• Devices

    by Published on 05-22-2015 07:51 AM
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    You're looking at what will likely be the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Iron Man Edition, reportedly launching next week. I myself have not really been a Marvel fanboy since I was teenager, but even I have to admit... that crimson and gold colour scheme looks great!

    It's apparently just the beginning of a big partnership between Samsung and Marvel Worldwide, Inc. to promote Avengers: Age of Ultron, already playing on screens across North America. If further rumours and renderings are to be believed, each Avenger will get their own SGS6E edition. For regular Galaxy S6 owners there's already a line of official Avengers-themed cases available in the UK. ...
    by Published on 05-21-2015 03:01 PM
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    While I’m not sure if it’s by choice, these days Microsoft has decided to devote most of its attention to the more affordable end of the market. Here’s Blu’s 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 let’s check it out.
    ...
    by Published on 05-20-2015 07:50 AM
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    Oppo has announced two new mid-range smartphones—or affordable flagships, depending on your point of view. The R7 and R7 Plus each feature a full metal chassis, 5 or 6 inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 615 Processor, 3 GB of RAM, a 13 MP camera and the not-terrible-for-an-OEM-ROM Color OS.

    They also support dual SIMs, but do so in a way that's pretty much useless for the end-user.

    Take another look at the photo above. At first glance you might think: "Oh, that second slot in the SIM tray can accommodate either a Nano SIM or micro SD card. How clever!" But there are two BIG problems with this design. ...
    by Published on 05-19-2015 05:41 AM
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    So the Android phone that a lot of you have been waiting for is finally here.

    Starting today, the ASUS ZenFone 2 is available unlocked from multiple online vendors in Canada and the USA, in two configurations: a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor with 16 GB of storage & 2 GB of RAM, and a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor with 64 GB of storage & 4 GB of RAM. Prices start at $249 CAD / $199 USD.

    In addition to the impressive price/performance ratio, the ZenFone 2 has some other standout features. Both models are powered by Intel Atom processors, and both models support 2 SIMs. This should pique the interest of travellers or, for that matter, anyone who wants to split voice and data between two providers. In other words, don't expect your carrier to sell this thing on a subsidy. Ever. ...
    by Published on 05-14-2015 11:33 AM
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    A while back I reviewed the original Parrot Zik’s 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 hasn’t 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. Let’s 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 Blu’s 5.0C HD. It combined ‘good enough’ specs with an interesting, eye-searing neon pink case. It targeted the “I want a decent phone that’s also fun’ 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 it’s been updated with the added goodness of LTE, let’s check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 05-12-2015 07:22 AM
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    So last Thursday San Francisco-based Fitbit filed for a $100 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Good for them. But in this age of Android Wear and Apple Watch someone's going to have to explain to me why their products continue to be so popular. For me the most vexing of all is the $250 USD Fitbit Surge™ you see above. It supports notifications so it's technically a smartwatch, but it does hardly anything else that you'd expect a smartwatch to do.

    I guess I don't really need an explanation; I know full well that Fitbit has become a generic term associated with fitness tracking, like Kleenex and Q-tips® for the things that they do. I also know that part of Fitbit's appeal is the smartphone app and online account that you get with every device, so that you can track your fitness and compete with your friends.

    But you know these things aren't accurate, right? ...
    by Published on 05-04-2015 10:39 AM
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    When Howard asked me if I wanted to review the Acer Chromebook I jumped at the opportunity. While I’ve always been tempted by Chromebooks, I had some reservations; Can they do enough? Are they fast enough? Can they stream HD video smoothly? How is the battery life? Is there enough value?

    Chromebooks are very much purpose built laptops, specifically designed to do one thing. It’s not designed to replace a PC or Mac as they simply cannot do all of the same things. These are cloud enabled laptops which are targetted at Google users; Gmail, Play Music, Books, Docs, Maps, etc. With that in mind lets see how the Acer stacks up: ...
    by Published on 05-04-2015 07:42 AM
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    ... But a refund is on the way. Thanks, Amazon!

    You'll recall that I experienced a sudden and unexpected case of BlackBerry envy a few weeks ago when my mother was having some tests done at the hospital. If you missed it, my brother was texting me with his physical qwerty keypad faster than I could reply with my virtual Android equivalent.

    As dear old mum has a follow-up visit with her doctor planned for this week, I thought it might be instructive to repeat my experience with a BlackBerry, for comparison's sake.

    Now I'm not made of money so a Passport or Classic was entirely out of the question; I did, however, manage to find myself a cheap and cheerful Q5 on Amazon—in my favourite colour, I might add. I always preferred the island-style keys on the old Curve models, anyway, finding them easier to type on than the keys on the Bolds.

    A few days and $200 CAD later I had a new BlackBerry in my hands. The first order of business (after entering my credentials) was upgrading the OS to the latest and greatest version. Only problem was, there wasn't enough space on the device to take the OTA. ...
    by Published on 04-30-2015 08:04 AM
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    Now that the Jesus Watch is making its way onto the wrists of users, those same users are sharing their feedback about it on the web and social media.

    If you believe the hype, the Apple Watch changes everything—never mind that Android Wear has been on the market for almost a year, and Pebble even longer than that. If you're in the market for a wearable and are considering Apple's new product category, you deserve to know what you're getting into.

    Here's what the sheeple aren't telling you. ...
    by Published on 04-29-2015 07:10 AM
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    Yesterday in New York City LG revealed their flagship device for 2015, the G4.

    It's as notable for the features LG didn't upgrade from last year as it is for the ones they did. Unlike Samsung, who took a very different direction with their Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, LG's G4 keeps the removable battery and support for micro SD. If only you could unlock that bootloader without an exploit, amirite?

    Anyway, the G4 has a lot more going for it than just holdover features from the G3. Here are the notable specs, via HoFo user rogue17:

    Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
    Operating system: Android 5.1 Lollipop
    Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
    Storage: 32GB eMMC ROM, microSD card up to 2TB
    RAM: 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
    Size: 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3-9.8 mm
    Weight: 155 grams
    Rear camera: 16MP with f/1.8 aperture / OIS 2.0
    Front-facing camera: 8MP with f/2.0 aperture
    Battery: 3,000 mAh removable
    Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)
    Connectivity: WiFi 802.11ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0
    Colours: (Ceramic) Metallic Gray / (Genuine Leather) Black ...
    by Published on 04-27-2015 10:07 AM
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    If you’re 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 SoC’s. The Idol S line used Qualcomm SoC and some include LTE but they’re 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 I’ve tried with Qualcomm’s 64bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor.

    Looking down the spec sheet, you’ll find many features from last year’s flagships like the 5.5” 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 that’s 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.

    It’s tailor made for people on a “Lite” type contract, who only want to spend slightly more than they used to, but also don’t want to drop too much on a new handset.
    ...
    by Published on 04-21-2015 07:05 AM
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    I think I missed the part where drawing pictures on your wrist became the smartwatch's killer app...

    Yesterday Google announced a major update for the Android Wear platform. Apple needed YouTube to demonstrate the many and varied features of its first smartwatch; the official Google announcement is similarly full of animated GIFs. In other words, Android Wear just got more complicated. ...
    by Published on 04-16-2015 07:45 AM
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    Just yesterday I topped up my mom's SpeakOut Prepaid account for another year. You wouldn't think that a housebound senior would have any need for a mobile phone, but the benefits are actually twofold: (1) I get peace of mind in case the power goes out, taking her cordless landline phone system with it, and (2) she gets to enjoy a network-connected timepiece—not at all what I expected but she loves it for that reason alone.

    It helps that her handset, the Snapfon ezTWO, was made expressly for seniors. But what if the elder in your life prefers a flip phone form factor? If that's what you're after, I've got just the device for you... Meet the Jethro SC213B, $44.99 unlocked from Amazon Canada. My girlfriend bought one for her 70 years-young mom, and it looks like another winner for seniors. ...
    by Published on 04-15-2015 07:25 AM
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    Here's a random photo from the Medical Imaging Department at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, where my mom had some tests done a week ago today. She turns 90 next month, and her age is catching up with her. This post isn't about her, though—it's about my brother's BlackBerry Classic.

    What can I say? I'm a horrible son. ...
    by Published on 04-14-2015 07:20 AM
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    My favourite Android smartphone of 2014 is holding up quite well. And it's about to get even better, as the official Lollipop-based Cyanogen OS 12 is finally, finally starting to roll out to users around the world. I myself would be content to stick with Android 4.4 and SlimKat, but since SlimLP for the OnePlus One will likely draw from Cyanogen 12S anyway, I'll probably flash the latter in the meantime to tide me over.

    There will be no OTA for me; I'll have to wait for Cyanogen to post a factory image and flash that. But this is undeniably good news for OPO users. And the news is even better for those users living in Canada. ...
    by Published on 04-13-2015 07:55 AM
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    I booked an appointment over the weekend at my local Apple store to try on the Apple Watch. Any expectations I had about what would go down were entirely due to a post I caught on Mobile Syrup last Friday—to quote its author, Dan Bader: "There is plenty of greatness in this try-on experience."

    ... Which is interesting, because the greatness was decidedly lacking in mine. ...
    by Published on 04-09-2015 08:58 AM
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    Trust me, this is the Apple Watch you want.

    To really understand the hype that's hitting the web right now you need to take a few steps back, hopefully clear of Apple's reality distortion field, and consider exactly what's being said—like Ryan Whitwam of Android Police did with The Verge's Apple Watch review:

    "The Apple Watch ... is kind of slow."

    "Sometimes apps take forever to load, and sometimes third-party apps never really load at all. Sometimes it’s just unresponsive for a few seconds while it thinks and then it comes back."

    "It’s also surprisingly heavy."

    "[The] side button is extraordinarily confusing."

    "In the first of many moments where the Watch felt underpowered, I found that the screen lit up a couple of ticks too slowly: I’d raise my wrist, wait a beat, and then the screen would turn on."

    "Having a screen that constantly flips on and off is definitely behind the curve."

    "There’s no particularly great digital face, and there’s no ability to load up your own watch faces or buy new ones from the store."

    "There’s no master switch to turn all notifications on and off, which is a huge pain."

    "By the end of each day, I was hyper-aware of how low the Apple Watch battery had gotten."

    "You only get a charging cable, which is lame. For $700, you should a nice charging stand, like you get with the $249 Moto 360."

    "There’s virtually nothing I can’t do faster or better with access to a laptop or a phone except perhaps check the time."

    "There’s no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today."
    Wut?

    As an Android user I've some obvious bias here, but I'll let you in on a little secret: Android Wear is nothing to write home about, either.

    Who knew that the diminutive Pebble—not even Pebble Time, but the one you can buy right now—would be the one smartwatch platform to rule them all? ...
    by Published on 04-08-2015 06:45 AM
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    While you were sleeping—ok, while I was sleeping—HTC held a press event in Beijing, where the China-only One M9+ was made officially official.

    At first glance it looks a lot like the "regular" M9, but there are some notable differences: a 2K display on a slightly larger 5.2 inch screen, a fingerprint scanner and, oddly, the return of the Duo Camera—this one matching the 20 megapixel resolution of the M9 for western markets. Oh, it's also powered by a MediaTek chip. Interesting...

    For the moment HTC has only confirmed that the M9+ will be available in China, with no further details of when or how much it will cost. ...
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