TechShift A Shifted View On The Latest Techology News and Gadget Reviews Wed, 01 Jan 2014 18:21:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Are Point and Shoot Cameras Coming To An End? Sat, 14 Dec 2013 08:24:08 +0000 A decade ago, a point and shoot digital camera would have been the perfect gift to someone that’s into gadgets and technology. Unfortunately, the era of point and shoot cameras is coming to an end. Today, a smartphone replaces your average point and shoot and you don’t have to carry an extra device. Progress has spoken but is there a still a place for the old point and shoot?

The Good Old Days

I remember in 2004 when I used to own a FujiFilm point and shoot. It was great. I loved taking it to the park, snapping pictures of my friends and uploading them to Photobucket. That camera was lost and I upgraded to a newer model the next year. I recently logged into my old account and browsed through my old pictures and the amount of nostalgia it brought up was bit overwhelming. Good times indeed. Flash forward today, I noticed I don’t have any point and shoots. I do have a camera on my desk but it’s an interchangeable lens system. While I can set it up to be as compact as my point and shoot, it doesn’t have the same “spirit”. 10 years ago, when I walked out the door, I carried my wallet, keys, and camera. Today, it’s my wallet, keys, and phone. When cell phones started having cameras built-in, it was clear that the era of the point and shoot would come to an end. As image quality got better, especially with smartphones, it was hard to justify pocket real estate for a point and shoot.


Image used under Creative Commons from @Johannes Martin/a>

Image used under Creative Commons from Johannes Martin

Weird To Carry a Point And Shoot?

In the past, it was relatively normal to carry a point and shoot. Today, it’s considered a bit weird. Why would people carry a point and shoot when the average smart phone can do the job just as good and share the images better? With the point and shoot, you would have to take the pictures, upload it to your computer, upload it to an image storing service or attach to an email, then share it from there. With a smartphone, you can share it directly to Twitter, Instagram, email or any other medium in a few taps. There was  a time where the image quality of point and shoots were considerably better than cell phone cameras but that is all but eliminated today. The mega-pixel marketing war has come to and end as conscious consumers realize that having massive print sizes were useless when sharing images online, not to mention a pain to upload 10MB files.


A Rugged Future?

Olympus ToughAs technology evolves and point and shoots gets replaced by smartphones, what s their future? Is there still a market for them and where? The most obvious trend for point and shoots is their aim at the rugged market. Taking a cue from the popular GoPro video cameras, more point and shoots are being offered as being water-resistant/proof and shock resistant. This appeals to the people that don’t like to worry about dropping their cameras or getting it wet at the beach. I’d much rather bring along a waterproof rugged camera while fishing that to risk dropping my $500 smartphone in saltwater.


A few phones like the Samsung Galaxy Active and even some cases like Lifeproof are designed to protect your phones from the elements. While excellent as options, I don’t think the trust is there yet among consumers. I’d still rather drop my rugged point and shoot over my rugged cased smartphone. Even still, rugged smartphones will likely emerge and overtake that market. What will happen to point and shoots then? The portability, price, and convenience of point and shoots allowed them to flourish when the only other option was lugging around a huge DSLR. Smartphones do everything a point and shoot can, but better.

Galaxy S4 Active

As smaller mirrorless systems get more popular, more manufacturers are making very expensive “bridge” point and shoots that covers the gap between a standard point and shoot and the full-size DSLR. These bridge cameras takes very impressive photos for their size but the majority of consumers don’t see the improved photo quality as enough to justify its price hike. As a result, bridge cameras remain a niche product all while point and shoots fall further into obscurity. This paints a bleak picture of their future. Do you still use a point and shoot? The next point and shoot I’d own would have to be a free one. My money is going towards mirrorless systems.

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Is Apples Thunderbolt Display Still Worth It? Thu, 21 Nov 2013 16:53:47 +0000 When it comes to the Mac computing, it has almost become a fashion statement to stay linear with your devices. You own a Macbook? You’re likely to own an iPhone. But is Apple’s Thunderbolt display any different? В Coming at a thousand dollars, people question whether or not this display is worth it or if they should go with another. Especially considering the Thunderbolt display is vastly similar to their predecessor the Apple Cinema Display. I have used the Thunderbolt display for about a week and I have a ton of positive thoughts, as well as some negative ones. Let’s get to it!



The monitor was released in 2011, so the specs are a bit outdated. It is a 27″ 2560×1440 IPS display with 178 degree viewing angle. It has three usb 2.0. (Yes, 2.0, not 3.) An ethernet port as well as a firewire 800 port. And of course it has a Thunderbolt input. ONLY ONE! (Aside from the thunderbolt plug that is attached to the monitor to which you plug your Mac into.) For a THUNDERBOLT monitor, В I hoped for more than one. В But ideally with thunderbolt you should always have your monitor at the end of your daisy chain. (Daisy chain = linking Thunderbolt ready devices together one after another) It also has built in speakers, 720p FaceTime camera with a built in mic, and a magsafe(with magsafe 2 adaptor) to connect and charge your Macbook.



When it comes to the Apple display, I believe that there is a misconception on “price.” Of course when you look at the price tag alone, a thousand dollars seems unorthodox. But its relevant price tag is actually fair when you compare to monitors in the same class range. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a monitor just as good, or even better for your bucks. Take the Thunderbolt display as a whole, a 27″ 2560×1440 IPS display В that can used as a docking station for your Macbook. We can argue that Apple hasn’t pushed 4k monitors yet, but that technology is still for early adopters and sets you back thousand(S) of dollars. В P1000766

If you look at monitors in the same class, such as the Dell u2711, a key competitor to the Thunderbolt display as far as the display size and resolution goes, you can see that it was originally priced similarly to the Thunderbolt display. You can now find that monitor substantially cheaper, which is something I wished Apple did, but they never discount their products until its successor is released.

I have owned the Eizo ev2432w and upon first usage, I thought that monitor was beautiful. Colors were accurate, the screen was bright and it was a high resolution monitor, when compared to my last cheap-o monitor. However, when I got the Thunderbolt displayed, I was actually stunned by how vivid everything looked. This results from the glossy display. I was concerned about it being glossy because my previous glossy displays were terrible with reflection and glare, but surprisingly, and honestly, even when I have a lamp on my desk and my room like on, I do not see any glare. (Unless of course I am aiming the lamp directly at it as if it was under hostage.) Back to its value: I found the Eizo display on Amazon used for 300 bucks, and after I bought the Thunderbolt display, I wished I just got it first. Don’t get my wrong, the Eizo was great, and I know to some, they might prefer it over the Thunderbolt display, but to me, I thought it was just the overall better monitor and at a thousand bucks I still consider it a good buy. (Minding the fact that I spent 300 dollars on a monitor, valued at 500, and still ended up replacing it.)

In comparison to the Apple Cinema Display?

Aside from the Apple store, you can find the Cinema Display at a discounted price. (Nothing substantial as Mac products tend to keep value) But with that in mind, what’s different about the Thunderbolt display? Well, to be honest, there isn’t much different. Which takes nothing away from Thunderbolt display because the Cinema display was considered one of the better monitors in its class. But the difference is that this monitor comes with THUNDERBOLT. And it will only work with computers that have a Thunderbolt input. I.E. The Mac line. It is not backwards compatible so you can’t use it on Mac products that only have the display port. (For those wondering, you can use the cinema display with your current thunderbolt equipped Macs.)


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  • Looks amazing. I’ll admit, a huge selling point to me was that the monitor just looks nice on its own. You can’t deny that this monitor plugged in with a Macbook just doesn’t sit nicely in you brain.
  • The obvious pro would be the screen size. A large 27″ 2560×1440 is a dream to work on.
  • The colors are vibrant.
  • FANTASTIC build quality. Like most Apple products, the Thunderbolt display has great build quality and feels very sturdy. The hinge to angle the monitor never feels lose. Apple has design and built quality down to a science.
  • Thunderbolt: IT IS FAST! Apple states that it pushes speeds up to 5Gb/s which is twice as fast as USB 3.0. I personally do not care for specs. I care for actual performance, and from what I have seen is amazing. If you a patient person then sending 50gbs to your USB 2.0/3.0 HDD is fine, but when I’m editing on the rush and I want to spend and move files to the HDD, I want speed. It just makes me more productive. Thunderbolt also gives you the option to daisy chain your devices. Meaning you can essentially connect your Thunderbolt HDD to your macbook, В a second Thunderbolt drive to your first, and then your Thunderbolt Monitor to your second drive. (More can be added) This eliminates desk clutter.
  • Works as a docking hub for your Macbook: It can charge your Macbook and add the ports listed above.
  • Built in speakers. The speakers on the Thunderbolt display works just like previous Apple cinema display and iMac’s. It bounces its sounds to the desk and then to you. Which surprisingly sounds fantastic. And it is a huge pro because, while you may or may not find the audio on par to what you want it to be, I appreciate that Apple at least included it. I find it sufficient and it really does puts less clutter on my desk.В P1000769



  • Pricey. I know I mentioned that this monitor is a good value for its class, but for your average consumer, a thousand dollars is still a heft price tag.
  • Thick, while not mind boggling — oh no my monitor is going to destroy my table thick– it is relatively thick. For Apple, I wished that they finally updated this monitor so that it was as thin as current iMacs. В Nothing crucial, but if i’m going to pay a grand for a monitor…. you В get where I’m going.
  • USB 2.0. Again, this comes with it being an outdated monitor. It was released two years ago while USB 2.0 was still prevalent. But please give future buyers USB 3.0 soon!
  • Glossy display? I personally like the gloss, but for a review, I’m going to label glossy as a con because most users looking for a professional monitor at least want the OPTION to buy a matte/anti glare display. Instead Apple sells one monitor and it’s of course glossy.
  • Only works for Thunderbolt devices.


Worth it?

  • The monitor itself is definitely worth it. That is of course if you own a Thunderbolt ready computer. If not then the display is useless.
  • If you can wait some time longer, I say wait before you purchase it. With the release of the newer Mac Pro and Thunderbolt 2, I wouldn’t be surprised if the updated the display to match the current iMacs dimensions.
  • But if you can’t wait, andВ If you can find the monitor at a good deal, don’t hold back you will not be disappointed in this monitor. It’s a fantastic color accurate monitor with unmatched build, and buying it will increase your productivity.В P1000752

Apple Thunderbolt Display

Is it still worth it?

It’s 2013 and we live in an age where 4k monitors went from your Sci-Fi fantasy to your own house. However its been over two years since Apple has released an updated version. With the resolution at 2560×1440, can it still compete?

Rating by Len Thou: 4.0 stars

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Nexus 7 (2013) Full Review: Android Revisited Thu, 07 Nov 2013 20:08:24 +0000 Nexus 7

After half a decade away, I jump back into Android with the launch of the 2013(2nd gen) Nexus 7. I’ve got to say, things have changed! I bought this tablet for a few reasons. First, it’s damn cheap compared to the Galaxy Tabs(Notes), and Apple’s iPad Mini. Second, it has the highest pixel density out of all the 7 inch tablets currently. And last, it’s pure Android without the Samsung bloatware. For $230, it’s a pretty good deal. Some people think tablets are toys and while they can be good fun, I find them extremely useful for doing quick research, reading articles, and quickly looking up a video.


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First Impressions

It seems pretty clear that Google is taking the Apple approach with the packaging. The unboxing experience is minimalistic and elegant. The Nexus 7 is styled sharper than the Galaxy Tab and the bezels are smaller. Unlike the Galaxy Tab, the Nexus 7 does not have a physical “home” button. Navigation is utilized by 3 software buttons that occupy a quarter-inch of the bottom edge. The top and bottom bezels are much larger than the side bezels. They clearly designed this tablet to be used in landscape mode. I’ll get more into this later. The back of the Nexus 7 is rubberized for added grip. Overall, the Nexus 7 is nicely built. The only complaint I have is with the placement of the power/lock button. I wish it was located at the top when holding it in portrait mode. Other than that, the Nexus 7 look very sleek and professional. From all the sea of Android tablets, the Nexus 7 looks unassuming. The only real way an average consumer would recognize it is the black Nexus branding on the back. Even a power user would have a tough time telling it apart from the previous generation Nexus 7.

Nexus 7

Clearly more landscape oriented.

Nexus 7 Back

Even the logo changed from portrait to landscape.


To me, a tablet is useless without speed and convenience.В Let’s face it, we’re all in a rush.В If I can look something up really quick without noticing any lag, the tablet is up to par. Anything less and I’m annoyed. Unlike a computer, there is no control+alt+delete combo so if a lockup occurs, you just have to wait it out. The only hardware buttons are the volume rockers and the power button. In my experiences, the Nexus 7 is very fast. Don’t get me wrong. There has been a few hiccups here and there. These few slowdowns only happened when I had many apps running and multitasking. Other than those occasions the Nexus 7 is fast. The apps load fast, videos load fast, and multitasking is okay. Battery performance is fair to good. The stock battery monitoring software shows about 6 hours of usage on a full charge which is somewhat accurate in my experience. Some people will get more, some will get less. I usually get less.




Nexus 7 Portrait MultitaskingI’m not much of an an app hoarder. I’d rather have core functionality built into the OS over having a bunch of apps cluttering my work flow. As far as app numbers and quality, Android has improved considerable over the years. Some apps have their own layouts of menu placements and Google seems to be doing a good job of keeping a design standard. I did find myself wanting more out of the stock Android keyboard so I bought SwiftKey from the Play Store. It’s a good piece of software. Being able to type with fewer errors is like an aspirin to a big headache. I’m enjoying the app selection. As a BlackBerry user, having all the popular apps available is a welcome change.


I did indulge in some turret defense games. I could burn hours playing them. Speaking of which, the stock battery monitor tell me the Nexus 7 takes a huge hit while playing games and watching videos. When I am not playing games, the brightness is usually number 1 in battery impact. I’m currently using as many third party apps as I can to replace the Google services. For example, В Dropbox is replacing Google Drive and Evernote replaces Google Doc. I’ve tried the Nook app and I found Google Magazine to be superior so I’ll be using that alongside Kindle.

Nexus 7 Multitasking

When you install an app, it’s pretty much all or nothing. Google Play shows you a list of permissions required for the app and you click install. For someone that doesn’t know better, I can see them installing every app under the sun. I find BB10‘s method much better.В  In comparison, BB10 gives me the choice of allowing or refusing each permission the app is asking for. For example, if it’s a note-taking app and it’s asking for my location and phone calls, I can reject those while giving it access to read/write files. Depending on how the app functions, It could probably still run. This is not possible with Android. Annoying!


One new thing that I’ve noticed is app updating. They are now done in the background. I don’t like this. Yes, it’s convenient but I’d rather have control of the apps and manually update them myself. I remember a while back, I updated an app and it was filled with ads. I don’t have a problem with developers putting ads on their software and making money off of it but this was not mentioned in the changelog. After updating the app, I read the wall of complaints in the comments. Ever since, I never updated an app until I read the comments. Having apps update in the background changes the game. There may be a workaround but upon digging through the menus and settings, there is no way to turn automatic updates off.



The Android Experience

Android is taking me some time to get used to. One thing that I was really used to on BB10 was the swipe gestures. Swiping from the bottom bezel up took me to the running apps. On Android, it takes me to a Google search where I can type or use their voice recognition technology to make a search. Their multitasking feature is also much different compared to BB10. On BB10, you can only have 8 apps running at a time. On Android, you can have as many(or so it seems) as your hardware an handle. One big thing I’ve noticed while using Android; multitasking is not in real time.В  For instance when I tap the multitasking button, the app pauses while I go to the cards of background apps. If I am watching a video on YouTube and go to the calculator app, YouTube will pause the video. Not only that but if I went back into YouTube to resume playback, the video would have to load again. The buffer is dumped when multitasking.В  I’ve read that it’s decided by the developers. I’ve tested this with Pandora Radio and background multitasking works as expected. It’s just strange to me when I go back to certain apps and see the page or video reloads.




One of the biggest frustrations I have with the Nexus 7 and Android as a whole is the whole Google experience. It’s the little things that annoy me. Sometimes, an app would work flawlessly. Other times, it would freeze up the whole tablet where all the buttons won’t respond. A few times, I had Dolphin Browser hang up and none of the software and hardware buttons work. Then all of a sudden, they all go through like massive gaming lag. It’s very frustrating.

Nexus 7 Error

Another thing that annoys me is how Google manages my data by default. For example, when I first set up the Nexus 7, all the important information(location, personalized data, etc.) were check on by default. I don’t want to send them my data, locations, whatever. Even the YouTube app does this. The “Never remember history” option is uncheckd by default and “Improve YouTube” by sending anonymous usage data is checked by default! They’re definitely not hiding their intentions well.




Nexus 7 Play StoreThis is a great tablet for media consumption. It seems like it was designed just for that. The YouTube app is great for watching videos but not so good for managing them if you are a publisher. It has noВ analyticВ data for partners and no Adsense earnings data. The Google Magazine app is excellent. I can’t thing of anything I would change on it. Google Maps is probably the best mapping software out there. The only feature it has missing is a version of Bing’s Bird’s Eye View. Street View is fantastic as expected. I did notice the image quality was better than I remembered. Maybe they’ve upgraded their cameras.



Final Thoughts

The Nexus 7 is a good tablet however it is not perfect. I wouldn’t normally knock off points for app issues but I have to in this case since it’s an official Google app. YouTube needs work. You can post comments but not reply to specific ones. The Nexus 7 and all of Google’s apps needs to have perfect or near perfect performance and synergy, especially on an official Google tablet! Aside from some performance issues, the Nexus 7 is a good device. The hardware is nice and the screen is sharp. As far as hardware, the only thing I would improve is the battery life. I can run the battery within a few hours if I’m watching videos or playing a game.


As far as software goes, Android is good, not great. Dealing with force close and Google’s nosy personality reminds me why I left them in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying the app selection and tablet as a whole. I just wouldn’t use it for anything serious. Sometimes I would leave my Nexus 7 on my PlayBook and I would just wish BlackBerry made the PlayBook 2 with BB10. A tablet with real multitasking and more intuitive swipe gestures. One can dream.

Nexus 7(2013)

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T-Mobile BlackBerry Q10 Full Review Thu, 04 Jul 2013 01:37:39 +0000
BlackBerry Q10

It is finally here! The first BlackBerry BB10 smartphone with a full qwerty keyboard launched in the US a few weeks ago and I put it through its paces. I purchased the phone out of contract at T-Mobile for $579.99 + tax. For most BlackBerry faithfuls, this is the the top phone to have. the Z10 is a great device but for me, I need a ‘berry with physical keyboard. Coming from the Bold 9900, this was not a necessary upgrade but I couldn’t resist a flagship BB10 smartphone with a keyboard. Let’s go over in detail what I think about this device and BB10 overall.

В Q10 Full Video Review

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First Impressions – Hardware

BlackBerry Q10When I first unboxed this device, I was immediately impressed by the build quality. I’ve watched other reviews saying it felt cheap but that wasn’t the case with me. The phone is nicely weighted and it feels really good in the hand. The back cover is made of a rubberized plastic with faux carbon fiber weaving. I know what some of you mightВ beВ thinking right now. “Plastic? Cheap materials!” Yes, the back cover is plastic but I’m not so snobby that I’ll write off a device just because it’s not made of aluminum. The rubber is grippy and soft at the same time. The keyboard is straight unlike the curved Bold keyboard I was used to. The keys are also noticeably higher than the Bold’s keyboard which is a nice touch. The frame, frets separating the key rows, and all hardware buttons(volume rockers and sleep button) are made of metal. Overalls, I was impressed with the Q10′s classy good looks and build quality.


Q10 Unboxing Video

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Diving Into BB10

I’m not the type to sit and read through pages of boring manuals. I get too excited and like to learn by jumping right into use. I think that is the best way to learn. Right when you boot up the device, you go through the standard setup of emails and social media accounts. The purpose of this smartphone was clear from the beginning. To consolidate your core communications into one location. They call this: BlackBerry Hub. I was somewhat familiar with it. On legacy BlackBerry devices, this was called “Messages“. В BlackBerry Hub is an evolutionary improvement over Messages. It includes email accounts, text messages, notifications, social media feeds, BBM, voicemails, calls, and emergency alerts. BlackBerry Hub is a core feature of BB10. You don’t have to open up an email “app” to read emails or a Twitter app to read tweets, and so forth. Everything is consolidated nicely.

Unlock Gesture


I have to admit. It took me longer than I expected to get use to the gestures. I expected to get use to them in a day but it took about a week to fly through everything as quickly as I did on my old Bold. Still, there were things about BB10 that I didn’t like. I’ll go through them all later. The gestures are fairly simple. My favorite gesture so far is the swipe from the bottom bezel to the middle-right. BlackBerry calls this, “Peek and Flow“. It’s a quick way to get to the hub. I think once you get used to mastering that gestures, the rest become easy.



BlackBerry Q10 KeyboardThe keyboard at a glance looks like a straightened version of the Bold’s keyboard and in summary, it is. В The keys are a bit “higher” allowing a bit more throw and the frets separating the rows are slightly thicker. It was easy getting use to this keyboard. It is excellent. Hands down, the best smartphone keyboard on the market today. As great as this keyboard is, the software side leaves something to be desired. “Word Substitution“(formerly Autotext) is not as fully featured as their legacy OS6-7 predecessors. For example, there is no option for smartcase. When I macro “t” to “the”, it won’t capitalize at the beginning of a sentence. Another bug in my OS build (, the “back macro” is broken. To summarize, I use this macro to enter punctuations quickly. These issues are relatively minor. Nothing a software update couldn’t fix. Overall, the typing experience has been excellent. I can almost type as fast as my old Bold. Maybe I’ll catch my old speed in another week or two.



Processor speeds and benchmarks are relevant when comparing phones on the same platform. On a new OS with no other comparison except the Z10, specs bragging is irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t care less about how many cores this Snapdragon has. All I know is this phone is fast. It opens apps quickly and I don’t notice any stutter. Pinch/zoom works well as well as scrolling. This phone handles multitasking without me noticing it. Sometimes I forget to close apps because I don’t notice them slowing down the phone. For those who want to know anyways, I’ve pasted the specs below.

QualcommВ® Snapdragonв„ў S4 processor with 1.5 GHz dual-core CPUs


16GB Internal Flash Memory

Up to 32 GB Expandable with Micro SD card

USB 2.0

Micro-HDMI port


Apps and Multitasking

As most of you know, the app selection is limited compared to the other platforms. Many of the popular apps are missing from BlackBerry App World like Pandora, Netflix, Instagram, and etc. Most of these apps can be accessed by sideloading their Android counterparts. I choose not to do this. It seems like a hassle and I’d rather have native apps. I’ve tried the ported WordPress App which is an Android clone and it’s funky. It works but the gestures are not native and it’s not as snappy. Another trick to alleviate the “app gap” is adding a shortcut of mobile sites to the homescreen. For instance, Bank of America doesn’t have an app (yet) for BB10 so I went to their mobile site via the browser, hit menu, then selected “add to home screen”. This makes an icon in your app tray. I did the same for my payroll site and have my finances all set.

BlackBerry Q10 Side View

As far as multitasking goes, it’s very straightforward. BlackBerry calls their apps running “active frames“. Depending on the developer, the apps can show updates or other information. For example, BeWeather will show the temperature of your location and most battery apps will show the current state of charge. Active frames are similar to Android widgets. Currently, there is a limit of 8 active frames and they’re ordered by use so if you open a 9th app, the app that’s at the bottom of the list gets closed.


Battery Life

3.8V 2100mAh battery rated ~8wHr

You are lucky if you can get a day’s life out of today’s smartphones. With bigger screens and faster processors, smartphones eat up plenty of juice especially with lots of antennas on. They almost always need to be topped off in the car or while sitting on your desk. Luckily, the Q10 has a large 8WHr battery(2100mAH) that is enough to last a full day for the average user. I’ve been spoiled by my old Seidio 2600mAH battery on my Bold so I was used to 2+ days before having to recharge. BB10 on the Q10 is tweaked with lots of battery optimization tricks. There’s softwares tweaks under the hood as well as UI differences like a power-saving “dark” theme compared to the Z10. Keeping all the unused antennas off like GPS and Wifi should give you more endurance on your Q10.



Call quality seems on par with my old Bold which is to say it’s very good. I wasn’t sure what to think at first since dedicated call and end buttons are now gone but swiping up an app reveals the call icon glued to the bottom-left of the screen so that’s not a big compromise. Accepting a call is as easy as swiping down and rejecting a call is done by swiping up. One thing I did notice that disappointed me was the speakerphone wasn’t as loud as my Bold.



The Q10 sports an 8mp 1080p rear and a 2mp 720p front facing camera. I don’t like to pixels peep smartphone cameras as they’re pretty much the same quality with some exceptions. It is a nice update from my Bold since the Q10 has autofocus. I’m sure most of you have seen their Time Shift feature. After seeing demos of it in action, I wasn’t impressed. After using it in the real world, I’m reminded of the old mantra, “Don’t judge a book by it’s В cover.” On paper, it’s a feature that combines burst shooting with face recognition. This feature looks like a gimmick but it’s incredibly useful in practice. When you open the camera app and enter Time Shift as your shooting mode, simple tap on the screen and you will hear, “Click, Click, Click, SNAP!” The camera take a series of burst shots and gives you a timeline to edit. It can zoom into a face and you can adjust the frames to get the perfect shot. Where’s the magic in that? I’ve discovered that Time Shift actually takes 2 or so frames before you hit the shutter button and leaves it in the memory buffer. What does this mean? Say you’re taking spy photos of your significant other and they see you trying to “ninja” a shot. If they intercept right when you hit the shutter, no worries. They’ve already been exposed. At this point, you can show them their futile attempts to block and gloat in victory. This is just one example of Time Shift being very handy. HDR mode is cool too but Time Shift is the highlight of the camera.

Q10's Camera

The front facing camera is decent to use as a mirror, say if you think you have a booger or something, but I don’t find myself using it too much(modesty helps). I have tried it out with BBM Video and although it’s В not HD quality(maybe due to network), it’s surprisingly good and not choppy. Clear but lower resolution. When BBM comes out for iOS and Android, it should be interesting to see if BBM Video comes with it.



BB10 is new and it have some quirks that bother me. For instance, the universal search feature isn’t consistent. If I were to type “where is burger king?”, search would give me the option to open the browser and Bing or Google that query. If I were to type “BBM tom”, search would show a list of people and when I tap on one, it would go to BBM in the same active frame. It wouldn’t open the BBM app. This is also happens when I type “text XYZ” and “email XYZ”. This becomes an issue when I swipe up the active frame and begin a new “search”. It would open up the active frame which is already in BBM or text messages. It doesn’t open a new search frame. Very quirky.

Q10's Rear

Another issue I have is the Hub. I love the hub. It’s great but it NEEDS a timeout feature. Say I get an email from Amazon or whatever. I open it in the hub and swipe out of it to go the my browser. Cool. Then I hear a chime and get a new mail. Awesome. This is the moment! It’s time to peek and flow! I peek, then flow… right into the Amazon email… Crap! I didn’t close it. Now I have to hit another button to get to my new email. This issue could be easily solve by timeout options or reset to the main hub when navigating away. It defeats the whole purpose of peek and flow.



This phone has lots of niceties only revealed once you’ve used it for an extended period. This first is the keyboard shortcuts most Bold and Curve users are familiar with. Hitting space to scroll down a page and Alt+Space to go up is surprisingly efficient since it’s fast and you don’t have to waste movement scrolling and covering the screen with your fingers. Likewise the “t” and “b” will take you to the “top” and “bottom” of the page.

BB10 Reader Mode

Another nice feature is Reader Mode. I found this while trying to refresh a page. On legacy BlackBerry devices, “r” would refresh the page but on BB10, it enters Reader Mode which removes the ads and distractions while only serving you the content. it’s great for reading high media-rich site that can feel overwhelming at times.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m extremely happy with this smartphone. It has meet most of my expectations and fulfilled nearly all my needs. Of course it would be great if more developers jumped onto the platform but ultimately, that’s not up to BlackBerry. They can do all they can to entice developers but I think they should continue to build and refine BB10. The size of an app ecosystem seems to correlate with popularity and sadly, BB are not as popular as iOS and Android. Hopefully, their craftsmanship will get the customers and the developers will follow.

Q10 With Holster

If you want more apps than you know what to do with, this phone is not for you. If you want a smartphone that’s great for emails, text messages, communications, with a good battery, than this phone is an excellent choice.

BlackBerry Q10

Great phone for people that do plenty of emails, texting, and calls. Not so good for media consumption. Apps are scarce in comparison to the competition but core functions are solid. Long lasting battery and refreshing UI. OS needs to mature.

Rating by Set Sar: 4.0 stars


BlackBerry Q10 BlackBerry Q10 Volume Rockers BlackBerry Q10 Rear BB10 Reader Mode Q10 With Holster BlackBerry Q10 Front Q10's Rear Q10's Camera NX1 Battery BlackBerry Q10 Unlock Gesture BlackBerry Q10 Side View BlackBerry Q10 BlackBerry Q10 Keyboard BlackBerry Q10
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Samsung Chromebook: In Depth Full Review Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:22:20 +0000 Samsung Chromebook

Hello, my fellow techВ savvyВ friends! It is a wonderful day out, and there is nothing better to compliment the sunshine than to have a new laptop, if I may, accompany you. I was, once again, looking for a budget portable that would do three task: Browse the web, type word documents, and play some tunes while doing so. Well, the Chromebook does all of that and more in a different manner. This review may be outdated because there are a ton of reviews out already, but seeing how I just picked up this convincingly priced machine, I thought I would share my opinions anyways.



I was tempted to leave this segment out because I didn’t want our audience to read budget specs and immediately say to themselves, “Not the machine for me.” When I purchased the Chromebook, the last thing I worried about was specs. I knew what I was getting myself into and in the back of my mind I knew the machine ran on budget hardware. But that doesn’t mean the machine doesn’t push a work load easily.В  But anyways, all of the detail will be below. AND AGAIN KEEP IN MIND, for 250.00 bucks, the hardware is pretty good.

The Specs are: Samsung’s Exynos 5 Dual processor at 1.7Ghz.В  11.6″ Display with a resolution of 1366×768. It has 2Gb’s of ram and 16gb internal flash storage. It also has a .3 Mp Webcam, internal mic and speaker. An HDMI port. Two USB ports, one being USB 2.0 and the other being the blue 3.0. There is a headphone jack as well as a multi-card slot.



Samsung Chromebook-8I had done previous research on the Samsung Chromebook and quiet frankly, there was not much that impressed me. I constantly saw ad’s on it, I heard countless people talk about it, and I continued to walk pass it whenever I stepped foot into a local retail. I did not like the idea of being locked down toВ Google’sВ services. I was on the verge of buying an inexpensive windows 8 machine, but even those were in the $400.00 price range. To my luck, after browsing Best Buys webpage, I saw two Chomebooks ranging from 200-249 dollars. When I realized how perfectly priced Chromebook’s were, I finally gave Google’s new line of laptops a fair shot.

When I’m able to buy a fantastic little machine like this for $250.00, I don’t have OCD with keeping itВ pristineВ and untouched. I, of course, value keeping my machines in working and clean order, but I remember owning the Macbook Air and having a case AND a sleeve. I remember slowing putting it into my laptop and arranging things in my bag so that the Macbook Air would not be scuffed in any way. I even remember after typing anything on the Mac, I was using a microfiber cloth to whip it down over and over. And while that’s nice and all, it was only killing my time ofВ productivityВ  It’s different with the Chromebook. Heck, it’s so cheap that I feel like it compliments my books in my bag.

Now, keep in mind, I have used Windows and Macs hardcore for the last…I’ve lost count years, and the transition from the two to this was a breeze. (As it should be of course.)


Start Up Time

In short: damn, it is fast! Now, because the Chrome OS has the majority of it’s content online, the actual hardware of this laptop does not take more than five seconds to boot up completely. This is a huge benefit to me, personally. As a college student, I bought this Chromebook knowing that I would have those days where I am late to class. On those days, I NEED to pull out my laptop and just start typing. I don’t have time to wait for a windows/apple logo for two minutes. And even my last Macbook Air, which I loved, did not boot up this fast. I love thisВ accessibilityВ because it keeps me in the mood to type and keep productive, as silly as that sounds.

Oh, shut down time? It is… Already off. Yep, shut down time isВ instantaneousВ as well.



Now, to each their own of course. But personally, I enjoy the chiclet style keys. I find them responsive and in my few days of using this machine I have had zero keys get stuck. And I am coming from a 300.00 Happy HackingВ ProfessionalВ keyboard. The keyboard is very similar, if not the same, of that of the Macbook Air. On typeracer I am able to pound about 90 or so words a minute. For me, that is good enough! I can’t complain about the size of the keyboard because a laptop that has a twelve inch screen can only fit in so much. But even with that in mind, I never found my hands to cramp, nor have I wished for a larger keyboard.

Samsung Chromebook-5

I absolutely love the shortcut keys. This is a huge pro for me because I find myself always having more than one page/window open. And it is soВ convenientВ to just move y left index finger up to strike the button to switch back and forth between the windows. It really FEELS efficient to do so. Now I did enjoy having the full screen mode on OSX Mountain Lion and using three fingers to swipe between applications, which felt fluent, but again, it feels more efficient, on the Chromebook, to click a button to change page. To me of course.

Another thing to note is the removal of theВ Cap locksВ key. That key is replaced with a short cut to your application/extension folder. In all of my years of typing, I hardly ever used theВ cap locksВ key because I found holding down the shift key for one stroke was more efficient. But again, to each their own.

Regarding the shortcut keys, my friend who also owns the Chromebook pointed out to me that the mute key only mutes. It does not un-mute, and while the volume up and down are only one key away, it feels unnatural to un-mute it with the volume up button.

A complaint of mine, which is only because I own a keyboard that cost as much as this laptop, is the fact that the keyboard easily gets oil spots. I do use the Chromebook on a daily basis but even with my short time with it, the oil spots are already deteriorating the keys. So definitely have a microfiber cloth with you at all times!



It is… Okay. The size is perfect. The gestures are great. Two finger scrolling have never been so great.В SensitivityВ  Don’t worry they didn’t forget about that. You can easily adjust theВ sensitivityВ in their settings menu.

There are two things however, that I am not the biggest fan of. The first being a personal preference: There is no dedicated right click. You have to use two fingers to right click and that is your only option. Now it doesn’t like a huge deal, but it is. Consider how many times a day you use your right click. A million seven hundred and twelve right? It becomes a hassle when your doing a two finger scroll and then you land on a link you want to left click on. Because then you right click. Or viceВ verseВ  you are constantly bouncing your fingers from two finger clicks to one finger clicks. I don’t know about you but after I right click, I intend to open up another tab which involves me switching back to one finger. I know it sounds silly, but use the Chromebook for a week and you will understand what I mean. I have theВ tenancyВ to keep my fingers where they need to do. And that is the beauty of a mouse.

Samsung Chromebook-6

The second problem I have is an annoying hardware problem. The Trackpad gets stuck. Now, I am not the only one to have had this problem. If you do a quick Google search you will see that many others have had this problem. And my friend who also owns a Chromebook? Yep, he’s dealing with the same issues. The trackpad gets stuck and if you try to browse another page prepare to have all of your text highlighted. I have to tap the tackpad multiple times on the opposite side before it pops back out. And this isn’t from poor hygiene. My friend justВ receivedВ his the other day and he already mentioned the same problem to me.



Considering the Samsung Chromebook has an 11.6″ screen and a resolution of 1366×768, the Chromebook boast a pretty nice pixel density. The text, to me, was never hard to read and for the most part everything word and image was nice and crisp.

The display is matte/antiglare which may be a love or hate deal. However, as I have explained earlier, this machine was made for portability. And, personally, while I have been using this machine on the go, I have had to face a lot of sun light. And this is where the machine shines. (Err doesn’t) The picture’s taken do not give the screen just. It’s no retina display, but it is nice and everything is legible in sunlight.

The Brightness of the screen is satisfying good as well. All in all, I love the display and I have no quirks.

Connecting it to an HDMI monitor works smooth as well. You might be surprised to find out that this machine, with budget hardware, can run a nice 1080p display without any ghosting or lag. (Unless of course you are running intense apps. Which you most likely won’t find, YET, on the chromebook.) A video of the Chromebook being used on an HDMI monitor will be posted up soon.

Samsung Chromebook-7



Elegant to say the least. I don’t need to say much about the design; it is nice simple and low key. The trackpad is large enough. The black keyboard on silver design always looks professional. “I like it uh lot” В :) And while the actual material of the laptop is mostly plastic, it feels sturdy. Everything is so compact that the actual design just feels, “tighter” if I could say.

The actual specifications measure at 11.4″x 8.09″x 0.69″ weighing at 2.43lbs.

Samsung Chromebook-3

The weight is another huge plus of this Chromebook. I had never been concerned with the actual weight of a laptop if the actualВ dimensionsВ of it were to my liking. And I’ve owned/packed with me, over a dozen of different laptops ranging in all sizes. But when you actually have a machine this light you really learn to appreciate it. No matter how much I have in myВ book bagВ  this laptop will find it’s way in. And I would never have known that any weight was added to my back at all. And if you don’t take my word for it, take my girlfriend’s, “Whoa, it’s so light!” В YES!



The speakers are decent. В I didn’t expect much from a machine this thin. If you are in a quiet room alone and you put the volume on max, then you will think that it is loud. (Of course) It gets the job done. On more practical occasions, where you are in a public location with people talking around you, you will barely be able to hear anything. I personally pack my headphones where ever I go because if you are in a loudВ environment,В  even the best laptop won’t do any justice in the audio department.



Upon opening the machine, you are limited with the few Google services. (That are more or less quick links to the actual Google page) В I find this to be a pro. I feel as though, this machine was meant to do exactly that: To give you theВ accessibilityВ to type, browse the web, check emails and do other simple task. I do not feel a limitation. I actually feel as though there are less distractions to deal with. Which to me, is a huge plus.

If the applications you get at from first boot up isn’t enough, you always have the Google app store to find plenty more.

The chrome OS was intended to be a means of running simple applications. And yes, it does that. But if you do run four or five applications at once, it tends to get cluttered and unorganized. There isn’t a dedicated minimize tab. Instead you over over a box next to the X and it then gives you the option to set the window more to the right, more to the left, or to minimize. So when you have multiple tabs open you will find that your dock is currently changing and moving around. And for the most part your applications will be running behind the window and not minimized. Of course you can minimize whatever you want to, but it just becomes second hand to leave it open because you will rarely find that one window is overlapping another. This can either be a pro or con. At first I found this to be a pro because most of my windows were at my disposal and I could easily switch back and forth them to with the shortcut key. However, I later understood why it could be considered a con. I had to write a research paper the other night, and I wanted to have my note application over my chrome browser but it wouldn’t allow it. Again, I could always switch back and forth, or I could set it to be on one side and the other on the other side, but I just find it easier to have my web page out and my window hovering over the web page for quickВ viewableВ access.

The beauty of Chrome. Everything auto saves! When I’m typing notes, I never have to worry about anything be lost. If my machine died midtyping then I could rest assure knowing I have a copy of it saved to Google Drive. This is a huge plus but it could also be a down side. My partner and I are running and facilitating this website you are on. We want some information to be secure and out of public’s hands. You can’t always say that everything is secure with Google Drive.

I guess a negative to the positive that I just stated earlier is that because the machine is run my the internet, if you are doing any task, from typing to web browsing, and your internet is disrupted for a moment, all the applications, for the most part come to a hault. It gets frustrating from time to time. Say you are typing on Google doc’s and your internet connection is lost. You do not even have the option to continue typing. It just stops until you areВ successfullyВ reconnected to the internet. What I don’t like is that if I am browsing on a webpage, and the internet connection is lost, and I reconnect to the internet the web page I was on has to reload. Even though I did not click any new links and even though the page was already fully loaded before.



I had originally wrote this section with mixed feelings. So here I am rewriting the same section.В  The machine comes with an internal, yep if you want portability you have to sacrifice the option of switching out batteries, 4080mAh battery.В  When I first unpacked this machined, I charged it fully and the battery stated that it was good for 7 hours.: Which it is advertised to run for about 6.3 hours. (We all know how accurate that is haha) But I was quite confident in theВ longevityВ of this machine’s battery life at first. I would type pages and pages of notes and every ten minutes or so I would check the batteryВ indicatorВ  And to my surprise, itВ startedВ off at seven hours and dropped down accurate to it’s time usage. At that point, I figured I was getting a solid six hours of typing in. However; even with all of that in mind, I will consider the battery a con I have been using this machine for about two weeks now and now I realize my first impressions weren’t the most reliable. With about 75 percent brightness on and not doing much video browsing or music listening, I was usually able to get about 3 and a half – 4 hours of battery. Which again, isn’t terrible, but just a couple more hours of juice would have been perfect. Again, you may be able to stretch the battery longer, IE what I was talking about in the beginning paragraph, if you lower the brightness down to very low, and if you do absolutely nothing but type. (Which, from a machine of thisВ caliberВ  is quite possible and is not to be looked down upon.) But in Samsung’s defense, I guess you need to compromise battery if you want a really slim machine. If you are constantly streaming music and videos, be prepared to carry around the charger. I know some people always do so, but I feel as though having the charger around with you everywhere to ensure battery life takes away the idea of portability.


Lack of POWER?

I might sound a littleВ hypocriticalВ but I am reviewing this machine with the thought that people may buy this machine for more activities than I do myself. As far as power go, it is no surprise, that the machine isВ under powered. I am notВ discreditingВ the Chromebook in anyway. However, from experience, I have noticed a lot of hick-ups when I am viewing Youtube videos, or any video that requires flash. Again, you can’t expect to have it all for a machine that comes at you for 250 bucks.

UPDATE: I have been using this month for about a month now and I have pushed this machine to it’s limits. (That doesn’t say too much) Keep in mind, I rarely watch any videos or listen to music on this machine. And if I do, I for sure do not do so while multitasking. That being said, while I am multitasking (Google chat open, notes open, web browser with four or five tabs open) Then the machine does lag considerably. I am not taking for granted that this fine machinery was purchased for 250.00′s but I am reporting that if you intend to run open a lot of tabs, and use notes with a lot of saved files to Google drive, yourВ ChromebookВ will start to lag. This is become every page on theВ ChromebookВ is live and connected to the internet. So if you have five tabs open in your notes application, then five tabs will be refreshing andВ auto saving.


Connecting the machine to an HDMI monitor is simple as plug and play. My friend uses monitor, review of that is up, and it runsВ relativelyВ smooth.


I will not put this under either a pro or con because it should be obvious that this machine runs on Google services. However, it does feel like you are locked down to it. Signing into your Chromebook actually translates to signing into your Gmail. Of course the alternative would be to log in as a guest. Again, not a negative or positive, it is just something to consider when purchasing a Chromebook.

Samsung Chromebook-4

The Machine has two USB ports, one being the almighty blue 3.0! It has a headphone jack, a pretty decent webcam, as well as an SD card reader. And finally it has a mini HDMI port which some people may find extremely useful.

Set and Len engaged into a deep conversation...

Set and Len engaged into a deep conversation…

The webcam, is a 0.3mp camera but it is actually pretty good. Not amazing but I have used laptops that cost a lot more which webcams that makes my face look like a fuzzy ball. At least here I can see my teeth right? :) The webcam app however, informed by my partner Set, is notВ re-sizableВ  The actual picture size you see using the webcam is what you get. It doesn’tВ re size. That can get a bit frustrating.



I put heat underВ miscellaneousВ because my partner also purchased the Chromebook and he has noticed some heat issues with the machine. В My machine, as stated above, runsВ relativelyВ cool. So this is just a heads up on something to consider when you are making this purchase.

В Samsung Chromebook-2


Overall, I think this is a GREAT budget machine and I will give it a 4 star. For 250.00 this opens up the potential for a lot of people to try it out. And once you get used to the machine, you’ll realize what the intended purpose of it and this Samsung Chromebook does exactly that. Of course the machine isn’t perfect, with it’sВ click padВ issues. But I think for the price, theВ click padВ issues and all of my piled gripes could be overlooked. I hope this machine is a clear path of what Chromebooks are trying to accomplish. Because if the next generation of chromebooks are affordable then I may have to consider purchasing another.

UPDATE: Pixel is out….1300 bucks. Yep it’s time to go back to Mac. Haha, joking of course.

Thanks for reading this review, we will have more to come! But for now, I’m going to enjoy this Chromebook some more! :)

And Let us know what you think, by posting a comment below. Any questions will be answered immediately and any errors that you think I have made will be fixed with a shout out to you of course! Thanks again my fellow tech heads!


Samsung Chromebook

It’s sleek, quiet, fast, but most importantly… It’s cheap! But does $250.00 really give you the complete package?В 

Rating by Len Thou: 4.0 stars

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Amazon MP3 Store and Cloud Player: Not Ready For Primetime Mon, 25 Mar 2013 19:05:52 +0000 Amazon MP3 Store

It seems like every major tech company is trying to make a buck selling you music in some way. We have subscription-based services like Pandora, Slacker Radio, Last.FM, etc. Then there’s downloading services like Apple’s iTunes, Google Play, Amazon’s MP3 Store just to name a few.


“Amazon was the clear choice.”

I purchased a 1 year subscription to Pandora One and it has been good. The higher music quality is nice and having no ads is great but the hourly 5 skips per station is still annoying. I still wanted to listen to specific songs at any time so I looked into Spotify but they didn’t support my mobile phone. I ruled out iTunes and Google Play because I didn’t want to get into either ecosystems. Amazon was the clear choice.


I’ve been an Amazon customer for years and have even purchased their Prime membership. I’ve never had a problem with shipping and customer service has always been excellent. The main selling point for me was their Cloud Player. If you purchased and downloaded an album or song, they would be available on Amazon’s Cloud Player which can be access through a web browser. You can pretty much stream your songs from any computer with a ‘net connection. I had high expectations.


Bad Downloads and Terrible SyncingВ 

Since I wanted the MP3′s stored locally on my phone, I went ahead and purchased 2 albums through my BlackBerry Bold. The first time I purchased an album, they asked me if I would like to save my accountВ informationВ so I can turn on one-click shopping. I though, “Sure, I’m buying another album anyways. Why not.” My albums downloaded to my phone and I was able to listen to them right away. I went ahead and checked online to see if they were in my Cloud Player. They were not. At the bottom of the page was a customer service contact link and I opted to speak to a call center representative. The representative was a native English speaker and was very helpful. He got my 2 albums loaded into my Cloud Player and I asked whether this will be a problem in the future. He assured me that it was a technical issue and it won’t happen again. He was wrong.


I enjoyed my albums on my phone and on the Cloud Player up until I decided to buy two more albums. When I purchased my third album, I had trouble downloading the songs to my phone. IВ receivedВ an error. The error said the file size was “0kb”. What the hell? I guessed maybe that the file could not be delivered to my phone or perhaps there was a delivery issues since the album had explicit lyrics. Whatever the case, I wanted it fixed. I logged into Amazon and manually downloaded the album to my computer, then transfer the files into my phone. I decided to purchase one last album and downloading them to my phone went without problem. This(fourth) album, however, was not available on the Amazon Cloud Player. I’m beginning to see aВ patternВ here. I opted to email tech support this time since it was late at night and got a reply the next morning. They told me since they needed more information to solve the problem they went ahead and refunded my money.


Not What I Expected

That’s pretty much the end of our journey. I’ve since stopped buying from Amazon MP3 Store. Their service is spotty. When I make a purchase in a digital product, I expect a 100% delivery rate. I eventually got the album on my phone but I had to jump through hoops in order to get it. Another major problem I have with them is the way they handled cloud syncing. Once my albums were loaded into the Cloud Player, everything went smooth but getting that done was a headache. It seems like I had to bother someone over the phone to put the album I bought into the Cloud Player. This defeats the whole purpose. Why advertise this as a feature when it doesn’t even work? I’m not sure if it’s my platform(BlackBerry), their service, or a combination of both. All I know is, there are other competitors out there that delivery what they promise. This experience is surprising. I’ve never had a problem buying from them until now.


I could have went with the cheapest route and downloaded these albums oppa pirate style but the convenience and knowing that my songs are available “in the clouds” lead me to try them out. Some problems I have with having GB’s of music isВ transferringВ them to other devices/computers and dealing with hard drive failures. Will I be buying from Amazon MP3 store again? Actually, maybe. I’ve had many positive experiences with Amazon that I might give them a pass here and see if things iron out. On the other hand, competition is great and maybe delivering music isn’t Amazon’s forte. Take my experience with a grain of salt. Your results may vary.


Amazon MP3 Store and Cloud Player

With hiccups downloading songs and problems syncing your albums with the Cloud Player, I can’t recommend using this service when there’s plenty other competitors out there. This comes somewhat of a shock considering my previous experiences with Amazon. On the plus side, their customer service is great. I just wish the product matched it. 1 star for eventually getting the MP3′s and another 1 for customer service.

Rating by Set Sar: 2.0 stars

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Why Losing The Trackpad is Bad for BlackBerry Wed, 07 Nov 2012 08:08:31 +0000 Goodbye Trackpad

BlackBerry 10 devices are on the horizon and while we look forward to shiny new phones with new features, many are disappointed with the removal of the optical trackpad. The main pointing device on BlackBerry has gone through many key changes. From the scroll wheel, to the trackball, and now the trackpad, RIM has decided to ditch them in favor of full touchscreen navigation. This transition seems inevitable but is it really progress? Let’s break down this decision and answer this question ourselves.


Why Remove It?

The trackpad has been the standard pointing device from the 8500 series to the current 99XX. Since then, we’ve seen our BlackBerry phones transition from non-touchscreen to full on touch. Maybe RIM feels that full touch inputs can replace the usefulness of having an optical trackpad. Another reason RIM might have to ditch the trackpad is freeing up space. The trackpad, along with the call, menu, back, and end buttons take up real estate and removing them frees up space for a larger screen. Many people associate the trackpad with BlackBerry as all current models have them. Perhaps people see this as old and inferior hardware and RIM may be looking to break that image. In this case, I am reminded of the old phrase, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.


“If It Aint Broke…”

Alcatel Venture

When I think of a Berry without a trackpad, I think of the Alcatel Venture aka the Virgin Mobile Venture.

Removing the trackpad from a tradition(Bold, Curve) BlackBerry is like using your desktop with a keyboard and without a mouse. A mouse/trackpad makes it easy to perform simple tasks. Tasks like copy and paste or clicking on a link can be done without the clumsiness or frustration of a touch screen. Don’t believe me? Try it. Sure you may occasionally click on the right link but you will run into misclicks the more often you try. In order to reduce errors, a pinch+zoom technique is required. Another thing people don’t often consider useful about the trackpad is the ability to highlight before making a selection. Think about how a full-touch UI handles this issue. Button and lists are enlarged to reduce misdials. While it is possible to highlight selections with a full touch device, it’s easier with a trackpad. Having the call, menu, back and end buttons omitted is another issue. I can understand that they want to eliminate buttons altogether but these buttons are often used. BB10 better have a smart and fast way to handle or replace these core buttons or else they will lose many faithfuls.



The trackpad has a special novelty to it that I will personally miss. I love how it lights up revealing it’s borders as I am using it in the dark. I also love that it’s the last light to go out as the rest of the screen and keyboard’s backlight dims before it. I know it’s quirky and strange to say but the trackpad gives my BlackBerry Bold character. That’s something I would argue is missing from the sea of slate iPhones and Droids that all look the same.

Grackpad Glow

What Do We Gain?

Beside a half an inch of extra screen real-estate, I really don’t see a benefit in removing the trackpad. Not only does it give users an accurate pointing device, but it also doubles as a tactile selection button. Hovering over a link and clicking the trackpad assures me that I’ve performed that operation with success. I’ve used full touchscreen devices where not only do I mistap, but I’ve also accidentally double tap because the phone would temporarily freeze up and I think the tap didn’t register. This problem can be reduced by having a faster phone but the tactile feedback cannot be replicated by a full touch screen. Many virtual keyboards vibrate on keypress or make an audible click to simulate this tactile feedback but this in turn creates a new problem which is excessive battery drain.


Another thing people don’t consider about using a full touch device is how often we “shoot blind.” Think about it. You usually tap the touchscreen with your big ‘ol thumb and for a split second, your thumb is over the screen and you don’t see what you are tapping. With a trackpad, you see a cursor as it moves across the screen so your big thumb does not block the screen and you can hove/click. Not to mention all the ads you avoid “mis-tapping” when you use a trackpad. I can’t tell you how many ads I mistap on my tablet when all I wanted to do was scroll. Sometimes, using a touchscreen feels like navigating a minefield. It’s so frustrating. So what do we really gain? Half an inch of screen real-estate and more touchscreen problems.


Final Thoughts

I know the decision has already been made and there’s nothing we can do about it but that doesn’t change my opinion that it’s a bad one. В It saddens me that in order for a company like RIM to sell a good device, they have to dumb it down to cater to all the hipsters with iDevices and ‘Droids. I look at this like a slippery slope. First, they removed the second convenience key for no clear reason. Then, they’re removing the trackpad and all their button. What’s next? No hardware keyboard on a flagship device? So this has been my short rant. What do you think? Will you miss the trackpad? Is this a smart move?

Trackpad Focused

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LG Flatron IPS235v Monitor Review: IPS On a Budget Wed, 26 Sep 2012 19:57:34 +0000 LG IPS235v Monitor

It’s almost 2013 now and I was using an HP monitor made in 2009. It’s pretty good except it didn’t support 1080p nor did it have HDMI ports. I have a good GPU and I wanted a monitor that would match its specs. After all, why have a decent GPU if you’re not going to use it. I needed an IPS monitor because I often work with graphics and photos so accurate colors are very important to me. It gets frustrating when your designs or photos look good on your monitor but terrible on another. I was in the market for a decent budget monitor and decided to look at my options. That’s when I stumbled upon the LG Flatron IPS235v and took it home.



LG IPS235v MonitorI decided not to buy a monitor online because if I had a problem with dead pixels or something, I could easily return it to the store without the hassle of shipping. The price was in my budget too. I wanted to spend less than $300 and this monitor retails for $240. This is an entry-level IPS display where high-end versions can go for as much as 3-4 grand. To get your feet wet, you could argue that this is a good value. For me, I compared the colors and viewing angles of the store’s stock with the rest and I was sold.



The display is excellent. Contrast is very good and the colors are vibrant even in low brightness. I haven’t use this monitor for movies yet but it does have good viewing angles when I was streaming sports online. I’ve done some gaming on it and it’s a dream. I’ve read some people complaining about purple fringing on the blacks at wider angles but I haven’t noticed any problems with my display. I do wish it was a little brighter though. The blacks can get a bit muddy.

LG IPS235v Monitor

LG IPS235v Monitor

Good viewing angle with minimal color distortion.

From a user point of view, I used to get eye strain with my old HP monitor. I thought it was normal because I was used to it for years but since owning this monitor, my eye strain has disappeared. Text seem to be a bit crisper and easier to read. Even at max resolution, I don’t really need to zoom in or enlarge my font. This was something that I had to do often on my old monitor. Another nice thing about the display is the matte screen which I prefer over harsh, glossy screens. Many people like glossy displays or displays without anti-glare because colors seem to “pop” out more but sometimes, the harsh glare can give me a headache. There is slight backlight bleeding coming from the bottom right of my screen. Some backlight bleeding is inherent with all LCD monitors and it isn’t too noticeable unless you are really looking for it.


Look and Feel

LG IPS235v MonitorThe “Flatron” series always had a plain, professional look. This monitor is no different. It’s something you would find at a mall kiosk or medical clinic. Personally, I like this look. It’s something that I can live with for a long time. I also love the matte, wood-like bezel. It gives it some class. The only thing I don’t like about this package is the glossy stand. It doesn’t match the overall look and feel of the monitor even though it’s black. It gives the monitor some “cheapness” in an overall slim and sexy look.


Speaking of stands, LG went cheap on us. The stand is plastic and wobbly. You can only tilt it 15 degrees for adjustment which is fine at eye level but that won’t be ideal for those who have a desk with its own monitor stand. Luckily, LG added 100 x 100 mm mount support(VESA) which is nice for those who want to go dual or multi-monitor setups. I get a reminder of how cheap the stand is when I turn it on. It flexes and moves every time I press the “on” button. This isn’t a big deal if the buttons weren’t so stiff.

LG IPS235v Monitor

Good display, not so good stand.



This brings me to the negative aspects of the monitor. When I shut off my computer, the monitor goes into “power-save” mode which is nothing new. Most monitors today have some type of sleep mode. The only problem is the power indicator is a bright blue LED and when it is on sleep modes, it starts blinking! It’s quirky because you can choose to turn off the LED while it’s on(which I choose to do) but you can’t stop the blinking when the monitor enters power save mode. It’s like the monitor is nagging me to press the “off” button. So annoying!

LG IPS235v Monitor

Slick “wood-grain” bezel.


Another weird thing about this monitor is the settings. Some settings are locked or disabled depending on what connections you are running. You’d figure that you would get the most control with a digital HDMI line right? Wrong. With HDMI, you cannot adjust the screen position, width, and height. You can do so with an analog line. This is a problem for me because I am stuck with black bars about an inch on all sides that I can’t close. So now my 23″ monitor is really 20″. I’ve tried adjusting it from my OS side but the resolution is set. Very weird.

LG IPS235v Monitor OSD

The OSD shows I have HDMI hooked up but the vertical and horizonal is locked.


Final Thoughts

This monitor is a little pricey when compared to traditional “budget” LED LCD screens. What you are paying for is the excellent viewing angles and accurate colors of the IPS technology. It does have a few drawback but they are quite minor. Contrast is really good though black levels are a bit muddy. I’ve set the black level from high to low and that helped a lot. Overall, I’m very happy with my upgrade. Monitors are very expensive and for $240, this LG IPS235v met my needs in terms of performance and budget. With the versatility of the viewing angles, this monitor can even replace my Vizio as a Netflix/PS3 display. Before purchasing this monitor, I was considering an AOC because it was cheaper but then name brand is weak. I wasn’t sure if it was going to last me years. After owning this monitor for a few weeks, I’m glad with my purchase. Plus it looks great on my desk.


LG IPS235v Monitor Profile

LG IPS235v Monitor

The IPS235v is a great value for amateur video editors and graphic designers. The versatility of the IPS display translates into a monitor that can be enjoyed across the room with its excellent viewing angles. It weak points include the flimsy stand, quirky OSD menu system, and slightly muddy black levels. I would also like it to be a bit brighter.

Rating by Set Sar: 4.0 stars

LG IPS235v Monitor

LG IPS235v Monitor

LG IPS235v Monitor




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Sirus XM Snap! Review Sun, 22 Jul 2012 19:30:37 +0000 XM Snap!

Satellite radio have proven itself to be more than just a passing fad and I decided to try it for myself. I didn’t want to break the bank so being a cheap skate, I bought the “entry-level” XM Snap! Even the name got me excited. I mean, it has an exclamation mark. It must be good, right? After testing out Snap! for a few months, I think they should have called it the XM Crap! Because that’s what it is. Since I can’t really sugar-coat it, I’ll do a 2 part review. Both on the Snap! and the Sirius XM service.


I purchased Snap! at Best Buy on sale for $30. I figured, “Hey, it’s cheap and I can try out the service to see if it’s any good.” I’ve been hearing Sirius XM often as newer cars have them built-in. My brother owns an older car so he’s stuck with land radio and a cd player. Snap! promised simple plug-and-play. It was fairly simple to get started.


Easy Installation

Take Snap!, shove it into your cigarette lighter plug, route the antenna, hook the antenna, match the FM tuner, and start listening. Before you can start listening though, you need to subscribe to XM radio which can be done easily on their website. You need to choose a subscription and activate a radio. Each radio has a unique id, sort of like a phone ESN. Once you pay for a subscription and activate a radio, you can start listening to satellite radio. Setting up XM online was fairly easy though a bit tedious. Instead of paying one price, they actually have tiered plans that offer extra channels or whatever. I simply went with the cheapest, most basic plan. It was easy. Plug in my credit card info, radio id, and it was done. This is where things started to go downhill.


XM Snap!After using Sirius XM for about 2 months, I can honestly say that their service is just okay. Not great but not bad. Just okay. Let me explain. In my opinion, the basic plan was already pretty expensive. It was about $14 which is about half the price of basic Internet access around here. I have high-speed Internet service so I pay more but a basic ‘net plan can easily deliver streaming music and video. Besides the relatively high price, I can’t but help feel a bit “conned” into signing up. Granted, no one put a gun to my head and I probably should have read the TOS more closely(who does?) but I signed up for a recurring payment. There is no option to make single payments. I pay all of my bills online except for rent and I have the piece of mind knowing that I have to manually “pay” and not have xyz company reach their grubby little hands into my bank account and take my money. I’ll even admit that I often keep my balance low so overdraft fees are a legitimate threat. After realizing that I signed up for recurring payments, I figured, “I’ll just listen to it for a month and if I don’t like it, I’ll just cancel.” Boy was I wrong. Here comes the real con job. Sirius XM makes it so easy for you to sign up online with a few keypresses but to cancel your subscription, you have to call them on an 800 number. Really? I’ve been through this before with phone contracts. I’d have to call CS, tell them to cancel my contract, they beg me to stay, and go through all that BS. They make it so easy for you to pay and sub online but they don’t give you the same option when you want to cancel. You know what? It works. I’ve let recurring payments go on and to be honest, if I could cancel online, I would. The only thing that is keeping me is Howard.



Howard carrying XM

You all you Howard right? The KING of all media, Howard Stern. Yes, I enjoy listening to his talk shows. He’s an interesting character and his shows are entertaining. I also listen to music obviously. Unfortunately, the music is not so good. First of all, let’s talk about XM Snap! I bought the XM Crap! on sale for $30. The original price was $60. No way in hell is this little thing worth 60 bones. Let me tell you why. First off, the thing is cheap. Not really surprising since they advertise it as an entry-level XM receiver. It is all plastic. I’m guessing they gave it the name Snap! because you can easily “snap” it in half. I have to give it some credit. Using it is pretty easy. You plug it into your cigarette lighter, tune your existing car radio to match the Snap! XM’s frequency and enjoy satellite radio. They recommend that you use an AUX cable to hook to your car’s stereo but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for my brother’s old Eclipse. If you live in a metro area like me, you will constantly have to “fight” existing radio stations and re-tune your Snap! to get clearer sound. You really have to find an abandoned FM frequency to have it working without interference. I would highly recommend hooking up the AUX if your car supports it. Save yourself the headache.


Apart from the cool name, I found the XM experience to be very similar to it’s old FM counterpart. The reception is live and a bit spotty at times. If you drive under a highway bridge, you will lose reception for a split second. They say you should mount the magnetic antennae on the top-center of the car. We did that but we still get breaks in reception even when trees are a few car-lengths to our sides. The ability to change stations based on genres is nice… back in 2000. Sirius XM also delivers song artist and title data. Unfortunately, and this is my biggest complaint about XM Snap!, the text does NOT scroll! Let’s say you are listening to a good songs and you want to know what it is. All you see is “Backstreet Boys – It” (:P)and it stops there. literally. It does not scroll. I paid $30 and I still feel ripped off. How hard is it to put scrolling text onВ this thing? I’m not a computer programmer or anything but it’s 2012 and I have scrolling text on my damn watch. You mean to tell me a big company that charges 14 bones for radio subscription and $60 for this thing can’t give us scrolling text? I have to pull out my phone and use Shazam to look up the titles. Why?



Another dumb thing about this thing is the backlighting. It’s shines bright blue which isn’t bad at all in the daytime, but at night, it ruins your night vision and you end up squinting at the road. If you’re going to use backlighting, why not go with a color that preserves night vision like green, amber, and red? And you can’t turn off or dim the brightness? So you’re only choice is to (appropriately) wring its neck to the side. $60?


Final Thoughts

I have very specific taste in music. Most people looking up this review would feel the same way if they’re considering XM. For music, it didn’t satisfy my appetite. For one, their electronica stations are very limited. They don’t have trance, vocal trance, goa/psy, breakbeats, or dubstep. Although they have chillout(my fav) they often repeat tracks. You hear them way too often. Their hip-hop selection is pretty narrow also. They have southern hip-hop but not 90′s hip-hop or conscious rap? The usual radio rap like Drake, Lil’ Wayne and all those auto-tune guys but I’ve never heard Nas, RAKIM, Blackstar, or Mos Def. They have pop by the decade but they omit the freestyle era of the 90′s? Come on. I want to jam out to Stevie B! Overall, for $14 per month, you don’t get much at all. And I’m not so impress with their service to upgrade any time soon. Especially after finding out about their cancellation procedures. I am still a subscriber. Honestly, listening to Howard is the only reason I am still paying. I commute over 2 hours a day to work so I have a lot of time to test things out. The selection is mediocre, the quality is fair(mainly due to FM tuning), the price is high(for what you get), and the product itself(Snap!) is subpar. It really is that bad. It should’ve never left quality control. They should haveВ hired a college dropout to program scrolling text. I mean, that in itself is inexcusable. I bought it for $30 and honestly, it feels like it’s worth $10. I don’t know what went on during the Sirius/XM merger but it looks like a mirror of the Kmart/Sears merger. They need to get their act together or they’re going under. I get better music from my phone running Pandora and and I would do so once I upgrade. After trying out XM Snap! I would steer clear of any XM branded products. I would rather buy a deck that supports XM as an option rather than a standalone XM receiver. They don’t seem to stand by their products. Another thing to note. My friend purchased a new car and apparently, there seems to be a trend where car dealers give you a 3 or 6 month trial of XM to get you hooked. His trial ran out and not surprisingly, he didn’t sign up. Overall, XM Snap! is garbage. there really isn’t much more to say. The Sirius XM service is fair. With so much competition from smart phone apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio, and Spotify, there no need for shifty tactics like calling to cancel. Plus Bluetooth A2DP is quickly becoming a standard so unless XM get with the program, they will go the way of the video store. People will just stream music from their smart phones. Try harder guys. Siriusly…




I called customer service to have my XM service canceled and В as I predicted, I was transferred to a customer service representative who hassled me to keep subscribing. I politely told the rep that I wasn’t using it that much and she offer me more “time” to explore it with 2 free months. After giving her all my information and talking for a few minutes I asked her “why do you guys make it so easy to sign up for XM via the website but I have to go through the hassle of calling customer support, being put on hold for 10 minutes, and fighting with you[XM] to cancel my service?” She quickly changed the subject saying some written, “We value our customers and we do our best to provide our users with the best experience blah, blah blah..” At this point, I didn’t feel like arguing and was happy to get it over with. I’ve since purchased a new phone and will use Pandora to substitute XM on those long rides to work.


Sirius XM Snap!

Sirius XM Snap! is a cheap “entry level” Sat-radio receiver and it shows. The device is all plastic and although it works, Sirius cuts costs by omitting obvious standards like back-light control and scrolling text. The Snap! is easy to install and it works as advertised but the XM service is spotty and way too expensive. The device itself is very expensive costing $60. Sirius XM needs to get their act together. Verdict: Pass

Rating by Set Sar: 0.5 stars


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I Hate BlackBerry: Why It Sucks Thu, 26 Apr 2012 20:08:05 +0000 I Hate BlackBerry

RIM is no stranger to bad press. When the whole blogosphere is counting down the days until they die, you know something is wrong. I’ve been using BlackBerry for a few years now. As much as I love the phone, there are lots of things about it that I can’t stand. A brief history. my first real smart phone was an Android and I decided to try out BlackBerry. I’ve used it for the past few years and although things have gone relatively smooth, there are still issue about this phone that bugs me. The browser sucks, the phone is slow to boot, I need to reboot after every app I install or remove, the app world sucks, and watching that spinning clock makes me want to throw the phone at my wall. Enough rambling, let’s get this down on a nice list.


1. The Browser sucks!

BlackBerry BrowserThe BlackBerry Browser sucks. Most BlackBerry owners are still on OS5 where the browser is horrible. It is way behind in terms of web standards. and there is always issues with rendering Javascript. This browser is ancient, slow, and crap. You can’t open multiple tabs and you can’t download files larger than 2.9MB. 5MB for email attachments. You mean I can’t even download a standard MP3? Lame. I will say that the browser on OS6 and OS7 has improved the experience but they only bring it on par with the competition on Android and iPhone. I know the screen size on (most)BlackBerry smart phones are smaller than those on Android and iPhones but this does affect the web browsing experience. There’s only so much you can see on a small screen.


2. Long Reboots

I dread seeing app updates available for my phone. You would think this is very convenient that you get a message in your inbox reminding you of app updates but what this really means is enduring another long reboot. My computer takes less than a minute to boot up, why does my phone take 11 minutes to boot up? Yes, I’ve timed it. Even then, I still have to wait for the phone to become usable as the system hangs and verify security. Sometimes, I would wait for a bunch of updates to build up and install them all at once. Then I would reboot the device once instead of doing it each and every time I update an app. The long reboots are required for app updates, installations, and removals. The process reminds me of those long anti-virus/malware scans I used to endure when I was using Windows. I didn’t miss it when I went to Linux and I wouldn’t miss it if this hassle went away. On Android, when you install apps, you can use it right away without rebooting. Same for removing them. BB10 is supposed to unify the smart phone with the QNX PlayBook OS and you don’t have to reboot after installing apps so until then, this is something that sucks about BlackBerry.


BlackBerry Reboot

It can take over 10 minute!

3. App World and App Selection

BlackBerry App WorldLet’s face it. The App World sucks. Android and iOS have a larger library of apps compare to BlackBerry App World. They always seem to be talking about a milestone which is currently over 70k apps but I don’t see them. Most of the apps on the App World are garbage. I came from Android and they are not immune to trash either but where are the good apps? Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me how many apps are in xyz store. What I am looking for is quality apps. I’m looking for Skype, Netflix, HuluPlus. You know, the big names. Too often I hear about a cool new app and they offer a mobile app. “Download for iPhone or Android.” Where’s BlackBerry? Is this necessarily a fault of RIM? Yes and no. While it’s not technically RIM’s fault that people don’t develop apps for the platform, us end users don’t really care. We just want the apps. When we open the App World and can’t find Skype, we don’t think, “Man, Skype should make an app for BlackBerry or the PlayBook.” No. We think, “Why isn’t there any apps on BlackBerry App World? What is RIM doing about it?” I hate the App World. If I hear about a cool new app, I can count that it won’t be available on BlackBerry.


4. Stale Phones

Pretty much all BlackBerry smart phones aside from the Storm/Torch/Style are the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. RIM found a formula that works for them and the keyboard is iconic to the BlackBerry image. The problem with that is people are getting bored. They want something different. I believe what RIM is suffering from is happening to Apple. After years of the same thing, same style, and same phone, people will look for something new. It happened(is happening) to RIM and it’s happening to Apple. Just look at what people are saying about the iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, and 4S. I will say Apple is executing things a bit better than RIM. All their phones are good when they come out. RIM tends to spread themselves thin with lots of variations especially cheaper entry-level phones like the Curve. Don’t get me wrong. I have the Curve and it’s a decent phone but I always have Bold envy when I see it. iPhone users enjoy having a great product because they know their phones were top of the line at one time. They are never treated as second class. Cheaper phones are good for market penetration in developing countries but I live in the US. I don’t care about marketing strategies in India and Africa. Most iPhone users have a sense of pride when owning their phones. Once upon a time, BlackBerry users had this feeling too. Not anymore.

Stale BlackBerry Design

5. 1 Convenience Key?

It appears when they are moving in the right direction, you catch them taking one step backwards. One of those nice little “perks” about owning a BlackBerry was the convenience keys. On older BlackBerry phones, you had two, one on each side. One is usually automatically set up for the camera and the other is set up for voice commands(that sucks). You could set these convenience keys to quickly open up your favorite apps or in my case, turn on the flashlight for those time when I needed some light. Quick, convenient and cool. Tell me why in their infinite wisdom that they decided to remove 1 convenience key? Why? What was the point? Did people have too many keys to press? I can tell you from my experience that 1 in not enough. It’s little things like these that piss off your users.


6. Poor Media

BlackBerry Music PlayerFrom my understanding, BlackBerry smart phones, in general, are not very good phones for media consumption. Now, I say “from my understanding” because when it comes to music, my Curve rocks. Maybe because my Curve has these sweet media keys at the top of the phone. I can play/pause, and seek tracks easily without having to open the music interface. These keys even work for Pandora radio. Every other BlackBerry do not have these media keys and navigating the media player can be a hassle. Not to mention if you want to view videos, you’ll have to settle with the usually small screens. This makes consuming any rich video media a pain like watching YouTube.


7. Small Screens

While Android and iPhone users get to enjoy their large touchscreens, BlackBerry users are still stuck using screens about half their size. There are some exceptions like the Torch line and the now dead Storm but for the most part, a small screen over a full QWERTY keyboard is what we get. Today, multimedia, web browsing, and gaming are big parts of what most use their smart phones for. Doing that on a screen half as large is twice as inconvenient. It’s a general trend that most people prefer using a phone with a full size screen rather than a full size keyboard. The convenience of a larger screen outweighs the lack of a physical keyboard for the average consumer. This is especially true with the growing popularity of HD media. Smart phone trends say, “small screens are out, large screens are in.”


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