Before You Buy 145 (Transcript)
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Leo Laporte: Hey, hey, hey! Welcome to Before You Buy, the product review show on Twit, where we get all the latest and greatest stuff and give it to our staffers, our friends, and see what they think about it. What it’s like to use it in real life. At the end of the show, we’re going to review the latest flagship phone from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 4. But you know, at 800 bucks it’s kind of pricy! How much can you get for 70 bucks? Let’s find out! Sam Sabri is an editor at Windows Central and he has, in his hot little hands, this little phone, it’s the Nokia 530. Hi Sam!
Sam Sabri: How’s it going?
Leo: It’s going great, I know you’ve probably used every windows phone out there. I used to have the 1520, which I loved. I’ve played with the 1120, those are both very high end Nokia. Whoops, did I say the word Nokia? We don’t’ use the word Nokia do we?
Sam: We say Microsoft.
Leo: Microsoft Lumia phones. These used to be Nokia. In fact, this one still says Nokia on the top, is that going to be burned off?
Sam: It might fall off over time. Just kind of fade away.
Leo: They are running a windows phone, in this case Windows phone 8.1, the latest version of the Windows operating system.
Leo: Give us a kind of rundown on this. This is not a, is this a phone…it is being sold in the US, this one is from Cricket. But it’s a phone also intended for a global phone, right?
Sam: Right, so this is a phone for immerge-markets, where people don’t go on contracts and pay 99 dollars up front, and pay a little bit every few months for the next few years for a phone. This is where people buy a phone outright, and use it for two or three years. So that’s where people are more price conscious, and that’s why Nokia, I mean Microsoft made a $70 smartphone, running Windows 8.1.
Leo: 70 dollars! There’s got to be some compromises with that.
Sam: There are compromises. You do get Cortana, but you make a few compromises, especially with the screen. You were noting earlier it just doesn’t look too good. And that’s because it’s missing clear black. Clear Black is Microsoft’s polarizer which gives you better contrast, and makes the screen look really good outside.
Leo: All the old Lumia phones, really, like the 1520 I used to have, popped! And they almost looked like OLED screen. These are not OLED displays?
Sam: No, this is an LCD on the 530.
Leo: Yeah, it looks like a little bit of a washed out LCD.
Sam: Yeah, viewing angles aren’t too good when you start turning it around a little bit, but straight on its not too bad, especially when it’s $70. And that’s how you have to approach this phone when you review it. This is a 70 dollar phone, it’s not a Galaxy note 4, a Lumia 1520, it’s something you buy, and it’s super cheap.
Leo: Now, I’ve got to say, given that, windows phone runs pretty snappily on it.
Sam: Right, so it has a quad core processor from QUALCOMM, the snapdragon 200. 1.2 gigahertz. You can run most apps and games. It has 512 megabytes of RAM. So there are a few apps and games in the Windows phone store that require 1 gigabyte of RAM or more, but those are very few and for the most part 99% off all apps and games in the windows phone store can run on this device.
Leo: Including Microsoft office!
Sam: Right. You get it.
Leo: That’s pretty impressive. So there are games that won’t work, but those are going to be the very high end games that need a lot of RAM.
Sam: Right, and what we see is a new game might come out, it might not work on this device, but a few updates later they’ll optimize it and it’ll run on low memory devices.
Leo: Interesting. Now you said Cortana, the speech recognition system built into windows phone works. Is it a full Cortana? Voice, sound works or…
Sam: Yeah. No, this is the same Cortana you’ll get on the 1520 600 dollar smartphone. That’s the one great thing about windows phone is it doesn’t matter what price range you’re buying at, the OS is the same experience across all levels. This is the Lumia, so you’ll have a few exclusive Lumia apps, compared to like an HTC 1 for Windows phone, but for the most part everything you’d expect for the 1520 will run on the 530.
Leo: Nokia, when they sold the mobility division to Microsoft, kept the Here maps, all the Here products, but they did license them to Microsoft, is Here maps and Here navigation on here?
Sam: Right. You get Here maps, so you get offline map support. So this makes for a great travel phone, if you don’t want to bring your super expensive iPhone when you’re on vacation where pick pocketing might be a little bit higher risk than when you are at home. Bring the 70 dollar phone for navigation, and if it gets stolen it’s not too much of a loss, because you only spent 70 bucks on it.
Leo: I guess you have to ask the question, how is it as a phone?
Sam: It’s not too bad. It’s weird, my daily phone is a 1520, and it’s a high end phone.
Leo: I love that phone.
Sam: With the most high end specs so when I spent the past week playing with this, it’s a different experience. There are compromises, there’s no front facing camera, no dedicated camera button.
Sam: It’s not too bad as a phone. Going forward, I think I’ll use it more as a gym device, take it to the gym, and play music.
Leo: Yeah, it’s small enough, it’d be good for that.
Sam: I won’t worry, if you drop a weight on it, you won’t cry because it’s so cheap.
Leo: It does have these colorful backs. I have blue, you have?
Sam: Green. You can get orange, black and white. And what’s also cool too is the back, the shells pop off.
Leo: Oh neat.
Sam: Let’s see if I can do it. The shell pops off, and then you can get another shell. I’ll put it on. And this shell has a flip cover.
Leo: Oh! That’s pretty cool!
Sam: So you don’t have to buy a case and put it over the phone. You just replace the back, and the back already has a flip cover attached to it.
Leo: I have to say it also feels like a very durable phone. It feels like a phone that I could drop and not worry too much about. Especially with that flip cover case on it.
Sam: No, you know, it’s a great phone. You were mentioning earlier this would be a great kid phone, and that’s exactly who I’d recommend it for. If you want your child to have a smartphone, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money because they’re a kid. They break things pretty easily and this is the kind of phone for them.
Leo: Sam, does Microsoft have kid friendly settings? Parental controls, that kind of thing on windows phone?
Sam: Yeah, you can go onto their account and set it as a child account, so they won’t have access to certain parts of the web, certain apps and games. You can set it up so they can’t buy apps and games without your permission, and games will have to meet a certain rating. Maybe E for everyone sort of thing, versus a teen rating and so on.
Leo: And just to prove, kids can take selfies with this phone. I’m going to take one, and another one. There you go, see? They just have to turn it around, there’s no front facing camera.
Sam: Right, no front facing camera.
Leo: And this is 5 megapixels, this camera?
Sam: Five megapixels.
Leo: That’s not bad, it’s better than many selfie cameras frankly.
Sam: Right. Its fixed focus though, so you won’t be able to tap and focus.
Leo: Ah, okay.
Sam: That’s another trade of with it being 70 bucks. The focus is the same no matter what.
Leo: Now, I have to point out that as most phones for developing markets, this has a radio built into it.
Leo: Is it dual SIM as well?
Sam: There’s a single SIM and dual SIM model, I don’t know which one you have, I have a single SIM.
Leo: I see.
Sam: In the virgin market, that’s real fine. The dual SIM, here in the US, I’m not sure if the T-Mobile and Cricket version are Dual SIM but mostly likely I think they’re single SIM, but when you go abroad you’ll find a dual SIM version.
Leo: Yeah, you really don’t need Dual SIM in the US. I notice, I’m getting 4G right now, so it does support the 4G network.
Leo: This is pretty sweet I have to say. 70 bucks.
Leo: It’s available in the US from Cricket?
Sam: Cricket, T-Mobile. For the T-Mobile version, you can get, I couldn’t find on the T-Mobile website, you have to go to the Microsoft store .com website.
Leo: Okay, aright.
Sam: So cheap. 70 bucks. Extra shells are 10 dollars each, you can get the flip shell version for 15 dollars and they can match your outfit, your mood and stuff like that.
Leo: This matches my outfit just fine.
Sam: Just perfectly.
Leo: Alright, pros and cons.
Sam: Pros, it’s cheap. Cheap way to get Cortana and windows phone. You can run most apps and games on it. Cons, the display, not a fan of it. Of course, you know, I’ve been spoiled by higher end displays. Most storage space, it only has 4 gigabytes of storage, so you’ll have to get a micro SD if you want to install more games, apps, music. No selfies is another con, especially if you’re a kid. Unless you flip the phone around.
Leo: It does support SD card though, which is…
Sam: Right up to 128 gigabytes.
Leo: That’s something you can’t say for all the flagship phones. So try, buy, don’t buy? What do you think Sam Sabri?
Sam: Buy for your kid, buy for yourself, if you want a phone at the gym, or when you’re snowboarding, skiing, or you just want a phone to make phone calls, and be stupid, maybe get it crashed and stuff. It’s a great phone for that.
Leo: Yeah, it’s a great burner phone.
Sam: Exactly. It’s hard not to recommend it when its 70 bucks and you get a good experience. There’s worse way to spend your money.
Leo: You can’t get a meal in Petaluma for two people for 70 bucks. The Nokia Lumia 550, Sam Sabri for Windows Central, he gives this a buy! We should point out that in the past, when we’ve talked to Sam and Dan Rabino and others, it’s been Windows phone central. Your new name Windows Central and Windowscentral.com.
Leo: Same great people, same great content, brand new name. Thank you Sam! Sam Sabri, great to talk to you, really appreciate it!
Sam: No problem, any time.
Leo: Next we’re going to talk with Padre, Father Robert Ballacer, he’s the host in This Week in Enterprise Tech, Coding 101, the Know How show, PACO, Padres Corner. And he took a look at something a little bit odd. It’s called the live pro, projector and hotspot from Sprint. Let’s watch.
Father Robert Ballacer: The Sprint LivePro is marketed as the Swiss army knife of electronics. Available from Sprint for 300 dollars with a two year service agreement. The LivePro combines a hotspot projector, battery bank and Android device into a neat 4.7 by 4.7 by 1.1 inch 14 oz. package. The left side of the live pro houses the adjustment ring for the projector, buttons for power and the power bank, as well as slots for SIM, and micro SD cards. To the rear of the devices power, USB, full sized HDMI and a headphone jack. Underneath the LivePro you’ll find a standard mounting point for attaching the LivePro to a tripod and a kick stand for angling the projector. The entire package is built around a 5000 milliamp hour lithium ion battery that can drive the hotspot for up to 10 hours. It was also enough to fully charge the 3100 milliamp hour battery in my 1plus one, and still have enough juice for four hours of hotspot operation. That is a lot of power, but running the projector will kill the battery in about 100 minutes. And having the hotspot active at the same time will drop your run time below an hour. And unfortunately, because of the large battery and power draw you can’t charge the LivePro from a USB port like you might with a standard hotspot. It needs a 12 volt adapter, which limits the charging options. The LivePro comes with Android 4.2 Jellybean, and a 4 inch 800 by 40 WVGA touch screen. In addition to the touch screen, the LivePro has the full Android compliment of buttons, as well as quick keys for volume, projector, and sleep. I was a little disappointed that the LivePro uses Android 4.2, but the dual core 1.2 gigahertz processor makes it feel snappy. And even 4.2 gives the LivePro notable features, like the ability to wirelessly project, and a secondary device for checking your apps. The projector is literally the bright spot of the LivePro. Sporting a 100 lumen light source and a DOP element, the LivePro natively projects 854 by 480. The scale inputs of up to 1080 P. In addition to being able to play whatever media might be in the Micro USB slot, USB port, or coming through HDMI, the LivePro can also display whatever is seen on screen. The LivePro packs a single speaker in the bottom of the unit that is plenty loud. Which is good, because when the fan starts up you’re going to need some volume. With decent indoor light power, loud, if tinny audio, and an interface that can make the LivePro a self-contained business projector or a Theater. The LivePro definitely gets props for packing features into a small package. But then we get to the hotspot. And the hotspot on the LivePro is, in a word, poor. I took the LivePro to Petaluma, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Berkley, and Las Vegas, and it very rarely connected to sprints new spark LTE service with any measurable signal strength. In fact, it almost never connect to Sprints 3G service. We thought there may have been a problem with the review unit, but even replacing it left us with sub-par cellular coverage. What makes this unacceptable is that I’ve tried other sprint devices, including a galaxy note, and other Sprint hotspots, and connection speeds with those devices reach passed 9 to 15 megabits per second, while the LivePro struggled to go past one and 5 with a supposedly superior network. Still with the combination of the other features, the lack of a useable hotspot wouldn’t be a problem, if the sprint LivePro weren’t a hotspot. That was supposed to use Sprints latest generation LTE service. That you had to pay for, every month, for two years. The somewhat sensible combination of technology in the Sprint LivePro, left me scratching my head. Wondering if this was the most stupidly awesome gadget ever. Or the most awesomely stupid Frankenstein’s monster. Stupidly awesome, awesomely stupid? Stupid awesome! Awesome, so stupid! Oh so awesome. Oh so stupid. In the end, the sprint LivePro is an interesting multifunction device with really bad implementations of some of those functions.
Leo: You want to like this don’t you?
Fr. Robert: I really do, I like the combination of gadgets. It’s a projector, it’s an Android device, it’s a battery bank, it’s a hotspot, but the problem is…
Leo: It does none of them well!
Fr. Robert: It does none of them well. The projector is okay, but it’s underpowered, the battery bank isn’t big enough. The hotspot is horrible. You’re paying for service, if I can only get one megabit down and, you know, half a megabit up. It’s crap. And here’s the worst thing about it. I’ve used Sprint devices and they are much, much faster, so there’s something wrong with the device. It’s not Sprint.
Leo: Oh. Alright. Although support from Sprint isn’t great either.
Fr. Robert: Right.
Leo: So let’s get the pros and cons.
Fr. Robert: On the pros, I do like the projector, I do like the battery bank. I like the idea of building smart into a hotspot. Android, the projector, the battery, that’s great. On the con side, it’s got to be that it’s an old version of Android, which I don’t understand why you would do that. It’s got to be that the charging is limited, because you have to charge it VIA this 12 volt plug here, you can’t charge it from a USB source, and of course, it’s a very weak hotspot, and if that’s what you’re really paying for, this is not the product for you.
Leo: If you were to pick one thing that this does well, would it be the projector?
Fr. Robert: It would be the projector.
Fr. Robert: And I would say this. If I had the ability to buy this for like 300 dollars, but no contract, I actually would get it. It is a decent battery bank, it’s a very cool projector, it’s got a lot of features that I’d like to use, but I’m not paying that 24 months of service for a hotspot that doesn’t really work. It’s a don’t buy.
Leo: It’s a do not buy. Sad to say, on, what is this called? The Sprint...
Fr. Robert: LivePro.
Leo: Super Vela dine, super heterodyne transmitter, receiver. You know my son, who lives kind of in a quazi frat house in college at CU boulder, said could you send me a projector TV, they want to watch the football games on 80 inches. I should have just sent him this! Yeah sure son!
Fr. Robert: The best part is he could watch it on this tiny little screen, and then project it onto a tiny wall screen! It’s the best of all worlds, really!
Leo: His frat brothers would have killed him!
Fr. Robert: I think so.
Leo: It would have been homicide. Alright, thank you Robert Ballacer, He is the Digital Jesuit. You find him on Know How, Coding 101, and Padres corner.
Fr. Robert: PACO, I like that.
Leo: PACO, you don’t call it PACO?
Fr. Robert: I don’t call it PACO, I do now.
Leo: Alright! And of course, in Enterprise Tech. Right here on the TWiT network. Hey we’re going to jump over now to our friend Bryan Burnett. He is out technical director on this show. That means he pushes all the buttons, and this is an amazing thing, that he is now going to fade from me to his review of something new!
Bryan Burnett: This is Bryan Burnett from Before You Buy and TWiT, and I’m here to show you the Velodyne WI-Q 10” Subwoofer. At first glance, this looks like any other subwoofer. A black square box, they have done a little bit of a swoopy design on the front grill that kind of adds to it. So it definitely feels well made, has a black matte finish to it. Some of the features of the sub are it has a 390 WATTs dynamic base and 195 watts RMS power. After removing the front panel you can see the main driver, and on the top left corner is an IR receiver for the remote that comes with the subwoofer, and a digital display. On the right side of the subwoofer is a mic input for auto detecting your room settings and we’ll get into that more later. On the bottom of the subwoofer is a port that fires the base downward, spreading out, extending the distance of the base. I would be remiss if I didn’t add Googly eyes to that. Taking a closer look at the back, you’ll see that you have a low pass crossover dial, next to that is a channel for using the wireless box, manual volume up and down controls. Below that is a standby mode, or always on switch. An output and input for low frequency, an IR input, and below that is speaker level inputs and your power button. The other two accessories that come with the subwoofer is a remote, which is pretty basic. Probably my only complaint of this feeling kind of cheap, is the remote. It’s pretty much the bare bones that they could do. And then the box, that allows you to wirelessly transmit to the subwoofer. One of the features I liked most about the Velodyne, was the one touch auto EQ button that aids in setting up the subwoofer. So once you found the perfect place for your subwoofer in your set up, you can use this to dial it in. Breaking it down for pros and cons, the number one pro for this subwoofer is the sound. It had a really good low frequency bass to it, and added a lot to the movie watching experience. The second pro is that it’s wireless. This helped a lot when finding a position for it, and I could place it in places that I wouldn’t be able to normally with wires connected to it. And finally the build quality is really solid feeling. Subwoofer, there’s no loose panels, everything’s put together really well. On the con side, it would have to be the price. It’s the only one that I could really come up with for this Subwoofer. At 799 dollars it is pretty pricy, but the sound is really nice. And maybe my second con would be cheap feeling accessories. But it's kind of a small con. So is the Velodyne WI-Q a buy, try, or don’t buy? I would have to give it a buy! This is a really good sounding subwoofer if you’re in the market, it has a couple of features that make it easy to set up. And the wireless, having it being wireless makes all the difference when setting up a subwoofer. A lot of people overlook the need for a subwoofer, but if you’ve ever watched your movie with the sub, and then try watching it again without the sub, you’ll know what I mean when I say that subwoofers do make a big difference. And having the subwoofer be wireless meant that I could put it in the right place for my setup, which is far more important than buying inexpensive subwoofer, and not having it in the right place. This has been Bryan Burnett from Before You Buy, reviewing the Velodyne Wi-Q 10” wireless Subwoofer. Thanks for watching.
Leo: Well there you go! A buy from Bryan Burnett our technical director, on the Velodyne Wi-Q wireless subwoofer. We go now from subwoofer to Snubs! Hi Shannon Morse!
Shannon Morse: Hi!
Leo: How are you? Host of Tekzilla.
Leo: And always welcome here on the show with, what is this? A keyboard?
Shannon: It is! It’s the…
Leo: It sounds like a Lamborghini or something.
Shannon: The Tesoro Lobera Supreme..
Leo: What a name!
Shannon: Supreme mechanical keyboard.
Leo: Alright. Tesoro Lobera, what does that mean? The treasure of…
Shannon: I don’t know what that means.
Leo: …Sierra Madre. It’s a monster keyboard. Tell us about it.
Shannon: It is! It’s huge. So this is a gaming mechanical keyboard. It costs 140 bucks. So this 3 really cool standout features that I liked about this. The first was the LED backlighting. It’s full RGB LEDS.
Leo: Pretty, oh so you can have any color.
Shannon: Any color, but the unfortunate thing about this… Yeah, check this out. So I have five different profiles I can hit. So they’re all. I set them up to all be different colors. And you can go in between them with the little function keys at the top, and by hitting down on this little function Tesoro key.
Leo: So you can have it be the color of your league of legends team.
Shannon: Yes, but the unfortunate thing that I noticed about this, and I currently have it on fade, so it’ll fade back and forth between the colors. You can only do one color at a time, so you can’t do separate colors for separate keys. So if you wanted to do like W,A,S,D in red…
Leo: That would be cool!
Shannon: …and the rest in yellow that would be awesome, but they don’t do that. The only thing you can do that’s similar is by turning them all the way up so that you have just the gaming ones lit and the rest of them are turned off.
Leo: Okay, so they do highlight the critical keys.
Shannon: Yeah, but I would rather it be like a bunch of different colors so I could have a full…
Leo: Wouldn’t it be nice?
Shannon: A full rainbow, which would be awesome.
Leo: yeah, red keys for directional, blue keys for weapons that Kind of thing.
Shannon: So the second thing I found was really cool with this is the fact that you can do macros. So normally, see on a mechanical gaming keyboard is a whole side macro over here. Where you have a bunch of different keys that you can choose. So instead of having those keys over here, t they’ve put them down here, and there’s just three of them. The cool thing about these three keys is you can record a certain combination of keysets. Like if you’re playing an RTS game, and you have a really cool combination, you can record it for your actual speed in real time gaming mode. And play it back just by hitting that key. So I set mine up on my computer to just do a quick feature where it presses in a whole bunch of things that say a full sentence, whenever I hit that key.
Leo: that’s nice.
Shannon: Yeah, it’s kind of cool. And you can do that for all three of these and you can just hit it with your thumb. It’s much easier than having to push your finger out, which I really liked about this, especially when I was in my game mode.
Leo: Now this looks like a metal finish, but it’s plastic.
Shannon: Yes, it is plastic. They did do this nice metal finish, or it looks like brushed metal along the sides, so it does look really nice, and very pretty. But it’s definitely not really metal. And then I also wanted to point out that they have, instead of just having metal or a plastic backing here, they did include rubberized texture on the feet, so it doesn’t bounce around as you’re getting into the games really quick. And the last really cool thing that they included on here is extra ports. So if you plug in the microphone and the headphone ports on your computer through this braided keyboard. This braided cord, you can also plug in your own headphone and mic through here. You will need to plug in an additional DC out right here to power those, and if you want to charge any multiple items as well like you’re phone while you’re playing your games, you can do that as well.
Leo: I was wondering why the keyboard was so thick, now I understand why. It’s got a lot of stuff going on there.
Shannon: Yeah, nice braided cord, which I really like.
Leo: Now you said mechanical keys, I think, you know, sometimes in an office, for instance, you want something that’s a soft touch quite key.
Shannon: These are pretty loud.
Leo: When you’re gaming you want some…
Shannon: You want some nice tactile feedback. And these do give you that tactile feedback. It definitely does. They are a little bit softer than Logitech keyboard that I have at home. They feel a little bit softer.
Leo: But I don’t feel the buckling keys click.
Shannon: These are brown, but they do have a blue version. If you’re familiar with Cherry MX keyboards.
Leo: Yeah, so this is a cherry?
Shannon: Yeah, this is kind of like cherry, it’s actually called kale keyboard switches. Pretty much the same thing, just a different company makes them. A different brand.
Leo: Anybody things Kale is as good as cherry is crazy!
Shannon: Yeah, so blue would give you the most tactile feedback, and this is brown.
Leo: Would you rather have a cherry pop tart or a Kale pop tart?
Shannon: I would prefer cherry myself.
Leo: Wouldn’t you? I would think so.
Shannon: Cherry blue MX, which is myself, which is what I have at home. But this is pretty close, so I like that.
Leo: Okay, good but not great.
Shannon: Good, but not great. So it’s supposed to last up to 50 million actuations. Which means 50 million keystrokes, so that’s going to last you a nice long time, and you can do up to 300 different macros per profile. And since you have five profiles, lots of different macros that you can use for your games.
Leo: Wow. 140 bucks. Pros and cons?
Shannon: So, my pros and cons of this. It has a great build quality, really like that. Really cool features and I like the additional ports that it put in. On the con side though, you could only do one color at a time, which irks me. I really want to get color some on there. And the software. Can I show you this software real quick? It’s terrible!
Leo: Is it complicated?
Shannon: It is so bad.
Leo: Oh it’s ugly!
Shannon: Look at this.
Leo: It’s a model of the keyboard itself. It looks like a bad win amp scan.
Shannon: It took me half an hour to figure out how to actually change the colors! You have to hit your profile, and then double click on there. So that’s annoying! There’s no software implementation. It’s just ugly. So I didn’t like the software, I think they should update that for people that are in their 20s and 30s.
Leo: Definitely a con. Buy, try, don’t buy on the Tesoro Lobera supreme gaming keyboard?
Shannon: Buy, try, or don’t buy? I give it a try. So it’s up there, I hate the software, I think they should update that and include more additional LED colors.
Leo: I don’t often play games, but when I do, I play on the Tesoro Lobera! That’s who they should get to do this. Thank you Shannon Morse! We can catch you on Tekzilla.
Leo: Tekzilla.com on a regular bases tekzilla. Is Patrick treating you right?
Shannon: Patrick is a horrible co-host. Just kidding!
Leo: Oh tell me about it girlfriend! I can tell you such stories!
Shannon: I love that guy!
Leo: I love Patrick too. I’m jealous you get to work with him all the time. Thank you Shannon!
Shannon: Thank you.
Leo: We’re going to take a break, when we come back we’re going to review the phone that you’re about to buy!
Shannon: Yes! Already bought it.
Leo: Just came out, you already bought it, you’re about to get it. The hottest new phone on the market today, at least until next week. The Galaxy note 4, that’s coming up in just a second. But first I want to show you my tool kit. Don’t you love IFIXIT? Who doesn’t love IFIXIT? These are the folks, you see them online. They tear down everything, just tore down the MAC mini, and that’s how we find out things like the MAC mini’s RAM is soldered on, the IFIXIT tool kit is just part of what IFIXIT really is. They like to think of themselves as the free online repair manual for everything! And I don’t just mean like you’re IPhone, or your computer, you can repair your refrigerator, your home appliances, your clothing, even your bicycle! With the manuals, free online, step by step repair guides at ifixit.com. If you have a red ring of death on your Xbox, IFIXIT can fix it. If you want to swap the battery in your galaxy S3, IFIXIT can help you. 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I know Shannon, you’re going to be looking at this with interested because, well it’s too late for you, so if I hated this you’d be out of luck. But guess what? I don’t, and this may come as a surprise for a lot of people, because for a lot of years I’ve said Samsung they junk their phones up, they’ve got great hardware, but what’s with this touch whiz and this funky camera and all that? Well I was really interested in the new Galaxy Note 4. First of all, I’ve had every note since the first one came out. I was the guy, yeah, who had the giant phone that you mocked. Now it doesn’t look so big, does it? This is a 5.7 inch phone, it’s actually physically smaller than the iPhone 6 plus, even though it has a bigger screen because Samsung doesn’t have a lot of bezels. These are almost edge to edge screen, and boy what a great screen. It’s a quad HD screen. I think it’s 2560 by 1440. There are a few phones out now with that kind of resolution, of course the LGG 3 was the first, the Nexus 6, which is coming out soon will also have quad HD, but I’ve got to tell you, Samsung super Amulet screens, there’s nothing better! These look so good, the blacks are so black. The whites are so bright, the colors are so rich! Here look over my shoulder, you can get a better idea of how this looks. Now of course, you’re looking on your screen at home. Notice one thing, I immediately took of touch whiz, and I’m using a nova launcher. That’s one thing I wanted to emphasize, you’re not stuck with touch whiz, and if you like touch whiz there’s some new features. In fact, let me launch the touch whiz browser, so you can at least see what Samsung is offering for…or touch whiz launcher, not browser. They’ve customized things quite a bit, actually I don’t know how to get in there anymore. But somehow I can get in there a little later on. But I do want to show you one of the things Samsung still does poorly. Now this is touch whiz, you can’t change the quick settings And look how clutter this screen is. Once you get used to it, you might find it’s really great that you have all these controls, but it feels like a 747 cockpit. Up here, the quick touch settings, and of course, you can customize those to your heart’s content. This is brightness, and one of the nice things about Samsung, and a lot of others don’t do this. You can have auto brightness, but nudge it a couple of stops up or down, depending on your personal taste. So if you want to save battery nudge it down by two. If you really like a crisp bright screen, nudge it up a couple, or just put it right in the middle. These two buttons, you’ll never use S finder is basically a global search, forget about it! I don’t even remember what quick connect does. Connect to somebody else using a Samsung phone in your neighborhood. Who cares!! Forget quick connect! This is just, that should not be there! I should be able to get rid of this! These are my notifications, some of them of course are mind. Noticed Samsung is doing something kind of interesting here. I have it set up so that it will automatically bond different connections so I can use the 4G plus the WIFI for faster downloads. I don’t know of any phone that does that.
Shannon: That’s cool.
Leo: That’s kind of a nice feature. Samsung also has stayed with the physical home button. For me that’s a little bit of a negative. I’m not a big fan of physical home buttons, but I’ve got to say, it works. And they have capacitive soft touch buttons here at the bottom. Unlike the standard, with Android these days, these are not onscreen buttons. The plus of that is it doesn’t take any screen space. This is a back button, this is a recent apps button, and of course, the home button. And these can be overloaded to do more things if you press and hold, things like that. This is all customizable. And that’s the thing that really I want to emphasize about the Note 4. This is a phone for people like you Shannon, people who love to tweak. Who love to change things, who love to set things. There are more settings in here than you can shake a stick at. Samsung, you remember, on the last phone, the S5 and the previous note 3, had multiple pages of settings. They’ve gone back to the super long list! This goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on. There are so many things you can set in here! I don’t even know where to start. Let’s go, I’ll give you a couple and you can distinguish this phone. This is a fingerprint reader at the bottom. S5 had that. It is probably not as good as Apples IPhone fingerprint reader. But it’s pretty darn good. You can train it for up to three fingers. I’ve trained it for both thumbs and an index finger. You have to swipe pretty much vertically down, but it works! And more than working to unlock the phone, it also works with Google wallet, it works with my banking applications, it works with Last pass. So if your applications are set up to use fingerprint authentication, and Last Pass, for instance, which I use all the time, is, that’s a huge convenience! I loved that on the iPhone, it does it very well on the Galaxy note 4. I should also point out that this has a massive battery in it. It is a 3320 milliamp hour battery. And it’s removable. This is one of the last killer feature phones on the market that still has a back, crappy though it may be, that you can pull off and you can get access, to look how big that battery is! You can also add an SD card up to 128 gigabytes. That kind of makes up for the fact that they only have 32 gigabytes of storage on the phone. I find that’s ample, I’m very happy with it. And the fact that I can put a big SD card in there kind of makes up for that. You’ll also notice a couple of extra things on the back here. Besides the really excellent, 13 megapixel, I’m sorry 16 megapixel camera. There’s, like on the S5, there’s a fingerprint, not a fingerprint, a heart rate monitor and something they call S02 oxygen monitor, and you hold your finger there. Forget it you’re never going to use that! It also has a pedometer in here, and all that ties into the Samsung S health application. One more feature that the Notes have become famous for, the S-pen stylus. It works better than ever on this. I love it very nice stylus, pressure sensitive so you can get fine lines and you get thick lines. It really is, and it’s very fluid. You can see how fast it keeps up. That’s probably because there’s three gigs of RAM in here. The snapdragon 805 processors run at 2.7 gigahertz. I have the unlocked European version, which has Samsung’s proprietary octocore EXNOS processor, running at a slightly slower speed. But I have to say, plenty of processing power. This thing is a monster! The camera, you know, arguably the best camera on the market today, I would say without a doubt, oh lets close this out. Without a doubt, the best camera on an Android phone. It competes very well with Apples IPhone 6. And has some very nice features. Who took that? Oh that’s a selfie! That’s one of the features, is you can turn the phone around. There’s a selfie version, that when you turn it around it actually sees your face, counts you down with haptic feedback, you don’t have to use the front camera. You might though, because its 120 degrees angle on the front camera. It’s a special selfie camera, and it’s a pretty good front camera. I think it’s a 3.7 megapixel, so that’s great. Also, ultra HD video, let me play it back here. I just took this video, let me see if it’s going to turn sideways. The quality of the video, you really can’t see here, superb! The amazing HD video, I work with weirdoes! I’m sorry, what can I say? The picture quality is excellent. I couldn’t be happier with this. I’ll put some samples up on line, but one of the reasons people are buying the Galaxy note 4 is because it does in fact, have, I bet for you this is true too, it has a really superb camera. Now one thing, we dinged the S5 and S4 for is all of the camera modes that go on and on! Samsung has been listening, they’ve really stripped out a lot of the weirdness that they put in the S5. For instance, yes the modes are there, but you can turn them off so you never see them. So if you never want to use beauty face, or multiple shots you can just turn them off. Pick the ones you want, by default only a few are turned on. I do like selective focus, we’ve seen that before on the M8, the HTC1, and the Lumia phones. That’s the ability to pull focus in or out, depending on what you want. After you take the picture. The sports shot is kind of interesting. It now has several modes within the sport shot. If you take a picture, you can choose to have, in fact I think I did it with Burke, I’ll go back and see if I can find that. So I had burke walk across the scene, and you can choose whether to erase him completely or have multiple shots of him walking across the scene. You get to choose. You can have a, that’s the drama shot, and when you have a drama shot, you can pick which of these images. So I shot him as he’s walking across, and I can have as many of him as I want. This is a nice thing! I really, I think you’re going to have fun with this! Now obviously Burke walking across the set is not very interesting, but if somebody is snowboarding, diving off a diving board. Doing something that’s actually interesting, this is a very nice feature. I was very pleased with this, and again, it’s hidden away, so if you’re not interested in it, you don’t have to see it. The eraser shot is hysterical, because it looks at the original and then erases unwanted moving objects. I like it! Bye, bye Burke! So they’ve really put some thought into this, they’ve added nice features, but they’ve hidden them away so that you don’t have to see them. In fact, in general touch whiz is much cleaner, they’ve listened to people and they’ve taken out a lot of the cruft, including the multipage settings, the weird stuff in the cameras. I think this just even looks better. Lots of features in here, yes you can touch and pay with your Google wallet or other credit cards. NFC is built in, I think the S pen works great. Remember all the weird motion and gestures and things like it would look at your eyes, you could scroll up and down, they took all of that stuff out. It does the things that really matter, for instance, it’ll notice if you’re looking at it and not go blank if you want. You can still do a screen shot by wiping your hand across it. A few of the things that were actually useful are still there. But a lot of those weird things like scrolling by moving your eyes up and down, gone! Gone! And I have to praise Samsung for doing that. For a long time, my mom used a Galaxy Note 3 in easy mode. If you know somebody who doesn’t want anything too fancy, the easy mode is big icons, very easy to use and really takes a lot of the complexity of a phone like this out of the picture. So I’m very pleased with that. Samsung has done a good job listening to its user, improving the phone, and amazing screen. The S pen works great, it’s got a lot of power in it. Including a bunch of battery life, I’m getting, currently at 31 % after about 8 hours. And that’s when you get a new phone you use it a lot. I think it’s going to get even better than that, and because it’s removable, 20 bucks you pick up an extra battery, never have to worry about running out.
Shannon: I’m so picking up an extra battery.
Leo: Oh, no wonder I’m killing the battery life, there’s that flash on. Let’s see, pros and cons here, gorgeous screen, quad HD, and it’s not sluggish at all because they’ve jammed a lot of processor power, in fact, the specs, in general, are amazing. 2560 by 1440, it’s almost a 3 gigahertz processor. 2.7 hertz, gigahertz quad core processor in a phone! That’s amazing! I really like the 16 megapixel camera on the back. The front camera is 3.7 megapixels. Optical image stabilization. Infrared IR is back, so you can use it as a remote control, the Samsung TV app makes it very easy to set up. Amp plus and a lot of other multimedia things people really like. The S pen works great, the fingerprint reader actually works. Hey! Kudos to Samsung, and I think the pedometer, the health monitors are really nice. On the con, well because it’s got touch whiz on here, this is a kit Kat phone, but lollipop is going to come out any day now, and you know that will be available to people who use Nexus phones, for instance, but not for Touch whiz phones for quite some time. Because Samsung has to take that source code and fix it and make it work with Touch Whiz. That slows everything down. So it is Kit Kat, I’m going to have to say that’s a negative given that Lollipop is due any minute now. Speaker is not great. It has a single speaker in the back, it’s loud but kind of tiny. And the price, whoa!! If you get this from a carrier with a two year plan, 300 dollars! Is that what you paid?
Shannon: Nope, I’m doing the full price!
Leo: And the full price, 800 dollars for this phone! Actually I think we’ve found it on Amazon for $850.
Shannon: You can find it for as little as $650.
Leo: You find it for $650?
Shannon: If you do the smaller gig version, the 32 gig.
Leo: Wow. I should have shopped around. Alright, there you go, it’s very expensive still.
Leo: Especially when you see phones that are very close in specs, like the One plus1 for half that much. And also you’ve got to remember the Nexus 6, Googles Nexus phone is going to have many of these same specs for about the same price, but will have lollipop, and the pure Google experience. You’re really going to have a tough decision.
Shannon: I kind of want one too.
Leo: You’re going to have a tough decision ahead of you. But here’s the good news. I’m very happy to say, I’m definitely giving a buy, you did the right thing, on the Galaxy Note 4. Samsung has listened to all the complaints. Complaints I made about having too much cruft on it. Making it too complicated to use. They’ve kept the stuff that people really like, and they’ve made it an amazing power horse of a phone. A definite buy on the brand new, and very expensive, Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Thank you Shannon Morse! Thank you Bryan Burnett. Thank you Father Robert Ballacer! Sam, from Windows Central. Thanks to you for watching. We do this show, brand new, fresh content every single Tuesday right after Security Now. You can watch it live, you know, it’s kind of chopped up when you do it live. But you can also get the full show at our website, twit.tv/byb. You can also find it on YouTube. Youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. Actually there’s a little something special we do there on the YouTube channel. Not only do you get the whole show but individual reviews are there to, but if you want to share, say a galaxy note review, with someone who is interested in buying one you can do that directly from the YouTube site. We also invite your comments and questions and suggestions for products you’d like to see reviewed, at firstname.lastname@example.org Subscribe, make sure you get every episode, we’re on all the pod catcher clients. Thanks for joining us! And remember, we’ll see you next time. You’ve got to watch Before You Buy! Bye, bye!