Category Archives: Mobile Phones

Product Review: Zombies, Run app

Whoops, it appears I have been distracted by life and whatnots and haven’t updated in quite a while.  But I do have something awfully neat to share for those who enjoy running, or even those who hate running but still push themselves to at least WALK.

ZR1I recently discovered Zombies, Run! (technically Zombies, Run! 2) which is a fitness app that works on both iPhones and Androids.  It’s been around for a while, but it costs money to download and I am so cheap when it comes to buying apps.  After reading a lot of reviews, I decided to give it a shot.

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Just one of the items you can bring back to Abel Township.

The basic idea is that you download these “seasons”.  Season One includes 23 “missions”, the first of which establishes the world you are entering.  There has been a zombie outbreak, and you are on your way to a fortified town called Abel Township.  You are labeled “Runner 5”, and become an important person to the town.  Characters speak to you through your earpieces, telling you what they see, or explaining what they need you to do.  Along the way, you may “pick up” items that will help you.  Each mission unveils more of the overall storyline, introduces more characters, or adds to the scenery.

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Yep, RUN FASTER!

All the while you are listening to this, the app is tracking your time, pace, and even mapping the route you are taking (if you are an outdoor walker/runner, make sure to have your GPS on, or you can use the Accelerometer to count your steps if you use a treadmill).  The app can be set to 30 or 60 minute sessions, and you can have it play songs from a specified playlist to keep you entertained between the story.  Additionally, if you download their Radio Mode, you can continue running for a while and listen to two guys chattering away in between songs.  If you’re an outdoor person and have the GPS on, you can even elect to have zombies randomly chase you…  if this happens, you must increase your pace (kick it into high gear!) in order to outrun them.  It’s a fun option that keeps you on your toes, makes you sprint for a little bit, and adds a sense of panic.

For Season 1, Mission 1 (S1-M1), I did not have music playing in between the storyline, which was fine.  I really wanted to see how the app worked without much distraction.  I went for a fast walk in my neighborhood, but kept having trouble outrunning the zombies when chased.  Part of it was that I hadn’t figured out how the program calculated your pace increase, and part of it was because my neighborhood is very hilly and I was ready to fall over and die if I had to sprint up a steep hill.  Since then, I have figured out what to do, but have mostly stayed inside and ran on my treadmill which doesn’t offer the zombie chase option.

ZombiesRunPhotoAnton

I know what I am going to be for Halloween this year!

I am now about halfway through Season One and can say that I would pay double…TRIPLE what I paid for this app without hesitation.  In 11 days, I have increased my runs from a half hour to a full hour, and improved my pace by over 2 minutes per mile!  I am so confident in my stamina that I have taken the leap to sign up for my first 5K, taking place in just about 2 weeks!

And the story…  it’s hard not to get sucked in.  Even on the treadmill, I may glance to the side before I can catch myself when a character warns me of zombies coming at me.  And I’m not ashamed to admit I have emotionally reacted to some of the story, particularly S1-M9 and S1-M11.  Every day, I wake up sore and tired, but I still get on the treadmill because I want to hear more of the story.

So if you’re in the market for something to keep you entertained while you walk, jog or run, I highly recommend checking out this app.  🙂

Waze is my latest entertainment…

Hey everyone!  Sorry I took a little hiatus there, was busy with general life stuff, a trip down south, blah blah.

In the interim, I was pointed to a new application that works on my Galaxy Note called Waze.  It’s a user-generated real time traffic report, which is really cool.  There’s a few extra little features, and while the software is not perfect, with user input it gets increasingly accurate.  Check it out:

Product Review: The Samsung Galaxy Note

(This review would be best for people who have iPhones and are considering switching to Androids.)

Though I know many people who jump from cell phone to cell phone, I am a creature of habit.  I had my iPhone 3G for well over three years, and it was an older model when I got it.  It was easy to use, being an Apple product and all.  But over time the operating system began a slow descent into it’s own personal hell.  The phone could not hold a charge long (which meant I had to plug it in at any chance I could), and applications were often frustrating to use.  Facebook, for instance, was aggravating…  opening, going to the status update, and getting it to actually update a short status (not even uploading pics or tagging people) could take up to six minutes.

So I started researching new phones, bided my time, and as luck would have it, generous individuals wishing me happy birthday allowed me to take a leap.  I went with the Samsung Galaxy Note.

The phone is outrageous, to put it mildly.  This is not so much a phone, but a “phablet” (phone/tablet).  The screen in huge at 5.3″ and while it fits ok in my hand, I am sure it may feel very bulky to more petite people.  The AT&T salesguy gave me a brief overview, but to be honest, my source for information has become the wonderful folks at AndroidForums.com.  So far they’ve been able to answer all my questions except one, and they are very patient with this old lady getting to learn all the new tricks.  Here’s a breakdown of all the pros and cons I’ve found so far:

Pros:

  • Battery life = awesome.  I do not feel required to be tethered to my charger now!
  • Screen resolution is amazing – 1280×800.  HD graphics and videos are gorgeous!
  • Applications I wanted to add that I had on the iPhone are almost all available for Android
  • Facebook loads and updates in seconds – halleleujah!
  • Comes with a stylus!
  • Built-in camera is light years ahead of the one on my old iPhone (8MP in the back with an LED flash, 2MP in the front), and the Instagram app goes even further
  • Yay, Kindle reader!
  • The customization is mind-boggling!  I wanted to show you some of the incredible wallpapers and home screens some people have created.  I’ve implemented a couple of the customizations myself, but there are some I am still learning how to do because they are so complex – click any of the pics for a larger view.

A really pretty example

This includes a Live Wallpaper - what you can't see is that the circles all rotate in opposite directions.

Very simple screen, easy to read and each element is tweakable - colors, font style, size, direction...

Some more amazing customization!

Cons:

  • The customization is mind-boggling!  Yep, this is both a pro and a con.  With my iPhone, I set one notification tone for when I received a new email.  With the Note, I was getting this annoying bicycle bell sound (called Postman), and it was rather loud and obnoxious so I wanted to turn it off, or at least change the tone to something less irritating.  I went where I assumed the setting would be…  Settings => Sound => Notification ringtone…  but that wasn’t it.  That was for text messages.  Try as I might I was unable to find it myself, so I searched online…  for 20 minutes… before I realized that Android is SO customizable, that I needed to go into my email where all my inboxes are (I have 5 different emails coming to me), open one of my emails, then hit the menu key, the More button, then Account Settings to get the Select Ringtone!  Each email can be assigned it’s OWN notification tone, which never even occurred to me.
  • Several of the jeans I own do not have pockets that can completely hold this phone.  Not sure if this is a con, as it means I get to go shopping for more clothes.
  • The iPhone really was fairly intuitive, so the Android having SO many bells and whistles feel somewhat overwhelming sometimes, but I’m determined to learn everything I can and make the most of it.
  • The Note supports Visual Voicemail, but until the new Ice Cream Sandwich OS is released (later this month), I don’t actually have the ability to use VVM without downloading a third party app.  Don’t want to do that, as I might lose previously saved messages and my recorded VM message, so for now I am kicking it oldschool (calling in, listening, and pressing #7 to delete :P)
  • There is no Bejeweled Blitz app by PopCap for the Android yet.  This vexes me.

Overall I am more than impressed with this phone!  I’m looking forward to the new OS release, and in the meantime I am haunting the forums to soak up all the knowledge I can!

Enjoy!

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