Posts by Adam Z. Lein

Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!

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    In listening to LG talk about the new camera in the LG G4, I was pretty excited. The camera is just about the only meaningful thing that you can really differentiate a smartphone with these days. They all have all the basic apps and the same rectangular touchscreens these days. Anyway, LG was boasting about it's new camera technologies in the LG G4. It's got things like laser auto-focus, a 16 megapixel 1/2.6" sensor, LED flash, and a color spectrum sensor. Launching the camera and taking photos is very fast. You can even double press the volume down button on the back of the phone while ...

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    Hamburger buttons have been seeing a lot of controversy recently, especially with Microsoft piling them into all of the new universal Windows apps that it's been developing for Windows 10 both on desktop PCs and phones. Many people already know what's wrong with them, and as some of my Twitter followers might say, "anyone with eyes can see how bad it is."  There have been many usability studies that show how hamburger buttons can greatly reduce and impair user engagement.  Apple hates them and Google has started moving away from them (they've been removed from the Google+ app), but ...

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    BLU (Bold Like Us) is a fairly new smartphone manufacturer. Well, they're really a white-label manufacturer, meaning that they often rebrand phones made by other manufacturers in order to sell them in different markets. They've been mainly targetting the low-end with inexpensive yet interestingly innovative Android and Windows Phones. They've only been around since 2009 though and are based in Miami Florida. Back in February we looked at the BLU Vivo Air, and now we've got the new BLU Win HD LTE to try out. While the BLU Vivo Air had the stylings that were very reminiscent of the iPhone, ...

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    The 2015 international auto show is going on this month in New York City and we took a look at a good number of the in-car computer set ups. Many were not fully functional and some of the booth staff members didn't want to give us full demonstrations, but we got a pretty good idea of how many of them worked. First of all, the graphic interface designs, functions, and controls are vastly different on all of them. Even different cars by the same manufacturers have different in-car computers. It's an awful mess... almost like what smartphones were like in the last decade. Remember how many ...

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    Back in February we took a look at the first preview release of Windows 10 for phones and deemed it to be quite a mess.  Mostly we had to forgive Microsoft for the awful design, inconsistencies, usability problems, and lack of features because it was an early preview release and they're still working on it.  Well, if you thought that was bad, wait until you see the latest version that was just released on April 10th!  (You can read about the known issues in Microsoft's blog.) Again, it's a preview release so we have to give some forgiveness for the unfinished state still, but things are ...

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    I never thought that I would actually say that. Innovation in the realm of USB cables doesn't really seem possible. Sure, around the turn of the century there were some retractable Micro USB cables that had nice spring-loaded cylinders that would automatically wrap up the wire for easy storing. That was pretty nice.  But look at what Plantronics did for their just-released Explorer 500 Bluetooth headset!  Sure the Bluetooth headset is pretty nice. It's got HD voice, multilingual English, French or Spanish notifications, smartphone speech interface access, and noise/wind cancellation ...

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    Lately I've seen a few articles from other tech writers championing some of the latest new mobile email programs for their innovative takes on improving the email experience on the small screen. Mobile apps are generally less capable than their desktop counterparts and email programs have always been far more feature rich and capable on the desktop computers. Even the most basic web-browser-based email services are often far more useful on desktop web browsers than within mobile phone apps. I've been using Microsoft Outlook as my preferred email program since the late 1990's. Outlook 98 ...

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    The two hot new Android flagship phones out right now are the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9. We've already done some other comparisons between the two flagships, but one of the biggest differentiating factors among smartphones these days is their camera quality. So that's what we're going to take a closer look at here. Both Samsung and HTC have updated the cameras on their latest flagship smartphones and they've got some key differences. The HTC One M9 has a 20 megapixel sensor with an f2.2 aperture while the Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 16 megapixel sensor with an f1.9 aperture. The ...

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    We've talked about this problem with smartphone UI designers here on Pocketnow many times before. It was a big part of "8 ways to tell if your mobile app sucks" as well as "Why a top screen edge gesture doesn't belong on a smartphone". The issue is that if you're holding your phone in one hand, in many cases, and especially with larger screens, it's very difficult for your thumb to reach the buttons that were placed on the top of the screen. The iPhone was first designed with a 3.5" screen where this problem was not so much of an issue due to the screen size. When larger screen iPhones ...

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    If there's one thing technology power users like us hate, it's carrying a bunch of different charging wires around when we travel. Why can't we standardized on one type of connector that works for everything? For a while around the turn of the century, many smartphones standardized on the mini-USB port for charging and syncing data. HTC even extended the port's specifications to include audio input/output. That was pretty fantastic since you could use one port to charge, sync, and play music on speakers at the same time. In some cases it could even output video. (See: Why the 3.5mm headset ...

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    Yes, Windows 10 for phones is a big mess so far, but we were kind of expecting that. The public preview released on February 12, 2015 is the earliest Microsoft has ever released a testing version of their mobile phone operating system.  I've been privately & publicly beta testing software products since the mid 90's, and in using this, it really seems a long way from an official release. Naturally this means there will be plenty of bugs, but what worries us the most is that so much of the new operating system is going in such an odd direction. Our fears were correct, as many Windows ...

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    Last week we got to speak with Simon Tian who showed us some mockups of a new product that's meant to be the next generation of his Neptune Pine Android-powered smartwatch. This isn't based on the Android Wear platform, by the way. We're talking about full Android in a wrist watch. Simon is only about 20 years old and has already seen some success with his Neptune Pine. (Just for some perspective, he was about 5 years old when Pocketnow was launched in the year 2000.) Now he's working on his next project. The Neptune Duo still has a wrist-mounted smartwatch that runs full Android, but now ...

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    Smartwatches are the next big thing, or so they been saying for a while now.  I'm still a little skeptical because they also said that about TVs/smartphones with 3D screens which seem all but extinct these days. Everyone is expecting Apple to hit it big with their Apple Watch if and when it is released, but in the meantime there are many other manufacturers making smartwatches and other wrist-mounted wearable gadgets. I've been using the Microsoft Band since last October, and while I mainly like to use it as a fitness tracker, I've also been using it as a smartwatch since it has plenty of ...

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    It's been a long time since we got some special Adobe Camera Raw color profiles for the Lumia 1020 and 1520. That was great for the RAW DNG photographers out there, but what we really need are some lens correction profiles. That never happened, so I decided to make my own geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting fall off models to use with my Nokia Lumia 1020 and its awesome 41 megapixel camera. Of course, you can do it with whatever camera you want, too. First off, Adobe already makes a bunch of lens correction profiles for a large variety of popular DSLR camera and lens ...

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    Over on the Windows Phone user voice site, the hot topics lately have focused on the poor user interface design changes seen in Windows 10's phone UI. Back in the days of Windows Phone 7, one of the major differentiators between Windows Phone and other smartphone platforms at the time were its design and how much thought was put into it. Everything was primarily based on typography for a good reason; people understand words. We use them to communicate practically everything all the time. We're doing it right now. The animated interface used words and animations to communicate actions and ...

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    Cortana's live tile on my Lumia 1020 recently showed a news headline that said, "Windows Phone has a massive apps problem".  Here's another one that talks about the same thing "Look How Awful The App Situation Is For Windows Phone"  Johanna Stern of WSJ recommends staying away from the HTC One M8 for Windows because of its lack of apps too. That seems to be the general consensus among tech journalists over the past 4 years since Windows Phone's launch.  Those first two articles talk about the lack of apps that exist on other platforms or the abundance of unofficial apps with official ...

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    Seriously, just show up. The Lumia 830 doesn't count. The last real flagship smartphone Microsoft had for showing off what they (and Nokia at the time) are capable of was the Lumia 1020. That was announced in July of 2013. That was ages ago, and 2014 is almost over. Nothing in 2014 really tops that phone especially in terms of camera innovation and that includes non-Windows phones. The Lumia 930 and Icon don't have glance mode, so they're out… and everything else had some other sort of compromise. I've even started to see articles claiming that Microsoft has given up on high-end ...

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    One of the big selling points of Windows Phone 7 that was touted by Microsoft and Joe Belfiore when it was launched was that all of your personal content could be placed right there on the start screen. It wasn't just a launcher for apps, it was all of your stuff… all of your friends, your pictures, your music… all the real stuff you wanted right there on the start screen in whatever arrangement you wanted. That was a pretty great idea. Unfortunately, things have changed recently. Microsoft isn't really allowing us as much access to our content as before. You can no longer pin OneNote ...

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    Recently, I got to try out a prototype of a new product that brings a virtual reality platform to the iPhone 6 and 6+. Pinć is a new device and platform from Cordon Media; a company with experience in building software interfaces for large wall-sized screens, but that doesn't really work on small smartphone screens... unless you turn them into virtual reality goggles. We've already seen Samsung try something like this with their new Gear VR product which can turn the Galaxy Note 4 into an Oculus Rift style portable virtual reality headset. I also got to use that one for a bit, and you ...

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    The "Microsoft Band" came as a bit of a surprise when it was unveiled late last month. There weren't any leaked pictures of the device and all we knew about it came from the Windows Store, where the Microsoft Health software appeared the night before the new wrist band went on sale in Microsoft Stores nationwide. The Band is mainly geared towards fitness tracking, though it does have quite a few "smartwatch" type features. We think Microsoft would prefer that people compare it to other fitness trackers as opposed to smart watches, but it certainly does fit somewhat into both ...

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    Last week Microsoft released a new health service along with a fitness tracker called the Microsoft Band. Microsoft Health is the name of the service that goes along with it, and that's meant as a new platform for centralizing all of your health and fitness related information. Currently the software runs on Windows Phone 8.1, Google's Android, and Apple's iOS so that consumers can enjoy the benefits of platform agnosticism. The new platform is also meant to be very open to both app developers and device manufacturers so that anyone can really tap into it and create products that ...

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    Sometimes I ask my assistant to remind me about something, and when she's sitting in the same room as me and it's time to be reminded about something important, she claps her hands twice to get my attention. If I don't look at her right away, she won't tell me what the message is, and then she'll wait a few more seconds and then close her eyes and go to sleep. If this was a real person, that scenario would sound pretty ridiculous, but that's exactly how our smartphones behave these days. I'm sorry, I don't understand what 2 hand claps means. We're in the same room though. I can hear you. ...

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    Today we had a brief 15 minute first look at the new Nexus 9 tablet from HTC running Google's new Android Lollipop operating system. We were not allowed to photograph it next to any other tablets or devices, so all you're going to get is some photos of the tablet by itself and a few first impressions. Also, the device is running a preview version of the new Android operating system, so of course things are going to change on that end, but we can get a pretty good idea of what the hardware is going to be like. The new tablet was announced last week and its pricing is going to start at ...

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    Microsoft recently released a technology preview of their new Windows operating system that's meant to unify desktop PCs, tablets, phones, and even large screen televisions. In this video we're going to take a look at some of the changes as well as the advantages and disadvantages in the Windows 10 Technology Preview. Be sure to remember that this is an early version of the operating system update so many things are sure to change as development continues. There's nothing special about installing the Windows 10 Tech Preview. You simply run the setup program, and it does it all. You should ...

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    Since the new iPhone 6 came out, everybody's talking about all the new features and especially the new 8 megapixel camera. Many are giving it some great praise, but as Micheal said in the "Here’s what the iPhone 6 camera can do" piece, it's a good camera, but it ain’t no Nokia. In this piece we're going to take a close look at how the picture quality of the iPhone 6 plus really compares to a few of the other smartphones out there, as well as a midrange DSLR just for fun. Before you go reading through all of my commentary in this camera phone shootout, I'd like to invite you to look ...

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