Category Archives: Reviews

JLab 7 Pro–Final Review

The JLab 7 Pro in a word should be thrown in jail for fraud. It is a 7” tablet, but far from anything related to professional. First, let’s address why I made this mistake. I wanted to get a tablet for my 6 year nephew. Tiger Direct offered this tablet with a buy one get one free sale. This means the $70 tablet will be a 2 tablet purchase for that same price. Now, for a tablet that is 7”, I never expected much, but this is a serious understatement. Since my nephew is 6 years old, he is probably OK with it, but there is so much left to be desired.

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First Impression – Blu Advance 4.0

This will be a first impression review of the Blu Advance 4.0. I had this phone for a week, although wasn’t able to make full use of the features until about 24 hours ago. There are a couple of reasons why I purchased this phone. The first is to replace the role of my DECT phone which is a terrible product (as with most VTECH phones) for something that will function better in the modern world. The second reason is to see if I will be able to suffice off of a free phone plan when my obligations are completed.

The Blu Advance 4.0 (Model Number A270a) is a Dual SIM GSM-3G phone. It has a 4″ screen, capacitive touch buttons, and a physical power and volume keys. There is also a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a replaceable battery which hides the dual SIM trays, and micro-SD card slot. The Advance can be acquired for less than $100 on Amazon (as of 2015-04-21), and comes in black or white. The phone supports Wifi-N, and Bluetooth. It runs Android 4.2 OS.

The Good

This phone functions well enough as a budget phone. Spending less than $100 on an Android phone is typically a very bad mistake, and while I would never be able to use this a primary phone (due to my requirements), for those on a tight budget – they might find this suitable. The phone comes with 1.27GB of storage space out of the box, but if you need or want a basic phone, expect another 500MB of apps to be loaded. This is good considering that I had real concern that there would have been 250 or 500MB of storage. It’s not the 16-128GB found on newer higher end phones, but the micro-SD card makes up for that somewhat.

The phone is dual SIM. This means I can have 2 SIM cards from the same or different providers. This is unusual in the US, as there are still times when one is required to sign a 2 year contract (which you should run from like the plague). In my instance, I am using one SIM for data, and another for voice. You just have to be careful to install the data SIM into SIM 1. SIM 2 only supports GSM-2G.

And of course, you will find it hard to beat the price. I last seen this phone for $75, and I bought it on sale for $50. Even the Motorola Moto E doesn’t compete on those grounds, although the Moto E has advantages over this phone, it is worth looking at if nothing else.

The Dual SIM management tool was simple enough. I was able to select SIM 2 as default for voice calls, and allowed SIM 1 to handle data by simply selecting the appropriate card. There was a couple of hiccups in navigating when it came to the phone, and services – but this more of an Android problem.

The Bad

There are a number of things that I find at fault with this phone. Yes, I understand that the phone is less than $100, and I am taking that into consideration. There are still some things that needs to be addressed.

First, the OS. Android 4.2 is just not an inconvenience of not having newer features in Android, but a security flaw. Just as people should update the OS on their PC, so should the phone OS be updated. I have concerns that this will never happen and that is a shame. And considering this is a brand new phone – it should have an updated OS. Now some will say that the phone is a lower spec phone. I call bulls**t on that as Android’s newer versions are to be easier on lower end phones.

Next is marketing. The phone claims 3D gaming, and I doubt that with a Dual Core 1.3Ghz CPU on 512MB of memory, nad only 1.3GB of storage. The marketing on the box also screams 4G, and again – Bulls**t. Under the ITU Specs, 4G cellular is LTE and WiMax with Wimax seeing the last days, so let’s just say LTE. HSPA is 3G. Plain and simple, and just because the top of the line HSPA is equivalent to LTE in the infancy doesn’t make it 4G.

And speaking of 3G, it would have been a better value if Blu didn’t skimp on supporting the other two 3G bands. My Nexus 4 from 3 years ago with no LTE at the time supported all of the GSM 3G bands, and I can’t see why a new budget phone can’t do the same. Bands supported are 850/1700/1900 bands. If they are trying to cater to the emerging market, or budget friendly choices, they have made a failing here.

The Ugly

For what ever reason, companies known to be budget likes to put the micro-USB port on the top of the device. Not only is this unusual, but it can be a problem with handling the device while charging. Next, the micro-SD card cage was a pain to open. The arrows suggested on direction which one will likely imply to open where it is to close. The capacitive touch buttons would have been nice to be rid of. A 4.3″ screen with onscreen buttons would have been better.

Initial Impression

This phone is good enough. I wouldn’t expect it to be anything really good, or an impression, but even as a Single SIM service, it could serve well enough. If you are looking for a “first” smart phone, back up, or in need of a low cost dual SIM phone, this is a good enough choice.

My main gripe is the OS. This is something that Blu can solve with all of this model phone, they just choose not too. If you are worried of a reliable update path, you may have to consider spending twice as much for a Motorola Moto series phones which have a reputation of a reliable update path. However, you may find it hard to get a dual SIM phone, and only model I know is the Moto-G.

First Impression: Pebble Watch

On the 23rd of November, 2014 – I have received the Pebble Watch (black housing). This watch was acquired after the update on my Nexus 5 to Android 5.0 which would prove valuable, and even more so with the Google Play Services Update (whenever that maybe to come).

There are a few reasons of acquiring the watch. First, and foremost is as a time piece. This watch is more accurate than the basic watch as the watch connects with your Bluetooth enabled smart phone, and acquires the time from that phone. As long as the phone has the accurate time, then the watch does as well. Next, I wanted a minor secondary screen so I am not required to pull out the phone to see if the notification was important. This not only includes SMS/MMS, and email, but also incoming calls. And third – with support having important information show on the watch – again, so I do not have to pull the phone out all of the time. Continue reading First Impression: Pebble Watch

Review: Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones

About a month ago, I received the Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones which was purchased from Walmart. I purchased the headphones as I would prefer to have no wires with my headphones while listening to music. Any set of headphones I would buy needs to have a microphone as the headphones would be used with my cellular phone.

So, what would I recommend after a month with the headphones? Well the first 3 weeks – the headphones were sufficient. They were cheap, so I never expected much, but during the third week, the battery seemed to start to die after just a couple of hours of music playing. The volume was always kept at a normal rate, and I rarely receive phone calls, so this wasn’t the culprit. A few days before writing this post, the power button fell in the headphones – now making them unusable. I would be contacting Walmart in a day or two to hopefully get the headphones replaced, but this is not a good sign. Continue reading Review: Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones

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).

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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.

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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.

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