Reviews

Aliens and Farm is a relatively new game for the Windows Phone platform where you have to save the local farm from invading aliens. To do so, you will have to whack them back into the ground, pond, pigsty and other areas of the farm. Much like you would do in a game of whac-a-mole.

The game pace has a bit of zip and there are a few bonuses you can collect during game play to help you survive the alien onslaught.

Available for 512MB devices, Aliens and Farm may not hold up to marathon gaming sessions but if you're in the mood for something different to pass the time with, Aliens and Farm may not be a bad option.

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Review - Nokia MD-12 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

In April, Nokia announced a new accessory called the MD-12 speaker. It features Bluetooth 3.0 HS (High Speed), which is ideal for power consumption, and it weighs only 180 grams. The big selling point though for this $50 accessory is the "guaranteed" 15-hours of battery life for playback, which is impressive.

On Sunday, I reported that Microsoft Stores have begun to sell the MD-12, which is a good thing since it can be hard to find, especially in the US. For $50 (plus free ground shipping), you are not risking much, but is the sound any good?

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IQ Mission is a challenging, nicely drawn-up collection of puzzle games for your Windows Phone. The game includes eight puzzle styles that are represented by eight global cities. Available for low-memory devices, IQ Mission has experienced decent success on iOS and should do well on the Windows Phone platform.

The game does have an international spy story line where you visit each city to solve the puzzles in search of a secret energy source. Each city contains multiple levels of puzzles that progressively get more challenging. All totaled, IQ Mission has 128 levels and 20 achievements to earn. As you complete the levels of play you reveal a map that reveals where the secret source of energy is.

While the secret agent mission story line is a nice touch, the puzzles are the key attraction. If you like logic based puzzles, IQ Mission is full of challenging, sometimes frustrating, puzzles and is a good option to consider. IQ Mission is a universal app, available for both Windows Phone 8 (low-memory devices too) and Windows 8.

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Tank Invaders Review- a blast of a Windows Phone game

Tank Invaders hit the Windows Phone Store last week and made a nice first impression. We took the arcade styled game out for a test drive the past few days and that impression held.

The game has you controlling a battery of missiles that will come in handy to fend off alien invaders from space. Tank Invaders has plenty of action, challenges and power-ups to blast the enemy into orbit.

Available for low-memory devices, Tank Invaders is a blast of a time waster and a fun addition to the Windows Phone line-up.

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Last year Windows Phone Central's "Gorgeous" George Ponder reviewed an indie game about hot air ballooning called Reach for the Sky. It came from Copenhagen-based indie developer Aemto and utilized a charging pixel art style. Sadly, that game is no longer available on the Windows Phone Store (per the developer's decision). From the ashes of the first Reach for the Sky comes a new Reach for the Sky sharing the same title.

Although the name has not changed, the new game is essentially a sequel. Reach for the Sky (2014) is still all about climbing the screen in a hot air balloon, but the visuals and gameplay have changed quite a bit. It still features a lyrical theme song from these guys that sounds catchy at first but becomes maddening before too long. It's completely free (with unobtrusive ads), compatible with phones with 512 MB of RAM, and only takes up 4 MB of storage. Just be sure you switch the controls to "Tap" before playing…

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OSO Push Mount Review, a car cradle with NFC support

While many will simply keep their Windows Phone in their pocket or case while in the car, a good many will opt to secure their Windows Phone in a car cradle. These cradles come in a wide range of styles and allows your phone to be easily accessible while driving whether you use the phone as a GPS navigational tool or just to see who is calling before you trigger your hands-free device.

OSO is offering a NFC enabled car cradle the company hopes will catch your eye. The OSO Push Mount is offered in three different mount options and with the NFC support, you can have your NFC enabled Windows Phone launch your favorite traveling app when mounted in the cradle.

In using the OSO dash mounted cradle for the past few days, it comes across as a solidly built option worth considering. However, there is one feature that seems to hold this cradle back.

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Fitbit for Windows Phone 8.1 is here (Updated)

Starting today, Fitbit is announcing the availability of their official app for Windows Phone 8.1. Fitbit is the standard for wearable fitness tracking devices with their One, Flex and Force trackers, in addition to their Aria fitness scale. The new Fitbit app for Windows Phone 8.1 finally lets those who leverage Fitbit technology to sync their data on the go just using their Windows Phone. Fitbit keeps track of the progress of friends, steps taken, distance traveled, floor climbed, weight, calorie intake, and full user history.

Windows Phone Central first reported movement on the Fitbit app for Windows Phone back in December when the company sought to hire a developer for the project. Fast forward six months later and the app is here. From a gorgeous design that embraces the Modern UI to the Live Tile to the speed, the Fitbit app for Windows Phone 8.1 is well worth the wait.

Let's check it out in our video review!

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Duck Destroy is a fun, somewhat challenging arcade game for your Windows Phone that calls upon you to blast ducks out of the sky as they fly across the gaming screen.

You play the role of a fox who has been tasked with fetching dinner. Armed with everything from a slingshot to dynamite to an assault rifle, you help guide the fox through fifty levels of play that span a wide range of environments.

Available for low-memory devices, Duck Destroy is an entertaining addition to your Windows Phone gaming library.

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The original Royal Revolt (developed by Flare Games in Germany) was one of the first truly high quality games for Windows 8 and RT (it also appeared on Windows Phone). The game play combined smooth touch-screen combat with mild strategy elements, making for an addictive reverse tower defense game. Other than a steep and unfair difficulty curve and some iffy English translation, the first Royal Revolt was just about perfect.

Royal Revolt 2 for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 and RT drastically changes gears to a completely player-versus-player raiding focus, much like Cloud Raiders and Clash of Clans. Luckily, the addictive core game play survives almost completely intact. With an endless array of opponents to attack and defenses to upgrade, this sequel has become a mainstay on my daily playlist. But as good as it is, Royal Revolt 2 still has some room for improvement…

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Game of Legions is a match-three styled Windows Phone game that has a fantasy combat twist. You create the matches to attack your opponent and advance through the gaming levels.

While the graphics are a little on the dark side, game play is challenging and it's kinda fun seeing your matches hurl spears, swords, axes and other items at your enemy.

Available for low-memory devices, Game of Legions is a nice break from the typical match-three games you see in the Windows Phone Store.

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Yesterday was both an exciting and frustrating day for Lumia 1520 owners on AT&T. On the one hand, the highly anticipated Lumia Cyan update was released, enabling many new features and tweaks. However, many users, including ourselves, quickly found out that we could not get the update unless we rolled back to Windows Phone 8.0. This update situation is not going to be a permanent problem as we do expect Microsoft to release an update to the Preview for Developers.

Regardless of these hiccups, we figured we would recap what is and what is not new on the Lumia 1520 with Lumia Cyan.

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Mad Transporter is a Windows Phone game that will test your skills at traveling down some rather treacherous roadways without losing your load.

The game, as you might guess from the title, has you operating a cargo transport truck with the goal of reaching the finish line as fast as possible without a) running out of gas and b) having all (or most) of your cargo intact. Graphics are nice and game play challenging enough to keep things mildly interesting.

Available for low-memory devices, Mad Transporter may not rate as a "go to" game; it's not a bad choice to have to fall back on from time to time. Plus, being a universal app, you can always take things to the larger screens of Windows 8.

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The word 'drone' has certainly entered the mainstream vocabulary of everyday citizens, in part due to the US government, and the other part due to consumer-grade vehicles that are readily available. It should be no surprise that military technology trickles down after all look at the history of the Internet itself.

Parrot is no newcomer to the drone scene and their AR.Drone series is possibly the iconic representation of the growing market. The AR.Drone 2.0 came out two years ago, and it has since gone on to be one of the most widely adopted quadricopters in the consumer segment. Back in May, Parrot finally released their AR.FreeFlight app for Windows 8.1 and the company told us that their Windows Phone app was on the way.

Do you want to see it all in action? Then watch our demonstration video and see what I think! Remember, by leaving a comment on our Hidden Gem, you are entered to win one (of two) Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopters!

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Kamera Plus is a Windows Phone camera app that delivers a healthy amount of effects filter that can be applied to both your front and rear facing camera. The effects are applied in real time so you measure the effect before tapping the shutter button.

The photography app includes an in-house photo gallery, camera settings and a simple viewfinder layout.

Available for low-memory devices, Kamera Plus does have the potential of being a nice camera app for your Windows Phone but a nagging lag time kills the experience.

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Personal Food Trainer is a relatively new Windows Phone fitness app that will help you track your daily intake of calories and macronutrients. The app will also track your water intake and weight (gain or loss).

Personal Food Trainer has a clean appearance and plenty of charts to track your progress. You can add new food items to the list that helps the app take on a more personal role.

While available for 512MB devices, Personal Food Trainer does have some room for improvement. Still, as is, it isn't too shabby of a fitness app for your Windows Phone should you need to track your calories.

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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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