• howard

    by Published on 09-01-2015 12:30 PM
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    When Samsung released the GS6, it was a big departure from its predecessor. Samsung ditched the removable storage and battery that they had become known for and went in a new direction with a sealed glass and metal body.

    Now Samsung has given the same treatment to the Note 5. It eschews the Note 4ís MicroSD and removable battery for even more metal and glass.

    Is this a worthy trade-off?
    ...
    by Published on 08-28-2015 09:52 PM
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    The ZTE Grand X Plus was and still is one of my favorite budget phones. When it came you out got a brand name phone and way more specs than the competition for only $200. However the competition is starting to heat up so ZTE has a new salvo in the budget phone wars.

    The ZTE Grand X 2 which gives you even more good stuff for even less money.
    ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 03:29 PM
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    Among flagships, Motorolaís X line has always been a bit hard to understand. The first one costs slightly less than competing flagships but it gave up some specs compared to them. Ditto for the second gen X.

    Now, weíre on the 3rd generation and Motorola has mixed things up. The X lineup now bifurcates into the Moto X Pure and the Moto X Play. The Pure is a true flagship with the request flagship specs and price tag. However, the Play is the more interesting model. It trades some big specs for a more a palatable price tag.

    Weíre now in the ďGood enoughĒ era of smartphones where flagship ownership is no longer mandatory to have a good experience.

    It mixes some flagship-ish features which some midrange ones to bring the price tag down to $400. Throw a large 3630mAh battery into the pot and we have something very unique. Letís check it out. ...
    by Published on 08-24-2015 01:19 PM
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    With school just around the corner, many of you are thinking of picking up a decent phone on a budget. No doubt the original Moto G will probably come up quite frequently. The problem is that the original Moto G came out 2 years ago and its successor, the 2014 didnít get people quite as excited partly because it lacked LTE, partly because it was priced too high and partly because it didnít gain much traction with carriers (probably because of the LTE issue).

    Anyways, theyíre back with their newest G, the 2015 Moto G. The addition of LTE is a no brainer but now theyíve changed the game with the addition of water resistance for under $200. HmmmÖ.
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    by Published on 07-30-2015 10:05 PM
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    Without a doubt, one of 2013ís most significant phones was the original Moto G. It combined decent specs with an affordable price tag or to put it more bluntly. It was one of the first phones that didnít suck that was also easy on the wallet.

    However, itís follow-up the 2014, wasnít quite the cult classic that its predecessor was. While the specs were greatly improved, Motorola also tried to move the price up-market. That plus the fact that fact that the, ďdecent yet affordableĒ segment of the market was starting to become crowded made life difficult for it.

    While people still talk about the original Moto G, the 2014 got lost in the mix pretty quickly so Motorola has its work cut out for the 2015 Moto G.
    ...
    by Published on 07-15-2015 12:56 PM
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    While I love my Smartphones, there are times when I need a real computer. At the same time, I donít like lugging a computer around with me so my favorite computer to take out is a Surface Pro 3. Itís the lightest computer thatís big enough to actually use. I carry it in a small backpack along with a Bluetooth mouse (donít always need it) and a pair of wired headphones.

    Since the Surface Pro 3 is really light, attaching a pair of wired headphones to it is generally a bad idea since itís easy to forget youíre wearing them when walk off which results in my computer ending up on the floor..

    Anyways, my wired headphones recently died on me so I figured Iíd replaced them with a pair of Bluetooth ones. Since my goal is to be as portable as possible I didnít want to carry a pair of large on or over the ear headphones like the very good Parrot Zik 2.0ís or my Beats Studio Wireless.

    Since these headphones would be replacing my earplug style Sony headphones (I think theyíre MDR-EX71) I figured Iíd buy something similar but with the addition of Bluetooth.

    I decided to try the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2ís. Letís check them out:
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    by Published on 07-09-2015 03:05 PM
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    The Asus Zenfone 2 comes in 2 flavours; the regular is $199 USD/249 CDN while full fat version is $299 USD/379 CDN.

    I already reviewed the the base model and was thoroughly impressed. It also got me wondering, is the fancier model worth the 50% or so price premium?

    Letís check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 07-01-2015 01:21 PM
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    I have a confession to make; Iím now a member of the ďmy mom bought these for me headphonesĒ club. Yes, I picked up a pair of Beats headphones.



    I spend most of my day in front of my computer, but I'm also away from my desk quite frequently. While I work, I like to listen with a pair of corded headphones. However, they tend to get caught on my office chair plus I frequently forget to take them off when I get up which leads to a lot of pulled cords.

    I finally had enough and decided to pick up a pair of around the ear Bluetooth headphones. I didnít need noise cancellation but itís often a mandatory feature on this style of Bluetooth headphone.

    I heard some good things about the AKG K845ís and picked up a pair for myself. If I were to describe them Iíd have to use the ďNĒ word - Yes, theyíre too damn Neutral. While they do allow you enjoy music in a way you couldnít before, the bass was too neutral and I usually wished they had a bit more oomph to them.

    Next up, where the Parrot Zik 2.0ís which I reviewed here. They are powerful with bright trebles and deep bass - I had a lot of fun with them. They also had outstanding build quality and just look amazing. However, they were also very expensive, overly complicated and just lacked a certain something in the sound quality department. To be honest though, at $400 USD/$430 CDN, it was mostly the cost that kept me from buying a pair for myself.

    After that, I decided to give the Beat Studio 2.0 Wireless a try. While they normally cost about the same as the Zikís, I found a pair for $300 (taxes included) and decided to pull the trigger.
    ...
    by Published on 06-25-2015 11:05 AM
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    What do you think this new LG gadget is? A wireless speaker with long porting? A oddly shaped power bank? Some sort of projector?
    ...
    by Published on 06-17-2015 05:25 PM
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    Letís play some word association: Computers, Motherboards, Asus. About 5 to 10 years ago when I was a huge computer nerd I spent way too much money on Asus parts. I even used to have a stack of Asus Motherboard boxes.

    After Microsoft, Intel and Apple, Asus is one of the brands that comes to mind when I think about computers.

    However, when I think about Smartphones, Asus donít usually come up.

    Still, when I think about Computers and Smartphones, the next word is Tablet.

    When it comes to Tablets, Asus does come to mind - unfortunately, the tablets that I think of are usually the cheap 7 or 8Ē sub $150 Black Friday specials, you find at Walmart/Staples/TigerDirect.

    They typically come with a processor thatís a few generations behind, a dim screen and a version of Android that will likely never be updated. Yes, Asus makes more fancier models but then they get lost in the discussion with the likes of Samsung and Apple.

    So when it comes to Smartphones, Asus as a brand has a bit of an uphill battle. Until now, the North American market for phones was pretty much controlled by the carriers. You signed a contract and then got a subsidized phone through them.

    Still, lately phones have gotten very capable to the point that you donít have to spend top dollar to get a decent phone. Since you don't have to spend as much as you used to, the need for a subsidy isnít as important as it used to be.

    This opens the door to unsubsidized, unlocked phones which loosen carrierís grip which in turn allows manufacturers to sell phones via other channels. Some interesting phone include Googleís Nexus line, The OnePlus One and now Asusí Zenfone 2.
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    by Published on 06-10-2015 09:22 AM
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    2015ís batch of Android flagship includes formidable competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4. So, it should be interesting to see how well HTCís latest flagship the One M9, measures up.

    The M9 I'm testing is running on TELUS' LTE network.

    vs HTC One M8:



    The specs indicate that the M9 is a substantial step up from the M8. You get a 64 bit processor with more RAM. The camera resolution and sensor size have been given a big bump so its numbers are all now class leading. Battery capacity has also increased.



    However, while the individual parts are good, the execution leaves something to be desired. Thereís a saying that something is ďmore than the sum of its partsĒ, unfortunately the opposite is true of the M9; Itís less than the sum of its parts.

    I get the feeling that the M9 would have been better if they had put a slower processor in with a smaller camera sensor with less megapixels.

    HTC stuffed a Snapdragon 810 SoC into the M9 and as it turns out, this really affects everything. Battery life, performance and even the camera all suffer because of the 810.

    If you already have a M8 youíre not really missing out on anything with the M9. ...
    by Published on 06-04-2015 02:27 PM
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    LGís last flagship, the G3 was one of the first phones to ship with a quad-HD 2560x1440 display and to be honest, it was slightly ahead of its time. While it boasted the highest resolution screen around, the screen itself didnít really look any better than the competition but worse yet, the rest of it wasnít quite as cutting edge. The camera while not terrible, wasnít terribly good either. Donít forget that the processor was barely up to the task of driving the high res display.

    Since then, Samsung unleashed their GS6, which in many ways is a big step up from the GS5 which was was the G3ís contemporary. Now LG has the G4; is it enough to compete with the GS6?
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    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.
    ...
    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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    2. News

    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.
    ...
    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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