Tag Archive | "pictures"

HTC Surround Impressions and Gallery

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IMG_4938Surprise surprise, we’ve got a Windows 7 device to take a look at and it’s the HTC Surround! I’ve been itching to get my hands on a WP7 device, and I’m actually pretty impressed with the out of box experience. You know the hardware is decent, after all, this is an HTC phone, but the software is surprisingly mature for something that has been reworked from scratch and only recently released. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some areas where the HTC Surround hardware and WP7 software could use some improvements, but when you considered how new the platform is, things are looking good for WP7. I just hope they can gain critical mass to become a black hole of app development and customer attraction, instead of dwindling and becoming an ugly white dwarf.

I’ve compiled a few early thoughts and have the full gallery posted for your perusal.

Hardware

IMG_4964The HTC Surround is the first phone that I’ve tested in a while with any heft. This is a good thing! The last three phones I’ve tested (all Samsung) have all felt quite cheap with plastic exteriors. The Surround, on the other hand, feels like a quality piece of hardware. There’s brushed metal on the front, rubberized plastic on the back, and metal accents abound.

The feature for the Surround’s namesake is a sliding section that reveals a speaker bar (and a nice stand that pops out of the back). How/if/when this speaker will be useful has yet to be determined. There’s also a button on this sliding section that changes between some audio presets (even when you are using headphones). Still, my early intuition is that I’d rather sacrifice the sliding section to slim the phone down a bit and increase durability (no moving parts). But we’ll have to wait and see after some more testing.

Software

IMG_4945I’ll say it right here: I like WP7. It’s like a breath of fresh air from iOS clones (awful ones, or otherwise). The top-down concepts are similar (app driven, typical smartphone usage), but at least the GUI is really unique, and quite pretty. WP7 is the first mobile operating system that’s nailed iOS’s system-wide smooth scrolling and animation. This is a big plus for me. WP7 is also arguably more user friendly than Android out of the box. Speeds are very good and certainly comparable to the latest iOS and Android devices.

There’s still a lot for WP7 to improve upon, but at least it’s initial offering is decent.

Microsoft made a big deal about WP7’s “Live Tiles inch when they talked up the OS before release. So far, I’ve hardly seen these used. When they are, the information presented is almost always useless and just for show (AKA: waste of battery). I installed the Weather Channel app expecting to be able to see the conditions, or at least just the temperature outside on the Live Tile, but there’s nothing more than a static logo. Facebook and Twitter are the same. Facebook could show how many notifications I’ve got, and Twitter could at least show the number of how many mentions/DMs I have, but there’s no info in their Live Tiles.

The brings me to another sore point: WP7’s notification system. I tweeted earlier that “I can’t tell in the WP7 notification system is awful, poorly implemented, or just non-existent. inch Yeah, it’s that bad. I don’t seem to get any notifications through the phone expect for email or SMS which shows up as an icon on the lock screen and as a number on the Live Tiles of the respective apps.

I’ll have to leave you guys with these thoughts for now. I need some more time with the phone and software before crafting the full review. Stay with us to see how the combination of HTC and WP7 stack up to the competition! And definitely shout-out in the comments if you want to see anything tested in particular in our review of the phone.

Nexus S Gallery

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We’ve had our hands on the Samsung/Google Nexus S [tracking page] for a few days now and are putting the phone and the OS (Android 2.3) to the test. You may have caught the overview video already, and now we’ve got a bit more to tide you over until the full review, a full gallery! A few choice photos are below, but be sure to swing by the gallery itself if you’re interested in the Nexus S. And while you’re here, let us know in the comments if there’s anything specific that you’d like to see covered in the review.

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Droid X Gallery and iPhone 4 Size Comparison

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I just shot some pictures of the Droid X [portal page] and a few with the phone next to the iPhone 4 for reference. Here are a few choice photos, and you can find the full set in the Droid X’s gallery page. Stay tuned – camera comparison is coming up next.

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iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS Camera Test, Video and Photos

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cam In the keynote that announced the iPhone 4 [Portal page], Steve Jobs told the world that the iPhone 4 features a 5MP camera. A decent bump from the previous iPhone 3GS’s 3.2MP camera, but still a far cry from some of the latest phones out there which are rocking 8MP cameras (see: HTC Incredible). Jobs was quick to also say that the iPhone 4 uses something called a back-illuminated sensor which is designed to capture more light than traditional smartphone sensors, to enhance low light performance. The iPhone 4 is also capable of recording HD video at 720p (1280×720) at 30 FPS, according to Apple.

Here I’ve got some comparison photos and videos from the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS cameras:

Video Recording

At the end of the video there is a link to the same video taken with the iPhone 3GS. Make sure you are watching in HD.

Real HD video and flash (YouTube) HD video are a bit different. The raw file is certainly of a better quality than what YouTube is showing, but you should still be able to get the gist of it.

Photos

I’ve taken a variety of shots with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. Be sure to click on photos to enlarge them for full detail. The iPhone 4’s flash is turned off in all photos. The iPhone 4 takes photos at a resolution of 2592×1936 while the iPhone 3GS takes them at 2048×1536.

General Use

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Close Ups

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Extreme Close Ups

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Low Light

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Extreme Low Light

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For one, it looks like the iPhone 4 has better contrast than the 3GS. This is particularly apparent in shots of the pen, where there is a more broad range of blacks and whites in the iPhone 4 shot; on the corresponding 3GS shot, you’ll notice that the darkest black on the photo appears to cover more area instead of fading through a series of shades as the light and colors change.

Probably the best picture to see the difference in resolution is of the belt in the Close Ups section. This was semi-dark shot and the iPhone 3GS’s photo suffered because of it.

Special back-illuminated sensors are great, but just how much better is the low light performance on the iPhone 4? I might be able to dig up a technical answer, but let’s look at what it means in real world terms. Take a look at the first two photos in the Extreme Low Light section. On the iPhone 4 shot, you can see the lilies toward the bottom of the pond a bit better than the 3GS shot. Additionally, the pond’s surface is not as noisy in the iPhone 4 shot as it is in the 3GS’s, due to the enhanced low light performance.

Is this really a significant improvement? I would put my money on the fact that the majority of iPhone 4 users will not notice the difference between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS cameras when it comes to photographs. Most user’s photos will either stay on the device, or be uploaded or sent somewhere at reduced quality. But for those who really use their camera, I think they’ll be quite please with the iPhone 4’s camera. On the other hand, the HD video recording capability on the iPhone 4 is a pretty clear improvement. The flash is also something to consider, though because the iPhone 3GS doesn’t have one, we didn’t use it in these shots (if you are interested in flash info, you’ll find it in our upcoming full iPhone 4 review).

New Dell Mini 5 Hands-On Photos and Video from Engadget

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Engadget has managed to get their hands on a pre-production Dell Mini 5 [Portal page] (aka Dell streak or M101), and they’ve got a nice gallery of the device up on their site as well as a brief video. Hopefully they’ll drop some hands-on impressions later, but for now it’s pretty much just visual media. I’m most interested to see what they think of the off-centered QWERTY keyboard which is offset due to a seemingly always present numeric OSK — the keyboard could make or break this device. Check out a few shots below and jump over to Engadget for the full gallery and video.

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N900 and iPhone 3GS camera comparison shots

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photo (2) One of the coolest features on the Nokia N900 is the pretty awesome camera. The N900 has an auto-focus 5.0MP camera with a dual-LED flash (with a sliding cover). The optics are by Carl Zeiss which are regarded as being high quality in the world of cameras. I’ve got several shots taken by the iPhone 3GS’s 3.0MP auto-focus camera and put them up against images taken with the N900. You’ll see the iPhone’s photos on the left and the N900 shots on the right. Be sure to click on the images to get the full-sized photos.

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After looking through these images, it is pretty clear to see that the N900’s 5.0MP camera takes sharper images than the iPhone’s 3.0MP camera, which makes sense of course. Looking very closely though, it would appear as though the N900 also has a better dynamic range than the iPhone. What this means is that the N900 can capture a wider range of dark and light in the same scene than the iPhone can. You may have also heard of this term referred to as contrast ratio. This is apparent in most of these images if you look closely, but it’s particularly visible in the photo of the underside of the tree. Much more detail can be seen in the dark regions of the N900’s shot than can be seen in the iPhone’s. Colors appear to be more accurately represented as well. In the second to last shot of the flowers, the iPhone image seems to have oversaturated colors, whereas the N900 more accurately shows the range of pinks.

The macro mode on the N900 is probably the thing that most impresses me. The N900 has the benefit of having a dedicated hardware camera button which, when pressed down half-way, focuses the camera (with the iPhone you tap on the screen to focus). Turning on the macro-mode on let’s you get up-close and personal to objects and let’s you capture an impressive level of detail and texture.

A full N900 review is in the works, stay tuned!

Video Quality – Calls Vs Content

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Steve has already talked about the camera quality on the Compal MID today, but I wanted to quickly mention the video quality. I think I’d agree with him that video side is a little disappointing.

“Video quality on the device I have here isn’t up to the same quality as the images unfortunately. The quality is low-end smartphone level and should really be much better, inch wrote Steve.

I think the first thing to note is that video in a MID device has two core uses. The first is video telephony, especially online using IM services such as Skype. In that sense having a small screen and sometimes poor definition is expected, and thus the Compal is comparable to the built in camera on mid-range laptops. Unless I specifically say that I’m on a MID device, video chatting

It’s when you look at recording and editing video for upload to services like YouTube or Vimeo that the Compal starts to fail. The video that I have recorded on the Compal, even when viewed on the device, has a habit of the audio being out of sync with the video. That’s not something that is acceptable for any sort of internet video work.

This is something I see in many devices, and it normally comes down to a log-jam somewhere in the hardware. The obvious culprit is processor speed, but I don’t think this is the case here – I’d be more inclined to look at either the amount of data that can flow from the camera circuitry, or the write speed to the memory chips. If either of those is slow, then there will be a lot of video recording problems.

Early smartphones had the same problems, and as technology improved (and the phones had a guaranteed ‘ inchthis will sell X hundreds of thousands of units", inch the price of components came down till they were able to cope with the flow of information. MIDs are still in their early days, but as they develop and mature their markets, the same economy of scale should improve their media capturing quality in the same way.