Is Google’s Nexus 4 the best Android handset ever?
It’s been two years since I’ve roamed the Android realm. My first Android phone was the HTC G2. The G2 was a stock-ish Android experience, running 2.2 Froyo. It had a few things going for it to me at the time. It had a full QWERTY keyboard, which is something I’ve wanted since the Sidekick days, it was much speedier than my first generation iPhone, and it allowed me to try something new in Android. Back in the Froyo/Gingerbread days, Android was not the wicked speed demon it has become today. Scrolling was not smooth, the stock browser was a joke, the app selection was anemic, and the industrial design of many of their phones left a lot to be desired. The skinning situation was a lot worse. HTC threw us a bone with the G2 and G2X, but most of their devices came riddled with their Sense bloat ware and Samsung was at their peak of their iPhone biting ways. Android really had one thing going for it, customization. The G2 was like having a jail broken iPhone on steroids. I could download things to my device, manage files, completely redesign the interface, it was really like having a portable computer in my hand. I’m not a huge tweaker, but am also not the simpleton that waltzes into an Apple store looking for an upgrade to my flip phone. I appreciated the Android system, but I knew it wasn’t ready yet. Now after a return to Apple for a year with the 4S, I’m ready to abandon Apple again. Welcome, the Nexus 4.
“Jazzy Sleek” an apt description for the Nexus 4′s design.
The Nexus 4 is by far the best Android device I’d ever interacted with. It’s lightening fast, feels great in the hand –unless you’ve got baby sized hands– and being a Nexus device, runs stock Android Jelly Bean 4.2. The Nexus 4 represents a massive change for Google as far as industrial design goes. This device is crafted from glass and feels much more premium than previous Nexus devices. The shimmering pattern on the back is a nice touch and not nearly as obnoxious as it may have seemed in PR images. You can only really see the pattern at a certain angle and when you do it’s a nice sight. The device is a bit wide, which may make it slightly difficult for one hand usage, but it’s surprisingly light. It delivers that similar “oh wow” effect that the iPhone 5 does, you pick it up expecting something a bit heftier and your delightfully surprised to have such a featherweight resting in your palm. With Jelly Bean android has fully arrived. Many have made the case for Android being the best mobile operating system before, but now they actually have a leg to stand on. Jelly Bean is just as smooth as iOS, while packing more customization options granting users the ability to craft their own unique user experience. The main advantage I feel with Android is the inclusion of glance able information. Android’s ability to constantly feed you information at every possible corner of the OS makes it feel like it’s a living breathing system. It’s a powerful and robust mobile OS designed around the future generation of computer users. iOS may be painfully simple, but Android definitely packs a bigger punch.
With 4.2 Jelly Bean, Android has finally arrived.
You feel like the OS is working with you to make your day easier. iOS has been marked by this feeling of sterilization, the OS is stagnant and lifeless. This is merely because of its lack of widgets and a more robust notification setup. Android’s notification tray is awesome, providing much more information and the ability to swipe away individual notifications. Multitasking is also super simple. There’s an icon that when tapped provides an actually look of the app in its current state, again a sign of glanceable information. In iOS it takes three taps to swap apps, here only two. May not seem like that big a deal, but it is. Finger gestures are also implemented much better. Apple really took charge of gestures on Mac OSX, but it hasn’t really transferred to iOS. Jelly Bean 4.2 has two really awesome ones, the two finger down quick-setting one and the single thumb scroll wheel in the photo app. Both are fucking awesome. Having to go back to the home screen in iOS just to change a wifi setting is annoying, being able to scroll down anywhere in the OS is so helpful. The camera one seems so painfully obvious, but somehow no one has done it. If you hold your thumb on any section of the screen you get a little scroll wheel with options for HDR, Flash, Exposure, IQ, and WB. The camera is solid, definitely ain’t iPhone 5 quality, but it doesn’t suck. The stitching in panorama mode needs work, definitely behind iOS in terms of quality. I haven’t really got to delve into photosphere. Like most things Google launches, it’s still in beta, but the potential is certainly there.
Skynet is here and it’s new name is Google Now.
One thing that sort of in beta, but is constantly being polished is Google Now. Google Now represents many things, but the most important thing is that Skynet is very real and its parading around under the moniker of Google. Google Now reads your emails, tracks your location, and feeds you information based on your apparent needs. It’s fucking awesome. I wish I had a bit more control over it. It’s a little wild now in the sense that it thinks completely on its own and you can’t really direct it much. You kinda have to let it guess for a bit before you can get the option to tweak it a little.
Google’s search is still second to none.
It’s a minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless. Voice recognition is stellar for the most part, better than Apple’s. It seems like Google’s system has a little more cultural capital, understanding the more obscure references that you can throw at it. All these things lead to a more enjoyable user experience that I can say with confidence is industry leading.
The future, however, is very bright for iOS. Scott Forstall is out and taking his place is Steve Job’s right hand man, Jony Ive. Ive has been the second most important person at Apple since its resurgence in the late 90s. Ive is the mind behind all these glorious hardware creations Apple has kicked out in the past 15 years. He and Jobs very much saw eye to eye when it came to industrial design and together they took the desktop and mobile computing world to new heights with their drool-worthy hardware creations. Ive will be trying his hand at software now and things should really begin to liven up by iOS 8. People are arguing “well he’s a hardware guy, what does he know?!” My response would be 1) Watch your mouth. 2) The man has been surrounded by software genius and is an amazing designer…he’ll figure it out. I expect a full visual overhaul of the OS and how people interact with it, skuenomorphism is out, minimalism is in. Apple needs to do something to bring life to the OS, it needs to make more use of the additional .5 inches of screen real estate on the iPhone. The OS has to empower the user instead of solely depending on apps to do so. You can soar through Android, easily jumping from app to app and from one part of the OS to another. Navigating iOS feels like doing a 180 turn in a narrow driveway, it lacks fluidity. Apple’s big advantage is its industrial design and its App Store. Both are second to none, but I’m not sure Apple can expect that to be the case for another five years. Innovation must be a constant, Jobs knew that, but does the new regime?
It’s been five long years since Master Chief has stormed across our televisions hell bent on saving the world, but he’s back…with a vengeance. Halo 4 is the first 343i developed Halo game and to my surprise, it may be the best Halo game ever. What 343i nails is the pace of combat. Part of Halo Reach’s issue is that the game felt a bit slow compared to more modern offerings. Halo has always been a bit of a thinking man’s shooter, but often times in Reach you felt like you were trudging through molasses. Not the case with Halo 4, Chief is faster, sharper, and stronger than ever. 343i doesn’t radically reinvent the wheel here, but they really didn’t have to. They have made necessary improvements and added a wealth of new content that should satisfy old fans and invite a whole bevy to the party. The game looks way better than it ever has –finally has a proper lighting engine– and the sound design rivals any major Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s start off with my favorite aspect of Halo…multiplayer. View full post »
I know I’ve been gone for a while, but I’m back now, and this time for good. I’m relaunching this blog site and its heading in a new direction. It was once reserved for gear posts and news announcements, but not anymore. There are a myriad of guys that do that way better than I (they’re listed down to the right of this post) and I figure I could add something different to the mix. This site will turn into my ideas hub. It’ll be a place or us to discuss news and content from a myriad of different industries that I follow closely. The first and most prominent will be the film industry. Second will be the photography industry. Third will be the video game industry. Consumer technology kind of weaves in and out of those three and there will be plenty of that as well.
I’ve gone with a new minimalist design. I kinda like it. A lot of other blog sites have all these intricate little sections and what not. Some pull it off well, most just feel cluttered. I’m absolute shit at website customization, even when I have something like ProPhoto helping me out. I’m keeping this site nice and simple: content, social links, comments. Done. I’m going to do a few photo posts, don’t know if I can commit to a PoTD, but I’ll try. Most of my legit work will remain at RomanMF.com, but I’ll make sure to drop a note when some new stuff goes up.
My portfolio site hosted by 4ormat.
I also cannot lie and say there will never be ads on this site, but I can promise that if the time does come that I want to give some of my boys like Jag35 a shout out, it won’t be egregious. I still believe in one of the fundamental aspects of the now dead DSLR revolution which was community and helping each other out. I happen to know some of these folks running these camera gear/educational companies. If there’s anything I can do to help I will certainly do so.
I hope to bring exciting editorial style pieces to you guys for you to enjoy, share, and most importantly contribute to. This is not an online lecture hall, I welcome responses especially those that do not always agree with my sentiments. I hope I can grow as a blogger, photographer, filmmaker, and friend with you all. Welcome to Life Through the Viewfinder 2.0.
Dead sexy… right?
Jared Abrams has been proclaiming the above for a little while now. It’s hard to argue against him, just about two years ago Timelapse photography started taking the community by storm. Everyone wanted to be the next Tom Lowe & Shawn Reeder. Thanks Eric Kessler and his ridiculously intelligent team at Kessler Crane, people were able to get in an experiment with Timelapse at an affordable price. Mike Sutton of RULE Boston Camera
and the folks at FASTEC are gearing up to do the same thing with the TS3Cine. With the ability to capture up to 720 frames per second, the TS3Cine is a beast. High speed in the palm of your hand, this camera is gearing up to make some serious waves.
Built like a TANK
Solid chunk of metal in the palm of your hand.
Many people use the above descriptions to describe cameras like the 1DX and Nikon D4, but neither of those compare to the TS3Cine. This thing is a piece of metal molded to the human hand. It’s got serious heft, but isn’t too heavy you can’t carry it around with you all day. It’s solid and feels like it can take a serious beating. It has this grated cage like pattern on the front adding some edginess to its highly utilitarian design. It’s a really smart design because it’s reminiscent of a DSLR and offers a lot of the benefits those cameras have. Shooters will feel at home when they pick up the TS3Cine and notices that buttons are where they should be. The guys at FASTEC are known for their scientific cameras, which usually leave a lot to be desired, but that’s certainly not the case here.
A massive 7" screen resides on the back of the TS3Cine.
The screen on the TS3Cine is kind of a mix bag. Upon initial review I was marveled by it. It’s like an iPad with a lens mount on the back. The screen is just ginormous at 7″. The touch controls weren’t fully active during my time, but it will be with the next firmware. The TS3Cine still leaves a little room for hardware controls, directional pad, set button, arm and record buttons, and of course and off button. Where the screen does let down a bit is in visual performance. Its certainly not representative of the actual quality of the footage. Our problems with contrast and brightness certainly were compounded by the lack of a hood for the monitor, but overall the display can be a bit better.
Jason Diamond & Mike Sutton setting up a shot on the TS3Cine in NYC!
The TS3Cine is going to be a big deal for a multitude of reasons. For one it’s affordable, at least in comparison to its bigger brothers (Phantom Flex and HD Gold). It’s extremely compact and light. You don’t need a whole crew to monitor this bad boy. It’s so simple to operate and through out our whole day with the unit we didn’t encounter a single glitch. The image quality is lovely and the camera has the ability to record Cinema DNG RAW, Tiff Stacks, JPEG Stacks, and AVI. The battery life is awesome, garnishing about four hours on a single battery. The batteries are beefy, but you should have no issue making it through a full day with two or three of these bad boys. It’s a work horse of a camera. Companies like ESPN, UFC, and Discovery have been waiting for a camera like this. Instead of only having say two Phantom Flex’s they can have six of these, or maybe one Flex and 3 of these. Rigging these cameras is sure to be much easier and productions won’t blink an eye at using them as crash cameras. Nascar, Formula 1, X Games, I mean the list goes on and on. It’s not a GoPro killer and it’s not a Phantom Flex killer, it is it’s own thing and fills a very large gap in the high speed arena. Mike and the team at RULE Boston Camera
saw the potential of this camera system and have worked very hard to get it into the hands of many of the top rental houses, sporting networks, and filmmakers. The next evolution in high speed photography is here and it’s the TS3Cine.
Check out a few other images from the day’s shoot!
500px is taking the online photo sharing community by storm!
I’ve been gone for too long my friends, but I am back to tell you all about a site that has dominated my browser for the last few months. The site I want to talk to you about is called 500px. 500px is a photo sharing website which has attracted AAA photographers from all walks of life, due to its simplistic sharing design, feature set, and incredible image quality. The first thing you notice as you arrive to 500px land from FlickRville is how cleaner images look on 500px. They just pop off your screen. 500px combines their image quality with a like it/dislike it image rating scale, which almost ensures that great images always rise to the top. Though as of right now, most images you find in the popular section feature foreign women with very large breasts. I can only complain so much about that one.
I’ve slowly been adding images to my collection and toying with the idea of ditching FlickR and 4ormat.com entirely to build my online portfolio on 500px. For $50 dollars a year you can become AWESOME which gives you access to unlimited uploads, multi page portfolio layouts, google analytics, ad free pages, custom domain and much more. It’s a great value in comparison to other portfolio based websites.
Ioana adds another great image to her astonishing 500px collection.
However, my favorite part of 500px is looking at the marvelous artwork of my fellow photographers. Surfing through 500px can be a very painful experience. Every image seems to be crafted by imaging gods. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “bad” photo on the site. 500px is full of some of the best images covering a range of different subject matter. Though “Nudes” may dominate the Popular section of photos, the Editor’s choice section features some of the most astounding photographs from the wild life, landscape, and portraiture arenas I’ve ever seen. A great feature is the ability to buy high quality prints at a variety of sizes and canvas style.
A lot of people have been shouting from the rooftops about how FlickR is going the way of VHS, I’m not exactly on that bandwagon, but I’m reaching to jump on it. With 500px taking off and Google+ luring people like Trey Ratcliff to their yard, FlickR seems to be in need of a refresh. Will they refresh it? Only time will tell.
P.S Check out my 500px photo collection here!
P.P.S: $10 off your 500px AWESOME upgrade with the promo code “FRIENDS” Can’t say I never did anything for ya!