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David Pearlman "sound fanatic" RSS Feed (Arlington, MA)
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The Beckies
The Beckies
Price: $12.99
31 used & new from $9.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Michael Brown's very last stab at getting the world to hear his pop brilliance. A must for power pop fans, May 6, 2016
This review is from: The Beckies (Audio CD)
This is a lovely pop album from the pen of the late Michael Brown. Brown is best known as the powerhouse composer behind The Left Banke, author of their milestones such as Walk Away Renee, Desiree, She May Call You Up Tonight and others. Unfortunately Brown was a great musician, but not a particularly balanced person, and ultimately he had to leave The Left Banke. He put together a band called Montage and wrote their material, but their sole album came and went without notice. He then formed Stories, stayed for a couple of albums, and then left (before they had a hit with a cover of Louie Louie). Through all these projects, Brown's composing brilliance was clear, but he simply couldn't ever seem to keep things together.

Finally, a few years after Stories, Brown put together another band, The Beckies, and after a long gestation their album appeared on Sire/ABC. It's a really nice, and at times transcendent, pop album. It it clearly the work of Michael Brown. And, coming in the middle of the '70s, it was out of phase with trends, and it sank without any trace. It didn't help that Brown, increasingly unreliable, couldn't even keep this outfit together long enough for the record to be released--so no real promotion.

At the time, those of us who managed to hear it and watch it disappear just figured "ol' Michael--he'll be back, and maybe he'll have his <stuff> together next time..." But, alas, there never really was a next time. Brown faded away and became a "whatever happened to...?" statistic, with this his final epitaph. Decades later, a low budget private label album that represented a collaboration between Brown and his wife appeared for about 3 seconds before it was recalled by Brown. It's now rare. He did a bit of reunion work with The Left Banke that didn't get released. And that was it--not much for the nearly 40 years since this album was released. He left us last year and so now we can look back at what he did manage to release and see that The Beckies was his last high flying hope for success and recognition. And in a just world, it would have been enough, because it's truly a stellar pop album, well written, well arranged, well sung. Any fan of pop/power pop needs this in their collection. It should be on the canonical must own list for those who enjoy that kind of music.

In a just world, anyway.


Live In Memphis (2-Lp)(Red Vinyl, Includes Download Card)
Live In Memphis (2-Lp)(Red Vinyl, Includes Download Card)
Price: $28.49
45 used & new from $11.70

3.0 out of 5 stars An OK "Big Star" show by a latter day sort-of kind-of lineup, not really essential and not even as good as Columbia Live, April 14, 2016
It's not a bad show, but it's not really Big Star (1/4 of the real Big star passed away nearly two decades earlier, and another member opted not to play). So it's Alex Chilton going for a bit of a late era victory lap (or money grab, depending on your cynicism). He brings along a couple of Posies to fill out the band. And it's totally professional.The songs are good ones, of course. But...it just kind of lays there in a pretty good but not essential way.

it's also not as good a show as Columbia: Live at Missouri University, performed by the same band and released years ago.

So in the end this is mostly for completists.


all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Stainlifter, 50 Ounces/33 Loads, FFP (Pack of 2)
all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Stainlifter, 50 Ounces/33 Loads, FFP (Pack of 2)
Price: $25.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good premium detergent, but bottles may leak during shipping, March 31, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Throughout my post college adult life--that is, my adult life where I was responsible for washing my own clothes (for those earlier years thanks mom!)--I've mostly rotated between a small number of laundry detergents, including All (this product) and Tide and (in recent years) Costco's Kirkland brand. Yeah, sure, I've strayed at times, especially in the early years when I was living on a grad student stipend and the cheap stuff seemed good enough at the end of the month. But mostly I have found that there are the good ones and the other ones, and that All is one of the good ones.

I am not sensitive to scents, and I have no soap allergies, so I don't care much about scent or any of that. I DO care about getting my clothes clean. And more importantly, getting them clean in cold water, since I own a lot of colored cottons that don't always do so well in hot water. So my detergent has to be efficient in cold water.

This particular variant of All is a good one. I've recently been using Kirkland HE detergent (it was on sale when I last needed something--I may be way better off than I was as a grad student, but I still don't like wasting money!), so I did a comparison test with that. I've compared Kirkland with Tide before and they seemed to do about the same job. So now it's Kirkland vs. All and you can infer the results vs. Tide. I took a couple of white button down shirts and separated them into two separate loads, along with some white pillow cases, etc. One load got washed in Kirkland HE. One load in this version of All. Cold water. The results? I couldn't tell a difference. Both sets of items looked appropriately clean, no remaining stains, no ring around the collar, all good. I think did a couple of colored loads, again separated. And again, I can't tell any real difference.

Obviously, this is far from scientific, but I'm happy with this version of All, and I will gladly use it all (I got 100oz) and would buy it again.

So that's the good stuff. Why 4 stars then? Because there IS an issue with the packaging. The item arrived to me properly boxed, no signs of shipping distress at all. BUT both bottles had leaked during transport (see photos). By the time I got them, the detergent that leaked had congealed and it wasn't a huge deal. But still, it shouldn't be leaking at all, and it suggests that the cap on these bottles might need to be redesigned to avoid this issue.

One more note: This comes in 50oz bottles. If you have trouble with big bottles, that's the sweet spot. I personally don't have any troubles with the 150+ oz bottles you can buy, but as my mom always reminds me "not everyone is you." For sure. And if you have trouble maneuvering large bottles, you'll probably find these 50oz bottles more handy.
Comment Comment | Permalink


Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess
Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess
by David Ritz
Edition: Audio Cassette
11 used & new from $45.80

2.0 out of 5 stars If you were really REALLY interested in what Walter Yetnikoff was doing in the '70s and '80s, this is your book. Others can pass, March 28, 2016
I'll summarize the book for you:

I, Walter Yetnikoff, due to being at the right place at the right time, and not due to any particular acumen for music, found myself head of Columbia Records. As president of Columbia, I did a lot of drugs, engaged in generally hedonistic activities, did more drugs, hung out with famous celebrities, especially rock musicians, did some more drugs, engaged in more debauchery and self-dealt myself plenty of spoils.

From which I have learned nothing, and from which I present no insights.

The end.

If that sounds like your kind of book, this is highly recommended.


Sony CP-W5 Wireless Portable Charging Pad With 5000 mAh for Qi Compatible Devices
Sony CP-W5 Wireless Portable Charging Pad With 5000 mAh for Qi Compatible Devices
Offered by Deals on OEM
Price: $11.99
23 used & new from $5.00

2.0 out of 5 stars A nice idea but very poorly executed. Qi charging pad is very hard to align and turns off when device is charged..., February 29, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I wanted to like this. A portable recharging battery that also does Qi wireless charging? Excellent.

No, not so excellent, as it turns out.

Here's why:

1) The Qi wireless charging has to be activated with a power button. It doesn't auto-sense and start charging.
2) The charging pad is VERY finicky about actually making and keeping Qi wireless charging contact
3) Once your phone is charged, the pad turns off. Permanently (unless/until you press that power button again). So if your phone gets fully charged at 2am, if you wake up at 8am, your phone will have been discharging for 6 hours. Oops...

In addition, the battery is very picky about what type of wall USB charger you use (not included). You need to use a 2-2.1A charger for it register the charger reliably.

On the whole, this is a cool idea but a lousy device.

My personal recommendation for a Qi wireless charger (and I've tried a LOT of them) remains the Nokia DT-900. This has been discontinued by Nokia, but can be found for very little money on the third party marketplace (see Amazon listing).


Buckingham Nicks
Buckingham Nicks

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is a bootleg. Period. If you want a bootleg copy of this album on a burned CD-R disc, feel free. But know it..., January 3, 2016
This review is from: Buckingham Nicks (Audio CD)
This is a bootleg copy. There is NO legitimate version available, and never has been:

"The album was a commercial failure on its original release, and despite the duo's subsequent success, it has yet to be commercially remastered or re-released on any format since 1973. The rights are now with the former couple as the original company Anthem (not the Canadian label of Rush fame) has long since become defunct."

If you buy this, you are merely feeding a bootlegger somewhere, who has taken some version of the album and burned it on their own CD (note that the album comes on a CD-R, per the notes in this Amazon listing; it's not even a pressed CD!)

I have no idea why Amazon even allows this listing to exist, but since it's here, I'm warning you: If you want to hear the album, you can find places to download it for free. That's what whoever is making these copies has done. The official, real, release of the album, if it ever comes, will be better.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2016 1:50 PM PDT


Ringke Skin for Google Nexus 6 - Retail Packaging - Crystal View
Ringke Skin for Google Nexus 6 - Retail Packaging - Crystal View
Price: $8.56
3 used & new from $8.56

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic case for the Nexus 6 that adds protection and a whole lot of stabilization while minimally adding to dimensions, December 6, 2015
(Clarifying note, because Amazon's listing is missing critical details: This is the Ringke Fusion case for the Nexus 6).

Let's face it: The Nexus 6 is a huge phone. Huge enough that most of us don't want a case that makes it appreciably huge-er! My previous phone was also big (Droid Maxx), but sufficiently smaller than this one that I was OK for that one with a very (very) chunky Otterbox case.

But this phone is just way too big to accept a case that adds much to the dimensions. Did I mention the phone is huge?

Anyway, while the phone is big, even naked, it's also slippery and a bit too thin to feel that stable in my hand. I've had no issues in the week I've used it naked, but each time I slip it into my pocket (I'm a guy, it goes in the front pocket), I think "well, it's just a matter of time..."

So I did some research, looking for a case that added the minimum amount to the phone's dimensions, but still provided quality feel and offered some amount of "oh no" protection. The accumulated wisdom of the Web pointed me towards the Ringke line, and for what I was looking for, to the Fusion case.

The accumulated wisdom of the web often lets me down, but not this time.

The case slips over the back of the phone with ease. It's a bit stiff, but it's not hard plastic, and so has enough give that you can bend it just enough to insert the phone. Once attached, all the ports are properly aligned, the buttons work GREAT (many cheap cases can't claim this) and the covers for the USB jack and the headphone jack are a nice touch, as is the ripple along the middle of the back that helps align your grip when holding it. Most importantly, the sides of the case add a bit of width to the feel AND feel rubberized and offer added grip--a lot of added grip--over the native case. I feel way more secure in holding the phone now than I did when it was naked.

Summarizing:

What's great:

1) WAY better tactile feel for the sides with the case than the naked phone. Not only do the sides feel a little bit wider, but the case also adding a lot of "stickiness" via what feels like some rubberization.

2) Buttons function great with case. In fact, I would say they function better with the case on than without it on--as I feel the power button on the Nexus 6 is, if anything, a bit TOO easy to press accidentally on the native phone. With the case on it's "just right". I'd say that most case makers mess up with respect to the buttons--often they are WAY too hard to press with the case on, or else they are poorly made and inadvertently press the buttons when you don't want that to happen. Ringke has it dialed in.

3) The flaps that cover the headphone jack and the USB port are nice touches.

4) The ridge that runs along the back of the case helps focus your grip. Nice.

5) Fit of the case is perfect.

6) Nice clear back means you can see all the details of the underlying phone. This is not a deal breaker for me in any event, but it's a nice touch.

7) The case comes with a good quality screen protector. I don't typically use screen protectors, and I didn't use this one, but I know a lot of people do, and this saves you a few bucks if you're one of those people...

In all, if you are looking for a case to add a really well made case to your Nexus 6 that adds stabiliziation without a lot of size, THIS IS THE ONE!


Nexus 6 Case, Ringke [Fusion] Clear PC Back TPU Bumper w/ Screen Protector [Drop Protection/Shock Absorption Technology][Attached Dust Cap] For Google Nexus 6 - Mint
Nexus 6 Case, Ringke [Fusion] Clear PC Back TPU Bumper w/ Screen Protector [Drop Protection/Shock Absorption Technology][Attached Dust Cap] For Google Nexus 6 - Mint
Offered by Ringke Official Store

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic case for the Nexus 6 that adds protection and a whole lot of stabilization while minimally adding to dimensions, December 5, 2015
Let's face it: The Nexus 6 is a huge phone. Huge enough that most of us don't want a case that makes it appreciably huge-er! My previous phone was also big (Droid Maxx), but sufficiently smaller than this one that I was OK for that one with a very (very) chunky Otterbox case.

But this phone is just way too big to accept a case that adds much to the dimensions. Did I mention the phone is huge?

Anyway, while the phone is big, even naked, it's also slippery and a bit too thin to feel that stable in my hand. I've had no issues in the week I've used it naked, but each time I slip it into my pocket (I'm a guy, it goes in the front pocket), I think "well, it's just a matter of time..."

So I did some research, looking for a case that added the minimum amount to the phone's dimensions, but still provided quality feel and offered some amount of "oh no" protection. The accumulated wisdom of the Web pointed me towards the Ringke line, and for what I was looking for, to the Fusion case.

The accumulated wisdom of the web often lets me down, but not this time.

The case slips over the back of the phone with ease. It's a bit stiff, but it's not hard plastic, and so has enough give that you can bend it just enough to insert the phone. Once attached, all the ports are properly aligned, the buttons work GREAT (many cheap cases can't claim this) and the covers for the USB jack and the headphone jack are a nice touch, as is the ripple along the middle of the back that helps align your grip when holding it. Most importantly, the sides of the case add a bit of width to the feel AND feel rubberized and offer added grip--a lot of added grip--over the native case. I feel way more secure in holding the phone now than I did when it was naked.

Summarizing:

What's great:

1) WAY better tactile feel for the sides with the case than the naked phone. Not only do the sides feel a little bit wider, but the case also adding a lot of "stickiness" via what feels like some rubberization.

2) Buttons function great with case. In fact, I would say they function better with the case on than without it on--as I feel the power button on the Nexus 6 is, if anything, a bit TOO easy to press accidentally on the native phone. With the case on it's "just right". I'd say that most case makers mess up with respect to the buttons--often they are WAY too hard to press with the case on, or else they are poorly made and inadvertently press the buttons when you don't want that to happen. Ringke has it dialed in.

3) The flaps that cover the headphone jack and the USB port are nice touches.

4) The ridge that runs along the back of the case helps focus your grip. Nice.

5) Fit of the case is perfect.

6) Nice clear back means you can see all the details of the underlying phone. This is not a deal breaker for me in any event, but it's a nice touch.

7) The case comes with a good quality screen protector. I don't typically use screen protectors, and I didn't use this one, but I know a lot of people do, and this saves you a few bucks if you're one of those people...

In all, if you are looking for a case to add a really well made case to your Nexus 6 that adds stabiliziation without a lot of size, THIS IS THE ONE!


Alone in the Universe
Alone in the Universe
Price: $13.98
39 used & new from $6.96

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jeff's back--always cause for celebration. But while there are some gems here, the demo quality arrangements could be better, November 16, 2015
This review is from: Alone in the Universe (Audio CD)
Jeff Lynne is a brilliant pop musician. There are more undeniable earworms scattered through his work with The Idle Race, The Move, ELO and solo than you'd find in the careers of any ten more mortal musicians. I've been a huge fan of his work for about 40 years now. And this, his first full album of new original material in nearly a decade and a half, is cause for celebration if only for the fact that it has been way too long that Jeff's been alone in the universe.

But, sadly, after well more than a baker's dozen full plays to fully let the album sink in and work its charms, I've found that there's not as much here to love as I'd wish, or that I'd reasonably expect. By my count, there are three very good songs here (When I Was a Boy, Dirty to the Bone and All My Life), and a fourth that sounds like a demo for a really good song (Alone in the Universe). And the rest? Well, every ELO album had a few "skippers"--tracks that weren't exactly horrible, but which I move past when I have the chance. But in the good old days (and even on his first solo album) they didn't constitute 6/10 (60%) of the album...And in the good old days, the skippers weren't so obvious rewrites of other Jeff Lynne work (more on that later).

On top of the somewhat low hit-to-miss ratio here, the entire album has an uninvolving boxed in sound, and features drab canned drum tracks. Apparently, Jeff recorded the entire thing on his own, and while it's kind of impressive that a guy can record an entire album on his own in his home studio, maybe it's not as, er, good as it is impressive. I wish Jeff had used a band and an orchestrator to move from these songs--which ultimately mostly sound like highly produced demos--to a more vibrant finished product.

The song-by-song rundown.

When I was a Boy: The best song here by far. Nice arrangement. This is a latter-day Jeff Lynne classic, no question. If only the rest of the album were up to this standard.

Love and Rain: Typical mid-tempo song that doesn't pay off in the chorus. I do like the that key change around 2:20 where you get the choral "Love and Rain" chorus for about 20 seconds--that sounds like good ELO. But then it's back to the drab mid-tempo main verse/chorus.

Dirty to the Bone: Clever start, good song. Catchy, and I'm happy to hear it each time it comes on. But like most of the album, it sounds like a demo.

When the Night Comes: Starts like a direct rewrite of Balance of Power's second string track "Is it Alright" at a slower pace, with crummier production, and doesn't improve from there.

The Sun Will Shine On You: I think there might be a very good song hiding here with the right arrangement choices. But as it is, it's merely adequate.

Ain't it a Drag: This one's a funny one. Taken by itself, outside the context of the album it's kind of fun, and sounds like an outtake from the Full Moon Fever sessions. But it's missing what Jeff once described as "the magic chord change" or something else to keep it from ultimately feeling like a promising idea that isn't fleshed out properly. And within the context of the album, it just slides by.

All My Life: Utter pop classicism. Two minutes and 50 seconds of sweet pop bliss. But where are the strings that this song deserves?

I'm Leaving You: The best part is the nice guitar figure at the start, clearly inspired by the one Jeff used on Stormy Weather (from Armchair Theater). Then it leads into what sounds like a (very) lousy first attempt at the song that eventually became California Blue, and appeared on Roy Orbison's "Mystery Girl".

One Step at a Time: The epitome of a Lynne by-the-numbers mid-tempo rocker, OK verses, lame choruses, filler on any album

Alone in the Universe: It doesn't take a genius to hear the orchestral embellishments that this song would have demanded on a classic era ELO album. With those, it would take its place with such sweeping closers as One Summer Dream. As it is, it's a decent song not given its due.


ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser Unlocked Smartphone, 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage
ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser Unlocked Smartphone, 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage
Price: $229.00
20 used & new from $165.99

176 of 192 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For a mid-priced unlocked phone without a contract, this one offers an impressive package, October 29, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Asus has become something of a household name over the past couple of decade via their entries in the laptop, tablet and other electronic peripheral markets. What not everyone knows is that they have also made a substantial effort in the past few years to become a player in the cell phone market. And, as you might guess, since not everyone knows that, they haven't been exactly super burning up the sales charts in the US in that area.

But that doesn't mean they aren't worth your consideration, if you are one of those people willing to look beyond Apple and Samsung.

Earlier this year, Asus introduced a new line of phones the Asus ZenFone 2. These were nice, carrier unlocked, relatively inexpensive phones that offered pretty good functionalty. They didn't have the best cameras on the market, or the best performance. But the phone reception on the phones is very good, and as long as you aren't pushing them too hard, they're attractive lower cost options.

One of the features that differentiated those earlier generation ZenFone 2 models is that they featured (relatively expensive) Intel processors, giving them a bit of a performance boost, but making those phones a bit like lone wolves in an ecosystem where Qualcomm Snapdragon processors rule, which, among other things, adds to the support costs for phone manufacturers who want to ensure every new Android update lands on their phone line.

So it's probably not a surprise that for their new iteration of the ZenFone, the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser, Asus has moved over to the Qualcomm platform. Beyond the change in processor, the main new feature of this iteration of ZenFones is that Asus has added laser assisted focusing technology to the (13 megapixel) rear-facing camera. On top of that, the specs of this particular phone are pretty solid: An upper-midline Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor (MSM8930) with associated Adreno 405 GPU. A full HD resolution (1080x1920) 5.5" screen. A larger-sized 3000mAh battery. A generous 3Gb of RAM and 32Gb of storage. Two sim card slots (you can have two phone numbers with this single phone--although few people use that feature). A second, 5 megapixel, front facing camera. And a micro-sd slot to add storage.

The phone comes carrier unlocked and is supported on all GSM networks (so in North America that would mean AT&T, T-Mobile and Rogers (in Canada), plus the third party carriers who use those networks).

In the box you get the phone, a USB cable, and a charge. You do NOT get a pair of headphones (honestly, given the quality of the included headphones with most phones, not a loss). Any Android compatible headphones will work with this.

Enough about specs and features. How good is this phone?

First off, the operating system. The phone comes with Android 5 (Lollipop). That's the good news. On the not as good side of things, to that Asus has added a bunch of (IMHO) unnecessary software on top, which they call the ZenUI. I mean, the added launcher and other software isn't terrible. But I don't think it adds much to the vanilla Android 5 experience and does add more software to slightly slow down your phone and possibly cause issues down the road. That said, one feature of the ZenUI I do like is that it automatically separates your apps into folders based on their category of function. (Photo apps, games, etc.). I do this by hand on my other phones with more vanilla Android interfaces, so having it done automatically (assuming you're OK with the categorization) is not a bad thing. As for responsiveness, I found the phone pretty fast. With about 15 apps opened, including Google Maps, three different browsers, a third party messaging app (Pinger), and a few other things, I was still able to open and play a low-stress game (Angry Birds) without any issue. Everything worked as it should and I could switch between apps and browsers without issue. Responsiveness of the browers remained good and fluid.

I wouldn't say the phone was MORE responsive than other mid/high end recent phones. But it was quite satisfactory.

In terms of ergonomics of the external buttons, the phone is...odd. The power button is on the top of the phone, not on the side where it's located on just about every other smartphone on the planet. I found that the position of the power button was very inconvenient for one handed operation. This might have been a deal breaker except for the fact that you can also do the equivalent of a power button push by double tapping the screen. While it took a little while to get used to that, once I did, I found that a wholly acceptable alternative to the physical power button. (You still need to use the physical power button to get to the Power Off menu, but I don't typically need to do that with one hand). The volume buttons are also oddly located: On the back of the phone, near the camera, not on the side. Almost immediately, I found this position for the volume buttons to actually be preferable to where you typically find that. They feel very comfortable there. I was worried whether the buttons would be more prone to pushing when the phone was in my pocket, but I didn't find that to be a problem.

The screen is bright and clear, as you'd expect for a full HD screen. It didn't seem that the images were quite as vibrant as on some of the top end phones I've used, but certainly it's good enough.

Battery life was very good, as would be expected for phone with a larger battery like this one. For an average user, you should have no problem getting through a full day without recharging. In my preliminary testing, I had 35% of the battery left after a full day of power use. A non-typical test of playing video continuously (720p video) until a fully charged battery died gave about 11 hours of play time (with screen at about 70% brightness). The combination of the fairly hefty battery along with the conservative processor and screen shows its power here.

On top of the pretty great battery life, the battery is easily replaceable on this phone (snap off the back, change battery). In a world where more and more phones have gone to non-removable batteries, that's certainly a nice feature!

The phone, in terms of capability as, you know, a phone, worked quite well. It seemed to be able to pull in a stronger signal in the same place as an iPhone 6--although comparisons based on "reception bar" readout are always suspect. Callers told me I sounded very clear, both in standard and speaker phone mode. The built in speaker is clear, precise, and reasonably loud.

Finally, there's the camera. (You were wondering if I'd forgotten?) That's supposed to be the special allure of this phone, because the "laser assisted focusing" is supposed to allow the camera to focus more quickly and accurately, especially in low light. This is a relatively rare feature on camera phones, available only on a few other phones like the LG G3 (The laser assisted focusing sends out a beam that makes it possible for the phone to quickly and accurately focus even in low light. Most phone cameras auto focus by maximizing contrast/phase in the image, and this tends to start to fail in low light). And I did, indeed, find that the camera focused quickly and reliably on objects that were near to the camera. I have no reservations in asserting that in terms of auto-focusing, the camera in this phone works more reliably than any other mid-line phone camera I've ever used, and arguably better than the top end cameras in phones like the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S6. That's the good news. The bad news? Well, outside of the focusing, the image quality from this camera is pretty average. Photos tended to be somewhat soft. Also, the laser focusing only works well for objects that are close to the phone. If you try to take a photo of something far from the phone, the laser assist has little effect (and in fact the camera automatically reverts to standard contrast based focusing). Finally, while the camera did reliably focus even in low light, the quality of low light images wasn't particularly impressive--images tended to be grainy. This isn't a surprise, but the quality of the (admitedly focused) images wasn't as good as you could get with the very best camera phones.

Then again, let's remember this is a relatively inexpensive no-contract unlocked phone.

On the whole, I found this phone to offer quite a bit to like for the price. No, it's not a competitor for the top end of the current generation if things like having the very best camera or playing the most demanding games are important. But it has an acceptable camera, a decent processor, a decent screen, good battery life, a replaceable battery (!), two sim slots and micro-sd expansion. A phone like this would have been amazing a few years ago, and it's still a good phone now.

It's worth considering that in terms of processor, GPU, screen size, and battery, this phone is very similar to the new highly hyped Moto X Play. It adds laser focusing but has an arguably slightly inferior camera, the Asus has 1Gb more RAM than the Moto X Play (3Gb versus 2Gb), and the Asus has a somewhat smaller battery (but both phones have large enough batteries for full day use). Depending on what you think is important and your budget (and current pricing when you're looking) comparing these two phones would be a great place to start.
Comment Comments (17) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2016 10:50 AM PDT


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