Techster

Everything wrong with the Apple Watch

Before the Apple Watch was announced I wanted one. Actually, I’d say I really wanted one. I had a smartwatch with my old Android phone, but it stopped charging right around the time when I switched to an iPhone, so I waited patiently for the day that Apple would release a smartwatch.

When Apple finally announced the Apple Watch, I was excited, until I heard the price: US$349 ($449 this side of the border). All that hope for an Apple Watch seemed to be in vain. With such of a stratospheric price, I couldn’t imagine being able to justify buying one, and when I got around to playing with the Apple Watch in the Apple Store, I was underwhelmed with it. I particularly remember not being fond of the really confusing interface.

But I missed having a smartwatch, so I gave the Pebble Time a try. I wrote about it extensively here. But long story short, it wasn’t for me. It was missing the apps I wanted and a lot of the functionality I needed wasn’t there either.

Continue reading

Review: Pebble Time — cool for the summer

Pebble Time (image via Pebble/http://smartwatch-im-praxistest.de)

Pebble Time (image via Pebble/smartwatch-im-praxistest.de)

If the tech industry has an underdog, it would be Pebble. Founded on some of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in the history of ever, Pebble is the guy you want to root for in the smartwatch field. Back in 2012 Pebble raised over $10 million in funding in just over a month on Kickstarter, and it soon became a giant in the smartwatch arena. But it’s now 2015, and Pebble’s far from the only game in town. Big names like Apple and Google/Android have already entered the ring and competition is fierce. So, enter Pebble Time, the company’s second-generation smartwatch. It trades the original Pebble’s black and white display and huge bezel and frame for a colour e-paper display and a slightly less humongous bezel and frame. There are some improvements under the hood as well. So, how does it stack up? Well, I hope you have time for another epically long review because I have a lot to say.

Display

The Pebble Time’s colour e-paper display isn’t that bad as long as you know what you’re getting. It certainly isn’t a high-end, high-resolution Retina display like what you’d find on the Apple Watch, but that isn’t as much of a drawback as you might think. The rather low-resolution e-paper display is part of the reason why the Pebble Time can manage to stay up and running for up to seven days — and that’s particularly impressive because the display is always on! Most other smartwatches put their display to sleep when they’re not being used, and they need to be charged every night or so or else they’ll crap out on you on day two. (There’s much more on the Pebble Time’s battery life below.)

The Pebble Time is also pretty readable in the sunlight without a backlight, which is something that I don’t think most of Pebble’s competitors can say. It seems to summon supernatural strength to use the sun to make itself more readable. Most other modern devices with traditional screens need to pump up the brightness when used in sunlight, which in turn hurts the battery life.

I found that the Pebble Time's backlight was acceptable for low-light situations

The Pebble Time’s backlight should be acceptable for most low-light situations

There is a backlight for those low-light situations, though. You can activate it by giving your wrist a vigorous shake. Some have complained that the backlight isn’t bright enough, but I found that it’s perfectly fine for those moments when you need to use your watch in the dark.

Because the Pebble Time uses an e-paper display, don’t expect to see any of the crazy graphics that you might see on an Apple Watch or Android Wear device. The watch’s graphics resemble what you’d see in the primitive days of computers and video games for the most part, and its graphics definitely maintain the charm of that era. That’s not to say you won’t see a few apps that go with a modern design, but they’re obviously constrained to the restrictions of the Pebble Time’s display.

Continue reading

My favourite apps (part three)

While love is in the air this weekend, I thought I’d take time out to show some love to a few of my favourite apps. Here are some apps I can’t do without at the moment. If you’re looking for parts one and two of this post, you can find them here and here.

MyFitnessPal Splash Screen (screenshot via iOS 8.1.3/iPad Air 2)

MyFitnessPal Splash Screen (screenshot via iOS 8.1.3/iPad Air 2)

MyFitnessPal allows you to capture a lot of info related to your diet and exercise habits

MyFitnessPal allows you to capture a lot of info related to your diet and exercise habits (screenshot via iOS 8.1.3/iPad Air 2)

Finding a way to accurately keep tabs on what you’re eating can be rather difficult, but with MyFitnessPal, the nearly impossible is possible (and quite easy too).

MyFitnessPal keeps track of your breakfast, lunch and dinner along with any snacks you might have throughout the day. If you want to see how much exercise you’re getting or how much water you’re drinking, MyFitnessPal can log that info as well.

When it comes to food, you can either search for what you just ate or simply scan a barcode (if you have one handy) using your camera, and the item will come up automagically on your device. Pretty sweet, eh? Just input the serving you had and save the entry.

Continue reading

Press Release: CTV Becomes First Broadcaster in Canada to Support Google Chromecast

CTV (logo via CTV.ca)

CTV (logo via CTV.ca)

TORONTO (February 12, 2015) – CTV announced today its CTV GO TV Everywhere service now works with Google Chromecast. The newly updated CTV GO provides an improved user experience and is the first TVE product from a Canadian broadcaster to support Chromecast functionality, further expanding the viewing experience for CTV GO users. Increasing the value of subscriptions to participating TV service providers, CTV has enabled the newly updated CTV GO to take the next step in providing viewers the flexibility to start, stop, and continue their favourite CTV programs seamlessly, in and out of the home. With the Chromecast device, Canadians have another option to enjoy their favourite CTV GO offerings on a big screen. Current users can stream from their web-connected computers or the CTV GO app for their iOS and Android mobile devices.

Chromecast is a thumb-sized media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on TVs. Viewers can simply use an Android phone, tablet, iPhone®, iPad®, Mac or Windows laptop, or Chromebook to cast the CTV GO app and CTV programming onto a television. In addition to CTV GO, the availability of more Bell Media digital brands for Chromecast will be announced soon.

CTV GO, now supporting Google Chromecast

Click here for more

My favourite apps (part two)

Did Santa bring you a shiny new tablet or smartphone for Christmas? I’ve dug through the hundreds of apps I’ve downloaded over the years, and I picked a few of my favourites out of the bunch. Hopefully, you’ll find them useful for your new gizmo. Oh, and if you’re looking for the first five apps, you can find them here.

Wunderlist login screen (screenshot via Wunderlist—iOS 8.1.2)

Wunderlist’s login screen (screenshot via Wunderlist—iOS 8.1.2)

  1. Wunderlist (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows (Modern UI, Desktop), OS X)
Wunderlist is a great to-do app (screenshot via Wunderlist—iOS 8.1.2)

Wunderlist is a great to-do app (screenshot via Wunderlist—iOS 8.1.2)

At first, I used Wunderlist mostly out of necessity, as it was one of the only cross-platform to-do apps that worked (almost) seamlessly between OS X, Windows, iOS and Android. It was a bit pokey and looked slightly dated, especially once everyone moved away from skeumorphism, but the new Wunderlist 3 changes that.

It gives Wunderlist a fresh new look and makes things a lot snappier. While I considered moving to Apple’s Reminders as I now operate predominantly in Apple’s ecosystem, I kept with Wunderlist, as it hasn’t really let me down. It would also be a hassle to move everything over to Reminders. It’s still tempting to make the move though, as Apple’s Reminders works well with Siri. Continue reading

Press Release: Corus Entertainment Partners with Fingerprint to Develop a Global Mobile Entertainment Platform for Preschoolers

Corus Entertainment (logo via Corus)

Corus Entertainment announced today that is has partnered with Fingerprint, the San Francisco-based mobile technology company, to create a mobile entertainment platform for kids aged two to seven. Set to launch globally in 2015, the platform will offer preschoolers a safe, fun and branded environment to enjoy videos, games, music and eBooks featuring their favourite Nelvana characters Max & RubyLittle Bear, Franklin, The Berenstain Bears and more.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Fingerprint to develop our first global digital offering for kids,” said Colin Bohm, Vice President, Television, Head of Corus Kids. “Leveraging Fingerprint’s expertise to create compelling and fun mobile applications for children will enable our Nelvana brands to be enjoyed by even more kids in multiple languages and territories around the world.”

In 2012 and 2014 Corus invested in Fingerprint as part of Corus’ strategy to expand into new markets and unlock additional value in Nelvana’s rich library of branded content.

“It’s been our dream to bring Corus’ family of great brands to life on mobile devices,” said Nancy MacIntyre, CEO of Fingerprint. “By creating this new platform, families will have peace of mind as they encourage their children to experience favourite brands on the family’s personal mobile devices. After all, mobile is where people of all ages are spending their time. Corus will expand its brands via mobile and further grow its fans.”

For more click here

Why The Wii U Bombed

The $150 (or $149.99 if you're particular) Wii U

The $150 (or $149.99 if you’re particular) Wii U

Recently, I picked up a brand new deluxe edition Wii U for $150 at Target. I was absolutely flabbergasted at the price, as it’s half of the current $299 MSRP, which is already low compared to some of Wii U’s competitors. The Xbox One, for example, started at $499, but later dropped the Kinect camera to match the PS4’s $399 price tag.

I spoke with a Target employee, and she said the only reason why they dropped the Wii U’s price was because they don’t package it with Nintendoland (or exclusively with Nintendoland) anymore, and they apparently had a ton of them sitting around.

I think this is proof enough that the Wii U flopped, not just that, but flopped epically. Well maybe not just Wii U, but Target’s Canadian arm as well. Their stores are often so empty you might have thought the world somehow came to an end when you entered them.

While the reason why Target may be doing so poorly maybe difficult to pin down, after some quality time with the Wii U, I could think of a few reasons why it bombed miserably: Continue reading