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11
Apr

The 808 Audio Performer headphones will make you feel and love your music (review)


808 is slang used to refer to the penal code for disturbing the peace. 808 Audio is a company that derives its creative name from this slang, and it makes a wide variety of audio products. From small wireless speakers, to in ear buds, and cans that fit over your ears, 808 Audio aims to disturb the peace and make you truly enjoy your music.

I’ve been using the Performer headphones from 808 Audio, and have quite a bit to tell you about them.

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Specs and build

Model: HPA180
  • Over-ear headphone design
  • 40mm drivers
  • Spring steel frame with silicone headband
  • Detachable tangle-free cloth cable
  • In-line microphone
  • Weight -.5lbs
  • Frequency Response : 20Hz – 18kHz +/- 5 dB relative to 1kHz

The 808 Performer headphones are over ear headphones made with a spring steel frame with large 40mm drivers. The headband has extremely durable silicone which lines the internal and outer frame that gives a soft feel for your head. Silicone is naturally grippy and helps the headband hold to your head.

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The ear cups have the ability to rotate 90 degrees which allows you to keep one ear free for listening to the crowd if you’re a DJ. It also leaves one ear free if you need to listen to someone in the same room. Or if you are conscious of your hairstyle, you can rotate the headband back about 20-30 degrees so the headband doesn’t disturb your hair.

An inline microphone with remote is built into the detachable cable, and can play/pause, fast forward/rewind, or answer/end phone calls. The cable itself is wrapped in braided cloth which helps durability and prevents it from tangling in on itself. The 808 Performers I am using are white and grey with accents of silver around the ear cups. Black is the only other color option these headphones.

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Usage

If you are a follower of AndroidGuys, you would know that we review headphones on a regular basis. We take audio seriously, and I do have an extensive background with experience from a wide variety of headphones and in ear monitors.

Early on in my audiophile days, it was really easy to become overly critical of audio products. It’s an incredible experience when an audiophile discovers high quality headphones, and sometimes its easy to look down upon those who fall prey to unbalanced headphones that favor bass. It can be easy to have misconceptions about a company who derived its named from “disturbing the peace” and assume that its products are bass heavy.

The 808 Performers are a set of headphones that offer a great listening experience, and can pretty much handle whatever you throw at them. The days of analyzing frequencies are years behind me – instead I try out a wide variety of genres of music. Jazz, classical, hip hop, rap, pop, alternative, country and rock are all part of my testing process. Many critics don’t realize that the source of their music is just as important as the headphones they are using. At a minimum I use high-quality playback on Google Play Music, but most of my music listening is through TIDAL’s HiFi service.

Beethovens’s 5th Symphony sounds refined, Dr. Dre’s Still D.R.E. thumps, Blake Shelton sounds twangy, and Bob Marley says it best when he drops the line, “Don’t worry about a thing” in Three Little Birds – the 808 Performers are all about the experience with music. They provide balance in the mids and highs, with a slight emphasis on the low end. These headphones do need a good 20 hours to loosen up. Once open, they are some of the funnest headphones I have listened to in a long time. High-end audio can become extremely analytical in nature, and can lose the fun in music which is what 808 maintains.

While the physical design is not my style, I can see some people loving the metal steel frame. The Performers are a bit “loud” when it comes to design, but the sound quality makes them worth the wear. I tend to go with more understated accessories, and some people will call me old and boring for that.

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The microphone performs quite well with minimal background noise. I just finished an hour conversation with my mother, and not once did she complain about the call quality.

The 808 Performers are going to stay in my collection of audio products, but will mainly be used at home mainly due to the large size. The closed drivers also don’t leak much sound, which means they also keep background noise at a minimum too.

Summary

The 808 Performers headphones are my first experience with audio products from 808 Audio and I am impressed. With a retail price of just $79.99, the Performers are an incredible deal for the high-quality build and sound reproduction. Right now the headphones are an absolute steal at Amazon where they are on sale for just $55.88 with free Prime shipping included.

If you’re in the market for comfortable over ear headphones on a budget, look no further than the 808 Performers. They can handle a wide variety of music and have a build that will last a long time.

Learn more at 808 Audio or pick up the Performers from Amazon.com.

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11
Apr

Control app access on your kid’s device with Limitly (review)


Limitly App Review

With the increasing amount of available apps in the Play Store, as a parent, you may want to limit what your children are using on their devices. After all, the internet can get ugly really fast. This is why developer Pumpic has released Limitly, an app to limit how other apps installed on your phone or tablet are used.

Setup

Limitly SetupLimitly explains very clearly what you can do with it and why it asks for certain things.

Because of the nature of this app, setting up Limitly takes a few steps. Opening the app will take you to a screen where you have to type a 4-digit PIN. This is the password that will be used to unlock the app itself, in order to prevent unauthorized tinkering with its settings. Also, when an app is locked, you can force unlock it by using this PIN.

After completing this step, Limitly will show you a welcome screen with a description of the different functions available. Contrary to a lot of apps, this one also explains why it needs to become a device administrator. Since this product is aimed at parents who may not have a full understanding of what a device administrator is, it’s a good thing to see an explanation here.

It will also request to permit usage access, which allows the app to create reports on how often you use apps, how many times it has been launched, and other very specific numbers that will be explained later.

Features

Inside the app, the first screen you’ll see is called Manage Limits, which is Limitly’s bread and butter. It will display a list of all apps, their status (such as active, blocked and limited), their number of launches and their last launch.

Selecting a specific app will take you to a preliminary screen where you can get a report (more on that later) and, at the bottom, you can block the app or manage its limits. Blocking an app means that, for all intents and purposes, the app will be blocked, no questions asked. Limiting an app will let you specify per-day limits, where you can block an app a specific day, limit it by time usage (for example, don’t dwell on YouTube more than two hours per day), or block on specific hours (e.g. from 9:00 AM to 11: AM).

Limitly Main ScreenYou can manage limits and blocks on a per-app basis.

If you decide that your kid must not use their phones on a specific day or period (Sunday is family day!), then you can block the device altogether. Just go to Device Schedule in the menu, select your settings and the phone will be locked. Harsh, but it has to be done sometimes.

You can also categorize apps yourself. Just go to the Categorize Apps options, create your categories with the desired apps, and now, when accessing the Manage Limits screen, you can select your categories using the overflow option at the upper right corner.

Limitly offers a bit of personalization by letting you customize the messages your kid will see in several situations, such as when an app is blocked, when an app is close to its time limit or when the whole phone is blocked.

Finally, you can also see detailed usage reports of all installed apps through the Reports option. Things like number of launches, duration of all sessions, limits reached, and logs can be seen on this screen, filtered by day.

Options

Limitly OptionsThere are a few options you can change, plus a handy uninstall option.

There are a few options to choose from, but all of them are noteworthy. You can change your PIN, in case your kid accidentally discovers it or something.

You can also activate Quarantine Mode, which automatically blocks newly installed apps. If your kid decides to install a new app to replace one that’s currently blocked, you can rest assured knowing that the new app will be blocked too until you decide what to do with it.

There’s an uninstall button to make the process much easier. Since an app that registers itself as a device administrator can’t be uninstalled before removing said status, Limitly automatically removes itself as a device administrator before uninstalling.

General Impressions

Completely coated with Material Design paint and native elements, the app looks good and it uses a peach color that isn’t an eyesore. The app adds some really clever settings to make it more useful to parents. One example is quarantine apps, which is a neat idea that prevents unauthorized access to new apps.

The app works well under certain conditions. I’ve noticed that the app sometimes takes a couple of seconds to kick in, but after that, it won’t let you use the app unless you input the PIN… Or unless you do a specific key combination.

Limitly App ConfigurationLimits can be configured by several parameters, but you can’t edit them in bulk.

On my Nexus 6 running Android 6.0.1, I could block an app, then open it and receive the block screen. Pressing the Home on-screen button, and returning to the app would result in the app being unblocked. This was tested on multiple apps, and some apps blocked themselves again after several seconds, but others didn’t. I imagine a kid will discover this soon enough.

It is important to note that I didn’t found a way to unblock my phone when the Device Schedule was turned on. You can restart your phone, but it will kick in after some seconds.

Apart from doing extensive testing of block screens, I would like to see one important feature added to the app, and that is bulk edit. Blocking apps take one step, so restricting access to multiple apps is a bit easier. However, if you need a more fine-grained control of several apps, you need to apply these settings individually, which is simply way too much work, considering that you need to configure things for each day of the week.

What we like:
  • Descriptive setup process
  • Granular control over app access
  • Reports of app access and usage
Room for Improvement:
  • Blocks can be circumvented
  • No bulk edit

Conclusion

Limitly is full of good ideas and neat features. Having an app enforcing limits on what your kids (or even yourself, if you have the discipline) do on their phones with such a granular control is surely great. The quarantine apps idea is really good and prevents your kids using recently downloaded apps. The setup tries to be as friendly as possible with a thorough explanation of what you can do. However, if I found an easy way of unblocking apps, then kids surely will. Until the app features a more robust and tested blocking system, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Download and install Limitly from the Google Play Store.

11
Apr

iClever Ultra Slim backlit Bluetooth keyboard review


Awhile back I reviewed one of iClever’s Bluetooth keyboards. It was nice and it was portable, but it wasn’t without its flaws. So when I had the opportunity to review  the next generation of that keyboard, I jumped at the opportunity.

iClever Ultra Slim backlit Bluetooth keyboard overview

Like its predecessor, this keyboard is made with a trifold aluminum shell, Bluetooth wireless technology, and a long-lasting battery. It even comes with a carrying pouch. However, this is where the similarities end.

iClever BT keyboard 7This next generation keyboard is full sized once it’s unfolded. It also features a red, green, and blue backlight. Plus a new wired mode comes in handy when the battery dies. But the biggest improvement would have to be the addition of little feet on the end of the keyboard. This makes it much more comfortable to type on.

iClever Ultra Slim backlit Bluetooth keyboard setup

The keyboard is fairly easy to setup. When you unfold the keyboard it will automatically turn on. All you need to do to is press the Fn button and the C button, which also features the Bluetooth icon, and search for devices from your device. The keyboard is not only compatible with Android devices but Windows and iOS devices as well.

iClever Ultra Slim backlit Bluetooth keyboard usage

Typing on this keyboard feels much better than its predecessor. I attribute this to two things. First, it’s a full sized keyboard. All you’re missing is the number pad off to the right of the keyboard. Second, the feet on the side of the keyboard add a lot of much-needed stability.

Like it’s predecessor, this keyboard’s keys are all spaced out from one another. This makes it easier to type on without fat-fingering the keys next to it. However, this new larger size also adds quite a bit of bulk.

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iClever BT keyboard 2

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I think my favorite feature would have to be the backlit keys. Changing the color is a little more complicated than I would have liked and there seemed to be a glitch when using the red backlight. When the red backlight was selected it seemed to time out and then randomly reboot the keyboard. This made it weird to type on while using the red color. However, when the backlight was off or I was using the blue or green colors I never ran into any problems. It wasn’t as bad when in wired mode either.

3.6 out of 5 stars

Overall this is a nice keyboard. It’s easy to type on and the backlit keyboard means that you can type in poorly lit areas without having to rely on your fingers to remember the positions of the letters. Right now it’s on sale for $54.99 at Amazon. It’s not a cheap keyboard by any means, but it’s a pretty good deal for a keyboard with these features.

11
Apr

TimeDock: the charger that Pebble users deserve [Review]


20160411_104624As a Pebble Time Round owner, I find myself fumbling with a charging cable every time I need to give my watch a battery boost. I’ve gotten so used to placing my Moto 360 into a dock and dropping my Galaxy S6 on a wireless charging pad that using a cable the old-fashioned way just seems cumbersome and time-consuming. Enter TimeDock, a charging dock made specifically for Pebble Time devices. The team at TimeDock was kind enough to send over a review unit, and after using it for a week, I can safely say I will never have to deal with a charging cable again.

20160411_104518Design

I was delighted to see that TimeDock did not spare any expense when it came to design, much like Pebble Time Round itself. The dock is crafted from anodized aluminum, and the simplicity speaks for itself. The entire dock is one single piece of aluminum, and it exudes elegance.

The front of the dock features a black plate, which houses the charging module. As with the standard Pebble Time charging cable, magnets flank the charging pins on the dock. On TimeDock, however, those magnets are of the neodymium variety, which helps to hold the watch in place while it is docked.

20160411_104527Below the charging module, the dock gives way to a gap for the watch band to loop through. Around the back of the dock we find a small cutout for the charging cable to feed through. The rear of the charging module is as simple as the front, with only a microUSB charging port and two tiny hex screws to hold it all in place.

The underside of the dock sports a rubber pad to prevent scratches. The pad also has a rubber adhesive, in case you want to put the dock in a certain place without fear of it falling over. Since the dock is decently hefty for its size, I never had an issue with it wobbling or moving at all.

charger place

Usage

TimeDock’s simplicity is not limited to design, and using it could not be easier. Simply choose a location for the dock and plug in a microUSB cable to the back of the dock (one is included, but I used an extra, longer cable that I had laying around). After that, you’re all set to drop your Pebble Time device on the dock.

Putting the watch on the dock is made even easier by the strong neodymium magnets I mentioned earlier. As long as the watch is decently close to the magnets, they’ll do the rest of the work. After a day or two of usage, I found myself setting the watch on the dock without even trying to concentrate on placement.

20160411_104641The dock leaves a space under the charging module for the watch band to loop through, but I rarely found myself using this space. Almost every time I put the watch on the charger, I didn’t feel the need to take the time to loop the band through. I do see the appeal of having a neatly placed watch with the band tucked away behind the dock, so I’m still glad that the team behind TimeDock saw fit to include that space.

After running a few charging tests, it’s safe to say that TimeDock is as fast and efficient as the standard Pebble Time charging cable. I found no delay in charging speed, which confirms that this dock allows users to have convenience without sacrificing performance. The fact that Pebble Time Round charges from 0% to 100% in less than a half hour certainly helps as well.

ColorsPrice & Options

TimeDock is available directly from the company’s website in four colors: Silver (featured in this review), Gunmetal Grey,  Black, and Gold. With a price tag of $59.99, it is a bit steep for a charging dock, especially considering the sub-$200 price range of the watches it supports (Pebble Time, Time Steel, and Time Round). But if you plan on using your Pebble for years to come, it is actually a good long-term investment. The dock is clearly made from quality materials, so durability isn’t really an issue.

It is also worth noting that, according to TimeDock’s website, the charging module in the dock is actually replaceable. So even if Pebble releases a new watch with a different charging configuration, users will likely be able to swap out a module that fits the new watch. Thanks to this feature, TimeDock is essentially future-proof, which increases its long-term value.

20160411_104616Final Thoughts

TimeDock solves the problem of the awkward charging cable, but it does so with class. It isn’t just an easier charging solution, it’s a great companion for Pebble Time devices. The four color options give users the opportunity to have a matching watch and TimeDock. It is incredibly easy to use, and it functions on par with the standard charging cable. The price may seem high initially, but I have no doubt that TimeDock is a worthy investment that will still be helpful years from now.

11
Apr

LG G5 review: Great cameras attached to a modular mess


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The quick take

The strength of the LG G5 as an Android smartphone is as much overshadowed by its “modular” design. And the one module we have available in the U.S. isn’t all that great. The other is great, but unavailable to us as yet. But even those hardware innovations are plagued by early manufacturing problems — and we have no idea of the long-term viability of these phone modules, or of LG’s commitment to them. The G5 continues LG’s long line of phones with excellent cameras, however. And the optional 360-degree camera is a world of fun.

The Good

  • Innovative design, USB-C, QC 3.0 charging
  • Excellent camera and fingerprint sensor
  • Removable battery and microSD expansion
  • Optional modules means additional functionality

The Bad

  • Modular section may be ill-fitted
  • Updated software is different, not better
  • Long-term viability of “Friends” unknown
  • Display is aggressively dark in auto

Intriguing, but with reservations

LG G5 Full review

You have to wonder if the LG G5 has a bit of an identity crisis. On its own, it’s a pretty good Android smartphone. Above average, certainly. And absolutely intriguing, given that it’s the first to switch to a “modular” system wherein the battery slides out of the butt of the phone — and in can slide a new bottom, adding new functionality. Is it a mere smartphone? Is it a mobile photography powerhouse? A portable hi-fi audio player? A window into a new vein of virtual reality?

It’s all of those things, actually. And it’s a reminder that LG is not (and has not been) afraid to do some relatively crazy things with its smartphone line. It moved buttons to the back. It was one of the first to experiment with glass backs. It’s gone as svelte and as sleek — and as big and beefy — as anyone. It’s as if iterating just isn’t exciting enough for LG, even if that means an unpredictable experience for consumers (and, admittedly, journalists) year to year.

It some ways, with the G5, that’s great. In others, we’ve got some serious questions about longevity and durability, especially considering the extra expense if the G5 is to truly live at the center of LG’s new “Friends” ecosystem, full of easy-to-use accessories.

This is our full review of the LG G5.

Watch this …

LG G5 video review

About this review

I (Phil Nickinson) have been using the LG G5 in one way or another for more nearly a month. We’ve spent quality time with a pre-production unit sent by LG on March 11, but with non-final software, hardware details that weren’t quite dialed in, and radio bands that weren’t ideal for the United States, which affects battery life. It was good for getting an overall feel for the phone, but not great for review purposes.

On March 30 we received an official T-Mobile review unit (as well as some of the “Friends” accessories) from LG, as well as a retail unit from AT&T, which we purchased. The T-Mobile unit was used for the bulk of this review. It’s running Android 6.0.1, build MMB29M, software version H8310a, with the March 2016 security patch.

We used the LG G5 with an LG Watch Urbane smartwatch during the review process.

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Crazy, but it (sort of) works

LG G5 Hardware

Forget what you’ve known about LG’s G series in the past. Just throw it all out. Gone are the curves of that made the last two generations of LG flagship such iconic devices. Gone are the rear volume buttons. Gone, too, is the overly plastic feel.

In their place we now have a metal body that doesn’t feel like metal. A slightly smaller display. Volume buttons on the side of the phone. A couple cameras on the back. A detachable bottom end. A gently sloped forehead. A rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and power button. SIM card tray that doubles as a microSD slot. Infrared remote. USB-C. Laser autofocus.

You might well be expecting Frankenstein’s monster. But LG has managed to do all this in a package that while maybe not as iconic as its past couple designs is more than passable. If anything, it’s not boring. The single sheet of glass that makes up the entire front of the phone gives the impression that the 5.3-inch display is bigger than it truly is. (Even through the screen itself is smaller than its predecessor by two tenths of an inch) The chrome ring that separates the back from the body all but hides the breaks you’d normally see for antennas in this sort of design. (More on that in a minute.)

It’s bit of a weird but powerful phone, to say the least. It’s also more than a little worrisome. Let’s get to it.

LG G5 specs

Operating system Android 6.0.1
Processor Snapdragon 820
Display 5.3-inch IPS quad-HD quantum display (2560×1440, 554 dpi)
Storage 32GB UFS ROM, microSD up to 2TB
RAM 4GB LPDDR4
Rear camera 16MP main, 8MP wide-angle (135 degrees)
Front camera 8MP
Battery 2800 mAh removable
Modules LG Cam Plus (camera grip with 1100 mAh)LG Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play
Dimensions 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm
Weight 159 grams
Networks LTE/3G/2G
Connectivity Wifi 802.11a/b/g/n/acUSB Type C, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2
Colors Silver/Titan/Gold/Pink

The LG G5 body — fit and finish and feel

There’s a lot going on with the LG G5, in terms of how it’s built, how it feels — and how well LG executed on both.

This is a big slab of a phone. Not quite a phablet, but it fits nicely between the Galaxy S7 and Nexus 6P in terms of size. It’s relatively easy to grip — and in the fingerprint sensor/power button on the back leads your index finger to the right spot — even with its smooth, matte finish. The dual cameras and their accoutrements look a little funny, but they’re quite useful.

The front of the phone is almost entirely a single piece of glass. The curve at the top of the phone is wonderfully done. Subtle, but unmistakeable. It’s one of those features that LG pulls off that makes it stand out, even when there are more popular curved displays on the market. The earpiece is tucked up there of course, and there’s an LED hidden in there as well.

That top curve also stands in stark contrast to the removable plastic section at the bottom of the phone. That’s the modular butt, and it’s easily the most polarizing feature.

It’s metal on the inside, but doesn’t feel like it on the outside.

Moving parts are always hard on a product like a smartphone. They add to the complexity of the device. They also add another avenue for error. We’ve used three LG G5s in writing this review. One pre-production model, one a retail unit supplied by LG, and one retail unit we purchased ourselves. All three have small but noticeable differences in the way the modular butts feel, and how well they fit into the phone. One model is practically sharp along the bottom edge, and is pretty uncomfortable when it rubs on a pinky finger. A couple of them have sharper edges on the USB-C port — which, again, rubs on the finger. One of our modules fits into the base of the phone just a little worse than the others. (But still better than the preproduction unit we had.)

The “metal body” used in the G5 also has been a source of consternation for some. The simple fact is that the G5 doesn’t particularly feel like a metal phone. Certainly not in the way that the iPhone does, or in the way that HTC’s phones do. Or in the same way that the edges feel on the Galaxy S7, or the LG V10. The G5 has a metal skeleton, and the back is covered by paint and primer. This is (partly) how LG managed to hide the antenna lines on the G5. The trade-off is that the phone doesn’t really feel metallic. (And LG’s marketing may be a little aggressive in its metallic message.) We’ve also seen a few instances in which the primer and paint aren’t 100% even, leading to hints of the antennas below.

lg-g5-crack-1.jpg?itok=NBz9YK6NNone of this is overly surprising, but it is worrisome. There’s always a break-in time for any manufacturing process. Machines have to be dialed in. Tolerances have to be met. Early runs are almost never as good as later runs.

What absolutely does worry us is the durability of the paint-on-metal scheme. As we were filming our review video and swapping out modules we found a small crack in the paint, right in the middle of the phone at the end of the metal body where, without a battery inserted, there is opportunity for a good bit of flexing. Did we cause the crack through some sort of user error? Is there some sort of larger issue at play here? We’re honestly not sure. But it’s absolutely not anything we’ve experienced before, nor is it is something we’d expect to see happen in the first week of using a device — even one with as innovative a design as the G5.

If you’re buying a G5, we’d take a close look at the bottom section and check the fit. If there are any sharp spots, or if it doesn’t fit as well as you think it should, take advantage of the seller’s return policy. Same goes for the paint job.

While this isn’t quite a deal-breaker for us with the G5, it’s a pretty major cause for concern.

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The LG G5 display — always on, always blue, often dark

If there’s one part of the LG G5 that’s immediately a bit of a let down for me, it’s the display. There’s nothing inherently wrong with LG’s IPS Quantum Display — it’s a more-than capable panel. But it just doesn’t hold a candle to what a high-quality AMOLED screen can do at this point.

That starts with whites not really being white — particularly on the T-Mobile model we’ve got here. The color temperature is more blue than we’d prefer, and the whole thing just has a soft look and feel about it. And there’s a good bit of color shift as the phone’s direction changes.

The auto-brightness setting on the G5 also is pretty quick to head to the dark side of things. That’s good for battery life, maybe, but it can be pretty hard on the eyes. On too many occasions I found myself turning off the automatic setting and getting things back to a visible level on my own. That’s not something I ever really want to have to worry about — particularly since the G5’s brightness slider takes up more space in the notification pane. I’d prefer it just works well, and then I can remove the slider and get some space back.

lg-g5-always-on.jpg?itok=fEN_RawAThat said, the 5.3-inch diagonal size has been fine for me. Yes, it’s all of two tenths of an inch smaller than the G4. But you won’t miss it. It’s still a ton of real estate — more than you get on the Galaxy S7, less than what’s on the Nexus 6P. I haven’t had anything I’d consider to be real LCD light leakage, either. (For that, I’ll point you to my Nexus 9.)

Another good change has to do with the polarization of the display. As anyone who wears polarized sunglasses knows, the screen on the G4 was useless in portrait — kind of a bad thing when trying to take pictures outside in daylight. LG has changed things on the G5 so that you can still wear your sunnies and see the display vertically as well as horizontally. There’s a pretty major color shift, but it works. And that’s better than not working.

Like Samsung, LG also has added an always-on feature this year. Hit the power button and the screen goes dark. But the date and time pop up nearly immediately.

That is, once you turn the feature on. It’s off by default on our two retail models, which seems sort of silly considering that it was one of the tentpole features when the G5 was announced. Now? It’s not even mentioned on LG’s product page.

Regardless, it’s there, and it works. You can’t do a whole lot with it — just notifications or a cute little “signature” — but at least it works with more apps than just LG’s. (Which is something we can’t say for Samsung’s implementation of the same feature.)

Fingerprint sensor, meet home button

The G5 isn’t the first phone from LG to sport a modern fingerprint sensor — that title goes to 2015’s LG V10. Both were integrated into the power button. The difference? The G5’s works and doesn’t make you want to throw the phone into the ocean.

lg-g5-review-11.jpg?itok=gm_t0Au1If you’ve used or read about any of the current fingerprint sensors from the likes of the Nexus 5X or 6P, or Huawei’s other recent phones, you’ll know you’re in for a very good experience. The sensor is always polling, which means all you have to do to unlock and wake the phone is lightly press your finger to the circle. The power button is superfluous in that regard, though it still needs to be there for those who don’t use the fingerprint sensor (as well as for other technical reasons).

That’s pretty much all there is to say about that. It works extremely well, and it doesn’t look too bad on the back of the phone. My accuracy is damned near 100% — close enough that it’s still my go-to method of unlocking my phone. And like on other devices, it’s kept me from using the Smart Lock function to bypass the lock screen when connected to a trusted device.

The fingerprint sensor also works with all of the native Android fingerprint functions. If it worked on another Marshmallow phone, it’ll work on the G5.

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Fun, with a caveat

The LG G5 Modules

The LG G5 — as a smartphone, that is — is almost secondary to this whole “modular” thing. You can remove the bottom portion of the phone, and replace it with a module that enhances the phone’s capabilities. And the modules are part of the larger “Friends” ecosystem that LG is launching along with the G5.

There’s nothing really subtle about popping out the battery, removing it from the base, and slamming in a new module. It needs to be a little rugged to stand the test of time, and it’s definitely a little awkward. First you have to find and press the nearly hidden button on the side of the phone, which ejects the base ever so slightly. Then you have to slide it out and remove the battery, which takes a good bit of force. How that’ll hold up after six months depends on how often you’re swapping things out. It’s a concern, but not anything we can answer just yet.

At the outset we have two modules to go along with the G5. They’re entirely optional, but do add functionality to the phone. You keep speaker functionality with both. And the speaker is decent, though not anything we’d really write home about in any event.

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CAM Plus — it’s a camera grip, just not a good one

The first — and the one you’re more likely to see at this point — is LG CAM Plus. It’s a sort of grip that adds some physical camera buttons along with an extra 1,200 mAh of battery that trickle charges once you’ve pressed a button. It plugs into the bottom of the phone easy enough — and that’s that.

Problem is it’s not so much a “grip” — something you’d figure would be ergonomic, right? — than it is a huge battery hump with buttons. There’s nothing comfortable about using it in that regard.

If you’ve seen any videos of anyone using CAM Plus, you’ll see them almost gingerly using the scroll wheel with the tip of their index finger. That’s because it’s pretty horribly positioned on the outboard side. It scrolls easily enough, giving you a smooth transition through the 20 or so steps of electronic zoom. Scroll the other way and you’ll eventually transition into the wide-angle lens, where you’ll find another nine zoom positions. It’s just really hard to get your finger on.

The two-stage shutter button is in a better position, though it’s a little slow to function at the half-step.

CAM Plus runs $69 retail, but a number of places are giving them away when you purchase the G5 — which is about the only way we’d recommend it at this point. The good news is that even though it adds a good bit of bulk to one end of the phone, CAM Plus doesn’t make the G5 too end-heavy. Nor does it feel all that weird in your pocket.

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Hi-Fi Plus with B&O PLAY

The more exciting module is this one — Hi-Fi Plus with B&O PLAY. It adds a 32-bit DAC — that’s a digital-to-analog-converter — and amplifier, powered by Bang & Olufsen for high-fidelity audio at 384 KHz. (For those of you who really worry about such things, it’s got ES9028C2M and Sabre9602C chips inside.)

Before you get too excited, however, know this: Hi-Fi Plus has yet to be certified by the FCC. So you can’t buy it in the U.S., and it doesn’t yet work with U.S. models of the G5 anyway — you can’t even power the phone on — so forget about importing one for now.

That said, it’s a very cool module. (We used it on our European pre-production unit.) Swap it in and plug your headphones into it (instead of using the 3.5mm jack on top of the phone) and you’ll instantly notice how things sound better. More crisp, more clear. Muddied kick drums stand on their own. Individual instruments can be made out more easily. It makes you wonder why this wasn’t just built into the phone in the first place.

In any event, the module just adds a few millimeters of length to the phone. It’s also black — a contrast to whatever color of G5 you come away with.

In a word, it sounds great.

Whether it sounds great enough for whatever price tag gets put on it — a wild guess on our part would put it around $200, if we’re lucky — is entirely subjective, of course.

But Hi-Fi Plus isn’t just a module for the LG G5. It’s also a standalone DAC for anything that can connect to it via USB-C. That at least makes whatever the eventual price is a little more palatable.

Performance and battery life

The LG G5 is one of the first round of phones to use the new Snapdragon 820 processor from Qualcomm. And while LG mostly escaped the drama surrounding 2015’s batch of Snapdragon 810 processors (in no small part due to using a custom 808 in the LG G4 and V10), this processor also has gotten a lot of hype. And therefore folks are paying a lot of attention to it.

Performance-wise, we’ve not seen any red flags. Any heat has barely been noticeable. The interface runs without hiccups, as do all of our daily apps. (A full 4GB of RAM certainly doesn’t hurt with that.)

Snapdragon 820 may not change your life, but Quick Charge (and/or the removable battery) will.

There’s been quite a bit of teeth-gnashing over the slightly smaller battery in the G5. As we’ve written previously, however, we’re only talking about a 6% drop in capacity, to 2,800 mAh. The G5’s (somewhat literal) ace in the hole remains that you can remove the battery and swap it out for a new one.

That’s likely going to remain a selling point for a lot of people. In our time with the G5 we’ve averaged between 12 and 15 hours of daily usage before needing to charge. Some days were a little less, if we really pushed things and didn’t spent much time on Wifi. Other days we didn’t need to charge until bedtime — but just barely.

That’s on par with what we’ve seen from the other major Snapdragon 820 phone — the Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s also maybe a little disappointing given Qualcomm’s claims of “2 times the performance and up to 2 times the power efficiency” of its Snapdragon 810 processor. But then again we’re talking about phones, and not chips in a lab, and there’s more to battery drain than just the processor. Real-world is what matters here.

And so don’t expect the G5 to be a multi-day phone. If you’re going to have a long one, you’ll probably want to top up at some point. That’s easier than ever thanks to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge feature, though. And the G5 has QC3.0 — the newest iteration. We’ve taken the phone from 3% battery up to about 60% battery in just 30 minutes while using a Tronsmart QC 3.0 charger. An extra 20 minutes or so on top of that will get you topped off completely. That’s not bad at all if you don’t want to deal with extra batteries. (Choice is a good thing.)

As far as storage goes, you can get the LG G5 in any sort of flavor you want, so long as it’s 32GB. That’s the only option available for internal storage, a move other manufacturers have taken, too. You can, however, add on a microSD card for addition external storage — though do note that LG also has chose to eschew the Adoptable Storage feature available in Marshmallow for standard extended storage, so you can still pop the card out of the phone and into any other reader and get to your files.

Back to the internal storage — you’ll have about 20GB (give or take) left over for your own data once the OS has done its thing.

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And then there’s this …

LG G5 Software

Fun fact: Nobody who uses words like “user interface” likes the software that comes on any phone that’s not “stock.” Such is the way of the world. And everyone else probably doesn’t ever change their home screen anyway.

Relax. It’s just a default user interface. You can (and should) change it.

And so it’s been somewhat amusing to see the nerd-hate for LG’s new UX 5.0 that’s making its debut on the G5. LG has decided to do away with the app drawer and move to the “Springboard” way of doing things, wherein all of your apps live on a single layer, and you just keep swiping through to find things instead of having a home screen and then a separate app drawer.

The nerds were not amused.

It’s completely usable, though — but you’ll want to do some extra customization. The home screen settings give you the option to sort apps alphabetically. This will be the quickest way to find things that aren’t on the first page. A long press on an app lets you quickly uninstall or rearrange things, and a long press in empty space brings up options for your widgets, home screen settings — and a separate section for apps that you recently uninstalled, should you want to quickly reinstall them. (Apparently that’s a thing.)

If you just have to have an app drawer and just have to have it come from LG, it’s made available a previous version — LG Home 4.0 — through its own SmartWorld app.

This is all just noise about a launcher, though. If you know anything about launchers, you know that there are a lot of good third-party apps available that improve or reinvent your phone’s home screens in one way or another. (We’ve got a great list here.)

More: What you need to know about LG’s app drawer alternative

LG is making a much bigger deal about its “Friends Manager” app, which brings together all of the accessories in the “Friends” ecosystem. I’ve used it just twice — when initially setting up the 360 CAM — and that’s it. (You’ll also use it to download the LG Hi-Fi Plus Manager app, which is used to update that module. But it’s not necessary to actually get the high-def sound — and, again, it’s not yet in the U.S. anyway.)

There’s a whole mess of preinstalled software on the G5, of course. LG continues to use its own suite of apps — calendar, email, music, etc. — and a whole smattering of LG apps, really. And if you have a G5 from a U.S. operator, get ready for the bloat. T-Mobile has poisoned its G5 with Lookout security, as well as Sling TV, “App Source” for yet another app store, a trial Whitepage-powered caller ID that costs $3.99 a month after the first week (remember that the next time John Legere boasts about doing things different), T-Mobile TV, and others. AT&T’s version of the G5 is crapped up even worse.

Finally, LG’s quick settings area is worth a mention once again, if only because it continues to take up more room than it needs, cutting into the space for your notifications to live. You can hide the brightness, volume, screen sharing and file sharing options — which is a start — but one of these days the other manufacturers need to realize that Google is the only one doing this right.

A quick word on security and updates

LG doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to regular updates for its phones. While it’s beholden to the carriers as much as any other Android manufacturer, there is room for improvement.

Previous-generation phones needed four or five months to be updated to Marshmallow. Monthly security updates haven’t been publicly discussed by LG. And we really don’t have a feel for how the G5 will fare in that regard. When you think timely updates and regular security patches, LG phones are not ones that come to mind. We’d like to see that change.

That said, the G5 is encrypted by default, and asks you during setup to require a PIN before the phone will even boot. That’s the right way to do things.

More little tweaks all over the place

Stock keyboards can be a crapshoot. Just go ahead and do yourself a favor and download anything else. It’s not that LG’s is awful — aside from the prediction and ridiculously small secondary function. And don’t you dare turn your phone sideways. Other than that, it’s fine.

LG’s also added in those badge notifications for specific applications, wherein you see the number of unread things on the app icon. It’s not all that useful if you’re the sort of person who always has unread notifications, and I’ve only seen it in Twitter so far. But it’s there.

A long press of the recent apps key still serves as an old-school menu key, and the back button still refuses to rotate when the keyboard is open as a reminder that you can hit it to hide the keys. (Not that that’s really a great way of doing things either.)

And if you’re looking for the old QSlide button — which lets you float some of LG’s apps atop everything else — it’s hidden away in the Home Touch Button settings (under button combination).

Point is there’s a lot going on in the G5, with a lot of features (that you might or might not want) turned off by default. You’ll need to do some exploring.

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Two lenses, no waiting

The LG G5 Cameras

As has been the case the past several years, the cameras are where LG really shines with its phones. The LG G4 was easily in the top one or two or three smartphone cameras over the past year. The LG V10 essentially had the same setup — only it added manual video controls, too.

The G5 shakes things up a little bit by adding a second, wide-angle lens, shooting at 135 degrees. Flipping between the two is just a single tap on the screen, or you can let the phone handle that on its own as you move through the full range of the zoom. The transition is a little slower than we’d like, but so long as you know that going in it’s OK.

lg-g5-review-10.jpg?itok=rQyV5ZoEAs is always the case you’ve got a bevy of modes to make your way through. Auto is the one you’ll probably spend most of your time in, of course, and there’s a “simple” mode that makes things even easier. If you really know what you’re doing you can use the manual controls and tweak things like ISO and shutter speed and aperture yourself.

Shooting modes include panorama, time lapse and slow-motion. Popout and multi-view take advantage of the wide-angle lens, with the former giving you a sort of picture-in-picture effect, and the latter taking a regular, wide-angle and finally a selfie before combining them into a single frame. Snap takes short clips of video and stitches it all together.

And LG now has nine film-style filters that give your pics and videos an old-school look. (Kids, ask your parents what film was.)

The proof, as always, is in the finished product:

LG G5 sample pictures

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LG G5 sample video

Using the camera has been exactly what I’ve come to expect from an LG phone. The camera app isn’t the best out there, but it’s easy enough to shoot with. I do miss the larger volume buttons on the rear of the phone for quickly launching the camera app (you can still do it with the volume button on the side), but that’s a small thing.

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Potential, both good and bad

LG G5 Bottom line

It’s easy to get sucked into the internet vortex of hate when it comes to smartphones. Little issues tend to be magnified. I didn’t have a real issue with the G5’s metal body not really feeling like metal — until it became a problem and somehow grew a crack where the modules meet the phone. I can deal with LG’s software just like I can deal with any manufacturer’s software. It’s maybe not great, but it’s really no worse. The carrier bloatware is a shame — but LG is at least selling unlocked versions through retailers like B&H, so it can (and should) be avoided. The G5’s camera is great. The 360 CAM is a lot of fun.

The G5 just feels like too many unfinished (and expensive) thoughts in one phone.

The question is whether all of that adds up to a compelling phone. In and of itself, there’s a good bit to like about the G5. The large sloped glass on the front of the phone is gorgeous. The fingerprint sensor works flawlessly. The dual-camera system is very well done. And while it looks a little funny on the back of the phone, it performs great and is a very cool option to have. And for many, the removable battery remains a must-have option.

But the modular system isn’t yet a fully formed thought. The camera grip isn’t all that useful, the hi-fi audio is great but not yet available, and in any event might be worth more as a standalone DAC than something you have to swap into a phone and reboot before using.

Will there be more modules in the future? And will LG support them in its next flagship smartphone? Or is this going to be a one-off purchase? Those are big questions that impact our overall take on this phone, good as it may be.

This isn’t an awful phone to use. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that there are better phones out there — and also really good phones for less money.

Wait for it …

Should you buy it? We’d wait

If you’ve been cautiously eyeing the LG G5 as a potential purchase, we’d recommend waiting for a little while. If the manufacturing process still needs to be dialed in a bit (and that happens to basically every phone), then the extra time could pay off. If it’s already dialed in and what we’re seeing is symptomatic of the metal-primer-paint scheme, then we’ll certainly hear about it from folks in our LG G5 forums.

Then there’s the modules themselves. The CAM Plus grip just isn’t that compelling. The Hi-Fi Plus module isn’t yet available — and we don’t yet know when it will be, or how much it’ll cost. The 360 VR goggles — well, we haven’t even mentioned them in this review because they’re not available yet either. (Nor is the Friend we’re really waiting on — Rolling Bot!)

Arguments for buying the G5? It’s got a great camera. But then again so does the V10 and last year’s LG G4 — to say nothing of competing manufacturers’ phones. If you need a removable battery, however — just have to have one — this will be a phone to look at. But for now it has its limitations. Whether it grows into something else — the center of a complete ecosystem — well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Money money money money

Where to buy the LG G5

If you’re going to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and buy a G5 just because you want one — good for you! Hope you enjoy it! And we have some handy links to some of the best places to pick one up in the U.S., UK and in Canada.

Where to buy the LG G5 in the U.S.Where to buy the LG G5 in the UKWhere to buy the LG G5 in Canada

LG 360 CAM review

Among the various “Friends” that LG is releasing alongside the G5 is the 360 CAM. This is a 360-degree camera that uses two 200-degree degree cameras to capture nearly the entire world around you. You don’t even need a smartphone to control it, though you get much more out of it if you use the companion app. And it’s not just limited to Android — 360 CAM works on iOS as well.

The question is how good it’s going to be in the first-generation crop of affordable 360-degree cameras.

Read our full review

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11
Apr

LG 360 CAM review: A relatively fun way to capture the whole world


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Some software quirks aside, LG’s entry into the 360-degree video and photography world is a fun little way to show off everything that’s going on around you.

A picture is worth a thousand words, the old cliche goes. And it’s not wrong. There’s something about a good photograph that brings out the seen and the unseen. That answers as much as it leaves up to the imagination. What’s going on just outside the frame? What was happening just before the shutter snapped? What happened after? What was going on behind the camera?

Photography in 360 degrees is officially becoming a thing. And not just something photo geeks get to play with after spending thousands of dollars on rigs that look like fly eyes — but personal 360-degree recording devices.

We’ve had this sort of photography for a while now thanks to Google’s “Photosphere” effort. You’d use your smartphone to take a serious of pictures, capturing as much of the world around you as you good before the phone would stitch it all together. (Pros can and still do stitch together shots from SLRs, but that almost seems like cheating.) But Photospheres are as tedious as they are fun.

A new wave of 360 cams is hitting this year, starting with two of the mobile manufacturers. LG is first out of the gate with the 360 CAM, and Samsung is coming later this summer with the Gear 360.

We’ve been using LG’s 360 CAM for a week or so now. And this is our full review.

About this review

Along with some other goodies, LG sent us this 360 CAM for review. It’s not yet on sale in the U.S., but it is up for preorder at retailers like B&H for $199.

We’ve used 360 CAM with an LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7, Nexus 6P and with other phones — including the iPhone. And that’s a big draw to this device. It doesn’t just work with one phone. In fact, you don’t even need a phone to get the basic experience.

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The hardware

LG’s 360 CAM looks about how you think an LG-manufactured 360-degree camera would look. It’s not particularly stylish, clad in that sort of nondescript gray that too many electronics end up in. The whole thing is about 3.5 inches tall, with the large, black 200-degree lenses facing opposite each other at the top, giving you the rest to hold onto. (Or not. More on that in a second.)

LG hasn’t gone overboard on buttons (perhaps learning from the simplicity of the HTC RE Camera?), giving you just a single shutter button, and power button on the side. It can be tough to turn the 360 CAM off without hitting the shutter button (short press for a still image, and long press to take videos), so you might well end up with a lot of weird 360-degree pictures of the inside of your thigh. (A 360-degree view of the inside of my denim-covered thigh, for the record, is not that exciting.)

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A 360-degree photo, as embedded from Flickr.

The whole thing comes housed in a cap to protect the lenses when not in use, and you can put the camera back in the cap butt-first to give it a little stand while you’re shooting. Or you can just place the camera itself on a flat surface. It also has a standard mount for tripods, too, but that’s going to get a little messy as the camera captures damned near everything — and that’s going to include tripod legs underneath it.

You can go for a handheld thing, too, if you want, but that’s going to double up on motion — something you might want to spare anyone who’s watching your 360-degree videos.

The 360 CAM itself isn’t sexy — it’s functional. And when you’re conspicuously taking a picture or video of every_thing_ (and every_one_) around you, maybe that’s good enough. No reason to draw any more attention to yourself, right?

The bottom of the camera is where you’ll find the USB-C port for charging and syncing, as well as the microSD card slot. (There’s no internal storage here, so you will need an SD card.) The 1200 mAh battery definitely needs to be recharged every now and then. If you’re a Windows user, you’ll be able to plug 360 CAM in and easily retrieve your pics and videos. It’s a little more complicated on a Mac because MTP is still a mess. Or you can just yank the card and pop that into your computer, or transfer to your phone first. (More on that in minute, too.)

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The 360 CAM software

The 360 CAM is part of LG’s new “Friends” ecosystem, which has the LG G5 at the center. As such, you can pair it in LG’s Friends Manager app on the G5, which in turn will prompt you to download the 360 CAM app. But it’s not just limited to that phone. The 360 CAM app is available in Google Play for a world of other phones, and we’ve used it with a bunch of them so far. It’s also available for iOS, so you can control things from an iPhone or iPad.

Or you can just shoot using the camera itself, but that means you’ll always end up in the picture.

The app itself is as simple as it is full-featured. You’ve got the camera mode, with options to shoot still frames and video. You can choose 180-degrees or 360 degrees. You can choose which of the two lenses you’re seeing the preview from. (I’m not entirely sure why that matters in 360 degrees.) You’ve got auto mode — which is what I’ve left it in most of the time — or full manual controls, with which you can control things like ISO and shutter speed and white balance. There also are options for the same sort of traditional modes you’re used to on a smartphone — night, sport and the like — kind of an odd thing for a device like this.

Behind the scenes in NYC

Behind the scenes, in 360 degrees! (Actually more like in 40 degrees. New York is COLD this week!) Be sure to click and drag to see everything!!!

Posted by Android Central on Thursday, April 7, 2016

Facebook says this embedded 360-degree video should work. We beg to differ.

And it doesn’t stop there. You can choose to record audio either in 5.1 surround sound, or in two-channel. You can geotag. You can set a timer. And you’ve got options for resolution and file size. And in 180-degree mode, you have three options for how wide you want the single lens to see (up to 180 degrees).

If anything, the 360 CAM maybe has too many options. (And while you can use the camera without the companion app, you’re limited to just choosing between video and still images, and can’t switch from 180 to 360 degrees.) Videos limit themselves to 20 minutes each, but you also need to be sure to not navigate away from the 360 CAM Manager app if that’s what you’re using to control things, lest it stop early on you.

The CAM 360 Manager app also has a built-in gallery. You can view images and videos that are on the 360 CAM, or that you’ve downloaded to your phone. This is where you’ll delete files you don’t want.

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It’s also where we run into our first major headache. You can preview still images in the 360 CAM Manager gallery without having to download them to your phone first. But if you preview a picture and then hit the share button, it’ll throw an error saying you need to download the file first. Every. Single. Time. If you’re previewing a picture and scroll through to a video and try to share it immediately, it’ll throw an error saying you need to download the file first. If you want to watch the video before deciding wither to share it, you have to wait for it to download to your phone first. It’s all tedious and annoying, to say the least.

A 360-degree still image, uploaded to Google Maps and embedded via this third-party tool.

Only, it gets worse. Once the file is downloaded to your device and then you chose to which service you want to share, it doesn’t actually share the file. Whatever app you’re sharing to probably will error out — because your phone is still connected to the 360 CAM via Wifi Direct and therefore doesn’t have an internet connection. That one’s maddening.

This should all be able to be fixed by software. (HTC’s RE Camera is smarter about it, so there’s a way.) For now, however, just download a bunch of files at once, disconnect from the camera, and then share.

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What it’s like to use LG 360 CAM

LG 360 CAM the bottom line

It’s easy to read that previous section and get discouraged. There clearly are so things that need to be worked out in software — and that’s not even counting that Wifi Direct is kind of a pain to begin with.

The fun of 360-degree pics and video is quickly tempered by the quality.

But all that said, I’ve enjoyed using the 360 CAM. The end result is very much mixed — sometimes I get something that’s a lot of fun to watch, sometimes it’s not worth sharing. The total resolution isn’t all that high, and stitching lines are pretty apparent. Sometimes I end up with a bad shot of my belly (you have to remember that these cameras see everything), or the inside of my hand, having hit the shutter button when I didn’t mean to. It’s a pain to connect sometimes — the “retry” button will quickly become your best friend. But that can improve over time, I think — and probably having tried so many phones with it hasn’t really helped any.

Light is a real issue, too — and perhaps that’s the reason for the manual controls. Low light is just real tough on this thing. So keep that in mind while you’re framing shots. The microphones, however, are fairly impressive, doing a decent job at cutting through background noise.

For quick hits, I’ve just been using the shutter button on the camera itself to start video or to shoot still images. If it’s that important, you can use video-editing software to clean things up a bit. Otherwise, it’s great for casual use.

Probably the more important feature on the 360 CAM is that it’s not just limited to LG devices, or only to the G5. Being available for just about anything is huge. That makes sure these devices will have to compete on price as well as quality.

The only question that matters

Should you buy it? Maybe!

Good news, everyone! The LG 360 CAM is fairly affordable at $199. Problem is, it’s not yet available. And we’re not entirely sure when it will be. And the longer it takes, the more competition it’ll have. That’s a good thing for us as consumers, but it makes it hard to say whether you should spend two bills on it just yet.

The short, short version is that we’ve been having fun with the 360 CAM. Whether it’s a couple hundred bucks worth of fun? We’ll have to wait and see.

Walking and talking with 360 CAM, as seen on YouTube.

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11
Apr

Google is improving accessibility features in Android, Chromebooks and more


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Google is making efforts to improve accessibility features in many of its products for users who have hearing, visual or other disabilities. It has posted an overall update on those efforts, which include new features for Android, Chromebooks and more.

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Google’s blog says that the upcoming Android N will offer two specific accessibility features:

As part of this update we’re bringing Vision Settings—which lets people control settings like magnification, font size, display size and TalkBack—to the Welcome screen that appears when people activate new Android devices. Putting Vision Settings front and center means someone with a visual impairment can independently set up their own device and activate the features they need, right from the start.

Google has also launched Voice Access Beta for Android, which will allow users to control devices with their voice.

Chromebooks already come with ChromeVox, an app which offers text-to-speech navigation for people with visual disabilities. Google is launching a new version of that app, ChromeVox Next Beta, which adds some features such as a caption panel to display speech, Braille output, and more. The company has also added voice commands for typing, editing and formatting in Google Docs.

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11
Apr

Watch three live YouTube streams from Coachella 2016 starting April 15


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The 2016 Coachella music festival will kick off on Friday, April 15. If you can’t make it to Indio, California to see the bands yourself, you can watch from the comfort of your home, or anywhere else, via the official Coachella YouTube channel.

Google Canada’s blog has the details of what users can expect from the YouTube channel, which will feature content from April 15 to April 17:

  • You’ll have the freedom to choose from three live stream channels and a video-on-demand hub to see highlights and performance footage throughout the weekend.
  • You can click on the interactive personalized schedule to customize your live viewing experience. The live stream channel will change automatically based on your schedule.
  • The channel features an all-inclusive social feed and highlight posts to see images, moments, and discussions around the festival.
  • Enjoy a mobile-optimized experience at CoachellaLive.com.

Check out the official Coachella YouTube channel

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11
Apr

The weBoost eqo hopes to blanket your home in great cellular coverage


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If you want to boost the cellular reception in your home, weBoost’s latest product, the eqo Cellular Signal Booster, might be what you’re looking for. Compatible with Verizon, AT&T, and other major networks, eqo enhances cellular signals for greater reach across your home. You can find the eqo on Amazon now for $349.99.

You’ll just need to place the eqo in an area that is receiving a signal, and the booster doesn’t require a home internet connection in order to work. weBoost says that it covers up to 1,200 square feet, and also claims that it can provide up to 32x better signal throughout your house, apartment, or condo.

See at Amazon

Press release:

weBoost’s New and Revolutionary Plug-and-Play “eqo” Booster Available for Purchase

eqo Booster Cuts Out Installation Headaches and Improves Signal Up to 32X Across All Major Carriers

ST. GEORGE, UTAH—April 11, 2016— Dropped client calls? #Failed family conversations? Good news: you can improve your cellular signal at home in under a minute with a new product from weBoost. Today weBoost®, the global leader in cell signal boosters, announced the availability of the eqo (/ˈekō/) Booster, the most cost-effective booster in its category, now available in-store at select BestBuy and Micro Center retail locations, and online at BestBuy.com, Amazon.com and MicroCenter.com for $349.99

“Historically, signal boosters required a lengthy installation, and were accompanied by a price tag of around $400 or more,” said Bruce Lancaster, weBoost CEO. “We felt that both of these factors were significant barriers to entry for consumers, and with the eqo, weBoost is breaking down those barriers, allowing everyone the opportunity to experience an improved signal in their home or office.

How Does It Work?

All cell phone signals are wireless signals, and the eqo Booster works by amplifying those wireless signals. The eqo Booster includes two parts – a discrete signal booster and an antenna to broadcast that signal throughout the home. Simply place the eqo signal booster unit in an area where signal is available, plug it into an electrical outlet and connect the antenna, then watch the signal bars go up.

Why eqo?

  • Previously, signal boosters required either professional installation or extensive DIY know-how. They also required extra time and effort to cleverly hide equipment and cables out of the way in the home. The eqo Booster deftly solves both of these issues providing:

  • Better Signal Without Installation Hassle: Delivering up to 32X better signal, the new eqo Booster is constructed for easy plug-and-play set-up, requiring just a minute of your time, and does not require an exterior antenna like boosters from previous generations.

  • A Living-Room Ready Design: With a sleek finish and discreet design that fits right in with other home electronics, the eqo provides consumers with a signal booster that blends with any living room’s aesthetics.

Capabilities for All Carriers: Whether you have T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, AT&T or Sprint, the eqo will amplify signals simultaneously from all major carriers in the US and Canada, including 4G LTE and 3G bands.

Where Can I Buy eqo?

The eqo Booster is available for purchase now online at buy.weboost.com/eqo/ and at participating retailers for $349.99. The eqo Booster can also be purchased in-store at select BestBuy and Micro Center retail locations, and online at BestBuy.com, Amazon.com and MicroCenter.com.

For a video preview of the eqo cell phone signal booster, first unveiled at International CES 2016 please visit weBoost’s YouTube page.

The eqo Booster supports all carrier networks and is certified by the FCC Part 20 standard as well as Industry Canada. For more information about weBoost and the eqo Booster, please visit http://www.weboost.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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11
Apr

Tesla recalls the Model X over rear seat safety


The Model X may be a groundbreaker in the electric vehicle world, but it also appears to be a bit rough around the edges in its initial form. Tesla has issued a recall for the SUV after discovering a flaw in the locking hinge for the recliner in the third row of seats. There’s a chance that the hinge will fail on models built before March 26th, sending the seat back flying forward. That’s not exactly what you want during a crash, to put it mildly. There aren’t any reported incidents, but Tesla would rather not wait to get things sorted out.

There’s already a fix available, and Tesla hopes to have the improved recliner in place on the roughly 2,700 shipped Model X units within the next five weeks. If you’re one of those early adopters, you can keep using the Model X until the new equipment is ready — just don’t sit anyone at the very back.

This isn’t Tesla’s first recall, and it’s no secret that these kinds of alerts are fairly common in the industry. Still, it’s a blunt reminder that Elon Musk and crew aren’t immune to the design and manufacturing glitches that crop up in the automotive world. However much more reliable an EV might be, it can have its share of flaws.

Source: Autoblog

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