Rabu, 29 Januari 2014

LG Optimus Dynamic II Tracfone Smartphone

News for the LG Optimus Dynamic 2 - LG L39C

LG l39c optimus dynamic 2
The LG Optimus Dynamic 2
Tracfone recently released four Android smartphones for use on their wireless prepaid network and one of the phones was the LG Optimus Dynamic. (click for our review)

Unfortunately many people were underwhelmed at the lack of features, and the older 2.3 Android operating system.

But Tracfone has now released the LG Optimus Dynamic II - an upgraded and more powerful version of the first. We started to hear rumors about the possibility of another Tracfone Android, but now we have found confirmation through multiple sources.

NOTE: Check out our Full LG Optimus Dynamic II Review now!

The Dynamic 2 comes with Android 4.1, the latest of any Tracfone smartphones, and boasts other great features like a 3 mega pixel camera, and 3.8 inch touch screen. The touchscreen on the Dynamic II is bigger than any of the other smartphones offered by Tracfone.

You can find the LG Optimus Dynamic II on Amazon and several other online retailers, but we haven't found it available directly through Tracfone yet.

We will be completing a full review of the Dynamic II in the near future, until then you can check out the LG Optimus Dynamic 2 User Guide.

Or you might find the Dynamic 2 (LG L39C) online tutorial useful for learning more about this phone.

While you're here, be sure to visit our Tracfone BYOP page to learn everything about bringing your own smartphone to Tracfone! Even iPhone 4 and 4S!

What to Expect from the LG Optimus Dynamic II

At this point there is little information about how good the phone really is, but based on the specs and features, it seems like it could be a contender for Best Tracfone Cell Phone.

The Dynamic 2 comes with all the features one would expect on an Android Smartphone, like WiFi, GPS, gravity sensor, mp3 player. hands-free speaker, and even 3 home screens.

The size of the phone is pretty normal for a smartphone, at 4.43" x 2.55" x 0.47" and weighing in at 4.5 OZ.

Battery life seems like it will be a little better than Tracfone's other smartphone offerings, with talk time of up to 8 hours reported, and standby of 11 days.

One of the best features of the Dynamic 2 is price, it appears to be priced less than or around the same price as the Samsung Galaxy Centura.

We found the LG Optimus Dynamic 2 on Amazon for $99, but we haven't been able to find it on the Tracfone website yet. It has also been seen on some other retail websites, and even in some stores.

We will be doing a full review of the Dynamic 2 once we gather the information, until then, leave a comment below with your thoughts or questions.

If you're looking for Android phones with Tracfone, read some of our other smartphone reviews, including the ZTE Valet and Huawei Glory.

Jumat, 17 Januari 2014

Google Docs vs. Pages for iCloud

Google Documents vs. Pages for iCloud

The past few years have seen a big push by technology companies to get more and more things done “in the cloud”.  Both Google and Apple have been key players in this arena.  I think it’s safe to say that Google has done more, and done it better, than Apple.  Where Apple’s strength has resided in hardware and integration of its software to that hardware.  Apple did get a head start with their “cloud” services, introducing .Mac back in 2002.  .Mac provided email service, 100mb of storage, plus hosting of your website(s).  Apple charged $100/year for this service and it was not very good.  Two years later,  Gmail came online.  It was the beginning of Google's “cloud” services,  and for the most part got rave reviews (I’ve been a GMail users since the summer of 2004).    Apple more or less stumbled through .Mac, which was later replaced by MobileMe in 2008.  One of MobileMe’s intended uses was as a syncing technology for content on your Apple devices (poor man’s iCloud).  Sadly MobileMe was a constant source of headaches for users and Apple.  Meanwhile, Google was quietly building (and buying) a cache of better than adequate “cloud” products and tools.  Which leads us to today’s blog, where I compare Google Docs to the newly released Pages for iCloud. 

Google Docs had a significant head start, as it’s been around (in various forms) since 2005.  It officially came out of “beta” status in 2009, giving it an unofficial  four year head start over Pages for iCloud.  Google Docs provides Google users with a free web-based word processor.  If you have a Google account, you simply log in, click on Google drive, then Click Create, and you have the option to create a Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form or Drawing.  

If you click on the Document option, The screen capture above is  a glimpse of what your document window looks like for Google Docs.  Similar to many desktop word processors you have a full set of menu options.  Left to right you have File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Table and finally Help.  Below are the File Menu options.  One option you may notice to be missing is the Save and Save As options.  That’s because with Google Docs, as you edit, it saves automatically.

The next menu option we’ll look at is the Edit menu option.  Again very similar features to most desktop word processors, from the Undo option, down to Find and replace. 

Another menu option I want to point out here is the Font option.  On the 2nd row of tools, the Row that starts with the Printer icon, in between the Style button, and Font size button is Fonts.  When you click on the Fonts button, you only get 8 fonts off the bat.  Don't fret, you have the ability to choose more.  Simply slide down to the more fonts option and you'll find a rather exhaustive list of fonts for your writing pleasure!  

Another nice feature of Google Docs, is the ability to share your documents with your co-workers, friends, family, teachers etc. etc.  Simply press the Share button.  Once you do, you'll be prompted with the screen capture you see below.  Google creates a link, you can share via email, Google+, Facebook or Twitter.  You can even have multiple people editing a document at the same time, not that you'd want to...:).  

Now I’m not going to go through each menu option here, the point I’m trying to get across to you, is that you’ve got a nice option here with Google Docs if you are looking for a free on-line document creation tool.  Oh yeah, did I mention it's free, as long as you've got a Google account.  Also, Google Docs can be created on any browser (using any computer), and the documents can also accessed on your iOS (and Android) devices as well, through the Google Drive App.  

This is a great tool which gives you incredible flexibility with your documents.  Create them from your computer, and when you are on the go, or away from your office, use your iPhone or iPad to edit the document as you need.  

Ok, now let's see how Apple's Pages compares to Google Docs.

It’s taken Apple considerably longer to bring the iWork suite online, but, at least they’ve done a better than average job now that Pages is available.  To use Pages (in iCloud), you must have an iCloud account.  To access Pages, you sign into iCloud.com and simply click the Pages icon (see below).  

What you see above is the new landing page.  All new icons (to match iOS 7).  On the lower row, you'll see Pages, Numbers and Keynote.  To start a new document, simply press the Pages icon.  If you already are a Pages user, your screen will look similar to mine below.  You'll see your documents, and perhaps folders if you've chosen to create them.  If you are a new user, you'll only see the + icon, which is what you'll click to create a new document.

Interestingly, folders are created on your iOS device.  As of this writing, with Pages still in beta, you can't yet create folders from the browser.  Document folders work the same as App folders on your device.  You can drag a document into the folder, and also out of the folder (from your device, not from a browser).  Ok, let's move on to creating a new document.  An AWESOME feature in Pages is the ability to choose from numerous document templates!  This is something NOT offered in Google Docs.  So whether it's just a plain document you need to create, or a report, or letter or resume, Pages gives you multiple templates from which to choose (see three screen captures below).  Advantage Pages!  

There are more templates than the ones I've shown above.  There are envelope templates, business card templates, flyer and poster templates, card templates and finally newsletter templates.  Apple has really taken into account what type of document you may be creating, and given you some great templates to help you make the best document possible!

For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to create a blank document.  Here's what it looks like.

As you can see, you are presented with a new window.  Unlike Google docs which opens up within Google drive.  Not that it really matters, but with iCloud Pages, it really looks like you are using a desktop application!  Along the top, you have a button to enlarge, or shrink the page.  You have Undo and Redo buttons.  Next you see buttons for Text, Shape and image.  Clicking Text will drop a text box on your document.  Clicking Shape will provide you with a series of shapes you can add to your document.  Finally the image button will let you add an image to your document.  

Now Apple recently updated the Mac version of Pages.  Ideally, it look and works exactly the same as the web version.  This is great as you only have to learn how to use it one place to be able to use it anywhere!  The iOS version also has the same interface.  

On the above screen capture, on the right side, you see options for your text.  First you have paragraph style, below that Font, then Alignment, Line Space, Paragraph Spacing, List Style, then finally Indent.  All the options cleanly laid out, easy to see, and more important, easy to use!

Pages in iCloud alleviates the need to save your documents.  It simply saves as you type.  Google Docs also does this.  It's a wonderful feature that saves you the worry of wondering if you saved your doc and when it was last saved, and you can't put a price on that!

Similar to Google Docs, Pages gives you the option to Share your document.  Along the top toolbar (above), you'll see the Share button.  Press it and you'll see a window like the screen capture I'm displaying below.

Click the email button and you can email the document link to multiple people, who can in turn edit the document and save it back to your iCloud!  Nice...

Pages let's you share the document in multiple formats as well.  You can save it in either the Pages format, Word format or as a PDF.   Google Docs only lets you save as a Google Doc type.  Another win for Pages.  

The Tools button gives you a series of choices (the screen capture below).  There you have the Find & Replace option, additional settings, Help.  You can also download a copy, email or print the document, go back to all your docs, or finally Sign out.  

One other item of note for pages, it lets you upload a Word document, edit it, and even save it back to Word format.  Can't do that in Google Docs.

I really love what Apple has done with Pages in iCloud.  It's a wonderfully full featured cloud based word processor.  Like Google Docs, it's free (to those with an iCloud account).  I highly recommend trying and getting comfortable with it.  If you have an iPhone 5S or 5C or iPad Air, you can download Pages for those devices for free.  Giving you the ability to have your documents with you anywhere you go.  

In conclusion, both cloud based word processors are very very good.  They are easy to use, full featured, and give you access to your documents where ever you are (via your iOS devices).  Not to bash Microsoft (even though I thoroughly enjoy doing that!), as they also have a cloud version of Office (Microsoft 365), but guess what?  They charge you for it!  $99 dollars a year, or $9.95 a month.  Why bother when you have two great options that are free!  

I hoped you enjoyed today's blog, and I hope you try one or both of these cloud document tools out as it's the future, and it's better to be comfortable with it sooner rather than later!

Until next time, best to you and your devices.  And as always, I welcome your comments.


Minggu, 12 Januari 2014

Best Tracfone Cell Phone

Top 5 Tracfone Prepaid Cell Phones 

Everyone wants to know, what is the best Tracfone device? Which cell phones are the best options from Tracfone? We provide for you here the 2014 list of Best Tracfone Cell Phones.
best android tracfone smartphone
List of the Best Cell Phones from Tracfone - photo credit: ario_

As you might expect, this list is dominated by the newly released Android powered smartphones. But which one will receive the top pick? This is almost the best android Tracfone list, but we included some other phones. See the list below!

We are judging this list of the best cell phones based primarily on features, specifications, and performance as well as feedback from customers.

We will provide a short description of each phone in the list, and a link to our full review if you would like to learn more about a particular phone.

List of the Best Cell Phones from Tracfone

The list will contain our five top picks, starting off with number five:

#5 Best Tracfone - LG 840G

This phone comes in at the fifth spot for its wide popularity, low cost, and good features. The LG 840G has been available for consumers to purchase and use with Tracfone for over a year. It offers several great features that help get it onto this list, including Triple Minutes for Life, WiFi, Touchscreen and 3G speeds.

The LG 840G does lack the ability to access Android apps, because the phone uses a proprietary java operating system. You can still use some apps, like Google Maps, but it is not as easy as an Android phone. View our complete review of the LG 840G to learn more about this phone.

The LG 840G is a solid phone with great value for the money. And with prices for this phone as low as $30 on Amazon, it is a great bargain.

#4 Best Tracfone - LG Optimus Dynamic

android smartphone best phone
LG Optimus Dynamic
The LG Optimus Dynamic arrives at fourth on this list of the top Tracfone cell phones. It is actually pretty similar to the LG 840G (which isn't surprising since they are both made by LG) but with one major exception - Android OS.

With the Android operating system, it is possibly for you to access thousands of different apps through Google Play and use them on this phone.

The LG Optimus Dynamic also comes with WiFi, 3G speeds and a free 4GB Micro SD card. Read our review of the LG Optimus Dynamic to get all the details on this phone.

This phone does have a much older version of Android than any of the other smartphones from Tracfone. It uses Android 2.3 and some have reported it as being a little slower than preferred.

But the Optimus is the cheapest option between the other Android Tracfone's, at under $50 on Amazon. And there is also a version of the phone offered in white for those who might prefer it.

On a side note, we have received information that there will be a LG Optimus Dynamic II coming to Tracfone in the near future with better specs and performance, so be on the lookout for that!

#3 Best Tracfone - Samsung Galaxy Centura

best tracfone
Samsung Galaxy Centura
The Samsung Galaxy Centura comes in third by just barely being beat out by the top two. With these top three Android phones, they all offer great features and value, but they have small differences that separate them.

The Galaxy Centura offers all the features you expect from an Android Tracfone - WiFi, Triple Minutes for Life, MP3 player, 3 MP camera and more (read our Review of the Samsung Galaxy Centura for all the specs ad features).

But what puts it in third and not second or first are two main points: First, the Galacy Centura uses Android 4.0 OS, while the ZTE Valet has a slightly newer operating system. Second, the Samsung has a slightly slower processor compared to the ZTE Valet and Huawei Glory.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Centura is a great phone, which is why it ranks third in our best Android smartphones from Tracfone list. View the Centura on Amazon at $30 less than retail price.

#2 Best Tracfone - ZTE Valet

Top 5 Android Tracfone
ZTE Valet
The ZTE Valet reaches number two on our top Android smartphone list with powerful specs, great features and widespread popularity.

The Valet comes with Android 4.1 OS and all the other features you expect from Tracfone like Triple Minutes for Life, WiFi, and GPS. The Valet also comes with a 4 GB Micro SD card, adding to the value of this phone. You can learn all about the ZTE Valet by reading our review.

What keeps this smartphone from the top spot are the reports we've heard from users that the WiFi can be weak at times, and no where near as strong as some would like. This might be a problem with just some phones, but it does keep the Valet from our top spot.

Price-wise, the ZTE Valet is a great buy. We have found it on Amazon for under $80, and many places like eBay, Amazon and HSN sell it with a minutes bundle. The ZTE Valet and Samsung Galaxy Centura are both great phones, and have been the two most popular Android smartphones that Tracfone has released. But we believe the best android smartphone is the one below.

#1 Best Tracfone - Huawei Glory

android smartphone tracfone
Huawei Glory
The Huawei Glory was de9w2dsl's pick for the best Tracfone cell phone, and best Android Tracfone smartphone, for its' features, performance, specs and overall design.

UPDATE: But, the Huawei Glory seems to have a number of different possible problems that users have been reporting. Along with that, Tracfone also released the LG Optimus Dynamic II, which outperforms the Huawei Glory, and all the other Android Smartphones from Tracfone. We would recommend the LG Optimus Dynamic II over the Glory, and you can follow the link to view our full review.

Read our complete Huawei Glory review to learn more about this phone.

In the end, all four of the Android powered smartphones Tracfone released offer great features and huge potential. It really comes down to which features you find are most important to have, and which phone you like the most. And don't forget that you can now bring your own phone to Tracfone! Read our post on this exciting Tracfone Android news to learn more.

We hope you found this article useful, leave a comment with your pick for the best Tracfone device. Also be sure to share this with your friends.

We also want to share a quick heads up, we have learned that Tracfone is releasing the LG Optimus Dynamic II (LG L39). So be on the lookout for that! More information to come.

For more on the cell phones offered by Tracfone, visit our Cell Phones Review page.

Also don't forget about our most popular page, the Tracfone Promo Codes! or you can see just the codes updated for January 2014!

Senin, 06 Januari 2014

Camera Apps for your iPhone.

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a safe and happy 2013 Holiday season.  To start off 2014, I wanted to introduce you to some awesome Camera apps for your iPhone.  Now you may be thinking, why on earth would I need additional camera Apps, when my phone comes with a Camera app, right?  Well yes, your iPhone does come with a nice, basic Camera App, but how would you like to add some super cool camera features, and make your iPhone an even better camera?  I've got just the Apps to help you out!  My favorite feature of all these apps, is ease of use!  When I'm out and about taking photos, the last thing I want in a camera app (or any app for that matter!), is for it to be challenging to use!  That being the case, it will get deleted from my iPhone immediately!  There are three apps I want to introduce you to with this blog:  Camera+, VSCO Cam, and Pix.  They are all great apps, I recommend you download all three and see which one (or ones) you like the best.  Each has different editing features, and different sharing options, so go to the app store, download them and let your 2014 picture taking, photo editing fun begin!  These are hardly the only three camera apps available, and they aren't the only camera apps I use, but they are three great ones

If I had to pick a favorite camera App it would be  Camera+.  It's got some wonderful options, it has been around for a few years now, and is currently on version 5, and my favorite, the App costs all of .99 cents!  Seriously, I would buy this app for $10 it's so good, so for .99 cents this is a complete no brainer!

Using Camera + is super easy, and can make a novice photographer look like a seasoned pro!  Some of it's awesome features include:  Touch Exposure and Focus - Simply tapping on the screen allows you to set the exposure separately from the focus (very cool!), allowing you to control how light or dark your picture comes out!  Nice...:).

Shooting Modes - There  are five different modes you can shoot with, Square, which let's you take pictures to better use on various Social sites.  Normal mode.  You can use the Stabilizer feature of the app to steady your iPhone and get the best possible picture.  Theres a Timer feature that will help you get the best selfies possible...Burst mode which will allow you to take pictures is rapid succession.

 Digital Zoom - The Apps zoom gives you up to 6X (notice the bar on the right side of the screen capture below, at 6X) the zoom with advanced digital processing that gives you awesome photos!

Front Flash - How about this cool feature?  Ever wish your iPhone had an available front flash?  Well with Camera + it now does!  Horizon Level - to assist you in taking the most level photo possible.  You'll notice on the screen capture above, the white bar in the middle, that's your Horizon Level.  Clarity - This awesome feature shown below and available through Lightbox, analyzes your photo, makes several intelligent digital adjustments that magically bring out the best in your photos!  That is awesome!

Effects - Camera + comes with some incredible effects to enhance your pictures.  Theres Scenes, which let's you add Flash, Backlit, Darken, Cloudy, to name just a few (have a look again at the above screen cap, it's also in Scene mode).  Then there's Crops, which let's you crop to Square mode, 3x2, 4x3, 4x6 etc etc etc.

The Lab where you can add Clarity, Rotate, Straighten, and Tint and Duotone to name a few.

Filters where can add awesome filters like Retro, Special, I Heart Analog and Hollywood.

Finally Frames, where you can add some killer frames to your already killer photographs...

The next feature I'm going to cover in Camera + is Lightbox  - Lightbox is a unique way to sort through your photos, delete the ones you don't want, and save your fav's to your iPhone's Photo App.  Camera + has some other great features.

You can share your photos to your favorite Social networks, it even syncs with iCloud so you can take pics all day with your iPhone, and edit on your iPad (there's an iPad app as well).

So these are some of the great features that come with Camera +.  There are also 2 in-app purchases available (both at the low, low price of .99 Cents as well).  Not only do I highly recommend Camera+, and I use it very often to take pics with my 5S...:).

The next App up for review is VSCO Cam, from Visual Supply Company.  VSCO Cam is right on par with Camera + for awesome iPhone camera apps.  Not only does it have a ton of great features, but it's also super easy to use, and makes it easy to share with your favorite social sites as well.   It let's you edit basic elements like temperature, cropping, contrast, exposure and rotating natively.  You can also easily apply a any of the fantastic filters.  Now this is my only gripe with VSCO Cam, it has too many in-app purchases, some that cost $5.99, others costing only .99 cents.  That said, it's still a fantastic way to take and edit pictures with your iPhone.  One of my favorite features in this app, is VSCO Grid.  The Grid is a publishing platform for your photos, to showcase your pictures to everyone that uses the VSCO Cam app.  It also allows you to discover other great photographers that are using the VSCO app, which could be another fun and interesting way to connect online.  

Increased Control - As in the Camera + app, VSCO also has Separate Focus and Exposure rings to give you better control of your photos. When you are in camera mode, simply tap the screen to activate these features (the red circle on the screen capture below).

Editing - Once you've taken your photos, VSCO allows you to easily edit them.  In the first screen capture below, at the bottom, from left to right, the icons are Exposure, Temperature, Contrast, Rotate and Crop.  Simply tap on the desired effect, and you'll quickly and easily be able to change the look and feel of of your photos!  The subsequent screen caps show additional editing options.

Before and After - If you're not sure you want to keep the edit you've added, you can easily compare your edited photo with the original by simply pressing down on the edited image while in Edit view.  Library - Each picture you take saves into the VSCO Library and can also be moved into the iPhone's photo App library.  

You can also share to various social sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, or you can email the photo to anyone you choose!

As you can see, VSCO is a great tool, similar to Camera +, but with it's own unique characteristics.  I highly recommend this app for your photos as well!

The last camera app I'm going to review today is Pix.  I'm relatively new to Pix, but I love it!  It's got a very easy to use interface.  As you can see by the screen capture below, you have two options when you enter the app, Camera or Select from existing pictures.

We'll start with the Camera.  The camera itself is basic, with less features than either Camera+, VSCO, or the Camera app that comes with the phone.  There's no grid, no HDR option, no setting the focus or exposure.

The fun begins once you've either taken the picture, or chosen a picture to edit from you iPhone or iPad library.  Now, you've got hundreds of editing enhancements, and you can use multiple enhancements per picture.  The first screen capture you see below is a picture from my library with no enhancements.  

The first set of enhancements, the left most icon (blue wand) gives you over 30 different various enhancements that can be used alone, or  together.  Simply tap the enhancements you'd like to use, on the next screen capture below I've chosen the Cartoon 3 and Toaster enhancement options.  Pix allows you to have three enhancements at a time from the Blue Wand icon.  Pick the ones you like, then you can save that new picture, or share it.  Now if you don't like the enhancements you've chosen, simply tap the enhancement and it will go into the garbage and be removed from that picture

The 2nd icon from the left, sort of looks like a film strip, gives you additional fun enhancements for your playing pleasure.  These enhancements can not be used together, only one at a time however.   Everything from adding snowflakes to your picture to adding cool Smoke, to making your picture look old fashion using the Old enhancement.

The next set of enhancements, the Square icon, is for framing your picture.  There are 20 plus frames you can choose from, from a Christmas frame, to a Corkboard frame (on the screen capture below), to a WhiteEdge frame.  To pick the frame you want, simply tap it.

The Star icon lets you save the enhancements you've just created as favorites to use again with other pictures, a feature I truly like.

The last icon, the lightning bolt is super cool as well.  When you tap it, it randomly picks the enhancements for the photo.

The last icon to discuss is the blue + icon, at the top right of your screen.  When you tap it, five other icons appear.

The first icon, (in the first screen capture below) Home, takes you either back to the camera, or lets you select from other pictures in your library.  The 2nd icon, the down arrow, let's you save your picture either in the original size, or Optimized size.  The third icon (2nd screen cap), is your sharing icon.  This allows you to open the picture in other Apps from your iPhone, or if you've got a 5 or 5S, you can AirDrop the picture to another device that has AirDrop capability.

The next icon the reverse arrow,  lets you undo any changes that you've made.

The last icon, the i lets you report any errors back to Pix, so they can fix!

So as you can see, Pix, like VSCO and Camera+ is a very cool, very useful camera enhancment app.  It may not have quite as many features as VSCO or Camera+, but it certainly does have some great ones, and oh yeah, did I mention that Pix is free!  That right there is an awesome feature!

So go out and download these cool apps, use them, have fun with your pics and let me know your thoughts on them.  If you've got other camera Apps that you use, let me know what you like and why.

Until next time, best to you and your devices, especially your camera!