It’s not all about the big hitters when it comes to smartphones, sure the likes of Samsung and HTC knock out some really great hardware which become the must have phone and receives the rave reviews but what about the budget smartphone ? The affordable handset market is worth $50 billion and is big business… Read more »
Check out the top smartphones you can buy right now, read to your heart’s content with Kindle Unlimited, our review of the Samsung ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition and find out how to live off vending machines in Tokyo. All that and more inside Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
What are the top smartphones on the market today? Our new buyer’s guide has you covered. Boom! You’re welcome.
Good news for you bookworms, Amazon announced an all-you-can-eat subscription plan for Kindle devices. For just $10 a month, you can get all e-books you want!
Samsung’s latest ultrabook is here. How does the ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition hold up to the competition? Check out Dana’s review for all the details.
Japan has more vending machines per capita than anywhere else on Earth. Follow along as Mat Smith tries to live off nothing but vending machines as he travels around Tokyo.
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The marketplace for smartwatches is a young one, filled with potential and ready to explode any year now. We have only a handful of competitors right now, ranging from what some people call the original smartwatch, Pebble, all the way to the ultra-premium Moto 360.
But somewhere in the middle of that we have the new Omate Truesmart smartwatch, a device funded on Kickstarter and only available for pre-order. The device is being advertised as a Smartwatch 2.0, and they say there’s a dozen reasons why. But whether or not these features mean it’s a device you should buy is a matter of discussion. Let’s dive into what makes the Omate Truesmart… truly smart.
Standalone or companion smartwatch… you choose.
One of the unique things about Omate is the fact that you can put your micro-SIM card into and have it act as a standalone smartphone. As long as your SIM card isn’t locked to your current smartphone, you can simply take out your SIM card and pop it into the Omate to receive data on its own and make calls and texts. This feature alone can make the Omate a very powerful option when compared to the competition of smartwatches that only act as companions to your smartphone.
But while Omate is proud of its standalone capabilities, I can’t see many people using it by itself at all. When I think of a person today that has a smartwatch, I think of them as reasonably tech savy and quite interested in gadgets, which would lead me to believe that would have a smartphone in their possession. Not many people would buy a smartwatch without having a smartphone. That’s a problem with the Omate is that there was too much focus on this being standalone smartwatch and not enough focus making this a companion watch. By this, I mean the companion abilities are pretty bad.
Abilities currently supported are notification mirroring, accepting or rejecting calls, and seeing when you get a text message (not actually seeing the text message or being able to reply to it). It really makes the whole smartwatch experience seem pointless when I can’t actually see the text message on the watch and I have to pull out my phone to do so. Pebble does this pretty well, and I don’t see why Omate can’t.
After extensive use with Omate, I prefer it to act as a standalone smartwatch but doing so can really strain your eyes after squinting almost every time at the less than average screen…
The screen is okay. After using the original Galaxy Gear for a little bit and hearing about the upcoming Android Wear smartwatches with OLED displays, it’s safe to say this screen isn’t the best on the market. If I hold the watch away from a distance, the 1.54 inch 240×240 IPS display looks pretty decent with average color display, but when looking closely, and trust me you will, you’ll absolutely notice the pixels, which makes web browsing and photo viewing less than pleasant.
Omate comes equipped with a 600 mAh battery, capable of 100 hours of standby time. I was able to get a full day use out of it starting at 8:30 am and ended up with 18% by the end of the day at 11 pm. I wasn’t using Omate as heavily as I would a smartphone, but I had my SIM card in it so I tried a couple phone calls, sent text messages and downloaded some things from the OStore, which is Omate’s app store, and played a bit of Flappy Bird (Oh yeah, you can live the experience all over again). I did a little bit of web browsing using mobile data which was the big drainer, but on a normal day I wouldn’t use Omate as heavily, so I was happy with the battery life.
Software and Functionality
This is where my biggest complaints are about the Omate Truesmart. As Omate was being developed, the best OS available for a smartwatch was Android. Omate is powered by Android 4.2.2, and probably won’t be seeing a newer version, at least anytime soon. Omate has a custom skin and launcher on top of Android which serves to bring better Android functionality to a small screen on the wrist. While having the full power on Android makes this device incredibly customizable, many things just seemed to small and hard to see. The Android Messaging app that came pre-loaded was very hard to use and even the flexible Kleksy keyboard was just too small for enjoyable typing.
I’m going to be a while on this text..
Android 4.2.2 runs really smooth on Omate, and your options to do things are limitless. Just imagine all the things you can do on your Android powered smartphone, just smaller. Much smaller. You can download and install apk’s from the internet, you can choose which launcher you want to use for the home screen, you can send tweets, check out Google+, and pretty much anything, and with 1GB of RAM on this thing, you can easily switch between these apps with Android’s default multitasking. Pretty cool. But some apps truly seem incompatible for smaller screen, like Dropbox for example. I opened it, it gave me a handful of welcome screens showing me what to do, but then I couldn’t move on from there. It was as if the continue button was below the screen margins and I just couldn’t see it..
While this device is clearly geared towards power users and people who want their smartwatch to do everything, I still believe smartwatches with Android Wear are the better option. On Omate, you are sacrificing the user friendliness and accessibility of Wear’s Google Now cards for customization and lots of features you probably won’t use.
Omate comes equipped with a 5MP camera on the side capable of shooting 720p video. I’m guessing this won’t be your primary shooter, but with 5MP, it can be a really solid emergency camera and is compatible with Instagram, Snapchat and other photo apps.
On AT&T’s HSPA+ network, speeds were fair and browsing was almost as fast as my Nexus 4 (3G also), and the GPS worked great when trying to figure out how far you’ve ran.
WiFi signals were pretty bad and downloading from the OStore took pretty long. The interesting part is that downloading speed up quite a bit when I took the watch off my wrist, meaning that wearing the device blocks some of the WiFi signals.
My immediate though when trying the watch on was how bulky it was. People tend to wear watches for fashion statements and because they look nice. With Omate, some people thought I was under house arrest because of the bulky device on my arm. I’m a fan of how the Galaxy Gear and Gear Live look, with their metallic finishes and very modern designs.
Omate was obviously designed for power and lots of features, so to cram 1GB of Ram, 8GB of storage, an HD camera, micro SD slot, powerful dual-core processor as well as antennas for GPS radios inside of a Kickstarter project is no easy task, but the end design is just a bit too bulky for my tastes.
Style just ain’t my thing
Omate Truesmart is a device for a certain crowd. If you want to smartwatch that can do almost anything, has the full power of Android with all the apps compatible for it, then this might be the smartwatch for you. But my main complaint is that Omate has lost sight of what a watch is suppose to be. With Pebble, I can simple twist my wrist towards me and the screen lights up to show me the time. With Omate, the screen is off until I press a button on the side for it to light up and show me the time.
If you want all the capabilities your phone has and want to use a smartwatch as a phone, then this is a match made in heaven for you. But if you are a customer that wants important information at a glance at the right time, then I would check out Android Wear smartwatches. Check out the specs for yourself below and Omate’s Kickstarter page here
|Size||45 mm × 45 mm × 14 mm|
|Screen||1.54’’ TFT by LG display (240 x 240)|
|Resolution||240 x 240 pixels|
|OS||Omate UI 1.0 / Android 4.2.2|
|Storage||4GB-8GB (upgradable to 64GB micro SD)|
|Processor||Dual Core Cortex A7 – 1.3GHz|
|Connectivity||Android Devices/Standalone mobile service via microSIM|
|Camera||3MP camera which is up scaled by Software to 5MP|
|Bluetooth||Version 4.0 + BLE|
|Battery||600 mAh battery: up to 100 hours standby|
|Charger||Micro USB with cradle|
In the world of cases for your phone many companies try to stand out from the rest. With an abundance of colors, shapes, sizes, and even waterproofing it can be hard to choose. Carved takes phone cases to a new level of style. Carved cases are hand made in the USA, in Elkhart Indiana and come in a wide range of different types of wood.
The Nexus 5 reconstituted ebony is jet black in certain light. A little turn in the light and the wood grain appears. Cases also come in many other wood options and as well as other phone options. The case has a beautiful wood finish and you can tell right away it’s built with quality. No rough edges and a perfect fit for the Nexus 5. You can tell there is a passion put into the product. All wood back with smooth rubber edges makes this case feels very good in the hand. The ebony wood on the back looks great and makes your phone feel more luxurious.
Carved cases start at $29 and go up to $49 depending on what type of wood and design you get. They are available for the Nexus 5 and Galaxy S3, S4, and S5. You can get these American made cases in the U.S.A. with free shipping, however shipping charges apply for outside the U.S. With a multitude of colors and designs carved cases give more than just basic wood to choose from. The cases are durable and perform well when dropped. With expert craftsmanship and a great feel these cases are a must have phone accessory.
Seidio makes many varieties of cases for a large range of phones. The Seidio Dilex is a two-part case that comes in ten different colors. Electric blue, royal blue, glossed white, garnet red, black, violet, orange, rose gold, shamrock green, and orchid. Some of the colors are not necessarily for everyone but do allow your phone to stand out from the rest. The bonus of this case is the added kickstand. The kickstand is a much-needed accessory to today’s large screen phones.
Seidio has been in the case business for quite some time now. This case has some benefits but tends to fall flat in common areas. The case is thin and light as well as rugged. The kickstand is the biggest positive for this item allowing you hands free entertainment. The largest problem with this case is the inner rubber liner. The rubber is flimsy and grabs just about everything it touches. Thinness of this case is a plus given that the Galaxy S5 is already a large phone.
Seidio Dilex is $34.95 and come in a variety of colors. Some colors are very bright and vibrant giving you phone a unique look. The case has a two-part design but seems flimsy in some areas. Drop protection from a standard height is adequate. Rubber grabs everything and is very thin and stretchy. Kickstand is solid and provides a great angle for watching shows or reading.
As someone who spends much of his day working from the Chrome OS, I have become a huge fan of clouds. Be it Dropbox, Google Drive, or something else, I am quite fond of being able to access my files from wherever I happen to be.
I recently spent time with the Netgear ReadyNAS RN102, a 2-bay connected device that functions as a personal cloud. With up to 8TB of storage, it’s certainly enough space to hold music, movies, photos, and other media. And, given the numerous ways in which we can now cast our media to a television, I’ve fallen fast in love with the device.
Powered by a Marvell Armada 370 1.2GHz processor with 512MB of RAM, the provides hotswappable and easily installed drives. Pulling one out and replacing is done as simply as one might eject a VHS tape.
Other specifications for the ReadyNAS RN102 include one front-side USB 2.0 port, two (rear) USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA expansion slot, and Gigabit LAN port. Weighing roughly two pounds, it’s small enough to put on a desk or stand next to your router or computer tower. The ReadyNAS RN102 is a quiet device and makes about as much noise a traditional external hard drive.
I’ve not had previous experience with network attached storage so I went into this as a complete newbie. With promises of easy installation and usage, I was eager to try this out. What I found was that the ReadyNAS is as simple to set up and get going as putting in a new router.
The ReadyNAS OS 6.0 reminds me a bit of what Apple might do in terms of layout and design. To that end, it is a no-mess-no-fuss setup that doesn’t ask for a bunch of details like IP addresses; no additional software is required.
While the desktop software is gorgeous, the accompanying Android app is downright ugly and outdated. The last update was in October 2012 so you can expect to run into bugs and errors. With that said, it does get the job done for the most part. If you’re looking for and Android client to access your files from back home or the office, this will do. You can upload photos, download music, share data, and other cloud-based functions.
As mentioned above, I have not had any previous experience with a device of this sort so I cannot compare write speeds, data transfer rates, or any hard comparisons. If you are the type who wants to get into nuts and bolts I suggest checking out the review over at Trusted Reviews.
If you’re looking for a smart, easy-to-use solution for backing up files or accessing media from networked computers or a mobile device, you’ll surely be pleased with the Netgear ReadyNAS RN102. The fact that it allows for expansion gives me peace of mind in knowing that I won’t soon be deleting files to make room for new stuff.
Chromecast owners who like to stream movies to a television will appreciate the flexibility and manner in which it works with Plex and other media servers.
As we move into a more cloud-connected world it makes sense to want to own your own data. Specifically, it’s smart create your own cloud own it locally. We’ve got more connected televisions and other devices in our homes and, as such, we want to access our collections anywhere and everywhere. The ReadyNAS RN102 makes all of this possible, and without breaking the bank.
While smartwatches and fitness trackers are taking the tech world by storm, PulseOn aims to put a dent in the competition’s numbers.
Smartwatches and wearable fitness trackers are relatively new to us, though the idea has been around for quite some time. Something you can wear on your wrist that tracks your data while exercising is a great idea, especially if the price is right. We’ve seen watches that gravitate more towards notifications, telling time, being readily available in all weather conditions, or fitness and heart rate tracking.
The entire goal of PulseOn is to focus on heart rate monitoring, while offering fitness tracking functionality and the occasional telling of time. PulseOn was born out of Nokia back in 2012 with one main goal: to offer an easy way to check your heart rate. We got our hands on one a few weeks ago, and we have a pretty good idea as to whether or not you should buy one.
Before we give it a final score, we have some stuff to talk about. First and foremost, this isn’t a final copy. It’s a beta release, and it has a good amount of bugs in the hardware and software (most of which are being addressed before the final models are for sale). We’ll let you know which will be fixed later in the review.
PulseOn isn’t like other fitness trackers. Sure, you can track your run through the PulseOn app and check how many calories you’ve burned, but it aims to be the best at one thing: monitoring your heart rate. This isn’t a new idea, though. We’ve seen other fitness trackers monitor heart rate, but much of the time it’s inconvenient or inaccurate. We’ll take a look at a the performance and accuracy of PulseOn a bit later.
The look and feel of the device is simple, no-frills, and light. It offers a small square display with metal hinges that attach to the strap. The left side houses a start/stop button, while the right side holds a scrolling button. Around back, you’ll see the heart rate monitor and two charging pins on the right.
To charge the device, you’ll need to plug in the charging clip that’s included in the box. It’s a bit difficult to find the connectors, but once it’s secured, it’s pretty sturdy.
The strap is made from a stretchy cloth material that allows for easy removal. It’s comfortable, doesn’t irritate the skin, and is a whole lot better than a runner band. The one main downside to the strap, however, is that we’ve had to re-tighten the strap multiple times while exercising. The band comes a bit loose, pretty often – something we’d never see with a more conventional fitness tracker band.
Other than the quick look at the hardware features, we’d say the overall design could use a bit of work. It’s certainly not the most attractive device, but it’s far from the worst. It works well, and I suppose that’s all that matters.
Let’s begin the software section by talking about the application. It looks really great from a design standpoint. The functionality, not so much. At least not yet. This is one of those problems that PulseOn is working on to be improved by launch date. It’s extremely slow, jittery, and just not that fun to use.
When you boot up the app, you’re whisked into a tutorial on how to use PulseOn and the app together. Once you complete the tutorial, you’ll see three main screens: one to show your latest event, the next to show your recovery time and fitness level, and the last to show your complete history. If the app ran smoothly, I wouldn’t have any complaints, whatsoever. And I’m pretty certain this will be completely ready for everyday use on launch date, especially because I’ve already gotten an update about once a week. But the app is where you’ll spend the least amount of time.
Once strapped on, the PulseOn has two main modes: standard and sport. Hit the right button to scroll through time, current heart rate, and a few statistics that have been previously recorded. There’s no shake to wake the device, so if you’re wearing it as a watch, be prepared to press a button every time you’d like to see the time.
Sport mode is activated by pressing the left button to begin recording your workout. This is where you can check out the timer, heart rate, distance, time, and training effect. These are all pretty useful while you’re exercising, given that you’re in a low-light situation. More on that later.
Overall, PulseOn works the way you’d want it to. It’s extremely easy to begin a workout, though a little annoying to do something as simple as check the time.
Most importantly, we need to talk about the screen. It’s small, and offers all of its useful information in a light-orange color. It’s great to look at while indoors, but if you try to look at anything while outdoors (where you’ll be using it most), it’s barely there. Text is faded to the point where I needed to put the watch up directly to my face to read anything. Especially while working out, I couldn’t check the correct time I was at during my run. This is mostly due to the poor screen and the small seconds counter in the timer. Unfortunately, there’s no way around that. You’ll need to squint to read anything outdoors, which isn’t really ideal at all.
The heart rate works absolutely great. It doesn’t stutter or give any false information. We tested it against a traditional chest heart rate monitor, and the results were spot-on.
Let’s move on to battery life. PulseOn is quoting up to ten hours of sport mode use before the battery goes completely dead. In my experience, I couldn’t make it an entire day without needing to throw it on the charger while in standard mode. Since this is a pre-production model, though, I’m withholding my reservations for now. We’ll have to see when the final units ship.
One great thing about PulseOn is the ability to record data without a phone. If you go for a run, just enter sport mode and go. Once you pair your device after the run, the info will sync straight to your PulseOn app. This is especially handy when you don’t feel like taking your phone with you for a super long run. Of course, it won’t track any distance information without a paired device, but it can give you the other vital information you’re looking for.
Overall, PulseOn works great for fitness tracking, and the ability to store data temporarily without a paired device is a huge plus. However, the screen and strap could use a bit of work.
Should I buy?
This is a difficult question. Since this isn’t a finished model, I can’t really say. But what I can say is that PulseOn is headed in the right direction. They’re working hard to get some hardware and software features ironed out before launch date, which is quite respectable.
It’s available as an IndieGoGo campaign, though the product is completely funded. This is essentially a way to manage preorders, something that many startup companies struggle with. If you’d like your own PulseOn, you can preorder one for $169, while waiting for launch date will cost you $200.
Though this isn’t completely finished software/hardware, what do you think? It’s certainly difficult to pick this over something like Samsung’s Gear 2, which also offers a heart rate monitor. PulseOn is most likely more accurate, so that’s also something to take into consideration.
If you’d like one of your own, head to the IndieGoGo page to pledge!
The post PulseOn early look: Making heart rate monitoring easier than ever appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Up for review today is Amazon’s Fire TV and have I enjoyed reviewing this item. Amazon has dipped into the tablet and e-reader market, successfully, now they are trying to get more and more inside our living rooms. Who can blame them? I believe out of all the companies, I trust Amazon the most.
The Fire TV is a feature-rich Amazon experience that provides those with a Prime Membership the opportunity to stream Prime Content and HBO GO (recently updated) content along with all your standard entertainment apps from Netflix to Watch ESPN. Now the Fire TV is $99.00 but easily blows away other media hubs in that area, such as the Apple TV ($99.00) or the Roku 3 ($84.99). You will find out exactly why the Amazon Fire TV is such a user friendly and all around enjoyable experience for anyone using it!
The Fire TV is nothing fancy, shiny, purple or any of that nonsense, it is meant to blend in and go unnoticed as you stream content at your leisure. The Fire TV is about 5 inches long and almost 1 inch tall weighing about 10 ounces. The top of the device has a glossy black Amazon logo and on the front of the Fire it has a single LED to show it is on. On the back of the Fire TV we are greeted with a plethora of options with HDMI, Optical Audio, Ethernet, USB ports and power. It also has built in wireless as well and packs a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Krait 300 CPU with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. It has 8GB of built-in storage which about 6GB is for users, however this is irrelevant because we don’t care about storage, just streaming. The Fire TV is never lacking in the power department, you tell it to do it and it is done! Along with Fire comes the almighty remote which is small and has the same matte black finish as the box. It has your standard navigation features, but one of the nicest features is Voice Search. This simple feature allows you to search for related content that you requested. It works very well.
Because Amazon preloaded my account on the Fire TV, everything is already setup once I plugged it in and put in my Wi-Fi password. When you first turn it on, it launches a video demonstrating many features of the Fire TV and no you can’t skip it. Once, through I was greeted by all my TV shows and movies I have purchased and all my photos that I have uploaded to Amazon. You really couldn’t ask for an easier setup.
Once at the home screen you can choose what kind of content to look at or if you want to download games and other apps such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. Now, if you plan on using a Fire TV without a Prime membership, you are under utilizing the entire purpose of the Fire TV. Sure you can still have Netflix or Hulu to stream content, but Amazon has so much content exclusive to Prime members that you would be selling yourself short. You might as well get a Chromecast. However, Amazon offers a 30 day free trial, which can be found here, where you can try out the service and see for yourself! When it comes to the remote it is your basic wireless remote that uses Bluetooth technology to talk to the Fire. It has your basic buttons for play/pause, fast-forward, rewind, menu, back, and home. At the top of the remote you have the “Universal Search” button which is voice controlled. For example, if I hold the button and say “Robert Downey Jr”, it will show all content related to him, however this is currently limited to Amazon or Hulu. This isn’t a major disappointment, but it would be nice to search all my apps and show related content as well. Overall the voice search is fast and recognizes my voice with no issue.
Overall, the Amazon Fire TV is a great product, but for all you cord-cutters out there, I know there are other devices that are just as capable, however Amazon’s Prime content is rapidly expanding! If you use Amazon and want the best way to utilize Amazon’s services, there is no better way than a Fire TV. Along with the capable game playing, great performance, simplistic user experience, the Fire TV is a great option. Check out the Amazon Fire TV and many other reviews on Amazon’s site, here!
You thought you knew all the words to your favorite song until you were singing loud and proud one day, and had to be corrected by someone who actually knew the song. musiXmatch makes it so you never have to worry about that again.
musiXmatch gives you lyrics that play along with music from your favorite apps so you always know your songs word for word. musiXmatch plays lyrics for its own app as well as Spotify, Rhapsody, Play Music, and rdio. You can also use the music ID feature to find out what song is playing on the radio, like Shazam.
The app is compatible with Chromecast so you can turn your next party into karaoke night.
With several more awesome features, it’s no wonder this app scores a 4.4 with a little less than a quarter of a million ratings
So go ahead and learn the real words to your songs
The post Get the lyrics to your favorite songs with musiXmatch [App of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Watch what you want when you want with DroidTV. The DroidTV app by Northwest Divisional Software Inc. aims to fill your pocket with your favorite shows without draining your pocket of your hard earned money.
Use this amazing app as your own personal DVR, and record shows anytime any day of the week. Watch your shows at your leisure instead of rushing home to catch your weekly favs.
DroidTV includes Chromecast support so you can still watch your shows in HD on your television
The best part about DroidTV is that its totally legal and very inexpensive. You can have access to your shows for as little as $3.99 a month, or opt for a lifetime subscription for just $49.99. The DroidTV app even comes with a 14 day free trial. You get full feature access during the trial.
Try DroidTV today and you will be glad you did.
The post DroidTV is your own DVR in your pocket [App of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.