Motorola Moto X (2014) Review

Motorola M LogoThe latest iteration of Motorola‘s Moto X has appeared on many end of year lists as the best of phone of 2014. Much as I dislike “best of” lists, I have to agree they’re probably right as the Moto X is an excellent phone. So much so, I’m tempted to simply say that the 2014 Moto X is “the 2013 Moto X – only better”. However, I guess I’d better be a little more rigorous. Let’s take a look.

Motorola Moto X 2014

I’ve spend a little around a month with the Moto X courtesy of Motorola and as an upgrade from my previous workhorse, the LG Nexus 4, it’s a significant jump which is emphasised by the coincidental arrival of Android 5. The Moto X arrived with KitKat out of the box, but upgraded to Lollipop within a minutes.

Checking out the specs, it’s a 5.2″ 1920 x 1080 full HD AMOLED screen powered by a Qualcomm 2.5 MHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor supported by an Adreno 330 GPU. There’s 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage and a 2300 mAh battery keeps the Moto X going, with Motorola reckoning on around 24 hours use. It’s a GSM phone with 4G LTE on the 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20 bands. Dimensions are 72 x 141 x 9.9 mm (3.8 mm at the narrowest point) and weighs in at 144 g. Broadly, it’s faster, bigger and heavier than the previous generation.

Using Geekbench 3, the latest Moto X clocks in at 1001 single core and 2801 for multi-core with the previous generation Moto X scoring 666 / 1258. The bump in clock speed (1.75 to 2.5 GHz) and cores (2 to 4) are responsible for the big jump in multi-core performance.

Motorola Moto X PowerThe Moto X looks good, and this particular phone is nearly all black with the on/off and volume rocker in a dark grey metal. There are speaker highlights at the top and bottom of the phone too. Using MotoMaker there’s wide range of colour combinations for both the metal frame and the back of the phone, which also comes in a few different materials including leather. Nice.

Motorola Moto X BottomMoving round the phones, the right-hand side has the ribbed on/off button and similar volume rocker. There’s a micro-USB socket at the bottom and 3.5 mm audio jack at the top. I like the left-side clear so it’s easy to rest the phone on the edge and there’s no fiddling around for the volume controls. The back has the rear-facing camera with flash ring and there’s the signature dimple in the back which might have been a fingerprint scanner. Powering the phone up reveals two things….first the screen is even better than last time and second Motorola has still kept it true to stock Android. The full HD screen gives a high pixel density of 423 ppi and everything look good. True to AMOLED displays, colours are strong and vibrant, though some people may find it oversaturated.

Returning to the user interface, anyone familiar with a Nexus device will be totally at home. It’s all fairly standard and what Motorola has done is to tweak some of the standard apps and include a few value-adding apps which you can use or not use, as you wish. They’re Moto X Motoall pretty good and several have been updated with new names and extra functionality. Both Help and Migrate are much as before and Connect now supports newer devices such as the Moto 360 smartwatch or Keylink tracker.

Moto has replaced the earlier Assist as a personal assistant-type app that sets up rules for when the phone needs to be quiet, based on driving, meetings or sleeping. The new version adds extra features to set up rules for reacting to motion, responding to voice and displaying notifications on the screen. Active Display is still cool – go up to the phone and notifications will fade into view. It’s one of the best Moto features by far. The new Moto X now has Attentive Display too which keeps the screen on when the owner is looking at the phone but turns it off to save power when the owner looks away. Neat.

Camera-wise, some other reviewers gripe that the 13 megapixel camera lets the phone down. I’m not so sure: while it’s not a necessarily a great camera, my photos seemed to me to be an improvement on those taken by the previous generation of smartphone camera. I was able to zoom in further without loss of detail and colour reproduction was good. Frankly, if you want great photos, use a DSLR.

To round off the review, here are a couple of family photos with the 2014 Moto X next to the original and a Nexus 4 snuck in the middle. The new one is bigger but it’s not crazy big like the Nexus 6 or the OnePlus One. I think it’s a good size.

 

Motorola Moto X and Nexus 4

Motorola Moto X and Nexus 4

Reiterating, the Moto X is an excellent phone which is competitively priced, starting at £419 here in the UK, though there are occasional offers that drop the price by good chunk. It feels great in the hand, has a lovely screen and sticks to stock Android while adding value through apps rather than eye candy. I’m seriously considering buying one for myself to replace the ageing Nexus 4, so consider that a recommendation.

Thanks again to Motorola for providing the Moto X for review.

Aleratec Hard Drive Duplicator at CES

Aleratec LogoLet’s been honest, it’s not often that the average geek needs to duplicate a single hard drive to five others in a range of physical sizes and capacities. But if you did need to do it, Aleratec have the machine for the job with the snappily named 1-to-5 HDD Copy Dock Advanced. Jamie and Todd find out what it offers from Perry Solomon, President and CEO of Aleratec.

The Aleratec 1-to-5 duplicates one SATA drive to five others, taking both spinning disks and SSDs while catering for both 3.5″ and 2.5″ form factors without any additional adaptors. In itself, that’s not particularly amazing as Aleratec do other units that will duplicate 24 HDDs at once, but this working prototype has a couple of features that set it apart. First, it has a secure erase function which will wipe disks to Dept. of Defense standards, but more impressively, the 1-to-5 has the capability to duplicate from a larger drive capacity to a smaller drive capacity. This situation often occurs when moving from an HDD to an SSD where the HDD has a volume capacity in a terabytes but the SSD has only gigabytes. Obviously the files on the source drive have to be pruned to fit the space on the receiving drive but it’s a great feature on a duplicator.

The price of the 1-to-5 HDD Copy Dock Advanced is $899 and will be available shortly.

Interview by Jamie Davies of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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IK Multimedia Announces iRig PowerBridge

Ik Multimedia iRig PowerBridgeIK Multimedia, a company that puts musicians first, has created the iRig PowerBridge. It is a new charging system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that allows for the continuous charge of the device while using iRig accessories. This allows mobile musicians to practice, perform, and record with their favorite 30-pin or Lightning compatible IK gear anywhere they want and for as long as they want.

The iRig PowerBridge is compatible with the iRig Mic HD, the iRig HD, iRig Keys, iRig PRO and iRig MIDI 2. The iRig PowerBridge combines a power supply and an ultra-low noise power conditioner that connects to a power outlet on one end and a Lightning or 30-pin iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch on the other.

Between both ends is a female Mini-DIN connector that can be used to connect any digital iRig accessory with a Mini-DIN or Micro-USB port. It is a streamlined setup that allows for continuous charging while also passing along audio and MIDI information between the iRig accessory and the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. An LED display provides at-a-glance visual feedback while charging.

The iRig PowerBridge comes in two versions. One is for Lightning and the other is for 30-pin. Both are available for preorder for $69.99 (excluding taxes). The iRig PowerBridge will ship Q1 in 2015 from music and electronics retailers worldwide and on the IK online store.

Peri Duo Speaker Case for iPhone

Peri Logo

When it comes to smartphones and tablets, there are few mobile devices that produce anything like a decent volume and as for stereo separation, forget it. Fortunately Peri can come to the aid of iPhone owners with the Peri Duo, a high-power wireless speaker and phone charger case. Todd and Jamie find out more from Cedric Sumimoto, co-founder of Peri.

The Peri Duo is a standalone wi-fi and bluetooth-enabled speaker and iPhone charger case all in one. As expected, music can be streamed via AirPlay but the iPhone doesn’t have to be in the case when playing the music, so the Duo speaker can be on the opposite side of the room while the iPhone is safely in a pocket. Even better, more than one Duo can be connected to a phone so one Duo can be assigned as the left speaker and one as the right. Alternatively, one phone can multicast to dozens of Peri Duos, which really gets the party going.

The battery is 2500 mAh which will fully recharge an iPhone once with a bit over, or else the Duo will play music for around 4 hours.

The Peri Duo will be available for the iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and iPod Touch. The MSRP will be $139 though it’s currently on pre-order at $99 via Indigogo. Deliveries are expected from April onwards.

Interview by Jamie Davies of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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GNC #1007 Comcast Ghost Writers

I am beyond blown away by the Comcast Ghost Writers scandal.. They are pretty bold and it is obvious a lot of politicians are bought and paid for by Comcast. I go off on the Ghost writing practice and a pile of other tech and science news.

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Quell Treats Chronic Pain Without Side Effects at CES

Quell logoChronic pain is a major health issue for many people. Often, the only treatment available is prescription drugs and usually, these drugs are expensive, hard to get, and they may cause bad side effects. Quell is a new product from Neurometrix that promises to help with the treatment of chronic pain by using an electric band that fits over a patient’s calf muscle.

Jamie met with Dr. Shai Gozani, CEO of Neurometrix. The two covered many of the challenges faced by chronic pain patients and how Dr. Gozani believes Quell will be able to help.

Quell is expected to hit the market in the spring and will retail for around $250. Quell users will also need to purchase disposable liners that fit between the Quell band and the leg. These liners will cost an additional $30 per month.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Have All of Your Devices On Hand with TechSling at CES

Techslinger logoIt’s a dilemma. What do you do when you’re on the go and you need to bring a laptop, tablet, phone and other devices with you? Or worse, what do you do if you need to put one down in a public place? These worries become things of the past with TechSling.

Jamie visited with Tresha Davis, General Manager of TechSlinger, the makers of TechSling. Tresha explained that TechSling is used by people in many industries. Specifically, she explained how restaurant servers use the TechSling Side Order product to work with tablets as table side POS units.

There are many variations of the TechSling, and they’re all affordably priced, ranging from $35 to $69.95, depending on the model. TechSling is available for purchase directly from the manufacturer’s website.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Vigilant Has Award-Winning Healthcare Products at CES

Vigilant logoPersonal healthcare technology has evolved a lot in recent years. But most of that technology is still limited to tracking things like calories and exercise. For some users, that may be enough. But for others, especially those dealing with chronic illnesses, the need is greater.

Jamie stopped by the Vigilant booth and talked to the company’s CEO, Richard Binier. There, Richard and Jamie discussed Vigilant’s award-winning Bee, a Bluetooth-enabled product that works as an add-on to a patient’s existing diabetes pen. Bee automatically sends insulin readings and other data directly to the patient’s smartphone where it can be tracked in an electronic log.

Vigilant also had its new VigiPen on display. VigiPen is an all-in-one diabetes pen and Bluetooth tracker. While Bee is currently available for purchase, VigiPen is still undergoing testing with the FDA.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Zolt Charger Plus Is Ready For Your Power-Hungry Devices at CES

Zolt logoRemember a time when all you needed to worry about was keeping the battery in your laptop charged? Now, there’s the laptop battery, smartphone, Bluetooth headset, camera… the list goes on. What to do when you’re on the go and all of these devices start giving the low-battery warning? Plug those power-hungry monsters into the new Charger Plus from Zolt.

Chris had a chance to speak with Steve Gibson from Zolt. Steve explained how Charger Plus can be used to charge a laptop computer, using a special USB cable plugged into the top USB port of the charger, leaving the second port free to charge another device. Charger Plus will ship with adapters that work with most of the popular laptops on the market. (A special adapter for MacBooks will be sold separately.)

Charger Plus is available for preorder now at $79.99. It will have a full retail release early summer at $99.99.

Interview by Chris Davis for the TechPodcast Network.

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Kodak PixPro SP360 Brings The Complete Image to CES

Kodak logoWe humans have been capturing the events of our lives thru the camera lens for nearly two centuries. But there’s always been one problem: How can we record the action around us and still be photographed as part of that action? The folks at JK Imaging may have a solution. Marlo talked to Paul Meyhoefer, Vice President of JK Imaging, as Paul showed off the new Kodak PixPro SP360 camera.

The SP360 gives its big selling point away right there in the name, as the camera records a 360-degree view around itself. No more will it be necessary for a camera operator to stand behind a viewfinder and thus, be left out of the action.

The PixPro SP360 works with both Android and iOS, and the photos/videos captured by SP360 can also be exported to a computer for further manipulation. There’s also a range of mounting kits for the SP360 so the camera can be used in rugged outdoor environments or even underwater.

Interview by Marlo Anderson from The Tech Ranch.

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