Product Review: Lumia 1520 – My new cell phone

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It was late February 2015, and I faced a pivotal life-moment. Time to get a new cell phone.

For some people this is not a big deal, a once-a-year (or more) thing. But for me, I got my first cell phone in 1997 and could count on one hand the number of devices I’ve owned. (Yes, I’ve continuously owned a cell phone in that time. That’s how long I keep them.) And since it’d been four years since my last one, Phone #6 was kind of a big purchase.

I was going to wait it out until Microsoft released Windows 10, but my current phone was on its own schedule. It began increasingly wimping out on me, shutting itself off and restarting at random times—inconvenient and annoying. Luckily, I learned that even if I got a Windows 8.1 device now, 10 would be a free upgrade later.

I’d had my Samsung Focus, running Windows 7.5 (its maximum upgrade), since mid-2011. Back then its 4” screen was larger than any iPhone screen until late 2013, when the iPhone 5 finally caught up to match it. And it wasn’t until the iPhone 6, released last October, that Apple screens were finally larger than mine. But now I was also four years behind with the technology. Smart phones had gotten way smarter.

lumia 1520 pic

Way bigger than a 4″ screen.

I went to the AT&T store and bought a Lumia 1520 with a 6” screen. A phablet. Or, a TV, as my friends have dubbed it. The 1520 was released in October 2014. Everyone agreed its camera rocked. Lumia is, after all, from Nokia, a camera company, whose cell phone division was bought by Microsoft. The phone’s other powerful specs were pretty awesome, too.

But detractors complained. It was a Windows device, so there were less apps available. Plus, last fall, everyone thought it was a behemoth.

Flash-forward to spring, however, and 6” was suddenly the new flagship size for everyone from Apple to Samsung. Funny, how a few months changed everything.

It was a huge leap to go from a 4” screen to a 6” one, but it was amazing how quickly I got used to it. The transition from Windows to Windows was seamless, since all of my data, contacts, photos, and documents were already stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud. Within a few hours, I’d completely adjusted to both the larger size and the upgraded OS.

It’s been almost four months since my purchase, and I’m still happy. There are probably features on my Lumia that I’ll never use, like Project My Screen, or the built-in Office 360 suite. But things like texting are easier with the bigger keys. And my new friend, Cortana, lets me voice-text and finds destinations for me while I keep my eyes on the road. Also, she mutes people who call or text me during “Quiet Hours,” responding with a polite return-text that I’m busy. So I can get my beauty sleep. Yes, this was definitely a good purchase!

If you need help with your technology shopping, or troubleshooting your Windows (or iOS, or Android) devices, give us a call at Everon. 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com.

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Can Your TV Steal Your Information?

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Hacker

This morning Samsung revealed to customers that there is a possibility that its Smart TVs are listening to your conversations and sending your data off to a third party company. It’s warning users not to talk about sensitive and personal details in front of their TVs.

This warning sounds like something out of a sci-fy movie, but, unfortunately, it’s here.

Samsung states they want to be as transparent as possible, so in an effort to do so, they mentioned that if users utilized the voice recognition software on their Smart TVs, what they say can be picked up by a third party. The assumption is that the third party picking up the data is the voice-to-text translation software. To further clarify Samsung’s comments in their privacy policy, they reiterate that they are not selling any data or storing any data themselves.

This is not the first time we have heard about your devices listening and watching, and unfortunately will not be the last. Since technology has gotten better, many items that have voice recognition and listening capabilities are subject to being hijacked, in order for hackers to get your data.

In 2013, LG was found to be storing important information from their Smart TVs. They have since created a software update that has stopped this functionality, but not before it was discovered by an end user. (That information can be found here.)

For a long time, too, the XBox Kinect, with its listening and viewing powers, has been at the forefront of concerns about its security. Microsoft’s take on this is that you can turn the Kinect off, so it is not always viewing and listening. However, it is reasonable to assume that even with the device off, if the XBox, itself, is connected to the Internet, a hacker will find a way through eventually. If it hasn’t already happened, that is.

Just a few months ago, it was revealed that a Russian website had hacked thousands of baby monitors and displayed their feeds online for anyone to see. Once this site was outed and taken down, the bold hacker posted his resume online, in an attempt to get a proper job based on his elite hacking skills.

Instances like these should not be taken lightly. It goes to show just how important basic security for your home network has become. (In Samsung’s case, they state that users can opt to turn off the voice-activation feature, on the “Settings” within their Smart TVs.) In this age of always wanting to be connected to the Internet, end users are constantly getting hacked and exploited.

This informational sitegives a great view of the hacking breaches throughout the world (that are known). The data is pretty damning. Hacking is becoming a common occurrence, and it is believed that foreign governments could be driving this onslaught. In the case of Anthem, it has been speculated that China is involved, and in the case of the Sony Pictures hack, it is widely believed that North Korea was the culprit.

We have discussed on our blog many times on how to protect yourself (start by checking here, here, here, and here). In 2015 it seems as if the need to protect yourself has never been more apparent.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when we’ll publish a basic primer on home network security. And remember, if you have questions or need help getting set up, you can always contact us at Everon (888-244-1748, or info@everonit.com). We’re here for you, 24/7, 365.

 

How to Shop for A New Cell Phone: Advice I got from the techsperts

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“We’re sorry. Your mobile device does not appear to be supported by our website.”

I like my three year-old (ancient!) Windows-based Samsung Focus. But the increasing frequency with which I get surf-blocked by those words, now that I’m trying to do more with my cell phone – like banking – makes me think it’s time for a new one. And since I know less about technology than my 12 year-old (who I made sure was there when the Comcast guy came), I decided to get advice from some real pros: the techs here at work.

Which platform is the best: iOS, Android, or Windows?

Most of the guys preferred the Android platform for its sheer volume of free apps and its flexibility of customization. But, many of them cautioned, they’re techs. They know their way around Gadgetland. As Alex Straffin, Everon’s Technical Services Manager put it, “Android for nerds, iOS for noobs.” However, while most of them agreed that Windows and iOS are easier to use, both of those platforms are somewhat restricted to their own Windows or Apple universes. Principal Project Manager Wah Lee noted, “If you want well-rounded everything, Android is the best.”

cell phone blogWhy kind of phone do you have now? Do you like it? If you bought a new phone tomorrow, what would you get, and why?

Jeremy Bienemann, our L2 Supervisor has an iPhone that he said worked well. “My wife is not very tech savvy, so I have to use one that is easy for her to use. I also want to keep my phone compatible with hers.” Daryl Patino, an L2 Tech, has an HTC One that he likes (“for reasons most consumers would never care for”), and Simon Tolstopyatenko, an Everon Field Engineer, loves his Sony Xperia Z Ultra, which, he claims, is “the biggest, thinnest, most powerful phone you can buy.”

But the repeated answer that came up from the rest of my respondents was the Samsung Galaxy, either the s3 or s4, and they all liked it. In fact, the only thing that would stop them from purchasing the same phone again, if the need arose, would be whether or not the s5 had come out yet.  (Hmm… I already have a Samsung that’s served me well….)

Josh Hansen, our Client Technology Advisor added that in addition to your preferred platform there are four key things to look for in a new phone: “Battery life, reception quality, RAM, and how many processor cores it has .” Processor cores? “More is better,” he explained. “A 1Ghz duo core is better than a 2Ghz mono core.”

Thanks, guys. I’m a bit more comfortable about all of this. Think I feel a shopping spree coming on….

Apple vs. Samsung – how does it affect your business?

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Image courtesy of computerworld.com

Here’s the quick summary: a jury in California decided that Samsung infringed on a number of Apple’s patents and it awarded Apple over $1 billion in damages. You can read more about the verdict at Computerworld.com, but Samsung is expected to appeal the ruling sometime next month.

But what does it mean for Samsung customers, or users of any phones running Android in general? There seem to be two schools of thought. One point of view, voiced by Andy Ihnatko in the Chicago Sun-Times, says that innovation and new phones and tables will be stifled by the ruling and that extra development costs will be passed directly along to the consumers. If you already own a Samsung phone, it isn’t going to magically stop working, so you are in the clear. But could costs rise for future phones? Potentially, but there are many reasons why that might have happened anyway like changing component costs, future court cases, or raw material shortages.

The other point of view, laid out by Marco Arment on his blog, suggests that any additional licensing fees rising from this ruling will either be absorbed by the carriers over the term of the service contract, or that handset manufacturers will work harder to simply avoid the extra cost by coming up with something different than anything we have seen before.

Neither scenario is very bad for consumers and if Marco’s comes to pass, we could see an influx of new competition for both Apple and Samsung, which will increase options and decrease costs for the consumers. We likely won’t know the final outcome for a long time, and there are a number of very good smartphone handsets available running Android that are not made by Samsung. Likewise, the iPhone is very stable and is improved with each new generation release by Apple. Too many good smartphones to choose from is a good problem to have.

Are you thinking about purchasing iPhones or Android phones for your business? Call Everon at 888-244-1748 and we will answer all your smartphone questions.