• Reviews and Hands-on

    by Published on 06-24-2014 10:04 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Reviews and Hands-on,
    3. Apps
    Article Preview



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


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


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


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


    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.
    ...
    by Published on 06-03-2014 12:49 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview


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

    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
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on,
    4. Apps
    Article Preview



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

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

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

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



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



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

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


    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. ...
    by Published on 04-17-2014 01:13 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    I had the opportunity to play with the Sony Xperia Z2 today. I was also fortunate enough to bring a HTC One M8 along to compare with it.

    If you're a Sony fan and are familiar with last year's Xperia Z1 then the Z2 is best described as a mild improvement.



    Size-wise, the Z2 and its 5.2" screen make it a little bit bigger. In a way I'm disappointed because the Z1 with its somewhat hard corners makes it feel bigger than it really is.



    The Z2 is also a little thinner.



    When I reviewed the Z1 last year I thought it was a nice phone but compared with it's contemporaries; the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One (M7) it had the worst screen. In absolute terms, it wasn't a horrible screen but the viewing angle really lagged behind it's competitors.

    So, the first thing I noticed was that the Z2 has a really nice screen. In fact, it's the first Sony phone I've used that has a top-notch screen that's as good as its rivals instead of a good but not great one. ...
    by Published on 04-17-2014 09:28 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    My accessories bag will be a little heavier this weekend, as my better half and I spend Easter in New York City. We've relied on portable battery chargers while on holiday for a few years now, but the ones we've been using—all the rage in Hong Kong in 2011—have lately started to fail us.

    So I've decided to shell out the big bucks for a brand name that I recognize, Anker. I ordered a pair of Astro 3Es from Amazon Canada. At the time they were on sale for $49.99 CAD; as of this writing they're now ten bucks cheaper. ...
    by Published on 04-16-2014 09:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    While doing research for this review, I discovered a whole other universe where the limits of precision are still being pursued and a community of fans that have no limits of how much they would spend on time pieces. It's truly incredible that watches have not become obsolete considering it would take you longer (relatively speaking) to glance at your wrist to tell the time than what's displayed on your screen right now. I haven't worn a watch for decades. The day I picked up my Nokia Fido phone was when I didn't see the point of adding mass to my left wrist.





    But in a twist of irony that puzzles me is how much more valuable and costly mechanical watches have become. You would think that when quartz was available on mass, nobody would be interested in manual wind up watches. Could this be a storyline for smartphones? Hmmm...
    ...
    by Published on 04-16-2014 08:27 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview



    Parting is such sweet sorrow... Yesterday marked the end of my time with the HTC One M8, on loan from Bell.

    I supposed that the next logical step would be for me to spend some quality time with the other flagship smartphone of early 2014, the Samsung Galaxy S5. I've handled a pre-production model briefly, and while it seems like a solid upgrade to the GS4 it's not at all in the same class as the M8, at least in terms of the hardware. In fact, I don't think anything is—compared to the M8 my own Nexus 5 feels like a cheap plastic toy.

    But there exists a phone that I'd recommend over the M8 to to prospective buyers, and that's the One before it. ...
    by Published on 04-15-2014 10:06 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Reviews and Hands-on
    Article Preview

    Maybe, like me, you've never actually seen HTC's BlinkFeed in action. Or perhaps, for some reason, your next Android smartphone purchase rests entirely on BlinkFeed vs. Samsung's Flipboard—sorry, My Magazine.

    Whatever the case may be, here, as a public service, is a quick screenshot tour of yours truly getting acquainted with BlinkFeed on Sense 6.0, via my locked-to-Bell HTC One M8. ...
    Page 5 of 15 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 LastLast