Reviews

The Xbox One is quite the media playing powerhouse, poor user library streaming aside. With support for most popular video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, Blu-ray playback, and the ability to control many cable TV boxes directly through the console, it has most of the movie and TV-watching bases covered. Kinect voice commands for video playback can be fun too.

Still - for many movie and TV watchers, nothing beats the feel, convenience, and responsiveness of a traditional remote control. Microsoft has finally released the Xbox One Media Remote with just those people in mind. Despite widespread stock issues since the remote’s release, we’ve finally managed to pick on up and put it through its paces.

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Covy Rush, an endless jumper of a Windows Phone game

Covy Rush is an endless runner game for your Windows Phone that calls upon you to help Covy the rabbit jump over blocks and collect carrots.

The game has a bit of an elementary school appearance but game play is not without challenge. Gaming controls will take a little time to get used to and will add to the challenge until you get accustom to them.

Still, Covy Rush is not a terrible game for your Windows Phone but lacks that something, something to keep you pulled into the game. Covy Rush is worth trying but may not be attractive to everyone.

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Galactic Rush is a simple, yet challenging, endless runner game for Windows Phone 8. The game is from the developers behind Bunny Beyond and has you guiding an astronaut and aliens through various outer space themed obstacle courses.

Galactic Rush has three levels of play, upgradeable power-ups and a handful of characters to unlock. Gaming controls are a collection of screen gestures that are easy to pick up but can be a little on the sensitive side. Overall, Galactic Rush is an entertaining, casual game for Windows Phone 8.

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While Flickr’s competitor, 500px, has beautiful applications for both Windows Phone and Windows 8; Flickr themselves have yet to deliver to the Windows Store and the last update to their Windows Phone application was pushed out in March of 2012.

However, to fill the void of an official Flickr application on the store for Windows 8, we have set out to find the best third party app and to see if any of them has what it takes to provide the ultimate Flickr viewing experience. After shuffling through collections of terribly mediocre Flickr applications, which trust me that some of them are simply terrible, we stumbled upon “Flickrology” for Windows 8.

Follow us as we explore the app, and decide for yourself if the full version’s price tag is worth $2.49 USD.

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Zombies Ate My Doctor is a fast paced, endless runner game for Windows Phone 8 where you are racing through hospital halls, shooting up zombies and rescuing the local sheriff.

Graphics are well done, game play challenging and the game has a first person shooter element. Zombies Ate My Doctor makes a good first impression and is not a bad option to pass the time with.

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The Xbox One’s first killer app Titanfall launched earlier this week, and appears to be selling like hotcakes. The release of a big new console game often inspires players to pick up a few accessories, and Titanfall is no different. In addition to deluxe third-party headsets, Microsoft has just released its own Xbox One Stereo Headset as well as the Titanfall Limited Edition Wireless Controller.

Nobody needs a new controller just for Titanfall; it’s an online-only game without support for local multiplayer. But the Limited Edition Controller is extremely stylish, and you probably need an extra controller for other multiplayer games anyway. We’ve got lots of photos, a hands-on video, and even a list of local multiplayer Xbox One games in our detailed review.

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Review – ROCK Nokia Lumia 1320 Colorful Leather Case

When it comes to cases, a good argument could be made for the Nokia Lumia 1320. The large phablet is by no means fragile, but it does pack a six inch display which could be broken (or scratched). Combined with the size, and some people may want to go down the road of treating this phone like an old school PDA.

The ROCK ‘Colorful Leather Case’ runs for about $10 and it can be found on various websites, mostly in eastern markets. It’s certainly a bargain and due to the design and decent quality, I have to recommend this case if you’re into this style.

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Latté Locator is a simple, nicely laid out Starbucks finder app for Windows Phone. Latté Locator will not only discern the closest Starbucks but also map out directions to get you to that next cup of joe and pull up contact information for that particular café.

What makes the app unique though is where it gets its data. It’s not scrapping it from Google or Bing like other apps, but rather it is connecting directly to the Starbucks server via their private API. Think of how 6tag and Instance work with Instagram, and you have the same model for Latté Locator. The result? Highly accurate information and no “noise”. Throw in a nice UI with some cool features and we like what we see.

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Poppy Kart is a relatively new racing game for Windows Phone 8 that takes a bit of a pixelated approach to things. The story line has Froggy running away from home and her dad has challenged you to find her by racing your way through the various levels of game play.

Poppy Kart has a “Mario Kart” feel to things and the pixelated graphics gives the game a retro appearance. Storyline aside, the races can be rather challenging and a fun way to pass the time with. All things considered, Poppy Kart is not a bad gaming option to consider for Windows Phone 8.

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Race The Stig is an endless runner styled game for Windows Phone 8 where you take on Top Gear’s driver, the Stig. You will need to stay a car length ahead of Stig while you jump over parked cars, dodge parked semi-trailer, and weave in and out of traffic.

For those not familiar, Top Gear is a popular BBC motoring show (you also have a U.S. variation on the History Channel). The Stig is a character from the show whose primary role is to set lap times for cars showcased on Top Gear. The game was recently released on iOS, Android and Windows Phone and after spending a little time with the game, it is an enjoyable game to pass the time with. Catch the full review after the break.

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Quiz Bowl, an online trivia game for Windows Phone 8

Quiz Bowl is a fairly new Windows Phone 8 game that has you matching wits online against other players in a friendly trivia match. Quiz Bowl four trivia groups that are filled with eleven trivia categories that include tens of thousands of questions.

You can challenge friends to a game or an opponent will be generated at random to compete against. Each game has about seven questions and you will have ten seconds to answer each question. The faster your response, the more points you earn.

Quiz Bowl is a decent Windows Phone 8 game that is an entertaining way to pass the time with.

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Another day, another case review for you Lumia Icon owners (or potential owners). Today’s case is from Monoy and it falls into the light protection category. That means it’s thin and won’t add much in weight, but you’re also getting mostly cosmetic protection. Still, that can mean a lot after a single drop.

Running for around $9, you can’t accuse the Monoy of being too expensive. It comes in four colors, including metallic blue, champagne, wine red and black. The case is described as being matte, and it is, but it’s also a slightly slippery at the same time due to it being so smooth.

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Review: Mpow Bluetooth 4.0 Foldable Headphones

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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