Coming across a genuinely new launcher interface and paradigm on Android is rare. Most third-party clients try to emulate the default Android launcher and add some customizations and improvements here and there. Not to undermine the power of something like Nova Launcher, but there's only so many times you can swipe left and right between homescreens or tap to open and close an app drawer before you wonder what that new launcher you installed does differently. If you seek the novelty of a new welcoming interface each time you unlock your phone, choices are somewhat more limited especially if you want a reliable and simple app, not one that has been built for the sake of difference more than usability. Read More
About a year and a half ago, I called the original Fugoo "the speaker I'd make if I made speakers." The design of it is actually brilliant — it's waterproof, offers 360 degree sound, is crazy-robust, and gets an insane 40 hours of battery life. Really, it's a beast.
Then, back at CES (yes, in January), Fugoo announced the XL. Like the name suggests, it's a big-ass version of the original Fugoo speaker. I've been waiting for what seems like forever to spend some time with it — as good as the original was, a bigger version is logically better, right? I mean, it makes sense to me. Read More
When I was in high school, BlackBerry was still an up-and-comer in the US cell phone market. The sleepy suburb I grew up in really had no widespread knowledge of them until after I had left for college. And when you start college in 2006, a year before the first iPhone (released at the end of my freshman year), it’s probably not surprising to learn that shiny-new-MacBook toting shiny-new-adults at a big state school turned up their noses at something as staid and “establishment” as a BlackBerry. Everyone who was into “cell-phone-as-status-symbol” knew it was the iPhone that was changing everything. Read More
ASUS in the recent past has been pushing harder into Western markets and into smartphones in general with the ZenFone product line and its associated ZenUI software layer. Those who remember the Transformer tablets of yesteryear may be surprised at the non-geeky, colorful, feature-filled approach of these devices. Now well into the second generation of ZenFones, ASUS has announced the ZenFone 2 Laser for wide release, including the USA.
It is a slight refinement on the ZenFone 2, which we reviewed back in June. David felt that its base model was one of the best values around for just $199. Read More
The first few Android Wear watches from mid-2014 were watches in name only. They were really more like tiny screens strapped to your wrist that told the time. The design of Android Wear devices has evolved significantly since then, and now there are some that look like honest-to-goodness watches. The second gen Moto 360 and Huawei Watch are the most watch-like so far, but they aren't cheap. Let's see how they compare so you can (maybe) pick up the right one for you. Read More
I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to review the V5PF (Play-Fi) Wireless Speaker from Wren. The sound quality was absolutely immaculate, and everything about the physical product more than justified its fairly high price tag. The one unfortunate dark spot in the nearly perfect experience came from software – an Android app built by DTS to run its proprietary Play-Fi protocol. It was ugly, amateurish, and unreliable. Two years have passed, and Wren has released the V5US, a new model that not only fixes some minor issues from previous products, but it also combines the features of its three existing variants to produce a single speaker with support for Play-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. Read More
Back in July of 2014, a speaker came out that changed the way I thought of Bluetooth speakers: the Ultimate Ears BOOM. At the time — and for many months after — this speaker was the benchmark by which all others were judged. Then came the MEGABOOM, a damn-near double sized BOOM. Again, benchmark-quality stuff. The ROLL is the smallest entry from Ultimate Ears, but that didn't stop it from also being incredible. Needless to say, Ultimate Ears has been putting out some of my favorite speakers over the last two years.
Then JBL came along and changed the game again. Read More
Logitech has been all about keyboards that are designed to handle multiple connections to several different devices for the last couple of years, starting with the (freakin' awesome) K810. About a year ago, the versatile K480 was released, with its biggest feature being price point — it comes in at just $50. The trade-off, however, is the overall size: it's a lot bulkier than most people would want, making it mostly impractical to just toss in a bag for on-the-go typing.
A few weeks ago, the company announced the K380, another sub-$50 entry into its multi-device lineup ($40, to be exact), this time with a much more streamlined form factor than the K480. Read More
At a wedding reception this past Saturday, I finally had a chance to put the HTC One A9 side-by-side with an iPhone 6. “It looks just like an iPhone. Even the little camera bump looks similar,” remarked the person whose iDevice I had temporarily pilfered for this little visual experiment.
I was forced to agree. Flip them over, of course, and the story changes. HTC’s phone, with its elongated speaker grille, HTC logo, and Samsung-pill-style capacitive home key and fingerprint scanner is noticeably distinguishable from any iPhone - and really no different from any other white Android phone in that regard. Read More
I hate cases. For the last…bunch of years, I have refused to use a case on any of my phones. Sure, I'd used them back in the day when we actually did a lot of case reviews — and I always tried to be as objective as possible — but really, I've never liked cases. I don't need the added bulk, and I just hate how they make phones look most of the time. Why hide the beautiful design of most modern smartphones under a gaudy plastic and rubber shell? (That's rhetorical — I totally understand why people do this.)
It's been a while since we've done a hands-on or review with any sort of case, mostly because they're all basically the same at this point (and are generally just rehashes of older versions). Read More