Since its release, the Android platform has grown in leaps and bounds, finding its way onto laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones. Helped by the momentum of search giant Google, much of Android's popularity is due to its open source nature. Because Android is an open platform, manufacturers have been able to adopt Android with ease and spend more time on developing features - instead of a proprietary operating system. This led to a wide variety of features unique to specific Android models: some had HTC's gorgeous SenseUI, some had Android 2.1's slick Eclair home screen, and lucky Evo 4G users got WiMax.
This division of features drove independent developers to take action, and Android's developer-friendly, open nature made customization possible. Almost as early as Android's first release, developers have been creating custom ROMs to bring additional functionality, improve performance, and increase battery life.
At the end of our November 2008 solid-state-drive roundup, we concluded that those NAND-flash-based drives just weren’t ready for prime time, thanks to astronomically high prices, small capacities, and flaky first-gen controllers.
Flash forward to mid-2010. Not only have newer drive controllers thoroughly washed the bad taste of the first-gen SSDs out of our mouths, but performance has shot through the roof. And the slowdowns that early SSDs experienced when writing to memory blocks where data had been deleted have been vanquished by the TRIM command. Implemented in modern SSDs as well as in Windows 7 and Linux, TRIM’s garbage-collection functionality has helped SSDs overcome one of their remaining hurdles.
Of course, there’s still the matter of price. While solid state drives have several advantages over their mechanical hard drive brethren—durability, reliability, and speed among them—they still cost a lot more. A one-terabyte mechanical hard drive costs less than $100, but a 256GB SSD can cost close to $800. Nevertheless, today’s SSDs have significantly dropped in price, and combined with the technological advances, are a much improved value. Is that enough to get your purchasing dollars? We were compelled to find out, Maximum PC–style.
It only makes sense to follow last week's "Best Mouse Ever" review on Maximum PC with a listing of some of the best freeware and open-source tools for making the most of your handheld input device--or, in layman's terms, the mouse.
If you think that's an easy task, than I have a golden, $500 mouse with your name on it. Simply put, there's just not that much love for the ol' mouse in today's software world. I suppose that makes sense, however. I have a flashy gaming mouse, yet, the only real software I used to extend its functionality is the very app, shipped by the manufacturer, that helps me customize said mouse's buttons. That's all you need, right?
I have indeed managed to find five apps that do their part to enhance your one-handed experience with your computer. At the end of the day, I'd still opt for a flashier mouse over a new piece of software when it comes to really making your input device rock. However, that's not to say that these programs aren't cool or useful in their own rights. Give ‘em a shot and let me know what you think in the comments!
Let’s face it: Photoshop ain’t cheap. And, worse, Photoshop is a kind of software—much like most kinds of software—that only works offline. If you’ve purchased it (or any other graphics-editing program, for that matter), yet you don’t have it installed on the system you’re currently working with, you’re out of luck. No photo editing for you.
Besides, we live in the world of the Web nowadays. With storage turning to the cloud and applications turning to the Internet, we question the need for an offline photo editing program to begin with. For as long as you have an internet connection, you don’t need to spend umpteen amounts of money in order to crop, tweak, and save your images—you can do it all right from the comfort of your Web browser of choice. It’s free. It’s easy. And, best of all, there are plenty of different Web-based photo editors out there, which gives you the opportunity to pick-and-choose a particular service that best meets your needs.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to strand you in a sea of potential Web apps, which is exactly why this life preserver of a guide is going to walk you through the highs and lows of five of the Web’s most well-recognized photo editing tools. We’ll assess each app based on the features it offers, how easy it is for an average PC user to grapple with said app’s interface, and the general user experience that each app delivers. Here’s one good note to get you started, however: All of these Web apps are one-hundred-percent free. Gratis. Costs nothing. On that point, everyone wins the day.
If you’re at all serious about the sound you feed your head, you’ve already replaced whatever craptastic headphones (aka earbuds, earphones, or in-ear monitors) came in the box with your digital media player of choice. Now you’re ready for another upgrade, and with the economy in turn-around mode, you can afford to splurge just a bit.
Type “earbud” into Amazon’s search box and you’ll get more than 4,000 results, so to guide you through the thicket, we picked out six pairs of sub-$100 in-ear monitors from the biggest names in the business: Audio-Technica, Klipsch, Sennheiser, SkullCandy, Ultimate Ears, and VModa. We then created a playlist on a third-generation iPhone populated with songs from a broad spectrum of styles, including classical, rock, jazz, world beat, funk, and techno from artists ranging from old-school (The Beatles) to new-school (White Rabbits) to cool-school (John Coltrane). We also made a point of selecting a mixture of electric and acoustic performances mastered with both analog and digital studio equipment. All tracks were ripped from CD (recordings produced with both analog and digital studio gear) and encoded in Apple Lossless format.
Prepare thy hoses. The recent announcement of the Safari 5 Web browser got me thinking--just how much of Apple's latest software iteration is already replicated in Firefox? In Google? I've never been a fan of the Safari browser myself--even the few times I would ever let my pristine hands be blackened by an unholy Apple device. But one has to give the company credit, in that they sometimes do come up with some pretty neat ideas.
Has Apple managed to improve Safari 5 leaps and bounds beyond its chief rivals, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome? In short, no. A number of the new tricks and tidbits are already a part of one browser, or both, in some capacity. Some, that is, but not all. Just to make sure that you're getting the best-in-class experience on the Web, I've put together a short list of ways that you can embed or mimic the spirit of some of Safari 5's features in either aforementioned alternative Web browser.
I realize this is a little bit different than the usual freeware software roundup. And, yes, I realize you're about to flame me to bits for suggesting that anything touched by Apple is, in even the smallest of ways, better than a PC-based piece of hardware or software. Let's head this off at the pass by agreeing that cool features are cool features regardless of platform; I'm out of iPhones to break to prove my loyalty, faithful readers!
Don't let Google scare you into thinking they're the only search engine out there. Microsoft's Bing offers users a solid, user friendly engine with a ton of features that set it apart from the competition. In this article, we're going to dissect Microsofts patented search engine and bring you some basic tips to help get you started. We'll also run you through some of Bings more distinct features, including 3D map capabilities and Microsoft's Photosynth system.
When Android first debuted on the HTC Dream (also known as the G1) back in October of 2008, it was deemed an "iPhone Killer." While it didn't quite slay Apple's handset, it was the first step in a revolution against the tyrannous iPhone. The initial Android platform bested the iPhone OS on several levels, but lacked some key functionalities that the iPhone could provide. Since then, Android has grown - not only meeting all of the functionalities of the iPhone, but besting it in nearly all aspects from an extensive list of devices to a growing Android Marketplace. Here is our list of the top 10 things Android does better than the iPhone.
Because everyone uses the Internet in a different way, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all browser. The feature set one person needs might be too little or too much for another person. Extensions for browsers like Firefox and Chrome go a long way toward solving this problem, but installing and managing extensions is a pain, and can be an overly complicated solution to often-simple problems.
That’s where bookmarklets come in.
"Privacy" is the word that's on the lips of anyone even remotely connected to the Web 2.0 nowadays. But I don't care much about that. What you do on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or whatever, is your own business--and, worse, there aren't really third-party applications that you can download and use to self-assess your potential privacy pitfalls. You're on your own there.
However, when it comes to Windows--oh, yes, there's much we can talk about when it comes to the Windows operating system. There are always newer and stronger ways to protect your PC from intrusion, from third-party access via an unscrupulous exploit or unintended network connection to the raw, physical tricks one can use to gain access to your protected information. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it, it does.
So, without further ado, let's take a little joyride through some unique free and open-source applications that you can use to lock down your PC without removing all traces of usability from your operating system. For just about the only thing worse than a computer nobody else can get into is a computer that you, yourself, have to jump through 30 hoops just to get into. These apps aren't going to be that, you have my word.