Archive for Rogers

Review: LG G3

Posted in Products with tags , on August 22, 2014 by itnerd

When I reviewed the LG G2 last year, I thought it would be competitive with the top smartphones out there. But it did have a few shortcomings with the camera being at the top of the list. But that was last October. Today we have the LG G3 which was supplied to me by Rogers. which as far as I am concerned is a big improvement over the G2.

LG has a absolutely beautiful phone in the form of the G3. It’s thin and light and has a stunningly gorgeous 5.5″ 2560 x 1440 IPS display. Having said that, it is very prone to attracting fingerprints though so you’ll need to keep a microfiber cloth handy. It also tends to wash out in sunlight. The back is removable and so is the battery which is a good thing. It feels very solid in your hand and is easy to hold. It may fit into your pants pocket, but I would suggest that you carry it in something such as a man purse or put it into a coat pocket. The rear volume/power button combination has returned on the G3. It works because your finger land naturally on them. They’ve tweaked the design though as each button has a more defined feel which is welcome by yours truly.

Here’s a quick look at the specs:

  • LG customized Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 5.5″ 2560×1440 pixel IPS display
  • 2.5Ghz quad core processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage expandable via a microSD slot up to 128GB
  • 13MP rear camera w/ Laser Auto Focus + dual-tone flash
  • 2.1MP front-facing camera
  • 4K video capture

One of the cool things that LG has done is come up with a cool way to unlock your phone which is included in LG KnockOn. It allows users to use a combination of taps to unlock the phone with a PIN as a backup option. It’s cool once you get the hang of it. It also allows you to double-tap anywhere on the screen to cycle power, and on the status bar at any time to turn it off, even when in third-party apps. I’ll also give LG credit for having a flat (as in iOS 7) look for their implementation of Android. A couple of Quick-branded apps make an appearance such as QuickMemo+ and QuickRemote, are present. There are other tweaks as well that I think that you’ll like that Rogers has supplied. They’ve brought apps for Rogers One Number, City TV, My Rogers, Anyplace TV among other apps to the G3. One thing that you’ll notice is that this phone is quick. It is easily on par with the Samsung Galaxy S5 when it comes to opening apps and moving between them. Another area that you’ll notice the speed is on Rogers LTE network. It clocked in at an average of 56.07 Mbps downstream and 11.58 Mbps upstream which means that you will not be starved for speed when surfing.

The camera is improved over the G2 that I reviewed last October. On that phone, the phone auto-focused constantly when I tested the video functions. That’s gone on the G3 for the most part. But I am getting ahead of myself. I should show you what the still pictures at 13MP looks like. As usual, I took a trip down to Pearson Airport to take pictures and videos of planes landing. Click on the pictures to see them at full resolution:

20140819_17560820140819_174149

The quality is very good and I will note that it has an autofocus function that is easily on par with the Samsung Galaxy S5. In other words, it was quick to focus. Very quick. Now the video was shot at 4K resolution. So you want to set the video to full screen and set it to 4K to see how good the video quality is.

Now I will note that there was some autofocusing, but it was not even close to being as bad as the G2 because it autofocuses very, very quickly. Kudos to LG for improving that. I should note a couple of things about the camera. First, the user interface for the camera is very simple and straightforward. Anyone can use that interface to tweak the camera to suit their needs. Second, if you’re into taking selfies, the G3 has a neat feature that allows you to take a selfie by using gestures.

Finally, there’s battery life. I got just over a day and a half of battery life before I had to recharge. The G3 does have a few tricks like screen dimming that will help to stretch this which is a good thing. But the bottom line is that the battery life on the G3 is right up there with the class leaders.

What’s my bottom line? The G3 is certainly an improvement over the G2. It’s got a great screen, good battery life, an improved camera, and lots of speed. It’s $79.99 on a 2 year plan or $599 outright at Rogers. That’s very competitive with most of its competition. Speaking of competition, the only competition that I can see for the G3 is the Samsung Galaxy S5. If you’re considering the S5, you need to take a look the LG G3 as well and you very well may end up going home with it.

Rogers, Bell, Telus Offer BlackBerry Z30 For $0 On A 2 Year Contract

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on August 20, 2014 by itnerd

Having just come off winning an award, BlackBerry has announced that they via Rogers, Telus and Bell will be offering up the Z30 for $0 with a 2 year contract for a limited time. Now the timing likely has to do with the back to school rush. But one has to wonder if a new “Z” phone is coming or perhaps they’re making way for the Passport? Admittedly, this is my jaded blogger mind at work here and I shouldn’t talk you out of a great phone if you’re in the market for a BlackBerry. Check out my review of it if you want to see what it is capable of and then make your way to the carrier of your choice to get one.

Review: Nokia Lumia 635

Posted in Products with tags , , on August 18, 2014 by itnerd

I have had a unique opportunity presented to me this week. Both Fido and Telus sent me the Nokia Lumia 635 to review at the same time. At first I wondered what I was going to do, but my wife pointed out to me that I had ability to test not only the phones, but the networks that they run on.

This should prove interesting. Let’s start with the phone.

The Nokia Lumia 635 is a Windows 8.1 phone aimed at those who are budget minded. But that doesn’t mean that it is a cheap phone. On the contrary. It feels very solid in my hand and is also very easy to hold in my hand. There’s a removable back and you can get yellow, green, orange, white, or black shells to match your tastes. Though I will note that removing the back may break your fingernail while you remove it. The Power and Volume buttons are on the right side, headset jack on the top, and Micro USB on the bottom. Inside there is a MicroSD slot for memory expansion. The screen (4.5″, 854-by-480, 218ppi) looks a little fuzzy and it does attract fingerprints. But unlike some other phones that I’ve tested, they don’t interfere with you looking at the screen. The Lumia 635 allows you to connect to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but on the 2.4GHz band only. But it does have an interesting trick. It comes with Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Sense. This feature uses Devicescape’s database to find public Wi-Fi hotspots on the street and try to connect to them. It worked intermittently for me. Thus it’s a very good thing that you get LTE connectivity as part of the deal.

I mentioned earlier that the phone runs Windows 8.1 phone, and it is a simple and easy OS to use. Though there does seem to be a pause when you start apps which is something that I have not noticed with a Windows Phone before. You get the usual Nokia add ons including:

  • HERE Drive + is a navigation app that offers voice based turn by turn navigation. It works well enough, but the voice prompts will sometimes give you specific street names, or simply tell you to turn left or turn right. That can force you to look at the phone rather than focus on driving. One advantage that this app has over Apple Maps is that the maps are resident on the phone and you can have as few or as many maps as you want on the phone.
  • HERE Transit helps you to navigate from place to place using public transit. It fetches public transit schedules to give you an idea of how long your journey will take. I have no idea if this accounts for delays on the subway and the like, but it is simple to use.
  • HERE MAPS is another navigation app which takes into account walking and even shows you passenger rail options.

In terms of add ons from Telus and Fido, Telus seems to have kept the phone relatively stock. Fido on the other hand has added a My Account app to check your Fido account details. One note, the Lumia 635 comes with a very good FM radio. At the same time, it also comes with Nokia’s streaming MixRadio which is equally as good. Anything that I played sounded pretty good on the internal speaker.

The camera is the next thing on my list. The rear camera is a 5MP shooter that lacks a flash which is going to limit how useful it will be. But it does take pictures and video that aren’t bad. Here’s a picture of an Air Canada 777 landing at Pearson Airport.

WP_20140817_003

Now the video which is shot at 720p:

As you can see it lacks image stabilization, but it’s pretty good.

Each of these phones gave me 12 hours of battery life which means that they’ll last you the whole day. That’s pretty good for those who need a phone that will go for as long as they do.

The only question that’s left to answer is how fast are these phones on their respective networks? That meant that I had to come up with a method for testing. Fortunately, my wife who works with cancer researchers had an idea:

  • Go to a minimum of five locations.
  • Have a mix of outdoor and indoor locations. Plus they have to be in a variety of geographical location in Toronto.
  • Ensure that both phones are getting LTE coverage.
  • Run three speed tests using the Speedtest.net app from the Windows App Store and note the results.
  • Average the three results to get a final result for both download and upload speeds in Mbps.
  • Make sure the tester doesn’t know which phone is on which carrier.

Now I should note that this isn’t about which network is better. I am not doing a test that could say that with any sort of validity. Still, this should be interesting to see what results we get. So, let’s see what we got in terms of numbers. I took the Fido phone and put a green back on it and left the Telus phone with the black back and sent my wife out to do the test and record the results after showing her how to use the Speedtest.net app.

Location #1: High Park near Bloor St. West and Quebec Avenue in Toronto, On

Fido Telus  
18.16 16.97 Mbps Download
7.3 13.6 Mbps Upload

This one was easy with no issues getting a LTE signal. The download numbers were close, but it is interesting that Telus got a significantly higher upload speed.

Location #2: Sherway Gardens Shopping Mall indoors in Toronto, On

Fido Telus  
5.46 26.04 Mbps Download
5.53 12.08 Mbps Upload

Now what was interesting about testing at Sherway Gardens was the fact that my wife had to work hard find a location to get an LTE signal on the Fido phone while she had no issue with the Telus phone anywhere in the mall. When she did get a signal, it wasn’t strong on the Fido phone while she reported to me that she got full bars on the Telus phone. That likely influenced the results. My guess is that Fido needs to improve the coverage in that area. As a means to validate this, I asked her to return with her iPhone 5 which is on the Rogers network to do the same test. She got similar results which didn’t surprise me since Rogers owns Fido and the networks are likely shared to some degree.

Location #3: Pearson Airport Terminal 3 departures level in Toronto, On

Fido Telus  
11.68 6.28 Mbps Download
10.66 14.32 Mbps Upload

This was another interesting result as the Telus had a faster upload speed relative to its download speed. I cannot explain this but according to my wife, it was repeatable.

Location #4: Derry Rd. and Dixie Rd. in Mississauga, On

Fido Telus  
89.23 16.96 Mbps Download
15.03 16.08 Mbps Upload

Fido pulled in a download number that is the highest number of any speed test that I’ve recorded on any phone that I’ve ever reviewed. Clearly in this area, if you have Fido, you’ll be surfing at warp speed.

Location #5: Scarborough Town Centre Indoors in Toronoto, On

Fido Telus  
47.48 23.58 Mbps Download
7.36 14.58 Mbps Upload

In this location, the Fido phone put up some really quick download speeds. But I should note that the numbers that the Telus phone got were not too shabby either. Particularly on the upload side of the fence.

Location #6: Pacific Mall Indoors in Markham On

Fido Telus  
66.29 13.24 Mbps Download
14.8 11.33 Mbps Upload

Once again, Fido put up some stunningly fast numbers on the download side of the fence and their numbers of the upload side of the fence aren’t anything to sneeze at either.

So, these results generally seem to support what PC Magazine found last year when Rogers was named the fastest for mobile network speeds. But faster doesn’t mean better. The Fido supplied Lumia 635 seemed to have problems getting a LTE signal in one of the six locations that my wife tested in. After my wife told me that, I went to the same locations and found that the Fido supplied Lumia 635 did sometimes have a weaker signal in some of these locations when compared to the Telus supplied Lumia 635 which always seemed to have full signal strength. So if you value signal strength above all else, you might opt for the Telus network.

So what’s my bottom line? Regardless of which carrier you go with, the Nokia Lumia 635 is a good phone for those on a budget that has a pretty good feature set. If you choose Fido, you can expect to pay $0 on a 2-year Tab24 agreement on a Standard plan. $200 on a monthly plan only (no Fido agreement) or with prepaid service. If you go with Telus, it’s $0 on a two year term or $200 outright. What makes you want to choose one carrier over the other depends on what is important to you. If you value speed, Fido will be your choice. However, my testing found that Telus had better signal strength. Thus if that matters to you, Telus should be your carrier of choice. Either way, you will be getting a phone that I think you’ll like.

LG G3 And Nokia Lumia 635 Now Available At Rogers

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 1, 2014 by itnerd

Rogers today dropped me a note to say that the LG G3 in metallic black is now available in Rogers retail locations and online at Rogers.com for $179.99 on select two year Share Everything plans. If you’re wondering how good this phone is, I’ll be getting one to review so watch for it!
Now if you’re looking for an even more affordable option can check out the Nokia Lumia 635, $0 on select two year Share Everything plans. The device is now available in black at Rogers retail locations and online at Rogers.com.  The Nokia Lumia 635 is also available in Fido locations and online at Fido.ca for $0 on select two year plans. Both Rogers and Fido customers will receive an exclusive free interchangeable bright green shell in the box.  I’ll be requesting one of those to review as well, so watch for that to go online very soon.

Hey IT Nerd! Do You Regret Moving To Rogers? [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 30, 2014 by itnerd

I have to admit that I was expecting a question like this to appear in my inbox given how much traffic, comments, and e-mails that my posts on Rogers tend to generate. This morning it did appear in my inbox:

IT Nerd. I’ve been following your move from Teksavvy to Rogers and I’m sorry, but not surprised that you’ve had an issue as that’s typical for Rogers. What I’d like you to comment on is if you regret moving to Rogers? Also, seeing as a Rogers rep told you and your spouse something that wasn’t true, why aren’t you pushing that to the highest levels as that’s kind of dishonest on the part of Rogers is it not? 

Thank you.

Thanks for the question.

If I have to look at the experience critically, this is what I see:

  • The install of my services went perfectly. Not only that, the person who came to our condo was outstanding.
  • As I type this everything still works perfectly.
  • Though I hope this never happens, if I have a technical problem, I suspect it will get fixed expediently as Rogers is responsible for their infrastructure from end-to-end.

Plus, the billing issue that we had wasn’t really a billing issue as such. Though I am keeping an eye on it. There was a combination of a lack of clarity in terms of how Rogers describes its discounts on paper, and a agent who either accidentally or deliberately told us that we were getting a free modem for our Internet. Now the fact that we aren’t getting a free modem doesn’t change how much we pay, so that’s why I’m not pursuing that issue. Though I know what I heard and my wife knows what she heard, so it’s unlikely that both of us are to quote Roger Clemens “mis-remembering” our interaction with the Rogers agent we spoke to. If we are, we’d love to know about it as we have no problem being told that we’re wrong about this. But if there was anything out of this whole experience that could be considered to be negative, it’s that and I hope that Rogers investigates that and addresses it if required.

The flipside to that is that I have seen areas where Rogers have improved things. When this billing issue blew up they recognized the need to escalate and the “manager” that I spoke to promised to follow up to make sure everything was okay in September so that we didn’t have to chase him (though I’ll be doing my own follow up at that time as well). Two or three years ago, that wouldn’t have happened, and that’s good on their part. They still have some work to do, such as better follow up from @RogersHelps, and from a perception standpoint as your e-mail illustrates. But I think they are trending in the right direction.

So to answer your question, I don’t regret moving to Rogers as it was the right decision for my wife and I all things considered.

UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, @RogersHelps reached out to me and investigated this. The long and short of it is that Rogers will be applying “a lump sum credit of the $8/month over 2 years” to our account. That’s a very good gesture and I thank @RogersHelps for their assistance in sorting this out.

An Update To My Rogers Billing Issue

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 28, 2014 by itnerd

So, I instead of my wife called Rogers to sort out this billing issue that we discovered, but aren’t surprised happened seeing as we’ve had billing issues every time we’ve made changes to our Rogers account. Now before I get to what happened, let me circle back to something. When this first happened and I posted it on Saturday evening, I got a response from @Chris_Rogers within 30 minutes of yours truly posting it saying the following:

commentAs soon as I saw that, I responded with this via Twitter to both him and @RogersHelps:

As I said earlier, that was on Saturday evening. I have not received a response. I find that bizarre as @RogersHelps is supposed to be responding to Tweets between 9am-12am EST on Saturday and Sunday. I guess they figured that they don’t have to do anything since they clearly read my original article and figured that my wife was going to call in. My suggestion to them would be to not assume anything and reach out to the customer ASAP. This is doubly true in this case since a Rogers employee has already done so.

So, back to my call. After waiting on hold for 16 minutes, I got an agent who told me that the modem for our Internet access was NOT free as we’d been promised. The NextBox 3.0 however was. As you can likely appreciate, I wasn’t impressed as when we set this up, my wife and I were on a three way call with Rogers where the agent on the line clearly told us the modem was free. Now to the agent’s credit, he did offer to escalate me to a “manager” and I took him up on that offer. So after waiting another 12 minutes, I finally got a manager online. I had to explain my situation again and then he put me on hold while he went off and looked into everything. That was another 5 minutes on hold and by the end of it, here’s what I discovered:

  • Rogers apparently have structured their discounts so that we would get a price of $144 a month for the first three months for all our services and then it would go up to $213 a month after that. That is taxes in and included the modem rental. My wife and I both heard that when we called in and it was documented on the account. The latter price apparently includes a $5 discount on our home phone and a $10 discount on our Internet access.
  • The discount code that is on the account clearly indicates that the NextBox 3.0 will have a free rental associated with it for three years. But it is in the form of a three month discount followed by the rest after the first three months. The “manager” that I spoke to said that he will check on September 8th (which is when the 3 month discount is up) to confirm that the discount is still in place. If it isn’t, he’ll fix it and I won’t have to call him. That’s a new behavior from Rogers as I’ve always had to follow up to make sure that they keep their promises. So I’ll give them points for that. Though I will be checking my bill to make sure there are no issues.
  • The modem for our Internet is not part of the deal, and thus not free. However, my wife and I clearly heard that it was. But seeing as it doesn’t increase the prices that we were quoted, it’s kind of a non-issue. Though I personally am not impressed by that. Another thing to consider is that the $10 discount offsets the $8 modem rental. Still, it would have been nice if the agent we originally spoke to had not told us that it was free.

I was given a case number (Hint: When dealing with a contact center, always ask for a case number. If they say they don’t have case numbers, they’re likely lying) and was asked if I had any other questions. I suggested to the “manager” that he listen to the original call and he would hear that the agent we spoke to promised us the modem. He said he would do so and apologized for what happened.

So, while I am not jumping for joy, this is dealt with. Mostly. So what are the takeaways from this experience?

  • Rogers reached out to me when I posted the original story on this but never followed up. My suggestion is that they should have followed up. The outcome would have been similar, but I wouldn’t have had to phone them.
  • Rogers to their credit did some things right from a contact center perspective. When the original agent thought that the call needed to be escalated, he offered an escalation path. Once I got to a “manager”, I was not only given a case number, but he said he’d follow up on my account to make sure nothing goes sideways. These sorts of proactive behaviors are new ones from Rogers and they’re something that I tell my clients who run contact centers that they should be doing. It shows that they are trying to be better.
  • Hold times within Rogers need to be improved. This interaction took 48:23 which is way too long. Rogers needs to get their customers to agents quicker and to drastically drop the amount of time spent on hold. Now to their credit, they do have the ability to have you leave a number so that that they can phone you when an agent is free. That in theory means that you can go off and be productive while you wait for Rogers to phone you back. But I was productive anyway as I was able to work on a customer issue while waiting for a Rogers agent to pick up the phone. Thus it would give a much better perception if their call center agents were able to get to customers faster and I was on hold for less amounts of time.
  • I am dubious that Rogers will go find the original call and a listen to it. But I say that they should listen to the call and follow up with my wife and I. Here’s why. As it stands, my wife and I know that we heard the agent that we spoke to say that the modem for our Internet would be free. That creates a negative perception of Rogers. What I teach my customers who run contact centers is that they should find the recorded call and listen to it. If there’s something that needs to be addressed with the agent, address it with the agent directly and clearly. Then report back to the customer and tell them what they heard and how they’re addressing it so that it never happens again. Alternately, if there’s nothing wrong from the call center perspective and the customer is wrong, tell the customer what you heard. In either case, you should also offer to let them listen to the call. In short, make sure that there’s total transparency to the process. That will put the issue to bed with the customer and change the perception that the customer has of the organization. Rogers may want to consider doing something similar.
  • Rogers billing should be clearer. If their bills indicated that there were multiple discounts in play, such as saying that you’re getting this discount for three months and as of “x” date you’ll get this discount, some of this could have been avoided.

Now as I said earlier, I’ll monitor this to make sure that nothing else goes sideways. I’ll make sure to post an update as to what happens.

 

The Honeymoon With Rogers MAY Be Over [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 26, 2014 by itnerd

Frequent readers will recall that my wife and I switched my Internet and Home Phone to Rogers after I had difficulties our previous telco. At the time I said that this was the deal that was offered to my wife and I:

So at this point, I turned things over to my wife who is a master negotiator to see what kind of deal she could work out. We had agreed to only switch the Internet to Rogers. But being the master negotiator that she is, she called me on my cell with the following deal:

  • Rogers Hybrid Fiber Internet 30 (30 Mbps downstream, 5 Mbps upstream) with a free modem and 270GB of usage a month
  • Rogers Home Phone with three features
  • A free 1TB PVR for my TV watching habits (Well, it’s a free rental for 3 years and it’s $1 to buy, so it’s basically free)

That we thought was a good deal so we pulled the trigger and switched. The install was painless, but at the time I did say this:

Now, we’ll see if any of the billing related to this gets screwed up in any way. It’s happened before when we’ve made changes with Rogers and it’s been painful to fix. If nothing happens on that front, I will sing their praises to anyone who asks.

And when I sold my old PVR, Rogers had to go through some gymnastics to get the PVR at the time. That made me say this:

The person I sold my old PVR to called into Rogers and called me back to get the PVR removed from my account. It was five minutes of listening to silence, but it was removed. The root cause of the first Rogers CSR not being able to remove the PVR from my account was because of the way the discounts were applied to my account. To fix it, she moved all my equipment from “cable outlet one” to “cable outlet two.” What’s weird about that was the fact that we only have one physical outlet. We’ve had problems with Rogers believing that we’ve had more than one outlet and billing us for it. That was painful to fix as we had to escalate to the Office Of The President and have a Rogers tech come out and confirm that we don’t have a second outlet. I am hoping this does not create a new nightmare for us to have to fix.

Well, what I had feared may have come true. After a Rogers telemarketing call where the person at the other end of the phone said a few things that piqued my curiosity, I decided to log into MyRogers and look at our bill online. I must admit that this is a handy feature and it sure came in handy today. There appears to be a billing error on our account. Actually, two of them. Here’s a couple of screen shots from our MyRogers account with our personal info redacted:

cable

 

If are getting a free rental of a PVR for three years that we can buy for $1 after that, why does the rental discount end on September 25, 2014?

Internet

If we’re supposed to be getting a free modem for our Internet access, why are we being charged for it?

Clearly, Rogers has screwed something up in relation to our billing. Maybe it was because I sold the PVR and they had to do something to get it off our account? Maybe this wasn’t set up right from the get go? Who knows? I do know that my wife will be calling Rogers on Monday morning to get this corrected. That should be “interesting.”

Now, people and companies screw up. How the screw up is dealt with says a lot about the person or company in question. Rogers has an opportunity to show how well they deal with this screw up as previous billing errors like this were painful to fix. If this one is easy to fix, then I will say that Rogers has changed a lot. Given how well things have gone to this point, I’m willing to give them a shot at fixing this. But only one shot.

I’ll update you on what happens.

UPDATE: Here’s something that happened. If you check the comments below, Chris from Rogers reached out to us. I responded via Twitter:

More as it comes.

Rogers Cuts “Several Hundred” Jobs

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 21, 2014 by itnerd

You might recall the Rogers 3.0 plan that I wrote about a while back. The Toronto Star is reporting that as part of the Rogers 3.0 plan, “several hundred” people are no longer employed by Rogers:

Rogers Communications Inc. has quietly cut “several hundred” middle management positions across the country and 15 per cent of executives at the vice-president level and above, the company confirmed Monday.

And more change is coming.

The restructuring is aimed at delivering on a plan the company announced in May to “overhaul the customer experience and re-accelerate our growth relative to our peers,” Rogers spokesperson Patricia Trott wrote in an email to The Star.

Well, Guy Laurence who is the CEO of Rogers clearly doesn’t mess around. But to be fair, this was coming as it was detailed in the Rogers 3.0 plan. Still it’s never good when people lose their jobs and I hope they land on their feet quickly.

Review: Motorola Moto G LTE

Posted in Products with tags , on July 14, 2014 by itnerd

Motorola seems to own the low end of the smartphone space with phones that don’t seem low end. Exhibit “A” is the Moto G which when I reviewed it last year, I thought it was a great smartphone. Sure it lacked LTE connectivity and there was no Micro SD slot to expand the memory, but the majority of people who were the target audience didn’t care.

Fast forward to summer 2014. Let me introduce you to the new Moto G LTE that Rogers was kind enough to provide me. Here’s what it has under the hood:

  • Android OS 4.4 KitKat
  • 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 4.5-inch display (1280 x 720 resolution)
  • 5MP camera with a 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 8GB of internal storage
  • Micro SD Slot
  • LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth

So, if you compare these specs haven’t changed that much with the exception of LTE connectivity and the Micro SD slot which allows you to add another 32GB of storage space. Externally the phone is the same as well. It’s still slightly bigger than an iPhone 5/5S but it’s still easy to hold. The rubberized back plate makes sure you have a good grip on the phone. I should note that you can get the back in different colours so that you can make the phone reflect your personality. Though, just like the original Moto G you’ll have a tough time removing the back. Even though you can remove the back, you still can’t remove the battery. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the screen. It’s still bright and sharp and is truly the star of show. It is a 1280 x 720 display with a 329ppi pixel density. To put that in perspective, it’s a bigger, higher resolution, more defined display than the iPhone 5S. Pretty impressive for a phone that is designed to be basic. It feels solid just like the original Moto G and it is still running a largely stock version of Android. This time in KitKat form. The only tweaks are as follows:

  • Motorola Protect which acts like Apple’s Find My iPhone. You can remotely locate the phone, lock the screen, change passwords and more.
  • Motorola Assist which is like Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature. It silences your phone either when you’re sleeping (after you set that up of course) or when you’re in a meeting. The latter it figures out by itself if you use Google Calendar. There’s also a handy auto-reply feature.
  • Finally, there’s Motorola Migrate, which helps transfer data from your old phone over to the Moto G. But only if you have another Android device.

Now one big change is the move to LTE from HSPA+. When I tested it on the Rogers network, I got an average of 40.15 Mbps downstream and 7.79 Mbps upstream. That’s quick!

Back to what hasn’t changed and that’s the camera. It’s the same 5 MP shooter that the Moto G had with the same user interface from the It has the same interface as the Moto X and Moto G. Swipe from the right of the screen and you can browse the pictures you’ve taken. Zooming in and out is a one finger operation. Place you finger in the middle of the screen and swipe up and you zoom in. Swipe down and you zoom out. It has the ability to automatically turn on HDR automatically which may be handy for those who want to make sure that they get the perfect shot. Since we’re talking about pictures, that means that it was time to take a trip to Pearson Airport to photograph some planes. This time to take pictures of planes taking off. Here’s a shot of a plane getting ready to take off. Click it to see it at full size:

IMG_20140713_130516889

That’s pretty good from a phone that’s supposed to be a budget phone. And here’s a 720p video of the same plane taking off. Set it to full screen and 720p resolution:

You’ll notice the wind noise overwhelming the microphone. But it does pick up sound pretty well and the video is pretty good… Other than the wind making it difficult to hold the camera straight. That illustrates the lack of image stability. But this is a budget phone and you’ll have to cut it some slack.

Battery life wasn’t affected with the addition of LTE. I fully expect you to go beyond a day of usage before needing a recharge. Again, this is something that you don’t expect from a budget phone.

Speaking budget, if you sign up for a two year plan, you can get it for $0. Alternately it’s $224.99 outright. That is beyond affordable for those wanting to either buy their first smartphone, a parent who wants to get their child a phone, or someone who needs a low cost phone. Motorola has addressed what was missing with the original Moto G and you truly have no excuse not to put the Moto G LTE on your shopping list. You will not regret it.

 

Review: Rogers NextBox 3.0

Posted in Products with tags on July 8, 2014 by itnerd

As part of my migration of phone and Internet services to Rogers, I got an almost free Rogers NextBox 3.0 as part of the deal. So, what’s a NextBox 3.0? It’s a set top box made by Cisco Systems (it’s model 9865HD) that not only allows you access to Rogers Cable TV, but it’s a 1 TB PVR. That’s roughly 120 hours of storage. My old Rogers PVR (which was a Cisco Systems 8642HD) had 160GB of storage which worked out to about 19 hours or HD recording so the extra space is welcome. Compared to other Rogers PVRs, such as the original NextBox that this one replaced, it physically has a smaller footprint so it eats up less space in your audio/visual shelf. It also boots way faster. My old PVR took about 20 minutes to boot. This one takes about 5 minutes. That’s something I really appreciate.

One of the key features that the NextBox 3.0 has going for it is the fact that it has 8 tuners in it. That means that you can record 8 programs at the same time. Now I can never conceive of ever doing that, but the fact that I can record two or three things at the same time will keep myself and my wife happy as we won’t have to argue over what gets recorded again. In terms of the user interface on the NextBox 3.0, there does not appear to be many changes made to the Programming Guide. But everything is much faster. Changing channels is faster and navigating through the Programming Guide is faster as well. My last PVR had apps that were installed on it. This one has similar apps. Specifically weather, an app for my Rogers Home Phone that has call logs and controls for voice mail among other things, a search app, an app that shows different mixes of shows such as sports for example, and an app that allows me to subscribe to additional channels. Speaking of apps, you can program this PVR remotely from your smartphone using the Rogers Anyplace TV Home Edition app for iOS and Android so that you don’t miss the latest episode of True Blood.

Any downsides? Well, my old PVR had more connections such as an S-Video connection that are simply absent on the NextBox 3.0. That may not be a big deal if you connect it via HDMI (which is what I would recommend). But if you have some old school TV hardware, you’re going to be stuck with RCA jacks and the signal quality (or lack thereof) that they provide. There is also the omission of the AC outlet that was on my previous PVR. That was handy to power other audio/video equipment. But chances are unless you’re some sort of audio/video geek, none of that will matter to you.

The NextBox 3.0 is $500 to buy and $25.07  a month to rent from Rogers. Though if you’re renting an older Rogers PVR, you might be able to swap it out for a NextBox 3.0. Check out Rogers.com, your local Rogers retailer as well as Future Shop and Best Buy to get your hands on one.

 

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