New Nexus 7 Tablet (2013 Version)

Nexus 7 (2013 Version)I watched Google’s announcement of the new Nexus 7 live last Wednesday, eager to see what changes they were making to my favorite device. Most of them were leaked online beforehand (like the rear camera, notification light, and the 1920 x 1200 resolution that makes it the highest resolution tablet on the market). I wasn’t expecting the Chromecast, though, which I’ll save for a later post after mine arrives. 😉

So how does the new 2013 Nexus 7 compare to the old 2012 Nexus 7?

Size and appearance: The new version is noticeably thinner (8.65 mm instead of 10.45 mm). It’s also slightly less wide and slightly taller, which makes it not work with my old case while I wait for a new one. It’s also a bit lighter (290 g instead of 340 g), which makes it easier to hold with one hand. The side bezels are much smaller and the front camera has been moved from the center to off on the right side.

Screen: I was really interested to see what the 1920 x 1200 (323 ppi) screen would look like compared to the old 1280 x 800 (216 ppi) screen. To be honest, it wasn’t as big of a difference as I was expecting. The screen looked beautiful before and continues to look great now.

Hardware: The new Nexus 7 comes with a much nicer processor (according to reviews; I don’t know much about mobile processors) and twice as much RAM (2 GB instead 1 GB). For me, I also gain some storage space because I had the 8 GB 2012 model and the new 2013 model is either 16 GB or 32 GB (I got the 16 GB). The new tablet feels certainly faster than my old one, which is a very nice improvement.

Audio: There are some new stereo speakers in the 2013 Nexus 7, which sound much better than the old speakers. They’re also a lot louder, so even on the lowest setting, sound might be louder than you want it to be.

Camera: I haven’t played around with the new rear-facing camera much yet, because it’s not something I really care that much about. I took a photo last night in low light conditions and it turned out pretty grainy and awful. I took another photo today in good light conditions and it turned out okay. *Shrug* It’s obviously going to be better than nothing if you don’t have another camera with you.

I loved my old Nexus 7 tablet and the new 2013 version offers some nice improvements. Highly recommended for anyone in the market for a tablet!

New Phone: Nexus 4

New Phone Plan

Before our 2-year contract with Sprint ended last month, we started looking into alternatives. We found that if we switched to T-Mobile, our phone bill would drop by half and since AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition fell through, we were okay with switching back to T-Mobile.

Nexus 4 PhoneNew Phones

Switching carriers meant new phones, though, since our Nexus S 4G phones would only work on the Sprint network. The Nexus 4 was an obvious choice since we like the native Android experience and being the first to get updates. Besides, we would recoup the cost of buying the phones in less than a year due to the cheaper phone plan.

I’ve been using my new Nexus 4 for about a month and a half now and I love it. It’s about the same size as my old Nexus S, but the screen is 0.7″ larger and the resolution is much better. It has a quad core processor, 4x as much RAM, and a much-improved 8 MP camera that can record video in 1080p.

Phone Cases

As for cases, I picked out the dual layer (interior layer is silicone, exterior layer is a hard shell) Acase Superleggera Pro case, which had great reviews on Amazon. My main concern was that pressing the side buttons might be difficult (like it was in my Nexus S case), but the buttons are actually really nice and easy to press. The case does add a little bit of bulk to the phone, but that’s to be expected when you’re buying a protective case and I don’t even mind it.

Nick, on the other hand, wanted a super slim case, because he carries his phone around in his pocket. I picked out the Poetic Palette Slim case for him. The case is extremely light and thin and provides scratch resistance, but won’t do much to protect from fall damage, which Nick was fine with.

Acase Superleggera Pro
Acase Superleggera Pro
Poetic Palette Slim
Poetic Palette Slim

Selling the Old Phones

Then came the task of selling our old phones. I started to create a listing on eBay, but changed my mind when I heard about Swappa. Swappa is an easy-to-use site for buying and selling used phones. Rather than dealing with listing and seller feeds, listings are free and Swappa adds a flat $10 “sale fee” to the price of the phone, paid by the buyer. I listed my old phone on Swappa and it sold a week later. Now I just need to list Nick’s phone. 😛

Google Nexus 7

Nexus 7I just realized I haven’t blogged about my tablet yet! I got my Nexus 7 four months ago, after some peer pressure at work. 😉

Prior to getting my tablet, I didn’t really see the appeal. Between my phone (Nexus S 4G) and my desktop computer, I felt like I had all of my computing needs taken care of. My phone was nice for playing games, social media, etc. while on the couch or out and about and my desktop was where I did just about everything else. Sure, it would be nice to have a larger screen on my mobile device, but would an extra 3″ make that big of a difference? Maybe a 10″ tablet would be more worthwhile?

Silly me.

My Nexus 7 has become my primary computing device. I use it for browsing the internet, playing games, emailing, social media, chatting, Google Docs, eReading, and even texting thanks to Google Voice. 7″ is a great size while still being extremely portable. I can hold it comfortably in one hand, which might be difficult for a 10″ tablet. I only use my phone for making phone calls and when I’m away from home now (my tablet is WiFi only). My desktop computer really doesn’t get used as much anymore, because I can do almost everything on my tablet, but I still use it for PC gaming, programming, and anything typing-intensive (like blogging).

One of the other things that was keeping me from getting a tablet was that I wanted it to have multi-user support, so that Nick and I could both use it. Well, he ended up getting his own Nexus 7 two months ago after seeing how much I used mine. 😛 Android 4.2 introduced multi-user support for tablets, though, so you can now have multiple users, each with their own homescreen, widgets, apps, scores, etc.

Nexus 7 CaseI got a pretty decent case for it, too: the Supcase Slim Fit Leather Case (in purple, of course!), which is only $13.99 – $17.99 on Amazon. Don’t worry if you don’t like purple; it comes in about a dozen colors. It adds a little weight to the tablet (the case is 6 oz; the tablet is 12 oz), but it’s still fairly light. All of the buttons and inputs are accessible and the tablet slides out easily when you want to take it out. The tablet is held in place with velcro, but the tablet never touches the velcro, so you don’t need to worry about scratches. There is no see-through cover over the screen; you touch the screen directly. The stand feature is a bit flimsy, but it’s good enough to serve my purposes and I don’t use the stand much anyway. The cover uses magnets to keep it closed and the tablet automatically sleeps and wakes up when the cover is closed/open.

I love my Nexus 7 and it is consistently ranked as the best 7″ tablet, so if you’re looking for a good last minute Christmas present or something to spend your gift cards on, I’d recommend the Nexus 7 tablet. It starts at only $199!

Temperature via Arduino

It’s hot in Seattle this weekend with highs in the 90’s. Earlier today, Nick and I were wondering just how hot it was in our computer room, but we didn’t have a thermometer to measure the temperature. Nick tried a meat thermometer, but we didn’t think that would be a very reliable source. 😛 Then, Nick remembered that our Arduino kit (which we got a while back, but haven’t used yet) came with a temperature sensor.

Arduino Uno

Arduino is an open-source single-board microcontroller that lets you write programs to control the inputs and outputs on the Arduino. We have the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit, but they also have a less expensive Starter Kit. Alternatively, you can buy just the Arduino Uno for about $20 and buy the components separately.

Nick and I went through the first tutorial or two that taught us how to light up LED’s and make them blink. By then, we were excited to improvise and start writing our own code (since we’re both programmers). Nick set up the electronics while I went to work coding a decimal to binary LED display function. It worked on our first try, so then I added a loop that made the LED’s count from 0 to 255 in binary. Then, we were ready to add the temperature sensor! We glanced at Tutorial 10 and used it as a reference for our Arduino-driven binary LED display thermometer project. With just a little extra code, we were able to take the input from the temperature sensor and display it using my previous decimal to binary LED display function.

Arduino Binary Thermometer
Our Arduino binary thermometer (87 degrees!)

We had a ton of fun with the Arduino and can’t wait to think of another project! For anyone with basic knowledge of either programming or electronics, the Arduino could be a really fun hobby and learning experience. I didn’t know anything about electronics, but I learned a lot in the short time I spent playing with it.

 

New Camera: Canon T2i

Union Bay and Cascade Mountains
Union Bay and Cascade Mountains

Nick and I have been without a decent camera for a while now, relying on our cellphones for taking pictures. A couple weeks ago, we decided it was time to invest in an entry-level DSLR camera. After a lot of research, we had it narrowed down to a Canon EOS Rebel T2i and a Nikon D5100. We went back and forth between the two several times (they’re both very comparable) before finally picking the Canon T2i on the advice of our friend, Shaun Pezeshki.

Nick used to be pretty into photography, but I’m only a novice, so I’ve been learning from him, the wonderful world of the Internet, and (of course) experience! We’ve been posting our photos on Flickr: Nick and Marie’s Photostream.

Prior to yesterday’s Tulip Festival photos, Nick and I didn’t have a system* for determining who took which photos, so I’m not entirely sure who took which photos in the Magnuson Park and Arboretum and Kerry Park sets. Nick took all of the Woodland Park Zoo photos because I knew Nick would do a better job taking photos of moving animals (at least until I get more experience). 😛 I’ve included a few of my favorite photos I have taken so far with this post.

Red and Yellow Tulips
Red/Yellow Tulips at the Tulip Festival
Orange Tulips
Orange Tulips at the Tulip Festival

*Our current system is to take a photo of our shoes before we start taking photos lol.

What’s Up with Advertising?

Anti-virus HDMI cable
Photo by rsjac

Advertisers must think the general public is made up of idiots. Who knows, though; maybe they’re right.

“Anti-Virus” HDMI Cable

I saw a post on Reddit earlier this week called “Found this today at work…” (picture on the right). It’s an HDMI cable with the following feature:

“100% Mylar” double shield 1.3c grade cable with anti-virus protection to reduce virus noises and to obtain perfect image transmission.

Yes, an HDMI cable with “anti-virus protection” that also makes your viruses less noisy. I looked online and it appears to be a legitimate advertised feature of this product. o_O

Detergent Advertises Basic Math

I saw another instance of facepalm-worthy advertising on a box of detergent the other day. It was a box of 180 load laundry detergent that boldly advertised “50% more detergent.” Well, 50% more detergent than what? I looked at the fine print on the box and it said, “vs. 120 load size.” Uff da.

“Technology” Catch Word

If you’ve seen any commercials within the last few months, I’m sure you’ve heard the “technology” catch word. I got so overwhelmed by it recently that I started to make a list of the commercials I heard it in. Here is my partial list:

  • Nicoderm CQ – “smart control technology”
  • Mazda – “with revolutionary Skyactive technology”
  • One Touch – “double sure technology”
  • Bridgestone – “tire technologies” & “serenity technology”
  • Bounty – “trap and lock technology”
  • Degree – “with motion-sense technology”
  • Pronamel – “gel-to-foam technology”
  • Secret Outlast Deodorant – “odor-protection technology”
  • Well Tabs – “positive mood technology”
  • General Electric – “advanced cooking technology”

Here are a couple more that don’t use “technology,” but are amusing nonetheless:

  • Bayer Advanced Asprin – “re-engineered with micro particles”
  • Space Bags – “you must be at least 18 years old or older”

New Phone: Nexus S 4G

New Phone & Old Phone
New phone (Nexus S 4G) and old phone (Motorola RAZR)

A month ago, Nick and I (finally) gave in and got ourselves smart phones to replace the Motorola RAZR’s we’d been using for the last 5-6 years. We had been on a T-Mobile plan, but after it was announced that AT&T was acquiring T-Mobile, we decided it was time to switch plans and look for new phones.

We made up our minds to switch to Sprint and then went back and forth between Google’s Nexus S 4G and the HTC EVO 3D for a while before deciding to go with the Nexus S (the EVO 3D still isn’t even available). We got our phones the day they were released, May 8, two days before Nick’s birthday. 😛

So what do we think of our new phones so far?

One thing that’s great about our new phones is that they replace our crummy, outdated digital camera. And shortly before getting our phones, Nick accidentally broke our GPS navigator by slamming it in the car door, so our phones have more or less taken over for navigation, too.

They’re also handy when going shopping. Nick and I went to Kroger a couple weeks ago – our first trip since we got our smart phones. Before we went, we used the Kroger app to find coupons and apply them to our Kroger card. To keep track of our shopping list, we used an app called CloudList. While we were at Kroger, we used ShopSavvy to scan the barcode of an item and see if the price was competitive. We found out that local stores in the area sold it for approximately the same price, but we could buy it online through Amazon.com for half the price. 😛

Some other great apps are RunKeeper (which we use to keep track of our walks), the Amazon Appstore (free app every day!), and TuneIn Radio (for listening to radio stations on the go). As for games, I love Plants Vs Zombies and Bubble Buster, among others.

TL;DR Replaced my old flip phone with a new smart phone. New toys are fun. 🙂