Category Archives: Reviews

The best comparison you’ll ever see (or hear) between a Motorola Roadster II Bluetooth speakerphone and a smartphone

motorola roadster bt bluetooth speakerphone somegadgetguyWe’re just covering all kinds of Bluetooth audio right now! Leading off with the Jawbone JAMBOX and then looking at the HMDX Jam Classic, now we’re taking a brief look at one in-car audio solution.

There are a number of ways that you can answer calls while on the road, though it seems the BT headset has fallen out of vogue, especially with many vehicles incorporating BT speakerphone capabilities standard. If your car DOESN’T have Bluetooth however, fret not, as there are some pretty terrific solutions you can clip to a visor. Specifically we’re going to take a listen to Motorola’s Roadster II, and compare it against a Smartphone to see how much of an improvement it might offer.

Marvel at my incredible pantomime abilities!

Shop the Roadster II on Amazon.

Review: HMDX Jam Classic portable wireless Bluetooth speaker

hmdx jam classic bluetooth wireless speaker test review somegadgetguyYou asked for it! I’m covering even more audio gear!

Following the recent wrap up on the Jawbone JAMBOX, we’re taking a look at something smaller, and a little more affordable. It’s tiny. It’s cute. It comes in an adorable jam jar container, and for its size it packs a surprising audio punch. Can a portable audio solution for $32 compete against some of the other “premier” solutions on the market?

Let’s take a listen to the HMDX Jam Classic!

Shop HMDX on Amazon. What’s with all these speakers being named “Jam-something”?

Google Sneaking Chrome OS onto Windows 8 Computers?

chrome os running on a windows 8 touchscreen hybrid laptop somegadgetguy

So all the hemming and hawing from the Chromebook faithful, that Chrome OS was SO much more than JUST a fancy browser slapped onto low power laptop hardware. It would seem like that’s not entirely true… In a good way…

The newest dev channel update of the Chrome browser for Windows 8 appears to essentially be the entire Chrome OS. When used within the ModernUI interface users have full access to the entire suite. Microsoft opened the door for this by allowing browsers other than IE to interface with the “Metro” ecosystem. Now you can have all the benefits of Google’s cloud OS on your Windows 8 machines. Loading it onto my hybrid also opens up some interesting possibilities. We haven’t seen Chrome OS on a proper slate tablet yet. That’s been Android territory, yet swiveling my Lenovo Twist into slate mode affords me a perfectly usable Chrome OS experience using a combination of Google’s UI and Microsoft’s virtual touch controls and keyboard. It’s kind of meta…

An app launcher at the bottom left gives you access to Chrome app, and Google favorites GMail, Search, Docs, and Youtube are docked at the bottom too. Performance has been solid for me after a couple hours of tooling around, but many are complaining of occasional crashes. Also, if you’re not running a lot of RAM, Windows 8 is very aggressive about shutting down Metro apps if you’re doing a lot of multi-tasking. In all though the experience has been very enjoyable, and updates to browser touch support make Chrome OS on Win8 almost as smooth as Microsoft’s native offerings.

It’s a pretty twisted end run around the traditional PC market. Now legit Chromebooks will face more competition from traditional PC’s in offering up the same OS, but still giving users access to legacy Windows software. This takes any potential risk out of using Chrome OS. Thinking generationally, a user could pick up a Windows Hybrid today, load up this new Chrome Browser, spend all their time in Chrome OS, and by the time they’re ready to shop another system, decide to walk away from Microsoft’s offerings altogether…

As a side note, now would be the time for Google to start unifying their app base. Bringing the variety of Android Apps to Chrome’s ability to handle things like documents and office software could put a serious hurt on Microsoft while they’re trying to unify their UI across all screen sizes.

Plus, Microsoft would have to compete for people’s attention on computers people already purchased. Wow.

The Wrap Up: Four Months with the LG Optimus G Pro on AT&T (Long Term Review)

lg optimus g pro att long term review smartphone phablet somegadgetguyLet’s talk experience.

This is the first LG I’ve spent any real time with, and it comes at a time where I’m running a little cold on super large phones. Does the Optimus G Pro have the guts to shake me out of my phablet funk?

Watch on my friends…

1st Impressions – LG Optimus G Pro
Camera Test
Speaker Test
Benchmarks
Battery Idle Test

Ask Juan: How the hell do you remove an OtterBox Defender Rugged Case?

otterbox defender case ask juan help how to remove take off somegadgetguyA couple months ago I did a three part series on my favorite line of rugged cases, the Defender from OtterBox (linked below this video). Even though I showed in detail pretty every feature of the case, and how to install one, I missed one crucial aspect in all three reviews.

How do you take the darn thing off? Good thing my Youtube viewers call me out on stuff…

Shop for OtterBox on Amazon: http://goo.gl/28FFnZ
iPad Defender Case Review
Nexus 7 Defender Case Review
Lumia 920 Defender Case Review

Review: Toast Wood Cover for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2

toast in portland wood phone case cover galaxy note 2 somegadgetguyI like finding quirky, new, and unique accessories for personalizing our technology. Toast in Portland is one of my favorite finds this year. Using wood and leather surfaces which are laser cut and engraved to precisely fit our phones and our personalities.

Let’s take a look at how I turned my Galaxy Note 2 into a wooden phone!

For more info check out: http://ToastMade.com
My interview with Toast CEO Matias Brecher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x1YOTRaFg0

(Video) Looking back at the Jawbone Jambox – Review and Audio Quality Test

jawbone jambox bluetooth wireless speaker audio quality test somegadgetguyMoving forward, I’ll be testing more accessories like I do smartphones.

You can find a collection of videos where I test the speakers on phones for example, using the same audio and video clips, so you can see and hear the differences between different phones. Bluetooth speakers are becoming very popular, and now I’ll be building that same audio test into my reviews. Starting with a speaker which really helped to popularize wireless audio, the OG Jawbone Jambox.

Coming soon, reviews on the HMDX Jam and Nokia Play360
Shop for the Jambox on Amazon.

Review: Focal Camera App (Beta) for Android

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (4)I wont get into all the drama surrounding this app. For those curious, there’s a third party ROM team called CyanogeMod which just went corporate and is looking to improve how people might load the CyanogenMod custom ROM onto various smartphones. For a brief time, the Focal camera app BETA was baked into CyanogenMod, but was removed for stability reasons and issues with licensing. Focal Developer Guillaume Lesniak shared his perspective on his G+ page.

Anywho, now Focal is its own standalone app on Google Play, and while we’re definitely talking BETA here, it’s got serious potential to offer a unified high quality camera experience to all users regardless of what phone they might be using.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (1)Focal borrows some of the aesthetic of the stock Android Nexus app. Your shutter control floats on top of the viewfinder, and menus are hidden by swiping gestures. A slide up from the left side of the screen (in portrait) brings up a scrolling menu where you can find a huge number of photographic controls. Sliding across the shutter button allows you to change between photos, videos, panorama, photoshere, and switching between the front and rear cameras.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (3)The number of options at your command is pretty formidable. The basics are up front, toggling the flash, adjusting white balance, “Scene Mode” options (auto by default), and activating HDR options. Exposure controls and metering options help dial in brighter or darker pics, and in camera filters allow you to see what your shots will look like in black and white, sepia, and negative color space. Lastly color saturation and JPEG quality settings can help your shots retain more detail or achieve smaller file sizes.

What’s ingenious is how well laid out these options are. They aren’t anything you wont find on another manufacturer camera app, like on the HTC One or GS4 for example. They are laid out in a very straightforward way here however. Tapping on one category provides the user a pop up with icons and text to explain what options they have for controls. That pop up remains until the user taps on the category again to collapse the options. Every control is found in this interface. Not like on other apps where some options are found on screen and some are buried under a separate menu. It really is the most intuitive layout I’ve seen on a camera app featuring this much control.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (5)The interface is smooth, but performance is very shaky on several phones. Taking a pic froze my HTC One. The GS4 was able to utilize most features, but rendering a PhotoSphere locked it up. The LG Optimus G Pro was the most stable, but would default to the lowest resolution output for pics.

As for output, it’s hard to see much difference between the various phone apps and Focal. Using Focal’s quality settings, you can dial up jpegs almost twice as large as what you would normally see out of a phone app. The biggest I saw was a 5MB image off the LG. Usually your phone’s camera app will pump out around a 2MB pic.

So the verdict? Not read for your main driver. It is called a BETA, and that label is accurate. What we see is some pretty terrific potential though. For the number of phones I get to play with, there’s something nice about some consistency. For my personal phones now I tend to fall back on the same apps and launchers so I know where everything is by muscle memory regardless of what phone or tablet I use.

Adding a consistent camera experience would be a nice addition to the list.

Focal BETA on Google Play