Reviews

If you are in the market for Bluetooth stereo headphones for your Windows Phone, you may want to take a gander at the Mpow Bluetooth 4.0 Foldable Headphones.

The foldable headphones are well built, have strong audio quality and priced in the neighborhood of $35 are very budget friendly. We recently took the Mpow headphones out for a test drive and found them to be solid performers when paired with a Windows Phone, PC or tablet.

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Design Me is a Windows Phone 8 app that is a collection of personal management tools designed to help you make it through the week. Released last Fall, the app snuck in under our radar but, luckily, a recent update and a few tips alerted us to Design Me.

The Windows Phone 8 app comes across as a well-designed, feature rich Windows Phone 8 app. Design Me will not only help you keep track of your appointments but also has the ability to let you know what the weather should be like, set alarms so you won't sleep through the next appointment and record notes to preserve thoughts and other items you want to remember.

After using Design Me for a few days, we can see why it gets such good reviews in the Windows Phone Store.

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Earlier this week I reviewed the expensive – but still really nice – Incipio Feather case for the Lumia Icon. Today, I have one from Hyperion dubbed the ‘Explorer Hybrid’. The case is much cheaper than the Incipio, running at around $3.99 (but more when you factor in shipping). That’s still a bargain and while the case is not exactly pretty, it does a nice job for protection.

Hyperion calls this ‘Explorer Hybrid’ because it has a two Layer design with the inner a silicone core and an “Explorer Style Design Anti-Slip Hard Shell exterior”. That’s a lot of mumbo jumbo for saying this case has soft and hard protection built in, making it a step above most hard shell cases.  It’s basically a soft touch feel with nodule grips all around it.

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SpaceScribble is a free Windows Phone game where you take command of a space ship to battle enemy vessels and dodge a rather aggressive asteroid field.

While the doodled graphics are absent of color, they are well done. The doodle-styled space ships flying across graph paper has a certain level of appeal and helps set the game apart. Game game play is rather challenging, somewhat addictive and has a nice pace. All totaled, SpaceScribble is an attractive gaming option for both Windows Phone 8 and 7.x devices.

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When we first heard of Dell’s XPS 11 2in1 Ultrabook, it was a case of uncertain identity. A seemingly impossibly thin Windows 8 device made possible by including a touch sensitive keyboard in substitution for a standard mechanical one. Dell’s website told us it was an “Ultrabook”, but Dell Public Relations insisted it was a “tablet first”.

Whatever it may be, we sat down with it and we are quite impressed, but it all depends if you are looking for a tablet or a notebook.

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The Earth Defense Force series of third-person shooters started out as budget titles on the Playstation 2 in Japan, though they also made it to Europe with new branding as either Monster Attack or Global Defence Force. Americans didn’t have a chance to experience the series until the third main game Earth Defense Force 2017 launched on Xbox 360 in 2007 (and later, the Playstation Vita). The fans of niche titles who were fortunate enough to play 2017 quickly fell in love with its bizarre fifties sci-fi vibe, huge hordes of enemies, and massively destructible environments.

The American developed sequel, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon unfortunately didn’t fare as well as its predecessor. Smaller hordes of bullet-sponge enemies, a slow and painful grinding system, too few levels and enemy types, and awful writing and voice acting all led to disappointment for series enthusiasts. Now at long last, Sandlot and publishers D3 and Namco Bandai have delivered the true follow-up to 2017 as Earth Defense Force 2025 on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. 2025 is one amazing game if you give it a chance.

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Review – Nokia Coloud Headphones

Nokia not only produces high quality smartphones and general accessories, but the company has also covered music. Nokia’s own MixRadio service is a great way for consumers to discover new artists and genres they may not have been previously aware of, but the company has done even more. Last year, Nokia paired up with Zound to release the Coloud family of headphones.

Ranging from in-ear buds to over-the-ear, noise cancelling cans, this affordable family of accessories brings the Lumia philosophy to headphones – perfect for any Lumia Windows Phone owner. First off: if you’re after the high-end, expensive headphones these won’t be for you. That’s not to suggest the quality isn’t good, quite the opposite. They’re just not overpriced gear.

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PhotoLab is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 photography app that allows you to add filters and effects to your Windows Phone photos.

PhotoLab currently has nineteen, stackable filters that can give your images a more unique appearance. PhotoLab is a relatively basic photo editor, limited to applying filters to your images, that has a straightforward design that some may find appealing. However, some may see the filter selection a little on the limited side.

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If you are a fan of the retro look, you may want to check out the Windows Phone 8 game Space Squids. It is an endless, side scrolling space combat game with minimal controls and equally minimal graphics (which isn’t a bad thing) that is reminiscent of videos games of old.

Space Squids calls upon you to pilot your space craft, battling wave upon wave of enemy ships and bosses. While the game approaches things in a simplistic manner, Space Squids is a fun game to pass the time with and nifty addition to the Windows Phone gaming library.

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Fhotostorage is a Windows Phone Pictures Hub discovery tool that helps finding specific photos a little easier. The photography app is available for Windows Phone 8 and should help make finding that one photo a little easier.

The photography app is the latest from the developer of Fhotoroom and Fhotolens and sifts through your entire Pictures Hub by pre-set filters or a simple keyword search. Fhotostorage does require a Fhotoroom membership (free) and comes across as a handy tool for making better sense of your growing picture collection.

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The Lumia Icon from Verizon is only a few weeks old, so it’s about time we started talking cases. I managed to pick up the Incipio Feather case over the weekend for the Icon, and while I generally find Incipio overpriced, they do make quality gear.

Head past the break for my brief video review and some hands on photos to see it all in action.

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Run the Shadow: Alcatraz Escape is a relatively new Windows Phone puzzle game that has you escaping various puzzle levels and staying one step ahead of watch guards. You stick to the shadows to remain unseen and elude the spotlights that scan the puzzle.

You will also need to avoid a handful of traps and collect stars along the way that will boost your score and earn you bonuses. Run the Shadow: Alcatraz Escape makes a nice first impression and comes across as an entertaining action/puzzle game for our Windows Phone.

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There are plenty of zombie games available for our Windows Phone and Deadlings is one of the latest offerings for Windows Phone 8. Deadlings is a platformer styled game that has puzzle game elements.

Graphics are well done, game play simple and the levels are challenging enough to keep you on your toes. Deadlings offers over one hundred levels of play giving the game a little longevity as well as entertainment value. We covered the game's announcement, now we'll take a closer look at things.

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The Windows Phone gaming emulation scene is dominated by a few prolific developers: Duc Le (who took over for M.k), Andre Botelho, and Samuel Blanchard. Samuel created two emulators in the early days of Windows Phone (Purple Cherry and Blue Tomato) before largely disappearing from the scene for a couple of years.

Loyal Windows Phone readers learned what Samuel had been up to when we interviewed him last year. While busy with other commitments, he continued to plug away on a new GameBoy Advance emulator for Windows Phone 8. Today that emulator finally showed up on the Store as Purple Cherry X. Although Purple Cherry X lags behind competing emulator VBA8 in a few key areas, it also brings an entirely new perspective and features of its own. Read on for our full review.

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Go UP! - a simple jumper of a Windows Phone game

Go UP! is a simple Windows Phone game that tests your speed and judgment skills. Unlike other jumper games where you simply tap the screen to jump, with Go UP! you need to tap a corresponding button at the bottom of the screen that matches the label found on the tree limb you are jumping to. The goal is to jump as high as possible before time runs out.

One wrong button tap will send your player falling to their fate, ending the game early. Go UP! may be a little on the basic side for some but the developer did a good job of creating a Windows Phone game that will help pass the time.

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Bad Traffic is a fun game for Windows Phone 8 that deals with roadway traffic management. We have seen similar games before where you try to keep the flow of traffic going to avoid wrecks and nasty delays. Such games are a nice, casual gaming format.

Bad Traffic goes a bit further by offering a second game mode where you try to snarl up traffic, create wrecks and do everything you can to disrupt the orderly flow of traffic. Bad Traffic is a Windows Phone 8 game that caters to a wide range of gamers and has had a bit of success over on iOS and Android platforms. In the short time we've had with the game, that success should carry over to the Windows Phone platform.

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TuneBites, music trivia for Windows Phone 8

TuneBites is a music trivia game for Windows Phone 8 that plays a snippet of a song and you have to correctly identify the song’s title. You have a wide range of music genres that can be combined or tackled individually in the trivia rounds. Songs are pulled from Nokia Mix Radio and you will need a data connection to play TuneBites.

TuneBites does have a little bit of a Name the Tune feel to it and the game is a fun way to pass the time with. However, several performance bugs with TuneBites places a damper on the overall gaming performance.

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If you are a Lego builder and need a little help keeping track of all your Lego Products, Brick Collection is a Windows Phone 8 app that might interest you. The app taps into the BrickLink database to deliver all the Lego goodness to your Windows Phone.

Brick Collection allows you to easily add Lego sets, parts, mini-figures, accessories and books to your collection. Your inventory can be synced between devices including Windows 8 tablets and PCs through the Windows 8 version of the app. Brick Collection might not appeal to everyone but if you are into Legos, you may want to check it out.

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There really is not much to the Windows Phone 8 game Pudgy Penguin. It’s a puzzle game of sorts where you have to make sure Pudgy is fed enough before the clock strikes zero.

Unfortunately, the fish randomly drop from the top of the screen and it is your job to guide them to Pudgy. It isn’t a complicated game but include the time constraints, the fast pace the fish drop and a few obstacles to direct the fish around and Pudgy Penguin becomes a challenging, casual game for Windows Phone 8.

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If you like the selective color editing to your Windows Phone photos, you need to try the Windows Phone app Sense the Color. The photography app allows you to reveal only the colors you want in your photographs. Prefer only the colors in a flower to shine through while leaving the rest of your photograph in black and white, Sense the Color can do that.

Sense the Color has an easy user interface, the ability to share edited images within the app, and is a creative way to add a little pop to your photos. While I wouldn't mind seeing a few more editing tools added to the app, Sense the Color is a welcomed addition to the Windows Phone photography library.

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Movie Blaze is a Windows Phone 8 app that delivers a considerable amount of movie information to your Windows Phone. Through Movie Blaze, you can find out what’s currently showing in theaters, what titles are heading to the big screen and search out information on older movies.

Movie Blaze will let you track movies you have seen, tag movies you want to see, discover new movies, back-up your favorites/watch lists to SkyDrive, and sync with your The Movie DB account. The only thing missing is the ability to check out local show times and buy tickets. Movie Blaze is a respectable movie app for Windows Phone 8, well worth trying.

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1:CLOCK is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 app that will help you keep track of global times, keep time with a stopwatch and countdown the seconds with a timer.

1:CLOCK can display times for over 3,700 cities worldwide, save stopwatch times and double as a nightstand clock. The app is in its infancy and while there is still work to be done, 1:CLOCK has a certain level of appeal. To help push you off the fence and give 1:CLOCK a try, the app is free and ad-free through February 24th.

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Avengers Assemble with RJS! for Windows Phone 8

Run, Jump, Smash! landed in the Windows Store last month and the Windows Phone 8 version was released this past weekend as the abbreviated title RJS! The game is an endless runner where you guide a team of Marvel Comics superheroes across an obstacle course filled with obstacles and enemy minions.

Your goal is to advance far enough to fight super villains such as Loki. Superheroes can be upgraded or additional characters unlocked with the coins you collect as you run through the game. Graphics are rather nice, game play challenging and possibly the only downside to RJS! is the lack of a trial version.

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Microsoft’s HealthVault is a great resource for managing yours and your family’s medical information. Medical Image Vault is a Windows Phone app that provides access to medical images in your HealthVault account.

It is a convenient way to access this information when visiting the doctor or in cases of emergency. Medical Image Vault is a nice companion app for your Microsoft HealthVault account and the HealthVault Windows Phone app.

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