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Holiday Gift Guide

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

If you’re like most of us, the holidays are a whirlwind time focused on friends and family. That’s the good part. The bad part is trying to decide what sort of gifts to get your loved ones that will stand out and make them feel special. Our best suggestion? Don’t focus so much on what you’re going to buy, but who you’re buying it for. Most people fit into broad categories you can use that make shopping for them much easier.

Outdoorsy types will love things that will help protect their mobile devices while they are out doing cool but messy activities.  Take a good look at waterproof cases, rugged cases, or even something like glass screen protection. These all make excellent stocking stuffers, no matter who you're buying for.

Teens will bow down to your greatness for giving them a device designed with their needs in mind. Think large screen and plenty of storage for all their movies and music, with enough horsepower to keep game-playing fast and furious.  

Everyone has at least one audiophile on their shopping list, and there are plenty of gifts to choose from that will feed their need for music. Bluetooth enabled speakers can be paired with any mobile device. Or for something more personal, a set of high end headphones can let anyone enjoy a concert without the whole world listening in.

There are going to be a lot of great deals available on Black Friday, so make your choices now to score a direct hit when you go out and make your holiday dash through the stores.

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App of the Month: WAZE

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  
Tags: , , , ,

First, let me tell you that WAZE is probably the most relevant traffic app available. Why? Because it is a unique hybrid of advanced mapping technology and social media. The nuts and bolts aspect of WAZE, getting from Point A to Point B in the most direct way is pretty much spot on.  Simply type in (or speak) a specific address, or even something like “pizza in Danbury, CT” to start your journey.  WAZE will provide the most direct route, alert you of problems along the way, and give you a surprisingly accurate ETA for reaching your destination. Plus, as a bonus, you can share your route via SMS or email. The recipient can even watch your progress via this link to see if you encounter traffic along the way. Simply incredible!

What helps the app really shine is the continuous stream of travel data that is input from other users as they drive to their various destinations. Is there a car broken down on the shoulder on I-95? Just a few taps on the screen and everyone in the area knows to look out for it. The same thing goes for traffic, accidents, road hazards, and (yes) speed traps. This continuous stream of data is more accurate and more reliable than anything that could ever be generated by other means.

Instead of relying on data provided by the DOT or local traffic cams, it uses real time input from actual drivers. This means no matter how remote the area is you are traveling in, there’s likely to be a real time report of value to help your trip. Stuck in a seemingly endless traffic jam in unfamiliar territory? No problem. WAZE also offers up alternate routes and shows exactly how much time is saved by using them. My all-time record for time saved is 53 minutes (really!) when part of I-84 was closed due to an accident. While everyone sat on the hoods of their cars and waited, I happily sailed along on some very obscure back roads to arrive at home on time for dinner. The laundry list of great features also includes providing accurate local gas prices, and a trip calculator to take you to the best gas price in whatever town you may find yourself. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s so good it’s scary.

In short, put your old-fashioned GPS up for sale on eBay and download WAZE for your phone!

 

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Smartphones: Is bigger always better?

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the latest mobile device releases these days. One maker boasts their newest smartphone has a 5.4” screen, a second points out they have a 5.5” screen, and yet another touts their chart-topping 6.4” screen. So which one is best?  Is bigger really better when it comes to smartphones?

If you’re like me, comfort is high on your list of must-haves with a new device. While I am truly tempted by the monstrous screens on the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Note 4, I would feel a bit conspicuous pulling it out in public just to send a text. However, if you ask my wife the same question, she would tell you the larger screen is a great way to catch up on her reading at the beach, for watching a video while waiting to pick up my son after school, or easily answering all of her email while on the go. I guess that means the decision is a bit like buying a pair of shoes. Make your decision based on how you will use the device, how well it suits your user style, and how well it fits you.

Personal preferences aside, there are some real-world physical limitations to keep in mind. As you can see in the graphic below, not everyone’s hand is large enough to use – let alone hold some of the larger phones currently available.

Thumbswipe resized 600

I recommend two simple tests to try before making your purchase: First, grasp each phone firmly in the space between your thumb and index finger. How much grip do you have with the larger phone? The larger phones also tend to weigh more, which can negatively impact comfort.

Second, hold the phone in one hand and swoop your thumb across the screen in an arc; much like a windshield wiper. What percentage of the screen does your thumb comfortably reach? Is it enough to cover your typical day’s app usage?

For iPhone users, Apple built in some help for those with limited reach: Tap the home button lightly twice, and everything at the top of the screen jumps to the middle, making it much easier to access – regardless of phone size. Additionally, some apps like iMessage have controls that live in the lower right corner, near your thumb.

Most users with large phones end up learning how to operate them with two hands, or developing “unusual” ways to hold them. I feel that if you start looking like a contortionist, you might want to consider moving to a smaller phone.

Another often overlooked part of the purchase decision comes from answering the question: “How will I carry this”? Does the phone fit into your typical pants or shirt pocket? How about a small “evening out” purse or your everyday “mom bag”? There’s nothing in my wardrobe that a large phone wouldn’t fit comfortably into, and my wife could hide a full-size PC in the day-to-day bag that she lugs around.

After all that, what’s the best advice I can give? It’s actually quite simple: Try the new device on for size before making a purchase; and don’t just try one – test drive a couple of alternatives. Your wireless retailer genuinely wants you to leave happy and satisfied with your shiny new purchase, so take the time to choose wisely.

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Verizon's Family Locator Helps You Keep Track of Loved Ones

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

In today’s fast-paced, always-on-the-go world, families often have to deal with wondering “where is everyone”? Fortunately, there is a simple tech solution to this problem, and it’s probably already in your pocket! With Family Locator, you can keep tabs on your family’s whereabouts whether they’re at work, school, the mall, or even an outdoor event.

How It Works
It’s easy to get started using your Verizon Wireless account. Once you add Family Locator to your account, you simply send a text message to the phone of everyone in your family that you would like to be able to monitor. Once your family’s devices have been enabled*, you simply log on to the Family Locator portal on your PC to set up profiles, add locations such as school or work, and schedule text or email alerts for each phone. Once this is done, you’ll be able to receive updates with the location of your family member’s phones, so you can keep your loved ones close even when they are far away.

What it Does
-Locate Your Family Anytime: Get locations, including street address, a detailed map, and turn-by-turn directions to every family member.
-Receive Arrival and Departure Updates: Family Locator will text or email you when family members leave predetermined locations such as work, school, or home.
-Schedule Automatic Updates: Have Family Locator find your family members at a certain time and text or email you with their locations.
-Stay Connected with Family Messaging: Text family members after locating them with the integrated messaging feature.

Bonus Features
For your younger family members, there is an excellent free add-on that allows you to manage the content they receive on their mobile devices. Parents can choose from 3 tiers of filtering: Children 7+, Teens 13+, and Young Adults 17+. By setting these simple boundaries, you can protect your children from questionable content even if you aren’t around to help guide them.

Have a teen driver in your family? Get an estimate of how fast they are driving each time you locate their device. Let them know you care by watching out for their safety while they are on the road.

With Family Locator, you can monitor as much or as little as you feel appropriate, and caring about your family has gotten a little bit easier thanks to technology. Visit your local Wireless Zone® Retailer to learn more.

 

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Wireless Zone App Of The Month: Battery Doctor

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

App of the month: Battery Doctor

Let’s face it; everyone has had their battery run out of juice at some point in their ultra-connected life. Today’s smartphones are power hogs compared to the simpler days when flip phones ruled the landscape. HD screens, GPS locators, streaming media, and constant Facebook updates all combine to quickly deplete what is already a finite resource.

Enter Battery Doctor (Android / iOS). Our October App of the Month is a great way to keep track of your power consumption based on what you use your device for most. It also shows how to conserve that precious resource by disabling functions or apps that are silently reducing your air time, and provides different charging modes for your device to maximize battery life. The high point of the app is the one-touch optimization feature to really save you time and energy. (Pun intended)

If you still find that your battery runs out at the most inopportune moment, don’t give up hope just yet. You can always add a car charger to your glovebox, or for the best protection, a Mophie Juice Pack will provide you with nearly double the power! Stop by Your local Wireless Zone® Retailer to see how we can help.

 

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Softcard: The new way to pay with your phone

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

Softcard is an exciting new way to make electronic payments while you’re on the go. Instead of wasting time fumbling for credit cards and worrying if your data is being compromised, Softcard offers a quick and easy way to pay, while also protecting your important financial information.

The secret to Softcard’s success is already embedded in most current Android smartphones. The NFC chip allows your phone to complete a secure data transfer using something called (appropriately enough) “Near-Field Communications”. Much like how your laptop communicates with your router at home, your phone now becomes your credit card. Simply place it near an NFC- enabled checkout terminal at one of over 200,000 (and growing) local merchants, enter your PIN, and the transaction is completed. It’s really that simple. Plus, if the phone is ever lost or stolen, you can freeze your phone’s wallet to protect your assets with a single click or call.

Through Verizon’s partnership with American Express, there are a number of promotions that make changing the way you pay even more attractive. From instant credits to cash back, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

 

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The LG G3: Crashing the flagship device party

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

As the last entry into the top tier device group for 2014, LG had a lot to live up to. Given the overwhelming success of the Galaxy S5 and the juggernaut that is the iPhone, there was little room for another player.  With the G3 LG has met the challenge and in some cases, surpassed their competition.

With the G3, LG has taken an Android power-user’s wish list and packed it into a sleek device that boasts features such as: 2.5GHZ Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM (wow), 32GB of built-in storage with support for micro SD cards up to 128GB (again, wow), a 13 megapixel camera (with infrared laser focus!), and of course an amazing QuadHD screen. The G3 also holds its own in the looks department with a sleek brushed metal look body that just feels “right” in your hand. The G3 is easily the most user-friendly phone with a screen size of 5.5 inches.

So how does it perform in day to day use? One word: Amazing.  Even with a benchmark-setting display and screaming processor, it can easily run for an entire day under moderate to heavy use on a single battery charge. Speaking of the battery, another great feature of the G3 is its removable battery; which means you can always carry a quick-change spare if you are an ultra-heavy power user of your mobile device. LG put a lot of research into battery life, and it shows bright and clear in the final product. The 13 megapixel camera takes excellent photos, even under low light, which is the true test of any camera. The more I use it, the more I like it and appreciate the exceptional effort that went into its design. Stop by your local Wireless Zone® Retailer to take a test drive and see the difference for yourself.

Thanks LG!

TECH SPECS:  

LG G3

Dimensions

146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm (curved)

Weight

5.26 oz. (149g)

Screen size

5.5 inches

Screen resolution

2,560 x 1,440 (534 ppi)

Screen type

IPS LCD

Battery

3,000mAh Li-Ion (removable)

Internal storage

32GB

External storage

Up to SDXC standard/2TB theoretical

Rear camera

13MP with OIS

Front-facing cam

2.1

Video capture

3,840 x 2,160 (4K)/30 fps

NFC

Yes

Radios

SK Telecom/ Korean Model:
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900)
UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps (850/900/1900/2100)

LTE (800/1800/2600)

Bluetooth

v4.0

SoC

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

CPU

2.5GHz quad-core

GPU

Adreno 330

RAM

3GB

Multimedia

SlimPort/DLNA

Wi-Fi

Dual-band, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Wireless Charging

Yes

Operating system

Android 4.4.2 (near stock)

 lg g3 3 resized 600

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4 Ways to Improve Your Selfie (Using Your Smartphone's Camera)

Posted by Kevin Downs
  
  
  
  
  
  

Capturing the best YOU.

 

Everybody's doing it! Even if you don't like your picture snapped (like me) ocassionally you want to get yourself and a friend, or update a profile picture, so here are a few ways to improve upon the selfie.

1. Use Accessories
A few weeks ago I talked about a few Selfie Accessories like the Shutterball that will help you get that great picture that doesn't have a bathroom mirror behind it. Those are the worst!


2. Use Your Self Timer
I can't think of a single smartphone cameras that doesn't have a self timer. Why is this helpful? You can set it and know when to strike a pose without having to manage to hit the shutter. Most Samsung smartphone cameras and many others also have a voice feature you can turn on so all you have to do is say "cheese" and it will snap the picture. You need to go to Settings>Voice Control Turn it on, then make sure Camera is checked. Now when you take a picture you can say Shoot or Smile or Cheese and it will snap the photo, shutter button finger free!

 

3. Take advantage of the camera technology

The Samsung Galaxy S5 sports a feature that uses the front-facing and the rear camera at the same time. You can take a selfie and a picture of some amazing landmark behind you in one photo (without having to do any editing.)
The HTC One M8 has dual rear cameras that can create some really cool 3D effects. But more importantly, it has a selfie picture type editing feature. Do you want to make your face look a little thinner, maybe you want your eyes bigger or more sparkly! You won't believe what this phone can do!

 

4. If all else fails, use an app

If you phone is lacking in the camera feature mentioned above, there are plenty of apps and filters designed specifically for selfies. Pixtr and Facetune, can smooth wrinkles, brighten you smile and and chisel your look. CamMe works with gesture comtrols so you can avoid the selfie "look."  Selfie Cam uses smile detection to activate the shutter. Frontback combines the front and rear facing pictures.

 

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Must-Have Apps for Your Smartphone

Posted by Kevin Downs
  
  
  
  
  
  

There are tons of apps being developed on a daily basis. I am always on the lookout for cool new apps. Here's my Must-Have app criteria

  1. No one knew you could do this with your phone
  2. I can't wait to tell my techie friends about it
  3. Blows my productivity through the roof
  4. I can't put it down
  5. Solves a problem/Takes care of a need (You may not have known you had!)
  6. Wows me in general

If an app hits on 1, 2 and 3 it's blog worthy, so this is why I'm writing this article.

Touchtones
The first app is called TouchTunes. With it you can control Juke boxed in about 60,000 bars. This app acts as a remote jukebox allowing you to search music available and even play music from your own mobile device. Now you can see why this hits my #1 criteria! This app could get me in trouble! Irt's available on iPhone and Android. The app is free but you'll have to pay for the jukebox plays. Who cares, right? you can skip over the run of awful country music selections some bleeding heart stacked up!

Tinder
Are you looking to meet someone online? Are you tired of all the hookup apps? Tinder is a spinoff of Facebook. You are probably already on Facebook so what Tinder does is it lets you get a look at people within the criteria you set, then you simply swipe one way for yes and the other for no. Then the only people that can reach out to you are people you've previously ok'd that want to meet you as well. That'll save a lot of time from undesirable people that you'd never consider dating, never mind texting, from sending you messages! The other cool thing is that using your Facebook criteria, it'll show how far this person is away, their first name, and any likes or friends you have in common. You can also message right through the app.

Cover
Cover is a really cool screen lock that enables you to have the apps you use readily available. It can also separate them to car, home and work. Using GPS it can determine where you are so it will make the appropriate screen available. Oh yeah, and it's really sharp looking. You can chose from preloaded photos or use your own. Sorry iPhone peeps, it only works on Android.

TimePIN

TimePIN is really clever for people who either can't remember their PIN or never change it which makes it susceptible to hacking. All you do is put the current time in so at 2;16 your PIN is 0216. As long as you don't let on you are using this app no one will ever hack your code and you'll never forget it...unless you forget you have the app! Sorry, iPhone fans, this is another Android specific app.

CallBlocker
I am always getting asked how to block calls and text messages. With SPAM on the rise CallBlocker is great for both unwanted calls and texts and you don't have to log into your carriers website to do it. Android(free)  iOS($4.99)

 

 

 




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Take Pictures Like a Pro Using Your Smartphone

Posted by Cellular Chloe
  
  
  
  
  
  

I come from a photography background and I don't mind telling you, the cameras on smartphones have gotten pretty dam impressive. There are so many good features and apps that will help you take pictures like a pro. I am going to give you some tips and apps that will improve your photos and enable you to do some pretty cool effects.

Old School Photography Tips (Oldies but goodies)

  • Don't shoot into the sun. If the sun is behind you, your subject will be better illuminated. You may have to adjust slightly if the sun is causing them to squint. If you can't get the postion right, force the device to flash to fill in unwanted shadows.
  • Use flash indoors, especially if there is ANY movement. Unless you are going for the natural look, using flash indoors will eliminate the yellow blurred photos.
  • Use the rule of thirds. The most aesthetically pleasing photos are the result of splitting your frame into thirds. Position horizons one third up instead of exactly in the middle, and people one third in from the left or right. Just be sure you have locked the focus on the subject.

Accessories

There are some accessories that will make your phototaking a snap (no pun intended). One of the best accessories to have is a tripod. Smartphones don't have a tripod mount so you can get something like a Grip Tight Gorilla Pod that will grip your smartphone.

Another really cool accessory is the Shutterball. With it you can take selfies or delfies (duo selfies) without trying to hold the device and hit the shutter button. Some phones are easier to take pictures with than others but the bigger the phone, the trickier to hold it, stabilize it and tap the shutter. Shutterball comes with an accompanying app that allows the phone to connect to the Shutterball via Bluetooth and when you go to take the picture you only need to hit the button on the Shutterball. A Grip Tight Gorilla Pod would work out nicely if you take a lot of group shots.

shutterball

Lapse It


Lapse It is an awesome app that will allow you to take time lapse photos using any smartphone. You may want to get an accessory that allows you to mount your phone, like a Gorilla Pod.

Events such as movement of clouds, the rising and setting of the sun, a party with your friends, even individual activities or anything else that you can imagine. You will see them in a new way and otherwise undetectable patterns will emerge.

Features:

  • Native version both for iOS and Android
  • Powerful and blazing fast render engine
  • Well designed UI improving visual and usability
  • Capture resolution up to 1080p on the Pro version
  • Capture interval starting at one second
  • Cool effects applied while capturing or before rendering
  • No restrictions for capture length or frames
  • On screen information during capture
  • Upload directly to YouTube, Facebook and many others
  • Easily adjustable settings
  • Tested and approved by more then 500.000 people

 

 

Photaf


Way back in the day, a camera that was able to take 360 photos cost over $20,000. Now all you need is your smartphone and an app that will stitch it all together. Photaf does an amazing job.

Aviary

Aviary is by far my favorite smartphone photo editor. It is easy to use and has akl the tools you need. If you want to do instagram type effects you can do those as well. This is the only photo editor I ever use on my Samsung Note 3 and I use my pix all the time for blog articles etc. 

  • One-tap auto enhance
  • Gorgeous photo effects and frames
  • Fun stickers
  • Color balance
  • Crop, rotate, and straighten your photo
  • Adjust brightness, contrast, color temperature, and saturation
  • Sharpen and blur
  • Color temperature ("Warmth")
  • Color Splash Focus
  • Tilt Shift Draw and add text
  • Create your own memes
  • Cosmetic tools: fix redeye, remove blemishes and whiten teeth

PhotoGrid

This is a fun app but it's also great for organizing pictures into a grid or collage or filmstrip for posting to Facebook or even printing. Using the above pictures of Shutterball as an example, here is a nicer way to present the photos using PhotoGrid
Photogrid shutterball

GrooveBook

Gone are the days you'd bring your roll of film to the 1-hour photo and get your part, vacation or holiday pictures back to show everyone. Now it's even easier, you take the microSD card out of your phone and go to any department or drug store to a kiosk where you can pick and choose the photos you want. Do you do that? No? Me either. And I know why. It's just as easy to show people your pictures right on your phone. Why bother printing them out? Well what if you want to frame them or create a collage gift for a friend or share a group photo with everyone in the group. What if someone you want to share with doesn't have a smartphone. It's still nice to hold a photo in your hand.
Groovebook is a really neat concept I found out about on SharkTank. You subscribe for $2.99 a month and get 100 photos printed and sent to you in an easy tear out book. And you don't have to leave the comfort of your....well, wherever you are comfortable. You can bail at anytime if you don't want to continue using the service, otherwise it's a no-brainer!
I hope you find some of these cool photo tips and apps helpful. Photo apps are among my favorite!

Peace out
-CC

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