Google Now! How to add Google Calender Entry

Do you use Google Now? Thanks to the folks at XDA they have compiled a very helpful list of the cards and their respective commands to trigger them. There might be some you may not have known so check it out and give them a try. Deep inside, we all know that it’s fun to talk to a machine and hearing a synthetic voice in response.

Now (pun intended!), it seems that Google might have missed out on adding calendar entries to the list of Google Now functions. Blasphemy! It can tell you what time to leave for your next appointment but it ain’t smart enough to add one to your calendar.  Would this have stopped the folks at XDA? Clearly not, as they have came up with a simple workaround to get it to work by sending an SMS to Google servers and it’s very accurately detailed in Post #3. However, this method is not available to the rest of us that live outside the United States.

Well, there is an alternative workaround that involves … Read More

Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7: Value for money?

Amazon has just launched a new, larger version of its Kindle Fire tablet with a high-definition display, in a move by the retail giant to take on the Apple iPad and also a smaller 7 inch to compete it against the Nexus 7. How do they stack up? Value for money? And judging by specs alone, the Kindle Fire HD is the better buy.

7-Inch Kindle Fire HDThe Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire What's changed 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDThe Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire What's changed Google Nexus 7Kindle Fire 2 vs Kindle Fire Whats changed
Display 7-inch LCD IPS 8.9-inch LCD IPS 7-inch LCD IPS
Resolution 1,280 x 800 1,920 x 1,200 1,280 x 800
OS (Skinned) Android 4.0 Android 4.0 Android 4.1
CPU Dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP4 4470 Dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP4 4470 1.3GHz quad-core
Graphics IT SGX544 IT SGX544 Tegra 3
Memory TBA (likely 1GB) TBA (likely 1GB) 1GB
Storage 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 8GB, 16GB
Front Camera Yes Yes Yes
Rear Camera N/A N/A N/A
Cellular N/A AT&T 4G LTE N/A (3G coming)
WiFi Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes (TBA) Yes (TBA) Yes
Dimensions 193 x 137 x 10.3mm 240 x 160 x 8.8mm 198 x 120 x 10.5mm
Weight (WiFi) 395 grams 567 grams 340 grams
Battery “11 hours” TBA “10 hours”
Ports microUSB, microHDMI microUSB, microHDMI microUSB
Price $199 (16gb), 249 (32gb) 299 (16gb), 349 (32gb) 199 (8gb), 249 (16gb)

Clearly, Amazon is pricing the 7″ Kindle Fire HD aggressively. You get more storage for the Fire HD, better battery life, and HDMI output as well. In terms of playback, the Nexus 7 is only equipped with a mono speaker but the Fire HD is equipped with stereo. Currently, there are no real world experience or results that pitch the Nexus 7 processor vs the Amazon Kindle. The Kindle processor in benchmarks released by Amazon states that it is faster but I would  take the usual marketing releases with a pinch of salt. I would expect the quad core Nexus 7 to better it in other performance tests.

For the Nexus  7, you get a lighter tablet (15% lighter!), better “official” software, without waiting for 3rd party ROM releases. Amazon might be stuck with their proprietary software and limited to applications from their app store. Apparently, their screen saver would display paid advertisements as well. From the get-go, you would not have access to some of Google features like Google Now and Wallet, but this features as of today may not be that important to most of us.  Furthermore, the Kindle Fire HD has no GPS, no gyroscope so maps or location aware apps would not work well. Also no NFC.  Also, the Amazon app store has only 50,000 apps compared to 600,000+ for Google Play. I believe the Kindle Fire is limited to the Amazon App store without loading a custom ROM or rooting it.

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ version is actually quite valued for money if you were to compare it against the $499 16gb iPad. Apple boasted about the iPad revolutionary retina screen but now Amazon were able to launch a full HD 1920 x 1200 resolution tablet at $200 cheaper.

End of it all, it all boils down to what you are going to use it for, and which ecosystem you are currently using. The Kindle Fire HD would be the pick if you are going to use your tablet quite a bit as a media device. Although in this case, I would recommend that you just get the 8.9″ version instead. The better screen, larger storage and microHDMI output are useful features. The one huge selling point for the new Fire HD is the micro HDMI. I have that on my Optimus 2X, and it’s a great thing to be able to watch content in my living room or TV full size.

On the other hand, the N7 would be the pick if you value reading and portability as the N7 is more versatile. The 15% weight difference is significant if you are going to be bringing it out frequently and using it for reading. For books, you aren’t limited to Amazon Kindle store and you can still access the Amazon book stores and also other distributors like Barnes and Noble. Google Play also have a pretty well stocked magazine and book library. App and software access is also not restricted. However, it is very likely that the Kindle Fire HD would be rooted and custom ROMs made available and that would  allow full app and software compatibility. Still considering? Don’t forget the possible iPad mini launching in October.

 

Nexus 7 – 3G & Singapore Launch Date

It has only been a couple of months since the Nexus 7 launch but rumours are abound that  a 3G version is currently in the works and would be launching soon. Currently, there are no other expected hardware changes to the Nexus 7, other than the inclusion of 3G.  With the imminent launch of the 7.85 inch iPad Mini and the new Amazon Kindle, this move by Google could help maintain the tablet’s popularity. At its low price point, the Nexus 7 could be the next tablet highly sought after by companies to distribute to their staff who require data-connection on the go. It’s a great tool for field engineers or sales staff.

Comparing an ASUS transformer 3G vs wifi, the price difference was $100. I’m guessing it will be similar, so you might be looking at our telcos offering it for 400sgd. Do I need 3G on my tablet? I have had 2 tablets without 3G and I never found myself looking for a 3G connection. I always have my phone in such a situation.  So I recommend sticking to the non-wifi version. But hey, at least there is one additional option now.

On another note, one of the surprises of Comex 2012 was the announcement of Starhub giving out free Nexus 7 for contracting with them for their Broadband services. Starhub has informed its customers that the collection date would be from 30 Oct 2012. This is likely to be the launch date for the Nexus 7 in Singapore which is still a good two months away. Why wait? With international warranty by Asus available and the expected high launch price in Singapore, the Nexus 7 is still a bargain if you get it from USA and shipped it over through vPost. Early adopters get a free US$25 Google Play credit and US$10 prepaid NFC card from Google. We aren’t sure how long these promotions would last so for Nexus 7 owners, do login to get them before they expire.

Already own a Nexus 7? Here are some of the gear that we think are important for your Nexus 7.

Nexus 7: Enable Play Magazines / Books / Movies & TV Shows + Free $25 Credit in Singapore or just not in United States


The Nexus 7 has some free great content for those who buy it now: get $25 credit to spend on Google Play, as well as some great free content, including your own copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Sadly, this is only available in the United States. Also, access to Google Books, Magazines, Movies and TV are also restricted. If you wish to use Google Play Music, read more on our related post.


Ok, now to the important bit …

It is recommended that you wipe your Nexus 7 data and start from scratch.  However, I deleted my Google Account on my Nexus and started at Step 5 and it worked. So try my method first if you already have your N7 set up.

  1. Perform a factory reset.
  2. When you get to the screen to enter Google account skip it.
  3. Uncheck all the check-boxes in next screens.
  4. Now when you got to the home screen, go to settings. Set up your wireless. Under Wireless and Networks click more.
  5. Click on VPN, Add VPN. Now the Nexus 7 will ask you to define security (Pattern,Password,PIN), Define whatever you want.
  6. Click Add VPN again, and enter this definitions: Name: SuperFreeVPN, Server address: superfreevpn.com and click save.
  7. Start the VPN. For login details, refer to superfreevpn.com
  8. Click Connect. If connected successfully you will see a key icon in the notifications.
  9. (If you skip Step 1 to 3, now is the time to delete your current Google account). Go to Settings, under Accounts click Add Account and choose Google. Enter your username and password, if everything is OK you will get to screen that will ask you to enter credit card to Google wallet to receive $25 credit. You can use a non-US credit card. I did mine with a local credit card but YOU must enter a US address. I suggest using your VPOST address?
  10. With VPN avtivated, you can download Google Books, Google Magazines, Google Movies and TV. To activate them, go to add widget and choose “Play – My Library” Widget and click  on it to activate the app. VPN needs to be connected.
  11. You can download the books, magazines and even Transformers and preload them offline. Only Google Movies and TV require a constant VPN connection.

Do note that your credit card details and google account details will be transferred across the VPN. So far, superfreevpn has been considered safe, but if you wish to add a layer of security, you can change your google password first and use a debit card with limited funds.

P.S. Also, if you are going to root your Nexus 7, please do it first as it will wipe the device. Please refer to the Root Nexus 7 post on GadgetReactor.

With root and Titanium Backup, you can defrost all the Google Play Apps and Google Wallet. Why Google Wallet? Because that gives you a prepaid US$10 Mastercard Paypass card. Update: It does work in Singapore at the Paypass Terminal. Verified locations are at Cold Storage and at Burger King and as Tedfox has rightly pointed out, just delete and re-activate your Google Account over VPN. However, the $10 credit offer is over since 17 September 2012.

  1. Repeat steps above for VPN
  2. delete and re-add Google Account.
  3. Use Titanium Backup to defrost wallet. See if its installed else then install the Wallet from /system/app
  4. Start the app and attempt to add the Google Credits, it needs excellent network connection, so if your VPN isn’t fast enough or you’re trying to activate it thru 3G, don’t even bother (it’s actually connecting to the money network)
  5. Its not very consistent so try and let me know if it works for you.

Review of the Nexus 7 in Singapore

When Google decided to join the tablet party, it did it in style. The Nexus 7, designed by Google and manufactured by Asus is pretty much number 1 currently in terms of hardware specifications and is priced very competitively at the US launch prices of US$199 and US$249 for the 8gb and 16gb model respectively. I already had a 7 inch tablet, the Nook Color which was a single core ebook reader that was hacked with custom ROMs. The Nook Color had worked well for the last 1+ year but the opportunity came up for me to buy the Nexus 7 from the US and it was too good an opportunity to pass up on. I traded up and now am a proud owner of the Nexus 7.

What’s Hot

+ Speed + 

Comes with a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz, with Tegra 3 graphics processor. Alongside the 1gb of RAM and the Jelly Bean 4.1 “butter” OS, there is no slowdown while operating the device and it is a joy to use with everything being extremely responsive.

+ The overall Build Quality +

The Nexus design is simple and understated. It is one of the lightest 7″ inch tablet at 340g. The front panel is covered with glass and there are no hardware buttons to detract from it. There are only 3 buttons: Power, Vol + and Vol -. The back edge is bare except for the speaker at the bottom and the tastefully engraved ASUS logo just above it, and Nexus logo at the top. The back itself is a dimpled, soft-touch plastic, but feels like leather, allowing it to be both grippy and fingerprint-phobic.
The ports and buttons are made in such a way that you can’t see them when looking at the Nexus 7 from the front and, more importantly, are out of the way, meaning that you won’t be pressing anything at an inopportune time.

+ Screen +

Also, the high-res 1,280 x 800 screen really excels.While the iPad has the retina screen, the nexus 7 screen is still gorgeous. Try browsing one of the free magazines. The sharpness shows in the fine lines in text as well as the images where there are intricate details.

+ Price +

The quality is not something you’d expect from a US$199 tablet. We are expecting the launch price for the Nexus 7 in Singapore to be around S$329, and the launch date to be in late September. If you can’t wait, you can always use a shipping concierge service to get it back from the United States. Asus offers international service support for the Nexus 7.

What’s Not

– No Display Output functionality –

Sadly, the Nexus 7 does not come with any display output functionality like a mini HDMI slot or HDMI over the micro USB. I wanted this function as it would allow me to stream movies or connect the Nexus to a monitor when required if I wanted to operate it as a laptop replacement or to conduct presentation. Well for now, I am getting by with the resolution of the Nexus 7 is high and using it as a monitor while typing away on my bluetooth keyboard is working great for me now.

– No memory card expansion –

This is another bummer. Perhaps Google was trying to push people to the Cloud or to create further differentiation between the 8gb and 16gb Nexus 7 models, but the 8gb model is indeed a tad small. I loaded a couple of games and alongside the free transformer movie, I only had 1.5gb of space left on my tablet! It would really be pushed to the limit if I wanted to bring it overseas where I might be stuck without wifi. Luckily, there’s root and stickmount to expand the storage capacity of your Nexus 7.

– Play Store limitations – 

the Nexus 7 has content restrictions and in Singapore, a large chunk of the features, almost all in fact, are not available to us, the books, the magazines, the musics, and the videos. There are workarounds to activate the market and features in Singapore or anywhere out of the United States, but its not easy and slow. It does subtract away the overall experience that Google wanted to create. Read our article on how to enable the rest of the features and to get a free $25 play store credit even though you are in Singapore or anywhere out of the United States.

– No back facing camera –

I wouldn’t really define the lack of a back camera as a flaw. We really should stop using tablets to take photos, thats what phones are for and it looks funny when someone goes snapping away with an iPad or a 7″ tablet. The Nexus 7 does come equipped with a forward facing camera so video chatting through Google Hangouts or Skype would still work and that is quite useful.

Conclusion

Previous Android tablets were good, but somehow could never dethrone the Apple’s iPad. Could this be the start of something? Google has found a nice niche in the market for the low priced lightweight tablets. The Nexus 7 is a brilliant little device at a wonderful price.

If you already have one and well, accessories are a must. Casing / Screen protector etc and if you are in search of a Nexus 7 casing, I thought this looks great!

Nexus 7 vs the iPad – Survival!

The Nexus 7 has launched and it has rave reviews for its great specifications and low price. So did Google cut any corners in terms of the build quality?

The above review pitted the Nexus 7 vs the iPad and the Nexus 7 impressively survived and trounced the iPad in the 3 categories that SquareTrade, the Gadget insurance company, had put them through. The Nexus 7 looks like it is going to be worth every penny. I’m not sure if the results were due to luck as to the angle that the iPad fell but perhaps Google had invested in such amazing engineering that precisely compensated the centre of gravity to determine the orientation if it were to be dropped. Well, at least there’s a pretty good chance that your Nexus 7 would survive a fall.