Friday, March 28, 2014

The HTC One Max (on the Sprint Network)

HTC’s latest Smartphone.

Could this be a multimedia powerhouse?

Video of the HTC One Max

By: Kurt von Behrmann

The sleek metallic HTC One Max

                The world of smartphones is literally filled to the brim with choices.  In this competitive arena distinguishing yourself from the crowd requires some key feature, or features, that the other companies simply do not have.  With the HTC One Max, the Taiwanese handset maker is gambling that it will be in the areas of larger screen real estate, superior sound and a vibrant screen will be enough.

                As an “also ran” in this  high stakes arena of smartphone choices, HTC has been largely eclipsed by Samsung and the enduring  iPhone. To separate themselves from the crowd, HTC is hoping that in addition to great sound, sharp metallic looks will  help shoppers give the One Max a chance.

                What is certain is that the larger 5.9 in screen sits right at the maximum for a handset without being so cumbersome it rips a shirt pocket in half.  The 1,920 by 1080 pixel LCD delivers the goods. Picture quality and video are vibrant.  Blacks are black and colors rich and saturated.  Not unlike its closest competition – and it is clear that this phone is intended to go toe to toe with the might Samsung Note 3—screen quality and clarity are not only selling points but can be what separates an average phone from a spectacular one.
                As with any new smartphone, it has to be compliant with new technologies in order to have added value.  This point is not lost on the HTC One Max. It supports Sprint’s new tri-band devices; it supports 3G CDMA, 4G LTE and Sprint Spark. With Spark, Sprint is promising down load speeds from 50-60 Mbps, where it is available.  In the Phoenix area you may get sporadic service on the Sprint Spark.  Hopefully Sprint will have full service soon.

               Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, it is a  quad core processor, performance is what you would expect, smooth.  On the AnTuTu Benchmark the One Max scored 26712, a decent score. Where it earned high marks were in multitasking, 2d graphics and supporting larger mobile games.  That should be no surprise. The phone was designed with gaming and video in mind.

                On the subject of specs, the One carries 2 GB of ram, 32 GB of on board total storage, (storage to the end user varies, so anticipate about 24 GB free to work with) and the there is room for a micro SD card sizes up to 64 GB storage.  The card must be purchases separately.

The back of the HTC One Max

                Like many high end phones, it is almost a standard feature with selfies on the rise, it comes with two cameras.  The front facing one is 2.1 mega pixel. The back camera is  4 mega pixels. Instead of counting on pixel counts, HTC has opted for larger ones rather than more of them. The resulting images are sharp, crisp and do well under low lighting situations. While it may not be the best of breed in photography, the camera is respectable.  It also ships with additional software that adds embellishment to images.  While some of those photographic extras may add value, some may argue the special effects are best left to desktops.  But this is more about preference than anything else. One strong point about the cameras is that they are fast.
                                One obvious stand out feature has to be the sound.  The Achilles Heel of many a smartphone has to the absolutely weak sound most produce.  Not so with the HTC one.  The sound can be so booming, you may actually have to lower it. It is just that loud. 
The HTC Boomsound really delivers the goods in the sound department. While it may not be able to compete with a speaker system, if you want to watch games, movies and the like the extra boost of sound is a welcome addition.  The carefully crafted front facing speakers are well placed, and may account in part for the excellent sound quality.
                Another area that the One Max shines in is aesthetics.  Composed mainly of metal rather than plastic, the overall effect is that it lends the phone a high end look.  HTC always has an eye for sleek contemporary design. The only place where there is a design weakness is in the small, very small, button that allows you to open the handset. For larger fingers, this control maybe just too small. I personal found it frustrating to open the back of the handset.
                At least, thankfully, you can open the camera for Simm cards and an extra micro SD card. The card must be purchased separately.  Unfortunately, the battery is not accessible to the end user. Access to it is one clear advantage the Galaxy Note 3 has over the One Max.
                Talk time is impressive.  As large as the phone is, and it pushes the limit at 6.48” x 3.25” for practicality as a mobile phone, 25 hours of talk time is very good.  In my informal tests with the phone it can last a  full day with regular use without issue.  Battery life is always problematic with high end phones.  It appears that HTC has overcome the hurdle of battery.
                Shipping with Jelly Bean, there is an update that has been  recently released that updates to Kit Kat. I was very surprised the One Max did not ship with the latest Android OS.   HTC, naturally, incorporates their own HTC sense into the mix adding features not found in the vanilla variety of Android.
                Personally I am simply a fan of HTC sense. It feels intrusive and doesn’t really add any features of any real substance.  Some may like it, but I found it more of a negative than a plus.
                The smartphone market is populated by what seems like a vast sea of phones.  To stand out from the pack, HTC is relying on strengths in sound, design, screen size, screen quality and camera agility to beat out the competition.   With the size of smartphones escalating, the space between a tablet and a smart phone is starting to blur a little.  Clearly phablets, those devices that mix tablet functionality with smart phone convenience, are now a mainstay of intelligent phone design.
                Seeing that as an opportunity, HTC is hoping that their latest iteration of the One line with the new Max will carve out a niche for them in the phablet arena.   Time will surely tell if the features of the phone art strong enough to encourage buyers to buy into HTC’s way of doing things.
                One cannot help but think of the HTC One Max as a direct answer to the popularity of Samsung’s offerings, mainly the Galaxy Note 3.  What makes the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 special are its note taking abilities.   This adds extra value, practical real world value not tech for tech’s sake value, that places the phone in a different category. It also offers a feature that makes such a large screen make sense.
                HTC has decided to aim towards providing rich sound, strong visuals and a decent camera as their arsenal in the assault it is certainly going to face in the market place.   As an overall media powerhouse, The HTC One Max has a lot going for it.  But, it also has to square off with Samsung.  If you are like me, and you like all metal construction and build quality counts to you, The HTC One edges out the competition ever so slightly.  We will have to wait and see how the smart phone buying market responds to the top tier One Max.

The HTC One Max is available at Sprint
The price:  $ 249.99 with a contract

Contents of the Box
1.       HTC One Max
2.       Standard Lithium Ion Battery (embedded)
3.       AC Charger
4.       USB Cable
5.       Getting Started Guide
Full Specs

5.9 inch, Full HD 1080p
CPU Speed
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600 processor
1.7GHz quad-core CPUs
Capacity: 3300 mAh
Embedded rechargeable Li-polymer battery
Talk time:
  • Up to 25 hours for 3G
Standby time:
  • Up to 585 hours for 3G

164.5 x 82.5 x 10.29mm
5.9 inch, Full HD 1080p
CPU Speed
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 600 processor
1.7GHz quad-core CPUs
Platform Android
Android™ with HTC Sense™ 5.5
HTC BlinkFeed™
SIM Card Type
micro SIM
  • 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • EMEA: 900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps
  • Asia: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps
  • Sprint: 1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps
  • Verizon: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps
  • 800/1900 MHz for Sprint and Verizon
4G - LTE:
  • EMEA: 800/900/1800/2600 MHz
  • Asia: 900/1800/2100/2600 Mhz
  • Sprint: 1900 MHz
  • Verizon: 700 MHz
Total storage: 32GB, available capacity varies
Expansion card slot supports microSD™ memory card for up to 64GB additional storage (card not included)
  • Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
  • Digital compass
  • Gyro sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth® 4.0 with aptX™ enabled
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n
  • DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer
  • HTC Connect™
  • Support consumer infrared remote control
  • micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI
  • connection (Special cable required for HDMI connection.)


The Onyx from Harmon/Kardon

Big Sound from a Small Package

The stylish Onyx Speaker System

By Kurt von Behrmann

                If you are looking for maximum sound in a relatively small package, Harmon/Kardon has a solution to the problem of creating rich sound from a small space.  The Bluetooth enable Onyx is their answer to the dilemma of trying to obtain above average  sound from a mobile phone or computer.  The device incidentally has a usb port as well blue tooth.

                Measuring a scant 11 inches in diameter, this is not a huge device.  On the other hand it is not diminutive either.  If you are looking for a speaker system that will fit into a back pocket, you are out of luck here.  While it is portable, the makers clearly intend the device to be in a home setting rather than outdoors.  If you are looking for a speaker for the beach, or total portability anywhere, you may find this may not be the best solution.

                Even with those limitations, the advantage you gain is a speaker system that provides rich, deep sound.  Throw any style of music its way and you will find exceptional sound.  Accuracy is a high point. Delivering the subtle nuances of sound comes easily for the Onyx.  The details the speaker captures is really remarkable when you consider all of this emanates from one source.

The back view

                Naturally, the Onyx cannot compete with a dedicated 5.1 system with a big booming box to handle the bass. But the Onyx does well.  You can reach highs solid enough to rock the house.  It is capable handling louder music with ease.  Over all the device is able to do what you expect it to do. 

                Not leaving out aesthetics, Harmon/Kardon has put several speakers together in one circular enclosure that is not disturbed by buttons. The uninterrupted surface features glowing icons for volume and on and off as well as a blue tooth indicator.

                Syncing is a breeze with the Onyx.  It manages to do so quickly and easily.   Even a modest mobile phone can be transformed into a dynamic sound machine with the Onyx.

Side view

                Overall there is little to find flaw with the Onyx. It delivers powerful sound in a compact body.

                It can be plugged into a standard outlet or powered by the enclosed chargeable battery. Battery life is about five hours.

                The only downside to all of this great sound is the price tag. Available at for a cool $ 399.99 this is not a bargain basement system.   Then on the flip side, premium sound always comes a premium sound.   If you are in the market for exceptional sound in relatively small package, you cannot do better than the Onyx.

The speaker is available on line at Sprint

For the Video of the Onyx.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Harmon/Kardon Onyx Speaker System

The Harmon/Kardon Onyx Speaker System

My latest contribution to my space on where I cover the latest and greatest in tech.

You can find the device at Sprint for price and availability.  Contact your local Sprint Store to see if they carry the Onyx.  You can learn more about the device at Harmon/Kardon.