Opinion

One more 7-inch Android tablet

Samsung has launched yet another Galaxy Crap tablet, the Galaxy Crap 2. This one is similar to the Galaxy Crap 7.0 that was launched recently but has worse hardware and better software. It’s the first Galaxy Crap to come with Android 4.0. 

So why is Samsung launching so many crappy 7-inch Android tablets suddenly? The answer is simple. Samsung, like every other Android tablet manufacturer, is having a hard time selling its bigger tablets. The iPad is completely dominating that segment and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to go down any time soon. Even the upcoming Windows 8 for tablets will try and eventually fizzle out, just like its smartphone counterpart. I’m not being a fanboy here; just being realistic. iPad has an incredible momentum to it, which is going to be impossible to stop. But more importantly, the iPad has mindshare, which means people can only think of iPads when they think of tablets. People don’t know of any other tablet. They don’t want to and honestly, they don’t need to. The iPad with its excellent hardware, OS and collection of software and accessories, is as close to tablet nirvana as can be imagined. 

So what’s an Android manufacturer to do in such a situation? Sell cheap tablets, of course, like Amazon does. But for someone like Samsung, matching Amazon’s price will be impossible, because Samsung does not have an online store to make up for the losses like Amazon. In fact Amazon itself is not able to make up for its losses on the Kindle Fire through its store. So the only option Samsung has is sell stripped down tablets which are as cheap as possible. Not Kindle Fire cheap but cheaper than the iPad at least. 

Of course, this tactic isn’t going to last for long. It is speculated that when Apple launches the iPad 3 next month, they will continue to sell the iPad 2 at a lower price. Looking at what they have done with the iPhone for the past three years, it’s extremely likely that this will turn out to be true. If it does, Apple will not only put the final nail in the Android tablet’s coffin, but will also bury it in the ground and then pee on the grave. 

One thing is clear, though. If you are a tablet maker who is not Apple, your life sucks. Just like your products. 

News

$999 MacBook Air for Educational Institutions

Apple launched a new $999 MacBook Air exclusively for educational institutions. It has replaced the white MacBook that they have been selling for a while now, even when they stopped selling it to the public. 

For $999, what you get is the hardware from the base 11-inch model but with the bigger 13-inch display. The one thing I hate about the base 11-inch MacBook Air is the 2GB RAM it comes with. In my opinion, every Mac (or every computer, for that matter) today should have at least 4GB RAM. I used the base Mac mini, which too comes with 2GB RAM and it was clear that it was begging for more memory. 

For a company that focuses on user experience, Apple is overlooking the damage that 2GB can do to the user experience of the students who will be using this machine. It’s especially important to keep this audience happy because if they are impressed it’s likely they will choose a Mac or Apple products in general later in their life. A bit more attention to user experience and a bit less on profits here would have gone a long way, Apple. Just sayin’. 

Opinion · Reviews

Why Chrome Beta for Android is a fucking piece of crap

Yesterday, Google launched the Chrome Beta for Android. When I say ‘Android’, I only mean Ice Cream Sandwich devices, that too in a handful of regions. As usual all the fandroids creamed their panties because this was somehow a big deal.

After managing to scour the internet for the installation file I finally sat down to find out what all the fuss was about. The hype (and the initial reviews) suggested it was better than the stock Browser. I expected it to be on par. It turned out to be worse.

The following are the reasons why I think that Chrome Beta for Android is a fucking piece of crap.

  1. It automatically zooms in the text in an article to fit the display width by default. This behavior is similar to mobile Internet Explorer in Windows Phone and messes with the page layout, not to mention makes it look goofy. There is no way to disable this. The stock browser can fit text to display width too but it doesn’t increase the font size and more importantly, it is optional.

  2. Lots if blank spots on the page while scrolling. The stock browser almost always has the content ready and if it doesn’t it shows a blurred image of the page instead of blank space.

  3. The browser cannot keep the data for more than a couple of tabs in memory. If you switch tabs they reload every time. This happens on the Galaxy Nexus as well so its not because of the low RAM on my Nexus S.

  4. Swiping from the side switches between tabs. This also gets triggered when you are simply trying to scrolling horizontally through the page and your thumb was near the edge of the display. Again, no way to disable this “feature”.

I’m sure there would have been more annoyances had I used it further but I couldn’t stand it any longer so I uninstalled it. The browser has no advantage over the stock browser. People say it is faster but I didn’t note any difference. As for syncing bookmarks, the stock browser can do that as well.

I know the browser is still in beta and it could get better but I haven’t seen the future so I’m not going to talk about that. As it stands now, it sucks. Unfortunately, this shit is going to replace the stock browser. If it still sucks the day it does that then I’m going to dump Android. I take my mobile browsers seriously and one of the best things I like about Android is its browser. If Google is going to fuck that up then I ain’t sticking around.

(Wrote this post entirely on the Nexus S using the Tumblr app.)

Reviews

Android Video Player Comparison

One of the good things I like about Android phones is the choice of video players available on the Market. That, along with the fact that it’s extremely easy to transfer any video file on to the phone and that a lot of them have large screens make them especially good for video playback. 

But choice is a double-edged sword. Too much of it can be just as bad as no choice at all and that’s exactly what is happening with these video players: there are too many of them, with more coming out every few days. 

Screenshot by public demand (and by public I mean @preshit)

Personally, I have been using Dice Player on my Nexus S, a paid app, rare for Android Market and more so for video players, which are usually always free (and ad supported). I chose to pay for it because back then it offered the best in terms of video playback. It was the only player that not only supported a wide range of audio and video formats but also successfully played 720p videos on my phone. The Nexus S hardware is capable of encoding and decoding 720p videos but it needs a good software to enable it to do that. 

Now, with even more video players available than what they were six months ago, I decided to do another little comparison. Partly because everyone keeps asking me which one is the best and also because I’m getting tired of Dice Player. It still does a good job of playing videos but has become terribly buggy lately and although it is updated often it seems the developer isn’t particularly bright. 

So I downloaded a handful of players, which ranged from the old faithfuls like RockPlayer and MoboPlayer to MX Video Player, Mobo Video Player Pro (yes, there is another player named ‘Mobo’) and BSPlayer (it’s hard to expect much from it after reading the name). 

I lined up a bunch of 720p videos that included MKVs, MP4s, AVIs, MOVs, WMVs and even a Flash video. 

Before I started, I tried them all in Dice Player. It played almost all of them well except for the WMV and Flash video, which stuttered profusely. The WMV in question was a particularly high quality file that will make slower computers struggle and I wasn’t really expecting either of these players to play it on the Nexus S. The Flash video was a bit of a surprise because I’ve seen Dice Player play other Flash videos and it usually plays them well. 

Then I tried the other players one by one. For those who use these, I’m afraid to say they all suck, especially on less than stellar hardware like the Nexus S. Not only did they all have problems with the files that Dice Player didn’t work with, they also struggled with other files that played perfectly fine on DP. In some cases there was no audio whereas in others the video stuttered. 

I’m sure if you’re using a more powerful device like, say, the Galaxy S II, then all of these should work fine. Then again, that phone has a pretty capable player of its own so you shouldn’t need a third party alternative. You are likely to use these players on older phones or those with slower processors and that is where Dice Player shines. 

In the end I’m glad that I spent that money on Dice Player all that time ago. I hear it is not available for purchase any more on the Android Market for some reason (remember that comment about the developer not being bright?) In that case I guess you’d want to know the second best and that would be MoboPlayer, followed closely by MX Video Player in third place. Honestly though, you won’t be able to play half of the videos that you can on these that you can on Dice Player.