Google TV versus Chromecast; is there a difference?

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | August 9, 2013 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: asus, asus cube, google, google tv, htpc

With the release of the Google Chromecast streaming USB stick it seems apropos to revisit Google's other foray into the HTPC business, Google TV.  Specifically it is the ASUS Cube up for review at Bjorn3D which will be offered as an example.  At less than 5" a side it is a tiny device with HDMI input and output, an pair of USB 2.0 connectors, an ethernet port and a connector for an IR sensor for the remote.  It does have wireless connectivity to help keep down on the clutter if you install it somewhere noticeable.  Inside you will find a 1.2 GHz Marvell Armada 1500 chip, 1GB of RAM and 2GB of user accessible storage.  There are a variety of apps to help you find streams to watch and is certainly easier to set up than a full HTPC.  At $125 is is more expensive than the Chromecast but it is also more powerful, see how in the review.

Bj3DAsus_Cube_07.jpg

"Asus Cube is the device that features latest Google TV OS that want to be part of your living room entertainment setup. With a good design, an unique remote, and $139 price tag, can it push Google TV further where others may have failed? Let’s find out."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Bjorn3D

Hulu and HBO Go Streaming Apps May Be Coming To Google Chromecast

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2013 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: media streaming, hulu, hbo, google, chromecast

Google released its Chromecast streaming stick last month, and the device launched with support for YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix streaming. For the remaining content sources, users need to resort to "casting" an entire Chrome web browser tab from a smartphone, tablet, or computer connected to the same network over Wi-Fi. At launch, Google stated that additional apps are coming, including Pandora (and later Vimeo). Now, stories are appearing online reporting that Hulu Plus and HBO Go support may be coming to the $35 streaming device in the near future.

Variety reports that HBO is "actively exploring" the Google Chromecast as another method for subscribers to access content. As usual, users will need to be subscribers of traditional cable or satellite services along with paying a monthly subscription to HBO itself in order to access HBO Go on the Chromecast. For now, users are able to stream to their televisions by using the tab casting feature, but an app would be ideal. The company has not announced any specific timelines for an app release, however.

Additionally, Hulu has said that it is working on adding its own streaming app to the Chromecast for Plus subscribers. Specifically, Hulu representative Meredith Kendall was quoted by Variety in stating that "We are actively working with Google to bring Hulu Plus to the platform." Hulu seems to be more certain on delivering a Chromecast app for its users, so it is likely that Hulu Plus will come out before HBO Go, though free Hulu users will have to resort to casting the entire Chrome tab.

Have you received your Google Chromecast yet? Are you excited for new apps, or is the tab casting "good enough"?

Read more about Google's Chromecast media streaming dongle at PC Perspective.

Source: Slash Gear

Google Rolls Out Updated Nexus 7 With Android 4.3 And Better Hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 26, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: Snapdragon S4 Pro, qualcomm, nexus 7, google, asus, android 4.3

Google recently launched an updated version of its Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet. The existing Nexus 7 will be discontinued and replaced by three new Nexus 7 SKUs. The updated tablets are slightly thinner and lighter, come with improved hardware specifications, and will come with Google’s latest Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean” operating system.

The updated Nexus 7 features a 7” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 which works out to 323 pixels per inch (PPI) and front-facing HD webcam on the front of the device. The back of the tablet hosts a 5MP camera and a smooth soft touch cover. A micro USB port is located on the bottom edge. Google has added stereo speakers located on the top and bottom of the tablet.

Updated Google Nexus 7 Android Jelly Bean Tablet.jpg

Internal specifications include a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on the specific SKU. There is no SD card slot on the Nexus 7, unfortunately. Additionally, the Nexus 7 will support 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 4.0, and Qi wireless charging. Google will have both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with the latter coming with 32GB of internal storage and a 4G LTE cellular radio compatible with all the major US carriers.

The chart below compares the specifications of the original Nexus 7 to the updated Nexus 7 tablet.

  New Nexus 7 Original Nexus 7
Display 1920 x 1200 1280 x 800
Height 7.9" 7.81"
Depth/thickness 0.3" 0.41"
Weight 11.2 oz 12 oz
Processor Quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro @ 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4+1)
RAM 2GB 1GB
Internal Storage Options 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB
Wireless Radio Options Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), BT, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), BT, and 3G/HSPA+21
OS Android 4.3 Android 4.1
Starting MSRP $229 (16GB) $249 (16GB)

Google has continued its partnership with Asus and worked with the hardware company to develop the updated Nexus 7 tablets.

The Nexus 7 will be available in the US starting on July 30. It will be rolled out to other countries over the next few weeks including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea, and Spain among others.

The 16GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $229 while the 32GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $269. Finally, the Nexus 7 with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE modem will cost $349.

In all, I think Google has another winner on its hands with the updated Nexus 7.
 

Source: Google

Google's Web is QUIC and SPDY

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 02:12 AM |
Tagged: google, spdy, QUIC

It missed being a recursive acronym by a single letter...

TCP is known for being the go-to protocol for stable connections over the internet. There are some things you can guarantee: you will not lose bits of data, packets will arrive in order, incorrect packets will be checked and redelivered, and both endpoints will be roughly metered to the least capacity. It is easy to develop applications around the TCP protocol, it does the hard problems for you.

Being meticulous also makes it slow, relatively speaking.

9-ethernet2.png

UDP, on the other hand, frees its packets in a fountain to hopefully land where it is intended. This protocol is fast, but a pain for applications that need some level of reliability. Quick UDP Internet Connections (QUIC), from Google, leverages UDP to create multiple independent, even encrypted connections. While TCP could be made faster, it is beyond the jurisdiction of web browsers; support is embedded into the operating system itself. This leaves building upon UDP, suffering with TCP, or not being compatible with about every network hardware installed just about anywhere.

This comes on the heels of SPDY, Google's other open protocol. SPDY is built around HTTP and both presume a reliable protocol underneath, where TCP is the usual candidate. A large advantage of SPDY allows assets to simultaneously stream over a single connection. TCP will, unfortunately, freeze the entire connection (and thus each stream) when a single stream drops a packet. QUIC, based upon UDP, can then be used to accelerate SPDY further by allowing truly independent multiplexing.

QUIC will be used for "a small percentage of Chrome dev and canary channel traffic to some Google server", for experimentation purposes. The code itself is licensed under BSD and, as such, could migrate to other browsers in due time.

Source: CNet

Google Glass Update Will Add Web Browser and New Voice Control Functionality

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2013 - 11:29 PM |
Tagged: web browser, hands-free, google glasses, google glass, google

Later this week, Google is updating its Glass, well, glasses to add new features. Among the new features, Google is including a full web browser and a couple of new voice controls.

The full web browser will output to the Glass display and can be accessed by hitting the appropriate button. Users will be able to access the web using the Wi-Fi chip, and it will be controlled by the touchpad and motion controls. For example, users can scroll pages by moving a single finger forward on the touchpad. Zooming is handled by using a two finger guesture on the touchpad. Finally, while zoomed in, users can move their head around to pan around the page.

The motion control bit is actually an intuitive idea, though I expect bystanders will find those browsing the web on their Glass a bit odd as they hold two fingers to their glasses and move their head about. (Hopefully people do not try browsing reddit while walking, however.)
 

The upcoming Google Glass update also adds a few more voice controls to the mix. Using voice commands beginning with "ok glass," users will be able to reply to text messages, answer calls, and send photos to other people on their contact list.

Finally, Google has lifted the contact list restriction from a list of ten friends. Users can now access their entire Gmail contact list.

I'm glad that Google is continuing to improve the Glass software. According to The Verge, this new update will be rolled out over the next few days to the Explorer Edition units currently in the hands of developers. I'm looking forward to the final consumer release.

Read more about Google Glass at PC Perspective.

Source: The Verge

Outbound Phone Call Support Coming to Hangouts (Within Gmail Interface) Soon

Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2013 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: google voice, google talk, google hangouts, google

One of the neat features of the chat application built into the Gmail web interface is the ability to receive and place phone calls to and from your Google Voice number. And unlike the Google Voice interface, calls placed using the Gmail Talk chat widget are completely free.

Unfortunately, the new Hangouts replacement (currently not mandatory) brought over from Google + does not support the calling features of Google Talk. As such, users wanting to call phones and not just video chat with other Google + users will need to stick with the old Google Talk chat or use Google Voice and pay for outbound calls.

Google Hangouts.jpg

The good news is that the phone call features will be rolled into the new Hangouts feature eventually. According to Google employee Nikhyl Singhal, “outbound/inbound calls will soon be available.” He also indicated that future versions of Hangouts will further integrate the feature set of Google Voice (which likely refers to SMS). Unless you particularly want video chatting, I would recommend sticking with Google Talk until the new version of Hangouts is more fleshed out.

Google Rolling Out Play Store Redesign That Emphasizes Larger Images and Faster Checkouts

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android

Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.

Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.

Google Play store Home Page on a Smartphone.jpg

Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.

From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.

Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?

Source: Android Blog

HP Announces New 14" Chromebook

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2013 - 07:08 AM |
Tagged: pavilion 14, hp, google, Chromebook

HP recently launched the Pavilion 14 Chromebok, which is a notebook running Google’s Chrome OS operating system and suite of web applications. The Pavilion 14 Chromebook is a 14” laptop measuring 0.83-inches thick and weighing 3.96 pounds.

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook.jpg

The new Chromebook is based on one of HP’s existing Windows laptops–the Sleekbook 14-b010us. It features a 14” screen with a resolution of 1366x768, full qwerty keyboard and track pad,  and a webcam.
External IO includes:

  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x Ethernet (10/100)
  • 1 x Card reader
  • 1 x Headphone jack

The system is powered by a dual core Intel Celeron 847 clocked at 1.1 GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB solid state drive (SSD). Dual-band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 radios are included, but unlike other Chromebooks there is no cellular connectivity out of the box. Further, Google is providing 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free (for two years). HP estimates system battery life at 4.25 hours.

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook_angle.jpg

The Pavilion 14 Chromebook is available now on HP’s website for $329.99. That makes it one of the most expensive Chromebooks on the market. Chrome OS has come a long way, and even includes a minimal desktop. The hardware looks nice, but I would have liked to see a higher resolution display along with cellular modem for the price, however. It will be interesting to see how well the larger 14" form factor sells.

Source: Google

The Reviews Are In For Google's Latest Nexus 10 Tablet

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: tablet, nexus 10, jelly bean, google, android 4.2, Android

Reviews of Google’s latest Nexus 10 tablet are starting to pop up around the web, and the results are a bit mixed -- mostly positive with the price being its saving grace. The display and inclusion of Android 4.2 is nice, but will it dethrone the iPad? It's time to find out!

As a refresher, the Nexus 10 is 10” tablet powered by a dual core ARM Cortex-A15 system on a chip. On the outside, it has a 10.055” touchscreen display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 (300 ppi, 16:10), 5MP rear camera, and a 1.9MP webcam on the front of the tablet.

nexus10-1.png

External IO includes micro USB, micro HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Internally, the Nexus 10 features a dual core Samsung Exynos 5250 SoC clocked at 1.7GHz, a Mali T604 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage. A 9,000 mAh battery is also preset. Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC radios are also included. The new tablet is also running an updated version of Jelly Bean Google has dubbed Android 4.2.

The 16GB model is listed at $399 while the 32GB Nexus 10 is $499. Both models will be available on November 13th.

What do you think of the Nexus 10?

Reviews roundup:

There's more than one way to make money from Jelly Beans

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2012 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: asus, google, nexus 7, andriod, jelly bean

While many PC and component manufacturers are having a rough time in 2012, ASUS is not one.  Thanks to their wholehearted adoption of Android devices like the Nexus 7 they have seen their income from mobile devices jump from 7% of their revenue to 16%.  That total revenue also had significant growth, their profits are 43% higher than this quarter a year ago.  That growth rate is very impressive in the current economy and seems to refute many analyst's predictions that we are moving into a post PC market.  ASUS also has to thank their Transformer series as the paired tablet and keyboard device is proving quite popular and will be one of the main competitors to Microsoft's new Surface devices.  ASUS told The Register they plan to become the second largest seller of tablets and the largest retailer of touch devices.

P_500.jpg

"Asus to you and me - has pulled a surprise jump in profit out of the bag as its tablets make up for slow PC sales.

The Taiwanese firm reported its largest quarterly profit in more than four years, spurred by its partnership with Google on the Nexus 7 and the enduring popularity of its own-brand snap-on keyboard fondletops."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register