Google Android

Review: Sylvania 9″ Tablet PC and Portable DVD Combo (SLTDV9200)

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SLTDV9200Recently I came across a unique combination: an Android Tablet/DVD player combo by Curtis/Sylvania . DVDs nowadays are practically obsolete and that the ones I previously purchased from Walmart are gathering dust. I therefore saw this as a way to watch DVDs that aren’t available on Netflix, or anywhere else for that matter. In addition, when it comes to road trips this would be handy since we don’t utilize Wifi to stream shows and it would give enable my kids to watch videos while on the road. Intrigued, I purchased a copy since the price seemed right at $118 CAD.

So far I’ve been very happy with it, considering the price. Here are some of the specs :

Functionality

It’s a practical device that does what I need it to do. In addition to playing DVDs via an app on the device, it also allows for streaming via a Netflix app or an SD card (though no microSD).

Speed

At 1 GB RAM the speed is perfect for the version of Android running (5.1)

Audio

Audio works great. I was able to increase the volume enough to hear what I wanted.

Storage

At 8 GB storage, there aren’t too many apps that can be installed. An SD card can address that but don’t install too many apps on it with data pointing to the SD card. From experience, a) the core App files still remain on the tablet, and b) when Google Play issues an update to an app, sometimes the app data goes back to the tablet (instead of the SD card). The tablet is meant to play DVDs and videos moreso than being used for other purposes. As long as you’re aware of this you will be fine.

Screen quality

Screen quality also isn’t the greatest. At 800×480 resolution there is some pixilation. However, for the price of a budget tablet screen quality is expected to suffer.

Battery life

Battery life is a bummer. The DVD specs state that operation time is 2 hours fully charged and indeed, watching two DVDs back-to-back brought the tablet from 100% charge to 5%. This is worth noting when taking it “on the road” to make sure it stays charged during the way. Connecting it to a multi-USB car charger (see below) should address that .

 

Warranty

Warranty is only 90 days, as is in all budget brands.

Conclusion

Overall, what amazes me is that other manufacturers have not made a similar product. Samsung released a DVD player that connects to a tablet, but that’s not the same. For what you pay, you are getting a solid product.

Budget Tablet Rating: 9/10

sylvania sltdvd9200

10 Free OnePlus One Apps You Need Right Now

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Courtesy of oneplus.net

Without a doubt, the OnePlus One has taken over the world by storm. Based out of China, OnePlus devised an affordable, budget-friendly alternative to pricier smartphones, such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and recently the Nexus, which doubled in price once the Nexus 6 came out. Even with its upcoming price increase it’s still competitively priced considering you are getting the phone unlocked.

All that having been said, as awesome as the phone is, there are always apps that can be purchased to enhance your phones’ experience. Here are ten of my favourites:

1. Camera: CameraNext Mod

One massive complaint the phone had was in the camera quality: it produces photos that are too grainy, especially in low lighting. Looking into it, I realized that the issue must be software-related since OnePlus took the camera hardware from Sony, making the hardware component top-rate.

I was looking for different alternatives. Of them, the best one was the Cyanogen-modded CameraNext app. The pics and videos there are among the clearest I’ve seen. Here are the links:

Why are there two different apps? Because, when you upgrade to CM12, Panorama crashes the CM11 version of the app. Why the links? Because the apps were fan-modded by pro developers and aren’t available on Google Play. I still prefer this app over to what’s commercially available at the Play store.

Honorable mention goes to Google Camera, though my issue with it is in the video where it seems to auto-focus in and out.

2. Recording: Titanium Recorder

My issue with the stock recorder was that it would only record a message for a minute, then stop once the phone went to sleep. Titanium Recorder continues playing after the phone sleeps, and produces excellent audio quality.

The App is available on Google Play.

3. Messaging: GoSMS Pro

I personally find the stock Messaging app to freeze and crash too often. Apparently it cannot process/handle the contacts and messages. Enter GoSMS Pro. It’s free, gives a choice of six colors, and works amazingly well.

The App is available on Google Play.

4. Messaging: WhatsApp

Need I say more?

The App is available on Google Play.

5. Battery Management: Qualcomm Snapdragon BatteryGuru

One issue with OnePlus, which also goes for all Android devices, is battery management. Battery management especially became an issue once the Cyanogen Mod 12 (CM12) came out. BatteryGuru saves some of that juice.

The App is available on Google Play.

6. Contacts

I personally use Contacts+ to import my contacts from GMail, Facebook, and iCloud. To backup your contacts into a CSV file, SuperBackup does the trick.

These Apps are available on Google Play.

7. Readers

For readers, there are:

a. Pocket, which lets you locally download any web page into your account for future access in areas where no wifi/data is accessible

b. Amazon Kindle, for those eBooks requiring Kindle reading (and where I can download my purchases)

c. Aldiko, for other eBooks

The Apps are available on Google Play.

8. Skype

To communicate with other users with video for free across Wifi, there’s still nothing better out there.

The App is available on Google Play.

9. Social Media

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIN. Goes without saying.

The Apps are available on Google Play.

10. Coffee Shop Apps

I’m referring to Starbucks and Second Cup.

When you need a coffee and are in a bind without your card, you simply add your card number to an account that you tie in with an app on your phone. It simplifies the process greatly.

The Apps are available on Google Play.

 

Glad you enjoyed!

The Skinny On the OnePlus One Phone in Canada – How Much Does It Cost, and How Long Does it Take?

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Courtesy of oneplus.net

Courtesy of oneplus.net

I recently ordered and am looking forward to the OnePlus One phone, which has great reviews and can replace my semi-functional iPhone 5. The “hook” is that at $350 for a 64 GB model, the phone costs less than half the cost of a regular phone, and there’s no plan you need to be tied into. Sounds great, right? I’d like to think so.

The pricing in Canada, though, is a bit more than the $350 price tag would lead you to believe. In Canada I purchased the phone at $350 base price. In addition there’s the shipping. With shipping there are two options, one at $28 and one at $37. The one at $28 doesn’t provide tracking and is not Canada Post, therefore, the only real option is the $37 one. That brings it up to $387. Then there’s payment through Paypal. Paypal in my case converted $387 as $462. Fine, though we’re already at more than $100 over. Lastly, there’s the inevitable duties I will need to pay for it which is over $50. That brings the phone to over $500!

Also, there’s getting the necessary accessories such as the plastic screen protector, case, and backup charger, which amount to another $36.

Live and learn I guess. Hopefully though this phone will last me a good couple of years so I can justify the investment.

Getting a OnePlus One Phone – Addressing Site Navigation Issues

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Courtesy of oneplus.net

Courtesy of oneplus.net

I have been using an iPhone 5 for the last two years and noticed apparent issues with it since I needed to get a bloated lithium-ion battery and screen replaced, among other things. For one thing, the sensor on the top wasn’t always working when I placed the phone to my ear, causing my cheek to dial numbers to my chagrin, as well as to the chagrin of the person on the other line. It also caused my cheek to do things like mute the conversation or put it on speaker. In addition, the charger would only charge if positioned a specific way. It was very inconvenient. To make matters worse, the phone was under Apple Care warranty for the first year, so they would have charged an arm and a leg being that I was past the first year.

Since I am presently in my final year of a 3 year plan with Rogers, and Best Buy doesn’t have the deal for an iPhone under Rogers like it used to when an iPhone 5 64 GB could be had for $200 during X-mas/New Years, I found myself stuck with a defective iPhone for another year. Even if I were to trade in my iPhone 5 and pay the difference, I would still need to pay something like $160 for the remainder of my iPhone before I could get another one from Rogers (can one say #rogerssucks ?). What was there to do?

I thought of Android phones, but most of them, especially Samsung devices, have relatively poor battery life and are flimsy unless you get an extended battery with a casing that makes it feel insanely thick. There had to be a better way.

OnePlus One: A Better Solution

Enter the OnePlus. The new company from China has made a $350 USD Android phone with 64 GB storage (close to $500 CAD – bummer, but still) called the OnePlus One with oodles of features and great battery life by doing virtually no traditional advertising. Due to the overall positive reviews, I’ve wanted to get one for a while but to do so, you need an invite which can get very tricky. Once you get the invite, you have 24 hours to purchase the phone or else you need to start from the very beginning. I was recently lucky enough to get one invite after trolling the social media landscape (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Google+, you name it). Each person gets that one invite to distribute on an odd day (I’m still waiting for mine) and it’s treated like gold.

Website Navigational Issues

Once I created an account, though, it was practically impossible to log in in order to get a phone. See the below screencast:

So what was I to do? No matter what I did I couldn’t log in, even to submit a support ticket. After pulling out a few hairs, I contacted the Facebook/OnePlus community and was advised on the stupidest thing on the planet which actually worked. To “log in” you need to first select a country. How does one do so? Visit this page (https://oneplus.net/choose-country) while logged in. Once the country gets selected, the country “session” gets logged and allows  you to proceed. I’m being serious here: without that you’re essentially a sitting duck!

Now that that hurdle has been passed, I have now ordered my phone and am eagerly awaiting a phone in the mail that has all the great features of a top-notch smartphone at a fraction of the cost, and without being tied into any cellphone agreement.

***UPDATE December 21, 2014***

It appears that the website issue for OnePlus has been fixed.

Sayonara Proscan PLT1044 Tablet, It Was Nice Knowing You

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A couple of years ago I obtained a Proscan 10.1 inch tablet and wrote instructions on how to install Google Marketplace. It served its purpose at the time. However, at this point I think it’s time to kiss it goodbye.

Why? Simple: the Lithium Ion battery pretty much exploded, causing irreversible damage to the tablet and screen, popping it open among other things. Here are some screenshots of the wreckage.

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For me, it served its purpose. Now that it’s gone it’s time to put it to rest. Goodbye, sweet sorrow 🙁

Curtis/Proscan Products – RJH Solutions Doesn’t Provide Technical Support For Them

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PLT1044_medOver the last few weeks I have been asked via phone calls and emails with requests for advice on how to support a Curtis/Proscan tablet that doesn’t work for some reason, based on my website being linked to mine. I want to set the record straight: RJH Solutions does not provide technical support on products made or distributed by Curtis/ProScan (sorry).

Since Curtis/Proscan is generally a wholesaler and you likely have gotten it from a 3rd-party chain if you are reading this post, my advice is that you would need to contact either the store where you purchased the item from, or the manufacturer itself.

If that didn’t work, search for your tablet on ProScan’s website to find downloads related to warranty and manuals. If that’s not available, try contacting ProScan support. They really do help.

If it’s something else that’s Android related, if RJH solutions doesn’t have a solution (yet), Google it – seriously. RJH Solutions will provide a few technical specs on how to maneuver around Android on a Proscan tablet device, but if the screen is defective, for example, that’s unfortunately something we cannot support. Our apologies and best of luck to your device getting repaired or replaced.

That having been said, RJH Solutions wishes you a happy, successful new year!