What Is Cracked Screen Grief?

So just what is cracked screen grief? It is the stuff of nightmares. Wake up one clear morning, charging your old phone for the last time before heading down to your local phone store to pick up one of the first models of a newly release phone, only to have to slip out of your pocket THE DAY you bought it. Lift the phone off the ground to see the remnants of a cracked screen glaring at you.

I can't wait to test out the performance of my brand new WHAT THE??? Nooooooooo!

I can’t wait to test out the performance of my brand new WHAT THE??? Nooooooooo!

I know this feeling well because like many, many others, I’ve experienced it, and in my case it was a brand new Galaxy Note 3 that I’m sure had just come off the assembly line the week previous.

And while one side of my brain was going through the trauma and devastation of my stupidity (I should have bought a case!), the other side was observing my emotional twitches and keeping a cold-hearted record of the progression of my internal drama.

After all, it’s just a cracked screen, right? Big deal. If you love your tech as much as I do, and I’m sure a lot of you would, then you’d probably see the loss of a phone as akin to the loss of a pet or even a family member. And yes, eventually I did get over what I’d done to my shiny new plaything, but everytime I saw the cracked screen staring back at me, I’d have a moment of heart arresting anger.

So here we are, and as part of my cathartic process I’d like to share with you a very personal journey into my mind, when faced with the reality of a new smartphone that is essentially “dead on arrival” – but through no’s fault but my own. May I present to you, the five stages of grief, as modified by the modern circumstance of a cracked screen.

Samsung Galaxy S3 First Look at a VERY Smart Phone

Bona fide events built around around product launches are few and far between these days, but there was no doubt that the local launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 in Sydney yesterday was aimed to make as much of an impact as possible, delivering on the promise of a new mobile device that could set new standards in mobile functionality.

After receiving our Samsung Galaxy S3 and spending a few hours with it in the studio today, there was no doubt that the bar has been raised and it will be hard to leap frog this device any time soon. We’ve put together a few segments so you can see what our impressions are, particularly if you’re looking at upgrading your smartphone any time soon.

The phone is light, powerful and rates extremely high on the usability factor. The hardware is light but also robust with no give or flex in the tooling. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is powered by a quad core 1.4GHz processor, and it shows. All app opening/closing/switching, browser performance and camera use all ran without a hitch.

The 1280 x 720op 4.8″ screen is lovely to behold. The Super HD AMOLED display provides wonderful contrast levels, where black levels really do feel like black, and colours appear quite vivid and deep. Watching content locally or streamed on the Samsung Galaxy S3 was issue free.

The Touchwiz UI has had a raft of tweaks for the Samsung Galaxy S3, and all focused on user experience. The phone can be set to respond to motions to mute the phone, make phone calls from a message window, and brightness can be maintained if your eyes are placed on the screen. You can take a video playing in the video player and have it hover over the rest of the screen while you do any other activity on the phone.

The S Voice is also a decent competitor against Siri. In our test, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was able to hold its own and go the extra mile (pardon the pun) when it came to street directions to a destination – in Australia this service is still blocked by Apple.

Google does a pretty good job at integrating social media accounts in their smartphone OS, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 continues that trend, with local photos having the ability to be tagged with social profiles.

The built-in 8MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S3 continues to demonstrate why so many people eschew a dedicated compact camera these days – smartphones are able to compete in casual shooting environments with ease. This camera has a few cool features, like burst mode, best photo which chooses the optimised pic from a burst 8 shots, 1080p video recording, 720p from camera recording, and snapshot function while recording video. These are features you find on decent dedicated camera setups, so it’s no wonder there is a shift in user behaviour.

Aside from the hardware prowess, operating system refinements and overall performance, the Samsung Galaxy S3 continues to include some content offers as well. The Music Hub, which has been around for some time now, is available for a free trial, as is a subscription to  Quickflix for movies and TV shows. Navigon GPS software is also preloaded.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is a remarkable phone. Considering the advancements made since the GS2, and the side-by-side comparison with the rather dimunitive-looking iPhone 4S, this phone ticks most of the boxes a smartphone user would want – with the exception of 4G connectivity and the still-fragmented Android ecosystem.

Samsung Galaxy S3

Should the new Samsung Galaxy S3 be crowned the new king of smartphones?

However, Samsung are betting on screen size and a controlled, specialised interface along with content and social/usability propositions to make their pitch – and it looks like millions of interested punters around the world are buying it. To be honest, so are we.

This page will be filled with a few videos over the weekend focusing on some different areas of the Samsung Galaxy S3. We hope you enjoy them, and let us know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

Until next time!

Samsung Series 7 Slate PC: First Look

In October, Samsung will be releasing their latest offering in the tablet/slate space, unaffected by legal wrangling. Samsung provided an evaluation unit of the upcoming Series 7 Slate PC for a few fun hours, and I walked away quite impressed with what they have been able to do with a Windows-based tablet.

Not just another tablet... The Series 7 Slate PC

With Ultrabooks being all the rage, Apple continuing to dominate the tablet market and Android-based tablets showing real innovation, this product definitely needs to have some stand-out features to cut through the noise from all the other computing offerings.

I think this slate device from Samsung not only competes nicely against the incumbents, but keeping in mind what Windows 8 has in store next year, sets the benchmark for a solid out-of-the-box Windows solution.

Series 7 Slate on dock.

The specifications actually sound very Ultrabook-ish. A low voltage Intel i5 processor, the same as the one used in some Ultrabooks, with 64GB or 128GB SSD capacity, 4GB of RAM and a choice between Premium and Professional operating systems. The local Australian versions haven’t been confirmed yet. Just like the Ultrabooks, there is no dedicated graphics, relying on the Intel HD Graphics to handle all the video processing requirements.

The screen is a bright (400 nit) 11.6” LCD with a 1366 x768 widescreen resolution. Wireless is naturally built-in, as is Bluetooth for connection to keyboards and other devices. There’s a front and back camera with 2MP and 3MP sizes respectively.

All in the box... Dock, keyboard and stylus come with the Series 7 Slate.

However, the specs are only one part of the story. This is easily the best looking, easy to carry Windows tablet I’ve played with so far. The metal finish across the entire body is striking and would stand out from existing tablets. Those who purchase with design and style in their criteria would be turning their heads in this slate’s direction. The capacitive screen is very responsive, presumably carrying on from Samsung’s experience in previous tablets and smartphones.

Light and thin come to mind as well, with the unit weighing only 860 grams and a tad under 13mm thick.

 

There’s enough connectivity to satisfy most users on the actual tablet, with Micro-SD card, micro-HDMI, full-size USB and headphone input all present along with the dock connector. Other buttons include power, volume and orientation-lock.

Series 7 profile showing USB flap, headphone input, volume, HDMI and power.

Windows 7 has never been a serious contender in the touch-based environment. Smartly, there is an active electromagnetic pen included, which makes much more sense for standard windows operation. The pen can be floated slightly above the screen and still be detected by the display.

 

If you want a more touch-friendly interface, Samsung does include a Touch Launcher program, which is essentially a skin for selected programs to be grouped within a one-touch, slide based environment. It’s a small but cool program that gives a degree of familiarity to those already using tablets.

Touch-based program launcher on t he Series 7 Slate.

On that topic, Samsung have deliberately called this a “slate”, with no mention of tablets, and it seems that its target market is not the app-based content consuming market – this is definitely a product you would create documents on first, and use as a casual touch screen device second.

Full PC performance when you need it.

The dock and Bluetooth keyboard are included in the box as well. The dock provides charging, Ethernet, USB 2.0, headphone and HDMI outputs, while the slim, metallic keyboard provides a very real notebook feel while the tablet is docked.

 

And this is the attraction – while docked, the Series 7 Slate offers a high performance PC, perhaps hooked up to a larger HD monitor. Out of the dock and on the road, it’s still capable of running all of the Windows applications you need but in a truly portable form factor. This is no netbook-level Windows tablet. The slate has a claimed 7 hours battery life but I didn’t have it long enough to confirm that.

Rear of the Series 7 Slate showing 3MP camera and dock connectivity.

From the short experience I had, it’s easily one of the best Windows 7 executions of a tablet form factor yet. The stylus may be anachronistic to some but makes total sense in a Windows environment, until Windows 8 arrives sometime next year.

An example of Series 7 Touch Launch programs - the Recipe app.

The Series 7 Slate will be priced at similar levels to some of its Ultrabook cousins, but if local sales of the Asus EP121 Windows Slate are any indication, there is a market for those who need to hold on to their Windows-based applications and this complete package may be just the ticket.

Would you consider the Slate as your next PC purchase? How would you be using it?

From iPhone to Android…and Back?

Ever since I migrated from my iPhone 4 to a new Samsung Galaxy S II, I’ve been keen to cover my experiences using the Android platform. With iOS 5 due to be released later this year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what the competitor smartphone ecosystem had to offer, and reflect on what may bring me back to into the Apple fold.

After my recent Asus Eee Pad Slider article gained a fair amount of coverage last week, including a mention in the New York Times via Gigaom and Carrypad, the senior editor of Carrypad offered me an opportunity to contribute content to their website.

Android Honeycomb V iOS5

Android's latest Honeycomb platform has fired the first serious shots across the Apple bow. Will iOS5, due to be released next month, hold its own?

Carrypad is a news and review website devoted to all things mobile, including smartphones and tablets. The idea of that iPhone/Android article that had been mulling in the back of my head then came to the forefront, and became my first article submission, which has just been posted as their feature story.

I’m going to enjoy contributing more content to Carrypad over the coming months, particularly as the tablet and smartphone market heats up and new features from all ecosystems create an even larger potential business.

Thanks to Ben from Carrypad for the opportunity to part of the writing team.

Click on this link to read the full article on Carrypad.

When Is a Tablet Not A Tablet?

During my latest planning meeting with my contacts at Samsung, I had a closer look at a product that has been shown at various exhibitions but not yet released for sale here in Australia. It’s an interesting product, given the upswell in interest in the Tablet category. It’s called the Samsung Slider Series 7 PC. Note that the word “tablet” isn’t in the description.

Many manufacturers are lining up to offer their own take on the tablet product space, and this model from Samsung, aside from the Galaxy Tab, is a form factor that does take some cues from the tablet concept but is still very much a netbook. Why? It’s all about the operating system.

As you can see from the picture above, this model comes with full functioning keyboard and for all intents and purposes works just like a standard netbook, although it does use an upgraded Atom processor and is loaded with Windows 7 Premium as opposed to Starter, so it has a full notebook operating system. In this form, the netbook is also touchscreen enabled, which may be useful in some situations.

However, the screen can be articulated all the way to be flush with the keyboard, and slid down to change into a tablet. This action activates a customised user interface. You can then hold and handle the Slider PC as you would a tablet, although it is a little thicker due to the keyboard adding an extra layer of componentry and hardware.

Samsung mentioned that more “apps” would be available as they’re developed, and they would appear on the screen above.

This is certainly an interesting product, and worked well for the short time I had it, but is it a tablet or netbook first and foremost? I think the answer lies in the software. Both iPad and Android have an interface that has been built from the ground up for the touch experience, and they have an app environment that Windows does not really compete with.

If this product does eventually come to market, I think it will appeal to the user looking for a small notebook or netbook with a keyboard; that wants to use Windows-based programs such as Office; and likes the idea of being able to convert the netbook into a touch screen for ebook reading or viewing video content.

This product concept illustrates the influence of the tablet usage model into other designs such as this netbook. Is this a product you’d consider purchasing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.