review Stories December 30, 2016

GOOG: 771.82

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Smartwatches still haven’t proven themselves to me. I was quick to jump on the Android Wear train with the launch of the LG G Watch, but since, this Android Wear ride has been nothing more than mundane. I think one of the easiest ways to sum up my underwhelming experience is to say that this watch — the third generation of the budget “ZenWatch” line from ASUS — is almost functionally identical to the Moto 360 that launched two years ago.

That’s not to say that this watch is bad. It’s actually pretty good. It actually might be the best Android Wear device that you can buy right now. But for me, that’s not enough. It has required discipline to go out of my way for the last week to wear this thing, and I probably won’t keep wearing it every day from now on. But this review isn’t about me; don’t let me sway you if you’re dead-set on getting a smartwatch. If you are, the ASUS ZenWatch 3 might be a great option for you…

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review Stories December 6, 2016

GOOG: 759.11

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I typically review Android phones, so looking at Google’s new non-phone products this year — including its Daydream VR headset, Google Home, and now Google Wifi — has been a nice change of pace. Over the last month, though, these posts have only gotten further and further from being phone reviews. The Daydream View uses an Android phone to function, while the Home is an always-listening Chromecast without the screen — although it functions very similarly to using Assistant on the Pixel.

The Google Wifi, as you probably already know, is a router. It’s what Google hopes will replace that little gray box that probably sits in the corner of your office, collecting dust since the cable guy came a couple years ago. Thankfully this isn’t just any router, though. This is the successor to the OnHub, and that means we get an attractive design, as well as a delightfully user-friendly app that lets you “set it and forget it” if you want to, but puts all the most important features at your fingertips if you ever need them…

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review Stories November 21, 2016

GOOG: 769.20

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Huawei is an ambitious company. Over the next two years, the Chinese behemoth plans to overtake Apple to become the second biggest smartphone maker on the planet. It sounds impossible, but considering the company took the number three spot in just four years, I would give them a chance at reaching that goal. Why?

Huawei releases a ton of phones each year and for the most part, they’re all pretty solid. We’ve reviewed several Huawei-made devices over the years including the Nexus 6PHonor 5X, Huawei P9, and most recently, the Honor 8. All four of these devices are fantastic in their own respects, but there’s a common flaw on all of them ─ the software, but we’ll get into that.

Now it’s 2016, Huawei isn’t slowing down in the slightest, and  we’ve got the Huawei Mate 9. Long story short, this phone is great, but let’s take a closer look…

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review Stories November 10, 2016

GOOG: 762.56

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Like many of you, I first heard of Google’s Daydream platform — then rumored to be called Android VR — back at Google I/O 2016. I had hope that Google would pull an actual VR headset out of a hat at its annual developer conference, but, unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen. I felt a bit let down when I learned that the company was rather going to double-down on Cardboard.

It seemed like a good idea in theory, but I was skeptical. Would smartphone-in-a-headset ever be a good enough experience for people to use VR for any longer than 10 minutes? Can phones handle captivating VR experiences? I’m still not completely sure, but having now spent a week with Daydream, I feel for now that the answer is going to be yes and no.

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review Stories October 18, 2016

GOOG: 795.26

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We didn’t expect it to come as soon as it did, but Google’s first solely self-branded smartphone, the Google Pixel, is finally here. In light of how mature the smartphone market has become in the last few years, it’s hard for a new phone to stand out as something that takes anything more than a few baby steps forward. This phone isn’t that much different. But what is different is that it isn’t just any Android phone made by one of Google’s partners. This one is Google’s, and that’s special.

It’s special because Google really has made an effort at building a good top-to-bottom user experience. It’s special because Google has made some clear — in some cases major — improvements to its software and how it works with the hardware. It’s special because it has a great camera. It’s special because it’s the first Android phone to ship with the Google Assistant. It’s special because it’s the first Daydream-ready smartphone. It’s special because it’s the best portal to Google’s services, full stop.

But most of all, I think the Pixel is special because it seems to me that Google’s newly-rebirthed smartphone line has a lot of potential. Yes, there are some things that this phone doesn’t have. But what phone doesn’t? Let’s talk about what the Pixel has going for it.

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review Stories September 12, 2016

GOOG: 769.02

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I hope that a day will come that I can review a Huawei/Honor device and not mention that software is its biggest weakness. Unfortunately, today is not that day. But I have good news. If the Honor 8 wasn’t a remarkable step forward for Huawei’s millennial-focused sub-brand, I probably wouldn’t be reviewing it. But here I am. I’m reviewing it. And that’s because it’s worth talking about…

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