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This review is from: ASUS Black ZenFone 2 View Flip Cover Deluxe (ZE551ML) 90AC00F0-BCV006
Pros: This case is a neat little flip cover with a sort of soft touch, grippy rubberized back and a window that is thin enough to allow you to use the flip cover interface on the screen when the case front is closed. It secures nicely to the phone and won't slip off easily because it actually replaces the entire removable back cover of the phone. Because of this, it also has easily accessible volume rockers and power button without increasing the profile of the phone much.
Because it's made by Asus, the volume and power buttons feel the same as the stock back cover does, but the rubberized back of the case has a much more secure grip feeling to it than the stock brushed plastic.
The ZenUI's interface when using the touch flip cover is pretty neat, allowing you to access several widgets like a flashlight, camera, and volume control settings through the front pane. The screen is pretty responsive through the thing plastic cover, not requiring much extra force over using just the screen, and also responds to double-tap to wake so you don't have to use the power button. The phone will also recognize when the front cover is opened or closed, automatically unlocking the device (if you don't have a pin or password set) and putting you on the home screen or app that you last left off on.
Cons: As far as protection goes, this doesn't do a whole lot to save you from drops or shock damage. You can think of it as the equivalent of the Apple iPad smart covers, they protect the screen but not the rest of the device. The case is pretty much just a replacement back with a folding door on the front of it. If you drop the phone on the corner or edge of the screen you're just about as likely to damage the phone as if you were using the phone without a cover.
The only real benefit besides the window pane UI is that it will protect your phone from screen damage while in a purse or pocket, but because it lacks a magnetic or snap latch, the front cover will open easily if not careful.
Unusually, I think it was an oversight that you cannot adjust the volume with the rockers when the case is opened against the back, you'll have to move the back cover out of the way if you wrap it around the back of the device to use it.
The included apps for use with the flip cover are somewhat gimmicky but some are useful. Having a watch is pretty default, and seeing notifications at a glance are nice, but the camera wasn't particularly useful. You still have to tap the screen to snap the photo, but you don't have much of a choice with focus/zoom and it simply feels awkward to use. The actual camera preview is only about an inch wide and has almost zero usable controls. You might as well open up the case and use the full screen camera, but if you have the smart cover on you'll have to take the shot through the window, which causes some glare and haziness in your photos.
Other Thoughts: It's not a bad case, and the material isn't bad to look at, it's just a little cheap for the price. I find that having the window-pane UI is more of a gimmick than useful, but it's up to personal preference and whether or not you want a manufacturer made case for your device.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Overall, I find the Zenfone 2 to be a solid phone with excellent hardware. The OS is quite responsive and the hardware proves to make a point with high benchmark scores and smooth animations even when under stress. Compared to the Nexus 6, the Zenfone 2 scored more than double in the Quadrant benchmark coming in with a score of 23,000 vs the Nexus 6's 10,000. The increased performance of Android 5 absolutely helps here, and Asus did a great job trying to showcase features of Lollipop while making their own customization twists within the OS. Out of the box custom Icon packs are compatible with the launcher and even details like the fonts, colors, and sizes of icon text can be easily changed by swiping up from the bottom of the home screen and entering the settings menu for the interface you want to change. I haven't seen a level of customization on a stock phone before and it was quite refreshing being able to change so many parts of the interface to my liking. Apps always quickly loaded and even when running multiple memory intensive applications had no trouble switching back and forth.
Hardware wise, this phone is impressive for the price. It has fast internals and a decent sized battery and screen, but still sits somewhere in the middle of being a budget and mid range phone. Some features are missing from this device, like Wireless charging, but the inclusion of a better screen and bigger battery are well worth the price. That being said, even compared to flagship phones, the Zenfone went head to head and matched or exceeded performance in benchmarks. At first glance the device looks high end, especially with the faux metal back plate, but as soon as you pick it up you'll know it's plastic. It is certainly a joy to hold and doesn't feel like it will slip from your hands, and the back is curved just enough to give you a firm grip on the phone at all times. Moving the volume rocker to the back was surprisingly a nice change from having it on the side of the phone. It was never accidentally pressed, but the location and sensitivity of the buttons made it easy to use when deliberately changing volume.
The screen on this device is very nice with great viewing angles with minimal distortion to darker colors at extreme angles. Being a back-lit IPS panel, the readability of the screen in direct sunlight was phenomenal. The response rate on the screen is one of the best I've seen with very little noticeable ghosting and pixels that are near impossible to spot with the naked eye.
Cons: The hardware on this device is solid internally, and incredibly fast, but it does not feel like a premium device. It has a noticable heft, and the shape is somewhat bulky compared to other phones, but it maintains a plastic feel with hard lines along the face. The bezel around the face of the device has a slight lip where it meets the screen and the bottom "chin", but only enough just to feel when dragging your finger along it. This rough edge combined with the plastic back made to look like brushed metal makes it feel cheap, especially when it shows scratches extremely easily. Even when carefully handling the device, scratches immediately became apparent on the back plate of the phone and light marks were visible on the screen.
The screen on the Zenfone 2 is difficult to judge. It's very easy to read fine text and images are crisp and clear, and there's very low persistence with video and animations, however the color and brightness leave a lot to be desired. When compared to other phones running IPS displays and OLED screens, the colors on the Zenfone 2 appear muted and whites come off as more of a light gray.
Double-tap to wake the screen is a nice feature to have, but moving the power button to the top of the device makes double-tap the only reliable way to wake and sleep the device, even if it doesn't always work as expected. I've had icons and widgets moved on my phone because double-tap will activate in my pocket.
By far, the greatest letdowns are in the UI and skin overlays that Asus has added to Android 5.0. For the most part, Asus has done what they can to allow you to fully customize the interface, which is executed quite well, however many changes simply don't make sense or only work with the Asus provided applications, but can't be removed even when the associated apps are disabled. Even little details like showing that folders can scroll seem like little oversights that ZenUI is riddled with. The lock screen icons for accessing the camera, dialer, and SMS applications will only work with the native apps, even if you use alternatives like Hangouts or the Google Camera as your phone's defaults. The quick-access tool bar in the notification pane is also riddled with bloated features that sometimes don't make sense, such as including the calculator and certain settings sub-menus.
Many of the included apps are also simply bloatware. Out of the box, the app Clean Master immediately notified the user that the phone was running slow and needed to be cleaned up, recommending clearing memory and cache information the user should really never have to worry about, and continued to notify on an hourly basis that the phone was running "slow". There's also ZenCircle, which is Asus' planned social network for Zenfones, something that hasn't launched yet but also cannot be removed from your device. Having the option to remove these applications would be much nicer than having to live with them on the device.
Other Thoughts: There are many features that I had tested, such as camera, battery life, network performance and audio quality. There simply wasn't enough room here to outline the specifics of how they reviewed, but it was worth noting that all of these categories were comparable to other phones with similar specifications with no notable favorable/unfavorable viewpoints, they worked as expected without fuss.
To sum up, this is a great phone, but I feel like some of the software inclusions that Asus tacked onto this phone simply didn't make sense. The majority of the problems, bloatware, and unnecessary applications can easily fixed in future updates, but at the time of this review they were still prevalent. The hardware is quite solid and functions fantastically for the price, and is very worthy of a high review, especially because the software can easily change with future updates but is quite usable and intuitive now. If the interface and launcher do not make sense later, there are always options on the Android Market, such as the Google Now Launcher, which will allow you to use the hardware with a different interface.
For everyone's information, these are the networks that this phone will work with:
T-mobile/AT&T: full support
Verizon: 4G only, no 2G/3G
Sprint: Does not work at all
This review is from: Seagate STCS8000100 8TB (2 x 4TB) Personal Cloud 2-bay NAS server
Pros: The hardware and case for this NAS is pretty solid and easy to use, and the set-up is pretty simple. The drives inside are another NAS-related product from Seagate (ST2000VN000), which have pretty high reviews for reliability. They're easily serviceable and can be swapped out for other drives, should you choose to upgrade or replace a dead drive.
SMB and AFP worked fine out of the box, and network setup was fast. SMB appears to support NTLMv2. The box does not list Linux as a supported operating system, but I did not have any trouble using a Fedora 21 system to connect and configure this device. It can be configured via direct IP in a browser if you look up the IP Address that it snags on your local network.
This is a solid entry-level NAS and it is quite easily serviced, but shouldn't have any cooling or performance problems long-term. This should just work out of the box.
Cons: The drives in this NAS are a bit slow, particularly because they're designed for 24/7 use and not performance. I also noticed that the performance varied by protocol as well, as WebDAV and SFTP/FTP were incredibly slow, but SMB didn't appear to have any problems at all.
The media apps that are included are extremely basic. They'll get the job done if you need them, but I would suggest using media apps on another machine and storing the content on the NAS.
No option for SSH, at least not directly. I was able to get an SSH login prompt on the system but the credentials did not appear to be the same as the web login.
Other Thoughts: This is clearly marketed towards the consumer market, and it does solid work there. It's not the most fully-featured NAS but it's compact, simple to use and will work for most users who have never worked with a NAS before.READ FULL REVIEW
Display Name: Daniel C.
Date Joined: 11/30/07
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