Asus ZenUI. The Zenfone 5 Lite comes with the Asus ZenUI, the company's custom skin for Android.

REVIEW: Asus Zenfone 5 Lite: big-screen smartphone for the budget-conscious

BUILDING on the success of Zenfone 5, Asus recently released a cheaper version of the handset in time for end-of-the-year upgrading – the Asus Zenfone 5 Lite.

The Zenfone 5 Lite has a dual core Intel Atom 1.2 Ghz processor with 1GB RAM and an 8GB internal memory that is expandable via microSD up to 64GB. The phone comes with a 5-inch qHD display of 960×540. It has an eight-megapixel rear camera with auto focus and LED flash. It comes with a .3-megapixel selfie or front camera. Continue reading →

The UP Mini (top) and UP Lite.

REVIEW: Starmobile UP Mini, UP Lite: good phones on a budget

Except for their prices, the Starmobile UP Mini and UP Lite don’t come off as cheap. Their build quality is excellent and the phones are very responsive.

Starmobile's UP Mini and UP Lite.

Starmobile’s UP Mini and UP Lite.

I passed the UP Mini around and asked friends and colleagues to feel its finish, check out the device’s responsiveness and guess its price: P15,000 said one, P13,000 said another. The lowest guess was P5,000 with most saying it’s price was higher than P8,000.

The UP Mini actually sells for P3,690 and what a device for such a price. It has a 1.3GHz quad core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU with Android 4.4, a 4GB built-in storage expandable via micro SD, 8MP rear camera with Backside Illumination (BSI) and 1080P at 30FPS video capture. The device is dual SIM with dual 3G standby. Continue reading →

Unboxing Huawei Ascend Mate7

REVIEW: Huawei Mate7: This is the ‘droid you’re looking for

WHEN you first hold the Huawei Mate7 in your hand, what is immediately apparent is how sleek its design is. At 7.9 mm thin, the Mate7 is a well-built device with top-of-the-line specifications worthy of a flagship device.

I tested the phone for a few days this week and found the device a great option for those who prefer their phones with larger screens.

The Mate7’s 6-inch screen is bright and sharp. While it’s not quad HD, the difference isn’t by much, at least as far as I can see. I use an LG G3, which is a quad HD phone, and I didn’t see any glaring difference with the Mate 7’s display.

The phone packs a powerful octa-core CPU that’s more than up to the task of running any app or game. In my few days of using the device, I found it very responsive and quite zippy. I loved using it for work – managing emails with Mailbox, taking down and organizing notes using Google Keep and Evernote, working with interns in our startup via Slack, writing and editing using Google Docs, reading articles and keeping up with news updates via apps Flipboard, Pocket and Zite. Continue reading →

Starmobile vida

REVIEW: Starmobile Vida: entry-level phone packs a punch

WITH all eyes on the latest and greatest flagship devices of the different phone manufacturers, it’s easy to lose sight of the bottom end of the lineup — the entry-level phones that will connect the next billion to the Internet.

Starmobile’s Vida is such a phone. Its technical specs are good for an entry-level device: 1GHz dual core ARM Cortex-A7 processor with a 512MB RAM and a 4GB built-in memory with provisions for up to 32GB expansion via a micro SD card. It comes with Android Kitkat.

Continue reading →

oTranscribe Vince Loremia

Transcribing interviews? You should try oTranscribe

As a journalist, I do a lot of transcribing of interviews. While I do scrawl notes, these are just to take down key points and summaries and not write what the subject is saying verbatim. It’s hard to keep up, especially with those who speak too fast.

When writing the draft, I’d arrange the key points of the story from memory, then consult my notes. After that, I’d listen to the audio recording of the interview to make sure I got the points, ideas and quotations right.

When I was still starting out as a reporter in 1996, I used a cassette tape recorder and a typewriter. I would rewind and forward the tape – usually just one pass because if you do it often, the tape would get tangled with the tape head – while writing key points of the interview by hand before hitting the keys to type the story. Continue reading →

LG G2

The LG G2 is a great high-end Android phone

THE first thing that strikes you when you turn on the LG G2 is how beautiful the display is. It is sharp and vibrant and comes on such a big screen. It’s almost realistic you’d find yourself gingerly pressing the glass.

And as you start using what is currently LG’s flagship device, the next thing that will strike you is how responsive it is. Opening apps, switching between applications and moving between screens feel fluid and seamless.

And as the day wears on, you’d find the phone’s large battery capacity kicking in, allowing you to use the device for an entire day without having to recharge.

I tried the LG G2 for several weeks and found the phone, which comes with Android Jelly Bean, a joy to use. Continue reading →

Waze traffic GPS app

Waze app: how to use your phone to outsmart Cebu traffic

“IN 200 meters,” the Waze app on the phone said, “turn right.”

We were headed to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu and were near the Banilad flyover on our way to the IT Park when Waze, the driving application I was running on my phone, gave the direction to turn right.

Waze had determined, by going through its database of roads in Cebu and reports of traffic conditions sent in by users, that the quickest route for us was to go to that neighborhood behind Gaisano Country Mall, pass through Camp Lapu-Lapu and a small side road and emerge on our way up to the hotel.

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The experience of writing on the BlackBerry Q10's keypad is really good.

The BlackBerry Q10 is a great phone

The experience of writing on the BlackBerry Q10's keypad is really good.

The experience of writing on the BlackBerry Q10’s keypad is really good. (Photo by Max Limpag)

BlackBerry launched in Cebu yesterday its first BlackBerry 10 device with a physical QWERTY keypad – the BlackBerry Q10.

I was able to play with the device for several minutes during the launch and found it a great phone for those who want a physical keyboard.

Organizers of the event held a game that had attendees answer questions via BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) as a way to try out the Q10 and its physical keyboard.

I was the designated typist of our losing team and found the experience of writing messages on the Q10’s keypad really good. There was an initial adjustment, of course.

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Parrot voice record BlackBerry Z10

Parrot is great voice recording app for BlackBerry Z10

Parrot voice record BlackBerry Z10

PARROT ON BLACKBERRY Z10. Parrot is a beautifully-designed app that produces very clear audio recordings. (Photo by Max Limpag)

As a journalist, I use my phone extensively for news gathering. Apart from it being my camera, the phone is also my main voice recorder for interviews. I still carry an MP3 voice recorder but this serves only as backup, the quality of recording in smartphones is so much higher.

Whenever I set up a phone, one of the first apps I install is a voice recorder. On Android, my favorite voice recording application is Easy Voice Recorder, which has a free version that more than meets my needs. On iOS, my favorite voice recording app is iTalk, which produces clear and great quality recordings.

On the BlackBerry Z10, which uses the company’s BlackBerry 10 platform, I find Parrot to be the best voice recording application.

Parrot is easy to use and the user interface is beautiful and minimal. It’s easy to use the app for recording.

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Nobex Podcast and Radio app

Nobex is a great BlackBerry 10 podcast app

Nobex Podcast and Radio app

There aren’t many BlackBerry 10 apps that compare well with those for Android and iOS. While using some BB10 apps, you get a foreboding feeling of something about to crash it tingles. Take the Sports Tracker for BlackBerry, an app that tracks your run or bike ride using GPS. Midway into your run, it hangs and at times closes and you lose your mileage log.

But not the Nobex Radio and Podcast app.

The podcatcher app for the Z10 and Q10 is not only among the best made-for-BlackBerry 10 apps in the BlackBerry World, it is also at par with some of the best apps in other platforms.

Continue reading →