Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mini Review: Dragon, Fly!

This little game I've seen quite a few times on the app market, and it didn't interest me at first, but it's been at the top of the list for a while now, so I decided to give Dragon, Fly! a chance, after all, it is free, so what have I got to lose other than a few seconds (which quickly turned into minutes, and I'm sure will soon turn into hours and eventually days! hehe)?

The game goes like so - you are a baby dragon who just hatched, and got away from you mother. You're still small so you cannot fly on your own yet, but you can glide if you get enough momentum going!

So, you have this landscape along which you sort of glide, and whenever you tap on the screen, you dive, so it's best to do that when going downhill... As soon as you reach the bottom of the hill, let go, and hopefully you'll have enough momentum to take to the skies a bit. Then, you must time your next dive just right so that you hit the downhill part again, to get even more momentum and hopefully soar higher and farther.

A few seconds after starting, your mother realizes you're gone, and starts coming after you - so the challenge is to get as far away from the nest as you can (and in that way get more points!). When she catches up to you, it's game over.

There are some power ups and bonuses you can get - blue bottles give you a speed boost, and gems give more points. Hitting a curve just right produces a "swoosh", and if  you "swoosh" 3 times in a row, you go into fire mode, and you score even more points (keep fire mode going by swooshing more).

EDIT: Yes, I play this game every day. Whenever I have a few seconds or minutes to kill, I always seem to start up this one... Anyway, as you play you level up your dragon as well, which not only changes it's colour, but also gives you a few seconds head start. To get to each new level, you have "quests" to do, seemingly simple things like get to Realm 5, or do 8 "swooshes" on the first realm, or exit realm 4 in fire mode, etc. It spices up the game play, and adds a little bit more of a challenge.

Doesn't sound like the most exciting game right? Well, download it, and play it, and you're mind will be changed! :)

Very fun, and well worth it! (25000 other people can't all be wrong!)

Get it here on the app market.

Till next time!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Readers Hub: Magazines

The last Readers Hub feature is Magazines, which is powered by the very popular Zinio - Now, since I already have this app on our iPad, it was just a matter of logging in on the Readers Hub one, and there was the magazine I just bought a subscription of :)

Anyway, opening up the Magazine part of the Hub first shows that it is powered by Zinio, after which you get to a list of all the magazines you've bought, and a few free ones are included by default as well:

I've subscribed to our local Popular Mechanics, a big favourite of mine! Best part is, it costs about the third of a printed subscription, and that's me doing my part on saving the environment as well!

Paging through the magazine is once again as simple as tapping on the edge, or swiping as if turning a page. The nice thing is you get the exact same copy as the printed one.

While paging through the magazine, you'll see the pages at a glance, and then you simply double tap, or pinch zoom to the area you'd like to read:

The app also, of course, includes the various ways of browsing the online stores of magazines, and there's A LOT! You have your normal categories, and stuff like "featured", "new arrivals", "top sellers", etc.

Browsing a category gives you all the magazines, from where you can tap on the cover of the magazine, and from there you can decide how you'd like to buy it, either a single issue, or a subscription.

I personally prefer doing the buying through Zinio's website. This way it gets added to your phone automatically, or wherever you're logged in on your Zinio account.

I'll do a purchase through the phones app at some stage, and amend this review on how that goes...

To summarize - the Readers Hub application that comes with the Samsung devices is in my personal opinion really nice. There are some dedicated software that might be better at the various sections (that is Newspapers, Books and Magazines) - but for normal use the Readers Hub is more than sufficient.

At the time of writing this, I've only had my Galaxy S2 for a month or so, so as always, as time goes on, I'll use the apps I review more and amend the reviews where needed.

In the meantime, if you've got a Samsung device, and haven't checked out the Readers Hub, you better go do it, even if it is just to drool over the fancy cars, watches an yachts  in the free copy of  Robb Report!

Till next time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Readers Hub: Books

Included with the Readers Hub application on the Galaxy S2 is the ability to read books (See my review on the Newspapers part of the Readers Hub). It uses the Kobo e-reader software, and is very straightforward and simple to use.

Now, even though the Galaxy S2 has that nice and big 4.3" Super AMOLED Plus screen, it's still not a replacement for your kindle or regular books - but, it's a very nice thing to have when there's nothing else available!

Now, I haven't actually purchased any books through the app (will let you know if I ever do of course), but there are many free books available. I downloaded Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and Sun Tzu's Art of War:

The app allows you to easily browse through various categories, and making selections on what to read is as straightforward as you'd expect:

The main part, which of course is actually reading the book ;) is very easy and pleasant to use. There are normal settings you'd expect, like being able to save a bookmark of where you are in the book, or change the font size. It even has a cool "night mode" feature, which inverts the colours (white text on black background instead of black on white...)

One thing that still amazes me about the Galaxy S2 is how black the screen is when it's displaying black! The pixels are actually turned off completely, so they emit no light whatsoever. When viewing stuff on the phone that has a night mode feature at night is always amazing to behold!

Anyway, back to the book reader app - I'm not so sure that I'll ever read a full book on my phone, the screen is big and clear, but it just doesn't beat a good old fashioned book, or even the excellent Amazon Kindle.

Here are some more screen shots of how the text looks:

The above screen shots shows the different font sizes, as well as what "night mode" looks like.

Turning pages is done by a simple tap or a swipe, which produces a very nice looking page flip effect (which you can also change in the settings if  you want...). 

That pretty much covers how the Readers Hub Books part works. Very nice indeed!

Next time I'll cover the Magazine part.

Anyway, till next time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S2

The Samsung Galaxy S2 has a very nice 8MP camera, and, as promised, here are some photos I've taken with it recently (click on the photos to view the full versions of each):

You'll see I've even taken a few panorama shots with the built-in panorama feature. The close-ups of our dogs were done with the Macro setting and some included using the built-in LED flash. Click to see bigger versions...

Will post some more when I experiment with the other settings...

Till next time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Readers Hub: Newspapers

The Galaxy S2 includes Samsung's Hubs, which includes four Hubs - Social, Readers, Music and Game Hubs. I have decided to use them all (or at least the ones that's available in South Afirca (Grrr at Music Hub)), and let you know what I experience for each one.

I've decided to start with the Readers Hub. It consists out of three sections, namely News, Magazines and Books.

Tapping on the News section, opens up the news reader part of the Readers Hub. At the top we have three options, namely My Library (containing everything you've purchased), Store and Settings. This screen shot is on the Store tab, and here is a list of all the countries, and next to the name the number of publications that country has to offer through this app. See South Africa has 23 - not too shabby :) Also, another nice thing is you get 7 free credits to try out the feature :D

Tapping on the country, will take you to the list of newspapers available there:

I used on of my free credits especially for this blog so that I can show you how it works (I'm nice hey? :) - I got the "Beeld" newspaper - today's (18 August 2011) copy:

You can see in the above screen shot, that you can have the one you're buying be delivered automatically, and you can add it to your favourites. Quite nice features :)

After selecting the paper to get, it started downloading:

After the download was done, I tapped on the Newspaper, and got this welcome screen with some instructions and tips on how to read the paper:

Pretty straightforward as you can see. I had a quick scan through the paper, and found it very easy to navigate and read the articles.

Click on the images above to view them in more detail.

That covers the Newspaper part of the Readers Hub that comes standard with the Galaxy S2. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical at first, I usually don't like the "default" apps that come with phones, but this one I'm really impressed with.

To get a new Newspaper to read is a quick and painless exercise. Now, I haven't bought one yet (downloaded the one in this post with one of my free credits), but as soon as I do, I'll amend this post with how that went...

Till next time!

Galaxy S2 Hubs

Howdy folks, it's been a while since I had the time to post something new here. I've decided to make my next post about the "Hubs" that comes with the phone. There's four of them, namely Social Hub, Readers Hub, Music Hub and Game Hub.

Now first thing's first - the Music Hub, EVEN THOUGH Samsung Advertises it here in South Africa, is NOT available in "your location" as the phone puts it. So don't expect any info regarding that from me - gotta love living in a third world country hehe :)

I actually filed a ASA (Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa) complaint about that, will keep you guys posted on what they say...

EDIT: Well, it turned out that the ASA ruled in my favour, and Samsung had to remove their advertising of the music hub on their South African section of their site - click here to read up on it on My Broadband

Anyway, let's get to the hubs that actually work:

Social Hub
The Social Hub is Samsung's attempt at combining all of your social life related stuff in one place. For example, you can set it up to include your Twitter feed, Facebook feed, IM accounts, Email accounts and so on. I tried it when I first got the phone, but I wasn't very happy with the interface, I personally prefer using the dedicated apps for each one. One annoying thing was that you cannot add more than one of each type of account (unless I missed it) - I personally have two twitter accounts, and would have loved to have them both on there, but alas, you cannot.

I'll experiment some more with the Social Hub to see if it's worth using or not, but it doesn't look good so far.

Readers Hub
The Readers Hub is a place where you can read newspapers and magazines on your phone. According to Samsung's website:

From classics to best-sellers, enjoy access to over 2.2 million eBooks, now with amazing new interactive features like the page curl effect.

With over 2,300 Magazines in 22 languages, featuring both article and page view, you will never be short of an interesting read.

Enjoy easy access to breaking news at your fingertip with access to over 2000 newspapers in 49 languages"

I will have a look and let you know what I discover on the Readers Hub.

EDIT: Here are links to the reviews of the Readers Hub sections: NewspapersBooks and Magazines.

Game Hub
This is where you get access to what Samsung calls "Social Games" and "Premium Games" - I downloaded a free demo of Assassin's Creed (a premium game), and played a few minutes and it was actually quite cool.

The only problem I can already see with the Game Hub is the fact that there's a total of only 13 premium games. Whoopdidoo!

That's a short intro on the four hubs that Samsung has included on the phone. As I play around with them, I'll post more in depth info for each.

So far I'm not that much impressed by it at all, in my honest opinion. Anyway, I'm open minded, and will give them all a good try and see if they can maybe change my mind :)

Till next time

Sunday, August 14, 2011

2 more videos to show off the camera

Here is two quick video clips I took yesterday with the camera on Full HD, just so you can see what the Galaxy S2 is capable of:

Be sure to watch them in 1080p and watch them in full screen. It's quite hard to believe that a phone camera is capable of taking such videos! Very impressive if you ask me!

Till next time!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Game Review: Treasures of Montezuma 2

If you are also lucky enough to have a Samsung phone, you would probably have access to Samsung Apps - this is Samsung's own app marketplace, where you can download apps, which according to their website "is a marketplace designed to provide a variety of mobile applications especially developed and carefully selected for Samsung Mobile Phones."

Anyway, yesterday I browsed through it a bit, and wanted to install several games from there - some big names like Assassins Creed and Need for Speed - these were unfortunately not optimized for the Galaxy S2 yet, so I couldn't get them. But, I did see a few other titles that looked interesting, and downloaded some.

One of those titles were Treasures of Montezuma 2. Through the Samsung Apps thing it was a free download, but I see you can get it through the normal Android App Market as well, but costs a few dollars.

I only played it a bit today, and at first I thought it to be just another Bejeweled clone, but after a few levels, I was kinda hooked...

Here are a few screen shots:

The loading screen:

After the game has loaded, it firstly (and I really like this feature) asks if you want to play without sounds or not. Then it gets to the main menu screen:

As you can see, there are 3 different modes of play available. At the moment, I have only unlocked Survival mode, but haven't tried it out yet - will talk about that as soon as I've played it...

The main game mode is Adventure, which presents you with a bunch of levels:

The ones you have completed get a totem - Green totems mean you've finished that level within a certain time, and you get the full bonus for it, yellow totems are kinda in between, and blue totems pretty much means you took too long, and will get the minimum reward for that level (think of the stars you get in games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope).

The levels look like this:

See, it looks like any other Bejeweled clone, but this little gem of a game have a few interesting twists to the regular recipe. Firstly, some of the totems will have crystals inside them, only when you match these up, do you get closer to finishing the level - you need a certain amount of crystals to finish each stage.

Finishing a stage gives you gold coins, that you can use to buy power up type features. An example of this would be the Red Totem (see it in the bottom left corner) - there are quite a few of them in the game, I've only unlocked Red and Orange - to activate a totem, simply match that totem's colour two times in a row, which will activate it's "power" - the Red Totem shoots two fireballs at random parts on the game board, destroying a few totems in the process. The Orange one turns back the clock 10 seconds. Quite a cool little concept!

Here is the screen where you buy these powers:

Then, some other things that happen to spice up game play is stuff like frozen totems (you cannot move these, but you can still match them up with the same colour totems nearby). There's also the usual stuff like exploding totems (another ability you have to buy at the above screen), totems that destroy other totems of the same colour, etc.

Here is a video of the game in action:

All in all, this is a really fun to play game, and brings some nice twists to the "match 3 or more" genre. It's a great time waster, and I would highly recommend it!

EDIT: I've had the game close on me now twice in a very short time. Hopefully it's a temporary glitch that the developers sort out soon. Will keep you posted

On the Android Market, get it here, or if you have a Samsung phone, search for it in the Samsung Apps application.

Till next time!