Tuesday, 16 June 2015

[Review] Yotaphone 2

A little look at and a review of YotaPhone 2



I noticed and read some about a new idea of a phone already in 2012 and also saw pictures of the prototype in 2013. I followed the concept since it was a new approach on smartphones.



In 2013 it was a phone like many others with not so impressive hardware but interestingly it had a 4.3 inch HD display and also a low-res E-Ink display. But the concept and idea was getting a lot of attention, and therefore my attention, and since then I have followed the development.



I have used Samsung for several years and have had a Galaxy, Note and Note III and lately my Note III did not work very well. I have had stock ROMs on them all the time but both hardware and software had glitches and problems that annoyed me, so I started to wonder what I wanted and if I actually needed a smartphone.



One of the things that got me to wonder if I needed a smartphone or not is my Nexus 7 2013 with LTE. I have it with me almost all wake time, and since I usually use that more and more since it works so well i use it a lot and the need for a new smartphone is less and less. But when the phone function don't work as intended all the time the annoying need for a new phone came up.



I followed Yotaphone in the media and the new phone Yotaphone 2 was released in December 2014. It was available for ordering in 2015 and as I followed the Yotaphone on Facebook I got a FB offering of 20% discount that lasted for a week, so started to look at it with a new kind of eyes.



It is basically two phones in the same box. An E-Ink screen with instant on or actually always on screen with functions like phone and some widgets and with promises of even more functions in the future i thought, “What the heck, I’ll go for a smartphone again!”.



I checked Yotaphone’s website and I was impressed by the fact that the page was available in so many languages and also the shop and support was in my own language (Swedish). The shop itself was in Swedish and so i ordered the phone and the bumpers to protect the phone.



Fast delivery is always a good thing when ordering online and I was impressed since it was shipped within EU from Austria with tracking info available and shipped fast.



I like quality and Lenovo computers have always had a very good quality of plastics. The box that the Yotaphone 2 came in had the same kind of plastic, almost greasy but with a good grip and good quality.


The box itself had pullout boxes with everything easy accessible and the normal type of things like headphones but with a twist it arrives with as many as 10 different rubber cones and accessories. An USB charger with an output of 1.5A, that's more than most usual 1.0A chargers that usually arrives with phones, and a cable that is flat so it doesn't tangle up and get the mystical knots that all round cables get.


But now to the phone, when it arrived it had Android™ 4.4, KitKat® on it out of the box. When closing it down it makes usage of the always on screen that states Yotaphone. It was kind of impressive already from box. The startup and first usage was as most Android phones, add or create a Google account and after that some info on the phone’s usage of the Yota Panels and Yota Widgets that is (or was) two different things in Kitkat.



First impression is the build quality when holding the phone, but it really needs the Bumpers to protect it from being dropped easy! On one side it has a full-HD 5.0 inch 1920x1080 flat display and curved sides. On the other side a curved 4.7 inch E-Ink display 960x540 with 16-level gray scale with full capacitive touch and a resolution of 235ppi that is protected by a Corning Gorilla glass 3.



With displays on both sides the phone really needs the grip from the bumper. It needs to get repeated several times to protect you from dropping it by mistake.


The phone has smart functions, like it "knows" what display is up and acts according to that. The phone is equipped with three physical buttons, the On button and volume rocker. They have in some ways several functions, the On button locks or unlocks the display that is facing up. That's really handy!



I contacted Yotaphone on Twitter and they replied fast that Android 5 is in testing and soon available. In the meantime a small update arrived. But compared to Samsungs delivery of, or I should say non-delivery of, updates I would say it was impressive since android 5 was delivered with new and better functionality.



I will focus on functions in Android 5 and not from my experiences of it from Kitkat. Well from the locked HD screen it has links to go directly to phone or camera or only unlock the phone. And when locked notifications in the middle is also a shortcut to going directly into whatever that is a notification of, a double tap on the notification and you are in, unless locked with a code or something.



The E-Ink experience I had was almost zero when combined to touch technology so I was very curious about the functions and how it would work.


When adding the E-Ink screen as done on this phone you actually get two phones in one, you get a phone that has full and perfect screen for using it in the sun since the screen gets better the more light it gets on it. The e-ink screen is not backlit but it mirrors the light and gives you a graphics screen with the old LCD possibilities to be seen in full sun. That is a superb idea and when having the possibility to modify it it's a great idea.



On the same screen you get notifications of for example Phone Calls, SMS and general notifications on the other screen weather and an analog big watch on half of the screen. And except all the notifications you get you get full applications for some stuff, for instance the good chat software that is free and encrypted Telegram (http://telegram.org) is named Yotagram and have full functionality that's great. Instagram and mostly Twitter have a full function client for the e-ink screen.



What do you get or not?

If you don't use the E-ink screen you get an average android phone with battery life as most android phones ... Charge every day unless battery should go flat, if you have many social media apps.



But if you use the E-ink side and the apps you get a new world and battery for two full days or even more! A fully functional smartphone that works great in the sun and is easily readable. There is a growing number of full E-ink software and widgets that give you a lot of fun.



If you are tired of bad battery time it is time to experience a new kind of functionality. If the software isn't available yet, well mirror it from the normal HD screen and you can run most stuff, even video, on the E-ink screen.



The good

Growing number of Yota/Yeti apps

Easy reading outside and in the sun

Good battery life when used right

Very customizable for your own needs

Easy to take screenshots and easy to see them directly

Easy to use and customize for most users



The bad

Average camera

Memory expansion not possible

Doesn't work so good with FB Lite



Conclusion

Am I happy with it? Yeah I like it and grow more and more into using the phone as it is meant (E-Ink) usage as much as possible. And if they get more apps it would be super and I would love the phone even more.

Would I buy it with my experience of the phone? Yeah I would, and I sure like the both of the best of worlds! The fast and easy phone and SMS and E-mail possible apps and the "full" HD screen.



What would I change if I could?

Larger screens on both sides if possible. (6 inch or larger and high-res E-ink screen)

More accessories like the bumpers and rugged cases and so on

More Yota apps!!!





This review was made by the awesome and always excellent Ola Larsson
Androidistica sends barrels of thank-you's to him for this grand review.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

[Review] Polar A300, Activity awareness on a wrist,

Some time ago Androidistica did a review of the Polar Loop, a wristband activity tracker which still is available for those looking for a nice wearable featuring the basic functions in an elegant package.
Polar being one of the top companies for activity trackers are still going strong and serving us with new products.
An armada of new activity trackers have been shelled out by and this time we are having a closer look at the A300.

Categorised as a Activity & Fitness tracker , the A300 is packed with the needed functions to track those things.
With a weight of mere 48g and thickness of 12,7 mm there is no obstruction wearing the A300.

Right side of the A300.
We have five buttons on the A300
Two on the left edge and three on the right edge.
Top left is for lighting up the LED display, bottom left is for syncing the A300 with your phone or pulssensor.
It also acts as a 'back' or 'stop' button for other functions.
Top right we have an arrow that scrolls through the options , Fitness test, settings, history and current daily achieved activity.
Middle right we have a button for selecting different sporting profiles, where you also can define own ones if you please.
Bottom right does the same as top right , just in the opposite order.

Left side of the A300

Charge full, lets go!

Personally i haven't worn a watch in ages so the first few hours wearing the A300 felt different, not disturbing nor hindering my daily life.
I got used to the wristband very quickly.

Speaking of the wristband , made of a really silky smooth rubber and a proper 'pin in hole' latch it feels durable and solid.
If you'd like a different colour on the actual wristband  for say every 6 days a week then Polar has got you covered.
Wristbands come in six different colours, purchased separately.

The A300 is packed with functions , activity tracking for daily steps taken, calories burned, hours slept well and the all-encompassing progress bar showing how much of your pre-set daily goal is fulfilled .

There's naturally more inside once you start exploring .

Bluetooth is the communication protocol used by the A300 to sync with your smartphone of choice and the H7 Pulssensor if you wish.

So how does one get started once this little partner sits on your wrist ?
Well, beginning with creating an account on the Polar flow (beta) site and choosing your device and by downloading the Polar flow app of for your choice of platform. (Android and IOS supported).





Set up your age, lenght and daily activity goals and you are all set .

A note of privacy , Polar does let your cloud account be 'incognito' if you like.
This means no one can see your workouts if you don't want to.

I am not a running person, neither am i a fitness person.
I do enjoy physical activity such as playing soccer with my kids, weightlifting couple of times a week and just being outdoors is something i enjoy.

This said, i have tested the A300 based on my daily life, worn it at all times for a few weeks now.
Being a child of the 70s i enjoy the Polar A300.
It's kind of like having a friend who reminds you to take a coffee brake , but instead the A300 reminds me of when i spent a full hour sitting and it's time to move around a bit .
For my health sake.

I don't always  like it , because it might disturb me at what i am currently focused on but the strong buzz i get on my wrist via the A300 reminds me of whats good for my health.
And what's good for my health is something i appreciate!
The Polar A300 easily grabs a spot as a life companion for your sleep tracking, exercises and timekeeping.
There is tons of features to dig into,fitness test, history of your workouts and paired with the Polar Flow app there is a whole world of information available for you and your training if you like.
You can also choose what features you like, and be happy with them. 
Looking at the modest price and the quality you get with the Polar A300 there's no debate.
If you are interested in how you sleep, how your daily activity affects your health then I'd say the A300 definitely is a candidate worth checking out.

Some videos about the fitness tracking capabilities of the A300:
Activity tracking.
Pulsetraining with the A300



Thursday, 21 May 2015

[Own your cloud] Revault



For those of us who care about integrity and securing data there's a new beam of hope on the horizon.

We are talking Revault.

Now what does it do one might ask.

Revault is the worlds first wearable private cloud.

The basics behind this is that you actually wear your important files on a revault device. (32GB and 128GB versions available today)

Secure bluetooth sync takes care of distributing your chosen files to the devices you want.

Supported platforms are Android, IOS, Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.




The Revault itself is built like this:

32GB / 128 GB
Bluetooth 4.0 LTE
WiFi b/g/n
Wireless (Conductive) charging Qi-standard
1.54 inch, 240 × 240 pixel color display
Gorilla Glass 3
3D accelerometer
Watch case: Stainless steel grade 316L
There still is time to claim yours, check out the indiegogo campaign site and grab yours.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

[More awesomeness] Jide Remix Ultratablet

To begin with there was a time when Androidistica made an attempt to go 'All Android' on all I/O doings in the daily life.
Browsing news, editing photos, paying bills , blogging and all that we might do on a more crossover manner via handhelds and pc:s.

That attempt almost succeeded, but still failed due to limitations in applications or hardware at hand at that specific time.

A new day and a new era , ladies and gentlemen behold the Jide Remix Ultratablet!

Now what on earth is going on here ?
Well, i have to tell you this here is nothing more than a device with real potential.

11,6 inch HD screen with 1920 x 1080p support . Nvidia Tegra 4+1 A15 Processor @ 1,18Ghz paired with Tegra Geforce ULP 72 GPU.
2 GB of DDR3 LRAM and 64GB of internal storage, expandable with a 128GB microSD if needed.
8100 MaH battery, keyboard with magnetic lock and a microUSB adapter, which converts to regular USB.

Not bad eh?
Currently the Jide Remix comes with Android 4.4.2 Installed, or almost.
The awesomness dont stop with well done hardware, we have the Remix OS rocking here.
The Remix OS is also developed by the Jide Team with productivity in focus.
This makes perfect sense, because so far we have not seen too many hardware mannufacturers focusing on productivity .
The Jide Team aims for great hardware with great software and the result is the Remix OS.
A Android Lollipop version is in the works , being published to mainland China as a first resort. 
The rest of the world is next, mid-June 2015 according to Jide Team.

In fairness this post cannot possibly cover all the aspects of the Remix OS but let's say "Optimized for tablets", "Taskbar" and "multitasking" with windowed applications side by side.
The testing of this device has just begun for me so see this as a short introduction of whats coming in the near future.
Don't touch that dial kids, were soon back with more.

And remember to hit this post with comments if there are any specific things you might want to know or have tested on Jide Remix .




Friday, 10 April 2015

[Review] MI In-ear Headphones.

Xiaomi turned 5 recently and we have seen no shortage of hardware coming from them nowadays.
Xiaomi even made it to the Guinness Book of records whilst celebrating their 5 year anniversary by selling 2.11 Million smartphones during a 24hr period.
Androidistica was fortunate enough to get hold of a pair of the "MI In-ear Headphones" for review.
Now, as usual the packaging is nice when it's Mi-made.
Recyclable box wrapper and inside the minimalistic packaging approach as we have seen before .
Neat and tidy.
Inside the cardboard wrapper we find the printed instructions on how to use these gems.
Behind the plastic casing we see the earbuds, volume control and micro stereo plug.
The cord itself is wrapped around a rubbery cord spool-kind-of-thing.
Once unwrapped the cord measures 123 cm from plug-end to top of the earbuds.
Enough lenght if you ask me.
Earbuds are diamond cut aluminium and the stereoplug itself is goldplated.
The cord itself is wrapped in kevlar fabric material which propably extends the lifetime of the cable preventing wear and tear from normal usage from bends and unintended pulls & jerks.
The control-piece in the middle is also aluminium and the three buttons (Increase/Decrease Volume, Pause/Play/Answer Call) are plastic.
Inside the little plastic case we have rubberplugs in three different sizes:
Small, Medium and Large.
The ones already fitted are medium sized.
Build quality is premium here.
Not the cheap gas-station plastic you get when buying headphones for half a dollar.
Xiaomi does build good equipment, there is no doubt about their self-awareness to provide consumers with good products.

Headphones ,controlpiece and plug. Replacable small,medium and large sized plugs in the background.


So there's the part where the build quality was covered .
What about the sound then ?
Well-performed is the expression here.
The metal composite diaphragm and dual-damping system performs well, delivering a good and accurate sound picture.
Catch the details here.
Distinctive lows and clear highs.
As for  interacting , the earphones were tested on a Nexus 6 and the volume controls, play/pause and microphone works without any quirks.

Androidistica recommends warmly  anyone to get these.
Even if you rock and apple device although the volume up/down controls are not supported.

A big whopping high-five to Tabletkungen for providing the review opportunity.




Friday, 3 April 2015

[Coming up] Jide Remix Ultra Tablet.

You might have heard about the three ex-Googlers teaming up and providing us with a Ultra tablet called Jide Remix.
The announcement made on Kickstarter last week caused quite a stir and also triggered a couple of scams on Indiegogo .
The Jide Remix Ultra tablet is aimed on productivity and entertainment.
Being Android powered and coming with a physical keyboard and kickstand one realizes that there are not many competitors on that specific market segment.
Jide recons one should not only provide the software but also good hardware.
Teaming up with Foxconn for the hardware parts produces a promising result.
Jide Team announced the Kickstarter for a mere 39$ per device for the first 200 backers, with a condition to have backers "Use the stuffing out of it".
So whats the fuzz about then ?


Looking at the hardware:

  • Weigh :890g
  • 11,6 Full HD IPS 10 Point touch screen.
  • 1920x1080p
  • Nvidia Tegra 4+1 A15 Processor 1,81 Ghz
  • GPU Tegra GPU Geforce ULP 72
  • Wifi 2,4/5 Ghz 
  • 2 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 64 GB eMMC internal storage
  • Expandable microSD card slot supporting 128GB 
  • Micro USB and also Adapter for USB to micro USB included.
  • Full size keyboard with touchpad and magnetic connector, also doubling as a screen cover.
  • Kickstand with 40/80 degree angles.

...and much much more of course.

Then theres the Remix OS of course , giving life to this hardware .
Supporting multi window mode, a customized taskbar and what appears to be a device for productivity and entertainment the Jide Remix Ultra Tablet will claim its own ground out there.
And looking at the already done and published reviews there will propably not be any shortcomings to the promises made by the Jide Team.


Here's a few links to look further at regarding this device :

The Kickstarter is still open until 24th of April. (Official Jide Campaign)
Facebook page. (Official Jide page)
Google + Community page. (Fanpage)
Reddit link. (Yes, even reddit)
Liliputing review of the Jide Remix. ( Dig it..)

So, as you might have already figured out , even Androidistica will put together some kind of post once the device arrives in May.
Stay tuned easterbunnies and we will meet again.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

[Review] Yubikey.Unlocking your the future.


The Dilemma:
Increasing numbers in identity theft and online frauds are no longer breaking news, it's a part of the everyday news all over the world unfortunately.
Securing your own private data , your small business economic or securing access to your enterprise network is a challenge for humanity one might say without overstating anything.
Password managers, certificates and SSL secured communications are really becoming a de-facto part of every kind of infrastructure these days, even in the privacy of your own domain.

The Solution?
There are many answers to this dilemma. One of these solutions could be the Yubikey.
FIDO U2F Security Key and YubiKey NEO

So what does these Yubikeys do ?
Yubikey provides One Time Passwords that are unique, non-replicable for webservices , computer logons, disk encryption, applications just to mention a few.
Additionaly , Google unveiled support for Fido UF2 Security Key Support in 2014.
So Yubikey can be used to keep your Gmail account secure with the 2-way authentication support and your Google Apps can also be secured the same way.

Now, what is this One Time Password - sorcery we are talking about ?
Simply put,quoting Yubico's own phrasing:

"The YubiKey is a second authentication method based on a unique physical token which cannot be duplicated or recorded, providing a credential based on something only an authorized user possesses. Used with a standard username and password, the YubiKey provides a strong, two-factor authentication to any site, service or application."

Passwords generated by the Yubikey are unique, never the same thanks to the 44-character, one use, secure, 128-bit encrypted Public ID and Password generated each time it's used.
Near impossible to spoof.
For a more detailed description of OTP, head over to this excellent post.

There you have it, but that's just the beginning really.
Behind that sleek look of the outer design lies functionality  making the  Yubikey quite unique.
To begin with , there is no battery ,which means no need to worry about power.
No moving parts at all actually.
Drivers for installing the device ?
Not needed since the Yubikey emulates a standard keyboard once plugged in to a USB port of your Windows based PC, Linux powered geek-station or your Macbook.
No platforms forgotten here !
And there is more, NFC for those who need it which expands the platform range into Android devices as well. 


We have only scratched the surface of the universe of Yubikey, and it goes without saying we will see more of Yubico as a company in the future and Androidistica is looking forward to it.

Yubico has been around since 2007, working on making authentication more secure and they have not forgotten the open source part of life, on the contrary.
At Yubico Developers you get a all that's needed for a good start if you are about to start developing your own personalised solutions for secure access with Yubikeys.

Yubico is truly a pioneer company supporting the UF2 Security standard and being able to bring this into Google domains, including Google Chrome is a good pointer of Yubico being on the right track.

Stina Ehrensvard summarizes it good in her post :
"Now is the time to reclaim the Internet. To all of us who own it and to all of us who are constantly re-creating it: Let’s not let the fraudsters limit the potential of what the Internet is and can be!"
Stina Ehrensvard, CEO and Founder