Microsoft & Nokia Reach Market Dominance In 2015... Or Not

BOLD PREDICTIONS FIZZLE AS 2015 COMES TO FRUITION

A few years ago, I was on the bandwagon of belief when all of the tech pundits made bold predictions that Nokia & Microsoft would reach total market dominance over Android & Apple by the year 2015. What happened?

We all bought the story because of the reasoning, that Nokia once dominated the world of feature phones, and that Microsoft dominated the world of operating systems. Windows Mobile plus Nokia hardware was supposed to equal unparalleled success in the smartphone market.

But what happened?

All of the cards foretold of fortunes to be made by these two tech juggernauts, and the planets were supposedly lined up to create the stage for the impending takeover of the smartphone world. But now that we have reached 2015, where is Microsoft and Nokia in the grand scheme of things?

Apple continues to dominate with the new iPhone 6 and 6+, with the new iOS 8 platform. And Samsung continues to squash the Android market with its flagship Galaxy products, powered by Android KitKat. But our "match made in heaven" comprised of Microsoft and Nokia seems to be lagging far behind, as they always have.

I thought Microsoft and Nokia had a great start with the Lumia 920 smartphone, and all of the later versions of their device. The operating system was supposed to be super easy to use, and a much better match for those of us using Windows based PCs. I thought I would be a prime target for converting to Windows on my smartphone, since I use a PC and a laptop every day.

But it never happened. I've tested and tried the Nokia devices using the Windows Phone platform. While I did find it easy to use, I worried about not having the ability to find all of my most favorite apps under their system. When I switched from Apple to Android in 2012, I was able to download about 80% of my most used apps on the Android platform.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that Windows will capture the attention of developers around the world and motivate them to bring all of my favorite apps to the Windows Phone market. It hasn't happened yet, and I don't have much confidence believing it will in the near future.

While the Windows-based Nokia devices are super slick and durable, I have found them to be a total pain-in-the-derrier when it comes to servicing and repairing the hardware. As the owner of a smartphone repair shop, I have learned to send Nokia smartphone owners to my competitors down the street. Cracked screen? Busted LCD panel? Take it somewhere else, because it's not worth the headache.

That might be part of the reason why Nokia failed to dominate the market as predicted. It might just be that Microsoft and Nokia never became "cool". Whether their devices and operating system functionality is great, or a pile of crap, nothing matters until their products become a "thing".

The smartphone market is like the fashion industry. Until Microsoft and Nokia become "cool" in the minds of consumers, they will never hit critical mass and dominate the market. I would love to see a competitor break into the Apple/Android monopoly, but I don't believe we will witness such an even for a few years if anything.

In the meantime, It's Samsung & Android for me on the smartphone front, Apple's iPad for my tablet, and my Windows-based custom PC for my desktop.

What do you think the reasons are behind the failure of Microsoft and Nokia to fulfill the predictions of the past? I'd sure like to hear your opinion!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - This Will Shut You Up

HIDEOUSLY OBVIOUS REASONS I CHOOSE THE GALAXY NOTE 4 OVER IPHONE 6 PLUS

iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are out on the streets. The talking Apple heads claim that the iPhone 6 Plus is the hands-down winner over the new edition of the Note series.

Even tech blog sites are giving the checkered flag to Apple over Samsung in this race to have the most phabou phablet. It doesn't stack up per the tech specs, but Apple clearly has the most votes of confidence.

Everyone has an opinion about device brands and it is mostly due to preference. But I'm having a hard time trying to follow the "logic" of the loyal Fruit Cult following. I don't think they care what the specs are at all, it's just a foregone conclusion that the Apple device will magically be "better" by default.

In fact, I'd like to know exactly what kind of hallucinogenic drugs these people are doing to think the specs give Apple the win, because it would seemingly take some pretty strong stuff to overlook this helpful little handful of hardware facts...

  • The CPU - the Note 4 uses an Octa core processor while the iPhone 6 Plus sports dual core
  • 1.9GHz cpu processing speed on the Note 4 compared to 1.4GHz on the iPhone 6 Plus
  • Screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 on the Note 4 versus 1920 x 1080 on the 6 Plus
  • Super sharp screen on the Note 4 packs 515 pixels/sq.in but iPhone 6 Plus is only 400pix/sq.in.
  • 16Mp camera on the Note 4 as opposed to 8Mp on the 6 Plus
  • Front-facing camera on the Note 4 has twice the resolution than it's Fruity Phablet counterpart
  • Real multitasking on the Galaxy Note 4, nothing of the sort on the iPhone 6 Plus
  • A whopping 3 gigabytes of RAM packed into the Note 4 while the 6 Plus gets a paltry 1Gb
  • 3,220 mAh of battery power on the Galaxy Note 4 edging out the 2,915 mAh on the 6 Plus
  • Killer download speed of 42.2Mbps on the Galaxy Note 4 while iPhone 6 Plus drags along at 7.2Mbps
  • The super solid build of the metal-band-clad Note 4 as opposed to the lighter, cheaper, more slippery feel of the iPhone 6 Plus

My conclusion? The amount of hallucinogenic drugs or head-meds needed to "make" the iPhone 6 Plus a better device choice than that of a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would therefore be significant. But right when you think logic and hardware specs rules the day, I will say this...

I like the look and feel of the iPhone 6 Plus better than the Galaxy Note 4, and would have chosen it over the Android product if Apple included a pen digitizer on their device. Plus the lacking hardware specs don't appear to give it any less of a speedy user experience.

So there you have it.  Shocked that Mr. Android Boy would say such things? Well you shouldn't be. The point is, none of the specs listed for or against a device amount to a hill of beans. It's all about user preference and the user experience.

For me, the lack of a pen digitizer on Apple mobile devices is a deal-breaker. The Galaxy Note 4 is close enough as a great device that I will stick with it just to have my digitizer pen. I can live with the design changes that I don't like as much, as long as I have the digitizer.

Ironically, the one thing Apple Fruit Cult members boasted about most was that their devices were solid and heavy, while Samsung's devices felt cheap, light and "plasticky" (which I prefer). The chickens have come home to roost.

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru

Apple-Samsung Smartphone Slugfest Phablet Style

SAMSUNG GETS SNIPPY WITH NOTE 4 VIDEO DISS

Okay people I'm back. I've been out-of-pocket lately, on blogging vacation. But with the recent developments on the tech forefront, I think this is a good time to chime back in.

Transient

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch has passed, and phones will start shipping within the next few weeks to anxious customers. While the iPhone 6 Plus breaks "new ground", Samsung has taken the opportunity to make a snarky video about Apple's sudden change in design.

It is truly ironic to see what has transpired, truthfully. Looking back over the last handful of years, we have seen Apple make multiple accusations against Samsung for stealing their designs. At that same time, the Apple execs swore that a smartphone bigger than 3.5" was entirely stupid, and it was something you would never ever see their beloved company produce.

Fast forward to the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with their massive 4.7" and 5.5" diagonal displays, and it makes me sit rubbing my head wondering what just happened. Apparently, I'm not the only one who wonders what happened in Cuppertino. Maybe they all inhaled, or drank their own Kool-Aid.

How in the world could the same company who accused Samsung of blatant copyright infringement turn an about-face and produce a phone which is in the form of the Galaxy Note without a stylus? Especially after swearing off phablets and larger-screened smartphones?

Samsung released a very sarcastic video that sums it all up. But what I am left wondering is whether or not Samsung will quickly blow the whistle and sue the pants off of their hypocritical chief competitor much in the same way that was done to them.

Only time will tell.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll stick with my Apple iPad Retina Mini for all my iOS needs, but I'll take a pass on the iPhone 6 Plus and stick with the Galaxy Note line and move from the 3 to the 4 when it is released.

I'll let the hypocrites OOPS I mean Apple Enthusiasts have their feeding frenzy with the stylus-less iPhone 6 Plus that they swore off before Apple lost its mind and followed the leader on phablet phorm phactors.

Carlton Flowers
THE GADGET GURU

Top 5 Ways You Can FUBAR Your Smartphone & How To Avoid It

MOST COMMON WAYS SMARTPHONES GET FOULED UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION

Smartphones help to make us smart, when they are taken care of. But people are stupid, and can tend to be careless. When you combine mindless busy people with expensive smartphones, you get some pretty common mishaps that spell disaster for your sanity and your bank accounts.

In order to help you avoid disaster and the devistation that comes along with iFUBAR'ing your iPhone (or other Android device), let's look at the top five mishaps and hope you will keep these in the back of your mind before you do something stupid.

Just so you know, I have done three of these. So I am your primary example of smartphone user stupidity! That being said, let's look at the Top 5, each with my tips on how you can avoid each type of FUBAR stupidity.

1) Toilet Baptism - Did you know that 30% of smartphones end up in the toilet? I was surprised to learn this truth. Water damage can spell the end of your smartphone, especially if you try to turn it on and check it after giving it a swim.  

How to avoid: go back to reading magazines and books during bathroom time. For goodness' sake... you probably need a 10-minute break from that ratchet little device anyway.

2) Death By Buttocks - I did this one myself, just 4 months ago. You're busy doing something, but you want your phone close. So you shove it in your back pocket. Forgetting it is there, you sit down on something. For me, it was an old car seat cushion on the floor. I was working on a car. Even with the padding, my butt cheeks applied enough pressure to ever so slightly flex the LCD and destroy it. The glass didn't even break, but no more display.

How to avoid: get a fanny pack, no more back pocket stashing. Remember that you won't remember stashing it back there in the first place.

3) The "Tuck-And-Forget" - I cannot tell you how many times I have done this, and I never learn. With this destruction method, it involves getting in your car. Your phone is in your hand, and you figure you'll just tuck the phone in between your legs whle you drive, so you don't drop it in under the seats or step on it. As soon as you tuck it under your legs, you forget it's there. When you get out of the car, the phone shoots out like a torpedo and skips across the parking lot.

How to avoid: Mount a smartphone holster on your dashboard.

4) The Finger Fumble - This is the most basic and common way to FUBAR your smartphone. You think you have your device securely in your hands, and for no apparent reason, your fingers fumble the phone and it takes a nice long trip down to the ground. What makes this worse is the "catch-the-phone-with-your-foot" save method, which only makes it worse. Each and every time I have tried this save, I end up drop kicking the phone and sending it another 10' through the air, only to suffer an even harder fall.

How to avoid: get a big fat solid case. You will never solve the finger fumble, it will happen. You can only minimalize the damage it causes!

5) The "Set-It-And-Forget-It" - We've all done this at some time or another. It usually ends in a most tragic way. It starts with you loading something into your car. Your smartphone is in your hand, so the closest place you can put it is on top of your car (or on the trunk deck). By the time you load your stuff, you've forgotten where the phone is. You peel out, the phone slides off the car, and falls perfectly underneath your tire to die a quick death of mega crunching. Seems like a stunt crew would have trouble reproducing this sequence of events, but it works like a charm when it's your expensive smartphone.

How to avoid: put a sticker on your car that says "Do NOT place expensive objects on this slick, shiny surface, you putz!"

None of us want our smartphones fouled up beyond all recognition. So recognize these tips, and save yourself from frustration and the depletion of your bank account! Do you have any FUBAR stories you'd like to share with others? Chime in the comments section and tell us all! You might save us all!

Carlton Flowers
Chief FUBAR Prevention Expert

My Top 5 Reasons I Won't Get A New iPhone

TOP 5 - WHY I WON'T BE BUYING A NEW IPHONE ANYTIME SOON

Here's the first of a series of "Top 5" lists! Today's top 5? Why you won't see me in line anytime soon buying an iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, 6, M, Mega, Mini, or anything else they come out with. Here we go!

1) It's Too Small - my eyes are too old. I can't read text on the screen. That just sucks. Make it bigger Apple, and maybe I'll think about it. Sadly, even the rumored iPhone 6 is said to only have a 4.7" diagonal display. That's so 2010.

2) No Text Reflow - Apple joins the idiots at Samsung on this one. Panning side-to-side to read sentences after zooming in on text is just plain stupid. Unless I fall and hit my head, and become stupid, I'm not signing up for this kind of reading abuse.

3) They Break - All you people who think iPhones are like "jeweler's quality", you can keep them. Drop it from 2' and it's toast. I feel sorry for all the people with a brand new iPhone 5S that they dropped the first month and destroyed the phone. I'd rather buy a rubber ball to bounce on the concrete versus a $750 glass and metal computer.

4) They Malfunction - iPhones do stupid things for no reason. I'm sitting here right now with a friend's iPhone 5S that vibrates, and makes annoying sounds. But the screen won't come on. Not even with a hard reset. It's a known issue. But like always, Apple won't admit this for at least 12 more months and after 1,507,327 more complaints.

5) Apple Thinks We Are Stupid - I don't want my smartphone force-fed into my mouth on a baby spoon like Gerber products. I want to be treated like I am halfway intelligent by my smartphone manufacturer. The arrogance at Apple is and has always been something that I completely don't care for.

That said, I must go to work. I'm reading some tech blog posts on my brand-new Apple iPad Mini with Retina display. And before you call me an anti-Apple troll, I never said I didn't like the iPad!

Carlton Flowers
Top 5 Techno Babbler

 

Is The LG G Flex Curvalicious Display The Wave Of The Future?

REVIEW: LG'S G FLEX SMARPTPHONE BREAKS THE MOLD WITH CONCAVE DISPLAY

I spent a fantastic 2 weeks with the LG G Flex smartphone, and it wasn't the device's technical specifications that had me sad about sending it back to AT&T. It was the display.

In the age of gigantic oversized monstrosities that we call "phablets", not a single manufacturer has come up with something this different. At first, I thought it was a gimmick. But after using it during my test period, it's anything but a gimmick.

The concave display on the LG G Flex smartphone isn't nearly as exaggerated as I thought it would be. We're only talking a depth of about a couple of millimeters in the center of the display at its full depth. But the difference it makes when compared to a flat smartphone is very noticeable.

For people like me who do a ton of reading on their smartphone, the concave display offers a major advantage: it's easier on the eyes. Why? I think this is due to the fact that the radius of your eyesight does not change length from reading the top to the bottom of the screen.

That might sound hokey to you. But is it? The new 4K televisions coming from LG and Samsung have a horizontally curved display to provide a more "immersive" effect, like the big screens at the best movie theaters. I noticed the same effect with the LG G Flex.

This smartphone sports a whopping 6" (diagonally measured) display. With a screen that size, maybe the slight concave design does actually offer something of a different experience to your eyes. And with my 40-something aging eyeballs, I could swear that it added to my ease of reading.

The LG G Flex display doesn't break any records with screen resolution. It's only a meager 720x1280 with 245 ppi. That might sound like techno gibberish to you, but of all the smartphones on the market, this is just average in resolution. But it doesn't need to be any higher than this.

Most of the smartphones on the market that boast better screen resolution don't really make that big of a difference to the average user anyway. But with bright, vivid colors and the huge size coupled with the slight concave design, it brings a brilliance that gives you the experience of watching a big flat screen television.

As far as the flexibility of the display, it doesn't mean that it is indestructible. If you drop the LG G Flex from a height of about 4', you will crack the display. Watching a drop test video did expose the fact that it is not made of an unbreakable material. But the flexibility does have its advantages.

I destroyed the display of my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone 3 months ago. I had the phone in my back pocket, forgot it was there, and I sat on it. While I did not crack the display, my big butt managed to flex the LCD panel, and it was toast. You cannot so much as slightly flex the LCD panels on any smartphone without chancing completely destroying them. They just can't handle that.

But the LG G Flex does have the capability of bending without breaking. When you place the G Flex on a table face down, you can depress the center of the phone until it is flat on the surface and it will not damage the LCD. That means it will probably survive a chance sitting without spelling its demise. Because of that, I think this smartphone is more durable than anything on the market even though it is crackable.

I think we will see more concave design devices enter into the market in the coming months. With the wave of TVs arriving, and the LG G Flex, other manufacturers are sure to follow. Add to that the fact that Samsung has a completely flexible display in development, and I am sure we will see other non-flat designs coming our way.

Have you given the LG G Flex a test drive? Let me know what you think. I'm curious to know if other users find the display design to be easier on the eyes compared to the standard flat display.

I'll close this update by saying the LG G Flex gets a solid "two thumbs up" from the gadget king (that's me). This is a device I would love to add to my cadre of electronics! Big thanks to AT&T St. Louis for the test device!

Carlton Flowers
Smartphone Flexer

LG G Flex Smartphone via AT&T

Business Owners - New Shocking Trends That Will Make Or Break You 2014

URGENT FACTS YOU CAN'T SLEEP ON IF YOU PLAN TO SURVIVE & THRIVE IN 2014

If you are a business owner or an organization that caters to commerce via the web, take note. These are the alarming trends that you must be aware of if you plan on staying competitive in the future. This information could change your marketing strategy for the new year.

Do you own an ugly website that is not optimized for use with mobile devices? Now is the time to start thinking about these trends which speak for themselves. If you fail to pay attention now, you will risk losing your position in the market. Use these facts wisely, and then act on it accordingly.

If you are a retail store owner, a proprietor of a service based company, or you are responsible for your company's marketing efforts, stop what you are doing and take the time to read each and every oneof these facts. This is critical information you must know in this day and age if you desire to stay competitive.

Now then... let's take a look at what's going on in the world of your consumers, the people that you serve each and every day that make your business profitable and sustainable. Here are the shocking facts!

56% of adults are using smartphones at the close of 2013. That's more than half of your customer base. If you're not serving up your company's presence in an easily viewable way on a smartphone or mobile device, they will bounce (leave) immediately after discovering your site.

75% of Americans take their smartpones with them to the bathroom. While sitting on the can, you can potentially have the undivided attention of your target market! But can your website hold their attention while they are held captive?

27% of companies worldwide planned on implementing location-based marketing in 2013. That means optimizing your website to gain placement in local searching. Is your site optimized for placement in your local market? This is a critical area you must master to remain competitive in your town's market area.

Retailer apps with "store mode" gather 5X more more engagement than regular sites. This means you need a mobile web app that is optimized for veiwing on a smartphone across all platforms. Is your boring traditional website going to cut the mustard when your competitors have mobile apps developed to display their wares to your customers? You must compete in this category.

Mobile devices out-populated the entire human population by the end of 2013. That means your customers own multiple smartphones and tablets that they use for browsing and shopping purposes. Have you tapped into this alarming trend?

46% of "showroom shoppers" still made their purchases in-store in 2013. What does that tell you about the remaining balance? I'm sure you canfigure that out.

Price comparisons weremade on a daily basis by your customers in 2013 by use of smartphones and tablets. Consumers don't need to pick up a newspaper or hit the stores by foot to find the deals they are looking for. You must know your competition, and be able to stand out on the web or you will lose out.

Consumers spent 6X more time browsing retailer web apps in 2013 than what they did in 2012. If you're not set up with a mobile-friendly site, you will have a high "bounce rate" (customers immediately leaving your site after arriving) for your online audience.

25% of marketing executives see mobile devices as the most disruptive force in their industry as of 2013. If the big shots are preparing for this trend, what should small businesses do? Take note immediately before ending up on the losin end of the marketing war.

65% of US shoppers do their research on a smartphone, tablet, or PC before they make a purchasing decision. So you've got a great website... you've won half the battle. But what about the mobile device market? Are you prepared?

54% of consumers would prefer using touchscreen devices right in your store to assist their shopping experience. Is your store equipped with tablet stations to assist them? The trend in small business is to equip retail areas with tablets that have custom catalogs via a proprietary web app, and more are popping up as we speak.

48% of consumers use (or would like to use) their smartphones while shopping in your store. Do you have a poster or sign displaying your webapp to greet customers when they arrive at your location? Those that do keep the attention of thier customers long after they have left the premises. This can prove to be quite profitable.

Nearly 50% of shoppers feel that they are more informed than your store sales associates. You can work with this trend by providing customers a way to allow them to continue learning about your products and services (i.e. a web app), or stay in the dark and let your sales staff argue with them to prove who knows the facts better.

80% of smartphone owners want more smartphone optimized product information while they are shopping in your store. In 2014, you had better serve them with most slick, user-friendly web app possible. This will alleviate the demand on your sales staff to assist your customers.

Within 5 years, half of all smartphone shoppers will be using mobile wallet apps to provide payment for your goods and services. Is this in your future business plan?

Time spent using mobile apps is now challenging television. Your customers are now spending 127 minutes per day on mobilel apps compared to 168 minutes watching television. Are you tapping into this trend by providing the best mobile experience for your business?

24% of consumers used a mobile device to browse Black Friday deals over Thanksgiving in 2012, up from 14.3% in 2011. The numbers are not in for 2013, but it will be highly likely that the percentage has taken another hike.

4 out of 5 consumers have used a smartphone to shop as of 2012. The number is on a steep incline, and this has become the norm. This year, you probably will struggle to find a person who has not used their smartphone to shop at least once.

57% of consumers surveyed said they would not recommend a business with a poorly designed website that is not optimized for mobile viewing and shopping to their friends.

53% of consumers say they have stopped an in-store purchase because they found a better deal online using their smarphone. The only way to combat this behavior is to provide the best mobile optimized website for your customers use.

44% of smartphone owners look for coupon opportunities on their mobile devices to take advantage of special deals and pricing in your store. 17% of consumers have already used mobile coupons at least once as of 2012.

These are enough facts to shock you into the reality of the 2014 consumer mindset, and should more than convince you of how imperative it is to make mobile marketing a focus of your advertising and sales efforts. If you remain unconvinced, which is nearly impossible if you are serious about serving the needs of your customers, stay tuned for part two. I'll have another slew of facts to open your eyes.

Considering all of this information, you might be overwhelmed. But you don't have to solve all of your high tech marketing marketing challenges all at once. Here are a few easy steps you can consider taking to get you on the road to conquering mobile marketing in 2014 and prosper your business.

1. Evaluate Your Website - Pick up your smartphone and pull up your company's website, and take a look at what your smartphone weilding customers are seeing. If the formatting is horrible and it doesn't present well, have an expert evaluate what can be done to have it optimized for mobile viewing. This is your lowest-cost action item on your high tech to-do list.

2. Identify Areas Of Improvement - Even if you have a mobile website, what easy improvements can be made for your customer's experience that won't break the bank?

3. Ask Your Customers What THEY Want - Find out what things your customers would like to have on your mobile website that would streamline their shopping and purchasing experience. Post a sign in your store, hand out a survey to buyers, or post a message on your website asking for ideas. Your customers might have ideas which could have a great impact in increasing your sales.

4. Get A Local Expert - find a local web developer that is experienced in creation of mobile web apps that can work with you in person and coach you to the next level. Beware of online services that claim to provide cheap instant solutions. You might waste your hard-earned money, because many online "consultants" are only out to get your money with no personal interaction or coaching.

Last but certainly not least, if you are located in the Central Missouri area, let me give a shameless plug for Web App Concepts, a locally-owned team of web app developers that can provide you with a complete web app solution for your business at a rate the heavy duty consultants cannot compete with... all while providing a superior prodcut to boot!

Get in touch with me via email at "carlton.flowers@gmail.com" for a free recommendation and evaluation of your current mobile marketing needs.

Carlton Flowers
Partner, Web App Concepts LLC

p.s. Ask about our high-profile web app recently developed for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce "GovWatch" program! See it here ---> http://www.mogovdirect.net/desktop/index.php

Smartphone + Tablet = Asus Padfone X

AT&T TO ROLL OUT ASUS PADFONE X EXCLUSIVELY IN 2014

Forget the "phablet" craze! What do you get when you combine a smartphone and a tablet? Would this be a Tartphone? A Smablet? Perhaps a Smartablette? In due time, you'll be able to call it an Asus Padfone X.

Although there's no price or release date set as of yet, you'll definitely be seeing this new concept exclusively in the U.S. through AT&T sometime this year.

This takes the orgininal idea of the Motorola Atrix 4G and its expensive docking "laptop" a step further, only using the popular tablet form factor.

What you'll get is a 5" smartphone with a full HD 9" tablet when placed in the dock on its rear side.

Add in a light weight brushed metal frame, a soft touch back plate, Android 4.4 KitKat, and wondrous dual front facing stereo speakers, and you have one high quality gadget that will get some serious looks.

You'll even be able to dock the smartphone in real time and seamlessly transition to the larger display while running applications. And while docked, you'll be charging the smartphone from the humongously powerful battery within the tablet.

It goes without saying that you'll get blazing fast 4G LTE connectivity, and you'll also get full HD voice service that will be the wave of the future.

ASUS plans on rolling out all the gory details of this new device at the 2014 CES, and you can follow the announcements at http://press.asus.com/events.

Will this break new ground and bring the Tartphone/Smablette form factor into the forefront like the phablet craze that started with the original Dell Streak, that Samsung perfected with the Galaxy Note line? Only time will tell!

Keep your eyes peeled for details!

Carlton Flowers
Smablette Fronteersman

Samsung To Bring Knockout-Punch Low-Cost Tablet In 2014

"GALAXY TAB 3 LITE" COMING IN JANUARY OF 2014?

Rumors are swirling about the release of a super low-cost tablet coming from Samsung that could possibly corner the market on base-level tablets. Insiders say that it will be called the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite.

At a price of $135 for the WiFi version, this could be the knockout punch that crowns Samsung the heavyweight champion in the tablet market.

Already known for making high quality products, this would make a purchasing decision fairly easy for someone who doesn't want to spend a pile on a tablet.

The form factor of this tablet will probably follow the 7" Galaxy Tab 3, but it will be a tad bit stripped down on features and/or processing power.

A 3G version will supposedly be rolled out 3 weeks after the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite WiFi model, along with an all-black version.

People are wondering what is up with the big dogs focusing on the low-end tablet market. Apparently, the low-end tablet niche is a growth market. There's not much further they can go with the expensive tablets, so this is apparently fertile ground.

I for one would be a prime target. I usually will focus on having whatever the top-flight smartphone is at the time, and I don't really need a super expensive tablet.

But if the price is right, I could see myself using a tablet for video content, reading, checking email, and running basic apps. I wouldn't need one for more than the most basic functions.

There are a lot of great deals coming our way in the tablet market. I have yet to spend my hard earned money on one of these devices. But which one will I finally bite on? Will it be the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite? Time will tell...

Carlton Flowers
Grand Gadget General Supreme

 

iPad Air Drops November 1st From AT&T

IPAD AIR - THINNER, LIGHTER, FASTER

I've had several people ask me about the new iPad Air coming out Friday, November 1st via AT&T. Let's take a look at some of the details on this slick new tablet hot off the Apple press!

As the name denotes, iPad air is going to be thinner and lighter, and of course the fastest processing power to date. It weighs in at a super light 1 pound. That's 20% lighter than its predecessor, the iPad 4th generation tablet.

Plus it is 28% thinner. How this thing could get any more slim is beyond me, but the Apple devs have apparently been hard at work using miniaturizing ray guns to thin this device out more than all of the previous models.

It has an even narrower bezel than iPad 4th generation, which basically means that the iPad Air stretches the viewable display farther to the edges of the device. It gives a more futuristic experience than ever.

Its packing a brilliantly sharp 9.7" Retina display, which means you'll get some seriously sharp text for ease of reading. This means you'll hardly notice the difference between reading on this display from reading in a print magazine.

Apps will run super fast with the improved A7 cpu chip which is a 64-bit processor. That's kind of like upgrading a 4-lane highway to 8 lanes, which means it can move more data to push your favorite apps even faster. That will seriously decrease load times and graphics processing.

Your wireless capability will be faster for both WiFi and 4G LTE operation. With more an more LTE coverage around the nation, the iPad Air with a data plan will be a blast and give you blazing speeds on the go. Couple that with all the new iOS7 features, and you're in for a great tablet experience.

AT&T will be offering a variety of data plans for the iPad Air, including device data sharing. If you already have a wireless account, you can start off with a $10 addition to power your wireless browsing.

You also have the new pay-per-use plans that start at 250mb for one day for five bucks, and you can take that all the way to a one-time 30 day deal for $50 that gives you 5Gb of data. You can get the skinny on all the available plans at www.att.com/ipad.

For those of you who like to stay on the cutting edge, I think you'd be happy to jump on one of these. I'm going to have to go check this out myself and get a quick test drive. Up until now, I haven't been a big fan of tablets because they are too heavy in my hands. But this one might hit the mark.

Stay with me and I'll be back with a video as soon as I catch one of these puppies out in the wild!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Monster

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Mega Hands On With CZ Blog

THE SAMSUNG GALAXY MEGA - MY REACTION!

I've spent 3 amazing days with the new Samsung Galaxy Mega from AT&T, and it has been quite a bit of fun! I'm ready to share a few details about this gigantic device, if you're considering this phablet as your main communications device.

First of all, let's tell you about what this device is. It's a mid-range smartphone made to fit your budget and give you the best multimedia experience without breaking the bank. I like that idea. This would be the perfect combo for those wanting a smartphone and a tablet all in one.

The display on this device happens to be a 720p Super Clear LCD display. This is a step down from the AMOLED HD displays found in the top of the line Galaxy S4. Even though it is a less expensive display, only experts will really notice a big difference.

The display is good enough to rock video content, and I absolutely love the extra size for watching a movie or YouTube video content. Plus, it's a complete blast for playing games like Candy Crush Saga, my secret addiction.

On the inside, you'll get a dual core 1.5GHz processor with 1.5Gb of RAM. That's enough muscle to serve up good graphics, push apps, and do some multi tasking along with Samsung's new split screen for running 2 apps in separate windows.

Being the owner of a Samsung Galaxy S4, I do notice that there's a bit of a lag when loading apps, videos, and the likes. It's not that the Galaxy Mega is slow by any means, but it does let me know just how powerful my Galaxy S4 is with its more powerful processor and extra half a Gb of RAM.

A lot of the new features that come with the Galaxy S4 are included with the Galaxy Mega, including things like Air View, the ability to minimize a video while running, and all of the nice gesture controls. That's a lot more than what you'll get with other budget tablet devices.

Size-wise, this is a gigantic device that some might complain for being too big to fit in their hands. But for me, I don't seem to mind it that much. I'd rather have a fully-functional tablet with smartphone capabilities than to own two different devices. I got used to the size really quick, and it makes my Galaxy S4 feel like an iPhone in my hands after playing with it a while.

The build of the Galaxy Mega is much like all of the other Galaxy smartphones. It's light, has the same plastic backing, and the faux metal ring surrounding the edges. The back plate does seem to pick up a lot of fingerprints, so those that are finicky about looks might be bothered by that.

Running apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media programs is a blast with the huge display. It's also quite fantastic for surfing the web, using reader software, and watching video content.

I'm actually going to be sad to see this device go back to AT&T tomorrow. If I had money to burn, I might even consider having one of these as a backup phone and primary tablet. But I might hold out for the Galaxy Note III, because I'd love to have something of this size with an S Pen stylus.

At $149 on a 2-year contract, I think this device will certainly hit a groove with those that don't want or need the cutting edge for processing power. Check out more details and have one shipped to your doorstep at the Amazon Wireless store!

Carlton Flowers
Mega Smartphone Fan

Get a Samsung Galaxy Mega for $149 at the Amazon Wireless Store now! Click the link for details!

 

Samsung Galaxy Mega Coming To AT&T

MEGA-SIZE SMARTPHONE TEST IS COMING SOON!

The Samsung Mega with its whopping 6.3" display will be coming to my mailbox soon for a full review. I'm super excited about it, and I'm going to spend some quality time running it through the mill.

This is a new concept of giganticizing a smartphone to fill the phablet niche. I think it has definite use, for those that want to perform functions like a tablet can only provide.

It's looking like this will be a budget jumbo smartphone, coming in at a surprising price of only $149 on a 2-year contract via AT&T. But the specs on the phone definitely don't scream "cheap" by any means. Plus it is said to include a lot of the gadgety features of the Galaxy S4, like multi tasking, motion gestures, and more.

I think if your focus is on having a large display and tablet functionality, this might be a hit. The device dosen't pack the power of the Samsung Galaxy S4, but I think it will definitely function and perform well for what it is.

It might be a little bit of a stretch using this as a phone, but I'm open to the idea of having a jumbolicious device like this that provides its own 4G LTE service. I just wish it came with an S Pen, but that might jack the price up beyond what they are targeting.

I'll be watching the horizon for the UPS delivery truck, and I'll give a full report when I break it out of the box. If this is something that would piquie your interest, stay tuned! More info is on the way!

Carlton Flowers
Phablet Fanatic 

 

Big Announcement Is Out! "AT&T Next" Program Unveiled Today

AT&T NEWS - UPGRADE DEVICES YEARLY & FOREGO CONTRACTS WITH "NEXT"

This is what we have been waiting for! Significant, exciting news from AT&T! I believe I predicted this to a certain degree of accuracy, but it appears that AT&T has gone beyond my prediction with its new "AT&T Next" offering.

Instead of being stuck with your contracted device for 2 years and dealing with outdated technology, you are now able to upgrade after only one year with this new program. The company basically finances the full cost of the device, speading out payments over a 20 month period.

But here's the kicker - there's no down payment, no activation fee, no upgrade fees, and no financing fees. Plus you can upgrade again within one year, even if you don't have the device paid off.

I consider this very significant news, and it was well worth the wait. Why? Because I have said for a long time that technological advancement has now outpaced the length of carrier contracts. 2-year contracts for devices can leave you in a pickle.

Here's how...

Let's say you buy a Samsung Galaxy S2 a few months after it has been released. You do fine with the device during the first year, because it's still close to being cutting edge for its harware specs. But after your first year, the Android updates start outpacing your device's ability to perform.

Then the dreaded event happens: a monstrous update comes out that practically drags your device's performance down to a grinding halt. That's what happened to me when Android 4.0.3 was installed on to my Samsung Galaxy S2.

I called Samsung Support, and they kindly told me that my device was so old that I couldn't expect it to keep up with the current operating system. They kindly told me that I should think about upgrading to a Galaxy S3, or get first in line for the S4 (it was not out at the time).

It was at that very point that I knew things would have to change in the mobile market. No longer did standard contract time periods coincide with the pace of technology. So today, AT&T addresses this issue and comes out with the perfect plan to solve the conundrum of advancing technology and 2-year contracts.

I couldn't be more excited. I'll most definitely be one to take advantage of the program and update on a yearly basis. For someone who leans on their smartphone or tablet as much as I do, this is the best way to go. It allows you to take full advantage of advancement in operating system environments, and stay efficient with device performance.

So I say "HATS OFF" to AT&T! Thank you for the exciting news, and living up to the hype!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Addict

 

Windows 8.1 Overhaul Coming Soon - "Start" Return?

MICROSOFT LISTENS - THE START BUTTON IS DUE TO RETURN, & MORE WITH 8.1

The masses spoke out, and Microsoft listened! The new version of Windows 8.1 coming this year will give back what everyone misses the most, the Start button. Not only that, we'll be getting even more significant updates.

Right when everyone thought that that Windows 8 would spell the demise of the legendary dominant operating system, the proposed changes may put them back solidly in control. Microsoft’s Jensen Harris and Antoine Leblond presented an update in San Francisco on May 29th that has everyone excited at the BUILD developer’s conference.

We'll have to wait until the end of the year for this monumental rollout, but it will be worth the wait. I've held off on updating my desktop and laptop, but I'll be ready to get on board once Windows 8.1 is officially released.

So to all my fellow geek friends who have told me how much they despise Windows 8 for being such a tremendous left turn off the beaten path of their familiar operating system, there's hope! Let's take a brief look at some of the changes that are significant.

PROPOSED CHANGES AND ADDITIONS COMING WITH WINDOWS 8.1

  • The "Start" button will return, allowing Windows to come back to its most familiar basic functionality.
  • The customizable lock screen will have a single full-screen image,  becoming what they call “the world’s best cloud-powered photo frame.”
  • The start screen will have 2 new sizes allowed, bringing the total to 4 sizes.
  • The Start layout will allow installed apps to roam between Windows 8 devices connected to the same Microsoft account (very nice).
  • The Metro-style PC Settings section will be expanded to include all the Windows settings that were formerly part of the desktop Control Panel.
  • You will get a completely new "Windows Store" design.
  • You won't get the huge list of search scopes when you click the Search charm which will rid you of the need to go through all of them one at a time. It will have one search box and a unified results list that has all of your apps, files, settings, and content from the web and Wikipedia apps.
  • You'll get a new touch keyboard with improved autosuggest, new gestures, and much easier functionality for putting in your own numbers & symbols without changing the keyboard layout.
  • The touch keyboard has an improved autosuggest capability and supports new gestures, making it easier to insert numbers and symbols without having to change the keyboard layout.
  • There will be no more manual updating for Windows Store apps. It will be done in the background as normal maintenance.
  • Updates for Windows Store apps will be applied automatically as part of Windows 8.1’s background maintenance process. That’s a significant shift from Windows 8, which requires manual updates to the new apps.
  • You get new snap "behaviors" for Metro-style apps. You can arrange up to 4 Windows 8 apps side by side, with variable widths. No more being stuck with 320-pixel snap widths. This will be a big help for the new Win8 tablets coming out this summer.
  • There will be a pile of new apps coming, and the existing ones will get updated. The XBOX Music app that everyone hates will get an overhaul, and more tools for the Photo app.
  • Synchronization between Skydrive and Windows 8.1 is coming, so you'll be able to sync between all of your cloud aps and folders.
  • You'll be able to bypass the start screen and go straight to your good ole desktop. Plus, you'll be able to sync the backgrounds between the Start screen and desktop so they look the same.
  • File Explorer will get a significant overhaul.

So there you have it! I think this should have happened from the jump, but it's better late than never. In the meantime, I'm sticking with Windows 7 and putting off turning my life upside down. In the words of Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time foh dat!"

Hats off to you, Microsoft. You're using your heads now. Change is good, and it's inevitable. But we're gonna need you to just slow it down a bit and work with us change-resistant people. Mkay??? Greeeaaat.

Carlton Flowers
Worry-Free Windows Watchman

 

 

Samsung Galaxy S IV Rumors - S Pen Taunting Me

THE GALAXY S IV S PEN RUMORS HEATING UP!

The rumors keep swirling about the smartphone coming to Android Nation that will likely be the most advanced ever released. It's the Samsung Galaxy S IV.

And as we watch closely for leaks on details, there's one thing that really gets me keyed up... rumors about an S Pen.

This is starting to get a little ridiculous. At first, I wrote off the Galaxy S IV S Pen rumors as fiction, because I did not thing that Samsung would want their new flagship smartphone to compete directly with the Galaxy Note II. It just didn't make sense.

But the rumors are persistent. There are several sources out in the blogosphere, many of which have credibility, who keep droning on about the Galaxy S IV including an S Pen.

It's hard for me to put my biggest dream about the S IV aside, with all these fresh rumors circulating. I want to be able to let myself down easy if it doesn't turn out to be true.

But now that I think about it, there could actually be some sensible reasoning for Samsung to include the S Pen on the Galaxy S IV.

If they view this as the new minimum standard for their devices, then it shouldn't be a threat to the Galaxy Note II. Plus, the size of the Note II is still bigger, albiet slightly.

Add to this the fact that the rumors swirling around about the Galaxy Note II are completely insane, stating that the next Note in the seriies will come with a 6" or larger display.

The only way I can see them pushing the bubble and creating a monstrosity like this is if they keep the smartphone/phablet people happy with a more sensible jumbo-sized device with an S Pen.

So if this all pans out, and we see a 4.99" Galaxy S IV with an S Pen along with a 6" or bigger Galaxy Note III, then hats-off to Samsung for pushing the limits of the imagination and carving out new niches that could make a lot of people happy.

All I can say is that the Galaxy S IV better have an S Pen, or I will be seriously let down. My hopes are up, and I can't go back to my previous thinking. I want my theory to ring true, and I want a Galaxy S IV with an 8-core processor and S Pen in my hands come May of 2013.

Come through for me Sammy, please come through for me. Make my dreams come true.

Carlton Flowers
S Pen Finatic

Samsung Galaxy S IV Rumor Roundup

FRESH GALAXY S IV GOSSIP - S PEN SUPPORT OR NOT?

The rumor mill is cranking out some fresh new chatter about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S IV. The tidbit of info that has my ears perked the most? Whether or not it will have an S Pen.

The initial rumors were holding out that the S Pen would be a part of the Samsung Galaxy S IV. Then as time went on, a lot of the prognosticators were saying that they would not allow an S Pen on the S IV because it would compete directly with the Galaxy Note II.

But now we've come back to the initial theory that the Galaxy S IV would in fact come with the extra digitizer layer that is needed to read the special tip in the S Pen stylus. But how will they do this without killing the Note II?

First of all, in Android years (very similar to Dog years), the Galaxy Note II has reached full maturity. It will be in its geriatric stages by the time the Galaxy S IV has been released. So maybe Samsung and the carriers aren't concerned with whether or not the Galaxy S IV will stick the final nail in the coffin of the Note II.

Second of all, there are some hideous rumors floating around about the Galaxy Note III. If they are even remotely true, I don't think the Galaxy S IV will be considered an overlapping device because of its inclusion of the S Pen.

As the story is now being told, the Samsung Galaxy Note III might have a display that is 6" or greater in diagonal measure, and it will have an 8-core CPU. That definitely takes the Note out of its current class as a ginormous smartphone, and puts it into a new category of "tablet-with-on-board-phone".

In my opinion, calling such an absurdity a "smartphone" would be ridiculous. But it makes sense. This would be similar to an iPad Mini with a 4G LTE radio on board, just smaller and more portable. Plus, it would allow the Galaxy S IV pick up right where they left off in the "phablet" niche.

People complained in the past that the Galaxy Note I was way too big. The Note II was tweaked, making it thinner width-wise, and a tad taller. But still, many claim it's too big to be taken seriously as a smartphone. I don't think it would be too big. However, I certainly think scaling it back to 5" would be a master stroke.

Stay with me and we'll keep tracking the latest tidbits on the smartphone/phablet of the future that looks to be packing a quad-core CPU and all the fixings. It's gonna get really exciting as we go!

Carlton Flowers
Mi Amore Galaxy Galore

Samsung Galaxy Note II Is Dead - Enter Note III, Fonblet, S IV

NEW SAMSUNG DEVICES COULD MOTHBALL THE NOTE II

Just a couple of months ago, I told you all that my next upgrade would definitely be the Samsung Galaxy Note II. This was my firm decision after a wonderful 2-week test period of this device from AT&T. Scrap that. Everything has changed.

We all know that in the world of Android and Samsung, devices remain "cutting edge" for about a month before they are kicked to the side and shown up by new devices. It appears that this will be the story with the Samsung Galaxy Note II. It's already old hat.

My upgrade is not due until May of 2013. By then, I seriously doubt I'll be purchasing a Samsung Galaxy Note II on contract. I'll either be getting a Galaxy S IV or some new yet-to-be-revealed device.

The decision will be rather easy if Samsung includes an S Pen with the Galaxy S IV, plus at least a 4.9" display. I would love to have a jumbo phone that is slightly smaller than the "phablet" Galaxy Note II. So this would do the trick.

The Galaxy S IV will also be packing some serious power, and could sport the new unbreakable AMOLED display. If that happens, it's an easy call. But if we don't get an S Pen with it, I will fall back to the Galaxy Note II.

But that decision won't be easy either, thanks to the fresh new rumors of a Galaxy Note III, and the supposed "Samsung Fonblet". The Note III is rumored to have a larger display than the current Note II, and the "Fonblet" is also rumored to be a jumbo device. Both have been said to have sizes ranging from 5.5" all the way to 6.3".

The engine inside the Note III and the Fonblet could be anywhere from quad core to eight core. I tend not to believe the latter. Whatever the cpu ends up being, we probably won't get to see such a device until the fall of 2013.

So as it stands, it is looking like I could be landing a Samsung Galaxy S IV this May with quad core power and a possible 5" display and S Pen. But your guess is as good as mine as to what we will really see. All I know is that I won't be able to wait much longer than May to pull the trigger on something.

Stay with me. And chime in with your thoughts.

Carlton Flowers
Fonblet/Phablet Futurist

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Microsoft Surface Tablet - A Message To The Crack Heads

MY MESSAGE TO THE CRACK HEAD CRITICS OF THE MICROSOFT SURFACE TABLET

Last week I had the opportunity to get my hands on the new Microsoft Surface tablet computer. It's the first time I've seen this device out in the wild.

After playing with the Surface for fifteen minutes, I was mesmerized. It definitely earned a spot on my gadget wish list. But what I want to know is what kind of crack is being smoked by the critics who have lambasted Microsoft over this device.

What is wrong with you people? Are you stupid?

Anyone who has owned a Windows-based PC or laptop, like myself, would LOVE this device. I can see this replacing my big heavy 17" laptop when the time is right.

The Surface has the best of both worlds: it is a thin, light tablet but it is also a fully-functional laptop computer.

The keyboard/case made a great impression on me. I cannot stand typing on the Apple iPad. Without a physical feel for keys, I just can't find a use. But the keyboard case that comes with a Surface solves this issue. The keys are raised, but they don't move. You can touch them, but without the right amount of pressure they will not respond.

That's a big thing. You can rest your fingers on the keys and not have to worry about activating characters on the screen before you are ready. You can get the keyboard/case in two different thicknesses: 3mm and 5mm.

What I really loved about this device was the operating system, Windows 8 RT. Again, I don't get all the criticism over the new environment rolled out by Microsoft. It does so many new convenient things I can't name them all. Just swiping from off-screen to the active desktop unveils several new navigational and functional features.

People are attacking the Microsoft Surface like it is the biggest blunder to date. But I look at this in the same way that I view the Samsung Galaxy Note II. There are tons of people who find it useless, but a very strong niche of people that it hits a sweet spot for.

I don't see this as a perfect laptop replacement, but I want something lighter, more portable, and versatile than my current laptop. The Surface seems to be that device.

I have yet to find a tablet device that you can connect a USB mouse to. The operating system was created to support touch, and also to support mousing. You cannot mouse with an iPad, period. It's not even designed to allow it.

For the tasks that I need to perform, an iPad is out of the question. But with a Microsoft Surface, I could get my design work done, and have the full freedom of manipulating spreadsheets with a mouse. Plus I can enjoy the device as a touch tablet.

Call me nuts, but I love this device. I'm definitely in the niche of people who would find this a valuable device at $600. I'll be looking to buy one in 2013 and have it serve as my main portable computer, and retire the laptop.

Do you think that I am the crack head for loving the Microsoft Surface, instead of the critics who constantly cut it to shreds? Post your thoughts in the comments section!

Carlton Flowers
Diving Under The Surface

 

Caught In The Wild - Hands On With The iPad Mini

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH THE IPAD MINI - INITIAL THOUGHTS

I had the chance to get my hands on the latest tablet offered by Apple, the iPad Mini. My good friend and Apple enthusiast Tim Largent purchased his new iPad Mini in December, and it was one of two left in the store inventory.

Just picking up the device was a treat. I've kind of had my eyes on the iPad Mini since the rumors were first swirling about the release. I will admit, it is even more impressive up close and personal.

The device is super thin, much more than I had envisioned. Along with Apple's magnetic case, it's pretty spiffy. I would much rather clutch the iPad Mini than the full-sized model, which I find to be way too big for comfort.

iOS looks plain gorgeous on the smaller cousin to the iPad. You don't get the Retina display with the Mini, but it's not that big of a deal. Yes, I could tell the difference in video quality, but it's not really necessary to have a Retina dsiplay on a budget device.

If I were to buy an iPad, this would be the one for sure. But I still can't decide if I would part ways with $329 of my hard-earned bucks for a device that does not reflow text when you zoom in. In keeping with Apple tradition, text reflow (or word rapping) does not work on this device.

I tried downloading the Opera browser to see if it allowed text resizing. I can't say for sure, but I don't think it will resize text and reformat the paragraphs. But it does not dynamically reflow text when zooming in, that's for certain.

As much as I read on my smartphone, and would read on a tablet device, I can't get beyond the lack of this one simple feature. The good thing is that the device is bigger than a smartphone, so you can at least enjoy larger text within the screen.

But the sad fact is, the websites that I visit to read on are not optimized to be read on a tablet. As soon as I zoom in to a comfortable text size, I find myself panning back and forth because the sentences go flying off the right side of the screen.

For me, that is maddening. It makes reading a serious pain in the rear end. If Apple could solve this, or if I knew that there was a browser capable of enabling text reflow, I would think about saving up the money to get one of these.

I would like to have an Apple tablet to run certain iOS apps for my business. This would be the perfect device to do it on. But we'll just have to put that on hold and see what "pans" out for text reflow.

My bottom line recommendation is that the iPad Mini is a great device if you don't mind panning when zooming in to read. It's also fine if you don't mind that Apple portable devices do not display Flash enabled sites.

If you're a serious Apple fan, and you want a smaller tablet, get it. You'll save $300 off the price of a full sized new iPad, and still have the functionality that you want.

Carlton Flowers
Half Apple Fanboy

 

The Samsung Galaxy Note II Test - Final Parting Words

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE II (AT&T) FINAL ANALYSIS - DOES IT PASS?

It is with great pain that I write this post. My test of the Samsung Galaxy Note II (AT&T) has concluded, and it has left my longing hands to go back to AT&T St. Louis. I will try my best to get through this without getting emotional.

This is the second day of my Galaxy Note-less life, and I'm considering grief counseling. I've never been hooked to a more fabulous device than this phantastic phablet. It has forever changed my smartphone experience. Why?

It is because I must now take a step back in time and return to my once-beloved Samsung Galaxy S2, which is a far cry from the larger-than-life magical device called the Note II.

No more will I effortlessly whip through websites and tremendously fast picture downloads with the quad-core-packing Galaxy Note II. No more super-sized 5.5" Super AMOLED HD display. No more convenience of popup video windows and superior multi tasking. It's all over... until I can upgrade.

The Galaxy Note II suprirsed me, and then spoiled me. I had serious reservations about the size of the device since I have smaller-than-average man hands. But when I first unboxed the Note II phablet, I knew that its largeness would be a plus, not a detraction.

I did not predict that I would be able to operate the Galaxy Note II with one hand, but found that it was never really an issue. In fact, I quickly adjusted to the large display and wider, taller form factor. It happened almost instantly.

My brain set a new reference point for how a smartphone should fit and feel in my hand. Now that my test period is over, my Galaxy S2 feels like a toy in my hands. It's almost the same feeling I had when I switched from the iPhone 4 to the S2, only worse.

The Note II erased any desires that I had for a 7" tablet. There's really no need for an in-between device when you have a display that is large enough to be a tablet, yet small enough to be a smartphone. I found that I am definitely in the "phablet" niche.

After reading all of the blog posts and comments about the Note II being ridiculously big, I've decided that the people who enjoy this device make up a niche to be reckoned with. The global sales of this device prove this to be true.

Last year, I had a brief opportunity to review the Galaxy Note 1st generation device, and the Note II makes huge strides over its predecessor. With a slightly slimmer width and taller height, plus the thinner body, it makes the device much more ergonomic.

I enjoyed the 1st generation Note, but that ever-so-small difference in width made it nearly unusable to my small hands. I'm surprised that such a small change in dimensions would make a huge impacct on my user experience. But it truly does.

One-handed operation with the first generation phablet was not good. I couldn't reach the letters on the virtual keyboard, and it cramped my hand after extended periods of time. The Note II never caused me any grip fatigue, and having the added feature of the compact soft keyboard solves any issue of reach.

The biggest things that stuck out in my mind were the smoothness and speed of loading apps, the blazing fast graphics processing, and the apparent quality of the build. Many writers downgraded the Galaxy Note II for feeling "cheap", but I can honestly say I don't understand why.

The device is light enough that it won't self-destruct when it is dropped. But the plastic housing is pretty enough to give the appearance of quality. The silver color was my favorite of all available choices.

I've got 5 months left before my next upgrade. I don't think I will make it. When my finances allow for it, I think I will be purchasing a Galaxy Note II off-contract. I may even consider buying a used or refurbished device once they are readily available.

In my opinion, I think Samsung has set the mark with the Note II when it comes to the hardware, the features, innovation, and overall design. I can't find a valid complaint after heavily using the device for a period of two weeks.

There have been several devices that I have tested that I gave high marks. But the Galaxy Note II is clearly may favorite of anything that is available on the market today. I won't be surprised if other manufacturers start releasing devices that are similar in size and also including some type of smart stylus like the S Pen.

I did find myself using my laptop a lot less while using the Note II. Plus I cut back on taking notes at work and at home with paper and pen. I'm a sticky note addict, and this is the first device that can cure me of my bad habit of cluttering my desk with notes.

For me, the Galaxy Note II has high utility. I found it extremely useful for a much wider variety of tasks. Reading content on the web was purely enjoyable, taking notes was a snap, and having the stylus available is the next best thing to a mouse with a computer or laptop.

But the "fun factor" of the Note II is off the scale. Watching YouTube videos, viewing pictures, and using the drawing applications makes for endless amounts of enjoyment. Plus the speed of the camera "shudder" had me taking more pictures than I ever have with any other smartphone.

2 weeks was definitely not enough time to discover all of the amazing tricks and features of the Galaxy Note II. There were so many creative and innovative things you could do that probably would take a few months just to get through.

I would be willing to pay a premium for the Note II, and recommend to anyone that it is well worth the extra amount you'll shell out to get your hands on one. I leave you with a solid "two thumbs up" if you are on the fence with choosing this device.

The Galaxy Note II is the future in the present time. I only hope that Samsung doesn't distract me with their "next big thing" before I'm able to make my move and get one. Finally I can say that I hope that technological advance would slow down enough to let me enjoy this to the fullest, once I get my very own Note II.

Until then, it's sad, slow mobile computing for me... and all I can do is hold on to my precious memories.

Carlton Flowers
Galaxy Note-Broken