When You Should Give Your Android Phone a Factory ResetbyRyan WhitwamonNov. 30, 201033 Comments
In an ideal world, your Android phone would run like a dream forever. This being real life, we can't always expect that sort of robust performance out of our devices. Things can happen that slow your phone and damage the experience. Maybe you install a lot of apps, and some of them are acting a little mischievous, or maybe something has just gone wrong deep down in the system where you have little chance of fixing it. At times like this, you could agonize over tweaks and possible fixes, or you could spend time uninstalling different combinations of apps. But maybe wiping the phone clean and starting over is the best overall option sometimes.
How to Make an Optimal Wallpaper for Your Android PhonebyRyan WhitwamonNov. 29, 20107 Comments
Android has long supported custom wallpaper on the home screen. It does fit the platform's high degree of customization after all. When you're looking for a new wallpaper, there are a few things to think about. Android doesn't just take an image that is the resolution of your display, like some other platforms do.
How To Test the Quality of Your Android Phone's TouchscreenbyRyan WhitwamonNov. 18, 20101 Comments
A phone can be built well, and have fast internals, but if the touch screen is of poor quality, the experience will be damaged. This is of special concern with Android. Many manufacturers use different hardware with different capabilities. You also have to worry about defects that can adversely affect the image quality of the screen. It's also possible for a high quality touch screen to be defective when you take it out of the box. There are a few easy things you can do to make sure your touch screen is detecting your interactions correctly.
Be a Savvy Tech Shopper by Avoiding These Two Psychological Pricing TricksbySam CookonNov. 17, 201021 Comments
No one wants to be a sucker. We all like to think of ourselves as savvy consumers, especially when it comes to our tech. That’s why we arm ourselves with benchmarks, product reviews, and bar code scanner apps—so we can buy the best gear, and not get fooled by hype and gimmicks. But are we really as safe as we think? Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational,” would say “no.” In his book, Ariely explores the field of behavioral economics, which studies how consumers make decisions, and explains how products in the real world are sold through subtle psychological trickery. These slick tactics show up everywhere—even the latest electronics store catalog.
Clever Hack: 3.5 Floppy Inches of USB StoragebyWesley FenlononNov. 15, 20108 Comments
We can’t get enough of hacks that hearken back to tech from days gone by. Who wouldn’t want a Game Boy Hard drive? The latest nostalgia-fueled hack we’ve come across is a USB drive crammed into a 3.5” floppy disk. The floppy, submitted to technabob, houses a flat chip of flash storage and the USB cord fits right out of a snug hole beside the disk’s shutter. When not in use, the USB pushes far enough back into the floppy to be almost completely hidden. Industrious hacker Charles Mangin even lined up the flash drive’s red LED light with the disk’s read/write port.
The USB port was too thick to fit within one floppy, so this hacked USB storage drive is actually made of two 3.5” disks stacked together. And here’s a depressing thought: show this to a kid under the age of 15 and he probably won’t even notice the added bulk.
Four Essential Computing Tasks You Don't Do Often EnoughbyWesley FenlononNov. 15, 201028 Comments
We can sit at our computers for hours, polishing our operating system into a lean, mean, defragged and efficient machine. Even the arduous process of upgrading software and drivers can somehow be fun when it offers the illusion of new features and better performance. Tech geeks have a tendency to pour lots of effort into system maintenance, but we slack off when it comes to real-world upkeep. Crumbs in the keyboard? Dust buildup in the PC tower? We’ll take care of it later!
How To Resolve Windows 7's Most Frustrating AnnoyancesbyWesley FenlononNov. 10, 201033 Comments
Microsoft has scored big with Windows 7, redeeming itself from the mess that was Windows Vista and delivering a solid, easy-to-use operating system. Nevertheless, Win7 comes with some baggage from previous versions of Windows. And with the breadth of functionality in a modern OS, it’s a given that there will be features and shortcuts that some people never want to use. There are also shortcuts that no one has ever wanted to use, little Windows quirks we’ve been living with for years.
Perform Regular Solid-State Checkups with SSDlifebyWesley FenlononNov. 5, 20108 Comments
Solid-state drives aren’t the outrageously expensive investments they once were, but it’s still important to keep them running in tip-top shape to make the most of their speedy potential. Here’s a free tool to give that SSD a regular checkup: SSDlife scrutinizes your drive and spits out a detailed report on how it’s feeling, how much work its done over its lifetime, and how many years it has left before conking out.
Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology monitoring system to analyze various drive values like throughput performance, temperature and read/write errors. SSDlife is a lightweight tool that gives easy at-a-glance info about your solid-state drive: to give the SSD a tune-up, try Intel’s Solid-State Toolbox.
How To Best Share Android App Recommendations with FriendsbyRyan WhitwamonNov. 4, 20105 Comments
As Android continues to expand, you're likely to see family and friends turning up with shiny new Android handsets. If you've got a reputation as a tech savvy individual (and let's face it, you're reading Tested), these people will start asking you questions. Frequently, the answer is going to be to download an app. Then you have to go through the process of instructing your acquaintance to search for it in the Market app; maybe you even need to spell it for them a few times. Then you have to worry about having multiple apps with the same name. It can be confusing for the uninitiated.
How To Get the Most Out of NiMH Rechargeable BatteriesbySam CookonNov. 2, 201027 Comments
If you’ve got few AA and AAA devices in your life, you’ve probably at least considered investing in some rechargeable batteries. NiMH cells have soared in popularity as devices have become increasingly wire-free, and thus battery-dependent. And that’s a good thing. Rechargeable batteries are a great idea all around: they save you the hassle and money of repeatedly buying throw-aways, and also keep those single-use cells out of the landfills.
How To Completely Back Up Your Google Account FilesbyWesley FenlononNov. 1, 20103 Comments
Raise your hand if you use Gmail, Google Docs, Chat or Calendar (if you’re in a public place, you’re excused from raising your hand--you might look a bit silly). Point is, the majority of us find ourselves knee deep in at least one Gmail Inbox every day, and Docs provides a fantastic service for storing files in the cloud and collaborating with friends and colleagues. But delete a file from the cloud, and you may find yourself scrambling in vain to get it back. Worse, every so often the unthinkable happens--Google’s servers go down.
How To Uninstall Your Android Apps the Right WaybyRyan WhitwamonOct. 29, 201011 Comments
Many tasks in Android can be accomplished in multiple way. We talked about installing applications recently, but you also have a few different methods of uninstalling applications, but you should know the outcome is not always the same. Some methods are more powerful than others, but you need to choose carefully depending on what you're are doing.
How To Fine Tune Automation on Your Android PhonebyRyan WhitwamonOct. 27, 20105 Comments
Some of Android's early killer features were centered on automation. The automatic syncing of Gmail and Google Contacts was a delight even on the T-Mobile G1 back in the Android 1.0 days. Over time, Android has gained the ability to automate more parts of the experience. That can be great if you are happy to let your phone manage itself, but can manual management of some settings be better?
Will opens up Apple's new set top box in search of chips and treasure.
How To Make the Most of Chromium's About:flags PagebySam CookonOct. 25, 20106 Comments
The Chromium web browser is the genetic pool of Google Chrome, an experimental and sometimes shaky ground where new ideas are tried and tested. That being the case, Chromium’s about:flags page (formerly about:labs) acts as the official version’s crystal ball, giving us a glimpse into any new browser features that Google is hard at work on. Some of the about:flags options can be used right now, others don’t do much at all for the moment, but either way they all provide insight into Google’s vision for its browser—and its upcoming Chrome OS .
How To Choose the Right Anti-Aliasing Mode for Your GPUbyMatthew BragaonOct. 22, 201034 Comments
Old games had it good. There were no shaders, or lightmaps or anti-aliasing woes – just two dimensions of graphical wonder, fueled by pixelated style. It was blocky, sure, but that was all there was. Who knew we’d come to loathe those jagged edges we once viewed with awe?
How To Install Apps that are Filtered Out of Your Android Market AppbyRyan WhitwamonOct. 22, 201011 Comments
Android is always getting new apps, but if you find they aren't showing up in your market app, it can be a real buzz kill. There's all this new application goodness and you can't get it on your phone? There must be a way around this. As it turns out, there are a few ways to get apps that the market won't let you have.
How Android Users Can Survive on Just a 150MB/Month Data PlanbyRyan WhitwamonOct. 20, 201012 Comments
Just as we'd previously heard, Verizon seems to be on the verge of implementing tiered data plans. But before you start the Internet protests, take a look at the rumors. We're having trouble working up any righteous indignation at all. If these early detailsare right, then Verizon is really just offering new options, not taking them away. Big Red will reportedly offer a $15 per month data plan that includes 150MB of data. The $30 unlimited plan will be staying put, at least for now.
Use MediaRover for Push iTunes Syncing and StreamingbyWesley FenlononOct. 19, 20108 Comments
Are you one of those music listeners who throws an odd assortment of MP3s into a folder, disregarding file names and ID3 tags, uncaring if your surf rock collection is divided between albums tagged Beach Boys and The Beach Boys? If so, you probably have no use for MediaRover, but those of us who love keeping our collections neat, orderly and properly tagged may have just found a new best friend. Though the setup process can take a bit of finagling with network folders, sharing options and file pathways, MediaRover provides a free way to sync entire iTunes libraries between systems, be they Mac or PC.
NAS devices, most users will set it up on their desktop and use that always-on computer to sync to laptops--or stream to other networked devices like the PS3, Xbox 360 or WD TV. We’ll walk you through a few tips for setting up MediaRover to push new music to all of your devices, and keep each and every MP3 up to date--the syncing service will even detect metadata changes.