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Posts tagged ‘Reviews’

22
Oct
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First iPad Air 2 Reviews: ‘Ridiculously Fast’, ‘Vibrant Display’, Thinner Profile Comes at the Cost of Battery Life


Following Apple’s October 16 event that saw the debut of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3, Apple provided multiple publications with review units. The embargo has now lifted on review posts, so we’ve gathered some of the relevant excerpts from each site in order to highlight general release reactions to the new tablet.

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Apple’s iPad Air 2 is an entire millimeter thinner than the original iPad Air, and Apple has billed it as the thinnest tablet in the world. It offers a new A8X processor, Touch ID fingerprint support, an anti-reflective screen coating, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and an improved 8-megapixel rear camera.

Walt Mossberg, Re/code:

So when Apple brought out new iPads last week, and I had a chance to test them over the past four days, you might think I’d be pretty excited about them — but I’m not. They are, in most respects, the best iPads ever made. But for average users, they represent only a modest evolutionary improvement over last year’s models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year. [...]

The Air 2 didn’t allow me to hold or carry the tablet longer and more comfortably than the Air. Its weight of 0.96 pounds isn’t discernibly lighter than the Air’s weight of one pound. And its thickness of 0.24 inches is a barely noticeable reduction from the Air’s 0.29 inches.

Nilay Patel, The Verge:

The Air 2 has a vibrant, sharp display that looks almost painted on. Apple says the new antireflective coating on the Air 2 reduces glare by 56 percent, but I didn’t really notice it making a huge difference; you definitely can’t use it in bright sunlight. [...]

Inside the iPad Air 2 lies Apple’s new A8X chip, which is a variant of the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with additional graphics capabilities. It’s ridiculously fast — noticeably faster to load web pages and launch apps than my iPad Air, and it has so much graphics headroom that I’m eager to see how game developers take advantage of it.

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch:

The 6.1 mm chassis just makes all the difference when it comes to the Air feeling like something that you could comfortably hold for long periods of time, and even for all-day computing, should you need it (and it’s easy to imagine an event coordinator, for instance, needing exactly that).

Our review unit came in Apple’s gold finish, and let me just say that on the iPad, that means there’s a lot of gold going on. Apple’s take on this particular metal color is better than most, but this definitely isn’t my favourite finish. The Air 2 in either space grey or silver still looks fantastic however, and the gold is definitely going to stand out in a crowd, especially if you’re also using the iPad as a camera.

Brad Molen, Engadget:

A thinner profile comes at the expense of battery size. The new Air’s is 5.1Whr smaller than the old one, but Apple still promises that you’ll get the same 10-hour battery life because the A8X is more power-efficient. Real-life use shows that the original Air still rules the roost; after a day of heavy use, I typically went to bed with around 20 percent left in the tank. If you’re only using it moderately — say, for casual content creation or consumption — you should get a little over two days. In our video test, in which an HD movie plays through the life of the battery, the Air 2 squeezed out 11 hours and 15 minutes, significantly lower than last year’s Air and about an hour short of the Samsung Tab S. [...]

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The Air 2 also doesn’t have a mute switch, which I didn’t think would be a huge loss until I actually found myself trying to use it and becoming frustrated more frequently than I expected. Your new options are to press and hold the volume down button or go into the Control Center and press the mute key; if you used the switch to lock screen orientation, you’ll need to do that in the Control Center as well. A microphone now sits where the mute switch once was; there’s another one right next to the camera.

Joanna Stern, The Wall Street Journal:

That anti-reflective screen also makes a great, though admittedly ginormous, viewfinder for snapping nature shots with the revamped 8-megapixel camera. It takes much crisper shots than before, and in many cases, ones as good as those I can take with my iPhone 6. But I won’t bring my iPad to some mountain peak, as some Apple promo shots suggest.

Besides, when I set the iPad Air 2 down for a second on a bench, it slid off and hit concrete, shattering the screen. Sure, I’m to blame, but if Apple wants me to climb every mountain armed with nothing but an iPad, ruggedness should be as important as anti-reflectivity.

Harry McCracken, Fast Company:

The weirdest fact about the iPad Air 2 is that Apple isn’t publicizing (or even acknowledging) one of its best new features. The tablet now has 2GB of RAM, up from the rather cramped 1GB allotment in the original iPad Air. (Some competitors, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, have even more.)

Doubling the RAM means that the iPad can keep more apps and browser tabs in memory without having to reload anything. That results in a speed boost which which is very apparent as you hop between apps and load new web pages.

Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

To get an anecdotal sense of the performance, I installed a pair of console-level games: Asphalt 8 Airborne and Modern Combat 5: Blackout. Each of these games is notable for rich imagery and physics including smoke, water, rain, and reflections. The games looked and worked great on the original iPad Air and worked just as well — if not better — on the iPad Air 2.

iPadAirGeekbenchScore
However, Apple isn’t just blowing smoke when it says the A8X is more powerful. I ran Geekbench 3 on both Airs and found that that Apple’s A8X has 3 cores (the A7 had 2) and that the multicore score for the iPad Air 2 is nearly double that of the original Air. The singlecore score for the iPad Air 2 is only slightly better than that of the iPad Air.

Other Reviews:

Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times
Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian
David Pogue, Yahoo Tech
Chris Davies, Slashgear
Matt Warman, The Telegraph

The iPad Air 2 is currently available for pre-order from Apple’s online store, with prices starting at $499. Apple has not yet revealed when the new tablets will be available in stores, but the first pre-orders will be arriving to customers this week.



10
Oct
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If you’d like to hate yourself, you should play Daddy Long Legs


Daddy Long Legs

Everyone remembers Flappy Bird. It was so frustrating. It was so simple. Tap to fly, and that’s it. Yet, we all continuously played it, expecting more to come from the game. There’s a new game out that offers the same amount of frustration, but packaged in a well-illustrated, simple, and beautiful package. It’s called Daddy Long Legs.

The goal of the game is simple: walk. That’s it. Walk as far as you can. When you fall, you start back over again. You play as a spider, or, a spider with only two legs, rather. Tap the screen to move a leg, and tap it again to switch to the other leg. It takes awhile to get used to the momentum of the spider, but there is a groove to it. Daddy Long Legs 3

This game is frustrating. There’s nothing to it. But I can’t stop playing it. You can download it for free on Google Play from the link below, if you dare.


 
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The post If you’d like to hate yourself, you should play Daddy Long Legs appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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8
Oct
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OnePlus One Review: Still worth a pre-order? (Video)


OnePlus One cover

What does OnePlus mean?

1 represents a user
+ represents sharing

 

1 represents the status quo
+ represents improvement                     -OnePlus

 

Created just last year, the small company called OnePlus set out to create the perfect smartphone under the motto “Never Settle”, which caught the attention of thousands of Android fans wanting that top-tier smartphone without any of the drawbacks. OnePlus revealed bits and bits of information on their One phone leading up to the launch, and each announcement had people drooling.

By the time of the announcement, almost all the high-end specs were already announced for the One, but OnePlus was prepared to hit the ball even further. The “Flagship Killer” would only cost $299 for 16GB and $349 for a whopping 64GB.

But months have passed now since it’s debut in April and the phone is still almost at pre-order status. With lots of phones coming out in the meantime, is the OnePlus One still “The Flagship Killer”?

BUILD

Before launch, OnePlus claimed their smartphone would be one of the best looking phones on the market, and that’s a brave declaration coming from a brand new company in an industry where the HTC One is serenading critics with it’s gorgeous all-aluminum design.

Well I’m here to tell you that the OnePlus One is a beautiful device. In fact, it’s one of the best looking devices on the market.

When I first unboxed it and peeled off the protective screen cover, I laid the phone on the table and just stared at it for a solid couple of minutes. The phone is not flashy whatsoever, and resembles the minimal look of a Nexus phone; no ugly logo on the front, just all screen. Just on the outer border of the screen is a silver lining that gives the phone a very premium look and definitely not something that costs half the price of competing flagship phones.

The sandstone back cover on mine is indeed a very unique feel and provides a solid sense of grip when holding it. I wouldn’t say it is comparable to sand paper, because it is not rough at all on the skin, but almost like a cloth feeling. Imagine holding the matte plastic Nexus 5, but with a slightly rougher feel to it.

The phone feels just as premium, if not more, than any other flagship out there, and is surprisingly light too. At just 162 grams, the phone is a bit lighter than the similar sized Galaxy Note 3.

I don’t plan on dropping or bashing this device to test its durability, but I feel very safe knowing that the screen is protected by the powerful Gorilla Glass 3.

DISPLAY

The 5.5 inch LCD display on the One is a beautiful thing. Colors look beautiful, but not over saturated, and viewing angles are great but a little dimmed when looking from the sides. One of the first apps I installed was Zedge to scroll through beautiful wallpapers and shed a tear over how great New Zealand mountain ranges look on this full HD phone. Web browsing and text looks extremely crisp and just about every app is updated for 1080p displays. I’m really glad OnePlus stuck with a 1080p display instead of a 1440p display, because I truly don’t think we are ready for 2K on a smartphone just yet. With a 401 ppi on the OnePlus One, you’re going to have to look really close for any pixels, but you’ll probably hurt your eyes in the process.

The side bezels are thin, but not as thin as the LG G3. But I like how the OnePlus One wasn’t as wide as the G3. It sort of takes after HTC’s approach of being more narrow than other phones.

The OnePlus One, however, is still a phablet.

The Nexus 4 was my daily driver before this, and with the One’s screen being almost a full inch bigger, it took time to adjust to the size of this beast. Unless you already own a Galaxy Note or a One Maxx, you are probably cautious as to if you should upgrade to this size. After almost two weeks of using the device, I feel comfortable with it and often times forget that I’m using a phablet. It’s only when I see other phones now that I realize the size difference. For example, I saw a friend with a Galaxy S4 and I honestly had think if it was the regular S4 or the S4 mini, because all phones seem small now! At times I do miss having a smaller phone for one-handed use, however. If you are a person who loves having their phone accessible with one hand, than you might want to look somewhere else.

PERFORMANCE

OnePlus One comes equipped with Snapdragon 801 processor and Adreno 330 GPU. Navigating through the phone is on par with the speed of the Nexus 5 and no lag has been found so far. I’ve been trying different launchers, including Google Now Launcher, Nova Launcher, Action Launcher and Buzz Launcher. All of them were extremely smooth and a joy to use. You’ll never need to worry about how many apps you have running either because of the monster 3GB RAM found inside.

You can’t get much better in the gaming category either unless you have a device with a Tegra K1 chip. Playing through Riptide 2, Modern Combat 4, Injustice, Asphalt 8 and more was a real pleasure and only on some games like Dead Trigger 2 and Godzilla did I notice some FPS slowdown. But playing Injustice in full HD on this thing felt very close to console quality graphics. There’s a lot of power in the OnePlus One, and it’s still one of the fastest phones of the year.

CAMERA

The 13 megapixel camera on this phone is built by Sony, and is capable of recording video at 4K QHD resolution, as well as full HD 1080p. You can also record in slow motion at 1080p 60 frames per second or 720p 120 frames per second. I was very impressed with the quality of pictures I took, as it’s clear Cyanogen has put quite a bit of effort into tuning their camera app. HDR pictures look fantastic and I’m a very big fan of Clear Image Mode, a feature they recently added to greatly reduce noise found in darker pictures. Taking pictures at night presented no problems thanks to this camera mode.

The UI on the camera app is slick and presents a lot of options and features in a simple and fun to use way. Swiping through pictures modes was fun and effortless, and using the settings was as very easy.

 

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Auto
HDR
Auto
HDR
HDR
HDR
Auto (much noice)
Clear Image Mode (nice)

 

 

SOFTWARE

The OnePlus One is the first phone powered by CyanogenMod 11S, a custom Android software that looks and feels like stock Android, but gives you more customizable options and freedom.

The first difference you’ll notice is the new Cyanogen lockscreen, which is very sleek and kind of has a Windows Phone 8 feel to it. Behind the lockscreen we have a very stable version of the popular CyanogenMod that allows you to change a lot more stuff behind the scenes. From customizing your soft keys, to tweaking your notification lights, there’s a lot to fiddle with. You can even turn off the software navigation buttons in favor of the hardware keys if you prefer more screen space.

Easily one of the most impressive features is the ability to toggle gestures when the screen is off. For example, you can draw a ‘V’ shape when the screen is off to turn on and off the flashlight, or draw a circle to go right to the camera app. Cyanogen has taken after LG and HTC to bring double-tap to wake on the One, which is really really nice when holding a phone this big. To turn it off, you can double tap the notification bar at the top of the screen.

The OnePlus One contains software all Android geeks should crave. It can be as vanilla Android as you want it to be, but then tweak every aspect of it should you desire. Using multiple Nexus phones in the past, I’ve always rooted in favor of more freedom and the ability to calibrate my screen for more color saturation. With the One, I have no desire to root whatsoever. CyanogenMod 11S is as fast and fluid as stock Android, however I have noticed more RAM usage, which is pointed out in the video.

The One I am reviewing is running the latest Android KitKat 4.4.4 and Cyanogenmod software, which brings a host of bug fixes and camera features. One of the biggest fixes they have brought is the removal of off-screen gestures accidentally being activated in your pocket. Before this update, my flashlight and music player was constantly being turned on in my pocket because of accidentally being swiped against the leg. But with every update, I’ve noticed a few new bugs. I’m glad Cyanogen is frequently updating this phone (as they should), but there’s much more room to improve on their end, compared to the high-quality build of the hardware side by OnePlus.

BATTERY

The 3100mAh battery powering this phone may sound like the god of all flagship batteries, but really there has been some mixed results. It’s the inconsistency that has me a bit worried about the battery life. It is a powerful battery, and it does get me through the whole day, from about 8:30am to about 11 or 12 pm, but some days I’ll need to really find a charger by 10 or 11 but then some days I’ll have a solid 15-20% by 11. Without a dedicated battery saving mode too, you’ll need to be cautious late in the evening.

I wouldn’t call myself a heavy user either. On average, I make 2-4 brief phone calls a day, some average texting on Hangouts, some Gmail, check my Facebook and Instagram several times a day and browse my favorite sites a couple times a day with the occasional Reddit surfing, and maybe a couple pictures when necessary.

Ever since a couple Cyanogen updates though, the Android OS has been using most of my battery with my screen being the third biggest battery hog. Typically the screen should be the biggest battery hog, especially with this glorious 5.5 inch 1080p one. Overall, battery life is definitely comparable with the Galaxy S5, One M8 and G3, if not a tad bit better. However, without a battery saving mode, the other phones will probably squeeze a bit more life out.

CONCLUSION

OnePlus is a company that got me excited for something new in the smartphone market, and just about all the hype and build-up for it was well worth it. Dreamable hardware, awesome software, and a killer price has been brought to us in a very sleek and unique phone. There is something for everybody in this phone, and it can be customized to your exact liking without needing to root it. If you are lucky enough to grab an invite, I recommend you take advantage of that and buy this monster of a phone. If you are a fan of big phones with more power and space than you can even use, the OnePlus One is for you. If 5.5 inches is too big for you and don’t want to been seen carrying around a phablet, then this phone is not for you. But if there’s any thought in your mind that this phone has already lost it’s cool, think again. Cyanogen will support this phone for a long, long time. If they’ve only stopped supporting the Galaxy Nexus after 3 years of life, they’re definitely going to support an official Cyanogenmod phone for a long time too. With the hardware OnePlus packed into it, the One is going to be relevant for a long time.

If you have a OnePlus, let us know what you think about it in the comments, or share it with friends who are skeptical about buying a flagship smartphone from a brand new company. Take my word for it though, it is quite a wonderful phone.


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The post OnePlus One Review: Still worth a pre-order? (Video) appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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8
Oct
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Lumsing Dual USB Car Charger review


Lumsing car

In the vast world of car chargers out there, it may get a little overwhelming when trying to pick one out for yourself. “Why is this one more expensive than that one?” “What features am I losing if I go with the cheaper option?” We’ve all come across these questions before, and that may be where Lumsing comes in.

For quite some time now, Lumsing has offered quality products at an inexpensive price point. This car charger is no exception. Let’s take a look and see whether you should invest in the Lumsing car charger or not.

Build

The Dual USB Car Charger comes in either black or white, and both offer a smooth feeling plastic body. The top of the device has some Lumsing branding on it, while not causing too much of an eye sore. It actually blends in quite well. The reverse side is completely blank, so it’s easy to hide the branding if you so choose.

At the bottom near the USB ports reads the port labeling. This is what is a little odd about the charger. The USB ports and labels are backwards. The port that is above the corresponding label is the correct port. For instance, in the picture below, the right-most port is actually the 2,400mA port… not the 1,000mA one. Weird, right? It doesn’t alter the performance of the charger in any way, but it’s still a bit confusing.

Above the port labels is a small blue light that shines when there is power running through the charger. We find this helpful when making sure the charger is off when we’re not using it. It’s just an easy way to tell.

Lumsing car 2

Performance

Car chargers are one of those “either it works or it doesn’t” products. This one works. It charges quickly, and that’s really all you can ask for in a car charger. And don’t worry… you can use both ports simultaneously.

Lumsing car 3

Should I buy?

It depends. This is a wonderfully built car charger that looks sleek. However, one of our gripes is that it doesn’t include a USB cord. So if you don’t have a spare one lying around, you may want to opt for one that has a cord included. The car charger doesn’t include a USB cord, but it makes up for that by its low price tag.

You can pick up the Lumsing Dual USB Car Charger from Amazon for only $7.99. We’d say that’s a pretty good deal considering the quality of this product.

Pick up a Lumsing Dual USB Car Charger from Amazon for $7.99.


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7
Oct
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Tap Cash Review


TapCash-App

Unless you’re currently reading this article on a yacht somewhere in Cabo, I’m guessing that you could probably stand to earn a little bit of money. What if I told you that you could get cash just by downloading a free app. If you’re thinking this sounds like a pretty sweet deal then it may be time to check out Tap Cash.

Overview

Tap Cash is an app that works on a credit system, wherein you exchange credits for certain “gifts” ranging from a $1 Paypal card for 1000 credits to a $10 Google Play gift card for 10000 credits. Every dollar is worth 1000 credits from the app. To get these credits you can download apps or share the app with your friends. The amount of credits you earn is based on the app. For example an app that all you have to do it download and start is going to be worth far fewer credits than one you have to provide information for. Furthermore sharing the app with others is worth more than most apps other than the ones that require a lot of personal information.

What’s especially interesting about this app though is that it creates a little game out of earning these credits. It shows the highest earners for the week, the month, and in total. So far the highest amount earned is about $262, a pretty good haul considering I’ve only managed to earn about ¢10 so far.

Click to view slideshow.

 

My Experience with Tap Cash

For the most part it seemed like a pretty great app. I never was able earn enough credits to be able to exchange it for “gifts”, but from other users reviews it’s clear that if you do manage to earn enough credits they will follow through and give you your money. The only problem of any significance is that sometimes I would download an app that would promise credits if I just started it, but even after doing so I wouldn’t get the credits. I would like to stress that this did not happen with every app I downloaded, but it did happen with a couple. It can also take quite a while to amass enough credits to get a sizable amount of money, but it is certainly possible to do so and many people have.

Will this app turn you into some King Midas figure? No, unfortunately it won’t turn stuff into gold. But will downloading this app be able to earn you a little money that involved little to no effort? Absolutely!

BONUS CREDITS!

Bonus! If you’d like a promo code for 300 credits here’s the link.


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5
Oct
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Super BoxMan App Review


superboxman2

Super BoxMan is a game from BigMoth Studios that puts you as a small box that has to dodge walls that come down at you from above by moving left and right across the screen to make it through the space in the walls. A good concept with an addictive quality, unfortunately there are a few issues that make the game more frustrating than playable.

To be honest, I’m not a huge mobile gamer. Generally when it comes to games I download they’re the pick up and play games, or puzzle games. Games that I can put down at a moment’s notice, but also play for hours if I let myself. This game fits in this category though, making it a good time killer while waiting in line at Starbucks. However, I think that because I don’t regularly play mobile games, this game is harder than it might be for hardcore mobile gamers. That being said, I enjoy playing on my Xbox and computer, so by no means am I alien to hand-eye coordination.

So when I opened this game, and tapped my way through the somewhat confusing menu (Just keep tapping, and you’ll be in the game soon enough) and started to play, I was immediately thrown by a few things. First of all, the controls are really sensitive. All you do is simply tap and hold the left or right side of the screen to get your BoxMan to move to the respective side. But he goes flying across that screen! Also, the colors of the entire game change at a constant rate, from red to green to blue to purple and so on. This would not be so bad, and even be a great distraction to achieving your goal, if it weren’t for the fact that the screen also constantly zooms in and out. This makes for a headache of a game to play, and should probably include a warning for those prone to seizures.

After getting used to those things though, the game does become quite addictive, with the desire to get just a little farther strong enough to tap “Retry” several times. That is, until you need to put the game down to take some Advil.

To recap: great playability in terms of the game’s addictive quality and concept, OK controls that take some time to adjust to due to their sensitivity, and bad graphics not in terms of looks per se (as I believe they purposefully go for a pixelated look) but rather in terms of the constant zooming in and out and color changing combination.

I recommend downloading it to see if you like it and can get past these issues. Just have a bottle of Advil nearby.

 


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5
Oct
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The Spree SmartCap: All the benefits of a hat, plus a fitness tracker


spree smartcap

Spree Wearables is taking on the chest strap with the creation of the Spree Pod. The small device can fit inside Spree wearables. Currently, they offer a headband and the Spree SmartCap.

The Spree SmartCap is probably exactly what you imagine it to be. It is a baseball cap with a small pouch to fit the Spree Pod. Well, less of a baseball cap, and more of a fitness hat. The Pod tracks a number of pieces of data and sends the information, via Bluetooth, to the Spree Fitness App. The app can then share your information with a number of other apps including MapMyRun, Runtastic, Runkeeper, and more.

The Spree Pod monitors your heart rate, speed, distance, time, calories burned and body temperature.

According to Spree Wearables,

Spree’s advanced technology integrates the wireless Performance Optimization Device, or POD. It uses a triple axis accelerometer to gain accurate movement readings and an advanced plethysmograph for body temperature monitoring. The POD can be easily interchanged between the Spree SmartCap and Spree Headband depending on your fitness needs.

The Spree SmartCap comes in black, white, teal, and pink. The hat and Pod combo will set you back $199.


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2
Oct
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Moto 360 review: The watch you’ve been waiting for


Really Real Header

From the time Motorola first announced they were working on a smartwatch, they had everybody watching them. Unlike the LG G Watch or the Samsung Gear Live, the Moto 360 was different, and everyone could see that. It took smartwatch design to a whole new level – not only with the circular screen, but with the great attention to detail.

Since the initial Android Wear announcement, Motorola took a pretty decent amount of time trying to get this thing ready for launch. It’s finally here, and we’ve been using it non-stop for about 3 weeks. So without further adieu, here is our Moto 360 review.

Hardware

To begin with the most obvious differentiator, the Moto 360 offers a round display. It’s what sets it apart from the other Android Wear devices currently on the market, and what makes it look more like a traditional watch than the others.

The casing of the watch is made from stainless steel, and it feels really nice. At 49 grams, it’s not too light and it’s not too heavy. It feels just like a watch should. Around front is a 1.56-inch Corning Gorilla Glass LCD display with a nice chamfered edge around the entire display. It slightly distorts the display on the edge, which takes a little getting used to. However, it does add a slight floating effect to the display, which is quite interesting.

Source: Droid Life

Source: Droid Life

The display comes in at a resolution of 320×290 (205ppi). The ambient light sensor, or the “flat tire”, is the main reason for the out-of-the-ordinary display resolution. It’s the big black bar towards the bottom of the screen, and has been quite the conversation piece throughout the last few weeks.

Some people are really bugged by the ambient light sensor. Others couldn’t care less about it. From personal experience, it all depends on the watch face being used at the time. I’m a big fan of the “Rotate” watch face, mainly because it directs my eyes away from the bar at the bottom. On more circular ones like “Classic”, “Dials”, or “Minimal”, it’s much more easy to spot. If you didn’t want the sensor at the bottom, the other option would be to expand the bezel of the casing, which most would opt against. Moto has commented on their decision to keep the black bar at the bottom, and we’d have to agree with their decision.

Around back is the optical heart rate monitor, used in conjunction with Google Fit. In our experiences, the heart rate monitor works about 70% of the time. It gave skewed results before, during, and after our test workouts. When it does work, though, it’s extremely convenient. We’re unsure whether this is a problem with the hardware, or if it can be fixed with a software update. But I can tell you that we’re sure hoping for the latter.

Moto 3

Buying a Moto 360 today means getting to choose between two options: a light metal case with Stone leather band, or a dark leather case with a Black leather band. More color options will be available in leather and will eventually run you $29.99 a piece. The straps are made of Horween Leather, and are super good quality. The leather is soft, durable, and feels like it will hold up over time. While only having the watch for a few weeks, we don’t know that it will hold up, but it sure feels like it. If you don’t mind waiting a few months, you can grab one of the metal watch straps for $79.99 in black or silver.

While on the subject of watchbands, the Moto 360 fits (almost) all 22mm straps. That means you can probably put your favorite band on your watch, though it may be a bit difficult. There is a slight opening in the watch where the strap connects, to make the illusion that the strap goes all the way through the casing. But remember: it doesn’t. That means it’s going to be much more difficult for your non-Moto strap to replace the stock one. You can always try it, but just take caution!

Moto 2

Battery life

Let’s preface this section with a disclaimer. We’ve used the Moto 360 in everyday life for roughly three weeks. There are some sites out there that posted their thoughts on battery life a mere hours after receiving the device. I’m not naming names, but that isn’t an honest review in the slightest. We’ve tested it in real life situations for weeks, and we didn’t get nearly the same results.

With all of that being said, here’s where the watch gets interesting.

Moto 4

The Moto 360 comes with a 320mAh battery – not the worst, but certainly nowhere near the best. But you can’t judge a device’s battery solely based on capacity alone. Probably the biggest factor in whether the watch will last all day is the “Ambient Screen” mode (not to be confused with the ambient light sensor… more on that later). Ambient Screen mode is “Always On” mode – even when you aren’t looking at the watch, the display remains on, but only in a very dim state. Thinking about it a bit more, this is a great feature to have on your wristwatch. Normal watches are always on, so why not have your smartwatch stay on? The answer is simple:

Don’t turn Ambient Screen on if you want your Moto 360 to last all day.

Moto 1Ambient Screen mode is nice, but is a huge battery hog. When you turn the mode on, the watch even warns you that your battery life will suffer dramatically. We had to charge the watch twice in one day with the mode on, and only with light use throughout the day. It really is bad. But there are ways around that. When Ambient Screen mode is turned off, the Moto 360 recognizes when you lift up your wrist to check the time, and immediately turns the screen on. It’s usually pretty good about turning the screen on every time we make this motion, but it would still be nice to have a watch that’s always on.

In the brightness settings on the watch, you can either set it to a certain brightness, or set it to Auto brightness. Auto brightness is possible because of the ambient light sensor (the black bar towards the bottom of the display), and it’s a really nice feature. It gets dim in low light situations, then turns to the brightest setting when you move under a light or go outside. From what we can tell, there isn’t a huge difference in battery life compared to just keeping it at a lower setting. This feature alone is why I’m so willing to put up with the black bar on the display.

As for battery life when Ambient Screen is turned off? It will last you about a day. Personally, I haven’t put it on the charger at night with anything less than about 15% remaining. Sure, that’s cutting it close… but if you can come to terms with the fact that you need to charge it every night, you shouldn’t have any qualms with throwing it on the charger. With the newest Android Wear update (version 4.4w.1), users are seeing much improved battery life on the Moto 360. It’s still a new update, though, so we’ll have to do a bit more testing with this update.

Oh, and Motorola made sure to include Qi wireless charging in the Moto 360, so charging it is as simple as setting it on a dock. When the 360 is charging, it shows a really nice, dimly lit clock, which doubles as a battery percent indicator. We’ve found this is perfect for a small bedside clock or a nice desk clock.

The other nice aspect of the battery is that, while it may be a slight hassle to charge it mid-day, it only takes about 45-50 minutes to charge it from 0-100. That’s pretty impressive, and it definitely helps with the battery situation.

UPDATE: Since the software update rolled out last week we’ve noticed that the battery life is much improved. Bluetooth connection is far more consistent and now we can use Ambient Mode and still end our day with 20% juice. In checking with other members of the team with the Moto 360 we found they, too, were impressed with battery life in wake of the software update.

Performance

Inside the Moto 360 sits a TI OMAP 3 processor. If you’re at all familiar with Motorola’s previous processors, you’ve probably heard the name before. It’s (just about) the same processor, only slightly more optimized for the Moto 360. Unfortunately, the occasional lag is a common theme while swiping away Google Now cards. Android Wear, in its state at the moment, isn’t too graphic-intensive. Sure, it has the occasional animation that requires some processing power, but there is just too much lag while swiping away a simple card.

Of course, the lag isn’t all thanks to the processor, but it’s still unfortunate that it can’t run Android Wear as well as it’s competitors.

Android Wear

The software on the Moto 360 is the same version of Android Wear that we’ve had for awhile now. It’s still based around glance-able information cards that give you info right when you need it. So, it’s basically the same premise of Google Now, if you’re familiar with that. When you leave for work, Android Wear will give you the traffic card for your destination. When a package is shipped from your favorite website, you’ll get a card showing tracking information. You pretty much get the idea… less having to search around for things, more of it just being there when you pick up your watch.

It’s a good thing, too, that Android Wear gives you information when you want it. If you’re in a loud environment and can’t use voice dictation, you’re forced to scroll through a seemingly never-ending list of possible commands. This certainly isn’t the best interface for completing certain tasks, and Google absolutely needs to work on improving on it.

Real Header

Probably the best feature of the software is Motorola’s custom watch faces. Out of all of them that we’ve seen, the 360′s stock watch faces are by far the best. What’s more, is that you have the ability to customize the colors of the watch faces with Moto’s new Connect app. Once installed on your phone, you can select each individual watch face and begin choosing which color suits you best. This is a feature we hope every OEM will include on their next Wear watch.

Conclusion

If you need to buy an Android Wear device, buy this one. It’s the most stylish. It’s the one that looks the least like a computer on your wrist. It’s the one that doesn’t feel like a first generation product. Whether you’re looking for a genuine premium-feeling leather strap or holding out for the solid metal watch band, you’re not going to feel like you’re carrying around a smart device on your wrist. It feels like a watch should, and looks incredible.Header

With all of that being said, if you can wait, then wait. Android Wear is a very young product, and the current OEMs in the space need to figure out what’s important in a wearable device. Battery life and non-voice dictated commands need to be fixed in order for Android Wear devices to be taken seriously.

This is the best Android Wear device out there, and it’s priced relatively well. You can pick one up on Motorola.com, Google Play, or BestBuy (online or in-store) for $250. At least at the time we’re reviewing this watch, it is really difficult to find any in stock. All three of the sellers listed above are constantly sold out, though we’re confident inventory will be replenished sometime soon.

The Moto 360 the most fairly priced, well built smart watch you can buy today. Though the battery and processor are the things we’d like to see improved, it’s a solid smartwatch that, in our eyes, is worth the price tag.


Do you have a Moto 360? How do you like it? Let us know if you disagree or agree with our review. We’d love to hear your voice in the comments below!


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30
Sep
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Lenovo N20P Chromebook Review


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Tablets and laptops are getting closer with many notebooks now having touchscreens. Lenovo’s new 11.6-inch N20P Chromebook is no exception. The Chromebook offers the best that Google has to offer in a sleek body and allows you to use just touch if that’s what you desire. If you want to find out if the new touchscreen Chromebook from Lenovo is a contender, then read on. First let me say that I won’t be focusing on Chrome OS too much in this review since if you’ve used Chrome OS before or even the Chrome browser on your desktop or mobile device, you’ll know how it works. Moving on to the hardware…

Hardware

The Chromebook sports an 11.6-inch LED backlit display that comes in at 1366×768 resolution, which isn’t bad, but not the best. I noticed that the display looked fairly nice in use, but it did pick up some reflections if there was too much sunlight. One nice thing about the device is the 10-point touchscreen display that you don’t see on too many Chromebooks except for the Pixel and Acer’s C720P. Although Chrome OS isn’t as optimized for a touchscreen as say Android is on a tablet or smartphone, it still works very well and is both intuitive and easy to use. We’ll get to the hinge on the device later in the review, but if you have it rotated to the point where you can’t use the keyboard, there is an on-screen keyboard that’s just as easy to use as the Android keyboard. It almost makes me really want a Chrome OS tablet, but who knows if we’ll ever see one. Moving on to the other specs, one of the downfalls is the processor and it sports a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830 with 2GB of DDR3L/1333 RAM. As you would expect, this dual-core processor isn’t the speediest, but provides more than enough to allow you to do some simple web browsing and running your Chrome OS apps. The Chromebook starts in under 10 seconds and has very fast browser tab/app switching, which could just be because of the OS. I noticed that after a while, the laptop starts to slow down and my solution was to restart, which again was only about 20 seconds total of my time. I still found the Chromebook to be too slow to be a full computer replacement and coming from a Core i7 Macbook Pro, the decreased speed is highly noticeable. The N20P sports a 34.8-watt-hour battery, which brings an impressive 8 hours of battery life. While it gets about 8 hours, depending on your settings you will get at least 6 or more hours and if you only use it slightly as a second computer while on the go, expect it to last a long time in standby mode. I found that in standby mode, it could last a few weeks on a single charge, especially since I would only use it for an hour or two at a time while on the go.  One of the most unique features of the N20P besides the touchscreen is the ability to rotate the screen 300 degrees. If you’re familiar with Lenovo’s Yoga laptops, this is no different. Rotating the display to 300 degrees or even a little less, it gives you almost a tablet with a stand. Having never used such a device before, it was a bit awkward at first, but then you get used to it. It makes the browsing experience all the better. It also has 16 GB eMMC storage, a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out and a 2-in-1 (SD / MMC) card reader. Lastly, as far as the hardware, the Chromebook is fairly thin and starting at 3.08 pounds, it’s easy to carry around with you.

Software

As with all Chromebooks, the N20P is running the latest and greatest version of Chrome OS and updates automatically. It’s the same OS as on all other Chrome OS devices and you should be familiar how to use it if you ever used a Chrome browser. As I mentioned above, one noticeable difference is that it has a touchscreen and therefore an onscreen keyboard, which works extremely well. One of the latest additions to Chrome OS, not specific to the N20P is that it the OS can now run Android app, although only four at the time of writing this. I got to try Evernote and Vine and both work just as you would expect on an Android device.

Price

One of the other downfalls I see with this Chromebook is that it’s a bit steeper than its competition, starting at $329, when most sell for under $200 and Acer’s touchscreen Chromebook can be had for $279. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the touchscreen and 300 degree rotating display is enough to justify the price.

Overall

At its latest attempt at a Chrome OS device, Lenovo did an admiral job with the about 3 pound N20P. The viewing angles and display are more than adequate, it offers a great touchscreen experience and enough speed to run all of your Chrome apps, but at $329, it’s a bit expensive. At $50 over the Acer touchscreen Chromebook, I would have expected a bit more speed. You can however get a little bit more speed if you buy the $349 model, which I didn’t have the opportunity to test. The premium model comes with a Intel Celeron N2930 processor clocked at 1.83GHz. If you have the money to spare and really want a Yoga-like Chromebook with a touchscreen display, look no further.

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28
Sep
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Need a new charging cable, try the FRiEQ


FRiEQ Hi-Speed MicroUSB

I don’t know about you, but I’ve started to consider a quality charging cable a must buy accessory.  Whenever I unbox a new smartphone it seems that the cable is shorter, thinner and more fragile.  This has forced me and I’m sure many of you, to look for other options.  A quality cable offers many advantages, but mostly ensures that you can reliably charge your beloved smartphone.  Because honestly, the world would come to a screeching halt if you woke up in the morning to a dead battery.

In my search for a new Micro USB cable I came across the FRiEQ Hi-Speed cable.  I have to admit, it was the colors that drew me in, but it was the blend of specs and value that convinced me to spend my money.  The FRiEQ Micro USB cable is six feet long, covered in tangle-free, braided nylon and has gold connectors at either end.  Best of all, FRiEQ claimed that this cable would cut down on the amount of time it took to charge my phone.  All of this for only $7.99, I was sold!

When I opened the package and inspected the cable, I was impressed right away.  The cable is thicker than most others I’ve used and the braided nylon keeps knots away.  The connectors are easy to manipulate and fit perfectly.  I tested the FRiEQ cable against, a stock LG cable and an Amazon Basics cable I’ve had for about a year.  I can verify that the FRiEQ cable definitely charged my LG G3 faster than the other cables by a good margin.

I’ve been using the FRiEQ Hi-Speed cable for about two months now and it has held up great.  It looks just as good now as the day I got it, but more importantly, it performs just as well as the day it came out of the package.  If you’re looking for a new charging cable, you cannot go wrong with the FRiEQ Hi-Speed.

Via Amazon
http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=ss_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=smarterwatchi-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00FAAGNLU&asins=B00FAAGNLU&linkId=5XFIQSEDPO46IEFE&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true


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