Anker matte screen protector

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Anker matte screen protector

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Im very protective of my devices so the day Anker asked me to review there product i was very happy as i was soon going to be buying a few protective products and i always start with my screen so this is my review of the Anker matte screen protector given to me by Anker for a fair and honest review. First off Anker gives a lifetime warranty on all screen protectors so no matter how long you had it on they will replace it so huge plus 1 to Anker.   I received the package on time and packaging was done very well and and inside the box (eco. friendly)  was a white sleeve that was rather thick to prevent bending of any kind to the screen protectors which was very good idea as other screen protectors i have purchased were not packaged quite so well as these so that was my first good impression and along with the 3)screen protectors was – Microfiber cloth – Bubble Removal Card – Dust removal sticker – Manual. The provided users manual was simple to read and follow unlike other manuals the have such fine print i usually toss them aside and go for it. The note 4 is a rather unique and tough device to apply a screen protector to as the edges are curved so i was leery of getting the screen protector on just right for me but i had no issues applying the protector following owners manual and i even had a small dust speck almost in the center but i used the provided dust removal sticker after lifting the screen protector from the corner and the sticker worked perfect and i have never used one before so that was a great item to have included in your kit. after the installation it was time to put it to a few everyday tests, first i checked what i use also which is the S-pen and i had zero issues using S-pen so i moved on to color saturation compared to another note 4 and was very pleased to see no noticeable differences as well as just using hand and fingers to swipe screens or everyday actions using fingers such as gameplay which i do alot of. I next moved outdoors where i work in construction around dust/snow and rain and i was able to test in all 3 elements and even in 22 degree weather or bright sunlight i had not one issue with seeing screen or any corners lifting ect.  Im very rough on my phones and i am in a job where i need my screens protected and this anker screen protector is exactly what i needed to keep my note 4 safe and scratch free. For a price of $5.99 for 3 as listed http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NG6H4EA  I think its too good a deal to pass up for 100% screen protection. I also used a Zagg Invisible shield protector and paid $10.45 for just 1 but i noticed “halo” affect around the edges and like i said im very picky so it has since been replaced with the Anker matte protector. As you will see from the pictures the form and fit is just outstanding using the Anker protector and i also noticed some other companies cover the sensors now to some its no big deal and i understand but in my case i love the look of a form fitting/clean screen protector. Hope this helps answer some questions and really hope you give Anker a try because im very happy to be using there protector on my note 4. saved this for last for a reason but inside the Anker packaging is a small square paper asking “happy” or “unhappy” with instructions on what to do depending on answer and i can now answer “happy” added a few pictures also on white note 4 for added viewing options

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 By Darren

Galaxy Note 3

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Device- Samsung Galaxy Note III

 

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.

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Launcher

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!

 

Theme

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.

 

Apps  

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.

 

Utilization

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.

 

By Kenn

RAVPower RP-WD02 Wireless File Wireless Filehub

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RAVPower RP-WD02 Wireless File Wireless Filehub / Portable Travel Router

Something i never used before is this RAVPower RP-WD02 Wireless Filehub / Portable Travel Router  but theres so much more to it than just the title. It is probably the best investment I have made for ALL my mobile devices. I was on the fence about what wireless wifi storage to get Seagate, Kingston Wi-drive, Airstash and lots more but decided on the ravpower. Main reason was that it had a micro SD card slot and USB port to connect a multitude of different storage devices. And lets be honest, how many SD cards, microsd cards, portable hard drives and usb flash drives do we have laying around? There is soooo much potential with this product and some very nice surprises that I found out that makes this wifi disk a MUST have for all the tech geeks in us.

Bonus, it doubles up as external battery pack. 6,000mah may not be a lot but it does come in handy in those critical must have a charge situations. Specs:

Wireless wi-fi storage and external battery pack 6000mah
Micro SD card slot
USB slot

The size of the wifi disk is about the size of a small portable hard drive, fits perfect in the palm of your hand and thats perfect size in my opinion.

To connect to the device you must make a wifi connection to it. It is named “WiFiSD-158E” and the password is “11111111”. That is 8 ones BTW.

Performance:

I was able to pick up a wide array of storage media. SD card, microsd , Flash drives ranging from 4gb to 32gb with many different brands. It was able to power a Seagate portable hard drive no problem while a SD card was also in the sd card slot.

Many different devices were used to connect to the wifi disk: Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Ipad 4, Acer laptop, Coby Cryos android tablet, galaxy S3, Iphone 5 and a t-mobile S2.

It says that up to 5 devices can be connected to it.

I was able to play all sorts of video files from it, divx/xvid, avi, mp4, mkv, mov…..720p,1080p. It handled it like a champ.

I connected 5 devices and tried to stream a divx file all at the same time. It worked flawlessly, no stutters, no audio drops.
Now I dunno about HD 720p or 1080p files with 5 devices trying to stream from it. Will try more tests later.

You can access your connected storage via 3 different ways:

Now, you can use the recommended mobile apps mobile fun (android) and airstor (IOS) to connect to the device to see your connected storage options. They are nice clean simple apps. Reminds me of an “ES Explorer” type file explorer. Pretty fast, smooth and it simply just works. The one thing the APP is a must for is to make it a wifi hotspot. What that means is that you can configure it to connect to your regular home internet router so that when your device is connected to it; you can still have internet access. Basically it acts like a wireless bridge for your router. Once configured you don’t have to use the apps ever again.

You can even use your browser to go to “10.10.10.254” and connect via a web interface. The default username is “admin” and there is no password. You can configure it to have a password; which I did via a wizard tutorial. This is nice since you can connect your laptop to it and access the connected storage.

The last option was a little thing I figured out and was pleasantly surprised! The wifi disk can be accessed via ANY file explorer app that can make SAMBA/SMB connections! File explorers such as “ES Explorer” and “Solid Explorer” have this ability. I personally recommend solid explorer (more on that in a bit).

You just have to set it up

For solid explorer press the “jump” button, then “Network” and then “SMB/CIFS” button. Jump>Network>SMB/CIFS
Now press the plus sign button at the top right. It will cause a popup that you will need to fill in the appropriate info.

Display name: can be left blank
Computer name or ip address: enter 10.10.10.254
Authentication method: can set as “Log in as guess” if you did not use the web interface to make a pass word. If you did make a password set it as “store encrypted password”
Username: admin
password: whatever password you made via the web interface

Now you should be able use the file explorer to navigate the connected storage options:

SDCARD-Volume1 = SD card slot
USBDisk-Volume1 = USB port connected storage

Now you don’t need an extra app to use the wifi disk. Use the file explorer you love and know!

Solid Explorer is my recommendation because it has the two pane option when in landscape mode. With the two panel mode, you can navigate to the “SD card” with pane 1 and then navigate to the “usb port” with pane 2. This will allow you to transfer files between the “sd card” and the “usb port” storage seamlessly and easily! There was a step by step guide on amazon how to transfer files between two attached storage options on the wifi disk, but this makes it sooooo much easier!

Build Quality: Seems solid, not too flimsy but quite light. Nice colored LED’s that aren’t too bright.

Gripes about it:

Only comes in white; no black option. It sticks out like a sore thumb next to all my other devices.
Does not come with a wall charger; but will use any usb charger which in my opinion are VERY minor.

If you would like to pick on up you can get it for about $50.00 from Amazon HERE

The Voip Life

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The Voip Life

Voice Over IP.

       Living with wi-fi only for mobile calling can be a tricky process to start but thanks to root junky there is a step by step video guide for those who are interested in the idea of Voip and free wi-fi calling. Once you have set-up Voip on your wifi device, (phone/tablet) the next plan of action is to sniff out free wifi hotspots in your local area and along your daily commute.

VOIP

        For convenience sake, if you have home internet, look into what your provider offers as far as internet features and ask about free wifi hotspots. If you, yourself don’t own home internet or your provider doesn’t offer the free wifi hotspot feature, ask friends and family if their internet provider offers these features and ask for their credentials so you may use it. Comcast for example offers free wifi hotspots to their internet subscribers, but where I live Comcast is not offered and I myself have Verizon, who does not offer free wifi hotspots. I use the bartering system and offer what I have in trade for what I lack. For example I asked a family member for their Comcast login information for the free hotspot in exchange for my Amazon Prime login information for the free movies and other Prime features. Which is funny because the features of Amazon Prime are fruitless without internet. Now with some form of free hotspot in your life lets start mapping out wifi hotspots offered by local businesses and homeowners without protected wifi routers. Most businesses offer free wifi which is awesome of them, its a nice way to give back to the customer. Most have parkinglot range and with some luck even reach the streets so you can connect to the wifi at the red-light and get sms and call updates that were missed while blackedout or disconnected from the internet. A good way to start collecting free hotspots is keeping the wifi settings open and scan for networks at every stop, standstill and red-light, where its safe to look at your phone (please drive carefully and never text and drive) and when you find a free or unprotected wifi network just connect and hit remember. Every time you are within range of the wifi network it’ll auto connect and you will be able to receive and send texts and calls. If you travel on foot or by way of public transportation this will be easier since walking while looking at our phones is now second nature. Try walking on both sides of the street on route to your daily commutes to double your wifi hotspot odds. Also if you take a bus and your nearest bus-stop doesn’t have a free wifi hotspot connection try walking to the next waiting station and seeing if you get lucky, now you’ll have a reason to get a little more exercise on your commute. Keeping the wifi settings open and hitting scan as often as possible while in transit is the best way to start a wifi commute path to stay connected to the internet as often as possible while in motion. I noticed some people on public transit have there phone or other form of hotspot open and unprotected for anyone to use, just remember if you don’t know or trust the wifi source proceed with caution and don’t risk using credit card information or logging into private social sites while using random hotspots. Social gatherings and outings with friends or family can make wifi only living feel like mooching when you find yourself asking everyone at the party if they have a free hotspot or wifi password you can use to post socially with the rest of the live streaming in the moment as it happens vloggers and bloggers in the group. Try not to seem desperate or over needy for internet because your friends pay for internet they don’t know the need for it and sharing that password with you might come with new trust barriers to overcome. Just be cool and if questioned just simply explain your situation and need for wifi since its not on your utilities list. Most of my friends dont mind me using their wifi and hotspot passwords, since i’ve been doing this wifi only lifestyle for years now its come to them at no surprise when i ask for wifi and hotspot information at new locations or when i’m a little late to replying to a text or missed call. Not paying a phone bill and not having internet 24/7 and everywhere you go is in a way freeing. I don’t get bothered by not being able to check my Facebook feed or post a Tweet when i’m out and about.

       Simply put because when i’m out and about, i dont need that distraction to take me out of the moment. I capture moments , I take snaps, I post whats on my mind and I send texts at the time in the moment and when I connect to the internet that is when my posts, likes, snaps and texts go live to their respective social destinations. I never paid a phone bill. I don’t know what it is like to have a phone plan. Mobile internet to be connected 24/7 and everywhere you go is not something I see worth paying for. Not when I have my wifi hotspot  daily commute lined out so well I almost always have an internet connect in my travels. The amount of blackout time or time without internet is so small I just can’t bring myself to pay to fill in the gaps and you shouldn’t either. Even the cheapest monthly phone bill with reasonable internet is about $34.99 a month which is $420.00 a year. Saving $420.00 a year adds up fast.

By Kenn

Aukey Portable Power Bank

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Aukey Portable Power Bank

I wanted to share my review on a company whose name is not yet talked about much in the power bank world but i am a fan after using the aukey 8000mAh external power bank  for a week now. The design is ultra-slim  (0.35 inch thickness) great for your pocket or purse and comes with a fabric pouch for the unit and the provided usb charging cable. The “candy bar” shape is about the same length as my galaxy s5 i used for testing but very thin. The top of the unit has “soy ink” coat on the hard plastic and the bottom is gray plastic but has a rubber feel to it so a nice feel in your hand. something i never saw before is the “soy ink” coating on the top cover and the reason for that is so you can personalize your power bank by drawing on it. In my case i put stickers on it but if you like to draw a design on it Aukey has you covered. the power button/”out”usb port/”in” port and 4 LED’s are all at one end of unit which i really liked and the 4 LED’s are very small but very bright and show power left on unit in 25% increments. I was able to charge my gs5 from 5% to full 2x times and still had about 25% left.  I really liked the power bank and its simple design and simple to use so i am hoping others check out http://www.aukey.com/ to see what other products they have to offer to make life a little easier.   20141111_09041620141111_090124

Google Epic Failure

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Google Epic Failure

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Google was supposed to have released the Android 5.0 Lollipop factory images for all the Nexus devices back on 11/3/14.  Well it’s been one week now and the factory images still haven’t been released.  I have heard that there is a battery bug that made Google stop the release. Come on Google you can figure out a little battery bug in one week. The Source code or AOSP has been release and developers are already releasing there own Lollipop roms based on AOSP which is really awesome. One of the reasons everybody buys a Nexus devices is to get the new Android version first, before everyone else. There have already been leaks of android 5.0 on the Moto X and LG G3 but for the Nexus line up, NOTHING. Google did release the factory firmware for the new Nexus 9 and Nexus player but not the Nexus 6 yet. Speaking of the Nexus 6 what a failure the preorder process was, the device went out of stock instantly and a week later is still out of stock. If you missed the 3 minute release from Gogole Play and the Motorola 1 hour release then you are out of luck at this time.  GOOGLES EPIC FAILURE

ON THAT NOTE GOOGLE GIVE ME MY FACTORY IMAGES NOW LOL

When the factory images / Firmware are released you will be able to get them HERE

 

Android 5.0 Lollipop Factory Images Delayed

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Mobile Wi-Fi Living

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Mobile Wi-Fi Living

 

I use Wifi for everything, TV, Entertainment, Home Phone, Cell Phone and gaming and I do all of this with just a cell phone. I haven’t paid a cell phone bill since I learned about Voip, google voice and groove ip. Click here for info on this cool setup. Using only wifi for cell phone calls and texting does make things a little tricky. If you don’t have access to wifi you wont have access to income calls or texts but don’t worry when you do connect to wifi they will still come through. Places like McDs, D&D or Starbucks give out free wifi you can use to Voip. Using only wifi for home entertainment has its own complexities like you will have to download and manually set your TV line up. I use torrents and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu but I don’t pay for them, I barder using what I do pay for in trade for services I do not. For Live TV, like sports events and News, there are apps for that from the public tv provider that I use or you could use a standard tv antenna most HDTVs have the digital tuner built in making it so you get 60 HD tv basic public channels for free over the air.

Wifi gaming on mobile device has evolved almost overnight. With online multiplayer games on the market like Modern Combat 5 and Shadow Gun Dead Zone your covered for 1st and 3rd person shooters and Asphalt 8 is there to give you a racing fix. Playing these epic games on a touch screen device is only half the battle in finding love for these games, the other is screen size. Playing games on a small screen that requires most of its display space to be used for button layout and handling can ruin the experience for some, including me. Getting the mobile game on the big screen and picking up a physical game controller to play changes everything. I use my Chromecast to mirror my phones screen or MHL to HDMI for smoother graphics and I use an Amazon Fire TV Game Controller via bluetooth to play all my favorite android games. Another nice thing about mobile gaming is the never ending list of emulators for NES, Sega, and PSP and free ROMs so you can play every game ever made for almost any console ever for free on your cell phone.

Obsuvilly living the mobile wifi lifestyle isn’t for everyone especially if you’re used to checking facebook on the way to work,  posting a photo in mid travels, channel surfing, and using your phone as a phone while gaming. I save about $1,200 a year not paying a cellphone bill another $2,000 a year on cable tv and services like HBO and I have saved countless dollars by using emulators and roms over physical game consoles, so the inconveniences of not having on the fly facebook, instagram and not being able to call someone while im gaming or the ability to channel surf isn’t worth about $3,000 a year to me. What you have to ask yourself is if doing a little extra work to be entertained and socially in touch is worth saving the money. To sum it all up this is true Mobile Wi-Fi Living 🙂

By Kenn B

Video on using Hangouts and google voice to make free calls from your cell

Google inbox

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Google Inbox App

i have been using Google inbox for a full week now and if you don’t know what it is or how it works i will try to cover any questions you may have. Almost all of us use gmail and it works and works well but Inbox takes your gmail experience to a whole new level. To start you can request a invite to inbox at http://www.google.com/inbox/ and there pretty prompt at answering/sending actual app then comes the fun part, after you have inbox on device you are given option to use inbox as default but you are still able to use gmail app itself but trust me you wont. Inbox will walk you through the ins and outs and there’s even a video to demonstrate whats new. If you always wanted more options in you Gmail app then inbox will be very pleasing for you. The layout is all new and customization is at your fingertips and a few of the options i like are the ability to “pin” important email that all shows up in one convenient tab and the “snooze” option to place any mail in one place until its time to put back in inbox.A few other features is received mail is  put into categories such as “promos” where all promotional email is bundled together and even a “purchases” bundle so there’s just no clutter  and that’s a major plus. The “social” bundle is another and just makes for a cleaner looking overall email client. Inbox is very user friendly and such a major improvement to Gmail and im sure you will all welcome it. There is so much more to inbox than i listed so here is a video that may show just why im really excited about Inbox.

 

 

 

Sony Xperia Z3 – Does it live up to its promises?

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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.

Battery

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.

Camera

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.

Audio Quality

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.

Remote Play

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.

Software

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!

Screen

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.

Bottom Line

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.

 

Picture and Video Samples

 

Evening Macro shot of a rose.
Pumpkin Test Image
Low lighting macro’s with flash works quite well.
Taken in direct sunlight.
Evening scene with a spooky Hello Kitty!
Entrance to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Check out the 4K Video Test by clicking the Tiger.
Don’t zoom in! The Xperia Z3’s kryptonite. Zoomed 1/2
Paw-In-Mouth. Embarrassing photo. Zoomed 2/2

 

New Nexus Devices

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New Nexus Devices

Nexus 6

Nexus6

 

Info

The Nexus 6 is a device that has been suspected for a long time now. It started as an off hand rumor, but the device grew into something more. A tangible product that one can actually purchase(soon). This device is a monster. The new Nexus flagship is being built by Motorola and will feature a staggering 5.96″ display. The size of the display is backed by a QHD AMOLD display for your viewing pleasures.

A screen that big is going to take a mega battery to power it, and Motorola does not disappoint. The device will be powered by a 3220mAh battery that supports Motorola’s new Turbo Charging. This Turbo Charger will supply your device with a charger that should last you 6 hours after being plugged in for 15 minutes. This will be helpful for those who forget to charge their phones at night, or don’t like to leave their phone plugged in overnight.

The battery life of the previous Nexus phone was on of the biggest complaints. The other major complaint was the camera. While Motorola isn’t known for having the best of cameras, the specs for the Nexus 6 camera look pretty decent. we have a 13MP rear camera with optical image stabilization and a dual LED ring flash. This is coupled with a f/2.0 aperture and the capability to capture video in 4K at 30 frames per second. I can’t speak for the camera quality just yet, but the specs look good on paper. Hopefully it will perform as well as it sounds like it should!

Besides the screen, battery, and camera, there isn’t really anything else about the Nexus 6 that deserves a dedicated paragraph. Of course it will ship with the newest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop, as will the other Nexus devices announced. The Nexus 6 sports the  Snapdragon 805 CPU along with an Adreno 420 GPU. The full specs list is located below.

Motorola has really gone with the “bigger is better” attitude here and delivered a giant device in an attempt to satisfy the giant demand for this Nexus device. Along with the bigger specs is a increased price tag. Did you really think that all of this would be made available at the same cost of the Nexus 5, or with only a small price increase? Many Android fans thought that it would be, and were expecting a $350 – $450 price tag. Their hopes and dreams were shattered when it was announced that the Nexus 6 would be offered at the price of $649 factory unlocked from the Play Store.

Current carriers expected to sell their own Nexus 6 include T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular and Sprint. These carriers plus the factory unlocked variant to be sold on the Play Store should allow just about anyone the chance to use the Nexus 6 on their current provider.

Specs

OS
  • Android™ 5.0 Lollipop
Screen
  • 5.96” 2560×1440 QHD AMOLED display (493 ppi)
Rear Camera
  • 13MP with optical image stabilization
  • Dual LED ring flash
  • f/2.0 aperture
  • 4K video capture at 30 fps
Front Camera
  • 2MP
  • HD Video Conferencing
Size
  • 82.98mm x 159.26mm x 10.06mm
Weight
  • 184 grams
Color
  • Midnight Blue
  • Cloud White
Battery
  • 3220mAh
  • Qi wireless charging
  • Standby time (Ambient Display on ): up to 250 hours
  • Standby time (Ambient Display off): up to 330 hours
  • Internet use time (Wi-Fi): up to 9.5 hours
  • Internet use time (LTE): up to 10 hours
  • Talk time: up to 24 hours
  • Video playback: up to 10 hours
Audio Output
  • Dual front facing speakers
CPU
  • Quad core Krait 450 CPU 2.7GHz (Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SOC)
GPU
  • Adreno 420
Network
  • 2G/3G/4G LTE
  • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10
  • WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8
  • LTE: Bands: 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/41
  • CA DL: Bands: B2-B13, B2-B17, B2-29, B4-B5, B4-B13, B4-B17, B4-B29
Wireless
  • Broadcom 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC
Memory
  • 32GB & 64 GB (actual formatted capacity will be less)
Ports
  • Micro USB
  • Nano SIM
  • 3.5mm audio
Sensors
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer
  • Ambient Light Sensor
  • Barometer

What’s in the box

  • Nexus 6 phone
  • USB sync/charge cable
  • Turbo charger
  • Safety and Warranty information
  • Quick start guide

Pricing

  • 32GB = $649
  • 64GB = $699

Order Your Nexus 6 now from Google Play Store CLICK HERE

 

Nexus 9

Nexus9

 

Info

The Nexus 9 features a 8.9″ screen with a  4:3 aspect ratio. The Play Store listing claims that the device is still small enough for one handed use while being big enough to enjoy watching media. The screen is Gorilla Glass 3 and includes the lovely double tap to wake feature.

HTC has shown that Motorola isn’t the only one that can design a no compromise Nexus device. Their Nexus offering sports a 64-bit NVIDA Tegra K1 Dual Denver CPU and a 192-core Kepler GPU. HTC also implemented their HTC BoomSound™ speakers in a dual front-facing set up.

The only thing that is really disappointing specs is the camera. You have a 8MP rear shooter coupled with a 1.6MP front camera. Honestly though, it is a 9 inch tablet. Users shouldn’t be walking around with this thing trying to take million dollar shots.

The Nexus 9 also has the usual overpriced folio cover that is more for fashion then protection. These are $40 on the Play Store. They are rather neat though and have the capability to be folded into a stand. New to the accessory store is a Keyboard Folio for $130. As the name suggests, this is a folding keyboard that connects to your tablet by way of Bluetooth.

The HTC Nexus 9 is up for pre-order on the Play Store, Best Buy and Amazon. The device is expected to show up at Game Stop as well.

Specs

OS
  • Android™ 5.0 Lollipop
Screen
  • 8.9″ IPS LCD
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • QXGA (2048×1536)
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Double tap to wake
Rear Camera
  • 8MP
  • f/2.4
  • Auto-focus, LED flash
Front Camera
  • 1.6MP
  • f/2.4
Size
  • 153.68 mm x 228.25 mm x 7.95 mm
Weight
  • 425g
Color
  • Indigo Black
  • Lunar White
  • Sand
Battery
  • 6700 mAh
  • Wi-Fi Browsing: Up to 9.5 hours
  • LTE Browsing: Up to 8.5 hours
  • Video Playback: Up to 9.5 hours
  • Wi-Fi Standby: Up to 30 days
  • LTE Standby: Up to 30 days
CPU
  • 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 Dual Denver @ 2.3GHz
GPU
  • 192-core Kepler GPU
Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO)
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.1
Memory
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB & 32GB storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)
Ports
  • Micro-USB 2.0
  • 3.5mm audio
  • Dual front-facing speakers with HTC BoomSound™
  • Dual microphones
Sensors
  • GPS
  • Ambient Light Sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • Accelerometer
  • Magnetometer

What’s in the box

  • Nexus 9 tablet
  • USB sync/charge cable
  • Dual-voltage USB wall charger
  • Quick start guide
  • Warranty/Safety Card

Pricing

WiFi

  • 16GB = $399
  • 32GB = $479

LTE

  • 32GB = $599

Order Your Nexus 9 now from Google Play Store CLICK HERE

 

Nexus Player

 NexusPlayer

 

Info

ASUS is here to offer its next Nexus offering, the Nexus Player. The Nexus Player is a puck type device designed for use with Android TV. The device is small and elegantly designed.

The Nexus Player is powered by a quad core Intel® Atom™ with an Imagination PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3D Engine.

Hopefully you have a strong and reliable WiFi network because this device only supports WiFi internet connectivity. No wired connections. This is a negative in my book, but I guess it would be kind of hard to implement a wired connection on a round device; however, it does have a microUSB port and a HDMI port, so I don’t really see what the problem is here.

From the information given on the Play Store, the Nexus Player is a FireTV with Android TV instead of the Amazon OS. You have voice commands to quickly search for media, you get a standard remote in the box, and the option of buying a gaming controller.

The Nexus Player actually appears to double as a Chromecast allowing you to cast media from your computer, Chromebook, Android device or iOS device. It is an all around device that can have a place in any house hold.

Specs

Chipset
  • 1.8GHz Quad Core,
  • Imagination PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3D Engine
Memory
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage⁴
Ports
  • 18W DC power
  • HDMI out (1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz)
  • Micro-USB 2.0
Connectivity
  • 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
Weight
  • 235g
Size
  • 120mm x 120mm x 20mm
Remote
  • 2 AAA batteries (included in box)
  • Bluetooth Smart
  • 40g (excluding batteries)
  • 37mm x 140mm x 16mm

What’s in the box

  • Nexus Player
  • Remote with voice search
  • Power Adapter
  • 2 AAA batteries
  • Quick start guide
  • Warranty, Safety and Regulatory booklet

Price

8GB=99.99

Order Your Nexus Android TV Player now from Google Play Store CLICK HERE