ITLT: Power/Home Button Placement

Power button

Turning on a device should be easy and simple and shouldn’t take a lot of effort. Physical buttons are the best: giving you tactile and instant feedback.

Power Button - one finger vs the claw
Which would you rather?

Devices with physical home buttons (e.g. iPhone / Samsung S series) are the ideal IMO while Nexus devices (e.g. Nexus 4 pictured above) force you to use ‘the claw’.

ITLT: Headphone and USB port placement

Port Positions
How does one pocket this?

IMHO

  • both USB/charging port and headphone ports should be on the bottom
  • ensures pocketability when charging on the go with a USB battery pack while listening to music

Good

  • iPhone 5S
  • HTC One M8

Bad

  • Nexus 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Lumia 930

Other Notes

If you’re stuck on with a device with non optimal port placement, I suggest getting right angle connectors for your headphones as it at least allows the device to rest on the connector without straining anything too much (you could also get a right angled USB connector, but it is yet another thing to worry about if you care about USB charging speeds)

Right Angled Headphone Connector

ITLT: USB Charging Speeds

USB chargers with USB cable

Ever had that moment where you plug your device in, see the charging symbol and thought that you were getting a good charge? Well I’ve had times when despite the charging icon showing, that the battery was actually getting slowly depleted, so here are some tips to make sure you’re charging optimally:

  • Check your charger
    • bigger devices usually require a charger that provides more amperage (tablets usually 2A, phones usually 1A)
  • Check your cables:
  • Check your USB port
    • for your computer / USB external battery packs with multiple USB ports: some ports could charge faster than others
    • find out how much power you’re getting via a device like the Practical Meter
  • Check your charging speed
    • Android
      • CurrentWidget (currently using this an available as a widget and/or on-going notification)
      • Charger Timer (haven’t used but looks good)
  • Force a faster charge
    • There seems to be a few Android apps that do this but it may also be device/kernel dependant. I have not tested these but there are apps like this

Other Notes

  • You can charge a device with a higher amperage charger: the amperage is the maximum rating that the charger can supply. If a device requests 1A then it will supply 1A even if the charger says 2A.
  • Voltage should be matched. 5V is the standard but I’ve seen slight variations of like 4.9V/5.2V but as it is only a small amount they shouldn’t be detrimental unless the device is very sensitive to it.
  • Also if you have chargers that specify power rating (e.g. Apple chargers), use the following formula:
    Power (W) = Current (A) x Voltage (V)

    So given a standard 5V

    • 12W charger will charge at 2.4A
    • 5W charger will charge at 1A.

ITLT: Computer Product Pages

So in the previous ITLT post: “Ultrabook & the latest Intel HD Graphics“, I realised how horrendous laptop product pages can be: hard to find the latest models and sometimes even harder to find their specifications at a glance.

In the order of best to worst that I saw are

  1. Apple: basically 2 different skews of notebooks each has 1 page for all specs and extra text with configuration options. Shows full specs and starting prices (MBAs /MBPs)
    Apple - Airs
  2. Apple - Airs specsSony: 1 page showing the 4 different types/segments of notebooks showing screen sizes and start prices. No filtering but the 4 different segments are unique enough that they don’t really need filtering. Each segment shows different models in that segment with processor, screen size & resolution, price. Comparison between models available non obvious page.
    SonySony - detailsSony - current models
  3. Lenovo: results show main specifications (CPU, Graphics, RAM, storage, screen size & resolution, OS, price) items list shows main specifications and has nice sidebar filtering but no filtering on screen resolution. Does not show possible upgrades. No comparison
    Lenovo
  4. Dell: 86 results in total but good filtering: checkboxes that work and filterable by 4th gen processor. Results list show OS, Storage, RAM, price.
    Dell - ComparisonDell - Listing
  5. HP: the main page separates devices into “Home” and “Work” which I don’t really like. Results show (screen size and possibly price). Filtering by size shows a checkbox list but it works like an option dropdown – you can select only one. There is no filtering based on processor, so results could be showing you old laptops. Comparison of up to 3 devices to see further specs. 40 devices in total.
    HP - FilterHP - Listing
  6. Asus: Nice sidebar filtering options but dismal details of results listing: only shows screen size. Processor filtering does not show 4th gen processors (only 3rd gen and below). UX 301 LA is named as “Ultrabook” but filtering by “Ultrabook” thinness hides it. Can compare models (max 5) to see more specs. 51 results in the “thin and light” category (176 in all categories) – lots of older models.
    Asus
  7. Samsung: Results show only screen size. No filtering and shows a lot of older models. Same model of different colour listed as a separate item – meaning there are duplicates. Viewing all shows all 187 results (lots of old models).
    Samsung

It’s sad to see how manufacturers are giving consumers a hard time just looking to find a laptop. It’s even sadder to see some manufacturers showing old models in their listings (Asus and Samsung). Kudos to Sony for simplifying their range to 4 distinct types of laptops but Apple takes the cake due to their minimal yet sufficient product line up and having information rich specification pages.