Monday, February 24, 2014

Nikon D5300 Review (First Thoughts)

I purchased a Nikon D5300 a few months ago and I decided that I would give it a full test during my vacation last month. For Nikon's product brochure of the Nikon D5300, please click *HERE*.

Having come from a Nikon D5100, here are some of the things there are a few things that I'm not overly enthusiastic about with the Nikon D5300.

One of the things that I don't really like is that the control to move/navigate through the menus is a bit harder than it is with the D5100. The navigation controller on the D5300 requires a harder click than it does with the D5100.

One of the key features of the Nikon D5300 over its predecessors in the Nikon D5x00 line is that it has built-in Wi-Fi and built-in GPS. Having used both the Wi-Fi and the GPS, I find both lacking.

With the Wi-Fi, the camera allows you to connect to an Android or an iOS device. It does not allow you to connect directly to a wireless access point. The wireless is also limited in that it only allows you to transfer images from the camera to your device (Android or iOS). It does not allow you to update the GPS file via wireless nor does it allow you to do a firmware update over wireless. Both updating the GPS file and doing a firmware update require downloading the respective file onto an SD card, inserting the SD card into the camera, and then importing it into the camera. The wireless feature of the camera does allow you to remotely take pictures with the camera using your Android/iOS device.

What I find limiting with the GPS feature of the camera is that it will sometimes take over 30 seconds to lock onto the GPS signal even when the camera has the latest a-GPS (assisted GPS) file. Thirty seconds might not sound like a long time but when you want to take a picture and the camera hasn't yet locked onto the GPS signal, this amount of time might cause you to take a picture without the location data embedded into the picture when timing is critical. Also, when the camera goes into sleep mode, if you've configured the GPS to power off in order to save battery power, it will take on average ~15 seconds (during my tests) for it to reacquire the GPS signal.

I've noticed that sometimes the GPS location information isn't accurate even when the camera indicates that the GPS is lock is acquired with the 3 bars. During my vacation, when I took a few pictures and I uploaded these pictures into my Google account, GoogleMaps would identify that I was located a few blocks away from the actual location that actually took the pictures (for example, GoogleMaps would show that I took a picture while I was inside a building when the picture that I actually took was an outdoor shot/picture).

The Nikon D5300 can be configured to get its time via GPS or when it connects to a cellphone/tablet.  I have my Android tablet configured to get the time via NTP so the time on my tablet is accurate within a fraction of a second and when I connect my Nikon D5300 via wireless to my Android tablet, I know that the time on my camera is accurate.

The wireless and the GPS features use up a lot of battery power. For me, I didn't have an issue with battery power because I used the Meike battery grip that I purchased for my Nikon D5100 with my Nikon D5300. The battery grip worked very well with my Nikon D5300 and during my vacation I was able to take over 1500 pictures without having to recharge the batteries.

I find the pictures taken with my Nikon D5300 to be very good and better than what I was getting with my older Nikon D5100. I think part of this has to do with the difference in resolution since my older Nikon D5100 was 16.2 megapixel vs. the 24.2 megapixels of my Nikon D5300.

One other thing that I don't really like in the Nikon D5300 (but it is the same in the older Nikon D5100 that I had) is that the LCD panel is not a touch screen. Navigating through some of the menus would be a lot easier if the LCD panel was touch screen.

These are my first thoughts on my Nikon D5300 after having used it during my vacation.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and an comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Manually Installing Android Applications on a Blackberry 10 Device running v10.2.1.537

After upgrading my Blackberry Q10 to v10.2.1.537 (see my previous blog entry), I decided to install some of my favourite Android applications onto it now that I no longer had to convert these Android APK files into BAR files in order to sideload it onto my Blackberry 10 device.

Since I have a few Android devices, it was a somewhat simple process for me to get the APK files that I wanted onto my Blackberry Q10. For me, I used Dropbox in order to get the APK file to my Blackberry since my Blackberry Q10 has Dropbox capability built-in but you can also download the APK files directly from a website or e-mail them to yourself once you have them.

For organization sake, I placed all my Android APK applications on my Blackberry in their own group/folder and called it Android APK applications but when the Android application is installed on a Blackberry 10 device, they appear as a normal Blackberry 10 application except that you get a bottom bar on the bottom of the application which you can remove by swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom and then selecting the "Hide Bar". I find that most applications are better without the bottom bar showing but some applications actually work better with the bottom bar showing.

There are other ways of getting APK files other than the method I used. My friend who didn't have any Android devices found the APK files that he wanted by doing Google searches however I find this somewhat risky as you can never know whether the APK file has been modified from the original file which is in the Google Play Store.

I have quite a few Android applications which were on my Android devices (LG Nexus-4, Samsung Nexus-S, Acer Iconia A100 tablet, and the Android installation of my HP Touchpad) which I wanted to transfer/copy to my Blackberry Q10 but I decided to begin by installing the following programs: Ebay, PayPal, Netflix, a local public transit application, YouTube, Google Translate, Lync 2013, Glympse, Microsoft RD Client, miCoach, and SpeedTest.

There is already an Ebay on Blackberry World which can be downloaded for the Blackberry Q10 but that version of Ebay is a port of an older version of Ebay for Android which was put into Blackberry World so everytime I started it, it would give me a message in my Blackberry Hub indicating that there was a more recent version of Ebay for Android available. With Netflix, SpeedTest, and Glympse, I already installed the converted BAR files of all of these applications and placed these onto my Blackberry Q10 but they were earlier versions of the Android APK file which were converted to BAR format so I decided that I wanted the current version of these applications (which was available from the Google Play Store) to be installed on my Blackberry Q10.

To get the APK files from your Android device, you can use a wide variety of apps. I used AirDroid and for my rooted devices I used Titanium Backup Pro (since the APK files were already backed up). Since AirDroid doesn't require a rooted device to get the APK files, this was the easier method. To use AirDroid for this purpose, you install it onto your Android device and then you launch it. After it starts up, you will be presented with a URL webpage/address to use on your computer's browser. You then enter this URL webpage/address on the browser of your computer and you will be presented with a message on your Android device prompting you whether to accept the connection or reject it. After accepting the connection on your Android device, you will go to your computer and notice an icon that entitled "Apps". You will then click on this and you will be presented with all the applications installed/accessible on your Android device. From that point, it is a simple matter of hovering your mouse over the item and then selecting the download button that will appear on the right.

After downloading the APK files that I wanted from my Android devices onto my computer, I just uploaded these APK files onto my Dropbox account. I then went to my Blackberry Q10 and clicked on the "Connect to Dropbox" (which was already configured to use my Dropbox account prior to me doing any of this) and I clicked on the APK file that I wanted to install.

After clicking on it, the file would download from Dropbox and I was presented with the install option for the program. You will need to enable apps installation from other sources if you haven't already done so. To do this, you will go into System Settings -> App Manager -> Installing Apps and turn on "Allow Apps from Other Sources to be Installed."

I then clicked on the Install button and within a few seconds the Android application was installed on my Blackberry Q10. At that point, it was just a matter of testing the Android app to make sure that it would work on my Blackberry Q10.

In the case of my example Android app (SpeedTest), the screen resolution of my Blackberry Q10 was not sufficient to display the app properly but it did work "properly."

In my case, the final step was just moving the Android app into the appropriate group/folder on my Blackberry Q10.

Please note that not all Android applications will work properly. For example, I installed Google Translate and it did work but I'm not sure about whether it is because I'm using a device with a physical keyboard but when trying to type in the word that I wanted translated, for every character that I typed, the cursor and screen would constantly jump from the top of the screen (where I was typing in the word) to the bottom of the screen as it was searching based on every single character that I typed. This made the application more problemsome that it was worth so I deleted it.

For the time being, it isn't possible to use any Android application that uses the Google account login without some hacking to the system. Personally I did not try to do this but I've read where others have tried it and were successful. Some of these Android apps will install and will work such as YouTube but you will not be able to link it with your Google account so you won't get a "personalized" YouTube experience. Most of these "incompatible" applications that require Google account login are created by Google. However, non-Google apps also sometimes use the the Google account or Google Play services information partially such as PayPal. After installing PayPal, when launching it, I would get a warning message below but the app appeared to run without any problems.

Some Android apps will exhibit strange behaviour that it doesn't exhibit on an Android device. For example, Glympse will show the last/family name of some of my contacts twice on my Blackberry Q10 and it doesn't do this on my LG Nexus-4 or my Samsung Nexus-S.

Some Android apps will also randomly crash. I've experienced these random crashes with Glympse and some other apps.

There is no way of knowing what Android apps will work on your Blackberry 10 device and which Android app won't work. The only way of knowing it is to either find this information on the internet or to try installing the Android app onto your Blackberry 10 device and testing it.

There is another way to install Android apps to your Blackberry 10 device directly using a Google Play application listing program called "Snap." I will outline this method in a subsequent blog entry.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Blackberry 10 Installation Process to

Blackberry released v10.2.1.537 for their Blackberry 10 phones recently and I decided to update my Blackberry Q10 last week.

The size of the update was ~310MB. I didn't time the update but I did check it at the 1 hour mark and again at the 1 hour & 30 minute mark and my Blackberry Q10 was finished applying the update after 1 hour & 30 minutes and I received a message to reboot my phone.

The update process was completely seamless and trouble-free. I was a bit worried during the reboot process as the reboot process seemed to take longer than expected.

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, the two things about this update that I liked was the ability to install APK files directly onto my Blackberry Q10 without first having to convert the APK file to a BAR file was was problematic and the ability to listen to FM radio broadcasts during on the phone without using a data connection of any kind.

During the installing/updating my Blackberry Q10 to v10.2.1.537, I kept my Blackberry Q10 connected to a power source (which I believe is a requirement for the upgrade to work). I didn't try it but if the installation/updating works without it being plugged into a power source, I wouldn't recommend it since if the Blackberry were to run out of power mid-install/upgrade, your Blackberry might no longer boot up.

The version of the OS that I had previously was Software Release (OS Version

The update process was a 2-step non-user prompted process (if you exclude the reboot step). The first step as shown by the snapshot below was the downloading process. The download connection speed that I was using during the upgrade process was ~2 Mbits/second.

After the update finished downloading, it automatically installed it without any user intervention.

As mentioned, I didn't exactly time the  process but checked my phone twice during the upgrade process and after 1 hour & 30 minutes, I received a message prompting me to reboot my phone. I rebooted my phone and it seemed to take longer to boot up than normally (although I didn't time it, I would say that it took maybe about 5 minutes).

After my Blackberry Q10 rebooted, I was able to access the phone again and I obtained the screenshot below.

I then verified the version of Blackberry OS I had after the upgrade and I obtained the screenshot below:

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.