IED blast in Afghanistan inspires ex-Green Beret to reinvent two-way radio

So i discovered this short article on the internet and i was told that just posting it like a whole article isn’t a good thing, I got consent from the original writer and read up how to curate posts, so that is it…….i thought this was fascinating because it highlights some of the highs and lows that I encountered when i was working inside the business.

U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. Tom Katis was headed through the mountains from Asadabad to Jalalabad in Northeastern Afghanistan to catch a plane out of the country for a week of leave in January 2003 when 70 pounds of plastic explosives buried in the road detonated directly under the lead vehicle in his convoy, setting off an ambush.

Shooting erupted from the reeds along the Kunar River, and Katis found his crew switching among numerous radio channels to call in air support and a medical helicopter for two wounded soldiers, as well as to update his commander and coordinate with nearby units.

Tom Katis

“I had to take guys off team frequencies to monitor empty traffic. All of a sudden, the team was not on the same frequency,” said Katis. “We all had radios that cost $15,000 each, and we’re yelling at each other.”

At that moment, Katis decided that even when operating as designed, radios were too difficult to use in combat. Live-only microphones caused missed connections. Choices had to be made quickly between satellite and line-of-sight systems.

That trauma was the kernel for Voxer, a San Francisco-based “push-to-talk” smartphone application developer that Katis co-founded in 2007 and hopes will take a big chunk of the multi-billion-dollar two-way radio hardware and services industry.

After finishing his second Army tour in 2003, Katis immediately co-founded a private security firm called Triple Canopy that has grown to 8,000 employees by catering to military, government and corporate customers around the world.

The radio idea stuck with Katis, however, who had worked a stint at a startup in Silicon Valley from 1999 to 2001.

“The first thing that was obvious was that everything needed to go on the Internet,” said Katis, a graduate of Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics and economics who interrupted his business career to re-enroll in the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

At Triple Canopy, Katis in 2004 met Matt Ranney, who became Voxer’s co-founder and CTO. What they and early Voxer employees later created was an Internet-based hybrid between a walkie-talkie and a group messaging application that enables users to talk live or send voice, text and photo messages that can be retrieved at will, all while displaying individual users’ locations. Venture investors to date have funded their efforts with $30 million.

It’s a deceptively simple system, according to Gartner, but Voxer has received 126 patents around the world to protect its inventions, which Katis says provide a platform for significantly improving communications in the private sector and government.

In May 2011, Voxer released a free version of its app and, though it was initially slow to catch on, it exploded to nearly 70 million users by 2012.

At that point Voxer had to choose whether to focus on the consumer app and generate money through advertising or some other vehicle — a vision that many other entrepreneurs were chasing — or try to build a communications product that businesses and governments would be willing to buy. For Katis and his cohorts, the choice was clear.

“A free consumer app was not going to solve the problems we want to solve,” said Katis in an interview in Voxer’s San Francisco headquarters in the historic Phelan Building on Market Street. “I think I can build a much bigger company than that. This is a hundred-billion-dollar industry that I think we can go and take a very meaningful piece of.”

Katis still loves and intends to keep the free app, but Voxer turned its attentions to building more sophisticated features, including encryption, a web-browser-based version for administrators, an installed appliance that companies or government agencies (think three letters) can run themselves and a function that mimics the way two-way radios squawk out transmissions in real-time.

Voxer launched a roughly $10-a-month-per-user business version in June 2013 and, while Katis says the first year was very much a learning process concerning how to make corporate sales, the company just scored its biggest customer yet, the North American division of a major international automobile manufacturer, the identity of which it cannot yet make public. In addition, Roto-Rooter, the national plumbing repair business, in April started to roll Voxer out to about 900 people, a quarter of its field staff, and Voxer has trials underway with various U.S. agencies.

Most of the sales to date have been to companies that asked to upgrade from the free app, said Katis, adding that the company is now hiring in sales and marketing.

One inbound customer was Chris Marino, owner of Xtreme Snow Pros, a snow removal service in Mahwah, N.J., who used the business version last winter for the first time after testing out many different two-way radio systems. Most of the other systems required hardware purchases were more expensive and less versatile, he said.

Marino’s staff balloons during snow season from five to 70 employees with seasonal help, and Voxer lets him communicate with each one individually or all at once from his desk.

“Voxer Business was an incredible asset to us,” Marino said. “It’s a truly great product.”

 

What Headset Fits My Bike?

The headset of a bicycle is, in simplest terms, the part of the bike that allows the steering column and front wheel to rotate and turn. It is, therefore, fairly important to the general running of a bike (as we’re sure you’ll agree!)

A bicycle headset generally consists of two cups that are pressed to the top and bottom of the headtube, there are bearings inside the cups that provide low friction contact between the cup and the steerer. This setup allows the rider to be able to steer and operate the bike with maximum efficiency.

Today’s bikes use lots of different headset styles, so we’ll take you through a few of the most common ones (because we’re nice like that).

  1. Threaded Headsets – These headsets are the most simple and ‘classic’ of all headsets. They were once nearly ubiquitous, but times have moved on since then. According to ParkTool.com, “The “threaded” in the name refers to the external threading at the top of the fork steering column. Bearing cups are pressed into the bike head tube. The bearings, which may be loose ball bearings, retainer ball bearings, or cartridge bearings, sit above and below the pressed races. The top most bearing-race has internal threading, and is held in place by a threaded locknut. The stem has no effect on the headset adjustment”.
  2. Threadless Headsets – Threadless headsets are actually quite similar to their threaded cousins, with one major difference (and you’ll probably see this one coming), there is no threading. According to ParkTool, “The top race uses an internal centering sleeve on the column to maintain alignment to the bearing cup. Pressure is applied to the top race from the stem. Threadless Headsets must use a compatible stem that matches the steering column diameter. The stem binds to the outside of the column, and holds the top race in adjustment. The threadless standards are 1-inch and 1-1/8 inch diameter steering column.”
  3. Low Profile Headsets – Alternately known as ‘Integrated Headsets’, ‘Internal Headsets’ and ‘Zero Stack Headsets’ (amongst others), these headsets use pressure frame cups to secure the bearings. “The cups have a flange, or lip, and sit adjacent to the outer edge of the top and bottom of the headtube. The headtube is a relatively large outside diameter, approximately 50mm, and cups allow the bearings to sit flush or even inside the headtube. The headset bearings sit “internally” to the top and bottom of the headtube. Some models use a cup that holds a cartridge bearing. The cartridge bearing is a slip fit into the cups. The cups act as a bearing holder and do not take bearing movement or wear directly. Other types have the cartridge bearing and cup/holder as a unit. These are simply replaced as a unit when it is worn out. Still another version of this type uses a cup and cone system with caged ball bearings, similar to the conventional threadless headsets”.

Of course, its up to you to decide which of these styles best suites you and your bike.

SOURCES

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/headset-standards

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headset_(bicycle_part

How To Use 2 Way Radios

One of the biggest selling points for two-way radios is their simplicity. Radios are extremely easy both to initially set up and to use.

The average two-way comes equipped with a PTT (or Push To Talk) button. This button is held down when you want to speak into the device and released when you wish to hear the reply. It is important to say “over” after you have finished talking, this way the person receiving your message knows that you have finished speaking and aren’t simply distracted or taking a breath. If you both try to talk at the same time, neither signal will come through.

How Two Way Radio WorksMost two way radios will operate at a decent distance, but as we discussed earlier this month, there are many variables that can affect a radio signal. Obstacles, be they man-made or naturally occurring, can seriously affect signal quality and transmission efficiency. The manufacturer’s promises about maintaining perfect signal over long distances (they all do it) almost always refer to optimum conditions with no interference (and must therefore be taken with a pinch of salt!).

Before you do anything practical, read the instructions carefully and familiarize yourself with the radio’s various functions and capabilities. Learn how to send an emergency signal and how to set your device to different channels. Despite being relatively simple gadgets (as well as blessedly easy to operate), many modern radios now come with a plethora of extra features (such as a digital screen, or a text messaging option) and it is wise to make sure you know what these features are and how to use them.

When carrying your walkie-talkie, you must always remember to keep it securely fastened to your body at all times when the device is not in use. Most radios come equipped with some sort of method to attach them to clothing (like a belt or a safety jacket), but if yours did not, then you’ll definitely want to buy one.

Once you are a licensed radio user, the first thing you’ll need to do is go for a test run. Give a friend or colleague one walkie talkie, keep another for yourself and then travel over progressively longer distances, contacting each other regularly, until the signal becomes unrecognizable. This test should ideally be performed in an area similar to the one you are going to be using the radio in, for obvious reasons.

As a side note, it is also advisable to make sure that your friend/colleague has your mobile phone number and that you have theirs, that way you can keep in touch with one another should any unforeseen technical problems arise. 

Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset

You might be safe in the knowledge that I bring the most effective headset content pieces, several of them are my very own a few of which are curated by me, when i choose to use someone elses content it is because it is relevant to my readership, so feel confident that you simply are reading the best from my industry.

Jawbone may now be best known for its UP wireless activity trackers and its Jambox speakers, but before anything else the San Francisco company was a force in the world of Bluetooth headsets. The new ERA is Jawbone’s (mostly) triumphant return to the ears of busy businessmen worldwide.

 

What Is It?

The Jawbone ERA is a small, powerful Bluetooth headset. It’s only 47mm long, 22mm wide and 13mm deep, and weighs only 6g. It has an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery good for 4 hours of talk time or music playback, and a high quality noise cancelling microphone that promises clear and accurate voice calls even in loud environments.

For such a small device, the ERA is well-built. There’s no creaking plastic or microphonics when you’re wearing the wireless headset, and even at maximum volume on a bassy music track there’s no undue vibration or distortion from the ERA’s earpiece.

There are five main elements involved in the care and usage of the ERA. The first is the headset’s single visible switch — it’s on the inner face of the ERA, toggling from power off to hpower on — when you can see the blue half of the switch, the Bluetooth headset is turned on. Forwards from the power switch is a small, rubberised, cylindrical mole — this is a skin sensor that knows when you’re wearing the ERA and when you’re speaking, aiding the earpiece’s active noise cancellation.

Hidden away on the back of the Jawbone ERA is the headset’s sole multi-purpose button. The process for using said button is a little arcane — there’s a guide in the box, of course, but remembering just how many short or long presses to tap on the back of the ERA can sometimes be a little difficult.

To adjust the ERA’s audio output volume, for example, you press and hold the multi-purpose button as the headset cycles through various volume levels from minimum to maximum to minimum and so on; to answer or end a call is a single press, to skip audio tracks is a double press — it’s easy enough with practice, but slightly complex to initially learn.

At the end of the protuberance of the Jawbone ERA — the best word to describe the piece of the headset that juts forwards from its resting place in your ear — is its internal microphone. The microphone is hooked up to the rest of the ERA’s electronics package, and does an incredibly good job of clearly transmitting your voice to anyone you’re talking to.

The segment of the ERA that you’ll have the most interaction with, though, is its earpiece. It’s the misshapen lump protruding from the otherwise sleek body of the ERA, with a wide-band audio driver surrounded by a removable silicon eartip. Jawbone includes four different silicon eartip sizes in the ERA’s retail packaging — suitable for a small right ear, medium right ear, medium left, and large right. In practice we found both the small and medium right eartips to offer the best fit

The ERA is not a cheap headset. If you buy it without the charging case, you’re up for a full $149, while adding the charging case tacks another $30 onto the price tag. I genuinely think the charging case is a mandatory accessory — it does a great job of providing extra power to a headset that definitely needs it — but as an overall package the ERA is very expensive.

What Is It Good At?

Just using the Jawbone ERA is an enjoyable exercise straight out of the box. There’s that ever-present secret agent feel to pressing a button on your secret in-ear headset, and after you’ve learned the ropes, taking calls, playing and selecting music tracks is simple.

The active noise cancellation of Jawbone’s microphone — the company calls the entire package NoiseAssassin, now at version 3.0 in the new ERA — is excellent. For making voice calls, or talking to Siri or Google Now, it’s definitely the most capable Bluetooth microphone I’ve used, and is possibly the best headset microphone I’ve used full stop. Especially in noisy environments, the novel noise cancelling built into the body of the ERA works very well.

For the first few days of trialing the headset, everyone I talked to with the ERA noticed the difference in the clarity and quality of voice calls. When you’re talking, the ERA clearly transmits audio, and when you’re not, it doesn’t — simple as that. With the help of the skin sensor, the ERA’s noise cancellation removes one of the most annoying impediments to workday phone conversations in existence. If you and a friend both had Jawbone ERAs and smartphones hooked up to a mobile carrier that supported HD Voice, you’d be able to chat away in the middle of a hurricane.

Beyond transmitting voice and audio, the Jawbone ERA is equally good at playing it back. I haven’t heard previous Jawbone Bluetooth headsets to compare the ERA too, but Jawbone says its earphone driver is much improved, and I’m inclined to believe them — this is a tiny Bluetooth headset, but at maximum power it’s actually capable of outputting a decent amount of audio oopmh. Compare it to a good pair of earbuds or in-ear monitors (I sabotaged the ERA by trying it out against Logitech’s excellent UE 900 IEMs), and it isn’t great, but it beats out Apple’s iPhone earbuds any day.

There isn’t a great deal of bass extension from the Jawbone ERA’s earphone speaker driver, but both treble and mid-range detail is excellent — significantly better than I was expecting. Maximum volume isn’t exactly ear-splittingly loud, but it is good enough to hear the ERA in an otherwise noisy environment. Jawbone’s various audio cues — a sort of aural guide to the ERA’s various features as you select them — are presented in a pleasantly soothing female voice, although you can customise them usng Jawbone’s companion mobile app, which also adds some useful features to the ERA’s repertoire.

Jawbone’s ERA works well as part of the entire family of Jawbone products. The accompanying Jawbone app for both Android and iOS devices (tablets and smartphones alike, although you’re likely only using the ERA with a phone) will be updated in the near future to link various products together, although Jawbone isn’t sharing specifics just yet. You should be able to get updates on your UP24′s daily activity or sleep progress in your ERA headset, for example. It’s a minor software trigger, but one that adds value to the entire Jawbone ecosystem.

If you’ve bought the charging case for the ERA, you’re in for a treat — it’s both a convenient and sturdy place to store the headset when you’re not using it, and a portable recharging station. The ERA headset sits in the case with its rear microUSB port holding it securely, while the dock has its own microUSB port for recharging. There’s a small indicator on the side of the charging case that tells you how much charge it has remaining, and the flip-up connector makes getting the ERA out easy when you need it. It’s the smartest way to store the ERA, and it has a thin leather strap for attaching it to a keyring.

I kept the ERA on my keyring for a fortnight, and the charging case didn’t get more than a couple of scratches — it’s just as sturdy as the ERA itself. It holds a total of 10 hours worth of charge for the headset, it charges quickly, and it’s convenient storage. I did have one instance where the ERA’s silicone earpiece fell off while the headset was stored away in its case, but for the most part the eartips stay on securely.

What Is It Not Good At?

It’s not possible to talk aout Bluetooth headsets without talking about the cringe factor inherent in using one. Don’t get me wrong — the Jawbone ERA is a very cool Bluetooth headset, but at the end of the day, it isstill a Bluetooth headset. If you want one, this is the one to get, but you better really want to wear it.

What that means is that it’s a slightly dorky dongle hanging out of your left or right ear, and even as unobtrusive as it is it is noticeable, and if you wear it out in public you’ll get the odd sideways glance or cautious glare. I made the mistake of wearing the ERA between my morning train and the Gizmodo office, and ordered a coffee at a cafe on the way — only afterwards did I realise how much of an idiot I probably looked like to the barista.

Of course, there is absolutely a time and place where the ERA truly belongs. It’s invaluable on long car trips, where the one-touch button means you can answer a call and have a discussion almost entirely hands-free, without distracting yourself from the road. If you’re hard at work and don’t want too much of a distraction, it’s possible to talk on the phone without disrupting your flow.

Without its charging case, the Jawbone ERA will run out of power within 4 hours at moderate listening volume, if you’re listening to music or constantly making and receiving voice calls. This is not enough for an entire workday of listening to music on the ERA, for example, and if you have a particularly busy string of phone meetings you might quickly run the ERA to the end of its battery life.

It’s possible to eke a day’s power out of the ERA with light usage, but as a general rule, it won’t last a full eight hour stretch — and it’s this that makes the extra cost of the battery charging case worthwhile. You’ll have to shell out a few more dollars, though, and this factors into our overall view of the ERA as a particularly expensive Bluetooth headset.

Should You Buy It?

Jawbone’s ERA is, as Bluetooth headsets go, very fashionable. You can buy the ERA in any one of four colours, and all four will be available in Australia. As it stands, the ERA is being sold exclusively in Apple Stores around the country, so if you want one to complement your Android phone you’ll have to step into the heart of darkness for at least a few minutes.

The ERA is a great headset, there’s no denying that. It sounds great, has the added features offered by Jawbone’s bespoke app, and it’s both attractive and versatile. All this brilliance does come at a price, though. The high asking price does restrict the appeal of the Jawbone ERA significantly; it’s likely to only appear on the ears of well-heeled businessmen and ultra-fashionable advertising and marketing and PR types.

If you want the best Bluetooth headset at any price, our money goes towards the Jawbone ERA. Before you buy it, though, I’d suggest you give careful consideration to its utility and how often you’ll be using it — an alternative might be more appropriate. Anyone deciding that the $179 ERA is right for them won’t be disappointed with how it performs. It’s on sale around Australia from the end of this month.

Voxer Launches Easy Talk Widget on Android, Allowing Quick Access to Walkie-Talkie Chats

This was originally posted on this website, credit should go them as this is a interesting article.

Mobile push to talk pioneer Voxer has just released an update for Android that includes its brand new Easy Talk widget for Android users. The new widget allows you to quickly access your most important chats and listen to live and recorded voice messages. You can also send audio, texts or images right from the lock screen or home screen.

“Voxer’s goal is to facilitate instantaneous communication and make it easy for users to quickly contact each other, reducing the time it takes to send and receive messages,” the company said of the update in a press release. “This is especially important for businesses, where time saved on communication can lead to benefits like cost savings. The Easy Talk widget is designed to help users communicate faster, enabling them to send and receive messages without unlocking their Android device.”

“REPLACING TRADITIONAL TWO-WAY RADIOS AND OTHER COMMUNICATION DEVICES WITH VOXER”

Some features of the Easy Talk widget include:

  • Access from home or lock screen: Users have access to several Voxer features right from the widget, which includes listening and sending voice messages, texts and images.
  • Prioritize important chats: Users can select specific chats that are the most important to them, and add them to the widget. They can access these chats by tapping on the next and previous buttons within the widget.
  • Send and receive live audio: Voice messages can be streamed live for the chat that is visible on the widget, so the user can have constant access to voice messages, even when the Voxer app is not open on their device.
  • Headset integration: The widget streams live audio to headsets, so users can communicate via their headset for easy access.

“Our customers are replacing their traditional two-way radios and other communication devices with Voxer,” said Irv Remedios, head of product, Voxer. “With this widget, we can replicate the live characteristics of traditional PTT, in addition to other features that can help users communicate faster. Android users can organize their chats, providing easy access to the ones that are the most important. With Easy Talk, users can communicate faster than ever before.”

The Easy Talk widget is now available for Voxer Pro and Voxer Business customers with Android devices running 2.3.5 and above.

Read more at http://www.trutower.com/2014/04/23/voxer-push-to-talk-launches-easytalk-feature-android/#MAJCJ5urdE4lBJDi.99

Diverse Power Leverages Exalt Backhaul for Large-Scale UHF Radio Network

Article of the Day………ok so i don’t have an article every day, but when i get a chance I’ll post content that I find fascinating. Lucky enough here’s one of these articles that I read and needed to share. If you enjoy it as much as me, please add one of those special social media likes, you know the one that tells everyone that you enjoyed something, rather than you sat on your arse and watched Television!

 

Exalt Communications, Inc., the leading innovator of next-generation wireless connectivity systems for private networks and Internet infrastructures, today announced that Diverse Power, an electric membership cooperative based in La Grange, GA has deployed Exalt ExploreAir microwave backhaul systems to link traffic from its TETRA UHF radio network back to its fiber core.

With 36,000 customers throughout counties in Georgia and Alabama, Diverse Power’s far-flung operations in this rural area require highly reliable radio communications among its maintenance personnel. Working with Exalt partner Dean’s Commercial Two-Way of Cataula, GA, Diverse Power deployed a TETRA UHF radio system for its workers and selected Exalt ExploreAir microwave backhaul systems to carry traffic among sites in Manchester, Mulberry Grove, and Red Oak, GA.

“We wanted a first-class system all the way with our radio network, and Dean’s Two Way recommended Exalt for its outstanding performance and reasonable price,” said Randy Shepard, senior vice president of Diverse Power. “Exalt gives us a fiber-speed backhaul infrastructure that we can rely on in all weather conditions, even during the recent ice storms.”

Diverse Power deployed Exalt ExploreAir systems in all-outdoor configurations on links between Mulberry Grove and Manchester, and between Red Oak and Manchester. The systems carry 100 megabits per-second of Ethernet traffic. While the microwave systems backhaul voice radio traffic today, Diverse Power is looking ahead to carrying SCADA traffic over the links in the future.

“Fiber and microwave are the only technologies that can reliably backhaul traffic, and Exalt microwave offers customers distinct advantages when expanding a network over a broad geographical area,” said Amir Zoufonoun, CEO of Exalt. “Our systems are scalable, providing customers like Diverse Power the capacity they need to optimize energy delivery, increase productivity, enable two-way information exchange with customers for greater control over their electricity costs, and easily add future service offerings.”

About Exalt Communications

Exalt Communications, Inc. is a forerunner in the global Internet revolution, delivering high-value wireless systems that transform the economics of connectivity. Exalt wireless systems extend or complement network fiber and replace now-outdated copper, enabling customers to accelerate time-to-market, optimize network performance, and reduce network infrastructure costs. Today, over 2,000 global customers, from the world’s largest mobile operators to independent service providers, government agencies, and multinational enterprises depend on Exalt systems as they move their applications to the Cloud, enable mobility, and connect the unconnected.

Read more at http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwgeeks/article/Diverse-Power-Leverages-Exalt-Backhaul-for-Large-Scale-UHF-Radio-Network-20140402#VrUcmLhd4WjO3IKs.99

Google Glass Gets Ray Ban Treatment

The design firm behind Ray Ban and Oakley eyewear has teamed up with Google in order to make their upcoming ‘Google Glass’ product look as fashionable as possible.

Italian eyewear designers Luxottica, the firm that owns popular brands Ray Ban and Oakley, are looking to create a stylish new collection that combines “high end technology with avant garde design”. They hope this will place them – and new partners Google – firmly at the top of the anticipated “smart eyewear market”.

Luxottica Chief Executive Andrea Guerra says that Google Glass has the potential to “give birth to a new generation of revolutionary devices”.

Google Glass, first announced in 2011, is an augmented reality (AR) headset device that superficially resembles a pair of eyeglasses (although prescriptions will be available as well). The lens includes a small screen above the right eye that allows the user access to applications, the Internet and other functions. It can be operated via voice commands, or by using the small touchpad on the side of the device.

Glass is presently only available via application to Google’s ‘Explorer Program’, an initiative which the project’s website describes as being “for people who want to get involved early and help shape the future of Glass”. At present, it is only available to US residents and it costs $1,500 (roughly £900) to partake. To date, Google has sold more than 10,000 units to these ‘Explorers’.

Last week, the search engine giants unveiled a new version of their Android operating system, specifically made for Glass.

Google Glass’ ability to take photographs and record video has given rise to concerns about privacy. Copyright protection issues were also raised after one Glass user was ordered to leave a cinema.

Critics have also attacked the high pricing and the potential dangers caused by distraction whilst driving or walking down the street. After motorist Cecelia Abadie was issued a ticket for driving, Google began lobbying against proposed anti-Glass legislation, which would make it illegal to use the device whilst driving.

However, Guerra and her colleagues obviously have high hopes for Google Glass. “We believe that a strategic partnership with a leading player like Google is the ideal platform for developing a new way forward in our industry and answering the evolving needs of consumers on a global scale,” She said.

No pricing information for the new glasses has been disclosed at the time of writing. 

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26730791

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/25/ray-ban-maker-to-work-with-google-on-google-glass-eyewear

A Review of The New Nexus 7 Tablet

In the 1994 movie ‘Star Trek: Generations’ the character of Guinan tells Captain Picard about the Nexus, a sort of temporal energy ribbon where all your hopes and dreams appear to have come true. “Its like being inside joy” she says of this ‘space ribbon’. It is a description that also fits the new Google Nexus 7, the latest update to the future-classic Android tablet. Just like Star Trek’s Nexus, this new 7-Inch masterpiece also feels like it can bring any passing whim to life…Its a little slice of space age magic.

Pathetically nerdy framing device aside, the new Nexus is truly a joy to use.

Essentially an update on the original Nexus 7 (but only inasmuch as tablet technology had advanced a lot in the last year or so), the newest member of the family Nexus has experienced a slight price increase (from £160 to £200 for a 16GB model), but that is to be expected given the updated technology available here, not to mention the rough and tumble of the decade’s economics thus far…

Frankly, it would be forgivable to expect a much larger price hike based on the strong sales of the original, but Google are smart people and they understand that the Nexus’ low price is a major selling point.

The 2013 Nexus 7 is lighter and thinner than its predecessor (the original weighed 340g, whereas the new one weighs just 290g). The new outer casing looks the part, for sure, but it’s actually the area that we found the most problems with…

For starters, the ‘improved’ screen is actually a major drawback; it is a case of form over function, of style over substance.

Essentially, the new screen has been embiggened, but to the detriment of the device itself. Due to this ‘improvement’, it is now tough to hold the Nexus without placing a digit on the touchscreen, which is problematic. It’s fine if you’re actively engaged in something, but a total pain in the you-know-where if you’re watching a video clip or navigating a menu. Unusually for Google, this comes across as poorly thought out.

The back is no longer coated with plastic, which makes it as slippery as a greased up iPhone. This will make the 2013 Nexus harder to keep hold of (and may increase its chances of sliding down in-between the sofa cushions and thereby being lost forever).

The screen, on the other hand, is beautiful. It’s as good as almost anything out there. It’s not a Retina screen, of course, but it’s easily the best you’re going to get for the asking price.

In addition, the 2013 Nexus is quicker than a whippet with a firework lodged tightly up you-know-where – and we mean that. You can put this thing to sleep (for hours, if you like) and yet, the second you boot it up again, the New Nexus is wide-awake, ready to rock and/or roll. As a matter of fact, the battery life, although not quite as good as the older Nexus, is good enough that you could probably let it sleep for days before you had to even think about charging.

Generally speaking, this is the old Nexus 7 but smaller, thinner and faster. It really is a joy to use, as well as an absolute steal at the price. Almost intuitively, this tablet knows what you want it to do and then does it.

Sure, Android OS eats about 6GB of the memory (causing immediate memory problems if you buy the 16GB version), but it really is worth it. The Nexus series are arguably the best Android models out there, with the OS and the tablet being literally made for each other, so it does make sense in the end, we suppose.

Overall, the New Nexus 7 is not without its faults. There are things we preferred about the original Nexus 7 and there are things we prefer about this one. As an upgrade, however, the 2013 Nexus 7 is still a sound investment.