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  • Moto X Vs. iPhone 6

    Moto X Vs. iPhone 6

    By J.S.Marler

    Listen here -


    I was lucky enough to be able to use both the new Moto X(2014) and the new iPhone 6 for several weeks and really get a feel for these phones. They both have really great experiences, but only one can be the winner, fight!

    Personal History

    Moto X:

    I got the first Moto X the hour it was available unlocked for T-Mobile on Motorola’s website. At the time is cost $650 for a non customizable, woven black, 16 Gb model. Very pricy, especially since motorola kept on dropping the price over the following months; eventually having sales that cut that price in half. Still, I love my Moto X and I thought it was the best phone of the last generation.


    I have personally owned or used(on a daily basis) every model of the iPhone; except for the iPhone 3Gs and the iPhone 4. Yes, that means I have had the iPhone 1, iPhone 2, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and now the iPhone 6. Please leave an angry comment if I forgot some other iPhone model. In any case, I think about how blessed I am to have had these opportunities to use all these devices. I really love Apple mobile devices. I have also owned every generation of iPad, except for the 4th generation and the iPad mini line.

    Physical Design, Size, and First Impressions

     Moto X:

    I was a huge fan of last year’s Moto X physical design and size. It was a great balance of a small bezel, dimple on the back, and large screen fit into a relatively small size. I was very hesitant when I heard the new Moto X would increase the screen size by half an inch(4.7 inches to 5.2 inches). I did not think I would like 2014 model nearly as much. It didn't blow me away when I first opened the box, but it was still very nice. Long story short; I now love it. Everything I was hesitant about were completely wrong. I don't miss the smaller size at all. They managed to do the same thing as last year in that, they have a small bezel, good ergonomic design, textured dimple on the back, and a even larger screen fit into an even thinner design. They even made the power button textured so you can tell the difference between the volume and power button without looking. Also, I have used every thinkable combination of button locations and I love having the power and the volume buttons on the right; just like the 1st gen Moto X. They moved the speaker to the front, so there are no “holes” for speakers anywhere on the device. I can, maybe, criticize that this is a 5.2 inch screen and it is sometimes a little hard to use single handed, but this is rarely an issue. To be honest, I will take this larger screen, even if it is a little hard to use single handed at times. I think the thing that might hold people back from the Moto X is that it may not blow you away. It is the kind of design that you appreciate with time and use. You are probably not going to pick up the phone and think it is the greatest thing ever. It does not have a “shock” value; even though it may be the best designed phone ever.

    iPhone 6:

    I loved the iPhone 6 more than I thought I would. There was a moment where I thought I would return my Moto X and carry around an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6 plus instead. That moment passed and I will go into detail later on. The large bezel compared to the Moto X was not as bad as I thought. The curved edges felt nice and ergonomic. The material is light, but feels premium. The phone is thinner than the Moto X. Apple moved the power button to the right, instead of the top and this is a needed improvement My biggest complaint is that the camera bulges out of the back. This is especially annoying when the phone is sitting on a table and you tap on it. My friend Charlie said that bulge on the back of the phone cuased by the camera lense would cause issues when the phone it on a table. I did not think that would be an issue but I soon found it was. I didn’t realize it, but I use the iPhone 6 on a table enough that it is really annoying. It’s the first time in a while that I though a case might make a phone better; at least for that purpose. Plus, the camera physically looks ugly and amateurish; especially for Apple.

    Winner: Moto X


    Moto X - Bigger Screen | Better Button Location | Better Ergonomics | Dimple on the Back |Better Speaker location

    iPhone 6 - Thinner | Smaller Screen is a Little Easier to Use with One Hand.


    Moto X - No “Wow” factor with initial impressions | not as easy to use with one hand due to larger screen

    iPhone 6 - Camera bulge | Needlessly larger bezel | smaller screen

    PS: These phones are very close to the same size. The Moto X has a 0.5 inch larger screen, but its smaller bezel leaves the Moto X just slightly larger than the Phone 6


     Moto X:

    The Moto X display is awesome. It is 1080p with 424 ppi. However it is an AMOLED screen, which I am not a huge fan of. The screen does not look as good as the iPhone 6 which has an LCD screen, but the AMOLED allows the Moto X to have a huge advantage with screen notifications.

    iPhone 6:

    The iPhone 6 screen looks awesome. It is smaller at 4.7 inches and a lower ppi at 326, but I do like that it is an LCD screen. The colors are less saturated compared to the Moto X and I honestly think it is a better looking screen.

    Winner: iPhone 6


    Moto X: - Larger Screen | Higher resolution and PPI


    iPhone 6: LCD Screen and Great Color Rendering 


    Moto X: AMOLED screen is too saturated in my opinion 

    iPhone 6: Smaller, lower resolution and lower PPI

    PS: PPI is great, but not everything! I have proven 20/15+ vision(better than 20/20) and it is difficult to tell a significant difference once you start hitting 400 ppi in my opinion. I think that we will start to see an increase in phones making their screen better in terms of color and material. There are a lot of people out there that love the higher saturation, I don’t, but remember that this is all just my opinion.


     Moto X:

    The Moto X camera is my favorite smartphone camera. Everything from opening the camera with a twist hand motion, the software interface, and the performance is the most practical in my opinion. You can find Windows phones with higher resolutions, HTC phones with better Zoe/Gif like features, and the iphone that just seems to take better pictures some of the time. Still, I think that the Moto X is my favorite overall. It has the best package and offers something no other smartphone does. You can twist the phone quickly to launch the camera. The interface is fast, simple, and highly efficient. You can take a picture, take a video, take burst shots, switch to the front facing camera, or zoom with one touch of one finger. I do not know of ANY other camera that can do that.    

    iPhone 6:

    The iPhone 6 camera is great. Everyone around the internet praises the photos and videos that it can take. I have done side by side comparisons and it just does a really good job. One thing I will note is that it is not perfect. If an Android user were to switch over to the iPhone, then they may have too high of expectations. I fell into this trap thinking that every picture I take will be awesome with the iPhone 6. Unfortunately it has the same limitations that most smartphone cameras and taking the time to get the right lighting, angle, and focus make all the difference. One thing the iPhone has is a slow motion camera that makes for some awesome shots.    

    Winner: Tie


    Moto X: Better access to camera | better software interface | usually better low light performance/exposure

    iPhone 6: Better at taking pictures more often than not.


    opposite of the pros

    This one was really tough for me. The real test (I guess) was that I more often used my moto x to take pictures even though I had my iPhone 6 with me as well.


    Moto X:

    This one is easy. The Moto X speaker is better. It is louder and has a better location on the front of the device. This is especially nice because I don’t have to worry about hand placement covering the speaker. 

    iPhone 6:

    The iPhone 6 speaker holds its own. It is a decent speaker that it better than a lot of other phones out there, but with the located in at the bottom of the phone it can be easily covered up if held wrong. 

    Winner: Moto X 


    Moto X: Louder | better location

    iPhone 6: Better than other phones, but not the Moto X 

    Unlocking Screen and Notifications

    Moto X:

    This phone is the best at unlocking, and I rarely have to use the power button. The X has IR sensors that turn the screen on, accurately, when your hand comes close to the screen. This is something that Motorola says can only be done with a AMOLED screen. The sensors know when it is in your pocket and turns off the screen. You can wave your hand over the phone to see the time and any notifications. The screen lights up automatically and leaves a “breathing notification” so you can see it without touching it. It is the best any phone has to offer. The only thing I would like is a double tap to unlock feature like the LG G3. Finally the Moto X has trusted Bluetooth. This is where your phone will automatically stay unlocked without a password when connected to a Bluetooth device you deem ok. This works great if you have a smart watch or Bluetooth in your car.

    iPhone 6:

    The iPhone 6 fingerprint reader is awesome. It works really well and is easy to set up. I wish all phones had this option. Otherwise, everything else is  pretty standard here. Notifications have gotten better in iOS 8, but it is still not as good as android. Unlocking the phone is straightforward by pressing the power button or home button, then slide to unlock.

    Winner: Moto X


    Moto X: Better actionable notifications | Breathing notifications | better screen unlock | Trusted Bluetooth.

    iPhone 6: Fingerprint reader

    Voice Commands

    Moto X:

    This phone has made itself famous with its “Moto Voice” feature. You can control a lot of things on your phone with. Calling, texting, searching google, playing music, getting questions answered, and much more is always available on the phone. It works super well and allows you to create your own customer phrase. The phrase I used is “Intergalactic”. You are not completely free in your choice. it has to be real words in the dictionary and it has to be long enough. It failed when I tried to set the Wookie sound or “Yo”. This feature works so well that I was able to have my phone playing music at full volume in my small bathroom with shower running, the washer and dryer running, and it still recognized my voice command to play a song. With that said it is not 100%, but it is a great improvement over last year’s Moto X. 

    iPhone 6:

    iPhone 6 has a similar feature called “my siri”, but it only works when the device is plugged into a power source. This makes it a very limited feature. 

    Winner: Moto X


    Moto X: Voice commands are more accessible and work better 

    iPhone 6: Responses tend to be funny things with a “personality”


    Moto X: Voice recognition can be better for both devices.

    iPhone 6: Has to be plugged in, Does not work as well as Google Now.


    Both phones run amazing. They are fast with little to no problems. We have some arbitrary benchmark tests if you guys want to know the “numbers”

    Moto X: Antutu Benchmark Score: 44,102 (higher than all android devices)

    iPhone 6: Antutu Benchmark Score: 48,785

    Winner: iPhone I guess? They both are great! Tie

    Battery Life

     Moto X:

    The Moto X battery life is great. I feel like I never have to worry about my phone battery life from 6:00 - 10:00 pm. I did tests where I tried to destroy the battery as much as practically possible. I would download GBs of apps over cellular, play intensive games, and keep the screen on. I did stuff that would never be considered normal use and still got over 10 hours of battery life.

    iPhone 6:

    Apple is great at battery life; Especially in standby. The iPhone 6 continues that reputation. I can leave it on standby overnight and only lose a few percent of battery life. It is prone to lower battery life when playing intense games like the Moto X, but still overall is great. 

    Winner: iPhone 6

    Google Apps VS Apple Apps

     There are a lot of places on the internet that talk about the comapriosn of android os vs apple os. But something that i think has made a huge impact is not neccesarraly the OS but the apps that are available. Google makes is major apps availbe for ios, but apple locks all of its apps down.

    At the end of the day I will have to go with android on this one.

    Buying, Price and Options. 

    The moto x has the most options and the lowest price. The biggest advantage the iphone 6 has is the storage capacity at 16, 64, and 128GB. I will say that 32GB is the sweet spot for the average user, especially if you have unlimited data. But if you are looking for a lot of storage you are just not going to find that option on the Moto X.

    Android Wear

     one last thing I will mention before the conclusion is android wear. It is something I have really loved. It has enhanced our daily use of our smartphones. It is something that is not available right now for the iphone. The apple watch is coming out early next year, but from what I have seen it is not something that really excites me.


    The winner of this fight is the Moto X. It is a better overall phone. I like the camera better, it is a lot more open in its applications, it has better applications, it has a better ergonomic design, better locations for the power and volume, notifications are better. It is just a better overall phone. 

    the iphone 6 does have  great design, minus the camera bulge. It takes great pictures, has great battery life, the screen looks amazing. And it is simple. If you are the kind of person that wants something that you can’t customize that just works, then maybe the iphone is the best phone for you.

    Is there anything I forgot? Anything that stands out that I should mention? Any phones that you think are better? Let us know in the comments with threatening messages.


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  • Moto 360 Review

    Editors Note - Is the Moto 360 the best smartwatch ever? It is worth buying? The short answer is that we think it is the best smartwatch currently available. If you want a smartwatch and have an Android phone, then this is for you.

    This review of the Moto 360 is done differently than our other reviews. It is written mostly by J.W. Morse, but has some crap added by J.S. Marler. We have labeled the sections to indicate who wrote what. Let us know if you like this format, think it is stupid, or would just like pictures of bears instead relevant of words.

    Your existential internal voice of guidance,

     J.S. Marler


    By: J.W.Morse

    Additional Reporting by J.S.Marler

    Unboxing/First Impressions


    The moment I saw a picture of the Moto 360 I knew, finally, what a smartwatch should look like. Until that point, I knew that everything that had come out so far didn’t meet my expectations, but I hadn’t really figured out what those expectations were. The Moto 360 has, from the very first press images, set my standard for what a smartwatch should look like. Above all, something you wear on your wrist should be a beautiful.

    I have spent about a month with the Moto 360 and I can say that it is a gorgeous watch that feels as good on my wrist as it is to look at. I am struck by the watches ability to play the middle ground between so many things; it has a solid build, yet is light. Constantly useful, but never ‘in the way’. Utilitarian, and a fashion statement.


    Perfect for bears, dogs, and lions. Not fish; I’m allergic.


    The initial unboxing experience was a bit of awesome, followed by a bit of a letdown.. The box, is very nice looking, and the watch looks amazing in it. Getting the 360 out of the packaging was very enjoyable, and I loved watching the animations as the device booted up for the first time. The let down came when I went to pair the device with my phone. I received an error message telling me the device needed to be fully charged to pair. This was a huge let down because I really wanted to play around with the watch but I had to wait while charging it.

    I know it might seem that I am nit picking, but the unboxing experience is huge to me. It sets the tone in a lot of ways, and, at least until the newest software update, the tone it set was accurate: battery problems.

    The good news is it took less than an hour for the 360 to get a full charge.



    The real story about the display is the fact that it is round. This is the first round smartwatch for Google’s Android Wear platform. Motorola has done a round display before, but never with all the processing and battery power directly behind the display. Plus, that display was for an old unsuccessful phone. Nevertheless, I appreciate that Motorola made the effort. I may never understand how much of a technological marvel this is, but I think it says a lot that apple decided to go with a square screen instead of a circular one. I think it says apple was not able to create a circular display, or at least make one as good as Motorola did.

     At 205 ppi the 1.56 in screen is not a very high resolution, especially when compared to most smartphones which are above a 400 ppi. The resolution is a little bit less than the Galaxy Gear at 277 ppi, but truth be told I didn’t notice the lower resolution after my first day of use because I’m not holding it up to my face. Looking down at my wrist showed no resolution problems and at the end of the day; that is all I really care about.


    I feel like I am a little more critical of the screen compared to Josh. Certain stock watch faces were not as optimized for the resolution and noticeable pixels showed when compared to other faces. Even the loading screen fell short of my expectations showing noticeable pixilation.. If you choose the right watch face design, then this is a non issue. I am sure it’s something that will improve in the next generation, but right now I am happy to take a lower resolution if it means double my battery life.


    At the bottom of the display is an ambient light sensor that in my use was pretty accurate. I never felt the need to turn the brightness up or down, and honestly didn’t know that there was a way to change the brightness; even after several days.


    I tested the screen on the lowest manual brightness and was still able to easily see the display while outside in the New Mexico sun. I would like to thank my friend Louie for suggesting this to me. Your gentle touch will always be remembered.


    The 360 Gorilla Glass 3 for the screen. I love the idea that my watch face is made up of Gorilla skin lovingly heated to 2500 degrees celsius.


    I was able to test the durability by clumsily bashing his watch into walls and doors during my roid rages. Thankfully there were no scratches, cracks, or dents. Thank you Jesus.


    the interesting part is that the glass sticks up just slightly above the bezel of the watch. I was worried at first that it would detract from my enjoyment, but ultimately I forgot it even existed.


    I felt that the display is a fingerprint magnet. I had the urge to clean the display multiple times a day.


    I had fewer problems with my display compared to Josh. I did not need to do more than a quick microfiber towel wipe more than once a day at most. I probably ended up wiping the screen once every 2-4 days on average. Josh probably had more issues because he would get really close to the screen, breathing heavily, and his saliva would mist the display with his odd affection.   


    I do like the taste of gorilla skin glass.



    The battery is one of the biggest controversies of the Moto 360. There is an expectation for a watch battery to last multiple days. When it was announced that the 360 had a 320 milliamp battery there were a lot of people who freaked out. Even more so when Motorola said the device "would last a full day."

    The first few weeks of use the battery would last about 12 hours and on a really good day last 15. However, this was before the most recent software update. The update is really quite ingenious, it basically involves attaching a rat on a wheel to your wrist. A little cumbersome, but I think it is worth it. The update significantly improved the battery life. After the update it became normal to have the device sitting at 60% or more with over 8 hours of use. This huge improvement really added to my enjoyment of the device. I stopped worry about the battery life and just started using the device without thought. I don’t think the device will go two days but you can expect to get a day and some change.


    We have also noticed that battery life can be drastically affected by the watch related apps on your phone. There are third party watch faces you can get from the Play Store and other dark, dark places on the internet. (long pause) (Audio: Play scary music) Google says that android wear was not designed to have phone apps be used as watch specific apps for watch faces; even though it is possible. Some third party watch apps did not negatively affect the battery life (Insert Matrix Face) and others destroyed hours off the battery life (insert bad watch face here). So, be cautious, or at least aware, if you plan to use third party watch face apps.


    I'll be watching to see which watch faces are worth watching out for... 


    Finally, notifications can have a great impact on battery life as well. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and other social networks can have a major impact on battery life. If you get a lot of social network notifications, it’s possible that your battery will suck compared to your less popular friend like Josh. Luckily, the android wear app allows you to block notifications for any app you choose. I tested this and was able to extend battery life by blocking facebook notifications. With all that said, the newest update made battery life awesome, even with all notifications on.  

    Basically, the battery is not as bad as you feared, and is now nothing to worry about with the latest update lasting over 15 hours.



    The 360 is running Android Wear, which is built of the idea that interactions with your watch should be clean, swipe based, and simple. There is never any typing or zooming of any kind unless you download a 3rd party app. Android Wear has the mentality that if you need to do anything beyond looking at and taking simple actions on notifications, then you should use your phone instead. This is actually the perfect approach, because the screen is too small to make huge actions. It’s better suited for seeing notifications, and replying to text messages with voice commands.

    The software is build off a tear structure where your notifications are stacked; swiping down will let you scroll through them. A left-hand swipe removed the notification and a right-hand swipe will reveal additional actions. Simple and clean.

    The other huge advantage of Android Wear on the 360 is that it has not been altered in any way. Google actually built the OS in a way where it could not be altered by the OEM. Exactly what I think it should be.


    I had some problems with the software. The problems are not huge for the most part, but I will greatly appreciate it when they are fixed. I will go over my gripes quickly. By quickly I mean go into a lot of detail. 

    3rd party Software 


    There are few 3rd party apps that I actually want to use. IFTTT has some useful recipes for Android Wear but I only use have one. There are a few instances where I installed an app and noticed quickly that the battery life of my watch was severely hurt. In a few other cases, it was obvious the developer had made their app specifically for a square screen. 3rd party watch faces are OK, but I have not found any that I actually want to keep using. That should change with the new update for android wear when the APK is released to developers.


    I found a 3rd party Matrix face that I really like and does not kill my battery.

    -Calling or texting people with voice commands is cut off if the user has multiple numbers.

    • You can do voice commands for calling or texting people, but if the contact you are trying to communicate with has multiple numbers, then you will be prompted to select the number you wish to use. I do not have a different android wear device to test, but I experienced both numbers being cut off. I was only aware of what was going on because I was familiar with using this feature on phones with Google Now and Moto Voice.

    -“OK Google” trigger Sometimes requires multiple attempts.

    • Too often i find myself in the same place I been before, where I am repeating “Ok google” multiple times before the watch is triggered. I still get much better results than what I experienced with the first gen Moto X, or really any other voice detection software, but we are still not at the casual level yet. I have found myself tapping on the screen to activate the voice recognition more than using “OK google”. 

    -Sometimes watch loses it’s connection to your smartphone.

    • It does not happen everyday, but too often I would see the sad cloud icon on the screen indicating that there is no data connection. This was interesting to me because it still has a bluetooth connection to the phone, but is not getting the data from it. It usually fixes itself, but sometimes needs a turning off and on for bluetooth on your phone.   

    -Some inaccuracy with recognizing speech to text.

    • This is usually more accurate than then using my phone because of the close proximity.

    -”Listen to” and “Play” commands are inconsistent when trying to play music on phone.

    • This has been a pain for me. I love being able to just use a voice command to get music to play. This is especially helpful in the car and the experience is better than using a phone by itself, but there are many inconsistencies. The voice actions have different results on the watch vs Google Now on a phone. This is most notable for me is the “Listen to” and “Play” commands. My phone usually will open the music app correctly, whereas the watch will sometimes do a web search for one artist name, but then open the app for another. This is just software,so hopefully it will be fixed soon. 

    -You have to slide and tap to change music tracks.

    • I wish all music controls could be done in one tap, but changing a music track requires a slide, then tap. Not a huge deal, but there is enough space on the screen to have that easily accessible.

    -Touch screen only interaction vs tactile buttons.

    •  This is not a criticism, but there is something to a physical button. I could not help but think of my pebble smartwatch and how easily knowing and using those physical buttons on the side are. The Moto 360 has one physical button, but you rarely use it. To be honest the physical button do-es not consistently work and sometimes requires multiple presses.

    Josh: If only there was some kind of “Electronic Crown” or something... 

    • Scrolling through voice actionable items to get into settings is a pain.
    • You have to tap the screen, or say “OK Google” and then scroll to get to settings. This is a little different, but not a big deal. What is a pain is that you have to scroll through  12 options before you get to settings. I use settings all the time and never use those other options. This is a pain everytime I use it.  

    -Settings and features structure is confusing between multiple locations.  

    • Watch device settings, phone bluetooth settings, Android Wear settings, and Moto Connect app settings.There are four places you will have to go through to check settings for your watch; way too many. One would be best, but I understand possibly needing two. What makes it even more confusing is that certain settings are only accessible from certain places. For the sake of brevity I won’t go into detail, but it is a very frustrating experience.  

    -Moto Connect software:

    •  I will talk about the Moto Connect software only because it is unique to the Moto 360 and not available for other android wear devices. It is an awesome addition that allows to to customize existing watch faces with different colors. I am excited for this to grow, but it is already the best experience with watch faces you can get on stock android wear.

    Leather Strap


    I was hesitant about the leather strap. I was accustomed to always wearing a metal watch and then my rubber/plastic pebble. I was worried that the leather would stretch, crack, and look bad like an old belt. However, I have thankfully not had those issues. The leather does stretch a little, but it does not look bad when on your wrist. Other then that I have been very happy with it. It’s comfortable, does not leave your wrist super moist, and I did not have any noticeable wear from excess water after a few rainshowers. I have worn it for hour long workouts and the excess sweat did not negatively affect its durability. 



    The 360 uses a really nice Qi charging dock. Qi charging is awesome I have a few Qi chargers already and it is so nice to use them. I really hope that this becomes the standard. It is something I have appreciated with nexus devices and now with this watch. The charger uses Micro USB which is a breath of fresh air. None of this proprietary cable crap. The dock displays the watch well on your nightstand. It sometimes takes a little bit of maneuvering if the straps angel in a way that lifts the watch up. This could have been avoided by making the dock elevate the watch a little higher up off of the surface it sits on.

    Built In Health Apps 


    There are few health apps so there is not much to say. I found that the step counter and heart rate sensor were usually inaccurate. Not terrible, but enough that I really stopped paying attention to how many steps the watch said I had taken or what my heart rate was. I am sure that this is something that can and will be updated with software, not to mention the possibility of third party app support. 



    The biggest thing that happened because of the 360 is I pulled my phone out less. I used to pull my phone out constantly just in case I missed a text message or call. That worry has been completely mitigated because the notifications I received are nearly always welcome, needed, and delightful. That is, to me, the biggest reason to wear a smartwatch over a normal watch. It creates a situation where you use your phone less.


    I particularly enjoyed being able to leave my phone charging in the bedroom while wearing my watch in the living room. I was able to not have my phone, let the phone charge, but still get notifications on his watch. It is even handy when you cannot get to your phone fast enough to answer a call; but instead answer with your watch first.



    The Moto 360 is the best looking smartwatch on the market right now. The screen could be a higher resolution, the heart rate and pedometer could be better and it could have a better battery life. These are all small things and will get ironed out. If you want the perfect smartwatch, don’t get the 360, or really any smartwatch at this point. Wait for the 2nd iterations to come out in 2015. I expect most of these issues to be resolved next year. If you want a really good smartwatch that looks amazing, the 360 is the best option you have right now.


    I listed a lot of things that I think could be changed to make the Moto 360 a better device. Despite my criticism; I agree with Josh in that this is the best that currently exists. I have confidence in this device because the hardware is great and  Motorola has already proved that the device can only get better with future  software updates.


    Josh: 8 out of 10

    John: 7 out of 10

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  • BlackBerry Z10 Review - 028

    BlackBerry Z10 Review - 028

    Blackberry Z10 Review

    By J.S.Marler


    In January Blackberry announced the Z10 along with their new OS signaling a much needed aggressive attempt from Blackberry to regain the smartphone market they once dominated. the question was could they create a smartphone that could compete with Samsung, Apple and all the other producers in the market today. Was their previous dominance one of quality or the simple fact that they were the only ones producing decent phones?


    "Was their previous dominance one of quality or the simple fact that they were the only ones producing decent phones?"



    The more that I used the Blackberry Z10, the more I appreciate the physical build of it. It is fairly light weight, which usually feels cheap to me, but did not feel cheap with the Z10. It was a nice finished metal on the bezel and sides with a textured rubber like that that worked really well. I have seen the phone dropped multiple times and no broken screen yet. It also have a mini hdmi output which did support mirroring and worked well.


    "the phone dropped multiple times and no broken screen yet"



    The screen is really nice. I can really tell a difference when compared to other high resolution screens currently out because it has a higher pixel density than the Nexus 4, iPhone 5, and Samsung Galaxy Note II. I really enjoyed how crisp everything looked and it did not have the over saturation of the Samsung Galaxy S phones. With that said, there are a lot of phones coming out this year like the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 that have even higher Pixel Density with 1080p resolution vs the 720p resolution of the Blackberry Z10.

    The screen size is 4.2 inches. I am a fan of bigger screens and never thought I would be able to use a phone that had a screen smaller than 4.7 inches, but this phone is able to pull it off. I have been carrying around a Nexus 4,  4.7 inch screen,  and a Samsung Note II, 5.5 inch screen,  for the past few months and have really gotten used to the large sizes. I previously had multiple htc devices with 4.3 inches and really felt like they were absurdly small, but the  Z10 feels like it is a good size. I really think that the symmetry and bezel of the Blackberry Z10 work well with the screen quality to create a better experience that has me missing the larger screen less than I expected. While I enjoy the 4.2 inch screen much more than I would have guessed; I still feel like it could have benefitted with a 4.5 inch screen or larger. Most of the time it is not an issue, but there are times, especially when playing Angry Birds, that I have to adjust the orientation because it feels too small. Overall I am very happy with the screen and I will take quality over quantity any day; unless it is super small, then I retract everything I just said. This does make me worried for the upcoming Blackberry Q10 which is only going to be 3.1 inches with a physical keyboard.


    I had low expectations for the apps on the Blackberry Z10. The previous Blackberry App World, the app store for Blackberry, was less than stellar and lacked almost every primary app I used on a regular basis. I know that Blackberry said they had made a strong effort to put apps in their new App World, but I was still not expecting much. I was delightfully surprised that there were a handful of apps on the Z10 that I was not expecting. Blackberry has 100,000 apps on their market, compared to 700,000 on Android and iOS each.


    "I had low expectations for the apps on the Blackberry Z10."


    Google Applications:

    Unfortunately, Blackberry 10 does not have any Google applications. This is a bummer in both respects because I have really become depend on a lot of google services, especially on my smartphone. The fact that there are several Android manufacturers with Google apps and even iOS with Google apps makes it really hard for Blackberry to be singled out in that respect. There is a YoutTube app, but it just links you to through the browser. I was happy that it still synchronizes with Google, so contacts, calendar, and mail came onto my phone without problem.


    "There is a YoutTube app, but it just links you to through the browser."


    Facebook App:

    The Facebook app is definitely better than the YouTube application, but still struggles with linking to the browser version. The average person may not notice right away, but certain features of facebook, like events, link you to the website. Hopefully it can be fully integrated in the future.


    It does not have a Pandora app, but there is a third party one that works pretty well called Apollo. It uses the same login as your pandora and pulls its music from there. I found this a little odd because I remember being able to download the official Pandora app on the old Blackberry devices. Nonetheless, it is third party application, but works well.


    While it does not have the actual Evernote app, it does have evernote integration in the system with the built in “Remember” app. It was not intuitive for me at first, but I was able to get used to it after playing with it and understanding it more. It is not the usual evernote interface and there is no indication that your evernote syncs with the rmember app, but it seemed to work well for me.


    The maps application is probably around the same level of the apple maps. It is not great and it is really not fair to expect the same experience as Google maps. It can get the job done for the most part, but requires extra work. It takes longer to load, there have been several locations that maps could not find, and it had me make unnecessary uturns for locations I could have turned into directly.

    Voice Commands:

    There is a button in between the two volume buttons that activates the voice command on the phone. It works just ok. It has a really hard time understanding my voice which makes it difficult. In my silent living room I just said: “Send text to Michaeli Marler, hey what’s up?” and I got the response: “I’m sorry, I am having trouble finding “meat” in your contact list.” I do not have this problem when using Google Now.


    Blackberry Messenger was and is awesome. I never used it in the past, but it is my favorite messaging application. It is fast, consistent, and works well. You get notifications it someone has received and even read a message you have sent. It is fast and easy for adding contacts manually, through nfc, or sending a request through a text message. Unfortunately, it is only available for Blackberry users. So you will not be able to experience its awesomeness unless you are communicating with other blackberry users.


    "Blackberry Messenger was and is awesome."



    The browser on the Blackberry Z10 is mostly bad. It is not super fast and struggles to load large or complicated web pages. I would get errors when loading blog pages that had several posts. There were some pages that I could not ever load even with several attempts. Videos seemed super slow and lagged even when connected to wifi. This was a big problem since the YouTube app was actually just a link to the browser. One nice thing that the browser is able to do that I wish android and iOS coul, is playing the audio from a video you are watching in the background while opening other applications and doing other things on the phone. With that said, the videos tended to freeze and buffer several times in my use.


    "The Browser... is mostly bad"



    The camera on the Blackberry Z10 is my favorite part of this phone. It is so simple, fast, and works well. The interface is the best I have experienced on a smartphone. It is Fast, easy, well designed, and it not cluttered with a million options. It feels so much simpler than Samsung’s, HTC’s, or even Google’s interface. It is faster at taking pictures compared to stock android, and the features are better than what iOS currently offers; it is the best camera interface.


    "Time Shift is part of the one-two punch that makes this camera awesome."


    I do have a few complaints about the camera. First many of the pictures I took were blurry. At times they were blurry for no reason, even in well lit situations. I do not want to justify it, but the Time Shift feature usually compensated for blur. I could select the perfect shot in focus with this feature and I always had it on as long as I did not need my flash. I would say that the camera would not be as efficient without Time Shift. I do have a theory about why it does not have the ability to use flash with the time shift feature. I assume this is because the flash would have to stay on or flash multiple times in order to have your choice of multiple shots. Flash just may not be effective with the feature. I can understand that it probably would be difficult to develop and that is why it was left out.  With that said, part of me believes that Time Shift with Flash can be done well.


    "Many of the pictres I took were blurry"


    Android Apps:

    The Blackberry Z10 basically has an Android 2.3 emulator on board. This is supposed to be updated to 4.0, according to rumors I have read. This will help, because right now it is a big hit or miss. First off it is kind of a hassle to either convert android apk’s or find ones already converted, then go into developer mode(which requires a password on your phone at all times), then load it on. Most android apps do not work, but there are a handful that do like Netflix and Flipbaord. So, it might be worth it for you depending on the the apps that are important to you.


    I really liked a lot about the Blackberry Z10. It does offer several features that no one else does. Little things make a big difference and I think that other smartphones can learn a lot from Blackberry’s design, integration, messaging, and interface. Unfortunately it is also missing on a lot of important features like voice commands, maps, the browser, and applications. This is a very strong effort by Blackberry and I was very impressed. I think that they have set a foundation stronger than Android and iOS did when they first came out. However, they have been out for years and really have several aspects that works better. If you are a fan of blackberry and do not depend on Google applications, then you can make this phone work. It will have its downfalls at time, but ultimately be a decent phone for phone calls, messaging, and email. I think that this phone has great potential for the future because most of my complaints can be fixed with software updates.

    Score: 6.8/10


    Unlocking screen up gesture - no power button needed


    Micro HDMI w/Mirroring

    High resolution IPS Screen

    Peak mode

    Sliding up gesture for home

    Very Good Build Quality



    Blackberry balance



    Power button is at the top

    No wireless charging

    Micro USB on the side

    4.2 inch screen - just a little too small


    - Several Swipes

    Developer Mode Required for loading Andorid apps

    Sliding up gesture when playing games

    Missing several major applications:

    - No Google Applications

    - No NFC Payment App

    Maps app is usable, but lackluster

    YouTube App is a link to the browser

    -Facebook App uses brower links for certain sections like events

  • Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience Review - 026

    Justin Timberlake the 20/20 Experience

    Written Review by J.S. Marler


    I am going to make this a relatively short review because I can then stop listening to this album. No, the album is not that bad, but I am not sure how much I will want to listen to it in the future. I will explain.

    My Background with Justin Timberlake:

    I have mixed emotions when it comes to Justin Timberlake. I was in elementry school when N*Sync had their first concert on the disney channel and I would be lying if I told you I did not like them. In fact, I loved N*Sync at the time and I had no idea what history had in store for boy bands and Justin Timberlake. As the years passed on I found that I really liked some N*sync songs and even a handful of Justin timberlake songs. However, there were many more songs that I cannot stand. I think a lot of people are able to stand listening to these horrible songs because they like listening to music for the sake of just letting music play; I am not one of those people. Timberlake has been part of very good songs and very crappy ones that I wish I had never heard. Let us see what the 20/20 Experience can offer.

    Initial Impressions:

    I genuinely enjoyed the two singles released for this album before it all songs were released. “Suit and Tie” was a song that had a big listening curve and I now really enjoy it despite hating it at first. The second single “Mirrors” was a song that I instantly liked and made me excited about the rest of the album. All that excited was deflated with the first song and then skipping through every song after. I really hated listening to this album at first. It felt like it  was almost actually causing me pain. I honestly do not listen to this style very often and I generally do not like the high pitched falsetto vocals. Initially this album seemed to offer nothing more than the two songs I have heard and enjoyed before the album was released.

    After Multiple Listens:

    I somehow forced myself to listen to this album over and over. I found that it was much easier to digest if I was doing something mentally intensive at the same time so I was not focused on the music exclusively. This made it much easier to listen to and even enjoyable at times. I will say that it was a much better experience listening to the album cover to cover. It was arranged well and added to the experience having the songs leading in to each other. I could be wrong, but pop albums tend to not benefit from listening to cover to cover like a lot of rock albums do. Pop albums usually have a few good songs that are distinctively better than the rest of the album and do not benefit from other songs. I am glad to say that this album was planned well and is a better experience listening to cover to cover.


    I will give the album credit where it is due. It is recorded well as expected and offers some cool things that I did not expect. The style of the singles represent the style of this album in that they are not typical pop songs. They have a different style is every sense. Different instrumentation, different vocals, and an overall different feel. This is no longer a “rock your body” or boyband music experience anymore. It takes chances musically with multiple really long songs on the album that last over seven minutes. This was something I did not expect with a pop album. It really has its own style that is different and was not concerned with fitting into corporate molds; I cannot help but respect that.


    I mentioned earlier that the two singles “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors” are the best songs one the album. It took a listening curve, but the song “Don’t Hold the Wall” was the next best song that I enjoyed because of the rhythmic and different feel it had. The first song on the album “Pusher Love Girl” still drives me crazy and I never want to listen to it again. The only thing worse than the name is the song itself. Actually the song “Strawberry Bubblegum” is worse, but starting the album with  “Pusher Love Girl” just set a bad starting point for me. The song still got better with multiple listens, but not enough for me to enjoy it. The rest of the album kind of faded away for me. It has moments that stick out and are catchy in their own respect, but it did not have the traditional pop “hits” I have come to expect. I really do think that this album will be easier to digest and differentiate after a few months if I continue listening to it.  

    Rating: J.S. Marler 5 J.W. Morse 4.5 Average = 4.75

    Best Song: Mirrors

    Worst Song; Strawberry Bubblegum

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  • Lifehouse Almeria Review - 005


    Album Review: Almeria by Lifehouse (2012)
    By J. S. Marler, Edited J.W. Morse

    -The Band/My History With Lifehouse-

    Lifehouse has been around for nearly 13 years and I have been listening to them since their debut album No Name Face in 2000. I am a big fan of Lifehouse and I've learned to play several of their songs on guitar, seen them in concert, and even performed some of their songs. They have had mainstream hits with every cd that they have put out and I was excited to hear Almeria; their 6th album which features the single “Between the Raindrops”. I have pretty high expectations for this band and held them to a high standard for this release.

    -Album Artwork and First Impressions -

    I have never really been inspired by the album artwork Lifehouse has put out for their previous cds. I honestly have enjoyed the Lifehouse albums that were just a picture of band rather than some random artwork that seems to have no relation to the music. This album has random artwork. It’s an illustration of a four way dual between identical looking cowboys. There is no title track on the cd, so relating the artwork to lyrics would just be me guessing. Either way, the artwork does not do much for me, other than differentiate the look from previous albums.  “Almeria” is a city in spain and can be translated to "mirror" or "the watchtower". Either interpretation seems irrelevant to the messages or lyrics in any of the songs.

    -Experience and Track Impressions -

    -Gotta Be Tonight-

    I generally don't like slang or improper grammar in lyrics, but I especially do not like it in titles of songs. The dictionary “Gotta” is actually a contraction of have got to, the dictionary says it is “not acceptable for standard use” whatever that means. The point is it sounds dumb.

    Dear Lifehouse: Please rename the song “Gotta Be Tonight”.

    This is the first song off the album and is honestly one of the best. It’s not your normal Lifehouse song. It incorporates a catchy beat, lopped Gnarls Barkley type vocals in the background, and a non traditional--at least for Lifehouse--guitar riff. Everything is tied in with a chorus that escalates the song to place that I really enjoyed. This song is a good mix of something old and something new. Fingers crossed this is the start of a trend for this album.

     - Between the Raindrops-

    Between the Raindrops is the first single off this cd and caught me off guard. I first heard this song on the radio and thought it was a really girly sounding song; it took some time before I realized it was by Lifehouse. Then the second verse came. It features a female vocalist, who later found out is Natasha Beddingfield, and that really threw me off. I can’t put my finger on it, but the instrumentation was significantly different from what I would expect and I can never remember hearing a Lifehouse song feature anyone; especially a female vocalist.

    These aspects surprised me enough that I did not like the song at first. However, I kept on listening to it over and over. After a number of listens it grew on me so much that it became my second favorite song off the album.

     - Nobody Listen/Move on Day-

    In addition to conjunctions and improper grammar; I also sincerely dislike repeated short words or phrases in songs. There are exceptions in some songs with breakdowns, or some rap songs that mesh it into the beat.  Unfortunately, Lifehouse does not have break downs, and they do not rap, However, they do have an excruciating amount of repetition in these two songs. Musically I could not enjoy them because of how much the lyrics are repeated. The song Nobody Listen says “nobody listen” 27 times. Yes, twenty- seven times. That really annoyed me. I held to together (barely) to listen to the whole song, hoping the next one would redeem the previous track. Nope. It redeemed nothing. The next song is Move On Day and says “move on” 64 times. Yes, sixty-four times. I never want to hear either of these songs again. Ever. I am deleting them before they drive me to suicide.

     - Slow Motion-

    This song is really slow and boring. The guitar riff is super repetitive, I can barely stand listening to it.

     - Only You’re The One-

    This song is sandwiched between crap songs and can be easily missed the first few listens. Luckily I forced myself to listen to album cover to cover over and over so I was able to pick this song from among the ashes. I love the instrumentation and think it is the best recorded song on the album. It also feels like the most personal song on the cd. This is my favorite song on the album and would not be surprised if it becomes the biggest single off the album.

     - Where I Come From/Right Back Home/Barricade-

    I hate the guitars in all of these songs. Any good vocals of these songs are overshadowed by unenjoyable instrumentation, song structure, and over all crap. Don't waste your time on these songs.

     - Aftermath-

    This is the last song off of the non-delux version of the album and somewhat redeems the previous songs that I did not enjoy (though I think I am being generous in saying those songs can have redemption). This is a nice chill song that encompasses hardship and redemption. It is not going to blow you away, but I enjoyed it. This is another song that I missed upon initial listening and was fortunate to filter through the crap.

     - Bonus Tracks-

    If you spend a few extra dollars on the the delux version you will get three bonus songs. The songs do actually benefit the cd as a whole and are refreshing compared to the rest of the album. However, I cannot say that I would be inclined to listen to these tracks individually

     - Recording-

    Lifehouse has sold millions of records and has heaps of money to throw at recoding. This album sounds great! And by golly it does. No one expected anything different.

     - Vocals-

    The singer of Lifehouse, Jason Wade, has one of the best voices in the industry. He also can replicate those vocals with live performances, which is very rare; as crazy as that may be. There is a lot to like about his vocals on this cd, but I will say there are points of lower octaves that, while not bad, would have sounded better if sung at higher octaves. Overall the vocals do not diminish songs in and of themselves, and actually help redeem parts of bad songs. I enjoyed the vocals overall, but I cannot say that this cd reflects him growing as a vocalist. With that said, nothing feels forced either.

     - Lyrics-

    Historically I have very much enjoyed the lyrics of Lifehouse. Nothing on this cd inspired me as far as lyrics go. The tracks that do stand out are on Only You’re The One where he sings about an unconditional love and always being there for someone. The lyrics in combination with how it is sung makes it the most significant song to me. Aftermath is appropriately titled and focuses on making it through the storm and regrouping. There are other good lines through the cd and I enjoyed the messages throughout but it could have been stronger.


    This is Lifehouse's worst overall CD to date. With that said, it has 3-4 songs I really enjoy: Gotta Be Tonight, Between the Raindrops, You're the Only One, and Aftermath. The problem with this CD is that the bad songs are really bad; so bad that I never want to listen to them ever again.


    Never ever...

    I have listened to every song on every other Lifehouse CD and I can't think of another song that is worse than the bad songs on this CD. I forced myself to listen to every song on this CD around 50 times and the bad songs didn’t get better.  I don't mean to come down hard on a band I really love, but I can't recommend buying the whole album. For the beat experience I recommend buying those four songs.

    Below is a list of the songs to skip, please for your own good use this list, I can’t stand the thought of someone suffering like I had to.

    Recording - 9/10
    Vocals - 7/10
    Song Structure 6/10
    Lyric Content - 6/10
    The Experience - 6/10

    Total Score: 6.8 (Worth Listening to the good songs)

    Best Song: You're the Only One
    Worst Song: Move On Day

    Songs to skip every single time: Move On Day, Nobody Listen, Slow Motion, Where I Come From, Right Back Home, Barricade

    ------- Show Notes --------

     ------ Links

    Lifehouse -

    Buy it here

    Itunes -

    Amazon -

    Google Play -

    Listen to it on

    Spotify -

    Rdio -


    RSS -

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  • Django Unchained Review - 004

    Audio Player

    Django Unchained (the D is silent) is the newest film by Quentin Tarantino and Quentin stays true to Tarantino’s bloody, violent, end of your seat style. If you have tried other Quentin Tarantino movies and didn’t like them this is not the film for you; even though you are missing out on a wonderful experience this film is not going to change your mind about Tarantino.

    Django Unchained is a story about a slave who is freed by a german bounty hunter. It takes place two (or three) years before the start of the American Civil War. Look I am not going to cut any corners here trying to act like I have anything bad to say about this movie, it is almost entirely perfect the only thing that I have to say bad about this, and trust me it is so small it hardly matters, Tarantino makes a cameo in the movie and he, well he sucks at acting.

    That’s is, that is all that I have to say that is bad about the movie. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Much like The Departed I had no idea who was going to die, and I honestly cared if some characters died. There are very few movies that are able to get an emotional investment from me and somehow amongst all the hilariously overdone (in a good way) gore I cared about the characters. I have never enjoyed watching white slavers get killed as much as I did during this movie.

    I decided to keep this review short because honestly, stop wasting your time reading this and just go watch the movie because even gimmicky things that I usually hate like zooming in really quickly (the old school kind) works for this film. Even the catalyst that causes all the killing (I am not going to say what exactly it is I would hate to ruin the enjoyment) is a huge stretch and would probably never happen but for some reason it does not bother me like it would in other movies.

    There are only four reasons you should stay away from this movie.

    #1 You don’t like any other Tarantino movies (Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds ect)

    #2 You don’t like excessive blood

    #3 You don’t like hearing the N-word (it is said a bunch, by everyone)

    #4 You like slavery, in which case jump of a bridge because you are a horrible human being who needs to stop breathing the same air as me and the rest of the decent folk on this planet.

    Thats it, stop reading this, go watch Django Unchained.


        - Special Effects 10
        - Story 10
        - Acting 9.5
        - Music 9
        - Set 10
        - Dialog 9.5
        - Characters 10
        - Artistic Direction 9.5
        - Overall experience 10
        - Replay Value 9

      Total Score -  96.5%



    Show Notes

    Django Unchained -

    Django Unchained tickets -

    Django on Rotten Tomatoes -


    RSS feed -

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