Today we are taking a look at Nvidia’s Version of a Android TV box setup. We have already seen the Nexus Player, Ouya, Fire TV and many others but none of them compare to the Nvidia Shield android TV box. The processing power and specs on this iteration of Android tv box is really amazing and really aimed at the gamer. The Nvidia shield box will come with a Tegra X1 processor sporting 256-core maxwell GPU, 3GB of ram and be able to display in 4K ultra HD. This device will be a Android Gamers dream.
Just like all the other Shield device Nvidia has made you will be able to stream games with Nvidia Grid. What’s more is that NVIDIA has worked with partners to port major game titles to Android, specifically for devices powered by the X1 processor. Games like Crysis 3, Doom 3: BFG Edition, Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, The Talos Principle, Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance and Resident Evil 5 among others.
I am sure many of you have seen or even owned a M7 or M8 and know that it is one premium device made of a nice metal unibody build. The HTC One M9 isnt any different but this time HTC added a two tone look to it that i kind of like. The back still has the silver brushed metal but the edges have a nice looking gold metal shine. I think this just adds to the premium look and feel of the M9. Other big changes to note about the M9 is that HTC finally got rid of there back ultra pixel camera and now has a 20mp back camera which i think will be a very big improvement. For those of you that love the ultra pixels, you are also in luck since HTC just moved that camera to the front. Lets talk speed this bad boy will be rocking a Snapdragon 810 octa core CPU based on the 64-bit architecture. The M9 will also have 3GB of ram giving this new HTC device some real processing power and of course it will still have those amazing boomsound speakers we all love. I cant wait to get my hands on this device. make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel for full coverage of the M9 along with any hacking rooting and modding i will be doing on it.
Just some words that many have used to describe Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones in the past. This year, Samsung has changed that notion and flipped the tables on its design philosophy.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are made out of metal and gorilla glass 4, which wraps the front and back sides of the devices, with the metal around the sides where one would hold the phone. Obviously to most, the name isn’t the only difference between Samsung’s flagship variants, but two curved edges come with the S6 edge. Unlike the recent Galaxy Note Edge which was slanted on one side and took away button real-estate, the S6 edge also is only partway skewed, giving the user room on the sides to hold the device comfortably along the metal sides.
It’s not just the outside that changed though; Samsung has opted for their own silicon this time around using an 2.1 Ghz 14nm Exynos Octa-core processor (64 Bit of course). They’ve also become the first smartphone to include DDR4 memory and UFS 2.0 storage. Without getting nitty gritty in the nerd speak here, this means insanely fast storage with speeds never before seen in a smartphone’s flash memory, faster operations, and much improved battery usage overall.
Samsung has stuck with a 16MP shooter, but are now using Optical Image Stabilitzation (OIS) for un-shaking those photos and an F1.9 lens. Again, not getting down and dirty with specs, the low light quality on this should be insane, and the camera a noticeable improvement over the Galaxy S5. The same lens is also on the 5MP front facing wide-angle camera.
Real life battery usage will take time to see. The Galaxy S6 rocks a 2550 mAh battery while the S6 Edge a 2600 mAh, only a trivial 50 mAh difference. The big change this time around, Samsung has built in a competitor to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology. They are claiming 4 Hours of battery life in only 10 minutes on the charger, quite a claim to make! Another inclusion is Wireless Charging and not just one, but two technology are inside. What this means for the end user, is any wireless charging station is going to work just fine, and no more worrying about what a “Qi” is.
Some other additions are Samsung Pay, a serious competitor to Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Not only does it support NFC payments, Samsung Pay supports MagStripe Transfer. Any place that accepts sliding a credit card, will accept Samsung Pay. This is amazing news, with many locations blocking NFC payments for nefarious or unknown reasons. The other addition a new fingerprint scanner, now touch based rather than swiping. This is a key part of Samsung Pay, since it encrypts everything with your fingerprint stored locally on your device, never going to some untrustworthy server.
Overall, Samsung has made some serious strides, but as you may have noticed they have discontinued external storage, water resistance, and removable battery support. This may seem like a deal-breaker to some, but with new charging methods and 3 storage options the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge seem like the phone to want, as of today.
2.1 Ghz Octa-core Exynos Processer (14nm Process).
16MP F1 w/ OIS back facing. 5MP F1 front facing.
3GB DDR4 memory.
UFS 2.0 storage in 32GB/64GB/128GB configurations.
Wireless charging and NFC.
2550 S6/2600 edge mAh battery.
5.1″ 1440p SuperAMOLED display.
Fingerprint scanner (touch based).
Colors: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz.
The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are planned to launch April 10th, 2015 in 20 countries initially.
March 1st is the beginning of smartphone announcement season! We’re all very excited at RootJunky and there’s been plenty of rumors floating around getting everyone salivating with anticipation. Both Samsung and HTC have events tomorrow morning at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain and both will be live-streaming their events!
The Galaxy Note 3 is an amazing phablet, with a 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.7 inch (~386 ppi pixel density) Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen and 16/32/64 GB, 3 GB RAM. Running as always TouchWiz and as of right now 4.4.2 Android KitKat OS. With a 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm (5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 in) 168 g (5.93 oz) body, that feels good in one hand but does call for two handed use more than not. I’m running the Google’s GEL launcher with Home2ShortCut and PieControl for ease of use due to the size of the screen and it feels natural as if this is how TouchWiz should be out of the box. The Note3 has an amazing camera @ 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash & Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, panorama, HDR, LED flash 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps (front) 2 MP, 1080p@30fps, personally I only use Smooth Motion when recording and HDR for any outdoor photos, everything just looks more beautiful that way. Its battery is a Li-Ion 3200 mAh battery, with stand by @ (2G) / Up to 420 h (3G) and talk time @ (2G) / Up to 21 h (3G) and i find myself charging it about 1/2 times a day but i also have root and many background apps like tasker, piecontrol, home2shortcut and autovice. Since owning the Note3 i’v noticed that I no longer use my tablet, at all. (My Tablet is the Acer A500 but thats another story.) Using my Amazon Fire TV Game Via Bluetooth to my Note3 and the Chromecast screen mirroring to TV, my Note3 is an all in one gaming device. Running every Emulator I can find from NES to DS from PS1 to PSP from Sega to Gamecube and much more I never find myself bored with this device. My non-emulator games of choice are Dead Trigger 1 & 2, Shadow Gun DeadZone and Modern Combat 5, some of the best first / third person shooters out on the market. The Note3 is a power house jam packed with RAM for a smooth gaming experience. If your in the market for a phone/tablet/a big ole phone or just a tiny ole tablet the Note3 will fill almost any device void in your life. With a repairability of 5 out of 5, meaning all parts are easily replaceable including the glass only repairs at this time are $174.99 which ain’t bad when the lcd digi is $274.99 and the micro usb 3.0 dock is $64.99. I recommend using an Otterbox defender with Gadget’s temper glass screen protectors which is about $99.00 worth of protection, an obviously good investment.
As I said above my Launcher of choice is Google’s GEL Launcher. I don’t use Google Now or Google Now Cards what I use it for is its “Okay Google” feature and its clean interface. GEL will now run on many Android devices running 4.0 and up, even on tablets. The GEL Launcher is simple and its nothing like Go EX or Nova, theres no cool or flashy transitions or actions but with Xposed mods that can all be changed, but for RAM sake stock is best. With the new Google Search you can trigger Google Now by saying “okay google” on the home screen or when the phones screen is on while locked. I even modded the Google Now API with an Xposed mod for AutoVoice to trigger events and profiles in tasker with Google Now searches for Ex: “okay google” “selfie” :opens camera takes photo with front camera, closes camera: GEL is perfect for the Google Now user, I find myself asking “what’s the weather” or “how did the Phillies do” and listening for the answers more than I actually look at my phone after asking. If you want a taste of hands free automations try out the Google GEL Launcher today!
Google’s GEL Launcher comes with its own theme called google now. Google now has what Google calls “Cards”, with Cards you can set reminder like notifications for specific interests like Sports, Stocks, Weather and more. I use Google Now Cards to keep me up to the minute up to date with ly local sports teams and weather, as well as apple and google stocks just for kicks. There are two ways you receive Card updates, one is in the notification tray like normal. You’ll see the notification alert and just drag down the bar and swipe away to the side or tap to interact and open to read more or share the information. Google Now Cards are nice convenient personal notifications similar to RSS updates. The other way to see your Cards in the GEL launcher is while at the home screen just swipe to the right and drag open the Google Now section to the launcher. All your Card updates will be here, and if its something old or you no longer care to see a notification imperfectly just swipe it away and it won’t appear till its more up to date with information. Warning from user experience, I swiped away my weather card once by accident and I couldn’t force it back into the card list. Dont worry, it does come back when the weather widget refreshes, which is normally every hour.
The Note 3 is equipped with an awesome infrared blaster that can be used to send IR commands to TVs and other devices that use IR remotes. The stock samsung remote app works, but only for one device at a time and it lacks buttons. When you have a surround sound system, cable box, dvd or ect, connected to your tv only being able to control one at a time can dull the experience of using a phone as an ultimate universal remote. The app i’ve found to be more useful was Smart IR Remote on the Google Play Store. This app allows you to build widgets with multiple IR commands for multiple devices and more button options. For example, my widget has a power button that sends an IR command to the cable box which turns the tv on automatically via Consumer Electronics Control’s (CEC) and the volume buttons on the same widget control my surround sound. Since I have more then one HDMI media device plugged into my tv at a time i really need an input button which the stock remote failed to have making it pointless to use. Also Smart IR Remote has a built in Tasker Plugin for tasker commands. Making it possible for me to use my Google Now API mod with AutoVoice and Tasker to control my IR devices without even touching my phone. For example, I can trigger google now by saying “okay google” then ill do a voice search i predestined to a tasker event, like “tv on” , or “Netflix play “whatever”, and watch the magic happen. Simply the best IR remote app on the market and the easiest to setup.
Using the Note 3 to the fullest with GEL, Google Now and Smart IR Remote could be considered advanced android tweaking so ill try to keep it basic. With the Note 3’s IR blaster and the Smart IR Remote app you can use your phone to control any IR device. Using a phone as a remote for everything in your life is so natural since its the one thing that spends the most time in your hand and odds are when you want to change the channel or power off/on the tv your phones not much farther than your pocket, when the remote is almost always a treasure hunt. It gets even more convenient when you add GEL and Google Now API app into the mix. Using GEL’s “okay google” feature and the Google Now API mods you can set google now searches to trigger events. So all you’ll have to do after the setup with tasker and smart ir remote to turn on/off your tv is say “ok google” , “TV on/off” or whatever you want the command to be. Google’s GEL also lets you use google now from the lock screen so if you have daydream mode on and your phones charging you can just speak and control, otherwise you’ll have to make sure the screens on to get google to listen. I can’t express enough how awesome it is to just speak out loud at any given time and my commands are met by google thanks to tasker. If you want to use your phone to its fullest I suggest you start here.
Sony’s Xperia Z3 (along with its Xperia Z3v) is their latest attempt at breaking into the mainstream US smartphone market. They make a lot of promises with the device, but does it really live up to its 2-Day battery, 20.7 MP camera, immersive front-facing speakers, and fun gaming sessions with Playstation 4 Remote Play? Let’s find out.
Quite possibly the biggest claim of their Z3 flagship is the 2-Day battery life. Unfortunately for the time had with this device, it quite simply is not the case. Being quite blunt, this battery does not even last 1-Day for a power user. Besides Display killing battery as per norm on most devices, on the Z3 there is something that has to be wrong with Bluetooth. More explained later about that; Android Wear is heavily draining the battery on the Z3 and eating up CPU cycles for seemingly no reason at all. In this case a Moto 360 is connected and is also being used for trusted Bluetooth device unlock, a feature that hopefully isn’t causing this issue for how convenient it is to not have to enter a passcode or PIN lock when you’re Bluetooth device is nearby. For example, just this morning by 11AM the Z3 had 28% of its battery life taken from Android Wear. Resetting the Moto 360 and re-installing the Android Wear app seems to not do anything to alleviate the problem. It’s evident from other users on XDA-Developers.com that not everyone is having the same problems with their Z3, so to each their own.
Megapixels aren’t everything when it comes to a smartphone camera. Although, with the Xperia Z3 that is definitely the case! Sony has decided to go with an Auto camera mode that takes a few 20.7 MP images and down-samples them into a 8 MP image. In theory this is a good thing, it makes better wide-screen ratio’d images and saves memory on the device, but what if you have a large microSD slot and want to take full advantage of the 20.7 MP shooter? This camera doesn’t disappoint and it probably the strongest feature of the Z3 (when you use Manual mode to set the higher resolution!). Pictures are worth a thousand words of course, so below are some samples of some festive scenes and the San Diego Zoo Safari park that were taken with the Manual setting. As well, you will find a 4K Tiger and a 720p Time-Shift video of a waterfall.
Normally, headphones are included with modern day smartphones, but not in the T-Mobile variant of the Sony Xperia Z3. So for better or for worse, the dual-front facing speakers were used for this review. Music videos that take advantage of stereo in quiet environment sound great. However, the speaker settings are not calibrated at all. 0-80% is near silent, 90% is OK in quiet places… and 100% is extremely loud. Not just extremely loud though, but it sounds horribly blown out and distorted at 100%. The same goes for in-call quality! A choice must be made between loud and tingy or too low of a volume for normal humans to hear. Most of the phone calls were over HD Voice, but as soon as it went to standard voice quality it makes the user strain to understand anyone on the phone call. Its a darn shame that some smartphone manufacturers ignore the phone part and just focus on the smart.
Disappointment is an understatement, Remote Play can be described by one word unplayable. Sony’s Hero feature for this device was its compatibility with PS4 Remote Play. For their credit, they did turn it on before their original November date it was slated to be released, but its downhill from there. A bit about the test environment: A Playstation 4 hard-wired by ethernet connection to an AC router, a Z3 connected via said AC router, a DualShock 4 controller connected video Bluetooth, and a frustrated Destiny gamer. When using the Remote Play app’s on-screen control buttons there is little to no noticeable input lag… that is NOT the case when using the DualShock 4 gamepad from Sony. 1 second of input lag with a gamepad makes Destiny a horrible experience and anyone playing in such an environment would be quickly overrun by enemy Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Guardians in the Crucible alike. On top of the terrible input lag, the Z3’s WiFi range is also just plain terrible. Even 10 feet from the AC router there were disconnects from the Playstation 4. In comparison, this same environment and router was used for an Nvidia SHIELD streaming which is also 720p@60FPS and there was no input lag or disconnect issues. Sony needs to step up their game when it comes to Remote Play and its unacceptable to advertise it as the Xperia Z3’s saving grace.
Every OEM like to put their own skin on Android, Motorola absent, and Sony is no different. However, their skin is mostly just a UI change and everything runs silky smooth. There is one major thing that Sony should really advertise some more and that is Xperia Themes. Any user can go into the Play Store and download themes that can change a ton of the look and feel of the device, no root and sometimes no cost needed! A great example is the Android L theme that can be purchased for the pro version here or given a test run with the free version here. It changes the soft-keys along the bottom to look just like Android Lollipop’s shapes and when combined with the Google Now Launcher, 8SMS, and the Google Keyboard give a very smooth and stock Android-like experience without having to root or unlock any bootloaders. Speaking of rooting and bootloaders, you won’t be doing anything on the T-Mobile version of the Z3 or the Z3v as of the time of this review. The current version of Android on both is 4.4.4 Kitkat, and Sony claims to be updating the Z3 to Lollipop in late first quarter 2015. Compare this to Samsung’s claim of December and you’ll see that’s a very slow update turnaround if even the masters of UI overhauls and bloat can get it done by the new year!
Sony, like Motorola with the Moto X 2014, thankfully did not fall for the trap of 1440p smartphone displays. The Z3 has a 5.2″ @ 1080p screen that brings a dpi of 423 (keep in mind, Apple considers Retina on a smartphone 300 dpi and above, and they aren’t wrong!). Anything past 400 dpi is honestly not worth the horsepower required to keep up with it. For example, the DROID Turbo with the Snapdragon 805 @ 1440p could last even longer and run even faster with 1080p. Instead of going with the same 423 dpi if they had a 1080p display like the Z3, they went for a dpi of 564. Its quite wasteful and I hope this doesn’t become the norm from now on. As for the quality of the screen, coming from the Samsung Galaxy S 5’s Super AMOLED display, the Xperia Z3’s IPS LCD screen is bland and the white’s appear quite grey.
Body & Buttons
With a 5.2″ screen and large bezels on the top and bottom, the Z3 is almost impossible to use one handed. Thankfully, Sony decided to put the power, volume, and dedicated camera key on the middle of the right-side of the phone so its not difficult to reach them. Also, a fun feature they don’t really advertise is Double-Tap to turn on the display, a feature borrowed from LG and stock Android L, but definitely a welcome one! User beware! The back of the Xperia Z3 is made of a glass material and is quite slippery. Get a case for this one or be at risk of it slipping out of the hands when trying to snap a pic or when taking out of a pocket. The material looks nice, but its definitely not worth the risk of cracking one of the two pieces of glass the phone is made out of. Water resistance is a requirement these days, and its no surprise that the Xperia Z3 is advertised heavily as such. There was no water resistance test done for this review, but that’s mainly since this is a personal pre-order device and not a review unit.
Should a consumer looking for a smartphone in November 2014 purchase a Sony Xperia Z3? I’ll leave that choice up to the user. The review experience turned from positive initially into a fairly negative one, and this phone will be turned ASAP and be replaced soon by a Nexus 6.