Michael Tamblyn Makes Waves with the Kobo Aura H2O

Michael Tamblyn Makes Waves with the Kobo Aura H2O

I’m a big fan of baths, especially after a long and stressful week, and I’ve been known to drag my smart phone or tablet into the bath with me. Precariously, I hold on to my device, hoping I don’t accidentally drop into the water filled tub. Yes, I’m crazy. How often do you find yourself doing the same thing?
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Review: Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard

My Note and Keyboard

Last week, I received a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 from Rogers. It’s a wonderful Android based tablet, which I have quickly fallen in love with. After loading in all of my favorite apps, plus a bunch of others, like Evernote, I quickly realized that this was going to be the device that would inspire me to start blogging and writing again. However, I realized that typing on a tablet was not going to cut it.

I started looking at wireless keyboards and soon discovered the lack of in-store products in the Canadian marketplace. Most keyboards were big and bulky, not ideal for tossing into my messenger bag or were tiny and built into cases, none of which were made for the Note 8. I needed something that was compact enough to tote around withg me, but big enough to handle my large fingers.

The Packaging

Luckily, I came across the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Bluetooth Keyboard. (To be honest I was very skeptical, by Microsoft, but also intrigued by Microsoft’s new packaging, red and white and very Canadian.) Optimized for Windows, but also made especially for the tablet marketplace, the keyboard touts compatibility with most Apple and Android products. The Bluetooth keyboard also comes with a beautiful cover, which doubles as a tablet stand, which is quite handy. It seemed like a great solution.

Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard

So today, I finally picked up the keyboard from The SOURCE, (It’s on sale here, save $10, til the end of the month I believe, but is strangely not listed as a product on their website) and upon opening it at home, I was pleasantly surprised. The Keyboard is the perfect size, super slim, cleanly designed and very well made, very reminiscent of Apple styling. It felts solid, sturdy and not cheap, I was totally impressed. Running on 2 AAA batteries, which were included, I was up and running and paired with the Galaxy Note 8 in record time. Best of all, the keyboard is an ideal size and comfortable to type on and easy to carry around from place to place.

The Keyboard cover doubles as a Tablet stand

In a word, impressed. Impressed enough to type out this quick review, using the keyboard and my tablet and I would highly recommend the keyboard for anyone looking for a wireless keyboard for their tablet, regardless of the size or brand.

What are your favourite accessories for your tablet?

NOTE: This post is not sponsored by Microsoft, but I am a part of a Rogers Social Insider Mobile Ambassadors program, from which I received the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Nokia Unfenced

Nokia Unfenced at the Rafter Six Ranch

A couple of weekends ago, WOMWorld/Nokia sent me and 9 other Canadian bloggers out to the Canadian Rockies for #NokiaUnfenced. The event was held in Canmore, Alberta at the Grande Rockies Resort and in Kananaskis Valley at the Rafter Six Ranch.

Armed with a Nokia N8, the Nokia X7 (which was announced especially for us) and a competitor’s phone, we were given several tasks over the weekend, while we dined, drove, climbed trees, and rode horses all with an amazing backdrop of beautiful greenery and mountains. It was the perfect setting to play with phones and try out their cameras, which was my main focus during the trip.

I immediately fell in love with the camera on the Nokia N8, which packed a Carl Zeiss Tessar 2.8/28 12MP AF lens. The picture quality was amazing, which wasn’t a surprised, cause I felt the same way about the Nokia N95 which I played with a couple of years back. I’ve always known Nokia to have amazing camera hardware on their phones. However, the big disappointment for me was the fact that the Nokia X7 didn’t have as slick of a camera as the N8, but it did have a sexy build (separate reviews forthcoming).

Though, I probably won’t be getting rid of my iPhone 4 anytime soon, it was exciting to see the innovations that were coming out of the Nokia camp. More importantly, although these two Nokia phones are on a Simbian OS, it is promising to see that Nokia has partnered with Microsoft and will be releasing a Windows 7 phone in the future, which could be a killer combo.

Below is a photo play by play of how the weekend went down. The second half of the photo gallery are all images taken with Nokia N8.

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NXNE : The Disposable Film Festival

Did you ever want to be a filmmaker, but thought you didn’t have the right equipment? The Disposable Film Festival proves that you don’t need fancy equipment to create a modern masterpiece. The premise behind the festival is to celebrate the creative potential of disposable video: short films made on everyday equipment like cell phones, pocket cameras, and other inexpensive video capture devices. Last night, at the Underground Cinema, 25 films from the Disposable Film Festival were screened as a part of NXNE.

Funny, touching, creative, personal, beautiful and most of all inspirational, sum up a handful of adjectives I could use to describe the Disposable Film Festival. I left the theatre full of ideas, wanting to create a film of my own on my iPhone. Thrush above and Paper Memories below were two of my favourites from the screening, so it wasn’t surprising to see that both won prizes at the festival.

The festival was created in 2007 in San Francisco, this year they received over 1000 submissions that were curated down to the 25 shown at the screening. They are currently accepting submissions until November 30th, 2011.

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The Future of Mobile? Making Life Good.

Back in November, LG Canada asked me if I wanted to be a part of an international blogger forum happening in Seoul, South Korea. With the launch of their first smartphone (The LG Eve) recently behind them, they wanted to engage with bloggers about the future of mobile, with the LG Eve as their stepping stone. So over the last month and a half, I’ve been using and playing with the LG Eve to see what I liked and didn’t like, taking into consideration as to what the next steps might be in terms of future mobile. This led me to list of of features that I think will grow and develop over the next few years. The three things that come to mind for me are handsfree/speech recognition, docking your phone and universal bluetooth/networking functionality.

Handsfree/Speech Recognition

With more and more governments, banning the use of mobile devices while driving. Being able to use your device handsfree is becoming increasingly important. There are already devices on the market that allow for very basic forms of speech recognition. I can only assume that these technologies will likely improve over the next few years, allowing consumers to do more than just dialling pre-programmed numbers. Ideally, you’ll be able to tell your phone to update your twitter or facebook feed. Perhaps you’ll be able to even write entire emails simply by dictating into your phone. Imagine describing an event you are witnessing and posting it into your blog, via your smartphone, without actually typing anything into the device. That would be amazing. Perhaps this is still a few years down the line, but all ideas have to start somewhere.

Docking your phone

Currently, I’m an iPhone user and I love it because it can do all the basic computing things that I can do on my home computer. I’m able to read, and send email with ease, browse websites, listen to music and access all my social networks. Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply dock your phone, just like your able to dock a notebook computer to larger monitors and full keyboards? Having one device instead of two, would definitely simplify things. And everything now is bluetooth enabled, so set up should be a breeze. Which leads me to my last idea.

Universal Bluetooth/Networking

Just like the Lord of the Rings, with one ring to rule them all, imagine one device to control them all. So many devices are bluetooth enabled; keyboards, mice, controllers for video games, computers, headsets. Now imagine if all your household devices had bluetooth, or even simple network capabilities. You walk into a room and you can turn on your entertainment system. Your laundry finishes it’s cycle and you receive a txt or an email from your washing machine, telling you it’s done. Imagine not having to deal with half a dozen remote controls, or programming your PVR from your phone. Slowly these systems are becoming a reality, and with standards in bluetooth and wireless networking, it only a matter of time before every electronic device in your home will have the ability to connect to the home network.

Perhaps my ideas are a tad futuristic, but is it really that far off into the future? When I was growing up, we were still using film to take pictures with our cameras, and now we live in a world where my phone, can take a picture, shoot video and access the internet all in my pocket. I’m sure it won’t take long for that same device to take charge of many other functions in our day to day life.

So today, I’m hopping on a plane and travelling half way around the world to meet up with a bunch of other bloggers from 8 different countries. Sure we’ll get to tour around the beautiful city of Seoul, but we are also gonna get the opportunity to meet with LG engineers to see what’s coming down the pipe and perhaps plant ideas of flying cars and and universal devices that were once known as phones. How does your future look?

LG Eve: A smart beginning for LG

Rockin the LG Eve

So for the last month, as a part of a blogger outreach program, I’ve been playing with the first Smartphone put out by the South Korean company LG, appropriately called the LG Eve (aka LG GW620). The phone features include a resistive touch screen, a tactile slider qwerty keyboard and a 5 megapixel camera (and LED flash) which shoots both photos and videos. Touted as a Social Media smartphone, the LG Eve runs on the Google Android OS, which allows for the download and use of any Android based applications.

Upon initial inspection, the LG Eve looks like a slightly smaller, slightly thicker iPhone wanna be, featuring a 3 inch screen (dimensions 106 x 55 x 12 mm). But you soon discover the discover a slider tactile qwerty keyboard and the impressive 5 megapixel camera. The phone was initially loaded with a limited number of basic applications and upon my first use of the phone, I wasn’t all that impressed. Being a full time iPhone user, Apple has done a very good job of training us to use our phones in certain ways, and using the LG Eve requires a bit of unlearning to get a full sense of the three available buttons available on the LG Eve. Underneath the touchscreen, there is a home button to the left, a round menu button in the middle and a back to the right. Once you figure out how each button works, the ease of use on the LG Eve increases massively.

Sample Video from the LG Eve

Out of the box, I wasn’t all that impressed with the applications built into the LG Eve. Being an Android phone, it came preloaded with all the various google applications, a very functional GPS application called Telenav (subscription extra), and a few other basic applications for email, web browsing etc. Also included was a Social Networking application called linkbook, which is supposed to be your one stop shop for all your social networking needs (I’ll get into this shortly). It wasn’t until I found the Marketplace application and started downloading various applications when I started to truly enjoy playing with the LG Eve. In the marketplace I was able to find apps for all my social networking needs. Twitter, facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, they had them all covered. I was also able to find Android versions of my favorite iPhone apps like Bump and Shazam. I think it was a very smart move on LG’s part to hop on the Android bandwagon, as opposed to building their own operating system for the phone. There is a whole community behind the Android movement and lots of apps being developed for it.

Linkbook

One of the biggest things they are marketing about this phone is it’s ability to connect you to your social network’s. The built in application made for that purpose, on the LG Eve is called Linkbook. The application allows you to connect to various social network from one central place. In theory, it sounds like an amazing idea, but in execution, LG does a poor job. When shown the application for the first time, I was deeply disappointed with it lack of features. The app, only provides support for Facebook, Twitter and Beebo (who uses that?). The software only allows you to access one network at a time. And there is a very limited number of things you can do from the application. Basically from a Social Network Manager application I would expect to see a number of features, which would include, but are not limited to; a large selection of networks to plug into (FourSquare, Flickr, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, MySpace etc), the ability to update my status once and have it posted to all (or selected) networks, and the ability to access more information like facebook events, or other information you might find useful while you are mobile. Of course, the redeeming feature of the phone, which I mentioned above, is it’s Android platform, which provided me with many application options for my various Social networking needs.

The Camera

When handed a phone to try, my first thing to check out is it’s camera capabilities. The photo of Wall-E above is the first I took with the camera and instantly I was impressed by it’s ability to take decent macro shots. But the real strength in the camera is built into the camera application itself. When you dive into the camera’s menu screens you soon discover, exposure compensation, flash and macro controls, shooting modes, white balancing and a whole slew of other settings you can control. Also in playing back the images on the gallery application, there are a number of edit features that you can do in-camera. Many people have asked me if I would trade my iPhone for the LG Eve. And for the camera alone, I might.

Photo Gallery of images captured with the LG Eve

Overall the LG Eve is a excellent initial effort by LG into the smartphone market. They’ve made a lot of good choices with this phone. The keyboard and touchscreen combo is a great feature especially for those who are fans of tactile keyboards, and I know there are a lot of you out there. The built in camera is a joy to play with. and the Android platform provides a ton of applications, for productivity, to games to social networking. The LG Eve is available in Canada on the Rogers network.