Motorola Working on a Galaxy Note-Type Device – Rumor – Updated

Motorola has been pushing phones to market at a very speedy pace since the start of 2019 with no signs of slowing in 2020. we now have fresh rumors of another possible Moto device, this time with a stylus.

Motorola is bringing new phones to market nearly every month it seems, and they show no signs of slowing. The Lenovo owned company is due to release the new Razr in only a few weeks, more Moto G8 decides are expected in the spring and Motorola has said they would be getting back into the flagship game in 2020 as well.

Now there are new rumors pointing to Motorola releasing a Galaxy Note-type device with a stylus. Evan Blass, aka @evleaks shared a photo of an unreleased Motorola device featuring a stylus and a shrunken down hole punch camera.


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Courtesy: Evan Blass, Twitter

At this point, we don’t know if a) this device will ever come to market and b) will it be another mid-range or a flagship spec’ed device. My fingers are crossed that we will see Motorola bring the heat and try to compete with the Note devices head on. However, based on the recent Motorola trend I think assuming it will be mid-range is a safer bet.

It’s also unknown what type of tech is in the stylus and how it is stored inside the phone. Time will tell!


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UPDATE: Evan Blass has leaked that the device will actually be a mid-ranger device known as the Moto G Stylus.


What are your thoughts on a pen-based Motorola smartphone?

Kickstarter Spotlight: DGRule – The Invisible Hub for MacBook

The DGRule dock is touting itself as the first ever invisible dock for the MacBook Pro 16″/15″/13″ and is designed to overcome the dongle life and the limitations brought on by having only Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro. Check it out!!

I haven’t done one of these in ages, but back when GadgetSyrup was new I would share some of the fun or neat campaigns I would find on Kick Starter. They were pretty popular posts and I really enjoyed sifting through and finding some really useful and interesting items on the platform. So after this long hiatus I thought it would be fun to bring these posts back. First up a USB dock for MacBooks. It may not sound super interesting on the face of it, but is actually really cool.

First a little back story. I spend a lot of time with laptop docks, like a disgusting amount of time. My day job is with computer peripherals company that sells dozens of different types of laptop docking stations, so I think it is safe to say I have “seen ’em all.”

What Is It?

The DGRule dock is touting itself as the first ever invisible dock for the MacBook Pro 16″/15″/13″ and is designed to overcome the dongle life and the limitations brought on by having only Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro.

2019 MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 Ports

Why Do I Like It?

I’m not a Mac users. I actually find the MacBook Pro laptops to be very boring in design and in some respects kind of ugly. Specifically the football field-sized track pad. However, when looking at the MacBook in a vacuum with the DGRule dock connected, they make a pretty near perfect pair.

The dock secures itself to the bottom side of the MacBook and stretches from the left to right edges. The dock connects itself on those edges by plugging directly into the Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The dock is very low profile and stays out of the way while also packing a lot of I/O connectivity. The DGRule has the following connections:

  • USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 with 100 watt power delivery (the image below from DGRule is incorrectly labelled as USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 3.5 mm audio
  • 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type A)
  • SD card reader
  • microSD card reader
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • Thunderbolt 3, 40 GB/s

Those ports pretty much have you covered for all modern or accessories from memory cards, USB devices and displays and in a very small package.

The dock also provides passive cooling for your MacBook since it raises the back-end of the laptop off your desk or lap keeping it from overheating and slowing down while you are running intensive tasks like running Final Cut of Adobe Premier.

Where Can You Buy It?

The DGRule is still active on Kickstarter as of the date of this post and has about 7 days to go, ending on Sat, January 18 2020 2:59 AM EST. They have crushed their funding goal of CAD $6,519 with a current total of CAD $373,789!!

My Next Keyboard: ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II

I have been a religious user of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon since the first generation of the laptop. Now, I haven’t had much of a choice since that is the laptop of choice for my employer, but I have through GadgetSyrup used dozens of other keyboards. The only one that I liked as much as the ThinkPad has been the Surface Book 2.

When I am at work or at my home office though, I spend a fair amount of time using either my desktop or have my X1 Carbon docked and not using its internal keyboard. I always prefer the feel of the X1 keyboard though, so will often use the laptop undocked when typing up a post or a long email. However, I think I found the solution.

On the eve of CES 2020 Lenovo announced the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II which brings the ThinkPad typing experience to the desktop PC and it looks great!

It’s not cheap though, so it will be a tough pill to swallow when I inevitably purchase one. Lenovo is saying that the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II will launch in May 2020 for USD $100

The ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II connects to your PC via 2.4Ghz wireless or Bluetooth 5. They keyboard is rechargeable too thanks to its USB-C connection. According to Lenovo a single charge should last for two months depending on your level of use. Since it connects via Bluetooth, this could also be used with other devices, such as an Android phone or tablet.

What do you think of the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II? Will it be your next keyboard? What other keyboards do you prefer?

Blitzwolf® BW-VP1 LCD Projector Review

I’ve always liked the idea of having a projector as in my home theater but could never justify the price. Projectors, for years, have been very expensive and often don’t deliver as good as a result as a mid to high end TV can. I do think the latter is the case, but the former is no longer the case. Prices of projectors have come down a lot over the years making them something the average person may consider when setting up with home theater.

I’ve always liked the idea of having a projector as in my home theater but could never justify the price. Projectors, for years, have been very expensive and often don’t deliver as good as a result as a mid to high end TV can. I do think the latter is the case, but the former is no longer the case. Prices of projectors have come down a lot over the years making them something the average person may consider when setting up with home theater.

When my friends at Banggood.com offered me an opportunity to demo the BlitzWolf BW-VP1 projector I figured I would give it a shot and see how it went.


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First a few specs:

  • Resolution: 720p Out, 1080p Input
  • Lumens: 2800
  • Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
  • Lamp Hours: 50,000
  • Projection Size: 50″ to 200″
  • Built-In Speaker
  • Remote Control Included

Ports:

  • HDMI or VGA for Video In and Out
  • 3.5mm for Video In and Out
  • USB for Playing Video from USB Key

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So is it any good?

Before I answer that, you should read the review I recently posted of the BlitzWolf BW-VC1 smart vacuum. It was a bumpy ride to say the least. Check it out then come back…

BlitzWolf BW-VC1 Review


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… OK welcome back. So was the projector from a company that has made its hay making affordable audio accessories any good? Surprisingly, yes.

I used the projector in my basement home theater that has 3 small windows with black-out blinds. Point being, it gets very dark down there, at anytime of day. The projector was throwing an image about 9 feet from the wall which measured out to about 100″ display size.



There is not a whole lot to say about a projector since it serves a single purpose and either does it well or it doesn’t. In the case of the BW-VP1 I would say it performed very well for each use. Most of our use with it centered around light gaming. The NES Classic had made an appearance over the Christmas break and was the console of choice for my kids and myself. We played a lot of Mario Kart, Super Punch Out, F-Zero, Star Fox and for some reason, unknown to me, a lot of Kirby (awful game). For that purpose the projector was spectacular. However, I did hook up our Xbox briefly for some Call of Duty and Halo testing and the results we good, but not great. There was some visible image trailing or ghosting when things really got sped up, but most of the time it wasn’t too noticeable.


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We did watch a few TV shows on the projector, but we’ve been binge watching old episodes of Shark Tank, which isn’t a very demanding show visually. Regardless of the application though, colour quality and clarity was good and I would say I was pleased with the results considering this projector costs only CAD $105 at the time of this review.


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Should You Buy This?

So, should you buy this? I would say give it a shot. For the price point it sits at and the specs it delivers, it is worth trying out. It does lack things like digital focus, longer throw range and multiple inputs for more HDMI enabled systems. However, for $105 I think you can live with a few short comings. while saving a pile of cash. 1080p projectors with more inputs and other features can costs as much as 3 times more.

Want to try the BW-VP1 Projector out for yourself? Check it out over at Banggood by clicking the link below!

A Bird? A Plane? A… Vacuum??

Recently I reviewed my first smart vacuum. It was a mixed bag to say the least. It did a great job with the day-to-day dog fur and crumbs left behind by the kids, but it repeatedly accosted my Golden Retriever and finally gave up the ghost and stopped working altogether thanks to a lidar-related error that I am still working on with BlitzWolf support.

One thing I didn’t mention in the review was the obvious downfall of most smart vacuums. Stairs. Smart vacuums lack arms and legs, therefore they are stuck on whatever level of your house you decide it will live. But what if your vacuum could fly…

YouTuber and engineer Peter Sripol has heavily modified his smart vac to do just that. Check it out.



This is a pretty impressive bit of work Peter has done, and all for about $200. It does have its limitation though. Due to the lack of the needed sensors to navigate on its own while in flight, the vacuum does need to be piloted by a person and due to the downdraft from the fans it will blow around any dirt it hopes to clean up.

Those issues aside, this is just a proof-of-concept and more of a fun party trick than anything else right now. With time though, I do hope to see actual vacuum manufacturers finding ways for their vacuums to overcome stairs.

Syrup Drop: Tell Google to Stop Listening to You

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.

Last Minute Gift Idea: Moto Z3 with Speaker Mod for $150

Pick up the Moto Z3 Play and Speaker Mod for $150!

If you’re looking for a last minute gift or looking for a decent phone for yourself you can pick up the Motorola Moto Z3 Play for only $150.

Best of all it also comes with a Moto Mod Stereo Speaker. On its own, the phone will set you back $299, but when you use the promo code “motomadness” the price is cut in half!

The Z3 it’s firmly a mid-range device with its Snapdragon 632 CPU, 3,000 mAh battery, 1080p display and 12MP/5MP dual camera around back, but it is still a snappy phone that holds it’s own very well.

If you are still rocking an original Moto Z or Z2 or are intrigued by the idea of Moto Mods, you can’t really go wrong for $150.

You can pick up this deal by clicking the link below, and don’t forget the promo code “motomadness


Moto Z3 Play + Speaker Mod

My Favourite Apps: Your Phone Companion from Microsoft

Sharing some of my favourite apps with you. First up, You Phone from Microsoft!

Trying something new…

Every so often you find an app that fundamentally changes how you use your phone. Some of those apps quickly make it into the mainstream and are covered excessively by tech media, while others can often sit in a small, but vocal niche. I thought it would be fun to share some of those lesser known niche apps with you in the form of a mini review and see what you think. Who knows, maybe you will find them as useful as I do.

First up, an app from a little known company in the Seattle area, Microsoft.

What is Your Phone?

You Phone is a take on other services that have existed, or still exist like Push Bullet or Air Droid, but with a far more modern and simplistic approach. It also has one major advantage over its predecessors, Windows 10 and nearly a billion users. Essentially, it is a link to your phone from your Windows 10 PC.

The app allows you to do the following

  • View camera roll
  • Send and receive SMS text messages
  • View phone notifications

The camera roll function as of this writing is currently limited to the last 25 photos on your phone, but Microsoft is currently rolling up an update that will remove that restriction, allowing you to view the last 2,000 images stored on the phone.

Sending and receiving SMS from your PC has been possible for sometime thanks to Google’s Messages app and browser tie-in, but having it nested inside a dedicated application is great.

The phone notifications feature is a bit lacking, since you cannot interact with the notification, but at the very least it allows for a quick triage of a notification to see if picking up your phone is actually required. In the future I would like to see some changes allowing me to interact with some notifications that support it on the phone. For example, I use Asana for work, and can comment on a mention via the notification on on the phone. Being able to do this from the Your Phone app would be a greatly appreciated addition.

It may sound kind of limited, but being able to see and interact with these core functions of my phone has done wonders for productivity. I am one of those people who spends entirely way too much time picking up my phone just for the sake of it, to check and see if I have anything that needs my attention. Often times, there is something to action, but there are many times throughout the day where I pick up and unlock my phone for no reason at all.

Your Phone is also receiving a major update as I write this that will enable users to interact with phone calls coming from your phone. This is a great addition and one I am really looking forward to. The fewer times a day that I need to take my hands off my mouse and keyboard, the more I can done.

Make and Receive calls on your phone from your Windows 10 PC!

Once the update is live on You Phone users will be able to do the following phone related tasks;

  • Answer incoming calls on your PC
  • Initiate a phone call form your PC with the You Phone Windows 10 apps phone dialer or from your contact list
  • Reject calls and send a predefined text to the caller
  • Reject a call, and send it to voicemail
  • See recent call history
  • Transfer calls from your PC to your phone and vise versa (this one really excites me)
  • Click to call from the web on your PC

For an app that has already changed the entire way I work with my phone during the day, these call features easily make this one of the most useful apps I have ever used, and certainly on of my favourites.

You Phone is currently only available on Android, and due to the locked-down nature of Apple, will likely never be available on that platform. So if you’re using Android 7.0 or above, and running Windows 10 you should consider giving Your Phone a try. Now, if you spend little to no time in front of a PC, this app won’t be much use for you, but users such as myself will find this app to be incredibly useful.

Where Can You Get You Phone?

What do think of Your Phone? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!

BlitzWolf BW-VC1 Review: Not Bad, But Not Good Either (Update: It lives!)

A smart vacuum is a great investment, until it attacks your dog…

BlitzWolf BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum

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


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What’s In The Box

Do you ever wake up wondering what was actually in the box…
  • BlitzWolf BW-VC1 Robot Vacuum
    • 5,200 mAh Battery
    • Dust Bin
  • BlitzWolf Charging Station

Key Features

● 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


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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.


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BW-VC1 Promo Video

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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.


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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.


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Update

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!!

Motorola One Hyper

Motorola announced yet another phone in 2019. The Motorola One Hyper.

Motorola announced yet another phone in 2019. The Motorola One Hyper.

The Hyper may be my favourite phone from Motorola so far. Well, neck and neck with the Razr.

What makes the Hyper stand out? Most noticeably is the lack of a notch or cut out on the screen. This is thanks to the OnePlus 7 Pro-like pop up selfie camera that only shows itself when the front facing camera is turned on. Finally no more screen real-estate will be hidden, giving us a full 6.5″, 2340 x 1080 display to use.

The selfie camera is a 32 MP sensor, but we will have to see what the quality is like if I can get my hands on it. The 25 MP front facing shooter on the Z4 needs near perfect conditions to give a great shot, but honestly lets me down more often than not.

Around back the Hyper has a 64 MP sensor, which outputs quad-pixel 16-megapixel stills, and an 8-MP 118-degree ultra-wide lens. On paper, both sound great to me, especially the ultra-wide angle lens.

Moto One Hyper Pop-up Selfie Camera

Other notable features are a 4,000 mAh battery, 45W Hyper Charging technology, a headphone jack, and runs Android 10.

Are you excited for the Motorola Moto One Hyper?

Motorola Moto Z4 Long-Term Review: Long Live the Z and Moto Mods!

Check out the GadgetSyrup review of the Motorola Z4. Is this the last stand for the Z line and Moto Mods?

I have been using the Moto Z4 for about 4 months now. By my standards, that’s a really long time. Most phones that come across my desk I don’t use for a very long time. I do switch to and from a small set of some of my favourites. I was jumping between the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S9 for a good chunk of the year but I haven’t gone with one phone as a daily driver for this length for a very long time and I have no intention of switching in the near future (unless the Razr delivers on the goods!).

Before I dive into the review I want to get something off my chest. The Z4 is a great phone but it was a failure before it even reached customers or reviewers’ hands. The reason, you ask? Tech reporters and bloggers that are, well, lazy and bored… Let me explain.

Left to right; Moto Z3 Play, Moto Z4, Moto Z

When the original Moto Z launched in the summer of 2016 there was a lot of excitement about its seemingly endless possibility of functions thanks to the innovative Moto Mod platform. Thanks to a simple phone design and a series of pogo-pins on the lower back of the phone you could turn your phone into a projector, printer, loudspeaker or add enough battery to last for 2-3 days of use. Motorola promised to deliver more Mods over time, and they did to a certain degree with some notable ones being the Alexa-enabled speaker (which is great by the way) and the Moto Gamepad. Some companies like Incipio added battery and car accessories and premium camera maker, Hasselblad released a fully-featured camera Mod. For the record, the camera, which came out around the time of the Moto Z2 and Z2 Play was pretty bad. It was slow and the sensor was just bad. However, most Moto Mods were good to great but were on the expensive side.

Motorola, recently acquired by Lenovo, committed to a 3-year release of devices that would support the Moto Mod ecosystem. At the time, everyone applauded Motorola for such a commitment.

By the time Motorola released the Moto Z3 and Z3 Play the media, big and small were complaining that the Moto Z design was tired and too dated to continue. Effectively, the blogosphere wanted the Moto Z and its Mods to be taken out to pasture. I used, and reviewed the Moto Z3 Play, last year and it was a really good phone and I really enjoyed using it. Was the camera as good as my Google Pixel XL (1st gen)? No, the camera was not the greatest but was perfectly usable in most situations. Even more so after I installed the Google Camera APK. Most reviews though, said the phone was dead on arrival and should never have been released.

Fast forward a year and the Z4 was leaked, subsequently announced and by the time it reached reviewers’ hands, most were already jumping on the hate-train saying Motorola is wasting its time, don’t bother with the Z4 and no one wants Moto Mods.

Hi! I do! I want Moto Mods! I have several and have invested myself in the ecosystem. On top of the Mods, I really like the build of Motorola phones, both for their physical and software designs.

What’s In The Box?

  • Moto Z4
  • Turbo Power Charging Adapter
  • USB A to C Cable
  • The usual paperwork
  • Moto 360° Camera Mod

Moto Z4 Specifications

What I Liked About the Moto Z4

Moto Mods

When I reviewed the Moto Z3 Play last summer, the number one thing I said liked about the device, was the mod ecosystem. This is still the case in 2019 when I use the Z4. The mods are what make the device worth it. I will admit that the case for the Z-line living on is getting harder and harder to make and the odds a Z5 seem pretty slim right now. My only hope is the fact that they firmly positioned the Z4 in the mid-range with its 600 series Snapdragon CPU. Doing this makes sense and removes the need for a lower end Play device.

As for the mods though, they are incredibly useful and augment the experience of the phone dramatically. Here are the mods I have:

  • InstaShare Projector
  • Gamepad
  • InstaShare Polaroid Printer
  • Alexa Speaker
  • 360 Camera

I use the projector and speaker daily and the other three make at least one or two appearances a week. I will often switch to another device for a review or just for fun, but I always end up having to keep the Z4 at the ready becasue I have become too used to having the mods there.

The caveat is that the mods are still very expensive. They are coming down in price, so if you are new to the Z-line and want to use mods, now is the time. For example, the projector had an original $400 CAD price tag. Today it is available on Amazon for less than $175 CAD.

The other caveat with mods and Z-line beyond the Z5 speculation is the lack of growth in the mod ecosystem. When Motorola brought us the original Moto Z in 2016 there was a promise of dozens of mods and a 3rd party ecosystem. Today, there are about a dozen mods still available online and even less directly from Motorola. That fact worries me and should be a major point of consideration.

The Camera

The 48 MP shooter on the Z4 is great when used properly.

For years Motorola has been slated for having poor camera performance. The software that drives the Motorola Camera app has been feature-packed but always struggled to produce consistent and reliable output.

That is less of a problem with the Z4, but it is still a problem. Enter Google Camera…

Thanks to a dedicated community of modders one can get a version of the Google Camera app for almost every device available today. Including the Z4.

If you have or are considering the Moto Z4 I absolutely implore you to install this APK and use it as your primary camera app. I haven’t touched the Moto app for months unless I have absolutely had too, and I have not missed a beat.

The camera performance is little slow still, even with the Google app, but that is a byproduct of the Snapdragon 675 and only 4GB of RAM. However, as long as your patient and set your expectations, I think you will be just fine. I was coming from a Pixel and a Galaxy S9 which were very fast and had Snapdragon 835 and 845 CPUs respectively and the performance difference was not that noticeable from a speed perspective.

Battery Life

Thanks to the 3,600 mAh battery inside the Z4 making through a whole day on a single charge is possible. I have been using the phone for 4 months now and have not seen much regression in day to day battery life. I do, however, lean on my devices very hard and usually need to top up at least once to make sure I can make it through my typical day which normally spans from about 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. I have recently ordered a battery mod to give me another 2,200 mAh battery just for fun.

What I Didn’t Like About the Moto Z4

There is not a lot I didn’t like about the Z4. If I had to pick one thing, it is the in-screen fingerprint scanner. Last year, the Z3 lineup had a horrible side-mounted fingerprint scanner which I still absolutely despise. This isn’t that bad, but it is less than enjoyable. Thankfully, I spend most of my time having the Z4 connected to either my Gear S3 Frontier or a set of Bluetooth headphones that keep the device unlocked thanks to Google Smart Lock. When the fingerprint scanner does light up, I find that it is generally inaccurate and slow. Again, not a major issue based on my use case, but consideration to account for nonetheless.

I would also give the Z4 a slight knock for its build design. It is hard to articulate this, since the phone is, more or less, the same footprint as the original Moto Z, but the slight rounding of the backside of the phone causes Moto Mods to have a small, but noticeable gap between the phone and the mod. The original Moto Z was a perfect match to all mods, the Z3 was almost there, but the Z4 just does not fit mods well.

Should You Buy The Moto Z4?

Moto Z4 and Moto Z

For the majority of people out there, you would probably look at the device and think you can get a Pixel 3a for only a little more or a Motorola G7 for a little bit less and wonder, why consider the Z4. The decision to buy this device really comes down to two things; Moto Mods and performance. If you have owned a Z phone before or want to augment your phone use with a mod, even just a speaker or the 360° camera, then this phone is worth it. Also, consider that no new mods are likely to come to the market. On the performance side, the phone holds up and if you have never had a phone with flagship specs you likely will not know the difference. However, switching from a phone with an 8XX series CPU and 6+ GB of RAM, you will feel the slow down when using the Z4.

If you can get past either of these, then buy this phone! With Black Friday and Christmas coming up fast, you’ll be sure to see some deals on the Z4 too!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Motorola Razr (2019): What to Expect

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

Motorola Razr V3 – One of the first devices I owned!

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.

Motorola One Action Now Available in Canada and USA

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
  • Moto G7 Plus
  • Moto G7 Power
  • Moto G7 Play
  • Moto Z4
  • 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.

117º Action Cam

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.

21:9 video filmed vertically, played horizontally

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!

Want more Motorola? I have been covering them a lot lately. Check out more right HERE.

Motorola Moto G7 Power Review – Battery Beast!

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!

The Moto G7 Power is a monster on the battery front, packing a 5,000 mAh battery

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

The Box Has The Power! So Much!!

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…)
  • Headphone Jack
  • 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.

The G7 Power has the … Power!

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.

The Moto G7 Power packs a mega notch. Think iPhone X + Pixel 3 XL…

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.

Microsoft Surface Go Review: One Year Old

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.

How many times have we pondered the contents of that box?

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.

  • Surface Go
    • 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!

Pen not included 😢

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

Connections

  • 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

Colour: Silver

What I Liked About the Surface Go

Battery Life

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.

With the right expectations in tow, the battery on the Surface Go was great

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. 

Size

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!

Left: Lenovo X1 Carbon (4th Gen)
Right: Microsoft Surface Go, Type Cover and Surface Pen

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 on the Go may be small, but it is a joy to use

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

Performance

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?

It’s complicated…

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!

BlitzWolf BW-FYE5 True Wireless Headphones Review

Last year I got in touch with a company that sells primarily in Banggood and they sent me a pair of their BW-ANC1 headphones which were a wired pair of wireless headphones featuring active noise cancelling. I was very impressed with them for the most part, so when offered their true wireless BW-FYE5 (they really know how to name a product!!) I jumped at the opportunity.

I am admittedly late to the true wireless headphone game. I have stuck to my Aukey EP-B61 neck buds for longer than I likely should have and when those are missing in action or dead, I resort to a wired pair of headphones I have had since I got my minion-yellow Nokia Lumia 1020, unless I am using a phone without a headphone jack. In that case, I suffer in silence waiting for the Aukeys to charge.

Last year I got in touch with a company that sells primarily in Banggood and they sent me a pair of their BW-ANC1 headphones which were a wired pair of wireless headphones featuring active noise cancelling. I was very impressed with them for the most part, so when offered their true wireless BW-FYE5 (they really know how to name a product!!) I jumped at the opportunity.

What’s In The Box?

Brad, you won’t believe what is in the box!

Blitzwolf’s packaging is pretty basic but a slight step ahead of some of the other budget companies in this space, such as Aukey. Inside the box were the following items.

BW-FYE5 BOM Shot
  • Blitzwolf BW-FYE5 headphones
  • Charge case
  • Large and small replacement ear tips (mediums come pre-installed)
  • Micro USB cable for charing
  • Manual

Nothing really exciting, but all the basics are there.

Battery Life 

Blitzwolf states that a single charge of the earbuds will last 2.5 to 3 hours of listening/talk time and the charging case that stores the buds when not in use add an extra 15 hours of battery life. So for the sake of keeping it simple, let’s say 18 hours of total battery life. I found this to be fairly accurate and I only have to charge up the case every few days depending on my use.

When the buds did run out, putting them back in the case for a quick charge was a pretty great experience compared to having to find a place to plug in my other set from Aukey into a USB cable. The charging case is very convenient when on the go.

Size and Fit

The size of the BW-FYE5 was awesome, they fit perfectly in the ear and for the most part, never came loose or lost their seal.

I didn’t suffer from any discomfort when wearing the earbuds for extended periods, which in some cases was for a full cycle of the battery. I did find that my ears would start to hurt where the buds would rest against my ear. So far, not the case with these earbuds for me.

The charging case is also far more compact than I was expecting which was great for putting them in any pocket. The dimensions of the case measures 6 cm X 3.7 cm X 2.8 cm.

Audio Quality

Since I am not listening to music in most cases I can’t say much about the quality of the BY-FYE5s for music. The small amount of music I did listen to sounded good. Bass was light but expected given the size of the device. Listening to audiobooks and podcasts were perfect. I didn’t have any complaints, which is a good thing.

IPX6 Water and Sweat Resistance

Water and sweat resistance is more or less table stakes these days with any wearable. In fact, one could argue that in 2019, heading into 2020, water resistance may not even be enough, full-on waterproofing may be the expectation. The BW-FYE5s, despite the low price point, are water-resistant, which is great for most users. Myself included.

Pairing Process and Connectivity Quality

One of the major complaints I have with Bluetooth devices, especially earbuds, today is the pairing process. It seems to be different for every manufacturer and is almost never intuitive. That mostly holds true for this set from Blitzwolf too.

After opening and charging the case and earbuds for the first time I opened the case, removed the right earbud and immediately it entered pairing. Great! After going through the standard pairing process on my Android device, I removed the second earbud and it automatically connected to the first bud and connected. So far… So good…

Where things got messy was when I wanted to use only one earbud. The right bud had no issue at all and would connect quickly and start working. However, when wanting to use the left earbud only I was given the impression the right earbud also needed to be removed from the charging case and act as a bridge for the left earbud. It was only after a few weeks of use that I decided to try again with only the left earbud. I removed it from the case, place it in my ear and for fun double-clicked the button. The earbud powered on and after about 30 seconds entered the pairing mode. The device showed on my phone as BW-FYE5 L, indicating left. Ok… paired and working.

When using the right bud first, the left bud will always connect to the right and begin to stream through both. Pretty seamless in most cases. When using the left bud first, adding the right caused the left to drop connection while it waited for the right to connect and hook up to the right as a bridge. If that was confusing, I’m sorry, but it is a messy process that the devices initiate depending on the order of connection. This may just be the way true wireless headphones have to work today, and maybe a future version won’t require this, but this messy connection process is less than enjoyable. I would like to see how Apple handles this thanks to the W1 chip in the airpods and modern macOS and iOS devices, but at this time I don’t have that luxury.

Overall: Should You Buy the Blitzwolf BW-FYE5 True Wireless Headphones?

For me, someone who has had issues finding headphones that have a good fit for my ears these headphones were perfect. However, others may not find this fit comfortable to use.

Outside of the potential fit-issues, the BW-FYE5 TWS are incredibly affordable and are available for just short of $50 CAD and should absolutely be considered if you’re looking for a truly wireless set of headphones. The odd connection process once solved is not really a major issue in the grand scheme of things when considering the other positive features found here.

You can purchase the Blitzwolf BW-FYE5 True Wireless Headphones from Banggood by clicking the link below!

Motorola Smartphone Deals for Back to School

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“.

Moto G7

Check out the deals!

It’s odd to see that the Moto Z4 is missing from this list but, last years Moto Z3 Play and G6 are present. Both are still great phones though if you are limited on a budget!

Students can also register as a student to receive and additional 15% off their purchase by registering with UNiDAYS. More info on that program can be found HERE.

Don’t forget to check out my reviews of some of the aforementioned Motorola phones below.

Motorola G7 Review: Mid-Range Greatness

Moto G6 Review: The Best Mid-Range Phone You Can Buy (2018)

Motorola Z3 Play Review: Third Times a Charm?

Reviews of the Moto G7 Power and the Moto Z4 are in the works and coming soon!

Android Q will drop desserts for Android 10

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

Google Blog

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.

What do you think?

Source: Google Blog

Motorola G7 Review: Mid-Range Greatness

Motorola G7 Clear White

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.

Left: Moto G, 2nd Gen, Middle: Moto G6, Right: Moto G7
Left: Moto G, 2nd Gen, Middle: Moto G6, Right: Moto G7

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.

  • The phone…
  • 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

Design

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.

Moto G7 Finger Printer Scanner and Camera

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!

Battery

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:

  • Photo
    • Portrait
    • Cutout
    • Spot Color
    • Cinemagraph
    • Panorama
    • Live Filters
  • Video
    • Slow Motion
    • Timelapse
    • YouTube Live
    • ART Stickers

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.

More often than not, portrait shots came out like this.

And a sample of spot colour. Could be good, but often mixed.

What I Didn’t Like About the G7

Slippery AF!

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 Notch

Moto G7 Notch

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.

Conclusion

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 HERE for $288.39 CAD.

New Motorola One Action Is Like Having a GoPro In Your Smartphone

Image: Screenshot via Motorola YouTube

Motorola has finally unveiled the rumoured Motorola One Action and it is shaping up to be a pretty exciting looking device.

Full disclaimer here, I am a huge Motorola fan, and not in the ‘I had a Razr before Razrs were cool (I did though…just saying). My first device was a Motorola, and I have owned at least 15-20 different Moto phones over the years. Some of my favourites being the Razr, Milestone, Moto X and the list goes on. Currently, I have been spending my days with the Moto Z4, which is the 4th generation of heavily-criticized modular phone device that allows you to add functionally to your phone by way of snap-on devices like a projector, printer or speaker to the back of the device, to name a few. I will have a Z4 review coming out in the coming weeks, stay tuned for that!

Ok, back to the One Action!

The phone is being dubbed as the “Action Cam” on Motorola Bazil’s website, where Moto is touting this as the first smartphone to have this feature

The phone’s specs are ok, but nothing that blows me away on paper, such as the Samsung Exynos 9609 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 12:9 display with a resolution of 2520 x 1080. The cameras are where Motorola is hoping it has created something special.

The 16 MP “Action Cam” doubles as an Ultra-Wide angle camera that may use “pixel binning” which will, in theory, provide a greater dynamic range to shots. Beyond the “Action Cam” you will also find a 12 MP primary camera and 5 MP depth sensor to enable portrait shots. The One Action also sports a 12 MP selfie-shooter around front.

The Motorola One Action went up for sale on August 16th in parts of Europe, Mexico and Brazil for the equivalent of about $380 CAD. Motorola did say though that phone will arrive in Canada and U.S. early in October of 2019, pricing remains unknown at this time.

The price and the dated mid-range specs have me wondering if this phone will be what Motorola hopes it to be, but, being the rose-coloured glasses-wearing Moto fan that I am, I am hoping the phone surprises me when I get my hands on it.

Motorola Newest Budget Phone, Moto E6

Motorola has announced it’s latest budget friendly device, the Moto e6.

Motorola has announced it’s latest budget friendly device, the Moto e6.

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.

Moto E6 in Navy Blue

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 can read that review here: Moto e5 Play Review

The Moto e6 will be available later this summer in Canada for just south of $200 CAD in two colours, Starry Black and Navy Blue. Exact pricing and availability is not yet known by Motorola.

How To Use The Windows 10 Emoji Picker

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 Minute…

GadgetSyrup is back!

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.

Motorola Moto G6 Play Now Available on Rogers and Fido (Canada)

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.

 Moto G6 on the left, G6 Play on the right
Moto G6 on the left, G6 Play on the right

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:

 Top: G6, Bottom: G6 Play
Top: G6, Bottom: G6 Play

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.

Meet Changer: “The Swiss Army Knife of Headphones”

Have you ever wanted headphones that not only sounded good, but could share its battery with your other devices or perhaps even steal some charge from another device? Well, this is now a possibility thanks to a Chinese company named 49101 is launching the “Changer” Headphones on Indiegogo.

 Meet “Changer” from 49101 Meet “Changer” from 49101

I am on a never ending quest to find the best headphones for a decent price. Call me cheap, call me frugal, but I refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on a set of headphones. I believe that for there are headphones out there, that for a fair price, will satisfy my needs just as much as something like the Beats X, or Bose Quite-Comfort 35 IIs. Each and every time I try a different set I find something I like, something I don’t and some features that I feel rather indifferent about.

Then I came across the “Changer” from a company out of China called “49101”. I will be honest, I have never heard of this company before and do not know what they are all about. However, I will say that they have a very interesting product on their hands here.

“Changer’s magical ability to share power even lets you steal a friends charge if you need!”

— Helena Wei, Marketing Directorof 49101

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What is the Changer Headphone?

The Changer is marketed as a Swiss-Army knife of headphones and while it lacks the requisite toothpick, mini-saw and bottle-opener, it comes pretty darn close to that Swiss-Army knife.

The headphones, at a glance look like nearly every other neck-band style of Bluetooth headphones on the market, but disguised inside are a few tricks that make this product special.

The Changer headphones open on one side to reveal your standard USB Type-A connection to charge the headphones. The other side is where things get a little wild. Here you will find a multi-functional connection that can power devices using either micro-USB, Lightning or USB Type-C. Essentially, what the device is doing he is using its internal battery to provide power to another device, like a phone. This is pretty handy if you find yourself on the go and get the dreaded “low-battery” alert.

Another trick that 49101 has given the Changer is the ability to reverse the power supply of yor smartphone to draw a charge into your headphones. Say your headphones are low on power, but you need to power-up on the go to listen to some music or a podcast. No problem. Connect to your phone, or even better, someone elses phone, and steal some juice to keep you listening. Or as 49101 puts it, have someone else “donate” their battery power to you.

“With Changer, we are not only providing a premium audio experience but also solving peoples battery charging problems. ”

— Helena Wei, Marketing Directorof 49101

Changer Specs

  • 13 mm drivers with 20Hz-40KHz frequency response

  • Aluminium and Silicon design

  • 35 cm cable length with integrated volume controls

  • 1 set of foam ear tips and 2 sets of silicon ear tips

  • Support for 2A fast charging

  • Multiple connections built into the device

    • USB Type-C

    • micro USB

    • Lightning

    • USB Type-A

  • Bluetooth 5.0

  • IP5X water resistance

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So, where can you get Changer?

Starting today (Nov 19th) Changer is available for pre-order on Indiegogo.com and will start shipping to backers in “Q1 2019”

Early bird pricing starts at $89 USD. if you want to learn more about this interesting headphones head over to their launch site below!

If the opportunity presents itself, I will be sure to test these out and out through through a review. As of right now I am skeptical on how useful they will be, but I will be honest, I am rather intrigued by the Charger headphones. Stay tuned for more!

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