Kingston DataTraveler microDuo Hardware Review

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo Hardware Review

May 1, 2014

So… just to get it out of the way, the answer is “yes.”

Yes to what? I’ll get to that later. For now, bear with us as we get to take the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo for a spin.

We received the 32 GB variant (it also comes in 8 GB, 16 GB and 64 GB flavors) to test; the microDuo looks to do just what one would expect of valuable mobile accessory: it looks to extend the functionality of mobile devices. It does this by taking advantage of USB OTG, the ability of some mobile devices to interface with USB peripherals. In essence, this little gadget provides a mobile carry-on of 32 GB of extra storage space..

Not that one would guess by looking at it. It’s fingernail small, almost diminutive, with black and chrome stylings that underscore its rectangular shape. On the one end, there is a familiar USB input, and on the other a black cover-like piece. Flipping the black piece reveals a microUSB input piece. The package includes a lanyard, too. It feels solid enough and fairly well constructed.

Using the hardware is easy, and intuitive. On a supported device, it is plugged into the microUSB port, and, with kmd3the right software, it’s pretty much plug-and-play to download or offload data. The same operation works to connect to computers with the full USB end to a “full” computer. Of course, it can be used to transfer and/or sync data between any number of devices that have USB/USB-OTG functionality. On a handheld device, a file reader is required, and thankfully, even if there isn’t built in one, options exists in the Play Store. On a Windows machine, the gadget is recognized like any other drive (it’s listed as compatible with Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows RT, Mac OS X v.10.6.x+ and Linux v.2.6+).

With expandable memory on mobile devices becoming more optional, and mobile devices becoming more proficient at handling media and data, infinitely portable accessories like this can be invaluable.

This doodad is tiny, and as such, the lanyard is welcome accessory’s accessory; still, the lanyard is minuscule. A file exploring app is essential for easy use, and it’s unfortunate that it does not work with all devices. Still, in the short time I used it, it became a valuable part of the mobile arsenal, especially with its five-year warranty.

So… back to the question that induced the answer that started it all. Can the microDuo earn a coveted place in my go bag? A place that only the best gadgets earn based on overall mobility and functionality?

Wasn’t so hard, was it?

The Kingston 32GB DataTraveler microDuo is available for $18.74 on Amazon.

myBounds Review

myBounds Review

Apr 6, 2012

Cellular providers all over the world are cutting back the amount of minutes, text messages and data allowed in plans they offer these days. When starting a new plan with a new wireless carrier or adjusting a current plan, watching every aspect of usage can be the difference between a normal monthly bill and an outrageous bill. myBounds is a web application with an Android counterpart made specifically to help measure monthly phone data, minute and text message usage for a single or multiple users sharing a cellular plan.

Creating an account from the myBounds website was much easier than through the application. The specifics of the wireless service need to be added. The amount of monthly data, text messages and minutes allowed can all be set to the plan limits. myBounds also asks for a start date; this is the first day of the monthly billing cycle. Once the allowances are set, if there are other devices on the plan, invites can be sent to those other users.

As the month progresses, the progress bars will increase as services are used. When any of the limits are close to being reached, a notification is sent to warn of potential overages. Some wireless providers give the option of reallocating minutes, text messages or data to other devices on the plan.

myBounds works well when monitoring text messages and data usage. In testing, the usage tracking for both of these sections seemed to be pretty accurate. At first the stats didn’t seem correct, but after a manual refresh they were right where they should be. Each time you start up myBounds, the application logs in and refreshes the progress bars.

Measuring minute usage is a little trickier for some some carriers. There is not an option to add in plan specific free features such as free incoming calls. There are options to add start and stop times fro free night and weekends or specific phone numbers where the calls do not deplete your anytime minutes. While adding these minutes into the overall usage will surely help avoid overages, the total number of minutes will not be an accurate representation of minutes left for the rest of the month.

Many people are not as concerned with minute usage because they are using more text messaging and data applications than actually talking to people. Having an accurate count of the text message and the data usage will make the majority of people happy.

Juice Defender App Review

Juice Defender App Review

Mar 1, 2012

Juice Defender Ultimate is one of the more popular batter life saving apps on the Market today. My biggest problem with apps like these is that often times the statements are mere posturing when just a few simple preventive steps by the user would do the same job. Don’t get me wrong, Juice Defender Ultimate is an incredibly intelligent app that allows for an insane amount of customization over the smallest aspects of the phone. I just feel the largest ways Juice Defender saves battery life are just as simple as turning off the wireless functions when not in use. There really is no hidden secret here, only have the GPS active when it is needed, don’t enable WiFi when the phone is in a back pocket between classes, and keep the screen brightness at a reasonable level. This can all be done with a simple widget or notification widget like Widgetsoid 2.x, which allows for quick and easy toggling of various phone functions.

I am not usually craving phone battery, and my EVO 4G seems to do alright through the day, assuming I don’t spend my hour between classes looking at cat videos on YouTube over Ohio State’s WiFi. So the supposed 1.38x battery life bump I received was not as noticeable as the 4x claims made on Juice Defender Ultimate’s Market page. I can see where this is coming from, however, users who do not know to disable specific wireless connections are sure to see a massive bump in battery life when their GPS isn’t constantly activated. Juice Defender is nice for when these functions have been accidentally left on, and a good option is to automatically disable all wireless data connections when the screen is off. This does conserve some battery, but a problem occurs upon unlocking and immediately utilizing an app that requires an internet connection because there is about a 15 second delay as the phone connects to a data network. The same applies for the option to keep data off unless specific apps are opened. It is a great theory, but in practice, there, again, is a long delay between when the app is opened and when the data connection is finally established.

One final problem I had with Juice Defender is that a few days after installing it my home screen really started to bog down and become sluggish. Individual apps did not seem to be affected other then in the initial launch. I do not have any hard evidence that Juice Defender is the red-handed culprit but I do know that as soon as I disabled it everything resumed normal function and I didn’t experience any more problems.

Overall, Juice Defender Ultimate is best for those who have trouble regulating their connections by themselves or for those with older batteries and need every last percent. For most everyone else, however, Juice Defender Ultimate may just become a superfluous app that will benefit marginally with the chance of compromised performance.

Java ME is Not Surging Ahead of Android, and Other Fun With Numbers

Java ME is Not Surging Ahead of Android, and Other Fun With Numbers

Jan 3, 2012

While everyone talks about the domination of iOS and Android in the smartphone market, and the battle for supremacy among the two platforms. However, there appears to be a third competitor worth mentioning: Java ME. Yes, the same Java ME that powered many handsets long before Android came around, and before the iPhone was a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. According to NetMarketshare by way of Fortune, Java ME took second place back from Android by the end of 2011 after Android surged ahead in October 2011.

The news seems shocking at first, but upon further examination, this does not point to the death of Android. First, iOS dropped a greater percentage of mobile browser usage than Android did, going from 61.50% in October to 52.10% in December – no one’s certainly willing to start making funeral arrangements for iOS quite yet, are they?

One explanation could be just different phone usage during the holiday season, as Electronista speculates. With many people on the go, especially people who might still be using ‘dumbphones’ powered by Java ME, they might be more inclined to surf the web on their devices while waiting in an airport terminal, or while their family discusses awkward topics in the living room.

As well, it appears that NetApplications is just measuring web browser traffic, and not all mobile usage entirely, based on their own methodology. iOS and Android users don’t always use their browsers to access internet content – apps for accessing web services are very widespread on the platforms. As such, Java ME may be more susceptible to fluctuations up or down in browser usage because the browser is the point of entry to internet access – not so for iOS and Android. However, such fluctuations did not occur in 2010 – this could point to an influx of new low-cost devices, perhaps in territories that are only now getting access to mobile data and 3G?

It could even just represent an error in data collection, as the statistics for all platforms appear to wildly skew from norms in October 2011, before eventually returning to more realistic numbers. Apple could also be to blame for the differences, as the October release of the iPhone 4S, which was available on 3 of the 4 major carriers in the US, caused a massive spike in iOS usage. Data on Net Marketshare goes back to January 2010, and for each month where Apple released a milestone iOS device (April 2010: iPad; June 2010: iPhone 4; October 2010: iPod touch 4; January 2011: Verizon iPhone 4; April 2011: iPad 2; October 2011: iPhone 4S), iOS usage spiked for a month or two before decreasing. This is likely a sign of iOS users using their devices more as they acquire them, before settling into normal, lesser, usage patterns.

Android was the only platform to not spike in October 2011, and this may be due to Samsung’s Galaxy S2, which was made available on Sprint in September, and on AT&T and T-Mobile in October. Buoyed by its branding, ad campaigns from both the carriers and Samsung, and the fact that it is the only Android phone to have such a coordinated multi-carrier release that could compare to the iPhone, this is certainly a rational explanation for why it enjoyed its spike like iOS did in October. It’s a natural usage cycle – people use their shiny new phones and tablets at higher rates initially, before their normal usage sets in.

Headlines decrying this as the fall of Android to Java ME are not looking at the big picture – Android is, year to year (December 2010-December 2011), up 4.77% in usage (of mobile browsers alone), and Java ME is down by a difference of 5.21%. iOS only grew by a difference of 2.91% in that same timespan. Mobile browser usage, including tablet devices, in that timespan increased from 3.44% to 7.67%.

The important to know about statistics is that they must be used and analyzed properly. Using small samples and selective usage of data can lead to flawed analysis. Looking at and analyzing the bigger picture, and trying to recognize potential errors is a huge part of data analysis. The analysis of that bigger picture does make it seem as if the story is not that Java ME is suddenly on the rise, that other circumstances either in usage or in data collection are in play here. Android is still growing, and growing quicker in a market that has itself doubled in market share in the past year. It definitely is being used less than iOS, but this does correlate well with the hypothesis that Android is cutting into the dumbphone market more so than they are into iOS, as more Android devices become available to low-end users, who have primarily been serviced by Java ME phones.

However, despite some faulty math and ham-handed analysis, it does not appear as if the once-ubiquitous mobile OS is making a sudden comeback, only that iOS and Android usage spiked in October, and the numbers started to level off and correct themselves in November and December. The numbers for January 2012, as well, will continue to tell the story of just where J2ME stands in a world where iOS and Android continue to grow.