Reviews

4

Review: Panoramic BlackJack

 

If you haven’t noticed, one of the biggest things that I look for in a new game for my phone is how well it translates to the mobile platform. There are good reasons that my favorite game genre (First Person Shooters) haven’t made a big splash in the Windows Mobile arena; that is because there are certain controls that lend themselves to that type of game. Card games traditionally require a minimal amount of effort from the user to accomplish what they are trying to do, making them a good candidate for a mobile platform.

One developer that has made an effort to offer a number of different card games for reasonable prices is Panoramic Software. In addition to their card games such as Panoramic FreeCell and the subject of this review, BlackJack; Panoramic also offers other applications such as their Twitter client, moTweets.

To see if Panoramic BlackJack lives up to the standards that we have come to expect from Panoramic Software, hit the jump.

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3

Review: MobiPDFScanner by MobiToad

Ran across an interesting Windows Mobile application the other day that turns your Windows phone camera into a document scanner. MobiPDFScanner from Mobitoad gives you the ability to convert pictures of a document into .pdf format. From there you can save or email the files, giving your camera a little more versatility.

Ease on past the break to read more about MobiPDFScanner to see if it was a hit or miss.

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Manufacturers of Bluetooth headsets are in an arms race of sorts in an effort to design and build a headset with the most complete noise cancellation possible. Various headsets sporting an assortment of hardware and software solutions have been marketed over the years as offering high end noise reduction and cancellation, but it has never quite been perfected.

Motorola’s latest high-end headset, the HX1 Endeavor, leverages a number of technologies to provide optimal noise cancellation and voice quality in a wide array of situations. The full review follows the break. (And you can watch TiPB's video hands-on with it at CES here.)

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9

Review: H1-Touch from Luxa2

 

One benefit of the heavy competition in the Smartphone market is the number of accessories that are designed to be generic, making them work with many products even if they were designed for one specific device. With offerings from Apple, Google, Palm, Nokia, and Microsoft; it behooves accessory manufacturers to be generic in their designs.

The H1-Touch phone holder from Luxa2 (a division of Thermaltake) does more than simply fit the description of an accessory that will work with a multitude of devices, it is designed to work flawlessly with handhelds of all shapes and sizes.

For the complete review of the H1-Touch, hit the jump.

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11

Review: Tower Defense

 

I’ve said before, some applications (more specifically, games) lend themselves more easily to a mobile platform such as Windows Phones. The trick for software developers is to create an immersive gaming experience without making the game difficult to use or compromising performance. Tower Defense from Color Stone does an admirable job of entertaining the user while still being perfectly playable.

Click on through for the full review.

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3

Review: Langlearner language applications

Microsoft's Marketplace offers a wide assortment of applications ranging from games to utilities to educational applications. Langlearner has developed three applications to help with language and spelling skills.

LangLearner Lite is an instructional application where you can learn languages through short phrases. LangLearner Translator is, as the title implies, a translation application and. LangLearner Spelling Bee is a learning aid for spelling.

We've used these applications over the past few days and found them to be interesting, useful applications.  As the developer's slogan suggests, these applications do help break the language barrier.

Ease on past the break to find out more about each of these LangLearner applications.

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Review: Trapster

 

I can remember a time that CB Radios and FuzzBusters were the craze to keep track of where the "Smokies" and "Bears" were hiding.  Today, in this high-tech era full of social networking applications a new solution has been released to help motorist find out where speed traps are.

Trapster is a Windows Mobile application that relies on a social network to identify speed traps and then maps them for mobile and desktop access.  Trapster's membership covers international locations as well as the U.S.

While we don't endorse speeding, if you want to know more about Trapster, ease on past the break.

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26

Review: Samsung Omnia II's Camera

We've taken a look at the Samsung Omnia II from Verizon and felt it was less than stellar. In the full review we only briefly touched on the 5-megapixel camera. We've had the chance to tinker with the camera, and it may very well be the Omnia II's strongest feature.

Follow the break for more on the software driving the camera and the image quality it captures.

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8

Video Review: nanoGroove GrooveShark client

GrooveShark, the streaming music on-demand site, is still going strong and while we've had a Windows phone client in the past (see our video review of GrooveFish), it was lacking some finesse and advanced features.

Enter nanoGroove, a full-fledged (though not officially endorsed) GrooveShark client that adds some nice bells and whistles. Although it costs a one-time license of $4.99, we think it's a fair price for a nicely polished application such as this.

Here are some of the features which it's free GrooveFish cousin is lacking

  • Supports multiple resolutions (including 320x320)
  • GrooveShark Playlist support
  • Album art
  • Power button disables screen (keeps music playing, saves battery)
  • Better graphics

We've had no problem running it on our Touch Pro 2 or Treo Pro and of course you can't beat the sound quality of GrooveShark (it kills Pandora in that regard).

If we had any complaints it would be that the UI has a few extra steps than is probably needed (like having to refresh to pull down your playlists) and it is a little confusing to get songs to actually just play (first you search, then you add to the player, then you switch to player, then you  hit play). 

But overall we're very happy with it and have no problem surrendering $5 for it. If you want the time-limited demo, just scan the MS Tag or go to the NanoGroove site.

Check out our video review after the jump to see how it all works!

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7

Review: Samsung Omnia II from Verizon

Quietly, amidst the multiple HTC Touch Pro 2 releases, Samsung refreshed its Omnia line with a slew of new Windows Mobile devices. The Samsung Omnia II is a black-slab, touchscreen device hone that sports a 5-megapixel camera and a hefty 8 gigabytes of storage memory. Verizon picked it up late last year.

Our initial impression has been positive. Our main concern was the customization that Samsung has installed on the Omnia II. Not only does the Omnia II have Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, Samsung also also tweaked the interior Windows Mobile screens and menus.

Follow the break to see if this customization makes or breaks the Omnia II.

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9

Review: IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger

IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger from Shape Services is one of the top IM applications for Windows Mobile Standard and Pro (and increasingly its competition).

It is also hands-down the most expensive option, coming in at a whooping one-time fee of $39.95. At least that $39.95 is a lifetime license with free upgrades and even a transfer to another device-type (except iPhone). Is it worth it? Depends if you are an instant messaging nut -- if so, yeah as its a darn good app.

Curious about what changes have been brought with their 6.x and now 7.x updates? Read on for my full review.

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3

Review: Panoramic FreeCell

Video or computer games typically fall into one of two categories. Either it is extremely addicting and squeezes hours of playing time out of your schedule, or it is the kind of game that can easily be played for just a few spare moments. While both have their pros and cons, the latter is often a better choice for people just looking for something with which to kill a little spare time.

Panoramic software is a developer that is starting to gain some momentum with their software and the recognition that they get from various sources. One of their software packages, moTweets, is a Twitter client that is being mentioned in the same breath as applications such as Twikini. One genre that Panoramic has put extra emphasis on is card games. Panoramic FreeCell was released October 15, 2009. Now in version 1.2.0, FreeCell is a great example of one of the things that I really respect about Panoramic. When one of their products is first released, they are constantly fixing bugs and listening to customer feedback in order to perfect their product.

For the full breakdown of what Panoramic FreeCell offers, hit the jump.

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13

Review: Powermat wireless charger

My wife uses an iPhone, my son a Samsung phone, and I've got HTC, Samsung and Palm (as well as whatever I happen to be reviewing at the time) phones. Add my daughter's Nintendo DS Lite, a few iPod Touches and we begin to run out of electrical outlets and we also have to deal with the spaghetti pile of cords.

In the same boat? If so, Powermat may have a solution to help clean up the clutter numerous chargers present. The charger is offered in the WMExperts Store for $97.95. It will handle up to three devices at once, tying up only one wall outlet.

Ease on past the break to see how well the Powermat performs, not only in charging devices but also in clearing up some of the clutter.

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27

Review: Windows Live for Windows Phone

One of the things that have made Google’s Android platform such a strong player in the mobile space is the simple fact that Google has so many popular services. Google’s ability to tightly integrate these services into the Android experience is one of the things that is so appealing. Microsoft may have the numbers, but Google has everything neatly and seamlessly on Android, where Windows Mobile does not.

Think about it. Where Google has Google Search, Gmail and Google Talk; Microsoft has Bing, Hotmail/Live Mail, and Messenger. Though the similarities between the two giants are well documented, the way that they have approached the integration of their services into their mobile platforms couldn’t be more different. While Google makes use of their services bordering on mandatory (you have to have an account to even use an Android device), Microsoft has chosen to take a much more low key approach through Windows Live for Windows Phone.

Windows Live for Windows Phone hasn’t received much face time; but is worth a quick look, which is waiting on the other side of the break.

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8

Review: Sid Meier’s Civilization IV

One of the games that has defined cross platform gaming is Sid Meier’s Civilization. I remember back in the late 90s when Linux was starting to get more widespread, many of the Linux flavors shipped with Civilization. Because of this, it was no surprise to me when I saw it listed in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

Hit the jump to see what this game is capable of, and if it’s worth the $4.99 that it will cost you.

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If you are rockin’ an HTC Touch Pro2 (or one of the many carrier variants), chances are you are a power user when it comes to Windows Phones. For myself, the Touch Pro2 is the perfect form factor for a Windows Phone. The massive high- resolution screen, spacious QWERTY keyboard, in a fairly thin phone is the perfect balance of features and portability.

When it comes to power users, there is one feature that we can’t seem to get enough of no matter what the specs are; and that is battery life. Traditionally, the quest for an extended battery meant compromises when it comes to portability because larger battery capacity meant larger physical size. Seidio’s Innocell Extended Battery comes in an OEM form factor that gives you extended battery life without adding bulk or requiring a replacement battery door for your device.

For the full review of Seidio’s Extended Battery, hit the jump.

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Choosing a phone case is similar to choosing a smartphone. As different devices gain more and more features, it becomes a matter of preference and personality as much as it is technology and features. The same is true for phone cases.

Seidio’s Spring Clip Holsters are a product line that I’ve used with a couple of different devices. While the personality of a holster might seem a little utilitarian for some; the quick access that you have to your device is hard to beat.

For the full review, hit the jump.

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5

Review: Jabra Cruiser

Jabra is probably best known for its Bluetooth wireless headsets, but it also produces quality Bluetooth speakers. It offers an entry-level/easy series SP-200 and now are adding to their advanced model/smart series with the Cruiser. The Easy Series speakers from Jabra cover the basic hands-free operations and the Smart Series adds a few more bells and whistles such as a FM transmitter.

Not everyone is comfortable wearing a Bluetooth headset, but still wants a hands-free environment while driving. The Jabra Cruiser, being part of the Smart Series, will give you hands-free operation of your Windows phone along with the ability to channel streaming audio to your FM radio.

We took the Cruiser out for a test drive with the AT&T Tilt 2 and Samsung Jack. Ease on past the break to see what type of impression the latest Jabra Bluetooth speaker made.

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3

Review: Motorola P790 Portable Charger

 

While it may not be breaking news, Windows phones can suck a battery dry with heavy use. Travel chargers and extended batteries help. But what happens when you're away from a car or wall outlet and you see the "battery low" warning pop up on your screen? For some, Motorola may have the answer with their P790 Portable Charger.

The compact charger is a 1700mAh battery that can be used to recharge your Windows phone or be used as an external power source. It's not for all devices, so ease on past the break to read more about the P790.

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8

Review: Namco Dig Dug

The only thing better than a moment of nostalgia, is a moment of geeky nostalgia. Classic video games are making a comeback for a number of reasons. Reason number one is that it doesn’t take a lot of hardware to run the games that we used to play 20 years ago. Reason number two is that the games have already been developed; they just need to be adapted and ported to a modern platform. The biggest reason in my opinion is that you don’t have to sell a game like Tetris or Galaga, because your customer is already familiar with the game and in many cases is simply renewing an addiction that has been on pause for the last 15+ years.

Namco is one of those names that is synonymous with classic games. I’ve already looked at Galaga and found it to be a fun game experience, but limited by the controls that are available to you. Another Namco classic, Dig Dug, is available from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. While Dig Dug isn’t as high paced as Galaga, there are some definite benefits to the way the game is constructed that lend itself to Windows Phones and the hardware that is available.

Hit the jump for more details.

 

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27

Review: LG eXpo

LG turned heads with the announcement of its latest Windows phone, the eXpo. The slide-out keyboard phone is the first Windows phone designed with an optional pico projector.

Our first impression of the eXpo are good. The phone feels well-built, comfortable in the hand and has some interesting features, such as an optical scanner that pulls double duty as a directional pad and fingerprint scanner.

We shared our initial impressions on the Expo and now we share our thoughts after taking the phone out for a test drive. Ease on past the break to see how long our initial impressions of the Expo lasted after a few days of use.

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2

Review: HTC Stereo Headphones

HTC has been maligned for years about the lack of a 3.5mm headphone port on the majority of their hardware. Up until recently, that has been the biggest knock on a company that really produces stellar hardware across the board. Various workarounds have been documented thoroughly, including but not limited to A2DP headphones or HTC’s Multifunction Audio Adapter.

For those of you who find the A2DP solution too expensive, and the Multifunction Audio Adapter too restrictive or too bulky; there is another option. HTC’s Stereo headphones are a really good option for handling phone calls or listening to music from your HTC device. But there is more to this package than just a pair of headphones. Hit the jump to see what I mean.

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7

Review: Seidio Innodock Jr. Desktop Cradle

There’s something about having a high-end phone laying prone on your desk that just seems wrong. Is it just me, or is getting a dock for that shiny new Touch Pro 2 a high priority for anyone else? Seidio is one of those manufacturers that are really one of the go-to companies when it comes to accessories for Windows phones. A prime example of that is the Innodock Jr. Desktop Cradle.

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4

Review: HP Glisten Camera

We took a look at the HP Glisten and while the Windows phone isn't as flashy as some of the others recently released, we found it to be a quality device. The Glisten is "old school" in design and while it may lack "sexiness" it fits well with those looking for a no-nonsense phone.

We skipped commenting on the Glisten's camera so we could take our time to give it proper attention. While not everyone looks to the camera as a selling point, many do.  Not everyone carries a standalone digital camera and relies on their phone's camera to capture those memorable moments in life.

Follow the break to see what memorable impressions the HP Glisten's camera made on us.

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