Monday, July 29, 2013

Things I Am Waiting For: The Chromecast

Folks, last Wednesday I was too late and I ordered a Chromecast from a sold-out Amazon. For those of you who are interested, Amazon does not know when the latest shipment of Chromecasts will be ready. Which means one, very, very sad thing: the review will be extremely delayed. Sorry, y'all. 

However, if you stay tuned, I will keep updating this article for information regarding Amazon's current stocking of the all-powerful $35 HDMI-powered dongle.

Thanks, and apologies for the delay.

-Max

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Nexus 7, Chromecast Officially Revealed by Google


Remember the prematurely announced new Nexus 7 from this morning? Guess what? That's right... it's finally official! Yay! To remind you of how awesomely awesome it is, here is a quote from the article posted earlier this morning to refresh your memory of its specs:
The new Nexus 7 comes packed with a 1920 x 1200 resolution display with a pixel density of 320ppi. Such a thing really makes you wonder how we once lived with displays where you could visible identify lone pixels on the surface, but I digress. Under the hood, the Nexus 7 sports a quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon Processor, and 2 GB of RAM. 
Not to mention the built-in 16 GB of on-board storage, much more than the standard 8 GB that the original base model sold for. The new Nexus 7 retails for $229.99, will ship soon, and for such a significant upgrade to the screen, it may be the replacement early Nexus adopters of yesteryear are looking for. The device is available on the Google Play devices store RIGHT HERE.

Another sweet piece of news to end the day with is Google's answer to AirPlay and Apple TV: the $35 Chromecast. What is a Chromecast, you say? Well, let me break it down for ya.

The Chromecast is a tiny, 2 inch thumbstick that fits in the back of ANY HD television with its HDMI port, and is compatible for device to television streaming from any Mac or PC running Chrome, Android, iOS, and the Chromebook Pixel (although other Chromebook will soon be included as well). The device, while it doesn't mirror screens, will throw content directly from the Chrome browser or Android phone or Chromebook directly onto the television.

For an extremely reasonable $35, the Chromecast is way too reasonable to pass up. Think about it, what else have you spent thirty five dollars on? A shitty little USB thumbdrive like ten years ago? Yeah. And how did that work out for you?

The Chromecast also comes with three months free of Netflix. Even if you are already a subscriber, hey man, that's a whole three months free!

You can order the Chromecast soon on the Google Play store by following the link RIGHT OVA HAW. Remember to check back here, at TheTechTile every day for the latest and greatest in tech news and stuff.

via The Verge

New Nexus 7: Leaked, Never Officially Announced, and Available for $230 From Best Buy


Google's never been one for secrecy, and the latest pile of Nexus 7 news is definitely a reflection of such: the update to the beloved on-the-cheap Google-made Android tablet is on the way. Well, actually, it's already here and shipping. In a move strange and questionable, Google has (possibly?) opted to quietly release the newest Nexus 7 through Best Buy. No special product launches, no announcement, nothing. Just a product available through a single sales channel. Odd, but hey- we'll take it.

The new Nexus 7 comes packed with a 1920 x 1200 resolution display with a pixel density of 320ppi. Such a thing really makes you wonder how we once lived with displays where you could visible identify lone pixels on the surface, but I digress. Under the hood, the Nexus 7 sports a quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon Processor, and 2 GB of RAM. There are reports that the amount of RAM is actually 4 GB, but no official word is out yet. The newest Nexus is also thinner than its older brother, although we don't have those specs as of right now.

For a paltry $230, you can pick up a tablet that, according to Android Police, out-performs the HTC One. Follow the link below (or above that I embedded in the article) to pick up one of these bad boys, and stay tuned for more news and reviews of Google products every week, here, at TheTechTile.

Source: Best Buy via The Verge

Friday, July 19, 2013

Editorial - The Future of the Chromebook: Another Netbook or a Notebook Replacement?


I'm a pretty devoted user of Chrome and Chrome OS. I have three machines in my house that run the OS, and a work machine running the Chrome browser. I have made it my goal to use Google's Chrome operating system whenever possible. So far, I have only had one reason to use my old broken-down MacBook, and that was so I could burn a few CDs for my car. Other than that, I have relied primarily on my Chrome OS machines, an Acer Nettop running Chromium OS, an Acer C7 (my main machine) running Chrome OS, and my Samsung Chromebook also running Chrome OS. I have found tons of awesome ways to do what I normally would have done on my MacBook, and I have not missed using it at all. Not being near my Chromebooks makes me miss them. It simply is a better way to compute. Everything from word processing, to blog management, to news, music, movies, and of course, browsing the web, is better on the Chromebook. Yet, the question has arisen: will Chromebooks rise like the Netbook and stay that way? Or is the device doomed to end the same way that the Netbook did?

One article published Tuesday by Bloomberg Businessweek thinks that it will take another iPad revolution to bring down the Chromebook. 
"For the same to happen to Chromebooks, we’d need to encounter some other device that would keep consumers from purchasing Google-powered machines. Tablets work well as browsers and for running mobile apps, but few provide the optimal experience that can be had with a Chromebook. Wearables are supplementary devices and can’t replace traditional computers. At this point, there’s no device now, or on the near horizon, that could displace the Chromebook the way tablets displaced the netbook." -Bloomberg Businessweek 
Remember that the Chromebook does something that the Netbook did not do: it makes basic computing easy, cheap, and safe. Netbooks existed for two reasons: to sell more Intel chips and Microsoft Windows licenses. At the end of the day, they weren't fast enough or safe enough, and were far too small to be used as main machines.

Chromebooks are a completely different story. They can easily be used as main machines. Every six weeks Google pushes out a new release of the operating system that improves on the last: adding new features and apps. The last few dev releases pending final release for end-users has shown that Google understands that offline-use is a must to sell this device for some people. Because of this, Google has pushed packaged apps built will web technologies to make them safer, but with the speed and UI benefits found in traditional desktop apps. Some of the Chrome Web Store's most impressive packaged apps so far are Pocket, Wunderlist, and Google's own app, Keep.

Chromebooks also have something Netbooks didn't have: a non-Windows OS. Yes, there were some Linux Netbooks out there, but they didn't sell because of a lack of familiarity for most end-users or the brand that most users trust. People love and trust Google. Android has been a major success since its unveiling in 2008, and all of Google's services have gained immense popularity throughout the last decade. Needless to say, Google has the name and the product to go with it. In a world where the cloud is a need and the web is king, Google has invented the holy grail of cloud computing.

We published a few days ago that Chromebooks are expected to double or even triple in sales at the end of this year. In order for Google to keep the product on shelves and in homes, they need to prove one thing: we all need a Chromebook. So far, they're doing a pretty good job, and call me a fanboy, but I think the Chromebook exceeds most devices I have used as a whole. Sure, I'd like to have a MacBook Air-like experience with one of these babies, but at least I'm getting something similar in terms of speed and versatility. And at the end of the day, I'm pretty satisfied. Are you?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

**UPDATED** Netflix on Chrome OS: Engineers are Fixing Major Error


Chances are, some of my readers are running the Chrome OS dev release 29.0.1547.22, which, along with many other post-28 dev releases, seems to be having a playback issue with Netflix. Currently, the issue causes the error titled "C7121-1331-12" to pop up instead of any playback.

It has been reported in the Google Chrome OS Group that this issue is currently being worked on by Netflix engineers, and should be fixed within the next few days. Stay tuned for updates regarding this bug, and regarding Chrome 29, the latest and greatest developer release of Chrome OS.

Source: Google Chrome OS Group

UPDATES:

Logging out of and back into Netflix has resolved the issue for many people, including myself. Give it a try.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Digitimes: Chromebook Sales to Double and Triple in Second Half


It has never been a more exciting time to be a Chrome OS fan: tech blog Digitimes reports that Chromebook sales "are expected to double or even triple those in the first half" with upgrades to best selling models in the first half to arrive in the second.

Digitimes: "Because of weak demand for Windows 8, Google has been trying to use the chance to expand into the PC industry and with Intel's aggressive R&D supports as well as AMD's entrance to the Chromebook market, many brand vendors such as Asustek Computer are reportedly considering to develop related models to counter Microsoft's dominance."

You heard it here first folks: Chromebooks are going to change the PC market and the world over. Google has finally found its niche market and a way to make the devices affordable and practical for both personal and professional use-cases. It'll be exciting to see what comes of it.

Source: Digitimes

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Welcome, Kids.

We've moved (obviously) to Blogger. Why Blogger? Well, because we did. Get over it.

More importantly, this means I can now post more often. Boy, that's exciting isn't it?

Ways I can post now that I couldn't before:
  1. Posting on the toilet
  2. Posting while driving
  3. Posting while eating
  4. Posting while reading
  5. Posting while playing games
  6. Posting while drinking iced tea
  7. Posting while swimming
  8. Posting while posting

Very exciting. Very fun. Same old site. New design. More posts. Sounds cool to me.

~Max

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Learning Code? Try Codecademy! (Lightening Review)

Screenshot 2013-07-12 at 1.08.18 AM


Introduction:

There has been an incredible push by school districts and by organizations such as the ever-popular Code.org to get anybody and everybody to learn how to code. Be it HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, Ruby... it's there, and you can learn it pretty quickly with a lot of different apps and websites that act as full-blown coding courses for everybody- even somebody who has never seen basic HTML or BASIC (see what I did there?). Codecademy is an online course site that teaches all of the above languages, and more: and this is why you should try it out.

What is it?

An awesome, web-based course site that teaches many programming languages in a easy to understand format without any unneeded clutter and the ability to run in basically every browser (although as a Chrome/Chrome OS fanatic I must suggest you opt for something of a Googly taste).

Who is it for?

Everybody. And their brother too.

What is your favorite thing about it?

It's easy to use, understand, and best of all, learn from. I like that the lessons speak in a vernacular that I'm familiar with as a human being, and not a ton of overly complicated words that I've never heard of crushed into one big lesson. Granted, I know HTML, but I love relearning it and refreshing my knowledge with this app in an easy and free way. By the way, it's FREE. As in free beer.

What don't you like about it?

I don't like that it isn't the most popular way to code yet. This shit is amazing.

Wrap-up.

Honestly, if you've coded before or never coded at all, this site is for you. For the experienced coder, it's a fun refresher. For the newbie, it's definitely a new way to learn how to program, or at least, how programming languages operate. There's a lot to like and not really anything to dislike, and for free, it's all worth it, right?

Access Codeacademy RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, and check back here all day every day for the very latest in Chrome OS news, reviews, and the always fun article I will randomly slap up here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chrome OS App of the Day: Blackboard

2013-07-10 13_34_35-black board



If you're any kind of tutor, or if you like to get your art on, this is the best app available right now for Chrome/Chrome OS! Blackboard provides anyone with the chrome browser (or any browser) with an awesome way to type and draw content and erase it with ease.

You can check out the app RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Remember, it's free!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My New Blogging Project

Google-Chrome-new-logo
Introduction:

In case none of you have come to figure this out yet, I have gone gun-ho on Chrome OS, namely, the Chromebook. I have replaced my broken machines with two Chromebooks: one provided to me by my High School (The Samsung Series 3 ARM-based unit) and another I bought myself (the C7 with a 4GB boost to the RAM). For the next school year (2013-2014) I have made the decision to leave OS X and Windows in the name of experimentation. That's right, I will not use either OS for the rest of this school year.

Why are you doing this?

I have a lot of reasons for this transition. My main reason is to break away from the tradition desktop space and see how feasible it is to live solely in the cloud. I feel that the future in desktop computer, like mobile computing, is about to see drastic change, and I don't wish to be left behind. Instead, I want to jump ahead, make the change, and move on to the cloud. Google is the first company with the balls to cut the cords of the desktop and move on to fast, light, responsive, care-free, and easy-to-operate computing as their selling model. I think this is amazing, and I want to see what it is like to take on a life completely on the web.

The other big reason I'm making the jump is for the sake of ease-of-mind. I have had many different personal computers throughout the years. Everything from Macs and PCs to desktops and laptops running every version of each OS imaginable has been in my arsenal. Every one of these devices has a major flaw. For every one, I struggled with at least one major technical issue. For my iBook, it was Hard Drive failure. For my second iBook, the logicboard simply gave out, for my MacBook, it was a lot of things (although I have been able to resurrect it for the time being), and finally, for my beloved Dell Vostro laptop running Ubuntu, the parts surrounding the screen gave way and it became too costly to have the labor done (or do it myself) on the laptop.

When I first used a ChromeBook, it was a Cr-48 Google shipped to me. I kinda liked it, but there were too many issues. For one, the trackpad was total shit. Also, the processor simply didn't have the power that any of my other machines did, and as a result easily failed from simple online multitasking.

The Samsung Chromebook was a different story. It allowed me to love Chrome OS again, and after a while I became so accustomed to using the OS, that it didn't make sense to do it any other way. It's cheap, thin, light, easy-to-use, fast, and best of all, it gives me peace-of-mind. If anything happens to it, replacement is affordable. Everything of importance is online, so I don't need to worry about losing anything. If I need to, I can refresh the OS, bringing it back to factory state, in only a few minutes.

This is everything computing is meant to be. Fast, easy, seamless, and safe. That is Google's model with Chrome OS. Although somewhat limited, I have found a solution to (almost) everything I need to do on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and yearly basis with a computer. The only thing I can't do is game (thanks, Xbox) or burn discs. But again, this isn't what the laptop is meant to do, so this is extremely excusable.

The Conditions.

For everything I do, I must involve the Chromebook somehow. I mean everything: browsing the web, email, word processing, enjoying media, running my site, editing images, coding, reading... you name it, it must be done on either of my Chromebooks.

I will blog all moments of Chrome weakness: because Chrome isn't perfect, and I will get frustrated sometimes. But there will be a solution, and it will be on the Chromebook.

There are some things I still need my MacBook for: I still need to burn discs, I still need a way to access and update my iTunes, and I still need ways to access bittorrent clients. I will use the MacBook, but ONLY for these purposes, and nothing else. Or else, this isn't a break away, now is it?

Also...

Leave a comment below, send me a message, follow me on twitter, and read this site EVERY DAY for my latest updates on this project. As expected, most of the usual content will be here, albeit without anything involving PC reviews (my MacBook still works if I find anything worth reviewing).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Acer C7 Chromebook Lightning Review (4 GB of RAM)

promo-landing-hero


What is it?

This is the latest update to Acer's line of Google Chromebooks, running Google's own Chrome OS- a super light, super fast, and very focused operating environment that brings web apps and the best browser available to the forefront to be the ONLY application available on the system. Despite this "limitation," the device allows users to do the same things (pretty much) that you can do on a full-fledged desktop. Web, email, word processing, spreadsheets, music management, photo management, social networking, news, movies, tv shows... it's all here, and it works well.

Who is it for?

This isn't for everybody. Let me repeat myself. THIS ISN'T FOR EVERYBODY. In fact, if anything, this is only for those who can handle the reality that you will ONLY be able to use the device with web apps. This isn't the same as a Mac or a PC. It's very different. But if you're pretty much or completely living your computing life in the cloud (like most of us), then this is your solution. And by the way, this also makes an amazing secondary computer if lugging around heavy laptops or relying on a stationary desktop computer isn't your thing.

What is your favorite thing about it?

I love how fast it is. It blows every browsing experience I've had OUT OF THE WATER. The way the hardware compliments the web-focused software makes it the complete browsing experience I didn't know I wanted. 

What blows about it?

I really am irked by the keyboard. It feels cramped a lot of the time, and although it will take time to get used to, this CAN be a deal-breaker for some. I'm willing to deal with it if that means I can use a snappy machine. I wish Acer would have taken a cue from Samsung, who actually put a full-sized keyboard in their Series 3 Chromebook. Sigh.

Wrap-up.

Over all, this thing is fast, easy to use, and pretty much headache free. I love how it really shows the Chrome OS we were needing the whole time. And for a mere $219 on Amazon (this does NOT include the 6-cell battery, although it is easily upgrade-able), it almost makes too much sense to pick one of these bad boys up.

Grade: (back when I reviewed games, I used this graphic)

techgamescore


Pick this up, but be very weary of the keyboard and battery. If you need a long-lasting laptop with a beastly keyboard, the Samsung Chromebook is totally for you. If you need something zippy and cheap, the Acer C7 is definitely your guy.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How Google Chromebooks Replaced My Need for a Traditional Laptop


If you've been reading my stuff for a while, you'd know that I was one of the thousands of early Chromebook adopters, being sent one of Google's Cr-48 laptops back in December of 2010. I've also used many of these devices since the unveiling of the official first model about two years ago at Google I/O. Since then, I've tried, tested, and used four different Chromebooks. It has taken me sometime to formulate a concrete opinion about the units, but I have since decided that these aren't just toys anymore: they're real, usable, and affordable for what they are capable of. Needless to say, Google has hit a home-run with the latest rendition of Chrome OS, and the current line up of Chromebooks satisfies almost every sector of the laptop buying market.

For the past three months I have been rocking Samsung's Model 3 Chromebook. It is perhaps the fastest, cheapest, and most versatile Chromebook I have ever used. As Chris Zeigler of The Verge put it a couple of  months ago with his review of the device, "it's $1000 worth of design made with $100 worth of materials." This holds very true for the entire unit. While there are some tiny annoying creeks in the device, the unit looks and feels like a solid laptop that should cost a lot more than it does. The keyboard is also incredible. It has the same amazing feeling of a MacBook Pro keyboard, without the $1200 price tag. What's more, the unit, weighing in at a paltry 2.2 lbs, is extremely easy to tote around in a backpack or briefcase (or purse if you're of the female classification). Overall, the device is very solid.

At the end of the day, while I enjoy some good design and a device that is easy to bring with me, the thing that either makes or breaks a notebook computer is functionality? Can I get done what I need to get done without hassles on my laptop? Is it reasonable to use it as a main-device. For most people I'd say yes. You can get everything done without any problems, but for others, the Google model of computing can be an endless headache that results in a thrown Chromebook.

Here are some of the things I need to be able to do (or want to do) with my laptop that can make or break the experience:



  1. Access the Internet (the Chromebook is MADE to do this as a primary function)

  2. Be able to freely check my email whenever I need to (Gmail)

  3. Create and Edit documents with some word processor (Google Drive)

  4. Be able to constantly access and edit a calendar of events (Google Calendar)

  5. Able to do my homework (everything for MyMathLab is on the web, thankfully)

  6. Read news and collect RSS feeds to stay updated with the world (Feedly, my Google Reader replacement)

  7. Listen to and manage music collection (Google Play Music)

  8. Watch movies and TV shows on Netflix (Netflix for Chrome OS)

  9. Edit and manage my websites (Wordpress)

  10. Graph polynomial, rational, exponential, trigonometric functions (Desmos Graphing Calculator)

There are a few things I am simply unable to do with my Chromebook, but I have a desktop computer running Ubuntu to fix these needs. First off, I need to be able to edit HTML, Javascript, and CSS often, so I have a few applications on Ubuntu that make such a thing very easy. And to be honest, I never have to do this on the go. Another thing I need to be able to do is Print. I hate printing on this thing because it is so freaking difficult to do. Because of this, I'm currently shopping for a Chrome OS Google Cloud Print solution that I can afford. One last thing I need to be able to do that I simply cannot do on this Chromebook is play games. That is what my Xbox and my Linux PC are both for. They both do this well, so I really don't care if I can't do it when I'm supposed to be productive elsewhere.

Recently, I purchased a more spec'd out Chromebook: the Acer C7 with 4 GB of RAM, 320 GB HDD, and 1.1 GHz Dual-Core Intel Celeron Processor.  For my needs, and for everything I said I want to be able to do, this is more than enough power. And for the price I was able to snag it for ($219), it more than satisfies what I need. It is worth mentioning that you can still pick one of these up on Amazon and get free shipping on it if you use Amazon's Prime service.

Listen closely... are you listening? Good. Do yourself a favor, and try one of these suckers out for an extended period of time before you jump into anything crazy like, say, buying a Chromebook to replace your main laptop. I did it because I knew I was able to. Don't do it just because I told you to. It can be a scary thing making the big jump from a traditional desktop experience to a Chromebook. All the same, for the low price, high power, and versatility with web apps, you simply can't go wrong.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

AMC is Showing The Walking Dead in Black & White RIGHT NOW

The-Walking-Dead-2

Okay, you guys KNOW you wanna see this. The Walking Dead. Black and White. Awesome. Season One. Gonna last all month. Get pumped. Because, you know, it's the WALKINGFUCKINGDEAD. Check it out on AMC right now.