-Chris Zaragoza

 

The popularity of Samsung smartphones in the last two years is a big part of the shift towards handsets with 4-inch+ screens. For a company like BlackBerry to attempt a rebirth into the mobile ecosystem, they would be crazy not to try and release a phone in that same arena. Luckily, they did packing their new smartphone with some very nice tech, enough that the Z10 is a viable competitor to the Galaxy S3. The real question here is, is it enough or are they coming to the party too late to stay alive?

So, BlackBerry Z10 vs. the Samsung Galaxy S3 — which phone offers the best overall experience?

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Specs

 

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is actually more than one phone. For the purposes of this comparison, we will be looking at the US LTE version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone. This means we will be looking at a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5Ghz with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with a removable microSD card slot, and a 2100mAh battery. That specs list reads nearly line for line the same as the BlackBerry Z10, with a few seemingly insignificant differences. The BlackBerry Z10 is actually running a 1.5Ghz  Snapdragon S4 Pro, which is a slightly different (system-on-a-chip) SoC than the regular S4.

The S4 Pro offers a more powerful GPU and more capable processor in terms of both performance and power consumption. As a result, the BlackBerry Z10 is able to pack an 1800mAh battery and still offer the same usage expectancy as the Galaxy S3.

 

The Galaxy S3 and Blackberry Z10 also feature 8MP cameras, though the Z10′s 2MP front facing camera is just slightly higher resolution than the 1.9MP on the SGS3. While the GS3 has an excellent camera the Z10′s has been faulted for it’s performance in very low light. (It works great in normal lighting though.)

The most obvious difference between the two phones is the screen size, where Samsung’s 4.8-inch screen is noticeable larger than the 4.2-inch on the BlackBerry Z10. The quality of the screens, despite the size difference, is similar as well. The 720p AMOLED screen on the Galaxy S3 is 306ppi will offer deeper blacks and sharper colors than the 1280×768 LCD display on the Z10, but BlackBerry’s 356ppi IPS screen will hold up better in direct sunlight than the Galaxy S3.

Both phones also feature Bluetooth 4.0, dual band 802.11 A/G/N WiFi, NFC, and an LTE radio. Neither phone supports wireless charging out of the box, but the Galaxy S3 can if you replace the battery cover with one that offers the feature.

On paper, these phones are about as close to identical as you can get, though the Galaxy S3 has been out for almost a year and Samsung is rumored to be right around the corner from releasing a vastly superior Galaxy S4.

Look and feel

While these two smartphones are nearly identical under the hood, the Galaxy S3 and the BlackBerry Z10 couldn’t look more different on the outside. Samsung designed the S3 to be nothing but curves and smooth soft plastic. In your hand the Galaxy S3 feels ultralight, to the point of making me terrified of dropping it. Unlike previous Samsung phones the Galaxy S3 manages to feel solid, meaning the plastic doesn’t flex or bend as you squeeze it in your hand. The Galaxy S3 was released in several colors, though the pebble blue and white models are by far the most common.

The BlackBerry Z10 is only 0.1 ounce heavier than the 4.7 oz Galaxy S3, but the phone feels very different in the hand. The Z10 feels like a brick, made of thicker plastics with a variety of textures across the surface of the phone. while Samsung worked to make the S3 feel like a single solid piece of plastic, the Z10′s textured back and hard lines offer a more industrial experience. The S3 is taller, wider, and just slightly thinner than the Blackberry Z10, placing the phone right on the edge of being uncomfortable to use with one hand.

If you’re choosing a phone based purely on look and feel, the Galaxy S3 would win on style points alone. If you’re interested in a phone that feels like it would survive a drop or two, the Z10 will be much more your pace.

 

Software

 

Easily the biggest difference between these two phones are the operating systems. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is running a heavily modified version of Android that Samsung calls “TouchWiz”, while the Z10 is running the all new BB10 OS optimized for an all screen experience. Samsung and BlackBerry have both focused on a gesture driven experience with their operating systems, though Samsung still keeps a few hardware buttons around for navigation. BlackBerry 10 has a very rigid user experience with a handful of personal options, while Samsung’s flavor of Android OS has more settings and options than BlackBerry World has apps to install on the Z10.

Apps are a big deal for a smartphone today, and while it may not be fair to compare the massive library of apps, music, and movies in the Google Play Store to the brand new BlackBerry World, users are going to want to go where they know apps are being made. BlackBerry worked hard to make sure there were 70,000 apps ready to go in their new store, but the next step will be to convince major app developers to make BlackBerry a priority when making new apps. When you see that sign in the store that says “check out our app!” if the BlackBerry logo doesn’t start showing up soon it will cause users to lose interest.

And the winner is…

Existing BlackBerry users, or users who have been waiting for BlackBerry users to make an effort should be very excited for the Z10, but it would take a lot to convince someone who has never used a smartphone before to pick that phone over the Galaxy S3.

Put simply, there’s nothing you can do on a BlackBerry Z10 (that the average user is actually interested in doing) that you can’t do on a Galaxy S3, except for BBM. In fact, if you chose to, you could re-create most of the BlackBerry 10 user experience on the Galaxy S3 by installing a custom launcher and a virtual keyboard that emulated the features in BB10. Unfortunately for Blackberry, lack of REAL app support is going to kill them yet again. Deciding to get into the game “for real” at this point feels a bit “too little too late”.

 

-Adam Royal

 

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The first question asked when a new phone is released usually has something to do with how it stacks up against the competition. The HTC One managed to walk an entire crowd of people through a smartphone unveiling without once mentioning details about the components, numerical specifications, or even what version of the Android operating system the phone runs.

Samsung’s approach to the Galaxy S3 user interface, the TouchWiz overlay, focuses on organic elements. Their whole “inspired by nature” theme is represented in water droplet notification tones, the use of bright natural colors, and a soft, flowing approach to animations. TouchWiz is also packed with features that are dormant the first time you turn the phone on, but allow the user to create a compelling and unique experience. You can move apps across desktops be moving your phone through the air, or allow the camera to keep the screen on as long as it can detect your eyes.

The TouchWiz Nature UX has grown since its launch to allow for multitasking and an enhanced sharing tool through Multi-Window support and Smart Share Direct with NFC control. The longer you use the phone, the more it becomes your own personalized experience.

The new HTC Sense user interface, one of the key points to the release of the HTC One, focuses heavily on delivering an experience to the users. The “BlinkFeed” — basically a full-page content feed filled with social media, images, and blog posts — grabs content and organizes it in a way that HTC has determined through intense research into what users will want. This feed consumes one whole page of the desktop, and HTC expects that most users will treat this as their home page.

The One’s new camera features HTC Zoe, a software tool designed to grab a handful of frames around a photo you want to take and use it to create a short video clip. HTC is the editor and producer in Zoe, with the user as the cameraman and the customer at the same time.

If you’re looking to personalize your HTC One, Sense offers a handful of helpful themes for both the homescreen and lockscreen that will allow you to completely re-skin the UI to fit your needs. The whole experience is very pleasing to the eye, and allows users of any skill level to appreciate the phone.

 

Hardware

If you were to compare the specs of these two phones on paper, the Galaxy S3 would lose hands down. This isn’t surprising because the Galaxy S3 was released right around a year ago. The One’s Snapdragon 600 offers a 40% bump in performance over the S4 Pro, which is one full generation ahead of the Snapdragon S4 in the Galaxy S3. In other words, the HTC One is faster and is able to do more with less battery drain. The 2300mAh battery in the HTC One is likely to last longer than the 3300mAh expansion battery that is available for the Galaxy S3.

If you’re not all that concerned by what’s under the hood, the design decisions between Samsung and HTC offer a considerable choice. Samsung’s design is one of flexible, removable plastics. The battery and microSD card slot on the Galaxy S3 serve as a constant reminder that you can expand this phone at will. If a users wants to add wireless charging to their Galaxy S3, they can simply replace the battery plate with one that supports the technology. It’s a flexible design that many users appreciate knowing exists even if they never use it.

The HTC One continues the line of completely sealed phones with its aluminum unibody design. This has two major implications — no expandable storage and no replaceable battery. There are only two storage options and no microSD, but in return you get a phone that feels remarkably solid and absolutely smooth from edge to edge. The The 1080p screen on the HTC One feels like it could outshine the sun, while the Super Amoled display on the Galaxy S3 shows incredibly color richness with very deep blacks.

The two phones offer very different hardware choices, but neither one is necessarily better than the other.

It all comes down to you

Samsung and HTC have very different approached to the smartphone right now, in both hardware and software. Samsung is looking for the the best way to grab as many users as possible and let them figure things out for themselves. HTC has made a very targeted approach for users who are interested in consuming and creating media for themselves.

If your smartphone is a constant source of entertainment, whether its music, movies, or games, the HTC One is your phone. If you’re not really sure what you want from your phone, but you’re really interested in everything, the Galaxy S3 will keep you busy for a long time, even if you decide you’d like to root the phone and explore the ROM community.

There’s also price to consider. The One is going to be available for $199 on a new contract, while the now year old Galaxy S3 is headed out the door as soon as its successor — like the Galaxy S4 — arrives some time this spring. The Galaxy S3 will be available on deals and specials that the HTC One won’t be on for a long time.

The cast of X-men: First Class will be back in the middle of it mixing it up with the original cast.

 

 

 

 

 

-Chris Zaragoza

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Bryan Singer recently talked to IGN to talk about X-Men: Days of Future Past, and there are a few things that I think fans are going to be happy to hear. First of all he’s going to use the film as an opportunity to fix some things that went wrong with Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand. It will be easy for him to do that since the new X-Men film includes a time travel element.

IGN: One thing that’s interesting about the alternate universe/timeline in Days of Future Past is that it could potentially give you the opportunity to revisit things that happened in the third film in terms of characters and endings that you might like to see changed.

Bryan Singer: You mean, what you’re politely saying is, “fix s**t.” Is that what you’re saying? That’s what I’m hearing. [Laughing]

IGN: [Laughing] Maybe…

Singer: There’s going to be a little of that, a few things I can repair.

IGN: Are fans going to be pleased with these things you will be repairing?

Singer: I think so, I think so, yes.

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That means there’s a possibility that we can actually see James Marsden back as Cyclops and Famke Janssen back as Jean Grey who had their characters die in The Last Stand. When Singer is asked if he’d like to see these characters in the next movie he said,

Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t? [Laughing] That’s all I can say.

It would be amazing to see them come back. The director goes on to talk about the time travel story elements, and explains the balance between the First Class characters and original characters.

The movie takes place at different times. It deals with, I don’t want to say time travel, but time displacement. A form of time travel which is steeped more in the X-Men [mythos].

The majority of it…or that part of it, takes place in the early 70’s, 1973. So Nixon is a character, and there will be different styles and automobiles. And there will be some futuristic, as well as retro, technology which you haven’t seen. There are science fiction aspects of the movie, and then there’s some retro science fiction that the X-Men films haven’t had quite yet. So we’re exploring that, which will be fun. And there’s an attitude [difference]. We discover our characters, particularly the younger characters, at a different place in their lives. Every character you discover in this movie is in a completely different place than you’ve ever seen, emotionally, and it’s about them moving through that. Hilarity ensues!

Singer also talks about expanding the X-Men movie universe, and that they are thinking about how they can do that.

I think that if you really examine the X-Men universe it’s every bit as big as the Marvel universe. There are lesser characters, but if you take certain characters there are a myriad of films you could make, and stories you could tell, with these characters as individuals. Wolverine being one of them, and that’s currently being done. But you could really mine this universe. I’m glad to return to it and I’d like to get more involved in it because it hasn’t really been orchestrated – somewhat with the Wolverine pictures – but I think there is a lot more that one can do.

It’s just something we’re thinking about. Really my big focus was this movie. Because it’s really massive, and we’re going to start shooting soon. But we’re talking, [producer] Lauren Shuler Donner and I, and we’ll see.

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With Singer back on board, I’m confident we’re going to see another great X-Men movie! Are you happy to hear that he’s going to be fixing some things, and that there’s a possibility we’ll see Cyclops and Jean Grey back for more action?

It’s set to be released on July 18th, 2014. Simon Kinberg wrote the script, and it is based on Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s comic book storyline, Days of Future Past, that ran in “Uncanny X-Men” #141 and 142 back in 1981. The story is set in an alternate future where surviving mutants have been thrown in concentration camps, Sentinels are patrolling America, and most of the X-Men have been hunted down and killed. The present day X-Men are forced to stop a key event from unfolding in order to keep that future from occurring.

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So far the confirmed cast members for the film include Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, and Hugh Jackman.

The cast of X-men: First Class will be back in the middle of it mixing it up with the original cast.

-Chris Zaragoza

winter soldier

Captain America is one of my favorite Marvel characters, and I’m very excited to see what directors Anthony and Joe Russo are going to throw at us. Marvel President Kevin Feige recently talked to Variety about the films he’s working on and when talking about the comic book film genre he said,

“If it is a fad, it’s one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different. There’s an opportunity to graft almost sub-genres onto them.”

He then goes on to reveal that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is going to be more of a political thriller,

“Our first Captain America film was a World War II picture, and the next is a political thriller. They all have their own textures and patinas, and that’s what is exciting about it.”

I enjoy political thrillers, so the fact that this is going to be the tone of the movie is great news!

Chris Evans is set to reprise his role as Steve Rogers, with Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Cobie Smulders reprising their roles as well. Franchise newcomers include Anthony Mackie in the role of the Falcon, Frank Grillo as Crossbones, and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter. The film arrives in 2D and 3D theaters on April 4, 2014.

 

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-Chris Zaragoza

 

Recently leaked concept art images from Iron Man 3 show both space and hulk buster armor sets. There is no telling if these are going to be in use during the movie or just added for future installments as Iron man is set to be a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy and of course Avengers 2. This may also be set to be used in the rumored Planet Hulk/World War Hulk movies.

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Either way I’m loving that we keep getting more and more greatness from the Marvel family of movies. Now if they could just get all the rights under one roof to give us a REAL civil war movie…

 

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-Chris Zaragoza

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     A press release has just been issued by  Margaret Weis Productions (creators of 2005s Serenity RPG) that they have received the licensing to make a Firefly tabletop RPG!

In the press release, Margaret Weis Productions says they are looking to release products this spring both in print and digital formats. We will also most likely receive an update of the Cortex System, which was the basis for the Serenity tabletop RPG. Margaret Weis writes, ”

This project is a dream come true for me. I have been such a long-time fan of Firefly! I look forward to working with my crew to take us all back out into the Black!”

Margaret Weis Productions have also developed tabletop RPGs for other popular franchises, includingLeverageSmallville, and for Marvel Comics.

They had previously teased this possibility but were unable to say anything officially as they were still negotiating with Twentieth Century Fox.

 

What do you guys think? With Fox licensing this property so much recently could another run be possible? Maybe Alan Tudyk’s plan to release at least another season via netflix isn’t SO crazy.

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The $19 TrackR is a like a leash between your wallet and your mobile phone. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled wafer of plastic that fits in your wallet or pocket. You pair it with your phone, and whenever the TrackR and your phone get separated both your phone and the TrackR start beeping.

The app also takes a GPS snapshot of where your wallet was at the moment of separation in case you didn’t hear the alert. Tap a button within the app to make your wallet “ring” in case your looking for it around the house or in the dark. The technology works both ways, which means your wallet can beep to alert you that you’re leaving your phone behind. Works with your iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, new iPad, iPad mini and the new iPod Touch.

Hello Kitty launched into space by 7th grader

12-year-old Lauren Rojas and her dad, Rod, built a balloon-lofted Hello Kitty space-capsule for her science fair project in Antioch, CA, and launched it 17 miles above the Earth’s surface, recording its journey with video cameras and various sensors. The video is spectacular, especially the moments right before and right after the balloon burst and the parachutes deployed.

“We spent about one month planning and executing it,” he said. “We used a company called High Altitude Science in Colorado to get the equipment, the weather balloon and flight computer.”

Lauren and her father mounted small video cameras on their rocket-shaped gondola to record Hello Kitty’s journey. The balloon reached an altitude of 93,625 feet (17.73 miles), Rojas said. There, the air was so thin that the balloon burst, sending Hello Kitty from the sky. It landed in a tree 47 miles from the launch site, according to Rojas.

Girl Launches Hello Kitty Doll Into Space [Katie Kindelan/ABC]