[Review] Daydream View VR

So…I’ve been slacking a little on the Daydream View VR review.  When I received it, I was super excited…and I used it.  A little.  And then a little more.  And then I ultimately realized that this isn’t a product for me.  I simply don’t have the time to make proper use of VR, or any VR product for that matter.  My actual reality is too demanding for virtual reality.  But I want to be fair to those who are interested in the product, so check out the short video below for my impressions of this fancy piece of tech, and check out Google’s own website if (after watching) you think it’s for you.

Silicon Theory’s Video Review – Daydream View VR Headset

As always, thanks for reading/listening/watching – we are going to be doing more of these style video pieces to mix things up and to try something different, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel (Silicon Theory) to get updates as they get published.  Cheers!

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[Opinion] The best phone you’ve never heard of: the OnePlus 3T

I’ll start this article by saying there probably aren’t too many of you interested in buying a new smartphone right now.  And there are a bunch of new phones coming in the first half of 2017 – offerings are likely from LG, Samsung, and even HTC.  So for most people, playing the waiting game makes a lot of sense.
Having said that, if you are (or at the very least might be considering a purchase in the next 2/3 months) there’s a phone you probably haven’t heard of but should make your list.  If you listened to the Best of Tech 2016 Silicon Theory podcast (and you really should), you probably know where I’m going.  Let’s talk a little bit about the OnePlus 3T.

When released in November of last year, the OnePlus 3T had top of the line specs.  We’re talking a Snapdragon 821 processor, 6GB of RAM, and either 64/128GB of internal storage (but no SD card slot)  Its packing a 5″ 1080p display (1080×1920) and a 16MP rear camera and a very nice 3400mah battery that should have no issues getting you through a full day of use.  Check out the full rundown of specs over at GSMArena here.  And as we touched upon in the Best of Tech 2016 pod, this phone is a great value starting at a very reasonable $439 unlocked.  Now, it is a GSM only phone, which means it will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile (and their MVNO resellers) so sorry Verizon and Sprint folks – you can’t get your hands on this one.  
This phone works great, has a quality display, and solid battery life.  It was the Favorite phone of 2016 from Droid Life and the Verge hailed it as “the best smartphone value you can buy.”  No small praise indeed.  OnePlus is a smaller OEM, and they certainly aren’t going to sell as many phones as Samsung, Google, or Apple – but they are competing in the same market as the phones from these makers, and that’s a big deal for a small company.  Android Police had a balanced take on the 3T (which you can read here) but even they agree – many won’t bat an eye at the price point when compared to other phones on the market.   
the OnePlus 3T, Apple iPhone, and Google Pixel
The OnePlus 3T also features a really fast fingerprint scanner, Dash Charging (OnePlus’ version of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge or the Rapid Charging in USB Type-C devices), and a 16MP front facing camera too.  It doesn’t offer an SD card slot (as noted above) or any water resistance rating, but with a 128GB option and a solid case some might not mind so much.  A solid smartphone with 90% of the features and options of the big boys, but at just a little over 50% of the price.  I think its fair to say this OnePlus 3T is a really great mobile device, and many people with a GSM carrier should give it a long look.
All that’s why the OnePlus 3T is the best phone you’ve never heard of.  For more information, or to pick one up, head over to the OnePlus website and get after it.
Cheers!

[Podcast] Episode 17 – January Rumor Roundup

Yes – another episode of the Silicon Theory Podcast is uploaded and this time, its all about the rumors surrounding the new phones for 2017.  We talk offerings from Samsung, Apple, and others.  There is a lot going on, and the leaks are coming fast and furious but we take a look at everything that’s relevant for those of you who are looking for new devices this year.  And man…there could be a great selection to choose from.
We explore all of that and more in the latest episode.  Be sure to subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or SoundCloud to get all the newest episodes!

[Podcast] 2017’s first episode is here! Best of Tech 2016

2017 is here, but we wanted to take a bit of time to look back at some of the rich achievements in the word of technology in 2016.  It was a great year, and so we celebrate some of those companies that produced superior quality products in the last 365.  Be sure to download/stream and subscribe to make sure you get notifications for all the latest episodes.  We are back on the grind after the holidays so more good stuff is headed in the direction of your ears!

Find us on Soundcloud, iTunes, and Google Play!

Mobile phone cases 101

Again, since its a new year, I thought I might try something new and go with a basic review of some things that we get a lot of questions about: mobile phone cases.  There is a lot of confusion about the style of cases and the materials that are used, so I shot a quick video now published on our YouTube channel (be kind, as I’m pretty sure I hadn’t showered and my hair is a wreck); its about a 6 minute discussion around a few different styles of cases, what they are made of, and the one I’m using right now and why.

Check the link, and hopefully we’ll be doing more of these…so feel free to click the subscribe button to subscribe to the Silicon Theory channel on YouTube.
 

Feel free to leave comments and if you have anything else you’d like to see us review, hit us up here, on Twitter (@silicontheory) or at our inbox at silicontheory@gmail.com

[Special Feature] I love tech: Google Photos

One of the most underrated ideas that Google has tossed out in the last few years has been that cloud storage for photos can be easy, fast, and better than local storage for most practical purposes.  Things like internal memory on your phone can crap out, and external media like and SD card can fail or be lost.  And (lets be honest) most people are either too busy/lazy or not technically savvy enough to use an external hard drive for backing up the precious memories we capture every day in photos and videos.  Enter Google Photos, which (while in its infancy) was still a nice app to use, but in its present form may be the most powerful and useful way to save and organize your photos.

Photos is a way to save, view, organize, and search all your visual media.  It does all these things through 4 major components:  search, assistant, photos, and albums.  I’ll touch on a few key features of each and how it plays a role in making Google Photos your must have app for pics and videos



Search: Google leverages its machine learning and search algorithms on your behalf pretty much everywhere, but in Photos it goes to a whole new level.  You can search for dates or times, but its also smart enough to try to register events (like birthdays) or holidays (like Christmas) based on clues that are present in pictures from those types of moments.  Its almost scary how good it is at finding those things from your timeline.  Faces can also be used to search, but its most helpful if you take the time to label just who the people in your pictures are.  But once that’s done, you can type in the name of your sister – and Google will find just pictures your sister appears in.  It can also search for locations (based on the geotag info if included in the picture) and can also be expanded to search for just videos, selfies, screenshots, or even movies.  What are movies if not videos?  I’m glad you asked…because that’s related to the next feature of Google Photos you need to have:  Assistant

Assistant:  not an assistant in the sense of the Google Assistant that resides in the Pixel phones or the Google Home product – but just the photos assistant, and its a doozy.  Assistant at its basic level ensures that you have on-going backups of your photos and videos (and can do so while on mobile date or Wi-Fi only, for those of you on data sensitive mobile plans) but moves behind that to generate fun other instances created by your photos – these include animations built from multiple photos, collages of multiple photos, as well as generating short movies (collections of photos and videos grouped by similar events or time periods, set to a musical soundtrack) for your review and enjoyment.  It does all of these things automatically, although you can also self generate any of the animations, collages, and movies if you choose to.  One other thing the assistant does is group together like photos into albums; collections that you can review and share if you choose to.
Albums:  are just that – groups of photos and videos sorted and grouped into a common place and given a default name for you to search for or organize by.  Albums are a great way to collect groups of pictures that might otherwise just be clustered together in a date or time.  I (probably like most folks) might not remember when I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific (for example) but if I search for an album called “aquarium” I’m confident Google could find that album for me and present it in short order.  Albums also can be shared with multiple people, easily if they are another Google user but even folks who are on iOS can access these photos.  Similar to Apple’s “Photo Stream” service this allows you to have folks included in the pictures you share to that album, and provides them with a notification when new pictures are added, making things like getting caught up with family a lot easier.  And more enjoyable. 

Photos:  while this is the default tab where you view your pictures and videos, even this most basic functionality is enlivened by doing things like enlarging certain images or videos to give what would normally be just row after row of thumbnails some more visual interest.  And that’s not a bad thing at all.  Having a larger thumbnail or two in there can spark a memory or remind you of that particular event.  And even if its not what you are searching for, it might help drive you in the right direction if its closer or further from the event you were actually looking for.
Because I am one, I can also tell you that Pixel phone owners also receive an added benefit: photos and videos saved to Google Photos remain in the native resolution.  As as our technology driven world moves faster towards things like HD, Ultra HD, and 4k – having uncompressed backups of your images is certainly a great perk to have.  Not having a Pixel doesn’t mean awful things however; Google will still back up your media in either “high quality” (which grants you access to unlimited storage and back up) or a modest amount of native resolution full backups (probably in the 10-20GB range) – but with full resolution backups, that amount will go very quickly.
Hope you enjoyed this overview of why I love the tech that is Google Photos – if you have tech that you enjoy and want us to comment on it, feel free to hit up our inbox at silicontheory@gmail.com.  Cheers!

[Special Feature] Silicon Theories – January Edition

The holiday season is over, and the new year is upon us!  And 2016 was a great year for technology and tech enthusiasts.  We will be having a look back at last year soon, and recap some of the best and worst of the last year, but even though its only January, there is still a lot going on for 2017 too – so let’s take a peek behind the veil, and hit quickly a few things that are kicking off 2017.

  • The 2017 Consumer Electronics Show is happening this week in Las Vegas – and many major OEMs are touting their latest and greatest at their booths and keynotes at this event.  Companies like LG, Xiaomi, NVIDIA, and even T-Mobile are showing out and showing off what they’ve got for us next.  And nothing is off the table: NVIDIA talked about bringing Google Assistant to Android TV and Xiaomi announced a phone that will only be available in China.  You might even see things like motorized luggage that doubles as a scooter for getting you around in tight airports.  Now that’s entertainment.  We’ll take a look at some of the most noteworthy items from CES 2017 after the week’s events are over and done with.  Of note though, most of the bigger players like Google, Apple, and Samsung aren’t at CES – they have their own major announcement events now.
  • Speaking of Samsung; it sounds like the Note 8 may come out at its normally scheduled launch date in 2017 – why would a mega corporation like Samsung let a little thing like exploding phones stop them from keeping on keeping on?  It’s looking like they won’t actually, as the latest rumors have them on pace to launch a new Note device in the latter half of 2017.  Its usually an early Q4 launch (after a late August/early September announcement) and we appear to be heading in that direction.  The new Galaxy line of devices is on track for April of 2017 as well, and even losing millions and millions of dollars isn’t going to stop Samsung from giving the people what they want.  And what they appear to want, is a Galaxy Note.  One that doesn’t halt and catch fire anyway.
  • LG has decided to ditch its modular design in the G5 – in a move that shocked well….no one, LG appears to be ready to move on from the failed experiment that was the modular design of its G-line of phones, the G5.  The concept was interesting; the execution less so.  While even we at Silicon Theory gave credit to LG for trying something new (and praising such performers in the past as the G2 and G3) the G5 was not a stepping stone into a new future for the Korean hardware manufacturer.  The add-on modules dubbed “Friends” were too few in number, not useful enough, and simply not widely enough available to be of any use to anyone.  Perhaps calling them “Acquaintances” would have been more appropriate.  Sometimes being first to the market can be a great thing; other times, its better to wait and let someone else be on the bleeding edge.  Motorola’s execution of modularity far outstrips LG’s, and is far less invasive (since LG required a battery pull every time you wanted to use a Friend) – now, even Motorola isn’t selling a ton of modular phones, so this might be an idea who’s time has not yet come.  For anybody.
That’s the Theories for this month!  If you have ideas on things you’d like to see discussed in future special features, hit up our inbox at silicontheory@gmail.com
Cheers!