Extended hands on with Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite Tablet

Extended hands on with Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite Tablet

Nov 16, 2017

The Android tablet scene is far from sparse. There are several vendors, exponentially more options, and consumer is king.

As such, it’s tough for manufacturers to make a name for themselves. Huawei has come quite far from those heady days when it had to teach people how to pronounce its name; indeed, Huawei can arguably claim to be one of the more prominent Android OEMs.

Such recognition can be a double-edged sword, what with affordable options like the recently released Mediapad M3 Lite. We definitely looked to give it a major workout.

The review retail box contained the tablet, charging pieces, paperwork and eject pin. Then, it’s off to charge.

Now, if the screen should be considered the jump-off point, the M3L definitely makes a great impression. Right upon initial boot, the vivid 1920 x 1200 pixel 8-inch screen smiles in greeting. It does like smudges though.

Just beyond the screen, you do get a sharp white frame, with space up top for an 8MP fixed focus front-facing camera, while a deceptive home button resides at the bottom. Around the frame, there are the requisite ports: audio input, micro-HDMI charging, microphone and speakers. The volume rocker and power buttons reside on the right, while there is a prominent 8MP auto-focus snapper. If you blink, you might miss the microSD card expansion slot. All this packed into a 8.4 x 4.9 x 0.3 inch frame that comes in at under 11 ounces.

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Altogether, the white finish with silver accents worked well on our review unit (and we hear it can be had in grey and gold too).

We proceeded to setup… the M3L does its thing snappily; under the hood, it packs a familiar Qualcomm Snapdragon octa-core processor. A quick run through reveals the standard stuff: bluetooth and GPS, plus 3 GB RAM, 16 GB memory and a 4800 mAh battery.

But back to performance. Basic operations like browsing, listening to music and running social networking apps didn’t cause any noticeable slowdowns. I did wish it had more onboard memory, especially with all the stock (Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, etc) apps it has. The iteration of EMUI is a nice, relatively thin-feeling overlay, and the fingerprint reader is a great latent touch, in that you might get fooled by the placement on the “home” button.

And the camera… well, check it out:

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Whines? One’s man’s must-have is another’s man app bloat. I wish I could remove — completely — apps that I don’t want. Which brings me to another nitpick: 16GB isn’t a lot for wanna be app hoarders.

The M3L does well to make you feel like you are getting a good deal for relatively little. It doesn’t really compete well with its big brother, but I hazard that its biggest positive is that it really isn’t supposed to.

US Army Zombie Slayer 2 Review

US Army Zombie Slayer 2 Review

Nov 13, 2017

Say it with us: “Zombies never get old.”

It’s true. Another day, another zombie outbreak, another hero needed. ready to take the mantle? Check out US Army Zombie Slayer 2: The Zombie Hunter Returns. Yes, this mouthful is the sequel to US Army Zombie Slayer 3D 2017.

The graphics are gritty enough, perceived in landscape first person perspective. The visuals comprise of cityscapes to start, providing plenty of area to explore. There is plenty of movement, and effects to advance the gameplay.

Gameplay? Not rocket science, really: it has a few different modes, and take out the zombies before they have you for a snack. To avoid becoming nutrition, you should look to master the controls, which comprise of virtual buttons for movement, shooting and swinging your torso round. You get to pick out a weapon, and after a learner session to get used to it all, it’s off to the battling.

One of the best parts of the action is the virtual map, which shows where the undead are in relation to you; this way, you can go find them, and even make strategic decisions as to who to hunt first. The creepers make heir way slowly, and have lifebars that you want to deplete as quickly as possible — headshots are especially lethal.

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Ah, but watch out for the quick ones. Giant rats, spiders and other animals are also infected. Doing well and clearing levels yields game cash, which can be used to unlock better weapons. Feeling impatient? Real cash can be used.

It’s definitely not a bad shooter; as noted it, it includes the basics, such as swarms of enemies, diversity of monsters, upgrade paths and more. With regards to the gameplay, it feels quite familiar, but doesn’t have some of the refinements some may expect in such first person shooters. For instance, the sight mechanism is very basic as is the method of swinging round. Now, one could argue that it just gives the game a bit more of a challenge, but when compared to other games, it might feel a tad rudimentary.

When it comes a quick-hitter, this just might do the trick. Why? Zombies never, ever get old.

Thimbleweed Park Review

Thimbleweed Park Review

Nov 11, 2017

So many games, so little time.

The Play Store is chock-full, and Android heads can almost be guaranteed that Android OS will be covered when it comes to new blockbusters. Now, all we need to is sit back, relax and enjoy the bounty.

And check out newbies like Thimbleweed Park. It’s about time this came to mobile.

The game, at first glance, is gloriously retro. Right from jump, you get drowned in fantastic old-school graphics, with stilted animations and deliberately muted coloring in tow. It is a playful iteration, one that helps bring the major action to the forefront.

With regards to gameplay, this one has two modes: Casual, which comes across as an easier version with tutorial included, and Hard, which is the full experience. Getting going (yep, of course we picked the Hard version) felt just right, as we were able to jump right into the story.

It utilizes text instructions along with touch to facilitate actions, and it isn’t too difficult to figure out how basic interactions can be effected. Its point-and-click roots are clear, and the way actions work (as in matching an action word to an object or person) help capture one’s attention. A typical series might have you acquire an object from another character, combine that item with another item in the active character’s inventory, and then finally getting to do the original activity. And, one can switch between characters when necessary.

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And yes, the mystery. The opening sequence actually managed to be spooky and surprising at the same time, and then we get a dead body, along with a set of characters that all seen to have hidden agendas. Right from the opening interaction, the overlying sense of dread is palpable, and before you know it, you get immersed in the whole experience.

Thimbleweed Park is an easy one to fall in love with for a host of reasons. It has an old-school look with murder mystery sensibilities, and still incorporates a passable Choose Your Own Adventure element to the party.

Most interesting is that with all that, the core storyline manages to tweak your mind. You are gonna want to solve this unfortunate passing. Thimbleweed Park grabs you by the tweed lapels, looks you in the eye and dares you to put it down.

We admit it… we failed to do just that. Good luck, skipper.

Badminton League Review

Badminton League Review

Nov 6, 2017

I don’t keep too many secrets, but growing up and going to school in the good old Commonwealth leaves me with a few. Like the fact that I got pretty good at volleyball. And cricket.

And badminton, even. Really good.

Review segue: here’s to all y’all shuttlecock mavens. Here’s to Badminton League.

It’s a simple affair graphically, with easy, whimsical stylings that make it pleasing to the eye. The animations are smooth and welcoming, and do a good job of framing the gameplay.

First, you get to create a simple character: skin tone, hair color, name and such. Next, it’s off to training. In this mode, you get to walk through the basic controls, which in this case allows for you to move forward and backwards, and also to hit different type of shots with a side view. Cheekily enough, it features a shuttlecock launcher, and with some practice, it might even be able move forward and backward to hit or smash shots across the net.

In the play mode, you do get a few options. In the “match” mode, you go man-to-man against an opponent, best of three wins. The opponents have different attributes, and when you get good enough to fashion fun rallies enroute to winning points.

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Success yields game cash and goodies, which can (and should) be used to improve you’re playing character, so as to be more competitive. As far as other modes go, there is local wi-fi and tourneys to delve in.

It comes together well, such that it hits you up with an engaging charm… almost sneakily so. It’s a sports simulation that is somehow not overly athletic, unless you consider the finger dexterity needed to play it. Big ups for the game modes, and the upgrade system isn’t actually annoying.

This is what boarding school prepared me for.

Satechi R1 Foldable Stand: a simple accessory for a complex world

Satechi R1 Foldable Stand: a simple accessory for a complex world

Nov 1, 2017

The older I get, the more I am willing to look to do more with less, especially with regards to productivity. Especially with regards to smartphones. My go bag is still my version of the Tardis, but now, I really work hard to ensure that the most important stuff resides in it.

It’s not rocket science. I want to carry less things, and still be productive.

If I have decent sized phone (I do), a good data plan with hotspot (check) and a wireless keyboard (yessir), I should be able to do my thing wherever there’s a workable cellular signal.

The Satechi R1 Aluminum Foldable Mobile Stand just helps round out the party.s3

In use, what you see is what you get: a relatively sleek, balanced accessory that holds up a phone or tablet such that it can be used upright. Hey, I admit it. The chrome-y aluminum finish is quite becoming. out the box, it comes flat and unassuming. It unfolds intuitively to reveal two hinges that create a tri-fold of sorts that has a curved holder at the end. The hinges are fairly tight, and require a bit of pressure to adjust.

The item can be tweaked via aforementioned hinges, which allow for the held device to be suspended at the right height and angle. The natural heft and flat base design make it hard to be toppled over.

I tried it out with everything I had: smartphone, 10-inch tablet and even swivel touchscreen Chromebook. It acquitted itself quite well.

The ability to adjust the height is a great feature. Being able to add a few inches to bring a screen closer to one’s eye level is invaluable. I also like the latent ability to prop a laptop dock-style. Since my Chromebook is my go to machine while on the run, I can count on this to work with it.

When it comes right down to it, this piece’s biggest attribute is probably its portability. The ability to securely hold up a mobile device for usage or consumption does not impress me as much as it should, but being portable does. I like the fact that this can be easily tossed in a go bag, or even a pocket if need be. The flexibility is another plus, as it can be used with a phone and even laptop/Chromebook.

Still, with how my workstation is set up, I just might make this a semi-permanent piece. Hey, this is a pretty cool problem to have, no?

Whine? Nitpicking somewhat, but because of the overall tightness, it is difficult to adjust with one hand. Of course, if I had to give up that first world problem for more device surety, I am quite okay.

Almost. Just about.

And how much is this item? Well, at the time of this writing, it is about $39.99 via the Satechi website, though you can pick it up for a bit cheaper on Amazon. Depending on your needs, it can easily be considered a reasonable investment; in these days of commodity electronics, I can understand someone going cheaper too.