Review: Microsoft HD-500 Dock

One of the big features that we got to see with the newly announced Lumia 950 and 950 XL, was Continuum. After picking up my 950 I tried Continuum using wireless methods, and they worked pretty well, but with noticeable lag. Finally, I managed to get myself a Microsoft dock and took Continuum out for a real test drive.

I’ll admit, the results are ok, but until there are more apps supported, it’s not really worth the investment. The big problem, app support. For anyone who has stuck around with Windows phone, you already know that the platform doesn’t really get much support from developers, so I’m not holding my breath for anything to change with Continuum.

While using my phone on the big screen I found myself continually having to pick up my phone to use an application because it had no support. Continuum doesn’t even try to just scale it to the big screen, it just gives you the option to load on your phone. Granted, the Microsoft apps work amazingly well, Office for example is absolutely fantastic.

When I first started using the dock, I found it laggy, unresponsive, and just awful to use. Edge browser didn’t work, and most of the Microsoft apps were broken. After trying a full restore on my phone, I found that this fixed all of my issues (but it was a pain having to do a restore just to use my phone with a dock!)

So, I’ve said some not so great stuff about the dock, but it does have some great points. The dock itself is beautifully built, with a very premium finish. It’s heavy, so you won’t have to worry about it sliding all over your desk. A big win, it uses USB C to power the dock which means you’re not going to end up with multiple types of cables to carry around.

The experience is ok. The apps that work are fantastic and great to use. When hooked up with a mouse and keyboard Continuum almost fools me into thinking I’m using a full blown version of Windows, but then I click on an app that’s not supported, or try and multi-task, and I’m reminded it’s not even close. At this stage though, this is NOT a PC like experience, it’s a Windows 10 skin on a big screen that lulls the user into thinking it is more than it really is. As of right now you can’t really do that much, and to be honest, you’d be better off getting a cheap Windows tablet that runs a full version of windows and hooking this up to a display.

The overall experience is ok, average, but it’s not what Microsoft are bragging about. To be honest, getting an Android device and HDMI adapter probably works just as well, if not better than what Continuum can currently do, at least all of the apps scale to the large screen, even if they do look a little ugly. For the price, and the fact that you will end up carrying another accessory and more cables, I can’t really find it to recommend this. It’s a good experiment, and if Microsoft can actually get developers on side, then there is huge potential, but given their track record I’m not holding my breath.

Review: 1byone® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

I was sent this product to offer an unbiased review and I was pretty excited to see how this keyboard and trackpad combination performed. I’ve been keeping my eye out for this sort of product for a little while now to combine with my Nvidia Shield Tablet so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review this product. So, did it live up to what I was hoping for?

The Good

  • Stylish and slim
  • Keys feel good with no skipped presses
  • Micro USB charging
  • Good battery
  • Function keys for Android and Windows
The Bad
  • No grip for the bottom
  • A little too slim, flexes when typing
  • Trackpad sometimes stops working for a few seconds

The keyboard is very easy to pair with your device, literally hold the function key and the C key and then search for the keyboard in the bluetooth settings on the device you wish to pair with. Within only a couple of minutes of unwrapping the keyboard I was paired and ready to play.

It’s comfortable to use, with keys that feel great to type on. They offer a good click and are adequately spaced unlike some portable keyboards that have a plushy and cramped feel to them. My only criticism of typing on this product is that due to the keyboard being so slim it does seem to flex a little when in use.

Moving onto the trackpad is a slightly mixed bag. On the one hand it works straight off the bat with Android and offers something closer to a laptop experience on your tablet. The trackpad is large enough to use for browsing, but it does feel a little cramped, but I suppose that’s to be expected. The one thing that really let the mouse side of things down was its tendency to either lag or just disappear entirely for a few seconds. However, it performed well enough that I didn’t need to carry a portable mouse around with me.

The design of the device is great. It’s slim, lightweight, and the keys fill up pretty much all the space on the device, giving the user a great typing experience. However, the biggest flaw with this product is in the design. It has four rubber nubs on the top, obviously to help protect your tablet screen if its faced down while in your bag, however it doesn’t have the same nubs on the bottom. It does have four, very tiny and recessed slivers of rubber in each corner on the bottom.

The issue with this design flaw… Well if you type on a smooth surface it causes the keyboard to go sliding all over the place. In the end I had to seek out some form of rubber to stick on the bottom of it because out of the because the keyboard was just too slippery to use on a smooth surface. It’ not the end of the world, but it does require some additions in order to be usable.

So in conclusion this is a pretty good keyboard, especially at the price range. Are there better keyboards out there? Of course there are, but you’ll be paying extra for that. If you’re after something to combine with your tablet for some on the go use without paying a premium then this is going to cover everything you need.

Yes it has its flaws, but for the price being asked you can’t go wrong.

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Nokia Lumia 1020 Review

Introduction

The Nokia Lumia 1020, a beast of a handset wielding a monster of a camera. Some would say it’s crippled by its operating system, whereas some truly enjoy the Windows Phone ecosystem. I decided to give it a try, taking the phone for a spin and giving Windows Phone a chance on a high end handset. So what did I think?

Look and Feel

The Lumia 1020 is a big phone, but it feels nice in the hand. It has curved edges with no horrid sharp corners like some phones have, making it much more comfortable. The polycarbonate shell looks fantastic and promises to keep your phone looking smart throughout it’s life.

Despite Nokia getting the curves and the look right, the phone is chunky. One major area that makes this device uncomfortable to hold is the camera lens. Granted, its one of the phones best features, but it comes at a cost, sticking out of the back of the phone and making it awkward to hold in one hand.

Camera

There’s a lot to say about the camera on the Lumia 1020, but I can sum it all up with just one word, wow. This device takes the best pictures I have taken on any smartphone currently on the market. The picture quality is absolutely outstanding and the range of shooting features really is impressive.

The biggest thing for me that really stood out is the xenon flash. There are no situations where it’s too dark to take a picture with the Lumia, the flash helping to capture brilliant photos even in extremely low light conditions. The pictures aren’t void of life, or washed out like they are with a standard LED, and this feature has really come in handy.

Battery

Here’s where things take a turn for the worst. I’m used to smartphones and their tendency to drink battery, however the Lumia may as well be a landline phone! At best I’m lucky if I can squeeze 12 hours from my device, and that’s with relatively low usage. For anyone who needs a phone to last the day then look elsewhere, or at least stock up on battery packs.

What I liked

There are a few things that really impressed me. Obvious the camera is right up there, but the Nokia Here Drive feature offered amazing sat nav. It has a whole host of features and hands down blew every other devices built in GPS out of the water.

What I disliked

The battery! This is by far the most disappointing aspect of the Lumia 1020, ruining an otherwise great phone. I’ve tried all sorts, lowing my brightness settings, turning off most of my wireless functions, but no matter what I do, the battery is just poor.

Conclusion

So I thought I would hate this phone, only enjoying the camera, but oddly I’ve found myself growing very attached. The camera is great and I’ve even grown to like windows phone, something I never thought would happen.

The major things people need to consider when deciding if you want this device is the size and the battery. Phones are getting bigger, but they are also getting slimmer. The Lumia is big and relatively fat. The battery will most likely be a deal breaker for most people. Luckily I work with chargers all around me, but if I didn’t have constant access to the mains then I don’t think I could put up with this phone despite how much I love everything else about it.

If camera and price are at the top of your list, then give this device some consideration. If portability and battery are at the top, then turn away now.

My new Lumia 1020

I’ve recently switched to a Nokia Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone 8.1 and so far I really like it. I’ve had a hate hate relationship with all Windows products over the last few years but after seeing a demonstration of the new features on 8.1 I decided to give it a go.

As always I’ll write a full review after I’ve spent more time with the device but I’m pleasantly surprised so far. It’s well built and feels premium and the camera is fantastic.

Another Smartphone OS

I find myself reading through the tech blogs and websites on a regular basis. It’s how I keep up to date with my job and I love it. However one thing coming or of MWC this year that I find relatively shocking is we are one again being treated to hands on demos of a new smartphone os from Mozilla.
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