Sony Xperia Tipo review

Sony’s Xperia Tipo is the most recent dinky smart phone from the Japanese tech giant, this time aimed squarely at those of you with small hands gripped tightly around tiny purses.

It lays claim to being a bother-free, easy-to-use bargain. But if penning the slapdash, glitchy software for the Tipo (pronounced “Typo”?), did Sony’s programmers leave auto-correct switched off?

You can bag the Tipo on prepaid for £100 or pocket it free on two-year pay-monthly contracts starting at £7.50 a month.

Should i purchase the Sony Xperia Tipo?

No. As a minimum, not until Sony releases some serious bug fixes to shore up software stability at the device. I had no end of trouble with it — with glitches proliferating and causing more disruption than gremlins at a pool party. Because it stands, it’s simply not reliable enough to be worth your investment, notwithstanding how affordable it sounds.

The Tipo is tiny inside the hand nonetheless it brings an entire heap of trouble.

It’s also worth noting that while cheap, £100 can now bag you a prepaid ‘droid with a 1GHz chip and a 4-inch screen, provided you do not mind owning a Huawei handset, in preference to a Sony-branded blower.

The Huawei Ascend G300 offers a miles superior Android experience to the Tipo, because of an excellent software base and higher hardware. If it is the promise of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) that attracted you to the Tipo, it’s worth noting that the Gingerbread-flavoured G300 is additionally due an ICS update soon.

If the G300 doesn’t take your fancy, there are other, more reliable contenders in your cash equivalent to the marginally cheaper T-Mobile Vivacity or, for a couple of quid more, the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2.

Android 4.0, apps and bugs

As mentioned above, the Tipo is powered by Android 4.0 ICS. That’s now not the newest version of Google’s operating system — that honour goes to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Nevertheless it at the least sounds very modern for a phone with any such low cost tag.

Some of some great benefits of ICS at the Tipo: notifications which might be flicked out of the tray (left) and the hot apps stack of thumbnails (right).

You’re not given each of the features of ICS though. Notably, you aren’t getting to unlock the handset through facial recognition because the Tipo doesn’t have a front-facing camera. And because the telephone is skinned with a layer of Sony’s software, you fail to notice the Tron-esque feel and look — probably the most noticeable changes ushered in with ICS.

All of this suggests the variation between bagging a Gingerbread ‘droid and the Tipo, with its nipped and tucked ICS, isn’t as great as you would think.

Having ICS for £100 may sound like a bargain but hold your horses. I encountered plenty of bugs during my time with it — some so serious I needed to reset the device repeatedly simply to restore basic functions. The sort of instability was routinely related to early versions of Google’s OS, so it’s disappointing to revisit the bad old ‘droid days with a tool that runs ICS.

The Tipo shows off its glitchy side. At the left is a graphical bug at the Gmail check in, and at the right, Gmail’s never-ending wait to sync.

To add insult to injury, Sony is marketing the Tipo with the unlucky slogan, ‘your hassle free Android smart phone’. Hassle free? Reassess.

I encountered more bugs using the Tipo than on another glitchy budget blower I reviewed recently — the lowly Gingerbread-powered LG Optimus L3. Just like the L3, the Tipo had trouble with Google’s Play store. Initially it was fine, and that i was in a position to download various apps. Then the shop suddenly stopped working.

The phone claimed there has been a ‘connection error’, despite having both Wi-Fi and 3G networks available. At this point, the Gallery also stopped functioning and just a factory reset restored function to both. The Gallery flaked out several times during testing and continued to be flaky after several factory resets.

I also bumped into other issues of the Tipo. Initially, it didn’t sync Gmail, while various apps crashed and/or were generally troublesome. As an instance, the USB file transfer link to get media off the telephone and onto a computer also stopped working — requiring an extra factory data reset for functionality to be restored.

In short, the Tipo’s software stability sucks and Sony must perform a little serious patching to realize a suitable level of stability.

On top of ICS, Sony has added its custom Android interface tailored slightly to slot the Tipo’s tiny screen. This skin provides you with the standard multiple home screens to fill with apps and widgets. But because the screen is so small, the scope for information-packed widgets is restricted.

The Tipo have been skinned with Sony’s software wrapper — nipped and tucked to suit its tiny screen.

Elsewhere, the Tipo comes pre-loaded with Sony services reminiscent of its PlayNow store, where you could download apps, music, games, wallpapers and so forth — just like Google’s Play Store (also pre-loaded but not always working). For much more media choice, you furthermore mght get Sony’s Music Unlimited service and — confusingly — two galleries: Sony’s Xperia Gallery and a traditional Android gallery.

Quite why Sony thinks it’s useful to have two how you can view photos at the Tipo is beyond me — especially because the phone then prompts you to inform it which way you need to view photos (until you decide a default viewer). Hassle free? Hardly.

The Tipo has not one but two galleries to view photos — useful, i believe not.

Screen

The 3.2-inch screen is another big low point, with a lowly resolution and a distinctly unresponsive feel.

Resolution is 320×480 pixels, which equates to a trifling 180 pixels per inch. It isn’t the worst resolution I’ve encountered. For instance, it’s easier at the eye than even cheaper ‘droids corresponding to the LG Optimus L3 or the Samsung Galaxy Y. But it’s low enough to make staring at it for longer than about a moments more of a chore than a delight.

Still, with a screen this size, you were never going to be doing rich web browsing or watching full-length films. This pane’s size is adapted to texting, a place of app-based social networking and light-weight gaming.

Arguably, much more annoying than the low pixel count is the unresponsive feel of the Tipo’s pane. i discovered i wished to press quite hard to get it to register my taps and swipes. Apply even relatively light pressure to the pane and you will have to monitor your finger marks fade off the skin of the TFT panel where they’ve just been imprinted.

Apply less pressure and you can stop the pane flexing into the skin of the screen — thus avoiding finger marks. But with lighter presses, i discovered myself having to tap away multiple times before the telephone would fan the flames of the app i used to be attempting to open. Again: hassle free? Not a little bit it.

Power and performance

Even when it isn’t crashing or flaking out or feeling irritatingly unresponsive, don’t expect great feats from the tiny Tipo with regards to power and function. It’s driven by a single-core 800MHz processor, so this isn’t a phone for blasting through graphically demanding games. Not that it might be worth seeking to do this in this tiny, low-res screen.

It’s not all bad though. The Tipo can offer okay performance for basic stuff like calls, texts, checking Facebook, playing about a simple games and snacking on mobile websites. When the glitchy gremlins are hiding, the Tipo can feel pretty nippy for this kind of tiddler, letting you swoop through menus and skim mobile websites without lashings of exasperating lag. It’s certainly slicker than another budget ICS blower — HTC’s awfully sluggish Desire C, which only packs a 600MHz chip.

But the Tipo is lots more buggy. Lean more heavily on it and it will soon decelerate (if it doesn’t fall down).

In benchmark tests, the Tipo’s highest ranking score was within the Vellamo browser benchmark — gaining 912, a score that pushes it into the head 1/2 the list. Within the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, it only managed 3,735.2ms (lower is healthier on this test).

In graphics and CPU benchmarks, the Tipo was a barrel scraper — scoring just one,527 on Quadrant’s test and a pair of,766 on Antutu’s benchmark.

Designed for dinky hands, this mobile’s dimensions are wee by current smart phone standards.

If you’re wondering about its music credentials, the Tipo can pump out reasonably loud noise considering how tiddly it really is. i did not hear any distortion on the prime quality.

Sony has added its xLoud tech to the telephone, which apparently enhances the loudness of the rear speaker. i could not hear an enormous difference but it surely sounded slightly louder with xLoud on.

Call quality is average to poor, with voices sounding muffled and a background hum in evidence. On one test call, the individual i used to be talking to had trouble hearing me for portions of the decision.

Battery life is at the very least not something you’d have to worry about. Sony’s marketing bumpf claims the Tipo’s long-life battery can last a whopping 24 hours’ use on a single charge. That sounds unbelievably long — considering the official usage stats are a bit of more modest: as much as 5 hours of talk time, as much as 3 hours of video playback or as much as 30 hours of music listening. Standby time is pegged at as much as 470 hours.

I found battery performance to be pretty good. When you are a normal phone user that you must easily get a day’s use out of the Tipo before needing to charge it.

Design and build

The Tipo is quite small — certainly by today’s phablet standards. The display measures a trifling 3.2 inches at the diagonal, so in case you have big hands or fat fingers, typing at the Tipo will inevitably lead to it living as much as its typo-sounding name.

Of course, then again, small-handed folk do not have trouble grappling with this phone. It’s palm sized and will be tucked away into all however the tiniest of pockets.

The back of the telephone has a tactile, soft, round-edged matte coating that feels slightly rubberised, making it pleasingly pebble-want to hold. It is also very lightweight (99.4g) and reasonably thin (13mm), considering its small footprint.

The Tipo’s next most distinguishing feature is a sloping, recessed chin that sits beneath the touchscreen. This does not do anything aside from rope off a VIP area for the Xperia logo to take a seat on nevertheless it breaks up the elemental slab shape slightly.

Build quality feels average for a predominantly plastic blower. Apply some pressure to the removable back and it’ll flex, creak and pull open on the sides so it truly is definitely not a rock-solid slab.

Sony is offering the Tipo in a decision of 2 bright colours — red or blue — together with two less inspiring choices — black or white.

Strap two tiny Tipos together side by side and you have an inexpensive alternative to a Samsung Galaxy Note.

As well as three touch-keys at the front of the telephone, used to navigate round the OS — back, home and menu — there is a power key on top, which i discovered a touch hard to press because it’s extremely low lying, and a volume rocker at the side.

Ports wise, you get a micro-USB port at the side for charging the telephone and ferrying media from side to side, and a three.5mm headphone jack up top. Crack off the back and take away the battery and you may get to the SIM and microSD card slots.

Internal cupboard space stretches to two.5GB but it is easy to expand this by sticking your personal SD card within the phone.

The 3.2-megapixel camera would be sufficient for snapping your friends but don’t expect wonders.

Camera

Around the back of the Tipo is a three.2-megapixel camera. The very first thing to notice is there is no flash, so abandon all thoughts of papping your buddies after dark. The second one thing to notice is there is a fixed focus — expect a lot of your shots to be blurry.

If you need your environs to seem murky and moody, the Tipo can deliver (click image to enlarge).

Even in daylight, shots from the Tipo look blotchy, noisy and slightly surreal, with brighter colours bleeding out and more muted tones appearing scrubbed in their detail. If you are after a lens that may capture crisp images, this is not it. The perfect you are able to hope for from the Tipo is a few really poor quality Facebook snaps.

The Tipo’s lens has rendered these pink blooms especially blotchy (click image to enlarge).

Likewise, don’t expect anything better than YouTube quality clips if you are shooting a video in this phone.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia Tipo doesn’t cost much but its diminutive price ticket isn’t sufficiently small to catch up on awfully buggy software — so my advice is to influence well away from this phone.

A glitchy implementation of Android drizzled over uninspiring hardware is not any one’s idea of a delectable smart phone.

Even if Sony puts out software patches to enhance stability, the Tipo won’t ever get a more in-depth screen or a more powerful processor. Even supposing your budget isn’t big, there are better ‘droids on the market. Spending £100 can bag you a 1GHz chip and a transparent, roomy 4-inch screen within the sort of Huawei’s excellent Ascend G300. Additionally it is worth considering emptying the contents of your piggy bank for the T-Mobile Vivacity or the Samsung Galaxy Mini 2.

Additional writing and reviewing by Luke Westaway.

Find out how to root your Google Nexus 7

The Google Nexus 7 is a resounding little tablet, and as you get more into using it, you may come upon apps that require ‘root’. So what’s root? Put simply, Android is rather like some other operating system — every action that tinkers with its inner workings requires a permission. Having root level permission is without equal security clearance, and on this guide I’ll assist you get it.

Once you’ve rooted your Nexus 7, you are able to do such things as mount USB sticks with StickMount (you will need to discover a USB host cable), install custom ROMs, explore the complete Linux file system (inclusive of ES File Explorer), use Titanium Backup, tune your CPU for performance or battery life (which include with CPU tuner), or even block ads. 

A word of warning — right here procedure will void your warranty, and if done incorrectly, it may damage your device. CNET UK and that i don’t accept responsibility for bricking your Nexus 7. At the bright side, your device could be revived back to factory specifications — these changes aren’t permanent.

Preparation

You’ll desire a Windows PC. Connect your Nexus 7 using the USB cable it came with (don’t use just any old USB cable). Then install the Nexus Root Toolkit (NRT). This application will will let you root any Nexus-branded Android device. Use the ‘Your Model type’ setting (top left in NRT) to set Nexus 7 as your device.

Backing up

Unlocking the Nexus 7’s bootloader will cause your whole data and apps to be erased, so it’s worth using the ‘Backup + Restore’ feature provided in NRT. When you find your tablet has bogged down because you bought it, with the entire apps and widgets clogging up its processes, this can be a good opportunity to let everything go and begin from scratch — you can find it runs much faster after this process is complete.

Ensure Android Debug Bridge is running

Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is a device that lets your computer communicate with an Android-powered device. To make certain it’s running, click the Launch button within the ‘Advanced utilities’ section in NRT. Inside the bottom-left corner of the subsequent window, click the ‘Launch CMD prompt’ button. Within the command window that looks, type “adb start-server”, and shut both windows and return to NRT.

Configure drivers

First, be certain ‘USB debugging’ is enabled to your tablet. Open the Settings application and faucet on ‘Developer options’, then check the ‘USB debugging’ box. Next, you have to install drivers so one can allow NRT to speak properly together with your tablet. Despite the fact that the Nexus 7 is an Asus device, the drivers are by Samsung. Click the massive ‘Full Driver Installation Guide — Automatic + Manual’ button within the top-right corner of NRT.

You can choose whether to apply the automated driver setup or to do things manually. Fortunately, NRT is furnished with detailed instructions for every step — all it’s essential to do is read them carefully. For the sake of brevity, I’ll outline the manual configuration steps to offer you a neater idea in their purpose.

The first two steps require you to have the appropriate drivers in your device. This entails removing any drivers you might have installed previously, after which installing the Samsung drivers supplied in NRT.

Driver configuration steps 3 and four involve establishing your tablet with the Samsung drivers. It’s a similar process as updating drivers for some other Windows hardware. If you’ve done everything correctly, the Reboot button in step 5 will reboot your tablet.

The above image shows you configuring your Nexus 7 to be recognised as a ‘Samsung Android ADB interface’ device.

The remainder of the stairs are excited by another set of drivers called Fastboot. Your PC requires these drivers to enable it to flash the firmware of an Android device. As you follow the configuration in step 6 through to eight, you’ll install the Fastboot drivers for the Nexus 7 after which reboot it into ‘Recovery mode’ as a test (see image below).

Unlock the boot loader

Just as with a computer, the Nexus 7’s boot loader is a program that tells the tablet ways to awaken and cargo its operating system. It doubles as a gatekeeper, setting a limit at the level of permissions which might be granted to the user. Because we’re coping with a Nexus device, we can’t wish to replace the boot loader or exploit a safety hole. Instead, clicking the Unlock button in NRT will send a command to the boot loader instructing it besides to the ‘Unlock boot loader?’ screen, as shown below.

After unlocking, the Nexus 7 may take a very long time besides, or boot a couple of times — don’t be concerned, that is normal. Once it has booted properly, remember to enable ‘USB debugging’ mode again.

Root the Nexus 7

Once unlocked, clicking the ‘Root’ button will push the SuperSU application on your Nexus 7. Once you run an application that requires root permissions, SuperSU will pop up asking if it could grant root permissions to the appliance.

Beneath the NRT Root button, you will see radio button options for flashing ‘Clockwork Mod’ (CWM) or not. Here’s another recovery mode program — replacing the lovable ‘Android on its back’ recovery mode. In case you intend to flash your Nexus 7 with alternative ROMs, then i like to recommend flashing CWM. If not, then you definately are not looking for CWM. Note, notwithstanding the choice says ‘Permanent’, returning to factory conditions will remove CWM.

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You’ll ought to run the SuperSU application once in order that it may complete its installation.

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You’ll also see another new application, ‘Busy Box’. This gives alternate versions of Linux tools that other applications may use with root permissions. It’ll need root permissions too.

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Undo!

You’re all done. In the event you find it’s essential to undo everything and return to factory specifications, you could undo all the above using NRT. This YouTube video has useful, easy to follow instructions.

How you can stream video to an iPad or iPhone using VLC Streamer

If your videos and music tracks are stored on a single computer, would it not be great a good way to stream them for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with no need to shell out for an entire-blown media server? Needless to say it might, and VLC Streamer is the app to help you do that.

As its name implies, VLC Streamer is predicated on VLC Media Player, meaning it’ll run most — if not all — video stored to your PC or Mac, without requiring conversion first. And if you are prepared to place up with ads, you can too get all of this functionality completely free. Here’s how.

Install VLC Streamer Helper

First, open the App Store in your iOS device and look for ‘VLC Streamer’. Select VLC Streamer Free and install it within the usual way.

Now switch for your computer, browse to the VLC Streamer Helper download page and download the Windows, Mac or Linux version of VLC Streamer Helper. Double-click the setup file and follow the prompts to put in this system. Once installed, Windows users should leave ‘Run VLC Streamer now’ ticked and click on Finish to configure the Helper. Mac users might want to manually launch it from the Applications folder.

Select video to stream

You can queue up video to stream from either your computer or your mobile. To take action using your computer, double-click VLC Streamer’s taskbar notification area icon (Windows), or click its menu bar icon and decide ‘Add movies’ (Mac). First, click the ‘Conversion quality’ drop-down menu and decide which resolution you would like to stream the movie in. Each setting, from ‘Low bandwidth’ to ‘Very high resolution’ comes with a proof that will help you choose the simplest one in your needs.

Once done, either click ‘Add movies’ to choose the video to stream, or open a separate folder window and drag the movie you must watch onto the ‘Drag movies here’ pane (as pictured above).

Wait and watch

You’ll see the movie appear within the queued movie box, with its status marked as ‘processing’. While it’s possible to look at movies as they’re processing, i like to recommend waiting until it’s marked as ‘complete’ before continuing.

You can queue up as many movies as you adore. Once you wait, switch to the Settings tab and tick ‘Start automatically’ if you want VLC Streamer Helper to run at startup, so it’s usually available when your computer’s switched on and connected. Now open VLC Streamer in your mobile, wait while your computer is detected and faucet it under ‘Visible computers’ (pictured above left). Your queued movie(s) should appear (pictured above right). Tap one to observe it.

Add videos remotely

You shouldn’t have to take a seat at your computer to queue up video to observe — you can too select content directly out of your iOS device.

Just tap ‘Add a movie’, then browse your computer’s entire drive for videos to observe (pictured above left). Tap one to pick it, then choose your conversion settings. You have got an identical four basic choices as present in VLC Streamer Helper, but switch to the Advanced tab and you may independently set the video width, video bit rate and audio bit rate from a sequence of decisions (pictured above right). Select the Manual tab to input these figures manually. Tap Watch! to view the video — the save option only works with the paid version of the app.

Advanced settings

If you encounter issues with playback, check the VLC Streamer wiki for troubleshooting advice. Most problems will also be resolved by tweaking the video’s conversion settings. Import the video again using different settings and if the issue persists, click ‘Advanced conversion settings’ in VLC Streamer Helper or tap Settings > Conversion Settings from the major menu within the iOS app to make further changes.

Tips to save battery life in your Google Nexus 7

The Google Nexus 7 fares well with battery life in comparison with other smart phones and tablets, owing to its massive 4,325mAh battery and shortage of 3G connection. Still, if you are sapping its power stores by devouring HD videos at maximum screen brightness, you’ll welcome any extra juice you are able to wring out of this tasty tab.

The following guide runs through the entire sections inside the Settings application which you can tweak to eke much more life from your Nexus 7’s cell.

The power control widget

A long-standing member of the Android widget set, this permits you to control Wi-Fi, GPS, account synchronisation and screen brightness.

Wireless and networks

Wi-Fi settings
Network Notifications: in the event you switch this off, the Nexus 7 will stop actively looking for new networks.

Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep: the ‘only when plugged in’ option is the most effective compromise between power use and convenience

Bluetooth
For the sake of security and battery life, keep Bluetooth turned off until you wish to have it. To further improve battery life, minimise the ‘Visibility timeout’ so the tablet will deactivate Bluetooth once possible.

NFC
Near field communication (NFC), the technology that comes into play if you are using a tool to tap to pay for goods in a store, as an example, can also be disabled. It uses so little power it probably isn’t worth turning if off though.

Airplane mode
Airplane mode disables all wireless systems and should save lots of power, so long as your activities don’t require a web based connection.

Sounds

Notification sounds
If you’re pestered by various notification sounds, they are often quite distracting in addition to requiring power. Set the notification volume very low or to zero.

Touch and screen lock sounds
Again, these could be somewhat annoying and require energy — disable them.

Display

Brightness
The Android battery usage meter (Settings > Battery) usually shows that the screen is constantly the largest power drain. The Nexus 7 uses LCD, not AMOLED technology, so using dark-themed wallpapers and apps is not going to save power, because the backlight is often on. Regularly, automatic brightness manages things for you, but when you would like to save every last Watt of power, disable automatic brightness and decrease it to the minimum level.


Wallpaper

Avoid using live wallpapers. They may consume RAM and CPU cycles, all of which use energy, in addition to the ability needed for driving the pixels at the screen.


Sleep

Keep the time for the screen to fall asleep as short as possible — but not rather a lot that it spoils your delight in the device!

Battery and apps

View the battery chart to match how each app is hogging the flexibility. Under normal usage, the screen will always sap one of the most, but when you discover an app accounting for a huge percentage of your battery drain, it is advisable to consider uninstalling it or adjusting its settings.

Location services

GPS consumes power because it tries to maintain a lock on satellite signals. Unless you can use the Nexus 7 as a sat-nav, keep it turned off. If you’ll mostly be using your tablet indoors, always keep GPS switched off as it’s unlikely you’re going to get a signal anyway.


Avoid using all of the cores

The Nexus 7 runs on a quad-core Tegra 3 processor but keeps power consumption down via a low-power fifth core when performing tasks with low processor requirements. Therefore, to maintain power usage down, avoid processor-intensive apps. More often than not of thumb, if an app is making your tablet heat up, avoid using it. Heat is wasted energy out of your battery!

Battery care

Battery care is regularly overlooked. The battery have to be initially conditioned with one or two discharge-to-zero cycles. Thereafter, frequently discharging lithium-ion batteries your entire thanks to zero damages them. Try and keep the battery topped up above 50 per cent, after which occasionally do a whole discharge cycle so the battery can recalibrate itself to supply more accurate readings.

Finally, in case you take the Nexus 7 out and about with you and cannot depend upon having a mains socket, put money into an external battery (which include Proporta’s TurboCharger 7000), to charge the Nexus 7. You may always continue to apply the tablet while charging.