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Category: Hardware (page 1 of 4)

Cool Shit: Extreme-Smartphone 9500 V2

This post is a little different from other Cool Shit posts. The good folks at Extreme-Smartphone.com reached out to me and told me they were launching the second version of their X-Tel 9500 phone in South Africa.

Now, I’ll admit that name doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue. But it doesn’t really need to as this phone is more about getting things done than showing off.

Recently the likes of Sony and Samsung have been water and dust-proofing their phones. That’s cute if you accidentally drop your phone in a puddle. This phone wants to still be ready to go if a truck drives over it.

Extreme-Smartphone_V2_02

The company that makes this phone (X-Systems) makes everything from dump-phones to tablets, all ruggedised for the harshest conditions. They also have a focus on mobile security. That should make for a pretty good combo.

As for the X-Tel 9500 V2 we have some specs:

  • Gorilla Glass 3.0
  • IP68 Waterproof
  • Physical Answer + Reject buttons
  • Physical SOS side button
  • Removable 2800 mAh battery
  • Upgradeable battery (4500 mAh)
  • 4G, Dual Sim
  • Bluetooth LE
  • Range Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • 8MP Sony Camera
  • 4″ FHD Screen
  • Quad-Core 1.4GHz CPU
  • Android 5.1
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB Storage

Now for the fun stuff: They claim this phone is “hexa-proof”, that means it is waterproof, dust-proof, shockproof, freeze-proof, tempe-proof, and oil-proof. That is a little bit more than the average smartphone will handle in its lifetime.

Local pricing is yet to be announced but in Europe it goes for 430EUR so it should be inline with similar spec Android smartphones.

It seems like there is quite a powerful phone hidden under that though exterior.

I’m waiting to get my hands on a review model and when I do, I’ll put this phone through its paces and see if it lives up to what it claims.

Misfit Flash Review: Can cheap also be good?

Currently there is an extremely fast growing market for fitness and sleep trackers. The leaders in the wearables industry are Jawbone and Fitbit, you have the premium options such as the Apple Watch, and there are entry-level contenders including from the likes of Misfit, in the form of the Flash. In our Misfit Flash Review, we aim to suss out whether this tracker can blur the lines between the terms ‘affordable’ and ‘quality’.

The Flash isn’t the newest contender to the market, it is just over a year old. It is the cut-price version of the Misfit Shine, which offers a more premium look and feel, but has the same features. As the focus is on price with the Flash, the hard plastic body isn’t much of a surprise, neither is the omission of a heart rate monitor or GPS.

Specifications

Misfit-Flash-Review1

 

The Flash runs off of a coin cell battery which gives it an impressive battery life of up to 6 months! This means it doesn’t matter if you forget to charge it; just pop in a new battery every 6 months. The advantage of this extended battery life means that you can actually use it to track your sleep. With other fitness trackers needing to be charged, sleep tracking often takes a back seat.

The Flash claims to be water resistant (rather than waterproof), however I had no troubles showering or swimming with it. The fact that it can track swimming may be very appealing to some. Not having to worry about it getting wet is a bonus.

As with most fitness trackers, the Flash connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth Low Energy. This is the technology that gives it that amazing battery life. It tracks movement with a 3-axis accelerometer. This enables it to measure steps, calories burned, distance, and sleep quality.

In the box, you’ll find the Flash, a sport band as well as a clasp to attach it to almost anything. It can be attached to your belt, collar, pocket, wrist, or even your shoe whilst running.

Misfit-Flash-Review3

 

An interesting addition and possible stand out feature allows you to use the single button on the Flash as a remote control. You can use it as a camera remote trigger, music remote, presentation clicker or even a light switch if you have a smart light bulb.

User Experience

Connecting it to the app was fast and simple. Once you set a goal – I chose moderate activity as I sit at a desk most of the day – you’re good to go. I started out wearing the Flash on my wrist with the sport band. It is extremely light at only six grams, so it is barely noticeable. The sport band is made of cheap plastic, similar to what you would expect to find on a child’s toy. It is fairly comfortable, but becomes less so when you sweat. This is a bit of a problem as it is an activity tracker.

I set the wearing position to my wrist and went about my day. A single press on the Flash’s button lights up LEDs on the face. These can be configured to show you your daily progress towards your goal, the time or both. It took a little while to get used to telling the time by flashing lights but once I got the hang of it, I found it to be quite useful. I reached my goal fairly easily on the first day. Once I synced it to the app, I could view how far I had walked, my step count, and how many calories I had burned.

During my time with the Misfit Flash, I found the Flash’s step and calorie count to be rather optimistic. It registered almost twice as many steps as my Apple Watch. The calorie count and distance walked were also considerably higher than the Apple Watch. Once I switched to wearing the Flash on my belt, the readings were more in line with the Apple Watch but were still higher. I suspect it may register normal movement as steps and this is exaggerated when on your wrist.

Misfit-Flash-Review2

 

The feature I was most excited about was the sleep tracking. It did a good job with this and I found it to be on par with the Sleep Cycle app I use on my phone. The biggest advantage I found to using the Flash over an app is that it can detect when you are sleeping so you don’t need to remember to enable it.

The companion apps for the iPhone were well made, user friendly and pretty much just worked. The fitness focused Misfit app integrates with Apple’s Health app so that you can have a central store of all your fitness data. Strangely Misfit offers an Apple Watch app.

Misfit-Flash-Review6

 

The Apple Watch app was rather disappointing as it only offers coaching for either a one, four of seven minute quick workout. I was hoping I would be able to view my daily progress on it when wearing the Flash on my belt. The Link app is used for the remote functionality. You choose what function you’d like the Flash’s button to perform, sync it, and it just works. My only complaint here is that you can’t save different presets, you have to run through the setup each time you want to change that functionality.

Over the course of a week during my Misfit Flash Review, I found that using the belt clip was the most comfortable. It was so light, I didn’t even notice it. Initially I was worried about losing it but the clip is very sturdy and this didn’t turn out to be a problem. I had very little use for the remote functions, but they could be quite a cool party trick.

Misfit-Flash-Review5

 

Conclusion

Overall, for an entry-level contender, the Misfit Flash isn’t bad. It doesn’t have a premium look or feel, but the build quality is good. The sport band is not great and if I wanted to wear this on my wrist for extended periods of time, I’d look at getting a better band for it.

The fact that it is missing a heart rate monitor or GPS doesn’t hurt it’s performance at all. The amazing battery life, and lower price, more than makes up for these omissions.

The biggest problem was the over-reporting of steps and calories I experienced in my Misfit Flash Review. This can be minimised by wearing position but is still a concern.

Misfit-Flash-Review4

 

The sleep tracking was difficult to fault, which was spot on. I really wish the companion app gave more insight into sleeping patterns. It shows you your highest, lowest and average amount of sleep for each week or month, but it omits sleep quality, and the times you went to bed and woke up.

Overall I found the Misfit Flash to be a good contender in the entry-level market. It is more versatile than some of its more expensive competitors. It has a few tricks up its sleeve, and works pretty much as advertised. For the price of R500 ZAR, it may be worth a shot if you’d like get into tracking your fitness or sleep, or even if you just want to use it as a PowerPoint remote.

Score: 5/10

 

This review was written as a guest post on Bandwidth Blog, please see the original article here: Misfit Flash Review

Design Flaw vs Idiot

You may have seen in the news that the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a “design flaw.” Android Police has widely publicised this with both that article and a YouTube video.

The so called “design flaw” is that if you insert the S Pen backwards it breaks. Either the phone stops detecting the S Pen or the S Pen gets stuck.

Some poor guy at Samsung actually had to respond to this:

We highly recommend our Galaxy Note 5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure they do not experience such an unexpected scenario caused by reinserting the S-Pen in the other way around.

Very rarely do I side with Samsung on something but this is complete bullshit. It is one thing to expect companies to make a device that is reasonably safe to use but to expect them to recall millions of devices because they aren’t idiot proof is a bit of a stretch.

This is kind of like expecting Apple to recall their Ear Pods because they can get damaged when inserted in wall socket.

FFS people, this isn’t a design flaw. Calm down, be careful and I’m sure you won’t fuck it up. I’ve gone my entire life without inserting the wrong thing into the wrong hole or inserting the right thing backwards into the right hole. But you say “What about the kids, they won’t know better!” well I say, “don’t give your kids your phone.”

Okay, I’m glad we had this talk. Now be safe out there in this dangerous world filled with backwards inserting S Pens.

Update

At least Wired seems to agree with me! They just have some more tact.

[Android Police]

Telkom is re-launching 1mbps ADSL

Well add this to a list of strange things I never thought I’d see.

The interesting part about this is the price though. The wholesale price for this 1mbps line is less than R50. ISPs seem to be announcing pricing around R55 though.

For many people this will make a lot of sense as the cost greatly outweighs the need for speed. You’ll also be able to tack on a reasonably affordable uncapped package to make the most of this. This is also a bonus for people who are paying for 2mbps but only getting 1mbps due to Telkom’s shitty infrastructure. They can now pay less to be disappointed.

The last problem for Telkom to deal with is that pesky analogue line rental. This package makes entry level ADSL really affordable until you include the R189 a month of compulsory analogue line rental. That is a service you don’t want and will probably never use.

[MyBroadband]

Xiaomi is coming to South Africa

Chinese smartphone hero Xiaomi is coming to Africa. Known for their impressive flash sales and being more popular than Apple and Samsung in China, Xiaomi should be a welcome addition to the continent.

Reports indicate that Mobile in Africa (sole distributer for Africa) won’t be bringing the flagship Mi Note Pro to Africa just yet. You can expect some basic Android phones with decent build quality and almost certainly a clone of a more well known brand phone.

Prices look set to range from R2000 to R4000 for something just above entry level. It will be interesting to see if these prices last as Mobile in Africa has links to Core Group and they have been known to inflate costs quite a bit.

Xiaomi has built a reputation in China for making really decent phones at affordable price points. If this carries over to Africa they’ll definitely be one to watch out for in the future.

[MyBroadband]

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