We get our greedy hands on one of the most desired smartphones of the day : The Oneplus One. Is it worth the begging for invites, the groveling, the craze ? We take a good hard look at the Oneplus One and give you our first impressions of the phone when it comes to hardware, software and its place in the Smartphone market of today.
Its essential week on knigtwise.com and we try to look for the ultimate selection of gear to get things done on the road .. with the caveat that we want to lug along as few items as possible. so in that light we test out a different mobile setup each day.
Introducing the Windows Tablet.
“What ?”… Yes, I heard you gasp back there as you read this title in amazement. “A WINDOWS TABLET ?” Your surprise is valid’ for i haven’t touched a Windows device for personal use for quite some time. Yet when i got a chance to try out this Dell Venue 8 pro .. I could not resist. Would it be a fair companion to take on the road with me or just some dead-weight gadget ?
Windows RT = Windows ‘No-Thanx’
One of the reasons I had thrown aside any interest in Windows or Windows mobile devices over the last year was the quite horrible experience I had with the soon to be forgotten WINDOWS RT. Although a step up from the ageing and clunky interface of Windows Mobile .. It caused me a lot of grief. Not per se because of the OS itself though : I thought it was actually quite elegant on the first windows “phone” devices I tried out. “An elegant business version of what a blackberry should look like” I dubbed it. and I was right. (I mostly am) if you lived in your mail contacts and calendar application (and connected to Exchange online and office 365), you would be fine. Move off this beaten path for just one step and you would encounter the beast of disappointment. Wandring through the app store would quickly make you realise that even “essential apps” who were abundant on other mobile platforms, were either poorly written or .. not there at all. Classics like Instagram were not available on the OS and only homegrown alternatives, built by well meaning but inexperienced developers, would give you a watered down alternative. Windows RT hit rock bottom when I gave my wife a Samsung Ativ S smartphone and sent her to wander into the world of Windows RT. No phone in our personal history has been more hated, more quickly discarded and took longer to get rid off secondhand .. then this one. A “handicapped” os, duck-taped to poorly aligned hardware. No apps in the store, device rebooting at random … not a chance. Sayonara Windows Phone.
… This gives it the feeling of a “netbook” more then a tablet ..
So what about this one ?
Believe it or not , I was actually quite impressed with the venue when I first started using it. The device is a little on the heavy side compared to its other 8 inch compadres , but you aren’t really holding a tablet, are you ? Because whenever the windows ‘Metro (we all still call it metro) interface might irritate you, or the poor choice of apps in the store leaves you wanting … you can just go straight into “full desktop” mode. This gives it the feeling of a “netbook” more then a tablet .. hold the thing in your hands for browsing and checking mail and its a tablet. Hit the desktop icon and the whole thing seems to transform into a tiny notebook. For some strange reason this should make it a device that is neither one nor the other. Too heavy to be a Tablet, too small to be a notebook … And yet, thats not the case. As a “power user” I quite LIKE to have that “hidden OS” under the Metro hood. Sure enough its not easy to operate with your fingers (Dell does ship a 40 dollar active stylus if you really really want it) but .. hide a little keyboard and a bluetooth mouse in your bag and … Boom … Filezilla, A terminal application, Full blown Open Office. Chrome (and all the cool Chrome extensions) are right there. Who gives a dingdong that there are no Metro apps in the store .. ( “What store ?”) I’ll just use this as a mini notebook. Its not lightning fast, you won’t play the latest version of Halo on it .. But it works and it works pretty darn good too. For Emails, Content creation and the geeky stuff we love to do like setting up SSH tunnels to our home networks or … performing a penetration test with nMap .. the 8 inch compadre does it and does it well.
- Good battery life
- Full desktop suite (Pro)
- Screen is rather small to use it desktop mode
- A little heavy
- Poor choice in metro apps
Should the need arise I think I would be quite capable of surviving on this little tablet contraption. What it might lack in “richness” of its metro ecosphere it makes up for with full desktop apps. It feels like a heavy tablet but is in fact a very light and compact pc. Not lightning fast but portable enough to, in combination with a keyboard .. can become a very very versatile little pc.
During ‘Essential week’ I try to look for the answer : How much gear do we really need when on the road. Each day I’ll focus on a piece of gear or a solution to find the “essentials” a mobile geek really needs to Communicate, Create, Consume and be entertained.
Just the phone please
If there is one thing I constantly have around then it has to be my phone. My trusty Galaxy Note 3, allthough a little big, is my lifeline to the digital world when I leave the house. With fast 4G connection, the ability to hook up to wifi hotspots, a large screen, a fast processor and 32 gig of onboard storage .. it kinda ticks all the boxes. Lets see :
Allthough I seldom make phonecalls on the device itself, I mostly use it in handsfree mode in the car. (I do all my ‘classic’ phonecalls from the car) Occasionally I will shoot off a quick call using the Galaxy Gear smartwatch that I have around my wrist. The majority of my communications however are digitam : Email, Instant messages, Social Media and even Google hangouts. The sceen and the speed on the Note3 accomodate that perfectly. A little big for a classic ‘mobile phone’ but more the adept at being “a digital sidearm”.
The Note’s screen is big and bright and it has some room to spare for content, so reading books, surfing and watching video’s on the device is pretty sweet.
The experience is enhanced by the S-pen that makes surfing a little easier using the pen instead of your stubby pinkie. Listening to music and podcasts ? not realy a problem aside from the fact the size and wheight of the note 3 do make it a little hefty to take out for a jog.
As for creating audio and video material the Note3 is pretty powerfull. The camera is great, the onboard microphone too.. but typing on the device can be a little hard. Using “Swiftkey” instead of the native Samsung onscreen keyboard helps a little, but typing out long emails and blogposts is not something to look forward to. The note3 is big , but also heavy, so holding it your hands and thumb-typing the next edition of “The Hobbit” .. will be painfull.
I went online and found a great little bluetooth keyboard from RAPOO, the E6300. I had originally purchased it for use with my Android Tablet .. but there were some pairing difficulties. Rapoo reported back to me that the keyboard was “designed” for iPads and IOS devices, but it worked great when pairing it with the Note 3.
Just the phone ?
well, the “extras” to get everything done with “just” the Note3 do require you to “add” a couple of ingredients. I managed to use the Note 3 as my “full” daily driver when attaching a pair of Apple earbuds (they have a great microphone) and the Rapoo bleutooth keyboard. After being able to tilt the Note 3 in the optimal viewing angle, I was able to punch out the required email shitstorm and even cobble together a decent blogpost in Evernote.
Using just the Note 3 (and the external keyboard) does have its advantages.
- Everything in one device
- Always connected
- Keyboard + stylus combo = Quite effective
- Heavy drain on the battery during heavy use.
- Little on the heavy side.
- Small screen
- Rapoo keyboard is a little on the small side.
Yes you can survive on just the Note3, but only barely. Be prepared to focus on mobile apps (since this is a mobile OS) and have a charger handy. The Rapoo is a nice addition to what is in essence a VERY powerfull smartphone with a nice big screen. To get things done in a pinch these “essentials” will get you through the day .. although we are afraid the Note 3 (on a single charge) … won’t.
Its Go-go-gadget review time again as we get our greedy little geek hands on the latest gadgets from Samsung. We do an in depth review of their new Phablet the “Note 3” and turn ourselves into Michael Knight (from Knightrider .. remember ?) as we slap on the worlds most advanced smart watch : The Galaxy Gear.
When I’m punching away on my Mac, writing blog posts or trying to come up with the ultimate geek-sequel for 50 shades of Grey, my iPad is mostly parked right next to the laptop. This is part of my “try to focus” routine, where, when I create content on one machine, I offload my communications and distractions to another device. The downside to this approach is the awkwardness when you need to “switch screens”. From a flawless keyboard rattle sequence on my laptop, I suddenly have to adjust my motor skills to deal with the much smaller and touch-based keyboard of the iPad. A solution to this problem is of course hooking up a separate Bluetooth keyboard to your iPad, but that is far from perfect. What if you could type on your Mac and with a touch of a button continue to type (from the same dddd) on your iPad or your Apple Tv.
1keyboard offers such a solution. The idea behind it is pretty simple.
- Install 1keyboard on your Mac
- Link your ‘other device’ (iPhone, Android Tablet, iPad) to your Mac via Bluetooth.
- Use the 1keyboard app (in the menu bar) to ‘switch’ your keyboard AND mouse input over to the mobile device.
1keyboard is available from the Mac app store and is one of those applications you either love more then your unborn child, or never ever use. For 5.50 euro’s its not that bad a deal if you would like to use your ‘second screen’ device with your ‘first screen’ keyboard. 1keyboard is available from the Wiener (yes ! I said Wiener) App store. If you aren’t sure , you have a two day trail version available to make up your mind.