Quick Tip: Your HTC One Alarms Still Work Even With the Phone Powered Completely Off!

WP_20130503_003GOOD NEWS EVERYBODY!

This is a great little piece of mind addition to the HTC One! Following the update to 4.3, alarms set on your HTC One will still work even if you power the phone completely down.

Extremely helpful if you do dopey things like I do. Say you’re out at a conference or on a business trip, maybe you meet up for drinks and run you phone battery all the way down. You get back to your hotel room and plug it in, but forget to power it back on. No worries, HTC has your back.

Let’s take a look!

The New Nokia Camera App for PureView Lumia Phones – Feature Walk Through on the Lumia 1020!

nokia camera app windows phone lumia 1020I’m super excited to see Nokia combine the features of the Pro Camera and Smart Camera apps for Lumia Windows Phones. While Lumia phones often feature impressive cameras with cool features, it was always frustrating having to remember which features were in one app and which were in a different app. Now we have one camera app to rule them all!

But seriously there are some incredibly photographic controls built into this new app, allowing users to control a myriad number of exposure settings. If the camera is the most important part of your smartphone experience, and you haven’t checked out a Lumia, you’re kind of missing out.

Let’s take a look through the new Nokia Camera app on the Nokia Lumia 1020!

Related:

Video samples from the Nokia Lumia 1020 – The best camera on a phone today.

Ask Juan: How useful are 41MP pics from the Lumia 1020 when uploading to Facebook, Instagram, etc?

Quick Tip: Boot Directly to the Traditional Desktop in Windows 8.1 – Super Easy!

Screenshot (91)I’ve been a fan of Windows 8 from the first release. I think it’s elegant, and it’s very interesting that Microsoft (of all companies) will be the first to offer up a unified UI across all of their various products.

However, I also totally get that for people on non-touch screen devices, the traditional desktop might be a better fit for getting work done. With the Windows 8.1 update, Microsoft has now included an option to boot directly to the traditional desktop, so let’s walk you through setting that option up!

Sony Unleashes Details on A7 & A7R Mirrorless Full Frame Cameras – What that means, and why it’s cool!

A7Damn Sony.

So this could shake up the semi-pro and pro photo markets a little. Sony took the wraps off of their two newest mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and they’re sporting some incredible image sensors. Specifically these are the first mirrorless cams to sport full frame image sensors. The A7 has a 24.3 megapixel sensor, and the A7R has a shocking 36 megapixel sensor which is likely a close cousin to the sensor found in Nikon’s D80o Digital SLR.

This is all neat and techie sounding, but why is this impressive? Normally bigger numbers like this are taken with a bit of skepticism. Like when your phone has a ton of megapickles in its camera, we make a squinty face and then explain why that might not mean better photos. Moving into this new breed of interchangeable lens cameras, Sony’s making a couple of exciting plays.

It’s not the megapickles, it’s the sensor size.

Sensor_sizes_overlaid_inside_-_updated.svgThis more than anything else is what gets us wannabe photogs lit up. The larger the sensor, the more surface area you have. This means the sensor has an easier time soaking up light, it’s just a bigger sponge. The A7 and A7R sensors are twice the size of most entry and mid-range SLR’s like my Canon 7D. It’s almost three times bigger than the sensor found in most mirrorless cameras like those made by Olympus and Panasonic.

This makes high resolution more attractive. Look at that chart to the right. That smallest box is what often comes on entry level point and shoot cameras, and it’s a little bigger than the sensor found on most nice phone cameras. Packing 16 MILLION dots on that square is a far more cramped experience than placing 36 million pixels on a full frame sensor. That same comparison holds true, though is less severe obviously, when comparing these new Sony’s to other interchangeable lens cameras which might use Micro 4/3rds or APS-C sensors. Each of those pixels can be larger, and each has an easier time soaking up more light, which results in better detail and less noise.

Larger sensor = Wider field of view

Sony-A7The other aspect of smaller sensor cameras to consider is crop. All lenses being equal, the smaller the sensor, the less of the lens is used. We call this crop. It’s not like digital crop where you remove pixels from the borders to “zoom” into the middle, with sensor crop the camera is only able to use the middle of the lens instead of all the glass. This starts to resemble zoom to a degree, and it really taxes the clarity found at the center of the lens.

Crop_FactorPhotography gear is all built around the original 35mm frames we shot on film, so if you have a crop camera, your frame will be different than it is on a full frame sensor. My Canon 7D sensor is half the size of a 35mm frame, so all of my adjustments are roughly 1.5X. This is good for reach as it gives my zoom a little bit of a bump, but it’s awful for wide angle photography. A 24mm lens on a full frame camera is decently wide, on a crop sensor it starts to resemble a 36mm lens which is a bit more “normal”. A 50mm lens very closely resembles the field of view we humans have on full frame cameras, on APS-C that 50mm starts to look a bit more like an 80mm zoom.

The A7 and A7R employing full frame sensors will mean you won’t have to do that mental mathematic trick of understanding how wide or how zoomed in you might be.

Slim and Sexy + Market Disrupting Price

Sony-A7-sideLastly, these cameras represent a “legitimizing” influence over the semi-pro and pro markets for smaller and compact interchangeable lens systems. SLR’s have their name because a mirror in the camera is responsible for feeding light from the lens into your eye piece. Hit the shutter button and that mirror flips up exposing the sensor, and light from the lens now generates an image on the digital guts of your camera. This has been the way photogs work since the film days, and it’s generally accepted as the “professional” way a camera should work.

Experimenting with slimmer camera bodies has meant doing away with the mirror box, and instead permanently operating the camera in a “live view” mode, where light from the lens hits the image sensor directly, and then an electronic screen shows you what the lens sees. With cameras which can swap lenses, this is often relegated as “entry-level” or “consumer” grade photography, especially as previous solution incorporated smaller crop sensors.

Now Sony is offering up their top of the line sensors in smaller and compact camera bodies. Not only that, but we’re seeing pricing aimed at shaking up the full frame market. The A7R will retail for $2300, a decent chunk of change for sure, but it uses a very similar sensor to the one found in the Nikon D800 which has a street price of $2800. Canon’s 5D mark III uses a 22MP sensor and has a street price of $3100 against Sony’s A7 which should perform similarly at the sensor level and only costs $1700 MSRP.

The rest is just gravy…

a7_4Hardware controls, highspeed 60fps video in full HD, WiFi, NFC. That’s all just great, and are often features you’d have to pay more for with SLR’s, or add via accessories. They’re creating a formidable package.

Of course there will be pros and cons still to using mirrorless cameras, and pros will probably still gravitate towards optical viewfinders over electronic screens for the near future, but Sony has fired a clear shot at this market. Just like Mac vs PC, the photography market is largely divided between Canon vs Nikon, so it’s really exciting when a third player does anything to shake that duopoly up.

Full details, press release, and camera specs after the jump.

Continue reading “Sony Unleashes Details on A7 & A7R Mirrorless Full Frame Cameras – What that means, and why it’s cool!”

Ask Juan: Yeti USB Microphone for Youtube Video VO?

Screenshot (88)A question from Timi on Twitter:

How good is the Yeti mic. $149. Looking for something to dub review videos.

I’m a big fan of the Yeti. I recently reviewed the Yeti Pro (black version) here on the site. It’s one of the more versatile USB mics you can pick up.

But do you need that versatility?

If your main use is to record yourself for the voice over behind video, the Yeti might be overkill. Having variable polar patterns which change the “shape” of what the mic will pick up probably wont be necessary if you’re recording videos with similar tone and if you’re in a consistent space while recording those voice overs. I’ve also produced a video explaining polar patterns if you need more info.

The Yeti also makes for a fine interview mic, so maybe it’s worth grabbing it if you think you might want to do that. If that’s not really on your radar however, you’ll be spending cash on features you wont be using.

Some alternatives? 

Taking a step down to Blue’s Snowball can save you some cash, and it now comes in fancy new colors.

You could also take a look at Audio-Technica’s lineup. The AT2020 USB is an entry level standard, and many have started their home recording careers with that mic. If you don’t mind the price tag bump, A-T recently updated the AT2020USB Plus to include on-mic volume and headphone controls. Compared to the Yeti these mics aren’t as versatile, but in my opinion they do their one job better than the Yeti does that one job.

Now all of these will be fine options for dubbing a review video, but in terms of maximizing your bang-for-buck, you just need to be honest with yourself regarding what capabilities you actually need.

Happy hunting!

PSA: Windows 8.1 available for pre-order, but should you buy Windows 8 now instead?

Screenshot (91)For those of you looking to install some live tiles on your desktop or laptop, Windows 8.1 is available for pre-order now. The standard version of Windows 8.1 will retail for $119, and Windows 8.1 Pro will cost $199.

As I mentioned in a previous editorial, Microsoft is finally offering full retail versions for sale with support, but they are getting rid of upgrade options. If you’re currently running a Windows 7 system, and are looking to upgrade, you’re FAR better off buying a Windows 8 upgrade now, and when Windows 8.1 is released you’ll be eligible for a free upgrade.

How much better off will you be? The Windows 8 Pro upgrade can be had for $83. Yup. Windows 8 Pro is cheaper than the Standard version of Windows 8.1.

Fair warning as right now Windows 8 is even cheaper than older licenses for Windows 7. Windows 8.1 retail versions ship October 18, but why not be ahead of the curve?

Ask Juan: How the hell do you remove an OtterBox Defender Rugged Case?

otterbox defender case ask juan help how to remove take off somegadgetguyA couple months ago I did a three part series on my favorite line of rugged cases, the Defender from OtterBox (linked below this video). Even though I showed in detail pretty every feature of the case, and how to install one, I missed one crucial aspect in all three reviews.

How do you take the darn thing off? Good thing my Youtube viewers call me out on stuff…

Shop for OtterBox on Amazon: http://goo.gl/28FFnZ
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Ask Juan: Can Windows Phone Compete with Graphics and Gaming?

From the Twitters:

windows phone xbox live gamingHey Yasi,

So here’s the deal, long story short, current Windows Phone Handsets will run at a deficit compared to current Android handsets when it comes to gaming. Microsoft’s hardware mandate pretty much guarantees that all Windows Phones will rock similar hardware. To date, that means Qualcomm’s older dual core Snapdragon chipset. Even though Windows Phone 8 is a decently lean OS which runs more efficiently than Android, and for day to day tasks you’d be hard pressed to see much difference in operation between WP8 on dual-core and Android on quad-core, gaming is one of those phone taxing activities where the extra horsepower comes in handy.

It’s not to say that the gaming experience is bad, far from it. I’m having a blast playing Halo: Spartan Assault, and Where’s My Water 2 was released on WP before Android. All things being equal though, playing the same game on Android and WP8, like Asphalt 7, I find levels load faster, game play lags less, and newer Android phones tend to run a little cooler than WP handsets. We’re just running into the upper limits of what this older chipset is capable of delivering.

Other comparisons become a bit more subjective. Some claim that the 1080p resolution found on newer Android fare looks better than the 720p screens on Windows Phones. Also, that the better graphics hardware means fancier lighting and particle effects. Both are certainly true scientifically, but I’ve honestly had a difficult time seeing a tremendous advantage on screens smaller than five inches.

It’s not all bad news though, as the Nokia Lumia 1520 phablet is rumored to be the first Windows Phone featuring both a 1080p screen and Qualcomm’s new 800 series chipset, pretty much catapulting Windows Phone up to the current ranks of the premier Android ecosystem. On phones rocking a larger than five inch screen that resolution bump becomes a little more noticeable in fine detail and clarity.

Thanks for the question Yasi!