So I’ve been playing with the Chromecast for the majority of this month and unfortunately, I’m not impressed. Besides the ability to blow up anything you’d viewing on the phone to HD resolution on your TV, what else is there? I like the fact that I can watch it in great quality on TV, but it feels like there’s something missing. I enjoy it for what it does, but I wish there was more to casting videos on television. The worst part is that Amazon Instant Video isn’t even available on Android yet. That would certainly go a long way in making me want to use my Chromecast a bit more. They also need to bring phone casting out of beta. I’ve used it a handful of times and it gets stuck even after I’ve disconnected. It’s an impulse buy at $35, but let’s get real here. It’s not a Roku killer as I long suspected, but the apps it supports, it does well. I guess my expectations were set too high. I Ike the Chromecast, I just think that more could have been done with it. Hoping future updates fix up all the kinks and add new features.
I’ve been using the Surface 2 since I bought it Saturday. Bought the Touch Cover 2 a day after at Best Buy (Why the Microsoft Store ran out of stock when Best Buy didn’t boggles my mind). The Touch Cover 2 is very nice. Although, I really wish the typing would keep up with my pace and that I wouldn’t mistype my words most of the time.
After a week of playing around with the Surface 2 and now getting to spend time with the Touch Cover 2, I’m still trying to find my way with it. Obviously, since there is no feel, I really need to look at the keys before I type. On the other hand, the sound that it makes when typing when volume is on a high level is splendid. The black color can easily fade, so keep that in mind. The Touch Cover 2 is light and thin and connecting it to the Surface 2 gives it that satisfying click sound that made the original Surface RT famous. Hopefully, I’ll be skilled at typing on a flat keyboard cover in time. It’s not that bad, but I do feel a need to really press on the corresponding key for it to work. I like the fact that there is a backlight for typing at night when all the lights are off. I can say that there is potential, just that I need to improve on typing on a cover. Fortunately, autocorrect is always there to help me.
Now we come to the tablet itself. It’s beautiful. This screams out premium item and rightfully so. From the feel of the Surface 2 to the look, Microsoft clearly spared no expense in trying to convey that. It’s not creaky and the builders clearly paid every bit of attention to detail. The 1080p screen is beautiful. Coming from the original CR-48 Chromebook, everything is a huge improvement. From the processor to the performance, this is what a tablet should feel like. The CR-48 was a Netbook that while Chrome OS, browser wise could still run, I wouldn’t be surprised if the end of the road was nearing soon due to the old single-core Intel Atom Processor that it possesses. NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 Processor with 2GB RAM is sufficient enough to stream videos while running another app or Office. The 10.6-inch screen makes it perfect for Multi-tasking another two apps side-by-side. New for Windows RT 8.1, multitasking two apps can now share equal space. You’ve got the Modern UI for your apps and the Desktop for Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 with the traditional Windows interface. The Modern UI is fast and sleek. The Desktop will consume a bit more memory, but not enough that it will slow down and lag.
Battery life is dependent on screen brightness and whether you have your display automatically turn off. It’s very bright and I’ve turned both auto brightness and the option to turn off the display automatically off. This means less battery life than usual. I’ve gotten around five hours with heavy YouTube, video watching and being in the Desktop. Your mileage will differ depending on how you’ll primarily use the Surface 2. For productive use, I’m sure it’ll last longer.
Edit: As of 11/12/13, the Surface 2 just received a hardware update that will increase battery life. Right now, I’m testing to see if there has been any improvements in battery life. I’m also noticing that there are times that the Touch Cover 2 either struggles to catch up at times when you type really fast or I’m not physically typing hard enough.
Second Edit: Finished battery life tests, looks like I lasted 5 hours with YouTube and video on for 2 hours. I was down to 30% when I went out and came back. Not bad. If I was just working, I think battery life would’ve lasted even longer. I still like the sounds the keys make even if the sounds aren’t necessarily real. I still like it, so this purchase was definitely worth it.
Recently, Mozilla Japan’s new office was designed by NOSIGNER. They designed all furnitures based on the idea of Open Source. They used general products and uploaded all drawings to the website. Therefore, these designs might also be able to call the “open source furniture” so to speak….
A tribute to ROGER EBERT
Truer words were never spoken.
Futuristic User Interface 09: Cyberpunk UIs and Huds from Anime Movies IV.
Yes, I said it. Their lawsuits and patents are bordering on either news grab, the question “Seriously?”, or the most asinine things that have been written. I say all three of them. In case you haven’t kept up with the news, Apple is suing Samsung, HTC, and Motorola for violating their patents. Normally, I would applaud Apple for sticking to their guns and suing those companies because Apple is in their right to protect its’ property and it should. Don’t get me wrong. Apple has innovated before and changed things for a good amount of people. OS X is original and an example of innovation in terms of design, functionality, and looks. People have a second operating system to consider besides Windows. OS X is also easy to pick up and use just by looking at a picture of the user interface. iOS is an original innovation. If you thought OS X was easy to use, iOS is even easier to use for phones and as an iPod with Wi-Fi. All you have are icons, or apps that you tap on and you open up that program. You also have a notification center that will tell you anything you’ve missed since the last time you picked up that phone. I credit iOS with putting touchscreens on the map and making people realize that simplicity and functionality together can work under a phone operating system. The iPod line, while not original, redefined the MP3 player landscape. Apple has innovated and made other companies question what they’ve done before by showing them their vision and take on well-established items, the computer and the music player come to mind.
Even with all this, it is hard to understand why Apple has been suing people left and right with the most ridiculous products. It’s even more baffling to me how judges can side with Apple when Android looks different software-wise to Apple and even more baffling that Apple has the look of a tablet patented. That in of itself is something that should never have been granted, even in broad terms. It speaks to how messed up the patent system is. It worked back in 1789 when it was adopted in the US Constitution, but software patents seem to be new ground for the current patent system. I will give Apple for being shrewd to actually write their patents in a way that they are broad, but unless you’re Microsoft, cross-licensing is out of the question. Apple hates Android without question. Steve Jobs hated Android and wanted to see it die. I get that Jobs might have felt betrayed by Google when they announced the G1 back in 2008 and decided to create a phone operating system like Apple did since they worked very closely in the past. It’s ridiculous that Apple gets these patents even if they were clever and smart enough to do it. It’s even more ridiculous that people buy into what Apple says and have Android banned in some parts of the world, mostly Samsung. Samsung’s tablets look very similar to the iPad in terms of bezel and looks, I’ll give it that. However, when was that ever grounds for banning products? It sounds ludicrous. Looks wise, I think there’s a difference between the both of them. Consumers should be able to tell a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 apart from an iPad.
The bad thing about this is would be the failure of innovation. With all these patents being used to left and right, innovation seems poised to stop. I wouldn’t say it will be gone, but it’s going to be very hard to actually innovate if you cannot design your phone or tablet in certain ways because of ambiguous writing. Sue if you must, but not for petty things such as looks being similar, hyperlinks in emails, slide to lock, etc. That compromises comfort and ease. It also makes you look like a bully, Apple. I understand that you have to make money and turn in profits, but suing left and right is going to result in a PR backlash for you down the line. Not many people are going to like this side of you if this keeps up, and they will gradually leave just to prove a point. Also, competition is good. Not everybody will welcome the idea that everything in their house has to be Mac or Windows, certainly not me. Android serves a purpose, so does BlackBerry, competition that drives other companies to be better. If Apple silences that, we’re in for a rude awakening.
Nice going dude.
On an uptown C train on Wednesday afternoon, one rider complained that “the commercialization of humanity is destroying everything in the world” and suggested “it would be nice to have public transportation separate from brainwashing.”
He declined to give his name, he said, pulling his hat low, because “all great philosophers are anonymous.”
I’ve had two days (not counting the weekend) with the new version of Chrome OS and so far, I think it’s an overall good update from Chrome OS 18. Cr-48 laptop owners skipped Chrome OS 19, as those were for the 1st Gen Samsung and Acer Chromebooks, as well as what the 2nd Gen Samsung Chromebook and the Chromebox came preloaded with out of the box.
Chrome OS 20 is a radical redesign since it comes with the new Aura UI. Instead of being presented with the regular Chrome Browser with Wi-Fi (or Verizon 3G), time and battery indicators, Aura takes bits and pieces from Windows and Mac. We have windows, a taskbar, wallpaper, and a huge visual improvement from the drab gray browser of the past. I didn’t mind the drab gray browser from Chrome OS 18, although I welcome the new UI of Chrome OS 20. It makes Chrome OS look new again. However, don’t expect apps on the taskbar to open its own separate window. It will open a new tab on whatever window you have open right now that is not in incognito browsing. The app selection page reminded me of OS X Lion’s Launchpad with one annoying gripe for me. I can’t seem to navigate through all my apps if I have more than 45 web-apps. There’s no option to navigate to a second or third page which should not be an issue at this day and age for anybody. I find it hard to believe that Google would not pay attention to this. However, I did take the time to do some summer cleaning and delete apps that I no longer use to find any hidden apps to pin on the taskbar. The transparent borders and the transparent taskbar are very reminiscent of Aero and the taskbar of Windows 7. Heck, the whole style is Windows 7. The kernel, or underlying core that helps software and hardware communicate with one another, is still Linux underneath all that shine and polish.
Beside the visual refresh, Google Drive comes integrated with offline support for Google Docs. Chrome OS 21 will expand on the Google Drive integration, but for the time being, it’s not bad as it does what it does. You can access your stored files from the Files app (located right under the Downloads section) and edit it. I think this is the single most important feature for this update. This is what a lot of people wanted and now they’ve got it. It opens your stored file in a new tab under Google Docs (now called Google Drive), allowing you to edit it.
Since I have the Cr-48 laptop, I also have a new open-source touchpad driver that is designed to handle all the responsiveness issues of the touchpad from previous versions of Chrome OS. There’s been a big improvement because before when accessing imo.im and scrolling down my buddy list, I ended up highlighting about half my buddy list. As of Chrome OS 20, that no longer occurs which is a very great thing. However, some taps don’t register as they used to and it may be a little more sluggish. The sluggishness can be fixed by adjusting the speed, but it’s not so much a problem for me since the pace is still bearable. Besides, two finger scrolling still works and every other gesture works even better than before. Kind of a mixed bag there, but in terms of responsiveness problems, I think this update did the trick. I’m surprised that it took Google this long to fix it. There is now an option to enable reverse scrolling.
Other than these new features and the usual fixes, Flash Player has been updated to the latest 11.3 version and the sandboxed Pepper Flash variant has some updates as well. Besides that, everything else is the same functionality wise. You still need Wi-Fi or Verizon 3G (GSM SIM Card if going international) to be able to get the most out of your Chromebook. Even though Chrome OS 20 is very pleasing to the eyes, offline apps are still hard to come by and a rarity. The same thing still stands, don’t use a Chromebook if you don’t have a Wi-Fi router or justify paying Verizon every month or being in a two or three-year contract with them. Online access is still essential to using Chromebooks. However, other than that, the update is pretty much welcome. Let’s hope Chrome OS 21 will keep the momentum going when it comes out next month.