LG V30 Initial Impressions:
Neat back, but smudge prone
– Long wait time with simple HDR shots (can’t move)
– Lots of mistaps in Camera app
– Not sure LG’s design modification layer is cohesive
– Not sure every app looks clean with the curved corners
– Inclined to replace Launcher
– Knock code unlock
– Hide software buttons in apps
– Camera has tons of options
– Generally Smoother than iOS
– Very responsive screen
– Lens covered warning in camera app
– Very wide angle lens
– App Trash feature
– Blazing fast internet on T-Mobile
– Not too many redundant apps
– Could customize hardware experience with own software
– Nice audio recorder experience
– Battery charging time left
Who doesn’t have a smartphone, camera, mp3 player, or some other electronic device, gadget, or doodad and all of its cords and other accessories that can prove challenging to keep track of in a pocket, purse, suitcase, or backpack when on the go? You can deal with the problem as most people do: untangle the resulting mess every time you want to use it and hope that your keys or other residents in your pocket, purse, suitcase, or backpack haven’t scratched your device(s) too badly. Or you can deal with the problem the smart way: get a device organizer like the Grid-It by Cocoon and keep everything safe and ready for when — and where — you need it.
The idea is pretty simple, really, and it operates on the same principle as any other toolbox: it keeps everything in its proper place until you decide to put it to use. And when you’re done, you just put it back. In other words, it puts you 100% in control of the situation and makes the devices work for you instead of the other way around! Here are the main features of the Grid-It device organizer:
- It is made from a high-quality rubberized material.
- Its woven elastic system organizes your gadgets and accessories and keeps them tightly in place.
- There’s a zippered pocket for additional storage.
- The Grid-It measures 8″ by 12″, which makes it big enough to store what you need while also not taking up too much space.
The Grid-It Device Organizer Comes in Many (Well, Four) Colors
As a society, we’re pressured by marketers — as well as our own peers — to be conscious of our tastes and the choices we make based on those tastes. This is why fashion (for instance) is such a big industry. So the good people at Cocoon have given us four different colors from which to choose when we’re deciding which Grid-It device organizer best suits our fancy: red, blue, gray, and basic black.
Aside from being a simple fashion statement, however, different colors could easily be used for coding by someone who regularly carts around different devices for different purposes — such as photographers, podcasters, campers, sound engineers, camera people, and musicians, just to name a few. A family who travels together could also designate a different color for each member to avoid mixups and general confusion on those long vacations across the country in the RV.
Is the Grid-It device organizer something that you see yourself using, or is it a good
hint gift for the disorganized person in your life? Either way, you can get your own Grid-It device organizer from here today!
Jordan asks about turning a Nexus 7 tablet into a phablet:
Lately it seems as if my Droid Bionic’s screen is just too small for my needs. Although it was my first Android device and will always have a special place in my heart, it’s just not working its magic on me anymore. I recently received a 16 GB Google Nexus 7 and I absolutely love it. Could I use it as my only mobile device? I already do everything else on it like watch videos and movies and play games, but what I also want is for my tablet to act as my phone. The Nexus 7 is small enough to carry around in my pocket, but the problem I run into is trying to connect it to a mobile network. Any tips on how to turn my Nexus into a so-called phablet?
Thanks for your question, Jordan! There has been a great deal of discussion about this new device category, the phablet, which is essentially a hybrid of a smartphone and a tablet. According to many tech pundits, this year is expected to the Year of the Phablet, and the Consumer Electronics Show gave us the year’s first real taste of phablet fever.
The Nexus 7 as a Phablet
I believe the Nexus 7 has the potential to be used as a phablet. At 7 inches, it’s just small enough to be toted around, though many will still find it far too big to be carried around in a pocket. We were recently asked whether it was necessary to have separate data plans when you have both a smartphone and a tablet; in your case, you might consider yourself lucky, because you won’t have to be making that decision.
I recommend trying a variety of communication applications with your Nexus 7 in order to turn it into a phablet. Skype is perhaps the most well-known example of voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, applications, but there are countless others available for you to try. Using Google Hangouts on Google+ is another great way to communicate, especially when you want to communicate with more than one person at the same time using your phablet.
Inexpensive Data Plans Are Available for Phablets
If you don’t have a data plan yet, the Nexus 7 uses a micro SIM card, and you have a variety of wireless carriers from which to choose. You don’t always have to go with one of the self-professed Big Kahunas of the wireless world; you can have your Nexus’ SIM activated on a prepaid carrier such as SIMPLE Mobile quite inexpensively. SIMPLE Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network, but may offer better personal support for about the same cost as going with T-Mobile itself.
Regardless of which carrier you go with, once you have a data plan in place, you can get a free mobile phone number through services like Pinger, which enable talking and texting over your data plan for free. Some folks prefer using a simple service like this to others like Skype and Google Hangouts, since they tend to require less data and are potentially more reliable. (Potentially, I say, but not necessarily.) If you don’t have a data plan, try a few of these services using your Wi-Fi connection to see which service you prefer.
More tablets are going to be used as phablets as consumers are trying to save money or those who prefer larger displays buy the devices. I’ve used most of the major devices and services available, but I’m sure there are a few out there I haven’t tried yet (or haven’t even heard of), so I’m looking forward to hearing from others about how they’re using their tablets as phablets. What services have you found to work well in converting your Nexus 7 or other tablet into a phablet?
Image from Amazon
Benjamin May gives a shout-out and asks a question about the ever-elusive “right” time for a smart phone upgrade:
When is the best time for a smart phone upgrade? My two-year contract is nearing expiration and I’ll soon be able to upgrade my old iPhone 4. I’ll be moving to Android because I’m tired of iOS’ staleness. Should I just buy a new smart phone now (probably the Galaxy Note II) or wait until new phones, such as the Galaxy S IV, are released in the summer?
One thing I’m worried about is waiting so long for phones — that are solely based upon rumors — instead of being content now. By the way, I’d like to get a phone that can actually last over a two-year contract. My iPhone 4 is showing its age, struggling with more intensive webpages and tasks. I’d love to hear your opinions on this.
Ben, this is a great question, and there are nearly as many ways to answer it as there are smart phones. But since you’re asking for my own opinion on this, I’ll tell you what I usually do: I buy what’s available, when it’s available. The way I see it, there’s no better time to purchase new tech than the present. By the time you wait for the Next Big Device to arrive, you’ll be asking yourself the same question: should I get a smart phone upgrade now, or wait until the next wave of innovation arrives? Particularly when it comes to smart phones, the longer you wait, the longer you’ll be missing out on the technologies everyone else is enjoying today. So if you’ve been lugging around an obsolete smart phone for years in hopes that something monumentally better will come out tomorrow — and you can afford it — you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in a smart phone upgrade today. (But if you can’t afford it, there’s no shame in using an older smart phone, either.)
Smart Phone Upgrade: Is the Right Time Now?
Smart phones are a curious market, especially in the US, because the devices are typically expected to last less than two years. That doesn’t mean the devices can’t hold up longer; it’s simply that most consumers in the US have their smart phones replaced every two years or so. (According to research, handsets in general are expected to last about 21.7 months.) Knowing this, both manufacturers and developers of smart phones work to continuously “evolve” smart phone technology so that consumers will see the need to replace whichever handset they’re currently toting around. Smart phone upgrades are a big business.
Unless there’s a specific new technology that you absolutely can live without, there’s no reason to wait for tomorrow’s technology to arrive. Retina — Apple’s high-resolution display — is a good example. When Apple introduced Retina, its iPhone line stood out from most competing smart phones for its outstanding combination of display technology and highly satisfying user experience. Though anyone with half a brain was able to realize that competing manufacturers would incorporate similar display technologies into their own devices sooner or later, there simply wasn’t a reason to wait for that to occur unless you were attached to another mobile operating system or device.
Have You Been Depriving Yourself?
Today, many more smart phones have higher-resolution displays than those that were available two years ago. But if you waited until 2013 for a smart phone upgrade to purchase something that has been available since 2010, you’ve missed out on a user experience that others have been enjoying for well over two years. In fact, if you’re waiting for a smart phone that beats the iPhone 5 in terms of display technology, you may have to wait for a very long time. Apple may always be ahead of its competitors in that area; it’s simply one of the areas where Apple excels, and the company is doing its very best to keep it that way.
Android has come a long way since we first began seeing it on the HTC Dream in 2008. Today’s Android delivers a polished and fluid user experience — on some devices, it performs as well as Apple’s iOS, and on a few devices it exceeds iOS in some areas. That said, if you’re moving to Android because you feel the overall user experience on your aging iPhone is outdated, you might find yourself disappointed unless you opt for the most expensive of Android smart phones available. The Android user experience varies considerably from device to device, while Apple iOS remains steady — and though you perceive that experience to be stale, I view it as mature. Android is approaching maturity, but is still unstable and unpredictable at times. If I were in the market for a smart phone upgrade (at the time of this writing), I’d stick with iOS, myself.
But if you’re set on Android, get the best Android-based smart phone you can buy today. Don’t wait until this summer for what the pundits are telling you will be the best Android smart phone to date. You’ll likely find yourself impressed at first, only to find yourself disappointed when the next Best Smart Phone in the World arrives in the fall. So upgrade as soon as your two-year commitment expires, or whenever it is that you qualify for an upgrade. It’s too bad that carriers require a two-year commitment, particularly when research shows we upgrade our phones every 21 to 22 months. When a smart phone upgrade is available today, you don’t want to have to wait a few to several months to be able to use the device. Which brings up my next point…
Have You Considered a Prepaid Carrier for Your Smart Phone Upgrade?
Have you considered a prepaid carrier? Breaking out of the two-year cycle is one of the best ways you can ensure you’ll have the opportunity to begin using a new smart phone as soon as it’s available, rather than taking a chance that the technology will become less relevant during the months that pass as you’re waiting to meet the requirements of your carrier’s plan. LockerGnome contributor Harold Johnson has been using a smart phone with a carrier called SIMPLE Mobile, which he reports to be “the best smart phone experience” he’s ever had. If you have access to an unlocked phone and live in an area with good T-Mobile coverage (since SIMPLE Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network), the prepaid carrier offers a very affordable way to get out of the two-year cycle altogether.
As I noted when I first began answering the question of the best time for a smart phone upgrade, there are as many ways to answer the question as there are smart phones. So I’m hoping some of you will have some more advice on the issue, and I welcome suggestions that differ from my own. Chime in today — don’t wait until tomorrow!
The smartphone has replaced the traditional camera as the device of choice for many of us when taking a picture. At a recent high school sporting event, most parents were snapping flicks of their children on smartphones while only a small handful held onto their cameras. While this may seem to have become the norm in today’s smartphone-ubiquitous world, there are still some issues that need to be overcome.
First, there are no standardized tripods, monopods, or light kits that fully support all of our smartphones — at least, that was the situation until the introduction of the UniGrip Pro. The UniGrip Pro is a universal smartphone mount that will fit just about any smartphone currently on the market. Using the UniGrip Pro will allow the user to attach their smartphone to a tripod, light kit, or stabilization device with ease. The smartphone can even be used while in its protective case.
The UniGrip Pro will also add stability to the taking of videos, allow the user to employ a monopod for added height when taking pictures over a crowd — or extend around corners. You name it, and with the UniGrip Pro, you can do it.
By adding specific applications to your smartphone and using the UniGrip Pro, you can turn your smartphone into a:
- Metal detector
- Thermal heat detector
- Mount for use as a GPS
Made of laser cut, high quality steel, the unit is guaranteed for a lifetime of use. If the unit breaks, just send it back for a full replacement. There is one other thing that the UniGrip Pro now has: the Kickstarter project was successful and full funding has been accomplished!
Comments, as always, are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by zoomyboy.com
Needless to say, playing any type of action game can be a challenge when using a smartphone. Though the touchscreen may be great for navigating various applications, when it comes to having full control during a action packed game, the lack of control is very noticeable. Now there is a product called PhoneJoy Play that can bring back the fun my turning your smartphone into a gaming console.
PhoneJoy Play is a wireless gamepad that clamps onto your smartphone and works with either iOS or Android-powered cellphones. The design of the PhoneJoy Play expands so that, no matter which size smartphone you have, it guarantees a perfect fit. PhoneJoy Play also promises to eliminate the following drawbacks of using a touchscreen for gaming:
- Touchscreens take up a large amount of screen real estate.
- The lack of physical feedback.
- Key presses are sometimes not recognized, which can frustrate the user.
- Control keys are sometimes located in many different positions, making gameplay confusing.
- Touchscreens are less precise and often slower than gamepads.
By adding a gamepad to a smartphone, it is believed that game developers will be able to enhance play on the mobile game platform. This should increase the number of games that will be launched for the smartphones in the very near future. Users will be better able to play games such as Halo 4 and not just simple games like Angry Birds.
The basics of how PhoneJoy Play works are fairly simple, since the controller makes use of the built-in Bluetooth capabilities that most modern smartphones offer.
- Your Android smartphone must have a minimum of Android version 2.1+ installed.
- Activate Bluetooth.
- Launch the PhoneJoy Play application on your Android device.
- Once pairing is complete, you are ready to go.
- Turn on your Play and activate the iCade mode.
- Connect the controller in the iOS settings menu.
- Launch PhoneJoy Play Game Center and choose to install games.
Instructions can be found on the PhoneJoy Play website, which include the installation of the PhoneJoy Play gaming pad on a Windows PC, Mac OS X, and Linux. Most modern games support HID gamepads, so the setup is simplified and native. But it doesn’t end there, since PhoneJoy Play supports using the controller to connect your smartphone or tablet to your HDTV with the proper connections. Check to determine if your smartphone or tablet supports this feature or not.
So there you have it. PhoneJoy Play can add many hours of pleasure from your smartphone and make gameplay more effortless in the process.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
Source: PhoneJoy Play via Kickstarter
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by frostwire.com
During the past few months, almost all of the smartphone companies have released new models to attract the consumer’s pocketbook. From models that require a contract to models that can be used on pre-paid plans, there is something for all of us to think about buying. If you’re replacing and selling your old Android smartphone, you need to make sure that your device has been cleaned properly.
Why is it important to make sure that your old Android smartphone is cleaned properly? In a day and age where identity theft is prolific, we need to make sure that the buyer of our old phone is not tempted to either confiscate out identifying information or use one of our online accounts without our knowledge.
Our smartphones have become hotbeds of information that is stored on the phones themselves, on memory cards, or online. Some of this personal information can contain our social security number, our date of birth, credit card information, and much more. Even passwords for online accounts can be stored, providing an unscrupulous person with access to our private data.
One of the first things you will want to do is to back up your stuff. I use Lookout as my security program, which has a built-in backup service that works automatically. I also use Google Gmail as my contact source for email and texting, and this works for me. Whatever way you choose, backing up will save your data for later use.
If your phone has a SIM card, it could hold carrier and subscription information or may also have your contacts and other personal data. The SIM card can also be used for your next phone, so you do not want the new buyer to use it. Removing the SIM card is easy; it just slides out from the back of the phone once the cover is removed.
While you have the rear cover of the phone off, also remove the external SD card from your phone. An SD card adds extra storage to your phone and you may have personal information or personal photographs stored on it. If your new phone has an SD card slot, you will be able to reuse the same card and have access to your personal stuff.
Thus far you have cleaned up your phone fairly well, but there is another step you will need to take to protect your data. Included among your applications could be logon information including your username or password[s]. What would happen if the buyer of your phone had access to your email, Facebook account, or other personal accounts?
Depending on the version of Android that your phone uses, the location of the next feature my require you to hunt around, but you want to do a factory reset of your phone. Go into Settings and look under Privacy or Backup Reset until you locate this feature. Once the factory reset has completed, all of your personal data should be gone for good and you can now sell your phone with confidence.
Comments are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by closari
It’s time to gear up as the winter season approaches. How do you check your business phone for important calls if your fingers are freezing? How do you keep the snow out of your precious iPhone? Shovel off your winter worries. Smartphone users will find these technologies oh-so-cool and useful on the upcoming -berrrrr days.
Nest: Control your nest egg from anywhere
Built by the former VP of Apple’s iPod and iPhone division, Tony Fadell, the Nest is a next-generation thermostat that programs itself and saves energy. You can easily install the Nest in 30 minutes or less. Afterward, Nest will remember the temperatures you like at different times of the day and will automatically adjust settings based on your schedule. With its “auto-away” feature, this nifty gadget also senses when you leave home so it can turn the system down. Simply installing Nest (without applying its energy-saving features) will already let you save an average of $173 a year. You can even track your overall savings with Nest’s monthly energy report to get some tips on how to save more. So what does this have to do with smartphones? Let’s say that you’re getting home earlier than expected; simply connect via the Nest mobile app in your smartphone and change the temperature even while you’re on the road. For making us feel comfortably cozy, this cool piece of tech deserves top spot.
RingCentral: Prepare your office for extreme weather conditions
It should be business as usual despite snowstorms or other weather hassles. During extreme weather conditions and other disasters, cloud services can aid in recovery and get your company up and running again. RingCentral cloud PBX demonstrated this when it moved its services from the east to the west coast in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that its clients could still access RingCentral services despite the storms. RingCentral VoIP services can also be set up, managed, and accessed directly from your mobile devices. This ensures that your team members can still access phone services in case they can’t travel to their offices or even if your entire office building becomes unavailable.
Nokia Lumia 920: Use it with gloves
For those who don’t experience real winter, Nokia’s marketing of the Nokia Lumia 920’s “supersensitive touchscreen” must have been a big bore. But there were also quite a few Nokia fans out there who appreciated this practical feature. The Lumia 920’s screen is responsive even if you’re wearing gloves in the cold wintry months. You can even navigate it using your nails or car keys. Of course, its 8.7 MP PureView Camera, 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 32 GB internal storage, 4G LTE technology, and wireless charging capabilities also make the Nokia Lumia 920 one of the best smartphones out on the market at present.
BEARTek: Bluetooth control gloves for your smartphone
If you don’t want to switch phones just for a supersensitive touchscreen, then BEARTek’s Bluetooth gloves might be one of the best solutions for you. No need to fumble with your smartphone while wearing gloves if you have a pair of these. Wear the gloves like you would wear any other gloves and be able to use your smartphone without even taking it out of your pocket! Using Bluetooth and BEARTek technologies, you can control your phone functions and music apps by touching your thumb to corresponding touchpoints on your finger. If you want these gloves, support the creators on Kickstarter.
LifeProof: Snowproof your iPhone
Caught in a snowstorm or love cross-country skiing? There’s no need to worry about your iPhone getting damaged with LifeProof’s iPhone 4/4S case. Not only do you get to tote your phone in the snow, but you also protect it from water, dirt, and shock. LifeProof cases have an IP-68 rating, which means they are dust-tight and protected against complete continuous water submersion. Secure your phone from icy mishaps with LifeProof.
How do you keep Jack Frost from nipping at your patience (and pocketbook) when you’re trying to cope with your smartphone during the winter months? Drop us a comment below and share your thoughts with us!
Finding the right smartphone has never been easier. Either you buy into the iOS platform of an Apple iPhone or you go with Google and its Android flavor of offerings. Whatever ecosystem you choose, the one accessory you will need is a case to protect your newest cellphone from the dings, scratches, and drops associated with everyday life.
I once received a text from a friend of mine stating that she was going to be late for a meeting. She said that she needed to stop over at Walmart to buy a new protective case for her cellphone. When she arrived, I noticed that she had taken her once-beautiful piece of art and sculpture and covered it in an ugly piece of junky-looking rubber. She said she had to buy the cheapie cover (it is all Walmart had for its model cellphone) because she didn’t want her phone to “squirt out of [her] hand.”
The reality of mobile phone use is that it is not a matter of if we will drop our phone, but when we will drop it. As our current smartphones have become thinner and leaner in design, they also have become harder to hold. I know my personal cellphone is so thin and slippery that I now have my own “squirt out of my hand” device. Finding a cover to keep the squirt at bay has become an art.
The first group of cases I want to discuss are the ones made of rubber, gels, or skins. These cases cover and protect the vital parts of your phone and should protect your smartphone from everyday bruises, scratches, and bumps. The best part of these type of cases is that they offer a better grip on your phone and, it is hoped, will keep you from dropping it on the ground.
The next group of cases are what I call the tank protection cases. These cases come from companies like OtterBox and others, with the claim that they will provide maximum protection for your phone. While I do not have any evidence of my own to support or dismiss these claims, there is one thing that I do know: These cases are like taking a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette and wrapping it in layers of bubble wrap. The style of the car is completely gone, the shiny new paint is hidden, and the aesthetics of the vehicle are completely blurred. The bulk of these cases are akin to putting a baseball in your pocket or purse.
Another type of case is what I call the “I need to make a statement” variety. These cases come in many different styles and include, but are not limited to, skull and crossbones, flowers, zebra stripes, and so forth. The cases come in any color imaginable to make your phone stand out from the crowd. The only problem with these types of cases is that they are usually just thin plastic shells that offer little protection when a phone is dropped on a hard surface.
The final type of case is the one that I personally use to protect my cellphone. This type of case is made of polycarbonate plastic material with a rubberized coating that gives the cover a tacky feel. Though these cases do not offer the type of protection that others may offer, they do provide ample protection from life’s everyday mishaps. How do I know that these cases work?
Last year my wife was getting out of the car and her phone slid out of her purse. I would estimate that the phone dropped approximately four feet onto the concrete driveway. While the case was damaged, the phone remained completely intact without a mark. In addition, these type of cases can be found on Amazon or eBay for under $10.
So my question is this: Why take a $600 piece of art and bubble wrap it?
Comments are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Odenosuke
Bamboo is one of the sturdiest and most long-lasting woods available in today’s marketplace and, while it is probably not the best choice to use in food preparation, it has proven a durable product for many other uses. Knowing this, the smartphone market — which has evolved into one of the largest retail markets in the history of electronics — is now looking at this valuable resource.
Smartphones have invaded all of our lives and changed the way that we communicate with one another. Unfortunately, it seems that designers have chosen to use plastic or metal cases in combination with a glass front for all of their products — neither of which are eco-friendly. However, this is about to change.
A new company, called ADzero, is about to introduce an innovative new product design that will change the way we look at smartphones. It is a green company that plans on introducing a cellphone that uses a bamboo case to house its electronic components. The bamboo case, as you can see in the above photo, is attractive and said by the company to be very durable. The durability of bamboo has been noted for centuries in Asia where it’s utilized not only as a biodegradable building material but also as a food source. However, this resource is relatively new to the US, where it was introduced as a flooring material and a filler for packaging breakable products.
So, while it will help protect our environment from unwanted plastics, what makes this smartphone useful as well as beautiful is what is inside. The folks at ADzero have taken some of the best hardware available and have enclosed the smartphone in a fantastic-looking bamboo case.
So what’s inside? Nothing less than the international version of the Samsung III. The unit includes, at the time of this writing, the following specifications:
- Processor: 1.4 GHz Samsung Exynos 4 (quad-core)
- Display: 4.5-inch TFT LCD with 720 x 1280 HD Resolution, 326 ppi
- Handset Dimensions: 134 x 68 x 11.8 mm
- Operating System: Stock Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich + ADAOS (Open Bootloader)
- Networks: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz; UMTS/HSPA+ 1900/2100 MHz
- Memory: 1 GB DDR2
- Storage: 16 GB internal storage
- Battery capacity: 2050 mAh
- Cameras: Rear-facing 8 MP f/2.0 back illuminated sensor with RingFlash, 0.3 MP front-facing camera
- Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
In my opinion, this is a win-win combination that is going to be hard to beat; the bamboo case and its enclosed components set a new standard for premium phones. So how much will it cost to own this one-up on the Jones, premium device? You may be surprised to learn that if you are one of the first to order this phone, you can purchase it for around $500. However, if you take a wait-and-see attitude, the phone is expected to garner a much higher retail price.
Again, while it is just my opinion, I would think that if you want to be in on the latest fad or if you want to make an environmental statement, this may be just the thing that you are looking for. Remember, though, as I previously mentioned, the phone’s specifications are subject to change.
So what do you think? Would you be interested in a premium smartphone with a bamboo case?
Comments are welcome.
“Johnny, did you lock the door?”
“Ah Mom, I think so.”
Sound familiar? Well, if you are like most of us, this has happened to you. So when I saw the new lock from Lockitron, my interest was piqued.
Lockitron, for the same cost as replacing your current lock with a comparable unit, is offering a smartphone device designed to replace your existing lock. In fact, this replacement will allow you to control locking and unlocking your doors from your smartphone. For those of us with kids or mates who often forget such things, it is sure to be a hit since we can do it from anywhere at any time. It could also save you a lot of hassle when it comes to allowing entry to repairmen or installation people when you cannot be present to let them in. This, in itself, is a safety feature since you are controlling access without leaving someone a metal key that could be copied.
Like most families, we are constantly sharing or passing keys to our homes back and forth; I can definitely see an advantage to this device. For example, this last August our youngest daughter took a vacation to California to visit family and friends while my wife and I were charged with the responsibility of caring for her cat. Of course, that meant we had to access her house at least twice a day. This didn’t become a problem… until I forgot the key. When this happened and I had to return home to grab the key, I can’t say that I wasn’t frustrated.
With this in mind, and the many times that my grandson has locked himself out, I knew that I needed a Lockitron. Fortunately, Lockitron has made installing the remote-controlled lock fairly easy, going so far as to include a Phillips screwdriver in the kit so you can remove your current lock. The kit also includes a backplate that can be easily installed by merely tightening the screws back down. Once Lockitron is tightened down onto the deadbolt lock, you only need to install the application on your smartphone and you are ready to go. If you have a standard phone, you can use text messaging to unlock access to your home.
Sounds great so far, but what happens if you or a family member lose their phone or it gets stolen? If one of these events occur, you just need to log into your account on the Internet and change your password. This will prevent unauthorized persons from accessing your phone or its information and allow you to still access your home. In actuality, this makes it safer than traditional locks in that you don’t have to wait to change or re-key a lock — either of which would be costly. Even if you don’t have your phone with you, you can still use your physical key to gain access to your residence. Another precaution that the makers of Lockitron included was its ability to work in the event of a power failure or if the Internet connection is down.
The uniqueness of Lockitron, in providing a satisfying user experience, partially relies on the fact that the user does not need to change the existing lock. In addition, if you are a renter, Lockitron can be removed and taken with you when you move. The application is also available for both iOS and Android smartphones.
However, Lockitron is not the only company that is going into the smartphone lock business. In fact, a competitor, Unikey, was recently featured on the ABC television series Shark Tank, which ended up in a feeding frenzy as the sharks (noted moguls), bid against each other for a share of the company. The Unikey is very similar to the Lockitron in specifications up to and including the ability to lock / unlock a door via smartphone or text. So, as you can tell, I think that this revolutionary product is something for which the time has come and I, for one, am glad to see it.
Source and Image: Lockitron
“Phablet” is a word that you will be seeing more often as a new breed of hybrid smartphones makes its way to the marketplace. The term has been coined to describe a device that fills the gap between a cellphone and a tablet computer, taking the first two letters of the word phone, ph, and adding them to the last five letters of tablet to form the word phablet.
What is a Phablet?
There are unofficial dimensions that set the size of a phablet as being somewhere between 4.6″ to about 5.5″ which, as of today, is the largest in its category. I am sure that if a company came out with anything under 7″ in size, which is where current tablets currently start, it would also be considered a phablet. In addition to the word phablet, some have come up with the term “Super Smartphone” to also describe the new devices.
Why a Phablet AKA Super Smartphone?
For all of us who have used phones in the 3″ to 3.5″ range, we have become aware of how difficult it can be to navigate such a small screen. I have a 4″ smartphone that still seems on the small side and it becomes even more evident how small it is when I use my Nexus 7. In addition, smartphones with touchscreens and virtual keyboards limit the amount of viewing area when typing an email or text message. Trying to surf the Internet is also problematic since tapping the screen just to read any text on the screen is almost mandatory — even for those blessed with 20/20 sight.
Had we been satisfied with just a phone-calling device, than a small screen would have been just fine. But today, our phones have become mini-computers that can do just about everything their bigger brethren can do. The progression in size, to me, makes perfect sense. In fact, I will take this upgrade in size one step further. Why not have our 7″ tablets do double duty and include the ability to makes calls?
What Companies Will Be Offering Phablets?
Currently, we’re seeing these brands and models being listed as phablets:
- LG Optimus Vu
- HTC One X and One XL on AT&T
- HTC EVO 4G on the Sprint network
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus
- Samsung Galaxy S III
There are more phablets on the way and we should see more offerings in the coming months as companies gear up for the new phablet series of smartphones.
How Popular Will the Phablets Be?
According to the folks at ABI Research, phablets will sell 208 million units by 2016. Shipments will increase 10 times between 2011 and 2012 as phablets become more popular and accepted by consumers. The one phone that is going to be released by LG also takes on not only the height of the screen but also the width that its phablet will have. Pictured below is the new, soon-to-be-released LG Optimu Vu.
LG Optimus Vu Phablet
Specifications for the LG Optimus Vu are:
- 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU (quad core would be better)
- 8 megapixel rear camera likely to come with 1080p HD video capture
- 5″ IPS LCD display, with 1024 x 768 resolution
- By the time the phone is introduced, ICS most likely will be the OS
- 32 GB built-in storage (no word on microSD slot)
- Height or length is 5.5″ with a width of 3.5″
Is a Phablet in Your Future?
The only down side I can see is the size of these new devices. It might be a little difficult to slip a phablet into your pocket. But even with this limitation, I can see a phablet as a useful device that could take the place of a smaller smartphone and a 7″ or larger tablet. It will be interesting to see if the sales meet the predictions in the coming years.
What do you think? Would you buy a phablet?
Source: ABI Research
Source: Android and Me
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by John Biehler
New broadband technology has blessed us with ever-increasing blazing speeds for obtaining data. Many of us are just glad that our smartphones are finally catching up — but are they worth the added expense? Many of us have found that the 3G experience has proven satisfactory, but now we wonder if 4G is just hype or really worth the extra cost. If you wish to be blinded with statistics and convoluted logic, I suggest you stop reading now and go elsewhere. My goal with this article is to share with you my personal experience in comparing 3G technology to the newer 4G technology. This is personal opinion.
Being up on the latest and greatest 4G is a modern status symbol in its own right. It is hyped as the much improved, faster-is-better, and all-around must have technology.
For the most part, 4G fulfills this hype and should be an improvement over 3G, but as always there are pluses and minuses to any technology. Here are some things you should consider:
- Your battery drains faster on 4G than on 3G.
- 4G improves your streaming speed and the quality of your video.
- 4G is not available everywhere, but then neither is 3G.
- When tethering, you will notice faster load times on your laptop or other device.
- Browsing is faster on 4G than it is on 3G.
Some of the other unknowns about 4G performance include:
- Speeds are going to vary from carrier to carrier.
- Speeds will also vary from city to city.
- Obstructions such as buildings or other structures can affect the performance of 4G.
- Your upload speeds may also improve on a 4G connection.
Note: Many of these same factors hamper 3G speeds, as well.
Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself before going to 4G to determine if the cost warrants the performance gain:
- What do I do that warrants a faster speed than 3G?
- Do I download videos or upload PowerPoint presentations for work?
- Are music or videos my life, making it necessary for me to have the fastest download time possible in order to survive?
- Do I need to visit a lot of websites that feature a lot of video or audio content?
- Do I need to be available for video conferencing in regards to my business, or do I need to be first to access information in order to survive the competition?
- Am I fortunate enough to have a bank account that is so plush that cost isn’t a concern?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then yes, 4G is for you. Again, as long as you are in an area that supports 4G, you may wish to upgrade. Another option is to buy a 4G device, such as the new Apple iPad, and wait for 4G to arrive in your area. Does this sound farfetched and a poor scheme to follow? Not necessarily. I waited for nearly two years while living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada before DSL finally arrived. However, having spent my due diligence and expending a lot of patience, DSL did finally arrive. Now when I look back at the DSL speeds that I was so anxious to get, I can’t believe how turtle-like they seem in comparison to today’s available technology.
To authenticate my right to comment, let me share that my personal experience with these technologies include using 3G on the Sprint network and 4G on T-Mobile (my current carrier). Between these two technologies and networks, I discovered one simple fact. When tethering to 4G on T-Mobile using either my laptop computer with Windows 7, my Android smartphone, my Apple iPad, or my Amazon Kindle Fire, I find that 4G rocks. In fact, what surprised me was just how fast 4G speed is compared to any of the cable companies with Wi-Fi connections that I have used in the past. It is amazing to me that I see no difference, when surfing the Internet, between using Wi-Fi or 4G. This is particularly amazing since my cable company claims I have a blazing 10 Mbps speed, which for the most part is true.
To further test my connections, I performed a very unscientific experiment and tested both by cable connection and 4G connection on my brand new laptop computer running Windows 7 with my Chrome browser. I used speedtest.net, on the same server; within two minutes of each other, the results were:
- Cable — Down was 10.66 Mbps and up was 1.00 Mbps.
- 4G — Down was 7.58 Mbps and up was 1.55 Mbps.So what does this prove? Absolutely nothing. The proof in the pudding is how my browser responds when surfing the Internet. I see no difference whether I’m using cable versus Wi-Fi or tethering to my phone using 4G. I have even connected by Blu-ray player to Netflix to stream movies. It worked without a problem.If I wasn’t limited to 5 GB for 4G speeds, this could be a real option to dump cable. But that is not possible for now and I will continue to use both 4G and cable.What has your experience been with 4G? Share your experience with us.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Hector Milla.
I recall one episode of the TV sitcom Married with Children in which Al Bundy said that, at least when he was young, he didn’t have to wear a wetsuit for protection while having sex. Unfortunately, today we need that same kind of complete protection if we have any hope of keeping our identity safe and/or our computers free of infection. However, while keeping up with protection in these areas is often hard enough for the majority of us, it seems that there are those out there who enjoy causing havoc with our time and money. These individuals have apparently become bored with just hacking into the standard Windows programs and are now directing their malicious attacks toward our Android devices. It is interesting to note, though, that the iPad and iPhone, which use iOS, are virus-free and there is no protection needed (knock on wood).
Since I am quite attached to my Android devices, my journey to find the right protection at the right price (aka free) took me to A/V Test (by the Independent IT-Security Institute). On the site, I learned that the organization had recently completed testing over 40 different, advertised Android applications that supposedly offer security protection. However, out of the applications tested with A/V Test, only seven applications actually provided what I would consider ample protection — stopping 90% or more of infections.
For my own use I have installed a different security application for each of my Android-supported devices. On my Android smartphone I have installed Lookout Security & Antivirus, whereas on my Amazon Kindle Fire I have Dr. Web Anti-virus Light installed. Why don’t I use the same application on both devices? The answer is simple. I had already installed Lookout Security & Antivirus on my smartphone when I received my Amazon Kindle Fire. If it had been available on Amazon I would have installed the same application on the Kindle Fire, but when I went to purchase the application I found that the folks at Amazon were not offering Lookout Security & Antivirus. That forced me into looking for other alternatives, and I discovered that Amazon did have another highly rated security application called Dr. Web Anti-virus Light available.
Let me explain what each of these two fine applications have to offer you:
- The simplicity of this program makes it easy for the novice to use.
- Setup is a breeze, but registration requires using a valid email address.
- This application supports the backup of your other apps.
- This application supports a feature designed to assist you in finding your phone if it is lost or stolen.
- The Pro version adds safe browsing and privacy settings to the mix.
After setting up Lookout Security & Antivirus, the application will scan your phone and SD card (if you have one) for viruses. The application will then provide you with a report if any critters are found. After the initial scan, the application monitors your phone for any changes or updates to the system. This application is a gem in that it uses the minimal amount of resources, has a minimal effect on boot times, and, best of all, it is free.
- Downloads and installs directly from Amazon.
- Easy to use.
- Scans the Fire very quickly.
- Updates are fast and immediate.
- Has a quarantine area to secure bugs before deleting them from the system.
- Light on system resources.
This is one of those applications that everyone loves. You download it, install it, and forget about it. Yes, it is that simple. What is impressive is how quickly the doc app scanned my system. If you have an Amazon Kindle Fire, this application is a must have and, again, one of its most attractive features is that it is free.
Partial chart from A/V Test document in .pdf format.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Saad Irfan.