Chrome for Android Comes Without Flash Support

Whether it’s on a smartphone or a tablet, the quality of the online browsing experience is critical to the success of any mobile device. Chrome for Android aims to become the optimum browser for Android devices. However, as we pointed out in our previous article, Chrome for Android comes without Flash support in its Beta state, and none is planned.

This development (or lack thereof in this case) was also commented on by  Adobe. They mentioned continued development of the PC-based Flash product, and their contribution to HTML5. That in effect is a surrender to the market shift away from their long-standing plug-in.

Is it such a big deal that this browser is throwing the towel in so early? After all, even the stock browser supports Flash, and we made a tongue-in-cheek video pointing this out when comparing it to the iPad. Today we could very well re-shoot that video, only this time with two Android tablets: one running the stock browser and the other running Chrome for Android that doesn’t support Flash.

Chrome for Android Comes Without Flash Support

No, this is not an iPad screenshot, it's a Transformer Prime showing the world that Chrome for Android comes without Flash support.

When we step away from the issue and look at it a little more objectively, Flash is still very much reliant on localised drivers and plug-ins to provide an online experience. In this day and age that combination does seem to be a little old-fashioned. With all things moving to online storage, cloud services and less dependence on the specs of notebooks (take Ultrabooks) and tablets (which are stripped down compared to any PC of note), HTML5 seems to be the best solution.

Chrome for Android comes without Flash support, but will enable HTML5 authors and developers to create rich, interactive environments that will be transferable to any device, regardless of their plug in. After all, why should we need to download an app for Adobe Flash Player  just to see a website in its entirety on an Android device?

The very nature of the functionality of Chrome for Android is to connect seamlessly with your desktop experience. With no plug-ins and instant access to open tabs, the shift is very much in the favor of HTML5, the fact that Chrome for Android comes without Flash support seems to be a short term issue.

Apple did indeed bring this topic to a head. It’s encouraging to see the entire mobile platform converging on a single standard for the benefit of all mobile browser users, regardless of which ecosystem they have invested in.

Chrome on Android Using the Asus Transformer Prime

Earlier this week Google released the beta version of Chrome on Android, fulfilling a commitment to provide a seamless link between the desktop and mobile browsing experience.

Here’s our video showing you some great cross-device activities that, up until now, haven’t been possible, and it’s exciting to see them in action.

At this stage only 12 countries, including Australia, have been given access to the beta version of Chrome on Android, and it is limited to mobile and tablet devices with the Android 4 and above OS. In Australia, that really only gives the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Asus Transformer Prime the opportunity to show off this new browser. We are lucky enough to have a Prime tablet at our disposal, so we can show this off in tablet mode to you.

 

Chrome on Android menu system

The menu for the Chrome beta for Android browser, which includes "Other devices", a hint at the cross-device power of this internet browser.

The intention is for Google to move its stock browser over to Chrome on Android once beta testing has been completed, and if the initial experience is any indication, it’s a good move.

First up, the browser asks for your gmail account details to sign you in, as a large portion of the features involves utilising synching with your desktop browser. If you currently don’t use Chrome and do own a Nexus or Transformer Prime, I’d suggest you move over immediately to at least see what this has to offer.

Once you’ve signed in, make sure you’re also signed in over on your Chrome Desktop browser, because this is where the fun really begins.

Once you use the Chrome on Android beta browser a few times, one thing becomes very obvious – that Google is looking to provide a completely seamless browsing experience regardless of what device you are on. Whatever bookmarks you currently have on your desktop are immediately pushed to your tablet, and any changes you make are also moved across.

Chrome on Android Desktop and Local bookmarks

You can see the bookmarks above for both local and synched content within the Chrome beta browser.

But that’s not all. The synching also brings across your browsing history, so any websites you visit regularly will come up in priority to other search results. It’s uncanny, opening this browser for the first time and it knows what you are entering in the Omnibox.

What’s an Omnibox, I hear you ask? It’s the box in Chrome where you enter the URL, but can also be used for search terms. No more looking for a Google search box, just type right in the omnibox and you’ll get taken to the website of your choice or be presented with a list of options based on your search term. Those that use Chrome on desktop will be used to this feature, but it’s the sudden “awareness” of your new device using Chrome on Android that makes it a little spooky.

 

Chrome for Android Browsing Spooky Geen Android

Does it get any spookier than this Chrome eyed little Green Android?

Synching is one thing, but how about transferring all your open tabs on your desktop to your tablet? When you open a new tab, there are three rectangular buttons at the middle bottom: Most Visited, Bookmarks and Other Devices.

Most visited appears to be a more localised history. Bookmarks are split into Desktop, Other and Mobile bookmarks. Opening the Desktop bookmarks folder presents all the bookmarks from your desktop.

“Other devices” presents the currently open tabs from other Chrome browsers that you are currently signed into. However, instead of just duplicating all the tabs, it shows the pages in a list form so you can choose which ones you want to open. This is a great feature if you are on your desktop searching for movie times or restaurants and want to continue that exploration while you are at large.

Chrome on Android open tabs from desktop

Here you can see open tabs from the Toshiba PC, and a webpage that has been pushed to the tablet.

Another feature is the Chrome to Mobile feature, which ensures the page you were on is sent to your device even if you shut your current sessions down or have to power off your PC. Just install the free Chrome to Mobile app onto your desktop browser, and a small phone icon will now appear on the right hand side of the Omnibox. Press the icon, and a dialogue box will ask you to confirm which device to push to.

The next time you open your Chrome browser on your tablet, the page will be there waiting for you under the “Other Devices” area. This is a much quicker way of sending links, going browser to browser instead of going from the browser, to sending an email, receiving the email and pressing a link that opens in a browser – everything happens within Chrome.

Chrome is known for its “Incognito” option, and it is replicated here, and the overlapping squares and “Spy vs Spy” icon on the left hand side makes sure you don’t forget which browser you are in.

Chrome on Android incognito browsing

Incognito mode opens another window with all incognito tabs gathered, with easy switching between both modes.

The last thing I will mention here is voice search, another icon on the right hand side of the omnibox that, once pressed, will display a microphone for you to verbalise your search request. It seemed to be intelligent enough to pick up the basic phrases we threw at it, but given it is a beta version I’m sure it’s a feature they are working on to be polished by the time the final version is released.

Chrome for Android Browsing Voice Search Windows

Search by speaking is now available. Voice search is a highly competitive domain and Google need to deliver a polished product.

The initial impression of the beta version of Chrome on Android is very positive, and given this is the foundation for their stock browser once users provide feedback and bugs are ironed out, the idea of always-connected, always-on takes another step forward. Web browsing is a huge part of what we do on devices, and to have an uninterrupted experience between the difference physical screens we use is a very compelling reason to move to Chrome, both from a tablet and a desktop perspective.

Have you tried out Chrome beta on an Android mobile or tablet, and what are your thoughts? Are there any other scenarios that you’d like us to test? Let us know in the comments area below.

CES 2012: Asus Transformer Prime TF700 Series

The second iteration of the Transformer has barely been released to market, and Asus have the latest version to show us, named the TF700 series.

Better resolution screen, front and back webcams and designed back cover... the new Transformer Prime TF700 series.

It’s important to note that the TF700 is still a fair few months away from market, and it’s really only the form factor that has been locked down with any certainty. Asus could not confirm the processor or other performance specs and there could be some intriguing reasons this is staying on the low down for the time being.

My guess? Given Microsoft’s announcement at their final CES keynote a few days ago, Asus may be testing the Windows 8 platform on the ARM architecture, which has previously not been compatible with the upcoming OS, and there may indeed be multiple configurations of this series, as the “series” name does hint at.

So what are the differences between the just-released Prime and the TF700 series? To start with, an improved screen resolution, 1920 x 1080, for a full high definition experience with a very high pixel density, which should theoretically ramp up the visual quality even further.

The webcams are also being upgraded to 8MP for the back camera and 2MP for the front. The front one will be particularly appreciated for webchats. There’s not much more we know about this new TF700 series.

The Transformer Prime captured the imagination of the tablet market, and there is still passionate discussion over on our Question and Answer page, particularly now that the Ice Cream Sandwich update has been deployed in some regions.

We are still keen to help our readers with some of the issues you’ve experienced on the Prime, so keep that chat going and we’ll be getting our hands on a Prime on our return to Australia so we can test and provide.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of what’s to come in the coming months for Asus:

 

What are your thoughts on the new Prime?

Tethering with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Here we are with our final segment on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 – a subject that seems to generate the most discussion – 3G or no 3G?

Creating a WiFi Hot Spot for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

When on the go just create a WiFi Hot Spot on your smartphone and connect right up.

As with our previous Tab 7.7 work, this is a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

We fielded questions from our own site, our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The one question that keeps on popping up on both the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Asus Transformer Prime comments areas are to do with 3G versions of the two models. And the two questions that crop up here are a) how would you choose one over the other, and b) how would you get by with just a wi-fi version if you’re on the road?

Having an integrated 3G model definitely has its benefits from the word go. You can turn it on no matter where you are, and if you have a mobile signal, you are good to go for internet connection and therefore connect to all your apps, content, email, and anything else that requires an online connection.

Because 3G is built-in it’s instant-on, theoretically quicker because it uses it’s own hardware to connect and display online content, and you are not having to change your wireless settings every time you walk into a free wi-fi spot, although you may still want to do that to save on your monthly bandwidth.

And that brings me to some of the drawbacks to having a 3G tablet – it’s another account that you have manage, and if you sign up to a contract you may not use all your bandwidth and therefore waste it, or overuse and end up paying extra. Pre-paid plans do help with this and are much more popular these days.

The alternative to this is to pad your smartphone’s internet limit to a higher level and share that with your tablet, saving you on the cost of the 3G hardware (as there is a price premium for 3G vs Wi-fi only) and keeping your bill to just one that you can monitor and adjust as required.

I did a snap survey and I was very surprised with the amount of people that didn’t realise that “hotspot” activation on their smartphone was something they could do right now, today.

I know many of our readers are more advanced in their knowledge, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to show very quickly how to connect the Samsung Tab 7.7 to a smartphone, using two of the world’s most successful phones – the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S II.

The iPhone is pretty straight forward, and there are a couple of steps you do need to do each time you want the personal hotspot feature to be activated. However, it does work smoothly and Apple have made it as simple as they could within the menu system they currently have.

The Android software is a little more interesting because you can take advantage of the widget feature that gives direct control and feedback from your home screen without having to open an app or go into a menu setting.

You do have to go into the settings menu once to set up access to the hotspot with password protection, but once that is done it is a simple case of downloading and installing a free hotspot widget that you can then toggle on and off, making it very easy to connect your tablet to your phone within seconds.

Here is the video for the Android hotspot connection feature:

 

And here is the method for setting up a hotspot widget on your iPhone smartphone:

 

And that ends our extensive look at the Samsung 7.7. We will keep answering your questions on this product so please feel free to ask anything that we haven’t yet covered.

Which do you prefer? 3G or Wi-Fi only tablets? Do you hotspot or just use it from non-online activities when you’re away from your home wireless signal?

For a more detailed and first look at the Samsung galaxy Tab 7.7  CLICK HERE; for the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE; for the segment where we used theTab  7.7 as an eBook, just CLICK HERE; for a look at multitasking on the Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE; and for a quick video editing app look, CLICK HERE.

Video Editing with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Hi everyone, we’re back with our first post for 2012!

These next couple of weeks are going to be pretty exciting with our attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but before we go we still have a couple of features on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 to punch out for your enjoyment.

As with our previous Tab 7.7 work, this is a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

We fielded questions from our own site, our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has a basic video editor to add effects to videos stored on locally..

A regular on our Facebook page, Maans Le Roux, asked us about the video editor output on the Tab 7.7. One of the big issues with editing videos on smaller devices is many only save an edited video in a highly compressed format like .3gp.

The video output on this particular app that comes pre-loaded on the Tab 7.7 saves in high definition mp4, so it’s good enough to playback on larger computer and television screens, or upload to YouTube in good quality.

In fact, you can actually select the video resolution to suit different file sizes depending on how you intend to use the video.

One function we couldn’t see was to cut or crop a video’s length on the Video Editor app. This may not have been a final version on the unit we were using, so we’re not judging the app, more showing the basics of how to use the editing app and save the video to see what output formats are available.

Here’s the short video showing the video editor in use and the output selection:

 

Do you use video editing in portable devices, or upload videos straight to YouTube from your smartphone or tablet?

For a more detailed and first look at the Samsung galaxy Tab 7.7  CLICK HERE; for the first Q & A segment in which we compared the Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2, CLICK HERE; for the segment where we used theTab  7.7 as an eBook, just CLICK HERE; and for a look at multitasking on the Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE.

Consumer Electronics Show 2012 – Looking into the Tech Crystal Ball

We'll be right in the thick of all the product announcements, keynote events and vendor stands to bring you the best of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past year, we’ve had a great time sharing, discussing and responding to you, our readers around the big stories of 2011. Tablets, Ultrabooks, Media Players, iDevices and other categories like photography and home appliances have all had their interesting issues and product releases.

So what can we expect from 2012? The best place to start is in Las Vegas, at the Consumer Electronics Show. Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Google and many of the major computing vendors will be there to show off products and concepts that will make their way into the hands and households of users later in the year.

The great news is we’ll be reporting on all the hot stories from the CES fair in words, images and videos. We’ll be there from the kick-off event on the evening of Sunday 8th January, attending Press Day on Monday and then hitting the stands from Tuesday through to Friday.

We will be providing some insights into the announcements from the major manufacturers, reporting on the keynote events and spend some hands-on time with the new devices and hopefully talk to some key people involved in the industry.

It should be an interesting week as we expect to see a stack of exciting new products including convergence ideas in Home Entertainment, Windows 8 product concepts, as well as new Ultrabooks, tablets and smartphones.

There will no doubt a lot of different products that we will have the pleasure of touching and seeing while at the CES show that will illustrate in their own way what direction this industry might take over the next 12 months.

In the spirit of how we run things here at Ritchie’s Room, we’d like to hand the mic over to you the reader, and ask what it is that you’d like to see us cover and explore while at the CES in January?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 vs. iPad 2

We answer your questions about browsing, book reading, accessories and a few other aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Here we are once again with a reader/viewer generated article and video for our audience, all based on the questions and feedback on things you’d like to see demonstrated or shown on the soon-to-be-released Galaxy Tab 7.7, to see more on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 click on this link above.

We fielded questions from our Facebook page,  Google+ Page and of course our YouTube channel, and came up with 5 short videos on various aspects of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

As we did on the Prime, these are unscripted, off-the-cuff segments to showcase the things that you said you’d like to see. Thanks for the feedback as always and it’s a lot of fun to respond directly to your comments.

If you haven’t already seen the other articles and videos on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 you can find them here:

For the detailed first look article of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the ebook demonstration of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at the Galaxy Tab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

This first one was in response to questions about the browser capability. We pitted the 7.7 against the iPad 2 to see how the browser worked in an online environment rich with video and image content, so what better place than our own site?

Overall the browser on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 worked very well. It sometimes took a just little longer to load a page but hardly worth the fuss really, and really that may have been a connection issue as both devices were sharing the same wireless network.

We did find that the embedded flash video took longer to load on the 7.7 than the YouTube player on the iPad 2 again that could have been the interent connection or the fact that it’s running Flash. The next major difference was the playback on each device. Pressing play in the flash player on the 7.7 started the video right away. However on the iPad 2, you had to “load” the player then press play again on the YouTube player, so a little more clunky to play content within that environment.

Pinch and zoom, scrolling and moving around the screen was smooth and very responsive on the 7.7 and generally speaking, the experience was a pleasant one.

Rather than me tell you all about it in written word, let’s have a look at the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and iPad 2 side by side:

 

What did you think of the comparison, and does it sway you to either product? Feel free to leave your comments below; we read every one of them. :-)

For those of you who have yet to see and read the other articles on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 can do so here:

For the detailed first look article of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE. For the ebook demonstration of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at the Galaxy Tab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

.

 

What Is An Ultrabook… and Does It Matter?

Just like Cabbage Patch Kids of old, an unbranded Ultrabook waits for a home. (picture credit: Brooke Crothers, CNET)

Thin, light and powerful notebooks are coming to take over the world, and it appears it isn’t just Intel that will be promoting this form factor next year.

Since the launch of the first Ultrabooks – notebooks powered by low-voltage versions of the second generation of Intel Core processors – we’ve seen many different variations positioned to suit different customer segments.

All vendors take slight different riffs on the same ultimate goal – to provide a lightweight, slim, aesthetically pleasing notebook that can still provide similar computing experiences to the traditional notebooks that most end users own.

In the comments area for our YouTube segment featuring comparisons between three Ultrabooks from three major brands, one viewer, cowmonkey10, commented “Um…isn’t this just a laptop? What’s an ultrabook?”

That is the foundation for a lot of discussion going on in the IT manufacturing sector right now. Intel have set up a fund to provide marketing assistance to vendors who can make models that meet the criteria for Ultrabooks, which they hope will motivate the ramp up and customer acceptance of these new models.

I was chatting online to Steve Paine (aka “Chippy”) who runs the Ultrabook News website, and he pointed me to an article on CNET regarding Intel’s apparent focus on smaller companies to develop and produce Ultrabooks. This could be a good sign of competition in the new year, as the second-tier vendors will most likely release more competitively-priced versions of an Ultrabook and keep the larger brands in check.

Of course, Intel isn’t an island, and another article, this one on Tom’s Hardware, came out recently suggesting that AMD was readying itself to showcase their own versions of the “thin, light and powerful” category – possibly without stipulating dimensions and specifications. There’s some exciting possibilities there, and we hope to see some examples at the upcoming CES in Las Vegas.

So the question of “What is an ultrabook?” that I posed in the title is a reflection on the creation of a name to describe a new category – and whether this will impact and influence buyers of their next portable PC. I imagine this will depend on Ultrabooks living up to their promise of uncompromising performance in these sleek form factors.

What the term “Ultrabook” does achieve is provide some level of expectation in a potential buyer’s mind, and by forcing manufacturers to build to certain standards can ensure consistency in output. Even though each brand promotes their own offering in their unique way, a customer is educated to the general benefits and characteristics  of the category, in the same way the term “netbook” became accepted as a smaller mobile computing platform.

In the meantime, we thought we’d answer cowmonkey10′s question for our YouTube audience and share that with our readers here as well. There are plenty of sites, both official and non-official, that discuss the criteria in detail. Chippy’s page is a great reference for anyone that wants lots of information.

For those that want the lowdown in just one minute, here is our crash course in what is an Ultrabook:

 

For easy reference, here’s our comparison segment so you can see how different Ultrabooks can be, despite coming from the same general criteria:

 

Will the marketing activity of the term “Ultrabook” help sway you to purchase these a model that fits the definition, or will you buy simply on the merit of a notebook’s individual look, feel and performance?

Would love to hear your thoughts about how branding and classifying products affects your purchase decisions! See you all below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 – The Best 7 Inch Android Tablet

With the announcement of the Transformer Prime by Asus, and the news still being updated daily about the fate of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in various regions, another tablet from Samsung has been quietly gathering steam and is set to land on our shores in a very short while… the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

First, here’s our new video showcasing some of the rather cool features and design elements of the 7.7. There’s plenty more details and pics below. Also at the bottom of this articles you will find links to more articles and demonstrations of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 so be sure to take a look.

 

The 7 inch Android tablet market has been rather hit and miss so far, with the first iteration of the Galaxy Tab being the only real contender and most of the focus on the 10” category, and for good reason – that’s been the mainstay of Apple’s iPad up till now, and manufacturers have been innovative and creative with their offerings in order to stay relevant and have a chance of competing in that space.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 takes a completely different tact, being lighter and slimmer than, well, any Honeycomb-based tablet we’ve seen so far. Compared to the original Tab which relied on a reworked mobile phone OS, it’s a much more mature product and fits snugly between a smartphone and large screen tablet. This may actually be the product to redefine what a small screen tablet is capable of.

Small, sleek and ready to slip into any size handbag or pouch.

Spec-wise, the Galaxy 7.7 is powered by a dual core 1.4GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, and will apparently come in three flavours – 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. It has N wireless on board, Bluetooth 3.0 and has a built-in GPS.

Samsung’s new 7 inch Android tablet sports a slightly larger screen, at 7.7 inches, but offers the exact same resolution features as its 10” cousins – 1280 x 800. Combine that with the Super AMOLED Plus screen, and you’ve got gorgeous detailed images and bright, rich colours. Because the pixels are so densely packed together, the screen display is second-glance-worthy. The small amount of video files we had played back smoothly in high definition.

Video playback up to 1080p on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

I really haven’t held a tablet as light as this one. It’s only 340 grams, but it’s hard to describe what that means after holding various iOS, Android and Windows tablets – sure, this one is smaller than they are in terms of size, but the experience of holding one is amazing. I once commented in an earlier article how I’ve injured myself by falling asleep and dropping a first gen iPad on my face while reading… you’re in no danger of self-mutilation or embarrassment here.

Audio is pumped through these stereo speakers either side of the proprietary connector.

Did I mention how thin the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is? We’ve seen the Transformer Prime come in at 8.3mm, but the 7.7 takes “slim” to yet another level – it’s a sliver of a tablet at 7.89mm. To pick it up and rotate its dimensions in your hand is quite the chuckle producer – you don’t believe how thin and light it actually is.

Ridiculously thin... The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is lighter and thinner than pretty much any tablet on the market.

This is definitely a one-handed tablet – your fingers do need to spread, but you can also cup your fingers and hold it for a long time without fatigue. The cool metal backing does equalise with your hands temperature after a while, but put it down and the cold feel of stainless steel will once again greet your fingertips.

That’s a great segue into the materials and construction of this latest Samsung Galaxy Tab. Some other 7 inch Android tablet offerings have been rather thick, and felt a little fragile – squeeze the body and creaks have been heard from lesser machines. The engineering on the 7.7 is superb, we could detect no give between the body and screen; they are almost fused together. The metal back provides a stiffness and therefore top-shelf handling experience.

Maybe it's my long fingers that make this pic look odd... In any case the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is easily held in one hand, piano fingers or not.

Walking around this tiny pocket rocket and you can see how Samsung have achieved this degree of slimness: like the iPad and its own family of tablets, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 keeps ports down to an absolute minimum. All we have are a headphone jack, a micro SD card slot and Samsung’s proprietary 30-pin connector. Where most tablets try to offer a complete solution with inputs and outputs, particularly to differentiate against the iPad, the 7.7 follows its own path and offers instead adapters that can be fitted to connect various outputs.

Blink and you'll miss it... An external port on the Galaxy Tab 7.7, in this case a Micro SD Card Slot.

Is that going to be an issue for users? Based on the interest in the 10.1, which offers the same limited connectivity, no. It’s actually more sensible for this Galaxy Tab to eschew those I/O burdens as it’s probably closer to a smartphone than a tablet in some respects (the screen is actually a larger clone of the Galaxy S II). The option is there but you have to really feel the need in order to go to the effort of purchasing an adaptor.

The brushed metal back provides great rigidity to the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

Like all other HoneyComb tablets, there is a front and back camera setup, with a 2 megapixel camera on the front and 3 megapixel camera on the back. The back camera has an LED flash and 720p HD video recording capability. I think there is an inverse proportional relationship of the number of shots taken on a tablet to the size of the screen. Because the 7.7 is so light, it’s much easier to be spontaneous and shoot some off-the-cuff pics and video.

3MP camera and LED flash... The smaller the tablet, the more this will get used.

There is one black dot on the Galaxy Tab 7.7, but its existence helps give it a gold star for functionality. The black dot (not figuratively speaking, an ACTUAL black dot) on the side of the 7.7 is an infra-red transmitter. There is a program pre-installed on the 7.7 called Peel, and it actually converts the 7.7 into a universal remote control. If you’ve ever found remote controls to be clunky or not really that helpful, Peel may change your view on that.

Now not only do I not have to get up to change the channel, I don't even need to find the remote. She says lazy, I say efficient.

Setting it up is a breeze, and so is the actually use, just point at the device you’ve programmed in and it’s as if you’re using the original remote. But this functionality is a stunner, because you can browsing, reading or playing a casual game, use Honeycomb’s built-in multitasking to switch to Peel, change the channel/volume/input, and switch back to your previous activity, and the 7.7 never leaves your hands.

Software-wise, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 uses the same Touch Wiz overlay that their smartphones use, making the transition for Galaxy phone users a no-brainer. There is improved software such as video editing, image editing and even image management, letting you sort by a range of different criteria such as size, location (if geotagging can be found) or date/time.

Galaxy S II users will find no trouble using the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The Galaxy also retains the “Hub” areas of the smartphone, and apparently the Music Hub will be available soon as well, but only for music, not for videos. I tried the Social Hub out and I liked its aggregation of my different social feeds in one easy to view panel. Being Honeycomb, this is a live widget that updates on screen so you can snack on bite-sized pieces of your connected world.

Manage all your social feeds into one panel on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The 7 inch Android tablet market is not as big as the 10 inch segment, by any means. It looks like Samsung has managed to carve itself a little niche with a product that doesn’t rely on third party programs to succeed, and adds little quirky features like remote control and revamped image/video apps into its sleek shell to give users a true out-of-the-box experience.

As always, I’ll leave it to you, our readers to make the call on whether this really is the best 7 inch Android tablet to date. Are you looking for a 7 inch tablet, or are you waiting for the 10.1 to be released? Are either of them on your shopping list for consideration?

Give us your thoughts and questions and we’ll respond – look forward to seeing you in the comments area!

For those of you who have yet to see and read the other articles on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 can do so here:

To see the Galaxy Tab 7.7 perform as an ebook reader  CLICK HERE. For a Q & A segment in which we compared the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to the iPad 2  CLICK HERE, and for the segment where we take a look at the Galaxy Tab  7.7 while multitasking just CLICK HERE.

 

 

Ultrabook Comparison – Acer S3, Toshiba Z830 & Asus UX31

Ever since Intel announced the new slim form factor that would take Windows-based notebooks into a new era of portability, lightness and cutting edge design, we’ve been covering many aspects of the Ultrabook build-up.

Our first Ultrabook article ran back in the beginning of September, discussing the details of what made an Ultrabook, and how it might add to the customer experience and value proposition.

ACER S3 Toshiba 7830 and ASUS UX21 Ultrabooks

Which do you want this Christmas? The slick and affordable ACER S3, the business person's dream machine in the Toshiba Z830, or the eye-catching performance and show-stopping looks of the ASUS UX21?

We’ve then been lucky enough to have some hands-on time with a slew of different models, including the Acer S3, Asus UX31, Toshiba Z830 and the HP DM3 Folio .

The beauty of competition is that even though Intel stipulated some minimum criteria benchmarks to determine what makes an Ultrabook, each manufacturer has come up with their own unique features that help set them apart from the pack – whether it be bang for buck, business-friendly features, or eye-catching design.

While we have looked at each individual model and reflected on their attributes as single-standing Ultrabooks, we thought it would be fun to gather three of the units and have a look at them together, just to see what made each one tick, and to illustrate just how different each Ultrabook could be, even though the same Intel DNA is coursing through each of their slim bodies.

If you’ve read each of the previous Ultrabook articles, then you’d have a fair idea of what each one offers. So instead of another article, we thought we’d produce a short, snappy video in the same style that you’ve now seen from the Transformer Prime segments.

We chose one Ultrabook from each processor range: an i3 Acer, an i5 Toshiba and an i7 Asus. We’ve presented our thoughts on what each model might represent for different customers, and left it open for further discussion – each model could be successful in its own patch of the market if they attract the right profile of user.

Without further ado, please find below our Ultrabook comparison video:

 

Here’s where we would love to hear your thoughts on the Ultrabooks – which one would you choose, and why? Or if you’re not interested in making the investment, what’s holding you back? As always, we’ll join you for the discussion and provide further information if you need it.

Talk to you all soon!

Check out www.youtube.com/ritchiesroomtv for all our videos and subscribe if you want to keep up to date with our regular video releases!