Welcome to “Syrup Drop”. The first in a series of posts that will feature a quick and useful tech related tip that you may find helpful. I’m not going to stick to any sort of rigid schedule with these posts, but rather drop them in here and there as I come across a tip or trick I feel is worth sharing.
First up, telling your Google Assistant to stop listening.
Welcome to “Syrup Drop”. The first in a series of posts that will feature a quick and useful tech related tip that you may find helpful. I’m not going to stick to any sort of rigid schedule with these posts, but rather drop them in here and there as I come across a tip or trick I feel is worth sharing.
For the first drop I wanted to share something I learned recently that has become very helpful when interacting with my Google Assistant enable devices, specifically the Google Home speaker
Most of the time, you trigger your Google Home/Nest Home on purpose by using the wake up phrase “Hey Google” or “Okay Google”. However, many of us experience our Google Assistant mistaking another speaker or similar phrase as the command to start working for you. Sometimes you may not even realize Google was listening and recording until the Assistant replies with an answer of some sort.
Why does this happen? That is because smart speakers, your phone, or any other voice activated device is always listening. Listening, not recording, but listening. If it wasn’t in a semi always on state it would not respond to wake phrase. Don’t worry, it isn’t sending anything it heard to Google until you say the magic phrase. No need for techno-panic, please. This is also the case with Alexa, Siri and Cortana.
So, why am I telling you this, or whats the point of this first Syrup Drop?
Every time you speak to Google, it saves that recording to your account history. When your Assistant device springs to attention when you did not actually request it you can prompt Google to stop listening and delete this wake up occurrence from your account history by saying “That wasn’t for you”. The result; your Google Assistant will respond nicely with “I’m deleting what I heard.”
It’s that simple. If you don’t want Google to keep a record of you trash talking the neighbours, simply tell it.
Hopefully, this first drop was helpful! Let me know down below.
A smart vacuum is a great investment, until it attacks your dog…
Part of the journey when building GadgetSyrup out of nothing was to find brands that I can build a relationship with, makes good products and that I hopefully genuinely enjoy using. Relationships with Microsoft and Motorola, for example, have been two of the larger partnerships I have formed and being a fan of those products beforehand made it easy to review their products. Along the way, I have found other companies that, despite not having the notoriety of a Microsoft or Motorola, still manage to check the boxes for me. Up until recently, I would lump BlitzWolf into that category but now I am starting to have some doubts.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the company and they have been great to work with, but I am the most recent BltzWolf product to come across my desk, the BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum cleaner has been by far one of the most frustrating products I have reviewed.
First, let me be clear, I have used only one other vacuum in my home for the last 12 years. The Dyson, DC-15 Animal. I’m not switching vacuums every year or anything like that. I love my Dyson, they have been great support wise and until it no longer does the job, I won’t be replacing it.
Now, let’s dive into the review
What’s In The Box
BlitzWolf BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum
5,200 mAh Battery
BlitzWolf Charging Station
● 5200mAh Battery provides up to 3 hours of cleaning
● Powerful 2200Pa Strong Suction, attention to details cleaning, no leakage
● LDS Laser Navigation, 360° scanning, SLAM algorithm for drawing accurate maps, multi-sensor collaborative obstacle avoidance
● APP remote control, get the status of cleaning progress in time, control and set the prohibited area through your mobile phone
● High-efficiency HEPA filter screen, blocking 99 percent of dust impurities, avoiding secondary pollution of indoor air
● Self-protection, built-in 360° anti-collision & anti-drop sensor, will not fall from a height
● Automatic Recharging, continue to clean the house and then sweep, will not get lost
What I Liked
I have three kids (soon to be 5 with Twins coming in early 2020), two Golden Retrievers, and until recently a black long-haired cat. Why do I tell you this? To paint the picture that it is commonplace to see tumbleweeds of dog fur or excessive amounts of crumbs scattered across the floor of my house regardless of how many consecutive days I vacuum or sweep. It is just the reality of having kids and pets. The VC1 was set to a schedule to come out of hiding every other day during the week and on both Saturday and Sunday around noon and do its thing. This schedule I found lead to the majority of those day-to-day crumbs and balls of fur were taken care of and really saved me the time of getting out the Dyson for a quick tidy.
I also liked the spread of features offered by the VC1s app. There are many options such as automatic floor type detection, which worked great to go across our area rugs and back to hardwood or tile with ease. Another handy feature was the virtual wall setting that allowed me to block off rooms or the stairs to the basement by setting up a sort of virtual fence thanks to the device’s lidar sensor. I was forced to keep the VC1 out of my office due to the number of loose products and wiring out during any given period. This feature made it very easy to manage that without having to remember to close a door that otherwise is always open.
What I Didn’t Like
The app created for the VC1 is complete and utter trash. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here, it is just the truth. Far more often than not, I would open the app to be told the device was offline, despite watching it drive across the floor while trying to devour my 12-year old Goldens tail. Sometimes a force stop and cache clear would do the trick, sometimes I just had to keep trying the tap the vacuum icon to access the device while it was in function. Dozens of times though I would resort to tracking the vacuum down and pressing the pause button and carrying it back to the charger
I also feel like the vacuum is a bit of a jerk. It would be off doing its thing, only to do a complete 180, leave the room it was in to come and bang into my feet while working in the kitchen. It also is not a fan of my dog. Especially the older one, Allie. No less than 3 times now I have watched the vacuum excessively drive into the side of the old girl over and over until finally reaching her tail and gobbling it up. The result of this was a terrified dog who would stand up and run away scared with a vacuum stuck to her tail saying “I am suspended, please help me”. I haven’t caught this on camera yet, and I wish I had of because this sounds so far fetched I am not surprised if you don’t believe it
My final major complaint is the dust bin. It is simply too small. Yes, I am aware that I have a heavy workload for a vacuum thanks to the kids and the dogs, but during one cycle of the house, I have to stop the vacuum and empty the bin. I also have to do this without prompting. Despite all the functionality the VC1 offers (on paper) it lacks any sort of sensor to tell you the bin is at capacity and to empty it. Leaving the bin full and letting the vacuum continue does what you would expect it to do. Shoot dirt and crumbs around the room, never succeeding in sucking them up.
I mentioned about the VC1 vs. Golden Retriever confrontations and how I wished I had caught it on video. Sadly I can’t do this because it appears that at this point the VC1 has already given up the ghost and stopped working. Despite many attempts to revive the sometimes psychopathic vacuum, I am met by a permanent lidar error. The VC1s soothing female robot voice tells me her lidar sensor is blocked and to please clear it (it is at least polite). I currently have a ticket open with their support looking for a fix but I have done everything possible to clear this error, both in the app and physically, but have not been successful. I have only had the vacuum for 3 months and this error came up out of seemingly nowhere. It was a pretty common occurrence. The kids had left something on the floor, VC1 decided it was a good idea to try and suck up said a thing and then bark out an error saying that it was jammed. I removed the object, as per normal, pressed start and was met with the friendly lidar error.
Should You Buy The BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum
Before I received the VC1 I was very excited about what it could do to free up time for me that is spent lugging around the Dyson and for a short period, it delivered the dream. However, despite the app receiving many updates in the short time I have used it, the reliability issues are just too prominent to recommend it.
The VC1 isn’t cheap either. Available only on Banggood right now, the VC1 will set you back just shy of $350 CAD + shipping which is usually about $30 CAD
If you’re looking for a smart vacuum and can’t afford the iRobot or Dyson offerings I would steer clear of the VC1 and look to Amazon for similar, high rated, smart vacuums or wait and see what the VC2 and beyond can offer should you want to try the brand. The brand, BlitzWolf, as I mentioned has been really good to work with and I intend to continue reviewing their devices. Right now I have an HD projector and a new pair of truly wireless earbuds that I am reviewing. The projector hasn’t been put through the paces to have an opinion on yet, but the headphones are looking really good so far.
After working with BlitzWolf’s support, I wasn’t getting anywhere. They were trying, but coming up with a solution wasn’t happening. You have to remember, BlitzWolf is a small company and are growing fast, with rapid growth, there are often many pain points.
So, with no positive resolution in sight, a friend of mine with a different brand of smart-vac contacted me to let me know his vacuum was throwing lidar errors. He decided to disassemble his vacuum and found a loose connection inside the housing of the lidar unit. I had already taken my device apart once but did not see three hidden screws on the underside of the housing. I decided “Why not” and took them off. Inside I found two more connections, one plug, secure and one ribbon cable, just a bit off center! Reseated and powered up and finally, no more nagging lidar error!!
The original Motorola Razr was a style icon and launched the phone industry forward in the early 2000’s is set to make a big come back!
Tomorrow, November 13th, 2019, is (hopefully) going to be a big day for Motorola fans. For the better part of the year, we have been teased with leaks and little nuggets of info about Motorola’s intent to bring back the fabled Motorola Razr, not just in name like the 2011 Droid Razr, but in actual form too.
Motorola is holding an event in Los Angeles on November 13th, where we are finally expecting to see Motorola unveil its first foldable smartphone and I think it goes without saying, the tech community and especially big-time Moto fans such as myself are very very excited.
What We Know About The Moto Razr 2019
The 2019 Razr is expected to come with a 6.3 inch OLED display, folding obviously, with a resolution of 876 x 2142. When closed, the Razr will also feature an 800 x 600 resolution display for notifications and to assist with selfies.
Despite the potential top-shelf look of the Razr, Motorola is filling the device with mid-range hardware like the Snapdragon 710 CPU, 2730 mAh battery, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. The cameras, three in total, don’t seem to have leaked yet, but I would like to see something similar to the 48MP sensor found on the Moto Z4 and Moto G8 Plus.
We have seen other manufacturers bring foldable devices to the smartphone market in 2019, but they have been riddled with issues. The Galaxy Fold was a flop during its initial launch and the Huawei Mate X may never see the light of day thanks to the US Governments obsession with blocking Huawei in that country.
Pricing has also been a major talking point for foldable devices, with the aforementioned Galaxy Fold and Mate X having a price point around the $2,000 USD mark. The Razr, if rumours are true, will hopefully come in around $1,500. This is by no means cheap, and in Canada, it will likely tip the scales around $2,000 CAD, but it is a step in the right direction and is likely thanks to Motorola going light on specs hooping to reach a broader audience. The Razr is also not a dramatic departure from the smartphone you are likely using today. It simply folds. The Fold and Mate X are essentially creating a compact foldable tablet, rather than a smartphone.
All things considered, I am very excited for Motorola to bring back the Razr and I really hope it delivers on the nostalgia factor, while also feeling like a step into the future of smartphones.
It is been a wild ride for Motorola in 2019 releasing nearly a dozen phones with at least one or two more hopefully coming soon.
The Motorola One Action has been available for a while now, but is finally available in Canada and US.
Motorola has been bringing the (mid-range) heat pretty much since the word GO in 2019. This year alone Motorola has released the following phones;
Moto G7 Plus
Moto G7 Power
Moto G7 Play
Moto One Vision
Moto One Action
Moto One Zoom
Moto One Macro
Moto G8 Plus
Motorola Razer Foldable (fingers crossed!!)
That’s a lot of phones…
Unfortunately, some of the most interesting devices on that list have not made their way to North America in a meaningful way. Slowly and thankfully Motorola has started bringing them into the fold this side of the Atlantic.
The Motorola One Action, which is being pegged as the first smartphone that is akin to having a Go Pro built-in, is now available to purchase in Canada and the US.
What really makes the One Action special is that the action camera, a 16 MP sensor, is turned 90 degrees in an effort to end portrait video for good. When shooting video, the phone is still held in portrait mode. However, your finished product when viewed on the phone or larger screen is in landscape mode, the way video is meant to be shot and viewed. It is a simple change but had a significant impact on the ease of shooting video. It is always easier to hold a phone vertically when using your hand.
Motorola told me “in Canada, the Motorola One Action will be available at Freedom Mobile starting today, and universally unlocked on motorola.ca in the following weeks.” Freedom is offering the One Action for $0.00 on a 24-month tab and lists the MSRP at $499 CAD.
In the US, the Motorola One Action will be available universally unlocked at Best Buy and B&H Photo, as well as on Amazon.com and Motorola.com. MSRP for the One Action in the US is $349.99 USD.
The specs of the phone have me a tad concerned. Running a Samsung Exynos 9609 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 12:9 display with a resolution of 2520 x 1080. However, if history is any indicator I think it the One Action will perform just fine. I have been using a combo of the G7 and Z4 for a few months now and have not been disappointed.
What are your thoughts on the Moto One Action? Let me know!
If you need a phone with incredible battery at a very low price, this may the phone the for you! Check out my Moto G7 Power Review!
In case you haven’t noticed, Motorola is releasing phones at a torrid pace. In 2019 we have seen a refreshed G7 lineup, a new Moto Z phone, the Z4, a refresh the E series and most recently an onslaught of Moto “One” branded phones. The most notable of those for me, the Zoom and the Action.
Earlier in the year though, Motorola kicked off this phone release cycle with the Moto G7 Plus, G7, Power and Play. I have already put the G7 through its paces when I reviewed it in August. Since then I have been splitting my time with the Moto Z4 and the Moto G7 Power. I will be posting a review of the Z4 soon, but in the meantime, let’s check out the G7 Power.
What’s In The Box
I should mention that my device was an open box sent by Motorola’s PR team, so I didn’t get the full BNIB experience.
Moto G7 Power – 32 GB – Marine Blue
Motorola TurboPower™ 15 W Wall Charger
USB-C to USB-A cable
SIM Removal Tool (mine was actually missing, so I had to add one back into the picture)
Manual and Legal Documents
Pretty straightforward. I was surprised Motorola didn’t include a clear TPU case for the G7 Power like they did with the Play last year. They may have with the Play this year, but I don’t have one of those versions to compare.
Motorola G7 Power Specifications
My unit came with the following specs;
Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 SDM632 Processor
32 GB Storage with microSD expansion up to 512 GB
3 GB RAM
Android 9.0 Pie
12 MP Rear Camera, 8 MP Front Camera
6.2″ LCD Display with a 720 x 1570 resolution at 279 ppi (FYI, not that great…)
5,000 mAh battery
There is another version of the G7 Power that ships with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. I have no idea why Motorola offsets the RAM based on the storage size, but that’s the budget market in a nutshell.
Normally I would do a “What I Liked” and ‘What I Didn’t Like” about the phone, but I am changing it up slightly here. Instead, I wanted to talk about a few of the highlights since the phone, for the most part, is very close in performance and day-to-day use as the Moto G7 Check out the G7 review right HERE.
The camera on the G7 Power held its own considering this a phone that sells for $249.99 CAD on Amazon in this configuration. Much like the G7, I reviewed before the Power, the camera app from Motorola offers a lot of functionality that I really like portrait, spot colour and Google’s AR Stickers, the performance of the software really holds the camera back. However, thanks to the booming community of devs that have ported the Google Camera app to almost every Android device on the market, I was able to up my photo game when using the G7 Power. Without this APK, I think I would have been incredibly disappointed with the G7 Power camera.
If you have a Motorola G7 or G7 Power and want to try the Google Camera port, you can download that right here.
If the name Power wasn’t a good enough clue, the G7 Power hangs its hat on the size of the battery. Coming in at 5,000 mAh the G7 Power is an absolute monster. Getting through two days of use is a simple task for this phone. On average I was able to get through 3 full days before I dipped below the 15% battery mark. THREE DAYS! That’s insane considering most other phones I have been using, with my usage style, require a top-up on my way home from work mid-day.
One thing that was different about my usage of the G7 Power compared to most phones I use daily is the lack of Formula 1 Mobile gameplay. I’m a Formula 1 junky and the G7 power does not handle any sort of graphics-heavy game well. Basic games that require no heavy GPU/CPU load manage to work fine for the most part, but anything that is graphic intensive fails miserably.
One game that functions brilliantly on the G7 Power is Pokemon Go. I spent a day playing the Pokemon Go while mixing in the usual video, email, text and more. At day’s end, I still had just under 40% remaining on the battery. This phone is easily on the shortlist of devices that are best for playing Pokemon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite or Jurassic World Alive (does anyone play that game anymore…)
The overall performance of the phone was pretty good, within the expectations I set out with. However, despite the fact it is nearly identical to the Moto G7 specs, I found it suffered from more slowdowns and app crashes than the G7. It is likely attributed to RAM with only 3GB to the G7’s 4GB, but it was noticeable. I would like to see if the 64GB/4GB version suffered the same way, but that is neither here nor there.
Bottom line though, should you buy this phone? No, I don’t think the benefits of the massive battery outweigh the negatives I encountered. Now, the caveat with my decisions, as I mentioned, the higher spec’ed model may not suffer the same issues. For that price, you would be better with the standard G7 which has dual cameras and a more appealing design.
I’ve spent a month with the Surface Go from Microsoft. The Go is just over a year old. Is it still worth considering? Find out!
Microsoft has been incredibly successful with its niche and high-end lineup of Surface computers. I have reviewed the Surface Laptop (1st gen) and the Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 2 I reviewed was the top-shelf version that retailed at the time for $3,849.00. The Surface Go I have retails for $699. With that in mind, I really had to adjust my perspective on what a Surface device was capable of. With the Surface Go there would be no high-ish end gaming, no insane battery, no (real) editing of photos, etc. I’ve spent a little more than a month with the Surface Go. Find out how it performed for me int he full review below.
What’s in the Box?
Unboxing a product from almost any niche or high-end electronic device is very much like unboxing an Apple device ever. Clean, minimal packaging with the bare minimum found inside. This is true with the Surface Go as well.
Actual model was the Surface Go for Business
Surface Go Power Adapter
Quick start guide
Safety and warranty documents
Note the lack of the Type Cover and Surface Pen. Queue sad trombone!
Surface Go Specifications
Most customers picking up a Surface Go will end up with the standard Go version which comes with Windows 10 Home in S Mode. The model Microsoft loaned me was the Surface Go for Business which comes with Windows 10 Pro, sans S Mode. If you do find yourself using the Go or any Windows device in S mode, be sure to turn that off as soon as possible.
Dimensions: 9.65″ x 6.90″ x 0.33″ (245 mm x 175 mm x 8.30 mm)
Weight: Wi-Fi: Starting at 1.15 lbs (522 g), not including Type Cover*
Storage: 128GB SSD
Display: Screen: 10″ PixelSense™ Display with 1800 x 1200 (217 PPI) resolution, Aspect ratio: 3:2, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
Processor: Intel® Pentium® Gold Processor 4415Y
Memory: 8GB RAM
1 x USB-C
3.5 mm headphone jack
1 x Surface Connect port
Surface Type Cover port4
microSDXC card reader
Cameras: Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)
5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p Skype HD video
8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 615
Exterior Casing: Magnesium
What I Liked About the Surface Go
The Surface Go is the perfect device to have an ARM processor but Windows, at the time was not ready for ARM devices. Well, at least not ready for a device that carries the Surface branding. Neither was the Snapdragon chips available on the time. Those are just starting to come to market now, known as the Snapdragon 8cx. Having an ARM chip, in theory, would provide several more hours of battery than any Intel CPU, but we’re not there yet.
Regardless of all of that, and only having an Intel CPU option, the battery life of the Surface Go was excellent in my time with the device. I have been using the Surface Go for all forms of typical day-to-day use as well as some light (Microsoft Store Apps) gaming.
The company I work for at my day job has pretty much fully transitioned over to Office 365 and Dynamics 365 for nearly everything. With this in mind, I used this opportunity to use the Surface Go as my “meeting” device so I could leave my Lenovo X1 Carbon docked at my desk for some of the heavier tasks I have to work on in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Using the Go for this purpose was great. I was able to move from meeting to meeting all day and did not have the need to charge the battery for 3 workdays.
The Surface Book 2 was a bit of a boat anchor, but it was also a workhorse. The Surface Go was a pleasure to carry around and it stowed nicely in any bag I had. The device has some really large bezels in a world that wants to shrink bezels of devices to near zero, but those large bezels gave a bit of non-screen area to hold onto when using the Surface as a tablet device. I’m not going to lie though, a slightly larger screen would have been great.
The size also was appreciated while I used the device as my “meeting” device as I mentioned above. Some of our boardrooms and meeting rooms lack a lot of table space. While others carefully found ways to place their X1 Carbons, coffee, phone, etc, I rolled in and was ready to go right away!
As I mentioned above, my previous Surface experience was with the Surface Book 2 which had amazing specs and performed better than any computer I have used before (I’m not a gamer, a graphic designer or anything that requires a high-end computer). Switching the Surface Go, now a mature and about a year on since its release, I knew I wasn’t going to see the same type of performance.
The Type Cover
The Type Cover doesn’t ship with the Surface, which is the norm despite how much people complain about it. The type cover on the Go is just as good as those before it. The trackpad is excellent, which has been the case since the Surface Pro 3. Not much else to say here. If you’ve used a Surface Type Cover or any Surface keyboard, you know how good they are. I am even starting to flip my stance on the Surface keyboards vs the Lenovo X1 Carbon keyboards. In the past I was siding with Lenovo, but I am not so sure any more.
What I Didn’t Like About the Surface Go
Overall, for most basic use cases the Surface Go held its own, but if you are trying to multitask on the device for any period the Pentium CPU in the Go would suffer and performance would fall off a cliff. I know the device isn’t going punch at the same level as the Surface Pro 6 or Book 2, but I had hoped that it would not bog down so significantly when using multiple apps and having multiple tabs open in Edge (Edge Chromium Dev, by the way).
I didn’t run any sort of bench marking software, as I personally feel that is a major waste of time and never tells a proper story.
If you drop the Surface Go into Windows 10’s tablet mode and run one app at a time, you will actually have a really great experience. Running in normal desktop mode, get Edge/Chrome and a few other apps going, performance degrades.
Should You Buy the Surface Go?
When I reviewed the Surface Book 2 I said it was complicated. That device was and still is a power users dream. It does absolutely everything. My recommendation of the Surface Go is the same but for the opposite reasons. It’s complicated…
The Go, like the Book 2, is a niche product designed to fill a specific use case. The Go is great for someone who is a front line worker, or someone who is doing basic data input for things like orders but cannot or does not want to be tied to a desk or finally for those doing just email or word processing on the go. If you are one of these or really want an incredibly portable Windows tablet, the Surface Go is for you, but if you need a little more performance and speed I would recommend the Surface Laptop 2. I spent a few months with the original Surface Laptop and it was great. Well, great once I got rid of Windows 10 S.
The Surface Go is now a year old and it does not look like there will be a Surface Go 2 at Microsoft’s upcoming event on October 2nd, 2019. So take that into consideration too when deciding if this is the right device for you. The Surface Go is available from both the Microsoft Store and Amazon.ca for $699.00 CAD. Don’t forget to check out the Type Cover and Surface Pen too!
Motorola is celebrating back to school season with discounts on a range of its beloved smartphones. Check them out!
Hard to believe that the summer break from school is over in a week. For me, summer flew by with the kids being in and out of various day camps and a trip to Prince Edward Island (check out @gadgetsyrup and @barryweston on Instagram to see some of the pics I took on that trip with the Moto Z4 and its 48MP camera). Throughout the summer I have been toting around various Motorola phones and Moto Mods. Always a good time and as always, highly recommended!
With said summer break ending, Motorola is taking the opportunity to roll out some back to school discounts on its range of “beloved smartphones“.
The time is has come. No more tasty dessert inspired versions of Android. Android Q is Android 10.
We all knew this coming at some point. Google/Android was going to run our tasty dessert names for each new version of its mobile OS. That time is now…
Android Q is Android 10
Why now? Well a few reasons. Desserts starting with the letter ‘Q’ are pretty much non-existent. A quick Google search turns up “Queijadinha”. I am not even going to try to say that one aloud. Second, this is Android version 10, and as with other OS giants, Microsoft and Apple, version 10 was a perfect time to switch things up. Finally, Google wants to be all grown up now. Android was a fun and niche OS in the early days but now, in 2019, it has more than 2.5 billion users worldwide and is used on devices spanning from smartphones to watches to TVs to cars. It was time for Google to give Android versions a fresh and understandable naming convention.
Google is also using this opportunity to change the logo for the brand too. Watch the video below to see how the new logo took shape.
A lot of Android fans, especially ones who have been there from the beginning, will be upset by this change. However, I, someone who has been there since day one with my HTC Dream, think this is a solid move for Google.
Motorola is not what it once was, king of the mobile world with devices like the Startac 3000, the Razr, the Rokr (ok, maybe not the Rokr), and the “Droid” or “Milestone “for us Canadian folk! The smartphone maker is now one of the last former phone giant to actually still be operating on their own. They are owned by Lenovo, but for the most part, Lenovo has left them alone. Compare that to Nokia (HMD Global), Blackberry (TCL) and now HTC (One Smart Technology) whos are merely names printed on the phone that is made by an ODM. For all intents and purposes, Motorola is still Motorola.
It is hard to believe Motorola has released 7 iterations of the G-series. The first Moto G, released in November of 2013 running Android Jelly Bean, set the standard for what a mid-range device could be. The two to three years preceding the Moto G budget phones were complete trash. Their cameras were worse than bad, battery life was usually atrocious and performance was horrible. TL;DR, budget phones stunk before the Moto G!
My first Moto G was the second gen, which was released in 2014. It was a good little phone, had good battery life, performed well for most tasks and in good lighting, mostly outdoors, the camera was usable. Unfortunately, my time with the Moto G was short lived after the sim card slot got damaged during a hasty swap out of my Nokia Lumia 1020 back to the Moto G. Despite spending only a short few months with that phone, I could tell Motorola had something special on their hands.
Now, nearly 6 years later and we have a very well established mid-range offering of smartphones that are good enough to do almost everything you need a smartphone to do, while doing a good to nearly great job along the way.
What’s In The Box?
Inside the box of the Moto G you will find all of the basics that are found in all smartphones these days. The version I received from Motorola was the Moto G7 XT1962-1 in the Clear White colour.
15W TurboPower wall charger
USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
Sim card removal tool
The usual paper work and quick start guides
One absence I noticed, was that there was no TPU case included. I have seen that some reviewers received a clear case with their device. That may be region-specific though.
Moto G7 Specifications
Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie Display: 6.2-inch, 2270×1080 (403 ppi) Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 octa-core RAM: 4GB Storage: 64GB with microSD support up to 512GB Rear Cameras: 12 MP with 5 MP depth sensor Front Camera: 8 MP Water resistance: P2i water repellent coating (basically, don’t get this phone wet…) Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/n, Bluetooth 4.2 Connectivity: USB-C Battery: 3,000 mAh Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8mm, 172 grams Colors: Ceramic black, clear white
Looking at those specs, you have to temper you expectation when comparing to the flagships from other smartphone makers like Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus, but there a few things that had me much happier from the start compared to last years Moto G6, which was an excellent phone.
The increase in base storage from 32GB to 64GB was the first thing I was relieved to see. Yes, the phone does have expandable storage by way of the microSD card slot, but expandable storage on Android is tire-fire at best so if I can, I avoid it like the plague.
Next was the 4 GB of RAM, which was a 25% increase of the G6. Sure, 8 GB would have been welcomed, but for what the G7 is, 4 GB is good enough.
Finally, the camera. Same specs as last years G6. A primary sensor of 12 MP accompanied by a 5 MP depth sensor. I was skeptical of this when I started using the phone, but as you will see below, this isn’t all bad.
What I Liked About the G7
The Moto G7 comes with a deep deep teardrop notch at the top of its 6.2 inch display which contains the 8 MP selfie shooter, but despite that the design of the phone is very modern when comparing to other mid-range devices. There is a sizable chin on the device that is emboldened with the “motorola” branding. I would have preferred that Motorola removed that completely, but I am assuming they used the chin to jam in hardware that could not be hidden behind the screen.
My variant of the G7 came in “Clear White” which I was very happy with. Black phones are boring. Full stop. The front and back are made up of gorilla glass while the sides, which have a shiny chrome finish appear to be made of plastic. This is sure to dent and chip over time, so consider that when leaving the house with this phone. I have yet to pull the trigger on a case yet, but since I am enjoying the white colour I may pick up the Spigen Liquid Crystal Case on Amazon for $15.
Motorola also wisely made the decision to ditch the front fingerprint scanner which was too small and hard to use unless you have abnormally small hands. The “M” logo around back houses said fingerprint scanner. It is accurate and fast but I did find that due to the slippery design of the phone (more on that below) I found I was accidentally swiping across the reader when using the phone which pulls the notification shade down over whatever you’re looking at. Not a deal breaker though!
The battery is the same size as last years G6, despite being a larger phone by about 10%. Despite Motorola not giving the battery even a small bump in size, getting through an entire day of moderate to heavy use without the stress of having to find a charger mid-day (I’m looking at you Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2!) has been no problem. It is no where near the endurance level of the Moto Z4 that I am also reviewing right now, which clocks in at 3,600 mAh or a bit more than 16% large, but its close. I mentioned last years G6 had the same size battery, I found that the G6 struggled to get through the day outside of my initial review use of the phone. The G7 has a Snapdragon 632 processor which is a big step up over the Snapdragon 450 found in last years G6 so I will assume that the new CPU contributes to that improved battery life.
Camera, with a catch…
Camera on mid-rand devices are usually passable, but always lack dynamic range, saturation and all the other goodies that top-shelf devices offer, but the G-series have always been a slight cut above their direct competition. This years G7 has the same specs as last years G6, which is a dual-camera setup containing a 12 MP shooter with a 5 MP depth sensor which enables functions like portrait mode. The Motorola camera app is a good mix of basic functions with bonus features like “Spot Color”, “Cutout” and “Live Filter”. In almost all conditions the camera produced some excellent shots but there were many times I had to take shots 2-3 times to get it “good enough” to keep or use.
Now I said the camera had a catch, and that is where the Google Camera app comes into play by way of side loading an APK. You can download the APK right HERE. It is completely safe and simple to install. After installing this APK the quality of my photos increased dramatically. Saturation and dynamic range were increased and more in line with my Pixel 2. Shots were not better than the Pixel 2, but very close in almost all conditions.
Not perfect, sometimes finicky, but close enough for me to be happy with it.
The Motorola Camera app is fairly robust too offering the following features:
The photo features on paper are nice, but I fine that a lot of them offer mixed results. Below is a sample of the portrait mode which gave some less than great results.
And a sample of spot colour. Could be good, but often mixed.
What I Didn’t Like About the G7
Wow, this phone is slippery. All phones are slippery today, yes, but the G7 felt like it was greased up with butter before I got my hands on it. I have dropped the phone or had it slide out of my pocket no less than two to three times a day. Thankfully, there has been no damage to the chassis yet. Long story short, the case I mentioned earlier is becoming more and more appealing every day.
Lack of NFC
I know the G7 is a mid-range phone and that Motorola had to make concessions to keep the cost of the phone down. However, had Motorola made the decision to spend a tiny bit more to put in NFC inside the phone it would have pushed it way over the top and made this capable of being a daily driver for most people for this year and for a few to come. In Canada and Europe, contact-less payments are almost the norm now, and the U.S. is slowly getting up to speed. More and more banks are adopting support for Google Pay. Even long time hold-out RBC has accepted that their RBC Wallet app was a literal dumpster fire and now supports Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
The mere existence of the notch doesn’t really bother me, in fact I think in some cases it adds a pretty cool aesthetic. However, the tear drop or widows peak notch used on the Moto G7 is pretty awful looking. The Z4 and Moto G7 Play also have notches, but of a different implementation. The Z4 is the nicest, with only a tiny dip in the display while the G7 Play uses a wider, but shorter, forehead notch that contains the earpiece and a few other sensors. Both, in my opinion, are far nicer than the G7.
Should You Buy The Motorola Moto G7?
I can confidently say that the Moto G7 is absolutely worth every penny. It has a lot of excellent features thanks to the Moto Actions software Motorola uses with all of their phones. I did not mention it above, maybe because I take it for granted, but features like chop for flashlight, twist for camera and others like swipe to shrink, three finger screen shots etc., you end up with a very premium smartphone experience for about $300 CAD. You will likely want to drop a few extra dollars and pick up a case though.
The Moto G7 can be purchased on Amazon HEREfor $288.39 CAD.
The 2019 e-series device comes with 5.5″ Max Vision HD+ display with a 1,440 x 720 resolution, a respectable 3,000mAh battery and 13 MP rear camera. It is worth noting that the Moto e6’s camera supports portrait mode, a first for the e-series. The front facing selfie camera clocks in at 5 MP.
Other worthy call outs are Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 435 chipset, 2GB of RAM and 16BG of storage (expandable bus microSD) and a micro USB 2.0 port for charging.
The Moto e6 doesn’t look like much on paper, but I am actually excited as I await a review unit given my fairly positive experience last year with the Moto e5 Play.
You too can have the power of the Windows 10 Emoji Picker!!
Emoji are, for better or for worse, one of the most popular ways in which we express ourselves online. For most people, the only computer 💻 they use daily is their smartphone 📱 or tablet. Modern versions of iOS and Android have emoji picker shortcuts on the keyboard making selection a breeze💨.
However, there are a small number of users such as myself 🙋♂️who spend a considerable amount of time using a standard PC with a physical keyboard and mouse. That does not mean I do not want to or should not be able to easily add emoji to my tweets and the like. There had to be a better way, thankfully, Microsoft actually already has made emoji selection easier, I just hadn’t noticed yet.
Until recently I resorted to always manually selecting the software keyboard button from the task bar, and going through the painful process of paging through the emojis. Only recently I learned of a far more superior way, so I wanted to share it with those who may not enlightened with this wonderful power.
Windows Key + Period Key, it’s that simple. Pressing that hotkey combination will pop the emoji picker as a floating window over the application you’re working in. What makes it even easier, is all you have to do is start typing to find your emoji. Once you have found the perfect one, click it and your text is automatically replaced with the emoji.
The emoji picker is a very simple feature, but something that has already been incredibly useful to me in the short time I have known about and been using it.
Did you know about the Windows 10 emoji picker? Do you even use emojis while on your laptop? Let me know!
It’s been a while! For numerous reasons, none of which I will bore you with, GadgetSyrup went offline for a period. Its future was unknown and for the longest time, it appeared as though my hopes of bringing it back to life were looking slim.
However, after much thought and internal deliberation, It was apparent that missed writting and creating content for GadgetSyrup too much to let it stay offline. So, after a lot of work to clean up the site, move it to a new home, and revive various accounts GadgetSyrup is back and I’ve never been more excited to share my content with you. The content will be much of the same prior to the hiatus taken over the past several months, but I hope to expand on what I did in the past. I do no know exactly what that will look like yet, but as those thoughts develop more, I will be sure to share them on GadgetSyrup’s various social channels, as well as the site.
If you are looking for a phone that has incredible battery life, is well built and looks good you should seriously be considering the Motorola Moto G6 Play – Now available on Rogers Wireless and Fido.
Over the summer I had the pleasure of working with Motorola to review the Moto G6 and the G6 Play edition.
Both phones are on relatively equal playing ground aside from a few differences in camera and battery. I really enjoyed using both phones, but the G6 Play was a joy to use for one reason; the battery. The 4,000 mAh battery paired with the 400-series Snapdragon CPU, this phone is a workhorse! If you need a phone that can do everything at an acceptable level, but needs to get your through a few days without a charge, the G6 Play needs to be on your short list.
Now, customers using the Rogers Wireless or Fido networks here in Canada can purchase the G6 Play edition.
Moto G6 Play Specs:
As you can see from the specs, this phone is not a top-notch device spec wise, but having such a large battery paired with a low-resolution, but still quality, display the G6 Play is an endurance champion compared to most device.
If you are looking for a phone that is primarily for email, SMS, web browsing but still has the ability to watch videos or disappear down an Instagram-sized rabbit hole when needed picking the G6 Play is a no-brainer.
The G6 Play can be also be purchased from Bell Canada, Bell MTS, SaskTel, Virgin Mobile, Freedom and Videotron.
Over on Rogers and Fido, the G6 Play can be purchased in Deep Indigo starting at $0.
I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of Bluetooth headphones that would work well with my business casual attire while at work. Most of the common neck bud style designs just simply didn’t work for me. Nothing I had tried worked with a collared or button up shirt.
I had more or less given up, until I was offered a chance to test out the BlitzWolf ANC1s and their unique design. Check out my review!
I have reviewed many different Bluetooth headphones over the past couple of years and had more-or-less settled on the Aukey EP-B61 Neck Buds as my daily go-to pair. They are a slightly shameless copy of the Apple-Beats X but cost a fraction of the price.
My only major gripe with them after using them for as long as I have is that they do not blend in or wear well with my works business casual attire. Using the B61s with a collared shirt does not lend to a comfortable experience. I embarked on a search to find a solution to this issue, a solution I was sure didn’t exist.
After searching for a period and coming up dry I received an email from a company named BlitzWolf telling me about their new headphones and asked if I would like to give them a try and share my experiences with them here.
The ANC1 headphones are, on paper, pretty standard sounding wireless (but wired) Bluetooth headphones. However, take one look at them and you will see why I immediately felt I had a solution to my wearability issue with more formal attire. Instead of being traditional around the neck/back of the head Bluetooth headphones, the ANC1s come off the front and run into a small cube which contains the battery and controls for the headphones. The control cube also has a clothing clip on it, allowing you to attach to a sleeve or between buttons on your shirt. Rather than having to tuck the neckband into or under your shirt collar, the ANC1s hang in front and are far more manageable for me with a button up or collared shirt.
The ANC1s also came with a very hand pill-shaped carrying case and a short, about 2″, micro USB cable for charging.
Noise Reduction Range(200-800Hz)：-20±5dB
Battery Capacity：120mAh, 3.7V
What I Liked
If it was not already obvious, the design is the biggest pro for me. being able to wear these while at work and have it blend in with the business casual attire. They are incredibly comfortable to wear for long periods and I often forget they are there. I was worried about the weight of the control cube. Before they headphones arrived the images I had seen made the cube look excessively large. After they arrived, I was pretty happy with how small the controls actually were.
Active Noise Cancelling
I think I have said this in every audio related review I have done, but here it is again. I am far from an audiophile. I don’t listen to a lot of music, most of my audio comes in the form of podcasts or audiobooks. Now, with that said, that does not mean that I do not appreciate a solid listening experience!
The ANC1s feature active noise cancelling which can reduce background noise by about 20db and for the size and price of these headphones, I was skeptical as to how well the ANC would work in real day-to-day use. Since I use these mostly at work, sometimes I want to have the ability to keep both earbuds in to focus but be able to catch what’s going on around me with minimal effort and minimal distraction.
The ANC1s are waterproofed with an IPX4 rating. This is not true waterproof like you see on flagship phones these days. The IPX4 rating means that the headphones are protected from splashing water, no matter the direction. They cannot be fully submerged, but wearing them in the rain if you used them for running would allow you to have the peace of mind that they won’t be damaged. My ideal use case for these, as I mentioned, is to wear these in a more formal setting, where they can blend into your attire. That use case makes the lack of full waterproofing less of a factor, and the IPX4 rating fully acceptable.
What I Did Not Like
There is not much I did not like about the ANC1s, but if I had to pick one thing that consistently took away from the experience was the material selection used for the wires connecting the earbuds to the battery/control cube. The wire was very rigid and didn’t sit comfortably when moving around and for me caused the earbuds to come loose when moving around. I more flexible material would be far more versatile to make the ANC1s stay more secure when worn.
The control cube for ANC1s is pretty great. Packing in the 120mAh battery along with the power, volume and noise-cancelling is an impressive feat given the small package, however, the tactility of the controls for power, play/pause and volume is pretty poor. The controls are raised above the surface to allow you to find them, but the selections are so small, I was often hitting the incorrect button which was quite frustrating.
Getting your hands on the BW-ANC1s over here in Canada may be a bit of a challenge since they are not readily available on Amazon.ca. As of this writing, they will set you back about $200 CAD. So steer clear.
So, they can be found, but not from my preferred source.
Should you buy them though? If you envision the same use case I have for the ANC1s, yes, absolutely, give these a try. I think most people would be surprised by how well these headphones perform. For most users, however, the more common neck bud design that we have seen take over in this space will likely be a better choice.
Bottom line; I will be more than likely to pick up and use my Aukey EP-B61s to use unless I am headed to work and don’t want them getting in the way. If you’d like to read that review, you can check that out HERE.
If you would like to check out the BlitzWolf ANC1 Bluetooth headphones, head over to their site to learn more.
If you listen to a lot of podcasts, you have probably used, or have heard of, Pocket Casts from Aussie developer Shifty Jelly.
If that is your go to app, there is some great news! Pocket Casts is now in the Windows Store as a Progressive Web App.!
Check it out!
Most people have a short list of apps that they use every day, often multiple times per day. For me, like others, one of those apps is a podcast app. Pretty much everyone today listens to podcasts, and most are using the very popular podcast app called “Pocket Casts” from an Australian developer, Shifty Jelly.
Until now, Pocket Casts was only available on Android, iOS and on the web via your browser.
For most that is fine, but in my case, if I was using the web app I would often accidentally close the tab running my podcast. A very jarring thing to have happen, when you are in the zone getting work done.
Today, however, I discovered that Shifty Jelly, despite saying they had no plans to bring native Windows and macOS apps, has brought a version of Pocket Casts to the Windows App Store.
What I like about this, is that this appears to be a PWA application, which mean it is nothing more than the web app, in a store wrapper or container. PWAs or Progessive Web Apps are the future of apps on both mobile and desktop platforms because it is truly a “write once, deploy everywhere” design when developing the application. Google, Microsoft and Apple (sort of) are supporting the PWA format, which will allow users to experience the same UI, with a few native elements, across all platforms.
If you look at apps like Twitter and Facebook, they use the same UI, but their code bases are entirely different code bases from one platform to another. With a PWA it is easier for a developer to support a larger user base, which means the days of waiting for your Android device to receive the update that iOS users saw a month ago will be gone, hopefully!
Pocket Casts for Windows 10 appears to support most of what is found in the mobile apps, such as downloading episodes, but I have yet to come across any functions allowing for users to automatically download new episodes, auto-clean-up, etc. I hope to see those in a future update, but they are features I can live without on a desktop app environment.
Looking for a phone this holiday season? Looking for the best in class? Check out my list of the top phones heading into the holidays.
The Moto G line from Motorola was originally king of the mid-range. However, thanks to companies like OnePlus, the old mid-range is really more of a budget class these days. The phone at the top of the heap this year is the Moto G5.
Featuring a 5″ 1080p display, 13 MP shooter, fingerprint reader and an octa-core processor you can’t go wrong for the price. The G5 also comes with expandable storage up to 128GB.
The latest offering from OnePlus is the 5T, which is an iterative upgrade on the OnePlus 5 from earlier this year. The 5T is what the 5 should have been, just like the “s” release of an iPhone is always an iterative upgrade on the previous model.
OnePlus, as always, brings an impressive spec sheet that rivals even the top Android flagships it is trying to undercut. The 5T comes with a Snapdragon 835 CPU, 6 or 8 GB of RAM, 64 or 128 GB of onboard storage and a dual camera setup that seems capable of holding it’s own against the upper tier devices. The second sensor is not a wide-angle like LG’s implementation, but rather is only used in extremely low-light scenarios. I would have preferred the LG style option, but again, that price is so good compared to others it is hard to complain here.
This year has been the year of the camera for Android devices. In the past a phone would launch and check every single box with the exception of the camera. Take the OnePlus 3, 3T for example. That device was so powerful, well built and performed exceptionally well. It still out performs most devices today for that fact. However, the camera just plain sucked. I owned both the 3 and 3T, and the camera let me down in almost every single use case, especially when used indoors or with low light.
For years, Google’s own Nexus project brought us great phones with less than stellar cameras too. At the end of 2016 Google announced the Pixel and Pixel XL, which was Google’s first foray into first-party hardware (sort of). On paper, the camera looked like just another basic sensor that would be likely to flounder like the Nexus cameras before it (excluding the 6P’s output quality). However, to everyone surprise the Pixel devices pod to be the most capable cameras on the market and the Pixel 2 had taken moved the quality bar up another notch or two compared it’s predecessors.
It’s also worth noting that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will soon be able to take advantage of something known as the Pixel Visual Core which is a dedicated chip that is designed to further improve Google’s HDR+ implementation found within the camera app. The Visual Core should go live when Google pushed the OTAs out for Android Oreo 8.1. If you want to learn more about the Pixel Visual Core, check this out.
This was likely the easiest pick of them all. The Note line from Samsung has done incredibly well since its inception in 2011. Well, there was that one minor issue last year when the Note 7 started blowing up at every turn, but those fireworks aside, the Note line has been the best of the best for some time now.
This years Note, the Note 8 has all the top end specs you would expect for a 2017 smartphone.
The Note 8 comes with a Snapdragon 835 CPU, 6GB RAM, 6.3″ display, 12 MP and 8 MP cameras, 64 GB or storage and expandable storage. It is hard to beat.
The Note is made a little more special thanks to the S-Pen, which is not for everyone, but if you’re a power user the added functionality it provides makes the steep price worth it in the end.
Step up your smartphone photography game with the Picbot, an automated camera mounting rig designed with an intuitive easy to use design.
If you are looking to up your smartphone photography or video game, check out the “Picbot.”
What is the Picbot?
Picbot is an automated, motorized mount for your smartphone that enables you to take 180 or 360-degree panorama photos/video and stunning time-lapse shots, among many other things. What makes the Picbot more appealing is that it has face tracking abilities as well, which will allow it to monitor one or more people simultaneously allowing you to get more creative with your video productions.
You can also override the automation by taking control yourself via a Bluetooth connection, should you wish to go manual.
Picbot is controlled via a very intuitive and useful app allowing you to control all aspects of the Picbot including built-in editing for photo and video.
The Picbot will come in black, white and rose gold (pink) and can be easily mounted to any standard tripod.
As of October 31st the Picbot was fully funded on Kickstarter and no longer available for backing/purchase. You learn more about the Picbot over at http://mypicbot.com/.
Meet Zenbo, a friendly new robot made by Asus, designed to help you around the house.
It is pretty much all but guaranteed that robots are soon going to be playing a major role in our day to days lives. I do not think many in the tech world today will argue that.
I am firmly in the camp that if robots can become a helpful part of my daily routine, by doing menial tasks, alerting me of important notifications and reminders via voice output and things of that nature, bring it on. There have already been great strides with AI in the form of Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s upcoming Google Home device, with the logical next step being a functional robot that roams around the house.
Seems like a great future if you ask me. I am not saying I want a robot to take over running the household for me, but if it can supplant some of those task, again, bring it on.
Then I woke up this morning to ASUS’ news out of Computex 2016 and their introduction of “Zenbo”.
Isn’t he great?
Sure in a creepy, needy, stalker robot kind of way, sure, he is great.
The intro video from ASUS, trying to show off some of Zenbo’s utility doesn’t make this little AI any less creepy as far as I am concerned.
In all seriousness though I think the forward momentum with bots and AI will continue to improve with each iteration, eventually leading us to something exceptionally useful and worth the investment.
What do you think? Is Zenbo a little too creepy to invite intro your home, or does he offer enough utility to justify the investment to help augment your you routine?