Tag Archives: reviews

Review: Comcast Internet Essentials

A couple of months ago, I canceled my Verizon FiOS for Comcast Internet Essentials. One of the main reasons was cost. Comcast Internet Essentials is an Internet Service Plan intended for low-income households. The plan provides a 15/3MBPS internet connection for $10/month. Since I been using it for a couple of months, I figured to write a review about it. Continue reading Review: Comcast Internet Essentials

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)

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

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.

First Impression: IdeaPad A1000L-F

The IdeaPad A1000L-F manufacturered by Lenovo was received in the afternoon of 2013-11-30. As with all of my reviews, I go into detail of the role of the device. While I won’t say it was a need (as opposed to the Nexus 4 replacing the G2x), the tablet will carry a number of roles to offset the demands of the phone.

The tablet will be functioning as an e-reader (until I get a real one), an RSS reader, and podcast device. It will also serve in a role of handling music, videos, and casual games – all of which I would rather not do with the phone. The phone will still play music when I am not home considering I do not have a multi-point Bluetooth set. However, the tablet will handle many demands that I will normally use my cellular phone for now. Since the tablet is not cellular capable, it will use my cellular router to connect when it is not home.

Continue reading First Impression: IdeaPad A1000L-F

First Impressions: RetroUI

I am sure that people that read recent posts, and connects with my Twitter account will find that I hate Windows 8. However, if I downgraded to Windows 7, I will have to purchase Windows 7, and according to HP – there is no guarantee that the hardware will work properly. At first, I tried to use the standard design where I am pushed into the Tiled UI (as I call Fisher Price), but find that almost all activity is pushing me into the Desktop which is rather pointless. There are some “Apps” that works in the tiled interface, but my experience is that most of this is a waste of time.

I purchased RetroUI to get Windows 8 to behave much as one would expect if they had a Windows 7 system. While a UI may not seem like much to most people as long as it is a GUI, it is a very important feature, and something that is intuitive is vital with an Operating System, I simply could not see Windows 8 being intuitive, and found it to require more work than it should when using a non-touch screen device.

Continue reading First Impressions: RetroUI

First Impressions: Huawei/T-Mobile Prism 2

Earlier today in the same delivery as my replacement Nexus 4 which has given me problems again (T-Mobile – fix that issue please), I have also received the T-Mobile Prism 2 which is manufactured by Huawei. While this does not have standard stock Android which puts me in fear of it never receiving updates, there is a reason why I would choose this.

First, the reason why I bought this phone is unique to me, and will not likely be the same rationale as most other purchasers. However, my nephew whom is on my phone account is using this same phone, and according to Andrea (his mother), he loves the phone. So, I will consider that in my recommendation. However, the reason I bought this is as a second line that I could simply turn on and off when I don’t want to be bother by telemarketers, creditors, and just people who are too stupid to know how to use the telephone. However, with that in mind, one could use this as a primary, but basic smart phone. In this regard, I will have to pay +$10 per month on my phone bill. While I could technically spread the cost over the other people on the Family plan, that would not be ethically sound.

Continue reading First Impressions: Huawei/T-Mobile Prism 2

Nexus 4–First Impressions

Earlier today, I received the Nexus 4-16GB model, and while I am sure there are a lot of more in depth reviews of this older phone, here is my perspective on it with my first impressions.

The Good

First, it is running Android (latest version) always. In a matter of fact, once I turned the phone on, and connected to my wifi Network, it pulled an update to the phone, and asked to reboot. In other words, within two minutes, I had more updates on this new phone, than I had with the G2x in two years.

The phone is bigger than the older one. It is a 4.7” screen but it doesn’t feel like it. The screen is nice and vibrant as well. I also like the new color scheme in comparison to the dated Android 2.3 I been dealing with for 2 years. There is also an additional feature for SIP calling which I could essentially use a server to connect the phone to and make calls from the home when the reception with T-Mobile is poor which sometimes happens.

Google Now is a nice feature, although so far it has only brought up weather. Later this week, I will have to take the bus, so I will if I can get more capabilities done. The phone also has a better audio set in my opinion to the G2x, or even my 3rd gen iPod Touch when headphones are plugged into it.

And last, but not least – it is unlocked. Even when buying from T-Mobile, the phone is unlocked. By having the phone natively unlocked means that I don’t have to beg permission, or wait a couple of weeks for them to finally unlocked the phone.

Being a Nexus Phone, there is no S**tware. My G2x had EA Games, T-Mobile Music Hub, T-Mobile My Account, and My Device, NFS Shift, Nova, Smartshare, Telenav GPS Navigator, T-Mobile TV, and T-Mobile Video Chat – none of these I ever used. About the only software that I used that T-Mobile shoved down the throat is Wifi-Calling. Wifi Calling is not available on the Nexus, and some T-Mobile customers complained. Boo Hoo, and cry a river. Wifi Calling is to help compensate poor coverage areas, and requires Wifi. Here’s a better solution, Use Google Voice, and get a SIP provider like TelTub. Android supports integrated SIP support, and set it so calls over wifi uses the SIP account. You will probably save some minutes on your plan. To me, the lost of Wifi Calling is a small price to pay to not be stuck on false promises by T-Mobile to update their devices.

The Bad

This phone is not perfect, and not even perfect for me. Simply put, I knew that going in as for the disadvantages of the phone. None the less, I will gripe about them now.

First, I am paying more than full price for the phone. This was not my plan, however a representative offered to deduct $50 from my next bill, and while this does not make up for it, this was the best deal I was likely to get between then and when I could afford to buy the phone 4 months down the road. The G2x was giving me more problems, and there was times where if I asked it to run a couple of programs in the background, I will be stuck having to reboot the phone 3 or 4 times a day. So, if I purchased the phone from Google Play, I would have paid $400 including taxes, and S&H. I would have got an insurance plan from an outside source, and paid about the same as I did with T-Mobile without insurance. However, in my opinion, the most insulting prospect is my contract has been extended to February 2015. Thankfully, the other line is still due to end in April 2014. The T-Mobile Tax, and Contract will not apply if one buys directly from Google.

Second, everything is integrated. The battery is integrated, and the storage has no SD card slot. At just 16GB, this is the same capacity as the smallest capacity iPhone 5. Simply put, I would have expected better from the Google Flagship phone. I knew this going in, but this is even more of a shame as it is also the best sound media player I have.

The backing is too fancy for my taste. It doesn’t scream look at me, but quietly nudges people to look at it. I know this is a trivial point, but I would have much rather had a plain back side. The back also has a glass feel to it, which will concern me if it drops.

The micro-USB port feels a little snug when plugging in a standard micro-USB cord. This isn’t a concern, but I actually a couple of times to make sure the port wasn’t upside down. The power button is located at the high left side rather than on the top of the phone. This is a big change for me as the phone from the last couple of years was on the top and left of the phone. Even many other phones I seen has their buttons on the top. This will take some getting used to.

Google Wallet is disabled. As with the price gouging, this is not an action of Google, but a decision of T-Mobile. They however will support Isis, but it is not available yet. And while they could not prevent Wallet from being included into the Nexus Phone, they seem to have made this would have been valuable feature invalid. My option would have to be to move to the much more expensive AT&T, and pay the ETF even though I paid full price for the phone.

The Unknown

There are a few things I hadn’t got to use yet. The first is NFC. I will like to get NFC tags to make certain changes. For example, I will set a tag by the door to my apartment to toggle Wifi, and GPS (Bluetooth when I get a device). When I leave, it will turn Wifi Off, and GPS on. When I come home, it will switch those. NFC can do a bit more too, but this is a sample.

Also, I hadn’t got a chance to use the Qi charging. This will definitely be something I will want though. I will like to simply set my phone on the pad, and have it charge. I only wished there was more options of devices to support it.

I also hadn’t got to use the cameras just yet. I am not a big camera person, so this isn’t a big deal to me.

Verdict and What’s Next

First, if you are using a GSM carrier, and you are willing to accept the limitations, then the Nexus 4 based on first impressions is a great phone. If you are a T-Mobile customer, you will definitely want to buy from the Google Play Store. The only reason I didn’t is I had to put $135 down, and will be doing $20 per month for the next 20 months with 0% APR. I also got a $50 credit, and this would have been a better option without the contract extension.  I hadn’t got to deal with the battery life yet, but consider myself a moderate user.

As for the G2x, it will be demoted to a SIP phone. Unknown callers will ring this phone leaving me with peace on the cellular phone. The G2x will use a GTalk client which will be sufficient for my needs. I will likely do a reset on the phone, and wipe it clean of everything on the phone, although will still be stuck with the S**tware.

However, no matter what, I am confident that I will have better reliability with the Nexus 4 for the next 2 years than I had with the G2x for the past 2 years. And since updates are taken out of both LG (the manufacturer of the Nexus 4), and T-Mobile, I will have some confidence that my investment will be better off.