I’ve been using my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for almost three months now, and in that time I’ve noticed (the hard way), that the massive size of the handset makes it very easy to drop. To protect that huge 5.5″ display, I’ve been using the official Samsung flip cover for the past 2-3 weeks, which protects the screen without adding a lot of bulk.
Last week Facebook finally launched their new android Launcher, Facebook home. Available at the moment only on a handful of devices, Facebook have promised that it will grow its compatibility over the coming months. Facebook home was eagerly anticipated, although many questioned why anyone would want facebook to be more than just an app. Now launched and available to download, are these beliefs ratified?
The first batch of HTC First reviews have arrived, and they are very interesting. Most of the reviewers seem impressed with Facebook Home, given that it is currently only in version 1.0, however many concede that most users will inevitably enable stock Android, which is one of the benefits. One thing most reviewers can agree on, is that the 5 megapixel camera is far below average, which is a shame considering Facebook have been focusing on photos a lot recently.
Late last month, my HTC Desire S finally gave in and broke beyond repair. On the bright side, as the contract was almost up anyway, it meant I could go and choose a brand new phone to use as my daily device for the next 2 years. I opted for the Galaxy Note 2 by Samsung, as I wanted an extremely fast phone with a good camera, and I’m a sucker for big screens.
Mobile phones have come a long way in the past few years, making the jump from large bricks which could call, text and play the occasional game of Snake, to mini computers which can connect with friends and organise your work life. However, I still find myself obsessing over a feature which has been available since some of the earliest mobile phones were released, personalised ringtones.
I’ve always been a big fan of ringtones. One of the strongest memories I have of using my Nokia 3310 is spending my day browsing the internet, trying to find the codes to my favourite songs, so that I could ‘compose’ them in monotone through a combination of number presses. At the time, it seemed like the best thing ever, and looking back I slightly envy those days. Sure, phones have come a long way, but in terms of ringtones, it’s gone downhill.
Nowadays, the ability to play a real song as a ringtone is one of the things I hate about public travel. I’m usually tolerant of the most annoying people on a bus, even if they play their music loudly through their earphones. However, when Nicki Minaj’s latest attempt at music suddenly blasts from somebody’s pocket, I feel that I did well to not show my annoyance in public.
I appreciate that there are some people, probably the majority of adults, who prefer to have the default ringtones set in place by Apple, Samsung and Blackberry as their default notification. However, most of these tones are extremely unimaginative and the sheer quantity of these phones has led to a huge amount of people having the same tune. I’m sure you’ll have noticed by now that, in a public place when an iPhone ringtone goes off, at least 50% of the people in that room move their hands towards their pocket.
By now, I feel like I’ve made clear to you how much I dislike the current generation of ringtones, and can now tell you why all that has just changed.
I came across Cleartones while doing random Google searches earlier this week, and I’m extremely glad that I did. Cleartones, advertised as ‘minimalistic’, are simple ringtones and notifications which easily gain your attention when your phone has activity, without annoying people around you, or mistaking it for a phone belonging to somebody else.
The Organic pack is clearly the best set of tones available from Cleartone. Each pack was created in a professional studio using bells, chimes, woodblocks, vibraphone and marimbas to create sounds which could be described as ‘clear, elegant, simple, pleasant’.
50 Cleartones costs $10, and you can buy all 200 sounds for $30. To be completely honest, I was sceptical about paying for ringtones. I mean, I’ve made clear my hatred of current ringtones and notifications, but I’ve never really given any thought into buying them. However, Cleartones have helped me to enjoy the thing that I’ve hated for the past few years, but loved playing with on my very first Nokia. The pack of 200 tones means that you never get bored and can constantly change it up, as each sound is as elegant and beautiful as the last.
There are few headphones out there that match the sheer quality and appeal of the superbly stylish Blaupunkt DJ112. With its smart retro design and superior comfort, listening is well and truly made easy thanks to its wonderfully rich bass tones that significantly improve your music playback.
In the past week, Star Wars has became one of the most frequent discussions on the internet. The first reason for this is that Disney have recently bought LucasFilm and announced plans for Star Wars VII, and today’s launch of Angry Birds Star Wars has further increased talk about the franchise.
Bluetooth keyboards for iDevices cost quite a bit, meaning you will often struggle to find a reliable one for under £30. The Freedom Expression keyboard costs just under £40, which is a high price tag, but is it worth it?
There are certain aspects of the Freedom Expression keyboard that are lacking. For example, the design is quite boring when you compare it to the competition. For the past few months I have been using a Logitech keyboard with my iPad, which looks very simple but stylish. On the FE keyboard, the keys are very close together and there is a large space at the top which doesn’t host any buttons, but is there anyway.
Another place where the keyboard is lacking, is in key features. It lacks a built in stand which can be a turn off for a lot of people. However many cases at the moment come with a fold out stand, so Freedom’s decision to not include a stand can be a good one to those who already have a case that they like.
The keys are close together, in fact they are almost touching. Some people may be used to this, I have a Packard Bell Easynote laptop which has keys which are very close together, so I am very used to this. However if you have been using something like a Macbook, which has keys far apart, this might not be for you.
The battery life is very good, offering up to 300 hours of use in one charge. I haven’t used it for this long, but after almost three weeks of regular use, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the battery life is falling.
The Freedom Expression Ultra Slim keyboard isn’t without it’s downsides, however none of them are deal breakers. As with most keyboards, your decision to buy it should be based on the typing style you should already know you have. People who are used to keys that are close together will love this keyboard, as it’s exactly what they are used to. However people who are more suited to keys that are far apart might take some time adjusting to the new layout. Overall, it’s a very solid keyboard for the price. There is no nonsense in the design, just a simple keyboard which offers a very large battery life so you can always trust it to work for you when you need it most.
After purchasing my Nexus 7, I wanted a case to keep it brand new and shiny. I often buy cases for my electronics; I use them for a few weeks, then get bored and decide that the case acted only as a hindrance. I do this quite a lot.
There are 1000’s of cases on the market of different shapes and sizes, all claiming to do different things. For me, the main thing is protection. When looking for a case, I was looking for something perfect for use when travelling. To be honest, when I’m just using the device in my house, I don’t really want a case, and I dislike that most of the time, it seems that to protect any electronic device, you end up sacrificing the aesthetics of the product. I’ve messed about with various types of cases that aim to protect the product with minimal aesthetic interference, but these often only protect the rear of the device, when in reality the most delicate part of any tablet or phone is the screen.
The Sony MK200 is a pair of headphones which offer great quality sound, a comfortable design and a cheap price-tag.
I have reviewed a couple of Sony’s headphones in the past, they were kind enough to send me the ZX500 and the ZX700, the latter of which required a little extra spending. The MK200 headphones may not be in the same league as the ZX700, however they are a true match for the ZX500 which I highly praised earlier.
The Sony MK200 sport a very calm appearance. The entire product has a matte finish with the exception of the ear cups which have a glossy outer casing. The glossy side is still black however, so doesn’t attract any more attention than neccessary. The headphonesn aren’t as comfy as previous ones I have tried out, however they are by no means un-comfy. The pads are quite soft so cushion your ears quite well, however the cups are quite small so you may feel a little more restricted.
For the most part, the design is a lot better than I expected considering the price, but I do have a small issue with the cable. As I will mentioned later, these headphones are designed for making phone calls, as well as a brilliant sound experience. The ability to have phone call functionality has meant that Sony have made the cable a lot more complicated than it need to be. There are three parts to the cable, one which is attached to the headphones themselves, one that has the call buttons and microphone clip on which connects the last cable that goes directly into the computer. For listening on a computer or on a phone in one position this isn’t a problem, however if you expect to walk around with these headphones you may find yourself accidentally unplugging one of the cables.
The sound experience on the MK200 is yet another thing with these headphones that surprised me. The headphones are advertised as having a good music listening experience, however a lot of the focus is on the ability to make phone calls with them, so I feared the audio may not be as good as advertised. However the sound is extremely clear and is isolated very well. In the past I have found that headphones can either deal a certain type of song but not the other, however these headphones seem to be able to handle just about any style of music I throw their way.
The headphones specialise in being able to handle calls. After taking a few calls using them I can say that they definitely are very good at doing what they advertise. Holding down an easy-to-locate button allows you to talk and then listen to the other person in brilliant audio quality. I don’t often find myself needing to use headphones to take calls, however if I ever need to, these are definitely the best I have ever tried.
Overall the Sony MK200 Value Music Pack is brilliant value for money. For just under £40 you get a brilliant headphone design, impeccable audio quality and the ability to easily make and manage calls.