Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...
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Spillikins ¹162. Why We Choose All-in-One Devices
There was no new Spillikins issue last week and my excuse is the flu that struck me insidiously and momentarily. With the temperature over 40°C I could hardly read. And though flu is late this year in Moscow it still hits hard. I hope you all are well and remember not to go to work if you are not feeling so well – better to stay home and keep others out of trouble. I think if people took flu just a tiny bit more seriously it would not be such a big deal.
What else could I have been thinking about but phones while lying in my bed watching TV on a flatscreen streaming from my phone. I was trying to come up with an application of phones in disease prevention but figured that unless a person is willing to make it work there is no stopping to his negligence.
There have been many attempts to integrate medical features into mobile phones. From time to time, some manufacturers in Asia install remote or regular thermometers into phones but this feature never becomes popular. I think this is a case when new technologies hit the wall of cultural rejection when people just don't see why they should do something another way. In the 1990-s med manufacturers were promoting new thermometers in the forms of bands and sensors applied to the forehead or torso. None of those became popular, however, electronic thermometers applied the traditional way (in the armpit) manage to compete with the old mercury thermometers. The force of habit is fighting back on new technologies.
This is also why breath analyzers in phones is more of a toy than a serious device. It works fine at a party but useless when it comes to cops as it is not certified. It is redundant for regular people and pointless for drunks who are not inclined to worry about the amount of alcohol in their system.
These are some of the reasons why I doubt that the phone will ever become a real medical instrument. On the other hand, the modern phone can be paired with all sorts of sensors which creates many perspectives for mHealth apps. But it is still a solution for enthusiasts not a mass market product due to the inconvenience of sensors required to be worn.
However, on the other side of the spectrum there are health apps: miscellaneous health advisors that can tell whats and whatnots when you have cold. They create many prospects for cooperation of developers and doctors (I would never trust an anonymous piece of software). For example, you visit your doctor who prescribes you a number of meds, then you type them into a meds control app that tells you which meds can be taken together and which ones are better to be kept apart (some drugs are dangerous when taken together) and at what time it’s best to take them. It will recommend you a schedule and remind of the possible side effects. You, on the other side, will type in whatever symptoms you are having and the app will warn you in case you might have an overdose or vice versa if you have been forgetting to take your medicine. It would be even greater if your physician could have an access to this app and check on you regularly.
Some hospitals are now adopting similar apps that collect data on patients and their prescriptions. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that available for regular consumers. Anyway, it might be my illness speaking and there is no big need in these apps. But I still think that this market will appear soon and develop rapidly. I am pretty sure that electronic doctors will cause mixed feelings but might still become very useful if developers get it right (make it react fast to changes in the course of epidemics, consider med availability etc.).
I have always liked pedometers in phones since the very first ones that did not have GPS. As soon as smartphones came around, the number of apps that can count your pace and steps became humongous. The downer however is that these apps go very heavy on the battery charge which is never satisfying on its own.
I like pedometer apps because they give me an idea of how long a distance I have walked today and I have worked out a standa4rd for myself: 7-8 kilometers a day (a lot less on holidays). It might be just a form of mobile phone addiction but I find apps like CardioTrainer really useful – they can tell me when I should walk instead of getting a ride. Of course, you can do fine without any apps or gadgets and trust only your senses but it is a matter of convenience. These apps might be even more useful for jogging, some can even work with pulse monitors. But since I don’t jog I am no expert in this matter.
When Jawbone Up was released I was fascinated: pedometer with iPhone sync in the form of a nice looking wrist band. I loved that it is a separate device so it does not drain your phone’s juice. It cost $100 but most of the sold units, including mine, soon broke down and in a while it was gone from sale.
There were no new mHealth wrist bands in the Apple Store which saved me a few bucks and browsing similar devices made me think: in most case such devices use sensors you need to attach to your wrist which makes them very inconvenient. However, in a while a device called FitBit was released which offered everything JawBone Up could do but in the form of a small clip for the same $100 (I got myself the Ultra version that can also count stairs you walk).
I will review this device in a couple of weeks when I get enough experience with it. I got it on March 6 but due to my illness I have hardly walked since then. But I want to share my first impressions.
Firstly, its battery lasts 2-3 days which I find acceptable. Secondly, FitBit does not require a phone to work. The developers used an elegant solution for syncing^ in the box you get a tiny base station also serving as the charger for this tracker. The base station connects to your PC via USB. When you place the tracker onto the base station or the tracker gets in the vicinity of the base station all your data is synced automatically with the server every 15 minutes. The storage service is free and offers a number of tools (weight monitor, diet etc.).
FitBit Ultra has a sleep monitor feature that works via a cuff. You need to press the button when you got to bed and again when you get up. The device will then tell how long you were asleep, how many times you woke up during the night and what sleep phases there were. It would be brilliant but for the cuff which makes the whole experience very unpleasant so I never use it.
But I use the pedometer feature all the time: I put the clip into the pocket of my jeans and I don’t have to do anything else. The error margin is acceptable and it is very important that the data is being updated live. I tried to fool the device by walking on escalators in the subway but FitBit got it more or less right.
My first impressions of this device are very positive – just what the doctor ordered. It is a nice well-built accessory with everything you need to measure your walking distance. It is an advanced pedometer but not something you could use for cycling or jogging. I think it will only be useful for people like me who only want to know how long a distance they have covered on foot. These devices not only count but also motivate you to be more active. I think this is one of the best pedometers I have used and I recommend it. My ID in the FitBit service is Eldar Murtazin – add me and let’s see who walks more.
I was foolish to believe Nokia promises in 2010 to maintain their services and stored some of my archives on OVI Share. Then one of my hard drives died and another copy of the archive was hit by the flood. So a part of my 2009 archive happened to be stored only on OVI Share but I did no hurry to back them up. Then Nokia decided to discontinue this service and quietly announced their intentions so in May 30 2012 my archive of 20 thousand photos stored on OVI Share will be permanently deleted. I don’t think that besides me there will be a lot people troubled by the death of this service but it poses a big difficulty for me. This is when I got into a funny farm.
Firstly, Nokia must have begun to short fund this service so I cannot create a single list of files I want to download and I am always getting a mistake on any computer with any Internet bandwidth on any OS. I wrote to Nokia’s tech support but received a template answer that makes me feel like I was the last straw that killed OVI Share. Here is their answer:
Dear Mr. Murtazin,
Thank you for contacting Nokia Care.
Upon receiving your letter Nokia made a decision to discontinue the Ovi Share service from May 30 2012.
Then they listed the necessary actions to save my content which did not work. They responded similarly to my second letter but also mentioned that I need to use the latest version of my browser to get working links – also did not work.
I have to resort to manually downloading every photo I have there. Nokia support does not seem to care about my problems and every message they send me is the same list of instructions that does not work.
It is hard to download 20.000 photos one by one but Nokia made even harder for me: after I had downloaded 1GB of photos they limited bandwidth to my IP to 10Kb/s. Thanks a lot. Changing IPs worked for a while until they probably though that someone is trying to artificially load the system and the service began crashing. You can see what I am getting on the screenshots:
Nokia must be exercising extreme austerity measures and I only manage to save a few dozens of photos a day. Nokia support keeps standing the same ground on my issues. Naturally, it is absolutely out of question for me to ever trust Nokia with my content. The company no longer keeps any promises and I think it is the most important quality of a service provider. The death of OVI Share is a natural course of events but the fact that I cannot get my content back really aggravates me. It seems like Nokia no longer needs clients.
Much has been said about the new tablet from Apple and I am not going to be repetitive. Sergey Kuzmin even travelled to Munich and spent the whole night in the line to describe his first impressions from the new product in a separate article. Ironically, half of the customers in the line were from Russia and they came to Germany with the same intention in mind.
While I was reading the article and discussed the new Apple gadget I decided to write a tablet guide, which I hope to start this week. It will have advice on the best models and key parameters to look for. Nevertheless, I am getting rather confused and doubtful if I need to buy the latest iPad.
I own a first generation iPad to use on the go for gaming, watching movies and checking e-mails. As far as my main laptop is MacBook Air I carry it around at all times, while the tablet stays at home. I need the keyboard and the laptop is more convenient anyway, especially as it takes just slightly more space than the tablet, which is used now predominantly as the home gaming device. At this point a question came to my mind if I need a new tablet to play the games, which are not available yet to use all capacities of the screen (I have to mention that games I play work well on the original iPad anyway).
It sounds as if I do not want to spend money on the new device and try to find enough excuses not to do so. I could have sounded different if I had seen the new iPad in a store, but from my point of view there is no need to buy a new iPad for people like me. It's nice to have the latest gadget, but I will not play more games on it or do something new. I am not sure at the moment if I buy the new iPad or not. I am still thinking if it is sensible to replace the original iPad. May be I am getting older and grow more hesitant as a result. At the same time I remember when I kept on purchasing every new generation of iPod until I realized that it made no sense to continue. My behaviour showed that I was choosing not the product, but the brand and its image. In fact I did not need a player. It happens to many Apple customers, when they buy not a gadget with particular characteristics, but acquire a product to boost their self-esteem.
Don't get me wrong. I am not disappointed by the new iPad. It is a good model, which will sell well and has no rivals at the moment. Another thing is if you already have a previous incarnation of iPad. It is your choice anyway. If you want to buy your first tablet go for iPad and only then look elsewhere. It has nothing to do with the brand image, but is a true picture of the tablet market. Bear in mind there are no ideal gadgets. For example, Tegra3 tablets offer interesting games with cool graphics. Once again it depends on your gaming preferences, which determine such requirements. Here we come to the key point. The gaming experience depends on the model and is influenced not only by hardware parameters, but by games you play. Different consumers receive different products to meet their needs, which is great! I am pretty sure that the capabilities of the new iPad will be used in many upcoming apps, because Apple reigns supreme in this segment. My ideas about the advantages of the new iPad will become irrelevant, when such advantages do emerge. It will happen in the next 6 months. Finally, I come to the idea of hybrid devices we expect to boast basic features and choose them accordingly.
Recently in a store I overheard a middle-aged couple discussing a choice of a DVD player. They were arguing which additional options to go for. It became clear that main characteristics of models were almost identical. I receive hundreds of e-mails from our readers and they always look for additional features rather than the quality of calls or battery time.
What do you need more – a specialized device performing excellently in one area or a hybrid product? Theoretically, I would go for a specialized device, but in real life it is not that simple. Several days ago I was presented with PS Vita, which is a new generation of PSP. Before I started playing games I downloaded music and videos and this is when problems began. It was impossible to enlarge the video, the gadget lacked additional features, etc. I expected to get a hybrid device capable of playing video and music among other things, but this game console is all about playing games. I had different expectations though and the manufacturer is aware that it is necessary to add a dozen of other features, because modern day consumers expect such an outcome. One feels not completely satisfied if the expensive gadget fails to deliver excellence across the board.
Some time ago I stopped buying dedicated MP3 players. iPhone has a mediocre player, but it is always with me and the battery is usually charged, which compensates for many disadvantages. I saw the latest Walkman player recently. It is a powerful solution with numerous sound settings, but I will not buy it. The sound quality is not that crucial for me, but it is the main feature of the model, so it is not as convenient as hybrid devices.
I also do not use point and shoot digital cameras now. There is no space between a DSLR and a smartphone for me. It happens that I shy from using specialized devices no matter how well they perform in their respected fields. The only exception can be a professional camera or any similar product. Consumers these days opt for hybrid devices, because in one body we get many features even if you ignore some of them (I have not used karaoke on the DVD player yet).
Over this weekend another image of Galaxy SIII was leaked online. To make it more realistic a logo of a PR agency was added to the shot with the date of May 22 in the corner. This image of the next Android flagship still remains a fantasy of Samsung fans.
Obviously, consumers are anxious to see the next Galaxy model and Samsung does nothing to fuel the hype. Nevertheless, there are so many fakes, which are being actively discussed. We can easily claim that Galaxy SIII is already part of folklore due to the intense market anticipation. Moreover, some believe that the model has been delayed a couple of times to add improvements. In fact there was no change around May 2012 as the sales date. The only change was related to the announcement date and location, but the company never committed itself. It clearly resembles the case of Apple, when the product is not yet on shelves, but there is a lot of talk about it. Many people say that the model will not lead to any breakthrough, but they have no true information about it. They never held a phone in hands or even saw a true picture of it, but they deliver their judgement. It does not matter if the discussions are positive or negative. The main point is the Samsung product triggers strong emotions. The same happens to Apple models. The original Galaxy S had impressive hardware features, but did not generate the same amount of hype. The second version building on the reputation of the first had much better sales and improved image. The story repeats with the third Galaxy S, but on a larger scale. Impressions will be mixed, which is part of a stigma attached to an iconic product, which Samsung managed to create for the first time in its history (Galaxy SII fits in here too, but the best is yet to come).
In a way the Galaxy lineup is considered as a substitute for Apple iPhone and the same happens with all Android smartphones. In 2012 Galaxy may finally emerge from the shade of iPhone, but its sales will remain lower. It will be viewed as a separate solution and a true rival to Apple iPhone. Ironically, the success of Galaxy SIII may not necessarily translate into success of Android flagships from other companies.
We get more and more facts about the 41 MP Nokia camera. A representative of Sony emphasized that the technology is not new and is currently used in several products of the company. To understand better what 41 MP from Nokia really mean read an article by Vladimir Rodionov, which explains in details how different components influence the end quality of a shot. If your mind is free from PR propaganda you will benefit from reading this material and will see what 41 MP is all about.
P.S. Have a nice week and enjoy the spring.
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Published 20 March 2012
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