Technology

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…)

My Electronics are Green

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Green Peace Guide to Greener Electronics

I was checking Greenpeace’s “Guide to greener electronics” and apparently the stuff I own are made by a bunch of green companies. My cell phone is a Sony Ericsson with 7.7/10, my laptop is a Toshiba with a 7/10 and the DVD player and surround system in my room are from LG with a 7/10 too. The other electronics in the house are mostly from green companies too so I am glad I have little negative on the environment!

Via Engadget 

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.

The Future?

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I just watched this weird Flash presentation predicting the future of computers, the internet and its user. The presentation is a mix of history and fiction starting in the 90s and ending in 2014 (I think fiction starts in 2004). What’s really weird is that this is actually currently happening and we are all helping turning this fiction into a reality.

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.

Israel produces 1TB discs

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While we were busy fighting over who gets more seats in the government and making every person with some brains leave this country, Israeli scientist managed to create a 1TB disc that has the same size of a regular DVD but that stores data on 200 layers of 5GB, to read those disc you need a red laser (BlueRay and HDDVD both use blue lasers) so the technology shouldn’t be very expensive but:
-Do we need a disc that can store 1000GB of data?!
-Will those discs ever get to Lebanon? (I think they will, just like the laser keyboard made in Israel and the new Intel chips made in Israel)

Year 2038 problem

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I just found this Wikipedia article describing a problem that will happen in 31 years to the dates in most of the 32-bits computer systems around the world, what will happen is that on the 19th of January 2038 the dates will “wrap around” and the date will become Friday, December 13, 1901.

Here’s a more technical explanation from Wikipedia:

The year 2038 problem may cause some computer software to fail before or in the year 2038. The problem affects programs that use the POSIX time representation, which represents system time as the number of seconds (ignoring leap seconds) since January 1, 1970. This representation is standard in Unix-like operating systems and also affects software written for most other operating systems because of the broad deployment of C. On most 32-bit systems, the time_t data type used to store this second count is a signed 32-bit integer. The latest time that can be represented in this format, following the POSIX standard, is 03:14:07 UTC on Tuesday, January 19, 2038. Times beyond this moment will “wrap around” and be represented internally as a negative number, and cause programs to fail, since they will see these times not as being in 2038 but rather in 1901. Erroneous calculations and decisions may therefore result.

Alarm Clock

Sony Ericsson W960

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I currently own a Sony Ericsson K750i, the phone is great, when I bought it it contained everything I needed. The K750 is now 2 years old and I want to change it, my minimum requirements are:

  • Wi-Fi
  • 3.2 MP Camera
  • 2GB of memory
  • Other features are now standards (Bluetooth, MP3…)

I found everything I needed in the SE W960 that is coming out later this year, it has Wi-Fi, a 3.2 MP Camera, 8GB of Memory, a touch screen and many more great features, the package also comes with a bluetooth headset and a normal one.

Here’s the full phone specifications from the GMS Arena.

Sony Ericsson W960

Connecting to the internet via an unsecured wireless connection

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The BBC has a very interesting article on connecting to the Internet via an unsecured wireless connection, is it wrong to do that? The person is the one offering the connection for free, but taking the internet from him might slow down his connection!
I have a wireless connection at home, it is a secured one but I always check the logs of the router and check the connected computers, I also turn off the router when I am not using the internet, I do that because I know that my connection is secure and connecting through it involves hacking and this would be stealing and I would make the person stealing my connection pay for this (info on how to do that later).
But what if I left my connection unsecured? Connecting through it would be very simple, the person doing it would be taking something that he isn’t paying for but this connection is available for him!
I never found an unsecured connection so I never had the chance to connect to one, but I am pretty sure that if I ever found one I would at least test it’s speed but would never check my mail on it, maybe a person is offering this connection for free and monitoring the traffic to take info! I think that everyone is responsible for his connection and if you leave a door open you can’t blame someone for taking a peak inside!

Router WiFi

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