Samsung has a new line of smart phones call the Galaxy S mobile phones. These include the Captivate from AT&T, the Epic 4G from Sprint, the Vibrant from T-Mobile, and the Fascinate from Verizon. These are phones that run the Android Operating System, have fast processors, and fantastic Super-AMOLED screens. They have a good design and sturdy built. All are candy-bar type phones with touch screens.
I took a close look at the Fascinate from Verizon and was blown away by the clarity of the 4″ screen. It was as clear and crisp as the iPhone 4′s Retina display. One big difference, however, is that the iPhone 4′s screen is made of glass while the Fascinate’s is plastic. When dealing with a device that can be easily dropped, I’ll opt for the plastic screen.
The Fascinate has a list of excellent features. The capacitive touch screen is quite responsive and is a joy to use. The battery life is adequate for a day’s normal use. Call quality on the Verizon network was excellent. The Fascinate has WiFi (802.11b/g/n), Stereo Bluetooth 2.1, and an AGPS radio. It can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It takes 720p videos. The camera is especially nice for a cell phone. It has auto focus and an LED back light and you have more control over the settings than I’ve seen in any other cell phone.
I love the Android operating system. Although this is not a deal-breaker, I would have been happier if the Fascinate came with Android 2.2, which is the current version rather than the older 2.1.
So what’s else is not to like? Well, Samsung adds it’s own skin over the Android operating system and I am not a big fan of this interface they call TouchWiz. It gives you Bing as the default search engine and does not allow you to change that. It has a silly on-screen puzzle-piece that you slide across the screen to unlock it. It also defaults to Verizon navigation instead of Google Navigation, which I like better. I wish that if phone manufacturers were going to add overlays like the TouchWiz, they would allow users to turn them on or off at their discretion, but right now that is not the case.
There are many good smart phones to choose from right now. The Fascinate is certainly a quite capable phone. Up against competition like the Droid X, the Droid 2, and the iPhone 4, it can hold its own. All-in-all, with the smart phone arena becoming more and more crowded, it becomes necessary to decide what is important to you and to make a purchasing decision based on that criteria. If you are looking for a cell phone with a great screen and a great camera, and you are using Verizon, this may be the phone for you.
To read my more detailed review with pictures, check out Hardware Secrets.
I’ve been using one of Apple’s new iPads for several weeks now and my verdict is in. I love it! As usual, Apple has created a device that is the ultimate in design. The iPad is thin and attractive. It has a speedy processor and a crisp and clear 9.7” LED backlit touch screen. The screen can be viewed from any angle and it is very responsive to the touch. The device weighs only 1 ½ pounds. Although it is only ½” thick, it is strong and sturdy.
Instead of running a computer operating system like Windows or Mac, the iPad uses the iPhone operating system. So rather than installing programs, you install apps. These are tiny programs that come on the iPad or that you can download from the iTunes store. This is the system that made the iPhone so easy to use and so popular. There are over 150,000 apps in the iTunes store, so there is a lot that you can do with the iPad.
The iPad has an on-screen touch keypad. It comes with 16, 32 or 64 GB of storage. It hooks up to the Internet by Wi-Fi. Some models also allow you to use the ATT&T cellular network to get on the Internet. Prices range from $499 to $829.
If your first reaction is that $500+ is pretty expensive for a device that can’t run most PC or Mac programs and doesn’t have a USB port or a DVD drive, you would be right. You can purchase a netbook, which is a fully functioning computer for less. The iPad, however, is still a worthwhile device.
You can download apps like a word processor and spreadsheet program and do some light work on the iPad, but this device is not really for work. It is focused more on content consumption and display than on content creation. It is an excellent web browsing and email device. The Photo app is fantastic, allowing you to look at your photos in unique ways. The iPad can even act like a digital picture frame displaying your choice of photos with transitions and music.
The iPad is also an excellent digital book reader. It is actually more like a real reading experience that the Sony Book Reader or the Amazon Kindle because you see your books on a wooden book shelf and you can actually see the pages turn. Like the Kindle, you can download books directly to the iPad. Because the iPad displays in color and can have multimedia components it has a lot of potential for book, newspaper, and magazine reading.
And the true significance of the iPad — its potential. While the iPad will work with almost all the iPhone apps, there are already 5,000 iPad that have been customized for the iPad. These apps take full advantage of the iPad’s larger screen and multimedia capabilities. The magazines that have been fully optimized for the iPad are truly spectacular with full page photos and audio and video clips that go along with the stories. Books that are specially formatted for the iPad appear in full color with animations peppered throughout the content. With extra screen real estate and multimedia capabilities, games that take advantage of the iPad capabilities are spectacular. Even games like Scrabble seem to come to life.
Of course, the iPad has a few deficiencies. It has no camera, which would be great for video calling. It has no USB port and you can’t print from the iPad. Even more importantly, you are expected to get content in and out of the iPad by attaching the iPad to a computer and syncing the content using Apple’s iTunes program. This won’t be a problem for people who own a computer. However, I see this as a big drawback. I think that the iPad would make a great computer substitute for older people and others who would benefit from email and web surfing, but don’t want to get into the intricacies of owning a computer. However, with this version of the iPad, you have to own a computer running iTunes just to get the iPad started. Sure people who live close to their parents or other technophobes could handle the computer setup and occasional syncing for relatives and friends, but this should not be necessary. If the iPad had the ability to run without a computer and it could print and had a camera, it would be the perfect Internet appliance.
I am sure that we will see improvements in the iPad in future versions, possibly even those that will correct the deficiencies that I’ve stated. Rival companies are also sure to offers their devices to compete with Apple and the iPad. However, even as it stands now, the iPad is a truly unique and wonderfully useful device. I have used it to surf the web, shop, check email, play games, watch television, listen to music, make to do lists, get recipes, track UPS packages, listen to Internet radio, call friends over Skype, display photographs, play the piano, and read books, magazines and newspapers.
If you are curious as to whether this new category of computerized device will catch on or not. This will give you a clue: Steve Jobs just announced that they have sold over one million iPads in the first 28 days. That is twice as fast as the initial selling of the iPhone. It looks like we will be seeing a lot more of the iPad and competing devices in the future.
The Fujifilm’s FinePix Z30 is a pretty point-and-shoot camera with a somewhat unique design. It comes in a shocking pink, an intense bright orange, and a vibrant purple. That plus its rounded corners certainly set it off from the crowd.
I love bright colors, but unfortunately, the bright metallic look of this camera make it look a bit toy-like. Also the designers didn’t take functionality seriously enough. The camera has no place to comfortably place your fingers to hold it when you take a picture. Although the two rows of rubberized buttons on the back look good, every time you want to press one, you have to put on your glasses to find just the one you want. Oh, and you have to open the battery door to plug in the USB cable.
The Z30 is a 10-megapixel camera with a 3x optical lens and a nice-sized CCD. Although the pictures were good, I found that many of the flash pictures had unevenly distributed lighting.
Have I said enough?? Take a pass on this camera. What is amazing to me is that the A150, a similarly priced and sized camera from the same manufacturer (Fujifilm), was one that I really liked. The A150 had impeccable design and took great pictures. (Check out my review of the A150).So take a pass on this camera and check out the A150 for a good entry-level digital camera. The Z30 retails for $149. The A150 goes for $129. So a higher price is not necessarily a better camera.
Here are my pros and cons fro the Z30:
My full review with pictures, specs and more details is at Hardware Secrets.
Check out the prices: Best Buy Digital Cameras