Nexus 7 is killing the iPod Touch

Google’s Nexus 7 retails at US$199 for the 8GB version and guess what…so does Apple’s iPod Touch. So with the iPod touch, would you trade it up to a iPad Mini for say 150 dollars more? I believe that Apple will not kill the iPod touch just to position itself in a price bracket to counter that of the Google Nexus 7. Instead, they will price the product higher, at between 250 and 350.

I also believe that they will try to lower the screen resolution size as retina displays are just far too expensive. Apple will do well to offer a screen pixel count similar to that of the Nexus 7.

Hardware wise, it could have the same cameras on the current line of iPod touches and with 8GB and 16GB flavors to match the Nexus 7.

Value Proposition

In terms of fair value, the 199 Nexus 7 is far better than the iPod touch. The Nexus 7 will not compete head on with a mini iPad for one reason, Apple still commands a premium over their hardware. Apple will never lower it’s value by playing on price alone. That said, the majority of Android tablet makers made the mistake of releasing hardware that essentially cost the same as the iPad, such stupidity on the side of the manufacturers is not uncommon and this is the reason why Android tablets never gained the  upper hand in market expectations.

Android 7 versus mini iPad

The mini iPad, should it be positioned in the 250 – 350 price class will only do one thing, it will wipe out a slew of Galaxy Tabs, Xooms and the Toshiba Excite  and Toshiba Thrive  as well as a variety of 7 inch tablets. I really do like the Toshibas but they are priced far too high in the food chain. Toshiba should learn that it cannot command a premium like the Apple tablets as it is not seen as a viable alternative.

The iPad mini will not wipe out the market occupied by the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 because Apple does not believe these tablets are in the same league. In terms of consumption, any tablet with a good screen to watch video and play music will probably save the day. The extras like apps are not a big factor in terms of revenue. Just do the maths, if Apple paid out 4 billion over the course of five years to app developers, this means that Apple made roughly 1 billion+ in that five year period. That said, this does not compare to the amount of revenue it generates through hardware sales like the iPhone or iPad directly.

The iTunes store for music and movies doesn’t nearly make as much money for Apple. The margins for selling these media items are even lower and iTunes store around the world are not seeing hefty gains in profit even when more of such stores are set up around the world.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for consuming media, Android tablets will offer a cheaper price point to Apple tablets. However if you are in the market for a branded device for consuming media, there is no denying that the mini iPad will offer a far more attractive option to Android’s 10 inch and premium 7 inch devices.

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Piracy and the Android App

Here’s a interesting bit of news. Madfinger Games has made it’s Dead Trigger FPS Zombie game free after having only released it as a paid app. The asking price was just 99 cents but according to Madfinger folks, the game has seen high piracy rates so it is making it free while the iOS devices still require you to pay for it.

But let us not forget that the game itself requires you to buy stuff to upgrade weapons. Though it is free to play now, it is not free to upgrade. Madfinger has denied it is a freemium game but if you look at it, it IS a freemium game if you have in-app purchases.

So what is the true picture of this apparent “piracy” and the gaming model employed. If you are really sincere about giving a game for free, then let there be no in-app purchase attachments to it because at some level or other, the game is going to be impossible to complete as you are not properly kitted out.

I have nothing against freemium games but they should of course stand on their own and not charge a cent if in-app purchases were their originally their intent for making money from it. But right now, the only people who have to suffer this bane are Apple fanboys! They have to both fork out for the in-app upgrades and 99 cent purchase.

In hindsight, Jellybean update is suppose to cure the ills of App piracy by tagging a code to the app purchase so that it will not work on just any device. ICS didn’t have this and was a huge oversight on Google’s part. This sort of explains why Jellybean is rolling out really quick to all devices that are on ICS.

ICS is buggy at best—with reported battery drain problems. If only there was a way to jump from Gingerbread to Jellybean without having to go through ICS.

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Battery Drain Issue on ICS

I have been using CPU SPY to determine the battery drain issue, especially when your phone is on ICS and runs hot. It is a sign of trouble and there seems to be no way around this as it is connected to the apps you have running on your phone.

Many apps are not designed to take advantage of ICS, and if you happen to have a few lines of code that confuses the system, it will start to run in a loop. Often this happens when the app in question fails to execute a command or exit. This is what causes it to run hot. If you check the background apps running on your phone, nothing will show up. Terminating RAM routines and reducing the number of background apps also does nothing to solve the problem since they automatically start up again once you do this.

The temporary fix is to turn off your phone, and in some measures, taking out the battery.

Remember in the old days of Microsoft Windows where you have an extension clash and have to manually weed out the culprit? I guess this is the same method you can employ here.  Use this free app called CPU spy to monitor your habits. In a deep sleep state, that is when you are not using the phone, the chart should look like this. If however the phone is running haywire, you probably will see the other CPU states running amok.

Right now, some users on forums have indicated that the stock email app is to blame. Since I have not tested this, I would appreciate if you guys out there can give your own observations after installing CPU Spy.

Review: Asus Transformer Pad TF300

Having dumped the iPad for Android tablet, I was on the lookout for something to fill the gap and decided on this particular model. I had wanted the Toshiba Excite tablet but settled for the TF201, which is the Prime. The model was constantly out of stock here so by the time I could get one, the TF300 came out and I took the first unit off the shelf.

TF201 Vs TF300 Body

There is no real physical difference between the two except that the TF300 is slightly thicker. The guts is something else. TF300 though encased in a Tupperware body is heavier. The same ports are found, and if you are getting the addon keyboard, the TF300 has a nicer feel as the keys travel a little deeper.

Display

The IPS display on the TF300 is acceptable for daily use but has some kinks. There is a lack of contrast if you compare it with the Super IPS display on the TF201 and the colors are cooler. There is no way to adjust this. I have been so used to the Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy Note that going back to the IPS screen was like taking a step back.

I wanted the Toshiba Excite 7.7 for the same reason, the screen rocks! But the price will keep you at bay. The Toshiba Excite 7.7 has a much nicer display and cost the same price (TF300+keyboard) so you have to think long and hard if you really need this.

I also think that the Galaxy Tab 2, 10.1 has a better display. Color is somewhat richer.

Tegra 3 Processor Vs the World

Truth be told, I think the future of all Android tablets lie with Nvidia. Forget the Galaxy Tab, the Nvidia Tegra 3 is the best performing processor  with the Quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor coming second. The reason for this is that Nvidia has gone the extra mile to harness the power of the Tegra 3 GPU for gaming whereas Samsung’s Exynos is claimed to be just blazingly fast. Until we see a real world comparison in terms of gaming apps, the power of Exynos can only be claimed but not proven.

Tegra 3 beats out any of the dual core processors found in tablets. This much is for sure.

Real World Apps

In terms of apps, there are a number of dedicated THD or Tegra based apps in the market. It’s not much, but I expect to see more once more handsets gets shipped with Tegra3.

The current batch of apps performance on the Tegra is flawless.

On the TF300, there are three speeds in which you can switch to. I found this to be quite annoying since this is done manually. There are not real difference in overall performance. As far as I can see, all the apps I use so far (including the games) do not tax the Tegra 3 in the way you’d expect.

I played pinball in all three modes, with only the power saving mode giving me some control glitches. There are a few apps included with the Tablet, I found MyBooks to be useful though not extremely fast. I read lots of PDF magazines and the app has problem shifting through high resolution PDFs. Then again I encountered the same problem with the older iPad. I have not used the new iPad so I won’t pass judgement on it.

ICS 4.03

I got an update the moment i connected the Pad to the internet. That said, I think there is some way to go to meet full compatibility with the apps in google playstore. I think this is the same with the current iPad with the legacy devices. The new iPad has a spiffy new Retina Display and all the apps made for the earlier iPad will suffer. ICS is still relatively new and though backward compatible with previous releases, there will be some kinks. It will be a while before these apps achieve ICS compatibility so you just have to wait it out. Many apps, while running in the background, will cause the tablet to reset. In my experience, I have had several and it all boils down to compatibility problems.

Battery Life

Generally ok, but I wouldn’t write home about it. If you use your tablet like I do, you’ll probably get by with 30% battery charge remaining. I play games, watch YouTube and Surf. I don’t listen to music with it though. With the external Keyboard attached, you get an extra five hours of use though that too is debatable since it acts like a charger for the Tablet. I found that if both your keyboard and Tablet has zero charge, plugging the attached tablet to the keyboard and charging it will not work. Instead, you have to charge the tablet or keyboard separately.

I drained both devices as a precaution after two weeks of use. What I don’t like about the set up is that the keyboard battery just charges your tablet constantly when you have it attached. The Tablet will in fact absorb all the charge in the keyboard dock and that gave me some worry since doing so will only create battery problems later for the tablet if you happen to switch in and out of the dock all the time.  As such, you have to completely drain the two from time to time to relief it from any residual effect.

Connectivity

This is the bitch. You can’t connect anything up to it unless you have a USB kit. It’s like the camera kit on the iPad where you plug-in a USB adaptor. Once you have this, then everything from HD to Flash Drives will work. Bluetooth works fine, and so does WiFi.

GPS and Location finding

No problems at all on this. I have Sygic installed and it works fine. Fast too, which is unlike the TF-201 which had issues.

Storage

I have a 32 GB model and I can’t move apps to the external microSD. You can read from the microSD but ICS has a problem with moving any sort of app to an external source. This is not a bug. It is part of the unified virtual memory implementation in ICS for tablets. It is said that Jellybean will address these issues which is why Jellybean is released as 4.1 and not 5. It is similar to the transition process between 2.1 Eclair to Froyo 2.2. Eclair didn’t address the need for external SD storage very well but Froyo did.

Camera

I don’t use this much for now so I will do a more detailed review of its capabilities in another post.

Conclusion

This is a work horse. The keyboard dock basically turns the gadget into a Netbook and with the right apps, it could do some decent work. Polaris Office, which is included free, is very basic. But then again I won’t be expecting you to produce transcripts or heavy duty reports since the limited storage memory of the machine is not suited to doing such things.

As a general tablet, there is more than ample apps to support its usefulness. This Asus will eventually get the Jellybean update as the processor is still able to do the lifting. So like it or not, this Pad will continue to rock for some time to come.

The price and form factor were the main selling points, even though I found the display a little lacking and too cold for my liking, it still manages to dish out the games at playable speeds.

I am not  a speed freak, and many a time all those data on processor speed doesn’t quite translate well into the real world usefulness. That said, the TF300 does what it claims to do and this is more than enough for me.

New ICS update for Galaxy Note

Roll out is underway for firmware XXLRG Android 4.0.4 ICS built on 4 July this year. The update brings many enhancements along which include Popup Play, icons and signature unlock.

What I am more concern with is the problem with battery drain, it appears there is a bug within 4.03 that runs into some kind of loop, draining half your battery within four hours on standby. Samsung should be aware of this bug and the roll out I hope will address this problem. 

Without the update, your GN will function normally but will at times run very HOT. You may not be having any background apps open but you know that the phone is running something which you can’t detect. Some users have found the culprit and said that the only short term fix is to reset your phone. This I find did help but in no way did it go to address the actual leakage. 

Anyway, I hope to post a review of the new firmware soon. 

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