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...

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...

BlackBerry Storm Review

By on Jan 15, 2010 | 3 comments

Today’s cellphones / smartphone have changed the way we communicate with the world, and  I’m constantly asked how do I like the BlackBerry Storm, would I recommend this for others to purchase.  I have had the BlackBerry Storm for several months now, so it is safe to say I’ve tested it enough give this a fair review. Hardware/Appearance At first glance, it is clear that your eyes are drawn to the front display.  This display is a 3.25 inch (480×360) touchscreen.  Below the screen are the four typical BlackBerry buttons (Phone/Send, Menu, Back/Escape, and End/Power), a micro USB port and convenience key are found on the left, while on the right a second convenience key can be found along with a volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone jack.  Along the top of this phone there is a single LED light to the right, and the lock and mute keys built into the case, almost as if it were to be a soft rocker. Side Note As of a few days ago (1/11/2010) all four buttons had fell off my phone. I pulled my phone out of my jeans and those buttons got snagged and fell off.  Verizon Wireless is sending me a replacement device, however I have yet to receive it.  This seems pretty common as seen here,  “BlackBerry Support Forums“ Edit: (1/16/2010):  Verizon Shipped me my replacement phone yesterday, I got it set back up.  I took a picture from my new storm of the old storm’s keys.  I super glued the send key in place so I could make phone calls during the week. Touchscreen The touchscreen is where most of the phone’s attention will be focused.  Unlike the iPhone, the Storm does not just have a wonderful display but it also utilizes a click technology called SurePress.  The purpose of this is to give the user a physical sensation of clicking when you type or navigate throughout the phone.  When I first began typing on the phone I hated this all together, and still today I find it annoying.   In my opinion, having to physically press down / click the touchscreen is really irritating in two ways.  The first is the fact you are physically limited to how fast you can type on this device.  The user has to click; lift finger and re click the screen. Since the touchscreen is one large button it is not possible to type as fast as a normal QWERTY keyboard.  The second reason the screen is actually floating on a button, and thus screen actually wobbles left/right and up/down, which makes the phone’s screen feel cheap for such an expensive phone.  I wish RIM chose to go  in the direction that Apple did with the iPhone for the screen. Camera The Storm’s camera is a 3.2 megapixel resolution with a flash built in. The flash is extremely bright; and  many people have commented how the light actually hurts their eyes when taking photos.  Overall the picture is great, although the response time was very slow when taking photos.  To resolve this I had to upgrade my OS to 5.0.328 as this fixed many bugs in the original OS (4.7)  The photo listed below was taken with the BlackBerry Storm (Click to view full resolution). Battery Life The storm’s battery is not the greatest; I typically make it about 24 -36 hours before needing charged.  I have my phone attached to my company’s BES so I am constantly receiving emails daily (110 per day on average), text messaging, Gmail (BIS Account) and general phone use.  I do not use the browser much just, every so often but when I do I noticed my battery takes a drain from this.  I keep a second charger with me at work, and a car charger with me in the car just because of the battery life.  In comparison, with my BlackBerry 8830 I can go almost 5 days before a recharge doing the same workload as the Storm. Phone Calls When it comes to sound quality and reception for phone calls I have had no complaints.  Being on the Verizon network I have not ran in many spots that I did not have coverage.  I’ve had some people tell me at first when I got this phone they had a difficult time hearing me talk, so I found myself speaking louder on the phone almost yelling at times.  An annoyance of the phone is if your face bumps the touchscreen while in call mode, the phone will actually mute the call. After several phone calls I had to learn how to hold the phone just right to stop this from happening.  I believe the iPhone has a proximity feature built into their device, and I would have hoped RIM would have done the same. Wrap-Up It was pretty clear when this phone launched both Verizon and RIM wanted to go after the iPhone’s dominance in the market.  The selling points of the device are great, however I think because of the click screen and other quirks the learning curve and complexity of the Storm may turn off the casual users.  Hopefully with the launch of the Storm2 RIM has fixed most if not all the little issues with this device and can give the Storm a better chance in the...

24 inch iMac 2.8ghz Review

By on May 4, 2008 | 5 comments

As many of you know the iMac line was refreshed on Monday, April 28. For about 6 months I had been wanting to purchase a new computer, but I kept holding off for some reason. When I heard the rumors about the iMac update, I made up my mind that I would finally purchase one. By the way, this is not my first Apple computer. I have had a 14” (1.33ghz) iBook for years now. I knew what to expect in terms of the initial setup of the iMac based off of my previous experience with Apple products. And I also knew my way around OSX pretty well. I ordered the iMac the day it was updated. I don’t game on my computer anymore (I have a 360, Wii, and PS3) so I figured I would go with the lower end of the 24” models. I selected the free shipping so I wasn’t expecting to receive the iMac for about a week, but to my surprise it was delivered to my house on Wednesday, April 30…not even 2 full days after I placed my order. I was pretty happy with that to say the least. My initial thought when I saw the box was, wow that’s going to be huge. And believe me, I was right with my initial assessment. I figured a 24” monitor wouldn’t seem much different from the 20” monitor I was used to using with my Dell computer. I was completely wrong. The screen on the 24” iMac is totally amazing. I have never seen a display with a brighter screen. Even my 32” Samsung LCD television looks pale in comparison to the screen of this iMac. The glossy screen has a lot to do with that though. But anyways, the hardest thing to get used to, for me at least, is the resolution of the screen. 1920×1200 is amazing to work with. So much can be done on the screen at once. It is a great upgrade over the 1680×1050 resolution I am used to working with. As for the computer itself, it came with a 2.8ghz Core 2 Duo and 2gb of 800mhz ram which I upgraded to 4gb (more on that later). This was a nice upgrade for me considering the pc I use at home is a 3.6ghz P4. My computer at work is a 1.83ghz Core 2 Duo though, so when I talk about responsiveness I will be comparing the iMac to that. For me, this computer is extremely quick. I almost forgot how much quicker OSX in general is at launching applications. In terms of overall responsiveness there is no comparison between the iMac and my computer at work. Safari opens instantly…iTunes, even with a 10,000 song library opens in a fraction of the time that it does on my other computers. It takes a little under 2 seconds to be exact. Photoshop launches quicker than I have ever seen. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the general idea. As for the ram upgrade, it really couldn’t be any easier. It took maybe 2 minutes total to replace the ram with 2 new sticks. As far as I can tell, it is definitely best to max out the ram if you have the money to do so. At one point yesterday I saw I had a little over 800mb of ram free. I would have definitely noticed a performance hit if I had only been using 2gb. This is my first time using Leopard for an extended period of time. A couple of my friends have iMacs (I talked them into buying them) so I have used it before, but not to the same extent as I have the past few days. I like the changes they have made for the most part. But just like anything else, there are a few default settings here and there that don’t make much sense to me. For example the Mighty Mouse doesn’t have right clicking enabled by default. Photo booth doesn’t have the auto flip image setting enabled. Simple things like that can be slightly annoying to have to change, but like I said, it’s impossible to please everyone completely. And the things I mentioned are very minor. I ran xbench to include some figures in the review. Please note though that I did not run the program right after a reboot, only because I haven’t restarted the computer since I initially set it up and downloaded all the updates. So here are the scores… All tests enabled: 176.11 HDD test disabled: 228.84 Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. I hope this iMac lasts me a long time. The only thing I dislike about the whole package is the Mighty Mouse. I just don’t like it at all. So here are some overall ratings. iMac screen: 9.5/10 iMac performance: 9/10 (there is always something faster) Overall look: 9/10 (people are amazed at this thing sitting on my desk) Initial Leopard Impression: 9/10 Mighty Mouse: 6/10 Apple Keyboard: 8/10 (it takes some time to get used to) Please ask any/all questions you may have about it and I will go into more...

LG Venus (vx8800) Review

By on Dec 17, 2007 | 1 comment

I have had the phone now for about 3 weeks, so I think I have tested it enough to give a decent review. So here it goes… A quick run down of the phone: Phone Type: Slider Storage: ~128mb internal, and support for up to 8gb MicroSD. Screen sizes: 240×320 and 240×176 Audio Support: AAC, MP3, WMA Video Support: 3G2, 3GP, WMV, MP4 Most notable feature(s): Touch screen, Battery Life Appearance At a quick glance the phone looks great…much better than my old phone, a V3C Razr. The front of the phone is 2 screens basically covered by what seems to be glass. But after using the phone for a while I noticed that the bottom (touch) screen seems to have some give to it, almost feeling squishy so to speak. As you look close you will see that some parts of the phone aren’t black, but a dark blue color. It’s slightly annoying to the overall appearance, but in certain light you really can’t tell. Features This phone has many of the same features as just about all of the newest phones on the market. It has a 2mp camera that takes decent photos and up to 1 hour of video. It has a MicroSD slot that can take up to an 8gb card. I am currently using a 4gb card. Right now I have about 500 mp3 files on it and there is still more space available. I have the phone set to save my photos directly to the card to make it easier to transfer photos to and from the device. The most unique feature to this phone though is the (partial) touch screen on the front. The touch screen basically controls everything. It changes in context with what you are trying to do. The battery life so far is almost unbelievable. It is rated for over 4 hours of talk time and 20 days standby. I have talked multiple times over an hour straight and the battery meter still shows as full. I’m sure after time it will become much shorter, but it is easily replaceable. I haven’t had a chance to test mp3 playback for long periods of time so I can’t comment on that right now. One other thing worth mentioning is the user interface. You actually have the ability to choose multiple interfaces including some which are much different than the usual red interface on most Verizon phones. Sound Quality The sound quality of this phone is above average. It is definately much better than my Razr. At all volume levels though there is a faint, but constant, hiss or static sound. By no means does it interfere with the conversation, but it is there. Everyone I have talked to says I sound great on their end also. The Touch Screen Since the touch screen is the main selling point of this phone I’ll talk about it in more detail. By default the phone will make a sound and vibrate when you touch the screen. It is helpful at first, but as you become used to the controls you will most likely turn it off…I know I did. Until you know exactly how hard to touch the screen things might seem a little unresponsive, but the more you mess around with it the easier things get. As I said before, the touch controls change all the time to control whatever it is you are doing. Multimedia Functions The audio and video playback actually surprised me. MP3’s sound great and can be played various ways; though the internal speaker, or via the 2.5mm jack. The amount of music you can store on the phone is only ~64mb internally, but as I said before can be up to 8gb via the MicroSD slot. One thing that bothers me though is the ability the phone has to read some of my ID3 tags. On my PC my music has all of the corresponding ID3 tags, but not all of them show up on the phone for some reason. Video playback is also very good. I used super to encode clips of various shows into 3GP format. I encoded them at 320×240 which play great because you can turn the phone sideways and watch them in their full resolution. Conclusion Overall, this phone is pretty good if you know what to expect from it. It doesn’t have any mind blowing features, but it does deviate from the standard type of phone we have all come to expect from Verizon. As I just mentioned, overall this is a decent phone. I am happy with my purchase. If I had to rate it I’d probably say it’s about an 8 out of 10. Like I said before, nothing included is mind blowing, but it does everything it is trying to do...

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