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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    On the company's website, we learn that "Nextbit is a small band of rebels who want to free people from the limits of today’s mobile technology." It's a new company formed to try to attack the smartphone market from a different angle since the market seems kind of boring these days. Everyone just keeps releasing phones and user experiences that copy each other even if what everyone else is doing makes no sense at all. All smartphones out there are currently just a rectangular touch screen with a grid of app icons that launch something when you tap them. Sometimes the screen size ...

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    Today, my Microsoft Band kicked the bucket.  After 10 months of heart rate monitoring, GPS location tracking, footstep tracking, sleep monitoring and smartphone notification displaying, it's no longer functional. The screen has stopped responding and well... after 10 months of heavy amounts of sweat, the rest of device ain't pretty either. If you want to see what my Microsoft Band was like when it was brand new, take a  look at our original review from last year. A lot has changed since then. Of course, the Microsoft Band has seen a few nice updates since it was originally released.  ...

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    In response to our Windows 10 review where we mentioned some drawbacks of the ergonomics of the new Windows 10 tablet mode, one of our readers made a graphic about how Microsoft could pretty simply make the taskbar much more tablet friendly. Patrick's suggestions are mainly things for Microsoft to implement, but some of them you can do right now to make your Windows 10 tablet much easier to use. Even in tablet mode, the taskbar with the start button, system tray icons, Cortana button and task view buttons are along the bottom edge of the screen. I'm sure Microsoft did this for consistency ...

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    The Microsoft Lumia 640 XL is now available on AT&T in the States and we've got one of them to test out. As is the theme with Microsoft and their Windows Phones since shutting down Nokia, this is a budget friendly device that won't let you show off any ground-breaking incredible new features like Nokia used to do with the likes of the Lumia 1020 or Lumia 1520 from 2013.  The Lumia 640 XL is, however, quite a nice phone especially if you're into the giant-screen phablet style devices.  The Lumia 640 XL is only a bit smaller than the Lumia 1520 with its 5.7" screen versus the 1520's 6" ...

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    Windows 10 is finally here!  While the Windows 8 interface was designed for the future of computing where software could recognize where your eyes were looking or understand your hand gestures in three dimensional space, people just aren't ready for that. We want that same old start menu that we've known and loved ever since 1995. Enter Windows 10, which brings a lot of backpedaling to the UI for those who just didn't get Windows 8's interface (of which there were many), but at the same time adds a "tablet mode" which retains many of the touch-friendly interface features of Windows 8. So ...

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    We've written a few articles about how much of a mess the Windows 10 Mobile preview has been, but now we're deep into the summer with the desktop counterpart ready to release at the end of the month. How's the mobile version of Windows 10 shaping up? Well, there have been quite a few improvements in Windows 10 Mobile, but what we're looking at in build 10166 is still pretty much all over the place. It's not even close to being on feature parity with Windows Phone 8.1. First let's look at some of the major system-wide issues. The most visible problem is when adding a background image to the ...

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    As you may already know, the Skype team at Microsoft somehow decided to discontinue the "modern" full-screen touch-friendly version of Skype for Windows 8 before any reasonable replacement was available. I received an email on June 16th, 2015 that said, "From 7 July, 2015 you’ll no longer be able to sign into the Skype for modern Windows app." After July 7th, the modern app was supposed to forward you to a website where you can download the x86 desktop version of Skype. The big advantage here would be that Skype no longer would have to keep developing two versions of the app for the same ...

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    It's in vogue these days to complain about the horrible user interface direction that Microsoft has turned to in their Windows 10 Mobile preview and its associated apps. Most of the clever and beautiful design innovations Microsoft brought forth with Windows Phone 7 and 8 are getting thrown out. Maybe the "Metro" design language idea isn't going to translate well between large screens, laptop screens, and small screens like Microsoft needs it to for their one-operating-system-to-rule-them-all vision for Windows 10. Or maybe Microsoft wants Android and iOS users to feel like it's a familiar ...

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    The last time we saw a Nokia Lumia on Verizon was last year with the Lumia Icon. That device has been discontinued and Verizon's Lumia Windows Phone selection has been seriously lacking. Now Verizon has finally gotten a new Lumia Windows Phone in their line up and it's the Lumia 735. Of course, this device is kind of old too. The original version was unvieled in Berlin in September of 2014. 9 months later, the Verizon version of the Lumia 735 is now available. The Lumia 735 is kind of a mid-range phone by last year's standards, but in 2015 it still has a few nice things going for it. Last ...

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    Over at Windows Central, Daniel Rubino has found that when the new Windows 10 Mobile build 10136 is installed on a phone with a screen size larger than 5 inches, a new feature is enabled. The new feature is very similar to Apple's reachability option on the iPhone 6 Plus which allows you to reposition the contents of the screen in the lower half of the screen so that you can reach poorly-placed buttons with one hand while holding the phone. While on the iPhone, the feature is activated by double tapping the home button, on Windows 10 Mobile, you have to hold down the Windows key at the ...

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    Ever since Microsoft bought Nokia's mobile device division, the Lumia line of Windows Phones has been focusing on affordable smartphones that still bring a lot of good-enough features with less compromises. This is probably a good strategy, since I'm sure a huge percentage of the population doesn't need an $800 iPhone for texting, Facbook, and Instagram. The Lumia 640, is one of the first Lumia smartphones to finally include Microsoft's own branding, and it removes many of the compromises you might have to endure on other low-priced budget smartphones like the Lumia 5XX series and even the ...

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    As of today, Huawei's new P8 Lite smartphone and TalkBand B2 fitness tracker/Bluetooth headset are available on GetHuawei.com and Amazon. The P8 Lite will also be available B&H in-store/online, Fry's Electronics in-store/online and Target.com with availability in Best Buy coming soon. The two new devices were announced yesterday in New York City as part of Huawei's goal to become a bigger player in the U.S.A.'s smartphone market. They are not currently partnering with a major carrier, so the P8 Lite will be sold unlocked for use on any GSM compatible network. Huawei has found that ...

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    We've been using MixRadio on Nokia devices for years. Back in 2013, we called it the best music service ever. It's free, it's got unlimited streaming, no commercials, and offline music mix downloads so that you don't have to use your data connection. It even automatically predicts what kind of music you're going to like (based on whatever you tell it you like and what you appear to enjoy listening to). The problem was that it was only available for Nokia branded phones and tablets, and Nokia's market share had taken a bit of a nose dive.  Sure you can get a nice Lumia with free MixRadio ...

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    Two years ago, we were very impressed with the Nokia Lumia 1020's manual photographic controls as you may have seen in our "How to take incredible photos with the Lumia 1020" article. Now we've got the new LG G4 boasting improved photography capabilities as well as RAW imaging support on the Android side of things and it's pretty exciting. Can it replace a professional digital camera? We'll find out, but keep in mind that all cameras have limitations and what really allows you to take great photos is understanding those limitations and learning how to generate imagery that communicates ...

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    During our initial review of the HTC One M9's new camera, we came away kind of disappointed. It didn't do so well when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S6 either. Sure, it has a 20 megapixel sensor with an f/2.2, 27.8mm lens protected by sapphire cover material, and that offers a lot more detail than HTC's previous 4 megapixel cameras, but the images looked so over-processed. The heavy noise reduction killed the details while over sharpening put white halos around the edges and slight exposure differences seemed kind of random. Well, recently HTC provided an update to the camera software ...

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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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