• Reviews and Hands-on

    by Published on 11-07-2013 11:04 AM
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    Ray's been playing with the Z30 and just finished up his video review. Check it out:



    The Z30 we're playing with is from TELUS. I've used it a little. While the Z30's screen doesn't have any more resolution than the Z10 the extra size makes a big difference. The keyboard is easier to use and it's more pleasant to look at.

    Performance is snappy but what really stands out are the speakers. They sound almost as good as the HTC One's but what really sets the Z30 apart is that they're much louder than One's. They're the loudest speakers I have ever heard on a phone.

    Battery life also seems pretty strong. Battery life on the Z10 was a weak spot so I'm glad Blackberry fixed this on the Z30.

    The camera is similar to what you get on the Z10/Q10 - it's not terrible but it's not particularly awesome either. Then again, you don't buy a Blackberry because you want an awesome camera. ...
    by Published on 11-07-2013 08:29 AM
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    With its 6.44Ē display the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a pretty unique device. On one hand it competes with other large phablets like the 6.3Ē Samsung Mega and 6.1Ē Huawei Mega. On the other hand, under the hood the Ultra packs much more of a whallop compared to the Mega and Mate which are mid-range phones. Itís the only high-end phone with a 6Ē+ display right now.

    As such, it doesnít really have any competitors. Sure, the Samsung Mega and Huawei Mate have similarly sized screens but they sport more modest specs and are theyíre substantially cheaper.

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has similar guts but it only has a 5.7Ē display which sounds big but when you have them side-by-side, the Ultra is substantially larger. Theyíre not really competitors either.

    So, sorry, Iím not going to compare the Ultra with anything though I will say, if you want an enormous phone then it doesnít get any bigger than the Ultra.

    If you want the biggest possible screen with the highest specs and water resistance this is your only ticket. ...
    by Published on 11-04-2013 07:55 PM
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    Letís face it, the real reason I tested this phone was to try out the camera. The lure of a 41-megapixel camera was just too great. Now I canít speak for most people who might get the Lumia 1020, but I strongly suspect that the camera will be at the top of their list of reasons for buying it. For that reason the bulk of this review will be devoted to the camera, though I do touch on most of the other hallmarks of my phone reviews.
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    by Published on 11-04-2013 08:00 AM
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    Though its name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, MiniSuit's Keyboard Stand Case for the Nexus 7 reminds me so much of a small netbook that when using it I consistently reach for a track pad that isn't there.

    Howard and I were chatting last week about me making a tablet my primary computing device for a few days to see how I could get on. The truth is that I've already done that ó the last two times I hopped on a plane I left my ThinkPad at home and ended up doing just fine without it.

    A possible next step would be a blog post suitable for publication here written entirely on a tablet. Unfortunately I couldn't quite do it -- at least not to the same technical standards that a traditional computer allows. But this is due to various limitations of Android software, not the MiniSuit keyboard itself. So on with the review!

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    by Published on 10-22-2013 08:12 PM
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    In Canada, earlier this year most of us said goodbye to 3 year contracts and hello to 2 year ones. This has had an interesting effect on how we buy phones and how carriers subsidize them. Previously, when 3 year contracts were the norm, carriers were willing to subsidize phones more heavily. This meant most phones sold where either expensive top-of-the-line models or cheap entry level ones.

    However now that weíve bid adios to 3 year contracts an interesting thing has happened. Carriers now have two tiers of 2 year contracts. In order to get carriers to subsidize phones like they used to youíll now need to spend ore per month. If you want a more affordable plan you can still get a phone but it wonít have all the bells and whistles unless youíre willing to spend a lot more on the phone.

    So now thereís a demand for more affordable smartphones which are better than what youíd usually get on prepaid. Itís the rise of the mid-range phone.

    For $149 you can get the cappuccino with 4 shots of foam Samsung Galaxy S4, but it will cost you each month. If you donít want to spend so much per month youíll have to settle for a cup of Tim Hortons coffee GS4 Mini which also costs $149. So whatís the difference between the 2? ...
    by Published on 10-14-2013 08:10 PM
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    You know that feeling when you get a brand new phone? Now remember that feeling when you accidentally throw your keys in with your shiny new phone, and find a scratch on your screen?

    Yeah I know what youíre about say. ďBut Gorilla glass is really tough! Iíve watched the demos of them using nails on a piece of itĒ. You may have seen the demos but Iíve been fortunate enough to review many, many phones different phones with glass screens and let me tell you something; HTC One, One X, Samsung Galaxy S II, III, 4, Note 2, Motorola RAZR, etc. Most of them had scratches on their screen. Now before you point fingers, no it wasnít me - all these review units came that way.
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    by Published on 10-07-2013 07:45 AM
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    Last week I weighed in with my thoughts on the ZTE Open's rather unremarkable hardware. The real story is, of course, Firefox OS -- the brand-new mobile operating system that runs on it.

    Firefox borrows heavily from both Android and iOS, making it instantly familiar and easy to use. To show you exactly what it looks like I reset my ZTE Open over the weekend and took a brunch of screen grabs from first boot onwards. One thing about grabbing screens: if you're searching the web for how to do it pay no mind to this post -- using adb and terminal commands will certainly work, but simply holding the power and home keys at the same time will save a screen directly to your gallery.

    Anyway, here is Firefox OS!

    ...
    by Published on 10-05-2013 11:56 AM
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    When you look at the Smartphone market, right now itís dominated by Samsung and Apple. Things are going great for them but if you were to ask them what competitor they fear most Iíd bet you their answer would Huawei. Not HTC, LG or Sony.

    I mean eventually Smartphones will reach a point where companies canít keep charging up to $800 a phone. If that ever happens there will be a big race to the bottom to see who can make the best, cheapest phone. If that happens many people figure Huawei will be in a good position.

    While they donít compete at the very top of the market, many people donít realize but Huawei actually makes really good affordable Smartphones. The Y300 I tried a while back isnít going to win ďPhone of the YearĒ but for what it costs itís an amazing deal.

    Now we have the Huawei Ascend Mate. Itís a phone with a 6.1Ē phone that only costs - wait for it - $400 off contract. At $400, itís not going to have going to have specs like the LG G2/Galaxy Note 3/Sony Z1 but for what it costs you get a get a pretty good deal.

    With a 6.1Ē the Mate should be awesome at media consumption. If youíre sitting on the train, there arenít many phones which are better than the Mate for watching and streaming videos - Right? Letís check it out:

    Huawei has found a pretty good niche for the Note. At $400 off-contract, or $99 on a 2 year with the $40 a month, plan it doesnít really have any competitors. There arenít that many phones with huge 6Ē+ screens on the market and the ones that come close cost significantly more. About the only one that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy Mega and maybe a used Note 2.

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    by Published on 10-05-2013 10:32 AM
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    Many people don't know that LG stands for "Lucky Goldstar". When Panasonic and Sony were all the buzz in consumer electronics, Goldstar just couldn't compete. That classic Japan vs Korea battle also applied to Honda vs Hyundai or Toyota vs Daewoo. It's a very different landscape right now and the Kimchi is everywhere doing very well. It's amazing what a rebranding strategy can do: Howard, I think it's time to kick it up, Gangnam style.

    As with all my reviews, here's the bottom line for those with ADHDhhddhhdhddh - The LG G2 is not worth the $200 (on-contract) pricetag. I'd still get the Nexus 4 at the current rock-bottom price or get all the frilly bells and whistles of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The LG G2 is clearly a precursor to the G3 (or whatever nomenclature they choose to avoid colliding with Samsung) and you'll be swimming in regret throughout that 2yr contract.
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    by Published on 10-03-2013 04:17 PM
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    Today I had a chance to play with both the Xperiz Z1 and Ultra Z.



    You can think of the Xperia Z1 as being similar in size to the Galaxy S4. It has a 5", 1920x1080 display, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage - it one ups the GS4 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core SoC, 20.7 megapixel camera, support for more LTE bands plus it's a Cat 4 device. You also get a sexy aluminum frame and a glass front and back. Best of all, you get all that stuff in a device that's water and dust resistant.



    Speaking of water resistance the Z1 is now more water resistant than it's predecessor the Z. At the same time, they've made it easier to use because now there's now no cover over the headphone jack. I am a little annoyed that they didn't make the microUSB jack water resistant too. ...
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