Monday, April 29, 2013

Phone Advice: Internal Memory Vs. Expandable Memory

There is a popular saying that goes something like, “You don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.” This rings true in so many areas of our lives, but especially so in that precious device storage that is known as internal memory. This is that area that holds our photos, our videos, our games, our Apps and everything else in the phone that we carry every day. Those amazing photos of our trips, our birthday parties or even just that crazy tea party we had with our child. Yes, it is all about the memory. There are two different camps that surround the memory front and they couldn’t differ more in how they work. Let’s take a quick look at both and the positives and negatives of both.

Internal memory is the most expensive option for a manufacturer. The cost of the chips is higher. The cost of the assembly is higher. Even the cost of making 2-3 different sized devices is higher. When a phone comes in multiple configurations, it means more models to stock, advertise for and support. It’s not a cheap process, but it does eliminate so many of the problems that a device can have. Of course, the biggest issue with internal memory is that you either rely on an automatic ‘sync’ feature like iCloud SkyDrive, or Google+ to save that important content or you manually sync your stuff to your computer. There isn’t any other option to clear that memory but sync and delete.

When you start to think about the staggering numbers, like how the best selling iPhone 3Gs model was the 8GB model, and now there are 64GB iPhone 5’s, it makes you appreciate how much more storage we use today. With 8-12MP cameras becoming the norm, images have gone from 500k to 3MB in no time at all. Songs going from 96kbps to 320kbps chew up memory even faster. A song that used to be 2MB is now 10MB. Finally we get to that pesky video camera that we all use. what used to shoot VGA resolution or about 3MB per second (180MB per hour) is now shooting about 4GB per hour (or about the same amount as an uncompressed DVD will hold) of HD video. Sure, you can drop the quality of all of these and fit more into that fixed space, but why bother when you just bought that phone that will do all those great things?

The volley from the removable memory camp is expandable memory. They will give you a smaller 4, 8, 16 or even 32GB of internal storage, then give you a slot for a memory card to slide into. You can purchase a small card, usually called a MicroSD or TransFlash card to give you more space for music, movies and photos. While this usually seems like a great idea, like the first line said, you don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.

The reason I say this is that the last 3 Windows Phone devices that I have owned were an 8GB and 2 16GB internal memory only devices. I never had an issue with anything on them. Photos were always saved, movies were always recorded and most of all, they played back smoothly and had no jitters to them at all. I step forward to my trusty Lumia 810 that I am carrying now, with it’s 8MP camera, HD video and 8GB of internal memory. Of that actual 7.4 GB of usable memory, 2GB is taken up by the OS, 1.5 is taken up by Apps, another 2.5 – 3 is taken up by App storage which leaves just 1 GB for recording media. That SD card is a must have in this case.

So, I started with a lovely 16GB class 4 (memory cards are measured in classes which tells the user how fast they will read and write information – the higher the class, the faster the read/write times are) and had nothing but problems with it. Stuttering videos, longer load times, even slow loading photos. This lead to me pulling the old class 10 card that I had for my HTC Evo 4G out of storage and reformatting that for Windows Phone. The process was smooth and most of the issues went away. I still had a few video problems and the “There is a problem with your SD card, please insert into your computer to fix the issue" message got old very quickly. Once I started ‘fixing’ the card in my PC every other week, I was able to survive quite easily.

That was until this weekend when we were out at a ‘fun’ place for the kiddo. I was snapping photos when an SD card error popped up on screen. I didn’t think much of it and cleared the error just like always. Later that afternoon, we were sitting at lunch when I tried to play back one of the videos I shot when I realized the card had dismounted. This means that it wasn’t ‘in the phone’ anymore and wasn’t being used. I restarted the phone and saw that I had lost all my videos, and my music and even my photos. They had just evaporated off the card. I restarted again and the phone found the card this time, so many of my photos were there, and the videos and even my music – or at least most of it. I knew that this was the beginning of the end for my card, so I did what I could to get the content off when I got home.

After copying as much data as it would let me, my trust 32GB Class 10 Micro SD card was toast. It wouldn’t format in the phone or the computer. It wouldn’t do anything but look cute in its little case. I had lost my $99 Micro SD card. Fortunately, with the costs of them coming down so much, a new SanDisk Ultra 32GB Class 10 MicroSD card had plummeted to under $30 so that was ordered immediately. In the mean time, I was lucky enough to have that old 8GB class 4 card laying around to use until it arrives.

The lesson of this story is that if the memory comes out of the phone, you will need to back up that card once a week to be safe. Make sure you do this with your fixed memory devices as well, even if they do have those auto-backup systems in place. Because you really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 810
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Groupon Offering HTC 8X For $349.99

If you are one of those non-contract or don't want to lose my current plan contract folks, Groupon has a deal on that new Windows Phone you've been eyeing! The HTC 8X in an unlocked blue version has popped up on the discounter's site at a hair under $350.

The 16GB version of the 8X features a 4.3" HD display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and a monstrous 88 degree 8MP camera on the rear. It also features a beautiful wide angle 2MP front facing camera, Beats Audio and a matte finish. At $350 this is one deal that won't last too long, so grab yours now.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Game Review: Steel Champions

Everyone loves a good boxing game right? Well Steel Champions by Neuralnet LLC does not disappoint. The 87MB download plays brilliantly on the Lumia 810 and easily passes the time.

The stellar graphics, fast paced action and difficulty make Steel Champions a must have download. It does appear that the free play version of this awesome title will be expiring in the next 24-48 hours so get over to the Store and grab it before it is gone.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Where Does Windows Phone Fail Small Business?

For all the positive things that can be said about handling your business needs with Windows Phone devices, there are a few key areas where Windows Phone falls flat. These are areas where other platforms have really stepped forward in recent months, and some where they have been good for quite some time. What does Windows Phone need in the near future to really win over the small business user? Here’s my short list.
Local Printing: Currently there is no good solution for small business printing in Windows Phone. Android now has Apps from Epson, HP and many others that allow direct printing to any networked printer. Sure, it is great to edit that Word file on the go, but try printing it to a local printer.
Faxing: As a big user of contracts and NDA’s, I would really appreciate the ability to fax directly from my device. There are a few different 3rd party solutions to this issue, but didn’t my fax modem in Windows 3.11 do this already? Why on earth can’t we work this in to a data call and allow direct faxing from our devices? Android and iPhone both have great Fax/Email conversion programs that don’t cost much if anything at all. It’s time to build this one in Microsoft.
Credit Card Acceptance: The single biggest complaint I hear from Windows Phone rejects is that there is no good system for accepting credit cards on Windows Phone. Users of Square, Authorize.Net and other systems can readily download an App for iOS or Android and be running a mobile card processing stand in seconds. New users just complete a simple setup and they are accepting cards in minutes. Windows Phone has nothing from any of the major vendors and only a sub-par 3rd party App as a possible solution.
With these three small features becoming a part of Windows Phone, the small business owner could find a complete solution for running their mobile office. Sure, there are plenty of features built in to Windows Phone already, but by missing these three areas, and not offering up a third party solution, small biz owners will continue to flock to the other operating systems and more importantly, overlook the values of Windows Phone.
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Lumia 521 Appears On HSN

The long awaited Nokia Lumia 521 hasn't made its official T-Mobile launch yet, but for those that can't wait for the little 4" Windows Phone, HSN has it available today for a paltry $149.95.

The 521 is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and 512MB or RAM. It includes 8GB of internal storage and can use microSD cards up to 64GB in size for storing additional media. The 5MP rear facing camera also captures 720p video which plays back smoothly on the 4", 800x480 display.

While the 521 isn't a powerhouse device in the spec department, the entry level handset will only cost $150 without a contract and still delivers a quality Windows Phone experience. If you are looking for that budget device and are running on the T-Mobile network, the Nokia Lumia 521 could be the perfect find.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 810
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tumblr. App Appears For WP8

The popular blogging/sharing site, tumblr. has finally brought an official client to Windows Phone. The new App allows you to post all your favorite content straight from your Windows Phone 8 device right to your tumblr. account.

While the App does exactly what it is supposed to, the performance of the App leaves us wanting a bit more. The load times and overall feel of the App is sluggish at best. Hopefully the tumblr. faithful will create enough demand for them to issue speedy updates and improvements, but at least there is a solid client available for those that use it.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 810
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Waze Social Navigation Coming In June

The loving folks over at Waze, that old social GPS program we fell in love with on Windows Mobile, have unofficially told a few people that they remember that $25 million investment that Microsoft made in them back in the day and will be reciprocating the feeling by releasing an official Windows Phone 8 App later this year. The information that was passed along indicated a June release, but not much other information was included. There is no word on whether or not there will be a free or paid choice on the App, nor what mapping system would be used.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Get The Nokia Lumia 810 For $49!

The Nokia Lumia 810 has been discontinued by T-Mobile, but that doesn’t mean that they are all gone. The Microsoft Store has the Lumia 810 on a special deal right now, well I say special, but really mean CRAZY price of $49 without the hindrance of signing up for one of those annoying contracts. There is a small hitch though, you need to make sure that you change the plan from the $60 a month Classic Plan to the $50 a month Value Plan or you are still on the hook for that annoying Early Termination Fee.
Again, this is a very important step as you need to make sure to change to the Value Plan in the plan selection box. Even though T-Mobile isn’t directly offering the Classic Contract plans anymore, a third party vendor may still require you to submit to the terms of the contract due to the fact that you accept them at checkout. Selecting the Value Plan will eliminate the contract portion and makes your effective ETF zero.
So, get over there and get one while the getting is good! You won’t find a better price on an amazing Windows Phone anywhere!
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Monster Pinball HD Falls To 99 Cents

This week, the Red Stripe Deal gets to be a bit more fun with the addition of Monster Pinball HD. The $.99 title is amazingly fun to play and for a buck, offers up a Windows Phone steal!

Get over to the store now and download that trial version before the sale is over. If you love it, the $.99 price is a steal for such a great title.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Miniclip Offers Up Free Xbox Titles

We love free games and this is a good week to love free. If you venture over to the Store right now, you will find a selection of some classic Windows Phone Xbox games that have been reduced to nothing. Mini-Clip, makers of Gravity Guy and Fragger, has reduced the price of a few of their classic titles so that everyone can enjoy them. Regularly priced from $.99 - $2.99, these games are good for more than a bit of time killing.
Gravity Guy is your basic "runner" game where tapping your screen will reverse the gravity and allow your player to run at the top of the screen. Basically a puzzle/action game, it is very challenging and keeps time moving quickly. Just don't become addicted to it as Gravity Guy 2 is available in the Store as well.
- Amazing graphics
- Leaderboards and Achievements
- Local multiplayer mode up to 4 players
- 3 game modes Story, Practice and Endless
- Interactive tutorial to learn how to play

Fragger is your 'Angry Birds' game on steriods. The game is simple, lob your explosives over to the 'bad guys' and make them go boom... It's fun from the start and the puzzle aspects of getting through some of the levels can be quite entertaining, if not maddening!
- Amazing graphics
- Leaderboards and Achievements
- Interactive tutorial to learn how to play
iStunt 2 really makes you a bit dizzy when you start focusing heavily on the game. This snowboarding classic makes you twist and flip and turn through level after level of exciting courses. The good news is that iStunt 2 is exciting and keeps you moving from the start. The bummer part of it is, well, I found it hard... Which just made me want to play it more and more... Which meant less time with every other game.
Key Features:
- Amazing graphics!
- Great Ragdoll Physics!
- Gravity Inversion and Zero Gravity Zones
- Rails, Boosts, Fans
- Floating mountains out of nowhere!
- Leaderboards and lots of achievements!

Monster Island was the game of the night for me. This game is flat out crazy addictive. Of the four, this is the one that I couldn't put down for 50+ levels last night. Miniclip, I love you, but my sleep patterns did not. Giving you the basic play, you use your monster to throw various projectiles at the bad guys and win each level. Again, a bit of the Angry Birds feel, but so much more fun! Miniclip, my hat's off to you on this one. When Monster Island 2 comes out, I am definetly making that purchase!
* 252 levels over 4 different islands (and more to come!)
* Choose one of 12 unique heroes
* Leader Boards and Achievements
* Interactive tutorial to learn how to play

So, don't walk, but run over to your phone and click the link to visit the Store and download these games before they are gone, or at least not free anymore. You can get to them via the following link and get them today!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nokia Lumia 521 Coming Soon

If the T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 810 was a bit too rich for your blood at $360, the newly announced Lumia 521 should fit your budget much better. With street pricing expected to be in the under $200 range with that new Simple Choice non-contract deal, you should be able to walk out of a T-Mobile store with a pretty good package for $50 a month and $200 down.

The Lumia 521 features a 4" 800x480 resolution screen, a 5MP rear camera and 512MB of RAM. Add to this a dual-core 1GHz processor and 8GB of internal storage, you have quite the budget handset. A few things to note though, the Lumia 521 does not feature a flash for the camera or a front facing shooter for you self portrait lovers. That said, the 521 will have the Nokia Qi compatible wireless charging back available like the 810 did before it.

The Lumia 521 should be arriving at T-Mobile soon. Pricing has not been detailed by T-Mobile or Nokia, but all sources seem to say that $200 will be the high point for this device. If that's the case, it should provide a nice device for use with that $50 a month T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 810
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Updated: Out Of Memory!?

It is probably the most frustrating part of owning a Lumia 810. That pesky memory issue. The 810 shipped with 8GB of internal memory and an SD expansion slot that can give you 64GB more if needed. What they forgot to mention to anyone is that your App storage isn't something you can use most of that storage even if it is clear.

While getting set to download the new Asphalt 7 trial, I was met with the message in the image above. With only 970MB of Apps installed and 2.25GB of available storage, I had no clue why this was happening. I tried again and found the result was the same.

This leads me to the following statement: Windows Phone limits App storage just like Android does.

Sad, but more than likely true. If the App storage limit is actually set at 1+GB and won't let you install more than a few games and common Apps before kicking your next download to the curb. I'll do a bit more digging and see if I can find out more on this limitation.

Update 8:57AM - NokiaCareUS replied to my Tweet this morning about this issue. They stated that Asphalt 7 requires 2.5GB of storage space to fully install. So even though the App states that it is 512MB, apparently the system needs 2.5GB to install the game? More on this later hopefully...

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Monday, April 8, 2013

What Would You Like To Know?

I have to tell you, Windows Phone is so simple, I'm starting to run out of ways to make it easier. Yes, there are the simple case reveiws, app and game reviews, but what core functionality of Windows Phone would you like to know more about? Is there something it doesn't do that you want it to? Is there a magical issue that you haven't found an answer to yet? Does your phone randomly crash and you want to know why?

Fill out a comment below and I will start getting answers for anything you might come up with and publishing them. Until then, more reviews are coming!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

PTel Mobile: Value To The Extreme

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There is a carrier that many people fail to realize is still around, but they are, and their plans are better than ever. PlatinumTel Prepaid Wireless, the old Pay-As-You-Go carrier, has come back with a vengeance in these tough economic times to deliver an unmatched price to performance  value.

Founded in 2001, PlatinumTel has been through the Pay-As-You-Go syndrome, offering the lowest cost “Real Pay-go” service ($.05 a minute) and has emerged as a value based MVNO that offers an amazing $40 plan that gets you unlimited talk, text and data.

PlatinumTel, running under the new PTel branding, operates on a nationwide 4G speed network. The $40 plan allows a user to run at those higher speeds for the first 250MB of data, slowing to 150kbps after that. Our speed tests showed speeds of 15Mbps down and 3.5Mbps up in that 4G range and we were pinned between 120-150kbps after throttling. Even at these throttled speeds, we were able to surf Facebook and Mobile sites without any issues at all.

PlatinumTel or PTel for short also offers a 2GB plan for an additional $10. As another bonus, you can send international text messages to friends overseas for no added cost. This is a great additional feature for those with spouses serving in the military.

Overall, PlatinumTel offers Windows Phone users another great plan to use without having to shell out a huge amount of cash each month. SIM cards and PlatinumTel plans can be found at PlatinumTel retailers and online.

Monday, April 1, 2013

App Review: Phone Storage Cleanup

With Windows Phones coming out in budget friendly configurations, internal memory is beginning to become an issue.  The biggest culprit to this memory is the monstrous "Other" folder. This folder grows to 1/2 to 2/3 of your total memory and contains a buffer storage for all your Apps.

Since Microsoft has been nice enough to include SD storage as an option in Windows Phone 8, most users are too concerned with running out of that precious internal storage, but that first time you try and install a game or App and get the dreaded "Not Enough Space" error, you'll need to know what to try.

Phone Storage Cleanup is a great starting point for anyone needing to recover that precious space. A quick click of the start button will begin loading your available storage with dummy files. These dummy files fill up all the available storage space including some of that in the "Other" folder. Once this is complete, you press the delete button and remove all the temporary files. This clears the memory and your available memory will increase.

Overall, the App does the perfect job and is simple to use. It is a free download and can be found in the Windows Store. It is definitely worth a look for those that have a huge "Other" file, and might even be worth keeping on your device full time if you play many games.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 810
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