Turn Backaround: Revisiting the Nintendo Switch

This is a quick return to the Nintendo Switch I thought would be interesting to those of you still on the fence about picking up a Switch. It turns out sales of the console have started to decay and there has been news of Nintendo bringing out an updated version in the near future.

So far the Switch is the console I have most used in this generation since I changed my trucking job a couple years ago. I don’t have a lot of time to play my XBOX One S or my Playstation 4 as I am only home for usually one day of the week. That usually leaves me time to do a podcast and play a little on my computer “ZPM”.

So mobile has become very big for me and that’s saying a lot as before this I had dabbled with the Nintendo Gameboy, DS, and 3DS (and Sonys PSP and Vita) but they were never more than Pokemon machines for me.

The Switch is something different. It has a ton of great console grade games that I can take anywhere with me on the road not requiring a television of any kind. That’s not to say the experience on TV is bad. It’s not. It’s just not where the Switch excels.

The battery life leaves me a bit wanting but other than that I am incredibly happy with the Switch. Games like Octopath Traveler and Super Mario Odyssey look incredible on the small and big screen alike and the games themselves are great.

Right now, if Nintendo had better third party support, I would tell you to buy a Switch. Period. No question. But the third party support is lagging. Yeah there are some newish games out there but when a game like Skyrim is like a big thing to be released on your console when the game itself was released in 2011 that really isn’t a big deal.

One does have to wonder why Nintendo still bothers with their 3DS/2DS line of handhelds. I can only surmise at this point that they are on life-support. I am guessing at this point if there is new Switch hardware in the works they will be giving us more battery life and going fully mobile with perhaps the option to still dock it if you want to play on the big screen.

What has your experience been with the Switch? Or are you still on the fence?

Amazon’s All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet

Recently Amazon had a party releasing a bunch of new devices including new Echo devices, tablets and a new FireTV stick here in Canada.

I have a couple echo devices already and as much as I would love to pick up the new ones to test I am not made of money so I passed on those. That isn’t to say I am not happy with my first generation Echo Plus because I am. I love the fact that I can command my room light to turn off and on from my bed across the room.

I also have a FireTV stick and while I do not use it as often as it requires external power (the built-in USB port on my older but awesome Samsung TV does not provide power).

The Amazon Fire tablets have always interested me. Cosidering their 7 inch 8GB model starts at an incredible $59.99 CAD. They now have newer updated models out on 8 inch model side and I decided to take a plunge and pick up an “All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet” at a price of $139.99 CAD. I preordered this when it was announced and received it not too long ago.

BlackBerry PlayBook WiMax Pic

I have had tablets in the past. My first was a Blackberry Playbook 32GB model (after they had dropped the price to almost liquidation levels). That was and still is a pretty good tablet and the OS is still the most tablet friendly ever made in my opinion. IOS and Android have never felt so smooth and simple to use with hand guestures. The Playbook had (well has as I still have it) a 7 inch screen and felt great in the hand with the rubber back. Also had a fantastic high contrast screen. Oh and the speakers are the best I have ever heard from any tablet device. Seriously, you are doing yourself a disservice never hearing the audio quality from this thing.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8 inch

Another tablet I owned in the past was the Samsung Galaxy Tab III 8 inch 16GB model. I still have this tablet as well and one of the great selling features was how thin the thing was. Still thinner than a lot of devices today. It was also my first foray into Android.

Wait, I’m lying. before all these devices I picked up no name piece of junk with Android 3 or something on it. Didn’t even have a capacitive touch screen. It was a terrible experience. It also made me write-off Android.

Back to the present-past?

Anyways that Samsung had good battery life, a nice camera but Samsung stopped supporting it and as such it was left with Android 5. The hardware is more than capable of handling the newer Android software and there are ways to hack it on to there but I haven’t had any luck in doing so.

ipad4 retina

I did also have a retina iPad when that came out. 32GB model as I remember. I liked it only for Garage Band. The device was far too large and way too heavy.

Anyways, today we’re looking at the new Fire HD 8 from Amazon. Amazon was smart when they configured these devices. They use relatively low end quad-core arm CPUs and 1.5GB of memory. This seems paltry but for surfing the internet and playing some games it’s fine. They use this configuration across all the Amazon tablets and it’s worked out for Amazon making the devices incredibly cheap.

Connectivity is what should expected at this price point. It is compatible with 802.11a, b, g and n. Sadly no AC but it is dual-band so that’s cool. Bluetooth is here as well so wireless headphones and other bluetooth devices are a go.

Amazon claims 10 hours of battery life. I think with use I have seen 7 or so hours but no more than that. That still isnt bad but don’t expect to use the device all day without charging. Gaming or watching video cuts the battery life more. There’s no quick-charging here people so be ready for a few hours to charge fully.

The Fire HD 8 is also Dolby Atmos certified. Uhhh, whatever. It does have two pretty decent speakers for a tablet (nothing in comparison to the Playbook) but don’t expect anything like room filling sound.

It does have a back and forward camera both 2MP which is not that impressive but useful. You can still record in 720P. I’ll be honest, I haven’t used these features as I use my phone for that.

The 1280×800 screen while nowhere near retina in pixels per inch is bright except in direct sunlight. Being 8 inches it’s perfect for reading Kindle books or Comixology comics. I never once wished for anything better during use though the screen is not quite as nice as the one in my older Samsung tablet. Colours aren’t quite as vibrant but unless you are picky and holding devices side by side you probably won’t notice.

The tablet is a good weight even though there is no metal anywhere on the body. The shell is made of plastic. Screen is as well so keep that in mind. It will scratch. Mine hasn’t yet but I’m being pretty careful with it. All your buttons are along the top of the tablet along with the micro-USB port. There is a MicroSD card slot along the left side for adding more storage as well.

As for usability it comes with Amazon’s highly modified version of Android. I was not a fan of the interface initially. I even tried installing my own launcher but the device will only default to another launcher if you have rooted it. I don’t care about rooting it so I have left it with the default design. You can scroll side to side along the top for different parts of Amazon store universe. This includes Kindle, Prime Video and the actual Amazon store. This is a bunch of excess to me and would rather have just seen access to these things via their own apps which are also installed on the device. Obviously Amazon wants this device to make it easy to make purchases on their stores which I understand fully and probably why they are willing to sell their devices at such a low price.

Using the Fire HD 8 is a pretty good experience. The quad-core ARM cpu is sufficient to power through web browsing and streaming video content. Multi-tasking is where it falls a bit short. Don’t expect to leave a bunch of apps open and still get a lot of performance out of the Fire HD 8. The memory on board just isn’t enough. I have found that if I have a browser open, play music in the background and have say Marvel Strike Force open in the foreground (which by the way must be loaded by way of side-loading the Google Play Store) switching between these becomes a chore. I have had a few times where the screen just goes black and one where the Fire HD 8 has froze and restarted after a minute.

One should also note that the Fire HD 8 is an Alexa device as well though I have that functionality disabled on mine. Not because I don’t like it, I just don’t need it on the road.

Overall for $99.99 CAD in the 16GB version I think this tablet is an incredible steal. This is a no frills tablet that you can take with you anywhere and if you lose it or it gets damaged, well, it didn’t cost you $400 up front like some more well featured tablets. And considering Echo Show functionality will be coming to the device in the future it is even more of a steal considering a Show device costs $299 for essentially the same hardware but in a different configuration. The $59.99 7 inch 8GB version is a steal too and since it uses the same specs but a lower resolution screen you may see slightly better performance.

My New Phone… Again!

I may be slightly addicted to buying phones. This time my addiction didn’t cost me a large part of my pay. Instead it was a small investment in the aftermarket, specifically eBay.

My last phone was the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus. I actually really like the phone. For an Android based phone I really can’t think of anything I really need more that the Redmi 5 Plus. And Xiaomi has been faithful in providing security and feature updates which is great.

So lets be clear. I didn’t move on from my last phone because I didn’t like it.

So why?

I hate virtual on screen keyboards. I can’t type quickly on them as there’s no feedback. I’m constantly typing the wrong letters as no keyboard seems to be well spaced out for my fingers. And there’s no feedback. No click, no feeling that you have indeed typed what you have typed other than seeing the mess of a result on the screen. I have been trained to not have to look at the keyboard to type but with no defined keys a normally easy process on a computer is turned in to hell on the modern smartphone.


I am reminded of the days back when I had my various Blackberry devices. I started with a Blackberry 7130e. From there I had three different Blackberry Curves. Then I graduated to the ultimate Blackberry Bold 9930. I bought that Blackberry full price from Verizon about two years after that phone was relevant. In fact the box had dust on it when the sales guy brought it up. You could just hear the sales guy’s muttering under his breath on me buying such an out of date phone. Keep in mind at this time I could have bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 or S3 (I think the S3 was just available).


Anyways I used the Blackberry Bold 9930 for years until my dad and I left Verizon for Virgin Mobile Canada. My Bold was not compatible with the Canadian network so I had to buy a new phone. That started my stint with Blu phones. While their phones are cheap their support is miserable and their promised updates never came.


I discovered Xiaomi after my miserable life with my last Blu phone. But during all this time using the all screen smart phones I have been ever increasingly ticked off at not having a physical keyboard. As referenced by the success by Blackberry’s latest KeyOne and Key2 offerings the keyboard has become popular again. No I didn’t buy either of those as they are still around $400 CAD to buy but I did do a lot of research on their older phones and came up with the perfect solution:

(BlackBerry)  CLICK02_BBY_070516_COMPANY

The Blackberry Classic (also know as the Q20)

The Blackberry Classic is ancient by all means nowadays being released in 2011 with the Blackberry 10 OS based on Blackberry’s own QNX operating system.

The phone itself looks like a bigger version of the Bold that I had before (and actually still have). It has all the same features where it comes to input. Qwerty keyboard, touch scroll button, send and end buttons and the blackberry menu button. You also get the volume up and down buttons with a hot button that can be set to what you like and a lock button up top. The screen is also touch sensitive like the the Bold.

The Blackberry OS smooth to work with but doesn’t feel like natural update to the previous OS on the Curve. The Blackberry tablet OS on the Playbook felt more like a natural update in my opinion.

Anyways you will have to deal with the lack of apps on the App World (which is being discontinued soon I believe anyways) or the installed Amazon App Store. There aren’t many apps on the Amazon store either so you may have to manually install the Google Play store which is easy to find on the internetz.

I haven’t installed many apps regardless and have honestly been enjoying the fresh experience of just having a browser and the ability to text and get email. It has been great.

The Classic is snappy when using it’s built in apps. The emulated android apps run OK when they run. Don’t expect any Android apps that are somewhat resource intensive to work as the resources on the Classic are limited. It is a seven year old phone after all.

The real benefit of the Classic is the physical keyboard. OH THANK THE HEAVENS! It is glorious. I love having a physical keyboard. It has made using my phone such a better experience. I don’t need a spell check anymore as I can touch type without worrying what I have typed in. It’s so great.

The best part of all this is the phone only cost me sixty bucks. In almost perfect shape and it even came with charger. Very impressed.

Do I recommend doing this. Actually I do. It has been very therapeutic. I have been unplugged from social media though Facebook and Twitter are available on the Classic. It feels really good to just have the ability to text and get email.


Give it a shot. I’d even recommend going to a Nokia E71 if you are with a communications company that supports 2G and 3G still.