[Review] Spice Coolpad Mi-515

There is a proper fight happening in just about every category of Android smartphone you look at. Right at the top of the pile, you have the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony fighting out for top honors while in the mid range you have some emerging brands such as Gionee and Micromax providing great competition to the already established players. However, it is in the lower mid tier segment where things are really heating up. With players such as Spice, Lava, Intex, iBall all vying for much needed traction, it has made this segment a bit of winner takes it all pot.

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**Shot with the Spice Coolpad

Competing in this very segment, for the price conscious consumers is Spice Coolpad Mi-515. The device is primarily aimed at those who like to carry around a big smartphone with Vanilla Android on board and most importantly have a requirement of dual SIMs. We tested the smartphone for over 2 weeks, and you can find our thoughts about the device in our full review below:

Pricing and Availability

Spice Coolpad

The Spice Coolpad is available for Rs. 9140 on the famous E-Commerce site Flipkart. However, in the market, we have seen the device being available for as less as Rs. 8500. The rest depends on your bargaining power. The phone is not very difficult to find in the market, so the market availability was not really an issue.

In Box Contents

The box of the Spice Coolpad Mi-515 comes with all the standard stuff that you can expect from any modern day smartphone. You get the smartphone, battery which is removable, a charger, headsets which do not really sound all that great, few manuals including the warranty and user guide alongside the micro USB to USB cable. The box packaging is pretty standard without anything really unique. Spice has tied up with the Chinese mobile manufacturer, Coolpad and the Spice Coolpad is the first device in that range. It would be interesting to see if we see more devices under the same branding.

Hardware and Feel of the Device

The Spice Coolpad on the first impression, looks a bulky device. It brings out words like rugged and solid in our minds instead of something sleek and silky. It is a beast of a phone, right out of the old Nokia school of thought where even banging the phone down a couple of times would not do much harm.

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The Spice Coolpad weighs a meaty 161 grams and with dimensions of 140 x 73 x 9.9 mm. The device is available in a shiny blue color which adds a bit of uniqueness to the device in the day where black and white phones are a standard. The phone feels solid but bulky. The neat metallic trim running around the device does give it a unique appeal.

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The front of the device is primarily dominated by the 5 inch screen of the phone and three capacitive touch buttons. You have your earpiece, a VGA front facing camera alongside the proximity sensor living on top of the screen.

On the right flank of the device you have the power button and the volume rockers that provide decent feedback. The placement of the power button on the right side was very convenient as the phone is pretty large to reach the top while using with one hand. The left flank of the phone is totally blank. The top of the device has a 3.5 mm headset jack which played well with just about any third party headphone we used. The lower flank of the phone houses the main microphone and nothing else.

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The back of the device houses the 5 MP Camera, a Spice branding and speaker grille towards the bottom. We are not fans of speaker grilles at the bottom as it really muffles the sound, and the Spice Coolpad is no different in this regard. There is an LED Flash light to help photography in low light next to the Camera. The back of the phone is detachable and you can remove the battery from the device. You do have two GSM SIM slots, but unfortunately, none of these are hot swappable which was a bummer. The phone grips reasonably well but glossy finish means it is very finger print friendly.

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Overall, the construction of the phone is neat and just like several other budget devices. Although the phone ticks lots of right boxes, there is nothing that will totally blow you out of the water if someone took this one out of their pocket. You may see it, check it out, but most likely you are going to return it back to them without feeling that you must own one of them.

Display

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The display on the Spice Coolpad is a 5 inch, if measured diagonally. It is an IPS LCD panel with resolution of 540×960 which is alright given the price range. The viewing angles are just about decent and the sunlight visibility of the screen is average. The display is generally reflective and in direct sunlight, reading minute text especially in a browser can be challenging. The screen did pick a couple of scratches too when the phone was accompanying a few keys in our pockets. So, you definitely need a screen protector for this one.

Camera Performance

The Camera on the Spice Coolpad Mi-515 is 5 MP which is capable of taking decent shots. This is not going to even come close to replacing your point and shoot camera especially as the indoor performances of the Camera was bad. The shots consistently had blown out exposure or under exposed. The well lit conditions pulled reasonably ok shots. We have attached a few examples of indoor shots and how the camera performed.

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There are some decent add ons in the Camera pp though. You do have an HDR Mode which does help exposure a little. You have some decent Scenes and options of face recognition as well as choice of scene modes. But we still feel with a few software tweaks, the Camera could do a little better at least in terms of reproducing accurate colors and details.

The Camera can record videos in 720 P, but it really struggled to pick the audio and the front facing camera was decent as long as used strictly for casual hangouts call, nothing more.

Software on board

The Spice Coolpad runs Android version 4.1.2 JellyBean which is at least one version ancient to the version we would have liked it to be. However, the phone has very few tweaks here and there from a true Vanilla Android experience which is the good news. You have toggles in the Notification bar for quick access to shortcuts while you can also play around with the color theme of the device which was pretty neat.

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There are five homescreens which can be customized with widgets on the desktop and overall gives a very Nexus like feel to the phone. You can obviously install a third party launcher such as Nova which definitely enhanced the performance of the device. There is decent amount of bloatware on board, stuff like NQ Anti Virus, few apps like Facebook, Twitter, Chrome, Whatsapp, Spicegang which we did not really use much.

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On personal preference, we would have liked if Spice had kept the status icons like battery to the default Android ones as the ones used are just a tad too loud. You can schedule the device off and on and have the ability to update the Android version online in case an update is made available.

Performance

The Spice Coolpad runs on a 1.2 Quad Core SoC with 1 GB of RAM. This keeps the device buzzing along and although we did suffer stutters, it was no more than what we had expected. The performance of the phone was reasonably good and unless you loaded it with very heavy games and ran 10-11 apps at one time, it coped well. Transitions were smooth and unless you really like to flip across screens very fast, you would not have much of a problem.

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There is 4 GB Internal memory which is enough to house your basic apps, while you can always expand upto 32 GB more space thanks to Micro SD slot in the device. For a budget device within 10K, we feel that is ample storage space especially a the camera on the device is a 5 MP shooter so does not take too large images which would occupy too much space. Here are some of the results from benchmark tests on the Spice Coolpad:

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The sound output, as we alluded to earlier was miffed thanks to bad position on the speaker. The device did play normal videos such as Youtube vids reasonably well. The output quality was greatly enhanced with headphones though.

Connectivity and Call Quality

The phone made good quality phone calls and we had about 2 dropped calls in our 20 call test. Though this could be down to flaky Vodafone connection in our locality so that should not be judging parameter. The 3G, Bluetooth, FM Transmission worked well. GPS did take a while to lock the position in apps such as Google maps and Foursquare but after firefighting for a bit, it got there.

Battery Life

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The battery on the Spice Coolpad is a 2000 mAh removable battery. It easily lasts over a day with reasonable gaming, music and pulling data from one E-Mail account every 15 minutes. You can always purchase a spare battery if you need though, but chances are you will be fine with what you have.

Conclusion

Overall, the Spice Coolpad is a very decent phone for those who are either entering the Android ecosystem for the first time moving from feature phones or people just looking for a budget device. Anyone else, will have a hard time liking the phone, but we are sure that is exactly what the TG of this device is. We enjoyed the phone and if you would just like to add a bit of Android spice to your life which is dominated by other ecosystems, the Coolpad is a reasonable choice.

[Review] Spice Mi-535 Stellar Pinnacle Pro

Remember the days when INR 10, 000 was considered to be a rather high end for a smartphone, or rather just a phone. Today, the premium devices all cost well over the INR 35K mark, yet the devices in the mid to lower tier have failed to impress in front of some of the big brands’ flagships. However, recently, plenty of OEMs have started rolling our devices with very competitive specs when compared to the devices at the highest bracket of competition at only a fraction of the price. It is a great credit to some of these OEMs that at least on paper and spec wise, they match up with the very best in the business, but where the difference lies is in performance in real life.

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Spice is one of the few OEMs alongside the likes of Xiamo, Gionee and Micromax which have made great strides in the past few years when it comes to providing competitive hardware and good performance on smartphones which save you plenty in the bank. We recently got our hands on the Spice Mi 535 Stellar Pinnacle Pro, here is our review of the device and if you should give it a serious thought when picking your smartphone.

Price And Availability

The Pinnacle Pro is available for INR 13, 299 on various online portals. You can pick it from Saholic here. However, if you have decent bargaining skills we do advice you to to pick the device offline as you can drive the price down significantly to about INR 11.5K.

popShot- Saholic

We did not find the device at several retailers offline, so you will have to be fairly proactive to find the device on market. However, at several Spice Mobile outlets, we did find the device. The device is available in Brown color only which gives it a pretty solid feeling. Though, we would have liked more color options. The device comes with a Flip Cover out of the box and an OTG cable.

Calls and Connectivity

At the end of the day, the Spice Stellar Pro is a mobile phone, and it would be a gigantic waste if it did not make good calls. Fortunately, we did not face any such issue with the device, the call quality was good, and clear. The person on the other side did not have any issues hearing us and generally the network stayed pretty consistent throughout.

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Noise cancellation worked well, and although we did hear a little hiss sort of a sound right at the beginning of the call, it eventually ended up disappearing. The device is a Dual SIM smartphone and having both SIMs activated at the same time and supporting 3G worked amazingly well. You can also setup which SIM will be your default SIM to send texts or calls. You can do that, or simply leave things as they are which means you can choose which SIM to be used every time you trigger some action.

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The device has 802.11b/g/n WI-Fi built in, though the lack of support of ac was not surprising, but we would have liked it to have been there. The GPS signal on the device was very hit and miss, and apps such as Foursquare faced a tough time in locking the exact location. The Spice Pinnacle Pro does ship with Bluetooth 4.0 and although we did not test it out much apart from an odd headset which connected well.

Hardware and Build Quality

The Spice Pinnacle Pro from the onset looks like a solid device. In fact, it gave us a feeling of one of the old HTC Desire devices such as Desire HD or Desire Z in the way it has been built. The device is tough but doe feel a little bulky in the hand. If you like sleek and slim stuff, then this is not the phone for you, but if you like stuff that is tough and would perhaps take a bullet for you, then the Spice Pinnacle Pro is a good choice. The device is well rounded at the edges, meaning, we did not ever have an issue of the device poking us.

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The device measures 152 x 79 x 10.3 mm and weighs a solid 196.3 grams. The device features a 5.3 inch display on the front which features three capacitive buttons at the bottom. The device has a 3.5 mm headset jack, power button as well as a Micro USB port. The button on the top is pretty much impossible to click with one hand, which means you cannot really use the device with one hand.

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The three capacitive buttons are redesigned by Spice themselves and you would need some getting used to them. There is also 8 MP Camera at the back of the device alongside two LED lights to help you shoot at night and an active noise cancellation microphone. The lower back of the device features the speaker grille which is very similar to the design on the HTC One. This meant keeping the phone down really muffled the sound output, or maybe we have been spoilt by the boomsound speakers on our HTC One. The right flank of the device has the volume rocker switch and one stage Camera shutter button.

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The back of the Spice Stellar Pinnacle pro is removable and as a result you have access to the pretty hefty 2550 mAh Li-Po battery. There is space for two full SIM Cards, thank god there is no micro SIM card stuff here. There is also Micro SD slot at the back of the device which means you can expand the storage onboard by another 32 GB.

The Display

The screen on the Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro is 5.3 inch diagonally in size. It is an IPS display with qHD display with 960×540 resolution. This means the PPI of the device is 208. Although, this might not be groundbreaking, but given the size of the device, you tend to use it away from your eyes which meant it was pretty usable.

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The phone in outdoors was decent to read and the viewing angles were just about average. The colors were averagely produced though in competition with other devices running qHD resolution, it was one of the few better displays we have seen. However, we would still remark that we prefer Windows Phone when it comes to devices which sport qHD display given the big typography there. The screen is by no means bad, its just that in an age where just about every smartphone seems to shipping with 720 P displays, the Spice Pinnacle pro misses the trick, especially as that would have made media consumption and videos on the device a much more pleasing experience. Given that speakers are at the bottom, we did not really enjoy our experience of watching videos on the phone.

The Software and Customizations

The Spice Pinnacle pro ships with Android 4.2.1 out of the box. This is fantastic given that JellyBean is a huge improvement over ICS with which most of the low end Android devices seem to be shipping with. The device comes with very little skin on top giving it a very Nexus like feel. Although there is decent amount of bloatware on top of the device, there is nothing much more on top of stock Android.

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You get all the goodness of Android 4.2.1 such as Google Now, Quick Look and widgets on the lock screen. There is also T9 built into the dialer which at the first glance looks very much like stock, and brings the feature of Android 4.3 on board. There is also the added tweaks to watch the battery percentage in the device and few gesture goodness built in which works well.

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There are a couple of Samsung Galaxy features available too such as pick to call or pop up video, we did not really use most of them given they are known to be a battery sucker.

Battery Backup

The Battery on the Spice Stellar Pro is absolutely stunning at 2550 mAh. We say stunning not cause of the number but the sort of performances we got out of the device. Even with auto synch on with HSPA on, the device lasted a whole day, which is really impressive given that most of the high end devices today would have really struggled to.

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Camera Samples

The Camera on the Spice Stellar Pro is 8 MP. This is not only good on the paper but does a very decent job of taking pictures. Where the device really did well was outdoors at night when focussing on objects closeby. The device des produce grainy shots when used to shoot objects far away, but macro shots really come very well. Although it is criminal to use LED flashlights when taking your pictures, but some of the results as you can see in our samples were pretty decent when taken with this device.

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The front facing camera is 5 MP and does a very decent job of taking pictures, we enjoyed Skype calls on the device and given most of the devices ship with 2 MP or even lower, this is a nice change. the device can also record videos in 720 P at 30 fps. The video quality is average at best.

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Benchmarks and Performances

The SPice Pinnacle Pro does get through the basic tasks pretty well. It is only when you run heavy games and memory intensive apps that things stutter. Make sure you keep apps closes which are not needed cause it does slow the device really badly.

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This maybe the one big downside of having 1 GB Space. Apart from that having 16 GB internal storage is great for storing apps and you always have Micro SD for expansion.

Here are some of the benchmark results of the device:

Quadrant Benchmark Score: 4122

Antutu Benchmark: 13114

Vellamo- HTML: 1378, Metal: 467

Overall Picture

The Spice Pinnacle Pro is a very decent  choice if you are looking for a budget phone a high end specs. However, the competition in this range is stiffer than ever and as a result the phone faces a tough challenge especially against established brands like Samsung and Micromax pitching in too. The price of the phone is great, but a rather lower spec’d screen and rather average Camera go against it. Overall, the device is a very decent package and if you are looking for value for money, definitely consider the Spice Stellar Pinnacle Pro.

Mobogenie for Windows is the Android Phone Manager You Have Wanted All Along

Although we are all set to make a paradigm jump from using desktop PCs or Laptops to completely wireless and portable devices such as smart phones or tablets, there is always a situation or two where you have to turn your big bad PC on. And more than one occasion it is to transfer stuff from your PC to your handheld device. Although there are several methods to do this wireless such as over Wi-Fi, but most of these services either have a data cap or are simply not free. Hence, we fall back to a desktop manager. For iOS the ultimate desktop manager is iTunes, but for Android the question lingers on.

Enters MoboGenie

Yes, let the drums roll, let the smoke settle and all the pictures of a genie actually appearing before you get clear. Mobogenie is actually not far off from a real genie, but actually grants just one of your wishes. And that wish is to help you manage your Android smartphone. Although this wish is nothing short of spectacular and one we are sure not many genies can actually bring to life apart from Mobogenie.

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So, to cut the dramatics, Mobogenie is an all in one desktop Manager for Windows that helps you manage your Android smartphone. The app is available for Windows and requires you to install it and connect your Android smartphone to Mobogenie. You must ensure your device has debugging on for MoboGenie to recognize your phone. The onscreen instructions are very clear, which definitely helps if you are a first time user. Not just this, there are several other features such as the ability to download apps, wallpapers, ringtones or backup and restore your device using Mobogenie. Where does the app lack and where does it standout? Let us jump in.

Where MoboGenie as a Desktop Manager Excels?

The best feature of Mobogenie without a doubt is the fact that the app supports a vast array of Android versions. Right from version 2.3 to the latest 4.3, we could use Mobogenie to manage our Android devices. This gives it a significant advantage over several in house desktop clients which have compatibility issues.

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Mobogenie also brings to table plenty of free goodies such as apps, wallpapers, ringtones which are extremely handy as you do not have to jump all over the places to find these basic things. You can also backup your images, contacts, texts and other important things from your Android phone and restore them in case you wanted to switch phones or simply restore your Android device to factory settings.

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You also have the option to edit or change the contacts as well as manage your text messages or send them using the desktop client that Mobogenie is. So, feature wise, there is no denying the fact that MoboGenie is one of the best all round desktop clients out there and the fact it is absolutely free is just an icing on the cake.

The Scope of Improvement

Although the app is great, there is always scope of things getting better. Mobogenie for all it’s awesomeness has not gone cross platform yet. Imagine if they could somehow come up Mobogenie that includes desktop client for your iPhone, Windows Phone as well as Blackberry! Yes wishful thinking on our part, but that would pretty much make the app the ultimate one.

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Also, we had to connect and disconnect the device several times to get the app to recognize it. This is a major issue and it would be better if things were a lot smoother. The interface although has been updated and UX has been so much better since the app was updated, but still the image of the phone connected on the left is very hit and miss. Also, an Android app could be made which would help people backup the phone directly on the internal storage.

Conclusion

To cut the long story short, Mobogenie has amazing potential, but there is so much more that can be done to make this app an absolute champion and a must have on Windows Machine. Also, would have liked to have the same app running on our Mac OSX as well as Linux and Unix Computers. Till tat happens though, go ahead and download the application from here and enjoy backing up your Android device in a manner, that is easy, simple, reliable and free. You can also check out their website here.

[Review] Google Keep: A Solution To Stay Organized And Take Quick Notes on Android

After plenty of leaked pictures and speculations, Google has finally rolled out Keep, it’s quick note taking application for everybody. The application is available to download from the Google Play Store for absolutely free here. You must be running Android version 4.0.3 and plus for the application to work on your device. Google Keep is directly in competition with the likes of Evernote and Springpad as your go to app if you want to quickly jot something down. And Google has most definitely given it a right pump so that you do not go back to using your Flipnotes and a pencil to quickly note some information down. The application has features galore, so let’s dig in and find out if it does what it was designed to do.

Google Keep

User Interface

The UI on the Google Keep is extremely simple. The application uses a Holo Theme based design which we have already seen and liked on the likes of Google Now or even Google Plus. It indeed looks like an in house Google designed product.

Interface

Things are minimalistic and very clean. Walking around the application is rather simple and you do not have to learn a whole set of gestures to be able to work on it. In fact thanks to the ability to use plenty of colors for notes which we will talk about in detail a little later, the application scores very well on the looks. We like the design consistency that Google seems to have embraced with it’s apps and long may that continue. We tested the application both on a phone (HTC One X) and a tablet (Nexus 7) and came out very impressed.

List ViewText entry

You can select between a single column or a multi column view based on how much information you want to be displayed. Doing this is simple, just tap on the menu button on the top and you can choose either Single Column mode where all notes are displayed one after the other or column mode where they give a more billboard sort of a look.

Entering Text Notes

Google Keep is an incredibly basic application, but it does what it is designed to do, that is take notes. Opening the application for the very first time will lead you to the screen where at the top you can add in a quick note.

Text entry

Just tapping the text field will let you enter a text note, but if you are feeling creative you can also enter in a Voice Note, an Image or a Check list. We will talk about all these different notes too as we go along. Once you are done entering the text, you can also change the background color of your note to make it a little bit more prominent. And since mind registers colors more than text, chances are if you select the right color you would remember the note that you took down.

Colours

Choosing colors is extremely simple, when you are done entering the text on the top right hand corner of the field you will see a color pallet, simply tap on that and choose the color of the note that you wish to use or feel suits right with the note. At the moment, there are about 8 colors available, white, red, orange, yellow, grey, cyan, blue and green.

Text Entry in large field

If you feel that the small inline field is too small for you to enter the text in and you would like a larger box so you can read through what you have entered, you can simply expand the box by clicking on a boxed arrow that is on the lower right hand corner of the quick note taking field.

Voice Notes

Often we find ourselves in a situation where we hear something and quickly want to record that down. We grab for the sound recorder but in all of that, usually end up missing out on the audio. However, Google Keep ensures that you do not miss out on such any more. You can take voice notes easily now on Google Keep by tapping on the microphone icon in the text field. The voice note, not only records your voice but also deciphers what you are saying and writes that down in a note form.

Voice Note

It is a feature we really like, because often when an idea strikes you, maybe you are too excited to write it down completely and you would rather speak it out, Google does the job of writing now. And to our surprise even with a not so perfect American accent of ours, the recorder very well understood what we said and transcripted the same very accurately. You can once again change the color of the note by tapping on the color palette or alternatively share the note too by clicking on the share icon.

Voice plus image

Not just this, you can also add on a picture to your Voice note so that you remember when did you take the voice note by clicking on the small camera icon at the top. This feature is available not just for the voice notes but all across Google Keep. You can add on pictures, or even check boxes to your note irrespective of the type of note you are taking.

Picture Notes

Not only can you attach images to existing notes, you can simply make a multimedia note where you have an important picture that you feel you should remember. For this, from the quick note field tap on the camera icon which would fire the camera on your device and you can take the picture and write a note about the picture.

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Not just one, you can add add more than one picture to your note by tapping on the camera icon once again. This feature too works really well and accurately displays the time of the last edit of the note so that you know when was the picture taken or note added.

Picture Notes

There is no editing of images allowed at least as of now, so if you want to crop a certain section out or even change the brightness in case you took a bad picture, you are left helpless, so that is a feature we did miss while taking picture notes on Google Keep.

Checklists

It is also possible to add checklist as your quick notes in Google Keep. This is particularly useful for those who have got a series of errands to do in a day. Even for us as bloggers this is a cool feature as it lets you take down different topics you wish to write on, and once you are through with the job, just simply check the box as job done. Definitely Google Keep would be checked off too when the article goes online.

Checklist

The checklists feature too is very basic so far, and you cannot really change much from the basic UI. You can though add colors to the notes just like you can do with all the other notes too.

Overall checklist

We did like the feature that when we did check an item in the box, the app automatically made a strike through link across that entry meaning it was successfully completed. Even after exiting the note, the strike through and the check box stayed updated so that just opening the application you knew the check tasks that you have achieved.

Archiving

Another feature that is really interesting and very well implemented by Google on Google Keep is the ability to archive the notes. Simply swiping the note across from the main page would archive the note, very similar to how it is in native Gmail application.

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You can also open the note, click on the menu button at the top right corner and archive the note from there. Immediately after archiving you get a status bar at the bottom that lets you undo your action in case you made a mistake.

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It is also possible for you to view all your archived notes by simply tapping on the menu button on the main page of the application and tapping on “Archived Notes”. This would take you to the section where all the notes are archived.

Delete Notes

It is extremely simple to delete the notes that you not wish to keep in Google Keep. All you need to do is simply select the note that is of no longer relevance to you and long press it.

Delete Note

After you long press, on top you will see three options come up, to share the note, to archive or to delete it. Select the bin which indicates the option to delete the note and your note would be deleted. Unlike archiving, there is no way to undo this and once you have deleted the note it is gone.

Note Sharing

Sharing information from within an application is one of the big strengths of Google and the story continues with Google Keep too. You can share your note across different applications from the application by long tapping the note and selecting the share button from the menu bar that has popped up at the top of the screen.

Google Keep Share

The note can be shared across apps such as Google Plus, Gmail, Picasa or Whatsapp depending upon the apps you have installed on your Android device.

Twitter Share Google Keep

You can even Tweet the note that you have just made, and the Tweet comes up with a little signature saying that the above tweet was sent through Google Keep. Interesting way indeed especially if you want to share across an image to your twitter followers.

Share To Google Keep

Not just from Google Keep, but you can also share images from across your device or some other URL from your device to Google Keep. Simply when you come across anything you want to share from your Android device to Google Share, click on the share button and select Google Keep and the application will automatically make a new note for it. Extremely handy way to remember things.

Syncing

This is perhaps one of the very best features of Google Keep. It asks you for the Google account you wish to keep your notes sync’d with and as a result whenever you make a Keep note, it is sync’d across all the Android devices which have the same account activated.

Sync On other devices

Not just Android devices you can also view all your notes when you are working on your desktop. This is because Google Keep is sync’d with your Drive account so you can simply have all the data on both your Smart Phone as well as your desktop.

Keep on Desktop

To view your notes on your desktop simply head over to your Drive page using this URL and you will find all the notes already sync’d without you having to do anything. Obviously the key here is that you should be signed into the same Google account on your desktop.

Conclusion

To conclude, we really like what Google has done with Keep. Yes, it is incredibly basic but having said that it does just about everything you want from a regular notes taking application. It does not have any fancy features of editors or too much playing around with text colors etc, but in our usage of the application we never felt the need for it. The sync across all our Android devices and desktop worked seamlessly and if you are into the whole Google Ecosystem of using Drive or compose your documents on Google Docs, you are going to really like Google Keep. The UI impressed us and the learning curve was pretty much non existent in the application which we obviously appreciate. We do hope though that Google would announce an iOS version of Google Keep too so that our Apple devices could also be syncd with all the notes on Android devices, but till then, Google Keep is definitely an app that deserves space on your Android device.

Review: Nokia Lumia 820

Nokia Lumia 820 is the mid range device by Nokia launched in their Windows 8 series of devices. The Lumia 820 is specifically designed for those consumers who do not want to shell out a lot of money, yet want a good premium device with Windows 8 experience. Nokia had been pinning lots of its hopes on this device, but with the recent announcement of the Lumia 720 at the MWC we do believe that if one device would lose out on, it would be 820. We have been playing with the Lumia 820 for a while now, and feel we are in a solid position to give our say on tthe device. Generally, we loved the construction of the device which is very much reminiscent of the Lumia family of phones, the screen worked well, and at times we genuinely believed that had this hardware been running on the likes on Android or iOS, it could easily have been one of the best devices on the planet. So how ell or bad did the phone perform, here is our full review.

Out of the box:

Nokia Lumia 820

The packaging of the Lumia 820 is pretty standard Nokia stuff. It comes in a square box just like any Lumia phone made entirely out of card board. The box contains your Lumia 820 smart phone, documentation, standard Nokia Micro USB charger and a set of headsets. We did not really like the head sets due to fairly poor noise cancellation capabilities, but for regular general usage, they seem to suffice. If you are an avid music listener, we do recommend you to buy a better pair of headsets.

Hardware Design:

Nokia Lumia 820_8

The moment you hold the Lumia 820 you know you are holding a robust device and a well constructed smart phone. We did not find any creaking in the smart phone and it felt really solid in hands. Even though the back panel is removable, which reveals a micro SD card slot and micro SIM slot and a replaceable battery, we found opening the back panel to be quite a task in itself. This made sure, we did not keep fidgeting with the back panel of the device and even though there is no uni-body construction, the device looks like a brick house. Especially the red color version we used, we loved how the back panel of the device did not really attract too many smudges thanks to a bright color and generally the phone looked neat.

We also loved the rounded corners of the device unlike the Lumia 800 which made for a lot more comfortable one handed use of the phone. The device features a 4.3 inch WVGA panel which has nice curved glass feeling to it which makes swiping across the screen feel good. The device has a front facing camera towards the right and standard capacitive buttons of Windows 8 range of devices at the bottom.

The rest of the construction is fairly standard stuff with 3.5 mm headset jack located at the top and Micro USB port at the bottom. The right side of the device has volume rockers as well as power lock/unlock button. Worth mentioning is the fact that speaker grill located at the bottom of the device was really loud and we loved some of the conference calls on the phone thanks to a very loud speaker. There is also a camera shutter button located at the bottom of the right side of the device.

Call Quality:

Nokia Lumia 820_9

No matter how good a phone may look or feel, it is pretty much a waste of money, if the device is not capable of making good phone calls. The Lumia 820 generally performed well in the calling department and even though the person on the other side could hear some disturbances, it was generally a pleasant experience. We did not really experience too many dropped calls or network issues even in regions where the signal was not at very best. In fact the call experience on the Lumia 820 was a little better than the experience I had on my personal Lumia 800 device. So thumbs up for that.

Display:

Nokia Lumia 820_4

Since the screen of the Lumia 820 takes up the entire front portion of the device, it is a very important component to evaluate. The screen on the device is a throwback to old Lumia devices with a WVGA display of 800×480 resolution. Even though the screen is AMOLED and incorporates the clear black technology, we have to admit coming from a Lumia 920, we were disappointed with the overall screen quality. Outdoor visibility in the sun were good, but the WVGA resolution really did not do the device justice. At the price point at which Lumia 820 is selling, you would expect a better screen. Even though slightly older resolution means that more apps are made perfectly for this display, we do feel that eventually when the apps get updated for devices such as the Lumia 920 or even the HTC 8X, the low resolution of the Lumia 820 could become a problem. The viewing angles on the device were alright without being spectacular. However, looking at the screen without comparing it to any of the other devices, it did pretty adequate. Again, our concern is that with the launch of Lumia 720, the reports have said that screen on that is much more impressive than the Lumia 820, so you are advised to wait if going for the Lumia 820.

The Operating System:

Nokia Lumia 820_10

The OS on the Lumia 820 is the Windows Phone 8.0. Strictly speaking software wise we had the same issues with the Lumia 820 that we faced with the Lumia 920. the apps were not adequate and coming from heavily using the Apple iTunes store or even the Android Play store, we found our choices to be limited and gimmicky often. Though, we ought to mention Nokia Music which hosts a terrific collection of songs, and with 1 year membership free, we loved downloading music from it. The turn by turn navigation on the device with Nokia Drive was great and especially in sub continent where we tested it, we found the maps to be accurate and extremely easy to use. We also loved the XBox 360 integration on the device and that we could use the Live ID and points that we had collected while playing games on the console. The dual core Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz processor kept the things flowing easily and we did not feel any sort of performance issues or lags especially while we had more than 5/6 apps open. The presence of Micro SD card meant we could expand our storage according to our needs and fairly low 8GB of internal storage was never really an issue. Rest of the things worked pretty much how they do on any standard Windows Phone 8 device, though we must mention our love for customizing live tiles as well as changing accent colors of the device.

Camera:

Nokia Lumia 820_6

The Nokia Lumia 820 has a 8 Mega Pixel rear shooter. The camera performed alright in most situations, however, in low light conditions we did feel that if there was too much dust accumulated on the lens, it caused abnormal burning of the image while using the flash. The focus assistant is a good little add on to the camera, and generally the camera is adequate to replace your point and shoot cameras. The addition of lens feature in the camera app also is pretty neat and we look forward to having lots more of them from Nokia. The rear facing camera does record videos in 1280 P HD though we did find that while recording videos sound in the background was an issue like most of the videos recorded from a smart phone, the clarity of audio was certainly not great.

Battery Back Up:

Nokia Lumia 820_7

The Nokia Lumia 820 ships with a removable 1650 mAh battery. Even though this may look pretty low by just looking at the specs, we could just about get through a day on it. Though continuous usage of 3G did drain the battery pretty fast so it became extremely important to switch the data connection off while not in use. The device also does not ship with Wireless charger unlike the Lumia 920, and you need to spend extra few bucks to avail that facility and buy the Wireless charging capable shell. This was a bit of a disappointment. Nokia could definitely have not done itself any harm by adding juice worth of another 200 mAh on this device.

Overall Impressions:

Overall even though we liked the Nokia Lumia 820, we felt that the phone let us down in key areas, especially the battery back up and the screen. This became even more of an issue when we heard about the announcement of the Lumia 720 at MWC in Barcelona and felt it would be better waiting for that instead of spending on the Lumia 820. Overall though the device does perform well, but does not really stand out. You are advised to wait or look for an alternative device at the price point of about Rs 25,000 at which the Lumia 820 is currently available. But if you must have a Windows Phone 8 device in that price pocket, then the Lumia 820 is as good as it gets.

Do let us know your views about the Nokia Lumia 820 and if you agree or disagree with our review by commenting in the section below. You can also tweet in to us at @Blogtechnika or @Techverarp.

 

Carbon For Android Is A Sleek New Twitter Application

Very few Applications in the Android Play store have been more eagerly awaited than Carbon for Android. There are plenty of amazing third party Twitter applications for Android, such as Slices, Falcon and plenty others, yet when Carbon went live last night/early today morning, the entire community went ahead and downloaded this Holo theme based application simply because we had seen this app right from its very early days of development. We were not disappointed with the application when it did finally arrive, though yes, it does have it’s share of short comings, but we do hope Dots & Lines would be getting across to solve them very soon.

If you have been using Falcon for Twitter, then at the very first glance Carbon looks very similar. The gestures are pretty similar, yet there is a lot more that Falcon can do, at least as of now.

Carbon For Android

The moment you launch the application, you are greeted with this cool black page with a flying bird where you have to select the bottom tab to enter your Twitter account details. The simple start screen with it’s colors integrated it well with the dark themed application. To enter the Twitter ID and Password, you are directed to the Twitter authentication page. This is a quick process, and there was no lag or problem with connecting the application to the account.

Carbon For Android-2

Once you have done adding the credentials bit, you are taken to the main home screen. Here you can watch your entire Timeline which is basically the people who you have been following. Their tweets appear in a neat stacked up fashion, and the use of lines which separate the tweet and the incorporation of exact time in seconds when the Tweet was sent, gives the app UI a real lift.

Carbon For Android-3

Now, if you want to compose a Tweet to let your users know what is happening with you all you have to do is tap the Plus mark that you see at the bottom of the screen on the left hand side. This opens a full size page where you can easily enter your Tweet and even attach pictures if you wish to.  However, the Tweeting window is fairly simple, and we would have liked a trending hash tag option somewhere in there so we could directly see the trends and add the hash tag.

Carbon For Android-4

You can also get into the menu of Carbon by clicking on the small menu button at the bottom right of the application.Once you press the menu button, you are presented with options to view your Favorite tweets, Lists, Trends where you can then select be it World or some specific region, Search button, Filter and Settings tab.

Carbon For Android-5

You can check out the lists that you may have made on twitter by clicking on the second option from the top in the menu list. It is convenient and extremely simple. The list does take about a minute to load or so depending on your internet connection but we did not really experience any sort of lag. You can also get into the settings of the application by clicking on the gear icon at the bottom most place in that menu. There is not too much customization possible at the moment. You can switch the notifications on in case you receive a mention or a DM. The application automatically checks for new notifications every 15 minutes. There is no way to change this at the moment at least. So if you want to get instant push notifications, that is not possible.

Carbon For Android-5

In case you wish to see your own profile and track the number of followers you have or following, then you can select your Twitter icon which appears at the bottom of the screen between the compose icon and the menu icon. This opens a really pretty looking window with your details of Twitter account. You can also edit your Twitter profile here by taping on the edit button. However, there is no provision for you to edit your Twitter header so far or editing the image of your Twitter account, which we do hope will be added soon.

Carbon For Android-6

If you want to however, manually refresh your timeline, the procedure is fairly standard. You just have to pull the timeline panel down and leave it to refresh. We like the animation that the application has while updating, and then you are presented with a number about how many Tweets you have unread.

Carbon For Android-7

You can also access your DM’s or mentions by swiping the timeline pane to the right. You may have to update the two sections when you use the app for the first time for them to occur as it did not happen automatically for us. However, this is a small glitch and not one that we had a problem with. Long pressing the tweet brings on the menu for tweets, where you can re tweet, favorite or reply to the tweet in a very neat menu.

Overall, the application is a must try. Yes, there are some glitches and things we would like the app to do, such as tablet support and ability to change the checking of timeline as per our requirements, but we are sure they would be added with time. It is definitely one of the very best Twitter apps out there for Android and we highly recommend it. You can download the application from Google Play Store for free here

 

Nokia Lumia 920 Review

Nokia recently launched its latest flagship device, the Lumia 920. To put it in short and simple terms, it is a slightly improved and better version of the previous flagship Lumia 900. Even though we loved the construction and the size of the Lumia 900, it was let down by what was a fairly incompetent Windows Phone 7.5 OS as compared to what it was competing against. After not so much success with Lumia 800 and 900, this is Nokia’s third attempt to try and gauge the high end market for it’s smart phone, has it succeeded in doing so? Find out in our full review of the Nokia Lumia 900.

Lumia 920 Review

Construction: The uni body poly-carbonate construction of the Lumia 920 really gives the device a premium feel. Even though it weighs a pretty high 185 Grams, when holding the device you feel you are holding a well designed smart phone. The subtle curves on the device and neat corners and finishing give you a good feeling that Nokia has spent lot of time getting the design right. The gorilla class on top of the device curves and blends in beautifully with the body and makes scrolling on the phone a pure joy. The glass is slightly raised up and blends in with the body very similar to the Lumia 800 or the 900, we loved this concept then and we love it just as much now on the 920. The phone is about 10.7 mm thick, so if you are coming from a super thin devices such as the iPhone 5 or the HTC One X, this may take some time getting used to. But eventually we started appreciating the extra weight of the device as it meant, there were fewer accidental slipping. The device looks robust and apart from few scratches on the metal strip which housed the camera with branding, it stayed true to its construction. We used the black Lumia 920 for our review purpose, however, there have been reports that the glossy finish on the red and white Lumia 920 ‘s can be a magnet for scratches and fingerprints. So choose the color of your device very carefully.

Lumia 920 Review

Display: The display on the Lumia 920 is IPS and like Nokia showed off when the device was released, it works with even gloves on. Having tried that, it was hit and miss, you certainly felt a little lag when using thick woolen gloves, however with thin gloves the device worked perfectly. The resolution of 768×1280 with a PPI of 332 makes the screen on Lumia 920 one of the very best we have used. Some might argue the fact that this is not true HD like the HTC Butterfly or even the Xperia Z but you really need to touch and see to believe how good the display is on this device. The way Windows Phone 8 is built, it is extremely pixel friendly so even if the resolution is slightly lower you will not notice a major difference. We found using this device with one hand a little difficult, at 4.5 inches, we had to use both the hands to get around the phone, but that is pretty much a standard these days and we did not have any issue with it.

Battery Backup: The Lumia 920 ships with a non removable 2000 mAH battery. The battery was very adequate for medium to heavy usage daily. However, we did face an issue that if we allowed the battery to deep drain, it took good 15 minutes for the phone to charge up again. One way to speed up this process was to connect the wireless charger and the normal micro USB charger at the same time. Apart from that, there is plenty of juice in the device, and you should be able to make it through the day unless you play games for hours on end or browse the web the whole time or watch multimedia.

Multimedia Playback: The playback on the Lumia 920 was terrific. We loved the speakers. They were loud and clear and the gorgeous 4.5 inch display meant watching videos in HD was a complete joy. With headphones on, you can definitely enjoy a music experience as good as any we have experienced so far.

Lumia 920 Review

Performance: The performance of the Nokia Lumia 920 was stutter free. The Live tiles updated pretty much hassle free and apart from a couple of freezes especially when we received a phone call while playing a video the experience was smooth. The call quality of the device was very good and there were no dropped calls or signal drops. We loved how the Lumia 920 handled the multi tasking. Unlike the Windows 7.5 devices where the app in the back ground would become non functional and would start all over again if selected while multi-tasking, the Lumia 920 gives us true multi tasking. This means the apps in the background kept running and when you switched to them, you could start right off where you left instead of having to do it all over again. The device handled just about everything we threw at it pretty remarkably and showed little to no slowing down even when we had about 6/7 apps running simultaneously. The Windows 8 animations are very similar to the Windows 7.5 ones and they continue to look elegant. Though one thing which did bother us and it was same with Windows 7.5 devices is the fact that the status bar at the top of the device kept disappearing after about 5 seconds, so if you want to constantly monitor your signal or wi-fi icon, that was not possible. We do hope sometime in future Nokia would give the users an option to make it permanent. Having said that the dual core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon processor does its job brilliantly and hence we never really felt the device lagged anywhere. We also liked the customization that are possible now with the lock screen as we could set images or even Bing Wallpaper there and get the notifications for calls and messages on it.

Camera: Camera is one of the best features of the Lumia 920. We fell in love with how well the camera worked in low light conditions. Yes, it does require some experimenting and playing around initially but the eventual results were worth the time. The 8 MP camera on board is of the PureView branding as found on the 808 and it definitely lived up to the standards set by 808. The floating technology in the camera of the Lumia 920 meant that the images were stable and little shake of the hands while taking pictures did not really reduce the quality of the image. This was also very clearly visible as we recorded some videos from the device. The videos were good quality, had a very decent audio to them and above all there were little jerks as our hands moved around to capture the crowded market. We were left thoroughly impressed with the camera on board of the Lumia 920. However, if you are not an expert with cameras, you might find the going a little tough here.

Keyboard: The text entry on the Lumia 920 was another terrific experience. The large screen meant a better spaced out keyboard and it was one of the best typing experience we had on a touch screen device. COming from using a BlackBerry Bold 9900 for everyday quick typing, the Lumia 920 stood up very well and I did not mind composing long mails or messages on the device.

Lumia 920 Review

Wireless Charging: One of the features of the Lumia 920 that Nokia is pushing through is the Wireless charging. We got the Qi charger free with the device and liked the concept. Yes, you can rest the device on top of it and continue to play around, but we feel this is very much the start of something new, a lot more can be improved and gotten out of wireless charging yet. The charging time was pretty much the same if you used the micro USB charger so that was never a issue.

Conclusion: So overall, we really enjoyed our stay with the Lumia 920 and felt a little bad when it was time to return the device. It works great for the people who are ready to step into the Microsoft Ecosystem. We found checking out some Power Point ppts and Word Documents very easy with Office on board out of the box and the camera compelled us to take pictures in situations where we would have normally just let it pass. We also loved the Nokia drive on the device and certainly it is the best navigation app out there, dare I say even better than Google Nav at least for India.The construction of the device left us drooling and every time we took the device out in public, it did invite some curious stares and we like that. Over all, if you are planning to picking a Lumia 920 and have tried the Windows Phone OS before and like it, it is the device to get. If you are going to put it against some of the higher end Android devices or the iPhone 5 though, it becomes a slightly yet a very competitive call.

You can also check out our unboxing of the Lumia 920 here:

Here is the video of our very first impressions of the Lumia 920:

Do let us know what are your views on the Lumia 920 by writing in the section below. You can also tweet in your view to us at @Blogtechnika or @Techverarp.

Acer Chromebook C7 Review

Last week I sent away my Windows machine that I primarily used for work purposes for an upgrade in RAM and change of keyboard after the laptop computer took some battering at the hands of my fingers. It was then that I realized the importance of having a backup machine. We all talk at length about the post PC era and the dying lifespan of laptops, but at least as far as bloggers go, you just cannot do without a full on machine without a physical keyboard since the solutions offered by tablets, at least so far, are not adequate. And in the search of getting a back up machine I decided to take a plunge in with an Acer Chromebook C7.

IMAG1097

The specific reasons which drove me to pick up the device were follows:

1) The 11.6 inch size was perfect for portability and perfect for content production which was all text.
2) I spend about 80% of my time when on PC inside Google Chrome.
3) For a backup device I was not prepared to pay heavily and at $199, this was a great option.
4) I just wanted to try something different from mainstream.

Now, I have been with my Chromebook for about three days and covered plenty of articles and media contents with it and my impressions have been largely positive. Having said that, I am sure as soon as my primary machine arrives, I would go back to it for all the work at least when I am sitting in the comfort of my home but on the road and while travelling, I am more than happy using the Chromebook rather than a 15.6 Inch massive screen and slightly heavier notebook. Not for a second have I really missed having a full on OS like Windows or Mac. Being a Chrome faithful, I had been well versed with the ecosystem of Apps and Extensions on my laptop and the transition was smooth.

Just the fact that Chromebook so seamlessly synced all my apps and data, made for a very hassle free move over. All that was needed was to sign in with my Google id and I was ready to go. Also the myth that you can not use a Chromebook offline was quickly put to rest. Yes, there are functions and facilities you miss out on, but to say it is unusable is total trash. Here is my full review of the Acer Chromebook C7, the cheapest Chromebook in the market at $199.

Chromebook C7

Performance: The Acer Chromebook ships with 320 GB HDD on board with 2 GB of Ram and and Intel Celeron Dual Core processor. Now, these may look meager on first sight but that is not the case, these specs are more than adequate, especially as Chrome OS is very friendly on the memory and does not really need any more bumped up specs. Yes, I was disappointed with the fact that the device shipped with HDD and not a SSD as that slowed what was already a very fast experience but also contributed to a little thickness of the device. However, not for a second did I want the experience to be any quicker as it was more than fly. The boot up time was fantastic when shut down at a sharp 15 second, and was almost instant from sleep.

Keyboard: Since, I use my Chromebook most for content writing, the keyboard is the most important feature for me. The keyboard on the C7 was adequate despite never feeling great. The plastic construction of the laptop meant the experience was never very smooth like that on one of the high end laptops like the Macbook Pro. The feedback though was decent and the spacing of the keyboard meant that even someone with large hands like I have, typing experience was very much up to the scratch especially considering this is a cheap device.

TrackPad: The trackpad on the Chromebook is very similar to the trackpad in terms of functionalists in a Mac. There are no physical buttons, you have to learn through some gestures such as tapping with two fingers for right click. The scrolling was very smooth and the area of touchpad was adequate enough for smooth navigation. You can also change the sensitivity of the trackpad so that your experience matches your need. Plus, with USB ports on board meant that I could connect an external mouse every time I wanted an even faster experience, though that need never really arose.

Screen: The display on Chromebook is fairly average. The screen is HD with a resolution of 1366X768 and measures a cool 11.6 inches diagonally. This is a wonderful size especially if you are going to use this device off your desk most of the time. The screen is clear, even though, if you really look very closely you can make out the pixels. However, if kept at a decent distance the performance is just fine. The colors are well balanced despite never really standing out. You can switch around and change the brightness of the device to ensure you get more juice out of your battery.

Battery: The Battery on the Chromebook C7 has a backup of about 3.5 hours with Wi-Fi always on. You can get a lot more juice out of it, even about 5 hours, with no multimedia playback and brightness cranked down to about 2 points. This is pretty much adequate, and since the battery is replaceable, you can change it to suit your needs and increase the backup.

Camera: The Chromebook C7 has a front facing camera for Video chat that can be done through Skype and other such apps from the Chrome Web Store. The camera is basic VGA and does drop a fair few frames. It is decent but nothing more. Chances are you can make better Skype calls with your smart phones than with your Chromebook.

Media Playback: The media playback on the C7 is nothing too great. It handles 1080P videos pretty well, though the speakers are fairly low sounding. We do recommend the usage of stereo headphones with the laptop as that pretty much improves the performance many a folds.

Applications: The Chromebook ships with only Google Chrome Applications such as Search, Youtube and Mail out of the box. You can obviously download more of them from the Chrome Web store. There is also a handy file manager on board that lets you to quickly scan through the things you have saved on your device. The File manager is fairly basic so do not expect great things from it.

Connectivity: The C7 does not ship with any 3G or LTE on board. There is only Wi-Fi on board and no Bluetooth either. There are three USB ports present alongside VGA and HDMI for video output.

So, all in all the Chromebook is a fantastic device as a backup to your main machine. As you must have noticed it has an average performance, but at the price range of $199, we can not help but recommend this. It is not a device for everyone, but the users who have been using Chrome would not find the transition tough at all. It is seamless and good. If you want a cheap device that works, definitely go ahead with it. We would be soon giving you a Video tour of the device, so watch out this space.

Do let us know if you are interested in the Chromebook and what are your views on it. You can also Tweet in to us at @Blogtechnika or @Techverarp.

Nokia Lumia 620 Hands On Impressions

Nokia has all but embraced Windows Phone as its primary Operating System. After all, the flagship devices of Nokia such as the Lumia 920, Lumia 900 are all running WP. Apart from Pure View 808, it seems like Nokia has relegated Symbian to pretty much the OS for cheaper smart phones which are all about being pocket friendly. However, this does not mean Nokia has not tried to bring out budget Windows Phone devices to the market. In fact, Nokia is probably the only manufacturer on the planet who is constantly working on budget Windows devices. We had the Lumia 710, Lumia 610 and even the Lumia 510 which provided a great entry into the Windows Phone Ecosystem for those who just want to try out and get a feel of Windows Phone.

Nokia Lumia 620

Nokia while announcing the Lumia 920 and 820 which are the first two devices from the company to run the latest WP 8 OS right out of the box also announced a budget friendly Lumia 620. The device has not been officially launched in India yet, but we could get some hands on time with the device at one of the retailers today. The phone was on sale for about Rs. 15,000, so we can expect the final price of the device to be somewhere around the 15K mark, even though we would have liked it to be more around the 13,000 figure. However, having played with the device a bit, here are our first impressions:

Operating System: Lumia 620 would be the first budget phone from Windows to run Windows Phone 8 which means all the latest updates and goodness would be supported in this device. The direct comparison of the device would be made with the HTC 8S. However, from strictly OS point of view the Lumia 620 would win the battle hands down thanks to some exclusive apps such as City Lens and other Nokia goodness, even though the 8S is a much better designed device.

Lumia 620

Design: The Lumia 620 unlike the Lumia 920 feels pretty light in weight. It weighs around 127 grams, and with curved edges at the corner the phone has a great feel to it. It has a 3.8 inch display with Clear black technology and WVGA  resolution. The screen on the device definitely impressed us much more than either the Lumia 510 or 610. In fact using the phone in direct sunshine was a pleasure, the viewing angles were good without being spectacular. But considering the range of the device, the Lumia 620 is very well designed and has a good build quality.

Performance: The presence of a very capable, dual Core 1GHz Krait CPU meant things were very snappy on the device. You certainly experience how speedy things are when you try and load the same application of both the Lumia 620 and one of the older Lumia devices running WP 7.5. In fact a basic application such as Whatsapp was far more responsive on the Lumia 620 than the Lumia 710. Also, the Lumia 620 in general performed well in multi tasking. It handled it without any lag and the applications were running in the back ground instead of resetting. Even though this is a standard WP 8 feature, we did find that the Lumia 620 handled it very well and there was very little loading time even when we had a few applications running in the background.

Camera: Camera was one feature that we perhaps expected a little more from Nokia than what is on board of Lumia 620. Even though the camera performed a little better than the HTC 8S due to a larger aperture but the lack of Carl Zeiss Lens on the 5 Mega Pixel shooter gave very average pictures in broad day light. LED flash is present on the device meaning you can use the phone for night time shooting but the performance again was very average. There is also a front facing camera with VGA resolution which would help you use Skype or other apps such as Tango for Video chat. the quality again is average but sufficient for a decent call. The device could capture 720 P videos at 30 FPS but we were not very happy with the quality of audio recorded on the device.

Battery Backup: The battery on the Lumia 620 is rated at 1300 mAH which is really low in our view. The phone lost quite a bit of juice as we attempted to download just a few apps over 3G and place a couple of calls. An extra 200 mAH could have made a world of difference. However, we cannot comment on the overall usage until we review the device over a longer period of time.

Storage Space: The phone ships with 8 GB inbuilt storage. However, there is extension possible thanks to a Micro SD slot on the device giving us another 32 GB to play with unlike the older Lumia range of devices.

Overall Impressions: On the whole, we liked the Lumia 620. The phone felt very solid in hands, and the reception was good too. The speakers did well when tested with some classical rock music. We loved the color options the device sells with, we may as well pick a yellow one for our personal use just for something different. If Nokia does decide to price the phone aggressively in India, the device has all the makings to be a hit. However, if you are somebody who is looking for a device that has better overall design and a little more premium feel, then the Lumia 620 may not be for you. For a rugged use though and just an entery level phone, and very capable performance the Lumia 620 gets our thumbs up.

So these were our first impressions of the device, we would be coming up with a full video review of the device soon once we have used the phone for an extended period. Do let us know your views about the Lumia 620 in the section below or tweet in to us at @Blogtechnika or @Techverarp.

Initial Impressions Of The All New Temple Run 2 on iOS

Temple Run has been a run away success when it comes to portable mobile games. Just like Angry birds, Temple run has been one game that you would find on pretty much every Android as well as iOS powered device. The game has been downloaded millions of times and surely you know by now that Imangi Studios, the developers of the game have decided to gives us all the Temple Run 2, a successor to the original Temple Run. The game at the moment is available for iOS devices only meaning the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. There is no news on when the game could be out for Android devices, but be sure it would be coming soon. If you have not already tried the game, here is the download link from the Apple iTunes Store. The game can be played on devices released including and after the launch of iPhone 3Gs.

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So having played the game a few times, what are our first few impressions of the game? Let’s find out.

What’s Changed?

This was the first bit of question that was bothering our head when we had downloaded the game on our trusty old iPad 2. Well, to start off with the initial screen is new, and all green instead of the yellow on the previous version, giving a more environmental and organic feel to the game. The game starts off similarly to the original temple run with the camera panning towards a den from where the player emerges. There definitely is a change of camera angle about this if you want to be very picky. The very first thing you will notice is that the paths are no more straight with turns, they are more curved and angling as well as not on the same altitude. This will require some getting used to. You may actually end up swiping across the player to move on the curved path when in reality the player does the adjustment yourself. It is definitely an increase in the difficulty coefficient of the game. When you are dying, the monsters behind you too seem to be a lot bigger than the previous version. You also get a gem at the start of the game now, very similar to Ninjump where you can afford to get caught once yet rescue yourself by using the gem which you can purchase too. The graphics are definitely a notch up, more on that in the next section. The levels and powerups are now handled better and there are a lot more special powers to look forward to. The levels ad achievements are well defined now which means you do not really have to play the original game to understand how the game works.

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Graphics

The graphics on the Temple run 2 are impressive. Even while not playing on the retina display, you get the feeling of realism in the game. It looks pretty on the retina display without a doubt as our iPhone 4S proved. The graphics are more environment friendly and the game is easy on the eye thanks to a lot of use of brown and green colors especially over the yellow used in the previous version. There is a lot more eye for detail too in the version two of the game as you run through the clouds and come down on slopes, changing away from the straight straight jungle run of the original Temple run. The game play takes place in more like a kingdom sort of place than just a plain jungle, and feels like you are running on cliffs, which gives that little bit extra to the Temple Run 2. The character of the game stays pretty much how it was, though it would not have been a bad idea to change his appearance a little to give that feeling of next version.

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Performance And Response

The performance and response of the game remains top notch just like the original version. There is no noticeable lag anywhere in the game. The only thing that may differ is the loading time of the game from one device to another. Apart from that, the character responds to every little touch which makes sure you enjoy the game to the fullest without getting frustrated at your input not getting registered. The background music also is a little better we feel from the previous version of the game.

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Conclusion

Overall, we feel the game is a worthy successor to the original game. The original Temple Run had become a little stagnated with people posting scores in crores by hook or by crook, and this game definitely gives a good challenge to the gaming community of the iOS world. We look forward to spending a lot of time this weekend playing this game and if we do find something more interesting or worth telling, we would add on to our review.

What are your impressions of the Temple Run 2 so far? Do let us know in the section below or tweet in to us at @Blogtechnika or @Techverarp.