Sony’s latest Android tablet is a worthy successor to the Xperia Z, with unique features, an incredibly thin and light design and a gorgeous screen. But battery life is not as good as it could be.
The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet ($529 16GB) is a remarkably thin and light device. At 426 grams, the Z2 is significantly lighter than the comparably equipped Apple iPad Air (469 grams) even though it has larger overall dimensions.
The chassis exterior is coated in a rubberized finish on the back and uses edge-to-edge scratch-resistant glass on the front. The sides (what little there are of them) is finished in a metal-look plastic material. Unlike the iPad, there is no metal shell.
Although this results in an amazingly light device, the problem with this design is that the Xperia Z2 gets all of its rigidity from the internal framework and the glass screen itself. Which it to say, you can actually flex the tablet without exerting much pressure at all. I suppose this isn’t necessarily an issue of quality – I wasn’t able to come even close to damaging it through normal use—but it doesn’t give you a tremendous feeling of confidence.
The new iPad is already on sale. In Australia, that is. And while the enthusiasm for the product was lessened by the fact that the Aussie’s 4G network isn’t quite ready to play with the iPad, people still lined up for the latest “magical and revolutionary” device from Apple.
In fact, if pre-order numbers are to be believed, this may well be the most successful iPad ever. But before you get all carried away by the hype, check out our own Marc Saltzman‘s video review of the new iPad. He’s had a week to play with it and here’s what he thinks…
Now, if you’re still wondering if this device is worth the $519 entry price, we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up some of the web’s leading reviewers so you can take a survey of the various opinions (spoiler alert: it’s all about the display)
The Wall Street Journal (Walt Mossberg)
It has the most spectacular display I have ever seen in a mobile device. The company squeezed four times the pixels into the same physical space as on the iPad 2 and claims the new iPad’s screen has a million more pixels than an HDTV. All I know is that text is much sharper, and photos look richer.
The Verge (Joshua Topolsky)
Yes, this display is outrageous. It’s stunning. It’s incredible. I’m not being hyperbolic or exaggerative when I say it is easily the most beautiful computer display I have ever looked at.
TechCrunch (MG Siegler)
What we have is a 9.7-inch slab of aluminum and glass that when illuminated, becomes an absolutely stunning display of light and color.
New York Times (David Pogue)
If you’re in the market for a tablet, here’s the bright side: For the same price as before, you can now get an updated iPad that’s still better-looking, better integrated and more consistently designed than any of its rivals.
CNET (Donald Bell)
The iPad’s new screen is a stunner. That’s really all you need to know about the new iPad
Details are thin, but AllThingsD writer John Paczkowski is reporting that next iPad will be unveiled next month at a special event in San Francisco and the betting is that the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will be the venue as it has been for previous Apple events.
The launch is expected for the first week of the month, and while no dates have been leaked for retail availability, based on Apple’s track record it’s conceivable that the first units will ship in early April.
In case you haven’t been following the non-stop trail of Apple rumours in recent weeks, check out Marc Saltzman’s post on the all of the features and specs the tech community expects to see in an iPad 3.
Will the next magical and revolutionary device from Cupertino be a must-have gadget? That will really depend on who you are.
As we’ve seen from the progression of Apple’s iPhone models, a certain leap-frog mentality accompanies each successive model. In other words, iPhone 4 owners for the most part didn’t see the iPhone 4S as necessary upgrade, but iPhone 3GS owners and those who had never bought an iPhone before were probably very enticed by the 4S’s features.
It’s very likely that Apple will continue this formula with the iPad 3 – it will have enough new features that an original iPad owner will feel the urge to trade up, but iPad 2 owners won’t feel that their tablet has just been rendered obsolete.
It’s a fine line, but one that Apple walks with unparalleled success.
It’s almost tragic. The iPad 2 has proven yet again that Apple’s “magical” device is still magical – at least as far as sales are concerned. The line ups for the latest Apple tablet in the U.S. have been unprecedented, and perhaps predictably, have led to shortages across the country and online where wait times are now pegged at 4-5 weeks.
And while many who have shown up at their local Apple store have been turned away disappointed and empty-handed, it has now come to light that still others who successfully acquired the much sought-after device are also disappointed – but for a very different reason.
Apple’s online support forums are slowly filling with complaints from iPad 2 buyers regarding a backlight leak problem.
Light leakage is a problem that can happen with any back-lit device. It occurs when the glass of the screen isn’t completely adhered to the chassis of the device – often a result of uneven or inadequate adhesive during the manufacturing process.
When this happens, blotchy pale areas can appear on the edges of the screen. Typically, it’s only noticeable when the screen is trying to show very dark background colours – effectively “blocking” the backlight. But because light is managing to escape around the edges, it becomes visible as a localized “halo” effect.
A lot of people might never notice the problem. Some that do might not be bothered by it. But if you are the kind that notice it and dislike it, it can be a huge frustration – especially if you just spent 24 hours in line to drop $499 USD on a new gadget.
Now I have no doubt whatsoever that Apple will do the right thing for these customers and replace the defective units. But given the supply problems in the U.S., it’s hard to say when that replacement will come.
My advice to you if you are determined to be first in line for Friday’s Canadian launch of the iPad 2, is to ask your sales associate to let you open the box and turn the device on before leaving the store. Given the insane crowds the stores will be faced with, this won’t be a popular request. But the good news is that you should be able to tell if your unit has the problem almost immediately.
The start-up screen on i-devices is black, with the silver Apple logo in the middle. The start-up sequence takes about 15 seconds. During that time take a good look around the edges of the screen. Even in the bright store lights, you should be able to detect a bad leak as a slightly pale area on the otherwise dark screen, near the edge.
Good luck, and happy shopping!
Oooh, colour me jealous! Today, Verizon announced to the relief a huge number of U.S. residents, that they will (finally) be carrying the iPhone and breaking the exclusivity that AT&T has enjoyed since the first edition of the device back in 2007. That’s a long time to wait.
But that’s not the part that has me excited. Thankfully Canada is one of the few markets where Apple has not continued its practice of exclusivity for such a lengthy period of time. But I digress..
What really gets me pumped is the fact that the Verizon edition will include a feature called “Personal Hotspot”, which as the name suggests, allows up to 5 users to connect to the phone via WiFi for the purpose of internet tethering. You can also tether via USB or Bluetooth, but these connections are one-to-one, not one-to-many.
There is no word yet whether Apple will release this feature to iPhones on other carriers via the next version of iOS (4.2.5) which the Verizon model will run at launch. But I believe we have reason to be optimistic. The HTC Desire Z, for instance, has this feature too and you can use it freely (i.e. without any additional data fees) on the Bell network. Likewise, devices such as the MiFi offer the same functionality.
Why am I so keen to get this feature on the iPhone? Simple: It’s all about choice. I bought an Apple iPad without the 3G option because 99% of the time I know I will be using it with WiFi networks. But on the rare occasions when I can’t connect to a Wi-Fi network, I want to be able to use the iPad, and I didn’t think paying the extra $150 for a 3G version (plus a data plan) made any sense for such limited use. But there is no way to connect that device (or any other Wi-Fi only gadget) to my iPhone.
A WiFi hotspot feature would be the answer to a lot of problems.
Here’s hoping that Apple sees the intrinsic value to its users and makes this an upgrade to all iPhones with the next iOS release. After all, if Android can do it….
Update Jan 12, 4:16 p.m.: BGR has claimed, and we have confirmed with Apple – that this feature will be made available on existing iPhones, but that it will be subject to carrier approval. No word yet on which Canadian carriers will support it, or if there will be additional fees involved.
We do know that Rogers requires a separately purchased plan in order to use the hotspot feature on the new Palm Pre 2, so that may be an indicator of how they will treat the feature on their customers’ iPhones. Rogers and Bell include tethering on their smartphone data plans.
- Verizon Wireless to start selling iPhone in U.S. in early February
- Winners and losers: What a Verizon iPhone means for consumers, companies
- AT&T shares fall on Verizon iPhone announcement
disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada
I confess, at the age of 41 I am still completely drawn in by cool toys, even if they are targeted to a much younger audience.
It’s not that I didn’t get some great toys as a kid – I did. But my dreams always seemed to exceed reality and most of the toys I had were less exciting than I wanted them to be.
One example from my youth is the VertiBird, a remote-controlled helicopter that was tethered to a central base station by way of a rigid control arm. The tiny chopper could rise and fall through the air and circle forward or backward around the base station. It even came with a tail hook that could be used to lift the plastic “getaway” car and obstacle that came in the package. It was hours of fun, but I have always wished it could fly around the room with complete freedom.
Until a few years ago that wish was nothing more than that – a wish. Then suddenly, onto the toy scene burst a wave of remote helis that were the same size and shape as the Whirlybird but this time they really could go anywhere and stay aloft for up to 5 minutes assuming you could keep them from crashing – not an easy thing to do. But they were super fun, and unbelievably cheap at between $25 – $50. The one I bought for myself my son two seasons ago is still limping along having long since exceeded all my expectations for amusement.
But naturally a remote heli enthusiast like me (and now my son) wants even more. And until I saw a YouTube demo of Parrot’s AR.Drone Quadricopter, I had no idea what “more” could mean.
The AR.Drone is a remote controlled chopper like no other. It is controlled by Wi-Fi via an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (NOT included) and soon other platforms like Android devices. It can be flown indoors and outdoors my adding or removing special “hulls” that surround the 4 propellers and protect them from impacts. It has two on-board cameras – one facing front, the other facing down. If this isn’t already sounding like the most awesome toy ever you must be from the future.
The app that controls the AR.Drone is called AR.Freeflight which is free on Apple’s App Store. The app gives you full control over the choppers movement and camera views. But wait, it gets better. Parrot has released their AR.Drone SDK, which allows any developer to create additional apps that layer functionality on top of AR.Freeflight’s basic controls. One example of this is the AR.Pursuit app which uses an augmented reality system to superimpose missile and gun-based dogfighting over the front camera’s feed. I’m giddy just describing it.
The good news is that Canadians can now get their hands on the UK invention from big box retailer Best Buy. The bad news – this is not a flyweight purchase. At $349 the AR.Drone won’t be making its way under tons of trees this year – especially if an i-device isn’t already in the hands of the prospective new pilot. But for those who are willing to invest the money, bragging rights – and some awesome flying experiences can be… had… with… a… click.
Of all the features that launched with last week’s iOS update to 4.2, the one I was most eagerly anticipating was AirPlay.
In case you haven’t been following along, AirPlay is the ability to wirelessly stream audio and video from a device like an iPad to your 2nd generation Apple TV. It’s essentially and enhancement on the existing AirTunes feature that already let you stream audio from iTunes to an AirPort Express router so that you could pipe your tunes directly into a connected receiver. AirPlay takes that framework and expands it to include video.
The system is dead-easy. Just make sure that your i-device and your Apple TV are on the same wireless network. Then choose your app: iPod for video or music, the Photos app for, well, photos and the YouTube app for, uh, you get the idea. Once your media is playing or your photo is displayed, simply tap the little rectangle pierced with a upwards-pointing triangle icon and choose “Apple TV” from the list that pops up.
The result is nothing short of spectacular. I tried AirPlay using my iPad as the source device and played back a high-quality version of How To Train Your Dragon. For the techies out there, the file specs are: 1280×544 in .m4v, @155kbps with 5.1 Dolby. In short, it’s a file that has been optimized for Apple TV. Once I had selected Apple TV from the AirPlay list, the movie started playing on my plasma TV within 2 seconds.
I didn’t watch the whole movie but I did let it run for several minutes during which there was no observable glitch in audio or video. Both were perfect. In fact, the video compared so well to the HD version we had rented via Bell TV’s on-demand service, I couldn’t tell the difference.
Sounds great right? Yes – it really does exactly what is promises. But (you knew there had to be one…) I’m extremely disappointed by the lack of AirPlay video support for 3rd party apps.
That’s right. As of right now, the *only* apps that can send video wirelessly via AirPlay to the Apple TV is the Video app on the iPad (iPod app on the iPhone/iPod Touch) and Apple’s own YouTube and Photos apps.
Here’s why this stinks: Apple TV is, out-of-the-box, able to stream any content that iTunes can play on your PC. It also has it’s own YouTube app. Lastly, it can present photos from your PC if you enable iTunes to stream that content too.
So what exactly has AirPlay done to extend Apple TV’s capabilities? Nothing. Well, almost nothing.
If you have content on your iPad or iPhone that you don’t have on your Mac/PC, then I suppose it’s handy to be able to stream that content to the Apple TV without the need of a middle-man device. But let’s think about this: If you bought an Apple TV, it’s fair to assume that you were already using your computer as your primary media repository and you were okay with managing that media via iTunes. Now I’m not suggesting that you would *never* use just your i-device to download new content – thereby skipping the iTunes-PC step, but I’m guessing it will be rare.
I real promise that AirPlay held for me, and I suspect many other Apple TV owners, was the ability to use all of the 3rd party apps that have popped up in the App Store that support all of the media file types that iTunes (and thus Apple TV) don’t support.
I was frustrated by Apple’s decision to limit Apple TV to just a few video formats when they announced the product, but I immediately thought “okay, no problem, Apple doesn’t want to support other formats, I can deal with that since it looks like AirPlay will enable other companies to take on that burden through 3rd party app development.” With AirPlay being limited to just Apple’s trio of native apps, what would have been an otherwise perfect compromise between what Apple was willing to do and what consumers wanted, is now almost superfluous. A neat trick of engineering that will rarely be used or needed.
For the sake of being optimistic, I hope that this limitation with AirPlay is merely temporary while 3rd party apps are updated by their developers to be compatible with the new feature… but I’m not very convinced this will happen. Some other blogs have pointed out that 3rd party video *was* working in the beta of 4.2 but was subsequently disabled in the final release. Apple, what say you to this?
Update: Apple got back to us rather sooner than we thought, or at least, MacRumours thinks Steve Jobs has gotten back to us. In an email reply reportedly sent to one of their site’s readers, who asked about Safari YouTube and 3rd party support, the iCEO himself said he “hopes to add these features to AirPlay in 2011.” I don’t know if we can bank on one as-yet unvalidated email, but here’s hoping!
Okay, your turn: Have you used AirPlay yet? If so, do you think it’s a feature you’ll be using on a regular basis? Let us know.