Monday, September 8, 2014

Sony's new Xperia Z3 series has something to offer for everyone

Following the well received Xperia Z2 its only natural that Sony follow up its flagship with the Sony Xperia Z3. While this is a iteration of the Sony flagship series, the specs are pretty familiar to anyone with a Z2, the biggest changes lie in the camera and overall hardware design of the Z3.

The Z3 sports specs pretty much expected from most 2014 flagships but surprisingly isn't a drastic upgrade over the the Z2. Specs include a 5.2-inch 1080p display at 424ppi, a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330 graphics, 3GB of RAM, 16 GB of onboard storage with support for up to 128 GB of external storage via MicroSD, a 20.7MP camera with 25mm wide-angle Sony G Lens and of course IP 67 water and dust resistance.

While the Z2 didn't get a Compact version like its predecessor the Z1, Sony looks like its going to give the "Compact" segment yet another shot with the Z3 Compact. We are glad to see that the same strategy Sony used on the original Z1 Compact is still here, with almost identical specs to the Z3 but in smaller form factor.

Specs include a 4.6-inch 720p display, a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330 graphics, 3GB of RAM, 16 GB of onboard storage with support for up to 128 GB of external storage via MicroSD, a 20.7MP camera with 25mm wide-angle Sony G Lens and of course IP 67 water and dust resistance.

Lastly Sony threw a bit a curveball by announcing the Z3 Tablet Compact. While a bit oddly named, it does fall under the category of the "smaller" tablet segment of the market. As expected it sports an impressively thin body and follows the design of the other Z3 products.

Spec include a 8-inch 1080p display, a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330 graphics, 3GB of RAM, 16 GB of onboard storage with support for up to 128 GB of external storage via MicroSD, 8.1MP camera in the back and IP 67 water and dust resistance.

One killer feature that all three tout is the ability to remote play from a PS4 and interface with a PS4 Dual Shock controller for a gaming experience not unlike that of something like an nvidia shield. If done right by Sony, this can be a HUGE win for the Xperia line of phones given the tons of momentum behind the PS4.

Canadian availability is stated to be "later this year" but no word on pricing of carrier availability. We wouldn't be surprised if one or several products of this line only come to Canada directly through Sony stores.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Motorola unveils the Moto X (2014), Moto G (2014) and announces availability of the Moto 360

With the Moto X, Motorola turned over a new leaf in its storied history by renewing its commitment to Android by making one of the best phones of 2013 and showed that software differentiation can go much deeper than just slapping on a "OEM skin" over Android and loading the phone with a million features.

This week Motorola unveiled the new Moto X for 2014 which builds on the movement they started with the original. With specs that include a 5.2-inch Full HD 1080p Super AMOLED display, a 2.5Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP camera wth dual LED Ring flash and 4K video capture, a 2300mAh battery, front facing stereo speakers and Android 4.4.4 KitKat, the Moto X is certainly well equipped to go toe to toe with any of 2014's current crop of flagships.

One thing that has us worried would be the 2300mAh battery which seems at first glance a tad low compared to the 3000+ we've seen from many of the other flagship devices.

We look forward to get our hands on the device. The Moto X will be coming to Canada in black and bamboo to TELUS this fall. No word on availability with other carriers.
With the New Moto G, Motorola continues its warpath on conquering the emerging markets where the original Moto G was incredibly popular. With a no frills, no compromise Android experience but on a shoestring budget, the Moto G brought Android to millions of people who might otherwise have not had the means to. All this with little to no sacrifices.

Current Moto G owners will be familiar with the specs of the new Moto G as they are just about identical save for some tweaks Motorola saw fit according to their research. They include a 1.2 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 400 Processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of Internal Storage, Adreno 305 Graphic processor, 8 MP camera with LED flash and 720p video recording capabilities and front facing stereo speakers. The screen gets a bump to 5-inches at 720p. The inclusion of expandable storage with a mcroSD card slot was a feature desired by many in the markets where the Moto G was successful.

We do wish the 2GB of RAM was increased as many people with the Moto G have noted memory related issues with app staying active in the background with the relatively low amount of RAM.

The Moto G will be coming to Canada in October at retail in partnership with Ingram Micro Canada.
The Moto 360 has undoubtedly been the most anticipated Android Wear devices since Google announced the smartwatch centric OS. We now know that the 360 will be coming to Canada through TELUS, Futureshop, Best Buy this fall for $279. 

Specs include  a 1.5-inch backlit LCD touch screen, with a 320×290 resolution, 205ppi, and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, 512MB of RAM, Wireless N connectivity, and a Texas Instruments processor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moto 360 to cost $250 according to Best Buy

The Moto 360 is arguably one of the most anticipated wearables since the introduction of smartwatches. Now we have a better idea of the price and specs of the 360 thanks to a slip up at Best Buy. According to the Best Buy pages that has obviously been modified, the Moto 360 will retail for $250 and will sport a 1.5-inch backlit LCD touch screen, with a 320×290 resolution, 205ppi, and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, 12MB of RAM, Wireless N connectivity, and a Texas Instruments processor.

The last spec is particularly interesting considering TI has, as far as we know, stopped all SoC production.

Nevertheless, we are excited to get our hand on the watch to put it through its paces.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Samsung to unveil next generation Galaxy Note on September 3rd

Looks like Samsung is gearing up for its next phablet release. Showing off the well known Air Command popup, we believe its safe to assume that Samsung will be unveiling the next Galaxy Note.

Its expected that the Note 4 will push the envelope like previous iterations have done. We wouldn't be surprised to see Samsung's Octa Core Exynos or a Snapdragon 805 or both via different variants. We suspect 3GB of RAM, 1440p display and 5.7+inch display will be included in the specs.

Overall we look forward to see the next Galaxy Note.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Motorola Moto E now available in Canada

After a few month since its official unveiling, our friends at Motorola have let us know that the Motorola Moto E is now available to Canadians. Motorola has partnered with Staples to make it available unlocked for $179.

Specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 1GB RAM, 4GB internal storage, microSD slot up to 32GB, 4.3in 540 x 960 qHD.

As we've already mentioned in the past, the Moto E is priced a bit strangely considering the fact that the Moto G is available, depending on the carrier, in Canada for as little as $150 without a contract. This is offset by the fact that the Moto E is unlocked out of the box but it isn't a great plus considering the spec gap between the Moto G and Moto E.

Nevertheless, it's great to see the option available for those who are looking for a more affordable handset for traveling or to take to the carrier of their choice and have the flexibility of choosing the low priced plans.

Friday, July 4, 2014

LG G3 officially arriving in Canada on August 1st

After LG announced its latest flagship handset last month there was little doubt in our mind that it would make its way to Canadian shelves. Yesterday, we got confirmation from our friends at LG that the G3 will in fact be headed to Bell, MTS, Rogers, Sasktel and Videotron on August 1st.

We are a bit surprised to see TELUS not on the list of launch carriers given that the G2 was available to its customers. Here's a refresher of the specs:
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 801 (up to 2.5GHz Quad-Core)
  • Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
  • Memory: 16/32MB eMMC ROM / 2/3GB DDR3 RAM / microSD slot (128GB max)
  • Camera: Rear 13.0MP with OIS+ and Laser Auto Focus / Front 2.1MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Size: 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 149g
  • Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready (Apt-X), NFC, SlimPort, A-GPS/Glonass, USB 2.0
  • Colour: Metallic Black, Silk White, Shine Gold, Moon Violet, Burgundy Red
  • Other: Smart Keyboard, Smart Notice, Knock CodeTM , Guest Mode, etc.
Check out the Press release after the break.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Big announcements at Google I/O

This week is always huge for Android fans as it's Google I/O. So we've rounded up all of what went down at Google I/O as far as Android is concerned and what we can expect in the coming months.

Android One

While this may not concern Canadians as much as the other announcements this week, Android One is an important step for Android to grow as a platform and capture a large percentage of the "next billion" smartphone users in developing countries.

With Android One Google aims to bring a $100 smartphone that has the core Android experience without the premium cost today's flagships. This new initiative by Google will probably not have much of an effect on North America, but one never knows as the Moto G seems to have gained some noticeable traction in Western countries.

Material Design

As a follow up to the now venerable "Holo" design first introduced in Honeycomb, Material Design is the next major overhaul to Android but also can be used for websites and Chrome Apps. The design is a departure from the dark Tron-ish tones of Holo and opts instead for a card like simple geometric shapes similar to the design in Google Now. Material Design will be making its debut on Android L.

Android L

Of course the big announcement that most were waiting for is the new version of Android. This year Google did a few things differently, for one this version of isn't named just yet, nor does it have a number yet. It's simply referred to as the Android L update. It feature many new improvements, like the new Material Design and many more features like:

ART ( Android Runtime)

The new Android Runtime which was included with Android 4.4 KitKat as a preview to developers and Users will be the default runtime in the next version of Android. Google touts a improvement in performance by 15-20%. For many already running ART it seems like compatibility was already pretty solid so we look forward for ART to start rolling out to all users.

New Multitasking

With Android L, there is a new revamped Multitasking/App Switching system that aesthetically is a platform for the new Material Design and functionally adds a few new tricks like being able to display states from an app such as the different tabs in Chrome. Devs will be able to tie in their apps to this functionality with new APIs. 

Enhanced Notifications and Lock screen

Notifications get revamped as they now are more integrated with the Lock screen. There are now different levels of privacy that apps will have to classify their notifications for users to be able to rest assured sensitive information won't bubble up to the lockscreen. 

Also improved in the lockscreen is it being more context aware and not enforcing security when the user designates specific coordinates or connections to certain bluetooth devices.

Project Volta (Battery Life)

Project Volta is Google's attempt at attacking battery life like how they attacked sluggishness in Android with Project Butter. We are particularly excited by Project Volta as battery life seems to be the real last frontier for OEMs to out do each other.

New Business oriented features (Samsung KNOX in Android Branch)

Google is also looking to add business capabilities to Android by working closely with Samsung to get KNOX or KNOX like features into the main Android branch. We are a bit surprised by this as we would expect Samsung to keep KNOX as a nice differentiator for their devices but it seems like now all Android users will be able to benefit.

Android Wear

Androids Wear was announced a couple of month ago, but this week we finally get to see some actual hands on with working devices being handed out to I/O attendees. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live are now available to the masses while the much anticipated Motorola Moto 360 will have to wait till the end of the summer.

Android Auto

With Apple making moves to try to capture the car market with CarPlay, its only natural for Google to try to do the same with Android and Android Auto. Google is looking to provide GPS mapping/navigation, Music control, Telephony, SMS composition and playback and Web search capabilities.

Android TV

Google has had many attempts at cracking the TV market with Google TV. This time, it's going to rely on the strength of the Android ecosystem to do it (although Google TV did leverage Android). So far things looks promissing as Google's Play Store offerings are as strong as ever and offer quite a compelling offering of multimedia.

Other announcements

There were also a couple of other great pieces of news including Chromecast improvements which include full mirroring capabilities from Android device to Chromecast and improvements to Chrome OS allowing users to run Android apps natively on the laptop OS.