I'll be honest with you: When the first Moto X came out last year, some early apprehension soon gave way to unwavering fondness. It wasn't because of the sheer horsepower (there wasn't much of it) or a stunner of a screen (it was fine, at best). No, it was because the Moto X smacked of pluck. You could customize it to hell and back. It tried to improve on stock Android with software features that were actually quite useful. And the icing on the cake? It was a pure joy to hold. Motorola -- a company that basically jump-started the premium Android phone movement with the Droid before getting lost in an endless loop of modest annual upgrades -- seemed to have a pulse again. So here we are, one year later, and the X has finally gotten an upgrade to match the rest of the mobile big boys. Is it enough to make the new X a winner? Is Motorola really back? Read on, dear friends, and we'll see.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook review: good for reading, but hardly the best budget tablet

There was a time when Barnes & Noble was so big, so dominating, that even Tom Hanks managed to look like a jerk when he played a book-chain executive. But times have changed, and as people began to order their books online -- or even download them -- B&N found itself struggling to keep up. After losing a lot of money last year, the company decided it was time for a change: It vowed to stop making its own tablets, and instead team up with some third-party company to better take on Amazon and its Kindle Fire line. Turns out, that third party was none other than Samsung, and the fruits of their partnership, the $179 Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, is basically a repackaged version of the existing Galaxy Tab 4 7.0. Well, almost, anyway. The 7-inch slate comes pre-loaded with $200 worth of free content, and the core Nook app has been redesigned to the point that it actually offers a better reading experience than the regular Nook Android app. But is that a good enough reason to buy this instead of a Kindle Fire? Or any other Android tablet, for that matter?

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Since Windows Phone's humble beginnings, Microsoft has been the underdog in the wireless industry. Four years later, nothing's changed -- except, perhaps, a few more percentage points of market share. Even then, it's got a long way to go before catching up to Android and iOS. Let's give the company credit for pushing forward, improving its platform and not giving up, though: When I reviewed the last major OS update, I said I could finally use Windows Phone as my daily driver. The one element that Microsoft continued to lack, however, was buy-in from large phone makers. They put more focus on Android products, which meant anyone interested in Windows Phone had a small selection of devices to choose from.

For Microsoft, it's time to experiment with a new, simpler approach. The software giant has buddied up with HTC to convert the One M8, its Android flagship, into a Windows Phone. That's all there is to it. There's absolutely no change to the hardware -- and it's a fantastic idea. If it fails, neither company loses much from the deal; since they're using an existing phone, the cost of design and engineering is far lower than it would be on a standalone device. If it's successful, it may inspire other manufacturers to follow suit, resulting in a market with a wide variety of Windows Phones to choose from. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

There's mounting evidence that HP, once the leading PC maker, does not know what it's doing. After announcing plans to cut up to 5 percent of its work force, the company is basically throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Recent experiments include a luxury smartwatch, Chromebooks, a $199 Window notebook and now, a laptop running Android. Here's the sales pitch, and bear with me if this doesn't make sense: The SlateBook 14, according to HP, is for students and teens who already use Android on their mobile devices. In other words, they already own a Galaxy S5 or what have you, and they should have an Android laptop to match. The idea is that they might choose this over a Chromebook because it has more apps, and because it's more familiar. Ditto for Windows laptops -- except, you know, Windows actually has lots of apps too. Setting aside HP's flawed logic (they never said Windows users should stick to Windows Phone): Why would you pay $430 for a laptop running an OS that was primarily meant to be used with the fingers?

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Nokia Lumia 930 review: like the Icon, but better

Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia is now bearing fruit, but as often happens when big companies merge, there aren't enough jobs to go around. More than 10,000 former Nokia employees are due to be laid off by the end of the year, but their legacy will live on for a time in the Lumia 930: one of the last all-Nokia creations. If you live in the UK, then you already know where to get the flagship Windows Phone, but the more important question is whether you want one. We've already taken a deep dive on the 930 in our review of the Lumia Icon, which is essentially the same phone, just exclusive to Verizon in the US. Let's revisit the good, the bad and the competition.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

The "Swiss Army knife of electronics." That's the best way Sprint can define the LivePro, a touchscreen projector/Android hotspot made by Chinese manufacturer ZTE. The device, which goes for $300 with a two-year contract, is the first in a brand-new hybrid category -- and depending on how successful it is, it may well be the last. Although the LivePro has a wide range of capabilities that make it useful on many different fronts, its demand will be incredibly niche. What kind of person needs such a unique device, and is it good enough to even attract them?

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8

The MeMO Pad HD 7 was arguably the sleeper hit among small tablets in 2013. ASUS' device didn't have the speed of the Nexus 7 or the interface tricks of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 line, but it was superbly balanced. It ran smoothly, packed smart software and (most importantly) carried a sub-$200 price. For that reason, this year's MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are potentially exciting; they stick to that familiar formula while bringing in faster processors and a fresher interface. What's not to like? As you'll find out in our review, there are a few aspects that definitely need improvement, or even take steps backward -- but it's also clear that ASUS has budget-tablet design down to a science.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

HTC may have some problems behind closed doors, but outside, it's still widely regarded as one of the world's top phone makers. We already gave this year's One M8 flagship a rather jolly review, and now it's time to see if the same qualities are preserved in its mid-range counterpart, the Desire 816. Indeed, back at Mobile World Congress, HTC called this $390 LTE phablet the "flagship mid-range" to emphasize its competitiveness. But has it lived up to its name? Or is it too little, too late in a world full of affordable options? Let's find out.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

LG Heart Rate Monitor Earphone review: good fitness gadget, poor earphones

Heart rate monitors are no longer the exclusive domain of fitness gadgets. The last 12 months have seen sensors make their way into smartphones and wearables, replacing for many of us the need for a standalone pulse monitor. The problem is a lot of these options have been unable to deliver accurate heart rate mesurements, partly because those sensors have to maintain contact with your skin; if they slip, then the readout skips. Maybe LG has the answer, then: Put heart rate monitoring technology into a pair of Bluetooth headphones. If you're like me and are constantly wired for sound during workouts, what could possibly be better?

LG's Heart Rate Monitor earphones link to an iOS/Android app, with absolutely nothing burdening your wrists. LG's fitness app can even add your exercise sessions to a step counter, so long as you buy LG's optional Lifeband Touch fitness band. What's more, the app also integrates with other fitness apps like RunKeeper. It all sounds great on paper, but there's a problem: the headphones don't actually sound good. Let me explain.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Oppo Find 7 review: A solid phone that faces stiff competition

The Galaxy S5. The One M8. The G3. Every notable player in the overcrowded smartphone space has a flagship, one heroic device that the company pins its hopes on... for a year or so, anyway. For Oppo, a Chinese phone maker whose profile has swelled thanks to a surprisingly solid phone lineup, that flagship is the Find 7: an unassuming slab that looks painfully pedestrian compared to the last time the company went all out. Maybe that's a bit harsh. The Find 7 pairs top-notch performance with one of the highest-resolution screens you'll find on a mobile today -- hardly a formula to sneeze at. But is it worth the $599 asking price? Is Oppo really a mobile force to be reckoned with? Follow me, friends, and we'll figure it out together.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Amazon Fire phone review: a unique device, but you're better off waiting for the sequel

After producing a long line of e-book readers and tablets (not to mention a set-top box), Amazon has its sights set on the smartphone market. But finding success here won't be easy, even for an established tech giant like Amazon. With the Fire phone, the online retailer is coming in as an unproven underdog, hoping to bring iPhone and Android users into its fold. CEO Jeff Bezos says the only way to do that is to differentiate; to wow potential buyers with new features they didn't even realize they needed. These unique offerings include 3D head-tracking, product scanning and fast help from customer service agents.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C

When it comes to ASUS, buying a full-size Android tablet has usually meant venturing past the $300 mark; even the Transformer Book T100 set you back $349 when it first came out, and that was considered a steal. That's no longer a problem in 2014. ASUS' new Transformer Pad TF103C costs $299 with the company's signature keyboard dock included, or as much as some smaller mid-range slates. While that's potentially a hefty bargain, it begs a few questions: Just what are you giving up to get that price? And is it worth the trade-off when you could likely snag a smaller, but more powerful tablet for less? As I've learned, you're making quite a few sacrifices in the name of a better deal. This is still quality hardware, but you have to know what you're in for.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Huawei Ascend P7 review: the best mid-range phone you've never heard of

What is a flagship? For some companies, it's about cramming as many features into a device as physics allows. For Huawei, it means something else entirely: Though it creates smartphones for the power-hungry crowd, its most eye-catching devices typically favor mass appeal over brawn. Exhibit A: the Ascend P7, a smartphone that emphasizes design and user-friendliness over a blowsy spec sheet. When we reviewed its predecessor, the P6, last year, we found a gorgeous phone that struggled due to an underpowered engine and lack of LTE. The company promises it's learned from its mistakes, though. So is the P7 the mid-range smartphone you'll actually be proud to show off?

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

When I was a tiny tot, I watched Knight Rider and pretended I was Michael Knight, talking to KITT on my watch. Yet now that there are real-life watches that can do even more things, I don't find myself quite as excited as my 5-year-old self was. Smartwatches have been around for over a decade already (remember Microsoft SPOT?), but the category hasn't evolved at the same pace as smartphones. It's not because there's a shortage of digital wrist-worn timepieces. The problem is that there's no common platform for third-party apps, which means there's little potential for growth.

There also doesn't seem to be any vision. Some watches act as Android phones with SIM cards and tiny touchscreens, while others try to establish their own platform to entice developers. Still others have even tried to put fitness bands and smartwatches into one device, to limited success. Even worse, most of the watches on the market today are what you might call "fashionably challenged" -- they simply aren't attractive enough to entice the masses. Google's solution is to extend its Android platform -- which has very strong market share and developer support -- to the wearables genre with Android Wear.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review: slim design, long battery life, stunning screen

It'd be silly of me to talk about tablets in the past tense -- we still write stories about them daily and clearly, we review them, too. But of the ones we've seen lately, most have been low-end; mid-range at best. The market for high-end slates, once crowded with companies big and small, now looks more like a fraternity. At this point, the only players left are mostly big names like Apple, Microsoft, Sony. And, of course, Samsung. The outfit just announced the Galaxy Tab S, its flagship tablet for 2014. Available in 8.4- and 10.5-inch sizes, it comes armed with the best possible specs, including a stunning 2,560 x 1,600 Super AMOLED screen, 12-hour battery life and a slim build that measures just 6.6mm thick. In addition, Samsung added a fingerprint reader (still a rarity on tablets) and free goodies like popular magazines, Dropbox storage and a six-month Wall Street Journal subscription. The tablet's up for pre-order now, starting at $400 for the 8-inch model and $500 for the 10-incher. So, you can't test-drive it yet, but, as it happens, I've been playing with it for almost a week. Suffice to say, I've enjoyed myself. Mostly.

Read the Full Story | 0 Comments