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 →

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 →

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 →

Facebook Messenger on BlackBerry Z10

Google Chrome simplifies sideloading of Android apps to BlackBerry Z10

One of the key features of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that runs on newer devices like the Playbook, Z10 and Q10 is its ability to run some Android apps that have been converted into .bar files.

To install these apps, you need to “sideload” the files or transfer these to the phone via a laptop or desktop. If you’re on Windows, you can sideload the files using DDPB or VNBB10.

If you’re on a Mac, it used to be a bit more complicated to install Android apps and required that you type commands on the Terminal.

Continue reading →

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Open source for the win

ON Christmas Eve, I cobbled together a network-attached storage (NAS) at home to enable everyone in our house to have a shared directory for school, work and personal files. This shared directory is also accessible from outside the house – like a rudimentary personal “cloud” for our family.

It wasn’t complicated — you can go to my blog for the article on the process — because the setup was a matter of connecting an old portable USB drive to a cheap CD-R King wireless router and setting things up using a visual interface.

The magic sauce in the setup is the Tomato firmware that runs on the router. Tomato is a Linux-based router firmware that allows you to manage your device on such things as filtering and setting quality of service rules for certain types of connections so that people browsing websites don’t experience crawling connection when someone downloads using a torrent.

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Continue reading →

EVERNOTE. The Evernote applications for iOS and Android allow you to manage your notes on the go.

App-y New Year

Mobile exploded in 2012. US consumers now spend 1.8 more times in mobiles apps than on the Web, according to Flurry, a mobile analytics company. Flurry said that between December 2011 and December 2012, “the average time spent inside mobile apps by a US consumer grew 35 percent, from 94 minutes to 127 minutes.”

Closer to home, the Philippines recorded a 326 percent increase in smartphone sales, the fastest growth in the Southeast Asian region, according to research company GfK. The Philippines is also the country “with the highest jump in smartphone market share within a year, from 9 to 24 percent,” GfK said in a press statement last September.

To mark the end of this year of mobile, let me riff on a Pinoy New Year’s Eve tradition by offering you my favorite apps in 12 task categories, in no particular order:

News apps Zite, Prismatic and News.me

NEWS APPS. (From left) Zite, Prismatic and News.me harness social networking connections to match news stories to users’ interests.

Continue reading →

TOPPING WISH LISTS. According to a survey by Nielsen, 48 percent of American children aged 6 to 12 want an iPad for Christmas. (Apple press center photo)

Did you get a smartphone, tablet as gift? Some tips on how to set it up

HAVE you been particularly nice or especially naughty this year and got a smartphone or tablet as Christmas gift? Lucky you; you’re in for hours of fun setting up your device tonight.

Here are some tips on setting up your smartphone or tablet.

The first thing you should do after unboxing your device is to keep track of all components and accessories and figure out which goes where. Copy serial numbers and other important device information and set aside such things as the warranty card and the card that comes with your SIM (which contains the PIN unblocking code.)

You should also take time to read the manual. (A confession: I don’t. I only consult the manual when I inevitably bump into problems.)

 

TOPPING WISH LISTS. According to a survey by Nielsen, 48 percent of American children aged 6 to 12 want an iPad for Christmas. (Apple press center photo)

TOPPING WISH LISTS. According to a survey by Nielsen, 48 percent of American children aged 6 to 12 want an iPad for Christmas. (Apple press center photo)

Continue reading →

BIG BATTERY. The flagship Cloudfone model, the Thrill 430x, comes with a battery that can power the unit for 3 days, officials said. (Photo by Marlen Limpag)

Cloudfone wants everyone to own a smartphone

THE ebullience of Chico Pasion and Francis Capati of Phoneco was palpable in Friday’s launch in Cebu of the company’s Cloudfone Android line.

“We will kill feature phones!” “We don’t need feature phones!” “We want people to throw away their phones and update to a new one!”

Pasion, national sales manager of Phoneco, said they want the low to mid-range market to move to Android instead of buying or keeping their feature phones, the industry term for phones that are more than just basic calling devices but lack the features of a smartphone.

Continue reading →

FINDING PEOPLE. The Find My Friends app for the iPhone allows people to share location data with friends.

Location, location, location

Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

A man in New York City has reportedly caught his wife cheating using the Find My Friends app of the iPhone 4S he gave her.

Find My Friends uses global positioning system (GPS) to let people share their locations with friends. The locations of people are indicated by a tooltip on a satellite map. And since the app uses GPS, the locations are accurate up to several meters.

According to a post in a Mac website message board, a New York City man bought his wife a new iPhone 4S and installed Find My Friends without informing her. He said he had suspicions his wife was meeting a man who lived uptown. His suspicion was confirmed by Find My Friends, who showed her there. He then texted her to ask where she was and she answered that she was with friends in a completely different location.

He said he would be using the data he gathered to divorce his wife. “Thankfully, she’s the rich one,” he said.

There is no definite confirmation of the incident but the post shows the extent of location data gathered by consumer devices like smartphones.

FINDING PEOPLE. The Find My Friends app for the iPhone allows people to share location data with friends.

FINDING PEOPLE. The Find My Friends app for the iPhone allows people to share location data with friends.

Continue reading →

Edmon Joson, Smart Communications Inc. product development manager, demonstrates features of the Netphone 701 during a press conference in Cebu. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Smartphones, Smart’s Netphone

In the US, 89 percent of those with smartphones use it throughout the day, according to a study published last April by Google. The study, based on interviews of 5,013 American adults who identified themselves as users of smartphones, said the device has become a consumer’s “always-on companion” and 93 percent use it at home, 87 percent while commuting or walking, 77 percent while in a store and 72 percent while at work.

Smartphones, according to the study, “serve as pocket PCs and extend the desktop experience” with 81 percent of smartphone users browsing the Internet, 77 percent using search engines and 68 percent using an app. Seventy-two percent of users also report using their phones while consuming other media like listening to music, 44 percent; watching TV, 33 percent; reading a book, 16 percent; and reading a newspaper or magazine, 22 percent.

The study offers a peek into the quickly rising use of mobile devices to access the Internet. It’s just a peek because local usage scenario would likely be slightly different. For instance, the study said 89 percent of US respondents use their smartphones to stay connected with 82 percent saying they check and send emails with their phones and 63 percent using it for social networking. The numbers will likely be the other way around for Filipinos, who are among the world’s most active group of people in social networks.

Continue reading →