Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Amazon's Kindle Voyage begins its own voyage with shipping starting today

Amazon's Kindle Voyage begins its own voyage with shipping starting today

Amazon announced today that it's begun shipping the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Fire HD Kids Edition.

The bookseller aims to dethrone the Kindle Paperwhite with the Kindle Voyage, which it says is its most advanced reader ever.

Objectively speaking, the Voyage is certainly the brightest and the thinnest of Amazon's book-focused Kindle tablets.

Amazon is selling the Kindle Voyage for $199 (£169, about AU$221).

Meddling kids

The Voyage also has a new customizable page-turning feature that lets you flip forward and provides haptic feedback when you press lightly on the Kindle's bezel.

An Amazon spokesperson informed TechRadar that the retailer also began shipping two new Kindle Fire tablets today: the HDX 8.9 refresh and the Fire HD Kids Edition.

The new and larger HDX has improved specs, while the Kids Edition has special content for kids, a special case, and a free two-year "no questions asked" warranty.

  • TechRadar reviewed Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX 7

Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review

Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review
Scores in depth
Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review
Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review
Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review
Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review
Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review

Toshiba is one of those companies that dares to experiment with the shape of laptops. Just looking at the the company's small portfolio of convertible laptops alone we've have the Satellite U920T with a screen that slides into place and the screen flipping Satellite Radius. While many of these designs are novel, many of them have fallen to the wayside being either too weird or unwieldy for its own brilliance.


Now Toshiba has just updated one of its only hybrid designs to get a second pass with the Toshiba Satellite Click 2. Sporting a detachable screen, the Click 2's splits into a thick 13.3-inch tablet and exceptionally thin keyboard base. Compared to the last model, Toshiba has refreshed its laptop-tablet with slightly news looks, and more importantly, a more powerful Intel Pentium processor. Now the question is if this is enough to fix the ills of the original Click or is this the Click 2 destined to fade into obscurity like so many hybrids before it.

Design

The Click 2 is an odd looking laptop. With a screen three as times thick as its keyboard base, it looks lopsided compared to your traditional notebook. A friend even asked me whether the laptop was upside after placing it on a desk.

Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review

While the Click 2 is rather top heavy, the hinge is strong enough to hold the screen in place - that is when it's sitting flat desk. Trying to type with the Click 2 sitting on my lap causes the display to wobble back and forth, though, not violently enough to cause the machine to tumble away from me.

Compared with the previous Toshiba Click, this new model is decidedly squarer especially on the bottom edge of the screen. This is flat base allow the screen to stand up when its not sitting on its base. Unfortunately the Click 2 does come with kickstand, so you'll often look down at the screen, unless the you place the hybrid on a particularly tall, neck-high surface.

It's also awkward to wrap your hands around the wide 13.3-inch tablet-laptop. Hold it horizontally and your hands are constantly split at a chest's width. Turn the device vertically and the tablet tips away from you as its edges dig into your palms. Toshiba has also made a poor design choice by placing the speakers on the backside of the screen exactly where you rest your fingers whilst holding the tablet.

Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review

One of the strangest things about the Click 2's design is the majority of its ports are located on the sides of the display including the mini-HDMI, SD card slot, and USB 2.0 port. It would have made a lot of sense to keep the inputs located on the laptop base, as you probably won't be plugging in a mouse or hooking it to a TV while your hands are busy holding the device and tapping on the touchscreen.

Specifications

Weighing in at 4.85 pounds, the Click 2 is one of the heaviest convertible laptops even compared to equally sized, 4.2 pound Asus Transformer Book TX300. The Asus is even thinner measuring 13.30 x 9.40 x 1 inches while the Toshiba's dimensions are 9.10 x 13 x 1 inches. Unsurprisingly the 11.6-inch Lenovo Yoga 2 11 is the smallest hybrid, measuring 11.7 x 8.12 x 0.67 inches and weighing 3.19 pounds.

Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review

Here is the Toshiba Satellite Click 2 configuration given to TechRadar:

Spec Sheet

  • CPU: 2.16GHz Intel Pentium N3530 Processor (2MB cache, up to 2.58 GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3L 1600MHz
  • Screen: 13.3-inch 1366x768 LED Backlit 10-point Touchscreen IPS Display
  • Storage: 500GB HDD (5400rpm, Serial ATA)
  • Ports:1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, mini-HDMI, headphone and microphone combo jack, Kingston lock, AC adapter, SD card slot
  • Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160 with Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: HD 720p webcam
  • Weight: 4.85 pounds
  • Size: 9.10 x 13 x 1 inches (W x D x H)

Like what you see? Well, good then, because this is the only configuration the Toshiba Satellite Click 2 comes in other than the higher-end Pro version made with an aluminum body. The Click 2 has been on sale for a while and as a result it can be picked for a cool $499 (about £310, AU$569) at Best Buy.

Toshiba Satellite Click 2 review

The Lenovo Yoga 2 11 for also goes for an affordable $499 (about £310, AU$569) on Amazon as well. The Lenovo hybrid also matches the Toshiba with the same Pentium N3530 CPU and 8GB of RAM, plus the a little speed boost thanks to the 500GB hybrid drive with an 8GB SSD cache. Asus Transformer Book TX300 by comparison is in a whole other class of premium; equipped with a Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 3517U processor and a 128GB SSD on top of its 500GB hard drive, this suave aluminum hybrid can be had for $1,099 at TigerDirect (about £683, AU$1,254).

Android 4.4 KitKat review

Android 4.4 KitKat review

Everyone was expecting Key Lime Pie to serve as the delicious moniker for the next version of Android. Google surprised us all by bucking tradition and releasing Android 4.4 under the name KitKat.

Version 4.0 started life as Ice Cream Sandwich, but the last three decimal additions came under the Jelly Bean banner. This new version was obviously deemed different enough to snag a new nickname, but not different enough to merit a jump to version 5.0. With version 5 now emerging as Android Lollipop, which is set to launch imminently.

That 0.1 bump hardly does it justice though. Don't be fooled: this is an important step up for Android. KitKat is super-smooth, the UI is refined and elegant, there are improvements to the long-neglected calling and messaging side of the platform, a new focus on productivity, and your fortune-telling digital assistant is brought front and centre as Google Now reaches maturity.

Android 4.4 KitKat review

General surprise in the tech world wasn't just based on the erroneous supposition that Key Lime Pie had to be next; there were also some raised eyebrows at the idea of Google entering into a tawdry cross-licensing deal with Nestle which would see a flood of Android-shaped KitKats hitting the shops offering buyers the chance to win Nexus 7 tablets or Google Play credit.

According to Google the promotion was its idea, and no money changed hands. With Nestle producing 50 million Android KitKat bars it certainly looks like a sweet deal for them.

Naming conventions aside, the 4.4 update is about addressing some of the Android criticisms that simply won't go away, and it does so very well indeed.

There's a real focus on the consumer here, with a smattering of useful new features, a noticeable bump in performance, and some optimization to ensure that budget hardware is not left behind.

Android 4.4 is easily the best version of the platform to date, and Google has left the ball firmly in the OEMs' court when it comes to rolling out the upgrades.

Leading the field by extending the update beyond its Nexus line to the Moto G also neatly illustrates the move to improve the Android experience on low-end, affordable hardware.

Android KitKat started out as version 4.4, but it's since had various small updates in the form of 4.4.1, 4.4.2, 4.4.3 and most recently Android 4.4.4 - this review has been updated to reflect the tweaks and changes experienced at each step to give you the most complete overview of the operating system, as well as highlighting how things will change in the move to Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Android 4.4 KitKat

First impressions

KitKat really makes a mockery of the idea that iOS 7 is more refined than Android and even stands up well to iOS 8. This version of the platform is impressively fast, with stylish transitions and an intuitive feel that masks the potential complexity.

There's a paring back of the notification bar that introduces translucency and context awareness, enabling you to reclaim every pixel of your display for whatever you're doing.

There are a few new features here, and not all of them are perfect, but for the most part Google has cherry-picked improvements and refined them.

The contrast between the bloated OEM launchers and stock Android could hardly be starker, but there are still a few things that manufacturers like Samsung and LG could teach Google (split-screen apps is an obvious one) and some of these things will be addressed in Android Lollipop.

Android 4.4 KitKat

The familiar white Google logo, followed by four pulsing colourful circles, still greets you on booting up, but the process has sped up dramatically as the platform has matured. When I checked version 4.1 on a Galaxy Nexus it took 34 seconds. The Nexus 4 running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean clocked in at 19 seconds.

Android 4.4.4 took around 20 seconds to boot up on the Nexus 5 used for testing. Not quite as fast as the Nexus 4, but when you consider that my Galaxy S3 running version 4.3 of Android took just shy of 40 seconds to boot up, you get a feel for how speedy that is.

As the home screen comes into view, you can immediately detect the lighter feel that Google was shooting for. The status bar icons at the top are now white.

The custom Roboto font looks like it has been on a diet, which makes it feel that little bit more crisp and elegant. Looking at menu highlights and icons, what once was blue is now generally grey.

All of this is set to change again though with Android Lollipop, which will be giving the OS a 'Material Design' makeover which gives it a flat look while making everything that little bit more real.

Google Now Launcher

The changes go further on the Nexus 5 because it has the Google Now Launcher. Those black bars top and bottom are gone. A subtle gradient is retained to ensure white icons are clear, even on light backgrounds.

Head into your app drawer and you'll find white dots at the bottom of the screen to illustrate which page you are on. The icons are now much bigger and clearer, at the cost of displaying just four across instead of five.

Android 4.4 KitKat review

The widget tab has been dumped, and you won't miss it because a long press anywhere on the home screen gives you access to the widget menu, as well as wallpapers and relevant settings.

Swipe from right to left and you can access additional home screens. There doesn't seem to be any limit, you simply drag an icon to the right to create a new screen. Any home screen you empty will automatically disappear.

The only real surprise is that you have to scroll deliberately through each one; you can't take a shortcut by tapping on the page marker dots at the bottom.

Swiping from left to right on the home screen will bring Google Now into view, but I'll go into that in more detail later.

Initially none of these changes made it beyond the Nexus 5 by default, but the Google Now Launcher has since been made available for other devices in the Play Store.

I was disappointed and surprised that Google initially decided to keep this as a Nexus 5 exclusive, so it's pleasing to see it getting a wider release.

If it doesn't work for you, the good news is that popular launchers, such as the free Nova Launcher, can be used, and the status bar transparency is supported along with a number of other customization options, to help you get the look you want.

  • Check out our top ten Android launchers for some ideas on where to start.