Karma Go, soon? I hope

By on May 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Needless to day at this point, people use the internet a lot. Thanks to the mass adoption of smart phones over recent years, people have gotten used to always being on the internet. We all use it for different things, Facebook, Twitter and email for example. You name it, and we probably use the internet in some way for it. Years ago, Karma released their first portable hot spot device. The idea was great; a small device that anything with wifi could connect to easily. It was smaller than most other hot spots, and featured pay as you go pricing unlike many of the other larger carriers. The main drawback of the original Karma was the platform it used. It was limited to 3G and many 4G devices were becoming popular. The available signal area was also fairly limited, but it worked great (for the most part). At the end of last year the Karma Go was announced. People with the original Karma got a very good deal on the new device. It’s been so long ago now, but if I remember correctly, I was able to preorder the device for $75 which is about 50% off the price you can order it for now. So obviously I did. The Karma device is $149, and data costs $14 for 1GB, $59 for 5GB, and $99 for 10GB. But, if you pay attention to their site, they tend to do sales every few months. I have over 40gb of data, most of which I’ve bought during 50% off sales.  The data never expires, so I should be good for a very long time with that amount of data available. Another great feature of the Karma is sharing. For a detailed explanation of how it works click here. But for a quick and easy overview,  your Karma has open wifi. When people connect to it, they can sign in and get 100mb of free data, and you receive 100mb as well. Your login is not tied to a specific device. Meaning, if I go somewhere (and I have data available on my account as I said before) and see a Karma hot spot I can just log in and use my data, even if I didn’t bring my Karma device along. So really, if you have a lot of friends you can use the Karma quite a while without ever actually buying data, because the 100mb from each person keeps adding up. The new Karma Go should “fix” all of the shortcoming of the original. It has nationwide 4g coverage now, which was the only issue (for lack of a better word) I had with the original. The release date has been kicked back over and over again, but as of the last update I have received, this month should finally be it. I’m looking forward to using the newly updated Karma Go soon. Once I get it I will do a review of the device, so stay tuned for that. If the Karma Go interests you, please follow this link and you can get $10...

Thanks, Electronic Arts

By on May 12, 2015 | 0 comments

I seriously never thought I would say that, but EA has awoken the casual gamer in me again. Recently I decided to move my Xbox One out of my living room and into another location in my house, the Den (as it is labeled in my Sonos system). The den is where my computer is located as well as a 42″ TV. Obviously, the 55″ in the living room plus surround sound gives a greater overall experience, but I realized I didn’t necessarily want all of that. All i really need is my leather recliner (also in the den) and a nice HD TV. 10-15 years ago I was much more into gaming. I had all of the consoles, and was an avid PC gamer. (I’ll blame Unreal Tournament for that.) and since then my console playing has dwindled. I have an Xbox 360 in the closet which hasn’t been turned on for 4+ years, and my PS3 which I used to play fairly often hasn’t even been taken out of the box I moved it in when I bought my new house in 2013. I’ve had the Xbox One since launch, but I’ve rarely played it. I have a handful of games, and they are great, but I know spending $60 each is not worth it for me. I just don’t play it enough anymore. This is where EA comes in. EA Access… what can i say? For those of you who aren’t aware of what it is, EA Access is a monthly service which allows you to play games from their “vault”.  The vault has recently been updated with all of the ’15 sports games, and has a few others as well. This service for under $30 a year allows me to download a bunch of games I wouldn’t have purchased for $60 each, because as i said before I just don’t play them enough. Not only that, but if I decide I want to buy any other EA games, I as an Access member, will get a 10% discount. I have to admit, I didn’t realize how much I missed playing some of these games. NHL 15 for example has been a blast. I haven’t played a hockey game in easily 5+ years. On a side note, I laughed when I saw an NHL 94 control scheme available in the options. I thought to myself, “wow i loved that game”.  I didn’t use that scheme though by the way. EA is definitely not the most liked company out there, any gamer knows that. But recently they seem to have changed their image slightly. Their stocks are going up, and people seem generally pleased with this new EA Access offering (which I should point out is exclusive to the Xbox One right now). I know I am very happy with what EA is doing, so as the title states, thanks EA.  I intend on using my console for the occasional gaming session much more frequently...

Review: Nook Color

By on Nov 29, 2010 | 0 comments

I have been using the Nook Color for about a week now, and I have to say that it is a very well made device. As soon as you open the box and pull out the Nook Color you can feel how well built it is. The screen looks amazing, even at 1/4 brightness that it is set at by default. The size is perfect for reading books and magazines look great on the color screen, but i personally think it’s a little small for viewing them. Article view helps out a lot though, which I will talk about more later. On the initial startup you are greeted by a welcome video. The quality of the video is perfect. Seriously, I don’t really think it could look any better. Unfortunately, this seems to be the only video that I can get to even play on the device, but more about that later. It takes little time to setup. You just set up your WIFI, timezone and log into your account and that is about it. The performance of the Nook Color is great. There is an occasional hiccup with an animation, but it is very minimal. Unless you are sitting there searching for a problem you will most likely not even notice. The device itself only has 4 physical buttons: power, volume up, volume down, and the “n” home button. Pressing the power button locks the screen. If you hold it for 5 seconds it will pop up an option to turn of the device completely. I have been doing this at night because I don’t really have a reason to keep it on. I figured it would be a good addition to the review to time the fresh boot up. It takes 31 seconds to load up all the initial wording and animations. At that point you are on the home screen. So turning the device off completely isn’t really a big time killer. The Nook Color really shines as an ebook reader. I have absolutely no eye strain while using it even though it has an LCD screen. My eyes are totally used to LCD screens though, as I have been using them for the last 10 years regularly. You have many options while reading books or newspapers on the device. You can change the colors, margins, font, line spacing and text size that it displays. It has enough options available that you should be able to find a combination that suits you perfectly. The entire screen is touch enabled. But there are 3 key locations you want to touch while reading. About 1/2 inch on each side of the screen is for page turns. You can just tap on the left side to go back or tap on the right to go ahead. If you don’t like the single tap function, you can also swipe your finger to “move” to the next page. By tapping in the middle of the page, it will bring up an option menu where you can see the content of whatever you are reading along with your bookmarks, search through the text, share (recommend via email, Twitter or Facebook along with posting the % complete as a status update), change the text attributes, and adjust the screen brightness. There is also a slider to go to a specific page. I have tried all of these functions and haven’t come across any problems yet. Where the device begins to have some problems is with media functions. Various sites including YouTube are bookmarked by default in the web browser. I tried a few videos via the home page of YouTube and none of them worked. Each popped up the same “unable to play media” message. To test this further I put a few videos on to my microSD card. I tried 3 videos, all encoded via mp4 as stated on the Nook specs as necessary and none of them worked. There seems to be a major issue with the video codecs on the device. But as I stated earlier, the demo video looks incredible. So I hope an update is released soon that adds more functionality to the video playback portion of the device because as of right now it serves little purpose. I put about 100 mp3 files onto my microSD card also. They played without any problem. I have seen other reviews where mp3 files did not play. But I had no issues, though I didn’t try to play any VBR mp3 files. If any could be a problem I would think those would have the greatest chance of failure. Now back to Article view in magazines. This function makes magazines actually readable. Article view, which works in regular or landscape, pulls the text from within the articles and displays it in the center of the screen. It makes it much easier to scroll through and read the text this way. Magazines would not be very functional if this option was not available. You would be forced to zoom in and out on the magazine, moving it around the screen to view the different columns of text. The web browser works well. It lacks Flash like most other mobile devices. One thing to point out though is the fact that the mobile versions of sites don’t load by default. Every site I visit treats the browser in the Nook as a...

Nook Color Revealed – Ships Nov 19

By on Oct 26, 2010 | 2 comments

The rumors were true. Barnes & Noble is currently hosting their special event regarding the release of a new version of the Nook, the Nook Color. The new device is much different from the older models. It no longer has the e-ink screen but a full touch screen powered by Android. The new device is not just an ereader, it’s a tablet. Listed below are the features of the new Nook Color. The Ultimate Reading Experience: Stunning 7-inch color touchscreen Magazines & newspapers in rich color Kids’ books come alive Over 2 million titles at your fingertips Get social, surf the web, play games, even listen to music All for $249. To get more information on the Nook Color visit the Barnes & Noble site by clicking here. The product page has already been...

Roku For Dummies!

By on Aug 22, 2010 | 1 comment

I recently purchased a Roku HD player at a great price from Amazon.com. I am an avid Netflix user and streaming video to my laptop is nice but watching movies on a television is a much nicer experience all around. My Roku arrived this week and, unbelievably, I installed it on my lunch hour after I ate my lunch and I was not late returning to work! In less than thirty minutes I connected it to my television and the internet, registered my device with Roku, Netflix, and Amazon Video On Demand. It was an amazingly simple process. I had been told that I would need to manage my Netflix queue via the internet to add movies for streaming, however Netflix has made some upgrades that allow you to search for movies via your Roku device making adding and deleting from the device is very user friendly. Download speeds are fast and I have not had any issues with any movies needing to buffer as I watched them. The only thing I found a bit awkward was scrolling through a video I just wanted to watch parts of, however if you pause during a movie and come back later to resume watching, it immediately goes to the point where you left off. There are many options of channels you can add to your Roku device from podcasts to videos to photo sharing. Thus far I have added Mediafly, PodTV, woot!, Roku Newscaster, EZTakes, and USTREAM.tv. I have found each of these applications to be very easy to navigate and use. I have not found Amazon video on demand as simple to use though. I found their application to be a bit cumbersome and outside of a few current television show offerings, all of their content is available on Netflix, so paying for Amazon rentals is not going to be something I will do with any regularity. For those interested in MMA, there are a couple of channels for viewing UFC which offers LIVE events and archived PPV events and classic fights and Midwest Cage Fighting. It also has some internet radio channels, family channels with kid friendly content, some independent film channels, and several classic movie channels. In addition, in the few days since I have installed my Roku device, there have been several new channels added to the lineup, so I will be checking back often to see what else is new. If you have been considering purchasing a Roku device, I would definitely recommend...

Sansa: The MP3 Player That Could

By on Aug 18, 2010 | 1 comment

Back in January of 2009 we got a new telephone system installed at work. The included “tones” in the system while people were waiting on hold, or even for a call to connect were bad, really bad. We contacted the company who installed the system knowing that we could set up a device for hold music. They had various “hold music devices” that were fairly expensive. If I remember correctly, the cheapest one they sold was over $250. I thought about it for a few minutes and said, “can’t we just use an MP3 player?” Obviously the man on the phone didn’t care for my idea very much because they didn’t sell MP3 players for this function. But surprisingly he said he didn’t see it being a problem. We all questioned the reliability of a relatively inexpensive MP3 playing device, but now I can say that reliability has not been an issue at all. I went to Best Buy in February of 2009 and saw a Sandisk Sansa Clip on sale for $34. I figured even if it only lasted a few months we would get our money’s worth. We purchased legal MP3 files to serve the function of hold music, which also includes overlays of words such as “please stay on the line, your call is important to us” that fades in over the music on occasion. It is now August 18, 2010 and the MP3 player has never stopped playing. It has been running continuously for nearly 600 days straight. Just in case something happens to the device, we have 3 extra ones purchased during a special on Woot.com for $20 a piece. Here is a photo taken today of the MP3 player in action. The battery inside even acts as a backup if we have power issues. Which reminds me to point out that the battery still keeps a charge. Needless to say, flash storage based MP3 players can apparently last a very long time. I would not hesitate to purchase a Sandisk MP3 player if my need for one ever arises.  They are built great and can’t be beat for the price. For those interested, here is a link to the updated Sansa Clip+. It is less than $50 for 8gb of storage and is expandable with a microSD...

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