Belkin’s Galaxy Tab 3 Keyboard Case

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Tablets are great for surfing the net or viewing videos, but when it comes to using them for something more practical you’re often limited by the touchscreen. Whilst its great for prodding links or swiping through photos, this is not a technology that’s ideal for typing documents.

Serious users of the Galaxy Tab 3 now have a solution to the problem in the form of the Belkin Slim Style. It’s a case and Bluetooth keyboard combined, effectively turning your tablet into a netbook. It uses TruType keys which are well-spaced and responsive allowing for faster typing and greater accuracy than the touchscreen keyboard allows. It also has function keys that make it easy to copy and paste, adjust audio volume and control music playback.

It’s made of high quality materials, adding about 15mm to the thickness of the Galaxy Tab and 0.5Kg of weight. The design is smart and at first glance you might be forgiven for thinking you were looking at at a laptop. You can recharge it via USB – it comes supplied with a cable – and it gives 60 hours of active use on a full charge and around 2,000 hours on standby. The Slim Style also incorporates a viewing stand so that you can set the screen at a comfortable angle. It also has a hand-held media mode so that you can fold the keyboard and stand back out of the way when you’re not using them and operate your tablet in the normal way.

“Our new Slim Style Keyboard Case for the Galaxy Tab 3 truly lives up to its name, delivering dynamic productivity capabilities through a classic design that complements the tablet’s slim appeal,” says Ohad Zeira, director of product management at Belkin.

Whilst there are a number of similar products for the Galaxy Tab 2, in various materials including aluminium, there aren’t currently that many alternatives around for 10.1” Galaxy Tab 3 users. The BlueNEXT does a similar job but uses a leather case to contain both tablet and keyboard. The similar Poetic KeyBook Case can be found on Amazon or eBay.

Right now then, if you want to use your Galaxy Tab for typing long emails or working on your next best selling novel whilst you’re out and about, the Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case looks like the best of the bunch. It costs £79.99 from www.belkin.co.uk

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 attempts to take on the New iPad

Hoping to tap into a marketplace currently dominated by iPad 2 and soon to be dominated by the New iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is the successor to the original Galaxy Tab (which was released back in 2010) and holds the distinction of being the first Samsung tablet to run on the Android 4.0 operating system or Ice Cream Sandwich as it is known to its friends.

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Designed with ease of use in mind, the Galaxy Tab 2 offers a variety of new and improved Android OS features, including embedded Google applications and the cutting edge Face Unlock program. Users also have a range of other features that they can benefit from, including an addition to the existing Hub range of music and games – the video hub which can be used to purchase and play movies. Further enhancing the user experience are applications such as S Suggest, which recommends widgets and apps, and an upgraded Touchwiz interface.

With the original Galaxy Tab being released over a year and a half ago, the Tab 2 takes advantage of the advances in technology, with a notably increased performance and response time. Available in 3G or WiFi versions, the Galaxy Tab 2 is set to go up against the might of Apple’s new iPad, a task which has been the downfall of many similar releases by the likes of HP, Blackberry and Motorola. Will the Galaxy Tab 2 be any different? Only time will tell.

Eyes down for the full tech-spec…

Processor – 1 GHz Dual-Core Processor
Display – 7” WSVGA(1024×600) PLS TFT
OS – Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Camera – 3 Megapixel
Video Playback & Recording – Full HD@30fps
Memory – 8/16/32GB User memory + 1GB (RAM)
Weight – 344g
Dimensions – 193.7 x 122.4 x 10.5 mm

For further information on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, please visit www.samsung.com.

Samsung and 14 Bike co team up to make tablet bike holder

If you live in a built up urban area with a proliferation of cool kids it’s pretty hard not notice the sea of cool kids on single speed bicycles – and the even cooler kids on fixed gear bicycles. And it’s also pretty hard not to notice all the cool kids wandering around with tablet computers. So why oh why can’t their worlds collide? And I’m not talking about cyclists crashing into people walking the street glaring at tablets and not looking where they are going. Although I have seen that.

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Bespoke bicycle manufacturer 14 Bike co and Samsung have collaborated to create a top of the range road bike with a holder designed to house your Galaxy Tab 10.1. I’m very familiar with 14 Bike Co’s products and have owned two of their bikes (the first was stolen). The quality of their bikes is seriously impressive – so much so that the first one I bought was stolen from me within a week and the second lies reverently unridden in my living room.

For its size, the Samsung 10.1 is one of the thinnest tablets out there at 8.6 mm and weights a mere 565 grams so it’s not going to unnecessarily bulk out your commute. The Tab holder is designed by F1 manufacturers and is also super light at just 125 grams. The bike itself is a hand built steel frame with a black and white cookie style design (because you can get a black or white Tab apparently).

The Tab holder is detachable and is made from carbon fibre – with the same specification as you’d expect on F1 cars. This gives it an really high strength-to-weight ratio, which you’d expect if you were going to strap something as valuable as a tablet to something as precarious as a bicycle.

14 Bike Co mostly make bikes to order so if you’ve been missing a 10 inch tablet from the side of your tablet (and I know I have) then contact John (I’ve met him and he’s very nice) from 14 bike co here.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Review

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It seemed everyone thought a lot of the original Galaxy Tablet when it first came out; there were even (shush) whispers that it might have been a device to at least offer some faint resistance to the iPad World Takeover. Unfortunately it was blighted by the fact it only ran Android 2.2 which was really designed for handsets, thus the Tab 7 quickly looked dated. Fortunately, the whizz-kids in the gilded halls of Samsung Towers have sorted that out for the release of the 7.7 and fixed it up with Android 3.2, the rather quaintly named Honeycomb.

The screen is (somewhat fittingly) 7.7 inches long, a conveniently compact screen for the weary Facebook-hungry traveller, and a world away from the 10.1 tablet that Samsung have been hawking recently. It’s a Super AMOLED plus display, which Samsung make great play of and so they should with its 1280 x 800 megapixels allowing the machine to deliver what they somewhat bashfully describe in their press release as “brilliant, high-contrast colours and a beautiful, crisp viewing experience.” Fortunately, reception for the screen of the 7.7- which was revealed at the IFA 2011 conference in Berlin last week- has backed up the companies grandiose claims with all hands-on parties at the IFA giving it the thumbs up.

Underneath the bonnet the machine packs a pretty-good 1.4 GHz dual core processor, which we are promised will allow for super fast web-loading and navigation, program multi-tasking and high-quality video and audio playback. Due to the machine having the delicious Honeycomb, the whole internet experience should be much improved, with options such as multiple-tabbing and Flash capabilities allowing for a much vastly superior web-surfing experience to that which owners of the Tab 7 had. It will also give access to the Android Apps store. On a similar note, the 7.7 also gives access to Samsung’s Hub Services, which offer Games, Music and Books to owners to access. With over 15 million songs, 2.3 million, 2,000 newspapers and 3,000 magazines this will be a real boon for anyone who doesn’t yet own a DS, IPod or Kindle.

Aesthetically, it’s a treat; like that lovely Elle Macpherson the 7.7 it really is all about the body. Ultra slick with aluminium casing, dimensions of just 196.7x133x7.89mm and a bird-like weight off just 335g, it’ll slip into the most titchy of palms. Samsung claim that despite these diminutive measurements the battery life of the 7.7 will not be affected, and that it can offer 10 hours of video playback time, though there is of course a chance that this may well be a load of codswallop.

Regardless it’s a sound offering and, whilst the chances of any of these machines ever usurping the iPad in the wider consciousness are essentially zero, is does show that for those out there not always enamoured with Apple there are now viable alternatives

Mobile World Congress (MWC) preview

With the Mobile World Congress MWC upon us we thought we’d give you the low-down on what is thought to be unveiled at the world’s largest mobile phone trade show.

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Sony Ericsson PSP Phone

One of the phones that it thought to be unveiled will be Sony’s PSP phone – now the amount of leaks recently would suggest that Sony is ready to show the world the future of mobile gaming, well at least until the NGP get released later this year. And with the arrival of extensive Xperia Play video it almost a certainty.

Samsung Galaxy S Mini

Having launched in July last year to much acclaim and eventual 2010 global sales that topped the 10 million unit mark, the Android powered Samsung Galaxy S marked Sammy’s first true competitor to the market dominating HTC Desire and Apple iPhone.

Called the S5830 it looks to be quite a bit smaller than the Galaxy S with a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. The Samsung Galaxy S mini will apparently come with Google Android 2.2 Froyo, and will feature a Qualcomm MSM7227 processor and will come with quad band and WCDMA support.

Samsung Dual-Core Phone

After CES saw the battles lines draw in the dual-core phone war, we’d bet of bottom dollar that Samsung will be announcing their foray into battle with a dual-core Galaxy S2 (pictured).

HTC ‘Flyer’ Tablet

According to the ever-excitable rumour mill there is a high chance that a HTC tablet will be unveiled at MWC – if anything does surface we’ll be on hand to let you know. Expect it to run on Android 3.0 – other than that we can’t be sure.

Nokia N9

Can we expect Nokia to make a splash at MWC – maybe, but don’t hold your breath – there might just be too many announcements which would probably swamp Nokia in a sea of unveilings – but if it does happen we’ll get the scoop.

BlackBerry Curve Touch

?One of the most beloved BB phones, after a recent leak of the RIM 2011 roadmap reveals that the Curve is set to get a fully touch-based interface, removing the speedy keyboard.

Spec-wise the BlackBerry Curve Touch is looking at a mid-range 800MHz Qualcomm processor with 512MB of RAM, powering the 3.25-inch HGVA touchscreen. There’s also inbuilt NFC tech, GPS and a 5-Meg camera. We expect to hear more about the Curve Touch.

HTC Desire 2

PocketNow appeared to have stumbled across images of the alleged HTC Desire 2 while a further three suspiciously accurate albeit grainy images have since emerged. And that, it seems, is not all. Images of a button-less smartphone have also been spotted which could may also show up in just under two weeks time in Barcelona.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

Having already revealed four new members of the Galaxy smartphone family already, Samsung could complete the pack by revealing the sequel to the Galaxy Tab. Oled-info.com claims to have uncovered the specs which include an eight megapixel camera, 1080P HD video, dual LED flash, three megapixel camera amongst the most notable specs.

LG Optimus 3D smartphone

A launch that has an air of inevitability about it after we saw mobile 3D screens at CES, online retailer Phonehouse.nl, the Dutch arm of the Carphone Warehouse, has the LG Optimus 3D listed on its website. Apart from the revealing picture, no specs are listed. But it could be safe to say that 3D is on the MWC 2011 agenda for LG.

BlackBerry Torch 2

Despite the Torch seemingly only being available for a relatively short time, RIM could be looking to a sequel to the touch screen Smartphone already. Tipped to fix a lot of the main internal problems that dogged its predecessor, namely the sluggish computing power, the BlackBerry Torch 2 will have a 1.2GHz processor with 512MB of RAM, which should see it whip around BlackBerry OS 6.1.

Samsung Galaxy Tab review roundup

There are now two quality tablets on the market – the ageing iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The Galaxy is smaller, lighter and faster, but does that make it better? Our hands-on experience left us wanting, but what do other experts around the web say?

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Software

PC Advisor warns us from the oft that: “it’s using the very latest Android version 2.2 … it should be noted that even Google has not sanctioned this particular system for tablet use.” Uh-oh. “instead of a half-baked handheld, in the Samsung Galaxy Tab we found a quite usable mobile PC.” Oh, phew.

On top of Android 2.2, Samsung have added its TouchWiz. PC Pro thinks this is “no bad thing… The homage to Apple’s iOS is clearly intended to draw customers away from the iFamily, and the simple, icon-based interface is slick and simple to navigate.”

A detailed run-down of the operating system comes from Slashgear:

Five desktop panes (you can have a maximum of nine) which can be filled with widgets and moved between with a finger-swipe (since there’s no D-pad or optical joystick). A pinch-zoom gesture shows thumbnails of all screens for speedier navigation.

At the bottom of each pane is a three-button shortcut bar, with two user-definable shortcuts (browser and email, by default) and the Applications button in the middle. Unlike on Android phones, each pane supports a 5 x 5 grid of icons and widgets (4 x 4 is the norm); as well as the usual widgets, shortcuts and folders, Samsung has added a few new clocks (including examples with weather or calendar integrated), social updates with the Feeds and Updates widget, and – most usefully – a Program Manager widget.

And don’t forget “full Flash support”. Thanks for the reminder, Endgaget!

Design

T3 quite acutely summed up the difference with the iPad:

The 7-inch plastic-encased tablet is notably smaller … but that also means it’s a comfortable fit for one-handed operation, or a rear jeans pocket, and at 380g it’s roughly half the weight of the iPad.

Size is an issue that reoccurs frequently with The Telegraph pointing out that it’s “almost exactly the same size as the highly praised Amazon Kindle.”

Slashgear had nothing but praise for the unit’s construction. “The chassis is all plastic, unlike Apple’s proclivity toward aluminum and glass, keeping the weight down to 0.8 pounds, but feels solid and creak-free.”

Power

“The 1GHz ARM processor and PowerVR SGX540 graphics chip keep Android feeling spritely, with applications popping into view with nary a delay. Samsung even claims that the PowerVR hardware is capable of Full-HD playback.” It all sounds pretty good so far – especially when you include the 512MB RAM (double the iPad’s). PC Pro continue the praise: “Games looked great on the display and both the first-person-shooter, Nova, and the arcade racing staple, Need for Speed: Shift, kept up a steady frame-rate.”

Screen

T3 described the 1024×600 screen as “bright and sharp”, however PC Advisor disagrees. They say that the display, “Unlike Apple’s eye-poppingly bright and colourful glass IPS panel … has a duller, flat-looking plastic LCD. Off-axis viewing of the Tab is not at all great.”

The Telegraph doesn’t offer a strong opinion either way, explaining that “the screen is not AMOLED, but that is not painfully noticeable.”

To throw our opinion into the debate, when we played with one we found it about as good as an average laptop screen, with a sharper finish. Tech Radar agrees: “the WSVGA screen resolution is only slightly lower than that of the 9.7-inch iPad (so that’s 260ppi versus 132ppi) which means that the display on the Galaxy Tab is a lot sharper.”

Battery

The battery is also impressing reviewers. CNET noted that, “in the few days we had the Tab in for testing, we didn’t notice the battery draining too quickly, despite Samsung telling us that our particular review sample suffered from an abnormally weak battery.”

Slashgear was keen to remind us that it better be good, because it’s a “non-user-accessible battery, since as with the iPad, the Galaxy Tab is a sealed unit.” Let’s hope the lifespan is good.

Camera

“The 3-megapixel camera on the rear partners with a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera – video recording stretching up to 30fps at 720×480 resolution” Thanks, PCPro. But is it any good? TechRadar thinks not:

There’s no HD recording – the resolution of your recordings is fixed at 720×480. The Tab records at 30fps and so the handling of motion isn’t too bad. But like our stills shots, quality isn’t great. Colours are washed out, and contrast is quite poor indeed.

CNET prompts that at least “the software itself is snappy, so you won’t miss the moment waiting for menus to load.” You’ll definitely capture the moment, just in a washed-out way. Hmm.

CNET also explain a minor disappoint with the cameras’ video chat. “You can also make video calls over 3G, thanks to a tiny camera just above the Tab’s display. Sadly, though, video calling is only supported from one Galaxy Tab to another.”

Conclusion

Tech Radar does a great job of summing up why most reviews for the Tablet are coming in at around three out of five: “When sliding through your home screens, the iPad just is slicker, smoother and more responsive. The Galaxy Tab keeps you waiting a split second at a time, and it all adds up. As a result, it’s not a fun device to use.”

We couldn’t agree more. Especially if you’re paying a premium price for it. And when we used a copy, it wouldn’t let us update our Facebook status on it. Ouch.

The best of IFA – part 1

IFA 2010 is done and dusted, so thought we would give you a 2-part low down on what has caught our eye, including the world’s first 3D camcorder from Panasonic, the Galaxy tablet from Samsung, Toshiba’s Folio, ViewSonic’s tablet and LG’s 2.9 mm thick OLED.

Best-of-IFA

Panasonic were in bullish mood about their focus for the next twelve months, and it all revolves around their 3D Eco-system. We attended their press conference at the Messe in Berlin, where they held a full 3D press conference. All attendees were given 3D glasses to watch the presentation. And they filled the conference room with 94 Viera Full HD 3D Plasma TV’s.

The first big unveiling was the world’s first consumer-type 3D camcorder, which will go on sale in the autumn. The HDC-SDT750 is the world’s first and they showed footage caught from the camera on the 3D TV’s in front of us – it showed the potential of bringing family moments to life; like birthday’s or going to beach in full 1080p 3D glory. We have to say it did look stunning. Especially, with their new 3D eyewear that was on show for the first time.

They also announced two new full 3D HD TV’s that were very impressive, especially with their new 600hz technology, it’s not as thin as a LED but they did produce stunning pictures. Later on, they brought on stage partners from Eurosport and Ubisoft, who announced that the French and US open were going to be available in 3D. Ubisoft announced a slew of titles that will be in 3D. Panasonic also announced that their new Viera 3D TV’s can connect to Ge-force PC’s making 425 games 3D compatible via HMDI 1.4a. They also showed off their 152” HD TV, which they have already taken orders for. However, they were unwilling to say how much it was.

Elsewhere the IFA went tablet crazy, with announcements from Samsung, Toshiba and Viewsonic. Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet stole the show and already being talked about as an operator-friendly alternative to Apple’s iPad. The 7-inch form-factor is more portable than the iPad and runs the Google alternative operating system Android. It will come in two flavours 16GB and 32GB and Samsung announced 200 apps on launch. No pricing details were given although it is thought to be a high as £500.

Toshiba announced their foray into the Tablet world with their compelling software full Folio, which again runs on Android. The tablet has a 10.1-inch, diagonal screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. Folio runs on version 2.2 of Google’s Android operating system.

The fact that Toshiba used Android 2.2 is important because the Folio will be able to run Adobe Flash, a ubiquitous Web technology for playing video. That’s a key advantage over the iPad, which along with the iPhone can’t play Flash video. The Folio is equipped with an SD card slot, and HDMI and USB 2.0 connectors. The device supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless, with a 3G model scheduled for the near future, according to Toshiba.

Viewsonic also announced a tablet which features Windows 7 as well Android, but there is a compromise you can only run Android 1.6, which is already considered outdated. This is because it’s the most recent version that supports the x86 processor on the tablet, which is required for Windows 7. Not the worst compromise, but still a compromise. The rest of the specs are typical netbook-level stuff: Intel Atom N455 processor, 1GB memory, 16GB SSD, 1024×600 10? LCD.

LG were proud to show off the world’s biggest and thinnest OLED TV, which have had us drooling for years, but they’ve always been tiny and expensive. Now LG has solved one of those problems, well sort of, showing off a 31-inch OLED TV, which will hit stores in March 2011. Finally, OLED is big enough for the living room. The only downside is it’ll cost a whopping £6,000 to get it there.

For the money though, you’ll get a Full HD TV set to floor all others, with an “infinite” contrast ratio and colours as rich as those buying it, the world’s largest commercially available OLED TV measures 31 inches across, as is also the slimmest in the world at 2.9mm thick.