Reviews

Windows 8 is an operating system that was without a doubt designed with touch screens at its center focus point. Many laptops and all-in-one PCs are finally designating multi-touch displays as standard instead of an add-on, but what about the desktop user still using a tower style PC? There are a variety of touchscreen monitors out on the market and today we are going to take a look at what is being said to being one of the best – Acer’s T272HL.

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Informed American is a Windows Phone 8 app designed to keep you informed about Congressional activities ranging from bill sponsorship, voting, and financial activities of various Senators and Representatives.  Need to see where a bill is at in Congress?  Informed American will display the recent activity on the legislation and let you pull the full text of the bill up on your Windows Phone.

Many States in the U.S. will be holding mid-term Elections this year and Informed American is a Windows Phone 8 app that may help you make a more informed decision in the voting booth.

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Pop The Dots is a puzzle game for Windows Phone that has you connecting dots of the same color to reach a scoring goal within a set number of moves or under a time limit.

Pop The Dots has over fifty free levels with the option to unlock more levels through an in-app purchase.  The puzzle game has a casual feel to it and Pop The Dots isn’t a bad choice to pass the time with.

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mylife is a diary app for Windows Phone 8 devices that has the ability to capture images, videos and audio messages of your daily experiences.  Your daily record can then be sorted by location or timeline to easily track your memories.

mylife is not a bad option to consider if you are in the market for a photo diary.  However, while mylife has plenty of features, a few features are missing that holds this Windows Phone app back just a bit.

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myTrekData is a handy app for Windows Phone 8 that will let you plot out a route for running, bicycling, walking or any other distance activity and then track your progress on that route.

myTrekData will also provide you the weather forecasts and daylight parameters for your route.  In the short time we have had to try myTrekData, it comes across as a useful Windows Phone 8 app to help you keep track of all your treks, be it for a run, a bike ride, or a hike.

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Greeting card apps appear to be on the rise in the Windows Phone Store and Sendtiment Cards Lite is one of the newer offerings you can find on the Store’s shelves.

The Windows Phone 8 app lets you create cards for a wide range of occasions and share them by email, text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other sharing means available on your Windows Phone.  The Lite version has over one hundred cards to choose from and with an in-app purchase, you can unlock over four hundred more cards.

Sendtiment Cards Lite (the “d” is silent) isn’t a bad choice to consider if you are looking to send a few greeting cards, thank you notes, or similar from your Windows Phone 8 device.

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To call Beastgrip a camera grip for your Windows Phone would be an understatement.  Beastgrip is more of a systems foundation for your Windows Phone camera that has a cold shoe to mount lights from, a lens mount for accessory lenses, and five accessory mounts that can be used with tripods, rails, stabilizers and more.

Beastgrip is the product of Chicago-based inventor/photographer Vadym Chalenko.  He took his idea to KickStarter and is about a month away from filling orders.  We were able to get our hands on a pre-release model and found Beastgrip to be an impressive, well built, photography accessory for Windows Phones.

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Do you need to sort out all the details on your favorite television series?  Clutter is a Windows Phone app that hopes to bring a little order to your television viewing.  In many respects, a TV Guide for your Windows Phone.

Clutter includes information on your favorite television series and shows that includes cast line-ups, episode summaries, links to TVDB and IMDb, and plenty of downloadable images.  Clutter is a healthy entertainment app that is available for both Windows Phone 8 and 7.x devices.

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Infinite Game Stream is a straightforward Windows Phone 8 client app for Twitch.tv.  What is Twitch.tv you ask?  Twitch is a leading video platform and community for gamers.  Twitch.tv provides content on gaming strategy, development and industry news.

Infinite Game Stream brings all the goodness of Twitch to your Windows Phone 8 device with the ability to stream videos and join chat rooms on your favorite video games.  Infinite Game Stream is a nicely laid out app but a few performance bugs holds this app back.

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It has been some time since we last visited the Windows Phone photography app Sketch.  It is a simple, yet effective way to turn your photographs into pencil sketches.  The app was recently updated and rebranded to PicSketch.  The update also offers a revised user interface that the developers hope is more engaging.

The original was not too shabby within its own right but the updated version does seem to have a bit more gusto.  The concept is still the same but the design changes works rather well making PicSketch a Windows Phone photography app worth a try.

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The history of MOGA controller support on Windows Phone has been tumultuous. Microsoft and MOGA manufacturer Power A first announced that the then-upcoming MOGA Pro Controller would be Windows Phone 8 compatible during last year’s GDC. Games would need to specifically support the controller, and only one did at the time: Drift Mania Championship 2. We even played it during the show.

Since then, Power A has mysteriously and illogically refused to acknowledge Windows Phone support on the MOGA packaging and website. But the MOGA Pro Controller does work with Windows Phone, and new MOGA-enabled games continue to trickle out. So here we are at last with our full review, which also includes a tutorial and compatibility guide!

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Just Hot Air is a golf-styled game for Windows Phone 8 that has you knocking around a small creature instead of a golf ball with the courses laid out more like a game of putt-putt golf.

It is an odd sort of game in that each hole or level of play has a limited number of strokes (known as kicks in the game) and if you go over the limit, the little creature explodes much like a balloon filled with too much hot air.  Graphics are nice, game play challenging but there just seems to be something missing with Just Hot Air to get it over the hump and be a rather attractive Windows Phone game.

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Mobilligy Bill Pay is a Windows Phone app designed to help you manage your monthly bills to avoid any surprises or fees created by late or missed payments.

With Mobilligy Bill Pay, you simply add your credit card, utility, auto loans, mortgage payments and other accounts you send monthly payments to.  The app also has flexible payment options to let you pay your bills directly from the app.  Mobilligy Bill Pay has the potential of being a handy personal finance Windows Phone app.  However, while Mobilligy has plenty of features, the user interface could use a little fine tuning.

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If you like trivia games, QuizBlaster is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 game that will test your knowledge and speed. 

QuizBlaster is played in rounds of ten questions and you compete online against other QuizBlaster players to see who can score the most points.  There is a little room for improvement but overall, QuizBlaster is a challenging trivia game for Windows Phone 8.

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The other day we mentioned the release of Hangman Pro for Windows 8.  It is an entertaining and challenging game, well suited for tablets, and is also available for our smaller screens of our Windows Phones.

Hangman Pro for Windows Phone is patterned very similar to the Windows 8 version with a respectable list of word categories, one or two player game modes, and global leaderboards.  While Trine’s Hangman is a sentimental favorite, Hangman Pro is not a bad choice if you are in the market for a challenging word game for your Windows Phone.

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Music Drop is an easy way to send music files to your Windows Phone 8 device from your PC without the need for cables.  Music Drop creates a network connection between your PC and Windows Phone 8 device with a simple interface that allows you to pick and choose which music files to plant on your phone.

There’s really not much more to Music Drop and while there is some room for improvement, it does a nice job of things as is.

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Indie and mobile games go through various genres of the moment over time, sort of like how console and big-budget PC games have been stuck on First-Person Shooters for the last ten years or so. For the longest time, it seemed like every new small-scale release that came along was a tower defense game. Hardly anybody complained, due to the inherent joy of defending towers.

The new genre of the moment on mobile is definitely the endless running game. A slew of endless runners have recently flooded Windows Phone 8, including such high profile releases as Subway Surfers and Despicable Me: Minion Rush. Only one endless runner with 3D graphics sports Xbox Live features, though: Temple Run 2 from Imangi Studios (makers of Harbor Master). Does the only non-spin-off sequel to Temple Run stand tall above its competitors? Read on to find out.

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Chalkboard, a creative slate for Windows Phone 8

Chalkboard for Windows Phone is just what you would think, a chalkboard app.  It is a blank slate well suited for doodling, a game of tic-tac-toe or jotting down math problems. You would use the chalkboard app just as you would a regular chalkboard, just with less dust.

Chalkboard has eight chalk colors, three backgrounds, and the ability to zoom in/out for the more detailed drawings.  You can also load up to six images to doodle on as well.  Chalkboard comes across as an appealing Windows Phone 8 app for the times you feel the need for a little doodle time or need an easy way to play a friendly game of tic-tac-toe with your friends.

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GetOutCast is a relatively new weather app for Windows Phone 8 that focuses on how the weather will impact your photography.  GetOutCast rates the photographic potential for the date and offer up a brief weather forecast.  The first release of GetOutCast focuses on sunrise and sunset predictions with future updates delivering landscape, astrological, lunar, and other photographic subjects.  

GetOutCast is an interesting concept and that could come in handy when planning a photographic outing.

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Are you looking for a way to send someone a “Get Well Soon” or “Thinking of You” type note?  Say it with Flowers is a new Windows Phone 8 app that will let you do just that.

The app comes with a small collection of flower images that can be customized with a personal note.  You can then send the final product by email or SMS as well as shared over social networks. 

Say it with Flowers is a simple app that could come in handy when you need to scramble to send that special someone a message to get you out of the doghouse or lift his or her spirits.  In some respects, Say it with Flowers is a greeting card styled messaging app.

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Quick show of hands, how many have turned off their Windows Phone ringer at night or during a meeting only to forget to turn it back on? 

Quiet Hours is a simple Windows Phone 8 app that is designed to give your Windows Phone a little quiet time for those occasions where you do not want to be disturbed.  Once the quiet hours have passed, the app will set your Windows Phone ringer to a preset volume.

Quiet Hours can be a handy app for Windows Phone 8 should you find yourself dialing down the volume often or during regular intervals during the day.

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Taking a look at Nokia's problem-solving Lumia 525

Last year, Nokia introduced the Lumia 520, a lost-cost solution to those who want a Windows Phone in emerging markets. As it turns out, demand was much higher than anyone anticipated. Nearly a year later and the 520 is one of the best-selling Windows Phones around. It’s a great low-risk way to experience Windows Phone and it opens the door to higher end options. But if the Lumia 520 had one flaw, it was the amount of RAM.

Windows Phone 8 can run easily on 512 MB devices, but some higher end games (and a handful of apps) need some good memory optimization before they can run smoothly. That usually happens, but it can take months after the initial release. Microsoft is confident this will go away as developers target 512 MB devices in the future, but up until now, there hasn’t been a low-cost 1 GB Lumia to get around this problem.

The Lumia 525 fixes that by simply bumping the RAM to 1 GB. So, can lightning strike twice for Nokia? Watch my unboxing and first impressions of Nokia's device to find out.

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We first mentioned Fhotolens some time ago when the Windows Phone 8 photography app was in the beta stages.  Fhotolens has now made it through the beta testing and is available in the Windows Phone Store.

Fhotolens is a camera app from the developers of Fhotoroom that creates a virtual 10-24mm lens field of view to give your images a wide angled look to things.  The app also has a High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode along with front camera support and a nice collection of scene settings.

The app still needs a little fine-tuning but overall, if you are looking for a fish-eyed lens approach to things Fhotolens is worth a try.

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A few months back I reviewed the Brando Power Jacket case for the Nokia Lumia 920. A case with a built-in battery, it could potentially double the battery life of the Lumia 920 – a dream for gamers. But the Brando case didn’t perform all that well as a charger, limiting its usefulness.

Enter Mugen Power, makers of many external batteries and cases. At long last, Mugen now offers an extended battery case for the Nokia’s original flagship Windows Phone 8 handset. The Mugen Power Battery Case for Lumia 920 comes in black or white, as well as two different battery capacities: 3000 mAh and 4700 mAh. The 4700mAh model offers 2.35x extra power on top of the 920’s built in battery. I’ve spent the last few weeks using that version as my case in order to bring you this detailed review.

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