Samsung Chromebook Hands-On!

Google is known for venturing into any and every tech related field they can, from the web to mobile to even food somehow. A couple of years back, they decided to one up they’re chrome browser and create Chrome OS, an operating system that was basically the browser. Fast forward some time, chrome os has become much more advanced than before all while sticking to it’s clear reasoning, to be a web based operating system, with everything moving to “the cloud,” why have a heavy, expensive Windows or Mac operating system acting as a middleman? Why not just have the browser be the OS? At it’s inception chrome wasn’t really much, it was missing quite a bit of it’s features and basically wasn’t that appealing. Now though, with the second generation of Chromebook laptops in our hands, there might just be a place in all our hearts for the Chrome OS.

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The first Samsung Chromebook that came out was more of a test, they wanted to see if there was a market for it and if they got any feedback. Sure enough, they got feedback. People spoke about how it was a good idea but it was too expensive for something that does so little, it was too clunky, battery life was poor, etc, So samsung took all those comments and made the Macbook Air  Samsung Chromebook 2.0. The new device featured a slim and trimmed down body, a much better display and keyboard, an ARM processor as opposed to an x86chip, which almost tripled the battery life, threw in 100GB of free Google Drive storage for a year and best of all? Priced it at $249. Ever since I heard that I’ve been dying to get my hands on the chromebook and finally, I did so here are my thoughts and opinions. This is not a full review as I did not spend enough time with it to review it in depth.

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As soon as I switched on the device I was impressed. I just had to sign into my google account and everything was there already, all my extensions and plugins and everything i needed. It was fast and smooth and had no issues opening up any webpages I threw at it, even the graphically intensive ones. I could even log into my plex web console and stream all my tv shows and movies from my PC, and that’s where the twist comes in.Although the chromebook is a great device. It’s most certainly not a desktop replacement. I could see myself giving up my tablet for this any day of the week. The addition of the keyboard plus the full interface desktop browser makes this device makes this more capable for productivity and other tasks as compared to a casual toy, which is how I look at tablets, well larger tablets. I have other opinions on tablets like the nexus 7 but I’ll save them for a later post.

So who do I think this is targeted at? The masses. Say you want to have a powerful desktop PC for all your gaming/editing needs but still need something to be able to take notes in class or in a meeting, that’s where the chromebook comes in. It is to the world what netbooks never where and in my opinion what the tablets tried to be, a robin to your batman. And with that I end this relatively short post, but feel free to bask in the beauty of the chromebook with the images below.

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Paranoid Android 3.60 (Hello HALO) Review

Some of you may have read my recent post about the time I’ve spent with my Galaxy Nexus. Ironically the day after I wrote that post (which was a couple of weeks before I had posted it) My phone stopped working. I mean completely, it refused to open the app drawer then when I tried rebooting it went into bootloop and ultimately crashed. That was the tipping point for me, I took it as a sign. My phone was screaming at me to go back to the old ways of root apps, sick customizations and custom rom’s. So what other choice did I have?

The first decision was, which ROM do I use? This was a relative no-brainer, Although I wanted to go with AOKP as I had used it briefly and loved it, all the hype right now seemed to be surrounding paranoid android and it’s “Hello HALO” feature. For those of you who are unaware of what HALO is, and no it’s not the game, it’s a sort of unified chathead, where all your notifiaction appears in a chathead like format. Before I give you my review, I would like to point out that I’ve been using Paranoid android for 26 days right now and my opinion stems from that time spent with it.

To be honest I was underwhelmed. I was expecting something that would blow my mind away, like AOKP and CM10.1 did. Cause they felt like stock android on steroids. Paranoid Android however felt like that one schizophrenic part of the android 4.2 system that was out of place from the rest. The whole time I used it the concept of the ugly duckling came to my mind. It’s pretty much the same as stock android on the inside, it has the same features, but it’s not pretty. I also ended up comparing Paranoid Android to your typical highschool douchebag. It’s trying to be something that it’s not. You get the feeling like you know he’s a good guy but he’s trying too hard to be something he’s not.

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In all actuality, my experience with PA wasn’t all that bad. I was just expecting something over the top and my expectations were set too high for it. That’s not to say there weren’t some parts of it that didn’t completely blow me away. For instance, the standby battery life was brilliant, simply outstanding. I have those days where I just don’t use my phone all that much, like when I’m really busy at work and have tons of meetings and deadlines. Usually by the time I reach my office (at 8:00am)  it’s at 84% and by 5:00pm it’s below 15%. Imagine my surprise when I pulled my phone out of my pocket at 5:30pm one day and see my battery at 78%? Even on the days that I use it moderately I end up leaving the office with 30-40% which isn’t really that great compared to other phones but compared to stock android it’s brilliant. As you can see from the screenshot of my battery information on the right (that small bump on the graph was when I was transferring music onto my phone) The kernel does a great job of managing power.

There are a few other things I liked about paranoid android. For example, I liked the fact that I can change the status bar colour and icon colour to match the app that I’m in, this actually helps in space perspective. For example, I made the colour of the status bar green in whatsapp and faded blue in instagram so that it made it seem like my screen was actually bigger, it’s a nifty trick. But you must also keep in mind that it took me ages to get the right colour combination. I also liked that the lag was noticeably less compared to stock android and that my battery didn’t heat up as much, but then again that’s the case on every other ROM.

Screenshot_2013-06-29-15-49-26  The main reason I wanted to try out PA was HALO, I love chatheads and I dreamed of the day where I would get whatsapp functionality for Whatsapp. It’s safe to say I was hugely disappointed. I understand that it’s in beta, that’s why I’m not going to say anything about the errors and the bugs. What annoyed me was the way it worked in general. When you click on the bubble your app opens, that’s obvious, what annoyed me was that when I clicked on it again, instead of closing the app back into the bubble, it just opens another window. That irked me more than you’d think. I hated having to open an app and hit the back button to close it, if I wanted to do that I would stick to android’s built in multitasking as it offers the same functionality. After a while what I realised was that HALO is basically offering me what I already have, but giving me less than 50% the screen real estate. This for me made the whole concept of HALO utterly redundant.

PIE control is another feature that PA touts around. In my experience with it it definitely looks cool but is really just a gimmick. It takes to long for it to pop out, just so we can go back or home. It looks really nice and makes you feel like you’re using a gadget out of minority report but at the end of the day for a power user like me it’s really more of a hassle then it is a feature to talk about. The extended desktop functionality is useful when I need extra real estate and know that I’ll be within that one app for a long Screenshot_2013-07-12-09-41-54time but otherwise is just problematic. One would think after reading what I just wrote that the simple solution would be to use PIE in conjunction with HALO but trust me, once you try it you’d see for yourself why it really does not work.

There are a couple of other gripes that I have with this ROM, such as the over exaggeration of colours, which makes you feel like you’ve dived into the deepest realm of the matrix and the fact that my cell reception has dropped intensely ever since I flashed PA but these are small things that I can live with. All in all Paranoid Android is fine if you’re on a device where you want the stock android experience but in my opinion the entire ROM itself is a gimmick and just doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the better ROM’s available out there.

Disagree with my opinions or have something you need to add? Sound off in the comments below or shoot me an email at sohamthenerd@gmail.com

Until next time folks.

The Galaxy Nexus Experience, 8 Months Later

Samsung and Google’s second child in the mobile department, the Galaxy Nexus has been around for almost two years now and although the Nexus 4 improves on many of the gripes I have with the Galaxy Nexus, I never made the switch. That’s partly due to the fact that I picked up the Galaxy Nexus a week before they announced the Nexus 4. Even though the GNex has been around for quite a while we can’t necessarily call it “old-gen”. With a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a 720p display, the GNex is probably the best mid range android handset around today. Having said that there definitely were a few instances where I’ve wanted to bang my phone against the wall.

Let’s start with software. The biggest advantage to buying a nexus device is that you get the assurance that your software is probably going to work better on your phone as compared to anything else you might pick up as it is maintained by google itself. It runs the latest version of android (4.2.2) and its smooth, most of the time. My biggest problem with the phone is probably the battery. Not the battery life (which is abysmal) but the battery itself. My battery is constantly at 38 degrees but more that often above 47. That not only makes the phone really hot but also causes an immense performance drop. Swiping through home screens takes long and it takes the phone about 3 seconds to register touches. Apps like the gallery and browser are unusable and often force close. Apps that are more power hungry refuse to even open and often cause the phone to just crash.

The thing I love the most about my phone is how customisable it is. Rooting and tinkering with a nexus device is a breeze, especially with Wugs toolkit. There’s nothing about the phone you can’t change. When I got the phone I went crazy with all the things you could customise. I was running CM10.1 with Franco’s Kernel, used ROM toolbox pro to root and configure the little things, changed my font, my boot animation, my softkeys and made many other customisations. This however brings me to my next point.

At the beginning when I had the phone it was flawless. No lag, never force closed, no issues. However, after a while, one by one issues started to arise. It got so bad that I had to do a complete wipe of the phone and go fully back to stock. I’m now on the stock ROM with the stock kernel and action launcher + flatro icons on the front end. Things were never the same however. It could be due to the battery over heating or maybe some other issues. I tried loading Paranoid Android over the weekend to try out the ‘HALO’ feature, much to my dismay my phone was beyond unusable. I went through all the checkpoints (wipe system, cache, dalvik, etc.) but nothing worked. The phone booted up fine but navigating through the home screens and menus were a nightmare. Everything lagged like it never lagged before. I couldn’t open any apps and when some would open I wouldn’t be able to use them (like the settings app).  So alas, I restored my nandroid backup and even though its running well now on stock android, I steel feel like I’m a burger without fries or like SpongeBob without Patrick, I feel like I’m missing a part of me.

OS Review – Windows 8

Yes, it’s true, for the first time since 1995 Microsoft has decided to overhaul the user interface on their coveted windows OS. People like me have been screaming “yes, finally!! get rid of that dipshit UI” but those loyal to microsoft are being very annoying regarding their concerns on the modernisation of the user interface.

I installed the Windows Developer Preview on my daily driver, my beloved laptop. Now yes I agree that is a very very stupid thing to do, considering this is just test software and not nearly stable enough to be my daily OS of choice, and all that is true. Although I was and still am truly amazed my the METRO UI on a big screen, especially since I’ve long been a fan of windows phone, this build had way to many bugs and glitches to run any of my software properly, It drained my battery like crazy, giving me a 3hour life span when I used to get 7, the brightness could never be adjusted, sound never worked and WiFi always got disconnected, hell it couldn’t even install the blackberry desktop software due to problems with .NET but I’m here to give you my review of what is to come in windows 8, and so far so good 🙂

We shall start with probably one of the most talked about features of the new OS, the start screen. The start screen was amazingly well thought of and all the work and effort by the entire microsoft team is visible in this dev preview. Even though it’s mainly designed for tablet use and finger touchy touchy, the new UI works great with a mouse and keyboard as well. With a multitouch trackpad, you can use two finger swipe to scroll back and forth around your start screen and pinch to view the entire thing as a map, although I have not been able to accomplish this. The use of keyboard shortcuts also helps navigating around your start screen, such as
“windows key + a” lets you search for apps, all in a very METRO way.

Moving on to number two, the explorer. The new windows explorer is amazing! I never liked the ribbon system, but over here it’s extremely useful and allows much more quick and efficient workflow. I can do all the usual stuff from right on top plus a hell of a lot more stuff I never knew I could, and with 3rd party developers allowed access to add their own plug ins to the ribbon, there’s gonna be some pretty good stuff heading our way. The transfer system is also really amazing, I used to hate copying and moving stuff on the old OS’s because windows explorer would crash or lag if you tried to move too many different things from different places, not to mention the crazy number of pop up windows. the new system allows all the transfers to combine their-self into one window and finally transfers can be paused! thank you microsoft! Oh and not to forget native ISO support! Bowchickawowow

On to my most favorite part of windows 8, the new task manager, now many people don’t even care about this so I shall make this breif, while sitting in my briefs. THE NEW TASK MANAGER IS AWESOME! that’s all I have to say, as you can see in the picture above, it allows us to monitor our memory usage, cpu usage, data trafic, etc. and gives us complete information detailing what’s going on in our computers, sweet!

Applications baby! the most amazing this about this OS are the applications! They’re built atop of html5 and other languages and incorporate metro so they have the best user interfaces and feel completely awesome to use! I do not know how to explain this in words, you will just have to use these yourself to know how awesome they are. Some apps I could really see being built amazingly in metro are Skype, Twitter/TweetDeck, Microsoft Office, Adobe CS’s, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Live Writer, uTorrent and basically everything else! It will just feel completely awesome, awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome!

In conclusion, windows 8 is a very fast, smooth and easy to use operating system thats not only beautiful in terms of the UI but also under the hood. I am extremely excited about the next release of windows and even though I am uninstalling it from my laptop, I will miss it immensely and I am eager and anxious for the next build, which is the beta build, expected to be released by feb 2012 and will definitely be reinstalling it on my laptop.

Trailer Review: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU IN 3D (read this in 6 months)

TTHHHEEEEYYYYY’RREEEEEE BBBBAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!! I AM SO EXCITED AFTER WATCHING THIS TRAILER YOU GUYS!

Okay, let’s get down to business…

The first and second movie were directed by Eric Darnell and Tim McGrath. For this latest installment, McGrath will not be joining Darnell in the directors seat, instead Conrad Vernon will take his place. Vernon worked as a creative consultant for the first Madagascar movie, and has previously directed Monsters vs Aliens.

The storyline: The gang arrives in Monte Carlo to find the penguins. Over there they cause a lot of ruckus thus Scary Cop Lady is called upon to catch them. Now, they’re hiding from the law and have apparently made the ‘Europe’s Most Wanted’ list (I guess Inspector Clouseau has caught all the actual criminals – please don’t make a Pink Panther 3). Running, as you can imagine, gets pretty tiring so they decide to lay low for a while and join a circus!

The Voices: Don’t tell me you’ve actually forgotten? Let me tell you anyway,

BEN STILLER. AS ALEX. *crowds cheering* THE LIIIIOOOONNNNN. *crowds cheering*
CHRIS ROCK. AS MARTY. THE CIRCUS-LOVING ZEBRA.
DAVID SCHWIMMER. AS MELMAN. THE TALLEST GIRAFFE IN EUROPE.
JADA PINKETT SMITH. AS GLORIA. THE (BOOTYLICIOUS) HIPPO.
 

Releasing on June 8, 2012 (so far :o). Go watch the trailer, lots of little laughs here in there. Has the same charm as the other two movies and of course contains our favorite song and the Madagascar trademark: I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT. he likes to move it move it, she likes to move it move it, they like to move it move it, WE LIKE TO, MOVE IT!!

P.S: If you guys recall in the last movie, Melman final giraffed-up and told Gloria how he felt about her. I’m hoping they actually follow-up on this instead of pretending like it never happened. ALSO, it’s been 6 years since the first Madagascar movie?! Wow. Kind of just makes you feel old but still young at heart huh 🙂
 

Game Review: Saints Row The Third

Every once in a while that game comes along that’s both funny and interesting, that really let’s you enjoy yourself, that game is Saints Row the Third. What is Saints Row the Third? Well, it’s basically an open world, action adventure sandbox style game that let’s you roam around and do whatever the hell you want, all while having side missions to complete as well. Games such as these are some of my favorite types of games, they’re not too serious and extremely fun to play. Isn’t that what a game is supposed to be? fun? Well to describe better just how fun saints row is, I’ll be splitting my review up into Pro’s, Con’s and finally a conclusion. Let’s start with the pro’s shall we?

Pro’s:

Vehicle’s and Driving System

yes, the real reason I play these games, the cars. Cars and vehicles as a whole in SR3 are amazing! SR3 has the best vehicle system in an open world game ever! The driving system is smooth and fluent and yet crazy awesome. One great thing about the cars are that you can store them in your garage (yes I am aware that GTA had that too) but in SR3, you get too take a vehicle out, crash it somewhere, and it still remains in your garage, you don’t lose it until you delete it! how amazing is that? Another thing is that customization’s are extremely detailed, you get to upgrade the inside and the outside, this makes it feel like you’re playing GTA mixed with NFS! You can also purchase an upgrade that let’s you call a “homie” and let him deliver a vehicle to you! how fun? oh and did my mention? you get to fly planes, yeah, I said it, planes! boom!

Gameplay and Storyline

Is there really much to say about this? you’re in a gang, you’re leader gets killed, you get pissed, and take out every single lonely jerk that stands in your way! The gameplay is overall comedic and quite fun, light and not too serious, unlike all the other games *cough* LA Noire *cough*. You get to pull out your smartphone and call for a mission, and even if you’ve finished the entire storyline already, there are loads of activities and side missions for you to play, so you don’t get bored 🙂 Also you get to buy buildings and invest in local stores, this earns you an hourly income, so you can buy some pretty slick and gangsta threads, which I’m getting to next

Clothing System and Gangs

Isn’t it more fun to play when you get to customize exactly how you look? from head to toe, SR3 allows you to customize exactly how you want to look. They also have preset outfits, for the lesser creative people or the ones who lack fashion sense (such as myself). The Gang feature is pretty neat as well, let’s you build a gang and customize exactly how you want them to act, from the cars they drive and guns they carry to how they dress (I personally filled up my gang with purple ninja’s who drive muscle cars).

Con’s:

Cops & Levels

yes sadly, every-time there’s a great game, there are flaws to it, and SR3’s biggest flaw is their police AI. Police are everywhere, and I mean everywhere! right outside your house, near the alley, in your mom’s toilet! And the worst part is their super sensitive, you bump into someone on the streets and next thing you know you’re getting shot at. And they’re so bloody hard to kill! No matter which gun you use, it takes at least 3 bullets for them to fall. That’s a waste of bullets, especially with the Luchador’s, Morning Star and Deckers all on your tail as well! And what is up with the level system? Games like GTA don’t ask you if you want it Easy, Medium or Hard, you play it the way it’s meant to be played, not how you want to play it!

Weapons and Shooting

Probably what you will be doing 80% of the time, shooting. Sure the weapons are upgradeable, but there isn’t much variety. Maybe it’s just me, but I like having 5-6 different types of SMG’s to choose from. And the shooting and aiming system isn’t just that comfy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, SR3 is a modern day re-imagining of GTA San Andreas and is really one hell of an amazing game. It brings awesomeness and humor together to really satisfy you’re gaming needs. I’m not saying it’s amazing for everyone, it can be very immature at times and is not for the people who want super serious games, if you want serious, go with Assasins Creed. I’ll  give this game an overall of 83% which is the best percentage I’ve given to a game since Mafia II (89%)