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Reviews

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Elephone S7 review: [Mediocre] Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Design is extremely important in regard to pretty much everything. From fashion to cars, computer hardware to software, you can never escape good or bad design. Sometimes, the sheer popularity of a product will cause others to copy what they perceive to be worth imitating, despite the inevitable sneers from consumers and competitors alike. Such is the case with the Elephone S7, a pretty unashamed clone of the well-known Galaxy S7 Edge. But what if the copycat is actually halfway decent?

The Ele S7 holds up as a capable device. The hardware is pretty good and it runs an almost stock version of Android, which is a nice change of pace from what we usually see with Chinese phones.

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Woodie Hub review: The Cadillac of all-in-one power strips, with a €220 price tag to match

I have never thought of power strips as sexy or gorgeous. To me, all power strips were unavoidable tools that did their job while hiding behind a desk or under a cabinet. The fact that they all looked like cheap pieces of plastic was a necessary evil, a price to pay for their convenient functionality. But that all changed when I saw the Woodie Hub project on Kickstarter.

The Woodie oozed class in a modern and minimalistic way. This was a power strip you could display on your desk, a table in your living room, a bedside table, without it sticking out in the décor like a sore thumb.

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Wink Hub 2 review: Powerful home automation made approachable and fun

I bought an apartment in October. You can imagine the joy at the thought that it'd be my future family's home, terror at the sight of the mortgage value on the signed contract, and all the excitement about getting to set up a house from scratch. I could pick everything that I loved from design to materials to colors to organization, and yes, also automation.

I wanted lights that turn on when the doors open, A/C units that cool the place when I'm coming home and the outside heat is too much to bear, cameras that catch intruders the moment they are detected, a washing machine that notifies me when the load is done, colored lights that coordinate with whatever I'm watching on TV, blinds that open and close with the sunset and sunrise, and much more.

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ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 review: The iPad Air running Android

The history of Android on tablets is complicated. Just as Apple had done in 2007 with the first iPhone, the iPad's release in 2010 set a very high standard for the rest of the market. The next year, Google released Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom, designed specifically with tablets in mind. The Xoom wasn't the iPad killer that Motorola had hoped for, and there have been very few Android tablets that could stack up to Apple's iPad line.

Since Honeycomb, Android has shifted away from most tablet-specific features in favor of a shared UI on all screen sizes. There's still a large number of major applications clearly not designed for tablets (Hangouts comes to mind).

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Google Wifi review: Probably the best home Wi-Fi system you can buy right now

I'm reviewing Google Wifi because my apartment sucks. Well, specifically: my apartment's walls suck. And the placement of my router is far from ideal. You see, because I need a hardline to my desktop PC in my office, that means keeping the router in the office, too, or snaking around fifty feet of unsightly ethernet from my living room along the wall (in-wall cabling is not an option for me). This presents a conundrum, because it means that if I want my apartment to have well-distributed Wi-Fi, I need a big, ugly, long cable running the length of the place. If I don't want to run the cable, it means lopsided Wi-Fi coverage.

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Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 review: The most bang for the buck wireless noise canceling headphones

The market for wireless noise canceling headphones has been booming over the past couple of years. One day, we were struggling to find one pair of headphones that offered both Bluetooth connectivity and noise cancelation, the next there were more choices than we could fit in one Amazon result page. Plantronics, Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, B&O, and more brands are coming on the market with their own take on the matter and the options can be a little confusing for everyone.

Do you go for the trusted noise cancelation of the $349 Bose Quiet Comfort 35, pay the extravagant sum of $499 to get a new Beoplay H9, believe the hype over the $399 Sony MDR1000X, or prefer the well-known $350-400 Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 or its newer offering, the $399 Sennheiser PXC 550?

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Fitbit Flex 2 review: Fitbit jumps in the pool for the first time and doesn't drown

For the past 4 years, I've been wearing a Fitbit device of some sort. I started with the One, which stuck with me for the better part of 3 years, then I tried the Blaze, the Alta, and the Charge 2. My main complaint with each of these trackers was the lack of water-resistance, which meant that I couldn't wear them in the pool or track my swims with them. I've tried several swim trackers including the Misfit Shine 2 Swim Edition and Amiigo, looking for something that could replace Fitbit, but the best that I found was the Garmin vivoactive, which has excellent swim tracking and can send the main stats to Fitbit through MyFitnessPal.

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Google Home review: Three weeks with a voice assistant that's actually worth talking to

A couple of weeks ago, I got my hands on Google Home and immediately set out to use it and record my initial impressions. Now that I've given this odd little device a chance to prove its worth in my home, the time has come to finish the review. Out of the gate, I must confess to a little personal surprise at just how little my opinions have changed from the first 24 hours I had to spend with the device. As such, I'm not going to repeat everything I said in my first post. This is an addendum. I will touch on all of the subjects again and add details where there is more to say – because there is still a lot to say.

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Lenovo Phab2 Pro review: A phone-like object wrapped around Project Tango

The Lenovo Phab2 Pro is not the first device to have Google's Tango augmented reality platform, but it's the first one to be aimed at consumers. It's also the first Lenovo-branded smartphone to launch in the US. With the Phab2 Pro, you can see virtual items overlaid in the real world, or explore virtual worlds by moving around in the real one. But let's not forget, this is a phone too. People will presumably buy this product to carry around with them on a daily basis, but it's only available as a $500 unlocked device. So, it's up to Lenovo to make a good pitch to US phone buyers who have more choices than ever before.

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Blink home security camera review: An interesting proposition that falters in execution

When I first heard about the Blink security cameras, I was immediately impressed and intrigued. Having tried both the Piper and Canary in my pharmacy, to more or less mitigated results, the Blink seemed like the perfect solution.

Piper (full review) suffers from one major flaw: the camera doesn't turn itself back on after a power failure if the back-up battery is empty (and since we have lots of blackouts here in Lebanon, I got tired of buying new batteries every two or three weeks). It also doesn't have a native scheduled arm/disarm feature; I really shouldn't have to manually arm and disarm my cameras when a simple time-based schedule is easy to implement.

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