• howard

    by Published on 09-23-2016 10:36 AM
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    I was very excited when Pokemon Go launched, I really enjoyed playing the original Pokemon games 20 years ago, and was really looked forward to being able to play the latest version with my 6 year old daughter.

    The 2 of us have managed to make it up to level 28 mostly because I play a lot when sheís not around. However playing a lot of Pokemon Go causes 3 problems. Can the Pokemon Go Plus solve them? ...
    by Published on 08-31-2016 02:03 PM
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    I just got a chance to play with the new Motorola Moto Z and the just announced Moto Z Play. Motorola is differentiating the Z line by putting a proprietary connector on the back of each Z phone which allows you attach specially designed accessories to it.

    Accessories include a battery back from Incipio, Insta-Share Projector, JBL SoundBoost speaker and a camera attachment with a 10x zoom lens from Hasselblad. ...
    by Published on 06-23-2016 08:29 AM
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    Just when I was wondering if Blackberry was going to release a Priv follow up, I got news of 3 new devices that they have in the pipeline; the Argon, Neon and Mercury. All run Android. Sorry no pics of these devices (that's a Priv in the picture).

    Blackberry Neon:
    • touch only
    • $0 (400 MSRP)
    • Qualcomm 8952 (a 617 like the Moto G4 Plus)
    • 3GB RAM
    • 5.2" 1080P display
    • 16GB storage
    • 13MP rear camera
    • 8MP front camera
    • 2610mAh battery
    • Quick charge 2
    • aluminum frame
    • soft touch rear casing
    • Cat 6LTE
    • 130g
    • aimed at consumers and enterprise
    • August 2016 launch


    Blackberry Argon:
    • touch only
    • $200 (600-700MSRP)
    • Qualcomm 8996 (a Snapdragon 820 "lite")
    • 4GB RAM
    • 5.5" 1440P
    • 32GB storage
    • 21MP rear camera
    • fingerprint reader (finally)
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3000mAh battery
    • Quick Charge 3
    • USB type-C
    • aimed at consumers and enterprise
    • October 2016 launch


    Blackberry Mercury:
    • design like the Blackberry Classic:
    • QWERTY keyboard
    • Qualcomm 8953 (Snapdragon 625)
    • 4.5" screen with 3:2 display ratio
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB storage
    • 18MP rear camera
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3400mAh battery
    • Quick Charge 3.0
    • "High precision & Craftsmanship"
    • aluminum housing
    • aimed at enterprise
    • February 2017 launch


    To me, 4 things stand out; first, the price point of the Neon and Argon seem very reasonable. While the Priv is a nice device it's just priced way too high and probably falls off a lot of people's shopping lists because of that. Traditionally you paid quite a premium to get a Blackberry logo but that looks like that's changing.

    Secondly, while the Neon and Argon are still a few months off, their specs will probably be more in-line with the rest of the market. Typically Blackberry specs lagged the market by about 6 months but these ones look to be much more competitive. I mean August isn't far off and they probably could have gotten away with just 2GB of RAM. Then again, while I didn't hear word of it I hope it shows up a fingerprint reader.

    While the Mercury is still way, way off it's good to know that the QWERTY only Blackberry isn't going away. A power sipping Snapdragon 625 coupled with a smaller 4.5" display and a large 3400mAh battery should make for some epic battery life too.

    Lastly, all 3 devices run Android. I guess there just isn't enough demand for a Blackberry OS device. ...
    by Published on 06-14-2016 12:18 PM
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    When the Moto G came out in 2013, it was way ahead of curve. In terms of value it just blew its contemporaries out of the water.

    The follow up, the 2014 Moto G wasnít received quite as well. It was a decent package but Motorola forgot to toss in LTE, at a time when it was starting to become a must-have feature.

    The 2015 Moto G received LTE but other than having water resistance, the rest of the package wasnít all that different from the 2014 and thus it was passed by the rest of the market.

    With the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola looks to regain the magic that has seeped away from the G line. ...
    by Published on 05-27-2016 01:36 PM
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    When it comes to the top end of the market, flagships are more alike than they are different. Of course, the devil is in the details, theyíre what separates the has and the has beens.

    I mean, they all come with 5-ish inch quad-HD displays, SoC powered by the latest ARM cores, 3 or 4GB of RAM, that sort of thing.

    So what is different about the G5? For starters, LG is touting the G5 as a modular phone. The bottom part can be removed so that you can attach other accessories.

    It also has 2 rear cameras, no, theyíre not for fake Bokeh or 3D or even black and white. The 2nd camera has a super wide-angle lens on it which, in the right hands, makes for some dramatic photos.

    Hmm, modular with a super-wide camera? It could just be what the doctor ordered for an shaking up a slightly stale flagship market. ...
    by Published on 05-26-2016 01:33 PM
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    Last year, instead of releasing one Galaxy S flagship, Samsungís S line bifurcated into regular and curved versions with the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Later on, the Edge line split again with a Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

    In 2016, Samsung merged the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus into, wait for it, the Galaxy S7 Edge.

    Last year, the GS6 and GS6 Edge werenít all that different so I thought the regular version was the smarter choice. However, this time around, the difference between them is more pronounced. The screen size on the Edge has grown from 5.1 to 5.5Ē with a few other changes under the hood.

    Is the regular version still the one to get or has it been supplanted by the Edge? ...
    by Published on 05-12-2016 10:30 AM
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    I remember when HTC was synonymous with Smartphones. While most of us were still pressing the ď3Ē button twice to enter in the letter ďeĒ, HTC was making Smartphones with HTML web browsers, email, MS office with WiFi and Bluetooth.

    However, their 2015 flagship, the HTC One M9 left something to be desired. If I was to describe it in one word it would be ďunderwhelmingĒ. On paper it was an improvement over the 2014 M8, but in the real world, it was more of a sideways step rather than a step forward.

    The camera had beefy specs but it wasnít really that great, the processor should have been formidable but wasnít really any faster than last yearís model. It just didnít stand out.

    Fortunately, HTC isnít messing around with their 2016 flagship; the HTC 10 lines up much better with its competitors.

    In Canada, the HTC 10 is available unlocked from HTCís website for an eye-watering $999 Canadian. Otherwise, itís a Bell exclusive. At $349.99 Canadian on contract itís $50 more than the LG G5, $50 less than the GS7 and $150 less than the GS7 Edge . Letís check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 04-22-2016 03:36 PM
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    Yesterday I wrote about Desjardin Insuranceís Ajusto app and wasnít planning to write about it again for a while but I wanted to mention a few more things I forgot to yesterday.

    First up though, since Iíve been using it for more than a day I got my first score (as opposed to a trip score) on my iPhone.

    After a day of very careful driving I managed, wait for it, 89 out of 100. ...
    by Published on 04-21-2016 02:58 PM
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    Before my kids came, I used to really enjoy driving games. Forza 2 on my Xbox 360 was my favorite but no matter the game, the goal was typically the same, get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

    That is till now. I just downloaded Desjardinsí Ajusto app to my iPhone (also available for Android). Itís an app which analyzes how you drive and gives each trip a score out of 100. You get points for driving smooth, not cornering too hard, not speeding and not accelerating too quickly. Sounds like the recipe for the most boring car game ever.
    ...
    by Published on 04-20-2016 03:22 PM
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    The other day, I wrote about my Nexus 4 and how itís still able to get the job done. What I didnít mention was that I was also fiddling with my Nexus One from many years ago. While a bit smaller, feature wise, itís not all that far from the current crop of Nexusí.

    Oh and before I continue, all the pictures here were taken with the very same Nexus 4 I wrote about yesterday. Itís old, not obsolete!

    I mean the recipe for a smartphone hasnít changed all that much. Theyíre still basically just a processor, touch screen, RAM, storage, camera(s), speaker(s), radio and software, all crammed into a bar like device. Despite manufacturerís best efforts, this recipe probably wonít change for a while.

    Along the way, companies have tried to mix things up. Samsung includes a heart rate sensor on many models. The Note series includes a stylus. They also included a UV sensor on the Note 4.

    A few have tried infrared blasters. There are a handful of phones with dual rear cameras, for various reasons including 2 different focal lengths, fake bokeh effects, 3D, you name it.

    Call it innovation or running out of ideas, but there is one feature which is slowly becoming a standard feature which I absolutely love; the fingerprint reader.
    ...
    by Published on 04-19-2016 01:36 PM
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    A friend was playing with my HTC 10 and GS7 Edge the other day when the topic of handling came up. In my reviews, I occasionally pan a perfectly good phone simply because I donít think it handles well. Of course, my friendís response was to ask me what the hell I was talking about.

    Let me explain. I typically try to use my phone with one hand as much as possible - even if Iím using one considered to be phablet.

    The thing is, Iíve owned many phones over the years and despite it happening a few times, Iíve never gotten used to the sinking feeling I get when I drop a phone. Itís terrible when my reflex to catch it actually causes it to go even higher and then thereís the sickly crash when it hits the ground followed by a few more bounces. When I pick the phone up Iím usually in denial and avoid looking at the damage for as long as possible.

    As such, I always hold my phone very securely so that I wonít drop it even if even if someone were to bump into me.
    ...
    by Published on 04-18-2016 07:43 PM
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    Forgive me for the provocative title, but I was doing some spring cleaning the other day when I stumbled across my old LG Nexus 4. Released in late 2012, itís now a little over 3 years old and no longer gets the latest version of Android from Google.

    I turned it on and it still works just fine. It got me thinking; just how fast is it compared to something more contemporary? And since when is something barely 3 years old not contemporary?

    Since the Nexus 4 came out, itís seen 3 generations of successors. After the 4 came the LG Nexus 5 in 2013. 2014 saw the Motorola Nexus 6 while 2015 saw a pair of Nexus (Nexi?); the Huawei Nexus 6P and LG Nexus 5x.

    If I may jog your memory, the Nexus 4 came:


    • quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro 1.5Ghz SoC
    • 2GB RAM
    • 8GB or 16GB storage
    • 4.7Ē 1280x768 LCD
    • 8MP rear camera
    • 1.3MP front camera
    • 2100mAh battery
    • Android 4.2 at release now at 5.1.1


    Aside from lacking official LTE support and the slightly lower resolution display, the 4 doesnít seem very far off from the latest Nexus devices. So, what kind of jumps in performance do we see from one generation to the next?
    ...
    by Published on 04-15-2016 11:05 AM
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    Previously I discussed the merits of both the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10ís speakers. If you missed it, both have different strengths but are excellent in their own way.

    To make things more spicy, I figured Iíd toss the iPhone 6s Plus and Huawei Nexus 6P into the equation.

    Next up, letís talk screens; The HTC 10, Edge and Nexus all have 2560x1440 displays while the iPhone gets by with a more modest 1920x1080. If you look really closely there is a small difference in sharpness between the Androids and the iPhoneís display. However, all displays have more than 400PPI which to my eyes is enough that I donít really care about having more.
    ...
    by Published on 04-14-2016 02:43 PM
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    Since Andrew is off for a couple of weeks, Iím going to try to take over and share some thoughts each day. Recently, Iíve been playing with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10 (LG G5 is coming but not here yet) so I figured I compare the 2. Iíll have full reviews for all 3 phones eventually but for now Iím just going to focus on specific areas.

    As a reviewer, one of my jobs is to figure out if newer models are better than previous ones. However, when it comes to features, once theyíve reached a point where theyíre ďgood enoughĒ, most people stop caring about them.

    A good example is screen size. Once phones breached 5.5ish inches most people stopped clamouring for bigger screens. Itís not to say that future phones wonít get bigger, just that the current crop of screens are large enough for most. If we find new ways to use our phones that require a bigger screen, this will obviously change.

    Another thing people donít really about anymore is camera resolution. As long as you have more than 10 megapixels (enough to also capture 4K video) most people donít really care about having more. Itís enough for Facebook/Instagram and thus enough for most.

    Still, there are still areas which can use some improving. Areas which Iíll be focusing more on.



    First up are the speakers. The 10 and Edge both have 2 speakers; one on the earpiece and a bigger one on the bottom. ...
    by Published on 04-12-2016 07:46 AM
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    I had a chance to play with the HTC 10 the other day. Here are some first impressions:



    While the 10ís predecessors, the M7, M8 and M9 all shared a common design language, the 10 takes a different approach. The speaker grill stickers are gone in favor of a more minimalistic all-glass front. I donít know about you but the grills starting to get long in the tooth so this is a welcome change.



    That said, looking at the pictures I kind of wish the silver version came with a white front as the black front is a bit bland but maybe thatís just me. ...
    by Published on 04-01-2016 12:44 PM
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    Until last year, the previous couple of iterations in the Galaxy S lineup were pretty predictable. They were all plastic bodied phones with removable batteries and memory. Then last year, they took the Galaxy S line in a new direction. The GS6 had an all glass and metal body and they did away with the user changeable battery and MicroSD. The last change struck a chord with users because you had to decide how much storage youíd ever need when you bought the phone plus youíd have to pay an inflated price if you needed more than the base model - just like you do with an iPhone.

    Fortunately, the MicroSD is back with the latest version along with water resistance - a feature which took a hiatus last year.

    Otherwise, the GS7 is an evolution of the GS6. The look follows Samsungís latest design language, the camera has been improved, you get a more powerful processor a bigger battery. That sort of thing. Is it worth the upgrade? ...
    by Published on 03-14-2016 08:46 PM
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    In the past, Iíve written about my new hobby, wearing Ďdumbí watches. Youíd think that a phone nerd like myself would be all over smartwatches but in fact, I was so annoyed by the ones Iíve tried, it actually caused me to start wearing regular watches again.

    Between the constant charging, the poor ease of use, questionable styling and finishes, and inability to do anything well, smartwatches in general left me wanting.

    However, they did remind me that I like wearing something on my wrist so I went from wearing nothing on my arm to wearing something again.



    Since then, Iíve picked up a few pieces - divers watches, pilot watches, chronographs, automatics, manual winders, radioactive (thatís right), military style, skeletons, etc.



    However, something happened. Getting all these watches made me more open to watches in general and thus more open to smart watches. Talk about drama!



    But thatís not all, the soap opera that is my left arm isnít over yet. How do I choose which watch to wear? While my regular watches can sit in my watch box just fine for a few days here and there, itís best to wear a smartwatch daily. What to do? What to do? ...
    by Published on 03-10-2016 01:21 PM
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    I had a chance to play with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge the other day. Here are my first impressions.


    GS7 Edge

    First off, there are some changes in the lineup. Last year we had the 5.1Ē S6 Edge which was released in Q1 and then the larger 5.7Ē S6 Edge Plus in Q3.


    GS7

    Theyíve simplified the 2 Edge phones and consolidated them into one model - you guessed it; the S7 Edge.



    While there are 2 S7ís, the regular and the Edge, the Edge has grown considerably and now sports a 5.5Ē screen, which takes it closer to the S6 Plusí Phablet size. ...
    by Published on 02-17-2016 03:55 PM
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    Itís hard to believe, but at one point Blackberry was a Smartphone market leader. Of course, the Smartphone industry moves at a brutal pace and now Blackberryís latest Operating System, BB10 is lagging behind.

    So they have 2 choices; Keep plugging on with BB10 and devoting the kind of resources it takes to keep it up to date and competitive or switch to Android to help cut costs and to also broaden their devices appeal. Well, I guess thereís 3rd choice, they could jump from their burning platform and.. oh never mind.

    Anyways, Blackberry has taken the plunge with their first Android device, the Priv. Letís check it out. ...
    by Published on 01-29-2016 03:19 PM
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    Samsungís not the kind of company that believes less is more. Their strategy is to saturate the market at pretty much all price points often times with multiple overlapping models.

    The Samsung Galaxy A5 was released in Canada recently. Looking at the spec sheet, highlights include a 5Ē 1280x720 display, 13 megapixel camera, a Snapdragon 410 processor and 2GB of RAM. The biggest feature however is the metal frame which makes it very solid. Please note that even though it was released in Canada in late 2015, this is the 2014 version of the A5, the SM-A500W. ...
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