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

(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

Review: The Body Glove ShockSuit Rugged Case for the Samsung Galaxy S4

body glove shocksuit galaxy s4 slim rugged case review somegadgetguyI like rugged!

Being able to use our delicate tech in challenging environments is becoming a very important topic for me. A 5″ screen is a lot of glass to potentially shatter while in the middle of a hike or out on a job site. Body Glove is offering up a new ShockSuit case for Galaxy S4 owners looking to add protection without adding a ton of bulk.

Shop Body Glove cases on Amazon!

Review: The Kingston Digital MobileLite Wireless Flash Reader

kingson mobilelite wireless flash reader SD card somegadgetguySometimes the cloud isn’t enough.

While I find it fantastically helpful to have a couple gigs up in the cloud, there are still times I need to have access to files locally. I might need files which are too large to wait for a download, or I might need to easily share files with a couple users around me. I might just be in poor coverage without access to WiFi. For as good as our cloud solutions have gotten, I find I often still resort to “sneaker-net” to move files back and forth between different computers.

This gets even more complicated when I want to interact with a file on a mobile device, especially those pesky iOS devices which lack proper file managers. You can’t just load up a movie file on an iPhone while out and about for example. Plugging your iPhone or iPad into a proper computer and dragging a file over without iTunes means that file wont show up in any of the apps on your iDevice. Sure, there are other workarounds, funnily enough using iCloud for instance, but none have the simplicity of a point to point transfer.

kingson mobilelite wireless flash reader next to HTC One somegadgetguyKingston was kind enough to send over a MobileLite Wireless Flash Reader for me to play with. The dream of the MobileLite is to create a local wireless storage solution for multiple devices to utilize. Specifically up to three devices can log in and share the info on either an SDXC Memory Card or USB Flash Memory Drive.

MobileLite is a small grey/black brick about the size of two iPhone 5’s stacked on top of each other. It’s fairly light at 98 grams, and it comes with a USB cable to charge MobileLite using a computer or AC Adapter. Kingston also includes a MicroSD card adapter for those of you which pull Micro cards out of your phones, cameras, tablets, etc…

Continue reading “Review: The Kingston Digital MobileLite Wireless Flash Reader”

Pro Photo Tip: Get Closer Macro Photos Using Extension Tubes on Your SLR!

macro close up photography kenko extension tubes somegadgetguy ask juan tips tricks help how toI’ll be covering more semi-pro photography and audio gear on this channel in the coming months. To start, I wanted to jump in with one of my favorite hobbies. Macro photography! I like taking pics of thinks super close up, but I haven’t yet been able to afford a proper macro lens. Extension tubes are a solution which have helped improve the quality of my shots, so let’s go hands on with a set!

Kenko Extension tubes on Amazon.

Camera Test! Video Samples from the Galaxy S4 Active on AT&T! Waterproof!

galaxy s4 active rear

The Active uses a lower res camera sensor than the regular GS4, and it’s one we’re very familiar with. First making an appearance on the GS3 and Note 2, this sensor doesn’t hold any surprises, though Samsung’s camera app has improved over the successive phones utilizing this hardware.

It does come with one really neat trick though. How waterproof is your current smartphone?

Let’s take a look.

Camera Test! Video Samples from the HTC One Mini on AT&T

htc one mini camera test video samples somegadgetguyThey say good things come in small packages…

I was a big fan of Ultrapixels on the HTC One, and now they’re making an appearance on the One Mini.What’s missing however is optical image stabilization. Let’s take a look at some samples and see if the One Mini camera can hang with other mid-range handsets.