Minggu, 27 April 2014

iCloud basics

Those of us that have owned Apple devices for more than 3 years may or may not remember a service from Apple called MobileMe.  All you need to know about MobileMe is that it never really provided the functionality on the scale that Apple had hoped.  In 2011, Apple re-branded MobileMe to iCloud.  In the almost three years that it's been up and running, it's been a blessing to iOS users.  Offering a cloud service that syncs and backs up your content, and it works!

Why is having a cloud service important?  Simply put, every other major software/hardware vendor has one, and without it, you'd still be plugging your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch into your Mac (or PC), and muddling through iTunes to sync and back up your content.  That is so early 2000's!  Today it's ease of use we all desire (or demand).  I can tell you, I applauded mightily in October 2011, when my iPhone 4S connected to iCloud and sent my content through iCloud to my Mac and iPad, it was an awesome moment!

So what is iCloud?  In short, it's a cloud based service that syncs your content and it is the best (and easiest)  option to back-up your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).  Let' start with syncing.  If you have multiple devices, and I'm not just talking about multiple Apple devices.  You can have an iPhone and a PC, or an iPad and a Mac, or an iPhone, iPad and Mac.  The combinations are endless (well not really but you get where I'm going).  If you have multiple devices iCloud will sync your content seamlessly as long as your iCloud settings are turned on, on the respective devices.

On the two screen captures above (from my iPhone), you'll notice most of the settings are green (or On), however I have a couple (Notes and Reminders) that are off.  The reason I have those two off is because I use other apps for my Notes (Evernote) and Reminders (Wunderlist).  By having Mail, Contacts and Calendar settings all set to on, it allows all content from those apps to be shared amongst any iCloud enabled device that I sign into with my Apple ID and Password.  So if I enter a new contact on my iPhone, iCloud takes that content to the ether, and passes it to my iMac and iPad (without me having to do anything except make sure the same iCloud settings are turned on, on those devices).  Below are the iCloud settings from my iMac.  There is a caveat for the Mail setting.  If your mail address is not an Apple email (@Mac, @Me, @iCloud), in most cases, not all, the mail setting will be grey (Off).  The reason being, if you use another mail host, like Gmail, Yahoo, Comcast or AOL, you don't need Apple to Sync or back up those systems.  Those other systems are supposed to handle that for you.  So if your iCloud account (Apple ID) is "xyz@gmail.com".  There is no need to have that setting on.  Make sense?  Good!

If you looked closely, you'd notice that on my iMac's settings, Notes is checked.  Why would I have it checked on my iMac, and not on my iPhone?  Because prior to using Evernote, I did use the Notes App on my devices, and if I turn the setting off on my iMac, it will erase the notes that are there, and I don't want to do that...:).  I also took screen captures of the Photos setting and the Documents and Data setting.

So as you can see, iCloud handles, or can potentially handle quite a bit of information.  If you chose not to use iCloud, as I mentioned earlier, you'd be stuck in iTunes hell!  

Now iCloud not only syncs your content, but, it also backs up your iOS devices.  Now, what does that mean, and how does that work you ask?  Great questions!  iCloud back ups work like this:  as long as the Backup setting is turned on (see below)

And your device is On, charging to an outlet, and you are in a wireless network, iCloud will ping your device, check when the last backup occurred (in my case 7:22 PM yesterday), and if you are beyond 24 hours since the last backup, iCloud will create a new backup for you.  Or, you can manually backup your iOS device by pressing the "Back Up Now" option if, and only if it is blue, as in the screen capture above (must be in wireless network for this to work).  Please keep this in mind.  iCloud only keeps 1 backup per device.  So you can manually backup as many times as you'd like during the day, but iCloud will only keep the latest.  Reason is because you only need 1 complete backup.  If you are charing your device, and in a wireless network, but your device is off, guess what will not happen, your device will NOT back up!  Any guesses as to why?  If you said "because when your device is off the GPS is disabled, and iCloud can't ping your device", you are 100% correct!  So, don't expect backups to occur when your device is off, because they will not!

Now I wrote about Photo Stream in an earlier blog, so I'm not going to go too much into it here, except to say that you should make sure your Photo Stream settings (below) for My Photo Stream and Photo Sharing are turned on.  The Burst Photos is specific to the iPhone 5S, no other devices currently have that capability.   If Photo Stream and Photo Sharing are off, your pictures will be stuck on your iOS device, until you will manually move them to your Mac (or PC).   

Now if you are a PC users with iOS devices, don't feel left out, you can download the iCloud Control Panel for your PC, and that will allow you to sync content between your iOS devices and your PC, nice move Apple!

Another key element of iCloud, is space.  How much do you get, how much does it cost, what if you run out!  When you create an iCloud account, you get 5GB of free storage.  If you have multiple devices attached to that iCloud account, you'll run out of 5GB quickly.  You can purchase an additional 10GB for $15/yr, 20GB for $40/yr, and 50GB for $100/yr.  Honestly, the additional storage is costly considering what other services offer.  I wonder if and when Apple will lower the prices here.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you have an Apple ID for iTunes, should you use that for iCloud?  My best answer here is, it depends.  If you have a family, sharing an Apple ID for iTunes, I recommend each of you having your own Apple ID for iCloud.  An example would be family of four, mom, dad and two kids.  The Apple ID for iTunes has been set up under dad's email.  Now everyone has multiple devices, and if everyone is sharing dad's Apple ID for iCloud, you'll find you have no space to back up.  Not to mention your contacts, calendar events etc, etc, etc are a combination from everyones devices!  Yuck!  So Mom, and kids should create their own iCloud account (Apple ID).  Don't fret, you can still share calendar events and other content, you'll just share what you want to.  

Well I hope this iCloud intro has been helpful.  Until next time, best to you and your devices!


Selasa, 22 April 2014

LG 306G Tracfone Review

Full Review of the LG 306G from Tracfone

This review by de9w2dsl will cover the features, specs, likes and dislikes, and buying tips for the LG 306G.
LG 306G Review
Full Review of the LG 306G

Tracfone Wireless is a prepaid cell phone company providing low cost phones and minutes to customers throughout the US. They have a variety of phones, including Android smartphones (See our reviews of these phones on our Cell Phone Reviews page).

The LG 306G is a relatively new (2014) offering from Tracfone that features a touchscreen, WiFi, Triple Minutes for life and runs on GSM networks. (We will cover more about the GSM network further down).

It is similar to the very popular LG 840G, but a few years newer. Both phones use a non-Android OS and are a somewhat small size compared to other phones.

Let's take a look at the detailed features for the LG 306G.

LG 306G Features and Specs

This phone comes with all the standard features you expect from a non-Android phone.

  • WiFi Capability
  • GPS Connectivity
  • 5 Customizable Home Screens
  • 2MP Camera
  • Mobile Web with 3G Speeds
  • Text and Picture messaging
  • 4GB Micro SD Card (up to 32GB Compatible)
  • Bluetooth
  • MP3 Player
  • Gravity Sensor (tilt sensor)
  • 1000 Entry Phonebook
  • Handsfree speaker
  • Alarm Clock
  • Call Waiting, Caller ID, Voicemail, Voice Recorder
Specs and Dimensions
  • 3.2" Touchscreen
  • Size: 4.08" x 2.47" x 0.47" (inches)
  • Weight: 3.72 OZ
  • Battery: 3 Hours talk time, 17 days on Standby

The features and specs for the LG 306G are comparable to other Tracfone devices like the LG 530G, Samsung S390G or, as we mentioned already, the LG 840G.

The key features for this phone are GSM network, touchscreen, WiFi and Triple Minutes. Let's get into what we like, and don't like, about the LG 306G to break it down a little further.

LG 306G Review - Likes and Dislikes

Starting with what we Like:
LG 306G Review tracfone
Apps on the LG 306G

The LG 306G is similar to the LG 840G which was a very popular phone for Tracfone users. Thus, the LG 306G has many of these same great features.

WiFi access, 3G speed, and the 3.2" touchscreen are all very nice to have. The touchscreen is fairly bright and responsive. The phone also has 5 home screens which you can customize.

Battery life on the LG 306G is good, especially compared to smartphones. It should last a few days with moderate use, and even a week with light use (it is advertised to last 17 days on standby).

The phone comes with a 4GB Micro SD card which you can put music on, or use to store pictures etc. For those who want to put a lot of stuff on the phone, you can upgrade your SD card to up to 32GB.

We like that the LG 306G does not use the new '3 buckets' system for minutes, but rather the older option where you have minutes from one pool used for data, texting and calling. (If you would rather have separate pools for data, texts and calling, take a look at the Android smartphones.) This is the same way the LG 840G worked. Basically, if you do a lot of texting this is a better option for you. And this phone also comes with Triple Minutes for Life, so every time you add minutes they will be tripled.

The LG 306G uses the GSM network, probably running on AT&T cell phone service. All of the new Android smartphones use CDMA networks, which are Verizon towers. So if Verizon service isn't very good in your area, you should go with a GSM phone like the LG 306G (but make sure AT&T service is good in your area). To check, try asking your friends or neighbors, or enter your zip code on the Tracfone website. (for more on these networks, read our GSM vs CDMA Guide.)

Lastly, this phone will work with Tracfone Promo Codes! Unlike the Android smartphones Tracfone offers.

Now for a few dislikes.

LG 306G Dislikes
This phone is a pretty solid device that doesn't seem to have any big dislikes, but also doesn't really 'wow' in any areas either.

The lack of a main operating system like Android is a little disappointing. With Android OS you have access to thousands of apps. With the LG 306G, there are apps available, but not as many. We would recommend Opera Mini, which is a great app for browsing the internet.

The LG 306G isn't a new phone, even though it is new to Tracfone. So don't expect too much from it. There are a variety of quirks, such as the phone switching to landscape mode for texting, but if you don't mind things like this it is a good option.

The 2MP camera is not great, but that is to be expected for a phone like this.

If you find any problems with your LG 306G, let us know in the comments so we can mention them here.

Also, if you want more information, be sure to check out the full user guide linked below.

Overview and Buying Options for the LG 306G

Overall, the LG 306G is similar to the LG 840G, which isn't a bad thing, unless you are looking to upgrade from the LG 840G (in which case we would suggest a smartphone like the LG Optimus Dynamic II).
LG 306G tracfone review
LG 306G

The LG 306G is a simple, durable phone that will get the job done and won't be as bulky as most smartphones. It is a great choice for people who want something at a reasonable price, and don't need all the latest features. Overall, we like this phone. It isn't too fancy, but works well and has most of the features you would need for a cell phone.

For Tracfone customers, this is a pretty standard Tracfone device, and would make a good upgrade if you have an older phone, especially if you only have double minutes for life.

Where to find the LG 306G from Tracfone
You can find the LG 306G on the Tracfone website, currently selling for $50.

Dollar General among other stores is also selling this phone usually for a bit less.

There are sometimes some great bundles with this phone on HSN.com or ShopHQ.com.

We have also found the LG 306G on Amazon for less than $40.

Additional Resources and LG 306G User Guide
Take a look at the interactive LG 306G Tutorial to help you learn how to navigate this phone. Or you might want the 100 page LG 306G User Guide (PDF).

We hope you found this review useful, leave a comment if you have questions or thoughts (and don't forget to check them for additional information from others).

Be sure to check out Tracfone Hot Deals for the Summer and you might be interested in the news that iPhone 4 and 4S now work with Tracfone.

Follow us on Facebook where we share information, deals and promo codes!

Thanks for Visiting

Selasa, 15 April 2014

LG Optimus Dynamic II Review

Review of the Android LG Optimus Dynamic II by Tracfone

This review by de9w2dsl, will cover the features, specs, buying information and overall opinion for the LG Optimus Dynamic II (LG L39C) from Tracfone.

LG Optimus Dynamic II LG L39C front
Front of the LG Optimus Dynamic II
The LG Optimus Dynamic II is essentially the replacement for the somewhat underwhelming (although much cheaper) LG Optimus Dynamic that Tracfone released with three other Android Smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Centura, Huawei Glory, and ZTE Valet, in mid 2013.

The Dynamic II is for use with Tracfone prepaid wireless service, and will not work with other service providers. Tracfone is a low cost, prepaid cell phone company throughout the US and they have several other companies under them, including StraightTalk and Net10. But Phones from one will not work with other companies.

The Dynamic II, along with the other Android Smartphones offered by Tracfone, runs on Verizon's 3G CDMA network. Be sure to check how the coverage in your area is before buying this phone.

Let's get straight to the Features and Specs for the Dynamic II.

LG Optimus Dynamic II Features and Specs:

This smartphone comes with several impressive and convenient features.
  • 3.8" Touchscreen
  • Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean' with access to thousands of apps on Google Play
  • Triple Minutes for Life
  • Separate talk/text/data
  • 3G speeds on Verizon's network
  • WiFi Connectivity
  • Bluetooth
  • 4GB Micro SD card included
  • 3MP camera (fixed focus)
  • MP3 Player
  • Hearing Aid Compatible
  • GPS
  • Gravity/Shake/Tilt sensor
  • Mobile Web, Email, Text, Caller ID etc.
  • Handsfree speaker
  • Voice Dialing
LG L39C Specs and Dimensions:
  • Phone Size: 4.43" x 2.55" x 0.47"
  • Screen Size: 3.8" (320x480)
  • Weight: 4.44 OZ
  • 1 Ghz Processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • Compatible with up to a 32GB Micro SD card
  • Battery Life: 8 hours talk, 11 days on Standby
If one compares the Dynamic II to the Dynamic, the Dynamic II is basically an improvement in almost every category. Screen size, battery life, processor and Android OS are all improved over the older version, and even over some of the other Android offerings from Tracfone.

Let's briefly highlight some of the features we like, and don't like on the LG L39C:

LG Optimus Dynamic II - Likes and Dislikes:

What We Like About the Phone:

He Dynamic II comes with Android 4.1, which is a newer version of the OS, but not the newest (the newest is currently 4.4). However, this is one of the newest versions that Tracfone is offering.

LG Optimus Dynamic II Review
Google Maps on the LG L39C
For those that might be unaware, Android is an operating system like Apple or Windows 8 but for cell phones. It allows you to have access to thousands of apps (like programs) that give the phone a huge list of possible features, depending on which apps you install. For more information, visit Google Play.

Screen size: The LG Optimus Dynamic II comes with the largest screen size of any Tracfone yet, at 3.8 inches (measured diagonally). This makes it easier to see things, easier to read things, and provides more area to work on the phone.

To give some perspective, the older, LG Optimus Dynamic had just a 3.2" inch screen and the even older LG 800G had even less at 2.8". The other Android smartphones from Tracfone have 3.5" screens.

Additional points about the LG L39C: The phone comes with a 3MP camera which will take good pictures outdoors, but probably will major problems in low light. WiFi has been reported as quite decent, and is a great way to save your data. Just make sure you turn off data when not using it!

There are many other great features included with this phone which you can see in the feature list above. Now let's take a look at some shortcomings for this phone.

What We Dislike about the LG Optimus Dynamic II

First off, this phone is, at this time, the latest and greatest offering from Tracfone, so there is a lot that it does right. However, we do want to point out a few shortcomings, or things we wish Tracfone would change.

The internal memory and RAM are still somewhat small compared to other modern smartphones. The 512mb of RAM is decent enough, but if you load up a lot of apps, you might push this phone to its limit pretty quickly. The Dynamic II has a little less than 2GB of internal memory for apps and other storage. This is OK, but if you plan to store a lot of movies or pictures, get a large SD card and try to put it on there. (This phone does come with a 4GB SD card which is nice).

The LG Optimus Dynamic II runs on Verizon 3G, along with all of Tracfone's other smartphones, and gets fairly good connectivity and coverage. However, roaming on these phones is not good, so if you travel frequently, you might want to wait to buy a new phone.

Finally, Promo Codes no longer work with Android phones from Tracfone which is a disappointment.

Adding and Tracking Prepaid Minutes on the Dynamic II

The way your track minutes, and how minutes are split up on the Android phones from Tracfone are a bit different, so we will cover that here.

Data, Talk and Text are now split into three separate 'pools' so that when you call or use data, you will still have the same number of texts as before. (EX: If you add a 200 minute card, it will be automatically tripled, and you will receive 600mb of data, 600 minutes for talk, and 600 texts).

This is a pretty good deal for almost anyone, except those who might do a lot more texting than calling or surfing the web. However, there are free apps that will text others for free when on WiFi or Data.

To check your airtime balance:
The easiest way to check your airtime on the LG Optimus Dynamic II is to download Tracfone's Airtime App. It is pretty simple to set up, and you can add airtime through it as well. You can almost go on the Tracfone website and check your account from there.

Phone Covers and Cases for the LG L39C:

The Dynamic II is prone to scratches, especially on the glass touchscreen, so it is a good idea to get a case and screen protector.

The Thousand Eight rubberized L39C cover is a good option, or you can view all the cover choices on Amazon including screen protectors.

Overall Review and Buying Tips for the LG Optimus Dynamic II

lg optimus dynamic II review
Dynamic II on Amazon
The Dynamic II is a sleek, modern smartphone that is honestly one of the best choices from Tracfone at this time. It has a larger screen than any other phone, and the rest of its features are similar or better as well.

Users have been reporting a large number of positive reviews, with few problems unlike the ZTE Valet or older Dynamic. (the Valet has had many reports of poor WiFi connection, and the old Dynamic is slower, and smaller).

Retailing for about $110, the LG Optimus Dynamic II is $99 on Amazon at this time, and can also be found at a great deal on sites like eBay, HSN and others.

If you check out the phone on Amazon, it has received an average rating of 4.2 out of 5, and there are a number of questions and answers available for additional information.

We do want to mention that there are some new phones on the horizon coming from Tracfone: The LG Optimus Fuel (LG L34C) is currently available, and the Samsung Galaxy Ace Style and Moto E are coming soon.

Thanks for visiting and reading, and be sure to leave a comment below with your questions, or your thoughts on the LG Optimus Dynamic II.

If you're phone shopping, check out all or reviews on the Cell Phone Reviews page.

You might also want to see the Top Sales and Discounts on Tracfone Cell Phones.

Additional Resources:
LG Optimus Dynamic II Tutorial - View the full and interactive tutorial to learn more about the Dynamic II

LG Optimus Dynamic II User Guide - This is a complete, 80 page PDF user guide.

Kamis, 10 April 2014

Great Apps for your iPhone and iPad...part 3.

With March in the rear view mirror, it's time to further breakdown the App of the week posts.  So here we go.  Another month gone by, and another handful of great apps for you to check out and start using.

The first March App of the week is one of my new favorites,  its called simply, Documents 5 (by Readdle).

One of the features that I love about Documents 5 is that it's one of the best apps at combining  your files from some of the top cloud services.  If you use Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.com, One drive, Sugar Sync, Office 365 or a few others, Documents 5 let you combine all the files you wish to from those services into one common app!  That is Awesome!

You'll notice on my Documents page here, I've got files from the Documents 5 app, as well as files from Google Drive (the Montages folder), and Box.com (the Presentations folder).

How great to be able to view all those files from disparate cloud services in one place.  Thank you Documents 5!  And not to leave iCloud out in the cold, Documents 5 also will Sync via iCloud across your iOS devices, very nice indeed.  If that wasn't enough for you, Documents 5 also acts as a full features Web browser, letting you create bookmarks, as well as download directly into the Documents 5 app.

So, if you haven't downloaded it yet, get a move on!  Documents 5 should be on everyones must have list.

The next App that I highlighted is the iTunes Festival App.  If you downloaded the app when I posted about it, back on March 9th, you could watch live, full concerts from the SXSW festival in Austin Texas featuring the likes of Coldplay, Keith Urban, Willie Nelson, Pitbull, just to name a few.  

As of this writing, you can see partial performances from some of the artists, while some artists full performances are still available.  Get the app while you can, those performances won't be available forever, and some of them were fantastic!

The next app to be highlighted in March is one of my all time favorites, Evernote.  Evernote is one of the apps I use regularly.  The ability to write notes on my iPhone or iPad, have those notes sync through Evernote's cloud service and be available on all my devices, is well, priceless!  

Evernote wants to be your "Remember Everything" App.  As stated on their website, Evernote and it's related apps make life more manageable by letting you easily collect and manage everything and anything that matters to you.  I use Evernote to take notes from my client appointments on my iPhone.  When I get back to my Mac, I open up Evernote and can add or change the note(s) I created during the day.  Those changes sync through Evernote's system and are available on all my devices!  

If you are not happy with the simple Notes App that comes with your devices(s), I urge you to try Evernote.  A great new feature, recently added is the ability to take pictures within Evernote of business cards.  Once the picture has been taken, Evernote creates a note, from which you can then save all the information captured from someones card, right into your contacts app!  That rocks!  Another nice feature of Evernote is the ability to create reminders about your notes, or a reminder to buy milk on your way home from work!  Best feature of Evernote is??  That it's free!  There are in-app purchase options, but the basic app, which has all the cool features I've mentioned, is FREE!  So, have you downloaded it yet??  

Next up in March was Camera+.  Camera+ is one of my favorite non-Apple apps.  Those of you looking to get more out of your iPhone or iPad camera, this is a great place to start.

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...:).

Lastly for the month of March was the AiO (short for All in One) print app from HP.  The AiO app gives you document control from almost anywhere!

Regardless of your documents are in the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.),   AiO gives you the power to save, share and print those files to an AirPrint or ePrint capable printer.  

Using intelligent mobile scanning technology, the app processes your images as either PDF or JPEG and allows you to instantly save or print.  

Now, if your wondering, why you need this app to print?  The same reason you'd use an app like Camera+, or Evernote.  Yes you can print to effortlessly and easily using your iPhone or iPad, but to enhance your printing capabilities, the AiO app is a must.  

Well I hope you've enjoyed learning about these great apps.  I recommend trying them all.  They truly add and enhance your iPhone and iPads capabilities.

Thanks again for reading, I truly appreciate it and hope my blogs have been useful!

Until next time, best to you and your devices!

Minggu, 06 April 2014

Cloud Storage options.

Cloud Storage.  Your options have changed...Again...

Happy Sunday!  When I originally created this blog about a year ago, the cloud scene storage scene  was similar, yet very different.  Since then most, if not all the cloud service providers have upped the ante and now offer more free storage and better options.  CX.com, for some reason, has gotten rid of there free option.  Box.com and Google have greatly enhanced their cloud options, so with all the change occurring I thought it would be a good idea to update the blog, yet again with the most current information for all my readers.  So, here we go, again!

Well start this updated blog with the same five cloud options that I reviewed back in October of 2013.    Those sites are Dropbox, Google Drive, CX, Copy and Box.  Dropbox was one of the first players on the cloud scene, so I’ve been using it for a few years now.  I like the ease with which it integrates with Mac OSX (and Windows), though it does have it’s drawbacks.  CX and Copy are newer to the game.  Copy offers  more storage for free, and like Dropbox have a very good App for your iOS devices.   CX no longer has a free option, which right off the bat would lead me no longer recommend it.   Google Drive is one of the many tools to spawn out of Gmail.  One of the great features of Google Drive is that, if you have a Google account, you automatically get access to Google Drive for free!  The final option that I’m going to write about, Box, has also been around for a few years.  Box is geared toward the enterprise, though anyone can sign up.  Box now gives users 50GB of free storage, thats the most free storage offered.  Also, like the other four, has the ability to upgrade to more storage for a monthly fee.

Let’s dig a little further into the options, we’ll start with Dropbox.  Nothing has changed for Dropbox since the previous update in October.  They have been around longer than the four others here (since 2004), that doesn’t however make them the best option.  Dropbox has a very user friendly interface, and new users start with 2gb of free storage.  It entices you to share Dropbox with everyone you know by offering you 500mb of free storage for everyone who joins based on your introduction, giving you up to 18gb of free storage. Dropbox installs on your Mac (or PC) as well as your iPhone or iPad (or android device).  Once you’ve installed in on your Mac, you can easily transfer files using Finder (a very nice option), or you can log into Dropbox.com from your browser of choice and upload files through it’s friendly easy to use interface.  Dropbox’s features are more limited than some of the others here, but it’s very good at what it does, which is provide you with either additional storage, as well as a place to back up and share your important files.  If the 2gb you get for free (or if you can get your friends/family to join you and get up to 18gb free) isn’t enough, you can purchase additional storage, starting at 100gb  for $9.99 a month, 200gb for $19.99 all the way up to 500gb for $49.99 a month.  Dropbox’s iOS app has been updated to work nicely with iOS 7.  It let’s you download or upload files from your iPhone or iPad, a nice addition and a great way to have access to the files you need, wherever and whenever you need them.  Some other nice iOS features include the ability to share files (rather than having to email or message them to someone), create folders, send a file as a Facebook message, or post to Facebook as well as being able to share via Twitter.  All in all, a nice easy to use interface, potential for 18gb of free space, but from a storage perspective, Dropbox is far behind Drive, Box and Copy.

Next up, Google Drive.  Google is continually adding free storage, and they have really upped the ante with their latest offerings.  Google drive has actually been around since 2005, when it started as Google Docs.  What is now Google Drive, is a nice leap forward.  When I last updated the blog, Google Drive had upped their offering to 15gb of free storage, plus the ability to create documents using Google’s web suite of applications, something not offered by Dropbox, CX, or Copy.  Not too mention, there’s even an online store where you can add apps to your Google Drive, a very nice feature indeed, although let me point out this caveat, most apps require Google’s Chrome browser in order to work.  So if you don’t use Chrome, most of those apps are not suitable for your browser!  Similar to Dropbox, Drive has a nice, easy to use interface, as well as an iOS companion app that gives you access to all your files, wherever and whenever you need, also allowing you to upload photos or videos from your iOS device and share them.    If the 15gb of free storage is not enough, Google has recently changed their upgrade options, yet again, and the changes are better!   You can upgrade from 100GB for only $1.99 a month, all the way to  10TB for a measly $99.99 per month.  In between those options, you can get 1TB at $9.99/month.  Easily the best options of any of the cloud service providers.  Drive let’s you share documents with other Google users (and vice versa), and in my opinion has the best integration companion, Google Hangouts.   With an upgraded interface, tremendous storage options, Google drive is definitely a cloud storage option to consider.

Now onto CX.  CX has changed things up, and in my opinion, not for the better.  They have removed their free starter option (you do get to try the service for 30 days for free, but that really doest count!).  CX gives you 10GB of storage for $9.99/year.  Not a bad deal, but when your competitors are giving away storage, it's not a good deal by any stretch!   They have 256 bit encryption for those of you looking to keep your stuff as encrypted as possible, they have redundant backups in case anything happens to their systems, and added firewall protection to keep you data safe, all killer features!  Like Google Drive, CX has a group feature that let’s you collaborate with other people (team members, family, friends etc.), though it does not offer video conferencing as of this blog writing.  It also has a nice feature where you can highlight some files as favorites for offline viewing when necessary.  Like the other cloud offerings, Cx’s iOS app allows you the ability to upload photo’s directly from your iPhone or iPad.  CX seems to like the Dropbox idea where you share with friends, and if they sign up you get additional storage, only where Dropbox offers 500mb of storage per person, CX is offering 300mb with the ability to earn up to 6gb additional free storage, giving you a potential total of 16gb free storage.  Unlike Dropbox, CX’s integration with the Mac is not through Finder, rather it has an App you can download, run and pick which folder(s) you wish to sync (very easy to use).  CX has great plans if you wish to add storage.  I’m just going to cover the Personal Plans here, there are additional plans for businesses.  CX's upgrade options have remained the same.  A user can upgrade to 25GB for $4.99 a month.  If that isn’t enough for you, you can go to 100GB for $9.99 a month, and if you still need more, for $21.99 a month you’ll get 250GB of storage!  Seven months ago those options were very good.  Today, with the options you are getting from both Google Drive and Box.com, they don't look all that good.  Your options are not as numerous as with Google Drive, however if you are looking for a good online back-up of pictures or movies (or both), CX is a good way to go!  All in all I still like CX’s online interface, but wish the Mac access was via Finder instead of having to run an additional app to sync your files.  But sadly, I can no longer recommend CX as a viable cloud storage option.  Sorry guys!

Very little has changed for the next cloud storage option, Copy.com.   Copy was created by Networking security specialists, Barracuda Networks, so you can be sure your content will be as secure as possible!  Similar to Drive, Copy starts you off at 15GB of free storage.  Copy has both personal and business options, for the purpose of this blog, I'm only going to cover the personal options.  Beyond the 15GB free plan, Copy now has only one other plan, 250GB for either $9.99/month or $99/year.  They have gotten rid of their 500GB for $14.99/month or $149/year option, perhaps no one was using that much space?  The two options are good, not great .  Your options are more limited than what Google offers with Drive.  The best part of Copy is still its referral plans.  There literally is no option to how much free storage you can accrue!  I've read review of people earning up to 600gb of free storage by inviting their contacts!  That is absolutely amazing!  Copy works across platforms, including Linux.  Most cloud service providers are limited to Mac OSX and Windows.  Copy is even now available on the Windows mobile platform, for those that have Windows mobile phones.  Both Copy.com and the desktop client are very easy to use.  The desktop client integrates with Finder (for Mac), which I love as it makes syncing files and folders a very easy and intuitive task.  All in all (and certainly in my opinion), Copy is a viable cloud service options, that I would recommend.

The last storage option I’m going to cover here is Box.com.  Box started selling cloud storage into enterprises before it opened up to consumers.  Box perviously had been offering 10GB of free storage, which they recently bumped up to 50GB.  There is a slight catch.  You don't get the extra 40GB of storage until you install Box on your iOS device.  But that's the whole point of these cloud storage sights right?  Having your files in the cloud so you can have access to them on your devices.  Like Dropbox, Box has great integration into Mac OSX, where you can access your files through Finder.  Box’s big differentiator is still their ability to allow you to create a document using the Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) of tools.  If you do not have a copy of Microsoft Word (or Excel or Powerpoint), it opens a cloud version for you, and automatically saves your work to your Box storage, not your computer.  One thing I don't like about Box, is that it will not store your iWork files!  So if you are a Pages/Keynote/Numbers user, you'll have to export your files to PDF format in order to store them on Box.  To me that's a huge detractor.  In Boxes favor, is that it let's you create a document in Google Doc format!  Little by little we are getting away from the need to own copies of Microsoft Office (or any other office products for that matter).  Because of it’s tight Microsoft integration, Box, in my opinion, offers a great alternative for those users confined to Microsoft Office.  Box has, an easy to use online interface.  Box’s iOS app is very similar to the others, with the same features.  You can tap a file and make it a favorite, which will allow offline access.  You can also upload pictures and video from you iPhone or iPad.  If you are looking for additional storage, now a single user can upgrade to 100GB for only $5 a month.  Not as good as Google Drive's offering, but still fairly reasonable.   There are also many other options for businesses that I'm not going to cover here.

So quite a bit has changed.  Most of it for the better, in CX's case, not so much.  When you are trying to figure out which one is best,  there may not be a best, like me, you may end up using multiple cloud storage sites.   If you are looking for the most free storage, Box is now the way to go.  If you are looking for the most mature product, Box is again the way to go.  If you are looking for one with the most options, Google Drive should be your choice.  Since all but CX are free,  I recommend trying them all out and seeing which one suits you the best.   I hope the updated blog helps, if you like it or even if you don’t, leave a comment I love hearing from you…
Until next time, Best to you and your devices.

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Rabu, 02 April 2014

Tracfone Promo Codes for April 2014

New Tracfone Promo Codes  - April 2014

We have created below a short list of just the promo codes that are valid and working for April 2014. These codes are provided by de9w2dsl here for your convenience and to help you get some free minutes! We also have a full list on our main promo codes page.

tracfone promo codes april 2014
Tracfone Promo Codes for April 2014
Tracfone Wireless is a prepaid cell phone company that offers low cost cell phones and prepaid service cards. Tracfone also offers promotional codes for users to enter when adding a new prepaid card to get extra minutes for free.

You don't need to do anything to get the minutes besides finding the codes below, and entering them along with your prepaid minutes card.

Here at de9w2dsl, our goal is to provide you with information and money saving tips, including codes for free minutes! So we hope you enjoy the minutes, and leave a comment with feedback.

We do more than just codes, check out our cell phone reviews!

Now, let's get to the codes for April 2014!

Tracfone Promo Codes for April 2014

The codes are for 60 minute cards up to the 450 minute card and remember that you can use a code for the specific card amount, or any prepaid card of greater value. (You can use a 200 minute card code with the 450 minute card etc.)

60 Minute Card - get 30 minutes free with code 84464

120 Minute Card - also 30 minutes free with code 66906 (or you can use 84464)

200 Minute Card - grab 40 bonus minutes with code 29224 or 38361

400/1 Year Card - best deal, get 250 minutes free with code 90518 or 56557

450 Minute Card - 50 bonus minutes using code 93528

These are the Tracfone promo codes for April 2014! If you're looking for more options, head over to our main promo codes page. Leave a comment with how the codes worked for you.

You might want to look at our Top Deals and Discounts on Tracfone Cell Phones for April or learn about the news of iPhone 4/4s working with Tracfone.

Thanks for visiting!