The Samsung Galaxy S II is a serious smartphone. It has everything, at least on paper. But just because a phone comes fitted with the latest version of the Android operating system, a dual core processor and a size of screen you could you could pop on stand in the corner of your living room, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually performs as well as it should. Fortunately, this is a handset that does deliver on just about every front and having lived with it, slept with it, eaten our breakfast and brushed our teeth with it, these are the results of its full review according to the benchmark establishment that is the Pocket-lint labs.

On the looks and feels front, there’s only one way to describe the Samsung Galaxy S II: it’s a grower. On first inspection, it is a bit of a slab – a very thin, very light slab, granted but a slab none the less. It’s large, it’s flat, it’s very black and all that you notice when you look face-on is the Samsung logo at the top, the 2-megapixel front facing camera to the left and the metal encircled, push-in home key at the bottom. It’s almost as if Samsung only bothered rounding off the corners to make sure nobody started suing with head injuries. It has an entirely inoffensive aesthetic design but it doesn’t scream out “I am the best smartphone on the planet”. In some way we rather wished it did in order to extract anticipated oohs and aahs from our jealous friends and colleagues. That may sound stupid but when you spend top dollar on a top device, it’s a little disappointing when nobody else is impressed.

However, get the thing into someone’s hand and you’ll watch their expression change. The two almost guaranteed responses are either “wow, that is thin” or “that is really light”. Either way, you’ll finally get that inner glow and social affirmation that you were hoping for when you choose this phone. It is thin. Seriously thin; 8.49mm thin, as a matter of fact, which is less than the width of a CD case, around the same as 80 sheets of copier paper stacked up and not a lot longer than the length of a typical red ant, and it is all the better as a smartphone for it. In fact, you soon realise that it makes no difference how big the front face of a phone is. It’s that thickness that counts when it comes to stuffing the thing into your pocket. Combine that with the super-light (for a smartphone) mass of 116g – approximately the weight of 20 british 20 pence pieces – and it’s quite easy to forget that you’re carrying the device around altogether.

At the same time, it’s also rather sturdy. It’s not single machine piece of metal sturdy but there is certainly no creaks or play when you give it a shake and a twist. In fact, given that the unibody boasts of the likes of HTC are getting a little less classy as each handset comes out, the look and feel of the Samsung Galaxy S II and its bit of metal here and section of plastic there are certainly in the same league. Yes, the back cover is of the flimsy kind that seems all too popular these days, but the texturing is nice enough and it sits on just fine as well, and, all in all the minimalist design of the handset is actually really good all the way down to the slight reverse chin at the back on the bottom – as seen on the original Samsung Galaxy S. It’s no work of art, but you’ll quickly appreciate it’s understated solemnity and almost quite enjoy it when people don’t recognise the mighty power that lies within.

Probably the only design gripe for the body would be the fact that the on/off/sleep/wake button (all the same one on the right side of the phone) sits exactly opposite the volume rocker which means you end up squeezing both quite often when you’re only trying to hit the one. To be fair, it never caused a disaster, dropped call or accidentally discarded e-mail but the worry was and is there none the less.

Read my full review on The Review Corner.

— Samsung Galaxy S II

In a decade, Mac OS X evolved from a curious hybrid of the classic Mac OS and the NextStep operating system to a mainstream computer operating system used by millions. It was a decade of continual refinement, capped by the bug-fixing, internals-tweaking release of Snow Leopard in 2009.

But the last four years have seen some dramatic changes at Apple. In that time, while Mac sales have continued to grow, Apple has also built an entirely new business around mobile devices that run iOS. Combine the influx of new Mac users with the popularity of the iPhone and iPad, and you get Lion.

Can Apple make OS X friendly for people buying their first Macs and familiar to those coming to the Mac from the iPhone, while keeping Mac veterans happy? That would be a neat trick—and Apple has tried very hard to pull it off.

(Before you read any further, you need to know that Lion isn’t right for one particular group of users: If you’re using an early Intel Mac powered by a Core Solo or Core Duo processor, you can’t run it. And if you rely on PowerPC-based apps that run on Intel Macs using the Rosetta code-translation technology, they won’t run in Lion.)

Even before you boot into Lion for the first time, you’ll feel just how different it is from previous versions of Mac OS X. That’s because Apple has decided to release the upgrade primarily as a $30 download from the Mac App Store. After a 3.5GB download, there’s a new Install Lion app in your Dock and Applications folder. Double-click that, and the installation begins.

Back in the day, getting an OS X upgrade involved going to a store or ordering online and getting an optical disc. With the release of Lion, Mac users can get near-instant gratification. And the $30 price is remarkable—in the past Apple would’ve charged $129 for an upgrade of this scale.

However, relying on downloading alone for an OS release has its drawbacks. While the experience is clean and simple for the most common installation scenarios, things can get weird if yours isn’t one of them. What if you have a really slow Internet connection or low bandwidth cap? Downloading 4GB of data could be painful. What if you aren’t running Snow Leopard, which is required for the Mac App Store? What happens if your drive crashes and you have to reinstall Lion onto a new, blank hard drive?

Apple has answers to many of these questions, but the rules of the game have definitely changed. Company executives told MacWorld that users without access to a high-speed connection will be able to bring their Macs to an Apple Store for help in buying and installing Lion. And despite all the talk about Lion being available only via the Mac App Store, the company plans to release a $69 version of Lion on a USB stick in August.

Read my full review on The Review Corner.

— Mac OS X Lion

Known by many as the “Simon Cowell of young entrepreneurship,” Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and small business writer.

In his new book, Never Get a “Real” Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke, Gerber teaches young people how to build income-generating businesses from the ground up without any investment dollars or resources.

A lot of business books hold your hand, make you feel good, and are set to convince you that your passion and “unique” business idea are enough to plow through your competition, garner new leads, and make millions just because you can write a business plan that says so.

This is not that kind of book.

A twenty-something hustler, rainmaker and bootstrapper who has survived and thrived despite never having held the proverbial “real” job, Scott Gerber is the ultimate “Generation Y-er.” A self-taught serial entrepreneur, Gerber has built several successful businesses without storied business connections, a business school background, executive training — or investment dollars. And in Never Get a “Real” Job, he shows you how he succeeded so you can overcome today’s chronic conditions of mass unemployment, underemployment, and dead-end 9-to-5s.

Read my full review on The Review Corner.

— Never Get a “Real” Job

From the front it follows the same unimaginative build of other dual-core Android handsets including the Motorola Atrix and LG Optimus 2X. But turn it over and it’s classic HTC, this time with striking three-tone aluminium back. It feels incredibly well built and solid, certainly what you’d expect from HTC and of a premium product. The metal is a world away from the cheap plastic back of the Samsung Galaxy S.

Connections include micro USB for charging and a 3.5mm jack. You also get DLNA for wireless streaming, Bluetooth 3.0 and can use your phone for tethering. Storage comprises of 1GB internal and comes bundled with an 8GB microSD card. Instead of a dedicated HDMI, to hook the phone up to HD TV you need to invest the HTC Sensation MHL Cable.

Press the power button and the phone launches within seconds. The HTC Sensation runs Android 2.3.3 out of the box, but what will make HTC fans excited is the latest version of HTC Sense V 3.0 looks very different. The home screens are now 3D and you can (finally) scroll 360 degrees through. Flick through quickly and the carousel minimises. It’s a little tweak but feels more intuitive, as well as looking slicker.

The lock screen is active now; launch an application by dragging the icon onto the circular lock icon. By default it’s Phone, Mail, Camera and Messages, but you can choose four of your own favourites. Elsewhere HTC has updated the weather widget; you get a cool 3D effect of rain coming towards you.

While I love HTC Sense, there are some aspects that still niggle. Creating folders is still harder than it should be; you need to create one first them drag content into it.

 

Read my full review on The Review Corner.

— HTC Sensation

As Google’s Android is an open mobile platform, stock applications and services can be replaced by 3rd party equivalents. As this is no different for soft keyboards, there are many replacements that fight for the title ‘best alternative keyboard on Android’, each bringing something unique to the table. Some of these replacements are for instance Swype, Better Keyboard, ThickButtons and Slide Keyboard. A more recent addition to this pack is the SwiftKey Android replacement keyboard.

SwiftKey is different by doing something most keyboards do, but better: word prediction. As the developers call it, ‘Intelligent Prediction’ makes use of a custom built engine dubbed ‘Fluency’. With ‘fluency’, SwiftKey is able to remember and learn from your previous writing pattern and then adjust its prediction based on this. SwiftKey is even able to learn from previous SMS conversations, providing new users with a flying start.

Even without this feature the SwiftKey prediction is not only restricted to a word when typing, but is able to predict a word even before typing has started. Even though not always correct at first, it is a unique feature with a lot of potential.

Read my full review on The Review Corner.

 

— SwiftKey

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