• howard

    by Published on 10-18-2018 12:38 PM
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    Sonos has been around for some time for a while it felt like they owned the whole home audio market. However, there are now alternatives and many of them are not exclusive to a single manufacturer. Google’s Home, Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Homepod devices are marketed first as speakers that have microphones/voice assistants which can also provide whole home audio.

    With that in mind, Sonos has released the One, a Sonos with built-in microphones. Out of the box it has support Amazon Alexa’s voice recognition. Presumably it also has the capability to recognize Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri commands if Sonos can work out necessary licensing deals. ...
    by Published on 10-16-2018 08:24 PM
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    Apple iPhone XS Max

    Here’s the Apple iPhone XS Max. According to Apple, “XS” is pronounced “Ten S”. However it’s hard for me to not see it as “iPhone Extra Small Max”. Silly name aside, the most striking thing about the Max isn’t its notched, large 6.5” display, dual cameras or even the cutting-edge 7nm A12 processor. No, it’s the Max’s breathtaking price tag; the 512GB variant costs a heart stopping $1999 Canadian before taxes. Let’s check it out. ...
    by Published on 08-08-2018 01:01 PM
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    Until recently, my wife and I used Bluetooth speakers when we wanted to listen to music at home. I figured Bluetooth speakers were the most flexible solution. Pretty much every phone, tablet and computer sold in the last 10 years has it. Bluetooth support is also built right into Android/iOS/Windows so you don’t need any special software to use it. There are also many, many different Bluetooth compatible speakers available at all price points.

    Still, Bluetooth isn’t a perfect solution. I won’t cover all of them here, but for us the 3 biggest shortcomings are the range, support for multiple users or lack thereof, and the fact that the Bluetooth speaker will playback everything that’s playing on your phone including alerts.

    In terms of range, our phones will only stream reliably while we’re in the same room. This is inconvenient if we need to leave the room temporarily with our phone.

    However, the bigger problem is the lack of multiple users. When you turn a Bluetooth speaker on, it usually tries to connect to the last device that was using it. This is fine if I’m the only person trying to use the speaker. However, what happens when I’m around and my wife wants to use it? Switching users can be a hassle.

    Then there’s the fact that Bluetooth speakers playback alerts from your phone. It can get quite irritating when you get a bunch of alerts during your favorite song.

    With these problems in mind we figured we’d try out a Sonos. Sonos has been around for a while, so they have a fairly mature lineup of speakers. I’ve actually wanted to try one for a while but various issues with them me from trying it. ...
    by Published on 06-07-2018 10:19 AM
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    Until recently, my wife and I used Bluetooth speakers when we wanted to listen to music at home. I figured Bluetooth speakers were the most flexible solution. After all, pretty much every phone, tablet and computer sold in the last 10 years has it. Bluetooth support is also built right into Android/iOS/Windows so you don’t need any special software to use it. There are also many, many different Bluetooth compatible speakers available at all price points.

    ...
    by Published on 02-09-2018 12:26 PM
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    Besides “the notch” the other X’s other distinguishing feature (aside from the heart stopping price tag) is its facial ...
    by Published on 02-08-2018 10:10 AM
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    One of the iPhone X’s most controversial features is its screen or rather, the fact that parts of it are missing.

    Yes, I’m talking about the “Notch”.

    While previous iPhones had large bezels at the top and bottom of the phone, the X’s design features a display that takes up the entire front of the phone. That means the iPhone’s most iconic feature; the home button is a thing of the past.
    ...
    by Published on 12-01-2016 09:26 AM
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    I’ve been using my iPhone 7 Plus for a few weeks now and since I don’t have time for a full review, I thought I’d share some observations and compare it with my 6s Plus.

    First off, Apple finally ditching the 16GB base model. These days, you can do so much with a Smartphone, it’s irresponsible to sell such an expensive phone with such a skimpy storage configuration. It’s like selling a minivan that only has 1 seat in it.

    Models start with 32GB which is a useful start. The other configurations have 128 and 256GB of storage, up from the 6s Plus’ 64 and 128GB respectively, at the the same price points, which in a way, makes them a better deal - if you could call a $1000+ phone a good deal.
    ...
    by Published on 11-17-2016 10:58 AM
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    I just checked out Motorola’s JBL Soundboost speaker, and Easy Share Projector Moto Mods for their Z series phones. Next up is their camera accessory; the Hasselblad True Zoom.

    Hasselblad is known for their professional grade medium format cameras. So what is their logo doing on this decided un-professional looking camera? Did they really help Motorola develop a camera accessory or did they just have a bunch of extra Hasselblad stickers laying around?
    ...
    by Published on 10-19-2016 01:49 PM
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    I’ve been playing with the Motorola Moto Z and some Moto Mod accessories for it. I recently checked out the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod. Initially, I was unsure of how much sense a proprietary accessory would make, but Motorola managed to make it work and I loved the SoundBoost.



    Next up is their Moto Insta-Share Projector. It’s a pic projector that attaches to the back of a Motorola Moto Z family phone (currently there are 3 compatible Z family phones with presumably more to come). There are pogo plugs on the back of the projector which mate to connectors on the back of a Moto Z. It uses magnets to hold it in place which I assure you, hold it very securely. ...
    by Published on 10-13-2016 08:44 AM
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    I’ve been playing with a Motorola Moto Z and a few Moto Mod accessories for a few days and thought I’d share some thoughts on how they work together.

    But first off, I have to mention what really jumps out about the Z is just how thin it is. I mean how can something this skinny pack flagship specs? What’s more impressive is that they managed to do this without having to resort to a gigantic bezel or skimping on the battery capacity.



    They didn’t skimp on features either, on the back are series of 16 pogo pins which allow you to attach a variety of add-ons called Moto Mods. Motorola isn’t messing around either, they sent me 4 different Mods with the Z including:


    • a serious sounding speaker from JBL
    • external battery pack for extended Pokemon Go so I can finally catch enough Dratini to evolve it
    • Camera with 10x optical zoom from Hasselblad
    • Pico Projector so the wife and I can watch Brooklyn Nine Nine on the ceiling




    These can all attach to the back of the Moto Z using magnets. In case you’re wondering; Yes, they attach very securely - they won’t come off unless you want it to and even then it takes a bit of coaxing.



    As it turns out the thinness, allows the Z to stay manageable even when you have a Moto Mod attached.



    So, far the one I’ve used most is the JBL speaker. I’ll talk more about the other mods in another write up. It’s considerably thicker than the Z and at 145g it basically doubles the weight of the package. Fortunately it’s very sculpted so it doesn’t feel too strange in my hand when I have it connected.
    ...
    by Published on 09-23-2016 10:36 AM
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    I was very excited when Pokemon Go launched, I really enjoyed playing the original Pokemon games 20 years ago, and was really looked forward to being able to play the latest version with my 6 year old daughter.

    The 2 of us have managed to make it up to level 28 mostly because I play a lot when she’s not around. However playing a lot of Pokemon Go causes 3 problems. Can the Pokemon Go Plus solve them? ...
    by Published on 08-31-2016 02:03 PM
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    I just got a chance to play with the new Motorola Moto Z and the just announced Moto Z Play. Motorola is differentiating the Z line by putting a proprietary connector on the back of each Z phone which allows you attach specially designed accessories to it.

    Accessories include a battery back from Incipio, Insta-Share Projector, JBL SoundBoost speaker and a camera attachment with a 10x zoom lens from Hasselblad. ...
    by Published on 06-23-2016 08:29 AM
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    Just when I was wondering if Blackberry was going to release a Priv follow up, I got news of 3 new devices that they have in the pipeline; the Argon, Neon and Mercury. All run Android. Sorry no pics of these devices (that's a Priv in the picture).

    Blackberry Neon:
    • touch only
    • $0 (400 MSRP)
    • Qualcomm 8952 (a 617 like the Moto G4 Plus)
    • 3GB RAM
    • 5.2" 1080P display
    • 16GB storage
    • 13MP rear camera
    • 8MP front camera
    • 2610mAh battery
    • Quick charge 2
    • aluminum frame
    • soft touch rear casing
    • Cat 6LTE
    • 130g
    • aimed at consumers and enterprise
    • August 2016 launch


    Blackberry Argon:
    • touch only
    • $200 (600-700MSRP)
    • Qualcomm 8996 (a Snapdragon 820 "lite")
    • 4GB RAM
    • 5.5" 1440P
    • 32GB storage
    • 21MP rear camera
    • fingerprint reader (finally)
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3000mAh battery
    • Quick Charge 3
    • USB type-C
    • aimed at consumers and enterprise
    • October 2016 launch


    Blackberry Mercury:
    • design like the Blackberry Classic:
    • QWERTY keyboard
    • Qualcomm 8953 (Snapdragon 625)
    • 4.5" screen with 3:2 display ratio
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB storage
    • 18MP rear camera
    • 8MP front camera
    • 3400mAh battery
    • Quick Charge 3.0
    • "High precision & Craftsmanship"
    • aluminum housing
    • aimed at enterprise
    • February 2017 launch


    To me, 4 things stand out; first, the price point of the Neon and Argon seem very reasonable. While the Priv is a nice device it's just priced way too high and probably falls off a lot of people's shopping lists because of that. Traditionally you paid quite a premium to get a Blackberry logo but that looks like that's changing.

    Secondly, while the Neon and Argon are still a few months off, their specs will probably be more in-line with the rest of the market. Typically Blackberry specs lagged the market by about 6 months but these ones look to be much more competitive. I mean August isn't far off and they probably could have gotten away with just 2GB of RAM. Then again, while I didn't hear word of it I hope it shows up a fingerprint reader.

    While the Mercury is still way, way off it's good to know that the QWERTY only Blackberry isn't going away. A power sipping Snapdragon 625 coupled with a smaller 4.5" display and a large 3400mAh battery should make for some epic battery life too.

    Lastly, all 3 devices run Android. I guess there just isn't enough demand for a Blackberry OS device. ...
    by Published on 06-14-2016 12:18 PM
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    When the Moto G came out in 2013, it was way ahead of curve. In terms of value it just blew its contemporaries out of the water.

    The follow up, the 2014 Moto G wasn’t received quite as well. It was a decent package but Motorola forgot to toss in LTE, at a time when it was starting to become a must-have feature.

    The 2015 Moto G received LTE but other than having water resistance, the rest of the package wasn’t all that different from the 2014 and thus it was passed by the rest of the market.

    With the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola looks to regain the magic that has seeped away from the G line. ...
    by Published on 05-27-2016 01:36 PM
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    When it comes to the top end of the market, flagships are more alike than they are different. Of course, the devil is in the details, they’re what separates the has and the has beens.

    I mean, they all come with 5-ish inch quad-HD displays, SoC powered by the latest ARM cores, 3 or 4GB of RAM, that sort of thing.

    So what is different about the G5? For starters, LG is touting the G5 as a modular phone. The bottom part can be removed so that you can attach other accessories.

    It also has 2 rear cameras, no, they’re not for fake Bokeh or 3D or even black and white. The 2nd camera has a super wide-angle lens on it which, in the right hands, makes for some dramatic photos.

    Hmm, modular with a super-wide camera? It could just be what the doctor ordered for an shaking up a slightly stale flagship market. ...
    by Published on 05-26-2016 01:33 PM
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    Last year, instead of releasing one Galaxy S flagship, Samsung’s S line bifurcated into regular and curved versions with the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Later on, the Edge line split again with a Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

    In 2016, Samsung merged the S6 Edge and S6 Edge Plus into, wait for it, the Galaxy S7 Edge.

    Last year, the GS6 and GS6 Edge weren’t all that different so I thought the regular version was the smarter choice. However, this time around, the difference between them is more pronounced. The screen size on the Edge has grown from 5.1 to 5.5” with a few other changes under the hood.

    Is the regular version still the one to get or has it been supplanted by the Edge? ...
    by Published on 05-12-2016 10:30 AM
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    I remember when HTC was synonymous with Smartphones. While most of us were still pressing the “3” button twice to enter in the letter “e”, HTC was making Smartphones with HTML web browsers, email, MS office with WiFi and Bluetooth.

    However, their 2015 flagship, the HTC One M9 left something to be desired. If I was to describe it in one word it would be “underwhelming”. On paper it was an improvement over the 2014 M8, but in the real world, it was more of a sideways step rather than a step forward.

    The camera had beefy specs but it wasn’t really that great, the processor should have been formidable but wasn’t really any faster than last year’s model. It just didn’t stand out.

    Fortunately, HTC isn’t messing around with their 2016 flagship; the HTC 10 lines up much better with its competitors.

    In Canada, the HTC 10 is available unlocked from HTC’s website for an eye-watering $999 Canadian. Otherwise, it’s a Bell exclusive. At $349.99 Canadian on contract it’s $50 more than the LG G5, $50 less than the GS7 and $150 less than the GS7 Edge . Let’s check it out:
    ...
    by Published on 04-22-2016 03:36 PM
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    Yesterday I wrote about Desjardin Insurance’s Ajusto app and wasn’t planning to write about it again for a while but I wanted to mention a few more things I forgot to yesterday.

    First up though, since I’ve been using it for more than a day I got my first score (as opposed to a trip score) on my iPhone.

    After a day of very careful driving I managed, wait for it, 89 out of 100. ...
    by Published on 04-21-2016 02:58 PM
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    Before my kids came, I used to really enjoy driving games. Forza 2 on my Xbox 360 was my favorite but no matter the game, the goal was typically the same, get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

    That is till now. I just downloaded Desjardins’ Ajusto app to my iPhone (also available for Android). It’s an app which analyzes how you drive and gives each trip a score out of 100. You get points for driving smooth, not cornering too hard, not speeding and not accelerating too quickly. Sounds like the recipe for the most boring car game ever.
    ...
    by Published on 04-20-2016 03:22 PM
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    The other day, I wrote about my Nexus 4 and how it’s still able to get the job done. What I didn’t mention was that I was also fiddling with my Nexus One from many years ago. While a bit smaller, feature wise, it’s not all that far from the current crop of Nexus’.

    Oh and before I continue, all the pictures here were taken with the very same Nexus 4 I wrote about yesterday. It’s old, not obsolete!

    I mean the recipe for a smartphone hasn’t changed all that much. They’re still basically just a processor, touch screen, RAM, storage, camera(s), speaker(s), radio and software, all crammed into a bar like device. Despite manufacturer’s best efforts, this recipe probably won’t change for a while.

    Along the way, companies have tried to mix things up. Samsung includes a heart rate sensor on many models. The Note series includes a stylus. They also included a UV sensor on the Note 4.

    A few have tried infrared blasters. There are a handful of phones with dual rear cameras, for various reasons including 2 different focal lengths, fake bokeh effects, 3D, you name it.

    Call it innovation or running out of ideas, but there is one feature which is slowly becoming a standard feature which I absolutely love; the fingerprint reader.
    ...
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