• Devices

    by Published on 06-19-2013 02:17 PM
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    Looking around at the mobile phone market, Android and iOS dominate the top end of the market. Interestly though, Iíve found some of their lower-end offerings leave much to be desired. You just donít get much phone for $150.

    However, if you add another $150 then you can get yourself a Nexus 4.

    The Nokia Lumia 620 I reviewed a while back is a great phone for 250 dollars. Of course the problem is that for another 50 bucks, you can get a 8GB Nexus 4. While the Nexus 4 lacks the Lumia 620ís memory card slot, it gives you more of everything plus it runs Android. So, if have to buy your phone off contract then the 620 is a harder sell.

    To address this shortcoming, Nokia now has the Lumia 520. Itís available for $149 from Rogers and Koodo and $129 at TELUS. At this price point, I have no idea why more carriers didnít pick this up.

    On paper, itís quite similar to the 620. You actually get a bigger screen and battery, same resolution camera minus the flash, same processor, RAM, storage, etc. On paper, it looks like an awesome deal.

    Does anything else even come close? ...
    by Published on 06-13-2013 07:06 PM
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    With Fatherís day just around the corner you might be thinking of getting him a new phone but arenít sure which one you get. Donít worry, Iím here to help with my top 5 picks for fatherís day.
    by Published on 05-28-2013 02:39 PM
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    12 months ago was a tumultuous time for Blackberry. Back then, many people had written off Blackberry (then RIM). Most of us expected that RIM would be split into two or three companies and sold off. Many figured weíd never actually see BB10. You get the idea.

    Anyways, recently I get the feeling that things are starting to turn around. Back in January, Blackberry finally announced the first device powered by their new operating system BB10.

    Oddly enough, their first BB10 device, the Z10 is a touch-screen only device. Itís weird because Blackberry once ruled the Smartphone market with their QWERTY phones.

    Still itís very surprising that in the 18 months or so since Blackberry released their last QWERTY flagship the Bold 9900 none of their competitors have really released a serious competitor. Sure there were a couple of QWERTY Android phones but they were mostly low specíd entry level devices. Thereís a bit of a vacuum in the market for this class of device.

    So in the ultra-competitive Smartphone market Blackberry managed to catch quite a break. Their first BB10 QWERTY phone, the Q10 comes to market with virtually no competitors.

    The Q10 I'm reviewing here is running on the TELUS LTE network. ...
    by Published on 05-15-2013 01:40 PM
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    Today at Google I/O Google announced a special version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 which runs stock Android (no touchwiz):

    • Will be available on Google Play in the US
    • LTE with support for AT&T and T-Mobile
    • 16GB
    • boot loader unlocked
    • $649.99
    • available June 26th

    Anyone going to get this and flash Touchwiz back on?

    More Android news:

    • 900 million Android users
    • 48 billion Google Play app installs
    • 2.5 billion installs in the last month
    • revenue per user is now 2.5x what it was last year

    They announced some new features (API's) for developers including:

    • low power location mode which uses 1% of battery life per hour
    • Geo-fencing which lets devs create bound areas (will this eliminate cheating on Four Square or maybe create auto check-ins?)
    • Activity recognition which users the acceleration to figure out if you're walking, cycling or driving.
    • Google+ sign in (like Facebook sign in but with Google+), it also gives you the option to install the app
    • New messaging features for GCM including syncing notifications across devices so when you dismiss a notification on one phone it dismisses it on your other Android devices.

    Google Play game services:

    • Google Play game services
    • Cloud save - allows you to save your game on your phone and start where you left off on your tablet
    • Achievments and leaderboards
    • These work on iOS and web too so they're cross platform
    • Multiplayer - quick match, invite friends, invitations

    These services are available via Google Play (as opposed to the version of Google) - FroYo and up.

    Google is also launching a new Music service: Google Play Music all access

    • subscription service
    • curated playlists
    • As you're listening to music you can select a song you like and it will create a play list of similar songs (called a radio station)
    • You can create libraries that include BOTH your songs and songs from the subscription
    • Google recommendations
    by Published on 05-14-2013 02:21 PM
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    Today Blackberry announced the Q5 - a lower cost QWERTY device.

    It has a 3.1" display like the Q10 and will be available in black, white and red.

    It's meant for developing nation. No word if it will come here. ...
    by Published on 05-14-2013 11:52 AM
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    The Nokia Lumia 925 looks like a lower-cost refresh of their previous flagship the 920. Looking at the specs the 925 gains some metal on the body and a removable back cover but now comes in a 16GB version - the 32GB is a Vodafone exclusive, no word which version we'll be getting here. The built-in wireless charging is now via an optional cover.

    It has also undergone a much needed diet. While the footprint hasn't changed much it's now 8.5mm thick compared with the 920's portly 10.7mm. Weight is now a very reasonable 139g down from 185g.

    From the press release:

    Published May 14, 2013 | By Nokia - Press Release

    Nokia introduces Nokia Lumia 925

    London, UK - Nokia today introduced the Nokia Lumia 925, a new interpretation of its award-winning flagship, the Nokia Lumia 920. The Nokia Lumia 925 introduces a metal design and showcases the latest PureView camera innovation, new features and third party applications coming to the Nokia Lumia range.

    The Nokia Lumia 925 includes the most advanced lens technology and next generation imaging software to capture clearer, sharper pictures and video, including the best low light images. The Nokia Lumia 925 also introduces the new Nokia Smart Camera mode, coming as an update to all Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones. Nokia Smart Camera offers an easy way to capture ten images at once and edit the pictures with options like Best Shot, Action Shot, and Motion Focus for creating the perfect high quality image.

    Nokia also announced Hipstamatic's new app, Oggl, will arrive on Nokia Lumia smartphones, allowing people to take and share high quality pictures with like-minded creatives and photography enthusiasts from around the world. In addition to sharing photos on Oggl, users can simultaneously share photos on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram.

    "We keep innovating," said Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices. "We're advancing experiences on the Nokia Lumia portfolio whether that means great new benefits for an existing Lumia owner, or bringing new showcase devices like the Nokia Lumia 925."

    The Nokia Lumia 925 introduces metal for the first time to the Nokia Lumia range, bringing appeal and unique benefits like increased robustness. The polycarbonate back comes in white, grey or black. A wireless charging cover can be clipped onto the back of the phone to take advantage of Nokia's extensive wireless charging accessories and ecosystem. Covers, sold separately, come in white, black, yellow, and red.

    Leading Nokia services, such as the HERE suite of integrated location and navigation services and Nokia Music for unlimited streaming of free music playlists, add to the great proposition offered by Nokia's latest smartphone.

    The Nokia Lumia 925 is being introduced into Europe with Vodafone, along with other operator and retail partners. Patrick Chomet, group director of Terminals at Vodafone said: "The new Nokia Lumia 925 is a sleek and sophisticated smartphone delivering great performance and outstanding imaging. We look forward to offering the Nokia Lumia 925 across our markets on Vodafone Red, as well as other tariffs, enabling customers to make the most of their new smartphone on Vodafone's fast and reliable network. Vodafone customers will also have exclusive access to a 32GB version of the Nokia Lumia 925, giving them even more capacity to store all their content for personal and business use."

    Terry Myerson, corporate vice president, Microsoft Windows Phone Division, added: "Together with Nokia, we continue to change the way people think about smartphone cameras. The work Nokia has done with the Lumia 925 further enhances the imaging capabilities of the Lumia smartphones."

    In addition to Europe, the Nokia Lumia 925 will be introduced into the US by T-Mobile and into China by China Mobile and China Unicom. Sales are expected to start in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and China in June, followed by the US and a number of other markets. The Nokia Lumia 925 will be priced around 469 EUR before taxes and subsidies. Country-specific pricing and availability will be announced locally.

    Nokia Lumia 925

    Operating system - Windows Phone 8

    HERE location and mapping services - Free global HERE Maps and HERE Drive+;Free HERE Transit available in the Store

    Display - 4.5" AMOLED WXGA (1280x768), 2.25 D sculpted Gorilla 2 Glass, ClearBlack, High Brightness Mode, Sunlight Readability, Super Sensitive Touch for glove and nail usage

    Battery - 2000 mAh battery, Wireless Charging supported via an accessory cover

    Processor - 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon

    Main camera - PureView 8.7 MP with Optical Image Stabilization, Autofocus, short pulse high power dual LED flash, most advanced lens technology, 1080p HD video at 30fps with Optical Image Stabilization. Includes Nokia Smart Camera mode

    Front facing camera - 1.2 MP wide angle
    Memory - 1GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory; 7 GB free SkyDrive cloud storage
    by Published on 05-01-2013 09:35 AM
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    The Blackberry Q10 arrives today. For BB who have been waiting for a device with a physical keyboard this is the one they were waiting for.

    It's kind of funny that as recently as yesterday the Bold 9900 was actually the keyboard Blackberry to get. So, before today there's basically been a vacuum in the market because really, there was nothing else to buy.

    I tried the Q10 yesterday and I must say, if you're you're coming from a BB7 or older device you're going to some adjusting to do. While the keyboard will feel familiar, BB10 is a touchscreen optimized OS. As such, the physical menu buttons (send, blackberry, back, end and trackpad) are gone. To be honest, I felt a little lost at first even though I use a Z10 from time-to-time. I can live without the trackpad and send/end buttons but my fingers kept looking for the back and menu buttons.

    That said, it won't take long to get used to the new layout. BB10 is pretty intuitive to use.

    Size-wise it feels like a QWERTY BB. compared to the 9900 the front of the Q10 is a little more rounded like the Bold 9790. Since the menu buttons are gone the screen is now square shaped unlike the Z10's which is rectangular. I'm not sure what kind of impact the square shaped screen will have on which apps the Q10 can run. I hope BB knows what they're doing because too many screen sizes was one of the reasons why there weren't a lot of apps for previous versions of the BB OS.

    The battery cover appears to be carbon fiber or some sort of composite-fiber material. When you remove it, you can see the fiber on the other side of the cover too. It's pretty slick.

    If you get the Rogers version, it will have support for their 2600Mhz network which means it download over LTE at up to 100Mbps. More importantly, the 2600Mhz network is less congested than their AWS LTE network (which I find isn't terribly congested).

    Will it sell well? I think so. It will sell whether it's a good device or not because there's a pent-up demand for a keyboard BB which the Z10 didn't address. Luckily for BB there aren't a whole lot of comparable devices on the market so in that sense they're catching a break here. ...
    by Published on 04-29-2013 10:31 AM
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    Man, Sprint can't get a break!

    HTCís conscious decision to focus on premium design for its HTC One flagship may come with an unintended consequenc: reception problem if the phone is held a certain way. Though we havenít been able to confirm if the problem affects all global and U.S. releases of the HTC One, we have foundĖand are able to repeatĖthe problem on at least two Sprint Nextel HTC One units, one in theSan Francisco Bay Area and another in the New York Metropolitan Area.
    by Published on 04-25-2013 01:50 PM
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    Samsung has done so well with their Galaxy S line that a) many people donít know what Android is b) people think other Android phones are copies of the Galaxy S series (the irony).

    So, without a doubt, one of the most important phones of the year is the Samsung Galaxy S4. Itís a 5Ē 1920x1080, quad core monster with a 13 megapixel camera and a giant 2600mAh battery.

    However, there are a number of alternatives like the HTC One and Sony Xperia ZL with similar specs that are cheaper alternatives. So, letís see if the GS4 has what it takes to stay on top. ...
    by Published on 04-22-2013 08:00 PM
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    Three years ago, when thought of a high end Android phone, the first name that would come to most peopleís mouths would have been HTC. HTC has always had a heritage of releasing great hardware. While people were ooh-ing and aww-ing over Blackberry Boldís, HTC was releasing monsters like the HTC TyTN II. In fact, even though HTC hasnít been doing so well in the marketplace lately, theyíve never stopped releasing awesome hardware.

    Hereís their latest, the HTC One. A phone with a 1920x1080 display wrapped in a sexy metal body. HTC has bucked the trend and gone with a Ďless is moreí approach with the Oneís camera. It also has a new version of Sense and louder speakers.
    by Published on 04-19-2013 03:19 PM
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    Today is the big day! The HTC One is launching across North America today!

    Check out our HTC One threads:

    The T-Mobile version will be coming soon.

    It's got a 4 megapixel camera which in HTC-speak is called an 'Ultrapixel'. So Ultra means '4 million'. It has a quad-core Qualcomm processor that's clocked at 0.425 Ultrahertz (1.7Ghz). You also get 500 Ultrabytes of RAM (2GB), 8 Ultrabytes (32GB) or 16 (64GB) of storage. You get a 4.7" display with a 1920x1080 display, 2300mAh battery running on Android 4.1.2.

    I got a HTC One the other day and I've been comparing it with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and I must say, the One more than holds its own. It's ultra-competitive.

    Who's getting one? ...
    by Published on 04-13-2013 10:26 AM
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    Just got word that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is coming to Bell on May 3rd for $699.95 straight up or $199.95 on an eligible 3yr contract. It will be available in either Black or White (I think). Pre-orders launch on Monday. If you pre-order you can get it as soon as April 27th.

    Check out the banding. Apparently it supports LTE on 700/AWS/850/1900/2100/2600Mhz. I'll have to double check that but if that's the case that's amazing. DC-HSPA+ (42Mbps) on 850/1900/2100 too.

    Now the big question: Coke or Pepsi? I mean do you get the HTC One next week on the 19th or do you wait another 2 for the Galaxy S4? One things for sure, HTC's One delay is going to cost them. ...
    by Published on 04-04-2013 11:33 PM
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    2012 was an exciting year for phones. High definition 1280x720 displays became common along with quad core processors. A few years ago, I would have never imagined that phones would sport specs like this. Just when you thought things couldnít get any better, we now have phones with even higher 1920x1080 displays. Thatís right, the same resolution as the TV hanging in your family room. ...
    by Published on 04-04-2013 02:04 PM
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    HTC, AT&T and Facebook have just announced the HTC First. It's basically an Android 4.1 phone with what sounds like an overlay made by Facebook. From the specs it sounds like a mid-range phone with a 4.3" display, Snapdragon 400 processor and LTE. It will be an AT&T exclusive.

    The overlay is called Facebook Home so it sounds like a Facebook-centric homescreen that has cover feeds (friend's news feeds), notifications, chat heads which sounds like the ability to Facebook messenger without leaving your current app, App Launcher and built-in Instagram.

    From its specs it sounds like it's not aimed at phone nerds but rather people who less concerned about specs and more interested in Facebooking.

    Pre-orders start today and will be available on April 12 for $99.99.

    Who's getting one? Quick! Someone make a MySpace phone! ...
    by Published on 03-20-2013 02:25 PM
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    Today I had a chance to play with the Xperia ZL. It was actually announced earlier this year where Sony along with its sister phone, the Xperia Z.

    Both sport a huge 5" 1920x1080 displays with a mind-blowing pixel density of 440 ppi. You also get a quad-core processor from Qualcomm, 2GB RAM 13 and 2MP cameras

    The main difference between the 2 is that the Z is dust and water resistant plus it gets a glass back. The ZL has a smaller foot print along with an IR blaster so you can use it to control your TV among other things.

    While it has a 5" display, it's not as big as I thought it would be because it uses on-screen menu keys which saves a bit of space. Itís actually about the same size as the Galaxy S III so while I wouldnít call it one-handed friendly, itís not terrible either.

    The display itself looks incredible. 1080p resolution on a 5" display is pretty insane when you think about it. ...
    by Published on 03-14-2013 08:58 PM
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    Today Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy S4.

    • 4.99" Full HD Super AMOLED display. 1920x1080, 441 ppi with Gorilla Glass 3
    • 1.9Ghz Quad-core processor or 1.6Ghz Octa-Core processor.
    • Android 4.2.2
    • 13 and 2 megapixel cameras
    • LTE with support for up to 6 bands (for roaming).
    • 16/32/64GB built-in storage which can be expanded with MicroSD cards
    • 2600mAh removable battery
    • 130g and 7.9mm thin
    • physical home, menu and back keys
    • available in white or black

    The body is now poly carbonate with a special finish on the back.

    On the software side, Samsung has some new software features including Samsung Smart Pause. This allows you to pause videos by looking away. It also allows you to scroll the browser by looking and your face and what you're doing with your wrists and scrolls the page up or down.

    Both cameras can record pictures or video simultaneously. The camera software allows you to choose frame effects before you take the simultaneous shot.

    There's a Dual Video Call feature which allows you chat with both cameras at once (I think this requires Chat-On).

    There are 2 shooting modes including a Drama shot (no, it doesn't make your wife look fatter causing more drama). Drama shots snaps up to 100 photos in a 4 second span and then chooses specific pictures to create a shot where the subject appears multi times. It's great for action.

    Story Album takes your pictures, puts them into an Album. You can order a physical album if you want.

    Group Play allows you to share music, photos, documents and games without having to be connected to the network or a WiFi access point (presumably this is WiFi Direct). There's a cool Share Music feature which lets you play the same music through up to 8 supported phones.

    S Translator can translate both text and voice. You can say something to the GS4 English, it will translate it into another Language, hear the respond and translate it into English. Very cool.

    Air View allows you to hover over content to preview it without having to open it. This is similar to what you can do with a S-Pen on a Note 2.

    S Voice Drive is a car optimized feature which allows you make calls, check messages, etc while you're driving.

    Samsung Optical Reader is a OCR program/QR code program. It can translate, call, text message and search.

    Samsung WatchON is a fancy name for the IR Blaster which allows you to control your home theater. It can also pull information from an EPG (Electronic Programming Guide, nice).

    S Health is software to tell you you're fat using built in sensor. Certain functions will require you to buy accessories which include a S-Band (presumably like a Nike fuel band), heart rate monitor, etc.

    The new S4 looks nice but many of the new software features while very cool and snazzy aren't features I'd use in my everyday life. Many of them are very niche like S-Translate, Share Music, etc.

    The only one I could see myself using is the Drama Shot feature, WatchON (the IR Blasters) and maybe the driving feature. And all someone would have to do is write software to recreate Drama Shot (I have this on my iPhone already and I'm sure someone made an Android version). Ditto for the driving feature.

    Hardware is a evolution of what you have now. With the exception of the IR blasters I'm not sure the GS4 will really allow me to do anything I can't already do with a GS3.

    In Canada the Samsung GALAXY S 4 will be available from Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodoo, Mobilicity, Rogers, Sasktel, TELUS, Videotron, Virgin Mobile and Wind Mobile in Q2.

    In the 'States it will be coming to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, as well as US Cellular and Cricket.

    Who's getting one? Or are you going to keep what you have now or go get a Sony Xperia Z/ZL, HTC One or wait to see what Apple comes out with later? ...
    by Published on 03-14-2013 02:30 PM
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    Today Samsung is having their Samsung Mobile Unpacked event tonight at 7PM. They're going to have a stream of the event here.

    They're expected to announce the Galaxy S IV. There are lots of rumors surrounding the device including a 4.99" 1920x1080 (because 5" is too big), a crazy 8 core processor which is actually has 4 fast cores and 4 slow, low-power cores, 2GB RAM, probably 16 or 32 or even maybe 64GB of RAM.

    Specs are great but they're only part of the story. Anyone can release a phone with awesome specs. Great hardware needs compelling software in order to connect with consumers.

    Starting with the original Galaxy S Samsung became a leader in Android with each new version grabbing more market share Let's look back at what made each one great.

    Galaxy S:

    Back when the Galaxy S came out Samsung wasn't the leader in Android it is today. HTC had the first notable Android devices like the Dream (T-Mo G1) and Magic. They were also the first to release an overlay for Android which was very raw back then.

    The Galaxy S had a 4" 800x480 display which used Samsung's Super AMOLED technology. OLED displays had been around for a year or 2 before the S launched but this one had higher resolution and deeper blacks which really made it pop. The rest of the specs were similar to other high end phones at the time. 1Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, 16GB RAM and a 5 Megapixel camera (but no flash unlike most other phones).

    On the software side, Samsung included their TouchWiz custom overlay and Social Hub. It launched with Android 2.1 and received 2.2 and 2.3 from Samsung.

    When the Galaxy S came out it was kind of infamous because both the design and software were very similar to the iPhone. It's notable competitors included the Apple iPhone 3Gs (came out before), iPhone 4 (came out after), Google Nexus One (before), HTC Desire (before), Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (before) and Blackberry 9700 (before).

    Galaxy S II:

    By now, Samsung was really beginning to set themselves apart from other Android OEM's. The GS2 kept the original S' resolution but now the screen measured 4.3" and had a less grainy non-PenTILE Super AMOLED PLUS display. Other hardware was beefed up including a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor, RAM was doubled to 2GB the camera now captured 8MP along with a flash and 1080P video recording. Later versions added LTE and or NFC and or bigger displays with bigger batteries.

    On the software side, Samsung added a newer version of TouchWiz which took the Hub idea further and added a Reader, Music and Gamer Hubs. Samsung shipped it with Android 2.3 and it is currently on Android 4.1.

    Competitors included the Apple iPhone 4 (before), Apple iPhone 4s (after), Galaxy Nexus (after), HTC Raider/Vivid (after), HTC Sensation (about the same time), HTC Amaze (after), Motorola RAZR and the Blackberry Torch.

    The Galaxy S II also formed the basis for the original Samsung Note.

    Most of the Galaxy S II line was the focus of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung.

    Galaxy S III:

    Now Samsung is firmly in the driver seat. Not only are they the defacto leader in Android but they are also duking it out with Apple. Again hardware was beefed up. Some versions came with a quad-core processor while others had a dual-core which featured more efficient processor cores. RAM on some versions was upped to 2GB, with some getting LTE. The battery got a big boost, weighing in at 2300mAh

    The display now has 2.5x the resolution going from 800x480 to 1280x720 and measures 4.8". Samsung is back to using a PenTILE matrix display but the resolution is so high it's almost a moot point.

    Design wise the Galaxy S III has a much more organic shape compared with previous versions which while attractive, weren't particularly interesting looking.

    Somewhere between GS2 and GS3 Google finally got their act together and started offering stuff in Android Play so software-wise Samsung put less emphasis on their hubs. Instead, the latest version of TouchWiz has more usability focused improvements like using the front-facing camera to check if you're looking at the screen before it turns it off.

    Competitors include the Apple iPhone 4s (before), iPhone 5 (after), Galaxy Nexus (before), HTC One X (slightly before), HTC One X+ (after), LG Optimus G (after), Sony Xperia T (after) and Motorola RAZR HD LTE (after).

    The Galaxy S III is going to be tough act to follow. Samsung is really going to have to dig deep to find new features to grab consumer's attention. That said, they've built up enough of a brand that even if the GSIV is a dud, people will still flock to buy it. ...
    by Published on 03-05-2013 09:34 AM
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    The White House has agreed to act on legalizing cell phone unlocking! Thanks to everyone who signed the petition.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/res...hone-unlocking ...
    by Published on 02-27-2013 09:57 AM
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    Recently, I reviewed the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC Windows Phone 8X. So I was pretty excited when I got the Samsung ATIV-S. All represent the best you can currently get on Windows Phone.

    If you were to compare the 3 phones on paper, the ATIVís advantage is that it has the biggest screen, the biggest battery and most notably; a microSD card slot. Still, shopping for anything based on specs alone is the worst thing you can do. After all, things can be more than the sum of their parts. ...
    by Published on 02-25-2013 04:30 PM
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    Sony just announced the Xperia Tablet Z. It's a 6.9mm thin (iPad 4 is 9.4mm thick) tablet with a 10.1" 1920x1080 display (2048x1536 on iPad 4). It weighs 495g (iPad 4 is 652g).

    Probably the most interesting thing about it is that it's water and dust resistant.

    Under the hood is a quad-core 1.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, 2GB of RAM. It's available both with and without LTE. It's currently running Android 4.1.2 with an Android 4.2 upgrade coming later.

    You also get built-in infrared so you can control your TV plus other devices. The camera has a resolution of 8MP. There are stereo speakers with four 'speaker halls'. You can use MicroSD that are up to 64GB in size.

    I'd consider getting it just for the water resistance alone - now I won't be bored when I take a bath. How about you? ...
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