• Reviews and Hands-on

    by Published on 07-07-2014 01:21 PM
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    The LG G3 is coming soon. It’s the first phone with a quad HD display that’s going to be sold by carriers here. The display has 2560x1440 pixels or to put it in perspective; 5 times as many pixels as my iPhone 5s, 4 times as many as the Amazon Fire phone and almost 80% more pixels than my Galaxy S5.

    Resolution aside, it’s also the first LG flagship in a while that comes with a removable battery and memory card. It also has a split screen feature like Samsung has had for a while. They also improved their knock on feature so now you can now set custom knock on patterns to unlock your phone.

    I just got one yesterday, here are my first impressions.

    Front and center, of course, is the screen. At 5.5” it’s big, and with it’s super high resolution, it looks insanely sharp. LG has moved away from the fat cartoonish fonts of the G2 to smaller text and flatter icons which really flatter the screen. I had imagined how sharp the G3 screen would be since it has 80% more pixels than my GS5.

    I admit, I had preconceived notions that the G3 screen would look a lot sharper than the GS5 screen and indeed, my first impression was that it was. However, one of the first things I did after was screen capture the G3 and then load that file on my GS5 to see how much sharper the G3 is. Indeed, when you compare side-by-side photos of them at 100%, the G3 is a little cleaner looking.
    ...
    by Published on 07-07-2014 09:12 AM
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    If you've never heard of a reddit AMA, "AMA" stands for "ask me anything". Some very notable public figures have taken to the self-proclaimed "front page of the Internet" to answer questions from the community there—like US President Barack Obama, for example.

    Based on last Friday's post I hosted my own humble AMA on r/Android over the weekend, learning a few things about LG's new G3 along the way. ...
    by Published on 07-04-2014 10:58 AM
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    Yesterday Howard and I attended a pre-launch event for the LG G3 in Toronto. Everyone there got a pre-release loaner to take home and review; though I wasn't officially on the guest list I ended up getting one too!

    For me, LG's 2014 flagship is pretty much the polar opposite of my LG Nexus 5. Where the latter is a fairly nondescript black box that lets the power of pure Android shine, the G3's hardware practically screams "premium" in every way. ...
    by Published on 06-27-2014 08:31 AM
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    The bad news is that I haven't installed the preview of Android L on my Nexus 5 or 7. Both devices are my daily drivers and I kind of need them to work. The good news is that almost every other tech blogger covering Google I/O is performing this public service for us, so there's no shortage of screen grabs out there showing off Android's next major release.

    Android Police in particular are milking this for all it's worth. So, courtesy of them, here's a taste of Android L: ...
    by Published on 06-26-2014 08:52 AM
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    So the first two devices with Android Wear, LG's G Watch and Samsung's Gear Live, are now available for purchase from the Google Play Store—in both the United States and Canada, I might add. And as I figured, Google is still taking orders for both of them the morning after. There's no mass hysteria among the Android faithful like there was with, say, the Nexus 4, and I think I know why:

    The Moto 360 is the Android Wear you want, if you want Android Wear at all. ...
    by Published on 06-24-2014 10:04 AM
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    Last October I wrote about Aviate, a contextual launcher for Android that was then an invite-only alpha. In the months since it's been acquired by Yahoo, who just yesterday published their first branded release to Google Play. Let's see what's new! ...
    by Published on 06-20-2014 10:26 AM
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    If you’re out or travelling around and have ever needed a charging cable, you’ll know what a pain it is to bring one along. Charging cables are meant for you to connect your phone to your wall charger, so when you have to pack them, they can make a mess because they’re too long.

    Fortunately, Nomad sent me their CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD chargers which are both available with a Lightning connector (for iOS) or a MicroUSB (for everything else). They’re charging cables which are shaped like a house key or a credit card so they’re easier to carry around. ...
    by Published on 06-18-2014 07:32 PM
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    I got to check out Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S tablets today.

    Samsung currently has 3 tablet lines: The Galaxy Tab 4 series is their entry level. It comes in 7, 8 and 10.1" sizes with price points of ~$199/249/349 respectively.

    Next is the Galaxy Tab Pro which have higher resolution screens, more RAM, faster processors, higher resolution cameras along with a bunch of bonus content/subscriptions. The Tab Pro comes in 8.4/10.1/12.2" screen sizes with $349/449/669.99 price points.

    Lastly they have their Galaxy Note 2014/Pro line. The hardware on the Note 10.1 2014 edition and NotePro 12.2" and bonus content/subscription is similar to the the Tab Pro line plus they add Samsung's Wacom compatible stylus functionality. The 10.1/12.2" sizes are $599.99/769.99 respectively.

    One common feature about all these tablet lines is that they all use LCD displays.

    Now Samsung is introducing a 4th line, the Galaxy Tab S. The "S" is for SuperAMOLED - yes, now Samsung has a tablet line that uses the same screen technology as their Galaxy S line of phones. In the past, I thought Super AMOLED screens were at best, a good alternative to the class-leading LCD displays found on other devices. However I feel that Samsung's latest generation of SuperAMOLED displays are now superior to the screens you find on other devices. The 3 best things about SuperAMOLED displays are their inky blacks which gives them amazing contrast ratios. They also have excellent viewing angles and there is minimal contrast lost when you view them from off angle. Samsung also claims that on average SuperAMOLED screen use less power and they have faster refresh rates. Translation: the latest SuperAMOLED displays are awesome.



    The Tab S line consist of a 10.5" and a 8.4" model. They're 6.6mm thick which is a tiny bit thinner than the TabPro and NotePro Tablets. They're both powered by Samsung 4+4 core SoC (same as the TabPro and NotePro) with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage, MicroSD slot (up to 128GB cards), 8/2MP cameras, IR Blaster and Fingerprint readers. ...
    by Published on 06-18-2014 10:29 AM
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    Here’s Acer’s Liquid S1. It’s available for $380 at various places that sell Acer products and is completely unlocked. Since it’s unlocked you do whatever you want with it. You can switch carriers, take it travelling, buy it as present and not have to wonder whether you passed all of a carrier’s rules to get your unlock code nor do you have to visit a 3rd party to get a code.

    For $380 you get a 5.7", 1280x720 IPS display. Underneath the hood is a quad-core 1.5Ghz MediaTek MT6589 SoC with a PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage (5.5GB available) and a MicroSD. On the back is a 8MP camera with a 2MP one in front and a 2400mAh battery. There's no LTE but you do get penta-band DC-HSPA+. On the software side you get Android 4.2.2 with Acer's custom launcher.

    Aside from a couple of iPhones (which cost a lot more than the S1), Google’s Nexus 5 and Motorola’s Moto E and some Moto G’s, there aren’t a whole lot of unlocked phones in the Canadian market.

    The way I see it, the Liquid S1 has 2 main competitors; The Google Nexus 5 and Motorola Moto G. Like the S1, both are sold unlocked and some what readily available locally. The Nexus 5 is available for $349.99 online from Google Play while you can pick up the Moto G unlocked from Staples for $249.99. Let’s compare:
    ...
    by Published on 06-06-2014 07:45 AM
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    Samsung sent me 2 of there wearables recently: The Gear Neo and the Gear Fit. I just finished reviewing the Samsung Gear 2 Neo. To me, I was really surprised because it’s the first piece of wearable technology that I didn’t truly hate.

    While the Neo is a full fledge Smartwatch, the Fit is more of a fitness band on steroids. What’s the difference between these 2 classes of devices? I’d say the main difference is the shape. Smartwatches usually have large displays while Fitness bands don’t have a display or if they do, it tends to be smaller and more rectangular.

    Where do the steroids come in? Well, in addition to being a fitness band, the Fit is also able to display notifications from your phone. In a way, it’s a converged device.
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    by Published on 06-03-2014 12:49 PM
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    Technology is an interesting thing; It can simultaneously make our lives easier and be a complete pain in the neck. In order for technology to be successful, it has to be more of the former and less of the later.

    Take the Galaxy S5 or one of its contemporaries. It has a large and wonderful 5.1” display. Its large size is fantastic for reading emails, browsing the web, gaming and just about everything else. The trade off is that the large display means you really have to use it with both hands to get the most out of it plus it’s not quite as pocket-able as a smaller phone.

    However, for many, the large screen outweighs the usability and portability penalty and so the GS5 is a great and successful product.

    With that in mind, what trade offs do wearable technology have?

    Samsung sent me their Galaxy Gear 2 Neo and Galaxy Gear Fit to find out.

    The Gear 2 Neo is a smartwatch with a large display while the Gear Fit is more of a fitness band with a small screen. I’ll talk about the Fit in a later review.
    ...
    by Published on 05-26-2014 09:54 AM
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    When last we left this Android flashaholic I had installed—and subsequently wiped—a new build of MIUI for tablets. Undaunted by the experience I headed over to XDA, where I found this list of available ROMs for my 2013 Nexus 7.

    The two tablet-friendly ROMs that I've used in the past—AOKP and Paranoid Android—are currently only available as nightly builds; both were fairly buggy on my device. Somewhere on reddit I heard about a KitKat version of Slim ROM. I've been using it all weekend on my Nexus 7, and liked it so much that I put it on my phone, too! ...
    by Published on 05-22-2014 09:11 AM
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    This is the new MIUI for tablets. I installed it on my Nexus 7 yesterday so that you won't have to.

    V5 of the MIUI ROM, based on Android 4.4 KitKat, is already available for a number of popular handsets—mostly Samsungs for us here in the west. But this particular build of MIUI V5 is unique to tablet computers; it's supposedly the same ROM that you'll get on Xiaomi's recently-announced Mi Pad.

    But shortly after it was flashed on my Nexus 7 MIUI was unceremoniously wiped. Here's why. ...
    by Published on 05-15-2014 09:42 AM
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    I realize that I'm writing this for maybe two or three other forum members who, like myself, use Linux as their primary desktop OS. But this freedom beard would be remiss if he didn't relate an odd experience with the new Rogers LTE Moto G.

    This latest version of the G has only 8GB of onboard storage, but compensates for that with a micro SD card slot. For Linux users this should be great news; this Linux user has had challenges with file transfers between phone and computer ever since Ice Cream Sandwich and the introduction of MTP. It's not a huge deal by any means, and MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) has steadily improved in updates to Ubuntu and its derivatives. Most times my Nexus 5 will mount on my Linux Mint desktop just fine; for larger file transfers, like TWRP backups and such, I use FTP on my local network.

    With the Moto G and a micro SD card it's a bit of a different story. ...
    by Published on 05-14-2014 11:22 AM
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    This morning I fired up a pre-production, locked-to-Rogers, LTE-powered Moto G. Here in Canada it will be exclusive to Rogers and Fido at launch, retailing for $225 to $275 outright or $0 on a contract.

    Let's see what's new!

    ...
    by Published on 05-13-2014 11:27 AM
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    The Motorola Moto G with LTE is coming to Rogers and Fido for $224.95.

    It's just like the Moto G that came ...
    by Published on 05-12-2014 09:25 AM
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    Remember last Christmas when I got my 88 years-young, stroke-surviving mother her first cell phone? That didn't turn out so well... She only really ever used it when her landline went down and now, with her carrier Public Mobile being assimilated into TELUS, her handset is set to become a doorstop sometime this month.

    But thanks to Howard, the good folks at Snapfon and some helpful advice from fellow forum members she was surprised this past Mother's Day with a fairly substantial handset upgrade.

    Let's have a look. ...
    by Published on 05-09-2014 08:25 AM
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    ABC—Always Be Charging. That's been my mantra from day one as a user of the power-hungry Android OS. But it was only a few years ago when I finally purchased my first portable charger, a lipstick-sized Japtron that was all the rage in early 2012 Hong Kong. I paid $268 HKD for it, about $34.50 USD. Now there's a Chinese company selling a similar charger on Amazon.

    For ten bucks. ...
    by Published on 04-22-2014 10:02 AM
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    I spent Easter weekend with my better half in New York City, with mobile connectivity for the both of us provided by Roam Mobility.

    It's not the only option for travellers to the USA, but it seemed the best-suited for us. We're both on Koodo monthly plans here in Canada, so neither Rogers' 50MB data roaming package for $7.99/day nor WIND's new $39/month plan with US data roaming included would do. And since I'm not really on-board with KnowRoaming attaching a parasitic host to our SIM cards, Roam Mobility got the nod.

    $3.95 CAD per day for 100—wait, 300 MB of data seemed reasonable enough. ...
    by Published on 04-20-2014 08:08 PM
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    Before you ask yourself how this review qualifies to be in the Android forum, placing it here was recommended to me by Howard Chui. After all, I needed my Android phone to fly this drone, so in a sense this is actually an Android app review that happens to work with a piece of external hardware.

    I should start by admitting that I've never tested (or even flown) a quadrocopter before, and so unlike my smartphone reviews I won't have a wealth of past experience to draw upon. When I started this test I didn't even know what the norm was for quadrocopter features, and so I did a little background research. I looked at other reviews of the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to make sure that what I'd observed was also observed by others. I found reviews of other quadrocopters that were considered the competition. However, as best I can possibly do, I'll try to keep any other opinions of the aircraft out of this assessment, other than to compare facts, such as battery life or range.

    Perhaps a good place to begin is with the geeky stuff. Were this just a four motors with fan blades on them that somehow the operator managed to fly successfully using just a remote control, then there wouldn't be much to say here. However, to make this device flyable by complete novices such as myself it needed some very sophisticated software. In the end, the only thing the operator needs to worry about is that he wants the aircraft to move forward, backward, side to side, rotate, or go up and down. It's almost as easy as driving an RC car, but not quite. ...
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