Is The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 A Good Phone?

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Samsung Galaxy Note 2Deciding what phone to buy is always a difficult decision with new devices being released to the market every month. For me, this was especially difficult because I have had multiple Blackberry phones previously and had grown to like their products. I was going to wait to buy the new Blackberry z10, but at the time, it was not released. Not wanting to buy an obsolete blackberry I decided my choices were limited to Apple or Android.

Due to the fact I already have an iPad, I was dissuaded from buying an iPhone because it would simply be a smaller version of my iPad and I am not a fan of the Apple operating system, I like to be able to customize my phone and have plenty of adjustable options.

To make a decision, I came to the conclusion I needed to physically try the phones recently released to see what features are available. So off to Verizon I ventured to search for a new cellular device.

The first phones that drew my attention were the Motorola Razr HD, Samsung Galaxy S3, and then I saw the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Instantly attracted to the mini-tablet that claimed to be a phone, I needed to know more. After a few minutes of using each one, I was drawn back to the Galaxy Note 2 with its massive and clear HD super AMOLED screen. Then I realized it had a stylus and my intrigue spiked. The stylus is one of the best features because of how many things it allows you to do that would not be possible without it.


Price: $422.50 with 2-year contract from Verizon
OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Ownership Length: 6 month
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)


Pros
1. Screen size and quality- Very large 5.55 inch and super bright HD super AMOLED screen provides clear video and vivid colors.
2. Stylus- The stylus that comes with this phone is unlike any other. Not only does it have a button but the phone also detects it when it is hovering over the screen.
3. Operating system- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean provides features that work well with the phone such as built in power saver mode and driving mode.
4. Speed – Quad core processor makes it so that you can multitask…on a phone.

Cons
1. Size- Difficult to use with one hand.

Summary

At the time, my phone had died and I was forced to replace it. I decided on something that would be the best for me, which happened to be the most expensive one at the time. After owning this phone for more than 6 months, I am still in love with it and use it nonstop, both for business and for entertainment. If you like watching video on your phone, multi-tasking, lightning fast processing, and the ability to draw, then I highly recommend getting the Note 2.

iPad vs. iPad Mini

Review: iPad Mini

iPad MiniAs a recent convert from Windows products to Apple in 2012, I began to consider purchasing a tablet to fill the gap between an iPhone and a MacBook Air. While I found the super-light laptop great for making a backpack less cumbersome, it is still difficult to use on something other than on a table or other hard surface. Additionally, while the iPhone is nice for pocketability, it isn’t a great size for reading at the airport or watching a video while lounging. While the iPad, of course, already fits this niche, to me it still seemed somewhat cumbersome for things like reading, and too expensive for something that would be used purely recreationally, so I decided to try the iPad Mini.


Price: $329 from Apple
Ownership: 3 Months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)

 


Pros
1) Build Quality – It’s a sweet, well-engineered, solid product.
2) Size and Weight – Unlike its bigger brother, the iPad Mini is the perfect size for reading and one-handed use. Plus, it’s super light. (Sidebar: I will go more in depth about in a future blog post about cases, but suffice it to say, I’ve stopped using any kind of case when I’m at home because the machine is just too awesome sans any kind of weighty nuisance.)
3) Software – If you like iOS, then you will like the iPad Mini. If you don’t like iOS, why are you still reading this review?
4) Screen – Some people hate that the iPad Mini does not boast a Retina display. While it is not as sharp as the iPhone, it’s not a very noticeable difference to me, as I currently type on a perfectly fine non-retina computer.
5) Battery – The battery life of the iPad mini is good. I can watch a full hour of video with the battery only decreasing by about 3-5%.

Cons
1) Ports – Lightning isn’t bad, but it should be cheaper to get an HDMI to Lightning adapter if you want to hook it up to show something on a TV.
2) Muting – The mute switch will only mute app and general sounds. It will not mute the video, which is dumb.
3) Flash – I still wish you could get flash content on iOS.

Summary

I really like the iPad Mini. I think it’s a better form factor than the iPad (though the rumors about the iPad 5 seem intriguing and might make it a wash). For me, it still isn’t as much of a “go-to” device as my iPhone or Macbook Air, but it’s really good for home lounging, as well as a cramped location (airplane, sitting in a seminar). If you are into the Apple ecosystem and want a fun, less expensive (though not inexpensive) tablet, I can only recommend the iPad Mini.

Review: Fitbit One

Fitbit OneI bought this fitness tracker as a way to improve/track my physical activity. The hope was that this would motivate me to get up and be more active on a daily basis. My other need was to get a general idea of how much I can eat in a day based on my activity.

I have also had trouble sleeping over the past few years so the sleep tracker was an intriguing feature. This feature turned out to be pretty useless.


Price: $90.87 from Amazon.com
Ownership Length: 3 Months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)


Pros
1) Dashboard – Adjustable goals, visual tracking, tools for tracking food intake.
2) Size – Very discrete and unnoticeable.
3) Battery Life – I charge it only about once a week from my computer. It also will send you an email when the battery level is low.
4) Weight Loss Plan – The dashboard helps you calculate how many calories you can consume per day based on how quickly you want to lose weight and how much exercise you have gotten.
5) Badges/Milestones – They are a nice reward for your hard work and are not so easy to achieve.

 

Cons
1) Sleep Mode – I thought this would be a worthy feature. However, after the first week or so it ended up not telling me any new information. Plus, every so often it randomly activates in the middle of a day.
2) Android App – The android version is pretty useless. It doesn’t synchronize and sends you late motivational notifications.

Side Note: I don’t use the food tracker because it seems far too time consuming to enter your meals/snacks in every time you eat.

Summary

I am definitely pleased overall with this purchase. It does most of the things that I was looking for and turns fitness into a competition with yourself (and friends). I highly suggest taking the first week with it and setting a baseline by just wearing it The visual graphics definitely help with seeing your progress. The improvements that can be made are on the software side, which means it can be fixed in the near future without having to buy another one.

The one thing to remember is that this only solves half of the weight loss process, by tracking just physical activity on the device. However, it does provide some other tools to help you with the eating part.

Review: Linksys EA3500 DualBand Wireless N Router

Linksys EA3500 DualBand Wireless N RouterRouters are similar to the heater in the basement of your house: essential, yet you almost forget it’s there…until it stops working.

Not long before Christmas I was having serious problems with my Linksys (WRT-54g) router: every time someone in my house wanted access to the internet, we would have to reset it. My home network has consistently high traffic, from online gaming to surfing the net to numerous mobile devices that all work off wi-fi. So I had to get a router that could handle a plethora of devices with heavy network traffic. After looking at many types of routers I decided to purchase a wireless-N dual band router since dual band frequencies allow for smooth HD video streaming, gaming, and quick downloads.

Having decided what type of router would work for my household, I began to research different types. Based on reviews that I read online, I was able to narrow my selection down to Linksys or D-Link brand. Because my last router was a Linksys and it had lasted 6-7 years before finally throwing in the towel, I decided to go with a Linksys again. If the new router lasts even close to as long as the previous one, it will be outdated and in need of an upgrade before it physically stops working.

Setup was easier than I had expected because all the wiring was already in place; all I had to do was swap out the old router and plug all my ethernet cables into the new one. The provided software will walk you through how to set up and configure your wireless router and even give you access to the advanced settings (if you so dare). I was able to set up and configure everything without using the software but now I enjoy being able to tweak the network settings and customize it to work best in my household.


Price: $129.99 from Best Buy
Ownership Length: 2-3 Months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)

 


Pros
1) Speed: Very fast even with many devices connected
2) USB Port: Extra port to plug in accessories directly to router
3) Software: Not necessary for setup (if you know what you are doing) but it does make it quick and easy if you use it. It also allows you to change advanced settings

Cons
1) Cost – A little pricey

Summary

One of the best aspects of this router is that it doesn’t get slowed down when there are many devices connected to it. I have probably had about 15-20 active devices running simultaneously without a problem, whereas my previous router would have trouble with anything close to that. Most of the traffic is from gaming on both the Playstation 3 and multiple computers in addition to Netflix, which is almost always running somewhere in my house. Wanting to experiment with the USB port on the router, I attached a 1TB external Toshiba hard drive and loaded all my music onto it, basically creating a home media server that allows me to play all my music on any device connected to the network. Overall, I’m very satisfied with its performance and would recommend it to anyone looking for an in home router that can handle high traffic.

Review: Philips Citiscape Uptown Headphones

Philips Citiscape Uptown HeadphonesOver the years, I have bought quite a few sets of headphones and earbuds. I use headphones on a daily basis for almost anything that has sound. My last set was a pair of iBeats earbuds, which had connection problems; before that, I had two sets of Bose IE earbuds that also had connection problems. Both retailed for $100 at the time.

I decided that I was not going to spend that kind of money again for earbuds, so I moved on to on ear and over ear designs. I bought a pair of Skullcandy on-ear headphones, but they went through batteries every week and the bass was way too overpowering. The Philip Citiscape Uptown was my next purchase since they had such great reviews and were only $60. Here is my review.


Price: $59.99 from 1SaleADay.com ($149.99 retail)
Ownership Length: 4 months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)

 


Pros
1) MusicSeal – The ear pads provide great coverage and don’t leak out much sound at all.
2) Looks – These are great for people where suits often.
3) Comfort – They are padded well and don’t get very hot with long term use. The headband is also padded well and doesn’t get bent out of shape.
4) Rigidness – They feel like they are built to take a good amount of abuse., except for the volume switch.

Cons
1) Volume switch – This feature is made of ugly plastic and functions poorly. After a while, the switch will lower the volume without even touching it. You have to fiddle with it often for it to work right.
2) Overall Volume – These are some quiet headphones that take some time to get used to.

Summary

These are a decent pair of headphones for the price ($60) that I purchased them for. They are built for comfort and looks and deliver. I often wear them for a few hours at a time without any discomfort. It’s also worth pointing out that they use the tangle free flat wire.

The biggest shortcoming is the volume control, which fails very easily. I don’t even usually use the volume control on headphone cords, so this has become even more annoying.

So far I am satisfied with them. But would I pay $150 for them? Absolutely not.