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Samsung BD-P1500 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (Electronics) tagged "samsung" 143 times

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Experience the blu-ray difference with the SAMSUNG BD-P1500. TheBD-P1500 lets you have it all - watch your favorite DVDs and blu-ray discs or listen to CDs with the highest-quality audio.

Samsung BD-P1500 with DimensionsFull 1080p resolution gives you the most outstanding HD image quality.Enjoy a richer, bolder color palette via extended gamut YCC technology. HDMI 1.3 transmission bandwidth capabilities ensure the strongest signal fidelity, while the Ethernet connection lets you easily check for the latest firmware upgrades online. Control all your Samsung AV devices from one remote, via Anynet+ technology. And advanced audio compatibility, including DD+, and True-HD, offers premium sound, for the greatest HD experience.

CD & DVD Compatible
This blu-ray disc player offers state-of-the-art viewing with CD and DVD playback compatibility. Even as you take advantage of the latest video and audio advances, you can still enjoy all your existing media content.

Built-in Ethernet Connection
BD profile 1.1 interactivity lets you download the latest firmware upgrades and more with just a click of a button. Making firmware upgrades simple and easy, you can continually upgrade the BD-P1500 with the latest features.

Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby True HD
Immerse yourself in amazing sound. The BD-P1500 supports the new Dolby Digital Plus Audio format. It also supports uncompressed PCM Audio and Legacy dts 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dolby® Dolby TrueHD delivers powerful sound that is bit-for-bit identical to the studio master, unlocking the true high-definition entertainment experience.

1080p Resolution
Enjoy lifelike, vivid visuals and crystal-clear details with full high definition 1080p resolution.

Easily Connect Your Digital Devices
Tired of tangled wires? HDMI keeps it simple by using a single cable wire to deliver the sharpest, richest images possible. Conveniently and easily transfer high-definition video and audio from your DVD player to your HDTV and other digital devices using a single cable. HDMI version 1.3 transfers deeper color and higher resolution, and handles new, compressed audio formats.

Control it All with One Remote
You're in full command with the BD-P1500. Anynet+ delivers streamlined, one-touch control over all your Anynet+ compatible devices such as the TV, AV receiver, and home theater. You can operate all of them with a single remote control. A true “plug and play” product, it comes with a Consumer Electronics Control feature that lets you operate SAMSUNG HDMI products with one remote control.

Technical Specifications


Compatibility
Playback Media
BD-ROM / DVD-ROM / DVD-R / DVD-RW / AVCHD / audio CD
Playback Formats
VC-1 / MPEG2 / H.264
 A/V QualityDVD UpconversionYes
 Dolby Dital DecoderYes
 DTS DecoderYes
 Dolby Digital Plus DecoderYes
 DTS HD DecoderNo
 Dolby True HD DecoderYes
 Functional FeatureLocal Storage
Yes
Picture in Picture
Yes


 BD Profileprofile 1.1
 Connectivity USB 2.0Yes (for SW upgrade and memory expansion)
 HDMI CECYes
 Composite Video OutputsYes
 Component Video OutputsYes
 S-Video OutputsNo
 HDMI Outputs(Version)Yes (1.3)
 Optical Digital Audio OutputsYes
 Coaxial Digital Audio OutputsNo
 Analog Audio Outputs2-Channel
 NetworkYes (for SW upgrade only)
 Product Weights & Dimensions Dimension16.9 inches x 3.3 inches x 10.8 inches
 Weight8.6 lbs.
 Shipment Weights & Dimensions Dimension20.6 inches x 7.1 inches x 15.0 inches
 Weight12.6 lbs.

Answers to Basic Questions About Blu-ray


What is Blu-ray?

Blu-ray is a new optical disc format with over five and a half times the storage capacity of a standard DVD (25 GB versus 4.5 GB). A dual-layer Blu-ray disc can hold up to 50 GB of information. With that increased storage, movie studios can finally provide movies on disc in high definition, offering 6x the resolution or image detail of DVD and up to 8 channels of lossless (better than CD quality) digital sound. The new format can also provide interactive features that go well above anything ever offered before.

Is Blu-ray different than HDTV?
HDTV, or high definition television, is a new broadcasting format that offers widescreen, high resolution images offering 6x the resolution or image detail of DVD, with up to 5.1 channels of digital audio. Until now, the signals were only available through over the air transmissions (via an antenna), or through digital cable and satellite signals. You can not get HD signals from a standard video tape or DVD.  An HDTV is a high resolution video display that is capable of receiving and displaying these HDTV broadcasts or images.   Blu-ray is a complement to your HDTV. It's a disc media format that has enough storage to include an entire movie, plus soundtracks and bonus materials, recorded in the high definition format. You can play Blu-ray discs back on your HDTV and see the same, if not better image and sound quality as you do from HDTV broadcasts.

What kind of TV do I need to enjoy Blu-ray?

You can play back Blu-ray movies on any TV with composite video or better inputs (not RF), but to get a worthwhile benefit from the format over DVD you'll want to have a high-definition television, or HDTV, with a vertical resolution higher than 480p, and preferably higher than 720p. Most Blu-ray titles can deliver an image with a vertical resolution of 1080i or 1080p. The more horizontal resolution the TV can reproduce, up to 1920 lines or pixels, the better.

How are Blu-ray discs different than regular DVDs?
Blu-ray discs are the same size as DVD or CD, but use a blue* laser to store and read data as opposed to the red laser used in DVDs and CDs. The blue laser's shorter wavelength, combined with a smaller aperture lens and a thinner cover layer on the disc makes it possible to create a smaller beam spot size capable of storing and reading much more, smaller information on the disc.  A single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold 25 GB worth of data, compared to 4.5 on a standard DVD. A dual layer BD disc holds up to 50 GB. This translates into the ability to store a full 1080p HD image. This has a resolution consisting of 1920 by 1080 progressively scanned pixels, compared to standard DVD's 720 by 480 pixels.  In addition, Blu-ray has much wider bandwidth than DVD, delivering signals at speeds up to 48 Mbps, six times faster than DVD's 8 Mbps, and nearly 2.5 times the data of an HDTV broadcast's 19.2 Mbps.  *technically, it's violet, but who's keeping track?

Will Blu-ray discs play in my current DVD player?
No. You will need a Blu-ray player to be able to read the smaller, denser information found on a Blu-ray disc.

Will I be able to play standar DVDs on my Samsung Blu-ray player?
Yes. Blu-ray players are backwards compatible with your standard DVDs.  They can also play CDs.

Is Blu-ray the same as HD DVD?
No. HD DVD was a competing format with less storage capacity than Blu-ray. With Toshiba, its primary champion announcing on February 19, 2008 that they would end production of HD DVD products, the few companies that were supporting the format announced that they would instead create products for the Blu-ray format.

What does up-conversion mean?
Consumers have over 50 years worth of material in standard definition formats. Up-conversion is the process of taking that existing, standard definition material and converting it (lines and pixels are copied to some degree) to the higher resolution needed to display those signals on an HDTV. When done well, the process can often improve picture quality, though it can't increase actual resolution. The quality of the up-converter, included in everything from up-converting standard DVD players to Blu-ray players and HDTVs, can often determine the quality of the picture.

What kind of cables, connections do I need to have to make Blu-ray work?
You will need either a 3-wire analog component (typically labeled Y, Pr and Pb) or an HDMI digital video connection between the BD player and the TV. The HDMI connection is preferable. Not only will it provide better image quality, but it will pass along higher resolution audio and control information, as well. You may get limited up-conversion options with standard DVDs when using the component connection.

What is firmware and do I need it?
Firmware is like computer software, or the instruction set in the player that tells the hardware what to do under various conditions. Insert a disc, and the firmware tells the player to read the disc. Press the Play button and the firmware tells the player to play the movie. Generally speaking, the firmware is invisible to the end user. But Blu-ray keeps evolving, and new features keep being created. With each new feature that a movie studio comes up with, hardware manufacturers have to release new instruction sets, or firmware, to deal with it. Samsung's ability to easily update the firmware in their BD players makes them one of the best in the business.

 Who supports Blu-ray?
At this point, nearly everyone supports Blu-ray. All the major movie studios have announced that they would support Blu-ray with both new and catalog titles. Thousands of movies and music videos are already available. Most major electronics manufacturers have been supporting Blu-ray since the format's beginning.

Can I rent movies on Blu-ray?
Yes. Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and Netflix, among other places, offer Blu-ray titles for rent. 

Are my regular DVDs obsolete?
Not by the definition Merriam Webster would use. You can still play your regular DVDs on your Blu-ray disc player, so they're still useful, but you'll want to replace them with Blu-ray versions as they become available in the new format so that you can enjoy the improved image and sound quality. 

Is the only benefit to Blu-ray the video quality? Why should I upgrade to Blu-ray?
You will probably upgrade because of the video quality, but you may also appreciate the improved sound quality available on some players as well as the advanced interactive features.  Blu-ray offers the latest generation audio codecs that can play back up to 8 channels of surround sound with improved audio quality over that of standard 5.1 digital soundtracks. This includes Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS High Resolution and DTS Master Audio.  Blu-ray also offers advanced bonus features that can include interactive game features or picture-in-picture commentary tracks, not to mention additional features that could be downloaded after the disc has been produced. 

Do I need to buy a new home theater system?
You don't need a new audio system, but you should at least have a surround system (five speakers and ideally a subwoofer) with Dolby Digital or DTS audio decoding to hear the theater-like audio experience that is available on Blu-ray. Some BD players offer more advanced audio codecs that provide even better quality sound through up to 8 channels of surround. 

What do all these audio formats mean?
You can hear better-than theater-like audio at home. As George Lucas has said, sound is 50% of the movie experience. With the right audio equipment, you can hear up to 7.1 channels of sound that is no different than what the recording engineers heard in the mixing room. 

What's the benefit of 24p?
Movies are recorded on film at 24 frames per second (fps). Video is recorded and played back at 60 frames per second. Movies must be converted to 60 frames before being played back on your TV.  Blu-ray discs record movie content in the original 24 frame format, and convert the signal within the player to output at 60 fps for standard HDTVs. Some current HDTVs, like Samsung's Auto Motion Plus 120Hz models, and undoubtedly more future ones, can accept and play back the 24 frame signal without the intermediary conversion to 60 fps, which can offer a smoother, more natural-looking image. 

What does Profile 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 mean?
Blu-ray's specifications for video are broken into three profiles, each with its own set of hardware and software requirements. Profile 1.0 gave hardware manufacturers a grace period to create players that were capable of Blu-ray video playback, but didn't need to meet the final standard profile requirements. This grace period ended October 31, 2007. These players, while not able to take advantage of all of Blu-ray's promised extra content, will provide full 1080p video playback.

Profile 1.1, also known as BonusView, makes certain requirements mandatory: picture-in-picture, secondary audio mixing, a minimum of 256MB of memory (built-in or removable), and the incorporation of a virtual file system. Players created and sold after October 31, 2007 are required to meet the Profile 1.1 specification, and therefore will take advantage of 1.1-enabled bonus materials on certain BD discs.

BD-Live (Profile 2.0) makes mandatory all parts of Profile 1.1, but increases the memory requirement to 1GB and adds the hardware requirement of a network connection. This specification enables the even-more interactive web-based bonus material found on discs that provide such content.

Features and specifications are subject to change without prior notification.

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Will the iPad mini 2 top the iPad 4 in pixel density?

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Will the iPad mini 2 top the iPad 4 in pixel density?

It's time for everyone to act surprised as a new rumor claims that Apple's follow-up to the iPad mini will feature Retina display.

Surprising as the rumor may be, overseas investment firm Brightwire claims that manufacturer AU Optronics is working on 7.9-inch displays for the iPad mini 2.

The display is said to have a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, with a ppi of 324, boosting its resolution well above the current iteration's 1024 x 798 screen.

Packing the screen with pixels also means a higher pixel density than even the current iPad 4, which comes in at 264ppi. That screen's resolution is, however, exactly the same as the rumored resolution for the new iPad mini.

iRumors

Shortly after the iPad mini was out in the wild rumors began popping up that Apple's next small-size tablet would feature Retina tech.

The exact same 324ppi display has been on the radar since November, and AU Optronics supplied screens for the first iPad mini, so the rumor comes as little surprise.

A Retina display upgrade for the next iPad mini seems like a no-brainer for Apple, especially with the iPad mini sandwiched between the Retina-equipped iPhone 5 and iPad 4.

Screen production is said to be in the piloting stage, and if Apple wants to avoid the same yield issues that plagued the original mini's production, we could be looking at a late 2013 release.

All that's left is a price, which hopefully will be brought down from the iPad mini's steep $329/£269/AU$369. Oh, and an official confirmation from Apple would be nice, though that may be little more than a formality at this point.




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Review: Apple TV

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Review: Apple TV

Buy and Get Discount for Apple TV


Introduction


At the same time as announcing the new (now not so new) iPad in March 2012, Apple also issued an update to its Apple TV.


It wasn't the full on Apple iTV, the rumoured Apple television that many had hopped for, rather it was a small revision to the existing media streamer of last year, retaining the same form factor but with an updated menu system and faster processor.


The biggest change though is its new ability to stream and play full 1080p HD movies - last year's model could only manage 720p, which was all the iTunes Store offered for movie rentals and purchasing anyway.


Of course, this means that Apple is going to have to update a lot of its iTunes Store catalogue to 1080p for you to get the most out of it, but most new movies were being offered in 1080p when we checked.


As well as enabling you to purchase and rent movies Apple TV does two other things of note - it acts as a browser for selected Internet content (YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, iCloud, Podcasts, etc) and thanks to Apple's AirPlay system it can receive content streamed from a Mac, PC or iOS device and play it on your television.


apple tv


And, just to be clear, here's what it can't do - most importantly you still can't use it to watch free-to-air TV channels, so it's not a proper Set-top Box solution, and you can't use it to browse the full web or do email, like you can with an iPad.


The full implications of this become clearer when you realise that some popular web sites, which would make total sense to be access via an Apple TV, are unavailable, like the BBC's iPlayer (though you can watch iPlayer on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad then use AirPlay to send it to your your Apple TV).


apple tv


And because you're in Apple's locked-down world there are no third-party apps available for the Apple TV which could add these features in - you have to wait for Apple to officially support them via a software update.


In fact, the Apple TV isn't designed to be customised at all - you have the feature set that Apple provides, and that's it.


In the box


In the box you get the Apple TV, which is a small black box measuring only 23mm x 98mm x 98mm that weighs just 0.27kg, a nice-looking aluminum remote with very few buttons, some setup instructions and a power lead.


apple tv


The Apple TV has exactly the same ports and connectors on the back as before. There's an ethernet port, an Optical Audio port and a HDMI port for connection to your TV. You'll also notice a Micro-USB port, but this has no use for the home user - it's just for Apple's Geniuses to use when diagnosing problems.


The Apple TV processor has been upgraded to the A5 chip to cope with 1080p HD movie playback. iFixit has done a teardown on the Apple TV and found that the Broadcom 4330 Wi-Fi chip inside also supports Bluetooth 4.0+HS, although it currently makes no use of this technology - it's possible that the functionality could be added in a future update.


apple tv


The current Apple Remote uses Infrared, this requires line of site to your Apple TV, which can be a pain - a Bluetooth remote would be far superior.


Setup process


Connection to your TV is via a HDMI cable, but be aware that there isn't one in the box, so you have to purchase that separately.


The first surprise with the new Apple TV compared to the previous generation is that once you connect it up to your TV is that it talks to you! A voice asks you if you'd like to enable the Voice Over feature by clicking a button on the remote three times.


Voice Over reads out what the menu option you've currently got selected is, so it will be a very useful feature for visually impaired users who need extra help navigating the menu systems.


Proceeding on, you set up the usual things like language then select a WiFi network - if you've never done this before then it will be your first encounter with the Apple TV's tedious way of entering text and numbers - you have an alphabetically ordered block of letters that you have to have to slowly manoeuvre around using the remote's click wheel.


apple tv hand


It's frustrating to use because the layout is so unfamiliar - having the letters arranged like a computer keyboard would have been more intuitive.


Going through the process of painfully entering your WiFi password one character at a time using this input method only to realise you got one of the characters wrong and have to do it all over again is heartbreaking, especially when at this stage you just want to get on with enjoying all the great content your Apple TV promises.


It's a shame Apple still use this input method because everything else about the Apple TV is so easy to use it stands in sharp contrast to other media streamers.


Interface

FutTv : 60PUBjP9cZ6K0

Once the setup is done you're into the main Apple TV interface, which has had a complete refresh for this outing.


In an effort to simplify, and at the same time allow for expansion, Apple has taken a more iOS-style approach to the Apple TV's interface. While it has received criticism from certain quarters, we like it.


Instead of text-based menus everything is now represented by an icon, just like on iOS. The icons are flatter and wider than their iOS counterparts, but you can clearly see where Apple has drawn its inspiration. As you move around the menus selecting each icon, text appears underneath it to tell you what it's for, which means you never feel confused or lost.


apple tv main menu


At the top of the interface you have a sideways scrolling carousel of the latest movie releases. Typical rent price of a new HD movie is £4.49 ($4.99) - this is expensive compared to, say, Sky Box Office, which was offering Twighlight Breaking Dawn and Moneyball for just £2 in the UK store when we checked, but obviously you need a paid-for Sky account to access this service.


iTunes was still over twice the price for the same movies though. Obviously you'll need a decent broadband connection to rent movies using Apple TV but there are some advantage to Apple's system. For example, it's more convenient.


movies


You don't have to wait for a specific movie start time. Instead just choose your movie and it starts downloading whenever you want. Apple TV seemed to need about 5 minutes of buffering before you can start watching your streaming download, which isn't an unreasonable time to wait.


You also get a page of information about each movie, including a cast list, customer reviews, and links to similar movies in an Amazon-style 'Viewers also brought' before you decide to purchase. It's also possible to watch movie's trailer by clicking the Preview button, which is handy.


apple tv


Once you've purchased an iTunes movie you have 30 days to start watching, and 48 hours to finish watching after you've started. The best feature is that you can view across multiple devices, so you could start watching on your Apple TV and finish watching on your computer. However, this is only available on Standard Definition films, which rules out all new film releases and seriously hobbles what would be an otherwise brilliant feature.


On the whole, the range of new titles is good, and easily comparable to Sky Box Office, and there's also an impressive back catalogue of films.


apple tv top tv shows


But Apple TV isn't just about film - moving down the interface our next stop after Movies is TV Shows. Here you'll find an impressive collection of shows buy. The promoted shows here have a UK-bias, which is good, but there are a lot of American shows also. Want to catch up on series 4 of Madmen? Not a problem. It's £2.49 ($2.99) an episode to buy (there are no rentals available for TV programmes.)


Next is an option called Music - this is only for subscribers to Apple's iTunes Match service (£24.99/$29.99 a year). If you're a Match subscriber then you'll be able to access your entire iTunes music collection from here, although you're likely to have your computer in the house as well and it's easy to connect to it from the Apple TV anyway, which brings us onto the next icon: Computers.


itunese match on apple tv


By tapping on Computers your Apple TV will automatically find any computer on your Wi-Fi network that has the same Apple ID login on iTunes. The fact that your computer just appears here without you having to interact with a single dialog box or window is to Apple's credit.


Here you can access your music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, iTunes U and photos from your local machine. The streaming over Wi-Fi is flawless, as you'd expect.


The next icon is Settings, which has all the technical options you'll need, but also your screen saver settings. It's worth mentioning these because some gorgeous new National Geographic pictures have been added as a screen saver option.


apple tv photostream


Our favourite setting though is Photo Stream, but more of that later. Whichever screen saver you go for you'll find a wide choice of different themes – all of which make the photos look gorgeous.


Netflix, which has been a feature of the US Apple TV for a while now, was launched in the UK recently and is now available in the interface. A subscription costs £5.99 a month in the UK, for which you get to watch an unlimited amount of its content. The amount and selection of new films on Netflix is disappointing, but parents will appreciate the endless amount of kids' cartoon programs at their fingers.


apple tv vimeo


Also on the Apple TV interface are options for browsing YouTube, Vimeo, Wall Street Journal and MLB (that's Major League Baseball – subscription required) – none of these have changed in this update, so they're not worth mentioning in detail.


Photo Stream is new though – it's an iCloud-related feature that owners of iPhones will love. Once you've turned Photo Stream on any picture that you've taken on your iPhone (or iPad and iPod touch) will automatically get added to your Photo Stream once you are connected to a Wi-Fi connection.


So, you take a few pictures with your iPhone while out and about, then once you walk through the door of your house you can turn to your Apple TV and view them via the Photo Stream icon. The speed and convenience of Photo Stream can't be denied.


apple tv movie trailers


Another new option in the interface is Trailers – this isn't really anything new, just a quicker way of getting to movie trailers, which include trailers for theatrical releases, which are great to have.


Performance


We tested renting a 1080p HD movie using a standard Sky broadband connection at home and found it took about 5 minutes before it was ready to play, which is acceptable.


Apple TV tells you how many minutes are left before your movie can play, but its way of calculating time seemed highly flawed with estimates jumping from 1 minute left, to 2 hours 40 minutes, then back to two minutes!


It seemed better to ignore the messages and look at the download bar at the bottom of the screen instead. Once playing there was no buffering and the connection didn't ever drop. As you'd expect for 1080p, the picture quality was superb.


netflix


Netflix was equally smooth in playback, and most programmes started playing pretty much instantly. Obviously the performance will be effected by the quality of your Internet connection, but if there are problems we don't think it will be Apple TV's fault.


AirPlay over our Wi-Fi network to the Apple TV was rock solid - you simply tap the AirPlay icon on your iOS device, or click the button in iTunes, as a video is playing, select Apple TV and it starts playing on your TV a few seconds later.


podcasts on apple tv


The big disappointment for most people here will be how restrictive Apple's AirPlay is - it only officially works with content that you have inside your iTunes library on a Mac or PC, or content you have on one of your iOS devices. However that's not the end of the story - there are work arounds.


For example, if you want to play unsupported video formats like WMV, XVID or MKV on an iPad then you can thanks to third party apps, like AVPlayerHD. Attempting to send these videos from the app to Apple TV using your iPad however results in only the audio being played.


However, if you turn on AirPlay Mirroring on your iPad (which mirrors its entire screen on your Apple TV) then you can watch these videos on your Apple TV. It adds an extra step to the process, but it works well although you are limited to a pillar box sized screen with mirroring


For full 16:9 resolution you need the help of an app called Air Video which installs a server program on your Mac or PC that encodes the video, while an iOS app beams it to your Apple TV.


When it comes to watching paid-for content everything just works flawlessly, as you'd expect it to. Purchasing content is handled effortlessly with your Apple ID, which the Apple TV remembers, so you simply need to enter your password whenever you want to buy something and it's yours.


apple tv settings


Perhaps the most outstanding feature of Apple TV though is just how easy it is to use. It's still better than all the other media streamers we've tried.


You're in Apple's world here and in Apple world everything just works. Even the potentially troublesome issues of software updates are like water off a duck's back to Apple TV - you just get a message saying there's a software update available and would you like to install it now.


apple tv settings


Navigating the menu system is child's play - and the fact that the remote has so few buttons means that children can use it too, without accidentally resetting the time zone or something equally dire. The number of clicks required to get to your content is also refreshingly small, and the way the whole menu system responds quickly and intuitively to your clicks means you genuinely enjoy using it, rather than it feeling like the thing that stands between you and your content, which is so often the case in media streaming interfaces. Apple has put a lot of thought into the Apple TV interface, and it shows.


Verdict


It's really when you own an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that owning an Apple TV makes the most sense. All Apple's devices know how to play nicely with each other, so you can use an Apple TV to mirror the screen of your iOS device and have everything it displays appear on your HD television.


The most obvious use for this is for showing off photos you've taken on your iPhone, or a Keynote presentation you've created on your iPad, but some iOS games, like Counter Strike, take advantage of this feature in new and exciting ways, enabling you to use your iPhone as a game controller while watching the gameplay on your TV.


What's more with the new version of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion due out this summer, Apple are bringing this ability to the Mac, so you'll be able to mirror your computer on your TV screen too.


We liked:


If you already have all your video content in iTunes, then all the other features Apple TV offers start to make it stand out from the crowd. Renting and buying movies works flawlessly and there's a great selection of the latest releases and a large, growing back catalogue.


The YouTube, Vimeo, Podcast and Movie Trailers are all features you'll find genuinely useful, but it's Photos that we really liked the most. It makes your snaps look beautiful, with fantastic slideshow effects, and the iCloud integration via Photostream means that any photos you've taken using an iOS device automatically get beamed to your Apple TV a few seconds after you walk through the door at home. That's impressive. AirPlay is a rock solid streaming system and simply can't be beaten for reliability.


We disliked:


If you're simply looking for a way to stream media from your computer to your television then perhaps Apple TV shouldn't be your first choice. You'll find Apple's AirPlay system fantastically easy to use, but it's currently too restrictive, making you dance through hoops to get your content into iTunes.


In addition to the iOS app workarounds we mentioned there are lots of free video encoder programmes on the market that will convert video to the .m4a file format that iTunes demands, it's a real pain having to spend an hour encoding a video into a new format before iTunes will recognise it, so you'll be able to stream it from your computer to your Apple TV.


The Apple Remote requiring line of sight is a bit restrictive too, let's hope a Bluetooth options becomes available in the future.


With Netflix now available in the UK the selection of apps that Apple TV sports is starting to look a little less US-centric, but it still needs more UK-specific content, like iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player.


Verdict:


If you've already got some Apple devices in your home then Apple TV is a natural fit and at this price you should really consider getting one because it integrates wonderfully with your current setup.


But for everyone else, even with the addition of 1080p HD, there's no compelling reason to buy an Apple TV over other media streamers right now.


If only Apple could sort out integrating iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player into the menu system and make AirPlay a little less restrictive, because then Apple TV would be a must-have product for everybody.


Buy and Get Discount for Apple TV

Review: Acer Iconia W700

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Review: Acer Iconia W700

Buy and Get Discount for Acer Iconia W700


Introduction


Windows 8 has seen a host of fresh designs for tablets and laptops, with many manufacturers trying their hardest to build a device that's capable of doing both jobs. That has led to some innovative thinking, such as the screen-spinning Dell XPS 12 and the Microsoft Surface and its detachable keyboard. However, the Acer Iconia W700 has a slightly simpler take on the hybrid design.


The Iconia W700 differs from other hybrid tablets by not having a keyboard that attaches to the body of the tablet to create a laptop-style device. Instead it looks like any normal tablet, albeit bulkier and 11.6 inches across. It docks into a stand that props it up at a usable angle and acts as a charging stand and USB hub.


The idea is that you keep the dock and keyboard at work or in your home, and use it like a full PC. The added HDMI means you can connect it to an external monitor so you'd have no idea you were using a tablet at all. When you leave, just pull the tablet out from the dock, for games, apps and browsing on the move.


Acer Iconia W700 review


We actually prefer this set up to the jack-of-all-trades and master of none form factors of some other Windows 8 hybrids, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 and Toshiba Satellite U920T, which are too large to be used as tablets yet suffer from reduced usability in 'laptop-mode.'


However, don't think you'll get the same svelte stylings as those of the Apple iPad. When you pack a laptop-grade processor into a tablet, you have the same thermal headaches as laptop makers have, but the added issue of how to dissipate it.


The Acer Iconia W700 measures 11.9 x 295 x 191mm (0.5 x 11.6 x 7.5 inches) and weighs 925g (33oz), making it one slab of slate.


Acer Iconia W700 review


The only problem with the Acer's way of working is that when you do need to take the dock on the move with you, it's one of the most awkward pieces of equipment to transport.


The square dock is made from flimsy white plastic and is propped up by a white plastic stand, which is a single piece of angled plastic that slots in the back.


It seems as if it's designed to take up the maximum room in your bag, and due to the plastic, feels that it could emerge in two pieces after you've shoved something on top of it. Add the power supply and any extra peripherals and your bag will be filled to the brim.


Acer Iconia W700 review


The plastic flimsiness of the dock is completely at odds with the tablet itself, which is adorned in aluminium, which along with Microsoft Surface, is easily one of the best-built tablets on the market.


Acer has seriously upped its game in terms of build quality, and along with the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook, is producing some seriously covetable kit.


Priced at around £590/US$799.99 (64GB, Core i3 version, not available in Australia) or £740/US$999.99/AU$1,299 (128GB, Core i5 version) the Acer Iconia W700 does represent decent value, when you consider that you're getting dual functionality, top specs and Ultrabook power. However, how does it fare in use? Read our review to find out.


Acer Iconia W700 review


Specifications


The Acer Iconia W700 features the full version of Windows 8, with all the same components you'd expect from an Ultrabook laptop. Inside there's an Intel Core i3-2365M processor, clocked at a pedestrian 1.4GHz, meaning there's enough power for standard programs and apps, but not much more.


Unlike other dual-use hybrids such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11, Microsoft Surface RT and the Asus VivoTab, you get the full version of Windows, rather than the cut-down Windows RT.


Aside from the processor, you'll also find 4GB of RAM and all the 3D graphics are handled by the Intel HD 3000 core built into the Intel Core i3 chip. It won't handle advanced games, but you could play any casual title easily, although we are concerned about the impact of heat under long periods of stress.


Acer Iconia W700 review


There's also a 64GB SSD included on the version we tested, which is in danger of being filled, so investing in some external storage too would be wise - or buying the 128GB version.


Of course, a tablet or laptop is nothing without its screen, and we've seen some fantastic 1080p panels on the likes of the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and the Dell XPS 12, which produce stunningly vibrant and sharp pictures.


We were delighted to see a gorgeous 1920 x 1080 LED panel included on the Acer Iconia W700. It makes a huge difference when working, with its pin-sharp text. It's great for browsing the web, with more of the web page displayed on screen, and for using apps and playing games, with jaw-dropping visuals. The Windows 8 interface looks brilliant, and certainly catches people's attention.


Acer Iconia W700 review


The downside of the pin-sharp screen is that Windows 8 is almost unusable in classic mode. The menus are so small thanks to the monstrous resolution that's packed into the 11.6-inch panel, we were squinting to make out navigation options. However, the Acer Iconia W700 rarely registered a wrong press, showing that the panel's sensitivity - coupled with improvements to Windows 8 - is top notch.


As we mentioned, the Acer Iconia W700 is at its best when connected to peripherals, such as HD monitors, but the connectivity options are a mixed bag. Without the comfort of its dock, there's just one USB port, a HDMI port and Bluetooth, which we'd recommend for peripherals.


When attached to the dock this is upped to 3 x USB 3.0 ports, and there's also a dongle in the box that converts micro HDMI to VGA. With its dock, the Acer Iconia W700 is one of the best connected tablets out there, but we worry that when on the road, the single USB port might be limiting.


Acer Iconia W700 review


While the dock is too cumbersome to be carried around comfortably, Acer supplies a fetching leather-look case to protect the Iconia W700 on the move. We were mightily impressed, not only by the stylish look of the brown leather case, but the way it grasped hold of the W700, protecting it from all bumps and scrapes.


What's more, it (precariously) stands up the W700 like an Apple SmartCase, for movie watching and working away from the dock.


Acer Iconia W700 review


Performance


Benchmarks
Battery eater: 284
Cinebench: 3716
3D Mark: 1785


In terms of performance, the Acer Iconia W700 struggled, and we were disappointed to see less power from it than from Ultrabooks in the same category.


High-end Ultrabooks packing an Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i7 processor would produce a score of around 9,000 in Cinebench, which is ideal for heavy image editing, dealing with video and multi-tasking full Windows apps such as Photoshop and Microsoft Word.


Acer Iconia W700 review


With its Intel Core i3 chip, the Iconia W700 stuttered to a disappointing score of 3,716.


This makes it hard to recommend for people who plan to use this hybrid device for heavy grunt work, which is a shame, since the point of the W700 seems to be to replace your existing Windows machine and solve the need for a separate tablet.


Acer Iconia W700 review


With an Intel Core i3 processor handling all the processing and the graphics - remember there's no discreet solution here, folks - our 3D Mark produced a pretty derisory score as well.


The W700 managed just 1,785, and the cycle of tests resembled a PowerPoint presentation on 90s gaming rather than an exploration of 3D rendering.


Acer Iconia W700 review


It means we have serious doubts about the ability of the W700 to handle any types of gaming, beyond anything from the Windows Store.


Of course, there is an Intel Core i5 version of the W700 available, which would improve on these worrying results, but you can expect to pay a premium of £150/US$100 or more.


Acer Iconia W700 review


The pay off of such basic performance is excellent battery life, which matches some of the best performing laptops such as the Dell XPS 13. This will suit anyone who intends to work away from the mains electricity.


Our harsh tests, which involve looping HD video and simulating office tasks, produced a cycle of 284 minutes, and under less extreme conditions one could easily expect five to six hours of use.


Acer Iconia W700 review


Verdict


The Acer Iconia W700 is certainly a step forward for full-fat Windows tablets, and one of the few we've seen that can genuinely offer the experience of a full laptop and a tablet as well.


Devices like the Sony Vaio Duo 11 or Toshiba Satellite U920T have erred too much towards the laptop form factor, while the current crop of Windows RT tablets suffer from usability issues, a limited ecosystem and are far too expensive.


The Acer W700 has found a useful niche, and we can genuinely imagine having it docked into a desktop type set up at work, before watching a movie and using the increasing amount of Windows 8 apps on the way home.


We liked


The dock setup works, as long as you don't want to take it with you, and the range of connectivity means it's easy to hook the tablet up to an HD screen. The pin-sharp screen is a joy to use when in the new Windows 8 UI mode, and it's just as good for media consumption as work.


The price is also exceptional, when you consider that the Samsung Ativ Tab, which runs Windows RT, comes in at £549/US$649.99 (around AU$836). For roughly the same price here you get full fat Windows, Intel Core power, the dock, a high quality leather case and a mobile keyboard.


We disliked


The docking system doesn't have the same quality feel as the rest of the Acer Iconia W700, and while it does make it lightweight for when you do need to travel, it ruins the premium experience. We also feel that very little thought as been put into the dock's design, and the bizarre design is a nightmare to carry.


Of course, for £590/US$799.99 you won't get high-end Ultrabook power, especially when Acer has been so generous with extras, build quality and that gorgeous 1080p screen. However, we have serious reservations about whether there's enough grunt here to future-proof the Acer W700 for all kinds of PC use, from graphics-heavy applications to multitasking large numbers of programs.


Finally, while we loved the usability of the Acer Iconia W700, we feel there's little flexibility in its use. It works if you're regularly in one place, such as your home or office, where the dock can be set up and left. Taking the whole package of dock, stand, case and charger will be a drag, so think about how you'd use it before buying it.


Final verdict


The Acer Iconia W700 comes the closest of all the tablets we've seen to being able to replicate the experience of a laptop, in a true tablet form.


While you certainly get a lot for your money here, we worry that the poor performance limits the life of this hybrid PC, and would push those looking for a rich Windows 8 experience to look at the Intel Core i5 version.


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Review: Acer 7600U

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Review: Acer 7600U

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Introduction


The dream of the All in One is a simple standard that's rarely achieved. A full-power "desktop-in-a-display" that is simultaneously capable of serving as a general-use computer as well as a media streaming rig. Touch screens and Windows 8 are supposed to allow grab-and-go computing as well as more traditional deeper sessions.


Gaming? Previously, 3D games were a tertiary concern, but this is rapidly changing, given the power-price-performance ratios found in high-end and high-mid-range laptops courtesy of the current crop of discrete mobile graphics parts.


The challenge of the All in One form-factor is that, all too often, system builders are forced to cut corners in terms of the parts they integrate in order to cram everything into a thin-enough, big-enough display.


Acer 7600U review


Based on the number of average-speed All in Ones we've looked at over the years, building a lightning-fast AIO is much harder to accomplish than it sounds. You compromise power for convenience here.


Acer's relatively new 7600U All in One embodies all of the good and the bad of this increasingly important category of system. On the surface, it looks well-designed. And with such a beautiful display, it has plenty of showroom game.


Unfortunately, aside from pure media functions, just about every other dimension of this system is pokey, frustrating, and sometimes even puzzling - particularly at this price point.


The display has it


The first thing anyone notices about any All in One system is the screen. Acer acquits itself well here, with a thin (1.38 inches in middle, about 3 inches at the top), fashion-forward 1920 x 1080 LED capacitive multi-touch display.


Screen quality is excellent, and easily fulfills the media center duties that All in Ones promise. This is a great display to watch HD movies and TV shows on from across the room.


Acer 7600U review


Unfortunately, the standard HD resolution is not so great for general, up-close productivity—a 2560x1440 display—like Apple's latest 27-inch iMac and Dell's XPS One 27 possess—would be much more effective,. At this price point, it should have the higher resolution.


Aesthetically speaking, the design of the Aspire 7600U will probably elicit mixed reviews. With a thin, TV-style bezel, and a thin acrylic panel at the bottom of the system, it is certainly designed to look good in a living room. And while the whole acrylic/Lucite look is making a comeback in some regions, the style is not universally adored.


One really nice touch is the Aspire 7600U's flexibility. You can tilt this system down to a 30 degree angle, which makes it perfect for standing and typing using Windows 8's improved 10-point touch controls. You can also quickly and easily adjust the position of the screen, making it quite versatile in a number of environments.


Another much-appreciated and outright cool element of this AIO's design is the power socket, which is embedded into the tip of the system's stand. Very nicely done.


The Aspire 7600U's keyboard and mouse extend the acrylic-oriented design. Unfortunately, both are inferior peripherals, almost to a maddening degree. The keyboard is particularly bad, with non-responsive keys and an infuriating space bar. Yes, this is subjective, but our bet is that you'll find yourself replacing the keyboard with something else almost immediately.


Another more mild frustration: there are three sets of bright white lights on this system. The Acer logo lights up when it's on or in sleep mode. The power button stays lit when the device is off, and an odd KITT-style (from Knight Rider) series of lights dash across the top right-hand corner of the screen when the system is off. This is not the kind of AIO you can use in a bedroom.


Specifications and Performance


In the configuration we received (A7600U-UR308), the Aspire has the following core specs:


•CPU: Dual-core 2.5GHz Core i5 3210M
•Video: GeForce GT 640M
•Memory: 8GB DDR 3 RAM
•Storage: 5400RPM 1TB drive
•Optical: Blu-Ray combo drive

Like most AIOs, the 7600U is not configurable or customizable, but there are a few different models (A7600U-UR12, A7600U, UR-11) that step up the CPU to a dual-core 2.6GHz Core i5 3230M processor. There are also lower-powered configurations in the $1,000.00 price range that step the CPU way down to a Core i3 CPU.


Acer 7600U review


On the left side of the screen, you'll find two USB 3.0 ports, mic in and mic out, and a universal card reader. On the back of the system, you'll find two HDMI in ports, one HDMI out port, a SPDIF optical audio out port, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, and two USB 2.0 ports.


A Blu-Ray drive can be found on the right side of the system, and a standard resolution webcam is placed in the usual location.


The 7600U ships with a Bluetooth 4.0 adapter. It does not come with a TV card.


Performance


Here's how the Aspire 7600U fared in our standard AIO benchmarks:


3DMark 06: 10,612
Cinebench 10 single core: 4,893
Cinebench 10 multi-core: 10,260
Boot Time: 26 seconds, (+10 seconds post log-in)
Call of Duty 4: 94.1 fps

As you've probably gathered, this isn't a very fast system in terms of day to day performance… and at the just-under $2,000 price point, feels sorely underpowered.


The biggest weak spot here is the under-powered Core i5 3210M processor. It just doesn't have enough gas for CPU-intensive applications and functions. It's fine for watching movies and videos, but it's not the kind of system you'd want to use for putting together home movies.


Here's a reality check. In our Cinebench 10 test, which wages a relentless attack on a system's processor, a single-core of this Aspire All in One trailed the 27-inch iMac by a little under 20%. That's not great, but in Cinebench's multi-core test, Acer's Core i5 gets crushed, with a score of 10,260 compared to the 22,404 thrown down by the iMac's Core i7 processor.


More concerning is that at the same price point, you can get your hands on a 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7 processor in Apple's 27-inch iMac, or a 2.7GHz quad-core Core i5-3330S in Dell's XPS One 27. That's a problem.


Also a problem: The Aspire 7600U's pokey 5400RPM hard drive. Yes, it's huge at 1TB of total storage. But the slow spin rate means sluggish data access rates, slower start times, and more. And, when you look at the specs (and performance) of the iMac and Dell XPS All in One mentioned above, you'll find 7800RPM drives or hybrid drives at the same price point.


The Aspire's saving grace is that, because it has a high-end Kepler-based GeForce GT 640M graphics part, it holds up surprisingly well for gaming. We were even able to play Borderlands 2, although more CPU-intensive games may bog it down. Still though, provided you don't mind turning some of the details (and possibly the resolution) down, you can actually play games on this system.


Unfortunately, in terms of day-to-day performance, this system actually feels worse than our benchmark numbers indicate. It's slow to start up, require 36 seconds to go from power on to completely logged in. It stutters coming out of sleep mode, which is frustrating. Switching between users feels like it takes forever in comparison to other Windows 8 systems. There are occasional hiccups when launching the web browser. And so on.


A faster hard drive and a faster Core i7 processor would not only have made a big difference here, they would make this system's $1900 price tag feel appropriate.


Verdict


Solid media system, with one exception…


The nice thing about a 27-inch All in One with a few HDMI inputs is that it makes for a great console gaming screen. Also nice is the single HDMI out port, which allows for a down and dirty multi-monitor set-up. Not nice is the lack of a remote control, although the built-in webcam-based gesture controls (detailed below) are a welcome substitute. There are also plenty of iOS and Android apps that will function as a remote as well.


The sound quality of the 7600U is shockingly bad for an All in One. Music, games, and even Blu-Ray movies sounded consistently thin, bright, and tinny, and lacked any substantial low-end bass response.


Even after adjusting all of the settings, both real and virtual (Acer has included a virtual surround sound emulator), I still couldn't get this system to produce a level of quality sound that I could imagine myself living with on a permanent basis. Sound quality here pales in comparison to just about every other All in One I've ever tested.


Bloatware, interesting webcam gesture interface


Apparently buying a Windows 8 system means that we all now face twice the amount of pre-installed bloatware as before.


Acer has loaded the Aspire with a number of apps both in the Win8 shell as well as the desktop interface. Some of these are useful—Evernote, Hulu, Skype. Many are not—TuneIn Radio, Cha-Cha, a proprietary cloud-based storage solution named AcerCloud, and more.


The most interesting piece of pre-installed software on this system is called PointGrab, which allows you to operate the OS with your hand. The app opens up the webcam, which automatically detects your hand (depicted by a green "X" that appears on your hand) and , more importantly, various gestures you make.


We've played with webcam-based gesture controls before - the Razer Blade gaming laptop had a very basic interface that allowed you to perform a few simple gestures. PointGrab goes far beyond basic. It essentially turns your hand into the mouse.


As an example, you can literally move the Windows pointer to an area or object on the screen, make a grabbing or clicking motion, and the end result will be a left click on the desired object.


We'd prefer a real remote control for operating from across the room, but PointGrab doesn't take long to get used to, and seems pretty non-intrusive as it's running on your desktop.


We Liked


By far, the best thing about the Acer Aspire 7600U is its crisp 27-inch display. It's true that an IPS panel feels more appropriate at this price point (Apple's iMac has one), as does support for a higher resolution than 1920x1080. But it's a large, attractive screen, and that counts for something.


Additionally, the touch screen is responsive, both at the Windows 8 general interface level as well as the virtual keyboard, and the non-Win8 desktop. The ability to quickly recline this big 27-inch screen to a 30 degree angle (virtually flat) is very cool, and allows for the kinds of fast, touch-based sessions we frequently use these types of systems for.


We also like the PointGrab gesture-based interface, which is a little closer to the Kinect-style UI we think All in Ones should have. It's simple, but it works well. And every time it recognizes the palm of our hand, we feel a little rush of awe. (This said, over time we found ourselves not using it as much as we expected.)


How about the Aspire's design? Well, we're not totally sold. Several of our friends and family liked the airy design. Several thought it looked dated. We'll call the aesthetics a wash. At the very least, it's a conversation starter, and you can't say it's ugly. Even if it feels impossible to compete with Apple's sense of style, we're happy to see manufacturers take chances with the industrial design of their systems.


We disliked


Our biggest problem with this system is that it just isn't fast enough. The 7600U's lack of pep is immediately noticeable upon start-up. And not just by us—friends and family who used the system all had the same reaction. "Is something wrong with this system? It feels slow."


When civilians are saying this, you know you have a problem. When you look at a system's specifications and grow concerned, you also know you have a problem.


For $1,900, you should get a lot more in terms of performance and components. This isn't just idle speculation. Apple and Dell have released systems in the same price range with finer parts. Consider Apple's $1,799 iMac:


•2.9GHz quad-core Core i5 CPU
•8GB memory
•GeForce GTX 660M
•2560x1440 IPS display
•1TB 5400RPM hard drive (upgradeable to 1TB Fusion hybrid drive for $250)

Now look at Dell's XPS One 27, which also costs $1,799 in this base configuration:


•2.7GHz quad-core Core i5 3330S
•8GB memory
•GeForce GT 640M
•2560x1440 LC display
•1TB 7200RPM hard drive

In both cases, $100 less gets you a faster processor and a better display, with other faster options also available on each side. The quad-core processor is the real kicker because of the advantages it affords in video processing and multi-tasking environments.


Aside from the price-performance concerns, there are way too many unpolished and mid-range features here for such an expensive system. The awkward keyboard. The non-responsive power button.


Final Verdict


The 7600U is good for media, and you can play games on it. If it was a $1,300 system, this would be a far more positive review, but at $1,900 it costs too much for what you get.


In terms of mid-high-end AIO design, it seems like Acer is still caught in the old AIO mentality from 3-4 years ago, which unapologetically emphasizes clever aesthetics and design over performance.


Modern PC buyers are smarter than this now, particularly given the amount of time Microsoft has spent emphasizing the performance advantages of Windows 8.


Finally a real-world test. Whenever we test and review an All in One, we place it front and center in the corner of our living rooms. For many of us, our significant others' reaction to the system is an important part of the process. In the case of the Acer PC? Well, they didn't care for the looks ("It's trying to hard."), and quite often they despised the performance. This doesn't count for everything, but it counts for a lot.


The good news for Acer is that the path of redemption is relatively straightforward: Upgrade the CPU and hard drive in this system at the same price, and it immediately becomes an above average buy. Upgrading the display panel to IPS and moving into the performance range of GPUs moves this rig into legendary territory.


Buy and Get Discount for Acer 7600U


 

Review: BlackBerry Q10 review

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Hands-on review: BlackBerry Q10 review

The BlackBerry Q10 is the second handset to come running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, but it's the first to offer a physical QWERTY keyboard alongside it.

Although it was announced alongside the flagship, fully touchscreen BlackBerry Z10, the Q10 won't go on sale at the same time.

BlackBerry told TechRadar that the BlackBerry Q10 will arrive six to eight weeks after the Z10 hits stores, since the Canadian firm wants to concentrate its efforts initially on the handset that will have the widest appeal.

BlackBerry Q10 review

Indeed the Q10 won't have the same appeal as the Z10, but there are still people out there who swear by a physical keyboard on their smartphone.

It's certainly a much smaller market to aim at, but one which the BlackBerry Q10 has an excellent chance of succeeding in as the BlackBerry brand is synonymous for providing top quality QWERTY keyboards on its phones.

BlackBerry Q10 review

Currently there's no firm BlackBerry Q10 release date or price, and even the final specs are being kept under wraps for now as the handset isn't completely finalised.

What's immediately noticeable upon picking up the Q10 is the size of the display – it's definitely the biggest screen BlackBerry has put on a keyboard handset.

BlackBerry Q10 review

BlackBerry refused to give us the exact screen size and resolution, but sitting it side by side with a BlackBerry Bold 9900 with a 2.8-inch display (above), you can plainly see the Q10 is bigger, and it's expected to clock in at around 3.1-inches.

The display is also much squarer on the BlackBerry Q10 than on previous BlackBerry handsets, which sported landscape screens above the keys.

BlackBerry Q10 review

BlackBerry 10 looks crisp and clear on the screen of the Q10, and we reckon it has a similar pixel density to the 355ppi on the Z10.

A noticeable absence on the front of the BlackBerry Q10 is the menu keys and trackpad just below the screen, since BB10 is fully controlled via the touchscreen, with the keyboard only coming into play when you need to tap out a message.

BlackBerry Q10 review

This puts an end to the tedious scrolling that plagued the BB OS7 handsets, with the tiny trackpad making moving down long lists a real chore.

Despite its larger dimensions, the BlackBerry Q10 is well weighted, balancing nicely in the palm and not feeling top heavy when your hands are gripping the base of the handset as you use the keyboard – this reduces the fear of dropping the handset, and that's all good in our book.

BlackBerry Q10 review

Around the back the Q10 is made of a sturdy and attractive material that BlackBerry is calling a "glass weave", and the edges are rounded, making the handset fit snugly in the hand.

There's a camera and single LED flash around on the back, while on the front of the BlackBerry Q10 there's a front-facing snapper - perfect for video calls, especially since the launch of BBM Video.

BlackBerry Q10 review

While the official specs of the cameras haven't been revealed yet, we wouldn't be surprised if it was packing the same 8MP and 2MP combo as found on the Z10.

On the right side of the BlackBerry Q10 the triple button setup is present, with volume switches separated by a central key that can be used to play and pause tracks and launch the voice control app when held down.

BlackBerry Q10 review

Up top you get a centralised power/lock key very similar in position and style to the Bold 9900, which is neighboured by a 3.5mm headphone jack.

BlackBerry is really pushing connectivity on its new BlackBerry 10 handsets, and the Q10 is equipped with microUSB and mini HDMI ports on the left side, while under the hood there's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC – plus we hope a microSD slot has made the cut as well.

BlackBerry Q10 review

The BlackBerry 10 OS runs smoothly on the Q10 and we were able to breeze through applications without any issues.

"Peeking" at notifications was pretty simple thanks to the responsive touchscreen, but the slide-up motion from the bottom of the display didn't always register as there's not a lot of space for your finger to play between the screen and keyboard.

BlackBerry Q10 review

The BlackBerry Q10 we got our hands on to review was running a development build of BB 10, and from time to time you could tell, since certain applications didn't display properly on the square display, as the OS has been developed primarily for the longer screen of the Z10.

You can expect those display issues to be sorted before the BlackBerry Q10 goes on sale - we just hope app developers also adapt their offerings to use the squarer display.

We were able to test out the web browser on the BlackBerry Q10, which appeared to be in full working order and as impressively fast as the Z10 when loading both desktop and mobile sites.

BlackBerry Q10 review

The camera app was also a snappy affair with rapid shutter speed and the clever Time Shift feature making it an intriguing proposition.

However the main reason, if not the only reason, someone would purchase the BlackBerry Q10 is for its physical QWERTY keyboard, a feature which is very much love or hate for a lot of users.

BlackBerry Q10 review

Each row of keys is separated by a silver fret, which spaces out the buttons, making it easier to type. Letters themselves are all angled to different degrees to improve travel and typing speed.

The keyboard itself has grown in size, which in our opinion is a good thing, since we always found the tiny keys on the old BlackBerry handsets a bit too fiddly.

With the physical keyboard, though, you lose out on the typing smarts you get on the Z10, with next word prediction not available here, meaning you're left to your own character by character input method.

Early Verdict

The BlackBerry Q10 will appeal to a few but will likely be overlooked by many, since the touchscreen era is now in full swing.

For those who simply can't live without a full physical keyboard on their smartphone, the Q10 is an enticing proposition with a decent size keyboard and larger touchscreen coupled with the new BlackBerry 10 OS making it a far more powerful and diverse handset.

BlackBerry is targeting a very exact market with the Q10 and we're sure that market will be more than happy to receive this latest offering, but we don't expect the BlackBerry Q10 to be making huge waves in the mainstream arena.




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