Category Archives: Reviews

First Impression: Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones

The Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones is a set of over the ear muff style headphones that is completely using Bluetooth. As with any set of headphones, I will require the ability to handle phone calls. I had purchased the headphones from Walmart (item number: 551674858). There was no mention on the Bluetooth version that is supported, nor the profiles – however as cheap as it is, I doubt it uses Bluetooth 4.0 which offers low energy. The headphones are designed as expected for the most part. It is basic, but effective. The left side is blank with no buttons nor controls, while the right side hosts the USB charging port, play/pause button which also functions as the call answer/disconnect button and the power when held for about 5 seconds. The volume controls is the top and bottom buttons while the previous/next is the positional left/right. All of the controls are in a circle formation with a small round button for the play/pause. Obviously, the color selected was black but the interior of the muff is a baby color violet. Thankfully – no one will see that.

I bought these headphones because the ones I have been using for a year wasn’t working properly with my ears. After a year of fighting to keep them in only so they can pop out when I prefer them to not too, I knew I needed a new set. The Jabra Halo 2 was an utter failure even though I wanted the multi-point features they had. I could have bought a set of headphones that would have looped with my earlobes, but I literally was spending a few dollars more to have the Bluetooth set. The old wired headphones will remain in my backpack to function as a backup if the Bluetooth ones should have their battery charge expire. Continue reading First Impression: Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones

Ello (BETA)

Ello is a social networking service that prides itself on being different from everyone else by having a strong stance on Privacy. With Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter – and other social networks, you aren’t the consumer but the product. The advertisers are the consumers. In the case of Google, this is expected – but many people will find it hard to stomach as being rented out as a product which is pretty much what is happening. While Ello doesn’t quote it this way, this is the premise and the sad truth is they are correct.

Ello claims to be different. They as of 2014-10-01 do not have ads on their site (that I noticed yet), nor do they claim to sell your data to companies. The second claim while it can’t be proven nor disproven is very likely the case. In Ello’s settings, I have a UID which in this case is FSP. I have my email address, password – all of which are required. Optional entries include my name, a bio, and web site(s) links. All of the optional items has little value for marketing. However, as of now, Ello has a long way to go to be a prominent place in the Internet. Continue reading Ello (BETA)

Lyft: Better than the Taxi

I had used Lyft a few times with a couple of failures. I will go into that later. I used the service when either bus or walking was going to be too much on me physically. Because of my income, I can’t rely on lyft even for a semi-regular service. I had only used Lyft to return home from when I went to my brother’s for one reason or another. The service is a service with the use of an App to request service, rate, and provide other information. There was a time where the app wasn’t working properly on my Nexus 5, but with a recent update, this has been solved (so it seems).

Continue reading Lyft: Better than the Taxi

Nexus 5–16GB Model

Earlier today, I upgraded my phone from the Google Nexus 4-16GB to the Nexus 5-16GB. While the Nexus 4 still worked well enough – there are a couple of reasons why I chose to upgrade, and the benefits I have. First, the Nexus 5 is more capable phone which will run more reliably, and in a slimmer package. In addition, the Nexus 5 support LTE bands of service which will hopefully allow for future VoLTE (Voice over LTE). The capacity is the same, so there is no benefit there. The phone cost $30 (sales tax), and will have a monthly charge of $16.50 for 24 months.

As with most Android devices, updating the phone was relatively simple, although not everything as for settings transfers over. The button placement is similar so there should be no learning curve from my Nexus 4. As for the Nexus 4, it will eventually be replacing the Siemens Home Phone as the primary house phone. This will first require the phone to become unlocked, and then using the TruPhone SIM Service. The Nexus 5 has a 4.95” 445ppi display supporting HD resolution and a 16:9 Aspect Ratio. There is a 1.3MP front camera, and an 8MP rear camera with an LED flash. There is a 2300mAh battery, Qi Charging, Bluetooth 4.0 support, Wifi-AC, NFC, GSM-2G/3G and LTE Support. Since this is an North America phone, the LTE bands are 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41. In addition, CDMA 0/1/10 are supported. The phone has a Snap Dragon 800 CPU (2.26Ghz) with an Adreno 330 GPU. There is 2GB of memory, and with my device – 16GB of storage, but there is a 32GB option. A micro-USB (slimport) is at the bottom, and there is noise cancelling microphones. As one might expect, I have the black model.

Continue reading Nexus 5–16GB Model

First Impression – Amazon Kindle

Yesterday afternoon, I had received my Amazon Kindle e-ink based reader. While I will admit I hadn’t used it as much as I would want to, this is due to my resources rather than the product. I had received the option to take the device with a down payment, and 5 more monthly payments of $18/payment. First, I bought the device for one reason which is fine considering the limited role it has. I bought it to be an e-book reader. While I could read books on my PC, phone, or Nexus 7 tablet, the desire to have as close to a paper interface as possible was important.

Essentially, this is intended to be a book reader device rather than anything further. In addition, this is intended to have a much longer battery life, and a much more pleasant viewing where e-ink does not have nearly the same kind of strain as LCD screens. I had purchased the basic model without any ads on the screen. This will cost about $100 after the purchase price, and taxes. The tablet has a screen saver where a random b&w image on the screen. The device has a page back, and a page forward on each side. There is a back button, a keyboard button, a 5 way cursor, a menu button, and home button. The bottom has a power button, and micro-USB port. There is nothing on top, nor is there any 3.5mm jack. In addition, there is 1.25GB of usable storage which is integrated. This will provide for about 1200 books. There is no expansion storage.

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Nexus 7-32GB with LTE (2013 Edition)

About a month ago, I purchased the Nexus 7-32GB from T-Mobile. Obviously, this is the LTE version, and it is the 2013 Edition which means it is the thinner one with a camera in the front and the rear. I bought this tablet for a couple of reasons. First, I think I should have something relatively nice once every couple of years without a “need” or condition. My last major purchase was my notebook which replace the one that died, and the one before that was my Nexus 4 which required a 2 year contract. Now with the tablet came a down payment which was pretty much the $10 SIM card, and sales taxes on the price defined by T-Mobile. With expedited Shipping, I paid $50 and will be paying $16/month for 24 months. In addition, there is a $10/month service charge for 200MB, but since I am a T-Mobile customer, there is a $10 credit that will be applied to the bill.

The tablet has a Snap Dragon S4 Pro running at a 1.5Ghz Quad Core CPU. This is a little slower, but more cores than my notebook that I am typing this posting on. It has an Adreno 320 GPU running at 400Mhz which is sufficient for tablet games. There is 2GB of memory, and 32GB of storage with no micro-SD card slot. There is a 3950mAh battery which does about 8-9 hours of active use, and can go a day with casual use. The micro-USB2 port supports for both charging, HID (Human Interface Devices), and Slim Port for media. This port is located on the bottom with the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. Both power, and volume is located on the right hand side along with the Micro-SIM tray. The screen has full HD with 323ppi, a 1.2MP front camera and 5MP rear camera. There is no LED flash however. It supports Dual Band Wifi-N, Quad Band GSM-2, 850/900/1900/2100 HSPA+ as well as AWS 1700/2100 (used by T-Mobile) for GSM 3G. It supports 700/850/1700/1800/1900/2100 MHz LTE, and Bluetooth 4.0LE. Obviously, it also has GPS, and NFC.

Continue reading Nexus 7-32GB with LTE (2013 Edition)

First Impression: Nexus 7–LTE Version

About 20 minutes ago, UPS came with a few items I had managed to get. The one in relation to this blog posting is the Nexus 7 with LTE. The reason of why I acquired this tablet was to have something that will supplement the demands on my phone, and provide a better experience with a larger display. The tablet has LTE, therefore, in the event that I should need LTE data, I have it available. And since this is a Nexus device, it will receive a reliable update path. This in turn will be my primary tablet – leaving the Hisense at home exclusively.

The Nexus 7 is $385 from T-Mobile, and will cost about $16/month for 24 months. For those that can afford it may want to just go to Google Play, and purchase directly for $350. Personally, if I had the $350+tax, I would have purchased that way. With it being T-Mobile, I had to pay the SIM kit ($10), and taxes (7%) upfront. I chose expedited shipping which is the only benefit over Google (their shipping of products takes longer). It is a 7” tablet with a 1920×1080 resolution for a total of 323ppi. It has a Corning Glass to help fight against scratches, a 1.2MP front + 5MP rear camera – however, there is no LED flash. It has dual band Wifi-abgn, but there is no Wifi-AC. It also supports all GSM-2G bands, as well as all GSM-3G bands. For LTE, it supports 700/850/1700/1800/1900/2100 Mhz bands. As with all Nexus devices, these are unlocked so I could theoretically take it to another carrier, and not have to beg T-Mobile to allow me to have the device I paid for. There is also Bluetooth 4.0 support and NFC.

The CPU is a quad core 1.5Ghz Qualcomm S4 Pro CPU. It has 2GB of memory, and 32GB of storage. There is no other option with the cellular edition device in storage. In addition as with all Nexus devices, there is no expandable storage. An Audrino 320 running at 400Mhz is the graphics GPU. Audio includes stereo speakers, and a 3.5mm jack. There is a power and volume on the right side, as well as a Slim Port enabled USB charging port on the bottom. The micro-SIM tray is located towards the bottom on the right hand side. A SIM ejection tool comes with the cellular edition of the Nexus 7.

Continue reading First Impression: Nexus 7–LTE Version

Review: Hisense Sero 7

This is a review after my first impressions. I had this tablet for over a week now, and don’t think my opinion of it will change. This seems to be a bit to the point as I try to give at least a couple of weeks for a review after I received the item. Again, the role of the Sero 7 was to replace the iPod Touch that went dead after a few years of owning it. While the two products are drastically different, I will also be doing some comparison with the two.

The Sero 7 has 1GB of memory, but functions more like a device with only 512MB of memory. The tablet has stuttered on a number of occasions with just doing basic things. Transitions with the menu is delayed, and even play a simple casual game such as Fruit Ninja has stuttered. I am blaming this on the UI overlay that Hisense has put on the tablet. The tablet has a 1.2Ghz CPU which is a 3 – 4 year old CPU. My G2x had a 1Ghz CPU, and that has been replaced after two years of owning it almost a year ago. The manufacturer claims 4GB of storage, but at best, only about 1GB of storage is available even after removing all of the non-OS apps. The screen resolution is 1024×600. This is a ppi of 170 and that is apparent. It runs Android 4.1 and was upgraded to 4.1.1 which I am guessing was to address any problems with drivers the manufacturer may have had. All of the ports are at the top which includes USB2 (charging and synching), HDMI, 3.5mm headphone, and a micro-SD card slot. The power and volume is located on the left side. There is a VGA quality front camera, but in my experience – was worthless. There is a 3400mAh battery, and support for Wifi-bgn. There is NO Bluetooth however.

Continue reading Review: Hisense Sero 7

First Impressions: Hisense Sero 7 LT

My iPod Touch went dead (technically life support). It was failing to charge properly. It would stop for no reason, and act in an erratic behavior. Considering I had this player since 2009, I am satisfied with the work I got into it. However, 5 years ago was some better days. Simply put, there was no desire to keep a player where I will be forced to use iTunes which have been becoming more of a Pain in the Ass with every update. So with my iPod Touch about to no longer function, I needed a new media player. I wanted a few things with my new player such as:

  1. Android OS (iOS is too expensive, and iTunes has a lack of confidence)
  2. A sufficient enough screen to function as a bedside clock
  3. Sufficient space to hold a large collection of music
  4. A good dim setting on the screen
  5. Wifi-N

The Hisense is not a great player, but it is good enough. Considering I needed something on a budget as if I had $250 or more, I would have acquired a Nexus. I got the HiSense about 12PM today, and therefore had it for about 8 hours. I of course charged it which the plug gave me a hard time in plugging in. The Sero 7 has a dual core 1.6Ghz CPU, 1GB of memory, and 2GB of storage (although much is used by the OS, and software). It has a front side camera which I am not so interested in – but no rear camera. It connects with Wifi-N, and has no cellular connectivity. It has microUSB, HDMI, 3.5mm Audio, and a micro-SDHC (32GB capacity). All of these ports and jacks are on the top. The power and volume is towards the top left, and problematically close. The tablet is exclusively available at Walmart, and their page noted that it had Android 4.1, and Android 3.0. Obviously, one was a typo, and thankfully for Walmart, the tablet has 4.1 and would have been returned if it was lower. The tablet has most of the Google Applications, but for some reason is not capable of installing Google Keep. This means it will never serve as my primary tablet (and therefore still need such).

The Good

It was cheap. I bought it for about $90 with taxes, and S&H. While I would have wanted something better, my budget constraints will force otherwise. The screen resolution isn’t great, but good enough. Even after removing almost all of the software I would never use, I only had about 600MB of storage for applications. And Vudu can not be uninstalled. The screen is responsive, and the applications load well enough considering. The tablet also has a good enough shape for it as well.

The Bad

The back has been slippery. It went out of my hands twice today, and thankfully the headphones has lessen the impact. The front camera is horrible, and unusable for anything other than the most basic of video chatting in extremely good lighting conditions. The placement of the buttons, and connections are odd to say the least, and will take some getting used to. And while the CPU, and memory is sufficient, you have 2GB of storage. If you want to do anything beyond what they gave you, expect to get a micro-SDHC card. I personally spent $25 at Amazon for a 32GB card which will hold all of my media. Yes, you can use Pandora, and Play Music, but if you leave your home network, you better have a cellular router.

The tablet also has decided to disconnect itself when it doesn’t think it needs to be connected to the Wifi Network. If you want this device to provide a second screen for email, Twitter services, and other social networks, you may be giving this tablet a few choice words. It also gave me some problems with my WiMax router. And while I know WiMax isn’t the best choice, this tablet still gave problems with connections. It didn’t give any problems with home router

The keyboard is terrible. I am actually considering looking into another keyboard. Since I am happy with the Google Keyboard on my Nexus 4, I never thought of a suitable replacement. Which brings me to another issue. This tablet does not have stock Android on it. It has a somewhat modified UI, and while it is not the kind that screams in your face such as LG’s or Samsung’s – the placement of certain things is not where they should be with the stock version.

The tablet went through 3-4 updates, and while I never complain about updates, these updates didn’t update the OS (still at 4.1.1). This leads me to believe there were some serious bugs with the drivers, or the UI changes. In other words, Hisense didn’t take time to make sure their tablet worked properly. With so many updates in the first day, you would expect an OS update. And as I mentioned before, there are some software issues – even with Google apps. While Google Keep is a minor program, there could be other programs that won’t work. I guess it shouldn’t be a big issue since you only have about 600MB of storage.

There is no Bluetooth. With Bluetooth built into most CPUs, it would seem as if every device should have Bluetooth. If you want a wireless listening experience, you are SOL. Also, there doesn’t seem to be an Auto-Brightness feature which means no ambient light sensor. The accelerometer also seems to be a little too sensitive switching from vertical to horizontal on the screen at a whim.

The Ugly

Yes, I know this is a sub-$100 tablet, and you get what you pay for, but if Walmart is doing as Amazon where they hope to make their money on after market purchases (such as Vudu content), you would think that this tablet will have a value of $125. For that, I would have expected more storage and maybe someway to have a kickstand or other means of propping up the tablet. If they are shoving Vudu down my throat, you would figure they will put more thought in how a person will use the tablet. And as with many devices these days – no removable battery. At least I can store 32GB of content (with a Micro-SD card)

Final Thoughts

If you are like me, and very tight on money, this might be a Good Enough tablet. However, there is nothing great about this tablet. Most good things about this tablet is just Good Enough. However, it does seem as if you can eliminate all non-OS apps with the exception of Vudu. Again, app management is just good enough. Based on first day experience, the tablet will last most of the day. However, a better solution if you can spend an extra $50 might be the HP Slate 7. At least, there is a chance in hell to get an update. I have no confidence of any OS updates with the Hisense. If you are like me, and want a much better tablet, try to save the $250 for an Nexus 7. While this tablet (with the SD card) will have more storage, you will likely get a great experience.

However, this tablet will be a primary tablet until I can afford for a Nexus 7. Once that happens, it will be demoted to home media device. As a home media player with clock functionality, Good Enough is probably Good Enough.

Final Review: IdeaPad A1000L-F

A few days ago, I received the Lenovo IdeaPad A1000L-F on sale as I would have benefited from a tablet to offset the demands on my phone, and PC. While the concept and thought was good, the product was not. This is my final review of the tablet.

The tablet was purchased from Amazon, and will be hopefully returned to them by this time next week. I opted to have UPS pick up the tablet which they can take 2-5 business days. This could mean anytime between 2013-12-04, and the 9th.

The Good

I still liked the headphone jack was on top, and liked the weight. I would have thought that the name of the brand would have meant something, but in this case, it didn’t.

The Bad

What was there to like about it? With exception of a couple of things, this tablet has been a bane in my existence. When plugging in a headphone, the tablet nags you about the volume. The volume rocker by the way is finicky which would respond for no reason, and other times, it will respond after a minute.

Whatever the CPU was in the tablet, it wasn’t of any value. It stuttered just through scrolling, and as for the wallpaper – it was a plain black wallpaper which should have meant less demands on processing.

Video quality was sub-par even for it being a $100 tablet (the MSRP rather than sale price). The screen also acted as if it was a resistive touch screen which made using a stylus for capacitive screens a problem to use at best. The stylus would have been important in very cold temperatures.

The tablet also rebooted a couple of more times for now reason. And one time – the power button was completely unresponsive. Again, I would have expected much better from Lenovo.

The Ugly

There is still the fact of a lack of rear camera and obviously, an LED flash. One app I wanted to install on the tablet wasn’t possible, while another app I had (WhatsApp) wasn’t compatible neither. And as noted, no Bluetooth.

Final Verdict

This device had an RMA on it within 2 days of owning it. Needless to say, I will not be keeping it, nor would I recommend this to anyone. I will still want a tablet, but will likely consider the Nexus 7 or Galaxy Note 8 as for the next tablet. The Nexus 7-32 with LTE is offered on a payment plan with T-Mobile. I will want to reduce my current EIP payments before taking on another one. However, this tablet is one that I don’t think anyone should buy.