Motorola DROID 4 Review by CashSherpa.com

  • February 17, 2012
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Motorola DROID 4 Review by CashSherpa.com

It’s almost like every single week brings us a new Android phone, and companies are constantly clamoring the latest release on their network. But this month a fairly interesting device arrived at Verizon stores, and that’s the Motorola DROID 4. This is an interesting release because it’s both LTE and has a QWERTY keyboard, which makes it unique in two different ways. Will Android fans like the new design, or the features of this new phone? Let’s find out in this Motorola DROID 4 review.

The first thing you can notice about the exterior of the Motorola DROID 4 is the shape. It’s similar to other Motorola smartphones, but unlike previous ones, the DROID 4 has rounded corners, making it look more modern and less of a square phone. While the size is fairly comparable to other Android phones, the thickness is not, and that’s because of the sliding keyboard you can find on this model. There’s no question that this is a phone for those who like to have access to a QWERTY keyboard, and while you do give up on the thickness of the device, what you get is a wonderful addition. The keyboard itself has large, very nice back lit keys that are easy to use, and is one of the more well done phone keyboards out there. If you text a lot or use the keyboard a lot then this will be a definite plus. Other hardware features you can find on this device includes a dual core processor which means interacting with the phone feels quick and snappy, an 8 MPx camera which takes decent pictures and full HD videos, along with a micro SD slot and HDMI connector.

The phone supports LTE along with typical Verizon frequencies, however it’s not a world phone and does not support GSM. Also on the negatives, the screen is QHD, not Super AMOLED, and you do see a difference in clarity with phones who do have the superior display. Finally, the back cover can be hard to remove, which can be a concern if you like to carry multiple batteries. However, when it comes to the software side, it’s mostly good news. The Moto Blur interface is fairly unobtrusive, and some of the included apps like Quick Office can be useful to open Word documents and such. The OS version is Gingerbread, but Verizon says they will upgrade it to the latest Android version. Finally, the battery life on this device is fairly good, usually lasting you a day with moderate usage, which is typical of Android devices.

Overall, if you’re on Verzion, then this is definitively a device to consider. The keyboard alone makes this a must have for anyone who really likes having a physical keyboard over the onscreen one, although if this isn’t important for you, then sacrificing the size or the screen quality may not be something you want to do. The Motorola DROID 4 is a decent release and available at Verizon stores now.

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Review of Samsung Galaxy Note by CashSherpa.com

  • February 9, 2012
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Review of Samsung Galaxy Note by CashSherpa.com

Every few weeks it seems a new smartphone or tablet gets released into the wild. Certainly when it comes to Android devices, there’s a lot of new ones out there, and more coming out all the time. But the latest unveiling by Samsung is worthy of notice, because it’s slightly special. It’s not completely a smartphone, and not completely a tablet either. Instead, it’s somewhere in between. Not only is the device and screen itself quite large, it also has impressive features and capabilities, such as a built in stylus, something we don’t see much anymore. Here’s a review of the Samsung Galaxy Note.

First announced in September of last year, the Samsung Galaxy Note was shown off at the Superbowl, and the hype started right away. Its large screen is fairly unique at 5.3 inches. It’s bigger than most smartphones, and smaller than tablets. In fact it was deigned to be a unique device, something you could use everywhere, as both your phone and tablet. It barely fits in a pocket, but that’s the idea, it still fits and is as big as it can be without being uncomfortable. The Super AMOLED screen also provides 800 x 1280 pixels resolution, which means it’s crisp and clear. The hardware itself is not too shabby, with a dual core ARM processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with an external card slot, micro USB support, wi-fi, an 8MPx camera with a 2MPx video conferance secondary camera, and much more. The battery is a 2500mAh one which helps keep the phone up longer, and is very much needed with the larger screen.

When it comes to usability, the stylus that’s included makes some new features be possible. One of the big things that Samsung is pushing with the Galaxy Note is the ability to take hand written notes on the screen. This could be in a notes application, on top of a screenshot, or even drawing in a painting app. The stylus is pressure sensitive and the screen can be used just as well with it and with your fingers. As for the software, the OS is Gingerbread, which means it’s a fairly recent version of Android, and Samsung put their usual interface on top of it to enable things like stylus support, along with Samsung apps. On the software side, the system is fairly open and genuine Android, which is always a good thing to see. You can find all your typical Android apps like the market place, browser, email and so on. Thanks to the larger screen, you can see more icons at once, and you have more real estate to work with.

Overall, the big innovation with the Samsung Galaxy Note is of course the form factor, along with the stylus. So far the media seem to be fairly positive about this new phone, and there’s a lot of interest in the market. Whether this translates into sales remains to be seen, but this is one device to keep an eye on.

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet vs. Amazon Kindle Fire

  • November 8, 2011
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Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet vs. Amazon Kindle Fire

After Amazon fully entered the tablet market last month with the Kindle Fire, it’s time for Barnes & Noble to follow suit with the Nook Tablet. Both companies have had e-book readers for a long time, and now both are trying to make their ways into more general computing devices like the iPad and other Android tablets. The feature sets are certainly impressive, and both corporations tout their devices as ground breaking products. But which one to choose? Is this new Nook Tablet superior to the Kindle Fire? A comparison is clearly in order.

First, let’s see how they compare on the basic hardware features. Both devices are similar in size and forms. They also have similar 7″ screens, with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. Barnes & Noble claims that their tablet has the advantage because of a greater viewing angle, which could end up being the case, but it’s a close call. The Nook Tablet has a dual-core CPU with a lot of RAM which makes it fast and snappy to load web pages or videos. This could give it a leg up on the Kindle Fire. Where it definitively has an advantage however is on storage. The Fire has 8GB, while the Nook has 16GB and is expandable. Of course, Amazon claims most storage needs are now in the cloud, but if you want to store a lot of e-books or songs locally, this may be a big issue.

On the software side, both tablets run heavily modified versions of Android, with branded apps on top of it. Both tablets focus heavily on e-books, and they both have a large selection available. Amazon has the advantage of Amazon Prime, which offers free lending to users of the service, but Barnes & Noble has deals with many libraries which offers lending services as well. They both have their own app store, although Amazon hasn’t said yet which services will come pre-built on the Kindle Fire. The Nook is said to include Hulu, Netflix and other popular services out of the box. All the other typical Internet functions like email and web browsing are fairly similar, although Amazon claims to have the edge with its new Silk browser which speeds up browsing. On the software end of things, it’s very much a personal preference type of deal.

Both tablets are pretty inexpensive, and because of that they lack some basic tablet functions like 3G, a camera and Bluetooth. However, the Fire is cheaper than the Nook, by $50. Is the Nook Tablet worth the extra money? It depends on your needs, like if you want the extra storage, or if you’re used to B&N’s services. Overall, it’s still a close race, with both options being quite interesting. They may be the first two tablets to rival the current market leaders if only on price.

Verizon Launches Pantech Breakout 4G LTE

  • October 6, 2011
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Verizon Launches Pantech Breakout 4G LTE

Verizon has launched its latest 4G LTE phone, the Pantech Breakout. It’s a mid-range phone, and so far Verizon’s lowest cost smartphone that supports LTE. The device runs on a 1GHz processor, with 512MB of RAM, and features a 4 inches WVGA display. Under the hood, it runs Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, along with some Pantech modifications. This is Pantech’s second Android phone in the US.

At $99, it’s much cheaper than the alternatives from Verizon, like the Droid Bionic. Yet, it’s a solid device, with a well made exterior, featuring a rounded rugged design and all the typical hardware features you would expect from a modern smartphone. It has a front VGA camera for video conferencing, and a back 5MP camera, although it is missing a flash. As far as connectivity, it supports the highest speed LTE network from Verizon, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The bottom of the device has the four typical Android buttons, and the sides feature a dedicated volume control, camera button, and voice search function. It also uses a Micro-USB cable to connect the phone.

On the software side, it’s everything you would expect from an Android phone. The performance is quick and snappy, although CPU intensive apps might slow down due to the lack of a dual-core CPU. Pantech added their own skin on top of Android, which is the norm from many companies now, and the Breakout comes with some pre-installed software from Verizon. The screen is customized with custom widgets for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and data toggles, and the menu is filled with VCAST apps.

As far as performance goes, this smartphone is fast. You can get speeds up to 10Mbps up and 1.5Mbps down, the kind of performance you couldn’t get before from such an inexpensive phone. The battery seems fairly good as well, which may be due to the slightly smaller screen and single-core CPU. Compared with its bigger cousins, the Breakout will typically be just as good or even better when it comes to battery performance. As for the camera, it’s pretty typical of a 5MP phone-based camera, although the lack of a flash means poor night time shots.

Overall, there’s no questions that this device falls below some of the higher end Verizon devices. But at this price point, it’s probably your best bet right now, especially if you want an LTE phone. It’s clear this phone is aimed at mid-range users, people who want speed and function, but can forgo the latest technology to get a low price device. The quality is excellent, and the feature set is great for this price. The Pantech Breakout will cost you $99 on a two-year contract, and is available now.

The Xperia Play’s Hardware is on Par With Other Phones

  • February 16, 2011
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The Xperia Play’s Hardware is on Par With Other Phones

Sony Ericson’s Xperia Play phone has been one of the worst kept secrets in the mobile phone industry for about six months now. Various blogs have shown pictures and videos of the device in action for months now, but one question has remained unanswered until now: what are the hardware specs?

Sony Ericson announced official specs for the Xperia Play, and the results are a little underwhelming. The Xperia Play, unofficially dubbed “The Playstation Phone” packs hardware very similar to what you’d find in any other modern Android phone, which raises questions over the potential quality of games to be released on the device.

The specs are as follows:

  • Resolution: 480 by 854
  • Display: 4-inch capacitive TFT
  • Multitouch sensor
  • 1 GHz processor
  • 400 MB built-in memory, with 8 GB microSD card included
  • 5.1-megapixel camera

Most relevant to gamers is the 1GHZ processor, which can be found in almost any Android phone on the market today. Without exceptional hardware, the burden is going to be on Sony to provide top notch software to justify a gaming phone. Sony has announced that the Xperia Play will support a number of PS1 games, but when it comes to new games for the Xperia Play, details have been scant.

While the hardware may not be exceptionally powerful, it’s worth noting that Sony seems intent on providing high quality software for the phone. The current crop of Android games isn’t terribly exciting, but with Sony’s software support, the Xperia Play may turn out to be a strong gaming device.

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