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Always On Episode 47: Unboxing the S4 MiniThis week on Always On, we unbox Samsung's Galaxy S4 Mini and Apple's MacBook Air. The S4 Mini gets a workout in a torture test, and we check out the latest with higher education and online learning, for free.
-This week on Always On. It is back to school time. Look at that little [unk]. It's pretty. Hi. I'm Molly Wood. Welcome to Always On, the show where we're looking at the tech that's part of your life and your future. This week, I'm sad to say, you have to go back to school. So we have an education-themed episode for you but we're not skimping out torture test. We're taking the Galaxy S4 Mini out for an absolutely barn burner. You do not wanna miss that but first, we're going to take it out of the box. Inside this box I have the Galaxy S4 Mini, it's a lot like the Galaxy S4. Many of the same features but a smaller screen and a smaller price. Let's see if this little budget-friendly phone will impresses me and you. It's a small box. Tamper evident tape-- it looks so tiny. It's totally Mini. This is gonna be hilarious, by the way, 'cause this Mini I think is the size that most phones used to be. Remember like 2 years ago? All right, let's get it outta here. I continue to love Samsung's packaging by the way, eco-elegant I call it. Look at that little [unk], so cute 4.3-inch display. It's like almost the size of an old iPhone. It's so teeny. I'm cracking myself up here. All right, it is super lightweight. It's for that some sort of people who still wanna put their phone on their pocket, which due to radiation concerns I do not recommend but to each his own. Let's get the battery outta here while I figure out what else is in the box. We have a little Quick Start Guide, some earphone thingies, our international power brick, headphones, charging cable and finally the battery. That's about that in here. Definitely have a little bit of that plasticky Samsung feel, for those who like that or don't like that. It's impossible to get the backup currently, seriously what's the deal with that? Am I missing something? No. If I break a nail on this Mini, I'm gonna be mad. Of course, if I break as Mini, I'm gonna be madder, I did it. I'm less in love with the packaging. But the packaging in this case is the phone. I have to say, I am astonished at how small these feels compared to today as modern Mini phablet and actual phablet. Well, let's turn it on and have a look at that display. Some people are really gonna find this to be the perfect size because the Galaxy S4, even since the S3 has ballooned to, you know, 4.6-inch screen are really big phone. This is nice and tidy. There you have it. I'm gonna go through some of the setup here. And while I do that, let's talk about the specs. The Galaxy S4 Mini has a 4.3-inch super AMOLED Display, it's a 960x540 resolution, which is a little disappointing, but remember, this is the cheaper model. It runs a 1.7 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor powered by 1.5 Gigabytes of RAM. It has just 8 gigs of on-board storage although it is expandable via micro SD up to 64 gigs. It runs Android Jellybean 4.2 with Samsung's TouchWhiz UI, you're either a fan of that or you're not. But you can always customize at least a little bit. The Mini has an LTE phone that also has Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. It has a removable 1900 mAh battery, which are editors say can last a full day of moderate to heavy use. The camera on the S4 Mini is 8 megapixels compared to the S4's 13 megapixels and it also has a front-facing HD camera. It does get many of the features of the bigger S4 like Smart Stay, which keeps the display on if you're looking at it, motion control for pausing video or audio and group play for sharing music with other Samsung phones. The full unlocked price is $580 US. The S4 Mini does seem like a perfectly premium phone and in fact, its price is not that much lower than the S4 at $580. So I would say, this is not a budget option. This is all about having a phone that's smaller than something like a Nexus 4, smaller than the big brother S4, something maybe closer in size to an iPhone. It's really all about your pocket. And if that's what you're most concerned with, it's a good one. Check out CNET's full review for all the details on the S4 Mini. -Yeah. I've had some instance with my smartphone and I've dropped it a few times when I go to the gym. -Bad things have happened to my smartphones. Dropped it in the water, dropped it on the ground at the cement, you know, had it fly out of my pocket while I'm running. -I was running on the treadmill and I like to listen to my music when I run. So when I was moving my arms, the phone fell off and it just hit the floor then it started messing up. -So, if you notice I have an older Samsung phone. And honestly, it would be really nice to see, you know, what the newer models have and, you know, in terms of durability. -So there you have it, some true stories about fitness disasters so I decided in that spirit that me and the S4 Mini gotta get a little workout today. Now I know you've all seen this scenario. Nice-- and a little workout on the treadmill. Phone precariously placed. Running playlist going, and then, oh no. That can't be good. Although, actually seems to look fine so far. Okay? No problem. I gotta say I'm not surprised 'cause I personally have done this with my phone, I don't know, ten to a hundred times and it's been okay so far. But, let's take it up a notch. Okay, am I going yet? I don't think there's any enough water on here. Okay, I'm just gonna add some more. It seems to be doing fine-- wants to know if I intended to pan left to right. I'm just gonna make sure it's all the way dry on the inside but a little water spill. Probably want to replace your clean canteen because the [unk] leaks all the time but the phone is totally fine. The phone is fine. Maybe we should do another step. I think one more. I think so too. Oh, that seemed terrible. [unk] looks possible that I have a little more curve than I had before but, get this thing. It's pretty impressive. I know, this phone is like disappointingly awesome. Look at that. No problem. Okay. Well, there's only one thing to do now since we are at a kickboxing gym. All right. This phone is proving a lot tougher that I expected so we're getting a little extreme. I'm not saying that this is something that could happen in real life. I just need to know. Buddy? -I'm ready. -Okay. -Just give me a straight. -Nothing? -None. -I have even made the app go yet. -That was a good one. -Thank you. -Holy-- -I got cocky. I got cocky. -Spread your legs a little bit, spread your legs a little wider. There you go. All right. Another jabs. -Okay. Okay, so clearly I have done zero damage to that phone with my pink gloves, so I'm gonna turn over to our pro, Benton. All right. I'm counting on you Benton. I want you to kill this phone, not me, just the phone. Okay, I'll be right here. Oh, yeah. Keep going. Next. Get it. The phone hates you. The phone is selling your sticker to the NFA, yeah. Anything? -Nothing. -A little more. Are we gonna have to move to the feet? Seriously the phone is fine. -The phone is completely fine. -It kinda like an earthquake back there. Yeah, you turn the camera off but the phone is fine. Okay-- you know what? We're going nuclear. -One more try. -It's time for the beat. -Okay. I'm ready. -I want three good kicks and if that phone doesn't die, it's the best. Okay. Come on, it was on the back swing. All right, last one. -Last one. -God. I would not want to be that phone. Okay, let's see how it's doing. Oh, you did it. -Did I really-- -Oh, yeah. -That's what I'm talking about. -I like him getting into disparity like, "Finally--" -Trying to break that thing all day. -I know. -All right. -Okay, so that apparently is what it takes. This phone is definitely cracked. Let's see if I get all the tape here. It's still coming on. Don't get me wrong but we definitely have cracked the screen a lot. And it's making a little-- it's making like sad little noises but the screen no longer comes on. All right. Now we know that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini can take just about everything except for the Benton Kick, which no one could take ever. It's almost still-- I tell you one thing, I am gonna take my boxing lessons from Benton. That guy is awesome. All right, it's time for us to take a quick break. When we come back, the future of education, I'm calling it Limitless Learning. Welcome back, everyone. Now you know that the cost of college just keeps getting higher. Did you know that American students collectively owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt? Did you know that a recent study says that in 10 years, the average student will graduate with more debt than they will earn in their first year out of college. It's insane. It's right before disruption and our next story focuses on taking free online courses from some of the top schools in the world. -Now the magical philosophy-- -I'm the author of this-- -Vulnerability to each cell-- -An introduction to artificial intelligence, jazz improvisation, the science of gastronomy. These are just a few of the hundreds of college courses you can take online for free. As education gets totally re-imagine, thanks to the internet. The classes are called Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCS, and many are taught by top professors at the best colleges in the world and anyone can take them. -We call them control. -Andrew Ng is a Stanford professor and co-founder of Coursera, an online education startup. He says MOOCS are all about promoting access to education for everyone. -What we really do is create a technology that makes it possible for one professor to teach not just a hundred but a hundred thousand students. This really changes the economies of higher education unless let's do this totally in the same thing like to the best courses and put them online for free. -Coursera offers classes from 80 different Universities from all around the world. -So this is your list of partnered Universities? It's pretty long, look at that. -Courses from all of these schools taught in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, more languages to come in the future. The online lesson plans follow a similar format to a traditional class. There's a syllabus, lectures, homework and even tests. Very few classes include college credit but completing a class comes with its own rewards. Most students are not able to get credit for these courses or a degree. So, you can say, I took a course but you can't say I graduate from Princeton. -The free Coursera courses are not credited very-- and you don't get a degree for them for the most part. But it turns out that when you finished these classes and list them on your resume, employers do take them seriously. -Each will follow-- -How far are we do you think from this becoming the next stage of education? -Previously, the modified education was you graduate school for 4 years. And then the next 40 years you coast on what you learned. But didn't makes no sense in today's world and all of us [unk] of knowledge. -Heather Weer is one such student, a user-experienced designer at Oracle who signed up for a course on Gamification to broaden her skills. -They have a series of video lectures that you can watch. There are courses that you would take as well as homework assignments, papers that you write. I love to learn. I love being in the class. So this is a really easy way to do that. -Coursera is not the only place to get an online college education. There's also Udacity and Edx and some courses can be taken online directly from colleges. But the father of the movement is Sal Khan. He is targeting the K through 12 crowd with his startup Khan Academy. -So if I take the x multiplied by 5 and then also subtracted by 8-- -His unique approach which inspired thus he changed in education is about helping students better learn in a range of subjects from Algebra to Astronomy. -Do you feel like you've spurred a shift in the way people view education? -We were the first to kinda get-- to kinda show that there's a huge need for this. There's a huge demand. But our goal is to not just replicate kind of a traditional course or just to be video lectures. And most of the other people on the other side of this wall are software engineers, data scientists, alerting experts, researchers, teachers-- we're working with them to think about, can we rethink how the learning happens so it's more personalized. It's more interactive. It's not lecture-bases. Not explanation driven. It's a human being doing exercises. -So, will all this technology replaced the traditional classroom? It's hard to say. -The most valuable thing you could get from your education is this ability to take ownership of your education. It's the ability to say, "Oh, wait. That's my goal. I need to figure it out. Here are the resources I have at my disposal. Let me do it." People get very cynical all the time but I think we are absolutely moving into like the dawn of humanity to be too dramatic. -No, I totally agree. Now obviously, I'm excited about MOOCS. And they do seem completely revolutionary. I'm also excited about the possibility of not having to pay for my son's college education when he reaches that age. But let's do a quick reality check. Turns out, San Jose State University, just this summer, canceled their online classes after more than half of the students taken them flanked. Guess, there's still some question on whether it's the best way to teach people. We'll keep watching. All right, next up. It's an unboxing too for-- it's all about the student-oriented laptop, the also backpack-friendly MacBook Air. And right after that, we'll be reading your mail. Just in time for back to school. We are unboxing Apple's new MacBook Air, the 13-inch model that they announced at WWDC. There are hardly any changes on the inside except for, well sounds like a pretty awesome new battery. Let's get it out of the box. My sweet new knife from Gerber, thanks guys. There's so many things on here, I don't even know where to start. These laptops have always been popular for students, the whole MacBook line, and then of course the Air is very backpack-friendly 'cause it's so thin and light. Okay, MacBook Air. Alrighty, there we go. The box hasn't changed either. It's got a plastic up here, carefully-- okay. I mean, if I'm being honest. They didn't really need to change the designer. This is a beautiful laptop and, so far, no other notebook makers been able to touch it, I mean-- pretty. All right, let's take it out here, clean, black and white packaging as always. I mean, I'm sure there's gonna come a point where we say they gotta change something about this but that point is not quite here yet. Just looks good. We have our power cord, that's pretty much it. Let's get the plastic off. Get our MacBook outta here. Come on little guy. Here we go. Okay, you've all seen the MacBook Air before. Let's talk about the specs. As I mentioned, there are no physical changes to the exterior. But the headline on the new MacBook Air is that it get Intel's new Haswell chip. It's an i5 1.3 GHz configurable up to a 2.6 GHz dual-core chip. It's powered by other 4 gigs or 8 gigs of internal RAM. In terms of graphics, you get an integrated Intel HD 5000 processor. The best thing about the new Haswell chip-- the battery life. Apple said it would be 12 hours. When CNET tested it, we got 14 hours and 25 minutes. It exceeds the previous 13-inch model by about half a day. There are some disappointments. You do not get a higher resolution screen and it's not a touch screen, which some people had hoped for. But the Res is very good. It's 1440x900. There's also a front-facing 720p camera. The MacBook air is 12.8 inches wide and 8.94 inches deep and it weighs just under 3 pounds. It has 2 USB 3.0 ports and a thunderbolt port. But unfortunately, it does not get a new HDMI port. It does come with an SD xD card slot. Storage is still unfortunately pretty small. It starts at 128 gig solid- state drive, although you can, of course, upgrade but it'll cost you. There is also no optical drive as on the previous models. Wi-Fi is upgraded to 802/11 ac, which should play very nicely across the Apple line and it has Bluetooth 4.0. Despite the interior improvements, the price on the MacBook air is actually a hundred dollars cheaper than the previous model. It starts at $1,099. On the inside, the MacBook Air 13-inche is doing everything right. Better battery life. For me, trumps in HDMI port or a higher resolution screen. And this design is so sleek, it should fit in anybody's backpack, plus it's 1,100 bucks. This thing kinda works for everybody. Of course, that is just my opinion. It just so happened our CNET editors agree with me, head on [unk] full review for all the details. This week's e-mail comes from Jay who writes, "Hi, Molly. I love the show and get seriously loads of very helpful from your show, as well as the Apple Byte with Brian Tong. I observed and replay like 20 times your torture tests as well as some stand-alone test from other Youtubers. Some of those stand-alone tests not always on. It seemed very subjective. I was wondering if the company has provide you guys with these amazing gadgets, instruct you to torture it in a certain way. It does not look like you guys are bias in your tests, but I just wanna be sure. Before I use Always On in consideration before I purchase an expensive device." Jay, I can assure you two things; One, no company would ever willingly send us for free a gadget that we were going to destroy in the manner that we've destroyed certain gadgets on our show. We buy them. So, point two, you can feel totally confident that we come up with those tests on our own, and most of them are based on things that you guys actually do the stuff. So, keep those suggestions coming. And believe me, no bias here. Maybe some subjectivity but that's not our fault. As always, everyone, thank you so much for the amazing feedback and please keep it coming. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. And before we go this week, I wanna say a special thank you to Jeff Cannata who helped us out so much in seasons 3 and 4. You're gonna be seeing a lot of other faces on the show in season 5. But if you wanna watch Jeff's new show, newest, latest, best-- keep up with him at jeffcannata.com. That's it for Always On this week everyone. Coming up next week, we're taking a look at TV tech. I'm unboxing-- I think it's safe to say a big-ass TV. It's pretty good. In here-- we're also taking a behind-the-scenes look at 4K TV technology. That's what's coming up next week. See you then on Always On. -You broke the phone. -You kill that phone. That was amazing. -Yeah, I did. -You're gonna have to tell everybody that you kick like a locomotive. Like outraging bull.