• howard

    by Published on 07-15-2019 08:42 AM
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    Howard's Amazon Prime Day Picks for the US


    I just finished up a prime day post for Amazon Canada. I'm ...
    by Published on 07-15-2019 07:05 AM
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    Howard's Amazon Prime Day Picks for Canada

    Today is Amazon's Annual Prime Day. In order get these deals you'll ...
    by Published on 07-05-2019 12:51 PM
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    The Big 3 recently began offering data plans that did away with overages. Instead of charging you an absurd amount to refill ...
    by Published on 05-30-2019 01:18 PM
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    I was having lunch with Andrew when the topic of forum layout came up. Iím currently brainstorming ideas of how we can streamline it to help reduce the number of subforums.

    Hereís the problem; when it comes to Android weíre spoiled for choice; Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola, whatever. The problem with this is that some Samsung related discussions are also relevant to other companies that make Android devices. We could make a separate forum for those types of discussions but Iíve always believed that less is more when it comes to subforums.

    Wouldnít it be nice if there was just an Android forum that served as a catch-all for all types of Samsung, Huawei, Android apps discussion?

    Then it hit me, is Android even a thing now?

    No, Iím not an Apple fanboy trying to egg some of you into a flame war. Rather, since weíre sort of in a post-peak Smartphone period, companies are now focusing more on growing their own ecosystems to keep making money.

    Think about it, if all you do is make Android phones, eventually another company will come along and make a phone with the same specs as yours and sell it for cheaper. The same thing happened in the PC industry. Iím also not talking about overlays but rather when you buy a smartphone from company A, youíre also encouraged to bundle it with accessories from the same company.

    Apple is a prime example of this. When you pick up an iPhone you might also pick up a pair of AirPods, an iPad and HomePod for your couch, an Apple Watch for your wrist along with subscriptions to Apple Music, iCloud, etc. Apple is really good at providing synergies when you have a couple of their products.

    Itís a good business model because the deeper you get into the quicksand - i mean ecosystem, the harder it is to get out. Hereís an analogy, why do you think so many people are reluctant to introduce their significant other to their parents? They donít scared about getting in too deep.

    When someone asks me which phone they should get the first thing that I usually ask is what are their family members using?

    So what does this have to do with Android?

    While Samsung and Huawei are both large Android smartphone OEMís, theyíre emphasizing their own proprietary software for their smartwatches instead of Android Wear.

    I donít want to get into whatís right and wrong with Android Wear, but one thing to take away from this is that sometimes itís in a companyís best interest to not rely too heavily on Android when theyíre building out their ecosystems.

    If you rely too heavily on Google, youíre stuck waiting for Google to figure out the best way to do something. Google does a great job with many things but no oneís perfect. If you want your own ecosystem try your best to go out and build it yourself.

    One of the most interesting ecosystems is Samsungís. Along with the usual mobile-centric products they are also leaders in appliances, TVís among other things. Most of their non Android stuff including the Galaxy watch and TVís runs on the Tizen operating system. Samsung doesnít own Tizen but theyíre the primary patrons on if.

    How many people not reading this have even heard of Tizen?

    Letís also not forget that Samsung also has their own voice assistant; Bixby. Say what you will about Bixby but voice assistants are basically an operating system for all your internet connected devices. If you want your own ecosystem and donít want to rely too heavily on Google you need to try your hardest to have your own assistant.

    For many people theyíve never thought of themselves buying an Android phone, rather they picked up a Samsung Galaxy or an HTC phone. Now, that the future seems to be ecosystems that encompass more than just phones Android has moved even further into the background.

    Thoughts?
    by Published on 03-03-2019 07:07 PM
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    I checked out the Blackberry Key 2 LE recently. While I thought it was a solid phone, I also got the feeling that it was built to not step on the toes of a more expensive model. The screen was nice but could be better, that sort of thing.

    Now itís time to check out the fancier model, the Key 2 (no LE). ...
    by Published on 01-21-2019 12:31 PM
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    It wasnít that long ago that Google would partner with an Android OEM to release a high end phone priced hundreds cheaper than similarly specíd phones. However, since then Google has shifted strategies and began designing their own Android phones.

    Theyíve followed a similar strategy that Apple and Samsung have been using by releasing a regular sized version; the Pixel and a larger Phablet; the Pixel XL.

    The line is now in their 3rd generation. Letís check out the Pixel 3. ...
    by Published on 12-02-2018 12:50 PM
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    It doesnít seem that long ago that youíd need a crowbar to pry a Blackberry out of an addicts hands. However, since then, most of us have grown accustomed to on-screen keyboards. Still, for some, thereís no replacement for a physical keyboard. Fortunately, for them Blackberries have managed to stick around and even better, the keyboards are still being refined with each new generation.

    These days BlackBerry OS is long gone so if you want a BlackBerry, itís going to be running Android. While it says BlackBerry on the phone, itís actually made by TCL who also makes phones under the Alcatel and Palm brand names.

    If you want the latest, thereís the upper midrange Key 2 and the midrange Key 2 LE which Iím reviewing today.
    ...
    by Published on 11-21-2018 11:34 AM
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    LG has always had an interesting place in the Android marketplace. I get this feeling like theyíre always trying to offer a slightly different take on the Android flagship. The G3 had rear mounted volume and power buttons and higher resolution display while the G4 retained a removable battery. The G5 also had this feature but also allowed you to expand it with attachable accessories like a larger speaker. It also included a second, super-wide angle camera. The G6 was more about bringing it in line with other flagship phones with a more premium feel.

    So what is LGís take on the 2018 flagship? Letís check out the G7 ThinQ. ...
    by Published on 10-18-2018 12:38 PM
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    Sonos has been around for some time for a while it felt like they owned the whole home audio market. However, there are now alternatives and many of them are not exclusive to a single manufacturer. Googleís Home, Amazonís Echo and Appleís Homepod devices are marketed first as speakers that have microphones/voice assistants which can also provide whole home audio.

    With that in mind, Sonos has released the One, a Sonos with built-in microphones. Out of the box it has support Amazon Alexaís voice recognition. Presumably it also has the capability to recognize Google Assistant and Appleís Siri commands if Sonos can work out necessary licensing deals. ...
    by Published on 10-16-2018 08:24 PM
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    Apple iPhone XS Max

    Hereís the Apple iPhone XS Max. According to Apple, ďXSĒ is pronounced ďTen SĒ. However itís hard for me to not see it as ďiPhone Extra Small MaxĒ. Silly name aside, the most striking thing about the Max isnít its notched, large 6.5Ē display, dual cameras or even the cutting-edge 7nm A12 processor. No, itís the Maxís breathtaking price tag; the 512GB variant costs a heart stopping $1999 Canadian before taxes. Letís check it out. ...
    by Published on 08-08-2018 01:01 PM
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    Until recently, my wife and I used Bluetooth speakers when we wanted to listen to music at home. I figured Bluetooth speakers were the most flexible solution. Pretty much every phone, tablet and computer sold in the last 10 years has it. Bluetooth support is also built right into Android/iOS/Windows so you donít need any special software to use it. There are also many, many different Bluetooth compatible speakers available at all price points.

    Still, Bluetooth isnít a perfect solution. I wonít cover all of them here, but for us the 3 biggest shortcomings are the range, support for multiple users or lack thereof, and the fact that the Bluetooth speaker will playback everything thatís playing on your phone including alerts.

    In terms of range, our phones will only stream reliably while weíre in the same room. This is inconvenient if we need to leave the room temporarily with our phone.

    However, the bigger problem is the lack of multiple users. When you turn a Bluetooth speaker on, it usually tries to connect to the last device that was using it. This is fine if Iím the only person trying to use the speaker. However, what happens when Iím around and my wife wants to use it? Switching users can be a hassle.

    Then thereís the fact that Bluetooth speakers playback alerts from your phone. It can get quite irritating when you get a bunch of alerts during your favorite song.

    With these problems in mind we figured weíd try out a Sonos. Sonos has been around for a while, so they have a fairly mature lineup of speakers. Iíve actually wanted to try one for a while but various issues with them me from trying it. ...
    by Published on 06-07-2018 10:19 AM
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    Until recently, my wife and I used Bluetooth speakers when we wanted to listen to music at home. I figured Bluetooth speakers were the most flexible solution. After all, pretty much every phone, tablet and computer sold in the last 10 years has it. Bluetooth support is also built right into Android/iOS/Windows so you donít need any special software to use it. There are also many, many different Bluetooth compatible speakers available at all price points.

    ...
    by Published on 02-09-2018 12:26 PM
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    Besides ďthe notchĒ the other Xís other distinguishing feature (aside from the heart stopping price tag) is its facial ...
    by Published on 02-08-2018 10:10 AM
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    One of the iPhone Xís most controversial features is its screen or rather, the fact that parts of it are missing.

    Yes, Iím talking about the ďNotchĒ.

    While previous iPhones had large bezels at the top and bottom of the phone, the Xís design features a display that takes up the entire front of the phone. That means the iPhoneís most iconic feature; the home button is a thing of the past.
    ...
    by Published on 12-01-2016 09:26 AM
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    Iíve been using my iPhone 7 Plus for a few weeks now and since I donít have time for a full review, I thought Iíd share some observations and compare it with my 6s Plus.

    First off, Apple finally ditching the 16GB base model. These days, you can do so much with a Smartphone, itís irresponsible to sell such an expensive phone with such a skimpy storage configuration. Itís like selling a minivan that only has 1 seat in it.

    Models start with 32GB which is a useful start. The other configurations have 128 and 256GB of storage, up from the 6s Plusí 64 and 128GB respectively, at the the same price points, which in a way, makes them a better deal - if you could call a $1000+ phone a good deal.
    ...
    by Published on 11-17-2016 10:58 AM
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    I just checked out Motorolaís JBL Soundboost speaker, and Easy Share Projector Moto Mods for their Z series phones. Next up is their camera accessory; the Hasselblad True Zoom.

    Hasselblad is known for their professional grade medium format cameras. So what is their logo doing on this decided un-professional looking camera? Did they really help Motorola develop a camera accessory or did they just have a bunch of extra Hasselblad stickers laying around?
    ...
    by Published on 10-19-2016 01:49 PM
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    Iíve been playing with the Motorola Moto Z and some Moto Mod accessories for it. I recently checked out the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod. Initially, I was unsure of how much sense a proprietary accessory would make, but Motorola managed to make it work and I loved the SoundBoost.



    Next up is their Moto Insta-Share Projector. Itís a pic projector that attaches to the back of a Motorola Moto Z family phone (currently there are 3 compatible Z family phones with presumably more to come). There are pogo plugs on the back of the projector which mate to connectors on the back of a Moto Z. It uses magnets to hold it in place which I assure you, hold it very securely. ...
    by Published on 10-13-2016 08:44 AM
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    Iíve been playing with a Motorola Moto Z and a few Moto Mod accessories for a few days and thought Iíd share some thoughts on how they work together.

    But first off, I have to mention what really jumps out about the Z is just how thin it is. I mean how can something this skinny pack flagship specs? Whatís more impressive is that they managed to do this without having to resort to a gigantic bezel or skimping on the battery capacity.



    They didnít skimp on features either, on the back are series of 16 pogo pins which allow you to attach a variety of add-ons called Moto Mods. Motorola isnít messing around either, they sent me 4 different Mods with the Z including:


    • a serious sounding speaker from JBL
    • external battery pack for extended Pokemon Go so I can finally catch enough Dratini to evolve it
    • Camera with 10x optical zoom from Hasselblad
    • Pico Projector so the wife and I can watch Brooklyn Nine Nine on the ceiling




    These can all attach to the back of the Moto Z using magnets. In case youíre wondering; Yes, they attach very securely - they wonít come off unless you want it to and even then it takes a bit of coaxing.



    As it turns out the thinness, allows the Z to stay manageable even when you have a Moto Mod attached.



    So, far the one Iíve used most is the JBL speaker. Iíll talk more about the other mods in another write up. Itís considerably thicker than the Z and at 145g it basically doubles the weight of the package. Fortunately itís very sculpted so it doesnít feel too strange in my hand when I have it connected.
    ...
    by Published on 09-23-2016 10:36 AM
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    I was very excited when Pokemon Go launched, I really enjoyed playing the original Pokemon games 20 years ago, and was really looked forward to being able to play the latest version with my 6 year old daughter.

    The 2 of us have managed to make it up to level 28 mostly because I play a lot when sheís not around. However playing a lot of Pokemon Go causes 3 problems. Can the Pokemon Go Plus solve them? ...
    by Published on 08-31-2016 02:03 PM
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    I just got a chance to play with the new Motorola Moto Z and the just announced Moto Z Play. Motorola is differentiating the Z line by putting a proprietary connector on the back of each Z phone which allows you attach specially designed accessories to it.

    Accessories include a battery back from Incipio, Insta-Share Projector, JBL SoundBoost speaker and a camera attachment with a 10x zoom lens from Hasselblad. ...
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