• howard

    by Published on 05-21-2015 03:01 PM
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    While Iím not sure if itís by choice, these days Microsoft has decided to devote most of its attention to the more affordable end of the market. Hereís Bluís entry level Windows Phone, the Win Jr LTE which surprise, surprise, has support for LTE at a sub $100 USD price point.

    Entry level phones are more about what compromises you have to make to reach a certain price point and whether they make sense so letís check it out.
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    by Published on 05-14-2015 11:33 AM
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    A while back I reviewed the original Parrot Zikís wireless headphones. They were a good looking pair of cans that sounded much worse than they looked.

    Now, Parrot has released a new version. While they look hasnít changed much, they promise improved sound quality.

    I hate to be a cynic, but making them sound better is probably not a hard claim to make because there was so much room for improvement. Letís check them out:
    ...
    by Published on 05-14-2015 11:15 AM
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    Last year, one of my favorite lower cost phones was Bluís 5.0C HD. It combined Ďgood enoughí specs with an interesting, eye-searing neon pink case. It targeted the ďI want a decent phone thatís also funí segment and came through in spades.

    Of course, the 5.0C runs Android so if you were looking for something of the Windows Phone persuasion there was the Blu Win HD. Now itís been updated with the added goodness of LTE, letís check it out:
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    by Published on 04-27-2015 10:07 AM
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    If youíre familiar with Alcatel OneTouch, recently their portfolio has had 2 parallel families of devices. The Idol X line had beefier specs like full HD displays but no LTE, plus they utilized MediaTek SoCís. The Idol S line used Qualcomm SoC and some include LTE but theyíre less attractive on paper.

    Now we have the Idol 3, which appears to consolidate the 2 lines. It has a full HD display and is the first device Iíve tried with Qualcommís 64bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor.

    Looking down the spec sheet, youíll find many features from last yearís flagships like the 5.5Ē FHD display I mentioned, along with a 13 megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM, stereo speakers and a large battery that approaches 3000mAh.

    However, one thing thatís decidedly un-flagship about the Idol 3 is the price.

    You can pick it up for only $249.99 USD unlocked direct from Alcatel OneTouch. it occupies a part of the market that is currently not very crowded. While there are bunch of less capable phones that cost less than $200 and many flagships that cost $500 and up, $250 is a pretty lonely place.

    When I was trying to think of competitors, flagship alternatives like the OnePlus One and Nexus 5 cost a bit more than the Idol 3 while budget stalwarts like the Moto G 2nd Gen and ZTE Grand X Plus are a bit cheaper. I guess right now, the Idol 3 is competing with the the used and refurbished market. ...
    by Published on 04-27-2015 09:50 AM
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    The Lumia 830 is marketed as an affordable flagship here in Canada. For around $400, you get a phone with a slick metal frame, a 10 megapixel camera with image stabilization, running Windows Phone 8.1.

    Itís tailor made for people on a ďLiteĒ type contract, who only want to spend slightly more than they used to, but also donít want to drop too much on a new handset.
    ...
    by Published on 04-01-2015 07:47 AM
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    My sources are telling me that Google is going to shock the industry by announcing that they are selling Android to Apple in 50 Billion dollar deal.

    Apple will immediately be closing Android's source code. Some rumors point to Apple stopping all future development of Android immediately but there are also some rumblings that they will be porting Android to a special version of the iPhone 4 for developing countries.

    iPhone users will no longer get lost as Google Maps, Chrome and other Google services will become the default programs on their iPhones.

    The Nexus program is also dead. Customers who have ordered a Nexus 6 will be getting pink 8GB iPhone 5c's instead and a $50 iTunes gift card.

    Android isn't dead though, prominent Android OEM's have already discussed plans on forking the existing code.

    Samsung has already started working on their Android fork S-Wiz while Huawei's will be called HuaweiPop.

    More details on this as they emerge. ...
    by Published on 03-26-2015 06:19 PM
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    When you think of phones, each manufacturer has carefully created a set of expectations that customers like us can look forward to in their devices. HTC tries to make phones that are all metal with no gaps and an emphasis on the camera and multimedia experience. Sonyís are all about their water resistant with glass and metal bodies and integration with their media services. That sort of thing.

    Samsung is all about lots of features - they try to give you as much choice as possible. 2 years ago, when the industry trend was to move away from memory cards, Samsung stood firm and had one of the only flagships that still included this useful feature. Ditto for removable batteries.

    However, that was then and now, Samsung seems set on redefining their brand. Witness their newest flagship, the Galaxy S6 which is quite a departure from previous Galaxy S models.

    The removable battery and memory card slots are now a thing of the past as is the practical plastic body. Those have been traded in for an elegant glass and metal body.
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    by Published on 03-12-2015 12:11 PM
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    Just got my Samsung Galaxy S6 here are my first impressions:

    Edge or Flat?



    This time around, there are 2 Galaxy S6ís. One is the regular GS6 which weíll call the flat in this section and a variant called the GS6 Edge which has a screen that curves into the Edges.



    While phones with curved glass are nothing new, the Edges screen actually bends over the sides. Pictures donít do it justice, itís quite striking in person. Otherwise, aside from the Edge having a slightly larger battery, the GS6 and GS6 Edge are identical.



    If you want the Edge, youíll need to pay an extra $100.



    Next, you have to decide whether you want white or black and then how much storage you need. They come in 32, 64 and 128GB sizes. I think 32GB will be enough for most people while power users will probably be satisfied with 64GB. Kudos to Samsung for making 32GB, which is already quite generous, the smallest size.



    The GS6 Edge is really cool in person but if youíre a power user you may prefer the flat version. After getting over the curved sides, you may get tired/annoyed of having a screen that only curves on the edges.
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    by Published on 03-06-2015 12:15 PM
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    When Motorola released the original Moto G, it really turned the industry on its side. Before it came out, all the brand name phones at its price point where not very good. The Moto G was really one of the first affordable phones that didnít make any serious compromises.

    Motorola followed it up with the original Moto E. With an even more budget friendly price tag, many hoped it would bring the cost of getting a decent phone down even more.

    However, when it launched it was clear it had some serious compromises. The 4.3Ē screen was too small and cramped, it came with very little storage (4GB) and while it had plenty of megapixels, the camera was terrible.

    Now Motorola has a new Moto E that addresses most of the originalís shortcomings plus it comes with an unexpected extra - LTE support. Letís check it out: ...
    by Published on 03-02-2015 10:15 AM
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    Alcatel OneTouch will be selling the unlocked Cyanogen OS powered Hero 2+, direct via their website.

    It will be $299 USD (~370CAN) beginning in Q2 2015. It will be available in the US and Canada

    Here are the specs:

    • 6", 1920 x 1080 TFT
    • built-in stylus
    • LTE
    • 2Ghz octa-core Mediatek MT6592 SoC
    • 2GB RAM
    • 16GB storage
    • MicroSD
    • 13 MP rear-facing camera
    • 5MP front-facing camera
    • 3100mAh battery
    • Cyanogen OS 11 with Android 4.4.4
    • 160.5mm x 81.6mm x 7.9mm


    The 6" 1920x1080 display will be plenty sharp and 2GB of RAM should be enough for everyone.

    16GB of storage is also a plus and if that isn't enough, there's a MicroSD.

    Actually, the guts sound pretty similar to the Idol X+ I reviewed last year. The performance of the MT6592 octa-core SoC slots in between a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 and 600 so it should be sufficient for most users.

    What do you think? ...
    by Published on 03-01-2015 06:58 PM
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    HTC just announced the new HTC One M9 - or is it the newer HTC One M9. There's a quick chart comparing last year's M8 and the M9 after the jump.



    No doubt, the M9 will also compete with the just announced Samsung Galaxy S6. While the GS6 has the bigger 'specs'; 5.1 vs 5.0" screen, DDR4, HD display vs Quad HD, blah blah blah, to me, the M9's are more sensible.

    The GS6 has to push almost 2x as many pixels which will have an affect on graphics performance and battery life. Also, on a 5-ish inch display, most people will find that 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 are just as sharp as each other.

    Don't forget, that the GS6 also has a smaller battery (2550 or 2600 vs 2840mAh) that's no longer removable plus it has to run a power sucking Super AMOLED display. I don't care what Samsung says about AMOLED display using less power, my experience is that they are more power hungry because they usually have to be turned up.

    Still, it's much easier to market a 2560x1440 display over a 1920x1080.

    The M9 also comes with a MicroSD slot and a generous 32GB of storage. With the S6 you'll have to pick whether you want 32/64/128GB and be stuck with that.

    Both have metal bodies. The GS6 does come with some extras like a fingerprint reader (pretty useful), a heart rate monitor (not really useful), while the M9 has stereo speakers which if they're anything like the M8, should be excellent. It should be interesting to see which phone is better. ...
    by Published on 03-01-2015 02:07 PM
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    Samsung just announced successors to the Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. They're almost identical but the 6 Edge's screen curves down on the sides. After the jump is a quick comparison of the GS5, GS6 and GS6 Edge.



    The big difference is that Samsung has ditched the plastic body for metal. The screen is higher resolution though I doubt it looks any sharper than the GS5's - they're just keeping up with the competition in this regard. 3GB of RAM is a nice upgrade plus it's faster DDR4 RAM instead of DDR3. The camera now has optical image stabilization while the front-facing camera has been bumped to 5 megapixels.

    One of Samsung's calling cards is that their phones come with memory card slots. So I was surprised that Samsung has followed Apple's strategy and ditched the memory card slot. You can get the GS6/6 Edge with 32/64 or 128GB of UFS 2.0 (a faster type of built-in storage). Fortunately, the base 32GB model is already a good size unlike the 16GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus which are way too small and should never have been introduced to the market.

    Another big change is that the battery is now built-in. In fact, while the GS5 comes with a 2800mAh battery, the GS6 comes only comes with a 2550 while 6 Edge, a 2600mAh battery. I'm guessing that since the battery will probably last the day, that's enough for Samsung.

    Finally, unlike the GS5, the GS6 and 6 Edge aren't water resistant. This is a real shame, I'm guessing Samsung will make a GS6 Active later that is water resistant - this actually makes more sense as it was kind of hard to describe the difference between the GS5 and GS5 Active.

    All, in all, except for the removal of removable battery, storage and to a lesser extent, the smaller battery there aren't any real big surprises. I guess the lack of a Qualcomm SoC is a bit of a surprise but this isn't something a user is going to notice. ...
    by Published on 02-27-2015 12:02 PM
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    2014 was supposed to be the year of the wearable. While 2014 did see a whole slew of wearables hit the market and to a lesser degree, gain some mainstream acceptance, wearables didnít take off like many thought they would.

    One reason is that even though thereís a lot of momentum in the category - for many people, they just found that the trade offs of having a wearable didnít outweigh the benefit having one would bring to their daily lives.

    Hereís the Samsung Gear S, one of the first wearables from a mainstream manufacturer that has a built-in SIM card slot which allows it to get a data connection even when your phone isnít around.

    Is built in wireless the killer feature that wearables have been waiting for? Letís check it out:
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    by Published on 02-19-2015 12:35 PM
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    Right now if I had to choose, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would be my pick for favorite Android phone. You can imagine how pumped I was when I found out that the Samsung Galaxy Edge was coming here to North America.

    Itís just like the Note 4 but the display has been swapped out for a curved, slightly higher resolution display that spills over the right side of the phone. If youíve never seen one before, the effect is quite striking. Letís check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 01-23-2015 02:55 PM
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    *Update* the Grand X Plus Z826 actually comes with 2GB of RAM, not 1GB like I stated originally.

    In late 2013, an interesting trend emerged in the marketplace; Motorola released the Moto G which was the first relatively inexpensive phone that didnít suck.

    The bar was raised In 2014; for the same money you could now pick up something with a quad-core processor, 5Ē HD display and a 8 megapixel autofocus camera: Iím talking phones like the ZTE Grand X (Z933 - Canadian version) or the Blu Studio 5.0C HD.

    Later in 2014 we got different permutations on this formula; The HTC Desire 510 and Nokia Lumia 635 added LTE but they forced you to give up the 5Ē HD display and 8 megapixel camera. LTE makes these phones more attractive to carriers but as far as Iím concerned, trading these 2 features to get LTE is just not worth it.

    Now we have the ZTE Grand X Plus (Z826). With the Plus you get a 5Ē display, 8 megapixel camera, quad-core processor AND LTE. You donít have to make any compromises! You get all this for $200 from Fido.
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    by Published on 12-21-2014 12:43 PM
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    Boxing day is almost here so I threw together a list of phone and tablet deals.

    If you're willing to sign your life away, my top picks are:

    iPhone 6 16GB for TELUS on BestBuy or Futureshop for $79.99 (do yourself a fav and get the 64GB instead).

    Samsung Galaxy S5 for Bell/TELUS/Rogers on BestBuy or Futureshop for $0 plus you get a $175 gift card. If you're the type to experience buyers remorse remember the GS6 is probably 4 months off so expect lots of remorse as you're peppered with rumors of it.

    The Nexus 5 on Koodo/Virgin is $0 from BestBuy or Futureshop plus you get a $125 gift card.

    The Sony Z3 Compact on Bell and the LG G3 on Rogers are both $0 with a $100 gift card at Futureshop. Both are solid phones.

    If Prepaid is your thing here are some picks. Remember, a prepaid phone is an unlock code away from being unlocked with no contract:

    Visions has the LG F4n flip phone (okay, it's not a smartphone) for only 9 bucks, NINE BUCKS.

    Nokia Lumia 635 for $79.99 on Rogers from BestBuy and Futureshop. Our friends down south had these for $49.99 but for 80 bucks the 635 is still a good deal.

    Motorola Moto G first gen (8GB, no mSD) is $79.99 on TELUS at London Drugs. 'Nuff said.

    Samsung GS3 on TELUS for $198 at Walmart.

    Most of the unlocked phones are at Canada Computers, Staples and NCIX:

    Acer Liquid S1 for $229.99 at Canada Computers. I reviewed one before, originally it was a terrible deal at $379.99 but at 229.99 is an absolute steal, 5.7" HD display, usable processor, 8MP (not the greatest) plus it recently got an Android 4.4 upgrade. Buy Buy Buy!

    NCIX has the Sony Z Ultra is 359.99 at NCIX. It's an enormous phablet with a 6.44" display.

    If a Tablet is your fancy there are tons and tons of Galaxy Tabs on sale from the 4 to the S to the Pro to the Note to the Note Pro to the OMGWTFBBQ. To be honest, I don't recommend any of these Tabs, the S is susceptible to screen burn in (happened to mine), the Tab Pro is still too expensive as is the Note and the ridiculously priced Note and Tab Pro versions.

    If you HAVE to buy a Samsung Tablet, stick with the 8" and 10" Tab 4 versions for around $230 and $270 respectively at many places. At least they're sort of cheap.

    If you want an iPad the Air the 16GB is $368 at Walmart which is decent for what it is but still, overall a warm deal.

    The Best deal is the original Surface Pro with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage refurbished for $399. This is a full-fat version PC in a tablet form factor. Hook a monitor, keyboard and mouse to it and for many people, it can replace a full-on PC. BestBuy and Futureshop have it.

    Lastly, Canada Computers has the the Lenovo Miix 8" Windows 8 Tablet. This is a full-on Windows 8 computer in a 8" Windows Tablet body for only $158. It only comes with 2GB of RAM but to be honest, the small display keeps you from really getting into RAM troubles. I don't actually recommend this one but it IS a good deal.

    Don't forget, Futureshop and BestBuy start ONLINE on Dec 24th at 8PM EST.

    Follow the jump for a complete list of deals!
    ...
    by Published on 12-16-2014 10:01 AM
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    Itís that time of the year again; youíre thinking of picking up a phone for that special someone but donít know what to get. Here are my top picks: ...
    by Published on 12-15-2014 01:01 PM
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    To Android users, the Nexus brand stands front and center. It stands for freedom from manufacturer crapware. Unlike other Android phones, Nexus are usually unlocked plus their boot loaders are easily unlocked so you can easily throw on a custom ROM.

    They also receive Android updates the moment Google releases them, and not 6 months later if ever like other Android phones.

    Most importantly, a Nexus phone meant you were getting a great phone at a great price.

    Here's the latest Nexus from Google which this time around, is made by Motorola: The Nexus 6. Like previous Nexus (Nexuses? Nexii?), the 6 lacks manufacturer crapware, it has an easily unlocked boot loader and it receives timely updates. However, the Nexus 6 is $750 which makes it the most expensive Nexus ever. However, itís also the most speced out Nexus ever. Is it still a great deal? ...
    by Published on 12-02-2014 10:41 AM
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    Since flagship phones displays have been increasing in size over the past few years, new segments in the market have opened up for phones which have slightly smaller displays. One interesting segment are smaller versions of flagship phones.

    One of the first was the GS3 Mini; which was really a budget phone named after the GS3. This trend continued the following year with the HTC One Mini and GS4 Mini.

    However, earlier this year Sony added a twist to this trend when they released the Z1 Compact. Unlike the competition, the Z1 Compact was not a budget phone in expensive clothes; it was the first Ďminií phone with full-sized specs.

    Hereís their follow up, the Z3 Compact. Let's check it out: ...
    by Published on 11-26-2014 05:58 PM
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    With Black Friday around the corner I thought I'd throw together a list of phones, tablets and other related items together. Rather than organize it by store, it's grouped by unlocked phones, contract phones, prepaid, etc.

    If you find any other good deals please let me know and I'll add them.

    Note this is for Canadian only:
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