KickStarter Watch: Andromium Wants to Turn Your Phone Into a Desktop PC

We keep seeing the promise of this never completely fulfilled. Docking a phone into a tablet or a laptop shell. Running custom versions of Linux to reorganize the UI for a more PC like experience when plugged into a larger screen.

andromium demo image

Kickstarter project Andromium thinks they have the solution for using your phone as the brain of a home computing environment. A simple cradle connects to PC peripherals, and custom software borrows the more successful elements of OSX and Windows for a familiar PC look.

With our phones becoming more and more powerful, the idea of a ubiquitous data experience doesn’t seem too far fetched, and the lead designer of this project was formerly a Senior Engineer at Google. The project already looks like it’ll be compatible with several Samsung phones, with more handsets to follow. Best of all the dock doesn’t look like it’ll be prohibitively expensive if the project is funded with an expected retail price of $39.95.

Andromium (Kickstarter)

AT&T to Kick It Old School with Blackberry Classic

blackberry_classic_946x432Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned, nostalgic, throwback. This seems to hold true for cars and football jerseys, and Blackberry is hoping it’ll spark some interest in their phones.

AT&T announced it’ll carry the BB Classic, which pairs their spiffy new BBOS 10 with the classic stylings of older BB handsets. Were you missing that old tic-tac keyboard experience? The Classic should be available early next year on Big Blue, and you can catch the full press release below.

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T-Mobile to Unleash Rollover Data in 2015 – Un-Carrier 8.0 Announcement

T-Mobile LogoI’ve been complaining about this for YEARS. Each month you buy a bucket of data. If you use more than that bucket you pay a penalty, but if you don’t use the whole bucket you don’t get a credit or a benefit. Instead the carrier takes your unused data and throws it away, and you pay full price for a new bucket next month.

Starting in January of 2015, T-Mobile will roll that data over into a special store they’re calling the Data Stash. It will come to all plans including data only Tablet plans. To sweeten the deal, customers will also start off with 10GB of data in their stash.

I’ve been hoping a company would do this since we moved over to data caps on cellphone contracts. I was so goofy happy, I jumped immediately into a Live Hangout and started throwing things.

The full T-Mobile press release is below, and they always put out funny releases.

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Amazon Slashes Pricing on Kindles and Fire TV for the Holidays

amazon holiday kindle saleIf you need that perfect last minute tech gift for the holidays, Amazon is hoping to entice you with some sales on their Kindle and Fire gear.

You can score $20 off Amazon Fire TV or a Kindle E-Reader, $30 off the Kindle Fire HD7 Kid Edition, but the big cuts are on the older Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and Fire Phone.

The Fire HDX tablet is getting a $125 price reduction which puts the 16GB WiFi version at $224, and the Fire Phone is dropping by a whopping $220 unlocked, bringing the price down to $229 OFF contract. I feel like I should repeat a joke about the Amazon FireSALE phone, but that might be in poor taste.

Links below for all the Kindle sales!
Amazon Fire Phone ($229)
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 ($224)
Amazon Fire TV ($79)
Kindle eReader ($59)
Amazon Fire HD Kid Edition ($159)

Microsoft Updates Office for Android with Dropbox Support

microsoft office android app update somegadgetguyWe wrote about this partnership last month, but it looks like Microsoft and Dropbox are finally moving forward as cloud storage BFF’s.

In an update pushing out to the Office app for Android, one of the new features allows users to connect their Dropbox account to edit any Office compatible files stored there. Microsoft has also improved support for high resolution displays, hopefully making this app a bit more accessible to a variety of phone owners.

Now we’re just waiting on Dropbox’s side of this bargain, which was to release a native app for Windows Phone…

Microsoft Office Mobile for Android (Google Play)

Viewer Question: What’s Up With the Black Bars When Photos are Shown on Video?

iphone photo camera review crop pillar box 4x3 somegadgetguyGot a question on my iPhone Camera review from viewer Huber, who writes:

What’s up with the black bars when taking a picture with the iPhone?There are two black bars making the picture small, kind of like a square. All of the other phones the image takes up the whole screen.

That’s called “pillar boxing”. You know how some movies are SUPER wide screen and you see thin horizontal black strips on the top and bottom of your TV? That’s called “letter boxing”. Pillar boxing happens when the aspect ratio of a photo or video isn’t wide enough to completely fill the format it’s being displayed in.

In this case, the video window is 16×9, which is a pretty wide rectangle, but the iPhone shoots photos in 4×3, which is a really squarish rectangle. As that chunky pic can’t fill the whole video window, the software showing the photo adds the pillar boxing. If it didn’t do that, you would either have to crop and zoom in (which would defeat the purpose of me showing the pics in this video) or you would have to warp and stretch the photo to fill the widescreen view.

Cameras like those found on Samsung phones use natively 16×9 image sensors, so both photos and videos are automagically wide screen. Most other phones use an almost square sensor, so any widescreen photos or videos are the result of a crop.

Hope that answers your question Huber, and for more examples of pics and vids taken from all the phones we test here, make sure to follow on Youtube and Instagram!

iphone 6 plus bottom speaker

Viewer Question: Why not compare multiple phones in our speaker tests?

I’ve gotten a lot of questions on why I do my speaker tests the way I do, like this query from Youtube viewer Faddli who on my Lumia 830 speaker test asked:

Great video. My suggestion is to compare it with other smartphones (3-4 other smartphones), then the viewer can at least guess whether it has awesome/good/decent/bad/$h!t speaker.

Hey Faddli, thanks for the suggestion. Couple things about how I do these speaker reviews.

First, if the speaker sound good in the video, then it probably sounds good in real life. It’s why I don’t talk over or give a conclusion at the end of these videos. What makes a piece of audio gear “good” can be highly subjective. I want the speakers to speak for themselves. Continue reading


Google Play Store App Brings Back Purchase History

It’s been a frustrating omission in the Google Play Store app for some time now.

You’ve always been able to see every app you’ve ever had on any phone you’ve used, but for some reason Google removed the ability to track your purchases. An update coming soon to the Play Store will bring back the ability to track purchase history.

Screenshot_2014-12-04-21-24-40Once you get the update head over to “My Apps” then into “My Account”. From there you can see your payment methods, if you have any store credit, and below that HUZZAH! Order History!

Kind of a fun game to scroll back through everything to see my first app purchases. Apparently I started using Android during some kind of freak holiday app sale…

The updated store should be rolling out to phones over the next couple weeks!

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