Moving from Android to Windows Phone 7 Part 6: The Verdict
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Moving from Android to Windows Phone 7 Part 6: The Verdict



This experiment has come to a close. I will continue to use the HTC Titan, running Windows Phone 7.5, but it will not be my daily driver. This might come as a shock to anyone that knows me already, but I am not ready to return to the Windows Phone (WinMo) camp permanently yet. I did say I have become platform agnostic right?

If you revisit an article I wrote last fall when Windows Phone was released, you will see why I chose Android over Windows Phone. Many of the same concerns still exist, but some were remedied. There has been a lot of progress over the two updates since I wrote that article. Cut and Paste was addressed and Microsoft did a fairly good job with it. Screenshot ability is still lacking. The Marketplace is doing better and has grown fast, but still lacking. Tethering support was just put into play a few weeks ago. After that article, I purchased the iPhone 4 and replaced it with the Motorola Atrix a few months later.

So here we are almost a year later, after 2 weeks of continual Windows Phone 7.5 use and my opinions are basically the same as before. Before hitting the reasons that Windows Phone 7.5 will not be my daily driver, let me talk about the things that make me want to continue using the HTC Titan and Windows Phone. Let me remind everyone, I used to be a BIG supporter of Windows Mobile. Consider that before assuming I am a Microsoft hater.

The Good

The HTC Titan is a beast of a device. I would dare say that the HTC Titan is the best Windows Phone out right now if you don’t mind a larger phone. The hardware is consistent with HTC Quality, very well built. The camera is awesome. The 4.7″ screen is just stunning. I have zero complaints with the HTC Titan. It made using Windows Phone a joy. Kudos HTC. I plan to have my complete review of the HTC Titan online in the next week or two, but this is not the US version available on AT&T’s network.

Yes, I said sexy three times. Windows Phone definitely has curb appeal. I live in Alabama and you don’t see many geeks running around in the streets here. That said, I only really see iPhones and a scattered Android device in the hands of people in Tuscaloosa. In 3 weeks here in Alabama, I have had 3 different people approach me in public settings wanting to get a better look at Windows Phone on the Titan. One of them said, “Wow, what phone is that and how did you get it to look like that?”. They were referring to the Metro interface. I explained that it was Windows Phone and I was shocked to learn that this person didn’t knew Microsoft was still in the smartphone game. I really enjoy the looks of Windows Phone. It’s fresh, convenient, and runs fast.

The integration of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social networks into the People hub is stellar. It’s hands down the best contact system on any mobile OS. Allowing apps to run in the background now allows live tiles to keep you updated with data right on the home screen. Toast notifications are great as well.

I can’t explain how much I love the concept of Zune Pass. I have loved this music consumption model ever since I subscribed to Yahoo Music Service 7-8 years ago and immediately jumped on the Zune Pass train when it launched. The Zune experience on a Windows Phone is getting better with Smart DJ, almost eliminating the need for apps like Pandora, Slacker, and Spotify. I think Microsoft should consider making Zune Pass content available on non-Windows Phone device too.

The Xbox Live experience is awesome and I really like the concept of being able to challenge friends to games across the net. It’s really cool to be able to get Xbox achievement points with a mobile game. I love the seamless Xbox avatar support. The personal touches set it apart from the other mobile OSes. It makes Apple’s game center look like the Atari.

Yes, this one gets to me, but I have to use what works best for me. I have loved being able to relate with all the awesome friends I have made online and in person over the years through my former role as a Windows Mobile Fanboy. Some of my best friends are former Microsoft MVPs like me. Many of them are still avid supporters of Windows Phone. It’s been fun being able to relate to conversations we’ve had on private lists over the last couple of weeks. I still have a soft spot in my heart of Microsoft and I truly want to see them succeed in this market. I will continue to cheer for Windows Phone.

The Bad

My must have apps

The Marketplace itself is not bad, it’s just the fairly small amount of apps available, comparatively speaking of course. The Marketplace just went over 40,000 apps last week. Compare that to 500,000+ for iOS and 300,000+ for Android. Sure, quantity doesn’t always equal quality, but not all 40k apps in the Marketplace are high quality either. I look forward to seeing Windows Phone app selection grow and right now, the growth is quicker than what the Android Market saw at this point.

Windows Phone has a ton of really good, mainstream apps available right now, but that’s not what is going to set them apart. When you hear commercials or visit a website that mentions “their” app, 99% of the time it’s sounds something like this, “Make sure to download our app for your iPhone or Android device!”. That is disheartening to say the least. Talking with app developers, most of them say that they will start developing for Windows Phone when they gain a larger market share. Well, I think they are going to have a hard time getting more market share without a larger app portfolio.

What are some of the apps you need that are missing for Windows Phone?
For me, it’s Pandora, SiriusXM, Fantasy Football, ESPN Fantasy Football, and a few others.

Based on feedback from friends, here are some other highly desired apps missing from the Windows Phone portfolio:

  • VPN client
  • Waze
  • Zinio
  • SiriusXM (SatRadPlayer 3rd party)
  • Xfinity
  • HBO Go
  • Max Go
  • Showtime
  • Sonos (Fonos 3rd party)
  • Mint
  • Tweetdeck
  • Harmony Remote control app
  • Dropbox client
  • client
  • Square (reader support for reading credit cards)
  • Business card reader that allows writing to People Hub (no API currently available only work around is to save to a gmail contact)

For the most part, the browser rocks. For video support, not so much. Many sites I encountered that had video embedded were not able to play the video. I would click the link to the video, it would open the video player and prompt me with an error stating that the video couldn’t be played. That is very annoying. Youtube videos work fine, but other providers are hit or miss.

Notifications have gotten better with Windows Phone as compared to the initial release last fall, but they still don’t stack up to Android and iOS. I want to be able to know right away when someone talks to or about me on Twitter. Mehdoh, a leading 3rd party Twitter client, does this, but it only checks every 30 minutes. I want to know right away. I also want to know when something happens on Facebook. I want audible notifications when things happen online that I need to know about. I don’t want to have to pull my phone out to check for these events every 5 minutes.

Volume control in Android

Maybe this is a minor gripe, but when you come from Android to Windows Phone, it’s quite noticeable.  Windows Phone has a master volume controlling all sounds. Let’s say I am at a doctor’s office playing some Full House Poker and I have the volume down really low to keep from bothering others in the waiting room. I get called back and toss my phone in my pocket. I complete my visit and head on down the road. My wife calls, but I don’t hear it. Why? Because I have my volume set to 2/30 still. With Android, I can leave the ring volume up high and have the game down low. Problem solved. Windows Mobile had separate volume sliders, but not Windows Phone.

Short and simple, Bing works but not as good as Google Navigation. I tried it, it works, but the experience just doesn’t measure up.


Ultimately, the choice is Android right now. I will continue to keep a close eye on Windows Phone as the Marketplace fills up and apps become available. I will report here on GBM as new Windows Phone apps of note pop up too. The bottom line, there are apps I miss with Android an as shallow as it sounds, they are deal breakers. The lack of a full lineup SiriusXM app alone negates all the awesomeness Windows Phone 7 does provide. I use it more than I thought I did.
In addition to app support, I really missed Swype.

Bottom line, app support is lacking. Give it another 6 months or so, and I think Microsoft will be cooking with bacon.

Android, iOS, and Windows Phone – All three are capable!
Being someone that has been able to enjoy all three of them, I can say without hesitation that all three are very capable smartphone platforms. Android and iOS have a huge lead in app support, but the core functionality of the base OS is great on all three. Without the need for 3rd party apps, I think I could get by just fine with any of them and an average use definitely could. I believe that the non-geek users, if given a chance, could have just as good experience on Windows Phone than they do with the iPhone.

UPDATE 12/7/2011

This series is technically over but there is an update I’d like to share. In the final article in my series, I mentioned that I was going to return to Android and that I had gone out and purchased the Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Well, that was short lived. I missed Android, my key apps, and Swype during the time I was using the HTC Titan. After moving my simm card from the Titan to the new Skyrocket, it took all of 3 days for me to miss the Titan. On December 2nd, I tweeted that I was going to go back to the Titan. I did and I returned the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket today.

Follow my adventures!

I want to thank HTC  for providing the review unit that I will be using for this adventure. This HTC Titan is an overseas model and not the version that will be available in the US on November 20th, 2011.


  1. John Barone

    11/30/2011 at 11:32 am

    Thank you for doing the comparison series.  Believe it or not, it is sometimes a hard deciding what phone to get next, especially if it is on contract.  Make a mistake, and you’re stuck for at least 18mo (unless you want to pay a small fortune for a new one).  But I can’t stand my Backflip for even a minute more (we’ll call it a mistake even though that was the only Android smartphone available on AT&T at the time)…

    So I’ve decided to take a flier on Windows Phone and ordered a Titan.  The current lack of apps is indeed disturbing.  I will definitely miss some apps, especially the Starbucks app, the Fios DVR control app, and mSpot.  But I had to toss apps overboard when I switched from my trusty Treo 680 to the Backflip (e.g., PocketQuicken) so I know that I will survive somehow.   And just because Android has an app doesn’t mean that it always works right; e.g., the official Sirius Android app always bails on me after about 15 min or so of use so I can’t use it much anyways.

    But I know I won’t miss my phone rebooting (on occasion) when I get a phone call.  And I hope not to see the words “force close” or a low battery warning after only a few hours of use for a long while…

    If nobody buys these phones then the apps won’t come.  So I decided to buy the phone and hope that the apps will follow…  I just couldn’t resist the beauty and the elegance of the OS.

    • Chris Leckness

      11/30/2011 at 4:28 pm

      You will love the hardware for sure. The OS is solid, but that whole app thing… :) Enjoy the phone!

  2. Anonymous

    11/30/2011 at 11:45 am

    Tried out my brother’s Windows Phone last week end: These are, litterally, the frist 2 mins I spent with WinPhone:

    – Home page: start at the top, scroll it upwards to see more apps
    – Now go see Photo Galleries… galleries list starts at the bottom, scroll it downwards to see more galleries.
    – Now open a gallery… scroll it sideways to see more photos.

    My 2 minutes conclusion: MS legendary ergonomy, translated to a touch OS.

    I mean COME ON !!??!!?? Are they full-on idiots, or full-on perverts ? Maybe, both ? I’m not spending more time on a OS that can’t even decide on… which way to scroll lists.

    • WP7 & Lovin It

      11/30/2011 at 1:29 pm

      I have no idea whay you’re talking about.  The scrolling is very intuitive.  When you say Galleries, what do you mean? Albums, people, date, or camera roll pictures? 

    • Chris Leckness

      11/30/2011 at 4:29 pm

      I have no problem with the scrolling and like WP7 & Lovin It said, it’s quite intuitive. I can’t knock the scrolling. The UI is fresh and new. That part I love. 

  3. Anonymous

    11/30/2011 at 9:16 pm

  4. Darren Policella

    12/01/2011 at 10:35 am

    Very fair review.  I tend to agree with most of your observations. I have a Samsung Focus and the master volume setting is one of my biggest issues.  You do however come across a bit narcissistic about the notifications.  Then again, I don’t do Facebook or Twitter so perhaps its me.

    • Chris Leckness

      12/01/2011 at 11:43 am

      The notifications I am referring to are in fact for Facebook and twitter, so ya. :-)

      Thanks for the positive comments. I like knowing that our opinions are welcome.

  5. Sskysshark82

    12/01/2011 at 5:57 pm

    Completely enjoyed your 6 part review, the phone you reviewed was the one I was most interested in!! Darn shame; I’m on Verizon. As far as Zune playing on other devices I listen to my Zune Pass on my Droid X. You have to download it through Windows media. Just a thought….of course no DJ. 

  6. Vmac

    12/15/2011 at 5:37 am

    I’ve been running with the original Focus for just a little over a year, now. As much as I love the phone and always find a reason to play with it, it did and still does have some short comings. With that said, as long as MS continues to “Put People First”, as their ads suggests and continue to listen to the feedback, in order to improve those things that work or don’t work, WP7 will be just fine, Consider MS’s entry into the home gaming consoles. Nobody ever thought they would be number one in the US. They continued to listen and improve. So, it certainly makes it very possible that WP7 could do the same.

    Let’s move on to SkyDrive. This is on of the things that I’ve come to appreciate on my Focus. Being able to save documents, photos and music to the Cloud is nice and with the recent release of their SkyDrive app, makes it even more usable. There are however, a few things I would like to see improved and I’m confident that they will get improved. First, streaming music is nice and flawless. However, I have not been able to let it continue to play in the back ground, while I do something else and there is no way to select more than one song at a time to stream. I think you can check multiple songs going through the browser itself but, I haven’t tried it. But, the app itself clearly doesn’t. The other issue I have is, opening documents doesn’t open in the native Office app. Instead, it directs you to a web browser. In short, you would be better off accessing documents on the SkyDrive from Office. The app does allow you to create and delete folders and I would love to see the app features baked into the OS in the Tango update. Maybe, even intergrate SkyDrive into Zune, so you can stream music from there. Hey, why not? Makes since to me.

    I’m not going to sit here and say that WP7 is for everyone but, I will say that everyone looking for a new phone should at least give it a try. I also understatnd that the fanboys of other platforms will most likely find something and everything wrong with it. As for popular apps, there’re getting there. Especially, with the new update to the Xbox 360. I don’t imagine a whole lot of apps on a gaming console but, I could be wrong. This actually could be a big opportunity for MS to push for those same apps to developed on WP7, if they aren’t already doing so. It just kind of makes since to me. If they are pushing unifying the ecosystems of their platforms, this would be the best move. Remember, developers will be developing for the number one selling gaming system, right now and it might be a bit of an inspiration to develope for the phone, too.

    Just a thought.

  7. Anonymous

    01/24/2012 at 5:19 am

    Skydroid to offer a Windows 8 user interface on Android

  8. Fred G. Vader

    04/02/2012 at 1:31 pm

    Chris, just curious to know which features of WP7/Titan it was that caused you to go back?  I’m keeping an eye on WP7.  There are some aspects I really like about it – primarily the speed and smoothness of the UI (plus being a C# dev I’m really hoping it takes off so I can move into the mobile arena and stick with C# though Xamarin lets you do cross platform but I’m rambling).  I think after a couple more major updates it will definitely be ready to compete with Android/iOS.  I kind of like the fact that MS is behind in the market.  It’s making them pull out all the stops instead of piece-mealing out features like Apple does.  But again would really be interested to know what you missed about the Titan/WP7, thanks!

  9. bamapig

    05/25/2012 at 4:56 pm

    can you play online poker from this phone such as carbon poker ?

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Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S8: Worth the Upgrade?



The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the best phones money can buy right now as we head into the holidays and 2020. In this guide we’ll go over everything that’s new, what changed, and how the Galaxy S10 compares to the Galaxy S8 for those looking to upgrade.

If you still own the Galaxy S8 it’s likely starting to show its age and nearly three years old. That said, they’re still capable phones with great cameras, run Android 9 Pie, and will likely see Android 10 next year. Just because there is something new doesn’t mean you need to upgrade.

Samsung’s latest Galaxy S10 delivers a bigger edge-to-edge display, no bezels, triple rear cameras, a camera cutout in the screen, blazingly fast performance and much longer battery life. Here’s why you should or shouldn’t upgrade.

In 2018 Samsung released the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+. Both phones had big curved screens with powerful cameras and a sleek design, and while they were great, not much changed compared to the Galaxy S8. They were almost identical. Nothing really changed on the Galaxy Note 9 either. Which is why a lot of people still have a Galaxy S8.

This year though, the Galaxy 10 has some major changes that makes it actually worth upgrading to for almost everyone. From the screen sizes, fingerprint scanner inside the screen, battery life, up to five cameras and more. Changes worth paying for. Personally, battery life alone makes it worth the upgrade, especially because a 3-year old Galaxy S8 likely doesn’t hold its charge like it used to.

Samsung actually released four different Galaxy S models in 2019. Those being a Galaxy S10e, the regular S10, a slightly bigger Galaxy S10+, and a massive 6.7-inch Galaxy S10 5G. We’ll only focus on the regular and plus model, although Galaxy S8 owners might be happy with the S10e if they’re on a budget.

If you’re still rocking an older Galaxy and are trying to decide if you need an upgrade this holiday season, or if you should wait for the Galaxy S11, this is the right place. Our slideshow below has tons of helpful information, comparisons, pricing info and details for buyers or those planning to upgrade.

Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S8: Display

Galaxy S10 vs Galaxy S8: Display

If you have a Galaxy S8 or the Galaxy S8 Plus, upgrading to the Galaxy S10 will be a pretty big upgrade. Even if you don't want a bigger phone, you'll still love the options available. Plus, you'll get a bigger screen in a device that's nearly the same size as before. 

  • Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch Quad-HD Curved AMOLED Display
  • Galaxy S10 has a bigger 6.1-inch Quad-HD Curved AMOLED Display
  • or, get the Galaxy S10e with a 5.8-inch flat display

The S10 has a punch-hole cutout in the screen to house the front-facing camera (but no notch, like an iPhone) which allows for a bigger screen in the same size package as the Galaxy S8. 

The regular Galaxy S10 is roughly the exact same size as the Galaxy S8 and S9, but you get a much bigger screen. That's because they've removed the black bar (bezels) on the top and bottom (well, made them thinner) and stretched the screen further to the sides. Plus, the camera is inside the screen, with a circle cutout around it. That's how they delivered a bigger screen in the same space. Basically, it'll feel the same in your hands only be bigger and better. 

Plus, there is a cheaper Galaxy S10E with a 5.8-inch FLAT screen. It's a substantial upgrade over the Galaxy S8, has a similar screen size in a smaller package, dual rear cameras and it is only $649. 

Also, there's no fingerprint scanner on the back, up by the camera, in a hard to reach spot either. With this model, Samsung put a super fancy ultrasonic fingerprint sensor inside the screen. Yes, under the display and completely invisible. You simply touch the screen near the bottom middle, and it'll unlock securely and safely. If you've enjoyed several Samsung phones, you'll feel right at home with the fingerprint scanner in the front like old times. 

The bigger screen, in-display fingerprint scanner, and punch-hole cutout for the camera are the biggest changes to the slightly larger 6.1-inch screen in the Galaxy S10. Well, that and the highly improved cameras. 

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OnePlus 7 Pro vs Pixel 4 XL: Which One to Buy?



There are several excellent phones available in 2019 like the OnePlus 7 Pro and Galaxy Note 10. However, now that the Google Pixel 4 XL is here your decision just got more difficult. If you’re debating buying one of these phones, here’s what you need to know about both and how the two compare.

Both of these phones run nearly stock Android, but that’s about it. Everything else about the screen, cameras, battery, and specs are much different. So, if you’ve waited patiently, Pixel 4 is almost here then you can buy what suits you best.

Either way, these are still your two best options when it comes to stock Android and a powerful smartphone in the second half of 2019. Yes, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 is great, the Note 10 is too, and so is the Huawei P30, but if you want clean stock Android, these are your choices.

For the first time ever OnePlus released two phones to start the year but only the flagship OnePlus 7 Pro is available in the United States. However, the OnePlus 7T is a pretty great option too.

On October 15th Google delivered two new Pixel 4 devices that arrive on the 22nd of October. What this all boils down to is that a lot of great phones are here or coming, and you’ll have your pick between multiple screen sizes, specs, number of cameras and price points this year.

Our slideshow below goes over everything we know about both and how they compare. That way you can decide whether or not you’ll buy the OnePlus 7 Pro this holiday season, or choose the Pixel 4 XL instead.

OnePlus 7 Pro vs Pixel 4 XL: Display (and notch)

OnePlus 7 Pro vs Pixel 4 XL: Display (and notch)

The screen size and notch is probably the most important part of your purchase decision. Well, aside from maybe the cameras and price tag. So, here's the difference between these devices. 

  • OnePlus 7 Pro: 6.67-inch Quad HD 90Hz AMOLED Display
  • Pixel 4 XL: 6.3-inch Quad-HD AMOLED 90 Hz "Smooth Display"
  • 5.7-inch 1080p 90 Hz on regular Pixel 4

 The OnePlus 7 Pro is ALL screen on the front. There's no notch, camera cutout, nothing. It's 100% screen using all of that 6.67-inch space. They've managed that by putting the front-facing camera inside a mechanical pop-up slider notch. Then, they've embedded the sensors and earpiece into the metal frame. It's a beautiful design as you can see from our photos here. 

As for Google's Pixel 4 XL, no one liked the huge notch on the 3XL so Google went back to 2017 and returned the forehead above the screen. There's a big black bezel at the top of the phone for the cameras, sensors, face unlock and speaker. There's no notch or cutout, but there is a bezel. However, the rest of the screen is edge-to-edge and looks pretty good. 

And did we mention that just like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Google's Pixel 4 series has a screen with a 90Hz refresh rate? That means it refreshes the display 90 times per second, compared to only 60Hz on most devices. Even the Galaxy S10 is only a 60Hz screen. It makes the OnePlus 7 and Pixel 4 look and feel super-fast, smooth, and crisp. 

These two devices are closer than you think, except for the popup camera. 

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OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: 14 Ports, 1 Cable, Nearly Perfect



The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port is the best upgrade to my home office and mobile workflow this year. With all the ports I need and a few that I can grow into, this Thunderbolt 3 dock offers all the I/O ports I need, connects to my MacBook Pro with one cable and even charges the 15-inch MacBook Pro as fast as a standard Apple Charger.

Even after trading in a few hard drives for a NAS, I still have a plethora of accessories and monitors that I use with my MacBook Pro at my desk. Without the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock I would need to invest in multiple adapters, cables and there would be a lot of plugging and unplugging anytime I wanted to use my MacBook Pro in a new setting. With the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock I can run multiple displays, connect to my speakers and the myriad of other accessories in seconds, and leave my desk just as fast. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port earns a Gotta Be Mobile Editors Choice Award for the plethora of ports, great placement and overall value.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port is $299, which may seem expensive, but it’s in line with other Thunderbolt 3 docks and if you compare it with the cost of buying a charger for your desk and all the adapters it’s a great value.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port Design

Nice design with ports on the front for easy access. Nice design with ports on the front for easy access.

Nice design with ports on the front for easy access.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port is available in silver or space gray with a metal body and a black top. The build quality is great and it looks nice enough that you can leave it on the desk to use all the ports without trying to hide it. There are very grippy feet on the bottom which keep it in place. I would prefer a full metal design since the black gloss top shows dust easily.

I like that five of the ports are on the front, including a USB C port that is capable of fast charging, SD card and Micro SD card slots as well as a standard USB port and a headphone jack. This lets me use many of the accessories I need without reaching behind and trying to find a specific spot to plug something in.

The only issue I ran into with the dock design is the Thunderbolt 3 cord included with it, is on the short side, which would require me to change my desk setup. I was able to use a longer cord, but it would be nice to see OWC include a longer cable so you can use this in more setups right out of the box.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock Ports

Loads of ports offer you all the connectivity you need.

Loads of ports offer you all the connectivity you need.

As the name implies there are 14 ports on the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock. Five ports are on the front and nine ports are on the back. If you need more ports, you can attach a USB hub to this, which is the only addition I needed. You can use the included ports to connect to a 4K or a 5K display using the Thunderbolt 3 port or the Mini DisplayPort.

You’ll need to use one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect to your laptop, and you can use the other to connect to a Thunderbolt 3 device and then daisy chain other devices to the dock.

On the back of the dock are nine ports including;

  • 2x Thunderbolt 3 Ports
  • Mini DisplayPort 1.2
  • 4x USB 3.1 Type A
  • SDPIF Digital Audio out
  • Gigabit Ethernet
I love these ports on the front.

I love these ports on the front.

On the front of the dock there are several ports that are very handy to have easy access to including;

  • USB 3.1 Type C
  • USB 3.1 Type A
  • Headphone Jack (3.5mm)
  • SD card reader
  • Micro SD card reader

As someone who routinely needs to use both SD cards and micro SD cards the ability to connect either without another adapter is very handy, and a very nice inclusion. The only port missing that many people may want is a HDMI port.

The power port is on the back, and the power block is big, but I used 3M strips to secure it to the bottom of my desk for a clean look. It’s a good trade-off for the ability to charge your MacBook Pro as fast as the standard Apple charger.

Using the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 port fits perfectly into my home office.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 port fits perfectly into my home office.

I’ve been using the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock 14 port with the 15-inch MacBook Pro for several months and with several Windows notebooks. The dock works very well, and you can use the free OWC Dock Ejector to quickly and safely disconnect.

I’ve been using the dock with a 4K display and an ultrawide display. While this dock supports a 5K display it is not something we tested. You can also use two 4K displays, but you may need a Thunderbolt 3 adapter since there is no HDMI out. Since I use a number of USB accessories I also have a USB hub connected to the dock, but there are enough useful ports for most users.

It’s great to quickly connect to all my accessories at my desk, charge at full power and then disconnect one cable and go mobile.

Is the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port Worth Buying?

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port Review
Loads of value and plenty of ports, works with 4K, and 5K monitors plus Mac and PC compatibility.
What You'll Love
Metal design that looks nice and stays put.
Tons of ports you'll actually use.
85W charging handles the most demanding notebooks.
Front facing ports take it to the next level.
Great value.
What Needs Work
Included Thunderbolt 3 cable is short.
Gloss black top shows dust.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 port is definitely worth buying. It includes tons of ports that you will actually use, works with 4K monitors or a 5K monitor and there are useful ports on the front so you aren’t constantly reaching behind to try to plug or unplug anything.

It’s a better value than the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD that I tested before this thanks to the memory card slots and additional ports. The OWC dock also works with Windows laptops, which is a plus. Rounding out the reasons this dock is worth buying is the two-year warranty.

Buy the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 14 Port at Amazon, OWC and B&H Photo for $299.

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Google Pixel Slate: Everything You Need to Know



Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s new Pixel Slate and when you can buy one. This device is Google’s latest tablet and its vision for the future of Chrome OS. In a market dominated by the iPad Pro or Surface Pro 6, Google’s Pixel Slate is an exciting new tablet computer with plenty to offer.

Whether that’s the fancy 12.3-inch HD display, the backlight detachable keyboard, Pixelbook Pen, or access to millions of Android apps, Google’s Pixel Slate is well positioned as an excellent tablet/PC experience. If you’re interested in this new device here’s the Pixel Slate release date, specs, features, price and more.

  • Pixel Slate is a powerful new tablet and laptop 2-in-1 running Chrome OS
  • Available now for pre-order, with an estimated November 22nd release date
  • The Pixel Slate starts at $599 and has an optional backlit keyboard cover and Pixel Pen
  • Optional upgrades push the price to $1,600 with a powerful Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256 SSD

Now that we’ve gone over the basics and highlighted some key facts, here’s everything else you’ll want to know.

Pixel Slate Release Date & Pre-Orders

In a surprise turn of events, Google’s Pixel Slate is available now for pre-order, with an estimated release date (and ship date) of November 22nd. That’s from both the Google Store and Best Buy. Initially, the company said it’ll arrive “later this year” but you can order it right now.

Soon you’ll be able to buy one starting at $599 from the Google Play Store, partner retail stores, and anywhere Chromebooks are typically sold. For now, here are links to get the Slate and some accessories.

For what it’s worth, Best Buy said it’ll ship with a delivery on November 22nd, the release date. Google’s own store says it’ll ship in 2-3 weeks. These dates are subject to change.

Pixel Slate Specifications

If this device wants to replace your laptop or compete with the Surface Pro 6 it needs some serious power under the hood. Thankfully, Google offers a slew of options along with a base package starting at $599. Here’s a quick and easy list of what to expect.

  • 12.3-inch 3,000 x 2,000 Resolution Polycrystalline Silicon LCD Display (293 PPI)
  • Intel Celeron up to optional 8th-gen Intel Core i7
  • Between 4GB & 16GB of RAM choices
  • 32GB to 256GB of internal SSD Storage
  • Chrome OS
  • 8 MP Rear f/1.8 Pixel camera, 8MP f/1.9 aperture wide-angle front Google Duo cam
  • 7mm thin and only 1.6 pounds (without keyboard)
  • Loud dual front-firing speakers
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Fingerprint Scanner power button
  • Battery: 48 watt-hour
  • Two USB-C ports, Pixel accessory connector (keyboard dock), 4K display output
  • Linux app support, more

“Google Pixel Slate is a completely new experience. It isn’t a laptop trying to be a tablet, or a phone trying to be a computer,”  “or a tablet that’s really a phone pretending to be a computer.” — Trond Wuellner (Google)

In a quick jab at the iPad Pro, Google made sure to mention that the Pixel Slate runs an all-new version of  Chrome OS. Software designed from the ground-up for this type of experience vs something like iOS blown up on a tablet. Basically, this is Google’s best tablet ever released, and the first one from the company in three years.

Pixel Slate Pricing & Specs Breakdown

To make things simple for potential buyers, here’s a breakdown of what you’ll get from the $599 model and the other options available from Google.

  • $599 (4GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® Celeron processor)
  • $699 (8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® Celeron processor)
  • $799 (8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM m3 processor)
  • $999 (8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM i5 processor)
  • $1599 (16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM i7 processor)

The internal hardware and specs aren’t much of a surprise, nor is the display. They’re essentially the exact same thing you’ll find from the Microsoft Surface lineup, or even Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1. That’s not a bad thing though, as you have more than enough options to find exactly what fits your needs.

It’s the Pixel Slate’s powerful and redesigned version of ChromeOS that may separate it from the competition. Delivering built-in virus protection, automatic instant updates, access to Android apps and Google’s new Titan security chipset layer.

You’ll likely want a Pixel Slate with a little more power than the base $599 model, plus the prices mentioned above do not include the optional folio Pixel Slate keyboard cover and pen. Here’s a little more information on those for buyers.


The Pixel Slate Keyboard is $199 while the Slate Pen will run you $99. Expect a slew of 3rd party keyboards and accessories from popular manufacturers like Brydge, who offers an excellent keyboard that is hopefully more affordable than Google’s.

Final Thoughts

So far Google’s new Pixel Slate looks pretty great. It’s the first tablet from the company in nearly three years, not to mention adds Linux app support and fingerprint authentication to Chrome OS. However, we’ll have to wait for reviews and getting it ourselves before we say anything further.

Read: 17 Best Surface Pro 6 Alternatives

And while the backlit keyboard looks great we’re not sure about those round keys that Google promises are extremely quiet.

Google’s Pixel Slate is only listed in Midnight Blue, and you’ll get three months of YouTube TV free with your purchase. As soon as we learn more or it’s officially released we’ll update this post with all the details.

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Optoma UHD51A Review: 4K Projector With Alexa & Google Assistant Voice Control



The Optoma UHD51A is a 4K projector with support for voice control with Alexa or Google Assistant to switch inputs, display modes and other common features.

In addition to delivering easy control for anyone in your family, something not all projectors and home theater systems can promise, the Optoma UHD51A delivers a very good-looking picture and does an impressive job of immersing you in 4K movies and games.

The Optoma UHD51A is a 4K projector with support for Google Assistant or Alexa.

The Optoma UHD51A is a 4K projector with support for Google Assistant or Alexa.

The Optoma UHD51A delivers 4K with pixel shifting to achieve 4K resolution on your projector screen. It’s similar to the Optoma UHD50, which is $300 cheaper, but it includes Frame Interpolation, Full 3D support and includes a built-in USB player that is capable of 4K video playback. With a WiFi dongle you can even use it as a wireless display for your phone. I like that the UHD51A includes two HDMI ports capable of supporting 4K HDR content.

The Optoma UHD51A is available at Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers for $1,699.

Optoma UHD51A Review
The Optoma UHD51A is an affordable 4K projector that delivers a great looking image and offers easy to use voice controls.
What You'll Love
Clear, bright picture with loads of detail
Very good HDR performance for a projector.
Two 4K capable HDMI ports plus USB port to play local 4K content
Two year warranty included
What Needs Work
Limited lens adjustment options for complicated installations
Input lag makes it an imperfect option for enthusiast gamers

Setting Up the Optoma UHD51A

The Optoma UHD51A is easy to set up and offers several controls that help you adjust it to your media room. The UHD51A is bright enough to use with ambient light, but you’ll want to keep it closer than in a room where you can control all the lighting.

I mounted the Optoma UHD51A to my basement ceiling, but it is small enough that you could set it up on a small coffee table and then move it out-of-the-way or take it to a friend’s house. It’s not a super-portable projector, so I’d still opt for a permanent or semi-permanent setup.

The UHD51A is easy to setup and use.

The UHD51A is easy to setup and use.

The UHD51A includes vertical lens shift and 1.3X zoom. This allows you to move the image around to better fit installation in the real world. It’s a useful set of options, but there is no keystone correction. If you need to install with a more complicated position, you may need to look into the Epson 4K projectors that offer more flexibility.

Setting up WiFi and voice control was a challenge at first, but after rebooting everything and resetting WiFi the setup was easy enough to complete.

If you are using a long run of HDMI to get to the UHD51A, you will want to invest in a high quality cable. Cheaper 4K HDMI cables don’t hold up well for long runs with all sources. This isn’t a fault of the projector, simply something you need to consider when using long run of HDMI for a 4K projector.

Watching Movies on the Optoma UHD51A

“Does 4K make a difference when watching movies?” That’s one of the biggest questions I hear from people when they find out I’m testing a new projector or TV.

It’s a definitive yes. UltraHD or 4K content is a major upgrade when watching movies, especially on a large display afforded by a projector. With the higher resolution you’ll see more details in movies that you stream from Netflix, Amazon or that you play from a 4K Blu-Ray.

While watching Ozarks on Netflix, Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime Video and a variety of 4K movies on Netflix the UHD51A delivered an impressive amount of detail with just the right amount of brightness to keep detail even during dark gritty scenes.

Images above from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny and APEX: The Story of the Hypercar

While projectors don’t display HDR in the same way as a 4K TV, the Optoma UHD51A does a very good job of handling HDR content. Overall I’m very satisfied with the picture quality, brightness and colors that the UHD51A delivers when watching movies.

You can also use the UHD51A to watch TV, but in most cases you will not get 4K TV due to limitations from cable or satellite providers. The content still looks good, but it will cement the decision to watch in 4K whenever you can.

This is where the Alexa voice control or Google Assistant voice control shines. With Alexa you can turn on the projector, switch inputs, change display modes and more. It’s not the only way to control it, but it’s a very handy way to simplify turning the projector on and getting it on the right source, It’s handy for other family members who may not want to use a series of remotes. It’s also a cool addition to your smart home.

Optoma includes a small white remote that is easy to find. It’s not backlit, but there aren’t many buttons so it’s easy to remember where the important buttons are. It looks like a remote you’d find on a Roku or similar media player.

The projector isn’t too loud to get in the way of watching movies, but it is audible when mounted above the couch where I sit. The two built-in speakers are OK, but you’ll get a much better experience by connecting to a soundbar or home theater system.

In addition to watching from a Xbox One X or Apple TV 4K, like I did, you can also connect USB drive with 4K content to the director and play it directly.

Gaming on the Optoma UHD51A

In addition to watching movies on the Optoma UHD51A I spent time gaming with the Xbox One X. Gaming on projectors is something that some gamers won’t even think of due to higher input lag. The UHD51A input lag is 60 to 71 ms according to various tests. This is about triple the Vizio TV that I typically game on, and rather high for gaming.

This can make a difference in fast paced online shooters, but if you play single player games like Assassin’s Creed Origins or casual games it isn’t going to be as big of an issue. The UHD51A is great for casual gaming and provided a fun way to play the Nintendo Switch on a big screen, but ultimately it’s not the first choice for playing fast paced online shooters due to the input lag.

The only change I had to make to use my Xbox One X with the Optoma UHD51A was connecting it with a shorter HDMI cable, as the cable I had wasn’t up to the task with the Xbox One X. The same cable worked fine for my Apple TV 4K, so the Xbox One X was the culprit. This is worth mentioning because the Xbox One X can be finicky with 4K devices, especially projectors.

Once I connected my Xbox One X with the included HDMI cable I was up and running with 4K gaming on a massive screen. This is an insanely immersive experience for racing games and open world gamers where the world almost blends into the room around you.

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