Saturday, March 26, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [March 25th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [March 25th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [March 25th]

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

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StoryTimeForMe – With interactive activities such as video games and sports available, children are hesitant to read books in their free time. To get young children to pay more attention to reading, one solution would be to make reading more interactive. This is precisely what StoryTimeForMe plans to do. Read more: Storytimeforme: Interactive Reading Books For Kids Online


Smartr – Given the real-time activity by millions of daily users, Twitter is an excellent source of news. However, all the irrelevant and redundant tweets make it hard for anyone to filter out the noise from the actual stories. Smartr is an iPhone app that does the job for you by filtering the news from your tweets and presenting it in a readable format. Read more: Smartr: Filter & Read News From Your Twitter Stream [iPhone]



Findfiles – is a web based file search engine that can help you find almost any kind of file. You can search for mp3 audio, jpeg images, doc and excel files, CSS stylesheets, PDF documents, archived files in zip format and many more. Unlike most other similar services, it doesn't depend on a search engine like Google for its results. Read more: FindFiles: Search Engine For Finding Any Type Of Files Online



Briss – While reading PDF files on a small screen, such as a reading device or a mobile phone, you often have to adjust the file's viewing properties for proper reading. Here to help ease the task is a program called Briss. Briss is a cross-platform freeware program built on Java. Sized at only 4MB, the freeware lets you load up and crop PDF files. Read more: Briss: Crop PDF Files For Better Reading



Foodily – You will find countless cooking websites that help you learn how to cook delicious meals. But dishes you learned to cook for a party will not necessarily be what your friends like. To find and learn recipes that you as well as your friends will like, pay a visit to Foodily, a brilliant cooking website with social network integration. Read more: Foodily: Find & Learn To Cook Recipes That Your Friends Will Like


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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The 6 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf Answers welcomes great challenges and great solutions alike. Both are showcased every Friday as we honor the winners in our Best Answer of the Week contest.

This week the prizes go to:

Best Answer of the Week – Josh

1st Runner Up – Roy

2nd Runner Up – ha14

Congratulations to the winners!

A lot more people are involved in solving questions every week and we thank all of you! Everyone else, let me invite you to have a peek at the best questions of the past week:

MakeUseOf Answers can teach you a trick each day. Read, learn, and share by browsing the Latest Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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How To Set Up Home Sharing On Your Apple Mobile Device [Mac]

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 04:31 PM PDT

itunes apple mobile deviceWell, it took Apple long enough, but now you can finally stream the contents of your iTunes library on your Mac or PC to your iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, 4th generation iPod touch, or either versions of your iPad without using a third party application. SimplifyMedia was the first to bring iTunes music sharing to users, but the recent iOS 4.3 update includes Home Sharing, which enables you to stream your iTunes library via your home WiFi network.

Unfortunately though, you still can’t share your library outside of your network using the Home Sharing feature. Zumocast is the application you will need to do that.

Setting Up Home Sharing

In order to use Home Sharing, you will need to download and install the latest version of iTunes 10.2 on your Mac or PC, and the latest version of iOS 4.3 on your iOS device (by the way, this latest iOS update can’t be installed on the iPhone 3G).

itunes apple mobile device

Next, in iTunes, open Preferences  > Sharing and enable “Home Sharing over Local Network“. If you have a huge iTunes library you might want to limit the content that is shared so it can be accessed quicker on your remote device. You can also require a password to secure your connection. If you have iTunes running on another Mac or Windows PC you can also share your library to those machines.

sync apple mobile

On your iOS 4.3 device, open the Settings app and select iPod in the Settings column. From there you will need to provide your Apple ID and password to activate Home Sharing on the device.

itunes apple mobile

Now, with your iTunes running on your networked computer, launch the iPod app on your device and select Library. At the top of the left column, select your iTunes library. If you’re streaming to your iPad or iPod touch, I believe, you will need to open the Videos app to view the movies, TV shows, music videos and video podcasts streaming from your computer.

itunes apple mobile

In your streaming iTunes library, you can switch and navigate between Songs, Artists, Albums, Genres and Composer. See the menu bar at the bottom of the streaming library.

itunes apple mobile

Fortunately, you can also rate the streaming music you’re playing your iOS device and it will be updated in the library of your base computer.

itunes apple mobile device

If you’re concerned about not being able to access your networked iTunes library when your computer is asleep, open System Preferences > Energy Saver and check the Wake for Ethernet network access box, so your iTunes library will be available even when your computer is asleep.

What’s Missing

Home Sharing is a long overdue feature for iTunes and iOS devices. However, it is still lacking in the bells and whistles that would make it more useful.

For instance, while Home Sharing streams all your iTunes playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, iTunes U programs, it does not allow you to wirelessly download individual tracks to your iOS device. So say you want to listen to a few podcast episodes on your commute to work without the benefit of a WiFi connection. Well, you will have to either do a wired sync to iTunes in order to get those selected downloads, or you will need to open the iTunes app on your device, search for the podcast episodes you want to hear and manually download them. What a pain. If you’re streaming content from your computer, you should be able to select and download it to your device.

Despite these drawbacks, let us know how Home Sharing is working for you.

Also, if you’re an owner of an iPad or are interested in getting one, check out MUO’s free iPad: A Magical and Revolutionary Guide by James. It’s packed with tips and tricks for using the device. Plus, if you want know how to use the Remote Control iTunes on your Mac from your iOS device, check out this article.

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Hot Tech Deals [Mar 25th]

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 01:30 PM PDT

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Linksys WUSB54GC-LA IEEE 802.11b/g USB 2.0 Compact Wireless-G USB Adapter $7.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKGHE55 (Exp 3/31)
  2. LG 47LD450 47in LCD HDTV (1080p) $599.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKGHE27 (Exp 3/31)
  3. Invicta 0989 Corduba Collection Silvertone Dial Flame Fusion Crystal 100M Mens Watch $66 via code Techbargains3
  4. TODAY ONLY AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz CPU Super Combo $283.49 Free Shipping
  5. Dell PowerEdge T110 Server Desktop Intel Xeon Quad-Core 2.4GHz $329 Free Shipping
  6. Garmin nuvi 1490T GPS (Refurb, Ultra-Slim, 5in, Text-to-Speech, Bluetooth, Lifetime Traffic) $119.99
  7. ZyXEL ZyWALL 2 PLUS Internet Security Device $97.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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7 Of Google Android’s Little Annoyances & How To Fix Them

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 12:31 PM PDT

android annoyancesHave you noticed there’s a few things lacking in the native Android OS which really should be there? Or are you plagued by those little Android annoyances that just shouldn’t be this much of a pain to fix? You’re not alone!

Luckily there’s not too many of these little annoyances and most of them have a free application to help us out with a quick fix. Here’s a selection of things that bug many people about Andoid, but which have a simple, easy fix you can use today.

1. Need Phone Silence At Night

There are a great many apps to make your phone silent at night. Some allow certain people’s calls to get through. Others just block out all calls, SMS and notifications. Silent Sleep is a basic, free answer to this problem. I personally think an application like this is the first thing any Android phone needs.

android annoyances

2. Stop Accidental Phone Calls

All it takes is one little application called Call Confirm to prevent your phone ringing people quite so easily. This is handy if you’ve got favourite people on your homepage or if you keep your phone in a bag often. All it does is pop up a “Do you really want to call? Call/Cancel” box whenever you try to make a call. Simple, yet very effective.

annoying android apps

3. Need To Free Up Space Regularly – Clean Cache & Data

ACCleaner is an application cache and data cleaner which allows you to remove unwanted caches and data in one click or piece by piece. This can free up lots of space in an instant by using the “Clear all cached files” button.

biggest android annoyances

4. Need To Organise Applications – App 2 SD

Froyo supports the moving of applications to your SD card, however it doesn’t do a great job of helping you to plan which applications to move. Using the Android interface, you could easily miss a large application on your phone simply because you didn’t realise it could be moved to the SD card. If you use a dedicated App2SD application, you’ll see clearly which apps can be moved and which apps you’ve already moved.

biggest android annoyances

5. Clean Up Your Contacts

When you start using Android your contacts are imported from Gmail and they could be a complete mess. Simon explains in this article how easy it is to organise and merge contacts in Gmail so that your Android contacts are exactly what you need.

6. Need To Monitor Your Space

DiskUsage is a free application which allows you to visualise how the space on your phone is being used. It will certainly let you find those oversized files you forgot about!

biggest android annoyances

7. Get Root Access (Hopefully) Without Voiding Your Warranty

Ryan may have hit upon the answer to get root access without voiding your warranty. The application SuperOneClick enables you to give root access to certain applications without having to unlock the bootloader. According to Nexus One, that won’t void your warranty. Obviously, you might want to check the case with your phone dealer before you attempt this.

android annoyances

More Android Apps & Tricks

If you’re looking for more great Android apps and tricks, see also:

What other annoyances have you found with your Android? Did you find a great app to fix it? Let us know in the comments!

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How To Easily Format Comments On Blogs, Forums & Wikis With The Text Format Toolbar

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 11:31 AM PDT

text format toolbarCyber culture is about sharing your views and opinions with the community that's out there. Generally, leaving a view by way of a comment is no big deal. After all, you just type it in or copy paste some bits of text and leave it at that. Neatness is a secondary consideration. Say for example, you need to place a URL that points to another source of information.

The easy way: Simply copy-paste the lengthy URL.
The time consuming but neater way: Wrap the keyword with the <a> tag and the HREF attribute i.e. <a href="URL">.

As a commentator, I am sure you would go by the former. But as a reader, I am also sure that you would prefer the latter any day. So, let this short how-to tip you off on a simple Firefox add-on that can strikeout the "time consuming" bit and leave your blog comments, forum postings, and wiki entries looking spiffy and well formatted.

Easily Format Your Posts With The Text Formatting Toolbar

We receive lots of comments on our site. Usually a common comment with some HTML elements looks like this –

text format toolbar

Ideally, we would want it to look like this –

text format toolbar download

The manual way is to code in the HTML tags. But manual is also slower. So, let's take the help of a Firefox add-on called the Text Formatting Toolbar that sets our text just the way it should be with a simple click. The Text Formatting Toolbar supports three formats: BBcode (bulletin board) that's used on most forums, HTML for blog/website comments, and the markup format used by Wikipedia. Do remember that this works with Firefox only.

Bypass The Mozilla Add-ons Gallery

The Mozilla Add-ons Gallery strangely doesn't have the updated version. But you can get the version which works (v. with the latest Firefox from the developer's site.  After the quick download and install, the toolbar is accessible from the menu (View – Toolbars – Text Formatting Toolbar).

text format toolbar download

Using The Text Formatting Toolbar

The default format is BBcode. If you are on a blog, choose HTML from the little dropdown on the extreme right.

text formatting toolbar

You can optionally change the default to the format you use usually. There are loads of options you can customize in the Options box (Tools – Add-ons – Text Formatting Toolbar – Options)

text formatting toolbar

Using the Text Formatting Toolbar is as easy as using the format bar of your email program. The toolbar is auto-enabled when it recognizes that there's a text area on the page. Select the keyword(s) and press the appropriate button to add the code. Here's the lineup of the basic button on the toolbar.

text formatting toolbar

Discussion boards and Wikis follow a slightly different markup. So, with the Text Formatting Toolbar, you don't have to take the pains of remembering all the tags. Just a toggle on the menu will switch it over to one of the three markups supported.

Create Your Own Tags With Custom Buttons

You can extend the formatting functions of the toolbar by adding your own buttons which are nothing but formatting tags which you plan to use often. The extra functions which you define become one-click buttons for adding the markup codes. The developer site has a detailed walkthrough of the process.

For instance, my screenshot below illustrates a custom button which when clicked puts in the <small> tag.

text format toolbar

This is just a simple example. If you are a HTML and CSS virtuoso, you can extend this to other time-saving uses.

The Text Formatting Toolbar add-on has another inadequately explained feature called the Format Toolbar Composer. It should let you use the toolbar as an offline editor, but quite frankly I couldn't fathom it, nor is there any adequate explanation around on how to use it. So, I have refrained from mentioning it in more detail.

The Text Format Toolbar has its uses, like inserting markup code on the fly. You can use it in any text box (like a social network) that supports the three kinds of markup. But most of all, this small format app should be viewed as a productivity tool that not only helps you to be neater with your comments but also apply the proper formatting in double quick time.

The Text Formatting Toolbar is one of those Firefox add-ons which don't shout out much, but once you put it to use, it can grab your attention. Do you think this Firefox tip is useful for properly formatting your blog and forum comments along with wiki entries?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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The Best Free Remote Desktop Apps for Your iPad

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 10:31 AM PDT

best remote desktop for ipadIf you’re like me, you often find yourself in the position of official technical support for your family and friends. So you’ll know oh too well the pain of trying to explain something over the phone. The answer to frustrating technical support is to remote control their computer for them, so you can show them exactly what steps to take. But remote desktop control apps aren’t just for technical support though – being able to control your own computers from anywhere there is an internet connection is powerful stuff. Read on to find out my favourite free remote control apps for the iPad, and why you might want to try them too.

Now is also a great time to remind you that I wrote my first MakeUseOf guide - iPad: A Magical and Revolutionary Guide – which you can download for free, and which features lots of general hints and tips as well as 40 of our favourite (free) app picks. We also covered a number of iPhone based remote control apps last year.

Why Would I Want To Remote Control My Computer From My iPad?

  • Support distant friends and family when they have computer problems.
  • Use your iPad as a remote control for your media center computer hooked up to the TV.
  • Download torrents without having to set up complicated web interfaces.
  • Do some quick image editing while out and about.
  • Put a server in the cupboard and manage it from your iPad.

Limitations Of Any Remote Desktop App

When dealing with remote desktop apps, the speed of your Internet connection is the only real limitation, and slower connections will result in higher latency and lower frame rates. For general computing, remote desktop control is generally quite useable – although it depends on the protocol being used.

Bear in mind that no remote desktop app is going to allow you to play graphics intensive games over the remote connection. Minesweeper – yes, Call of Duty – no. If you’re looking for a demo of what might be possible in the future though, I’d suggest you take a look at the OnLive iPad app, which lets you voyeuristically watch streaming live videos of thousands of people currently playing games through their onLive cloud gaming system.

With that in mind, let’s look at the four best apps I’ve chosen today.

Best Overall – Teamviewer HD

Free for non-commercial use, TeamViewer is the de-facto standard for cross-platform remote control, support, and presentations. With a simple 10MB download for Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS, TeamViewer really is as simple as it gets. Run the app, and get a 9-digit access code and 4-digit password. Type those into your app, and in seconds you’ll be connected. No fuss, no settings, no firewall configuration, no registration – it just works.

Here’s a screenshot of the Mac app. On the left is the access code to have someone connect to you, on the right is where you can connect to someone else.

best remote desktop for ipad

The iPad app only allows you to connect to another computer of course – you can’t remote control the iPad (well, not without jailbreaking anyway).

Once connected, it’ll take a while to get used to the controls. To move the mouse pointer you drag it around, and you can also pinch the screen to zoom in and out. There’s no voice communications, so if you do need to voice chat then you’ll still need Skype or a phone. TeamViewer HD is perfect for quick and easy remote support though, and my personal remote control app of choice for any and every purpose.

Download the iPad, Android, and your OS version app all from

Best Performance: SplashTop Remote Free (Mac & Windows)

Though the free version is limited to 5 minutes, I had to include this app because of the sheer performance. Basically, SplashTop is fast – fast enough that I was even able to open a streaming video application and watch a video jitter free, with the sound streaming perfectly too. Games are also possible, but not if they use directX.

ipad remote desktop

Honorable Mention For Mac & Linux: MochaVNC Lite

VNC is a standards based protocol for remote connections. It’s incredibly slow, but support is built-in to OsX through the Sharing option. For Windows, you’ll also need a VNC server of some sort, so you may as well go with one of the better options above. MochaVNC Lite packs a lot of features into the free price tag, and managed to find all my devices automatically.

ipad remote desktop

If you’re having problems on OsX, make sure you aren’t using your user password, but a special VNC password that is set via the Preferences -> Sharing -> Screen Sharing pane under Computer Settings:

best remote desktop for ipad

Honorable Mention For Windows: PocketCloud Free

For Windows 7 Remote Desktop connections (learn more about them in our free network manual), PocketCloud was the most reliable free app I could find. RDP is a remote control protocol developed by Microsoft and used exclusively in Windows, though it doesn’t come with the home edition.

When you log in through RDP, you’ll be logged out on the actual system, which is rather disconcerting. It is however pretty responsive, far more so than a VNC connection would ever be. If you literally just need access to your own Windows desktop, then definitely go with this app. The free version allows you to configure just one device, and you do need to run a helper application as well as log in with a Google account, which may put a lot of people off.

As you can see, there’s a lot of choice when it comes to remote desktop control on your iPad. Personally, I’d go with TeamViewer HD for a universal option and ease of use for both end users, but it really depends upon your needs. No app will be perfect though, because the iPad is fundamentally a touch-screen device, and Windows/OSx aren’t. For more specific remote control uses such as movie streaming or iTunes control, you might want to look at more dedicated apps.

Let us know what you prefer in the comments.

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Facebook’s New Way Of Using You As Free Advertising (& How To Stop It) [News]

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 10:03 AM PDT

Unwitting Facebook users may soon find themselves starring in adverts for free by simply using the service. The new feature known as ‘sponsored stories’ will recommend products and services to your friends based on your tastes and whether your profile settings allow it.

Actions such as checking into places, clicking “Like” on a page, application interactions and posting on Facebook pages can be then used as marketing ammo, sending targeted recommendations to your friends featuring your name and profile picture. Users who are featured in the adverts won’t be paid a penny.

This new way for advertisers to target their audience on a startlingly personal level quietly launched in January, and (in a move that’s angered many) each Facebook user’s account, by default, allows this to happen. Despite many voicing their concerns, Facebook insists that this new breed of social advertising falls in line with its current privacy policy.

For those of you seething in your office chairs, there’s a simple way to disallow Facebook from using your personal data in these new ‘sponsored stories’ from your Account Settings:

Whilst logged into Facebook, click Account then Account Settings. On the far right of the row of tabs choose Facebook Adverts, which will take you to a page where you can change Allow adverts on platform pages to show my information to and Show my social actions in Facebook Adverts to No one.

What do you think about Facebook’s new adverts? Have you changed your account settings? Spread the word and have your say in the comments below.

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How To Install A Custom ROM On Your Android

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 09:31 AM PDT

custom android romWhether you’ve had your Android phone for a long time, or you’ve just bought a new one, there is no moment quite as sweet as when you finally get around to “rooting” that phone. It’s like a “coming of age” for Android users. Not only can you install a whole family of apps that you couldn’t run on an unrooted phone, but you can also install a whole new ROM to your phone.

What’s a ROM you ask? It stands for Read Only Memory, but what it means within the context of an Android phone is that it is essentially the style, theme and organization of the operating system. Thanks to the Android OS being open source, this is possible. There are a huge number of programmers out there working diligently on creating some of the most impressive custom Android ROMs – far better than the stock ROM that comes with your phone.

If you’re just starting out with an unrooted Android, you’ve got some work to do before you can install a new ROM. First, set up the SDK as described in my USB screenshot article. Next click the link above to learn how you can root your phone with SuperOneClick. Finally, you’re ready to take the next big step and replace your ROM.

Installing A Custom Android ROM

If you’re not sure whether you see the point of installing a custom ROM, consider it like you’ve just purchased a new Honda Civic. Now, a Honda Civic is a great car. Better gas mileage and reliability than most other cars in its class, but that doesn’t stop car enthusiasts from making that great car even better by “tuning” it. Well, ROM programmers are essentially Android “tuners”.

First things first – safety. When you root your phone and install a new ROM, it should go without saying that you run the risk of turning your phone into an expensive paperweight. The popular approach to installing new ROMs to an Android is by installing the ROM Manager off the Android Market. Once you do – and I can’t stress this enough – choose Flash ClickworkMod Recovery from the menu before you do anything else.

custom android rom

This completely saved me when a couple of ROMs didn’t install correctly. ClockworkMod Recovery lets you make a backup of your current ROM before installing a new one. If you need to, you can reboot into recovery mode (holding down the power button and the “X” key at the same time) to recover your old ROM.

When you’re ready to search for and download a brand new custom ROM for your phone, click on “Download ROM” in the ROM Manager menu.

android rom manager

Now, there are lots of Android users with lots of opinions as to which ROM is best. Favorites seem to be Bugless Beast, Gingerbread and of course CyanogenMod. After a couple of failed attempts with Bugless Beast and Gingerbread, I went with the tried and true CyanogenMod.

When you go to install a ROM, you’ll see the pre-installation pop-up. Always select backup existing ROM. Nine times out of ten you should also wipe data and cache for the installation to work correctly.

android rom manager

Once the installation was done, my Droid rebooted and when it came back up, I had a fresh installation of CyanogenMod running on my rooted phone. I have to say that I really like the layout, but the default background is definitely a bit “bleh.” So that’s the first thing I changed.

android rom manager

One of the coolest things about these ROM’s is that you’ve got live wallpaper available. You can’t see it too well below, but my background now has very cool high-tech lights zooming around. Most of the apps shown below came standard with CM.


If static backgrounds are your thing, CM has a pretty decent selection to choose from with some really high-quality artwork. I was impressed – of course I eventually opted for one of the live wallpapers instead.


When you go into the menu and view the settings, you’ll see that there are a few unique options from the standard ROM. Obviously, CM settings and options, but you’ll also see ADWLauncher available (if you opted for it during download). This is a very cool tool that lets you download and install some amazing themes from the Android market.


Most of these themes aren’t free, but the quality is very good. Ultimately the theme is what creates the “feel” of the interface, which you’ll be dealing with day in and day out, so buying and downloading a theme probably isn’t a waste of money.

Of course, last but not least is the ease with which you can enable or disable your network connections like Wi-Fi, GPS or Bluetooth, straight from the status drop-down. Toggling these networks was always a pet peeve of mine with the standard ROM. With CM it’s just a couple of finger-swipes away.

custom android rom

Whether you choose to go with the popular CyanogenMod, or any one of the other ROMs, just make sure to make a recovery backup of your current ROM so that you’ll have a way out if anything goes wrong. Once that’s aside, you can feel fairly confident installing and test driving the different ROMs available for your device, and you can decide which one is perfect for you.

Did you install a new custom Android ROM? Which one did you choose and what do you like about it? Share your Android insight in the comments section below.

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The 5 Best Android Phones You Can Buy Today [Mobile]

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 08:31 AM PDT

best android phoneGoogle’s Android operating system has grown rapidly in popularity. Although its app store still lacks the sheer volume of apps that you’ll find available on iOS, there is still a wide variety available. Improvements to the user interface have made Android more popular with users, as well.

But the hardware may well be Android’s biggest advantage. If you want iOS, you have to buy an iPhone. Android, on the other hand, offers a wide variety of different devices. Let’s take a look at the best Android phones currently on the market.

Motorola Atrix 4G

best android phone

You may have noticed commercials for this phone recently not because of the phone’s name, but rather because of one particular thing the phone can do – dock with a laptop stand to essentially become a small Android computer.

The laptop dock is pricy, however, and the Atrix 4G as a phone. Fortunately, the Atrix 4G has plenty of features to offer on its own. It is one of the first phones to hit the market with an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, so performance is spectacular. It has HDMI-out, as well, so you can potentially stream content from the phone to an HDTV or computer monitor.

The Atrix 4G is only available from AT&T and currently runs $199.99 with contract.

HTC Thunderbolt 4G

best android cell phone

It’s been a while (as in, a few months) since HTC released a new flagship phone, but the HTC Thunderbolt 4G certainly fits that description. Hot off the line (it launched March 17th) the Thunderbolt is loaded with features. It offers a 4.3′ touch-screen display, a 8 megapixel rear camera, and a 1 GHz processor.

Verizon is playing up this phone’s wireless speed and is claiming download speeds of between 5 and 12 Mbps. If history is an indication, reality won’t quite live up to those claims, but the Thunderbolt should prove to be the quickest Android phone currently offered by the carrier.

The HTC Thunderbolt 4G is only available from Verzion and currently runs $249.99 with contract.

HTC Evo Shift 4G

best android cell phone

Sprint’s flagship phone, the HTC Evo Shift 4G is just a few months old. It offers a fairly standard array of hardware that includes a 1 GHz processor, a 5 megapixel rear camera and 3.6′ touchscreen. The Evo Shift is one of only three smartphones on the Sprint network to offer 4G. If you want the latest Android phone, and you’re on Sprint, this is your best choice by far.

The Evo Shift 4G is also one of the few touchscreen smartphones to offer a nice physical keyboard, which some users prefer. If you’re fine using a touchscreen you might prefer the standard Evo Shift 4G. It's similar, but trades in the physical keyboard for a larger 4.3 inch display and a 1 GHz processor. If you're comfortable with touch keyboards, the larger Evo 4G would be the better pick.

The Evo Shift 4G runs $149.99 with a contract from Sprint; the Evo Shift 4G is $199.99 with contract.

HTC Desire HD

best android cell phone

Although an older phone by the fast-moving standards of the smartphone world, the HTC Desire HD is still a solid piece of Android hardware. Like most modern cellphones it offers a 1GHz processor along with a 5 megapixel rear camera.

Perhaps the Desire’s best feature, however, is the price. You can find it for about $70. If you’re not a smartphone geek you may want to consider saving some money and going with the HTC Desire HD rather than a slightly new and substantially more expensive phone.

The HTC Desire HD is available from U.S. Cellular for $69.99.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G

what is the best android phone

The Galaxy S 4G is Samsung’s current flagship phone. Most of the hardware is identical to the phones we’ve already covered (1 GHz processor, 5MP camera, etc) but the Galaxy S 4G does have one big selling point – the display.

The Galaxy S 4G features a 4-inch AMOLED touchscreen that is absolutely gorgeous. Although the resolution of 800×480 is the same as most phones, the AMOLED technology is easier to use in direct sunlight and can render dark images more accurately than a normal LED-backlit display.

The Samsung Galaxy S 4G is available on T-Mobile for $149.99 with contract.

Unreleased Android Phones To Watch

best android phone

Motorola Droid Bionic

This 4G phone will be powered by a Tegra 2 processor. The 4.3′ display will offer a higher-than average display resolution of 540×960. Given the quality of Motorola’s previous Droid phones this could be an amazing piece of hardware. Expect it to be released this summer.

Samsung Galaxy S2

An update to the Galaxy S, this phone will retain the amazing AMOLED display but also pack a dual-core Tegra 2 processor. The release date is still a mystery, but those impressed by the Galaxy S may want to hold off for a few months.


The smartphone market moves quick, and it isn’t going to slow down any time soon. This can make it hard to jump in. Obviously, you don’t want to buy something that’s going to be outdated tomorrow.

My advice is to simply buy whatever Android phone above is available on your carrier and try not to worry about future proofing. There is always going to be something new around the corner. These are the best Android phones available today, but I guarantee you that if you wait to buy a Droid Bionic or Galaxy S2, there will be rumors of even better and quicker phones on the horizon by then.

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