Dongle. Just the word gives you feelings of joy. Small dongle streaming sticks have revolutionized the streaming device industry. With Google’s ChromecastAmazon’s FireStick, and Roku’s…Stick; you have a variety of options to choose from. The Roku Stick may be the most expensive of the dongles on the market, but that premium comes with “endless possibilities.” Hopefully our review will help you make a decision on what streaming dongle is right for you.  

Streaming Options

Let’s start with the Roku Stick’s greatest strengths, and that is its streaming options. The Roku Stick has more available streaming content than you have hours left to live in your life. (Assuming you’re not pre-fetus that is.) The device has over 1,500 channels with nearly every heavy hitter on the list. Yes, it has Netflix. Yes, it has Hulu Plus. And yes, it even has Amazon Instant Video. (That’s more than the Chromecast can say.) I could list every app out for you and make this review a long enough to wrap the planet, or I could just provide you a link so that you can look to make sure your desired app is available. Click here to see all streaming channels. Needless to say, if you’re wondering if it has an app for the service you want to watch, it likely does. 

As you begin going through the giant list of free apps, the one downside is that a number of the apps require that you enter your cable or satellite subscription information. If you’re anything like me, you might feel as if that defeats the purpose of cutting the cord and picking up a Roku Stick. There are a number of free channels but most of the ones that are worth your time are going to either cost you a monthly subscription (such as Netflix or Hulu) or require that you have a cable subscription (Such as Disney or ABC.) Even if they aren’t all free, the fact that so many channels are available is a great benefit. 

One of the streaming channels I want to highlight is the Roku Media Player App. This app will allow you to stream content from computers on your network to your TV. Anyone that has a large hard drive full of (presumably legal) movies will love this feature. In my testing, the services works flawlessly. The most challenging part is getting your computer setup to share your media folders. (Windows challenge not Roku.) Once that’s setup, the Roku Stick picks up on the media immediately and streams it just as well as any of the other streaming media channel. 

You can also cast video from your phone in a manner very similar to the Chromecast. Simply open the app, tap the same icon you want to stream to any other media player, and select the Roku Stick. However, you must have the associated app downloaded and installed on the Roku Stick before you can cast from your phone. While it doesn’t take long, it is less convenient than the Chromecast’s ability to just select a video and beam it to the screen without having to deal with the hassle of downloading apps. The Roku Stick won’t even pop up as an option on your phone unless the channel is downloaded and installed on the Roku Stick. 

While not perfect, the Roku Stick has a TON of streaming channels, a flawless DLNA media streaming app, and the ability to cast media from your phone. Many of the “Free” apps do require a subscription, and the cast from your phone isn’t as convenient as competitors. However overall, the Roku Stick nails streaming options. Streaming Options – 95/100

Design and Utility

Roku Stick

The Roku Stick can be summed up in one word: functional. Roku didn’t spend a ton of money designing the stick to look nice. It’s more than likely going to stay out of sight behind your TV. It is slightly longer than the Chromecast but thinner than the Chromecast’s wide rounded area. 

The biggest design flaw with streaming dongles in general is caused by a current technical limitation. Most standard HDMI ports do not supply power to devices. As a result, you have to plug the dongle into a power source. What looks extremely clean and minimalistic in commercials becomes cluttered with a dangling cord down to your outlet. Many televisions have a USB port that provides power which can remedy the problem. Power over HDMI is on the rise (likely thanks to streaming dongles), so hopefully the next iteration of the Roku Stick will be powered by HDMI. We will see. 

Streaming options aside, another competitive advantage that the Roku Stick has over the Chromecast is a dedicated remote and its own interface. (Amazon FireStick also has a dedicated remote.) This means buying a Roku Stick for your grandma who is still trying to figure out how to use that Motorola Razr, can benefit from streaming media. (Assuming she can figure out the difference between the 1500+ channels.) This also makes it a much better choice than the Chromecast for families with kids. Instead of having to provide a tablet, kid cell phones, or other connected device to allow your kids to stream media, the remote allows it to be a standalone device.

Roku Stick

The remote connects via bluetooth so you don’t have to worry about installing a mirror above your TV. I did run into some pairing issues with the remote when I did a factory reset of the device. While all instructions say that it will connect automatically, it simply wouldn’t connect. It wasn’t until I started fidgeting around with the device that I noticed a small button under the battery cover that re-pairs the remote with the dongle. I thought the Roku Stick was toast for a few minutes until I found that button. (Thank goodness for hidden buttons.)

The small form factor is extremely nice for moving from room to room. You would think it would be a great device for bringing with you while traveling due to its size. However, most hotels require you to authenticate your room using a web browser and the Roku Stick does not have a browser to enable you to authenticate. If you look on Roku’s blog, they recommend you bring a travel router to share your internet connect with the Roku Stick. While not rocket science, it’s also not a super simple process for Joe Schmo to share his internet connection and clone his MAC address. Most people don’t even know what a MAC address is, let alone the process for sharing internet from your laptop to a router for wireless sharing with a Roku Stick. This is one area where the Amazon Firestick pulls ahead in that it offers the capability to sign into hotel wi-fi using the built-in browser. Hopefully, Roku will address this with a software update in the future as it is a serious omission. 

From a design perspective, the Roku Stick sticks out (pun intended) due to its dedicated remote and small form factor. It did fall short in simple remote pairing, hotel wi-fi use, and the clutter of power wires. (Though the last one is an inherent flaw to all current streaming dongles due to a technical limitation.)Design – 80/100

Specs and User Interface

Roku Stick

The Roku Stick is able to output via HDMI and supports up to 1080P. (Sorry you 4k lovers.) While Roku doesn’t share the power of the processor or the amount of RAM on the device, it is not likely the powerhouse of Amazon’s dual core processor and 1 GB of on-board ram. 

While I wouldn’t classify the interface as sluggish, it definitely is not zippy either. It is about on par with what we have come to expect with cable and satellite controls. You’re not getting twitch-shooter like response times, but also don’t feel like you’re dragging a tortoise across the room. It is definitely manageable. If you’re looking for speed, the Roku 3 is supposedly 5 times faster. We have not yet tested the Roku 3 yet to verify such claims. 

Overall, the user interface is functional and it is still a nice addition to the lack of a user interface on Google’s Chromecast. From a speed perspective, the only thing that stuck out to me during use was how long it took to boot up Netflix. From the time that I clicked the Netflix icon to the time I was able to start a movie, it took almost 2 minutes. While that may not seem like a long time, when you’re waiting for a screen to load, it is an eternity. This is not entirely Roku’s fault as Netflix could definitely work to better optimize their app, but for you impatient Netflix viewers out there, this could be a deal-breaker. All of the other apps that we tested loaded and ran at acceptable rates.

The setup process for the Roku Stick is extremely simple. Simply plug it in, connect to your wi-fi, choose your channels, and you’re ready to stream. No complicated menus, no fuss, just streaming. 

The device supports dual-band wi-fi including a/b/g/n protocols. This means if you have a more advanced router capable of higher speeds, you can leverage your bandwidth for a higher quality streaming experience. While it doesn’t offer compatibility with the latest wireless protocol, 802.11ac, you don’t likely need those speeds as you’re not streaming in 4K yet. (The time will come!) The device also supports Dolby 7.1 and 5.1 surround pass through. 

From a specs and user interface perspective, the Roku Stick is functional. While not the most zippy of user-interfaces, it’s better than not having a user-interface as all. Netflix takes a while to load. The setup process is extremely simple and the device supports most wireless protocol and Dolby Surround sound options. Specs and Performance – 83/100


In conclusion, the Roku Stick is an incredible offer. For only $50 you get access to 1,500+ channels loaded with content. While not all of it is free, you have a number of free and paid options to choose from. The device isn’t the most powerful dongle on the market nor the best from a design perspective, however the Roku Stick provides significantly more streaming options than its competitors for only $10-15 dollars more. If you’re looking for a streaming stick for all of your entertainment needs, the Roku Stick is the one to choose. Ready to buy one? Here’s a quick link to Amazon.Overall – 86/100


Samsung Galaxy S4

It’s the end of 2014 and some of you might be wondering why we’re doing a review on a device that is almost two years old. Let me try to answer that for you: it’s difficult to give an honest and accurate review on almost any device after a week or two of use. Often users are so excited during the first few weeks of owning their phone, that it makes it hard to think about any negative aspects. With that said, let’s get on to the review!


Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung went with a very minimalist approach to its design of the Samsung%20Galaxy%20S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)Samsung Galaxy S4. The S4 comes in white, black, red, and purple. Depending on your carrier, you may be limited to specific colors. Outside of the colors available, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is somewhat lacking in design. The body of the S4 is all plastic, which is one of the biggest complaints about the Galaxy S line. Samsung tried to add a sleeker design by adding a metallic accent (paint on plastic) around the rim. However, after a year of use I have noticed that the metallic finish is starting to chip away around the charging port. Although I do not use the headphone jack at all I would expect the same outcome.

I do like the sleek, and slim look of the power, and volume buttons which add a good look to the S4 overall. I originally thought I would have issues knowing when I am pressing up or down on the volume button since it is one solid bar, but I have yet to run into any issues.

The S4 weighs in at 4.59 oz, which is slightly lighter than the Samsung%20Galaxy S III, Blue 16GB (Sprint)S III. I have heard some complaints from users that the S4 is too light; some users worry that they are going to drop the device because it’s so light in their hand. I have had similar concerns when holding the S4, however, putting on a case has dissolved those concerns. The device fits great in my hand and I am able to reach about 95% of the phone’s screen area.  To get to the top right corner, I do have to change the phones position or use my other had. The only time I find this an issue is when I am trying to access the quick settings which requires dragging down from the top of the screen.

Samsung Galaxy S4

With that said, I am not overly impressed with the design of the Samsung%20Galaxy%20S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)S4. Samsung improved their design slightly when comparing the S4 to the S III, but not by much. However, most users do not buy the S4 because of its sleek design. S4 users are looking for a high performing tech package with great features.Design90%

Hardware and Display

As mentioned above, users buy the S4 because it’s packed with great hardware and features. With its quad-core processor and 2 MB of RAM, the average user will have plenty of power to do just about anything they need to. I have yet to run into an issue with processing power, but when I am running a processor intensive application the device tends to get hot very quickly. At times it gets so hot that I fear the device might get damaged, but that hasn’t stopped my Clash of Clans domination yet!

One of the best-selling points of the Samsung%20Galaxy%20S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)S4 is its ability to add additional storage. The S4 allows you to add up to 64 GB of external storage which is a huge benefit. After only 6 months of use i noticed that the external storage has came in handy. However, for the typical user, 16 GB of storage is plenty. Unless you take a crazy amount of pictures and videos, and never want to transfer them to your computer. Whether or not you need the extra storage space, it’s nice to have the option. (I can smell the jealousy of iPhone users from miles away)

The S4 has a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front facing camera. Which, at the time of its release, blew away the HTC ONE M8 (4 megapixels), and iPhone 5 (8 megapixels). In addition, the S4’s camcorder shoots 1920 x 1080 (1080p). After playing around with the camera I have been very impressed with the picture quality, however there are times that fast moving objects start to blur. I have also noticed that you need to be extra still when taking pictures in its default mode. Without absolute stillness, many of your pictures will be a little blurry. Some notable camera features include auto-focus, touch to focus, digital image stabilization, face detection, smile detection, exposure compensation, white balance presets, panorama scenes, and voice activation.

When it comes to the display, the S4 has an eye popping 1080×1920 pixel resolution, and a 441 ppi pixel density. Don’t ask me why a 5 inch display needs to have a 1080p resolution, as the naked eye can’t tell the difference on such a small display, but what does matter (to our eyes) is the how sharp and rich the image is on the display. The Samsung Galaxy S4’s HD AMOLED display has sharp and vivid colors, which make games, photos, and videos look great.

Here is a quick overview of the S4’s specs:

OSAndroid (4.4.2, 4.3, 4.2.2)
Dimensions5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm)
Weight4.59 oz (130 g)
Screen Size5.0 inches
Screen Resolution1080 x 1920 pixels (1080p)
Pixel Density441 ppi
Camera13 megapixels
Camcorder1920×1080 (1080p) (30 fps)
Front-facing Camera2 megapixels
System ChipQualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T
ProcessorQuad core, 1900 MHz, Krait 
System Memory2048 MB RAM
Built-in Storage32 GB or 64 GB
Storage ExpansionmicroSD, microSDHC, microSDXC up to 64 GB
Stand-by Time 3G17.00 hours
Stand-by Time 4G15.4 days (370 
Capacity2600 mAh

Hardware and Display98%

S4 Shortcuts


Currently, the Samsung%20Galaxy%20S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)Samsung Galaxy S4 is running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, but is anxiously waiting for Android 5.0 Lollipop. Along with Android 4.4.2, the S4 runs Touch Wiz as its user interface. The UI is relatively easy to navigate but looks a little outdated.

One major benefit to the S4’s interface is its settings shortcuts. Rather than having to navigate through the settings menu, users have the ability to customize their shortcut menu. Samsung allows you to have up to 15 shortcut icons on the shortcut menu, which makes life a little easier when you need to turn on or off different features.

If you are new to the smartphone world, or Touch Wiz is a little too much for you, users have the ability to turn on “Easy Mode”. While in Easy Mode, users are given standard applications on their home screen. Users are also limited to 15 applications on their home screens, and all but two of the applications are preset.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Touch Wiz allows you to have up to 7 home screens which can hold up to 16 applications a page. I don’t see why one would ever need this many applications since you have the ability to use folders, but they’re there if you want them. Samsung also allows you to remove any unused pages, and lets you can decide which page is your default home page. If you are one that likes to use widgets, the S4 has a large amount of widgets to choose from, which can be used in place of applications on your home screens.

Other than having an bit of an outdated look, Touch Wiz and Android 4.4.2 lifts the S4 to another level. Customization is one of the S4’s strengths, and Samsung helps make customization easy. Other devices struggle in this category, unless your device is rooted and you have custom ROMs installed.Interface92%


Features are one aspect that the sets the S4 apart for almost any other phone. After over a year of use I have yet to use every feature available. Yes, the motion, hand, and voice commands are cool, but there are only a few that I feel are needed. Below is a list of features I use most.

Quick Glance– When the screen is off, reach towards our device to see importation information like missed calls/texts, battery power, and notifications. You have the ability to pick and choose what information you want to see.

Direct Call– If you are in the middle of texting someone and want to call them, simply bring the phone to your ear and the S4 will call the person you are texting.  

Smart Alert– Get a vibration alert to notify you if you have missed any calls or messages since the last time you picked up your phone.

Mute/Pause– Turn over the device to mute incoming calls, message alerts, and alarms. You can also cover your screen with your hand instead of Turing the device over. This is extremely useful in meetings.

Information Preview– Preview information, extend text, or enlarge pictures by hovering your finger over the text, notification, or picture.

Blocking Mode– Allows you to turn on or off notifications, calls, and messages from specific people during times you set. We all hate getting calls in the middle of the night so this becomes extremely useful. You get to pick and choose when your phone rings depending on who is calling you.

There were other features like smart pause, smart rotation, and smart stay that are great in theory; but I found that the features only worked about half the time.

The list of features available goes on and on, but as mentioned above there are only a handful of features that you will likely actualy use. Samsung does a great job of providing a laundry list of features, and gives its users the ability to turn them off if needed.Features98%


Overall, the Samsung%20Galaxy%20S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great device, and still out-performs some of the newer smartphones on the market today. The S4 is packed with great hardware and has a ton of features. I put the S4 in my list of top 3 Android Smartphones. However, for those interested in an alternative sleek and sexy phone without the long list of features (you may or may not use), then the HTC ONE or iPhone might be better options.

What makes the Samsung%20Galaxy S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)S4 even more appealing is its price. Since the Samsung%20Galaxy S5, White 16GB (AT&T)Samsung Galaxy S5 is currently available, the price of the Samsung%20Galaxy S4, Black Mist 16GB (AT&T)S4 has been dramatically reduced. Currently Amazon has the S4 available for $0.01 with a two year contract, and $459.99 without a two year agreement for most carriers.Overall96%

Samsung Galaxy S4 users, what are your thoughts? Has the S4 met your expectations? Do you feel a need to upgrade your phone because the S4 is outdated? Let us know in the comment section below. 


Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the hottest phones on the market today. Through its performance, design, and great features, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is amongst the top contenders. Although Samsung did not make too many advancements from the Samsung Galaxy S4, there are still some key features that are worth considering.


Samsung has never been one to blow users away in terms of design. Similar to the S4, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is made of plastic. Samsung has indicated that their plastic design allows them to improve in durability, price, and weight. Compared to the S4, the greatest design difference is the phone’s back panel. Samsung implemented a dimpled design on the back panel of the Samsung Galaxy S5. This dimpled design is a discreet change from the S3 and S4, and provides a different look and feel. Because of the Samsung Galaxy S5’s textured back, you do not have to constantly wipe down your phone with a cloth to clean all those little fingerprints and smudges your phone gets throughout the day.

The S5 has a metallic looking border around the phone, but sadly the border is plastic like the rest of the phone. You will need to keep a case on the phone since it is easy to chip away the paint along the edges. After just one drop a nice crack and chip was present on the phone. At least the screen was still good to go! Samsung also changed up the bottom  of the phone by implementing a charging cover. This cover is extremely flimsy and after a few months use was broken off by normal day to day use. 

At the end of the day, the S5 is surprisingly similar to the S4 in its design, which isn’t a bad thing; but we would have liked to see Samsung take a bit more of a premium approach to design, as Apple and HTC have been doing. If you can see beyond some of the Galaxy’s design woes, through the smudges is an incredible device worth considering. Design82%

Hardware and Display

Similar to the S4, Samsung has done a great job packing the S5 with hardware. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2500 MHz Quad Core processor and Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. Samsung did not upgrade the system memory, leaving the S5 with the same 2048 MB of RAM as the Galaxy S4. While disappointing, 2 GB is more than what most everyday users need. As with past Samsung phones, you have the option of choosing how much built-in storage you would like with options of either 16 GB or 32 GB. However, one of the Galaxy’s competitive advantages is its ability to expand the storage by inserting a Micro SD. It’s worth noting that this feature is relatively limited without “rooting” your phone. (hacking your phone to give you full access to the device) Without rooting, the SD card is primarily available to store music, movies, and photos. Only certain apps are able to be carried over to the SD card.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 also has a 16 megapixel rear facing camera and a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera. The Camcorder shoots staggering 4K resolution video. As with past models the camera comes with a plethora of different features, such as phase detection autofocus (no that’s not a typo for “face”), digital image stabilization, geo-tagging, and ISO control. Samsung did not improve the display of the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of display resolution compared to the S4, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With a 1080×1920 resolution and 432 PPI pixel density, it’s hard to justify improving screen resolution when the existing offering with the S4 is  in full HD.

The screen is bright, vivid, and clear. However, as many have noticed, Samsung made some changes to the way that colors are processed and displayed on the screen. The phone has received quite a bit of criticism regarding having a slight green tint. It’s hardly noticeable (I have yet to see it) and don’t think you should really allow this to impact your buying decision.

Dimensions5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches
Weight5.11 oz (145 g)
Screen Size5.1 inches
Screen Resolution1080 x 1920 Pixels
Pixel Density432 ppi
Camera16 Megapixels
Camcorder3840×2160 (4K) (30 fps)
Front-facing Camera2.1 Megapixels
System ChipQualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974-AC
ProcessorQuad core, 2500 MHz, Krait 400
System Memory2048 MB RAM
Built-in Storage16 or 32 GB
Battery talk time21 Hours
Stand-by time16.2 days
Capacity2800 mAh

Samsung has never been one to stray away from packing their phones with hardware. Like the predecessors of the S5, Samsung always finds ways to improve the hardware of their phone. Simply put, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” because when it comes to the S5 it’s whats on the inside that counts.  Hardware and Display98%


Samsung is running Android 4.4 KitKat and the latest TouchWiz interface providing extra functionality. You will notice a different look and feel when comparing the operating system of Samsung Galaxy S5 to the S4. For example, the settings menu is slightly different from previous iterations. If you are an S4 user, it takes some getting used to in order to know where things are. It took me a bit to understand how to get to the different settings menus. Unlike other Android devices, Samsung sticks with its heavy use of TouchWiz. Some feel Samsung does not incorporate KitKat as much as users would like. 

Update: For some carriers the S5 is now running Android 5.0 lollipop. This upgrade uses a little less TouchWiz and incorporates more of Android 5.0. 

With the Samsung Galaxy S5, you no longer have a limit of home-screens. The amount of home screens depends on the amount of content you want displayed. The more content you have, the more home screens you will have. The interface is amazingly smooth when scrolling through pages and the touch screen is quick to respond to every action. Samsung has implemented My Magazine, which some have really enjoyed. After trying to use My Magazine, I ended up removing it from the home screen for added real estate. I also found that there are much better news feeds available in the Google Play Store.Interface92%

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review


Samsung Galaxy S5

As with past Samsung devices, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is jam-packed with different features. Some of the most noticeable are the fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, and one hand mode. The fingerprint scanner is a great security feature that was added to the Samsung Galaxy S5. You can also use the fingerprint scanner to verify your Samsung account and pay for items via PayPal. The only thing I would like to see is the ability to sign into different applications as well such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and Google hangouts. 

The addition of the heart rate monitor is great for those that are active and use products such as Fitbit, Nike+ Fuelband, or heart rate watches. This is a great feature, but not likely especially useful to the average consumer. The question is, how often do you really check your heart rate? With many people now using advanced machines that include a heart rate monitor, the monitor built into the S5 becomes less needed. When using the monitor you need to make sure you are very still. I found that the slightest movement would either give a bad reading or not give a reading at all. 

Although the Samsung Galaxy S5 is .1 inches larger than the S4, that .1 inches make a difference especially if you thought the S4 was already large for your hands. If you have normal to small sized hands, you might find yourself having to use both hands trying to perform everyday tasks. To remedy the problem Samsung has added one-hand mode to the S5 that is extremely helpful when you are in situations where you only have one hand.

As with the S4, Samsung offers motion and hand gesture inputs that allow you to do things such as scroll by waving over the screen. While on the surface these appear to be really ‘cool’ features, there are only a handful that are actually used. One that is really helpful is Air View. This allows you to read texts, and enlarge pictures without actually selecting the text or picture. Simply hover your finger over the text or picture and it appears right before your eyes. Move your finger away and the the text or picture goes away. It feels like magic!

Although there are a ton of gimmicky features available in the Samsung Galaxy S5– such as motions and gestures– there will be many that you don’t use or only use one in specific situations . For example, the S Beam is a really cool feature that allows you to share photos, videos, and music with other Samsung Galaxy owners by simply touching the back of your phones together. Many Samsung Galaxy S5 users do not need this feature since you can simply email or text the many of the things needed. These features do, however, provide some great “showoff” moments to our Apple Fanboy counterparts.Features95%


Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is an amazingly versatile phone that is packed with different options and features. A strong feature-set has always been one of Samsung’s biggest strengths. Although, you might not use all the features in your everyday life, Samsung does a great job of providing features that cater to a to a huge audience, and allow the ability to turn off features you do not use.

You can spend hours upon hours trying to figure out all the little things the Samsung Galaxy S5 can do, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the device from a features perspective. But as with other Samsung devices, the biggest criticism is its design. Samsung has its reasons sticking with a plastic body, but there is still plenty of room to come up with a better, more unique design. With that said I give you this challenge: if you own or have owned a Samsung Galaxy S5 please share with us your thoughts, and tell us what you like or dislike about the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the comments below!Overall93%



It’s finally here! The wait is over for the lucky few who were able to get their hands on the Samsung Galaxy S6. Since its unveiling at Mobile World Congress, Samsung enthusiasts have been anxious to see the Six Appeal of the S6. Well, we were able to get our hands on one, and here are our initial thoughts. 

Disclaimer: This is a ‘first impressions’ article; we will have a in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 after we have some time to play with–I mean, operate it more sufficiently. 


Samsung Galaxy S6

For years, smartphone owners–especially those who are not owners of a Samsung device–have judged past Samsung phones by their covers. Some have taken a look at the phone and tossed it aside because of its overall cheap feel and design. I don’t think foresee that happening with the S6. The S6 is completely redesigned and you can tell that Samsung worked hard to incorporate some of the feedback they’ve received over the years.  Samsung has completely done away with the plastic body and incorporated a full glass body with a metal border. While the glass body does provide a superior look and feel, it does have its drawbacks. First, the phone is difficult to hold on to. The glass body makes the S6 slick and engenders the desire to constantly hold it with two hands. Because the majority of the phone is made out of glass, you definitely feel a need to be more protective as it seems the device will shatter much easier, compared to the durable plastic of yesteryear. Also, it’s nearly impossible to hold the phone without leaving fingerprint smudges all over the device. While this may not be a problem for some, if you are OCD, it might be a little difficult not to carry a glass cloth and impulsively wipe down your phone after every use. Don’t even get me started with ketchup fingers…


Samsung Galaxy S6

Another noticeable change is the location of the speaker and headphone jack. If you were to look at the bottom of the S6, you might mistake it for the iPhone 6. Only the USB port and loudspeaker distinguish the two. Samsung took a few pages out of Apples’ book, and it was a smart decision. The speaker placement makes a difference when comparing the volume of the loudspeaker to past models. You no longer need to cup the back of the phone when watching videos or listening to music. 

The display of the S6 is one of a kind. Just when you think Samsung could not come out with a better display, they do. Images and videos are crisp and the colors are vivid. The screen gets surprisingly bright, and could be considered (for some) too bright. I have kept the brightness on past devices on the brightest setting, but with the S6 I haven’t had the same need.

Overall, I have been highly impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S6. First impressions are crucial, and so far the S6 has lived up to the hype. With its new design, updated hardware, and exciting features it’s unlikely you will be disappointed. However, all great things have their faults, and the S6 will be no exception. Though I have only spent a day with the S6, I have no doubt that it will be more successful than the regrettable S5.

For those who have had the chance to play around with the S6, what are you initial thoughts? What do and don’t you like? Let us know what you think in the comment section below. 



The Samsung Galaxy S6 is out and has already turned many heads. Samsung has made some dramatic changes with the release of their newest flagship smartphone. The question is, are these changes for the better, or worse?  We’ll let you be the judge…after you read our judgments here. 


There were a lot of rumors before the release of the Samsung Galaxy S6, and now we finally get to see them come to fruition. As we are sure you have heard by now, Samsung completely redesigned their flagship smartphone and has implemented changes based on some of their harshest of feedback. The company has done away with the plastic body, and has incorporated a glass front and back with an aluminum alloy frame. Pictures of the GS6 truly do not give it justice; the glass body and aluminum frame sets the phone apart from any other device Samsung has created up to this point.

Design Changes

Samsung has also changed the position of the loud-speaker, headphone jack, and power button. The loudspeaker, and headphone jack are not placed on the top of the phone, as with Galaxies of the past. When looking at the bottom of the GS6, it can easily be mistaken for the iPhone 6. The only difference is the loud-speaker has two rows of holes and a micro USB port. Another interesting change is the new position of the power button. The power button sits lower on the phone than its predecessors. If you have been a Samsung Galaxy owner in the past, you will notice a dramatic difference, and at times you almost forget where the power button is. Don’t worry, after a week or two you will get used to the new location. I even found that the new location is a better, as I am no longer accidentally hitting the power button while holding the phone sideways watching videos.

While the glass back gives the GS6 a sleek and stylish look I found it difficult to hold at times. The glass back is slick and I felt that I had to take extra caution when holding the device. While I never dropped the device I never felt safe typing or using the device with only one had. For those of you who will be using a case with the GS6, this will not be a problem you will often run into.


The biggest issue I have regarding the re-design is the camera. (See image right/above) Similar to the grumbles surrounding the iPhone 6 Plus, a primary complaint I heard from others is, “I really don’t like how much the camera sticks out.” As smartphone users, we have become accustomed to our phones cameras sitting farther from the body, especially if you have owned a Samsung Galaxy phone in the past. However, the GS6 sticks out much further than its predecessors. However, most individuals put a case on their phone. For such individuals, this no longer becomes an issue as almost any case will be flush with the camera, and the issue become resolved.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the design of the Samsung Galaxy S6. Those who have disliked the plastic look and feel of past Samsung phones will really enjoy the changes.Design – 94/100

Hardware and Display

As expected, Samsung has packed the GS6 with loads of hardware. Samsung changed things up a bit by ditching the Qualcomm Snapdragon and going with their own Exynos 7 Octa 7420 chipset. This 8-core 64-bit processor might seem a bit like overkill, especially when you know it’s in a smartphone. On that note, you can truly see a difference in its processing power and speed when running intense games, applications, or multitasking. (More on benchmarking below.)

Samsung decided to do away with storage expansion, which was a major selling point for Samsung in the past; this change took many users by surprise. You can get the GS6 with your choice of 32, 64, and 128GB hard drives. Yes, there is no 16GB model which Samsung probably did away with due to opting out of the storage expansion option. The GS6 also comes with 3GB of RAM, which might be a little disappointing for those who were hoping to see 4GB in the GS6 although it is an improvement from the GS5 which only had 2GB of RAM.

Here is a full list of specs for the Samusng Galaxy S6:

Operating SystemAndroid 5.0 TouchWiz UI
Dimensions5.65 x 2.78 x .027 inches
Weight4.87 oz
Physical Screen Size5.1 inches
Resolution1440 x 2560 pixels
Pixel Density577 ppi
Rear Camera16 megapixels
Front Camera5 megapixels
Camcorder3840 x 2160 (4K)
Aperture SizeF1.9
System ChipExynos 7 Octa 7420
Processor8-core 2100 MHz 64-bit
Graphics ProcessorMali-T760 MP8
System Memory3072 MB (3GB)
Built-in StorageUp to 128 GB
Battery Capacity2550mAh
Replaceable BatteryNo
3G Talk Time17 hours

Looking at the hardware in the GS6 is impressive, but what is even more impressive are its benchmarks. When performing a benchmark test using AnTuTU, the GS6 performed better than expected and blew away the competition. This you can see below in the benchmark test results.

GS6 Beanchmark
Galaxy S6

The display of the GS6 is spectacular. With a pixel density of 577 ppi and 4K resolution, the GS6 has the best display on the market. (At least at the time of launch) The colors on the display are bright and vivid, even in bright sunlight. I found myself setting the brightness on lower settings while inside; the higher settings were simply too bright, although the brightness did come in handy in the Arizona Sun!

Samsung has always impressed users when it comes to the hardware they put into their devices, and the GS6 is no exception. As the GS6 does not have a removable back panel like past Samsung phones, we no longer have the luxury of adding an external SD card, or larger battery. At first I thought that Samsung was making a big mistake, but the more I thought about it, I don’t feel it will hurt Samsung in the long run. With the improved battery life and charging time, the need to add a larger batter or replace the battery has been eradicated in recent years. Not being able to add an external SD card hurts a little bit more, however, it will be hard to fill up a 128 GB hard drive if you’re buying the highest capacity model. Unless you store large amounts of movies, videos, and songs on your phone, you will not run into any issues. And for those that do hold large media files on their phone, there are a number of free cloud options available. (It’s always good to keep your head in the cloud.)Hardware and Display – 98/100


Samsung has removed a number of motions and gestures that we have become accustomed to seeing with the S4 and S5. This means no more Smart Pause or Tilt Zoom–very few of us actually got those motions and gestures to work consistently! Samsung whittled the list of motion and gestures down to 4, which are:

Direct Call – Call the contact whose call log, message, or contact details are currently on the screen by bringing the device close to you ear.

Smart Alert – Your device will vibrate when you pick up it up to notify you about missed calls and messages. 

Mute – To mute incoming calls and alarms, place your hand on the screen or turn the device over. 

Palm swipe to capture – Capture the screen by swiping the edge of your hand across it, from side to side, keeping in contact with he screen. 

Samsung did not introduce any new features or gestures, but rather removed the motion and gestures that most users hardly used. Being a Samsung Galaxy S owner since the Galaxy S3, I can say that I used Smart Pause and Tilt Zoom only a small handful of times; most of which were to show off the fancy hardware to wanting iPhone fanboys. 

Galaxy S6

There are a number of other features that Samsung did add which really make the GS6 more convenient and user-friendly. The first, and probably most anticipated, feature is the finger print scanner. Rather than swiping your finger down the bottom of the screen, Samsung has taken a page out of Apple’s playbook and integrated the fingerprint scanner on the home button. This change makes unlocking your phone via the finger print scanner much easier. After comparing the GS6 and iPhone 6’s finger print scanner, their performance was perceivable identical. If I had to choose one over the other, I would have to go with the iPhone, only because the home button has a slight indent, which makes the fingerprint scanner feel more natural. 

Another feature I found very helpful is the ability to create folders for your apps under the your app icon. While we are used to being able to create folders on the home page, Samsung now allows you to stay more organized by letting you create folders where you list of apps are stored. This makes navigating to different apps  that you don’t use all that often faster and easier. Along with the ability to create folders in new places, Samsung has also created the ability for you to uninstall applications right from the app list. In the past, users could only uninstall apps from the settings menu, but now users can simply select the edit button on the upper right of the app list, and then press on the small red minus sign on the top right of each app. Even more astounding, you can now uninstall apps that come pre-installed on your phone. (Holy frajebakish! That just happened…) While not all apps can be uninstalled (for example, the calendar and camera), there are a number of apps that you can uninstall; i.e. bloatware.

Samsung made some great improvements removing its unpopular features. Not only did this clean up the Touch Wiz (Samsung’s UI), but this also helped make it run extremely smooth from a performance perspective. There will be a number of users who will be a little disappointed in losing out on some cool features/gimmicks of the past, like air view (allows you to hover your finger over pictures and texts to enlarge them), but don’t be discouraged as these changes have improved the overall user experience.   Features – 96/100

Camera and Video

The Camera of the Samsung Galaxy S6 will please the beginner and the expert. For those who will use the GS6 as point and shoot camera, its out of the box setup yet basic settings can be easily understood. With its 16 megapixel camera, optical image stabilization, and back-illuminated sensor (BSI), you will be able to get a great picture without having to change any settings. Now for the photographer who is always tinkering with different settings to capture the perfect picture, you will be pleased with the amount of settings you are able to change. With the pro mode enabled, you are able to change white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. When you add the ability to change a number of settings to the hardware Samsung has packed into the GS6, it will be hard to find a smartphone currently on the market that can take a better picture. 

Many were excited with the slow motion capabilities of the iPhone 6, and many Samsung owners hoped Samsung would incorporate that feature in the GS6. You are in luck, because the GS6 comes equipped with a slow motion feature. However, it is only 120 frames-per-second at a max resolution of 720P. This is disappointingly enough only half of the 240 FPS that the iPhone 6 can achieve. The front camcorder shoots 3840×2160 (4K)  video at 30 frames per second and features optical image stabilization, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), continuous autofocus, picture-taking during video recording, video light, and video calling. 

Keep in mind that I am not a professional photographer, but when looking at the hardware, software, and settings that users can change, I don’t believe you will be disappointed with the camera/camcorder on the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Here are a few pictures we took outside in “auto mode”. These pictures do not have any filters in them it was a basic point and shoot. 

Camera and Video – 95/100


Samsung needed to make a splash with the Samsung Galaxy S6, especially after Apple dominated sales with the release of the iPhone 6. After using the GS6 for a little over a month, I can say I was surprisingly pleased with the changes Samsung has made. Samsung did a marvelous job improving on their overall design. 

Samsung also did a great job of making the phone more user-friendly by removing a number of features that were rarely used and cumbersome, making the UI more user-friendly. When you add the octa-core 64-bit processor to the mix, you will find that the GS6 is extremely fluid and faster than expected. 

I have yet to find myself saying ‘I wish the GS6 had this,’ or ‘Why haven’t they done away with that,’ which is great. But no phone is perfect (not even the Samsung Galaxy S6) and Samsung will have some items to improve on when they release the Samsung Galaxy S7. While the design of the GS6 is a major improvement, I would like to see Samsung use more real-estate. If Samsung can make the physical phone size smaller, while maintaining the screen size, those who continually complain about the size of Samsung’s phone might be a little happier. Overall, I’m extremely please with this device. You can view the device on Amazon here. Overall – 96/100

For those of you who have had the opportunity to get your hands on the Samsung Galaxy S6, let us know what you think. Do you like the changes Samsung has made? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Playstation TV Review

The Playstation TV is a great idea that fails to execute

The Playstation TV was announced overseas nearly two years ago. It was mentioned as nearly an after thought, however, the response to the device was significantly higher than Sony expected; especially in the west. The concept of a streaming media device that doubles as a gaming device and a proxy Playstation 4 was loaded with promise, but did it deliver? Check out our full Playstation TV review below!

Hardware and Design

The Playstation TV is essentially the innards of the Playstation Vita, minus the screen, camera, and motion sensors in the portable. What this equates to is a quad core CPU and GPU with 512 MB of ram and 128 MB of Vram. It also comes PACKED(sarcasm) with 1 GB of internal memory, which is enough to add a few small apps, but if you want to game on the device you will need to purchase one of Sony’s proprietary memory cards. From a graphical processing perspective, don’t expect PS4 quality games. This device was intended to be more on par with the Playstation 3 in terms of graphical processing. This is taken into account with the price, being a quarter of the cost of a Playstation 4.

Some of the outputs include an HDMI out port supporting up to 720P, an ethernet port, a USB port for charging your controllers, a port for Sony’s proprietary memory cards, and a game slot for playing physical copies of Playstation Vita Games. The hardware also supports Bluetooth 2.1 for voice chat, and Wi-Fi 802.11n for a wireless internet connection.

The overall design is very minimalistic being coined by Sony as their smallest console in history. Simply plug it in, turn it on, and you’re ready to begin gaming, and streaming… sort of.


The versatility that brought so much promise to the device when it was first announced, is not currently being offered in the US iteration of the device. It seems that Sony is simply marketing the Playstation TV (with their $10 a month Vita marketing budget) as a small gaming console. The device was originally developed with the intention to fill a current gap in the Japanese marketplace, video streaming. Hence the name, Playstation TV. However, at launch, the actual video streaming apps are extremely limited. The following apps are available for streaming video:

  • Crackle
  • Sony’s Video Unlimited
  • Crunchyroll
  • Qello
Playstation TV Review

Yes, you saw that list right. None of the heavy hitters such as Netflix or Hulu are available for video streaming. That’s despite the fact that the handheld has apps for both of those services! Needless to say, as it stands, don’t purchase the Playstation TV if you’re looking to stream video. I can only assume that Sony got behind schedule and that is why the apps are not available, but until that time, I simply cannot recommend the device for streaming purposes. Not to mention, the maximum output of the device is 720P.

The Playstation TV has a few other features, but none that are likely to be used frequently. There is a basic web browser, but typing with a controller can be extremely frustrating. The device does, however, support bluetooth keyboards; which can alleviate many of those frustrations.

Another application that is unlikely to be used is a calendar app for tracking gaming appointments and sending invitations to friends. I can’t imagine very many adults are utilizing this feature, nor kids. Trust me, I’ve been trying to get the office to schedule all of our meetings using the Vita’s calendar, but some people are just resistant to change.


Games are the strength and weakness of this device. On the one hand, Playstation TV is breaking records by releasing a console that has around 800 games available on day one. Many of these games are heavy hitters as well. Some of the top rated games include: MinecraftBorderlands 2Rayman Origins & LegendsKillzone: MercenaryPersona 4: Golden, and the list goes on. Keep in mind that not all Vita games are compatible. You will always want to reference Sony’s list of compatible games prior to downloading or purchasing at retail. If you’re shopping digitally, there is a section in the Playstation Store dedicated to compatible games. (See the list of compatible games)

Playstation TV Review

The list is actually surprising, your first impression would be that incompatible games would be limited to those heavily relying the touch screen, but that is simply not the case. Over half of the games I have accumulated over the years are not compatible, which is disappointing to say the least. What’s going to be an even bigger nightmare is consumer education on game compatibility. I can only imagine the life of Sony tech support reps having to explain to consumer after consumer that not all Vita games are compatible.

Many Vita games were stunning on the Vita’s OLED screen and I’m pleased to announce that most of them look great on the big screen. One of the common complaints of the games during the systems initial release was that developers were lowering the resolution so that they could increase their polygon count and lighting effects in game. This did equate to a better quality graphical experience on the handheld, but it is glaringly apparent on the big screen. When I was playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted, I could barely see clearly anything that was more than 30 feet away. It was extremely pixelated, making it challenging to play.

While there are a variety of games available, they tend to cater to more of a Japanese audience. The bulk of the compatible games are JRPGs. If I had to throw out a false statistic on the spot, I would probably say 50% of all the compatible games are JRPGs, which appeals only to a very small market. I also tested Playstation Now on the device and it performed equally to how it has performed for me on the Playstation 4.

Remote Play

When Sony first announced the Playstation TV at the Tokyo Game Show, the majority of the comments from excited Americans was the prospect of being able to have your PS4 in two separate rooms. Instead of purchasing two Playstation 4’s, you can buy a single Playstation 4 and a Playstation TV for a fraction of the cost and play in whatever room you prefer.

Playstation TV Review

While an incredible idea in theory, the Playstation TV struggles on execution. I tested the Playstation TV in a variety of settings. Latency was the biggest issue. I even tried the direct connect option with the Playstation TV within inches of the Playstation 4 and the latency made games nearly unplayable. This is surprising considering that Remote Play functions so well on the Playstation Vita. My theory is that because the Playstation 4 is transferring nearly double the resolution at 720P. That’s twice the amount of data which is likely the cause of the latency difference.

I did find it was comparable to my experience with the handheld when plugged directly to the router with an LAN cable (which they advise with a little flyer right when you open the box). The challenge is that most consumers aren’t going to go through the troubleshooting that I did to figure out the best configuration. In short, if you’re going to use it for remote play, PLUG IT IN. Even then, don’t expect to use it for twitch shooters or anything that requires a high level of reaction time because the latency is still there.


Overall, the Playstation TV is a great idea that fails to execute. The compatible game selection is even more limited than you would expect, video streaming services are practically non-existant, and the remote play functionality doesn’t work nearly as well as I dreamed that it would. In short, there is a lot of promise in the device if they can increase their compatible game count, increase the number of streaming video apps, and improve the programming behind Remote Play to remove latency. Until that time, I simply can’t recommend the Playstation TV to the typical consumer.

If you’re a hardcore Vita gamer and want some of those compatible games on the big screen, this might be the device for you. Click here to purchase your own.



The NoPhone is an interesting phenomenon. If you would have asked me if I thought a plastic fake smartphone could generate $20,000 worth of interest on Kickstarter a year ago, I would have responded with something like, “in your dreams.” I love it when the world proves me wrong. To preface this review, I want to tell you a bit of the back-story behind why I’m reviewing it. 

I wrote a news article a few weeks back regarding a study that showed separation anxiety amongst iPhone users when separated from their phones. Within a week of that article’s release, NoPhone reached out to us stating that “the NoPhone is a technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact” implying that they had a solution to smartphone separation anxiety.

As I initially researched the NoPhone it was difficult to perceive as to whether their product was intended to be a joke/gag gift, or a legitimate product for the purpose of helping you break free from the reigns of your smartphone addiction. When you visit their bio, they explain that it was originally a satire idea in response to always going out and spending time together needing to be attached to their phones. However, they discovered that demand for such a technology substitute existed. This demand caused them to launch their successful Kickstarter campaign. In light of the NoPhone’s back-story, I’m going to review the NoPhone from both sides of the coin; as a non-technology smartphone alternative, and a satire idea in light of our smartphone addictions.

Design and Specifications


The NoPhone has definitely taken a few pages out of both the iPhone and Android playbooks in terms of its design. The device is a little bit smaller than the iPhone 6 plus. It has a (fake) reflective screen, (fake) volume buttons on the side, a (fake) silence switch, in addition to a (fake) home button, (fake) speakers, and a (fake) camera.

The adhesive “selfie-sticker” is a simple reflective stick-on that allows you to look at yourself in Ultra-Ultra-HD; also known as RL (Real Life). It is worth noting that my selfie-sticker had a dimple in the middle of it which caused my face to look distorted when I would look into it. There is nothing worse than a mirror that makes you feel like Golem from Lord of the Rings every time you gaze at yourself. (though this may not have been caused exclusively by the mirror’s dimple) 

The NoPhone has some interesting specs. The following are the company’s provided specs in comparison to the iPhone:

As you can see from their specs sheet, the company clearly has a sense of humor. On a more serious note, Real Face Time is something we need more of in the world around us. If their product can drive an increase in face-to-face interactions, the NoPhone has the potential to make a real difference in the world. In my testing, all of the specs proved to be true except for one: being shatter-proof. During the rigorous testing (which you will see below) I lost a few chunks of plastic from the phone. The NoPhone is, however, sufficiently durable for regular use. 

Overall, the device is well designed according to the standards which we expect from smartphones on the market today.

Anxiety-Free Technology Replacement

To test the NoPhone’s ability to be a smartphone replacement in an actual scenario where I might be better off without a phone, I decided to ditch my iPhone for the NoPhone while going to church. (Definitely a place that might be better off without phones.) One of the first things that I noticed while I had the NoPhone at church is that I did exactly what I do with my regular phone: hold it, flip it, and play with it.


The NoPhone’s “Real FaceTime” feature is actually surprisingly more effective than you would think. As I played with the NoPhone, many people would ask what it was. It ended up turning into an excellent conversation starter and helped me get to know more people around me. It also forced me to look outwards and interact as I didn’t have apps to steal away my attention. On a separation anxiety note, I didn’t feel any high levels of anxiety without my iPhone while carrying the NoPhone; although I don’t have any objective data from the experience to compare to my baseline stress and blood pressure levels. 

Being critical of the NoPhone as a technology replacement, there were a few times when I really needed a ‘functional’ smartphone to either contact someone, take notes, or view my calendar. We’ve become extremely reliant on our smartphones in so many ways that anxiety aside, we’re practically dysfunctional without them. A non-technology smartphone substitute is good in theory until you have a legitimate need for a real smartphone. A better alternative to the NoPhone might be a smartphone without facebook/instagram/games/ etc… 

Overall, the device does a surprisingly good job of helping you be more social and engaging with the world around you. It is not, however, a substitute for technology. You’re going to need to keep a smartphone nearby for use when necessary. 

Satire: The NoPhone As a Utility Device

The NoPhone was originally intended to be a gag-gift, or joke of sorts; and it is an excellent one. While using the device, I got quite a few laughs out of the Misses with terrible jokes such as Verizon’s: “can you hear me now” or just sitting there endlessly tapping on the non-existent touch screen until I got the attention of people around me. After spending some time with the device, I began to wonder what other uses the NoPhone might provide. Below are some examples of my testing of the NoPhone as a multi-purpose utility device:


Hammer – Fail

The NoPhone does not serve well as a hammer. While the nail definitely slowly penetrates the wood with each strike, the NoPhone would not be an effective long-term hammer replacement. After a few millimeters of hammering, there were already chunks missing out of the side of the NoPhone. Stick to your regular hammer.


Soup Stirrer/Spoon – Success

The NoPhone was a surprising substitute for a spoon or a spatula when making soup. The NoPhone’s solid waterproof design ensured that the liquid from the soup didn’t cause damage, while the width of the phone provided just enough drag to properly mix the soup. Disclaimer: We are in no way responsible if stirring hot soup causes chemicals from the plastic to inflict food poisoning. Proceed at your own risk.

Slicing Fruit – Success

As you can see from the slow-motion image above, the NoPhone can cut through bananas like katana cut through flesh. The banana did not stand a chance. It’s worth noting that I felt almost zero resistance while cutting through the banana, just ensure that you’re cutting at high speeds. A slow slice could lead to a mushy banana, something not even a baboon would touch.

Slow Motion Device Gymnastics – Success

This above video was initially a test of the NoPhone’s durability, however, in slow motion it became one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. As a result, an added utility of the device is slow-motion-device-gymnastics, something the NoPhone invented today.


Self-Defense Tool – Success

Being the hard piece of plastic that it is, the NoPhone could certainly cause some damage in the event that you need to use it as a weapon. While my testing was limited (for the sake of my face), it did a number on my ear. See image above for details.


Television Remote – Fail

Being the shape of a remote and about the weight of a remote, I was optimistic that it would function like a television remote. Unfortunately, due to the device having zero electronics inside, it did not perform well as a TV remote. Don’t waste your time.

In short, the NoPhone performed surprisingly well as a multi-purpose utility device. While certainly not a hammer or television remote replacement, you can use this hunk of plastic to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Overall, using the NoPhone as a multi-purpose utility device was a success.


After spending quite a bit of time with the NoPhone, I’m not sure that I would ever purchase the device for myself intentionally. However, this doesn’t mean my wife wouldn’t purchase it for me to help curb my smartphone addictive tendencies. I would also likely buy this as a gag-gift for friends that don’t know where to draw limits in their phone usage. 

If you actually intend to use the NoPhone as a phone replacement to help curb addiction, it does a surprisingly good job of giving you something to play with. It’s also a great conversation starter to help you improve upon your social skills. While I’m not sure how niche the market is for such a device, clearly $20,000 dollars raised on Kickstarter has shown that a market does indeed exists. If this device interests you, you can purchase the NoPhone on their website for $12 dollars.

What are your thoughts on the NoPhone? Would you buy it for yourself? As a gag-gift? How else have you used the NoPhone as a utility device? Sound off in the comments below. 


A simple design makes it easy to experiment and learn about parametric speakers.

One of the more interesting devices that I’ve seen on Kickstarter lately is the SoundLazer. This device was first introduced on Kickstarter back in mid-2012 as a kit that enables hobbyists, and tech enthusiasts alike, to create their own parametric speaker.

For those being first introduced to this technology, parametric speakers are not new. This technology has been around since the 60’s, however, it hasn’t seen many advancements since its creation. Essentially, the device uses ultrasonic waves to carry sound to an individual or object. Compared to regular sound waves, ultrasonic waves are very concentrated and directional. This results in being able to “beam” sound in a specific direction. This is in direct contrast to regular sound waves which spread and disperse resulting in sound moving and bouncing in all directions. The infographic below helps demonstrate the differences:

The original kit almost tripled its pledge goal bringing in over $126,000, demonstrating that there is indeed a demand for the device and a need to further the technology. The Soundlazer Snap is the inventor’s go-round on Kickstarter with this technology. This time around he is proposing a lower cost version of the speaker to get it into the hands of more individuals. This iteration provides solely the basic components of the device enabling the creator to sell them at a much lower price.

The original SoundLazer retails for $275.00. The SoundLazer Snap is still up for pledging, but a $149.00 pledge will get you a fully functional SoundLazer Snap. That’s nearly a 50% reduction in cost. 

The potential uses for this device are endless. In his short descriptive video, he mentions you are only limited by your imagination. Some of the outlined uses of the device per the Soundlazer Snap Kickstarter page are as follows: 

  • Fun with friends: The Soundlazer is simply a cool gadget to play with.
  • Ambient Background Sound: Put the Soundlazer behind a plant or table in a room and “beam” background sounds or music into the room. Unlike other speakers, the Soundlazer will create virtual sound sources around the room.
  • Showroom Floors: Beam important product information, advertisements or promotions quietly and discreetly to individual customers in your store.
  • Animatronics and Displays: By pointing the Soundlazer at a stuffed animal, animated display or other object, the sound will appear come directly from the object the Soundlazer is pointed at.
  • Public Safety: Warning selected people in a group of localized dangers or obstructions.
  • Advertising: Selective billboards where only the person in front of a particular ad can hear the message.
  • Security and Alarms: Clear and precise messages regarding break-ins, fires and other emergencies.
  • And there are many more uses!

Advertising is an interesting proposal here. While my first thought (jokingly) would be to hire minions and have them constantly pointing at various people in stores to narrate the customer experience. As I thought about it further, I realized there is a ton of potential here. Anything that plays sound as a demonstration in stores is often extremely distracting. Just go to Best Buy while someone tests out the subwoofers in the car audio section if you don’t know what I’m talking about. 

Imagine being able to walk through various sections of the store and as you are viewing specific products, relevant details are explained to you about the products that you are looking at without being distracting to other shoppers. As soon as you exit the projection zone, the sound is gone and you’re on your merry shopping way. I think there is massive opportunity in the area of in-store advertising. 

I personally want one of the devices simply so that I can mess with people. (Confession, I tend to be a bit of a prankster) I would truly enjoy helping someone feel like they are losing their minds (primarily individuals in need of a bit more humility) by beaming annoying sound at their head that nobody else can hear. I would of course let them know prior to a doctor’s visit, but that would be hilarious! This also has the potential to introduce a new kind of ventriloquism. Record your skit, point it at your puppet, and entertain away. BLOW PEOPLES’ MINDS!

There is a ton of potential in this devices, especially if you geek out on this stuff like me. What are your thoughts on the device? How would you use it? Let us know in the comments below!



I’m getting more done with my Surface now than I was previously with my laptop, and that is impressive in its own right. 

Microsoft has been attempting to chip away at the tablet market with their Surface series for a few years now. What started as an awkwardly sized tablet that lacked a solid ecosystem of apps has morphed into a beautiful fully functional tablet/computer that can run all of your favorite Window’s programs. I’ve decided to ditched my laptop and solely use my Surface Pro 3 (view on Amazon) for all computational work and play.  Read on to find out why.

Design and Form Factor

The Surface Pro 3 is an engineering feat. The iteration that I’m reviewing is the i7 version with a 256 GB hard drive. The most striking feature of the tablet is its size. For packing an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 gigs of ram, and a hard drive that is up to 4 times the capacity of the largest iPad, the size and weight of the Surface are incredible! The tablet itself weighs only 1.75 pounds. While a bit more than 1.05 pound iPad Air 2, the components inside make the extra weight forgive-able.

Those extra ounces do make a difference when you’re sitting on the couch holding the device in your hands while reading. Your hands will get tired a bit faster than holding an iPad, however, the built-in kickstand makes up for those challenges. With a kickstand that allows you to place it on your lap and view it anywhere between a 0 and 150 degree viewing angle, why do you need to hold the tablet in your hands? Just rest it on your lap at the perfect angle for your reading pleasures.

Surface Pro 3 Review

Speaking of the kickstand, it works extremely well. One of my initial concerns of replacing my laptop with the Surface was how well the kickstand would work on my lap as compared to a laptop. I worried that it would require that I keep the computer overly close to my body so that there is ample room for the kickstand on my legs. (and to satisfy my OCD tendencies of keeping the device from toppling over my knees to its death) Thankfully, I was wrong. The device feels very secure when using on your lap. When using the type cover it has a very strong magnet that provides an added layer of stability and lap-falling security. Needless to say, my concern of using it on my lap was nullified.

In fact, I would even go as far as to say this device is better for your lap than a laptop. All of the heat stays within the screen of the device preventing you from those potential infertility woes caused by heat in the nether regions. (Trust me, it’s not worth sacrificing your posterity to look at those Facebook memes) Also, many laptops overheat while on your lap due to your clothing blocking the airways for the fans. That’s also something that you don’t have to worry about with the Surface, as all of the airways are on the sides of the screen which are not blocked by any part of your body when using it on your lap.

It’s apparent that a lot of meticulous planning went into making this device beautiful and functional at the same time. There is an extremely satisfying click when you close the kickstand. Also, there is a mini-SD port for increasing the memory on the device. This slot is nicely hidden behind the kickstand that provides both protection from the card falling out and a sleek look.Design and Form Factor98%

Type Cover and Inputs

A device is only as usable as an individual’s ability to control it. The type cover is a great upgrade from previous iterations. At 5mm thin, the type cover barely adds any bulk to the device. It plugs directly into the bottom of the Surface making it extremely user-friendly. Simply plug it in and start being productive. That also means that you don’t have to worry about batteries nor syncing with bluetooth which is a huge plus compared to the keyboards for other tablets on the market. Additionally, the keys are backlit, making typing in the dark a breeze.

Keeping the type cover thin did come with some sacrifices. Compared to a normal keyboard, the keys have much less downward motion when typing. This did take some initial adjusting to get used to typing quickly without accidentally hitting other keys. I can honestly say that after about a week of typing on the device, however, that I’ve been able to match my typing ability on a normal keyboard. It’s also a nice touch that the keyboard is activated by the magnet that adheres to the front of the device. This allows you to flip the type cover around to the back while using it as a tablet without worrying about accidentally typing; Though there is something awkward about holding a device when the back is covered in buttons. I found myself more frequently removing the type cover when using it as a tablet.

Surface Pro 3 Review

If I had to be hyper-critical about the type cover, it would be regarding the mouse touch pad. It can feel imprecise at times. On top of that, there are no actual buttons, so left click and right-click are all about ensuring that you finger is on the right or left half of the touch pad. Because the button is the touchpad as well, I often found myself moving the pointer off of what I was attempting to click due to the movement of my clicking finger. Also, because it is multi-touch, it sometimes had issues when using my right handed pointer finger to move the pointer while keeping my left hand pointer finger on the corner for clicking. It would often interpret both fingers as a pinch, causing zoom or other unwanted behavior. This became a pain for things like audio and video editing. For regular browsing and word processing that don’t require extreme precision, the touch pad functions just fine. You will want to purchased a Bluetooth mouse, such as Microsoft’s Arc, if you’re going to require precision. You won’t want a USB mouse as the Surface only has one USB input.

All of those woes are made up for with the stylus that comes with the Surface. The Window’s touch interface is getting better, but it is not perfect. Many sites and programs require a mouse hover which is near impossible with the touch interface. However, with the stylus, you can simple hover over the screen with the pen and it recognizes the location of your pen as a mouse hover. The pen is extremely precise. For those that prefer and can handwrite quickly (which is not me), there is an alternative input method that allows you to just write the word on the screen and it converts it into text. I found this to work extremely well. Having a nearly 95% success rate with my chicken scratch is quite the feat. Well done programmers at Microsoft. Well done!Type Cover and Inputs95%

Specs and Performance

The specs of these devices vary based on the model that you purchase. Here is a quick overview:

SoftwareWindows 8.1 Pro
ExteriorCasing: Magnesium • Color: Silver • Physical buttons: Volume, Power, Home
Dimensions11.50 x 7.93 x 0.36 in (292.10 x 201.42 x 9.14 mm)
Weight1.76 lbs (0.79 kg)
Hard drive sizeSolid state drive (SSD) options: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
Memory64GB or 128GB version with 4GB RAM
256GB or 512GB version with 8GB RAM
DisplayScreen: 12″ ClearType Full HD Display • Resolution: 2160 x 1440 • Aspect Ratio: 3:2 • Touch: Multitouch input
Processor64GB/Intel i3 version:
4th generation Intel Core i3-4020Y 1.50 GHz with Intel HD Graphics 4200128GB and 256GB/Intel i5 version:
4th generation Intel Core i5-4300U 1.90 GHz (with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.9GHz) with Intel HD Graphics 4400256GB and 512GB/Intel i7 version:
4th generation Intel Core i7-4650U 1.70 GHz (with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.3 GHZ) with Intel HD Graphics 5000TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip for enterprise security
Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology
Battery LifeUp to 9 hours of web browsing
Cameras and Video5MP and 1080p HD front- and rear-facing cameras • Built-in front- and rear-facing microphones • Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound
AudioStereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound
PortsFull-size USB 3.0 • microSD card reader • Headphone jack • Mini DisplayPort • Cover port • Charging port
SensorsAmbient light sensor • Accelerometer • Gyroscope • Magnetometer
Warranty1-year limited hardware warranty
Surface PenDimensions: 135mm (length), 9.5mm (diameter) • Weight: 20 grams
Pre-installed AppsFlipboard • Skype Wi-Fi • Skype • OneNote MX • Solitaire • Mahjong • Sudoku/Microsoft Number Puzzle • Fresh Paint
In the boxSurface Pro 3 • Surface Pen • 36-watt power supply • Quick Start Guide • Safety and warranty documents

Courtesy of

The device is extremely fast and performed beyond my expectations. I have never seen Microsoft Word open so quickly. Typically, you sit and watch it load all of its files while opening. On the Surface Pro 3, the program opened in fractions of a second. When showing people the device, demonstrating how quickly Microsoft Word opened was one of the top “wow” factors, in addition to the device’s weight and form factor. This is no doubt thanks to the Intel Core i7 processor in tandem with the zippy solid state disk (SSD).

I reached out to a source at Intel to find out whether the iteration of the i7 was on the low-end or the high-end of the i7 processors. He said that the version of the i7 processor in the Surface Pro 3 was on the high-end, only out-done by their i7 that was designed for gaming and extremely graphical intensive activities. (Note: not all i7/i5/i3 processors are made equal, however, Intel does not differentiate to prevent consumer confusion)

Surface Pro 3 Review

Additionally, I did some testing to see how well the processor performed under a heavy load. I opened up Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 and rendered five videos at the same time with added effects. There was no perceptible chug while rendering the video. It performed phenomenally. Additionally, I used the device for recording and mixing down our podcast. What used to take 10 minutes to mix-down on my older laptop now mixes down in around 30 seconds on the Surface. You don’t realize how much a slow computer impacts your productivity until you utilize a blazing fast computer and complete projects in a fraction of the time.

The screen as absolutely stunning. Very crisp, bright, and of high-resolution. It definitely rivals the Macbook Pro’s Retina Displays. The touchscreen is also extremely responsive and is great for scrolling through web pages, flipping through photos, and playing games. The screen size is also optimal. It doesn’t feel overly large when used as a tablet, and does not feel overly small when used as a laptop. Microsoft found a great happy medium with 12 inches. 

From a performance standpoint, the Surface held true to every Microsoft claim except one: battery life. In my use of the device, the battery lasted nowhere near the 8-9 hours promised by Microsoft. The average battery life in my experience was around 4 hours during simple web browsing with multiple tabs open. This is a disappointment as I was looking forward to a device that I could tote around without bringing a charger. Specs and Hardware93%

Versatility and Software

The amount of software/apps that are available is both the strength and weakness of the device. While it can run all Window’s compatible programs, most normal programs are not touch optimized making it a bit more challenging to use when using as a tablet. I primarily use Google’s Chrome browser and found myself constantly tapping the wrong button when trying to tap the tiny back-button on the browser. 

Surface Pro 3 Review

Additionally, Windows programs lack a variety of other tablet optimizations such as notifications and running while in sleep mode. When I turn on Spotify, as soon as the screen turns off after a few minutes; I lose my music as well. None of the Windows programs are optimized to run in the background while the device is sleeping. 

The sheer number of Windows programs also creates a bit of a catch-22 for developers. It becomes hard to justify creating a tablet version of an app for Windows tablets when a desktop iteration is already available. Many of the cornerstone apps of other tablets are sorely lacking on the Surface Pro such as Pandora, Spotify, Pinterest, and more. This has caused a number of third-party developers to create clients for those programs, but many of them perform poorly.

Windows 8.1 as an operating system is alright when using the touch interface. While the operating system has not been overly well received, when using the touch interface it performs reasonably well. Specs and Hardware85%

In conclusion, the Surface Pro 3 is a phenomenal piece of hardware. Microsoft has truly created a device that functions great as both a tablet and laptop replacement. The powerful innards allow you to do nearly anything you want with the device. The touch interface works well enough. Windows’ backlog of software provides for your every need, although much of it lacks optimization for tablet and touch. The battery life was a disappointment, but is understandable considering the hardware in such a small body. In short, would I recommend the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop replacement? Absolutely! I’m getting more done with my Surface now than I was previously with my laptop and that is impressive in its own right. Overall93%

Do you have a Surface Pro 3? Are you clamoring to buy one? What are your thoughts on the device? Let us know in the comments below!



We love streaming devices here at TechSmash. That’s why we’ve reviewed quite a few different streaming dongles including the ChromecastRoku StickPlaystation TV and more. That’s why when Gearbest reached out to us about reviewing their Xiaomi MiBox Android TV device, we couldn’t help but oblige in giving it a try. How does it stack up to other dongles on the market? Read on to find out. 



The design of this device is quite superb. I had ordered my Apple Watch around the same time that Gearbest sent us the MiBox and they both arrived on the same day. In fact, when I opened the postal boxes, I wasn’t sure which was the Apple Watch and which was the Xiaomi MiBox.

Aside from having a very Apple-esque packaging, I was skeptical. The MiBox goes for a lowly $38 bucks, so I figured it would probably consist of cheap feeling hardware. When I opened up the packaging, I was delightfully surprised. The design of the MiBox is a unique one. Most streaming sticks are dongles that plug directly into the TV and then plug into a USB port to provide power. The MiBox does a reversal as a small cube with a retractable plug that simply plugs into your wall and then connects to the TV via HDMI. It’s surprisingly elegant. It looks a lot like a larger version of Apple’s power adapter for iPhones and iPads.

Additionally, the remote consists of a very simplistic design and also feels high quality. It has some weight to it. It seems to have taken some serious design queues from the Apple TV remote. This is not your typical made in China knockoff. It both looks and feels great. Design – 9.5/10


Unfortunately, my praises for the device really only apply to its design. Once I plugged it in, I realized I had a very serious problem. The device operates solely in Chinese. 


After doing quite a bit of research I found that the larger MiBox that has a USB port can be flashed with an  English ROM pretty easily. The challenge with this device is that it is smaller and doesn’t have a USB port.

After some back and forth with Gearbest, trying to follow a number of YouTube videos, and simply getting frustrated; I gave up. All of the tutorials had a different version of the firmware which made navigating to the menu where you remote into the device to install the ROM a near impossible task.

So that left me with exploring the device like a blind man. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Navigating Netflix with Chinese characters can’t be that hard right? Unfortunately, the device clearly caters to a Chinese audience as the majority of the videos that I could find in my random clicking were foreign films. I tried to watch a few different videos and all of them sat on the loading screen for minutes and never loaded. I’m not sure if there are issues with connecting to the video servers on the other side of the globe, but I wasn’t able to stream a single video through this device. It was quite disappointing. The MiBox has simply become a beautiful looking paperweight in my home. Functionality – 2/10

Unfortunately, at the end of the day I can’t recommend this to anyone that can’t speak Chinese. If you speak Chinese, then there is some potential to this device, I’m just unsure how much. If you’re looking for a blind adventure (or speak Chinese) you can buy it on Gearbest for $37.99.