Kobo Aura HD: What and What Not to Expect

Although the rise of high-end tablets in the market has hugely captivated the fancies of its audience, the world might still have a place for another e-reader – Kobo’s latest Aura HD. “This is something that is designed for this most passionate, voracious reader,” says CEO Mike Serbinis during an interview with engadget.com. But considering the vast pool of competitors out there, with two main players dominating the market, is Kobo’s latest innovation still worth the purchase?

The seemingly impressive hardware

It appears that the e-reader market is composed of a number of companies that just utilize the same parts for their products over again, with processors designed by a similar company as well, so there’s not really much to brag about when it comes to the hardware. However, Serbinis is determined to give the new Aura a place in the market.

Aura appears to have a larger screen, and in a tow, a bulkier reader. With a footprint of 6.97×5.05×0.46 inches, the device is noticeably larger than the Glo or Kindle’s Paperwhite. It’s much heavier than its competitions as well, and avid e-readers could immediately attest to that. Although the design appears to be just convenient to hold, it can be little slick, as well, especially if you have sweaty hands.

kobo-aura-hd

Boasting the HD screen

The screen also boasts a resolution of 1,440 x 1,080 – something that could definitely put many tablets to shame as it promises a 20 percent upgrade to clarity than most HD readers on the market – so it’s an extremely sharp reader. Battery-wise, it can last up to over a month, already with its light and Wi-Fi on. That’s plenty of time.

Atop the reader is a dedicated button for the device’s built-in front light. Just like the impressive technology from Glo, it wouldn’t fail its users once it’s on – showing off that evenly-distributed light across the whole display. The company isn’t really a fan of the standard micro-USB cords, as they’ve built a pretty good-looking cord solely for the device. It also holds a micro-SD slot for you to add up to 32GB storage to device’s 4GB built-in storage. That would certainly mean a lot to committed e-readers.

The not-so impressive software

With the goal of most e-readers to make the hardware “disappear” as much as possible, Kobo exerts an awful lot of effort to lifting the software. There’s nothing really much to expect with the software, just that it isn’t as user-friendly as other e-readers in the market. It can still read a multiple selection of file formats, including EPUB, PDF, JPEF, GIF, HTML, TXT, and a lot more. Although you will get by for some time, the company would really need to do some tweaks to its operating system to make a name in the market.

It was just the right move for the company to make the Aura HD a limited edition product, considering the e-readers bulkiness and the whopping $169 price tag. With Kindle and Nook on the market, the Aura HD is even much more difficult to sell.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Fails humanly, all too humanly

So, I very recently finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution and felt like putting out a few words about my experience of it. This will, disappointingly, not be a fantastically detailed analysis of epic proportions but I will summarize and touch on a few core issues that come to mind while I write this.

Deus Ex- Human RevolutionSome history:

I played Deus Ex first in its exceptional demo version in the early 2000s and instantly loved it and its then-unrivaled sense of discovery and complexity. It was, and probably still is, a good example of a world that evolves progressively through visual changes in the cities of the game and in how character relations are always temporary, as one never truly trusts anyone. If I remember right, I finished the complete game in the mid 2000s, along with the much reviled Deus Ex: Invisible War, which I however found a decent game at the time. When/if I have the time I would love to redo both games which I have on Steam, but less of the time needed to complete them to any extent.

To mimic GameCritics, I would also like to upfront specify my gaming conditions and some meta-information that may be relevant. Total gametime was estimated at 15-18 hours (realtime) from start to completion and I played on a 2011 Macbook Pro on high settings hooked to a 30” Cinema Display and Xbox 360 game controller. Difficulty settings were mostly medium, except for boss fights where I tuned the difficulty down. The game’s title will be shortened to DXHR in this text.

Deus Ex- Human Revolution - mac

As I could see on a friend’s Facebook comments, I saw a tendency to think more about the game details as such, rather than looking at DXHR as a successor to a game (because most do not count DX2 as a proper game, there cannot be a series as such) rich in cultural capital and important for the general growth of video/computer games as a mature medium in its own right. This focus on the “gameness” is troubling, not just because it de-emphasizes factors that convey the bulk of the ethical core that DXHR builds on, but also since this alternate focus does not acknowledge the world in which the game takes place but rather the (classical) mazes through which one makes progress. Continue reading “Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Fails humanly, all too humanly”

How to prepare the cloud security for your data

Even if there weren’t numerous studies out there predicting a rapid increase in the number of companies adopting cloud security solutions, it is obvious to even a casual observer that people are getting less hesitant to climb the beanstalk. One of the main issues that made people resist the new technology were security concerns.

This hardly seems surprising when you hear about some of the better known intrusions or crashes that have left some major services unavailable for a while, but the fact is that those services usually recovered without major consequences and that the number of successful attacks or serious crashes is not exactly that disheartening.

Finally, providers of cloud services are more than aware of the fact that data security is still perceived as one of the main issues with cloud computing and a lot of effort is being devoted to addressing each and every chink in the armor. For this reason, cloud security requirements are being updated regularly. Aside from that, there are also some things that you can do on your end to help maximize data security.

It is true that you make your data vulnerable as soon as you upload it but there are ways to eliminate some of that vulnerability. For one, you need to have control over who can access the data. If you are using a particular service on a corporate level, there needs to be a well defined hierarchy defining who has access to what parts of data. With the most sensitive data being available to the people who absolutely have to have access.

cloud-security

Your data is vulnerable even before it reaches the cloud. Which is why you have to make sure that you are using a secure connection when you are uploading something to or downloading something from the cloud. This means that you should stay away from public networks, like the ones in parks, coffee shops, libraries and similar.

Likewise, using your smartphone or tablet to access the data might not be the best idea. Individuals would do well to make a habit of paying attention when, where and how they are accessing their data. While companies should make sure to include all the relevant cloud security info in training of employees.

A short mention of passwords should also be a part of that security training. Even though most people are aware of the fact that it is not too wise to have just one password for numerous accounts, a lot of them still do it, believing that it’ll never actually cause any harm. It usually does, and if you enable someone to access the sensitive data of your company or acquire control over your personal storage, you’ll be quite sorry you weren’t willing to put in that extra bit of effort. Using something like LastPass might make it easier for you to keep track of your various passwords.

Another crucial step in ensuring the cloud security of your data is researching the provider, checking how long they have been in the business. What their track record is and how many dissatisfied customers do they have. Make sure to study the terms of agreement carefully, and see what kind of protection they are able to offer.

Finally, if you are really worried about someone getting to your data but still want to have it backed up online, you could always encrypt it before sending it to the cloud. This will make it impossible to share it with someone who doesn’t have the encryption key. You wouldn’t have to worry about prying eyes seeing it.

Five OS X tools for your analogue life

I often wish I had certain utilities in my daily life which I have in my computer operating system. Tragic, isn’t it. But go with me for a minute, if you want your neighbours to look like Scarlett Johansson and your food to fly into view like some quartz composed magic that is.

1. The find function – A classic, every time you lose your keys, your wallet or the chuffing TV remote, you wish there was a find function in your living room. I can see it now. This is your Wallet, These are your unwashed dinner plates, this is your porn stash. That would be pretty damn awesome. Maybe as GPS chips become smaller and more accurate, we can start planting them in everything we ship out of China, and plot their locations via some sort of mobile phone interface. You’re fucked when you lose your phone like.

2. Disk Utility – Typically every Friday morning during University term time, and quite often Sundays too, I wish I could forgo the sense of confusion and then anger caused by my inability to think properly. I’d like to either roll back to my pre-alcohol stained brain, or just run defrag and get everything unjumbled again. Repair permissions could do the same job, but everyone knows that doesn’t really work.

3. Single User Mode – You work with idiots, you live with idiots, you commute with idiots. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just snap your fingers and have them all disappear? Not permanently of course, just until you have things sorted out, and you’ve covered your co-workers cubicle in post-it notes and/or newspaper.

4. Show input source name – Picture the scene. Your in an early meeting, you got wankered last night, you feel sweaty and you have bad breath, and the co-worker across the table is uttering words you don’t even recognise. You’re in a pickle, at least if you knew the language they were speaking you could just reply with a random selection of “yes”, “no” and “dunno”. Fuck it, go the whole hog and get VoiceOver to do it for you and go grab some sleep by using your jacket as a pillow on the toilet seat in the disabled loo (more floor space, lesser used: It’s an obvious choice).

5. Uno – Only really applicable to the budding Adolfs amongst you, Uno in your analogue life would allow you to make everyone look the same. Blonde hair, check. Blue Eyes, check, no nasty mail.app type lozenges. Check. You’d have to get everyone to write their names on their heads so you could tell who was who, but this has to be preferable to genocide – and maybe you could even have a ‘make everyone look like Scarlett Johansson option.

Top 5 Action Games

World of Tanks

world-of-tanks

Hopping into a tank and taking the controls is a dream many boys and men have. So, it goes without saying that World of Tanks gives just those kinds of players the opportunity to live their dreams. This free-to-play, action-packed title will challenge players to use their strategy and fight alongside their friends in realistic tank combat. Featuring many tanks, including some of the most iconic tanks ever to see battle, players can try out different tactics and upgrades. The more experience gained, the more players can improve their tanks and make them true machines of war.

League of Legends

League of Legends

Enter the realm of MOBA-style gaming with this free-to-play title. League of Legends will give players the opportunity to choose from over one hundred different heroes and take them into battle. The goal is to outwit and out maneuver your opponent with your hero by mastering the unique skills of the character and their abilities.

Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes

Warhammer Online- Wrath of Heroes

The Warhammer universe comes alive once again in this free-to-play, action-packed game. Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes will pit players against one another in fast-paced combat as three teams try to capture objectives on a variety of maps. With many different heroes to choose from, players will be able to find a character that fits their playing style, whether it is charging head-long into battle or launching fierce attacks from the rear. Continue reading “Top 5 Action Games”

3D Televisions

A lot of people question the potential success of 3D televisions. A big factor is having to wear 3D glasses at home, a particular issue for those already with normal glasses who can find them uncomfortable.

Saying that TVs not requiring glasses for 3D are on the horizon.

There’s always someone who doesn’t quite understand the attraction of a new technology though, people questioned the point of cassette tapes and later CDs and DVDs but through clever marketing and genuine steps forward they succeeded.With some of the names now producing 3D TVs it seems that they should be a success to some extent, whether they will be overtaken by Holograms before real mass market success is another matter.

3DTV

The early adopters are already buying 3DTVs and there is a buzz about them despite the lack of 3D content, Sky broadcasting in the UK though seem keen to make it a success having launched 3D broadcasting in October 2010. Sky had great success making High Definition programming Mass Market but take up of High Definition is still growing while the early adopters of it seem to already be ready for the next big thing.

Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Sony and Toshiba have all got 3D TV offerings on the market now, currently they all rely on 3D glasses but Toshiba recently put on show the first 3D TV which doesn’t need glasses soon to go on sale in Japan, the problem now though?the need to sit in an optimum spot.

It seems 3DTV is still in development then, could buying a glasses dependent set or a optimum position dependent set now be a mistake if a best of both worlds set is on its way? It seems that those who have invested in 3D cameras could have made an expensive mistake as well with Samsung’s inclusion of tri def software to automatically change standard pictures into 3D images, Film Studios having invested in 3D cameras and other technology doubt the quality of these up-scaled pictures but what seems obvious is that new versions of 3D TVs and other related technology will develop for some time and it may well be that 3D gaming will be the next step. Continue reading “3D Televisions”

3D Televisions Deals

Most 3D televisions can be switched between 3D and normal viewing, which means you do not need two televisions, one for normal viewing and one for 3D. You will need to wear special glasses when you are watching the television to see the 3D effect. Without the glasses it does not work and in fact is not good to watch.

It is worth looking out for good 3D TV deals as with the regularly introduction of new 3D models, there are always some around.

I recently saw one deal for two pairs of glasses and a blu-ray 3D DVD player for only a few hundred pounds more than the cost of a normal television of that size. It can also be worth negotiating, if there are no deals or discounts see whether they will give some extra pairs of glasses for free or something like that. Many retailers are anxious to make sales and so it is worth taking advantage of this.

It is possible that as 3D television becomes more popular, the prices may go down.

However, if you are upgrading your television it is worth thinking about because this trend may take off quickly and you may not be able to afford to upgrade your television again so soon.

It is worth going in to a shop which sells 3D TVs and asking for a demonstration.

They will be happy to let you try out a pair of the glasses and put a film on for you to have a look at. If you have not seen many films in 3D or are not sure how you feel about watching 3D television then this is a good way to find out.

LG 50PZ850T 3D TV Review

LG’s 50PZ850T is one of the first of LG’s 3D TVs to incorporate two latest developments, active 3D and PenTouch.

So before delving deeper in the rest of this model’s features, we’d better start with an explanation of what these two new offerings from LG are.

LG Active 3D

LG only uses active 3D on it’s plasma models for a simple reason. LG’s plasmas aren’t able to produce sufficient brightness to balance the effects of their passive 3D filters.

LG PenTouch

As it sounds, you get a pen and you touch it on the screen. Why would you want to do that then? Well as this model can access the internet, you can use it as a mouse directly on the screen. If you are in the habit of viewing your photos on your TV, you can sweep through them with a swish of the pen. How practical is it? Well, sitting directly in front of a 50 inch plasma screen isn’t exactly how I want to access the internet. Just as well then that this model has ‘Protective Skin Glass’, which as well as boosting picture clarity also protects the screen.

LG 50PZ850T 3D TV

Back to the TV!

As with all LG Plasma 3D TVs, this model is endorsed by THX (THX is the next generation surround sound system company) as well as the Imaging Science Foundation (The Imaging Science Foundation helps to improve the quality of electronic imaging.).

Why should you care? Well these endorsements are only handed out to a very television models that you are able to tweak the colour management controls. That means you can set up your TV to perfectly meet your own colour tastes.

The 50PZ850T marks a design change for LG, with a much slimmer screen frame along with a new reflective metal finish.

The design of the 50PZ850T has to class as a significant feature, meanwhile. For as well as boasting one of LG’s impressively slender ‘Razor Frame’ bezels, it enjoys a shiny metallic finish that’s quite new for LG and gives the set a pleasingly distinctive and gently opulent appearance.

On the screen, picture quality is about standard, nothing to shout home about. Blacks are deep and comparable to the better LCD screens, and contrast performance is very good, with clear details in both shadow and bright areas. Continue reading “LG 50PZ850T 3D TV Review”

LG 3D TVs

Like most other manufacturers they offer active shutter based 3D TV where the glasses used control what each eye sees by opening and closing and also have a Cinema 3D option.

LG’s Cinema 3D TVs unlike other 3D TVs uses the same technology that you will find in a cinema. This uses a polarised method, which makes the technology a lot cheaper, especially the cost of the glasses.

There are other advantages from this polarised method, including the fact that you can sit where you want in relation to your TV, at least to the same extent that you can with a 2D TV.

You also don’t have to worry about the risk of interference to the glasses as with Active Shutter glasses that have to communicate with the TV set via infra-red. This can stop working where batteries are going flat, if you sit too far away, if there is to much light in a room and if you turn your head away from the TV.

LG 3D TVs

Many people also prefer the feel of the much lighter polarized glasses, which you can use with your head on its side as well if you want to lie down to watch TV.

In contrast to LG’s active shutter TVs though, they generally come with two pairs of glasses. The glasses cost around £100 each, the polarised glasses a couple of pounds.

LG have tried to take slices at either ends of the market and even within their active shutter range they have had a bigger range than most other manufacturers with both fully featured TVs and those with simpler features at a lower cost. Continue reading “LG 3D TVs”

Panasonic 3D TVs

Panasonic Plasma 3D TVs

Panasonic along with Samsung is one of only two manufacturers to go down the Plasma route for their 3D TVs which are generally accepted as being better quality with less blue, higher definition and no panning, this is due to the way Plasma works allowing more data to be processed and refreshed more quickly.

Many people worry about the reliability of Plasma TVs and the risk of burn-in and pixel failure:this is no longer a major problem though but most manufacturers have kept to the safer LCD option.

Problem Plasmas

Panasonics early 3D plasma TVs were known for problems with the edges of images blurring, a problem they are working on, likewise Panasonic’s glasses have problems with high levels of ambient light interfering with them receiving infra red signals.

Despite using plasma that should cut down on blurring and panning problems some reviews have complained that Panasonic’s 3D TVs do struggle displaying motion sequences, jerky display and panning of backgrounds have often been reported: pointing to a problem with the chipsets that Panasonic use.

Panasonic 3D TVs

Panasonic too fast in to the 3D market?

It may seem that Panasonic heading into the 3D market as quickly as it did may have meant that it didn’t quite get everything right and they are struggling to go back and fix problems. For their next generation on Viera 3D TVs it may be a matter of back to the drawing board for them. Panasonic are still seen as being a premium brand but with many cheaper brands actually producing 3D TVs that are as good or better, Panasonic risk damaging their brand if they don’t keep up with the likes of Samsung’s LCDs and Plasmas and Sony’s LCDs. Continue reading “Panasonic 3D TVs”