Friday, 19 November 2010

Mission #6: My Mob!ler Experience

The video is quite personal to me and my experience and journey as a Mob!ler, though I am certain that it applies to all of the Mob!lers. 

The footage I've used was shot mostly on the Galaxy Tab with a little bit of Wave thrown in. It's supposed to be representative of how my time as a Mob!ler has made the otherwise-boring-inbetween-times of my life more exciting, and how this whole experience has really made a real impression on my day to day existence. I really hope that message comes across in the video better than I can explain it here!

Let me know what you think... (I've never made a proper video before so be nice!!)

Mission #7: Design an App

For our seventh and (sadly) final mission we have been asked to think of an app which could potentially revolutionise the app world, and have an impact on people’s lives. There are so many apps out there in the world, and there are few that we actually use on a day to day basis that genuinely make things easier. Most are gimmicky and transient amidst a few apps which we will honestly use on a daily basis. This makes it hard to think of an app which would really make an impact on people’s lives. For this reason I’ve come at this task from a more personal perspective, and will share my thoughts on what I would like to see the Galaxy Tab being used for... or the future of all tablet technology in general.

“App”, of course, is short for “application” and I suppose I’ve interpreted that in a broader sense of the word. Not only would this be an “app” on the Tab, but it’s an application for the use the Tab which I think, and hope, could be quite far reaching.

Present for the Future

We all know that the days of the blackboard are over. Whiteboards are still just about clinging on but really it’s projectors and “interactive whiteboards” that dominate the world of education and presentations. My idea is to use the Galaxy tab as an interactive device to use in presentations. The Tab would be used to switch between slides, highlight relevant information on the screen and add a whole new dimension of interactivity to the way information and knowledge is presented to the audience. It would mean that the presenter wouldn’t have to turn around every minute to change the slide. They wouldn’t have to use a silly laser pointer to point at information while accidentally blinding half the people in the audience!

The size of the Tab would be perfect for this; you can fit it in one hand, leaving the other free to interact with the content on the tab whilst not hindering movement. The set-up would, of course, be a wireless one which would allow the Tab to be passed around the audience so that each individual could interact with what’s on screen... annotate...add text...or complete tasks.

Communal Presention and Sharing

Taking this idea a step further... imagine if everyone in the classroom, lecture or meeting had their own Tablet device. It would be possible to synchronise the app so that all devices show the same thing on the screen, but those in the audience could add their own annotations to the presentation in real time whilst their device records audio and syncs it with the change of slides/content on screen for future reference or revision. It could also be possible for different users in the group to have their device display its content on the main screen (if a screen was needed!) or other Tabs. This would allow everyone to demonstrate their knowledge or share ideas and content that couldn’t be better expressed verbally.

Okay, yes, this is a rather ambitious idea: I understand that this is not something we can expect to see in the next few weeks, months or even years... but it’s already happening to some extent with computers in schools and universities... so why not take it to its more simple, portable conclusion? Apart from needing a piece of software/connectivity to connect the Tab with the projector or computer connected to the projector I think that the hardware is already sufficient to achieve this.

Over the past few years I’ve placed a few bets with friends about technology and where it will take us next and I’ve made a good amount of pocket money from it! I wouldn’t like to say that this is something which will definitely happen, certainly not in its entirety, but I do believe that this is a great application (in both senses of the word) for tablets, and would not be at all surprised if something similar to this crops up in the future!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Samsung Galaxy TAB Gaming: Nova HD

Samsung Mob!lers Mission #5:

This week the Samsung Mob!lers were asked to review a game on the Galaxy Tab. I struggled with this as I really like all of them and have found the Tab to be an excellent gaming device: It really shows off how a large touchscreen interface and brilliant display can create a whole new genre of interactive gaming. In my review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, I touched on the game Nova HD, and I think as it is so impressive, I should talk about it a little more.

A Puntastic Start:

Nova is a game that’s been around for a while now. I’ve played it on friends’ smart phones in the past and been really impressed with the first person shooter gameplay. I mean, I was really really impressed before... but nothing quite prepared me for what it would be like on the Galaxy Tab. If Nova is a five star game on other devices then I think we need to invent a new scale. I’ve been playing for just over a week now and I honestly think that ‘SuperNova’ is a more appropriate name: it’s absolutely stunning!! My picture editing skills leave a lot to be desired; but here is my artistic attempt at visualising this:

The Setup:

You play as a futuristic soldier and you’ve got a myriad of exciting weapons, grenades and special moves at your disposal. The setup is relatively simple... you wonder round and kill aliens. I think you’re supposed to be protecting a future earth from an invading extraterrestrial army…or something… but, I have to confess, I was so interested in the gameplay that I largely ignored the backstory! Maybe I’ll pay more attention the second time I play it through... the cutscenes are all very impressive; here's the cutscene from the beginning:

Gyroscopic Amazement:

This is one of the things that makes this game exceptional, no…. jaw-droppingly-exceptional, so take note! When you move the Tab left, you look left, when you move it right, you look right…. up, down, diagonals, everywhere. This really puts you in the world of Nova and augments the beautiful 3D world into your own world. You living room becomes a space station and when enemies sneak up behind you, you’ll find yourself actually jumping and trying to get out of their way before you realise you need to control your in-game avatar! The gyroscope isn’t only used for looking around, but for aiming your firepower at the nasty invading aliens.

The game also has an inbuilt auto-aim. I think it's great because it's subtle enough to make you think you’re doing all the hard work yourself!

In Game Involvement and Niceties:

The controls for the game are astonishingly intuitive! Coupled with the gyroscope controls it makes complicated movements and interactions intuitive and enjoyable. To the left hand side of the screen you have the forward/backward left right controls, and to the right you have the weapon select and fire buttons (the most important ones!). I would have been happy with the game just like that, but they’ve pushed the boat out even further!

The whole game it riddled with lifts which you access by swiping your finger in the lift controls and broken doors you have to force open by yanking with three fingers. There are also lots of fun mini-games you have to complete to “hack” ammo crates and unlock doors. There’s also an onscreen map, which not only aligns itself to the direction your looking, but you can move it around the screen and enlarge it: it’s a really nice subtle little detail which makes the whole interface feel like a futuristic-robocop-style-heads-up-helmet display and draws you into the game!

I’ve made a couple of short videos for you to see what I mean:

In a lift...

Forcing open a broken door...

"Hacking" a door control


In conclusion, Nova is one of the best games I have ever played. The extra level and depth of interactivity really draws you into the world of Nova and makes it hard to put down. In my review of the Tab I said that Nova has a “quasi-augmented-reality” feel to it… but having played it a bit more I feel as though I should correct that statement. It’s not quasi-augmented, or even augmented reality: it is its own reality. The level of detail gets you so involved that it’s easy to forget about the real world: you become totally immersed. Of course it’s not like you’re going to start believing there are aliens around the corner, but you can really feel part of this wonderful creation. You definitely don’t get the same feeling when playing on other, smaller, devices.

The fact that this game been around for a whole year, is still one of the most impressive games on the market and they’ve managed to make it even better for the Galaxy Tab leaves me utterly bewildered. All I think is that if this is one of the first games available for the Tab, they’ve set their standards very high and I can’t wait to see what the pull out of the bag in the coming months. There’s a lot to be excited about with this … and the future of gaming on the Tab (Nova 2!!!). This is a game packed full of action, jaw-dropping graphics and possibly the best gameplay I’ve ever encountered, on any device. This really is an exceptional concept and execution, and the Galaxy Tab really makes it shine.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review:

I had initially written a review based on what I had seen of the Galaxy tab in a shop, but when one of my housemates threw (yes, threw) a parcel at me containing a brand new Galaxy Tab I thought I should re-write it now that I’ve had a chance to play with it properly.

A Sceptical Preamble:

I’d always been a bit of sceptic when it came to tablets. I always thought of them as being thought up of a way to offload all of the odd sized screens created for digital photograph frames. I also thought that I’d much rather read a novel in a book... or if I wanted to browse the internet I would use my laptop... or if I wanted to watch a film, I’d use my television. I would still much rather do all of those things on the technologies (if a book counts as a technology!), but sometimes, this just isn’t possible.

These days we are so busy, travelling from one thing to the next and we rarely get to enjoy those entertainments and luxuries because we’re rarely there to be able to. Now this is where I do understand tablets, especially the Galaxy Tab. It allows us to capitalise on that ‘in-between time’; the dreary dredge of commuting and the limbo of waiting. It’s very slim, extremely highly portable, it’s got heaps of features and ... well ... it’s converted me!

From the moment it came out of the box I’ve not been able to put it down, and I know already that it’s going to be a piece of tech I’ll always be carrying around.

Battle of The Galaxies:

Everyone seems to be comparing the Galaxy Tab to the iPad, which makes sense as they’re the two biggest Tablet competitors on the market. I understand why they’re being compared but they seem so different to me that I think they’re best judged on their own! In my mind they’re designed for different purposes, the iPad for sofa-ness and the Tab for out-and-about-ness. You might as well be comparing the Galaxy Tab to other Galaxies currently dominating the market.

Ok, so they both look very appetising. I’d probably choose to eat the one on the left though. Jokes aside (and I must apologise, that was pretty bad: just be glad I didn't do a Milkyway one too!)... I do mean it. 

Operation Tab:

The Tab runs on the ever-more popular Android (Froyo/2.2) Operating system which has been skilfully skinned by Samsung with their TouchWiz UI. It runs on the powerful 1Ghz ARM Cortex A8 processor with 512Mb RAM which allows you to do more than you need it to on this nippy bit of kit. Multitasking isn’t going to be a problem and if you ever find the need to run ten applications at the same time then it’s not going to be a problem! The transitions between screens are slick and seamless and well... it’s all rather wonderful! The connectivity has everything you’d expect from a portable device these days and the DLNA certification means that you’re not going to have any problems sharing your photographs with others!

A Flashy Piece of Tech:

I don’t really understand why it’s taken so long for portable technology to sort out Flash, but I’m so glad that it’s here now. Having flash on here means that you don’t have to go through a YouTube App to see youtube videos or the MyPlayer App to watch BBCiPlayer videos: the content just works! Of course, almost every horrible add-banner is flash, so you get all of them too. In the long run this is going to eat into your bandwidth. I don’t like this because it means that you're paying extra money to be be advertised at... but for now I’ll just have to grin and bear it until someone comes up with a decent add-blocker for the Tab. Sometimes lots of flash content can get a tiny bit laggy, as you can see in the video below. However it’s early days (and this could just be because I was running 14 other things in the background) and thinking about it, that’s probably the only bad thing I have to say about the Tab, and I’m not sure it’s a problem at all! Pretty good stuff really!

Videos and Screens:

The TFT-LCD screen boasts a 600 x 1024 resolution which is more than ample for something this size. Unless you have telescopic vision or you’re pressing your nose to the screen, you’re not going to see any pixels. It makes the whole Tab experience fantastic and watching videos is particularly excellent.

First of all is the size. At 190.1 x 120.45 x 11.98 mm it’s just right to fit into the hand so you can feasibly walk around whilst using it. It’s also just the right size for watching videos on the go it’s not too big and not too small. It’s also very generous with 16Gb of internal memory which can be upgradable with a Micro-SD slot, so you can put a lot of content on there! More good news for video lovers is that the Tab isn’t strict with video codecs and lets you play HD DivX files. So you can put your own content on there without spending ages converting everything into a specific format. Hurrah!


The Galaxy Tab comes preloaded with a couple of games such as Nova. Nova is a first person shooter game and really demonstrates how cool this bit of kit is. It makes use of the G-sensor so that you can look around the three dimensional virtual word simply by moving the TAB left and right. This quasi-augmented-reality feature gets you really involved in the game and it genuinely makes you jump when enemies sneak up behind you! The game Nova has been around for a while now, but this added dimension to game play really shows off the Tab’s potential! If that didn’t make sense, I’ve tried to make a video to demonstrate: sorry if it makes things more confusing!

Samsung has loads of other 3D games ready and waiting for the tab and you can try them all before you buy. The combination of the Android Market and Samsung’s own app store means that you are not ever going to run out of applications for this phone, and the expandable memory means that you shouldn’t run out of storage space either!


The Tab has two cameras, a pleasant 3MP one on the back with LED Flash and a 1.3MP webcam-like one front for video calling. I don’t see myself using the front camera very much, but it’s nice to have it there in case I ever change my mind. As for the one on the back – it’s great! It’s a bit disconcerting at first, to see the picture you’re taking already fully sized on device you’re taking it with, but the quality is excellent. I’ve taken some rather boring (sorry) pictures of the packaging the Tab came with to demonstrate:

I’ll try and find something more interesting to photo later this week!

Rambling Over:

I feel as though I’ve rambled enough for now. The Galaxy Tab is a marvellous creation, a perfectly portable pleasure that does not fail to deliver. It is the ultimate portable device; small (and light) enough to carry in one hand yet large enough for you to be able to enjoy high quality entertainment on the move. If you haven’t already, then make sure you go and try one of these out, even if it is simply to appreciate the fact that we are already living in the future!