SomeGadgetGuy’s 2013 Smartphone Awards! The Best of the Best!

SGG Smartphone awards 2013 smallIt’s that time!

Wrapping up the year, we’re going to take a look back at the year in smartphones. Unlike our Tablet Buying Guide, there are many aspects to shopping a phone. Instead of declaring a one-size-fits-all winner, we’re going to run down a list of individual features. We’ll hand out awards to the best of the best in categories like Camera, Speakers, and Battery Life.

If you’re shopping a phone this Holiday Season, we hope this will help you make a buying decision on those features which are most important to you!

Let’s get to it!

Continue reading “SomeGadgetGuy’s 2013 Smartphone Awards! The Best of the Best!”

One Today brings charitable crowd-funding to your smartphone – 1 new cause every day.

WP_20131122_19_11_06_ProWhat could you do with $1? Probably not a lot right.

Well what could 100 people do if they each chipped in a dollar? A thousand people? A million?

It’s the spirit of giving, and it’s important that we check in from time to time. Our tech can be used for trivial things and terrific things.

When it comes to crowd-funding, million dollar projects take up most of the mind share, but we haven’t completely exhausted the idea of bringing a crowd of people to contribute money to an idea. One Today is one possible solution for finding and funding.  A new project is highlighted every day, and users can decide whether they wish to contribute a dollar.

Projects run the gamut of social causes, from protecting coral reef, to fighting malaria, or contributing to the World Food Program. A new cause every day is served up right to your phone.

The idea of small, painless transactions makes a lot of sense. Even a relatively small group can quickly build a significant amount of capital. To that end, just as you might easily share a picture on social networking, One Today provides participants with easy tools to help spread the word on causes they care about.

Google One Today

One Today on Google Play

Humble Mobile Bundle 3 – Pay what you want for 6 Android games and support charities

hmb3_newsletterJust a quick heads up folks!

Humble Mobile Bundle 3 is ready to roll. For those of you not hip to the Humble Bundle, it’s a collection sold by the developers, artists, musicians, or writers under a “pay what you want” model. This bundle is a collection of Android games: EPOCH, rymdkapsel, SpellTower, Swordigo, Ridiculous Fishing, and Kingdom Rush. To get all six games, you have to pay more than the average price, which at the time of this writing was under $5. Less than a dollar an app.

At checkout you can decide how much to pay, and how much of your payment will go to the Humble Bundle team, the app developers, and to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play Charities. And keep an eye out for future bundles. I’ve gotten some great albums, e-book collections, and PC games through this site.

Get to it folks! These games aren’t going to buy themselves!

Humble Mobile Bundle 3!

T-Mobile selling 16GB Nexus 5 for $449. Should you buy it?

Nexus 5Google’s newest pure Android phone is officially a part of the T-Mo roster.

Lil’ Magenta is listing the new Nexus 5 for $449 if you want to buy it outright through the carrier. If you’re buying the phone upfront though, it might make more sense to buy it direct from Google Play where the handset will cost $100 less.

Why you MIGHT want to buy it through T-Mo is if you’re looking to subsidize and pay for it over time. A  down payment of $41.99 is required, but then your monthly payments are only $17 over two years. I’s certainly an option, but if you can afford to buy it outright, that’s the better deal.

Full PR after the jump.

Continue reading “T-Mobile selling 16GB Nexus 5 for $449. Should you buy it?”

Motorola unveils Moto G – A lot of phone for only $179 off contract.

The unlocked phone market is going to get a little more exciting.

moto g front and rearThis is Moto’s first serious stab at the global market under Google’s ownership. The Moto G aims for the same developing markets targeted by Nokia with their Asha devices and the formidable $100 Lumia 520. Moto G is more expensive, but carries better specs and the Android app ecosystem certainly doesn’t hurt.

Getting into those better specs, a 4.5″ 720p LCD display is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. It’s lower power per individual core than phones like the HTC One, but it’s twice as many cores as a handset in this price range typically receives. 1GB of RAM should keep plenty of apps running simultaneously, and there are options for 8GB at $179 or 16GB of storage for $199.

A 1.3MP front facing camera should be plenty fine for video chat, and a 5MP shooter is bolted onto the back. Lastly a 2,070 mAh battery should give the G decent staying power. Provided the quad-core doesn’t run to hard, that’s a larger battery than most entry level phones receive. There wont be a removeable battery, there’s no LTE, nor the ability to add more storage as Moto G lacks MicroSD. Obvious concessions at this price point.

This is also the second phone from Motorola to carry this design aesthetic. Sculpted modeled polycarb, organic rounded lines, the G looks very similar to the Moto X, which is a good thing. It’s a compact and attractive handset. It’s unlikely that there will be the same customization options available for the Moto G as there are for Moto X (especially with the recent opening of MotoMaker for all carriers), but there is a removeable backplate. Moto G will launch with a handful of colors blue, teal, red, yellow, purple, white, and black. Expect to see additional full body covers and a rugged case option after launch.

Maybe most exciting, this phone is launching with Android 4.3 JellyBean, but will soon be updated to Android 4.4. KitKat’s focus is on low power hardware, improving the Android experience for devices in that sub $200 price range. Those phones usually end up getting single processors, 512MB of RAM, and they have to run Android 2.3. The Moto G could be one of the first phones to really showcase the benefits of KitKat’s optimizations while presenting it on more current and powerful hardware at an accessible price. This demonstrates a higher tier of software support than most expect at this tier.

Motorola has struggled to move Moto X as it had to compete against iPhones and Galaxies, but while in Google’s pocket (and with access to Google’s checkbook) disrupting the entry level market could be Motorola’s path to better mindshare.

Moto G is available in Brazil and a handful of European markets today. We should see it launch in Latin America and Canada in the coming weeks. We’re expecting USA availability in January of next year. Watch Motorola’s announcement for more info and demos after the jump!

Continue reading “Motorola unveils Moto G – A lot of phone for only $179 off contract.”

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.

Real World Battery Test: The LG G2 – 47 hours to “Critically Low”

lg g2 battery critically low run time test 47 hours somegadgetguyThis is the longest it has ever taken me to run a battery test.

Run time is a difficult feature to test. Benchmarking usually means throwing high usage scenarios at a device to see how long it can last under “worst case” usage. The phone runs hot, which means it runs somewhat less efficiently, and you end up with a number that you can share. If you test all phones the same way you can somewhat compare how all phones perform when they run hot.

The problem with real world testing is it takes longer, and your testing isn’t going to be consistent. Maybe I took more calls on my HTC one than I did during my Galaxy S4 during a similar 24 hour period. Maybe I gamed longer on the iPhone than I did on the Moto X. Basically I’m saying you should take the following with a small grain of salt… Continue reading “Real World Battery Test: The LG G2 – 47 hours to “Critically Low””

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!