Solutions Through IT

August 17, 2015

Product Review: HP 8 G2 (The Android iPad Mini 3 equivalent?)

Filed under: Android, HP, Review — solutionsthroughit @ 16:19

Should you buy it?

Yes – if you factor in the considerations below (if you want a cheaper iPad mini sized device). 

A little more detail …

At the moment, with Android 4.4.2 this unit is a competitor to the iPad mini 2/3, however, it is a compromise.  The screen resolution is half that of an iPad Mini 2, the cameras are 1/2 the MP of the iPad and the battery life is about 1/2 as well.  Compared to the iPad mini 2 directly, it is clearly the lesser of the two products.  However, most people don’t use tablets side by side.  During my review, I was satisfied with the screen for playing games and Facebook / internet access through Chrome or Firefox.  My only issue is that the battery life is somewhat limited, and requires you to be close to power if you want to use it for long periods of time.

Pros

  • Price is cheaper – I managed to get this on special for less than 1/2 the price of an iPad mini 2
  • It’s Android (if that matters) and opens up different opportunities to the Apple store
  • Customisable – If you’re not used to Android, you’ll find that almost all the parts (keyboard/screen saver / browsers) are upgradable or changeable.
  • Most apps are indistinguishable from the iPad equivalents, performance wise (resolution aside).
  • No fingerprint reader to exploit!
  • Expandable storage – you don’t have to pay exceptionally higher costs for storage.

Cons

  • Battery life is limited.  With heavy use, expect only 3-5 hours, especially if you are using Wi-Fi
  • Screen does dim as far down as other devices.  The lowest brightness setting is still quite bright.  Not great for night usage.
  • Out of the box, it needs tweaking.  I had to replace the default keyboard and launcher before the tablet was ‘snappy’ enough to be usable.
  • No update on when or if Lollipop or Android “M” will be released for it.
  • Buttons are set further back than the iPad mini’s, and if you are used to this location, you may have to re-learn the position of the buttons

Product Specs

  HP 8 G2 iPad Mini 2/3
Processor (SOC) Quad-Core A33 (1.2Ghz, 32Bit) Dual Core A7 APL0698 (1.3Ghz, 64Bit)
GPU ARM Mali-4000 MP2 (2 Cores) PowerVR G6430 MP4 (4 Cores)
RAM 1GB DDR3 SDRAM 1GB LPDDR3
Internal Storage 16GB eMMC 16/64/128GB
Wireless / Bluetooth Yes (b/g/n) / Yes (4.0LE) Yes( a/b/g/n) / Yes (4.0 LE)
Battery / Life 4000 mAh / Up to 7 Hours (~4 hours with moderate use) 6470mAh / ~10 Hours (~4-8 with moderate use)
Display 7.85” IPS, 1024×768 (163 ppi) 7.9” IPS, 2048 x 1536 (324 ppi)
Camera (Front / Rear) 0.3MP / 2MP 1.2MP / 5.0 MP
Expandable Storage Yes, SD to 32GB No
GPS GPS (no other tracking assist) GPS / A-GPS / GLONASS
Connectors USB 2.0 / 3.5mm Apple proprietary
Wireless Charging No No
2/3/4G No Yes, at additional cost / different model
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March 21, 2013

Windows 8 and Office 2013–First Thoughts

Filed under: Microsoft, Office, Outlook, Ramblings, Review, Windows 8 — solutionsthroughit @ 18:01

I’ve setup my standing desk with Windows 8 and Office 2013, and am starting to get back into using it again (~16 hours in two days standing!).  Configuration is a Pentium E6300, with 4GB of RAM, and a GeForce 8800GTS.  It benches at 5.9 because of the non-SSD HDD, otherwise it would be at 6.2 (RAM/CPU).  So it’s not bleeding edge, but still fast enough!

Overall, I’m happy with the response and general usability, it will take a little time to get used to the new way of doing things, both good and bad.  Certain things, such as the new start menu (the tiles that you see everywhere) can be cumbersome to setup (right-click options are at the bottom of the screen) but once these things have been setup properly, you don’t have to change them often.

I’m not sure if this is going to be good for a “normal” user.  I’m fairly confident that I know how to get around a computer, so I don’t know if this is intuitively easy, or I can just “think” Microsoft better.  There will be a learning curve, but I think it will be down to the end user to decide how steep it is.  I think the basic Windows premise is more than present, the “OMG ITS DIFFERENT” aspect will be the biggest hurdle.

Office 2013 is a different story.  It’s mostly Office 2010, so if you’ve been using that for a while, you should be quite comfortable with using 2013, however, the colour scheme and menu’s take some adjusting to.  I REALLY don’t like the white, slightly darker white or a little bit more whiter as the only options for a colour scheme.

More to come.

January 10, 2013

Roboform–Password Manager Review

Filed under: Ramblings, Review, Security — solutionsthroughit @ 23:15

Checking out Roboform as a password management tool.  I’m willing to admit, that up until now, I’ve been pretty blaze about my passwords, but it’s getting to a stage where you just can’t ignore the fact.  Sites are getting hacked on a regular basis, and if you don’t follow good password policies, it’s likely a question of time before you’re affected by this.  These are my initial findings, for a few hours of use with the application.  I’ll be linking it to multiple computers, using the Skydrive service.

Why do I want a password manager?

If you use the internet (if you’re reading this, you do) then you’ll need passwords.  Most people don’t manage passwords properly, and are at risk of having all their passwords (normally the same password for all sites) being stolen at the same time.  Imagine if your facebook password got stolen.  Is your banking / email / twitter / etc. accounts safe, or did they just figure out your password for all of them?  Having a password manager lets you use a strong random password that you can put into RoboForm and not need to remember it again!

Pro’s

Straight up, it’s a nice, polished product.  It will launch & populate passwords and usernames, and so far, it looks good.  It synchronises well across SkyDrive, so I’m happy with this.  My password files are located on MY computer (technically, Microsoft’s SkyDrive service) and I control access.

Con’s

No inbuilt password generator.  When you’re setting up new passwords, so that you can stick them into Roboform, I’d like a button to generate a password at my preferred security combinations, and maybe even stuff the clipboard with it (push the button, right click & paste to the password form).  Can’t customise the application you launch the shortcut with (i.e. I’d want to launch banking in an IE window, but everything else in Chrome or Firefox), but you can use the toolbar for the specific application.

Biggest issue with RoboForm (at least the Free/PC only version) is that it is ONLY available on your computer.  If you’re out and need a password for a site, you’re going to have to remember it (hah!) or reset it.  Alternatively, I could log onto my skydrive, and get the database, but will need to have RoboForm and a PC with me.

September 26, 2012

Nokia Lumia 610 Review

Filed under: Hardware, Mobile, Review — solutionsthroughit @ 14:50

Summary

The Lumia 610 appears to be a clean & tidy phone.  Cheap, but somewhat limited in what it can and can’t do.  Likely good emergency phone or staff phone.  Teens likely won’t want it (camera/not new & powerful), and it’s not a very good example of what WM 7.5 can do, due to the limitations of CPU and RAM.  Unless your phone dies, and you’re waiting for a next generation phone, think carefully before getting this phone.

5/10 – On par with the HTC HD2 – which has had it’s third birthday!

Detail

I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by this phone, but didn’t really think that I was going to be expecting too much based on the price.  I must admit that I didn’t do much research, other than a glance at a Gizmodo review (Note to self, feel free to ignore Gizmodo reviews!).  Unpack was suitably unimpressive (or maybe it was – I’ve NEVER been impressed with an unpack).  Phone (duh), charger (wall “lug” with a reasonably long USB micro cable), manual, recycle bag (Mobile Muster) and some headphones with four different ear bud sockets to change around.

The phone takes a micro sim, so I had to wait for the Telstra guys to configure one of those, not a massive task.  I had to wait to get home so that I could shuffle the self-signed certificate onto the phone, so that I could install it and thus setup my email/calendar/contacts.  No scheduling on the activesync any more (apparently it’s an OS feature drop, that may or may not be back in WM 8.x).  NOT impressed with this missing feature, as I’ve since had to disable the email alert sound, so that I can sleep.

Running apps is generally smooth, and the phone appears to cope most of the time, but sometimes it’s very obvious that the phone is struggling and is singled threaded.  I’m honestly contemplating giving up the slightly better battery life and shiny stuff and going back to the HD2.  I’m significantly underwhelmed by this device.

Phone call quality is good to great – I’ve used it with headset, handset and speakerphone.  It paired

 

Pros

Phone is new, so it’s (hopefully) going to have a great battery life (wrong – see Cons).  Reviews indicate that it should be a good value for money phone. Screen is great to look at when it’s clean (rarely!).  Nokia Music looks too be fresh & a good source of new music.  Very easy to install a Self-Signed certificate – setup a Hotmail account on the phone, and emailed the cert to the phone.  Launched the certificate from the email, and it installed without issue.

 

Cons

Not a quick phone, not a lot of CPU. Not a lot of RAM. It only has an 800Mhz single core CPU (my 3 year old HTC HD2 had 1GHz!) and only has 256MB RAM.  No SD memory card expansion, no front facing camera.  Buttons are taking some time to get used to, but may be a WM7+ thing.  Looks like scheduled sync has disappeared with WM 6.5 :(  Screen loves fingerprint oil. Battery life (with everything turned on) isn’t great. Barely lasts the day, with relatively few phone calls.

Phone Review Disclaimer

Reviews undertaken will likely be compared against my “best” phone.  Currently, this phone is the HTC HD2Review of the 610 for comparison.  These are my personal observations, and are in no way professionally done.  Consider this and other reviews carefully, and ensure that you independently identify YOUR requirements for a device.  I’m quite sure that they’ will be different to MY requirements!

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