Tag Archive: reviews


Micro CruzOK, so Techsnoop took the plunge and bought a tablet. Being on a budget, I choose the Velocity Micro Cruz 7″ Tablet. It was a great bargain on Black Friday. So, was it worth it?
Portability; the Micro Cruz comes with a cover, adapter and stand. A great set of accessories that make it easy to take around and use. While not the lightest it could be, it is comfortable to carry. After learning to customize it, I like it and will use happily until I can upgrade.

  • Handling; the 7″ size makes it large enough to view comfortably and just small enough to handle with one hand, barely. If I could change one thing, it would be slicing a little thinness down.
  • OS; the Micro Cruz uses modified Android 2.2 which blocks the download of apps from the Android Market. A serious handicap for the average user. However there are workarounds for the advanced tech-geek. I don’t know what caused Velocity to handicap their otherwise nice equipment with this drawback. It seriously detracts from the functionality of the device and nearly caused me to return it.
  • Uses; As an eReader, A++. Text is clear and crisp and it displays pictures well also. Photos; a great photo display, accurate color resolution.
  • Support; customer support is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
  • Battery life; Absolutely astounding. Had it on for a full day’s use of retrieving e-mail, tweeting and occasional reading and the charge lasted over 9 hours. Streaming from YouTube for over 2 hours with no problem.

Cons: slow processor, limited on-board memory, kind of heavy and thick.  Touch screen is not very responsive, takes multiple taps until you get the pressure correct. Has several glitches that occur when trying to customize.  Manual is not as thorough as it should be, but is well written and easy to follow.

In summary, if you are an advanced Geek on a budget who wants to plunge into the tablet era, go ahead.  Know that you will need to upgrade in the near future, but this is a great device to get started on.  If you are a casual user looking for a beefy eReader, this might suit you.  You’ll probably need some help from customer service to get up to speed.

Novice; unless you have a Geek friend on standby, don’t try this.  You’ll get frustrated and the money saved will not be worth it.
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AlertAlert! A new virus is out which can circumvent your anti-virus program.  It comes from phishing websites urls and can take over your computer.  If you get a message to update Adobe Flash player and cannot shut it down, you have been infected.  Another symptom is clicking on links on websites and being given a download message instead of going to the link action.  Also, if you cannot open folders on your hard drive, you may be infected.  I was infected visiting a site I have gone to in the past.  It was not infected then, but is now a victim of phishing.  This can happen to anyone.

If you suspect you have this virus, seek help immediately.  It can be cleaned off by going to a system restore point that is known to be clear of the virus.  If you are not setting system restore points and backing up your files on a regular basis, DO IT NOW.

FYI, I have a superior anti-virus program which is updated twice a day.  My computer is scanned every day.  When I scanned my computer, the program did not recognize the virus so it may be a keylogger.  If you are infected, change all of your passwords, uninstall Flash player and Java and reinstall them from the developer sites.  I have taken all of these steps and it was a pain.  But it would have been much worse if I had not had my files backed up and my system restore points.  Have a happy Holiday season and enjoy shopping online safely.

GiftsTo those who have planned ahead and have disposable income to utilize over the 2011 holiday season, Techsnoop has some suggestions for you.  Of the items deemed to be hot this year, we have a few comments to add.

Kindle Fire; no matter how you slice it, Amazon has a hit on their hands.  This tablet has just enough punch to be a quality entertainment gift option for those on a non-iPad budget.  While the storage is low, most of the content for this device is designed to be stored in the Amazon Cloud.  This makes it accessible, but not hogging up your hard drive space.

Nook Tablet; A better choice if you have some legacy eBooks and music to transfer.  The Nook Tablet has 16GB of storage and and SD card slot.  Plus, it comes ready to stream from Hulu and Netflix.  This is another worthy entry in the affordable tablet competition.

Smartphones; All major carriers now have a version of the Samsung Galaxy S II.  This is a great phone with dual-core processor, 8GB ram, 8MP camera and great reviews.  If someone on your list needs a new Android phone, this is a great option.

Inkling; A graphic designer’s new best friend, the Inkling by Wacom allows you to sketch or draw on paper and create vector or Photoshop layers and import to your computer.  Without being tied to your laptop or tablet.  So when you’re out and about and inspiration hits, get sketching.  A great choice for your favorite graphic designer (hint, hint).

Gaming systems; The latest innovations in games is interactivity.  Kinect for XBox and Playstation Move for Playstation 3 are great gift ideas for the gamer in your life.  Don’t forget the gift card for Gamefly.

Last but definitely not least, iPad2.  If you have the money, this is the most wanted gift of the year (or any year).  Versatile, light and durable, the iPad is a great entertainment device and productivity hog.

So get out and find the best Black Friday deals you can with your list in hand.

Nook & FireTablets have become the new must-have accessory.  So the question becomes not if, but which tablet to choose from?

With the entry of two new contenders, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook, there are some solid lower priced alternatives.  First, what will you use your tablet for?  If you need it for heavy-duty business on the road, look for a higher end model.  These are not for heavy office app usage.

But, if you are streaming, reading, e-mailing and viewing pics, one of these could be right for you.  Priced at $199 for the Fire and $249 for the Nook, both are in the price range of a high-end smartphone.  Battery life and storage capacity are better with the Nook, so if you plan to store a lot of media on your device, the extra $50 is worth it.

For me, I hate being handcuffed to a specific service provider so the Fire won’t work as you have to get all of your content from the Amazon Cloud.  But if you are already an Amazon Prime customer, this is a fantastic deal as there are all sorts of freebies that will come with your Fire.

With the current technologies, screen resolution and readability are very close on most devices, so you can narrow your decision based on storage and use needs.  Oh, and connectivity?  Both are Wi-Fi only.

Happy Holiday Shopping!

With the daily release of new gadgets and software, how do you wade through the pool to choose what to spend your limited entrepreneur dollars on?

First, know that any items purchased must suit your personal and business needs.  As an entrepreneur,  you don’t have the luxury of separating work and family.  Particularly with freelance or start up businesses, you are always at work.  There is no “off” time.  Either you are working, meeting clients, marketing or thinking up ideas.  If you don’t spend time on all these activities, you won’t be successful.

So your tech has to be a multi-tasking as you are.  At the same time, you don’t have time to get a degree in how to use your tablet.  Quick tip; Sprint will tutor you on your new device and set it up for your specific needs.  Just make a set up appointment when you purchase and you can cut your learning curve to nearly zero.

Second, know what you can give up comfortably.  If the idea of using a touch screen is not appealing, stick with a laptop, netbook and traditional style phone.  Most smartphones and tablets are optimized for touch use only, you can add third-party keyboards, but you may give up some functionality of the device.

Third, consider price.  This is usually the first thing people consider, but if you have a business, buy the best, most up to date tech you can afford.  The upgrade cycle is usually two to three years so you will be stuck with this device for a while.  If the capabilities are already being phased out, no price break will make this a good idea.

Finally, do your foot work.  Don’t just rely on on-line reviews.  Instead, use on-line references to narrow your list then go out to the stores and actually play with the device for a while.  You may end up purchasing on line for a good deal, but make sure you are going to love the item you are entrusting your profitability to.

FreeOver at Tech-A-Break I’ve been blogging about the economy and starting your own business.  Here on Techsnoop’s Helper I would like to offer up free tools for those in the Design industry.  As a freelance designer myself, I understand how important it is to maximize time and finances so here are a few tools to help with both.

First up; free smartphone apps.  GetJar offers apps that are normally paid for free for most platforms other than Apple.  Also, Amazon App store offers one app free every day.  Both sites offer productivity apps in addition to games.

Next; get paid for roaming the city and clicking on ads – with MobiboTrello is a great app for collaborating with peers and customers.  3D Issue converts your PDFs into page-flip magazines.  While it’s not free, they do offer a free 30 day trial to test out.

And no roundup of freebies would be complete without mentioning Smashing Magazine, Net Magazine and Mashable.

Thanks for reading, I hope these all help you as much as they do me!

InklingWelcome gadget geeks and lovers of all new toys.  I am about to start your Christmas wish list.  I’ll be showcasing one new item each week as we move into the holiday frame of mind.  First up;

Ah, Inkling, where have you been all my life?

The great minds at Wacom have produced a tool that takes your sketches and translates them to vector art: enter the Inkling.  More than just another pen that sends information to your computer, the Inkling actually records your sketch and can separate it into layers and upload to your Mac or PC in the format of your choice.  Then you can refine your work into digital perfection.

Imagine the possibilities.  A random doodle can become your next masterpiece or the main character in your new movie.

Personally, I hope all my family and friends are reading.  This is the toy for me.

Well, here we are folks, now that the cell service providers have hooked us on all the fun and important things to be done on a phone other than talk, they want to limit us.  After years of pounding smartphones into our hands, cell service providers are crying “smartphone use is expensive”!  So, what you are saying is that the CFOs of these businesses did not run calculations and projections before pushing this product on the public.  Verizon is the latest to jump on the pay per use bandwagon for data with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Here is a great opportunity for Sprint to be the stand alone provider with a backbone to provide their customers with a clear and aggressive choice for service. They can also re-define themselves and create a completely separate and loyal customer base.  By keeping unlimited data plans and offering the iPhone, Sprint can re-capture some of it’s lost buzz as a premier provider.

The question is; will Sprint cave?  Only time will tell and they will surely attempt to make any change quietly so that they don’t get caught as one of the sheep, following placidly in the footsteps of the competition.

So, will Sprint make us proud?  Or, will once again, consumers bear the brunt of the shortsightedness of big business?

Well, it had to happen, Sprint is in negotiations to add the Apple iPhone to their line up of products. With the end of AT&Ts lock down of the iPhone, this was a foregone conclusion.  Sprint must keep up with the competition or die as a company.

This will be a boon to those Sprint customers who like Apple products but I don’t see it raising Sprint’s market share by much unless the following issues are addressed.

1. Sprint’s customer service must step up.  Poor support is not what Apple customers are used to or will tolerate.

2. Connection issues.  Verizon has done a better job of making the iPhone perform as a phone than AT&T did, but there are still some fixes needed.  Personally, I would never purchase a phone that did not perform the primary function at peak efficiency.

3. Product overload.  Sprint has a huge portfolio of smartphones now and should begin weeding out some of the lower end models.  Skip the mid range and concentrate on offering basic phones and high end models.  Use sales metrics and customer surveys to see which features are most wanted by Sprint customers.  You have a customer base, utilize it.

 

As posted here previously, I love my HTC EVO.  This is arguably one of the 5 best phones ever released.  However, I am quite exhausted with the sporadic service from Sprint.

For the past two months or so, many services I use have had a high “fail out” rate. Sometimes they work fine, sometimes they work poorly, and sometimes they didn’t work at all.

I at first thought my phone might be having problems.  But after talking to some other Sprint users, I found there was a high incidence of issues from call dropping to non-working features.  So, I contacted Sprint customer service to see what could be done.  The rep was very nice and had me run some firmware updates on my phone.  She then began to explain that some of the services I was trying to use were only available for 4G.  I then told her I had been using these services on 3G just fine until recently.  She was unable to explain this and referred me to go into a repair center.

Prior to going to the repair center, I did some digging around and found out that Sprint is currently converting some cell towers in the area from 3G to 4G.  The work is causing some connectivity issues and bandwith narrowing.  It should be resolved within the month.

Now, I’m all for updating equipment, especially since it will provide me with a feature I have been paying for nearly a year without having the actual feature.  However, why couldn’t Sprint simply announced the coming changes and apologized in advance for any inconveniences?  A little upfront transparency can go a long way in customer satisfaction.

Instead, like so many companies, Sprint choose the ostrich method.  Stick your head in the sand and hope most people won’t notice the issues.

Come on, Sprint, don’t go back to your previous last place in customer satisfaction.  Your customer policies are what put you behind your competition. After all, your phones and packages are very highly rated.  Make the 4G leap of customer care and put yourself ahead of the pack.