Meet Expese, the company helping you test tech before you buy it

I love new consumer tech. I love learning about it, reading reviews on it, and of course, peeling the plastic off. The one thing I don’t love? The prices. I always want to run to the store (or Amazon) to get my hands on whatever shiny new thing was just released, but one look at my bank account stops me.Read More »

My Android of Choice: Moto X

I was very excited to try the Moto X, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! The first thing I noticed about it was the awesome bamboo back, which looks great with the white face!

The only thing that takes away from its beauty are all the grey and black circles scattered over the front of the phone. I didn’t fully understand the point of these until I turned it on. A majority of these random circles are infrared sensors, which sense when you wave your hand over it or bring your face close to it (and yes, I looked very stupid trying that). The size of the phone is very similar to that of the iPhone 6, although the screen size is a little bit bigger. I didn’t even notice that until I carefully compared the two. Because the Moto X has a curved back, it feels great to hold and isn’t awkward to reach any part of the screen.

I got the Lollipop update a few hours after first turning on the phone, so it was great to be able to compare the two OS’. None of the previous phones I’ve had have gotten the Lollipop update while I was using them, and I couldn’t stop hearing about all the great new features of this OS. Everything is fresh and new, and the update looks great on such a cool phone. I’m not sure if this was a Lollipop thing, or a Moto X thing, but one night as I was using it, a virtual bug crawled across the screen. Naturally I had to see what this was about, so I clicked on it and it brought me to an entire virtual, interactive story! As I turned my phone, the scene changed, and I could click on the bugs running across the screen, until they were eaten by a frog. (Spoiler alert: they all made it out in the end!) What a creative way to get people to spend even more time on their phones! My favorite feature however, was the fact that you didn’t have to light up the entire screen to see your notifications. All you had to do was wave your hand over the front and it would show you the time and whatever notifications you had, while leaving the rest of the screen unlit. This helped to save a lot of battery life, which was useful since the battery life wasn’t great.

The one thing I wasn’t super happy about was the quality of the pictures. When I was taking the picture, it looked perfectly clear and focused, but when looking at it in the gallery, a different story was told. The pictures were blurry and hadn’t focused on the right thing. I tried changing settings in the display and the camera, but nothing helped. I really am spoiled by my iPhone camera.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed using the Moto X. It’s a perfect size, looks awesome and has tons of neat features. My Android phone of choice!

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro

This may sound strange, but I love when my opinion on tech is proven wrong by the product. I often form opinions on tech before I’ve even tried it, so I love when I test the product and realize it’s better than I thought. Before I tried out the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro, I really disliked Samsung. I thought their products were ugly and didn’t like how they functioned. Yay for being wrong! The Note Pro is a seriously good tablet. Like, as close to laptop replacing as a tablet will ever get. The screen size is insane, only a few inches smaller than my laptop.IMG_1778

Because the screen size is so large, you can multitask and have two different apps open in the same window. So cool!

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The pen that comes with the Pro is so handy. It’s very useful when trying to click small links or navigating a complicated website. It’s also fun to use the pen in the S Note app to draw and doodle! (I drew the “What’s In My Bag” picture on the Pro, above left)

There are a few drawbacks to using a tablet versus a laptop, however. A majority of my classes are online this semester, and they all use different sites for homework. Some of these sites used flash, which didn’t work on the Pro. I also missed having a real keyboard sometimes, especially when writing blog posts or papers for class. This could easily be fixed by purchasing a bluetooth keyboard, however.

I would recommend this tablet for people who have a desktop computer, but want something that’s more portable without buying a laptop. The Galaxy Note Pro can do very close to everything you would need in a laptop, and it has a great looking screen, a beautiful display and is very light. I’m not convinced tablets are laptop killers yet, but we’re getting close! The Galaxy Note Pro was an awesome tablet to use, but to be honest, I still think Samsung devices aren’t all that good looking.

HTC One M8 & RE Camera

For the last two months, I’ve had the chance to test out the HTC One M8 and the RE camera. These are both great devices, and I was excited to try something from HTC, which is a company that I believe makes truly great technology. My sister has had the HTC One M7 for a year and a half, and has loved using it. She bought it after I forced her off her Droid 4 and onto a Z10, which wasn’t as appealing to her. I’ve been looking forward to testing out the One M8, since everyone has been talking so highly of it. 

Then there’s the HTC RE camera. It’s an interesting little device, and the shape reminds me of a submarine’s scope. The idea of the camera is that you can take it anywhere, including underwater! After having it for almost two months, I still don’t fully understand the point of it. Obviously I have my phone with me everywhere I go, and there has never been a situation where I wanted to take a picture but didn’t want to use my phone. But I really wanted to understand this little gizmo, so I took it to Florida with me, hoping I would get a perfect opportunity to use it. I brought it with when we spent New Years Eve in downtown Orlando, figuring it was better to have that knocked out of my hand than my phone. I took numerous pictures, often of the same thing, since there isn’t a way to see how the picture looks. It’s like film cameras all over again! When I got back to the hotel and had a chance to look at the pictures, I was disappointed. Most of them were either blurry or I had cut out half of the subject. This is the whole point of a viewfinder. After this, I didn’t use the RE camera very much, and instead used either my iPhone or HTC One.

Now comes the phone. The HTC One M8 is absolutely gorgeous. The black screen with the dark grey metal surrounding it makes it seem as if it’s constantly in stealth mode. Which it probably is. This is easily the best looking phone on the market right now.

I would love to say that the phone operates as flawlessly as it looks, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I used the HTC as a GPS many times, especially since it came with unlimited data. But doing this would more often than not cause the phone to crash, even if there were no other background apps running. It seemed like the phone was easily overwhelmed, and I couldn’t figure out how to calm it down. One of the features I really enjoyed, though, was that you could wake the phone up the same way you would wake up a BlackBerry 10 device, by swiping up. This feature went further; if you swiped left it brought you to BlinkFeed, and right brought you to Google. There’s a phone for everyone, and as much as I loved looking at the One M8, I preferred using an iPhone. But that’s why there are so many options out there!

The RE camera is a strange idea. Maybe better for someone who is more active? I still haven’t figured out its purpose. The HTC One M8 is a gorgeous phone that works well, but doesn’t live up to my expectations. Maybe because I still can’t “like” Android. There are so many great features of it, but it seems like they’re all mashed together in an unorganized fashion. Lollipop could change my mind, and I’m looking forward to using it, but for now I’ll stick with my 6.

Final Thoughts on the LG G3

I want to start off by thanking Verizon for the opportunity to test out the LG G3 for the past few weeks! It’s been fun using a new device and a new OS. There are so many features of this phone, so let’s jump right in!

The most noticeable thing about the G3 versus the iPhone 5 is, of course, the screen size. The LG has a 5.5″ screen, which was fun to use at first, but too big for my liking. I use the phone one handed a lot, and this proved to be difficult even with the “one handed use” features Android has. I did love the screen resolution, which was very noticeable when using Instagram! Even though this is a brand new phone, the OS seemed to be laggy at times, even when I wasn’t asking it to do much. I’ve never had lag on my iPhone, even though it’s 2 years old. iOS seems more refined than Android, and although you can’t customize as much, you don’t need to on an iPhone because everything works the way it should. The features of Android itself go on and on. You can customize almost everything, and the lists seem to be infinite. For example, you have 6 different options just to unlock the phone, including knock code, where you tap a specific combination on the locked screen. With swipe to unlock enabled, double tapping the screen when it was off turned it on. Since the lock/unlock button is on the back of the phone, this was handy if you wanted to check notifications while it was on a flat surface. This unique feature ended up being my least favorite of the whole phone. I use phones on a flat surface a lot, whether I’m in class or at work, and I like being able to press the lock button without having to pick it up. The volume buttons on the back make sense when you’re on a phone call, but the power button on the back is just a hindrance. Another feature located on the back of the phone is the speaker. An interesting placement, but not as bad as the power button. The speaker itself sounds great, and was crystal clear even with the volume turned all the way up! The battery life was absolutely incredible. I only charged it a few times during the week, whereas I charge my iPhone a few times a day. I was pleased to find that the large and vibrant screen didn’t negatively affect battery life. I was also impressed by the quality of the phone itself. The back is made of plastic, but that doesn’t mean it looks cheap. I’m confident this phone is durable enough to withstand a fairly high drop.

Since I’ve used recent versions of BlackBerry, Android and iOS, I now understand the pull of each of them. BlackBerry is definitely the powerhouse, meant to get things done. iOS is great for people who need apps, and want compatibility between different types of technology. Android is meant for people who need choices, not only in the features they enable on their phone, but the phone itself. There will always be people who claim one platform is superior to all others, but I think each platform is great in their own way. It would take a novel to compare these three OS’, and talk about the features I liked on each one and didn’t on the others. Depending on what you’re looking for from a mobile OS, there is something for you out there!

Android seems to make this phone a great daily device, especially for someone who doesn’t want to carry around a laptop, but doesn’t own a tablet. Overall, although I’m very appreciative that I was able to test the G3 out, it’s definitely not the phone for me. The screen was too big, the power button is poorly placed, and Android seems unfinished. But just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that it’s not right for others! The beauty of everyone having different wants and needs for their phone is that there are so many phones and OS’ to choose from! Read reviews, ask opinions, but most importantly, test these devices out for yourself to see what works best for you. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!

iPhone Apps and Accessories

Most of the time, getting used to a new phone and a new mobile OS is a challenge. But seeing as how the high majority of people have an iPhone, it wasn’t so much “difficult” as it was just finding out everything the phone could do. As I said in my previous post, a big part of me switching to an iPhone was the availability of apps. Now I’m overwhelmed with choices, but two weeks in and I’m already picking favorites.

My favorite apps (so far):

  • Tweetbot: I was hesitant to buy this Twitter app since it was $5, but I definitely don’t regret it! Native Twitter is awful no matter what platform, so I was glad to have this as a replacement.
  • Afterlight/VSCOcam/Fragment: These 3 photo editing apps are the main reasons why I’ve been posting so much more to Instagram now.
  • Spotify: Student discount makes this $5/month. That’s a cup of coffee!
  • Pocket: I find a lot of cool articles to read, but don’t always want to read them at that exact time. This app allows me to save the links to read whenever.

Not only do I have what seems like an unlimited amount of apps, but I also have an unlimited amount of accessories!

My favorite accessories (so far):

  • Mophie case: As stated on Twitter, this isn’t so much an accessory as it is a necessity. Nevertheless, I have one in pink now, so that’s freaking awesome.
  • Casemate brilliance case: I love glitter and sparkle. This case doesn’t lack that!
  • Bose speakers: These tiny speakers are as good as the huge speakers we have in my living room, if not better. Also, I don’t actually own this, I just steal it from my roommate. (Don’t worry, I always give it back!)

QNX Project

When I posted this video on YouTube, it was mostly to show a few people who were interested in seeing what I was talking about when I referred to my “QNX project”. I never expected that when I posted the link to Twitter I would get so much feedback! I can’t believe people actually wanted […]