A Couple of Dark Android Favorites Are Hitting the Streets

I love it when a plan comes together.

It’s unfortunately rare (as in, it’s not by my choice) that I get to highlight some new hardware at the Dark Android Project, but there have been a couple things here and there. Take for instance the ASUS Zenfone 2. I’ve highlighted a few times on the Dark Android Blog, and while I’ve yet to do an indepth review, I now own one and it is my daily driver, because it’s an blazing fast and fully capable smartphone, shockingly for its price range.

The Zenfone 2 is part of a shortlist of modern Android smartphones that I consider acceptable to even try to achieve a DAPS-oriented device (fingerprint readers are a “no, no”, it shouldn’t have a voice co-processor, and the device should be easily rootable, etc.). The others being almost anything from Sony’s XPERIA line, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active, or the 2015 Moto G 16GB edition, or the soon coming Acer Predator 6…no really, that’s all of them.

Unfortunately, the acceptable–in my opinion–list of Android tablets that would allow for you to have Dark Android device isn’t that much larger. It boils down to the 2013 Nexus 7, the Sony XPERIA Z3 Compact Tablet, the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0, and perhaps some other lesser-known non-name-brand tablets on foreign markets sure. But one more acceptable tablet that I’ve highlighted its pending release is now available for pre-order…

The Acer Predator 8 Gaming Tablet

predator8Acer’s Predator 8 is the big brother to the aforementioned Acer Predator 6 smartphone. This is specifically a gaming tablet, and I’ve talked about it before on this blog because I felt that it was such a badass looking device (despite what other journalists say), and it was so unique that it would have a ready-made community behind it that would develop great third-party software and operating systems for it. And, oh yes, it has an Intel processor in it, so it could easily run any number of operating systems, not just Android. With a supposed release date of 11/17/15, you can now pre-order it on Newegg (and thus use Bitcoin to buy it, WOO!). With a $300 price tag, this has great specs for the price:

  • Intel Atom X7-Z8700 Cherry Trail processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB of storage with a MicroSD slot that can take up to 128GB cards
  • 8″ display at a 1920 x 1200 resolution
  • 2MP front-facing camera, 5MP rear camera
  • Android 5.1
  • 4550mAh battery
  • 4 front-facing speakers with virtual surround sound called: Predator Quadio

Now I really like that last bit. What others consider a gimmick, I still to this day consider Quadrophonic sound to be the greatest sound technology to ever be developed (even though it’s 50 years old). That’s not to say that the 4-speaker setup on the Predator 8 is going to deliver Quadrophonic sound, but I think the idea of getting beyond just two speakers on a device is a very good thing, so good on Acer for that one.

The only drawback to the Predator 8 is that–as a gaming tablet–it doesn’t come with or support a first-party controller. It has a technology called Predator TacSense that is supposed to allow for better touchscreen controls (I’m guessing this is similar to the 3D touch technology put into iPhones), but I don’t think there will ever be a real touchscreen solution for serious gaming; gamepads will always be a necessity. And yeah, I wish the Predator 8 had more than 2GB of RAM (my ASUS Zenfone 2 has 4GB for fuck’s sake), but for $300 you’re getting a very slick device, in my opinion.

The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE

lgwatchurbaneThe LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE is another device that I’ve highlighted on this blog in the past because I see it as the future of where mobile devices and communications is going (and interestingly, when you consider Dick Tracy, it’s really the original way that truly mobile communications were theorized, just shy of 100 years ago). This is an Android Wear device–so there’s no custom ROM’s for this sort of thing…yet–and it is pretty high-spec for a device of that ilk. 4GB of internal storage (that’s high for a watch), built in GPS, LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, a Snapdragon 400 processor (not bad), and almost 1GB of RAM. Compared to smartphones that doesn’t mean much, but in the Android Wear world, that’s really solid. And all for $500 off contract. Pricey, but you are buying into what I think is the future, once these Wear devices can be completely untethered from their smartphone counterparts (much like the Tizen-running Samsung Gear S2 didn’t require connection to a smartphone).

Google recently announced that an update to Android Wear (initially released with the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE) will allow for smartwatches to operate largely without a smartphone, but not entirely. These updated devices, including the LG Watch, will have to be at least “paired” (not tethered) with a smartphone for them to be able to work independently of all connections other than LTE. While I was certainly hoping that the newest LG Watch would be able to work as a smartphone completely on its own–with all the trimmings, including GPS/Maps–this would seem to be a little ways off. That said, the “untethered” functionality is still pretty exciting, and as long as you don’t have to pay for an extra plan for the smartwatch, I think is pretty cool. Just leave your phone at home and never carry it with you, and have the watch there to do the dirty work (also, nicely, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE is waterproof, unlike most phones).

Granted, there are the very real privacy concerns of having a device that tracks so much about you on your wrist at all times, but most people that complain about this have no issue with carrying a smartphone at ALL LITERAL MOMENTS OF LIFE that does the same damn thing. But I do think that it is a ridiculous idea to have two devices on you that track all of your personal data. But if you’re just leaving one in the basement and you go off lollygagging with a much better form-factor (which we all may find the smartwatch is), then great. Go for it. I’d do it.

I only hope for two things with smartwatches:

  1. Custom ROM’s are made to replace Google’s Android Wear, like “Cyanogen Wear”, or something.
  2. They become completely independent devices in the future, no smartphone required.

But until that day, if you’re really into the smartwatch idea that runs mainstream apps (as compared to some of Casio and Garmin’s non-Android “smartwatch” offerings), the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE is your best bet, and does offer some interesting lifestyle possibilities.

Conlcusion

In the tech world, you hear about a lot of potential hardware that never actually gets a street date, or worse: it never even hits the streets (a point which has led me to rarely talk about upcoming devices on my tech podcast, Sovryn Tech). Or maybe it just never makes it to your particular shores. Fortunately, both of these devices that I’ve been talking about for some time will be available in the next couple of weeks. Jump on them if they tickle your fancy!

Carpe lucem!

 

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