Monday, September 23, 2013

GTA 5 Tips: Using the Stock Market


A large part of what makes the new Grand Theft Auto 5 so addictive is the insane level of depth the game provides. You can do almost anything in this game. And just like in real life most of the things you want and need cost money, lots of money. I've found early on that a good way to do this is to invest in the stock market!

There are some events in the game that can cause you to instantly increase your funds or lose a lot of them. Paying attention to in game tips before missions, on the radio and other in game conversations can give you valuable tips on how to invest. Lester is good for giving investment advice before missions and it'd be wise to listen. I've also gotten valuable advice from random civilians I've helped throughout the city. One guy I helped retrieve his stolen motorcycle and he turned out to be the owner of Animal Ark organic pet foods. He later emailed me (I was playing as Michael, not sure if that matters or not) and gave $100,000 in Stock in his company to express his gratitude as well as investment advice that his stock was pretty solid. So I invested in the stock with all my other characters as well and so far it has proven to be a slow but steady revenue builder for me.

I've also gone as far as quitting missions after getting investment advice from Lester and others, to toggle through all my characters and then invested nearly 90% of their cash into said stocks. So far I haven't been burned by this practice and it has allowed me to generate more money to reinvest and start buying property, but I'm sure that similar to real life there is some risk involved and I could've lost a lot of money so invest carefully.

As I've begun to try my hand at investing I decided to Google tips to get a better understanding of what I am doing. I've found some great tips (and a cheat that I probably won't try) that I want to share and hopefully they can help you as well.

Before you go any further, understand that there are SPOILERS in the tips ahead!



CHEAT/EXPLOIT

The easiest way to get rich, like in real life is to cheat. Again I haven't tried this (and probably won't) and it's not confirmed but if you're in a rush the cheat is as follows:

"Right after performing your first heist (or whenever you have a large chunk of money), invest them all in one company (you can go for the cheapest on the market), save the game and exit. Go to your console’s time, set the date 1 month or 1 year ahead and then log back in to the game. Apparently, the stock market will have changed and you can instantly get rich. This has only been reported on a few occasions and is not yet confirmed."

If you're daring and give it a try and it works, let us know in the comments below! I'm also not sure if you can just set your date back to normal after this cheat.

STOCK MARKET TIPS

As far as actual GTA V stock market tips and the best ways to make more money in Grand Theft Auto 5 check out the tips below! (all courtesy of Cyfun from the GTA Forums):

Vangelico heist: 

Sell anything you have invested in them before this. Afterward, wait til it bottoms out around $35/share before buying any. Not sure if there’s a competing gem company to invest in before-hand, didn't see one.

LifeInvader prototype swap mission:

Sell anything you’ve invested in them before this mission cause it’ll tank badly. And I wouldn't bother ever investing in them again, as I tried when it bottomed out but it never really recovered.

Bilkinton/Betta Assassination mission (I think it’s called Hotel Assassination):

Sell anything you have invested in Bilkington. Lester mentions he invested heavily in Betta, but I didn't see them in the LCN. Are they somewhere else? I also noticed DollarPills tank as well. Once Bilkington bottoms out after the mission, though (the low for me was around $120/share), feel free to invest in them again as it spikes up again.

*Betta is on BawSAQ instead of LCN and named bettapharmaceuticals

Redwood/Debonaire (Multi-Assasination mission):

Before you even start this mission, sell anything you have invested in Redwood, and invest everything you’ve got into Debonaire. Don’t do it during the mission cause there’s a tight timer. And be sure and not to forget doing this for ALL THREE CHARACTERS. I was in a hurry and only did it for Franklin. Debonaire’s stock will go from about $200 to about $400. When the mission is over, wait a good few minutes as the stock value will continue to rise. Mine eventually peaked at $399.42, so go ahead and sell when it gets to that point. 

Dockyards secret government device mission:

Sell anything you have in Merriweather before this mission as it’ll dive a bit.”

So hopefully these GTA 5 stock market tips will help you improve your investment skills and increase your funds more quickly. Do you have other tips? Let us know in the comment section below!

Source: Unigamesity

Sunday, September 22, 2013

HTC One Guest Review



Here on BHT I'd love to get my hands on and review every single phone that comes out (yes even Apple ones lol), but thats just not feasible. Luckily I can reach out and rely on friends and family (and flexible return policies ;) lol). I recently helped out my friend Chris, Law and Journalism MA student at Miami U,  as he made the great exodus from the limited world of iOS to Android, grabbing one of my favorite devices of 2013, the HTC One. He was kind enough to provide his impressions of this top tier smartphone. Check out his quick review of the main features (with a few of my tips sprinkled in)! For full details check out HTC's site.





BASIC SPECS

  • Size: 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm
  • Weight: 143gDisplay
  • Display: 4.7 inch, Full HD 1080p, 468 PPI
  • CPU: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600, quad-core, 1.7GHz
  • Platform: Android with HTC Sense™ with HTC BlinkFeed™
  • SIM Card Type: micro SIM
  • Total storage : 32GB/64GB, available capacity varies
  • RAM : 2 GB DDR2
  • Network:  AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile (World Phone support)
  • GPS: Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS and Digital compass
  • Sensors: Gyro sensor, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
  • Connectivity: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer, HTC Connect, Support consumer infrared remote control, micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI connection (Special cable required for HDMI connection.)
  • Sound Enhancement: HTC BoomSound™ Dual frontal stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers, Studio-quality sound with Beats Audio™



CAMERA

  • HTC UltraPixel Camera, BSI sensor
  • Pixel size 2.0 ┬Ám, Sensor size 1/3'
  • Dedicated HTC ImageChip 2, F2.0 aperture and 28 mm lens
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
  • Smart Flash: Five levels of flash automatically set by distance to subject
  • Front Camera: 2.1 MP, 880 wide angle lens with HDR capability
  • 1080p Full HD video recording with HDR Video
  • HTC Zoe™ with Sequence Shot, Always Smile and Object Removal
  • Gallery with Video Highlights and HTC Share
  • Continuous shooting and VideoPic
  • Slow motion video recording with variable speed playback 

MULTIMEDIA:

  • Audio supported formats:
  • Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
  • Recording: .amr
  • Video supported formats:
  • Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3)
  • Recording: .mp4


BATTERY:

  • Embedded rechargeable Li-polymer battery
  • Capacity : 2300 mAh
  • Talk time: Up to 18 hours for 3G
  • Standby time: Up to 500 hours for 3G

Best Buy exclusive blue HTC One


CHRIS's REVIEW:

Sound = A+: 
Beats audio makes a big difference, especially in your car. It is clear and the bass is significantly louder. If you have noise cancelling headphones - even non-beats headphones - there is a noticeable difference with beats audio. Also, playing through the phone speaker with headphones unattached is loud and clear.



Music Player = B+: 
I absolutely hate that the Android music app does not let you sort songs by title once you are in a playlist. You have to search by artist, which really sucks because most people know the song name instead of the artist, and even once you find the artist you have to search for the song you want. If you have downloaded music (not bought), the artist may be saved under a different name so it can be frustrating. I feel that this is the worst part of the phone if you use your phone as a music player with multiple playlists.

Luckily I stumbled across the Power Amp app and it let me sort by title. It also allows you to manually adjust the tone, bass, and treble, and save your settings under preset settings, which is amazing. I have a setting for my car and one for my headphones. My car, 2012 Camaro, already has nice factory audio as is, but the beats audio plus power amp makes it sound AMAZING. It is a very noticeable difference.

One thing I love is how quickly the phone downloads album art that you don't already have, and you can even select the option to display the song lyrics as the song plays! Very sweet and seamless.

HTC Sync allows you to easily transport media from your computer or iTunes so if you like your old media player you can edit things there and then just launch HTC Sync and transfer it to your phone. Simple.

Messaging = B:
The autocorrect is not as smart as it was on iOS. If often puts accent marks when the letter "a" stands alone and it took a week for it to consistently capitalize "I". However, after about a week the phone became better at recognizing words, namely because I would manually select the word I want it to autocorrect (the phone gives you options) and it apparently recognized my typing style. Also, after calibrating my finger with the screen the phone became better at selecting the letter my finger landed on, resulting in less typos. If all else fails using your voice to text by holding the voice icon is very effective and the phone rarely misspelled words I said when spoken clearly.

(I'd add to this that the beauty of Android is that it lets you change your default keyboard (or any system app for that matter), I've been using Swiftkey for about a year now, and have never looked back since!)

Speed = A+:
Very fast, faster than my laptop, and it made no difference when launching classic or mobile sites.

Customization = A:

You can pick your news sources (e.g. ESPN, CNN, Huffington, IGN ... a bunch) that will quickly launch and refresh by simply pulling the screen down. You can pick your widgets and apps and easily select what screen they are on and where. However, I don't like the limited choices for text messaging letter colors. You can pick a background for your text messaging screen, but it's hard to read the messages with the colors they give you.

(Again, as you play with Android you'll find text messaging apps you like better, I rarely use manufacturers text apps. Its an adjustment from iOS, but anything you don't like you can replace with an app of your liking in the Play Store. I'd reccomend popular apps, Go SMS and Handcent SMS they're both super customizable!)

Button Placement = B:
If you are right handed, when messaging or generally holding the phone it is a good chance you will incidentally hit the volume up/down button with your right thumb because of its placement. It is also awkward that the power on button is at the top left of the phone instead of top right, because again you have to stretch your finger really far to power on/off.



Camera = B:
Very good effect options after taking pics. It has some pretty cool lighting options to dramatically change the pictures you take and download. Before snapping effects are decent, but not too exhaustive. You also lose quite a bit of clarity when you zoom in. The camera is good, not great.



Overall = A-:
Very solid phone. The pros significantly outweigh the cons on this phone. It looks good, feels good in your hand, it's smooth, fast, trendy, the LED display is large and beautiful. The beats audio is what really sets this phone apart. If you really utilize music on your phone it will likely be your favorite feature, and it gets even better with the Power Amp app ($3.99). There are things about this phone to dislike - awkward button placement and at times ineffective autocorrect - but I can't imagine too many phones on the market are better than the HTC One and it is hard to imagine a better phone will be released at least within the next year or two.

Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat: Leaks Point At October 14th!



Since my first posts about the upcoming Google Nexus 5 by LG and Android 4.4 KitKat there have been even more leaks. It's beginning to look like we can expect a mid-October release maybe as soon as October 14th! Leaks have been coming from all over the place and possibly for the first time ever, tech leaks have even come from a candy company. Nestle, who has partnered with Google for the launch of the candy-codenamed Android 4.4 KitKat and the upcoming Nexus devices, "confirmed" on Facebook that the release is  due in October.



Design and Specs

So what do we know from all the leaks so far? We've seen what will likely be the design of the new phone, now including pictures, a short video (posted below) and even an interactive 3D rendering made from the leaked images. I for one, really hope this is the new design. It looks like they have taken a lot of the design elements from the new Nexus 7 by Asus, which is definitely a good thing. As far as specs, the FCC leaks have confirmed a few and more rumors have been leaking out as well. It most likely will not have a removable battery or micro SD port (no surprises here). It is expected to come in 16GB and 32GB storage options with a 5" 1080p display and a 2300mAh battery. The FCC has confirmed the rumors that the Nexus 5 would have a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor from Qualcomm, same processor found inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.




Camera



The camera is a feature that Google has said they will be putting a lot of energy into, and it is sounding like they will do just that. Rumors have it that the Nexus 5 will be based on the LG G2 (the Nexus 4 was based on the LG Optimus G) which brings some great camera features including a 13MP sensor and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), which should help eradicate those blurred images from shaky hands. Check out the video from LG below to see how this works.



A Few Things Still Up In The Air


Nexus 5 render, Nexus 4, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Though we keep calling it the Nexus 5, we don't actually know that its what it will be called. Google has not confirmed this name and the history of Nexus phones doesn't guarantee it either. HTC made the first Nexus, the Nexus One, followed by the Samsung Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the the Nexus 4 by LG. So, technically it could be called anything. The only part we know for sure is that it will have Nexus in the title. We also don't know the prices yet, though we expect that they will be quite competitive. The Nexus 4 was $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) unlocked at launch and recently saw a $100 price cut which cleared out their total inventory. Google has set a precedent of launching Nexus devices a mid-range affordable prices. The Nexus 7 tablet saw a slight price bump this year and it is reasonable to think that the new phone may as well but I'd still expect to see it at no more than $350 and $450 unlocked and off contract for each of the two memory configurations.

We also don't know exactly what to expect from Android 4.4 KitKat. The Nexus 5 (and possibly refreshed Nexus 10 tablet) will be the first devices to launch with KitKat 4.4. So far from the leaks we have gotten the following details:

  • Firmware availability to older phones
  • Fragmentation changes (screen resizing)
  • Miracast updates
  • New Gallery Visualisation
  • New APIs regarding animations
  • Change android default blue to other preset palette colors
  • New notification widgets

The Firmware availability and fragmentation changes seem to address getting updates out to more phones faster, a problem they've been working on for years. Hopefully they finally found a decent solution which would make it easier for manufacturers to update ROMs to the latest version of Android and get around the carriers slowing the process. I'm also excited about the potential to easily customize the color palette throughout the OS. As far as what else KitKat will bring is still up in the air. I'm sure it will have additional improvements to UI smoothness and battery performance.



Finally we have carrier support. This has always been a touchy area. GSM carriers (T-Mobile and AT&T) tend to get the most love and offer the best, more streamlined solutions, but Verizon and Sprint have had some level of support in the past with the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus. However, CDMA (Sprint and Verizon) versions of Nexus phones have proven to be somewhat of second rate Nexus experiences, with the carriers complicating and delaying the direct line upgrade process that the Nexus line is designed for. Additionally in the past it has been difficult to make one devices that supports all of the carriers various frequencies, resulting in multiple variants for each carrier. With advancements in the tech in both the phones and the networks themselves, it is becoming easier to put multiple radios in one device, and currently based on the leaks it sounds like the next Nexus phone may support T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. Still leaving out VZW, but they are also one of the most notorious for delaying updates and adding bloatware to devices.

How many of you are excited to see the new Nexus phone getting closer to release? Are you planning on grabbing one at launch? What are you most excited about?

Google Offers Quickoffice for FREE!



One of the most useful types of apps you can have on your phone or tablet is a good office suite app that supports Microsoft Office. This is also one of the first types of apps that I was willing to spend money on. For years I've used Documents to Go Pro, which I got on sale for $10 I believe (currently on sale for $14). I really like this app but free is always better than paid, and right now Google is offering it's newly acquired office app, Quickoffice for free! Quickoffice fully supports Microsoft Office documents created in Word, PowerPoint and Excel and formats them to fit on your mobile device. It also allows access to your Google Drive account and documents within the app. Just download the app on your device (supports Android and iOS) and log in with a Google account before Thursday, September 26th. Also, as a bonus Google is throwing in an additional 10GB of free Google Drive storage space. I haven't used it much yet to give a review but it seems pretty legit thus far. I downloaded it for the free Drive space alone! Who's not up for free stuff? So download and log in! Even if you don't think you need it now at least it will be saved to your account free for later use!

Click to download Quick Office from Google Play Store or for Apple devices

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

GTA V: Possibly the Greatest Game EVER!



Unless you live on a deserted island you've probably heard that the block buster game Grand Theft Auto V was released this week. The latest in a long line of games that attempts to recreate an giant open world where you work your way to the top by committing various crimes. You play as three different characters this go round, through a storyline that honestly rivals those within blockbuster movies.



This year the game is bigger and more interactive than ever, allowing an unparalleled amount of depth that has never been seen in gaming! Want to ignore all missions and explore (my favorite thing to do), feel free. Anything you see is theoretically within reach assuming you've found or acquired the necessary skills or tools to get to it. This even includes the depths of the (shark infested) ocean for the first time in GTA history. Fly planes, helicopters, and blimps. Drive a seemingly endless selection of cars, motorcycles, boats, jet skis, and bicycles. Everything you love from previous GTA titles is here, in more detail with more depth and unseen levels of interaction. Want to go on a random crime spree (the favorite activity in GTA V for most) be ready for improved police AI, but you're free to do so on levels that weren't possible previously. Rob gas stations, build your crew even wear masks to assist in your clean escape. The criminal activities are limitless!


What's even more exciting than the game itself is the upcoming release of GTA Online, which is essentially a separate game all together based on GTA V (free add-on with the purchase of GTA V). Everything that is in the GTA V single player campaign's world will be present but with up to 16 live real players. Rockstar has even stated that they plan to continually add an enormous amount of additional content to GTA Online over the next few years, including everything they've made or will make in past and future games. So we can look forward to seeing favorites like Liberty City, Vice City and San Andreas as a part of the online GTA world. Rockstar said they can essentially add an entire world one country at a time! Players can form gangs, buy property, commit all types of multi-player crimes, and play mini games.

I really believe this game will stand out in time as a pivotal point in gaming history. The features of GTA Online sound groundbreaking. Right now the game is predicted to make 1 billion dollars (yes BILLION) within the first month of being released! It surpassed $900 million within its launch window and we haven't even hit the holiday season yet. It also has received the highest rating of any game in 2013. I HIGHLY encourage you to pick up a copy and check it out for yourself. In the meantime check out the videos below. I will be honest it's going to be really hard to blog while I've got this game. Matter of fact time to get back to GTA now!

Share your favorite things about GTA V in the comments!



Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Truth About Apple and New iPhones



Ok those of you who know me or have been reading the blog know that I don't care much for the iPhone. In my recent post about the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c I tried my best to be unbiased and just give the facts about the new devices, but when I saw this video I knew I had to share. It truly sums up what Apple does with it's new devices and a few of the many reasons why I don't like iPhones (and love Android).

Check out the hilarious video below:

Chromecast Is Back In Stock



The Google Chromecast is finally back in stock in the Google Play Store, after selling out in minutes when it was announced a few months ago and then subsequently being sold on eBay and Craigslist for up to 2x the actual cost.

The Chromecast is an amazing little device, slightly larger than an USB jumpdrive that plugs into your TV's HDMI port and allows users to instantly stream content from YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, Netflix and tabs from your Chrome browser to your TV. The device is small enough to hide behind most TV units and draw power from a simple USB port. The $35 price tag made it one of the most irresistible impulse buys of the year. It easily does a large majority of what most people need from a smart tv device at a fraction of the cost, with even more features promised to be coming soon (including Hulu and rumors of HBO Go). The Chromecast is controlled via an Android Device, iOS Device or even a Laptop running a chrome extension. The fact that it supports multiple platforms instead of being locked into a certain manufacturers ecosystem is a huge selling point in my book.

I was able to find two in another state at Bestbuy and others are saying Amazon has them back in stock now also. I highly recommend grabbing one if you use any of these services. I've been loving mine and will be posting a review soon. This is one of those devices that is priced so well you can't afford not to grab one.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Apple iPhone 5c: The Budget Friendly iPhone



Today Apple launched 2 new iPhones, the flagship iPhone 5s and the colorful, budget friendly iPhone 5c. The 5c is Apple's attempt to reclaim some of the lower end of the smartphone market, where they are currently losing ground to the seemingly endless number of cheap Android devices. In a nutshell it is a colorful cheaper remake of last year's iPhone 5 with iOS 7 and a few tweaks.



These tweaks include cameras enhancements, iOS 7 out of the box, increased battery capacity and support for more LTE bands. The most noticeable change is that the phones casing has gone from metal and glass to colorful (and cheaper) polycarbonate plastic. Apple's new design allows them to slash prices for the iPhone 5c to $99 on a 2 year contract for the 16GB version, or $199 for the 32GB ( $549 and $649 off-contract).



The iPhone 5c will be offered in 5 new colors blue, white, pink, yellow and green and will also launch with a variety of equally colorful cases for $29 each. It will be available for preorder and sale along side it's more feature packed brother the iPhone 5s on September 13th and 20th respectively. The iPhone 5 will be discontinued.



Are you interested in a colorful cheaper iPhone 5c? What about a iPhone 5s? Both? Neither?





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Apple Debuts the New iPhone 5s



Apple debuted its newest members of the iPhone family today, breaking from their normal tradition and actually releasing two variants the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c (the 5c being a more cost friendly variant). The iPhone 5s is the premier handset of the two and the next step in iPhone evolution. Following in Apple tradition, the new model strongly resembles its predecessor but has been equipped with stepped up specs in almost every category. Notable changes included a new 64-bit A7 processor that is 2x faster, M7 graphics processor with 2x the graphics performance, improved battery life (10 hours LTE browsing, 250 hours standby, 40 hours of music), upgraded 5-element Apple-designed camera lens with a 15 percent larger light sensor, auto-image stabilization, burst mode, and 120 frames-per-second slow-motion options, and most notably a fingerprint sensor, a feature Apple calls Touch ID. It is also Apple's first phone debuting iOS 7.


The new iPhone 5s will come in three color variants Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, as well as three different configurations and price points of 16GB/$199, 32GB/$299, and 64GB/$399. Pre-orders on September 13 and it goes on sale September 20 in nine different countries. The new camera and flash sound really nice and are sure to be a great enhancement over what is already one of the best camera phones. I also really like the idea of being able to unlock the phone with a fingerprint (which is not an Apple innovation, no matter what they try to say. The Motorola Atrix had this feature years ago), though with recent news of the NSA snooping on our phones, and iPhones being identified as one of the major targets, there is something unsettling about adding fingerprints to the list of collected data. 


As always the new iPhone hasn't changed much physically, but there have been some meaningful changes under the hood. How many of you will be grabbing the next iPhone on the 20th? Or maybe you'd like the budget-friendly iPhone 5c.


Photos courtesy of Android Headlines

Samsung Galaxy Gear


As I mentioned in my recent post about the Pebble smartwatch, we are about to see the floodgates open in the smartwatch industry. There have already been several unsuccessful attempts from companies like Motorola and Sony, and with the Pebble gaining steam it was only a matter of time until we saw some of the other heavy hitters get into the mix. Google, Apple and Samsung have all been rumored to have upcoming devices and Sammy is the first to show their hand. While there is much to be admired about Samsung's venture into the wearables field, I'm left disappointed with it's exclusivity to the Galaxy Note 3 (other Samsung devices will be supported eventually but still). I really would like to see this new wearable tech stay as open as possible, but I wholeheartedly get why Samsung would want to keep its branding giant going and make the newest member of the Galaxy family an exclusive.



Samsung has ventured in the opposite direction of the Pebble, not only because of its Galaxy-locked functionality, but also in its feature set. The Galaxy Gear has a 1.63-inch AMOLED touchscreen, a speaker, a pair of mics for video recording and playback as well as making calls. The Gear has a 800MHz processor, a 315 mAh battery (with a sad 10hr life), a BSI sensor and autofocus lens in the wrist strap thats capable of capturing 1.9-megapixel stills and 10-second video clips up to 720p with sound. The camera will automatically beam any pics taken to your connected Galaxy Note 3. The Galaxy Gear will launch with 70 or so apps, with many more to come and is likely to receive more developer support than previous smart watches. It will be very interesting to see how this does once it hits the market. One thing that is for sure, Sammy will be throwing a bunch of marketing dollars at this thing along with the GN3 this fall.

Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Enough reading. Check out the hands on review courtesy of Engadget (lucky sob's lol)



In case you missed it in the Galaxy Note 3 review, hands on with the Note 3 and Galaxy Gear

Monday, September 9, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was recently announced and will be released in 140 countries starting at the end of the month. The phone that started the phablet craze will hit US shores beginning  in early October, with most of the US carriers already taking pre-orders. They have kept most of what made the Note line of phones a success and improved on it in almost all areas. The new Note has a larger screen yet manages to fit into a slightly slimmer (but slightly taller package), improved camera, processor, S-Pen functionality, screen, and build quality. In typical Samsung fashion they've crammed in a bunch of new software features and are even launching a complementing smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, to go along with it.

Spec-wise, the Note 3 is shaping up to be a beast of a phone as expected. For $299 buyers will get one of the first phones in the US with the Snapdragon 800 processor, LTE data, 13MP camera and finally a move away from their usual polycarbonate plastic design the Note 3 has a faux leather back that early reviewers all seem to love.



Check out the comparison chart below to see how it stacks up against the GN2 from last year:


Size152.4 x 78.7 x 8.4 (mm)151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 (mm)
Weight167g 183g
Screen5.7-inch AMOLED5.5-inch Super AMOLED
Resolution1920×1080 pixels1280×720 pixels
OSAndroid 4.3 with TouchWiz UIAndroid 4.1 with TouchWiz UI
Storage32/64GB16/32/64GB
SD Card YesYes
Processor2.3GHz quad-core1.6GHz, quad-core Exynos 4
RAM3GB2GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi (a/b/g/n/ac), 4G LTE, HSPA+, NFCWi-Fi (a/b/g/n), 4G LTE, HSPA+
CameraFront 2MP, Rear 13MP Front 1.9MP, Rear 8MP
BluetoothYes, version 4.0 Yes, version 4.0
Battery3200mAh3100mAh
ChargerMicro USBMicro USB
MarketplaceGoogle Play Store Google Play Store
Price$300 with two-year contract$300 with two-year contract
AvailabilityOctober: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, VerizonAT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

For more details and the new software features see the videos below:




Hands on with Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear






Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nexus 5 Coming Soon!


The Google Nexus 5 is expected to be released soon and has lately been leaking more and more details. This is the phone I have been waiting on and most likely will be switching to. With my Nexus 7 and now new Nexus 7 I have fallen in love with stock Android. Actually, on my GS3 I run a custom rom based on stock Android. I'm sick of manufactures messing with Android adding their skins, bloat apps, and carrier bloat apps. I want Android as Google made it, as they are making it! Nexus devices get Android updates first and fastest.

Nexus 5 Photoshop Render


With the announcement of Android 4.4 KitKat, video footage of a Google employee holding a new phone was leaked. Since then various renders based on the video have been released as well as what is believed to be a specs list from the FCC and Bluetooth SIG filings. I really like what many are saying looks like a Nexus 7 mini. I love the design of the Nexus 7 and would love a matching Nexus phone. 

The only details given are for screen and processor. The rumored Nexus 5 (code name D820) will have a 4.96 inch screen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. It was speculated that the new Nexus would have a S600 to keep the price down, but the 800 chip allows for many more LTE bands. As a result it has LTE support for AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Verizon isn't listed, this could be from technical differences with their network or just typical Verizon doing things their way and dragging their feet. 

I'm excited to see the S800 chip! I've heard good things about it including good battery life. This helps since I heard the battery will be 2700 Mah which is smaller than I wanted to see with Motorola squeezing huge batteries in normal sized phones. Hopefully the S800 chip and improvements in battery performance in KitKat Android 4.4 will make good use of the provided battery and get us well through a day. 

With the recent $100 drop in price that cleared the inventory for the Nexus 4 (8GB only) and these leaked details along with the announcement of the next big Android update, version 4.4 KitKat the Nexus 5 announcement and release cant be far off. It is likely that the Nexus 10 tablet will come along with it. Hopefully the price range will stay within $300-$400 for the N5. Which is likely following the Nexus family history of being budget price, high quality, unattached devices. 





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Android 4.4 KitKat and the Nexus 5 Teased



Today Google released footage of the raising of their new Android statute. For every version of Android there is a statue placed in front of Google HQ based on the Android version name. Google has set the precedent  of using various desserts, candies and sweets in alphabetical order: Cupcake (1.5), Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0), Froyo (2.2), Gingerbread (2.3), Honeycomb (3.0), Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), and Jelly Bean (4.1-4.3). Android 4.4 is K, KitKat not Key Lime Pie as has been rumored for a while.

No details were offered about the new version except, "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody." This on the tail of the announcement that Google Android has had over one BILLION activations! As I stated in my last post, its a good time to be #teamandroid!



Also, what appears to be the new Nexus 5 was also accidentally revealed, in the video of the KitKat statue going up. A 5 inch-ish LG made Nexus can be seen being used by an employee next to another with the Nexus 4. Confirming recent rumors and predictions that the next Nexus will be a 5 inch device based off the LG G2. I am one of many, who are very excited to see this phone move closer to release. Google has not set an announcement or release date yet, but the appearance of the KitKat statue and the glimpse of the new Nexus phone are good signs that they are both coming soon. It is also highly likely that the Nexus 10 tablet will be released alongside the presumed Nexus 5, joining the new Nexus 7 and rounding off the 2013 Nexus refresh.



Check out Google's official site with review of previous versions of Android: Android KitKat

Looking forward to the new version of Android and Nexus 5? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Android is KING!


Those of you who have read BHT in the past probably have picked up on my subtle affinity towards Android devices... Ok it's not really subtle, I really don't like Apple "i-devices" that much and lean towards Android pretty much unanimously. Though I doubt I'd switch, Windows Phone 8 and their tablet offerings definitely look interesting and I hope RIM can make a comeback with BB10 (whole other future post I guess).

As an Android-lover there hasn't been a more exciting time than now in my opinion. I'd almost go as far as to claim 2013 as the year of the little green robot. In previous years I feel like it was at least arguable which OS/platform was better but that time has come to an end! I'm declaring Android the champ! Now there's alot of different ways you could take this debate and I'm not saying that an iPhone or iPad isn't the best device for some people; but for the first time since Android came out I feel that I can recommend at least one or two excellent Android phones on each carrier to people without fear that it will not give the end user problems. For the first time that regardless of your tech-ability level I am confident that there are Android options that will absolutely work for you and work well; consistently.

Furthermore, things look like they are getting better and it's happening faster and faster. Google has done an excellent job with UI improvements and streamlining  the Playstore. They've released Google Play Games to clean up and organize the gaming experience. Google and Android have made moves to start invading the living room more and more with gaming and entertainment and Google Music and its All Access subscription has become one of my favorite features, something I can't see going with out now.

On the hardware side Google Glass is expected in 2014 and a Google smartwatch is rumored for the end of this year. We should also be seeing a new Nexus phone and Nexus 10 tablet to accompany the recently revamped Nexus 7. Chromecast, Google's budget TV media streaming device, once back in stock is likely to really open up the living room entertainment arena for Google and there are rumors of an upcoming game console as well.

Yes, 2013 has been a solid year for Google with it dominating or moving into a position of imminent dominance in almost all metrics from market share, app offerings, and more. Even better it looks like Google and Android are still gaining steam and are poised for another great year in 2014. It's a good time to be on #teamandroid!

What do you think? What are your favorite Android features, apps, and Google services? Or do you prefer a different mobile OS? Let us know in the comments.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pebble Smartwatch Review


The Pebble smartwatch is a bluetooth enabled watch with a small E-Ink display. It comes in a multitude of colors with a standard size watch band that can be replaced with any watch band of your choice. In addition to the watch there's an included USB charger that connects to the phone by magnets . The beauty of this device is it works not only for Android devices but also for iPhone, which is an important factor me. Any smartwatch I purchase has to be universal, compatible with at least all Android phones and even though I know I will never have an iPhone it's nice to know that the Pebble will work with iPhone as well as Android which covers the majority of the smartphone market.


There have been several smart watches released already but none really got it right for me. Looking ahead my only reservation with the Pebble is that there are some major companies rumored to be about to drop smart watches too. Samsung is revealing the Samsung Galaxy Gear in a few days now. Apple is allegedly working on a smart watch, as is Google. So this is an exciting time for this new genre of technology. As much as I like the Pebble watch I'm really excited to see what's coming from Google and Samsung especially and that is my biggest if not only reservation about keeping my Pebble. As the market developed there will be room for a spectrum of different smart watches balancing features and watch design. This would be ideal and address different customers needs and preferences. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is rumored to have the specs of a low end android phone including a camera. Not everyone would want or need all that in a smart watch.




The Pebble watch is very simple. Unlike many of the other previously released smartwatches the Pebble watch does not have a touch screen interface. It is navigated completely by the use of four buttons. On the left side above the charging port you have the back button, on the right hand side you have three buttons, the top button navigating one direction, the middle button is a selection button and the bottom button being a navigation button in the opposite direction (depending on the menu, navigation may be right and left or maybe up and down).



After turning on the Pebble watch for the first time you're prompted to download the Pebble app from the Google Play Store or the Appstore for Android and iPhone respectively. Once the app is downloaded it will begin the setup process connecting your Pebble with your phone via bluetooth. After that it will apply any updates that may be available. When this is over you're good to go the Pebble application is what controls and manages most the functionality of the watch as far as adding apps and new content to the device. The app allows you to show which notifications you will receive when and how you receive those and some other basic settings . By default you have the ability receive notifications from SMS gmail, other emails, Hangout, Facebook, and Whatsapp ( initially the fact that you could only receive notifications from a limited number of applications was one of my biggest complaints but since writing this I found some additional apps that add the ability to receive notifications from any other app. Check back for my updated advanced features review coming soon). The app also allows you to select which music player will be controlled by your watch (another limitation that I have found an app, Music Boss, that allows you to control multiple music apps and toggle between those music apps as well as adjust the volume. By default all you can do is pause, play, skip forward/backward, fast forward/rewind).





From the main watch face screen the navigation buttons on the pebble can be used to toggle between the various watch faces. One of the pebbles most basic features is the ability to change watch faces as well as download interactive apps, games and custom-made watch faces. You can also create your own custom watch faces. All of these additional features come from developers outside of Pebble. One of the pebbles greatest features is that it is completely open source. This leaves it open for developers to completely access its code and create applications and software that take advantage of the Pebble’s hardware. There are tons of apps and websites that provide applications games watch faces and allow for the creation of a custom watch faces. (Check out Watch Face Generator and My Pebble Faces)They're also additional apps that add new advance functionality to the watch. Developers are generally able to creatively use the pebble hardware with their software, adding completely new and robust features to the watch (many of which I did not even stumble across until the last day if my trial period. Luckily I'm getting more trial time so check back for the advanced features Pebble review).


 

 

 



There's no debating the pebbles innate cool factor. For any sci-fi fan, gamer, superhero fan etc. this has been something we are long overdue. It's pretty obvious how it could be convenient in some situations and at least just fun to play with. At $150 though, I'm guessing most need to justify the purchase a bit better. I was in that boat, and so far after two weeks it is doing a pretty good job of being more than just a toy. Unfortunately, I got it at a time when there are some huge competitors on the way. I am currently waiting to get a new phone until I see the next Nexus device from Google this fall and I’m really hoping that it will come along with a Google made Nexus watch as well. The Pebble has proven to me that I have a place for a smart watch and I feel very comfortable recommending it to others. I'm just going to hold off a bit longer until the dust settles a bit in the industry, as hard as it will be to take the Pebble back.

Check back for my advanced features review after I go a few more weeks with the Pebble!




Check out my video review to see more!