Budget phone. The very sound of those two words, together, makes me slightly ill. In fact, it makes me almost immediately seethe with a sort of "nerd-rage." I hate the way budget phones are peddled onto the tech-illiterate by commission-motivated hucksters at "Big Four" carrier phone stores. I hate seeing people get locked into 2-year contracts because they got a "great deal" on a smartphone. "It was free!" they'll say, and that the nice sales representative (his name was Jimmy) kept them from buying "something they didn't need," because they walked in with a firm spending limit and they weren't going to budge!
Make no mistake about it - the Galaxy Nexus is the most important phone of 2011. It's the first device from the next generation of Android. It hits every major feature the phones of 2012 will be touting: On-screen buttons, a massive 720p OLED screen, NFC, LTE, and Ice Cream Sandwich. Together these things make this phone unlike any other Android phone. This is what Android's future looks like.
- CPU: 1.2 GHz, Dual Core TI OMAP 4460
- GPU: 384 MHz PowerVR SGX540
- RAM: 1 GB
- Storage: 32GB (28GB usable, no SD card)
- Screen: 4.65" 720p Super AMOLED PenTile
- Camera: 5MP rear, 1.3MP front, 1080p Video
- Battery: 1,850 mAh
- OS: Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (Stock)
- Weight: 135 g (4.8 oz)
- Dimensions: 135.5 mm x 67.94 mm x 9.47 mm
- Verizon LTE
- Ice Cream Sandwich is a revolution.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a big fan of Klipsch. I like their style, their sound signature, and their products generally. I started with a ProMedia 2.1 computer speaker setup, and have since graduated to a pair of their reference bookshelf speakers, and I've been pleased the whole way through. I had never, however, tried their headphones. Until recently, Klipsch's in-line control headphones designed for smartphones had only fully worked with iOS devices. With the S4A, that changed - it's the first Klipsch headphone designed specifically for use with Android devices.
What's the word? They're definitely a Klipsch product.
I've been on a bit of a headphone kick lately, and have tried out a number of sets from various manufacturers. The only on-ear headphones I've tried during this time, though, have been AKG's K 830 BT's, the company's only high fidelity Bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth headphones remain a relatively young technology, and have been growing steadily as more and more computers and smartphones adopt the A2DP Bluetooth audio transmission standard.
The 830 BT's are a very comfortable pair of headphones with some nicely designed (if plasticky) on-ear controls (track skip, volume, answer call, play/pause). But like all Bluetooth headphones, they suffer from diminished audio quality when compared to their corded counterparts, particularly at high volume and high frequencies.
Before seeking out a few companies to find the best Android-friendly headphones around, I had never heard of Etymotic Research. Apparently, they've been around quite a while - since 1983, actually, and were among the first companies to market in-ear headphones to consumers. They actually claim to be the inventors of in-ear headphones (or "canalphones"), though whether or not that's actually true is apparently an object of some controversy.
Anyway, the good folks at ER sent me a pair of their hf2 in-ear headphones with Android-friendly inline controls and microphone, and I have to say, these headphones rock - the sheer difference in sound quality from your standard $30-80 earbuds is mind-blowing.
Although we heard rumblings that the Prime would be delayed, some lucky customers have already received their Asus Transformer Primes, and it was briefly available (again) on Amazon before quickly selling out (again). Based on the universally glowing reviews (including my own), you're probably well aware by now that the Prime is a truly excellent piece of tech. But how does it compare to its older brother, the Transformer (TF101)? Is it worthwhile for TF owners to upgrade to the TP?
Before diving in, let's run over the Prime's specs:
- 10.1-inch 1280x800 Super IPS + display with Gorilla Glass
- 1.3GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 Processor with 12-core GPU (up to 1.4GHz in single-core mode)
- 1GB RAM
- microSD slot and microHDMI port (with support for 1080p video output) on tablet
- SD card slot and USB port on dock
- 8MP F2.4 rear shooter with 1080p video recording and continuous flash, 1.2MP front camera
- Tablet: 8.3mm thin, 263mm wide, 180.8mm tall, 586g (1.29 lbs)
- Dock: 8 - 10.4mm thin, 263mm wide, 180.8mm tall, 537g (1.18 lbs)
- 12 hour battery life playing 720p video, 18 hours with keyboard dock
- Metallic spun finish
- Two available colors: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold
- Android 3.2.1 - will be updated to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as soon as possible after release
Size and Build
Dimensions and build quality are probably the two most significant factors in tablet purchases for casual consumers, so it should be no surprise that Asus placed an emphasis on how thin and light the Prime is.
Ever since we reviewed Ski Challenge 12, I have been on the hunt for an equally incredible snowboarding game. Com2uS ended my search with the release of SummitX Snowboarding, a ridiculously awesome downhill challenge game for those of us who enjoy boarding more than skiing.
First Things First
I would like to mention a minor complain before we go any further - SummitX is listed as free in the Android Market and nowhere in the description does it mention payment of any kind. The description boasts 36 runs on 6 mountains, customizable boards, and different character options, however, when you start the game you’ll be greeted with an option to buy the full game for $4.99.
Rockstar Games released the revolutionary Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, and they’re back again to blow minds with a 10 year anniversary mobile edition of the same game. If you’ve ever played GTA (and I know you have), then you already know how incredibly addictive the game is and how easy it is to play for hours on end without even thinking of stopping. The mobile edition is just the same - I’ve been playing it non-stop for the past day and I still can’t get enough.
First Things First
I should first mention that this game is currently only available for select phones and tablets.
The Toshiba Thrive and I don't exactly have a great history. And that's probably putting it mildly. In fact, in my first review of Toshiba's first Tegra 2 tablet (yes, I had to write a second one) earlier this year, I panned it so hard that I basically just started textually abusing the poor thing. So, at the behest of commenters and colleagues, I rewrote it. My revised review (here) was a little less harsh, but I'll be the first to admit: I didn't like the Thrive, and after spending even more time with it after the review, my feelings were unchanged.
The Beacon from Griffin is an interesting little device - it effectively transforms your Android phone or tablet into a fully-functional universal remote control. It connects to your device via Bluetooth, and then transmits the signals to your TV, DVD/Blu-Ray player, digital cable box, etc. via IR, just like a traditional remote control would. It does all this through an app called Dijit, which is the meat and potatoes of the entire system.
But how well does it work?