iPhone fought the Galaxy and the Samsung Won

As the two heavyweights in the smartphone market go toe-to-toe, trading blows from the courthouse to the high street, the question on most people’s minds is how do we know which is the best?

Unfortunately there is no magic formula for giving a precise conclusion as the devices outweigh each other in different areas. There are, however, some key points on which we can focus to judge the phones against each other.

In terms of design the Samsung Galaxy S3 is slightly bigger in all respects and has gone with a traditional removable battery and plastic casing. The finish does not really do justice to its substantial price tag and in this respect the iPhone 5’s metallic finish with bevelled edge makes for a much better looking device. The debate over which design is better has truly separated the warring factions. Basically, if you prefer a bigger phone the Samsung wins, if you prefer something that looks more sophisticated then the iPhone is a better choice.

When it comes to screen size the Samsung is superior, although the iPhone 5 has upped its game to offer a 4 inch 1,136 x 640 widescreen display, it lags some distance behind the Galaxy with its whopping 4.8 inch 1,280 x 720 Super AMOLED screen. The preference in screen also comes down to a question of taste. The vivid colours produced by the AMOLED are counterbalanced by the natural look produced by the iPhone’s IPS technology. In strong sunlight the IPS resolution produces a much more effective display, whereas in a dark environment the Samsung screen produces stunning results.

The comparison between the software on offer in these devices has also been a major focus for discussion. It has been argued that the Samsung’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich offers a wider range of integrated features and a greater level of flexibility than the iPhone’s iOS 6 operating system. The Android system allows you to set up your screen and alter the way the phone responds to basic functions with far more control that you will find on the restrictive system provided by iOS 6. The intuitive performance of the Apple system is still very effective and pleasurable to work with.

Measuring the power is generally a straightforward process and one which usually provides a clear winner. In this respect Samsung’s bigger device seems to have the upper hand and boasts a mightily impressive 1GB RAM, with a 1.4GHz quad-core processor. Perhaps in an effort not to be outdone Apple have not revealed any in-depth tech information on their processor making it impossible to give a definitive answer on which one is the best.

The issue of connectivity offers some clear points of comparison and the Galaxy S3 is head and shoulders ahead on this point. The device has ports for microUSB, microSD, and microSIM connections. It does not require a system sync for file transfer and you can simply drag and drop files onto your computer when plugged in by USB. The iPhone 5 is the first version of the device to move away from the standard Apple 30 pin connector, favouring instead a smaller 8 pin model. That is it as far as connectors are concerned however, and all transfer of files or media is tied in to iTunes.

In conclusion, it would seem that for the first time the untouchable Apple iPhone has been matched and exceeded by a competitor. Of course, there are a number of elements in the competition that do come down to a matter of taste, but in a straight head-to-head scorecard the iPhone has been delivered some serious body blows, and has suffered a points defeat to a bigger, and better opponent.

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LibreCAD the only major free Computer Aided Design program

If you are looking for a free to download Computer Aided Design (CAD) program then you could have a look at LibreCAD, an application that will allow you to create relatively complex CAD projects free of charge. Available in both Mac and PC versions this lightweight application provides a range of tools to create 2D drawings. Users are likely to be people with an interested in industrial design.

On initial launch the display window shows the main work area with tools like Draw, Dimension, Layer, and Block visible. These tools and others can be opened from the easily accessible menu bar. The application has a flexible interface that will allow you to customize the work area and lay the desktop out in a style which suits the user. All of the main elements can be dragged and dropped where the user sees fit, or hidden and displayed as required.

In terms of operation, creating new projects is relatively straightforward. Basic elements like arcs, circles, and lines can be neatly dropped into place. These elements can be grouped into a single item as the model is constructed. There is a useful zoom operation which allows you to alter the distance and perspective of the project.

The software also comes with a helpful set of tabs that allow you to access the colour and size of the work area. There are built in grids and guides which can be used to assist with drawings and measurements. These do not come with a ‘snap-to’ feature which would be helpful in making precise adjustments.

The software comes equipped with an ‘Explode text into letters’ feature, which allows you to add word effects on your productions. It is also possible to freeze blocks and layers within projects as they are being developed. As with any free open source software there are some positive features to reflect on, and also a few points for improvement.

Any free CAD software is going to be compared with Google Sketchup. Although this is a neat little application it doesn’t have anything like the functionality, ease-of-use, adaptability or export capacity of sketchup. It is quite a practical piece of kit and can be used to manage complicated computer aided design projects.

download LibreCAD

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Mirror your iDevices through AirPlay on your Mac or PC

The new Airserver application is the one we’ve all been waiting for. Airserver allows you to use your computer for AirPlay, i.e. as a monitor for your iDevice, using your iPhone as the controller.

AirServer lets you play your games, display your photos, videos and play itunes music on your phone and all through your Mac or PC. Another benefit is the Mirroring feature which means you can launch any application on your iPhone 4S, iPad2 and mirror this to your monitor in landscape or portrait and in real time. Dig it? It gets better. Post Processing allows you to enhance the quality of the image mirrored by changing focus, contrast, color  sharpness etc. If you like friendly competition, enable the app, choose split screen and play your friends!

AirServer is incredibly easy to use and comes in a single-user license which enables you to install the application on up to five Macs, you just sit back and launch it. In terms of iOS, your Mac needs to run Tiger (OS 10.4) or any later version, with your iOS device running on iOS 4.2.1 or later and connecting via the same Wi-Fi network.

For those without Apple TV, AirServer is a must. The iOS experience just got better.

Download AirServer for Windows | Download AirServer for Mac

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TiltShift Generator

Tiltshift Generator is an application designed to lend an artistic quality to miniature  objects in pictures.

In order to understand the application you need to have a clear understanding of tilt-shift photography. The concept has grown out of the basic principle of tilting (or rotating) the lens while shifting (or horizontally moving) the lens. This process creates a very distinct blur in the periphery of the photograph whilst keeping the object of the shot in very sharp focus.

For installation and operation on a PC or tablet you will first need to install Adobe AIR. The original format iPhone App doesn’t require any additional software and will run directly on installation.

The software is very straightforward to use and, for a keen photographer, it saves on the need to buy expensive lenses that are required to generate this sort of effect in pictures. There is some debate in the artistic community as to the relative quality achieved by the app when compared with photographs that have been taken with tilt-shift lenses by skilled cameramen. For the uninitiated, however, it is very difficult to tell whether a photograph has been adapted by the app, or snapped by a professional.

The software allows you to adapt pictures in a linear and radial perspective. Linear adjustments are made between parallel lines, while radial effects can be added within a circle inside the image. For the best results with an image the subject of the picture should be not be in the same plane as its surroundings.

The software also allows you to adjust elements of the image including; Colour, Saturation, Contrast, Brightness and Vignette (which allows you to adjust the corners of the image).

This is a fun piece of software and can be used to create a brilliant effect on images, if you know what you are doing. For a photographer who doesn’t want to splash out on expensive kit this an excellent way of making the image that you want quickly and simply.

download TiltShift Generator

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View virtually any file or email attachment you need instantly with Quick View Plus

For businesses it can be costly to download endless pieces of software however with more and more documentation becoming digitalised it is necessary to be able to deal with various different files and attachments. Installation of Quick View Plus means that these can be accessed without taking up time spent on trying to open and convert the files.

There are literally hundreds of conversions possible – we tried a number of different file types including PDF, spreadsheets, databases and more and the QVP managed to read them all successfully, as well as quickly. It is free to try and the licence cost is small enough to pay for itself relatively quickly, when you take in to account the cost of installing individual applications.

There are only two negatives as far as we could tell. Firstly, there is a slight dip in quality of the converted PDF files which don’t come back as cleanly as with Adobe and Foxlt Readers. The other problem is that it doesn’t currently handle multimedia applications which would be handy, particularly for the home user.

We would go so far as saying that this software is essential for small to medium sized businesses that don’t have the budget for endless applications or the time to convert files constantly. It’s Vista and Windows compatible so is opened easily either on the QVP viewer or through Internet Explorer. With this there is no need to get stuck with a file or attachment that you can’t open.

Multimedia options in newer editions would be welcome.

Download Quick View Plus

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Create your panoramic images with Hugin

Hugin is a comprehensive imaging tool for producing panoramic chains that is as useful for the home or casual photographers as it is for professionals. It utilises the same coding as other paid software however it is a free programme to download.

Its function is to meld several photos together to produce one panoramic image, or stitches several of these together to produce overlapping pictures. The results of these processes are very effective and they allow an amateur to achieve the same results as a professional piecing the images together manually. In addition it can detect the camera and the model that you are using which helps to minimise any reduction in the quality of the photographs and prevent distortion.

The interface is initially confusing however once you get to grips with it the functionality is quite straightforward, despite the number of features it possesses. Its assistant provides features such as cropping and image reduction in order to produce the best panoramic image.

If producing chain panoramic images is your thing but you don’t want to spend money on the software needed then this is a perfect option that will produce as good if not better images than some fee-charging rivals. The fact that it is also suitable for photographers makes it a good all-rounder, especially if the crashing issues are resolved in future updates.

download Hugin

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Create iOS games without having to understand Flash or use coding

Stencyl is a new piece of software that is perfect for the budding game designer who has not yet learned coding but has the ideas and wants to start producing their own games.

Stencyl allows the amateur to create games without having to understand Flash or use coding. As a result of this target market it is relatively simple enough to follow the tutorial and get started. That said it is not necessarily easy to master without a basic knowledge or at least aptitude for programming. It is probably most likely to suit hobby enthusiasts or young potential coders and programmers.

Once you have got to grips with the software the potential for what types of games you can devise is only as limited as your imagination, I found that I was able to produce a solid few games that were enjoyable to play, even when repeated. The software has enough to it to execute a good idea. That said it might seem limited or frustrating to those who are familiar with coding and programming already.

As a free piece of software this is a great first step in to game design, and probably as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. For someone young with some technical knowledge and a budding game idea this could be the start of a career or serious hobby in game design.

Download Stencyl

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Convert your photos to the universally accepted DNG raw format with Adobe DNG Converter

The Adobe DNG Converter 7.2 is a free service that allows you convert files from over 350 different types of camera into the more usable DNG format.

DNG, or Digital Negative, is a photo format that was created specifically for the purpose of providing photography buffs with a universal single format that can be read on any machine. Having this simplified format allows pictures to be archived and documented all the more easily, while keeping them more secure.

The converter comes with an easy-to-navigate interface that allows for the simple transfer of photos from one format to another. It can also be used with a range of camera and photo files, meaning that all of your pictures, no matter what format they are in, can be protected and stored.

The Adobe DNG Converter 7.2 is an unbelievably useful tool for converting and protecting different types of photo. Yes, at the moment the device only supports 350(!) types of camera, but this is still quite a lot and future updates may include additional camera support. Considering the converter is free, it really is the best tool you can use for editing your photographs into a simpler, easier to use and more secure type of file.

download Adobe DNG Converter

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