After a year-and-a-half on an iPhone 4S, I'm now on the current cutting-edge of smartphonery: Samsung Galaxy S4. I've used the phone for almost 3 days now. It's good. I'm excited. Are there any ball games on tonight?
Where was I? Oh yeah, the phone. I'm so excited that I could...do something that excited people do. Honestly, it's a phone. It's a very nice phone with some great features, a great physical design and a lot of bling features that I'll probably never use. I can believe it's the best of the Android phones, but I haven't tested all the others.
Gadget geeks love their toys, the more sci-fi the better. Several manufacturers offer wireless charging solutions, Google and LG among them -- for Nexus 4. The idea is simple: Rather than plug in the device, you rest it on something else connected to electricity. My question: If the phone lays down to charge anyway, why not just plug in and save, in this instance, $59.99 before tax and shipping?
I paid Google Play just that in a moment of weakness, and later regret. Don't bother, and that's really good advice. The Nexus 4 Wireless Charger is more than a wasteful, redundant accessory. The design is fundamentally flawed, where form goes before function to ruin. If you read no further, take away this: Save your money for something else.
Accessories can make a portable device better. If you own the ASUS-manufactured, Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet, surely there is a case protecting it; sometimes, anyway. Some can prop the tablet, but there's another option. Can a dock improve the user experience and even extend the utility? That's what this quickie review seeks to answer.
The Nexus 7 dock is the official issue, made by ASUS, and sold from Google Play for $29.99. I ordered mine in late January, for $39.99, from B&H Photo, back when only third parties carried the accessory. Since then, the retailer dropped the price by five bucks. B&H took my order when the dock was out of stock, but shipped 8 days later. If you want this thing, don't be deterred by availability elsewhere but forget Google Play, which isn't taking orders as I write. Expect to spend more elsewhere. By the way, I would have waited and paid less, had I known better.
If you are in the market for a mid-range Windows Phone 8 device then the Nokia Lumia 820 should definitely make your shortlist. The smartphone is affordable, fast, responsive, looks nice and comes with the Finnish manufacturer's exclusive collection of enticing apps. Users can even personalize the appearance of the Lumia 820 by switching between different back covers of attractive colors.
In a number of ways, the Lumia 820 is closer to high-end rather than mid-range Windows Phone 8 devices. The smartphone comes with the same processor as the Lumia 920 (which explains the speed part), features support for wireless charging through optional back plates and sports an AMOLED display where black is really black and not a shade of gray. But, the Lumia 820 is not a scaled down version of the bigger Lumia 920 or any other high-end Windows Phone 8 handset.
After 15 years of development, it’s probably no surprise that PowerDVD has become one of the most powerful and comprehensive media players around. Music, video and movies, DVD and Blu-ray, 3D, DLNA, mobile device syncing, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube – the program does it all.
There’s still plenty of room for improvement, though, and PowerDVD 13 Ultra takes the package forward with a range of new additions. There’s even wider file format support; enhanced video quality for HD footage; a new movie library, complete with cover art (for files as well as discs); a smarter, simplified interface; an all-new subtitling engine; and a new focus on performance to try and make this “the fastest, most responsive PowerDVD ever”.
Avast! 8 is the latest generation of avast!’s security range, and as usual it’s available in several different packages, from the basic avast! Free 8 to the do-everything Premier build.
If you just want solid, standard all-round protection, though, avast! Internet Security 8 could be the best option. It takes all the core security suite basics -- antivirus, browsing protection, firewall, spam filter -- and extends them further with some useful new tools, making for what seems to be an appealing mix.
We’re a little skeptical of “free” WYSIWYG HTML editors. Most are either outdated, too basic or packed with adware (and some manage to be all three). OpenElement claims to be different, though: ” a powerful next-gen HTML editor” with “no ads, no restrictions, no experience necessary”, meaning that a “professional and dynamic website is within reach to anyone with zero coding”. Sounds great, so we decided to take a closer look.
Installation is easy, and the program really doesn’t have any adware or other hassles. There is no commercial version, you don’t have to register, there are no nag screens or anything else. The “worst” we see is a tiny “Contribute” icon on the many window, so small and unobtrusive that you may not notice it for a week, and a suggestion on the “Publish” dialog that you use their partner for your hosting (but that’s easy to ignore, if you like).
Born as two flagship devices built on the Windows Phone 8 platform, the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the Nokia Lumia 920 could not be much further apart in delivering two polarizing user experiences. In boxing terms, Windows Phone 8X is the light flyweight and Lumia 920 is the super heavyweight, fighting each other with two different software and hardware skill sets for the "Best Windows Phone 8 smartphone" title.
But this one is a tough nut to crack as there are many aspects to consider. Price, performance, build quality, software and hardware features, dimensions, weight, look and feel, color trim, among others, are all very important when choosing a device that will likely be alongside you for two years. So without further ado, let's pit the two against each other and see how they stack up.
When I was growing up one of my parents' favorite expressions was "do as I say, not as I do". The old adage likely rings true in this case as well. You see, as a rule I don't recommend downloading files from BitTorrent, as you are just as likely to get a virus as a legitimate program, movie or song. That applies to leaked files especially.
But, there are legitimate reasons for the sharing service -- upcoming artists share music, Linux shares distros, even producers have distributed movies in this way.
Windows apps that you run on Windows 8 are limited to the Start screen environment by default. Here you can run them in full screen, or attached to a side of the screen so that they use 1/3 or 2/3 of the screen. What you cannot do is run them in windowed mode on the desktop.
Attempts have been made in the past to bring that extra functionality to Windows 8 in the form of third-party applications. One of them, RetroUI Pro does so, but the implementation is fairly limited.
First in a series. Chromebook Pixel is an enigma. A misfit. Some critics call it a miscalculation -- that Google created a pretty kit that offers too little value for the high price. For sure, $1,299, or $1,449 for the model with LTE, is more than most people pay. According to NPD, the average selling price of laptops at US retail was $640 in January.
But some people do pay more. Apple laptops start at $999 and, according to NPD, the ASP was $1,419 last month. Unquestionably, I see Chromebook Pixel as priced against Macs, and after using Google's laptop see it targeted at the same professionals who value Apple notebooks. The question any potential buyer should ask: Is Pixel worth spending as much as Google asks? I will answer that question in several parts -- this initial review is first.
The concept of Canonical taking a stab at the mobile market eludes me. Unless we want to split hairs, which I know will happen, Android already is the Linux ambassador across the globe, so why would the world need Ubuntu Touch? Furthermore, any new player starts out with a clean slate, which means many consumers will be skeptical at purchasing devices running the new operating system and therefore developer interest does not surpass a low threshold.
The PC market is not what it used to be a couple of years ago when people rushed out to buy new computers, rather than tablets or smartphones first. In some ways Canonical right now is Microsoft before Windows Phone and Windows 8 -- an important player further heading into obscurity down the road unless the boat steers in the right direction. Ubuntu Touch is supposed to give the world a breath of fresh air, the X factor that would sway enough people into switching from Android, iOS, Windows Phone or a feature phone, even.
The competition in the Google Apps backup market is steadily ramping up, with more than a few contenders jumping in lately to have a piece of this newfound need. Just two months ago, I wrote about my (mostly) positive thoughts regarding Apps backup provider Backupify. But in order to do the competition justice, I decided to give the other popular alternative Spanning a run for the money.
Your choices don't stop at Spanning and Backupify, in case you're wondering. Google stepped into the backup arena with its first party Vault solution earlier last year, which takes the crown for being the most integrated option (for apparent reasons.) Some of the junior vendors in this space also include CloudAlly and SysCloudSoft. These two latter providers try to edge out Spanning and Backupify with better pricing, but they are not yet as established so it is tough to judge them on cost comparison alone.
Microsoft's flagship tablet running Window 8 Pro goes on sale in Canada and the United States on February 9. The device is the most-important released to date running the operating system, for what it seeks to accomplish and means for Microsoft. Critics call Windows RT a failure (I disagree). Distribution is the problem, if any, and that's easily remedied.
Still, RT badmouthing puts Pro perceptions in a bad spot. Microsoft's public relations team responded by getting devices out to reviewers and setting an embargo of 9 pm EST February 5. So four days before launch, a bunch of reviews exploded across the InterWebs around the same time. Younger reviewers from trendier tech tabloids tend to talk up Surface Pro while older fogies and those from more consumer pubs are more hesitant. I'm among the few old farts who get Surface and what Microsoft strives to achieve here. Then, again, I've covered the company for a long time.
Surface Pro is magnificent. A classic. It's the Windows experience you longed for but were denied. The tablet is a reference design for what -- and what not -- Microsoft OEM partners should achieve. The device is the past and future, pure personal computer and post-PC. Simply put: Surface Pro is jack of all trades, both master of many, and (gulp) none. Capabilities astound, yet quirks abound. But even they are endearing, giving Windows 8 Pro personality and dimension.
For the past five days, I've had the privilege of using Surface Pro, which goes on sale February 9, as my primary PC. That's not enough time to fairly evaluate the tablet, which is why I write a first-impressions review. I'll add much more as my month with the device progresses. For now, I will share my early reactions, while offering context about Microsoft's objectives for the product and how well it achieves them. Unquestionably, Surface Pro isn't for everyone. But it could be for you.