No built in storage, it’s just a streaming device. Built in HDMI, 100 Mb Ethernet, optical ports as well as Wi-Fi 802.11n with both 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies. You cannot buy any movies or TV, rental and streaming only. You can buy from iTunes on your computer and stream it to the device. It’s only $119 which some might say is amazing but considering what it has built in and what it does it’s not that special it’s just par for the course. It includes the basic Apple Remote and can be controlled by an iOS device with the remote application. HD TV rentals are $0.99 and brand new HD Movie Rentals start at $4.99 and drop over time. They never mentioned this in the press conference but it is confirmed to only do 720P so it won’t fully take advantage of your 1080p display. Apple never even bothered to mention and it and probably never will. Apple users probably won’t even know the difference and if they do will probably try to sidestep the issue with an argument about bit rate. Yeah you know the type. You can also access YouTube, Netflix, Flickr and Mobile Me content. Unfortunately this is no Google TV or Xbox competitor. It does not run iOS apps and games. It has a web browser but obviously no flash and no Hulu. Google TV with its app support and full flash capability make it a far more desirable product as far as I’m concerned but anyone living in the closed world of Apple will love the AppleTV. I guess Apple hasn’t learned anything from the success of the iPod Touch and iPhone. Gaming was a big part of that platform and could have made this platform that much more desirable. But I suppose they could just release a software update next year enabling just that capability, we shall see. If you’re looking for a basic streaming device like AppleTV but want more codec capability and app support, I recommend the WD TV or the Roku video player.

Dave Loft

Update your Drivers

ATI has released updated drivers for their graphics cards and is available for download now. If you ever had any game related issues on your PC and don’t download the latest drivers yourself, that might be why. Don’t rely on Windows Update to give you up to date graphic drivers, you need to hit up ATI or Nvidia to get the latest. From my experience they update their drivers with optimizations and fixes for most major game releases.

Download the latest ATI drivers

Download the latest Nvidia drivers

Dave Loft

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