The argument for buying the most expensive phone you can, even if you aren’t “tech-y”…

WP_20130728_004A quick thought here. We recently published our holiday tablet buying guide, and I’ll be releasing our phone guide later this week, but going through the list of candidates something struck me.

We keep saddling non-tech-y folks with under-powered hardware.

There’s this idea that because someone might not be super tech savvy, that all the bells and whistles of a premier smartphone will be wasted on them.

“Why would I want to spend money on stuff I might not use if I just want to check my email and make phone calls?”

Continue reading “The argument for buying the most expensive phone you can, even if you aren’t “tech-y”…”

ESRB releases new PSA to help parents understand video game ratings

6mCM8RmLet’s get something straight. Laws don’t change behavior. Only society can change behavior.

We have laws against texting while driving, and while cops can write citations for things like Google Glass (which seems counter-productive), people will still do dumb things like watch movies on their tablets while operating motor vehicles. As a society we need to make behaviors unfashionable. We’ve made smoking in public areas unfashionable. We’ve made drunk driving extremely unfashionable.

There are laws which prevent retailers from selling adult media to minors, but it’s still up to parents to police what their children consume. Keeping parents engaged and informed is critical to this conversation, no small task in light of the overwhelming amount of media to be aware of.

We need to get over the stigma that “vidya gamez ar fer kidz”. The average age of a gamer is 30, and it’s likely that almost as many people over the age of 30 play games as under the age of 30. The medium has grown up with the Atari generation, and now the content produced reflects far more mature tastes than many non-gamers might expect. As with feature films and TV, the Entertainment Software Rating Board publishes ratings that parents can use a starting point in making decisions on what titles they might purchase for their children.

This short PSA is a good starting point for people wanting more info on what those ratings mean.

And I don’t mean for this to be a condemnation of parents who might decide their child is mature enough to handle a game’s content. What we need to move towards as a community, to protect our properties from external censorship, is encouraging more informed discussion on content. Helping parents find tools which easily inform their purchasing decisions. Helping them to become a  more active part of their child’s video gaming experience.

As I’m sure that games and consoles will be hot gifts this holiday season, let’s make sure we’re shopping smart. For more info please check out: http://www.esrb.org/

SomeGadgetGuy’s 2013 Holiday Tablet Buying Guide!

ipad miniTis the season for shiny new glowing rectangles! Tablets are proving to be all the rage this year, and if you were thinking of shopping one for a loved one (or for yourself you cheeky bugger you), here’s the scoop on our favorite computing slabs.

Apple: iPad Mini ($399)

Ok. This one’s easy. The iPad Air is the big dog, but the Mini now sports a proper retina display and pretty much the same processor guts as its big brother. The Mini is a touch easier to leave the house with thanks to its smaller form factor, and you’ll save yourself a cool $100 opting for the little iPad over the bigger one. Thankfully that wont come with a performance deficit. This is likely going to be one of the hottest sellers of the year, so make sure you get that pre-order in before it goes on sale later this month if you want to secure a place in line.

Apple announces iPad Mini.

Microsoft: Nokia Lumia 2520 ($499, available later this month)

WP_20131024_19_19_31_ProWe’re restricting our discussion here to Windows RT powered devices. Microsoft is doing a great job of blurring the lines between proper PC’s and consumer tablets, but keeping the playing field equal here, we’re looking at ARM powered portable devices not X86. Sorry Surface Pro and Sony Tap.

The Surface 2 might be Microsoft’s example of what Windows RT should resemble, but Nokia looks like they might take the cake. The Lumia 2520 runs $50 more than the Surface 2, but it comes with LTE built in. Activate it on a carrier which supports it, and you can count on ultra-fast data anywhere you have cell service. To put it into perspective, for $499 you could get a WiFi only iPad Air with 16GB of storage (and no ability to add more storage), or you could get a Lumia 2520 with LTE, 32GB of storage, MicroSD card slot, and a proper USB port.

Microsoft’s OS is still geared a little more towards “work” than “play” but we should see the app ecosystem improve radically once Windows Phone and Windows RT merge early next year (Power Keyboard shown in this pic sold separately).

Hands on with the Lumia 2520!

Android: Tie – Samsung Note 10.1 2014 Edition ($599) vs Asus Google Nexus 7 ($229)

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-10.1-2014Sorry folks. I really tried. It was just too much of a Sophie’s choice to declare one clear winner. Thankfully these two exist at POLAR OPPOSITES of the Android spectrum. Samsung takes an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to their devices and the Note 10.1 is audacious.

An incredible WQXGA (2560×1600) display exceeds the iPad by almost a million pixels, 32GB of on board storage plus a memory card slot, the ability to use two apps at the same time, Samsung’s excellent S-Pen stylus, and an IR port to use it as a huge universal remote for your TV. It’s a premium experience at a premier price point.

nexus 7 FHD side angle 2013Contrast that with with Google’s market disrupting Nexus 7. Asus helped Goog build out a high end mini-tablet with solid specs, and the two are offering it up at a price usually reserved for “disposable” gear. A 1080p HD screen paired up with a mid-range Qualcomm quad-core and 16GB of storage. You wont get some of the bells and whistles like expandable storage or an IR port, but it’s hard to be disappointed when you consider the bang for buck.

Honorable Mention: Kindles Galore

kindle paperwhite second generation ereader review somegadgetguy (3)So each ecosystem has its strengths and weaknesses, and there’s a lot of overlap.

If you’re an Amazon junky however, a Kindle Fire might be the content consumption platform for you. Powerful specs, great screens, and Amazon prices them low to encourage you to buy music, books, apps, and movies through their online shopping portals.

Lastly, if books are your thing, never underestimate the value of a proper digital ink eReader.

Those are our picks for the year! Did we miss your favorite slate? Is there another tablet which you think is better? Leave us a comment below.

Top 5 for the week starting November 4 – Thor Red Carpet, and why you should shake up your tech habits…

thor dark world skype marvel somegadgetguy red carpetWhew! Another week and a bunch of exciting stories hit the web. Here are the most read and most shared stories from this here lil old blog.

5. On the Red Carpet for the Hollywood Premiere of Thor: The Dark World

A little shameless plugging here. Skype hooked me up with a pass to the red carpet premiere of Thor: The Dark World. I got to jump into the pit, and got a bunch of great pics of the film’s stars looking fabulous.

4. Why now is the perfect time to diversify your technology portfolio…

It’s becoming a weekly tradition, my cranky technology rant. I’m like the Andy Rooney of internet commentary, but I’ve figured out how to use the Start Button in Windows. Anywho, this week I turn my sights on fanboyism and why it might not be a bad idea right now to try something different than what you’re currently using.

Lenovo-Miix-2-Windows-8.1-8-inch-tablet3. Lenovo Announces most affordable Windows 8.1 tablet at $299

Tablets are going to be all the rage this holiday season (Our holiday tablet buying guide comes out tomorrow)! Lenovo is double dipping in both Android and Windows 8 slates. Funnily enough, this week more of you looked up info on their Windows offerings. The Miix 2 looks like it might be a decent way to jump into a mini-Windows portable with some decent computing power.

2. Review: The HMDX Jam Classic portable wireless Bluetooth speaker

A blast from the past, this post got shared around a lot! Our review of the HMDX Jam Classic showcased what this tiny little wunder-speaker was capable of. Utilizing our full audio test suite, and a hands on video, this review proved mighty popular.

0741. App Review: Top Task List for Windows Phone 8

Welcome to the list Chris! Mr. Trimble is a new contributor here on SGG, and he’s a fan of Windows Phone. His second app review for the site scored this week’s number one spot.

We’re nothing without you readers, and we certainly can’t compete against the big blogs by ourselves. We always greatly appreciate not only the likes, but the sharing on social sites like Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. The more we get to talk with other tech fans, the better we get, and soon we’ll be able to reward that participation with some fun contests coming up soon!

Thanks for reading, and if you feel we missed a big story this week, or you have a hot tip, please drop us a line on our Contact Page!

Ask Juan: Why is Google Text-to-Speech a separate app now?

Screenshot_2013-11-07-10-38-28Starting today you’ll start seeing an app to update you’ve probably never seen before: Google Text-to-Speech.

This is Google’s software engine which drives all of the speech capabilities on your phone. Every time your phone talks to you, it’s using some kind of software library to translate text into that helpful robotic voice which gives you turn by turn directions in Google Maps or answers your questions in Google Now.

This is a service which until now was built into Android and only updated whenever an update for the OS was pushed to phones and tablets. Like the  Google Keyboard, now this service lives on its own in the Google Play app store.

Google has had issues with device and feature fragmentation, and other companies often install their own TTS engines, which is why Samsung and LG phones have a slightly different “personality” than their Nexus counterparts.

Let’s take a look at the what the service does, and what it sounds like!

Can Smartphones REALLY compete with Point & Shoot and DSLR cameras?

phone camera vs DSLR vs point and shoot test review somegadgetguyEach generation of smartphone ushers in improvements to the cameras on the backs of our handsets, and now they’re starting to rival what we can do with traditional point and shoot cameras.

I’ve even seen some claim that our phones now compete with SLRs, so I felt it was time to take a look at one important aspect of photo and video performance: depth of field.

For this shootout we’ll be comparing the video output from the iPhone 5S, Galaxy S4, HTC One, Optimus G Pro, Lumia 1020 and comparing it to a Samsung Galaxy Camera P&S and a Canon 7D DSLR.

Why now is the PERFECT time to diversify your Technology Portfolio, or why you should stop Fanboying and try a competitor’s product…

WP_20130728_004When I started writing about tech I made a promise to myself that I would try my hardest not to just bag on products. That I would take a second to use something, figure out who it might be for, and whether it could live up to the claims of the company who manufactured it. I can’t say I’ve always perfectly executed this regiment, but I’ve found that it has significantly changed my outlook on consumer electronics. I’m no longer satisfied with “thumbs up / thumbs down” reviews. I want to know about experience.

This opens up a whole world of discussion in that almost no product completely fails in its mission. Often, now the exploration of a gadget is better described by how wide or narrow a particular audience might be. In fact, most tech I get my hands on is actually quite good, once I figure out who it might be designed for.

There’s a particular divisiveness surrounding things like phones and tablets. As geek has become somewhat chic, people identify with certain brands, and those brands start to become a visible indication or description of that individual’s personality. Just like clothes, cars, sunglasses, etc, now our gadgets “send a message” to others about who we are. I’ve certainly been guilty of trying to size someone up by looking at what phone they use and how well they take care of it. Continue reading “Why now is the PERFECT time to diversify your Technology Portfolio, or why you should stop Fanboying and try a competitor’s product…”

Ask Juan: Should I Upgrade my Desktop (non-touchscreen) to Windows 8.1?

Screenshot (1)From one of our readers using our contact page:

Hey,I have an older quad core AMD desktop running Windows 7 and was going to put in a SSD. While I was doing that I thought maybe I should upgrade to Windows 8. I don’t have a touchscreen though, so I was curious if you thought that would be a good idea? Thanks, Alex

First of all, I run an older quad core in my workstation, and installing a solid state drive (specifically a Kingston HyperX) made my system feel brand new. I think you’ll really dig it.

The upgrade to Windows 8.1 is a slightly trickier question. It’s pretty obvious that Microsoft is using this new interface as their first attack on tablets and touchscreens. Microsoft’s job moving forward isn’t to “save” the PC market, but redefine the what a PC is. If you’ve read much on this site, you would know that I’ve been fairly positive on their progress so far.

Stepping outside the tablet-y stuff however, I think Windows 8 can offer up some benefits to non-touchscreen users as well.

First of all, boot times are seriously improved. The combo of Windows 8.1 and an SSD will feel like an absolute screamer compared to Windows 7 and a spinning disc hard drive. My low power Windows 8.1 ultrabook with an SSD cache boots in about half the time as my desktop did with Windows 7 and a proper SSD. My Lenovo absolutely destroys my Nexus 7 in a cold boot race.

windows 8_1 file transfer dialog boxSecond, I think Microsoft has made some solid improvements to file management. It’s not the sexiest aspect of an OS upgrade, but you get substantially more info when moving files, better estimates for completion, and the entire file browsing experience has been more stable. I would run into issues on Windows 7 with folders that had tons of files. As my computer would scan through creating thumbnails it would occasionally just get stuck on a file and never finish the scan. What ever file it would lag on would just become completely inaccessible, and I’d have to jump through CMD prompt nonsense to fix it. I haven’t had any issues like that with Win8.1 so far (knocks on wood). Continue reading “Ask Juan: Should I Upgrade my Desktop (non-touchscreen) to Windows 8.1?”