Gadgets

ICOO D70 Pro II review

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Usually you only find online reviews of tablets made by established and known companies. You read those reviews to decide which company deserves your hard earned money. A 500$ tablet is not always a good tablet as demonstrated by plenty of reviews, but could an 85$ one be good? To find out I decided to buy, test and review the D70Pro II from ICOO.

D70 Pro II review

The D70 Pro II is a 7-inch tablet running android 4.1.1 with access to the Google play store. The ICOO runs a clean version of Android with no custom launchers. It comes with a couple of additional apps, one for file browsing and another for watching videos.

Personally I own a MacBook Pro running Mountain Lion and Windows 7, a Toshiba Satellite that mainly acts as a home server running Windows 7, an iPad2 with iOS6, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running the latest Jelly bean 4.2.2. So I don’t think I am biased towards any company and hopefully my first review will be a good one.

Hardware

The ICOO’s case is entirely made of plastic, that’s expected from an 85$ tablet. The plastic’s quality is not great but it’s not bad either. I chose to buy a white version of the tablet so the back of the case is white but the screen bezel remained black.

ICOO D70 Pro II case

The edges of the tablet are rounded making it comfortable to hold in one hand. While holding the tablet you can feel where the front of the case meets the back of it but that’s not very annoying, you can consider it a feature that helps you grip it more easily.

The tablet weights 297 grams, around 10 grams less then the 329$ iPad mini, it’s also smaller at 182*113mm. The iPad mini is thinner though at 7.2mm compared to the 13mm of the ICOO.

The bezels on the ICOO are 1cm wide on all 4 sides, which gives you enough space to comfortably hold it without having to place your hand on the screen.

The D70 Pro II has 3 physical buttons, a power/sleep-wake, a volume up and volume down buttons. All 3 buttons are located on the top right side of the tablet. Clicking the buttons feels a little like clicking buttons on a 1990s TV, they register the clicks quickly but you don’t get the same feel you get on more expensive gadgets.

The right side of the tablet (bottom if you’re holding it vertically) contains 3 ports, a micro USB one, a micro HDMI one and a 3.5mm headphone jack. A Micro SD card slot is also present on this side enabling you to expand the tablet’s storage by 32GB.

D70 Pro II ports

Strangely the tablet comes with just a USB cable that can be used to charge it or transfer data to it. You have to use your PC or another phone/tablet charger to charge it. If you have more then one device at home that’s not really an issue since you probably have a lot of chargers lying around but if you only own one device it can get pretty annoying.

The tablet only sports a front 0.3MP camera on the front at the left of the screen (horizontally). The speaker sits behind the camera and produces a very mediocre sound quality.

Display

Don’t expect to find a retina display on the tablet. The display has a 552*1024 resolution, this gives us a pixel density of 160ppi, which is not really bad for the screen size. In comparison the iPad 2 has a pixel density of 132ppi while the iPad mini is really close with a 163ppi density.

ICOO D70 Pro II vs iPad 2

But what makes the display the major problem in this tablet is that color reproduction in it is really bad, colors are really washed out in whatever brightness setting you choose (there’s only 2) and viewing angles are really narrow. You never feel like you can find an angle in whish all the colors are correctly reproduced so you always have to keep moving the tablet in order to view images and text on different areas of the screen. So don’t think you’ll be able to line up as many friends as you like to watch something on the tablet.

Performance and battery life

The ICOO D70 Pro II is running a dual-core 1.6GHz CPU with 1GB of RAM, AnTuTu Benchmark v3.3 gives out a 11494 score for the tablet.

benchmark antutu icoo d70 pro2

These numbers make the tablet a pretty fast one. Apps are up and running within a second and when it comes to general web surfing tasks the ICOO easily kept up with your taps and swipes. So, performance is good, but battery life is really bad! Charging the device takes a lot of time while emptying is really fast! During every day usage it lasts around 3 hours but watching something on it will empty the battery in 2 hours max. Standby time is around 24 hours. In addition to this the tablet has a weird battery saving technique, it just turns off the Wi-Fi when the screen is off so don’t expect it to beep when you get an email, instead expect to receive a 100 notification when you unlock it.

Camera

As mentioned earlier the ICOO has only one front 0.3MP camera that can be used for video chatting, the quality of this camera is really crappy as shown in the picture bellow.

kr

Accessories

No you won’t find a smart cover for the ICOO D7o Pro II. I don’t think you’ll be able to find any cover for it actually, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a few accessories you should buy for it. First thing to buy is a USB charger in case you don’t happen to have an extra one lying around. The second charging related accessory to buy in my opinion is a long USB cable (I got a 3 meters one). As you previously read, the battery life on this tablet is really bad so having a long cable will give you a little more freedom to move around while charging it. The ICOO D70 Pro II accepts micro SD cards so in case the 8GB of included space is not enough for you, get more storage space for it. The tablet can also use the micro USB port for expansion. If you need to plug a keyboard, 3G dongle or an external HDD to it, get a Micro 5pin to USB Female OTG Data Cable. Finally in case you want to mirror the tablet’s display on your TV get an HDMI mini to HDMI adaptor.

ipad 2 nokia lumi 920 iphone 4s icoo d70 pro

Wrap-up

The ICOO D70 Pro II is an interesting Tablet. It’s fast but has poor battery life; it allows you to play the newest games on android but on a low quality screen.

Should you buy it? Only if it will not be your only media consumption device. It’s OK for quickly checking emails or Facebook but it cannot be a laptop or even an iPad replacement. If you have kids it can be a great cheap first tablet for them and that’s the only scenario in which I would recommend the tablet. For other usages check out other 7inch tablets some of them cost 3 times as much but the battery will last you all day and you’ll be able to comfortably read books, watch videos or just surf the web using them.

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 3.46.35 PM

 

Drive a 7-Segment LED with an Arduino

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Last week I took a day off work and started experimenting with Arduino. Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform that enables anyone to create interactive objects. During the week I started doing basic stuff using simple components such as blinking LEDs and playing tunes with a buzzer, and yesterday I experimented with multiple LEDs. After that I wanted to try and do something with a 7-Segment LED display so I found this tutorial that enabled me to make the circuit and learn the code that should drive the display.

Unfortunately the provided code did not work and I had to modify a lot of parts to finally get the display to work. I had to invert the “HIGH” and “LOW” params in all the function calls and change the way the constants are defined in the beginning.

I can’t really explain to you why there is such a difference between my working code and the code provided in the article I based myself on since I’m still a beginner. I might be using a different display and a different version of the IDE. When I’m advanced enough to figure that out I’ll make sure to update the article. If you can explain the reason to me please do so in the comments.

Here’s the updated code, I also created an additional function that plays a little “snake” animation on the display. (more…)

The iPad

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apple ipad

People are excited to get an iPad but I can’t really see a reason to buy one, specially not for 999$ from Lebanon. The only time I wish I had one is when I am going to the bathroom since it has a bigger screen then my HTC Hero so it would be easier to browse the web on it. I don’t think I’ll ever use it to watch videos or just browse the net from anywhere else. Any laptop or notebook would be better at that in my opinion.

Microsoft Surface postponed

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You might have heard of Microsoft Surface last year, it’s a touch screen table that can simplify many of you daily task, from transferring photos from your camera to your PC or ordering a drink at a pub. Engadget is reporting today that the official launch of the Surface was postponed by Microsoft because they have to write a lot of applications for it depending on the customers needs.

In case you haven’t seen the table in action before here is a short clip about it, you can also search YouTube for more detailed previews of the Surface.

Ipod Touch prices in Lebanon

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The New Ipod Touch

I sent a mail to the Apple dealers in Lebanon on Friday asking them if the Ipod Touch is currently available in Lebanon and how much does it cost so they replied to me today saying it will be available in Lebanon this week so here are the prices from Interlink SAL:

8GB: 395$+TVA
16GB: 525$+TVA

The Touch in Lebanon is a little expensive compared to the prices in the US (300$ and 400$) so I guess buying it online and shipping it to Lebanon will be cheaper. But the warranty will not work in Lebanon if you get it from the US so I guess each person should decide if they should take the risk and ship it or pay more and buy it from Lebanon.

Microsoft’s new Zunes

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Microsoft new Zunes

Today Microsoft introduced the new Zunes MP3 Players, The new series includes Flash Based ones and HDD based one having 4, 8 and 80GB of storage.

What’s great about the new ones is the features Microsoft introduced that are apparently appreciated by everyone! Microsoft Fans got the offensive back on Digg, Endgadget and other sites, and are now “attacking” Apple Fans for the lack of features in the devices Apple offers! The fact that Microsoft is giving all the owners of old Zunes the chance to upgrade to the latest software and have old ones running the same software as the new ones also gave Microsoft a great boost!

More info about the latest Zunes Here.

Ipod Touch vs SE W960

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Ipod TouchSony Ericsson W960Before Steeve Jobs announced the launch of the Ipod Touch I was going to get the SE W960, now I am lost!

The Ipod Touch is an Ipod with more features, The SE W960 is a phone with more features.
BUT apparently the SE is going to have a very high price while the Ipod is at 300$ so I could get the Ipod for music and WiFi and keep my phone for calling and taking some photos.

I contacted Interlink (Apple dealers) and they told me the Ipod touch will be here in 4 weeks, The SE dealers told me the W960 will be here at the end of October so I still have time to decide but I think that what will affect my final decision is the price of the SE, if it’s under 600$ I might get it, if not I will be getting the Ipod and maybe a new cell because this one is getting old (but its still good so I might just keep it)

The New Ipod Touch

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Steve Jobs introduced today the new Ipod Touch.

Apple New Ipod Touch

The speculation preceding the launch were true (kind of) the new Ipod is an Iphone minus the phone (Wifi, touch screen interface…) but they didn’t replacee the Ipod with it, they just added it to the collection, a good move in my opinion.

Apple New Ipod Touch

That’s not it, the whole Ipod lineup was updated with new features and designs and you can now (finally) buy music directly from your Ipod Touch or Iphone.

Apple New Ipod Touch

For more info about the new products check out Macworld.

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