We review the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, a waterproof version of the big selling Galaxy S4 Android smartphone
Samsung is certainly flogging the S4 brand as far as it can. Multiple configurations of the original device, plus the Mini, the Zoom and the Active give us a group of products that don’t all share the same design language and don’t all share the same specs, but which collectively flesh out the S4 range. The Active is, in many respects, the least interesting of them all, but, ironically, might just be the best.
The S4 Active is a partially ruggedised handset with an IP67 certification. This means it is totally protected against dust, and protected against immersion in water up to one metre deep. In most practical instances this simply means that you will be able to use the device in the rain without any fear of it becoming damaged, although Samsung has added an Aqua Mode to the camera app to help improve image quality taken underwater.
To use the Active underwater you need to ensure that the seal on the USB port on the bottom is tightly closed, as is the removable backplate (which provides access to the replaceable battery, SIM and memory card slots). The headphone jack on the top has no cover, but is fully water resistant. It’s a slightly more elegant setup than we saw on Sony’s toughened devices, with its full suite of external ports each with their own seal.
Can a combination of stock Android and app support make the NEO X5 a winner?
There has been a recent rise in the amount of Android PCs to hit the market, with the latest coming from the largely unheralded Minix. The NEO X5 looks to dabble as both an Android PC and a media hub to attract a wide variety of people. Design wise, there’s nothing special here, although the curved edges of the hub do have a nice aesthetic to them. Around the back are a wide selection of ports for you to use. There’s a single HDMI port, three USB ports, one microUSB port, an audio out, ethernet and also a SD card reader. The list is fairly staggering for something of its size.
The process of connecting it up to your TV is easy via the HDMI port, even if it will take a few seconds for the device to load up initially. It runs Android 4.1, meaning it’s compatible with a large library of apps and includes a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor which could do with being a bit bigger for our liking. You can use either your phone or tablet to control the X5 while using it on your TV, or also a wired keyboard and mouse if you want an authentic PC experience.
Like any other device running Android 4.1, you can install apps directly from the Google Play store or sideload them through the SD card reader. There’s a number of apps pre-installed, with the likes of Netflix and Pandora being a click away. Movies can be watched in 1080p, but the X5 does have issues recognising certain file types. The same can be said about audio files, with the X5 having trouble recognising some of the MP3 files we were trying to play through it.
Keep your photo’s privacy intact by adding a password to them.
We’re big fans of the pattern lock feature on Android, but taking it one step further is the picture password option in the new Windows 8. Like the pattern lock you have to touch specific points on the screen in order to unlock the device, but here the points are on a picture of your choosing rather than a uniform grid. The developer TwinBlade has now brought the idea over to Android. It uses an image from your gallery, and you can create your lock combination using points, lines and circles. The trick is to position these near or around objects within the image so they are memorable. Picture Password Lockscreen is available in the Play Store.
We’ve got everything from virtual postcards to football stats in this week’s Google Play apps of the week.Touchnote Postcards
Create your own virtual postcards and have them printed and posted for you. There are plenty of tools to add different effects to your postcards and the printing and postal service is competitively priced.
Looking ahead to Samsung’s conference at IFA 2013, we’ve put together a quick guide on everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy Note III, so far.
All eyes are on Samsung again, as they prepare to announce the latest version of the successful phablet range. Details are still sketchy, to say the least, and there are a wide number of sources claiming to know what the new phablet has in store for us. We’ve trawled the web to try and figure what you can expect to see in the Samsung Galaxy Note III.1. It will run Android 4.3 out of the box
This is largely a no-brainer, with Samsung looking to launch the phablet with the latest update to the Android OS. Don’t expect it to be stock Android, however, with Samsung usually adding a variety of features on top of the interface.2. It will include 3GB of RAM
Although details on processor speeds have still been kept under wraps, many believe that the Note III will ship with an incredible 3GB of RAM. Neither of the previous Note’s were slouches, so the 3GB of RAM should tear through most tasks you throw at it.
Gesture-controlled headphones where sound quality is key
As well as expert noise-cancelling technology, the Parrot Zik headphones also include Bluetooth connectivity and some unique touch operation controls. All the touch controls are placed in the right cup and users can swipe in a variety of ways to pause, play and generally control the music they’re listening to. For the most part this feature works brilliantly.
Sound quality is fantastic and the range of preset EQ modes is also impressive. The only downside is the large frame of the Parrot Ziks. Although the metallic feel of them emits a premium finish, the cups are heavy, which means they can feel a little loose at times. Despite this, the Parrot Ziks are one of the most intuitive and unique pair of headphones on the market.