Back-to-school gadgets

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Now that we’ve experienced the first downpour and the first few inches of floodwater, there is no denying that the rainy season—and another school year is once again upon us.

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With many schools opening tomorrow, I’m sure most are already done shopping for school supplies. But books and pens aren’t the only thing students need for school, and the start of the academic year isn’t just for students as well.

So whether you’re a student, teacher, or a parent looking for a nifty new phone, a tablet to help you become more productive, or a camera that would best capture this year’s special moments, check out this quick list of gadgets that will surely help you make it from orientation day 2013 to graduation day 2014.

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NOKIA LUMIA
There was a time not too long ago when everybody had a Nokia phone. And though times have changed, the Finnish phone maker again tries to regain its lofty status with the release of two Lumia phones that are both stylishly chic and functional.

The Nokia Lumia 720 and the Nokia Lumia 520 deliver a rich selection of high-end features, familiar from the Lumia 920 and 820—but at a more affordable price.

If you are tired of the boring black and white-colored phones in the market, the Lumia’s bright yellow, red, cyan colors will instantly make you stand out in any crowd. The two phones offers a sleek and stylish interpretation of Nokia’s award winning uni-body design and a curved 4.3” Clear Black Display.

The Nokia Lumia 720 is made for the socially savvy crowd. It comes with an HD-quality 1.3 megapixel front facing camera with wide angle lens that is capable of snapping perfect group portraits with friends, or making Skype calls with loved ones. It also packs a surprisingly clear 6.7MP Carl Zeiss wide angle main camera that captures stunning pictures—both day and night thanks to leading f1.9 aperture.

Running on the latest Windows Phone 8 system it is powered by a 1 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon; 512 MB RAM, 8 GB mass memory (with microSD support of up to 64GB); Gorilla Glass 2.0, responsive touchscreen and is powered by a massive 2,000 mAH battery and raises the bar for all the mid-range smartphones in the segment. The nice thing about the 720 is that even if you are constantly online you can still make it through the day without having to recharge your phone (and it also supports wireless charging as well).

For those who are looking to upgrade to a smartphone, the Lumia 520 is a great device to start your Windows Phone 8 experience. It has a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with Cinemagraph that adds motion to still images that can then be shared with friends on Facebook, Twitter or via email. Smart Shoot lets people create the perfect group picture, taking multiple images and selecting the best facial expressions from each, or even remove people from the shot. The easy to use Panorama lens captures super-wide-angled photos to take in more of the scene.

But perhaps the most exciting feature of the Lumia series is the “HERE” experience. With Nokia HERE, you can say goodbye to long and tedious web-browsing and the opening of a dozen tabs to get directions to a desired location. Nokia HERE brings a platform that integrates both Maps and Drive to offer users an outstanding experience on the road, or by foot—with or without Data or WiFI connection.

The Nokia Lumia 720 has an SRP of P14,590 while the Lumia 520 is priced at P7,990.

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LG Optimus L Series 2
Following the success of the Optimus L Style Series (which sold more than 10 million units worldwide), LG recently released a bolder second generation version.

The L Series II, composed of the L3II, L5II, and L7II, features four new design elements: seamless layout that blends graceful contours and solid edges for better grasp; laser cut contour that wraps the uni-body design with fine details and a slimming look; radiant rear design which gives the unit a simple and clean front that naturally flows into the back casing; and smart LED lighting on the home button which emits a subtle glow for an intimate yet edgy look.

The L Series II offers an expanded set of user-convenient features including those unique only to LG smartphones. For taking down notes, QuickMemo allows users to capture and share handwritten ideas with others using just a fingertip. Quick Button enables customers to personalize a hotkey to launch any application such as the camera, browser, music player or even QuickMemo. Safety Care offers three options—emergency call forwarding, phone non-usage notice and my location notice—which can be programmed to contact family or friends in case of an emergency.

Those who have trouble taking their “selfies” will love the Cheese Shutter—a voice activated camera trigger that eliminates the need for pushing a button. This feature is also ideal for spontaneous camera-worthy moments that are oftentimes missed when one has to manually locate the trigger button.

To capture the LG vibe, the brand also introduced three celebrity influencers for the company’s local mobile division. Actor-model-singer Paulo Avelino is the new face of LG Mobile while actress-model-blogger Maxene Magalona joins Ateneo Blue Eagle point guard and model Keifer Ravena as brand ambassador for the second generation Optimus L SeriesII.

For more information, visit http://facebook.com/LGOptimusPH.

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SAMSUNG GALAXY S4
While I wouldn’t suggest parents giving their younger students a Galaxy S4, the current ‘king’ of Android phones is perfect for older students, teachers, school officials and everybody else who need a dependable device that can multi task like themselves.

If the Galaxy S3 was inspired by nature, the S4 has been dubbed as a “life companion” enabling true connections with friends and family with its innovative features guaranteeing effortless user experience, to make life easy and hassle-free.

Among its innovative features are the Smart Pause and Smart Scroll: based on the Smart Stay technology from the Galaxy S3, these two new features identifies and monitors eye movement and activates functions accordingly. The Air View and Air Gesture allows you to hover your finger over content to display specific details about it, like opening an email or text message. Air Gesture, on the other hand, allows you to give swiping directions without even touching the phone. Group Play allows you to play music to up to 8 Galaxy S4 devices even without Internet connection. Improving on its personal assistant the S Voice Drive aids in controlling the phone while driving by allowing to send and receive emails and text messages, as well as take and make calls, just by using voice commands. Samsung has also made it possible to use both cameras at once so that certain applications, such as camera and video calling apps, can use both the front- and rear-facing camera. For those who plan to study abroad the S Translator feature allows live text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation of up to 8 languages using only the user’s voice input. There are even talks about a water-proof version of the S4 coming out.

Globe subscribers can get S4 for as low as P1,599 monthly under the best-ever Globe My Super Plan 999 with P600 monthly cashout over a 24-month contract period, giving customers the most affordable and competitive device bundle offer in the market today. Under this best-ever offer, subscribers get unlimited LTE surfing of up to 42 Mbps plus free calls and texts. Subscribers can enhance their plans by boosting them with unlimited services starting at P349 monthly for unlimited texts to Globe and TM. For as low as P599 monthly, subscribers can enjoy unlimited calls and texts to Globe and TM, or unlimited calls to Globe, TM and landline.

“The unique features of the Galaxy S4 deserve a postpaid plan that will let subscribers maximize the S4 experience and give them the most value for what they pay for. Globe has that offer. The best part is we have the most competitive offer in the market today with a shorter lock-up period, so subscribers are assured that they get the best Samsung Galaxy S4 deal only from the #1 in postpaid,” says Debbie Obias, Head of Globe Postpaid Acquisitions.

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SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 8
For someone who always works outside the office, I never leave home without my laptop; and though I also have a tablet, I only use it to check my emails and keep updated with my social networks—that was until I got my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

I admit I wasn’t quite impressed when it was first launched a couple of months ago, but it was mainly because of the average camera and the lack of a flash. Still, I was quite apprehensive about leaving my laptop during a recent trip and choosing to just bring the Galaxy Note 8 instead.

And it was liberating to say the least.

The first thing you have to know about the Note 8.0 is that it is more of an update of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 rather than the Galaxy Note 2—so it’s a tablet with phone capabilities, rather than a phone doubling as a tablet. The difference lies in your expectations—it wouldn’t fit your pocket and is quite uncomfortable to use when calling someone unless you use the headphones. But as a tablet, the screen size is perfect, (better than the 7 inch size) for viewing movies, browsing the internet, editing photos, and reading digital comics and ebooks.

With the right apps and a bluetooth keyboard, I quickly forgot about my laptop, as I was able to write a few articles and edit some spreadsheets and presentations easily. In short, I was able to work and coordinate with the office, using just one device.

The S Pen is also such a joy to use when taking down notes, doing some scribbles and drawings and creating a travelogue with the S Journal. It really does capture inspiration wherever or whenever it strikes.

Reading Mode optimizes the screen to provide perfect illumination and tone, delivering a comfortable reading experience in all lighting conditions. And with the ability to annotate directly with the S pen–all on a size made easy to hold, reading has never been more enjoyable, even on the go.

Another very useful feature is the Multi Window display. Since it is also a phone I could jot down notes about the conversation or look up directions, check email, or search the web while making a call without having to switching apps. You can even reposition, expand to full screen, or close any window immediately.

The Note 8 is powered by a Exynos 4412, 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB memory and runs on Android Jellybean. It has a 16GB storage with microSD support up to 64GB; 5MP back camera and a 1.3MP front camera;and has a WXGA (1,280 x 800) Resolution screen.

I honestly felt quite sad about returning the unit after using it for two weeks, and would have immediately bought one if I didn’t have a Samsung Tab 2 7.0, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one device that you could carry around anywhere, look no further than the Galaxy Note 8– its definitely better than that other ‘mini.’

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NEVER MISS A MOMENT: NX300
School events can bring out the most endearing memories, but unfortunately the guilt of failing to capture the perfect photo often lasts longer.

Whether it is for school projects, the school paper or capturing unforgettable memories with your classmates and friends, the recently introduced Samsung NX300 camera raises the bar of excellence in smart cameras with its record-breaking features that surprised even the most critical photography enthusiasts.

The NX300 offers the fastest shutter speed at 1/6000th of a second to capture fast moments in the clearest and most precise way possible. Together with a 20.3 megapixel sensor, it can shoot continuously at an ultra-fast rate of 8.6 frames per second that brings crystal clarity to fast-moving subjects and helps capture fleeting moments before the subject moves out of frame. It also has an advanced Hybrid Autofocus (AF) system that determines the distance of the subject while fine-tuning the focus for maximum contrast.

The same enhancements from the inside resonate on the outside. It has a revolutionary 3.3-inch AMOLED touch screen display for easier navigation, which can also be tilted for taking low or high angle shots. The AMOLED screen is the same screen found in high-end Samsung smartphones that give better image and playback clarity. Unlike regular DSLRs the NX300 is lightweight and portable, so you can easily bring it anywhere.

You can also quickly share photos and videos to Facebook, Youtube, and Picasa with a few taps via Wi-Fi connectivity. Photos can also be automatically shared or transferred to a tablet or a smartphone through Autoshare by downloading the Samsung Smart Camera app in Play Store.

More importantly, the NX300 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, which means photography buffs may use other lenses to suit their needs. All these features are encased in a light-weight, sleek, premium body that spells elegance and style.

With the NX300 unforgettable moments that happen in split-seconds are captured in the clearest way possible, with vibrant colors bursting with life, and can be shared easily for everyone to enjoy.

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