T-Mobile BlackBerry Q10 Full Review

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 couldnt resist a flagship BB10 smartphone with a keyboard. Lets go over in detail what I think about this device and BB10 overall. Continue reading T-Mobile BlackBerry Q10 Full Review

Samsung Chromebook: In Depth Full Review

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 This review may be outdated because there are a ton of reviews out already, but seeing how I just picked up this convincingly priced machine, I thought I would share my opinions anyways.

Continue reading Samsung Chromebook: In Depth Full Review

Amazon MP3 Store and Cloud Player: Not Ready For Primetime

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 theres downloading services like Apples iTunes, Google Play, Amazons 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 didnt support my mobile phone. I ruled out iTunes and Google Play because I didnt want to get into either ecosystems. Amazon was the clear choice.

 

Ive been an Amazon customer for years and have even purchased their Prime membership. Ive 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 Amazons 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 MP3s 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, Im 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 wont 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. Im 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

Thats pretty much the end of our journey. Ive 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 doesnt even work? Im not sure if its 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. Ive 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 GBs 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. Ive 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 isnt Amazons 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 cant recommend using this service when theres 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 MP3s and another 1 for customer service.

Rating by Set Sar: 2.0 stars

Why Losing The Trackpad is Bad for BlackBerry

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? Lets 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, weve 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, dont 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. Dont 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 dont 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, its 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.

 

Novelty

The trackpad has a special novelty to it that I will personally miss. I love how it lights up revealing its borders as I am using it in the dark. I also love that its the last light to go out as the rest of the screen and keyboards backlight dims before it. I know its quirky and strange to say but the trackpad gives my BlackBerry Bold character. Thats 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 dont 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 Ive performed that operation with success. Ive used full touchscreen devices where not only do I mistap, but Ive also accidentally double tap because the phone would temporarily freeze up and I think the tap didnt 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 dont 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 dont 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 cant 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. Its 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 theres nothing we can do about it but that doesnt change my opinion that its 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, theyre removing the trackpad and all their button. Whats 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

LG Flatron IPS235v Monitor Review: IPS On a Budget

LG IPS235v Monitor

Its almost 2013 now and I was using an HP monitor made in 2009. Its pretty good except it didnt 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 youre 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. Thats when I stumbled upon the LG Flatron IPS235v and took it home.

 

Price

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 stores stock with the rest and I was sold.

 

Display

The display is excellent. Contrast is very good and the colors are vibrant even in low brightness. I havent use this monitor for movies yet but it does have good viewing angles when I was streaming sports online. Ive done some gaming on it and its a dream. Ive read some people complaining about purple fringing on the blacks at wider angles but I havent 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 dont 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 isnt 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. Its something you would find at a mall kiosk or medical clinic. Personally, I like this look. Its 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 dont like about this package is the glossy stand. It doesnt match the overall look and feel of the monitor even though its 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 wont 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 isnt a big deal if the buttons werent so stiff.

LG IPS235v Monitor
Good display, not so good stand.

 

Quirks

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! Its quirky because you can choose to turn off the LED while its on(which I choose to do) but you cant stop the blinking when the monitor enters power save mode. Its 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. Youd 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 cant close. So now my 23 monitor is really 20. Ive 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. Ive set the black level from high to low and that helped a lot. Overall, Im 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 wasnt sure if it was going to last me years. After owning this monitor for a few weeks, Im 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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