Reviews

When I was growing up, RC cars and remote controlled gizmos were always underwhelming unless you could afford the 'big boy' toys preferred by hobbyists. In 2014, not only are connected devices becoming mainstream, the way we control them has shifted from dedicated controllers to our phones and tablets.

Sphero 2.0 (2013) follows on the footsteps of Sphero 1.0 from 2011 and is made by Orbotix. In essence, it is a ball that rolls around, controlled through your phone or computer. On the face of it, Sphero sounds…temporary, as in you have fun with it but only for a short time. After all, how fun can it be just to drive a ball around the house.

Turns out, it is damn fun. Watch our video review of Sphero 2.0 for Windows Phone and Windows to get an idea why. Remember, by leaving a comment, FIVE of you can win your very own Sphero 2.0 orb!

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Unicorn Rush is a fun endless runner styled game for Windows Phone that puts you on horseback in an effort to save the fantasy Kingdom of Grant.

The back-story has a riot occurring at the Kingdom's border and as soldiers are dispatched to deal with the riot, the evil Duke Hogan has snuck into the Kingdom's Capital and captured the King and Princess. You play the role of one of the King's Knights who will have to rush back to the Capital and defeat the evil Duke. The ride back to the capital isn't a gingerly stroll in the park with a wide range of obstacles, traps and monsters to overcome.

Available for low-memory devices Unicorn Rush makes a nice impression. Graphics are nice, game play challenging and if you can overlook that the game's Knight looks more like a farm hand, it's a Windows Phone game worth trying.

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If you are looking for a challenging endless runner game that has a World Cup connection, check out Piggy Ball - Chaplin Game Version.

The story line behind the game has you playing the role of Piggy who has just stolen the ball of the 2014 World Cup. You have to guide Piggy over and under a frustratingly challenging obstacle course using his power of flatulence. Hit one of the obstacles and it's game over for Piggy.

Available for low-memory devices, Piggy Ball - Chaplin Game Version is a challenging game but maybe a tad too challenging.

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Insteon (often written as INSTEON) has been in the home automation business for a few years, going back to 2010. The company has apps on iOS and Android, but starting a few weeks ago, they released a universal app for Windows Phone and Windows. Even more, they teamed up with Microsoft to sell special kits in the Microsoft Store, complete with Windows Phone branding on the package.

Whether it is controlling your temperature, dimming the lights, watching the world through a Wi-Fi camera or getting an alert when your door opens, Insteon does it all. Because of the completeness of their system, their partnership with Microsoft and the overall coolness, Insteon is today's Hidden Gem. Watch our video review to see it all in action!

Remember, by leaving a comment on this article, you stand a chance of being one (of two) winners to earn your own Insteon Home Kit ($299) as seen in our review!

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There are numerous apps available in the Windows Phone Store to help customize your lockscreen. Awesome Picture Quotes (formerly known as Wallpaper Quotes) is one of the newer offerings that delivers picture quotes for your lockscreen. The quotes are often accompanied by a inspirational photo or drawing as well.

Available for low-memory devices, the interface is simple (maybe too simple) and the collection does have some nice looking images with inspirational quotes. Awesome Picture Quotes is a nice foundation for a lockscreen app. has a slight level of appeal but could use a little polishing.

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Have you ever had a nightmare where you endlessly fall? Well, that's the premise of the Windows Phone and Windows game Kami's Nightmare.

Kami is sound asleep and is dreaming of floating away on a bundle of balloons. Suddenly Kami's grip slips and she begins her endless fall. Along the way she has to avoid several evil stuffed animals that want to end her journey.

Available for low-memory Windows Phones, there are a few bugs with Kami's Nightmare that need to be ironed out. However, for the most part the game is a casual but challenging game for both Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices.

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MPOW Muze Bluetooth Stereo Headphones - Review

We've covered MPOW accessories before and find them to be a nice, budget minded option to consider. One of the company's latest offerings is the Muze, a Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones with noise cancelling technology and hands-free calling features.

As with other headphones we've looked at from MPOW, the Muze is nicely constructed and modestly priced. Performance was good and if you don't mind the over-the-ear style, the Muze headphones are worth considering.

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If you detest cute and cuddle characters, Adorables is not a Windows Phone game you should be trying. Adorables is a collection of sporting games that features tiny little creatures come across as part Minion and part gummy bear. Or at least that's how they come across to me.

These one-eyed creatures are customizable and currently delivers four games to your Windows Phones. Add features such as three single player modes, turn based multi-player modes, online multi-player modes and MOGA controller support and Adorables has the potential of being a decent Windows Phone game.

Available for low-memory devices, your biggest hurdle with Adorables may be simply getting used to the cuteness factor.

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If you are searching for a simple, entertaining Windows Phone game to waste the time with you need to give Beyond Gravity a try.

It does have an endless runner feel to it but you do more jumping than running. The goal is to jump through space, from planet to planet, collecting nuts and bolts along the way.

The Samurai Jack graphics look great, the game play challenging and overall Beyond Gravity is a Windows Phone game you gotta try. It lacks a trial version but on the brighter side of the coin, Beyond Gravity is available for low-memory devices.

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Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to pass the time or with the larger puzzles a fun project to tackle over a few days. Tackling a jigsaw puzzle can help you relax and clear your mind.

To help fill your jigsaw puzzle building needs electronically, XIMAD, who is known for their colorful Windows Phone and Windows 8 games, has released Magic Jigsaw Puzzles for Windows 8.

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Firework Apprentice is a relatively new adventure game for Windows Phone 8 where you play the role of a firework apprentice who must work his way to the Emperor's Palace for an annual firework contest.

The game takes place in a world full of floating islands, which are filled with puzzles, colorful characters and explosive fireworks. You also have magical moon dust that can be collected and used to enhance your fireworks.

Available for low-memory devices, Firework Apprentice comes across as an enjoyable adventure/puzzle game for Windows Phone but may take you a few turns playing the game to get used to the controls.

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Angry Monkey Run is another endless runner gaming option for Windows Phone 8. The game has simple mechanics, nice graphics and can be a little on the frustrating side as far as game challenge is concerned.

The story behind the game has the monkey's girlfriend being snatched up by zookeepers that does not sit well with the monkey. Your job is to guide him through the jungle to save his girlfriend.

Angry Monkey is available for low-memory devices and isn't a terrible game. The game has potential but Angry Monkey seems to lack the pop other endless runner options have.

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Juiced Wireless Charger Pad review

Microsoft Surface owners might remember Juiced Systems as the seller of the super useful Surface Adapters, which squeeze a bunch of extra functionality out of the Surface tablets' single USB ports. Juiced sells a variety of unique USB hubs for mobile devices. All very good, but our Windows Phones can't use 'em.

Still, owners of certain Windows Phones like the Lumia 920 or those with the wireless charging cover can certainly benefit from the Juiced Wireless Charger Pad. The pad is tiny and ultrathin, providing a stylish and affordable way to pump power into phones that support Qi wireless charging. It draws that power from a micro-USB cable, providing a clear advantage over Nokia's Wireless Charging Plate.

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Last month we reviewed Snuggle Truck, the first Windows Phone game from Owlchemy Labs. Snuggle Truck impressed with its sense of humor, vast array of levels, level editor, and great visual style. Sure, the level select bug I encountered still needs to be fixed (ahem!), but the game remains my pick for best side-view driving game on the platform.

This month Owlchemy returns with an equally exciting game: Jack Lumber. The game plays a bit like a more methodical fruit ninja, as the titular lumberjack must slice through mass quantities of wood that fly on-screen with his trusty axe. But Jack Lumber is much funnier than Fruit Ninja and packs a lengthy campaign mode filled with distinct levels, missions, and tons of silly things to collect. You won't believe just how fun chopping through trees and bottles of syrup can be until you play Jack Lumber.

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At first glance, you may think 7 Pips is a 2048 clone but it's not. 7 Pips does have a slight 2048 appearance but once you get into game play, you will realize the two game styles are vastly different.

7 Pips combines simple math skills with strategic placement to create tile combinations that equal seven. When you create those combinations, the tiles are removed for points. This may sound simple but you have two tile colors that can either add or subtract from the value of other tiles.

Available for 512MB devices, 7 Pips is an entertaining, casual paced puzzle game for your Windows Phone gaming library.

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Last week, T-Mobile US and Microsoft began selling the Nokia Lumia 635, the speedy brother of the budget Lumia 630 with 4G LTE. The Lumia 635 is replacing the older (and cheaper) Lumia 521, which is one of T-Mobile's best selling Windows Phones to date.

Announced last week, the Lumia 635 runs for $0 down + $7 per month for 24 months ($168) with a postpaid Simple Choice plan on T-Mobile. Alternatively, it is also soon available on MetroPCS for a flat-rate of $99 prepaid. The Lumia 635 comes in white although people can optionally purchase shells to change the color to bright green, bright orange or yellow.

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Game Insight knows a thing or two about city building games. The Russian publisher has already brought two My City titles and Airport City over to Windows Phone and Windows 8. Each of these genre entries does things a little differently from the rest. 2020 My Country, for example, takes place in a near future setting. Airport City focuses on building a thriving airport and its urban surroundings.

Big Business Deluxe is Game Insight's latest city builder for Windows Phone (Windows 8 and RT versions will come later). As you might expect, this one goes into much more depth on the business side of things. Players will start new businesses and factories, developing goods into new products and using the profits to further expand their burgeoning metropolises. It works with phones with 512 MB of RAM right out of the gate and is a relatively small download, so all Windows Phone 8 users can have a chance at starting their own business empires.

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Amazed is a Windows Phone game for those who like a little action in their games - action in the literal sense of the word.

Amazed is a virtual maze that requires you to physically walk your way out of it. The game uses your Windows Phone GPS to plot your location in the maze and you walk around as needed to escape the maze and avoid various pitfalls. As you would guess, this isn't a game to be played from the couch or the living room for that matter. You'll need a large space to accommodate all the twists and turns the maze will present. There is a time element involved so don't be surprised if you work up a sweat while escaping the maze.

While not available for low-memory Windows Phones, Amazed has the potential to be an entertaining fitness game for your Windows Phone. The game reminds me of Zombies Run! but without story line. I like the concept but there is a few performance issues present that need to be ironed out to let the game shine brighter.

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If you are looking for a casual puzzle game, that has plenty of challenging levels to tackle, take a look at Plumber Reloaded for Windows Phone 8.

Available for Windows Phone 8 devices, including low-memory models, Plumber Reloaded calls on you to connect various elemental symbols together with pipes. The challenge comes into play in that you cannot cross the pipes.

Plumber Reloaded isn't an overly complicated Windows Phone game but six levels of difficulty, 430 puzzle levels and three game modes it'll keep you busy for a while.

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I don't have any kids (yet), but if I did I'd be all over Children's books for Windows Phone. It's a free app in the Windows Phone Store for youngsters and parents of said youngsters. WIth it you get interactive books for kids, a coloring book and a memory game. Scroll down for a hands-on video of the app.

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Although our #MobileFit campaign ended in June, it does not mean we cannot still talk about apps. A new one on the Store worth checking out is FitnessCompanion made by dotcompt. Some of you may know dotcompt from the good old ROM days, but he also has a few apps on the Windows Phone Store.

FitnessCompanion is an all in one app for those looking to get or stay in shape. The app has numerous things going for it including a really gorgeous design, sensor support (not SensorCore) and even a personal assistant.

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Microsoft fans dream of a connected ecosystem in which we can buy a game once and play it on phone, tablet, PC, and console. We're not quite there yet, but at least some game developers are supporting all of those platforms. Take London-based indie developer Mudvark Limited. Mudvark's debut title Mortar Melon is already available on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT. And soon it will come to Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program.

Mortar Melon is a physics-based puzzle game in which players try to fire watermelons through obstacle-filled levels and safely into a basket. The game is free to play on both Windows Phone and Windows 8, with an extra batch of levels available as an in-app purchase. It runs on Windows Phones with 512 MB of RAM, so everybody can have fun breaking, I mean saving watermelons.

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Tap Tap Glider is a nicely drawn up endless runner styled game that has you piloting a paper airplane through a maze of obstacles.

Controls are minimal and game play has its moments. Tap Tap Glider plays out like Line Birds or, dare I say, Flappy Bird and is an enjoyable time killer of a game. Available for low-memory devices, Tap Tap Glider could use a few more features but as is, the game is an appealing addition to the Windows Phone gaming library.

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Along with the Lumia 930 starting to become available, globally Nokia also has a new case for it and the Lumia Icon.

Dubbed the CP-637 the flip cover is similar to the CP-623 for the Lumia 1520. The case offers some nice reinforcement of the back, a rather large hole for the camera, and a reinforced flip cover to protect your 5-inch display. Check out our hands on video with it to get an idea of what it is like!

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Death Drop isn't your typical Windows Phone game in that you are tasked with jumping your gaming character from a perfectly good airplane and guide him to a target on the ground.

The gaming concept doesn't sound too off-beat until you realize there are no parachutes involved in this game. Each jump destination has multiple targets to strike that range from park benches to garden gnomes to moving vehicles. It's your mission to slam your daredevil into these targets with little regard to safety.

Available for 512MB devices, Death Drop may not hold up to marathon gaming sessions but if you are looking for something off the beaten path, it may be worth a try.

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