Sunday, December 14, 2014

Firefox Hello Review

Say hello to “Firefox Hello” – you’re probably wondering what the heck is Firefox Hello. Mozilla upgrades their Firefox internet browser approximately once every six weeks. The latest on upgrade, Firefox 34, was released on December 1, 2014. This stable rapid release included a few new features, including several improvements and bug fixes.

One of the new features that Mozilla introduced with Firefox 34 was Firefox Hello. It is a WebRTC-based online communication service that allows users to voice and video chat with others using a WebRTC-enabled browsers. WebRTC, also known as, Web Real-Time Communication, is a Application Programming Interface (API) that enables voice and video communication from browser to browser.

One major benefit of using WebRTC is that you don’t need any additional third-party software to be downloaded, or plug-in to be installed. Furthermore, you don’t need to have an account to use Firefox Hello. The other advantage is that you can use Firefox Hello with other WebRTC-enabled browsers like Google Chrome and Opera. This online chat service is being offered via the OpenTok platform.

How to Use Firefox Hello?

Firefox Hello is quite simple to use. In order to start initiate communication with another party, you need to click the Firefox Hello (FH) button, which you will find in your toolbar. Once you click the FH button, it will generate a unique URL (or web link). You will then have to copy/paste this link into your browser address bar, and email the link to the person whom you wish to communicate with.

When the person clicks on the unique link, they will get a “Conversation Request” box with options to start communicating with you. It provides option to either voice and/or video chat. If you don’t see the FH button on your toolbar, check the section below to learn how to activate and set up Firefox Hello. You can check the video below to see how to use Firefox Hello to communicate with your friends and family.

Pros and Cons of Using Firefox Hello

Personally, I’ve used several types of online voice and video communication services. The one I use most frequently is Skype. However, with Skype, you need to ensure that both parties need to have the software downloaded and open a Skype account (or have a Hotmail/MSN email account). FH is still in Beta, so we can expect to see changes and improvements in the coming FF rapid release upgrades. 

The other good thing is that once the unique Firefox URL is generated, you can use that link specifically for certain people like your family, work or specific individuals. In the upcoming upgrades, we will be able to customize the URL and give it specific or recognizable names that make it easier to remember. 

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to have an account to use Firefox Hello, however, if you have a choice to open an account, one benefit of doing so is that you can create a contact list which makes it easier to communicate with others who are using Firefox. Unlike Skype, FH doesn’t support communicating with multiple people or have a group chat simultaneously. 

Also, unlike Skype, Firefox Hello doesn’t have the share-screen feature that allows you to share your screen with the party you’re communicating with.

How to Activate and Set up Firefox Hello?

If you’ve already upgrade to the latest version FF34 and you can’t find the Firefox Hello button on your toolbar, then look for it in the Customize mode. If you still can’t find it, you will have to change your Firefox preferences. Specifically change the value in “loop.throttled” preference from “True” to “False”. When I first upgrade to FF34, I didn’t have the FH button on my toolbar nor in the Customize mode. You can check the video below to learn how to activate Firefox Hello.

Have you used Firefox Hello? If so, feel free to share your comments and feedback about this new online communication service introduced by Mozilla.

In 2014, Mozilla introduced many new features, made several improvements, and increased overall browser performance to their Firefox web browser. You can check my full Firefox 34 Review.

Credits: Firefox logos and screenshots used under Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

2014 Holiday Specials for Tech Lovers

With the 2014 Holiday shopping season well under way, retailers have been busy slashing prices on many popular technology items like tablets, laptops, cameras, smartphones, and much more. All these best selling technology products and gadgets features here are available at Amazon and can be purchased directly at their secure website.

Below you will find many of these products with special discounts for the Holiday season, but also look out for discounted prices on specific days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is a limited time offer from Amazon starting November 27 and ending December 1, 2014.

The Amazon Fire HD Tablet has been one of the best selling tablets in 2014, even with top tablets like the Apple iPad and other Popular Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy in the market. One of the main reasons for the popularity of the Fire HD tablets is the competitive price factor.

For example, the Amazon Fire HD 7-inch tablet generally priced at $139, is being offered at a special price of $109. It is equipped with a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor, front and rear-facing cameras, single band Wi-Fi, comes in 8 GB or 16 GB memory storage options, and has a 8-hour battery life.

Also, the new Fire HDX tablet which is regularly priced at $199, is being offered at a special price of $179. It is equipped with a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, front facing HD camera, dual band Wi-Fi as well as 4G capability, and comes in 8 GB or 16 GB memory storage options. The battery life is approximately 11 hours of mixed use.

Amazon has great Black Friday deals on digital and video cameras. For example, the Canon EOS Rebel T5i Digital SLR (with 18-55mm STM Lens) camera regularly priced at $849 is now available on special for $649.

The Canon EOS Rebel T5i which is the new flagship product of the Rebel line, is an 18 MP camera with a continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps. It has a 3-inch LCD touch screen with Full HD Movie mode and built-in stereo microphone. It is equipped with the EyeFi wireless communication technology.

The GoPro HERO4 camera is on special as well. The GoPro HERO4 (silver) Holiday Bundle which is regularly priced around $530 is available at a discounted price of $399.99. This popular extreme action HD video camera bundle comes with the GoPro HERO4 (silver) camera, a SanDisk Extreme 32GB UHS-I/U3 Micro SDHC memory card, GoPro Headstrap Mount and Quick clip, Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Dual Charger, and the Bobber - floating hand grip.

You will also find many good deals on computers, including ultrabooks, of different brands like Toshiba, Lenovo, ASUS, Apple, Dell, HP, Acer and others.

For example, this 13-inch touch screen Acer Aspire S7-392-9890 ultrabook regularly priced at $1,600 is now available at a special price of $1,235. This Acer ultrabook is equipped with an Intel Core i7-4500U 1.8 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB solid state storage. It comes installed with Windows 8 and has a 7-hour battery life.

Another ultrabook at a great discount is the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 36984SU. This popular ultrabook is regularly priced at $2,179 and is now being offered for $1,293. It has a 11.6-inch detachable touch screen and is equipped with a 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB solid state storage. It comes installed with Windows 8 Pro and has an approximate 5.6-hour battery life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S5

The iPhone 6 Plus is one of Apple's newest iPhone which is the successor to the iPhone 5S. It was unveiled on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. These newest iPhone smartphones were released in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, France, and Puerto Rico on September 19, 2014.

According to reports from Apple, they hit a record 4 million iPhone units in the first 24 hours in pre-order sales. On September 26, 2014, the new iPhones will be available in 20 more countries like Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Portugal, UAE, and others.

In a separate article, I compared the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus vs iPhone 5S. In this article, I will compare the iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S5. Let’s see how these two giants stack up:

Operating System: the iPhone 6 Plus runs on Apple's brand new iOS 8 operating system. Apple has made some significant improvements in this new mobile operating system like improved notifications and search functionality. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S5 runs on Google's Android KitKat 4.4 operating system with the TouchWiz user-interface. Comparing these two different operating systems is a matter of choice.

Processor: the Samsung Galaxy S5 comes equipped with a powerful quad-core 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor compared to Apple's dual-core 2.0 GHz Apple A8 processor alongside with an M8 motion co-processor in the iPhone 6 Plus. Generally speaking, based on research, quad-core processors are better for multi-tasking, whereas a dual-core coupled with an M8 is expected to perform faster. Also, bear in mind that the new iPhones have 1 GB of RAM compared to the 2 GB RAM in the Galaxy S5.

Display & Screen Resolution: for the first time since the launch of the iPhone, Apple has introduced two sizes (4.7-inch and 5.5-inch). The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen LED-backlit IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution (401 ppi). the Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 pixels screen resolution (432 ppi). Both these displays are Full HD resolution, but the iPhone has a wider display giving users a slight edge on screen real estate. Though an important point to make is that the blacklit displays (in the iPhone) consume more battery life compared to AMOLED display in the Galaxy S5.

Memory & Storage: the iPhone 6 Plus comes in three memory storage models, 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB, whereas, the Samsun Galaxy S5 comes in two models, 16 GB and 32 GB. However, the Samsung Galaxy S5 also is equipped with a microSD slot (up to 128 GB) whereas the iPhone 6 is not. In terms of RAM, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 2 GB of RAM compared to 1 MB on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Size & Weight: The dimensions (WxHxD) of the Samsung Galaxy S5 are 2.85 x 5.59 x 0.32 inches as compared to 3.06 x 6.22 x 0.28 inches of the iPhone 6. As you can see, the iPhone 6 Plus is slightly larger and slimmer compared to the Galaxy S5. Therefore, the iPhone 6 Plus also weighs more (172 gms) compared to Galaxy S5 (145 gms).

Cameras: The Samsung Galaxy S5 is equipped with 16 MP rear camera which has better resolution compared to the 8 MP iSight camera in the iPhone 6 Plus. Also, the front-facing in the Galaxy S5 has higher resolution (2 MP) compared to that of the iPhone 6 Plus (1.2 MP). Both smartphones are capable of recording 1080p HD quality video.

Battery Life: The iPhone 6 Plus has a non-removable Li-Po 2915 mAh battery compared to the Li-Ion 2800 mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy S5. Based on preliminary tests, the iPhone seems to perform better when it comes to overall battery life compared to the Galaxy S5. The iPhone 6 Plus comes out with approximately 11.5 hours of battery life on Wi-Fi browsing compared to just over 10 hours on the Galaxy S5. In terms of 3G talk-time, the iPhone gives approximately 24 hours of battery life compared to 21 hours on the Galaxy S5.

Price Comparison: in the US the suggested retail price for the iPhone 6 Plus is $299 (16 GB model), $399 (64 GB model), and $499 (128 GB model) with a two-year contract. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is available as low at $79.99 (16 GB model) on Amazon.

Overall, as you can see, both, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Apple iPhone 6 Plus are top-of-the-line smartphones in their own respect. However, based on my opinion, overall the Samsung Galaxy S5 still has the edge, though the iPhone has a more premium look and feel to it. Check the video review below to see an in-depth comparison of Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple's iPhone 6 Plus which covers some other details like the operating systems, cameras, picture and video quality, and other specs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Apple Unveils New iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The much anticipated launch date of Apple’s new iPhone finally arrived today September 9, 2014. In fact, there were two new smartphone models unveiled: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Both these new Apple smartphones have bigger screens compared to their predecessor, the iPhone 5S, as well as a few new features which we will explore in a moment.

I attended the Apple event via live streaming and it went longer than I expected it, I guess because Apple also unveiled their new Apple iWatch. On this blog post, I will just focus on the new iPhone models that Apple unveiled and cover some of the key aspects or specifications. At the end of this blog post, you will find a comparison chart comparing the iPhone 5S vs the iPhone 6 vs the iPhone 6 Plus.

Operating System: the new iPhone models are equipped with Apple’s new iOS 8 operating system which Apple claims to be the “world’s most advanced mobile operating system”. This new mobile OS offers advanced functionality like using Siri to control devices at your home, as well as communicating directly with doctor via health and fitness apps using your iPhone. iOS8 will be available for download on Sept 17, 2014.

Processor: apart from the new operating system, Apple has introduced their new 64-bit A8 processor with an M8 co-processor. This is another upgrade from the iPhone 5S which came with the A7 processor and M7 co-processor. This is supposed to translate into 25% more CPU power while providing 50% more GPU muscle.

Display & Screen Resolution: the iPhone 6 comes with a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, while the iPhone 6 Plus comes with a 5.5-inch Retina HD display. It is an LED-backlit widescreen multi-touch display with IPS technology. Given that both the iPhones have larger screen sizes, their screen resolutions have changed: 750 × 1334 pixels (326 ppi) for the iPhone 6; and 1080 × 1920 pixels (401 ppi) for the iPhone 6 Plus, compared to the 640 × 1136 pixels (326 ppi) on the iPhone 5S.

Memory & Storage: besides the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB memory capacity models, the new iPhones will also come in a new 128GB model. I didn’t see any mention of RAM, so I’m assuming that there is no change to the 1GB RAM on the new Apple smartphones. Also, as usual, there is no microSD slot on the new iPhones.

Size & Weight: the new Apple smartphones are slimmer compared to the iPhone 5S. As Apple put it “iPhone at its largest and thinnest.” The dimensions (WxHxD) on the iPhone 6 are: 2.64 x 5.44 x 0.27 inches; and iPhone 6 Plus: 3.06 x 6.22 x 0.28 inches. Comparatively, the dimensions on the iPhone 5S were 2.31 x 4.87 x 0.30 inches. Basically, the thickness of the iPhone 6 is 6.9 mm, the iPhone 6 Plus is 7.1 mm, and the iPhone 5S was 7.6 mm.

Cameras: though the iSight camera still remains at 8MP, Apple claims that it is new and improved iSight camera. It has autofocus with Focus Pixels providing the camera sensor with more information about the image, thereby increasing the speed of the autofocus. Additionally, the 8MP camera will provide the option to capture video in 1080p Full HD resolution at 60fps (frames per second). Also, FaceTime comes improved face detection, as well as optical image stabilization for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Battery Life: the new iPhones come with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery providing improved battery life. The battery life on the iPhone 6 is expected to be up to 14 hours (3G talk time), and up to 24 hours (3G talk time) on the iPhone 6 Plus. Comparatively, the iPhone 5S has a battery life of 10 hours.

Wireless: the new iPhones will have improved wireless capability with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi compared to 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on the iPhone 5S. Also, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will have built in NFC (Near Field Communication) technology which is designed to work with the new ApplePay payment system (currently only available for the US market).

Besides the built-in apps, the iPhone will include free apps like iMovie, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iTunes U, GarageBand, Apple Store, Remote, Find My iPhone, and Find My Friends.

The new Apple iPhones will come in silver, gold, and space grey colours. The iPhone 6 is priced at $199 (16GB model), $299 (64GB model), and $399 (128GB model) with a two-year contract. And the iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $299 (16GB model), $399 (64GB model), and $499 (128GB model) with a two-year contract. Pre-orders of the new iPhones begin on Sept 12, 2014.

Overall, based on the above comparison of the two new iPhones smartphone models, looks like Apple has made some significant improvements. If you’ve always been an Apple fan, but wanted a bigger iPhone with a few more bells and whistles, then one of these new iPhones will surely fit the bill.

Below are is a specifications comparison chart for the iPhone 5S vs iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus:

Watch the video below for a first look at the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Apple to Announce New iPhone 6

The rumored launch of the new Apple iPhone smartphone, in September 2014, has created a lot of buzz online and among Apple fans. It has finally been confirmed, by Apple, that they will indeed be holding an event for the media, on September 9, 2014, at Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California.

It is rumored that the new Apple iPhone 6, among other new Apple products, will be unveiled at this event. There has been no confirmation on the specs of the new Apple smartphone, however, a lot of speculation and leaked photos of the new device have been floating around in the internet world.

Last September, Apple launched its iPhone 5S and 5C models with some new features like the new iOS 7 operating system, the new A7 dual-core 64-bit processor, and fingerprint recognition system. Globally, iPhone sales in 2014 were over 125 million units. I guess, we will have to wait and see what the actual specs are, but listed below I've provided a table with the comparison of the iPhone 5S with the new iPhone 6. I will update this chart once the actual specifications are released.

Comparison Chart iPhone 5S vs iPhone 6 Rumored Specifications

In the past few weeks, iPhone users have been using trade-in sites in anticipation of the new iPhone launch. Trade-ins of older model iPhones have been increasing because once the new iPhone 6 is launched the trade-in prices will not be as attractive. Amazon is one such site on which you can trade in your old iPhone. For example, an iPhone 5S (16GB) is trading-in as high as $394.

Below you check the video from CNET (Apple Byte) with rumored specs of the new iPhone 6: