Monday 30 March 2015

Oculus Rift - Look into my eyes....

The Oculus Rift. The piece of technology that caused ‘Kickstarter’ to explode. The virtual reality headset developed by 'Oculus VR' is perhaps the most advanced piece of virtual gaming gear available today. Despite its delayed release for consumer purchase, the 'Rift' still stands as the best at what it does, if they stall the release much longer though, they may have to innovate quicker, as other companies are fast approaching with other new ideas for the future of VR technology. The second SDK (Software developer kit) is available for purchase now at £400 but the official launch of a non-developer version is set to be mid-2015, but there has still been no official release date as of yet, but 'Oculus VR' have said they’d be “Disappointed” if the release was pushed back to 2016.

The 'Rift' uses an OLED screen within the goggles to project the images in front of you. This was changed from a regular LCD screen in the first model and is now much better for image projection in the supported games. The screen itself is a size of 5.7 inches within the headset with a 24-bit colour depth which allows a resolution of 1080p for each eye, making the games look as crisp as next gen console graphics. Despite this, the current developer kit of the 'Rift' weighs a mighty 379g, which is expected to be lowered for consumer purchase because it seems like it could form a problem with prolonged periods of that weight on the front of your face.

How does it work? The 'Rift' uses 3 axis gyros, magnetometers, and accelerometers along with its infrared motion tracking system to make the VR experience as enjoyable as possible. In the past there have been some lag issues with the motion tracking that have been worked on by the company. This may lead to an adjacent reality tracker being used in the future, if the problems are continuous, in order to minimalise the tracking lag and improve the overall experience.

As for a first-hand review of the product, we can’t give you one yet unfortunately, although, we hope to be able to get our hands on the product one day and return to the topic for all our perspectives. If you want to learn more about the rift then visit or watch one of many Youtube videos for reviews or examples of the amazing games and features this equipment has to offer.

As always, if you have anything you want to share with us about this topic feel free to leave a comment below or send us a private message through the contact feature of our website!

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Samsung Galaxy S5 - A low-impact User's review

When reviewing the S5 obviously the property that stood out the most was the waterproofing, a trait becoming more and more common amongst current smartphones, the manufacturers say that the S5 I waterproof up to 1M depth for 30 minutes, and although we didn't quite push it to its limits, I discovered that the phone is in fact relatively waterproof. The only downside to this is that the phones touchscreen cannot be used whilst the phone is submerged or even just wet.
Another thing I obviously picked up on whilst using the S5 was the technicolor wonderland of the Super AMOLED, 5.1”, 1080 x 1920 HD screen, which in cooperation with the 16MP back camera of the S5 means stunning photographs can both be captured and viewed in the palm of your hand.
As well as this the S5 has a more than capable internal processing unit, the phones quad-core processor allows for next to no stalling or delays whether you’re browsing the many corners of the internet using Vodafone’s super-fast 4G, just flicking about the home screen or even tapping away on crossy road.
The S5 has the very intuitive idea of a built in heart rate monitor located on the back of the phone next to the camera which while it is a very original and unique idea, it is unfortunately rather faulty with only 1 in every 5 attempts succeeding in giving you a heart rate, and by this time it is through the roof anyway because you’re stressing about why your phone isn't working properly.
The battery life on the S5 is claimed by the manufacturers to be 21 hours of talk time and although this is excellent for a modern smart phone this does result in the battery taking forever to fully charge.
One major benefit to the S5, particularly for myself was that it has an internal storage capacity of 16GB, now as a person that mainly uses their phone for music this meant that I could fit near enough every track in my music library onto the S5 as well as having a few vital apps (Facebook, messenger, candy crush saga etc…) meaning that this storage capacity partnered with the more than impressive battery life meant that no a spare moment passed in my time with the phone when I could plug in my headphones and block out the world.
Finally one slight drawback to the S5 I reviewed was its appearance, although the phone shape is nice and thin and effectively everything a smartphone should be, the colour (‘copper gold’) reminded me of more some 2 carat Argos jewelry than a gleaming 24 carat gold ingot. This plastic gold is not quite Apple Watch gold. This however this isn't an issue with the other colours.
So those are my opinions on the Samsung Galaxy S5 but what are yours? Let us know in the comments bellow or email us through this website. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you decide if the S5 is right for you.

Monday 23 March 2015

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Moderate User's Review

I was really looking forward to getting a hands on experience with the Samsung Galaxy S5 as I haven’t used a Galaxy model since three personal phones back with my Samsung Galaxy Young.

First thing I noticed was the vibrant Super AMOLED screen which looks absolutely stunning on the 5.1” 1080p screen which makes the lock screen alone just fantastic to look at. If you’re looking for a phone that not only runs well, but looks good too, then this is the phone for you. For those who don’t want a phone to be a fashion statement, the Quad-core 2.5GHz processor allows for fast browsing through both the internet, as well as the user interface. Also, not to mention the 16MP camera that is positioned on the back of the S5 which produces stunning pictures as expected from a camera of that quality.

As an avid user of games, the S5 is perfect for gaming and the screen makes even low performance demanding games like ‘94%’ look great and it can definitely do high performance demanding apps like ‘FIFA 15 Ultimate Team’ justice with occasional to no lag during gameplay experience. As for the social media enthusiasts, all of your regular Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. work as you’d expect on any android device.

No lie, the S5 is one of the most enjoyable phones I’ve had the pleasure of using because it is well balanced in every way. The Android (5.0) is easy to use and but ‘Touchwiz’ seems a little pointless. So you get a few pre-downloaded apps and the interface is okay but it’s not really the best thing we’ve seen from an android device. Other than this, the phone is easy to use by (In my opinion) everyone who knows the basics of a touchscreen.

Something else worth mentioning is that in my past I’ve had phones that, while on vibrate, can barely be felt when a new message, e-mail, etc. is received. This is NOT a problem with the S5 as it provides an adequate earthquake for you when a notification is received. Rest assured you will not miss a notification if this phone is on vibrate in your pocket.

But the big point is the price. Is this phone worth £400 (Argos) or not? Quite honestly, I’d say yes but you shouldn’t buy one right now. I suggest you wait until the release of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and see the prices and specs of that before deciding whether or not you should splash cash on the new model, or stick with its predecessor.

Have any thoughts on the phone? Whether you own one or are just thinking about it, be sure to weigh in on the topic by commenting below, or sending us an e-mail via the site! Thanks for your time and I hope this has helped you medium impact users on how the S5 can work for you.

The Perfect Smartphone for 2015

This is going to be a compilation of features I would want in the phone I would buy no questions asked this year. This device won't be produced by and manufacturer and probably couldn't be for logical reasons I don't understand as a consumer, However it's fun to share what I think, and it'll be interesting to see what you think.

The Screen.
I currently use an LG G3, which has a 5.5" display, which is absolutely stunning. After experiencing this, I really don't think I could go back to a 5" screen or even less. 5.5" would scare off a lot of potential users, but I have big hands, so it's perfect for me. It would have to be AMOLED, as the 5.5" would otherwise consume a hell of a lot of power. I also gotta have that QHD. Some people say they can't tell the difference, but you certainly can, especially after suing a QHD phone, every other device looks like a potato.

The Camera.
A huge issue I have with phones nowadays is their focus on cameras. I rarely use my phone's camera, and when I do it's never for photographing things like mountains or macro shots of insects. I don't need a 20 megapixel sensor, especially if it will cause the camera lens to poke out of the back shell of my phone. I require a camera to be flat with the back of my phone because I refuse to put the thing face-down. If the camera sticks out, the camera gets scratched - period. No matter how gentle you are with it, it will get scratched. If you can't put a camera above 13 megapixels in there without making it protrude, don't. I'm happy at 13, so long as you can lie flat.

The Speaker(s).
HTC have recently been slapping their patented Boomsound on everything they produce, which does sound fantastic, but makes the device a lot taller than I'd like. In fact, I'd have rather had the HTC One M8 have no Boomsound Speakers, but still perform how it did than be as tall as it is. This being said, I like dual front facing speakers. The speakers I have in mind are those from the Nexus 9 tablet, which build the speakers in-between the bezel and the edge of the device, providing stereo sound, but not requiring quite so much space. This would allow me to enjoy my 5..5" screen even more because the audio would be as beautiful as the screen. YouTube here I come.

The body.
The device would definitely favour metal as a design aspect. There would have to be metal around the screen from top to bottom - this would give it a great feel in the hand and make it feel sturdy and give it that expensive feel to it. The back of the device would be glass, which would maintain the expensive feel. The bezels would be as thin as possible and the device would have a small chin on the bottom and top of the screen to allow for the speakers and extra battery size. There would have to be rear-facing buttons, as it's something I've fallen in love with since using the G series of LG phones.

I'd expect there to be 8 cores, running at about 2.7GHz at least. I'd be happy with a snapdragon 810 chipset, even with the potential overheating issues and I'd want to have at least an Adreno 330 GPU.

The software.
The device would, preferably use Android 5.1, with fairly stock android, however I'd prefer if there were some Motorola bonuses, such as Moto's notification screen each time you approach the device and motorola's voice command customization. I also really like LG's enlarged software buttons and would like to see these return.

Extra Features.
The device would need to have at least 3500 mAh of battery, anything less wouldn't make it through a day of normal usage. Water proofing is not really of any interest to me, as I like to have charging ports easily accessible. The device should have NFC built in and QI wireless charging, as I have a charging pad that I currently use, which is highly convenient. The device should have Gorilla Glass 4 at least. Fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensors are also missable.

Overall this is the device I believe that I would love to use as my daily driver throughout 2015.
So, what are your thoughts? What do you think of my ideal phone? What would be your ideal Phone? Let us know in the comments below!

Saturday 21 March 2015

The Nokia Lumia 1520 at a Glance

We all know about Nokia’s Lumia model, loaded with the latest windows OS. Recently, Nokia has released their new flagship Lumia, the 1520. The Lumia 1520 comes with the latest patch update: Lumia Cyan. The Lumia Cyan update brings to life some of the great Windows Phone 8.1 features like a more personal Start screen, Action Centre and the Word Flow keyboard. Nokia have also improved some of the previous features of windows phone and re-made it for the 1520:  Nokia Camera, Nokia Storyteller and Creative Studio. They have all been updated. The Lumia 1520 should have the best experience yet on Windows Phones.
  • A large screen size of 6 inches
  • Full HD display (1920x1080)
  • Display Features - Brightness control, Orientation sensor, Refresh rate at  60 Hz, Sunlight readability enhancements, Easy to clean, High brightness mode, Lumia Colour profile, Wide viewing angle
  • “Super sensitive”  Touch screen technology
Memory, Storage and Processing:
  • Overall phone storage - 32 Gigabytes
  • Optional external storage  - Micro SD reader  (up to 64 Gigabytes)
  • Free 15 Gigabytes of online storage – Onedrive/Skydrive
  • 2 Gigabytes of RAM (Random Access Memory)
  • CPU Name - Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800
  • Number Of Cores – Quad Core
  • Clock Rate – 2200 MHz
Network & Connectivity:
  • SIM card type - Nano SIM 
  • Headphones - 3.5 mm audio connector 
  • Charging port - Micro-USB 
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 
  • NFC: Pairing, Secure NFC for payment, Sharing, Tagging
  • Wi-Fi: WLAN IEEE 802.11
  • Wi-Fi hotspot (Up to 8 Wi-Fi-enabled devices) 
  • Other wireless connectivity - Screen projection
Camera (Main):
  • Main Camera – 20 MP
  • Image stabilisation
  • Camera features: Backside-illuminated image sensor, High resolution zoom 2x, PureView
  • Camera minimum focus range: 10 cm

Camera (Front):
  • Front camera: HD 1.2 MP wide angle 
  • Front camera f-number/aperture: f/2.4 
  • Front camera features: Still image capture, Video call, Video recording
  • Front camera video resolution: 720p (HD, 1280 x 720)
Camera (Recording):
  • Main camera video resolution - 1080p (Full HD, 1920 x 1080) 
  • Camera video frame rate - 30 fps
  • Camera video zoom - 3x
  • Video recording features - Video zoom, Optical image stabilization, Continuous autofocus, Stereo Audio Recording, Video light, Lumia Rich Recording with Surround Sound, Lumia Rich Recording with four microphones, Lumia Video Trimmer app
  • Video recording formats: MP4/H.264
The 1520 is definitely a key point in the history of Windows Phone. Windows Phone has finally matched the previous gen, mainstream phones; Iphone 5s and the Nexus 5. Nokia’s Full HD Display and Snapdragon 800 Processor and 2GB of RAM have become the expected starting grounds for flagship phones. The 1520 has become the largest phone Windows Phone ever manufactured, But that doesn’t mean only the most ardent windows fan should consider buying one.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is huge, that much is obvious, but the 1520's design is remarkably similar to the Nokia Lumia 925. In width it is not exceedingly large but undoubtedly tall. But the sheer amounts of components in the “Lanky Design” makes it quite heavy, but this is justified by the quality of the casing and what the phone can do as a result of the components.
The screen on the 1520 is magnificent, due to the IPS-based LCD display; the screen is beautiful to look at because of its sharpness, vibrant colour schemes, responsiveness and brightness. It is also a. A 1920 x 1080, 6 Inch screen amounts to about 370 ppi (Pixels per inch) which makes the text plenty sharp enough. The large screen and Microsoft office also makes this phone ideal for the business man looking at documents, even ones with graphs and charts. The black level and contrast isn't quite as deep and clear as the best AMOLED displays, but the Lumia 1520 is still very good. It's excellent when viewed outdoors, too. This is a big help when lining up shots with the camera, somewhere where the size also helps a great deal.
Overall I think that this phone is a fantastic development from previous Windows Phones. It has brilliant features and specs for the high impact users that want a “beast” of a phone. However I do not think that this this phone is appropriate for people that just want a nice phone, to perform more basic tasks (E-mail, Bluetooth, Video Streaming.) The price of this is also a drawback for moderate impact users, coming in at £390. Unless you are a user that can operate a high-spec phone such as this, it may be a waste of money. But I still believe that if it’s a Windows Phone, you’re looking for, you should definitely put this phone high in your potential phones list!

Friday 20 March 2015

HTC One M8 - Moderate User's Review

The One M8 is still a relative competitor for smartphone choices in 2015. Most likely to be overshadowed by the new HTC One M9 being an upgrade in almost every aspect, the One M8 is still a very good high performance phone on the market.

As for the model itself, compared to that of the OnePlus One it is relatively small which allows it to get away with the lock button being located on the top of the device as it doesn’t require serious hand gymnastics to reach it, although this would become an issue if the screen was any larger. Despite the M9 having the same screen size, they have opted to place the lock button on the side as to make the button that much easier to access. This point of interest would have been even worse if it were not for the extra way to unlock the device of double tapping the screen to wake the device.

Last point of the model, the metallic back overheats relatively quickly and isn’t easy to hold in the palm of your hand very long if you’re playing games (more so if the games are high-performance demanding) On the other hand, it does feel very nice in your hand and personally I love the metallic finish of the One M8 because it’s smooth and looks good, even in its gold version! Also in the visual department, the 1080p HD screen makes watching YouTube videos a great viewing experience. Combined with the trademark BoomSound speakers of HTC, both video and music playback are a joy with this phone. As for music quality with headphones, the One M8 does the job you’d ask of it with no problems in the audio department.

On to usage. I am a moderate user based on social media and gaming. The phone itself has little problems when running games such as ‘Crossy Road’ and ‘Swordigo’ while it did, on occasion, lag at times when trying to play games such as ‘Asphalt 8’ (High-performance racing game).
 As for social media, which for the website I have to always keep an eye on, it runs apps like twitter, tumblr, facebook, IF, snapchat, and more with no problems to be seen apart from some app-based ones which  I need not go in to detail on. I also partake in a fair amount of texting which I believe the M8 is possibly the best phone I’ve ever used for texting. It is fluid and easy to use for even the most amateur users among you which allowed quick and easy responses, adding to the list of reasons why I love this phone and can’t wait to see what HTC do to improve upon it with the One M9. 
Lastly, the 4G on this phone, as provided by Vodafone, allows for download speeds and loading times to die for which will leave you in minimal circumstances saying your phone is “Too slow.”

Got any thoughts on the phone you’d like to share? Leave us a comment! Don’t forget, if you’re interested in buying the phone, go to Vodafone for some great deals!

The New Moto E - Best Budget Smartphone Around?

The New Moto E (Right) With it's Dual-Speaker-ed Older Brother

Recently Motorola released their latest addition to the Moto E line-up of devices, these being the smallest, cheapest and lowest spec models. These are aimed at those who still want the Moto Android 5.0 experience, but don’t want the hefty price-tag that a costly Moto X brings with it. The device features a similar shape to the other Moto devices, being rectangular with curved corners and a bulging curved rear. The device, however lacks the metal frame that the Moto X bears so proudly, and the hardware specs the Moto X brags. The device is also not nearly as powerful as the Moto G, which is definitely a competitive mid-range smartphone.

The device sports a 4.5” qHD display (Don’t  be fooled, the device isn’t quad HD) – it has a resolution of just 540x960 pixels and sports only 245 pixels per inch. The device is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, so should withstand simple drops and bumps, but wouldn’t appreciate being dropped screen-down.

The rear facing camera records 720p HD video at 30 Frames per second, with a 5MP lens, making the camera fairly high up in the low-range market, but the front facing lens is only capable of VGA, which is Standard definition, not HD – so selfie photographers might be put off this device.

The device features many of the same software features as the 2014 Moto X, such as Moto voice – allowing you to customise what you have to say to activate voice control, instead of a being “Ok, Google.” You can now, finally say “Hal, sing me a song.” And your phone will respond with a ping. Not quite a Space Odyssey, but we’re nearly there – only 14 years late.

The Moto E won’t be exciting anybody who’s waiting to get their hands on a Samsung Galaxy S6, but for those who are new to the world of smartphones and android alike, this is a good place to start.

Don’t make the mistake of buying this as a comparison to an iPhone. If you’re coming to Android because you’re fed up of iOS, spend the same amount of money and you’ll get a much better experience, but buy a budget android phone and that isn’t a fair comparison. However, the Moto E certainly competes with the iPhone in many ways.

Its screen is much larger than the iPhone 5 and previous generations, and 0.3” larger than the iPhone 6. It comes into the market at a very respectable £107, or free with a £13 contract each month.

The device performs simple tasks adequately and allows for a very smooth Android experience. If you need to multitask, however, this isn’t the place to look – the Moto E is very good at doing one thing at once, but not so great at trying to run hundreds of apps in the background!

So, is this the Moto for you? Are you new to smartphones, or just want to revert back to simpler times? Do you not want a second mortgage to get the Moto X? Let us know in the comments below!


Tuesday 17 March 2015

HTC One M8 - Low Impact User's Review

As a low impact user I found it hard to utilise the HTC one M8 to its fullest, and therefore it was hard to do it justice. However during my time using it I did pick up on a few things that are worth mentioning.
Firstly one of the only major negatives that I noticed was that, as it has apparently been regularly slated for, the camera on the M8 is quite poor for use outside during the day, the camera appears unable to properly focus or show enough contrast in area when it is photographing in a brightly lit place.
However leading on from this point the ingenious idea of the dual camera in order to add a sense of depth perception and allowing accurate changes in the focal point of the photos you are taking almost completely overrides this flaw and makes the M8 one of the top competitors for best phone camera as long as your shooting in a low light environment.
As well as this as far as visuals are concerned the M8 is a thing of beauty, the 90% aluminium casing means the M8 really catches the eye and one the attention has been drawn to the screen the stunning 5”, 1080 x 1920 HD display comes into play, shielded from harm by a layer of Gorilla® Glass 3.
However the aluminium casing does mean that the back of the phone is almost frictionless and I regularly found it sliding out of my hand, which with a phone only half a centimetre thick, if that, will result in dents and scratches across the back casing if dropped.
One very minor yet very irritating design fault I found with the M8 was the fact that the lock screen button was located on the top of the phone, and with such a large screen this meant that one had to juggle the phone around just to be able to lock the phone, luckily the screen could be easily unlocked by two rapid taps on the surface, or this would have been twice as irritating.
Another point about the visuals is the enhanced viewing experience provided by the M8, with the 5” 1080 x 1920 HD LCD screen I mentioned earlier and the 2 speakers located either side of the screen made watching adventure time on Netflix at my desk feel like I’d dived into a euphoric childish wonderland, use of headphones felt like sacrilege when I had the power to blast my music through those speakers.
The 4G capabilities of the M8 where excellent, and meant that no matter where you were, as long as you had 4G you could rely on superb download and streaming speeds and browsing could go almost as fast as your fingers could manoeuvre around the screen.
This 4G was provided to us by Vodafone, from whom you can purchase the HTC One M8 subsidised.
So what do you think of the device? Are these drawbacks too much for you? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Sunday 15 March 2015

An Android User's Guide to Smartwatches

An Android User's Guide To SmartWatches

 Before embarking on a journey through the Android Smartwatch space - I need to split the wearable category into sections. The two main sections are the Fitness trackers and the Smartwatches. To distinguish between the two, a Fitness tracker may be able to tell the time and show you notifications but must primarily be branded as a Fitness device, whereas a Smartwatch may be able to track your fitness, but must be branded as a smartwatch, rather than purely an elaborate fitness tracker. Now we've got that out of the way, let's get on the topic of Smartwatches.

Right now, at the start of 2015, the ( most obvious) Smartwatches available to Android Users are:

The Sony Smartwatch 3:
This square Android Wear smartwatch by Sony features a 1.6" LCD screen, with a 320x320 pixel resolution-Not a bad screen, but not at all the best on a Smartwatch. It has 512mb of RAM, so it'll be perfectly speedly for the purposes it can be used for right now, and 420mAh battery - meaning the device will probably get you through the day with it's ambient screen on, with moderate use. It features NFC, so Google Wallet can be used through the device and other funky NFC features like NFC tags. It features full IP68 waterproofing, but I wouldn't recommend going diving with the device. It is available in several colours of rubber straps, and a metal strap, which does still maintain the IP68 rating. It is currently priced at about £220

The Moto 360:

The Moto 360 is famous for being the 'best looking Android Wear Smartwatch' - however, the device features a small black cutoff of the bottom of the screen - the device is not a full circle, which is not something most tech reviewers will show you. The device has a round 1.5" LCD display, with a resolution of 320x290 Pixels. It features a stainless steel design and a leather strap. It lacks the features, but it makes up for it with the design. Unfortunately it only has a 320mAh battery, which will not get you through a full day without recharging if you have the ambient screen on - but the 'flat tyre' allows there to be an ambient light sensor so the screen can use auto brightness. The Moto 360 costs around £170.

LG G Watch R:
The LG G watch R is my Smartwatch of choice. It features a 1.3" OLED screen, which means that the pixels displaying Black do not need to be turned on at all - saving a lot of battery. The device features a 320x320 pixel resolution screen. The battery is 410mAh, less than the Smartwacth 3, however the device features the battery saving OLED display, which means the device can safely last two whole days with moderate use. The device has 4GB of storage available to you,, so you an store files in the deviice instead of a memory card and features a water resistance of IP67, meaning it is water resistant up to 1M. The device retails at about £200.

Pebble Smartwatch:
The Pebble is a crowdfunded E-Ink smartwatch, meaning the device has no backlight and as such, the battery lasts a lot longer than any Android Wear smartwatch on the market. The screen is a 1.18"x1.97" LCD E-Ink display. It has a resolution of 144x168 pixels, which is so much less than the Android wear watches, but this all contributes to the better battery life. The device is water resistant, and the battery is 130mAh, which is significantly less than any other, but lasts longer due to the screen technology. The Pebble retails for under £100 and is a great choice for anybody who needs a long lasting watch battery - oh, and the screen is not touch capable!

The Samsung Galaxy Gear S:
The Samsung Galaxy Gear S is a very interesting Smartwatch - because unlike all the other smartwatches available, this does not require a phone to work.
 It features a 2" Super AMOLED touchscreen display, with a resolution of 360x480 pixels, which is a much higher resolution than any other in this list, it features a Tizen operating system, which is a little more complex and less easy to learn than Android Wear, but then again, it isn't the same form factor - it can be its own device. You can use this as a phone. If you're the kind of person who wants to stand out, there is no better option than the device which will make people's heads turn anywhere you go. The device retails at £285 but doesn't require a phone to use.

So, are you looking for a new Smartwatch, or buying your first? I hope this little list was able to help you out. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment below!

Saturday 14 March 2015

The New Chromebook Pixel

On March 11th, Google announced their new Chromebook Pixel. Or rather, an updated version of it because the design stays exactly the same. Much like Apple's recently announced MacBook, the Chromebook Pixel comes equipped with USB-C. Unlike the new MacBook however, the new Chromebook Pixel has super fast charging capabilities which Google claims can charge the Pixel to 100% in just 90 minutes, and 15 minutes of charging gets you 2 hours of additional battery life.

The new Chromebook Pixel is rocking a 13 inch screen with multitouch capabilities and a resolution of 2560x1700 with an aspect ratio of 3:2. It has an all aluminum body housing an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM & 32GB of flash storage.

What differs the new Chromebook Pixel from the recently announced MacBook is the multitude of ports. It has 2 USB-C ports, a Micro SD card slot & 2 USB 3.0 ports. With all this comes the consequence of size; the new Chromebook Pixel is over a pound heavier than Apple's MacBook at 3.3 pounds, which is even heavier than the 13" MacBook Air.

The Chromebook Pixel starts at $999 (£799), which many have disputed and argued as being way overpriced given that it is a Chromebook runing ChromeOS; an operating system that essentially allows you to run chrome and a few Android apps. The price tag seems particular large when compared to other Chromebooks, which retail for as little as $250.

The Chromebook Pixel comes in two different model configurations:

The base line, $999, Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 32GB Flash Storage model.

The higher-end "LS" model comedically named by Google which stands for Ludicrous Speed. This model sports and Intel Core i7 Processor, 16GB of RAM & 64GB of flash storage; but this comes with a price tag of $1,299 (£999).

Both models can be purchased from Google's online Store.

So what do you think of the new Chromebook Pixel? Is the price unreasonable? Are the improvements just not worth the upgrade from the previous model? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

OnePlus One - High End Specs, Mid Range Price?

We can’t all afford the newest Samsung Galaxy model or a flagship LG, but what if I told you that there’s a phone with specs on par with the Samsung Galaxy S5 for only £270. You’d think I was crazy, but such a model does exist in the OnePlus One.

Released May 2014, this is the first phone developed by this growing company who has attracted hype worldwide. The model itself rocks a 5.5 inch screen at 1080p with 401 PPI, leveling that of some top of the range phones currently available. The phone also runs on a 2.5 GHz Quad-core processor with 3GB of RAM. The model I possess has 64GB of internal storage (compared to the smaller 16GB version) which allows you to presume that unless you download 10 new apps every day for a year or own a 1000 CD music collection, you’ll have sufficient space to last you a long time. Although with this large internal memory capacity (and the smaller 16GB model), the OnePlus One has no SD card support which prevents media and contact transfer from older phones unless you have a Google account to sync your contacts with - or a 3rd party backup.

The OnePlus One runs CyanogenMod's Android 4.4 (KitKat) ROM by default, but due to recent decisions by the company, a Android 5.0 (Lollipop) update will not be arriving for a while, as the developers have decided to create OxygenOS as a new operating system which we are yet to see, but will hopefully be reviewed at a later date. As for now, Android 5.0 can be downloaded for the phone but requires several downloaded files and a walk-through found on the OnePlus forums. (For a full list of specifications visit: )

In my experience, the phone runs incredibly smoothly with minimal interface problems encountered. It has the strength to run demanding 3D games with little problems, although, has occasional problems opening some apps (Such as Word Dance - see our review here) as they are not optimized for the phone. The battery life is perfect for my use, as the 3100 mAh battery has served me with an approx. 36 hour battery life from 100% to 0% with moderate usage. Prolonged use of or leaving apps open such as Facebook Messenger drains the battery significantly more than closing all apps when finished, although the ability to multi-task with tabs for apps works well in most cases, but I have experienced a refresh of a web page or article when I have returned to the corresponding tab from another app.

The camera of the OnePlus one is satisfactory for almost anyone wanting to capture some great snaps. The rear-facing camera is 13 megapixels, perfect to capture images in stunning detail, while the 5 megapixel front-facing camera is sufficient enough for those who deem ‘Selfies’ as a necessary part of their life. The main features of the camera is that it records video, has auto focus, has digital zoom, has a flash (Dual LED), and allows contact pictures. Not as good as some smartphone cameras available at present, but for the price of this phone, it is definitely on or even above par. This feature can be accessed with a simple screen gesture when the phone is locked for easy access for those shots you can't miss.

The phone weighs 162g (to the nearest gram) making it heavier than both the Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy S5, but lighter than an iPhone 6 plus. It definitely doesn’t feel too weighty in the hand, but there are other things to consider when looking at the shell of the phone. The version I have is described as ‘Sandstone Black’ with a rough feel, like that of sandstone, which may not be beneficial and I, personally, prefer less than that of a plastic or even metal back. It would require a hold with no grip for it to slide out of the hand, but most of us have the capacity to grip a phone innately. The back heats up after prolonged use of demanding apps, as with many phones. It takes little time to cool after finishing use of the phone or app but the back is never cool to the touch like that of phones with a metal back.

To finish, the OnePlus one was an exciting contender with other flagship models of 2014, but will be outdated by the time the new phones such as the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 are released. This does leave plenty of speculation as to what the OnePlus One's successor will bring with its expected April 2015 release. If you want to buy a phone that’s up to date with 2014 specifications, but cheap, the OnePlus One is perfect for you. It can do pretty much everything you’ll need it to, whether you’re a low, medium, or high impact user without burning a hole in your pockets. But with growing interest, the OnePlus One's successor will be sold at a much higher price point, and may be worth the wait to see what it can bring to the table to make it that much better than the OnePlus One.

So what do you think? Do you have a Oneplus One? Would you recommend it? Let us know in the comments below!

If you wish to learn even more about the phone and/or the company, visit OnePlus.
As always, if you disagree with the views posed here or wish to give feedback, be sure to send us a message through the ‘contact’ tab of our website.

By Sam Fisher

HTC One M8 - A Year on, How Does it Compare?

Recently at MWC 2015 HTC announced the successor to the massively popular HTC One M8, called the M9. This device follows up on the M8 with an updated design, better internal hardware and a much better camera, but other than tweaks and changes here and there, the HTC line has remained more or less the same device for the past 3 years design-wise.

Does this mean that the HTC One M8 is still the beautiful, brushed aluminum powerhouse it once was? Or has it been left behind by a years worth of innovation and is worthless by today's standards? If I buy a HTC One M8 now, how much worse will it be than if I bought a brand new flagship?

Well. The HTC One M8's design never fails to impress. The sleek, brushed aluminum body looks astonishing, especially compared with it's competition last year - namely the Samsung Galaxy S5.  The unibody design was refreshing, even if the SIM tray and SD card slot were a little distracting. The trademarked 'BoomSound' dual front facing speakers are, to this day, the best around in any mobile device - I am assured that the One M9 improves on these, but I am yet to experience that. I find myself missing the audio quality which the HTC provides so effortlessly when my LG G3 struggles to play music over background noises.

The software experience on the One M8 is HTC's Sense skin on top of Android 5.0.1 with an update. Unfortunately I found that Kitkat was a much better fit for the M8, as the grays were very sleek to work with the Sense 6 UI, whereas the Lollipop update just looks out of place. However, if Lollipop brings ART to help with speed, it's a worthy sacrifice.

The HTC One M8 is still lightning fast to this day. It easily runs demanding 3D games with minimal to no stuttering, although it does get quite hot quite quickly as it is fully metal, however this heat dissipates quickly due to the unibody metal design. The device will get very hot, but leave it for five minutes and it'll be cool to the touch again.

If you are a social media person and don't really watch many videos or play music through your phone's speaker, you are unlikely to be massively impressed by the device. It's too tall for it's 5" screen. The power button is on the top, so some serious hand gymnastics is required to reach the top of the device and it has an unsightly HTC logo stamped into the black chin of the screen. It seems like a standard android flagship when you ignore it's media providing abilities.

The HTC One M8 is a master chef. Any other phone is a beginner. You can have your meal cooked by a beginner if you want, but it wont be as good as if you went for the master chef. In the same way, media consumption with the One M8 is SO much better than it's nearest competition that if that's what you do most, this is the device for you, no questions asked - however if not, there are alternatives which may serve your needs better.

One of the biggest problems my team faced with the One M8 was the camera. HTC went out on a limb and tried to popularize their new "Ultrapixel" technology, which is, in essence, a camera which would allow more light to enter, allowing for a higher dynamic range and brighter images, especially in low-light circumstances. The problem with this is that it was only 4 Megapixels, which was well behind its competition and nowadays it's 9 Megapixels lower than what is standard in flagships. The HTC One M8 features a second lens, which worked as a little bit of a gimmick, supposedly allowing you to focus images after they had been taken, although this was clumsily utilized at best and probably wouldn't have been particularly useful at 13 Megapixels, let alone 4.

If I were to put the HTC One M8 against phones of Quarter 1 2015, which is exactly a year after HTC released its M8, you would think the HTC One M8 was out dated, old news. However. I disagree. I think that if you want a flagship that is truly glorious for media consumption, and you don't want to take out a second mortgage, the HTC One M8 is a fantastic option for you a year after it was launched. If, perhaps, these reasons didn't call out to you, perhaps the Samsung option is the way forwards.

So what are your thoughts? Does the HTC One M8 still stand out to you, or has it been drowned in newer technologies? Do you own the HTC One M8 and disagree with me? If so, leave a comment with your thoughts!

If you've been inspired to buy a HTC One M8 by my critical talk and sarcastic remarks, you can pick one up subsidized from our good friends Vodafone who sent us this review unit.
Don't forget, if you disagree with me or have any feedback you'd like to give us, feel free to email us or leave a comment on this blog!

Monday 9 March 2015

The New 12" MacBook

Apple hosted their "Spring Forward" Keynote event today, and one of the new products they announced was a new MacBook to their lineup.

The much anticipated super thin MacBook sporting a 12 inch retina display with a resolution of 2304 x 1440 is a fully functional Mac, but it's the lightest and thinnest one Apple has ever made. It weighs in at just 2 pounds and is only 13.1mm at its thickest point; it's crazy thin. In fact, it's 24% thinner than the current 11 inch MacBook Air. What we noticed pretty quickly was that Apple refers to it as "The New MacBook" suggesting that it's separate to the company's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineup. It's available in three colours: Silver, Space Grey & Gold.

With the new MacBook Apple brings with it a completely re designed keyboard. It features a new butterfly mechanism as a pose to the previous scissor mechanism we've seen in Apple's previous notebooks. Apple says these new keys are more stable and precise. The edge to edge keyboard is full size, and is made up of keys that sport 17% more surface area, and are more shallow then the previous Mac keyboards.

"Every component of the MacBook reveals a new innovation. From its fanless design, ultra-thin Retina display and full-size keyboard that’s 34 percent thinner, to its all-new Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and breakthrough terraced battery design, the new MacBook is the future of the notebook." Said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Apple has also added a brand new trackpad to the MacBook, something that hasn't been seen in several years. They've built in something called Force Touch, which can detect the amount of pressure applied to each click, which introduces a whole new range of gestures. The new trackpad also included haptic feedback, meaning users will get tactile feedback with every click.

Powering the MacBook is an Intel Core-M processor starting at 1.1GHz with Intel HD 5300 Graphics. What's particularly interesting about the MacBook is that it's the first MacBook Apple's made that doesn't include any fans. No fans means that MacBook can operate in complete silence; perfect for cubical office environments. Apple has managed to reduce the logic board size down by 67% compared to the MacBook Air, and newly designed, custom crafted batteries were also introduced to cram as much battery in the crazy thin notebook as they can.

Apple claims that the MacBook has an "all day battery" life coming in at 9 hours of web browsing and 10 hours of movie playback. The new MacBook's ultra thin design means that regular USB ports just won't cut it, so Apple has included the new USB-C port in the MacBook, combining several functions into one port: power, USB data transfer, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA capabilities. Notice that the USB-C is now the power input to the MacBook, Apple decided not to include MagSafe 2 presumably because it just wasn't thin enough to fit the profile of the new MacBook.

If you're looking to get your hands on this notebook, the base line model is going to run you $1,299 (£1049 in the UK incl. VAT) which will get you a 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage as well as Intel Graphics 5300. Apple also offers a 1.2GHz model with 8GB of memory and a 512GB flash storage capacity which will run you $1,599 (£1249 in the UK incl. VAT). There will be additional configurable options online as well.

The new MacBook will be shipping on Friday, April 10th via the Apple online store as well as Apple retail locations in select countries.

What do you think of the new thinner, fanless MacBook? What feature do you like most about it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Word Dance, On cloud Nine?

The Word Dance app is an interesting idea. In theory, it is used to review places, businesses and establishments nearby you with single words - any in the English dictionary. Once this is posted, anybody can see it in a group, known as a "Word Cloud". These words can be tapped, which adds a vote for that word and makes it a little bigger. Eventually the less popular words fade away and the largest, most voted words are the only remaining words, allowing the most common opinions to be most visible. This can allow you to find out what a place is like before visiting the place. For example, if I decide I want to eat out tonight, I can just open the app, find the place and read the words that most people thought. If I see the words "Dirty" or "Rude", I will decide not to go
there and instead choose a restaurant that has the words "Lovely" and "Value" floating in it's cloud.

Upon reading the description of Word Dance I was very impressed, the app seemed to be a great idea - it would all be about how well everything was implemented.

Upon downloading the app, you are prompted to sign up, using email or Facebook. The service is free and there were no ads from what I saw. The interface starts you off on the " Places Near You " page, which gives you a list of roads, businesses and towns in the nearby area. You can then search for a place, open a sidebar with the options to view your words, go home or deliver feedback.

Upon choosing a place to review, you see that places 'Word Cloud', for example, my own town has the words "Small" and "Friendly". Unfortunately, there is also the word "Faggot", as there is currently no censorship in the app, so long as the word is in the dictionary, it will work. I contacted Word Dance about this and was assured that a censorship system was being worked on - a welcome change to the app's seemingly impressive system.

The app runs very smoothly on my LG G3 and on the HTC One M8, however stutters a little on our HTC One Mini 2 and iPhone 5. The app failed to open every single time we tried it on a Oneplus One, however that isn't a very well optimized device. The app is very simple, which is what an app needs to be in order to function effectively. However there are some issues within the software.

The app's searching function is not particularly good. When searching for my home town, the results appeared in a very dark grey box below the search box, and I could only see one result. There was no way to scroll through results, so places with more common names will be very difficult to locate.

The interface is just a list of places and their names, there's no real-life linkage. If the system utilized a map, in which you began at your location and could scroll out, each town having their word clouds visible, but small, then each country. If one zoomed into a town they could see the individual place names and their clouds, adding this would add another dimension and make the app seem more localized - even if it's a big stretch.

We found that there was not enough of a social aspect to the app. You sign in with Facebook to leave one word reviews, however there is no way of seeing who left each word - I can imagine people in my area becoming very competitive of who's word could get more taps, which could increase Word Dance's customer base!

One word is not enough. I cannot stress enough. There are only so many words in the English dictionary and words cannot be added twice. Everything other than the obvious is just another way of saying the same thing. "Good" means the same as "Enjoyable" in essence. If the system allowed users to leave a phrase of up to 20 words and if tapped, the creator is visible, it may be a lot better for businesses and users. For example, I know a business owner very well. If the system allowed people to leave a review very quickly and have it join others in a "Word Cloud" (the name still works!), then the business would be able to read these and gain some meaningful information. If I have a bad experience at a restaurant and want to warn others off I could post "The food was cold and the air con was on too high, not recommended.", then the business would be able to look into why the food was cold and why the air con was on too high, whereas if I just put the words "Cold" and "Bad", then the business will be none the wiser to what you thought. The business could then find out who thought this and then contact me for more details or to offer them an apology.

I'd like to see an algorithm in which new reviews, from the previous paragraph, would be considered important reviews (perhaps in a different colour), as well as those with many taps, so as to make sure the new reviews didn't immediately get lost in the cloud by being miniscule immediately.

In conclusion, the app certainly has a lot of potential. The app could be the next Snapchat, it certainly seems to have taken design cues from Snapchat. Don't rule this app out just because of the issues we had - it is being updated to fix most of the bugs and we hardly ran into any. There are a few flaws, but it's still a fun and interesting way to share your thoughts with others. When the system gets way more users, we'll see how the Word Clouds develop, but right now they all look a little bit empty.
If you're an innovator or somebody who loves to be ahead of the curve, Word Dance should be on your phone and/or tablet RIGHT NOW, before it blows up and everybody's using it!

So what do you think? Does Word Dance get your vote of approval, or are you going to wait for the fixes? Did you already download Word Dance? Let us know in the comments below!

If you've been inspired by our review or you want to delve deeper into the depths of Word Dance don't even hesitate to visit their website: Click Here!

If you disagree with any of our points or have any feedback for us, send an email to:

Should you buy the Apple Watch?

Should you buy the Apple watch?

The smartwatch market was established in 2014, with early adopter Sony competing with Pebble, the crowdfunded e-ink masterpiece. Then, Google decided they wanted a slice of the pie and introduced their wearable OS in Android Wear, allowing the devices to run on either a square, or a circular display. This sparked the creation of the LG G watch, the Moto 360 and the Samsung Gear Live. All of these were the early players in the game, but now in 2015 we are getting closer and closer to the release of the Apple watch, but how does it compare and, should you consider buying it?
Standard Apple Watch in Large
First of all, I must mention that I own an LG G watch R, which features a 1.3” round OLED display, allowing pixels to turn off when not in use to conserve power. It’s powered by the largest battery in any smartwatch on the market to date and I end each day running around 50% battery. It ships with a charging cradle, allowing me to easily take it off before bed, charge it overnight and slip it back on after my shower in the morning. It’s a hassle, but you get used to it. That is, so long as you don’t have to charge it to keep it alive throughout the day.
The Apple watch will come in 3 editions, the standard Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sports and the Apple Watch Edition. These will, in turn, each come in 2 size, small and large to accommodate for smaller wrists, which is a good idea, I’ll give them that. The cheapest of the devices will be the Apple Watch Sports, in small, shipping at about $350, which is just under £250. This is the one with the rubber band as a strap. The Edition will cost anything over £2,000 and up to £20,000. So unless you have more money than sense and would rather wear a first generation smartwatch than a new car, then you’ll be crossing that out straight away.
The most exciting smartwatches so far have been the Moto 360 and the LG G watch R. This is because of their circular face, allowing them to actually look like a watch, rather than a computer on your wrist. They also feature relatively thin designs and batteries that will, on the LG G watch R, at least, last for a whole day and more. Unfortunately for Apple, they have been developing their watch purely for iOS and so opted out of using Android Wear, and out of having a circular display. Oh, and the device is 4mm thicker than your average phone. Oh, and the battery will not last a full day. All of this combines to be a fairly unpleasant description of a smartwatch. Allow me to explain in the form of a description of the device.
Picture, if you will, a watch. This watch sits snugly on your wrist. Your wallet sits in your pocket, lighter than usual. You couldn’t be seen with a rubber band on your arm, you aren’t seven. You opted for the Apple Watch, in large. You’re a grown-up. You go to check what time it is. You can’t. Your watch has run out of battery. You charge it up. You want to use an app. You unlock the watch, you twist the digital crown, you squint to find the app on the tiny display, you zoom back in when you’ve found it and you tap it. You see the app working for you, then black. Your battery dies again. You’re left with a useless piece of metal on your wrist bulging out of your shirt, eye strain and crippling lifelong debt.
Of course, there are some positives. The second gen of the Apple watch might fix all the issues of the first. The necessity for voice control on smartwatches means Siri may become usable. The digital crown will either be a massive hit, or a fatal flop.
I dislike this watch. It seems so unnecessarily Apple centric. It only works with Apple iPhones. The straps on it can only be bought from Apple (unlike android wear, which allows any normal watch strap to be used no problems) and the Edition is just a joke.
In conclusion; No. I don’t think you should buy the Apple watch. Even if you like the device, think twice. If thousands of millions of people buy the device, Apple will think they’ve done it right. Android Wear will be forced to copy to scrape up any leftover market share and innovation will be a thing of the past. However, if you don’t buy the Apple watch, and you let Apple know why, then your issues will be fixed in the next generation. Maybe. Apple have failed before and they will fail again.

So what do you think? Are you going to buy the Apple watch? Are you waiting for the second generation? Do you prefer Android Wear? If so, why or, why not? Let us know in the comments below!