Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL TK

You can ask Dana which phone she uses, but don't act all surprised when you find out it's a $99 mid-ranger. You can also ask Darren what he thinks of SignEasy's digital signature app, but he might talk your ear off. Straight ahead: lots of talking, and one long defense of a phone with a mediocre camera and tiny little battery.

SignEasy digital signature app

IRL SignEasy digital signature app and TKSignEasy is an app I've been using for well over a year, and frankly, it's one of the reasons I just can't switch to Windows Phone. Presently, the app is available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android, and it has become such an integral part of my working life that I honestly can't imagine going back to a time without it. In a nutshell, the app allows you to download documents from your email and annotate them. Checkmarks, dates, addresses, et cetera. Once you've punched all of that in, you're able to save your signature and toss that in as well. (As a bonus, you can save up to three signatures -- one for you, one for your spouse and one for your weekend fling. Kidding!)

I've filled out 20-page real estate documents using this app, and it's enabled me to turn around contracts in record time. The alternative, of course, is hunting down a printer, an ink pen and a scanner / fax machine. Ugh. New users can sign and send (or upload directly to Dropbox) three documents for free. Beyond that, you'll need to pony up $1.99 for five documents, or pay a $19.99 a year subscription fee that grants you unlimited access.

In my extensive testing, I've seen the app crash a handful of times when trudging through long, multi-page documents -- particularly when you're stamping a lot of text and signatures on each page. It's certainly not perfect, but it handles the majority of documents with poise. In fact, it's become a heck of a lot more stable with time, to the point where I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who detests the print / sign / scan routine. It's worth it.

-- Darren Murph

Motorola Droid RAZR M


IRL Motorola's Droid RAZR M and the SignEasy digital signature appWhenever I meet readers, they always want to know what phone I'm carrying. In particular, I get the sense you guys expect me to own an iPhone, or a GS4 or maybe an HTC One. Because every time I pull out my Droid RAZR M, y'all look surprised. "That? That mid-range thing?" Yep, I'm a senior writer at a major gadget blog, and I use a phone with an 960 x 540 screen and a camera that's merely so-so. I mean, even when this was released it was considered mid-range. Not the sort of thing our readers would lust after -- and presumably not us editors, either.

But the thing is: it's actually a decent device. Let's start with the durability. I've dropped this thing more times than I can count (every other day for nine months) and the Kevlar backing is still pristine. So is the glass screen and the paneling up where the rear camera is. Save for a couple tiny nicks in each place, my only problem is that the phone is covered in fingerprints I'm too lazy to clean off. I dig the design too, especially the super-thin bezels that allow the screen to stretch nearly edge to edge. Sure, it's not sexy like an HTC One or a Nokia Lumia, but it at least isn't as macho-looking as the original Droid, which I also used to own. Basically, it doesn't call attention to itself, and that's OK. Oh, and by the way, if you think 4.3 inches is too tiny, then you must not have little hands like mine. I like that I can comfortably hold it in one hand while clinging on for dear life in a packed subway car. I only wish there were more small phones I liked this much.

What I appreciate most, though, is that I'm running near-stock Android on a device that's not a Nexus. And the few software tweaks Motorola did make are ones I appreciate. That flipping circle showing the weather for different cities? I use it all the time, especially while traveling. And I love that I can swipe to the right to get a list of frequently used settings; anything I can do to save myself from extra tapping is always appreciated.

That said, I might be ready for an upgrade. The phone has slowed a bit, and I often wish I had a camera that fared better in low light (daytime is A-OK). More than anything, though, it's the battery life that's let me down. The RAZR M never had great stamina to begin with, but it's declined even further in the nine months I've owned it. It's so bad now that if I'm futzing around on my phone before getting out of bed in the morning, I plug it back in while I get dressed, even if it's only at 95 percent. That 5 percent could be the difference between lasting the whole day and not, especially if I plan on staying out with friends after the work day is over. In fact, I'm unlikely to get the new Droid Mini, simply because I've no reason to think the runtime will be any better. That nagging issue aside, the M is a solid offering, especially for the price it cost back when it came out ($99 on contract). I'd even be open to buying something similar the next time around -- a discounted Moto X could be just the ticket.

-- Dana Wollman

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IRL: Motorola's Droid RAZR M and the SignEasy digital signature app