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Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini – small and fierce

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The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a run-away success, and now Samsung has extended its range with the S3 Mini. Is it just a smaller version of the S3? LIRON SEGEV, AKA the Techie Guy, finds out.

The S3 Mini looks identical to its larger S3 brother. You have to look closely to realise it is a smaller phone it even has the same high end marble white chassis the S3 has.

But, in your hand you will notice that it is indeed smaller as it measures in at 121.55 x 63 x 9.85 mm, and weighs 111.5 grams.

It is small enough that your fingers don’t have to do that hop-skip-and-jump to get to various sides of the screen that we have become accustomed to.

The perimeter layout is as we have come to expect from Samsung phones. It has the MicroUSB slot at the bottom and the same Home button and the soft Back & Menu buttons. On the right is the Power button, on the top is the headphone jack and on the left is a Volume rocker. The microSD slot is under the battery (so no popping that SD card in and out without switching the phone off first).

The Galaxy Mini is powered by a dual core 1GHz CPU and comes pre-installed with the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

Turn the phone over, and behind the cover is the removable battery. This might seem trivial, but its becoming more important as people have stated to carry two batteries if they know they will have a busy day on their phone. The Samsung Mini uses a standard SIM not a microSIM or nanoSIM used in most other new phones.

Getting around the phone

The Jelly Bean operating system is day to use and the 4.0‚” WVGA Super AMOLED screen is bright enough to see in daylight. Swipe down from the top and the Drawer opens with access to settings, network options, GPS, Bluetooth and a range of other configuration options.

To make a phone call, tap on the Phone Icon and the dialer opens up where you can access your contacts or start dialing.

Start typing the number you want to call and it instantly starts to make suggestions of all the contacts that have those numbers.

Finally, Samsung has not forgotten to include the ‚”turn the phone over to reject an incoming call‚” feature.

Using the Internet

These days, using the Internet is just as important (if not more) as making a call. The Galaxy S3 mini has all the connectivity you could want: HSPA 14.4/5.76 900/1900/2100 and EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900. It also connects to WiFi so no costs are incurred for those big downloads.

Because the Galaxy S3 Mini uses an Android operating system, you are able to install Chrome. Chrome logs into your Google account and instantly gives you access to your Google bookmarks, history and saved pages – letting you browse them offline.

The Camera

What self respecting Mobile Ninja doesn’t use their phone to share with the world everything they see?

The Galaxy S3 Mini has two cameras. A 5MP with LED Flash at the back and a VGA camera in the front.

It comes with most of the settings that the S3 has including Buddy photos share and Smile shot.

The quality of the pics are not on S3 8 MP scale, but are not bad at all. I especially like the fact tat you can place the focus on a particular part of the screen and not just the middle and the flash really does its job well.

Yes there are contrast issues between light and dark and some will find it an irritation, but for what I need and for what most people need on a day to day basis, this is perfect.

How’s the sound?

I downloaded my music collection onto the S3 Mini which was transferred with Kies with no problem. As soon as I plugged my headphones in, I noticed that the notification bar pops open with all the pre-installed media related apps including Music Player, Video Player, Video Hub, FM Radio, YouTube. This is pretty cool as you can instantly access these from one location.

Video Playback

The S3 Mini has the same features for video playback at the S3 which is just brilliant.

I always liked the pop-up player that you can view any video clip and overlay that on top of anything else that you are working with without missing a single second.

The Battery Power

With all these cool features, I was surprised to see that I managed to last an entire day of heavy usage. The main drain of the battery is usually the display assuming that since the screen is smaller along with Samsung’s battery-saving techniques, these all helps to keep the phone going.

Even when playing high intensity graphic games, the Galaxy S3 Mini just kept on going.

So in Summary

If you like the look and feel of the original Galaxy S3, then you will love the design and feel of the Galaxy S3 Mini.

The phone easily slips into your shirt pocket and you are are able to handle fully with one hand.

The Galaxy S III Mini is available at recommended retail prices starting at R3 999 for the 8GB version. It is also available on the Cell C website on contract for R279 pm over two years.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Hit the road with high-tech night light for bikes

Cyclists need effective lighting by night and day, writes JOEL DORFAN, in his test ride of the latest in high-tech from Fenix

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Since 2004, Fenix Light has been manufacturing quality lights ranging from flashlights and headlamps to lanterns and bike lights.

There are many folks who ride their bicycles at night for various reasons. Whether on-road or off-road, there is always the need to see the path ahead of you. During the day, it’s wise to have a really bright strobe light so others around you can see you coming. 

Enter the BC21R V2.0.

The original 880 lumen BC21R was released some years ago. Besides the main light, it also had two red lights at the side. However, there were several complaints about this older version. The main ones were:

  • Plastic construction – does not dissipate heat causing the light output to step down;
  • Rubber mount – stretches and perishes over time;
  • No helmet mount.

With the launch of the new light, now called the BC21R V2.0, the folks at Fenix have kept all of the good features and added a bunch more, as well as remedying all of the complaints from the original. In a nutshell, it offers:

  • 1000 lumen output
  • Removable 18650 LiIion battery
  • Built in USB Type-C charging port
  • Dual Distance Beam System
  • Battery level indication and low-voltage warning
  • All-metal heat fin; IP66 rated protection
  • Quick-release bike mount compatible with Fenix bicycle light helmet mount

The increase from 880 to 1000 lumens means that there is now better coverage of the road ahead. The dual distance beam system means that the areas both near and far are illuminated. They do this by graduating the top half of the front lens that refracts some of the light down towards the front wheel, allowing the rest of the light to illuminate the roadway.

When you do not need all 1000 lumens, sequential taps of the on/off switch will cycle through the different output settings of low, medium, high and turbo. In any of these modes, a double tap of the switch will put the light into strobe (alternating high and low output) mode. On a fully charged battery, runtime on Turbo is published as being 2 hours, and on low at 50 hours. 

Many lights today are sealed units. Once the battery stops taking a charge, the light would have to be discarded. The removable battery means that, once it reaches end of life ,it’s a simple matter of inserting a new 18650 battery. Also, should you be on a really long ride and find that the battery starts going flat, you could stop along the way and swap out the battery for either another fully charged one or two CR123 batteries. 

At any time, you can tap the on/off button, which will light up an indicator to tell you the current state of charge of the battery. This same indicator will flash red when it’s time to recharge the battery.

To prevent damage to the LED light source, temperatures are monitored and, if the light gets too hot, the output is reduced. This is not ideal when you are out on a ride on a hot evening. By changing the head from plastic to metal with cooling fins, however, the light will now remain cooler, allowing for full output for longer periods.

Instead of a stretchy plastic mount like on the older model, Fenix has now gone with a proper clamp type mount. This is secured to the handle bars using a thumb screw; and then there is a quick release that allows the light to be attached or removed from the clamp with ease. Two different-sized rubber inserts for the clamp ensure a good fit on different diameter handle bars.

A bonus of this type of quick release mechanism is that the light is now compatible with the Fenix helmet mount should one wish to mount it there. Also, should you wish to use the BC21R V2.0 as a handheld flashlight or to stop it being stolen, no tools are required to remove it from either the bike or helmet mount.

So how does the BC21R V2.0 perform in real life?

It puts out a very concentrated spot-like type beam optimised for distance. The lens setup ensures that most of the light is below the horizon where it needs to be, which also makes sure that it does not blind oncoming motorists. 

The light will start getting warm to the touch when stationary or when hand held. However, when cycling, the cool air passing over the finned head does keep the light cooler.

Being a single 18650 battery light, a ride of longer than about 90 minutes will see the light starting to reduce output. It’s the tradeoff of size vs run time. Therefore make sure that, if you’re going to need the full 1000 lumen output for an extended period, to carry a spare battery with you.

The older model cost $75, and the good news is that Fenix appears to have maintained this price even with all of the extra features of the V2.0 model. This places the BC21R V2.0 in the mid- to high-range of  single battery lights. Given the features and multi-use applications it’s pretty good value for money.

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Product of the Day

Hisense adds AI-cameras to handsets

Hisense has entered the AI-camera space with the Infinity H30, aimed at the mid-range market. BRYAN TURNER tests the new camera technology.

Click below to read the review.

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While many know Hisense for its TVs and appliances, it has an impressive lineup of smartphones. Its latest Infinity H30 smartphone packs a serious punch in the mid-range market, including features like a low-bezel screen and AI camera.

Out the box, the phone comes with the usual charger, charging cable and earphones. There is a surprise in the box: a screen protector and a clear case. A nice value-add to the already affordable smartphone.  

The polycarbonate plastic body feels premium, especially for a device in this price range. It has a colour changing body, depending on the angle at which it is held. The colour of the device we reviewed is called Ice Blue, and shimmers in darker and lighter blues. Aesthetically, this is a big win for Hisense.

The 6.5″ screen is a narrow-bezelled FHD+ display with good colour replication. Hisense is known for creating colour-accurate displays and it’s good to see it continue this legacy in its smartphones. The shape of the display is interesting, taking some design notes from Huawei’s Dewdrop display with what Hisense calls the “U-Infinity Display”. It makes the phone look really good. 

On the rear of the phone, one finds a dual-camera setup with fingerprint sensor. On the bottom of the phone, there is a speaker, a USB Type-C Port and a headphone jack. The speaker’s placement on the bottom isn’t optimal and the sound is muffled if one accidentally covers the single speaker area.

The 4,530mAh non-removable battery is very capable, providing a good 12 hours of medium usage (checking messages every half hour and playing an online game every hour) until it reaches 20%. The battery capacity isn’t the only power feature of the device; it runs on the latest Android Pie operating system, which includes AI power-saving software measures to keep background apps from using battery.

It is a little disappointing to see the device came with some pre-installed games. Fortunately, one can uninstall them. Hisense makes up for this by issuing Android updates and security patches as the come out. This, coupled with the MediaTek Octa Core processor, provides a good user experience for playing games and multi-tasking.

The H30 has a whopping 128GB of on-board storage, and it can be expanded even more with a MicroSD card. The 4G-LTE capabilities are perfect for most high-speed broadband situations, with around 40Mbps download and around 10Mbps upload in an area with good cell service.

The 20+2MP rear camera configuration is good at taking shots on Auto mode, but pictures can be better after figuring out all the camera modes available. There is a professional mode for those who want to be extra creative with their photography. It also includes a baby mode, which plays various noises to make a baby look at the phone for a better picture. The AI mode can be enabled to make full use of the processor in the device, and fif the camera mode to be selected based on scenes photographed. 

The 20MP front camera performs equally as well. This camera is the reason for the U-like shape at the top of the screen. The camera app has beauty-face filters, for those wanting a slimmer face or smoother skin.

Overall, the Infinity H30 is a prime example of a good phone in an affordable price range.  The camera is very capable, and the AI processing helps what would otherwise be a regular camera. The aesthetically pleasing colour saves the day, and makes this mid-range device look like a high-end flagship. The device is retailing for R5,499 from most major carriers.

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