Posts by Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Editorial Director, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA. Read more about Michael Fisher!

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    I’ve learned that there are two things about being a mobile technology reviewer. The first thing: you get to handle awesome gadgetry days or weeks ahead of its official release date, and you’re not just allowed to use the heck out of it; you need to, in order to do your job. That’s the awesome thing. The other (less-awesome) thing: you eventually have to give it all back. Empty Nest is a recurring column discussing what I miss -and what I don’t- about the devices I’ve had to return. • I wore the Apple Watch Sport for the better part of last month as preparation for our ...

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    Update: That's a wrap, folks! Thanks to all who joined in. Click here to see the archive! Ever wonder what our esteemable Editorial Director Michael Fisher is doing when he's not reviewing technology, tweeting about Star Trek, or referring to himself in the third person? Well, this Sunday night he'll be trying his hand at his first Reddit AMA! Isn't that crazy? Join us over in the r/Android subreddit at 8pm Eastern (click here for your local time) where for three hours Michael Fisher will field questions ranging from tech blogging to ... well, who knows? To the uninitiated, "AMA" ...

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    There are folks out there who don’t have the time for a ten-minute video or a 4,000-word review, and they certainly don’t have an hour to absorb a meandering podcast (no matter how many awards it’s won). These people might be sneaking a quick YouTube fix on a bathroom break, trying to make a point to a rival smartphone owner at a bar, or even standing in line at a wireless retail store, waiting to make a purchase. They need the facts delivered quickly, with a minimum of window dressing and a firm conclusion in as little time as possible. For them, we’ve created the 60-Second ...

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    It was over two years ago that we gave you a taste of life on the very first Pebble – the product that smashed crowdfunding records and almost singlehandedly launched the modern smartwatch era. The little Bluetooth wearable would go on to sell over a million units in both standard and Steel trims, and when the sequel Pebble Time hit Kickstarter this past March, it broke another record by being the first Kickstarter project in history to raise a million dollars … in 49 minutes. Clearly, the people at Pebble know a little something about getting the masses excited for a new gadget. ...

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    Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are absolutely beautiful smartphones … but they're also absolutely impractical for anything resembling a sporty lifestyle. Enter the Galaxy S6 Active, a heavyweight version of the 2015 flagship built to take tougher treatment and last longer on a single charge. We covered the differences between them in a comparison last week; now, after seven days, it’s time to render our final verdict. Does the Galaxy S6 Active correct the problems faced by its two Active forebears? Is it worth considering over its well-regarded siblings in the S6 ...

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    Another year, another Galaxy S-vs-Galaxy Active comparison. It all started with the pretty (but leaky) Galaxy S 4 Active in 2013, followed by the much less pretty (but no less leaky) Galaxy S5 Active last year. For 2015, Samsung has let up somewhat on the ugly stick while adding even more durability, resulting in a phone that we called "the most sensible Active yet" after just 24 hours with the device. How much more durability are we talking about? Well, the S6 Active is rated to IP68 for complete protection against dust, and it will also function underwater at greater depths than previous ...

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    Last week, we told you about Google's new smartphone chooser, an online tool designed to help you pick the right Android phone for your particular needs. I was immediately taken with the idea, envisioning a web app that leveraged Google's awesome knowledge base to ask you a series of questions that would gradually whittle down the vast pool of available Android devices until Your Perfect Smartphone appeared on the screen. Yeah, my expectations might have been a little extreme ... but then again, this is Google we're talking about. So I pointed my browser to Android – Which ...

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    Updated 06/21 01:30am Eastern: Hurry hurry! The podcast is out! What does a smartwatch need to succeed in 2015? Is it a color screen? A digital crown? An intuitive UI? Or is it just the right brand name? We're weighing those factors and more today as we take a look at the latest smartwatch from the people who effectively invented the category. Join us as we talk Pebble Time on the Pocketnow Weekly! The news doesn't stop at watches, of course, so we're also covering all the haps from the week in mobile technology. From the iPad Pro to the 3D Nexus to a Samsung BlackBerry, we're hitting all ...

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    The Galaxy S6 Active isn't Samsung's first attempt at a ruggedized flagship smartphone. It was beaten to the punch by 2013's Galaxy S 4 Active and last year's Galaxy S5 Active, both of which we reviewed here at Pocketnow. Our ultimate buy/don't buy recommendation on the Galaxy S6 Active will have to wait until we're finished with our full review process, but after 24 hours one fact seems inescapable: this is the most sensible Active yet. As we touched on in yesterday's unboxing and hardware tour (also embedded below), the Galaxy S6 Active adds beefy cladding to the powerful hardware ...

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    It was over two years ago that we first strapped on the Pebble to get a taste of what the redefined wristwatch might be like – and after a quick jaunt with its metallic cousin the Pebble Steel, we’re ready to try out the true next generation: the Pebble Time. Despite the significance of this sequel, the Kickstarter-funded Pebble Time comes in much the same packaging as the original: a nondescript, Postal Service-ready cardboard box that tears open to reveal the watch itself, a charging cable, quick-start literature … and not much else. If the packaging has stayed constant, the ...

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    For the third year in a row, Samsung has augmented its top-shelf Galaxy S smartphone with a ruggedized version for outdoorsy types … and for the third year in a row, it’s an AT&T exclusive in the US. That's right, rough-and-tumble phone abusers: it's time to unbox Samsung's Galaxy S6 Active. The first thing I thought when popping the cover here is that there must’ve been a mistake. At first glance, the S6 Active is so similar to the S5 Active that I thought Samsung had sent us the latter by accident. But once I took it out of the box I realized it’s a little thinner, a little ...

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    As fun as it can be to marginalize and criticize them, smartphones are magical pieces of technology. From something as mainstream as an iPhone 6 to something as fringe as a G Flex 2, today’s pocket communicators are modern miracles of miniaturized intelligence. As I say at the top of every Pocketnow Weekly podcast, these real-life tools are the manifestation of many childhood dreams, mine included … and it’s incredible to stop and think about just how complex they really are. All of which makes it doubly frustrating when these supposedly “smart” devices screw up so ...

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    Update: Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Actually, more of these two-person convos would work out well for editing! See you next week! Barring any surprises, the next big smartphone launch of the year will come from Motorola – and right on time, we've got some potential Moto X 2015 leaks to share. Alongside that sits the Galaxy S6 Plus, a (possible) monster of a Samsung handset recently leaked by none other than MKBHD himself. And alongside all this newness we're taking a moment to pour a little out for the oldness, with the sixth anniversary of Palm's landmark launch date, 20090606. All ...

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    This may come as a shock to you, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted a handheld computer/communicator/sensor device like the tricorders on Star Trek. And while today's smartphones have done a good job on the computing and communicating ends of that spectrum, they’ve left something to be desired on the “sensor” front. So when we were offered a thermal camera accessory for a SEEK Thermal review video, I didn't even mind that it was last-generation hardware; I jumped at the chance. The Seek Thermal hardware is a tiny peripheral that comes in both Android- and iPhone-compatible ...

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    Most new device launches go the same way: usually the press gets review units before they’re widely available, and we get to use them for a few days -or a week if we’re lucky- as we work on our review. Then press day arrives. The embargo on media coverage lifts, and everyone posts their reviews and videos at the same time. It’s a huge frenzy, commenters go nuts, and it’s a giant explosion of frantic opinion-sharing activity. For about … a day. And then it all goes away. Sure, there’s followup coverage as people find bugs and hidden features, but after that initial blast, not ...

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    You know how it goes: one minute you're comfortably coasting down Route 66 in your RV, streaming the best of Dire Straits over Spotify and dictating the occasional text message ... and the next minute you're dumped into the screaming maw of silence that is total disconnectedness. No Spotify, no SMS, no Siri – no signal. And it's a long, long road to Salt Lake City. Even if that specific example doesn't ring a bell, at some point in your life you've probably been in a car a long way from home and found yourself outside the range of cellular networks. During a road trip from Long ...

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    After over two years on AT&T, Michael Fisher recently made the switch to T-Mobile US for his personal smartphone account. We covered the initial transition in part 1 and delved into coverage challenges in part 2. This is the third and final installment of the series. And yes, he knows that Jaime Rivera stole his idea for this headline, but he's going with it anyway.) • The plane touched down in Barcelona and after eight hours aloft, I couldn't wait to reconnect. I dug my unlocked HTC One M8 from my carry-on, mashed the power key, and after a few minutes of searching, it ...

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    Update: Clocking in at 02:30:34, this is the longest episode of the Weekly to date, thanks in no small part to the addition of the I/O roundtable. Enjoy ALL of it with this distribution and we'll see you next week! The funny thing about the annual Google I/O developer conference is this: the news doesn't stop for it. In fact, the opposite is true; knowing that Google's about to carpet bomb the mobile tech landscape with two days' worth of Android developments, rivals and partners alike kick their PR machines into overdrive, straining to be heard above the din. Add in the lack of our ...

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    A few years ago I was trying to find my way around an unfamiliar city with my friend and her husband, and I pulled out my Android phone to help us navigate the tricky terrain. Looking upon my then-new HTC Evo 4G, my friend's husband asked, "those phones are basically just iPhone ripoffs, right?" "No," I replied. "Android is totally different from iOS. In some ways it's better." "Yeah," the guy shot back, "but they're all just trying to be the iPhone, right?" If it sounds like he was trolling me, he was – but he also meant what he said. And while he was kind of a dirtbag (they later ...

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    In the US, the concept of the “$200 smartphone” isn’t likely to bowl anyone over. After all, carrier subsidies routinely bring retail prices at least that low for some of the fanciest devices around, and for many people that's enough. But when you break or lose that phone and need to replace it (or when you tally up the total of all those monthly installments) the line between "$200 smartphone" and "$600 liability" can get mighty fuzzy indeed. Is it possible to buy an unlocked smartphone that's just as inexpensive as a carrier-subsidized one, without sacrificing a flagship-level ...

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    Update: The audio podcast is here! Enjoy it while we get to the next one! As any Neil Simon fan can tell you, rumors are pretty funny things. They often appear when they're least expected and they never come alone; rather, they arrive trailing a half-dozen other rumors that first support, then debunk, then ultimately confirm half of what the original was saying (but usually not the obvious half). Mix in about 500 mobile tech sites covering each and every rumor, and things get interesting mighty quick. This week is absolutely dominated by rumors ... and not much else. Considering the ...

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    For all the excitement on the high end, some of the most surprising developments in today’s smartphone world can be found lurking down in the midrange. We’ve just spent 24 hours with one of the most interesting of those developments: the ASUS ZenFone 2 US edition, and we've got some thoughts to share. In case you need a refresher: the ASUS ZenFone 2 US edition is the same model ZE551ML that blew our hats off back at CES 2015, except that it now bears a much more conservative back cover (on our test unit, anyway). Having officially gone on sale in the States earlier this week, the ...

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    Most new device launches go the same way: usually the press gets review units before they’re widely available, and we get to use them for a few days -or a week if we’re lucky- as we work on our review. Then press day arrives. The embargo on media coverage lifts, and everyone posts their reviews and videos at the same time. It’s a huge frenzy, commenters go nuts, and it’s a giant explosion of frantic opinion-sharing activity. For about … a day. And then it all goes away. Sure, there’s followup coverage as people find bugs and hidden features, but after that initial blast, not ...

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    It was the headline that shook the wearable world: late last month, in just 24 hours of preorders, Apple had sold more of its smartwatches than its competitor Google had managed to sell in an entire year. This is the kind of blitzkrieg we've come to expect from Apple, with its talent for transmuting even mundane releases into world-altering events using sheer marketing muscle. Indeed, some of us wondered whether the initial wave of preorders would prove to be the zenith of public interest in the Apple Watch. Given its lukewarm reception in the broader press and a target audience ...

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    For years, ASUS has been a "conference curiosity" for we Americans on the Pocketnow team. From the original PadFone tablet/phone hybrid to the bizarre FonePad to the monstrous ZenFone Zoom, the company has a penchant for building outlandish mobile devices – a habit that we quite appreciate in this ever-more-conservative world of smartphone design. But aside from occasional AT&T-bound variants like the PadFone X, precious few of these handsets ever make it to U.S. shores. ASUS made a big change on both fronts with today's announcement of the ZenFone 2's North American variant. ...

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