Reviews

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Software Review (Windows Phone 7): Plex

We ran across an interesting game for Windows Phone 7 over at the Marketplace. Plex is a 3D puzzle game where you try to match tiles to destroy blocks that are arranged on a multi-layered sphere.

When you drop a tile on top of a matching tile, the two are destroyed and points accumulated. Destroy all the tiles and you advance to the next level. The game has twenty-four levels and two game modes (Adventure and Survival) to keep things interesting.

Game play was a little challenging but you quickly get the hang of it.  You rotate the sphere around to highlight a place to set your game tile (which appears in the upper right corner).  Once the right spot is highlighted, then you tap the screen to drop the tile.  Tiles are eliminated by stacking tiles of the same color/symbol on top of one another.

The more I tinkered with Plex, the more addictive it became. The sound effects and graphic quality are above par and the application itself was very stable.

You can find Plex (link opens your Zune browser) over at the Marketplace for $1.99. There is a trial version available that will let you play just enough of the game to decide if it's worth purchasing.  Just don't be surprised if it doesn't take too long before you tap the "buy" button.

Ease on past the break for a video demo of Plex.

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Software Review (Windows Phone 7): Office Hub

Microsoft is one of the most diverse technology companies in the world. Search, Gaming, enterprise class Mail and Storage solutions, and of course Mobile; Microsoft is among the world leaders in all of these areas.

Microsoft Office is one of the most popular software suites ever. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have been used by millions of people throughout the world. As such a popular set of tools, the Office products are also the de facto standard for document portability. Because of the sheer popularity of Office, even competing products are forced to offer as much support for Office documents as possible.

Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s attempt to put their best foot forward in the mobile market. But how does the Office Hub live up to the high standards that Microsoft has set for itself? Read the review for my opinion.

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AT&T Bloatware: Getting better with Windows Phone 7?

While some may not like the controls Microsoft has put in place with Windows Phone 7, there is one positive. Carrier bloatware or branded applications has been significantly reduced on the new Windows Phone.

With AT&T, the carrier software has been reduced to five applications on Windows Phone 7. No longer do you have to worry with trial versions of Ms. Pac-man or banking software and best of all, what's installed can be uninstalled.

We took a look at what AT&T has installed on thier Windows Phone 7 devices and ease on past the break for an overview of the apps and to see what should stay or go.

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Currencies - Review

Curious what the current exchange rate is for the Croatian Kuna? How about the Turkish Lira?

Well there's a Windows Phone 7 application available for $.99 at the Marketplace that will help you with all your currency conversions. Currencies (link opens your Zune browser) is a currency converter that makes use of the Windows Phone 7 hub layout with pages for your favorites currencies, exchange rates, a currency converter and settings.

You can set any of the currencies as your home currencies and the exchange rates are based off that currency. Exchange rates are updated daily to keep things current. Currency settings on the converter can be changed by tapping each square to pull up a listing of currencies you can convert to and from.

Currencies is a straightforward, simple to use, stable application for your Windows Phone. There is a trial version available if you want to try before you buy. If you have a need for currency conversion, Currencies is worth a look.

Hit the jump to see a short video demo for Currencies.

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The Weather Channel is offering a free weather application for Windows Phone 7 over at the Marketplace. The application makes the most out of the hub system providing local weather information, forecasts, radar maps, locations, and menus to other Weather Channel services. In addition, you have a live tile that can be pinned to your Start Screen which will display the current temperature and a icon representing current conditions.

To read more on The Weather Channel application, follow the break.

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Software Review (Windows Phone 7): The Harvest

One of the premier features of Windows Phone 7 is the integration of Xbox Live. Without a doubt, the quality of games offered by such a popular platform as well as the social aspects that Xbox live offers are light-years ahead of where we were with Windows Mobile 6.5. One of the first Xbox live games that we saw demonstrated (remember MIX?) was The Harvest from Microsoft Game Studios.

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Review: Samsung Focus

One of the more anticipated Windows Phone 7 releases was the Samsung Focus. The black slab phone gained appeal with its 4" super-AMOLED screen and thin form factor making it one of the more anticipated Windows Phone 7 releases.

The tell of the tape has the Focus measuring in at 4.8" tall x 2.5" wide x .4" thick and weighing a meager 3.88 ounces. The Focus sports a glossy black and gray finish with chrome accents. It feels solid in the hand with just enough curves to eliminate a boxy feel.

Join us after the break for more on the Samsung Focus.

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Software Review: Yelp!

Yelp! is a free application being offered over a the Marketplace for Windows Phone 7. Yelp! is a search engine that locates business that are close to your current location.

Searches are done from the various category tiles or you can narrow down things by using the search field. In using the search fields, you can also search different locations.

You can pull up detailed information about each business that includes contact information (phone number, web site, address) and reviews generated through Yelp's main website.

Locations can be displayed on a BING map as well as travel directions. The only thing missing is a "home" button to send you back to Yelp's main page. As is, the app is very dependent on the back arrow.

Yelp! (link opens your Zune browser) is a stable application for your Windows Phone that can come in handy when your traveling or simply looking for a new place to eat.

Check Yelp out in action after the break.

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Review: Windows Phone 7 Pictures Hub

Windows Phone 7 makes it easier to capture and share photographs taken with your Windows Phone. While the hardware on the various Windows Phones may vary, the software driving the camera and managing your pictures will be the same from one Windows Phone to another.

I like the consistency Windows Phone 7 and the Pictures hub presents. You can go from the Samsung Focus to the HTC Surround without having to learn proprietary software. The Pictures Hub lays everything out in a straightforward manner and gives you the ability to share images with ease.

While we've already taken a look at Windows Phone 7, now we turn our sights on the Pictures Hub of the OS. Follow the break to see how in focus the hub is.

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Review: HTC Surround's Camera

We briefly mentioned the HTC Surround's camera in the full review of the phone.  More times than not, we cover the Windows Phone camera in a seperate review detailing the software and performance. 

I am so accustomed to cameras on Windows Phones being driven by manufacturer software that I overlooked the fact that Windows Phone 7 drives the camera regardless of the manufacturer. Each model may have unique hardware or capabilities (e.g. 5mp vs. 8mp camera, high definition video recording, etc.) but the software is the same.

Having said that, we are covering the particulars of the camera software in our review of the Pictures Hub. After the break, we'll review the Surround's camera with respect to image quality and overall performance.  We've also thrown in some sample images and videos to help illustrate the camera's performance.

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Software Review (Windows Phone 7): Weatherbug

One great way to make the most of your Windows Phone is to keep track of the weather. Weatherbug has been a staple application for me on Windows Mobile and has made the transition to Windows Phone 7.  

Weatherbug on Windows Phone 7 looks really good and takes full advantage of the Hub layout by offering a lot of weather information on the side-swipable pages. Throw in the live tile and you can stay up to date with the temperature and forecast for the day at a glance.

Weatherbug pulls information from thousands of global weather stations and when first installed Weatherbug, you will be asked to set your location.  You can do this by either accepting the location determined by your Windows Phone aGPS or manually enter a location.  At anytime you need to edit or add locations, just tap on your location name that appears on the main page.

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HTC Mozart Hands-On [Video]

The HTC Mozart may not be coming to the US and honestly, that's a little sad. It's a well-designed, solid, capable, fast Windows Phone 7 device. The aluminum unibody design is not only quite fetching, but it adds a some strength and toughness. While the HTC Surround is nothing to sniff at, the extra thickness for that slide-out speaker seems like a poor choice compared to the elegance on display here. In all it looks to have a higher-quality feel than the Focus, the "black slab" from Samsung that is coming to the states.

The 480x800 WVGA screen sits under 3.7 inches of glass and looks pretty darn sharp. More impressive is the 8 megapixel camera with auto focus sitting next to a Xenon flash, capable of recording 720p video. We'll need to give it a full go-round, but our initial impression is that HTC could have stood to do a little more tweaking to the camera software to improve the shots we've tried.

It's all powered by a 1300 mAh battery and weights 4.6 ounces, with a thickness of .47". We'll bring you a full review soon, but in the meantime check out a quick video hands-on after the break along with a few more photos.

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Review: Windows Phone 7

About 24 months ago, Microsoft began to re-build it's mobile operating system and while there may be signs of Windows Mobile under the hood, you can barely see any resemblance from the working end of Windows Phone 7. With Windows Phone 7, you need to forget everything you know about Windows Phones.

After using Windows Phones based on Windows Mobile for years, it's tough to let go of the old while learning the new. For those familiar with Windows Mobile, I'm inclined to describe Windows Phone 7 as a peppier, streamlined version of Windows Mobile Standard. The OS is straight forward with minimal settings to tweak. It's a very fast OS and while there is a lot to Windows Phone 7, it doesn't take long to learn your way around it.

I've spent several days using the new mobile OS and ease on past the break to read my observations on Windows Phone 7.

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Review: HTC Surround from AT&T

The HTC Surround is right around the corner from hitting the shelves at AT&T and we were able to spend some time with the new Windows Phone over the past few days. The HTC Surround lives up to HTC's reputation for quality phones. It's not without shortcomings but overall, the Surround is a nice addition to the Windows Phone family.

The tell of the tape has the HTC Surround measuring 4.71" x 2.42" x .51" and weighs 5.82 ounces. The Surround was thinner than expected but after using the HTC Tilt2 for the past year, most phones would come across thinner than expected. The 3.8" WVGA screen may not be as large as the HD7's 4.3" big screen but it has plenty of real estate.

Follow the break to read more of our review on the HTC Surround...

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Review: Motorola Oasis Bluetooth Headset

Two areas that really separate high end headsets from the pretenders are comfort and noise cancellation. If you think of some of the contenders in this market segment (Jawbone, Plantronics Voyager Pro, Motorola HX1) pretty much all of them are designed from the ground up to be comfortable, while noise cancellation is analogous to the engine on a shiny new sports car; you don’t see it at first glance, but that’s really the core of the product.

One of the latest Bluetooth Headsets to enter the ring is Motorola’s recently announced Oasis headset. The physical design of the Oasis is fairly close to the Voyager Pro, which is one of my all time favorite headsets. The full review is after the break.

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Review: HTC S280 Side Case

The S280 Side Case from HTC is being offered over at the WMExperts.com Accessory Store for $19.95. The unique design makes the case stand out amongst the other side cases the Store offers.

The S280 is cut to fit a wide range of HTC devices including the Tilt2/Touch Pro 2, Imagio, Snap, Pure and any other similarly sized Windows Phones. Curious how design meets functionality, we took the S280 out for a test drive with the AT&T Tilt2.

Ease on past the break to see what type of impression this HTC Case left with us.

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