Monday, May 27, 2013

Unblock-Us Manager Android Application Review

I've been using Unblock-Us for a few months and I'm really a fan of their service especially since it allows me to watch the different Netflix countries video offerings. As mentioned in my previous blog entries on Unblock-Us (I've written about 5 reviews on this service), I'm a Netflix subscriber and I find the additional subscription that I pay for Unblock-Us service to be worthwhile.

I will watch Netflix on my television using mainly two of my Android devices. The first device is my Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android HDMI stick and the second device is my Acer Iconia A100 Android tablet. When I am not at home, I will also occasionally use my Samsung Nexus-S or my LG Nexus-4 to watch some Netflix movies.

The Unblock-Us Manager available from the Google Play Store makes using Unblock-Us and Netflix a lot easier. The developer of the program (Matthias K├Ąppler) is not affiliated with Unblock-Us. In order for this program to work, your Android device must be using the Unblock-Us DNS settings. I've configured my home router to use the Unblock-Us DNS settings so I use the Unblock-Us Manager program mainly to toggle/switch between the different countries before starting up Netflix.

The program is pretty straightforward. After installing it, you must configure the program by entering your e-mail address used for Unblock-Us service and pick the country that you want to use for Netflix. If your Android device is not connected to a wireless router or access point that uses the Unblock-Us DNS settings, you will also have to manually change the DNS settings for your Android device. After doing all of this, you will be able to easily watch the Netflix video selections from any of the 9 countries that Unblock-Us allows (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, & Finland). However, in order to switch between the different countries, it is necessary to fully exit/quit Netflix using either a task manager program or the built-in Apps settings before using Unblock-Us Manager to change the country selection.

I find that the program works very well and I don't have a problem recommending Unblock-Us Manager for anyone who has an Android device and subscribes both to Netflix as well as Unblock-Us. The best thing about this program is that it is free. The Unblock-Us service is also free as a 7 day trial.

Please feel free to read my various other blog entries about Unblock-Us.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Blackberry Playbook Review

I've had my Blackberry Playbook for awhile but since I don't really use it much I never really wrote a review on it. I purchased it at a good price from a RIM emploee when RIM (now Blackberry) was trying to offload them without completely abandoning it (unlike HP which completely abandoned their HP TouchPad line). I thought that now that I upgraded my main e-mailing/texting phone from the Blackberry Bold 9700 to the Blackberry Q10, I should write my thoughts on the Blackberry Playbook.

When I got the Blackberry Playbook, the OS that it shipped with was a version of Blackberry Tablet OS 1.0. In my opinion, it was lacking a lot of features (like a standalone e-mail client, standalone contacts, and standalone calendar). Even though I had a Blackberry Bold 9700 and linked my Blackberry Playbook with it, I wasn't really using my Playbook a lot when compared with either my HP TouchPad or my Acer Iconia A100 Android tablet. The reason for this is that even though I found the browsing experience (and the battery life) to be quite good on the Playbook, the lack of applications was a major factor in my decision. Also, Adobe Reader for the Blackberry Playbook didn't render my PDF documents/files properly (or as nice as) on my HP TouchPad or my Acer Iconia A100 Android tablet (and one of my main uses for my tablets even though I have a Kobo Mini e-reader is that I use them to read PDF books/files).

With Blackberry Tablet OS 2.0, the Playbook has incorporated a lot of other features but the main feature that most people will notice is that it now has a standalone e-mail client, standalone contacts, and standalone calendar program. I find these to be good and easy to set up with my Google account.

The Blackberry Playbook integrates/links with a Blackberry phone very easily and even if your account or your phone doesn't have tethering enabled, you are still able to use the Playbook browser when linked to your Blackberry in order to browse the web. However, you won't have full internet access unless you use tethering.

I find the screen on the Playbook to be very good and vibrant. I also like that it has a micro-HDMI port so that I can plug it into my HD television if I so choose. One of my colleagues at work also has a Blackberry Playbook and uses his mainly to watch movies. I tried watching a movie on it and the movie played without any issues.

I find the virtual keyboard on the Playbook to be "better" than my experience with the virtual keyboard on my HP TouchPad or my Acer Iconia A100 Android tablet. I'm not sure why that is but it just seems more fluid and I make less mistakes using it.

The one thing that I find lacking on the Blackberry Playbook is the lack of applications that I would normally use. According to the statistics that I've looked at, there are over 24,000 applications for the Blackberry Playbook. There are fewer applications for my HP (WebOS) TouchPad but I find that I use my HP TouchPad more often for both the contact/calendar/e-mail applications as well as the browsing and PDF reading ability (because the HP TouchPad renders PDF documents better). Just like the HP TouchPad, the Blackberry Playbook uses Bing Maps instead of Google Maps (I have a preference for Google Maps).

At the discounted price that I purchased my Blackberry Playbook, I find that it is useful for browsing (the browsing experience is very good) and for the occasional watching of videos. I also like the size when compared to my HP TouchPad (which I find a bit too large) and the battery life is also very good. In terms of whether I would recommend getting a Blackberry Playbook, it would depend on the price and what the person plans on doing with it.

I'm hoping that now that I upgraded my main e-mailing/texting phone to a Blackberry OS 10 device (Blackberry Q10) and Blackberry OS 10 is rumoured to be coming out for the Blackberry Playbook, I'll be using my Blackberry Playbook a bit more. Currently my Blackberry Playbook is running 2.1.0.1526.

I've read a few forums showing how to load an Android virtual machine onto the Blackberry Playbook but for the time being, it isn't something that I've tried.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that comments are moderated and any comment that contain a URL link or hyperlink will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Blackberry Q10 Review

As mentioned in my previous 2 "intermediate" blog entries, I managed to get my hands on a Blackberry Q10 and would either spend the time to write this week's blog entry on Blackberry OS 10 or the Blackberry Q10. I've decided to write this blog entry on both.

I've been using a Blackberry Q10 for approximately 1 week so these are my first thoughts about it and they might change as I use it more.

I came from using a Blackberry Bold 9700 which as I mentioned in a previous blog entry was starting to show its age. That Bold 9700, shipped with Blackberry OS 5 and I later upgraded it to Blackberry OS 6 which in hindsight doing this was a big mistake because in my opinion, the Blackberry Bold 9700 was not meant to run Blackberry OS 6. I wanted a phone with an actual keyboard (as opposed to a virtual onscreen keyboard) to replace my Bold 9700. This is one of the reasons why I decided not to purchase the earlier Blackberry Z10 which came out a few months earlier.


The carrier that I deal with had 2 colours (black or white) for the Blackberry Q10. I opted to get the white one which for the time being is rarer than the black one since the black one is available with all the carriers that offer the Blackberry Q10. My Blackberry Q10 shipped with OS 10.1.0.1483. There were no upgrades available at the time that I received my Q10.

In terms of some of the specifications for the Blackberry Q10, it is a dual-core phone that is LTE enabled (unlike the LG Nexus-4 that I got as an upgrade to my Samsung Nexus-S). I find the Q10 to be very fast. The resolution of the screen is 720x720 and it has a 8 megapixel auto-focusing rear camera (the Bold 9900, which I skipped, did not have auto-focusing). The Blackberry Q10 uses a microSIM card from the carrier, has a microSD expansion slot, and a micro-HDMI port for connecting it to a television set. For Wi-Fi, it supports 802.11 a/b/g/n. I didn't have any issues connecting my Blackberry Q10 to any of the access points that I had at home or at work. Most importantly, the Blackberry Q10 has a physical QWERTY keyboard (and a touch screen).

You can get a copy of the Blackberry Q10 user's guide from *HERE*.

One of the main differentiating things between this Blackberry and the previous Blackberries (with the exception of the Z10) is that Blackberry OS 10 does not require a Blackberry specific data plan (like BIS). In fact, for the first 3 days, I was using my Blackberry Q10 entirely on wireless mode (without a SIM card in the phone) and all the data functions worked very well (browser, Blackberry Messanging, e-mail, synchronizing, etc.). On my Blackberry Bold 9700, without a BIS-enabled SIM card, the built-in browser, the e-mail functions, and Blackberry messaging (among other data applications) would not work even over Wi-Fi. This meant that when I traveled to another country, I couldn't put another carrier's SIM card into the phone and get the data applications to work even over Wi-Fi. The negative thing about Blackberry OS 10 going this route (no longer requiring a Blackberry specific data plan) is that there is no longer any compression for e-mail and browsing which will increase data usage. Depending on your company's corporate network, you will probably still require a BES data-plan for some of the business features.

Because I've used a Blackberry Playbook before, the touchscreen gesture controls didn't take me too much time to get used to. After about a week of usage, I am still sometimes looking for the non-existent trackpad, the Blackberry menu button, or the back button.

In the one week that I've been using the Blackberry Q10, I find that the keyboard is very good and the phone and/or the OS is very stable/solid. Whereas my Blackberry Bold 9700 has to be rebooted almost on a daily basis and the browser on it would crash after viewing a few pages, I have yet to reboot my Blackberry Q10 and it's browser has yet to crash and I have used the browser a lot. The Q10's browser renders pages very well although because of the screen-size (3.1" diagonal), it does sometimes require that I do  the "2-finger pinch zoom" in order to enlarge the portion of the webpage I want to read.

In terms of the applications available for the Blackberry Q10, I do find it lacking in that department. A lot of the applications that I had on my Blackberry Bold 9700 are not available for the Blackberry Q10. As of the date that I'm writing this blog entry, one program that I use occasionally on my Blackberry Bold 9700 which is available on the Blackberry Z10 is not available on the Blackberry Q10 (and both the Z10 and Q10 run on Blackberry OS 10). The program that I'm referring to is the Ebay program.

The Blackberry Q10 supports Microsoft ActiveSync which I find is a big improvement from what was supported via the carrier's BIS webpage. The only thing (but this is not Blackberry's fault) is that Google has abandoned support for Microsoft ActiveSync for their free accounts. As such, it required a few extra steps to get my Blackberry Q10 to synchronize with my Google calendar, my Google contacts, and my Gmail account but it wasn't too difficult to do this. I forgot to mention this but as opposed to using the Blackberry Desktop software to back-up my Blackberry Bold 9700 and then perform the hardware upgrade option (transfer device) for restoring all the settings to my new Blackberry Q10, I opted to configure everything from scratch. After getting my Blackberry Q10 to synchronize with my Google account, I find that it does it very well (better than what I was getting with my Blackberry Bold 9700). The Blackberry contacts integrates my Google contacts, Facebook contacts, LinkedIn contacts, and my Twitter contacts and it allows me to specify which accounts to show in the Blackberry contacts list. There does seem to be a bug in the Blackberry contacts for the Q10 and that is, it only performs a sync once when setting it up. I've changed information for a particular contact (either on my Blackberry Q10 or on my Google Contacts account) and that change was never reflected/synched even after waiting over 8 hours.

As mentioned in this blog entry's title, this is only part 1 of my review/thoughts on the Blackberry Q10. I will write part 2 at a later date (I am not sure if it will be next week's blog entry or whether I will write about something else).

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Just got my hands on a Blackberry Q10

Just a short post/blog entry saying that I got my hands on a Blackberry Q10 so my next blog entry on Monday of next week will either be on Blackberry OS 10 or on the Blackberry Q10 specifically.

I will be setting up the Blackberry Q10 as a "new" phone without doing any form of back-up on Blackberry Desktop from my Blackberry Bold 9700 to this new Blackberry Q10. I almost didn't accept the Blackberry Q10 because of a dispute over pricing.

As mentioned in my previous/weekly blog entry, if you have any questions on the Blackberry Q10 that you would like me to answer for next week's blog, please don't hesitate to leave them below in the comments section. Please note that all comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not embedded) will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Stay tuned for Blackberry Q10 Review

I was expecting to get my hands on a Blackberry Q10 last week in order to write my review on the Blackberry OS 10 and the Blackberry Q10.

Unfortunately, I didn't get my hands on a Blackberry Q10 last week but was informed that I should be able to test it this week (probably on Tuesday). With my Blackberry Bold 9700 starting to show its age (after having used it for ~5 years), I was looking for a "data phone" with a keyboard to replace it. Since there are only 2 major currently available phone operating systems with a keyboard (Android & Blackberry), I wanted to try my hands on a Blackberry Q10. The Android phones that I've seen with a keyboard seem to be preloaded with Android OS v2.x.

What I like about the Blackberry is the keyboard which is one of the reasons I purchased a Blackberry Bold 9700. Prior to using the Blackberry Bold 9700, I was using the Palm Treo line of phones (Treo 600, Treo 650, & Treo 680). The reason that I like a physical keyboard instead of an onscreen virtual keyboard is that I like the tactile feel of the keys under my fingers which in my opinion makes typing long messages, replying to e-mails, and posting comments a lot easier. Whereas I wouldn't have second thoughts about posting this particular blog entry using a phone with a real keyboard, I would hesitate in writing this particular blog entry on the virtual onscreen keyboards of my iPhone 3GS or my LG Nexus-4. Even though according to the reviews that I've read (and the people that I've asked) who have the Blackberry Z10, the Z10's onscreen virtual keyboard is better than any other phone manufacturer's onscreen virtual keyboard on the market today, I had no intention of getting a keyboard-less phone to replace my Blackberry Bold 9700.

Stay tuned for my Blackberry Q10 review which should be available next week or the week after depending on whether I decided to write a review on Blackberry OS 10 first.

If you have any questions on the Blackberry Q10 that you would like me to answer for next week's blog, please don't hesitate to leave them below in the comments section. Please note that all comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not embedded) will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.