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The Grounds of Alexandria meets the new HP Omni10 Windows 8 tablet

This review of the HP Omni10 Windows 8.1 tablet starts at a very popular Sydney location, a renovated warehouse full of industrial and rustic chic. I’m talking about The Grounds of Alexandria – home of Kevin Bacon the resident pig!

You can find The Grounds of Alexandria on the corner of Huntley and Bourke St or if you need a map, click here.

Located in an old pie factory from the early 1900’s, The Grounds is easily the icon of Alexandria and for many reasons too: fresh produce grown onsite, open air market-style carts with mixed wares, onsite florist, and of course the cafe. The site has a large outdoor seating space with a kids play area and a petting zoo.

The best part? The site hosts a coffee research and testing facility! 

The beans used at The Grounds are selected for their unique qualities and sourced from all around the world. Each origin has its own flavour characteristics; Brazil; sweet and woody, Colombia; smoky with spicy overtones, Ethiopia; wildly sharp with fruit undertones, India; rich and syrupy, and Uganda; aniseed with dark chocolate.

The Grounds is serving me coffee from Carmo de Minas. This is a town and municipality in the state of Minas Gerais in the Southeast region of Brazil. I’ve chosen to order the Iced coffee from the menu to get me through this review. 

And now for the review…

First impressions count. I, for one, must enjoy the un-boxing experience and first few minutes of handling a gadget: the surface, weight, contour, colour and overall aesthetic.Then, the operation or capability of the gadget.

I can honestly say that the un-boxing experience with the HP Omni10 tablet was simple yet sufficient.

The package contains the tablet, the power cable/charger and the OS licence certificate. And that’s it. 

Picking up the tablet, I’m immediately appreciative of the matte black or ‘graphite’ soft-touch finish on the body and the high resolution screen on the front. We’ll get into specs in a bit. Stepping through the setup process for Win8.1 is a breeze and I tether to my Nokia Lumia 1520 for a few minutes to complete activation and assign my Windows account.

The brilliant 10.1” screen (1920×1200 IPS panel) makes the modern UI tiles look sensational. The clarity and the definition makes looking at just the tiles alone a joy.

Ice coffee has arrived…. brb.

Flicking my way around the menu and apps, the most noticeable feature is its performance, especially when compared to HP’s ‘corporate’ WinTab, the ElitePad 900 G1. The Omni10 uses the new quad core Intel Atom ‘Bay Trail’ CPU which smokes the ElitePad’s dual-core ‘Clover Trail’ CPU. I’m sure HP’s next release will bring the ElitePad 900 up to speed with quad-core, but for now, this puppy is impressing me…. a lot.

Looking at the storage and expansion, its a little light on for what I personally expect, but for most, 32gb eMMC storage is sufficient. I would like to think that any new tablets coming out with Windows 8.1 in 2014 would have a starting capacity of 64gb. But to keep the starting price down, at least HP has included a MicroSD slot to bump the built-in capacity up by another 64gb memory card (that’s what I’ve done with my ElitePad 900!).

A nice touch, although not unique or unexpected, is the haptic feedback on the Windows button on the front face. I don’t know why I value that as much as I do, I simply prefer it to a mechanical button – keeps the face of the tablet unspoiled.

The volume rocker is well-placed, in reach of any user’s index finger on the right side of the back of the tablet, contoured with the device’s curvature keeping it neatly tucked in.

There is a front and rear facing camera – nothing ground breaking here: 2MP front support 1080p HD video and a little indicator so that you know you’re on-the-air. The rear lens is an 8MP piece of glass, supporting HD video recording with auto-focus built in too.

Battery life should not be an issue – remember we’re using the Atom CPU here, not an i-Series (like Surface Pro). Throughout my visit and usage, the battery indicator hasn’t moved much at all, but that’s largely due to the fact that this unit does not have a 3/4G broadband module in it. Wi-Fi doesn’t seem to drain it too badly. I should see about 8-10 hours on it, depending on what i’m doing (disclaimer: I’m not guaranteeing 8-10hrs).

Lastly, the audio is important to me. If I’m listening to music or watching a show or movie, I’ll normally plug in my Beats headset – nuff said, audio is fine. But! If I’m sharing the screen to watch something, or got a group of people huddling over YouTube videos for a laugh, the in-built speakers need to hold their own. The Omni10’s stereo speakers stand up to the challenge and I am satisfied with them *except* when the tablet is resting on its bottom edge. The bottom firing speakers are easily muzzled and the audio suffers. Maybe a folding compendium can take that problem away by keeping the edge off the resting surface and giving my arm a break from holding it up at the right viewing angle!

If I had to summarise the pro’s and con’s, the list of con’s would only be a few:

  1. lack of built-in mobile broadband provision (not a deal-breaker for most, so let’s not count this one); 
  2. non-universal MicroUSB charge port (just so i only need to carry one type of cable in my bag/glove box – fussy much??!)
  3. stereo speaker placement causes audio muzzle in some usage modes
  4. seemingly no HP genuine accessories at this stage – would be nice to have a dock or a compendium of sorts

Pros? Besides what I’ve stated throughout this post, lets start of with the Australian RRP. Starting at around $399 you are already in front. Everything else is a bonus ;P

  1. HP Connected Music « give this a go if you don’t have a subscription with any other service. HP Connected Music leverages Tunein Radio and 7Digital Music store, plus your own library of files that you can import
  2. HP Connected Photo (Snapfish service)
  3. HP ePrint (print from your tablet from anywhere if you have a compatible HP printer)
  4. Microsoft Office (try/buy)
  5. Box (with 50gb free cloud storage)
  6. Screen sharing through Miracast or WiFi Direct or HDMI cable

So, all in all, for the average and enthusiast consumer, I would have no problem recommending the Omni10 Windows tablet from HP. 

I’ll wrap this post up with a few ratings out of 10:

Location/Ambiance – 9

Gadget – 7

Coffee – 8

Thanks for reading!

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The new Nokia X family – Your Fastlane to Android™ apps

Meet the Nokia X family – a range of handsets that combines Nokia design, build quality and services with the ability to run Android apps.

But is there room for another mobile platform? Or is this just a stab at the low end of the hardware market to capture the coveted ‘next billion devices’? There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of optics or processing, but they do carry the Nokia build quality. 

My opinion – cos you came here to read it – I’m not too keen on the form factor, thickness and concept of mixing my O/S experiences (Think Nokia Asha + Win Phone 8 + Android mashed together).

I have had Android devices from HTC and Samsung but have always hated the OEM overlay and bloatware. Let the O/S be! I have rooted and ROM’d my ‘Droids to get to Google’s vanilla platform and in the end, it is partially the reason why I left Android for WP8.

I’ll be sticking with my Lumia 1520 for now, but looking forward to giving these entrants a test run soon.

(Photo Credit: www.nokia.com/global/products/phone/nokia-x)

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM9hH3suOpo?wmode=transparent&autohide=1&egm=0&hd=1&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&rel=0&showinfo=0&showsearch=0&w=500&h=281]

Mario Bros theme song is ahead of its time.

Who would have thought that the Nintendo powerhouse that is Mario Bros not only built a gaming foundation but also had a theme song that was ahead of its time!

The ancient Chinese “sheng” instrument was clearly crafted centuries ago to nail this 8-bit title! Enjoy the sfx added in by the artist.

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Cooked & Co.

Shout out to a cafe I frequent in the San Souci area of Sydney, my caffeine dealer responsible for my supply whilst writing my last post.

Cooked & Co – Great Single Origin coffee, fresh and wholesome food plus baked goods that are delish!

My faves:

  • Beef burgers (all the burgers are good)
  • Cooked & Co breakfast (mushies, bacon, home made baked beans, poached eggs and sourdough)
  • Chorizo muffin
  • Good ol’ B&E roll

Pop in if you’re in the area, the friendly staff will satisfy your caffeine cravings!

Shop 2/88 Napoleon St. Sans Souci 2219 and follow them on Facebook.

Cooked & Co.

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OneDrive available for download now!

Bye bye SkyDrive. Just search the Windows Phone store for OneDrive and force the update… I got invited for 20gb free for a year too.

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Nike designer says self-lacing ‘Back to the Future’ shoes will arrive in 2015
The fictional Nike Air Mag sneakers from Back to the Future Part II became a reality in 2011, when Nike auctioned off 1,500 pairs to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The shoes featured a glowing LED panel, an electroluminescent Nike logo, and a battery that kept them lighted for five hours between charges. There was just one problem — they didn’t lace themselves automatically the way they did in the movie.

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HP re-enters smartphone game in India, for now…

Wind back a few years at HP and you’ll recall the short-lived existence of a couple things: Leo Apotheker and Palm webOS.

Neither were successful at making HP a better brand or for bringing new things to a saturated market (or maybe HP wasn’t successful at making Palm a better brand?). In any case, its seems HP is taking another stab at one of these things, but not in the conventional way. And no, Leo isn’t coming back.

Unlike webOS’ celebrity endorser, Manny Pacquiáo, HP’s latest foray into the mobile space will be getting chummy with one of Bollywood’s leading ladies, Deepika Padukone.

I’m a phan of the phablet form factor so I couldn’t be happier that HP has launched a 6” and 7” phablet. However, HP is not using the phablet naming convention we are accustomed to.

Enter the HP Slate VoiceTabs, or more concisely, the HP Slate6 VoiceTab and HP Slate7 VoiceTab.

However, HP has flipped the script on what the VoiceTab is and is not. The VoiceTabs are Android tablets with voice calling capabilities. In other words, tablet-first, voice-second.

With this in mind, it is no wonder that HP has squarely targeted the emerging market in Asia – namely India – as the launch bed and testing ground – it’s said that the next billion ‘PCs’ are to come out of that region.

Only time will tell if these devices make their way into other countries and since I’m yet to get my hands on one, the written tech spec is all I can go by for now.

Looking at the specs on HP India’s site (URL above), both devices have exactly the same inners, except for the obvious screen res differential and battery sizes. The VoiceTabs pack a decent punch for their size and RRP (~$400 through rough currency conversion for the Slate6 VoiceTab), but I do have complaints:

  1. No 4G support (3G/GPRS/Edge)  « not acceptable for developed countries, but understandable for the launch market
  2. 5MP camera. Really? Is that it?  😐

These are my complaints, but I would really need to see one in the flesh and play around with it for a couple weeks to formulate a final opinion. 

My guess is that it will be hard to launch a 3G dual SIM phone in Australia, HP would have to build them with 4G and perhaps drop the dual SIM approach to get any traction, so it really depends on where HP wants to play. 

(Photo credits: HP.com; http://www8.hp.com/in/en/ads/phablets/products.html)

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Nokia Beamer unplugged

If you’re like me, you use your smartphone camera for just about everything. Snap a photo of receipts for work, serial number on a product, food(!), pets, oh and actual people…

I like to share my pics, but I also want to be able to choose what I share and with whom, without having to manage permission lists and ‘requests to view’ (FB, IG, Twitter). Plus, not everyone subscribes to a social media platform.

What if I told you that there is a way for you to beam whatever’s on your phone’s screen to any display connected to the internet – whether it’s a TV in your living room or your friend’s tablet on the other side of the world?

What if I told you that this is possible today? Well it is. It’s called Nokia Beamer and it’s available Windows Phone 8 and on all the Lumia’s running WP8 (Nokia Black update) and an internet connection at either side of the equation.

From your WP8 Lumia, you launch the Nokia Beamer app and choose “Share Nearby” or “Share remotely”.

For Nearby usage (meaning you are in visible proximity of the screen you are going to display on) navigate to beam.nokia.com on the internet connected display. A QR tag presents itself and you scan the QR tag with the Lumia device and instantly, you’re able to share your Lumia’s screen with the internet connected display.

For Sharing Remotely, you can choose to SMS or email the ‘handshake’ process and share once the remote side has clicked the link.

The best option to select for showing photos or regularly changing content is “Auto Update” in the “How to Beam” menu, and you can terminate the session at any time by tapping “Stop Beaming”.

I have successfully shared photos, websites and MS Office docs (ppt’s are great, especially NDA presentations).

You can even show someone a feature on the Lumia or walk them through setup/tips. Enjoy Nokia Beamer unplugged!

(Photos: Screen grabs from my Win8 PC,Nokia Lumia 920 and 1520)

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Rumors Alert: Microsoft Sends Out Windows Phone 8.1 SDK to Developers in Advance?

While rumors have it that the major upgrade of Microsoft’s mobile OS, Windows Phone 8.1 (Blue),…

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