• howard

    by Published on 07-01-2015 01:21 PM
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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.
    ...
    by Published on 06-10-2015 09:22 AM
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview



    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?
    ...
    by Published on 05-21-2015 03:01 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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:
    ...
    by Published on 04-27-2015 10:07 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview



    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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.
    ...
    by Published on 03-06-2015 12:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News

    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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:
    ...
    by Published on 02-19-2015 12:35 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview



    *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.
    ...
    Page 1 of 23 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 ... LastLast