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011Now Android app has been updated

January 12, 2017

We have updated 011Now smartphone app for Android phones to the version 3.2. The international calling app works faster now. As usual first calls are on us – try it for free.

android

Get it at Google Play http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.a011Now.a011Now

Brazil Travel Guide

October 8, 2015

Christ_on_Corcovado_mountain

Maybe the first thing that comes into someone’s mind when asked about Brazil is the Rio Carnival, but that’s not all there is to it, and by a long shot .Brazil is one of the largest countries in the “new world”, actually the largest in South America and also in the Latin American area. To get the general idea about its vastness, Brazil is actually world’s 5th largest country, both in terms of land surface and population.  A country that big must be worth a visit, right? So, moving along with interesting factoids, Brazil has the largest Portuguese speaking population in the world, as it was a former Portuguese colony, estimated at 215 million and a land surface of 8.5  million square kilometers. Having a hugely vast coastline and being home to the Amazon River Basin, Brazil can be described as a mega-diverse country, boasting with wildlife thanks to its luxuriant tropical forests and diverse ecological systems. Visiting Brazil is a once in a life time experience, being an intoxicating mix of splendid beaches, lively towns and friendly people. Since this is one of the largest countries on Earth which supports a staggeringly beautiful and divers wildlife, island getaways and soft sanded beaches, it’s a safe bet from the traveler’s point of view. You will not be disappointed even if you’re an adrenaline junkie, because here you can enjoy all sorts of near death experiences, ranging from surfing to getting wild riding the beach buggies or snorkeling/diving in the blue waters of the Noronhoa National Park. One of the most underestimated assets of Brazil are the indigenes, the Brazilians themselves I mean. Maybe the best description of the Brazilian people is that they’re the most hedonistic and effervescent I’ve ever encountered during my escapades. They actually love having fun, dancing and partying all night long, in Brazil’s chic night clubs, enjoying  bossa-nova, Samba or anything else from the plethora of music/dancing genres Brazil excels at.

falls-at-caracol-brazil

What to see, what to do in Brazil

Brasilia is the country’s capital, a city often overlooked by tourists and designed by Oscar Niemeyer back in the 1950’s. What makes it so special is its futuristic architecture, with beautiful curvaceous structures which dominate authoritatively the relatively flat horizons. Niemeyer was a true visionary architect and he died recently, in 2012, being 104 years old and still working at that age. His legacy to Brazil is represented especially (among many others) by Brasilia’s cathedral and the building which harbors Brazil’s national congress. Both structures are now part of UNESCO World Heritage sites

rio_de_janeiro_brazil

Brazil is a place filled with tropical islands and sunny beaches, and among the best are the Costa Verde Islands and beaches, located along the country’s coastline. You can visit a variety of chic tourist resorts between Sao Paolo and Rio, like Morro de Sao Paolo, Buzios, Ilhabela or Ilha Grande.

If you’re an adrenaline fiend, you can go river rafting or hiking in one of Brazil’s most beautiful National Parks, Chapada Diamantina, a place bursting with natural beauties: luscious forests, caves, mountains, underground lakes and splendid waterfalls.

Waterfalls_of_Saint_Vicent,_Chapada_dos_Veadeiros,_Goias,_Brazil

One of the most interesting travel experiences I’ve ever had in my lifetime was during my visit to Brazil, i.e. exploring the Amazon River on a ferry. This area is home for the world’s biggest rain forests, the Amazonian rain forest that is, a place which is fed by the largest rivers in the world (Amazon included) and filled with astoundingly beautiful natural attractions.

A visit to Brazil must include (it’s compulsory) going to see a game of football (the national obsession) in Rio’s Maracana Stadium, which used to be until recently the biggest stadium on the planet. The public is flamboyant and the atmosphere resembles a carnival, sometimes shadowing the real action (football or soccer) on the field, due to the hugely passionate and noisy supporters.

amazon_rainforest

Rio de Janeiro and the beautiful mayhem which is the Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is the definition of the ultimate spectacle, being one of the world’s most appreciated parties. This city is among the hippest and happiest in the world, boasting with its Ipanema Copacabana beaches and the world-famous Christ statue that majestically overlooks the city from the Corcovado Mountain. And don’t forget to pay a visit to Sao Paolo and Salvador while you’re at it, you don’t know what you’re missing. Carnival baby!

carnival

Food and Drink

Brazil is a cultural melting pot and its cuisine follows closely the same principle. Brazilian food is flavorsome, awesome and diverse, just like the country itself. Specialties include stew of black beans with bits of pork, seafood, fish, exotic fruits from the Amazonian Jungle, shrimp and chicken cooked with coconut milk and palm oil, bean fritters deep fried served with shrimp, onions and peppers and cheesy dough-balls. Regional drinks include draught beer, lots of cocktails made using sugar cane, limes and crushed ice, white wines and loads of fruit juices.

cuisine

Visa Requirements 

To enter Brazil you’ll require a valid passport and sometimes a Visa, depending on where you come from, i.e.  EU nationals can enter freely, but US, Australian and Canadian residents will need a Visa.

Sony Xperia M5 Review, Midrange Spirit at its Best

October 6, 2015

xperia-m5

If regular smartphones just don’t do it for you anymore and you want something a little more “daring” when it comes to water and dust resistance, I happen to know about a very nice smartphone that might suit your needs and will be released soon, by the end of the month. I’m talking about the Sony Xperia M5, a device from the upper-midrange area that aims to offer you a solid user experience anyplace, anytime – at the beach, in the shower, you name it. Among other tempting features, this fellow brings a 5 inches FullHD display, an octa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, a 21.5 MP primary camera and a 13 MP secondary one, optional dual-SIM support and more. If I caught your attention and you’re interested in what it has to offer, keep reading and find out more!

Let’s take a good look at it. If the M5 isn’t the first Xperia that you had to deal with, its design will look pretty familiar, as it resembles with some of its siblings’ (the Z-series, for example, not to mention the other M’s). The handset measures 145 x 72 x 7.6 mm and has a weight of 142.5 grams, which is reasonable, considering that we’re dealing with a 5-incher. Sony used a high quality plastic for designing the device, which has an excellent build quality and is very well put together. One of the M5’s main selling points is its IP68 certification for being dust proof and water resistant for 30 minutes under 1.5 meters, which means that you can use it in the tub, at the beach, swimming pool and wherever you want, as long as it doesn’t reach the aforementioned limits.

The Xperia M5 comes packed with a 5 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen which has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, a pixel density of 441 ppi and is protected by a scratch resistant glass. The Triluminous display uses Sony’s Bravia engine for improving the image quality, which is very pleasant to the eye, with accurate and punchy colors, good contrast and very wide viewing angles. The sunlight legibility is pretty decent too.

Let’s see what’s cooking at the software department. The Sony Xperia M5 comes loaded with Android 5.0 Lollipop, which has been slightly customized here and there for enhancing the overall user experience. The lockscreen shows the time, date and two shortcuts for the dialer and camera. Beyond the lockscreen are five homescreen panes from the maximum number of seven that you can have. They can be customized with widgets, folders, shortcuts, wallpapers and themes.
The notification area holds reveals your notifications, a Quick Settings shortcut, a brightness slider and some toggles. Your applications are gathered inside the App Drawer.
Browsing through the M5 is a pleasure, as the user friendly interface runs smooth and works like a charm.

The previous statement takes us to the hardware features, which have an important role in offering a pleasant user experience. The Xperia M5 is powered by a Mediatek MT6795 Helio X10 chipset, having an octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 processor, PowerVR G6200 GPU, 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal memory, which can be extended with a microSD card of up to 200 GB. The handset will handle daily tasks with ease and is also fit for playing casual games.

Another important feature that comes on board the Xperia M5 is its camera. The handset is packed with a 21.5 MP snapper with phase detection autofocus that captures stills with a maximum resolution of 5312 x 3984 pixels and is helped by a LED flash in low light conditions. The camera application offers support for several manual settings for adjusting the white balance, ISO, metering, exposure compensation and more, but I’ll advice you to stick with the Superior Auto mode, as it does a really good job. The camera is very capable and will produce some pleasant photos that reveal accurate colors, good contrast and a good amount of resolved detail.
The video camera is an excellent performer and will deliver some smooth 4K videos.
For ensuring that you take some great selfies, Sony has equipped the Xperia M5 with a powerful 13 MP front-facing camera.

Some other handy features that might interest you from the Xperia M5’s package are a GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS support, Google Maps and Navigation for getting around, an FM Radio with RDS support, two great media players for listening to music or watching movies, the Office Suite 8 for managing document files, Google Now as a personal assistant, Google Chrome for surfing the web and more.

The Sony Xperia M5 is powered by a 2,600 mAh battery and will endure almost two days under a single charge if used moderately.

xperia-m5-gold-

Austria Travel Guide

October 6, 2015

vienna-hofburg-imperial-palace

Austria is one of those countries you should pay a visit in your lifetime, if you’re into old-school European culture. Despite being a relatively small country, Austria spawned celebrities like Mozart, the Habsburg dynasty and Hitler. Vienna, the capital, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and Austria’s magnificent Alpine scenery is absolutely delightful. In German language (the official language of the land), Austria actually means the Eastern Realm and it’s often quoted as being the place to live in if you’re lucky enough to be in the European Union. You know what I’m talking about: the super-state EU, where borders are obsolete and you can basically relocate/work/live wherever you like. Austria is a true melting pot of cultures and different peoples, as it was the core of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which stretched to most of east and central Europe, including territories that are now pertaining to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Poland, Ukraine and even Italy. The imperial capital was Vienna, a truly cosmopolite city, home of cutting edge architecture and contemporary art, innovative and tasty cuisine, with a bursting night-life and friendly people (they all seem to speak or at least understand English, which is pretty cool if you’re from the US or another Anglo-Saxon country). Austria is a highly developed country, with a high standard of living, very clean and very safe and imbibed with culture. Its natural beauty combines perfectly with its neo-classical and Baroque architecture, being an ideal place to relax, recline and relish.

vienna

Austria is located in Central Europe and neighbors Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west and Italy and Slovenia to the south. Its surface spreads over 83,879 square km (32,385 square miles) and it has a population of 8,602,112. Austria’s capital and largest city is Vienna, its metropolitan area holding around 2.6 million people, making for almost one third of the country’s population.

Palm-house-Schonbrunn-Palace-Vienna

What to see, what to do
If you’re traveling to Austria, you surely need to include Vienna on your “to-watch” list. The country’s capital is a cultural treasure, abounding in historical buildings, museums, majestic Baroque and Medieval structures, palaces and monuments. Among the most important places to see in Vienna are the opulent Schloss Belvedere and Schloss Schönbrunn palaces, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which holds an impressive collection of art that includes works belonging to Rubens, Rembrandt or Caravaggio, the 12th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg complex, Haus der Musik – the first museum of sound and music in the country, Staatsoper and Musikverein – the city’s opera and ballet venues, Tiergarten Schönbrunn – the world’s oldest zoo.
Vienna is also the place to go when the Johann Strauss Ball takes place once a year at the Hofburg Palace.
Another beautiful point of interest in Vienna is the Riesenrad (Ferris Wheel) from the Prater amusement park.

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Visit Salzburg for admiring the city that gave Mozart to the world. The Salzburg Festival, which is held uring the summer, is worth checking out for enjoying a taste of drama and music.
If you’re visiting during the summer, be sure to offer yourself some peace and relaxation by spending some quality time in Carinthia, known as the Austrian Riviera for its crystal clear lakes, such as Faaker See, Klopeiner See, Millstätter See, Ossiacher See, Weissensee or Wörthersee. The award-winning waters from here are known for their quality, turquoise color and their high temperatures, which reach 28 degrees during the summer. Carinthia is the place to be for admiring its jaw dropping landscape, imposing mountains, lakes and also for swimming, sunbathing or practicing water sports (scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing, water skiing, parasailing and more).

salzburg-austria-hohensalzburg-fortress-salzachAustria is also known for being Europe’s winter sports capital, having a plethora of ski resorts for those of you who are passionate about skiing, snowboarding, skating and so on. The Austrian Alps are also great for going hiking.

Carinthia-Austria-Lovely-Place

Food and drink
The Austrian traditional dishes include wiener schnitzel – a bread crumbed and fried veal escalope, kletzennudeln – noodles filled with soft cheese and dried pears, apfelstrudel – apple strudel, tafelspitz – boiled beef with potatoes and horseradish, palatschinken – pancakes.
Some Austrian regional drinks are schnapps – the national liquor, a strong fruit brandy, almdudler – soft drink made from mountain herbs, Eiswein (ice wine) – a dessert wine, and wine, beer and especially coffee, which is served in a variety of styles.

Visa Requirements

Austria is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID (if anything). For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

Belgium Travel Guide

October 3, 2015

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antwerp-belgium

One of my favorite rock bands ever, AC/DC that is, wrote a cool song back in the 80’s named Bedlam in Belgium (just heard it on the radio), hence today’s travel article is about, yes, you guessed it right, Belgium. If you know anything about the European Union, I bet you learned that Belgium is at the heart of this super-state, since Brussels, the country’s capital is also the EU’s. Located in the North Sea coast and part of the Benelux economic union (the precursor to the EU), Belgium is a highly developed country, densely populated and an under-rated tourist destination. With a land surface of 30,510 square kilometers and a population of just over 10 million people, Belgium has three official languages, despite being such a small country: Dutch, German and French. If you want to define Belgium in just a few words, those would be chocolate, beer and moules-frites (that’s French fries folks). These may very well be your starting points when travelling to Belgium, but there’s more than that, as you can imagine. Belgium is home to world-class preserved medieval cities, like Antwerp, Bruges (just like that movie In Bruges) or Brussels.

brussels

If you want to imbibe in stunning classical architecture and a history filled with military legacy, there’s no place like Belgium, believe me folks. The country is pretty small and it’s relatively easy to travel anywhere in just a few hours, not to mention that Belgium hosts 60 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, along with its ancient military history, ranging from Waterloo to World War 2. The country is divided into three distinct regions: Wallonia (in the south, where people mostly speak French), Flanders (in the north, Dutch speaking) and the Brussels region (there’s a mélange of the two aforementioned languages spoken in Brussels region, along with English and what not). Basically, Belgium can be regarded as an artificial country split down between linguistic/ethnic lines, and that’s even the opinion of Belgians themselves. However, if you’re taking into account that visiting Belgium you’re actually visiting three different countries, you can imagine that this is a pretty fascinating experience, to say the least. Flanders is a place imbibed in ancient history, boasting its amazing museums and perfectly preserved medieval architecture. Wallonia is more about beautiful scenery/landscapes while Brussels is the new Babylon of our modern times: an interesting mélange of art nouveau architecture, with impressing sky scrapers, sitting next to flea markets and art galleries, chip stands and lots of Michelin starred restaurants.

grand-place

What to do, what to see in Belgium

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I did when I arrived in Brussels was to indulge myself in chocolate. Belgium is the paradise of chocolate aficionados, famed for its truffles, especially Brussels and Bruges, where you can find boutiques of the famous chocolatier Marcolini.

For outdoors enthusiasts, after eating 2-3 boxes of chocolates, you may pay a visit to La Roche en Ardenne and go kayaking on its rivers, or take a ride cycling amid Ardenne’s beautiful hill country. The area is filled with idyllic spots for young couples, being very romantic and, how should I say it, love-inducing.

Ardennes

Ostend was back in the day the cradle of European aristocracy and also its playground, a place where you can enjoy a beautifully preserved city, the Mercator Navy ship and splendid beaches. While here you can enjoy bargaining for fresh shrimp while visiting the local fish markets.

ostend

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium is another strong selling point for travel agencies, as it was recently reworked and renovated and now it is composed from three segments from 3 distinct eras: Musee Modern, Musee Old Masters and Muse Fin de Siecle. This world famous museum located in Brussels stretches for more than five centuries, harboring some of the greatest painters/names in the history of art, ranging from the Flemish primitives to Delvaux and Rubens. I bet you’ll be deeply impressed, just like yours truly, and if that museum is not enough for the art buff that you are, all you have to do is to pay a visit to the next-door located Musee Magritte.

Antwerp is that place from which diamonds come from, right? Also, it’s Belgium’s second largest city and Flanders capital, Europe’s 2nd largest harbor and home to an ancient zoo, not to mention a once in a lifetime (as in must see) art collection (masterpiece paintings courtesy of Peter Paul Rubens).

One of the greatest battles in WW1 took place in Belgium at Bulge, near the Luxembourg border and, while here, enjoy the Bastogne Historical Centre located nearby; here you can admire a vast collection of memorabilia and you may buy a few souvenirs for your friends of family members.

The country’s and EU’s capital Brussels is a multicultural city filled with Eurocrats, Bureaucrats and loads of immigrants: Moroccan, Congolese, Turkish and what not. While here you can admire the UNESCO listed Grand Palace, the Mannaken-Pis statue, the impressive EU buildings or the Ixelles district.

belgium-hastiere-castle

Wallonia is the reason for which Belgium is said to have the highest density of castles per square mile in the world. Also keep in mind that no trip to Belgium would be complete without trying/sampling their moules-frites specialty, offered with plenty of dipping sauces and a refreshing pint of beer. And while we’re talking about beer, Belgium has a century’s old tradition, dating back to the middle Ages when it comes to ale and brewing and stuff like that. As you can imagine, some of the best beer in the world can be sampled here, hence if you’re into this sport, Belgium will feel like paradise on Earth.

Belgium-Waterloo-The-Thombs

For history buffs, Belgium is the place where Napoleon got his French butt kicked at Waterloo in 1815 by England’s Duke of Wellington; so, don’t forget to visit this historic site while you’re here.

Food and Drink

Belgium’s cuisine is often quoted as being the best in Europe, and I think that saying is quite right. The foods in Belgium are much, much more than waffles, chocolate and beer, remember that folks. Here you can have a gastronomical revelation, as you can eat fish and mussels, rabbit, pheasant, butter, cream, venison, not to mention world class beef and lamb. Specialties include the aforementioned French-fries called moules frittes, mashed potatoes, ham-wrapped endives with cheese sauce, fish-chicken stew, rabbit specially cooked with beer and prunes, eel cooked in spinach sauce, tarragon, mint, white wine and thyme, butter-cooked pheasant with chicory and brussel sprouts, salad made from boiled potato, green beans and bacon and so on and so forth. Regional drinks consist of over 400 types of beers, all brewed and bottled in Belgium. There’s also a spirit called Jenever, very similar to gin and sometimes flavored with chili, chocolate or lemon.

Belgian_Waffles_in_Brussels

Visa Requirements

Belgium is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID (if anything). For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review, on the Shoulders of Giants!

October 3, 2015

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Galaxy-Note-5

If you’re already a phablet user or if you’re thinking about replacing your smartphone in favor of something with a significantly bigger screen, today I’m going to be writing about the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which I consider to be one of the best phablets on the market right now. And it certainly wins the popularity contest, as this line of devices is well known for its undisputed success among power users, always offering top notch specs and an excellent user experience. The mother of all Note phablets brings, this year, a 5.7 inches QHD Super AMOLED display, a 14nm 64-bit Exynos 7420 chipset, 4 GB of RAM, a 16 MP camera, a 3,000 mAh battery, a clickable S-Pen and more, everything inside a polished glass body that looks better than ever and suggests that you’re dealing with a premium device. Feeling interested? Check it out in the following review and see exactly what this baby brings.

The retail box which holds the Galaxy Note 5 also brings a charger, a microUSB cable for recharging the device and making data transfers, a pair of headphones, a little tool for ejecting the SIM card and some replacement tips for the S Pen.

Following the design that defines the Galaxy S6, the Note 5 is beautifully engineered from metal and glass, being covered on its sides by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Compared to its predecessor, it’s smaller and lighter, measuring 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm and weighing 171 grams, being quite compact for a device that packs a 5.7” display. The rear-side is arched towards the edges – which isn’t a design feature that you see every day on Samsung devices – and looks very classy due to its glass cover, but beauty has its price, as it also tends to get smudgy and slippery.
All in all, the Note 5 is definitely a looker, having a premium design that will turn a lot of heads and an excellent build quality, as always.

This year, the Galaxy Note 5 brings a 5.7 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen that has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, a pixel density of 518 ppi and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, as I previously mentioned. As expected, this baby means serious business and is among the best on the market right now, sporting some beautiful and accurate colors, an exceptional contrast, high brightness levels and very wide viewing angles. The sunlight legibility is also excellent.

At the software department, the Galaxy Note 5 comes with a refurbished TouchWiz on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The user interface has been significantly improved by the Koreans and looks and feels better than ever. The lockscreen displays the time, date, weather info, notifications and two shortcuts for the dialer and camera. After unlocking the handset, which can be done using its very fast and accurate fingerprint scanner, you’ll be greeted by the homescreen, which features support for themes, wallpapers, effects, folders, shortcuts and widgets.
The notification area holds your notifications, a row of quick toggles, a brightness slider and the S Finder and Quick Connect keys. Your apps are neatly gathered in the App drawer.
The S Pen is a pleasure to use and its software has also been upgraded, enabling you to take notes even when the screen is off.

Let’s see what’s under the hood when it comes to hardware. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is powered by an Exynos 7420 chipset, having a quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 processor and a quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 CPU, Mali-T760MP8 GPU and 4 GB of RAM; it comes in two flavors, with 32 or 64GB of internal storage. In terms of performance, the handset is one of the best on the market, delivering a flawless user experience regardless of the task, just like it should.

For taking photos, the Galaxy Note 5 once again follows the series’ tradition and comes packed with an awesome 16 MP camera that captures pictures with a maximum resolution of 5321 x 2988 pixels and features optical image stabilization, among others. The camera application reveals a lot of options and features, settings for controlling the ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, effects, HDR, Panorama and more. As expected, the Note 5 is a capable performer and will produce some gorgeous pictures, with very accurate colors, great contrast and a high amount of resolved detail.
The video camera doesn’t fall behind and will provide you with some wonderful 2160p videos @30 fps.
For taking selfies or making video calls, the handset features a front-facing 5MP camera.

Some other things that might interest you that come aboard the Note 5 are a GPS receiver with A-GPS, GLONASS and Beidou support, Google Maps and Navigation for getting around, Google Chrome and the Android browser (which has been tweaked by Samsung) for surfing the web, S Health for monitoring your activities, Google Now as a personal assistant and S Voice too for voice commands, 100 GB of free cloud storage on OneDrive and much more.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is juiced up by a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery and will endure almost three days if used moderately.

galaxy-note5

ZTE Axon Pro Review, Multimedia King!

October 1, 2015

axom

Today, I’ve chosen for reviewing the Axon Pro from ZTE, a smartphone that was recently launched into the market area that belongs to flagships, bringing to our attention an attractive package of specs gathered inside an unlocked device that comes for a more than reasonable price. Among the most tempting main features we can count a 5.5 inches screen, a Snapdragon 810 chipset, a 13 megapixels camera that captures 4K videos, a 3,000 mAh battery, 32 GB of internal memory, Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and more. Pretty impressive for a smartphone that throws a threatening $450 price towards the competition, don’t you think? Its great design, solid set of specs and alluring price will certainly turn a lot of heads, so, if you might be one of them, follow the next review and find out more details about the Axon Pro. Its name is catchy too.

Inside its retail box, the Axon Pro comes along with its charger, a USB cable for recharging your unit and making data connections, a little tool for ejecting the SIM card and a really nice treat through a premium pair of JBL headphones.

Let’s get to one of my favorite things about the Axon Pro: its design. This fella really stands out of the crowd due to its lovely appearance and you’ll know what I’m talking about when carefully looking at its pictures or, way better, if you actually check it out in real life. Through its nice details, the handset really looks unique among its peers and I’ll get to those a little bit later.
The Axon Pro measures 153.9 x 73.7 x 9.4 mm and has a weight of 172.9 grams, being quite a hefty fella that won’t seem too appealing to those of you searching thin and compact handsets. If you’re used to handling phablets, managing this one won’t raise any issues.
The phone’s build quality is great, consisting in high quality materials that blend nicely together: the back features two polycarbonate bands on the top and bottom with a nice metallic surface between them. The front is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The handset is embellished with some small surfaces that have a pattern with tiny triangles and can be seen around the camera lens, around the earpiece and the speaker grille.

The Axon Pro’s frontal part of the body is occupied by a 5.5 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen that has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a pixel density of 534 ppi; it also incorporates Sharp’s CGS (Continuous Grain Silicon) technology, which enhances the performance by lowering the number of components and power consumption and increasing the resolution and reliability.
The screen is candy for the eyes, offering some lovely colors, an excellent contrast and extremely wide viewing angles. The sunlight legibility is also very good.

In terms of software, the Axon Pro comes loaded with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop which has been subtly tweaked by ZTE for improving the overall experience. The lockscreen shows the time, date, notifications and two shortcuts for the dialer and camera.
Beyond the lockscreen you’ll be greeted by the homescreen, which has support for wallpapers, shortcuts, widgets, themes and animations. Your apps are neatly kept inside the App drawer.
The notification area is accessed with a swipe from the top, while a second swipe will display the quick toggles, a brightness slider and a Settings shortcut.
Browsing through the smooth OS is a pleasure, as the interface is smooth and user friendly, everything working like a charm within it.

zte

Let’s see what’s cooking at the hardware department. The Axon Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, having a quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57 processor and a quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 processor, Adreno 430 GPU, 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, which can’t be expanded with a microSD card due to the lack of a designated slot.
The smartphone is an excellent performer and will handle every task without any hassle, but suffers a little from the well known problem of the Snapdragon 810 – it gets warmed up if confronted with a hard task, but remains perfectly usable.

For capturing photos, the Axon Pro is equipped with a 13 MP camera that takes stills with a maximum resolution of 4128 x 3096 pixels, features optical image stabilization, a dual-LED flash for low light situations, an additional 2 megapixels sensor for distance measurements and more. The handset will please your eyes with some great pictures that offer beautiful and accurate colors, a high amount of resolved detail and a good contrast.
The video camera is also very capable and will provide you with some smooth 4K videos @30 fps.
For taking selfies, an 8 MP front facing camera is here to serve.

Some other features brought by the Axon Pro are two excellent media players for video and audio playback, an FM Radio, a GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS support, Google Maps for navigation, Google Now as your personal assistant, Google Chrome for offering a proper browsing experience, a file manager, a fitness tracking application and more.

The ZTE Axon Pro is kept alive by a 3,000 mAh battery and will endure a little over two days if used moderately.

zte-axon-pro

Netherlands Travel Guide

September 27, 2015

Beauty-Of-Netherlands

Which European country is best known for having the most liberal mentality, the warmest, most welcoming atmosphere and the greatest number of tulips? Well, I made it pretty obvious when bringing the tulips into question, so prepare yourself for a virtual tour of The Netherlands, a small and beautiful country that has a lot of traits to offer to its travelers. Whether you’re visiting for its cultural heritage, sophisticated cities, fairy-like country sides, bohemian cafes, laid-back attitude and, why not, for exploring the well known attractions of Amsterdam, The Netherlands will leave you with a big smile on your face and a strong wish to come here again. Especially if you have a wild soul and feel the occasional urge of going on an adventure by exploring colorful places with interesting people that send positive vibes and draw beautiful memories.

netherlands

The Netherlands literally means “lower countries”, the name drawing its meaning from the country’s flat lands, and it is often called “Holland”, but you should know that this naming isn’t correct. When talking about the country’s inhabitants, language, culture and other related things, the correct term to be used is “Dutch”.
Situated in Western Europe, The Netherlands neighbors, towards the east, with Germany, with Belgium to the south and the North Sea towards the northwest. The country is densely populated, having a surface of 41,543 square km (16,033 sq mi) which is inhabited by 16,919,139 people, having a density of around 500 people per square km. It is governed by a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy; the capital is its biggest city, Amsterdam.

amsterdam

What to see, what to do

The most exciting place to be once you’re here is, of course, Amsterdam, also known as the “sin city”, a magical place that combines cultural elements with contemporary ones and the result is just thrilling. Whether you’re passing one of the plethora of restaurants, cafes, historical buildings, museums, canals and so on, everything you encounter seems surrounded by romance, friendship and a charming ambiance that embraces you and always seems to be bursting with joy and excitement. Take a canal boat tour and enjoy the city’s seventeenth century architectural beauties and popular sights, such as Anne Frank’s house, the Flower Market, the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum, the Red Light District (because why not?) and many other interesting areas.

Utrecht

In the search for the country’s monuments and historical treasures, be sure to visit Utrecht, which has been well preserved and has the biggest university in the country, Maastricht, for its beautiful medieval architecture, churches, lanes and monuments, Leiden, the birthplace of Rembrandt, for visiting the first university in the country and a plethora of museums and monuments; Rotterdam – the largest European port and a beautiful display of modern architecture, The Hague – the judicial capital of the world, seat of the government and royalty and a lovely place to visit for admiring palaces and other buildings, Haarlem, Madurodam, Alkmaar or Gouda are also notable cities that should be visited if you’re planning to spend your holidays here.
For admiring some of The Netherlands’ many windmills and other traditional elements, explore its picturesque countryside and towns by visiting the Waterland and Zaan Region, Kinderdjik, which has 19 windmills, the Zaanse Schans, which also has a museum, Schiedam – for seeing the tallest windmills in the world, the Bulb Region for its tulip fields and Keukenhof, which has the largest flower garden in the world.
As for activities, cycling is extremely popular in the Netherlands, being the usual form of transport for many and there are around 22,000 km of dedicated paths throughout the country.

The Hague Dutch Parliament

If you’re traveling here in the summer, when the temperatures are permissive for sunbathing and swimming, you can enjoy the Dutch beaches at Scheveningen, Bergen, Zandvoort, the West Frisian Islands or the Dutch Wadden Sea Islands.

zaanseschans

Food and drink

When traveling to the Netherlands, be sure to try out some of the following Dutch specialties, especially the sweets, which leave my mouth watering as I’m writing: bitterbal – a deep fried round ball filled with a mix of butter, chopped beef and spices, stamppot – mashed potatoes with vegetables and smoked sausage, rookworst – ground meat sausage, erwtensoep – thick pea soup with sausage, poffertjes – tiny pancakes served with butter and powdered sugar, stroopwafels – cookie-like syrup waffle, appeltaart – apple pie and more.
The regional drinks are beer, coffee and tea. A local alcoholic beverage is jenever – Dutch gin, which turns into beerenburg when adding some herbs to it. The Dutch also have the best hot chocolate, which consists in actual melted chocolate mixed with milk and whipped cream.
cuisine

Visa and Passports Requirements

Netherlands is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID. For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

International calling to Netherlands 

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Samsung Galaxy A8, Phablet-War for Territory!

September 10, 2015

samsung-galaxy-a8-

If medium sized smartphones just can’t satisfy your needs anymore nowadays, the phablet market knows how you feel and offers a good amount of devices to choose from for fitting your phone-related requirements. One of the most tempting would be the Samsung Galaxy A8, the biggest member from the A series, a device that has been launched just last month and brings a capable set of features packed inside a great looking body. Some of these features are a 5.7 inches Super AMOLED screen, an Exynos chipset with an octa-core processor, optional dual-SIM support, Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, a fingerprint scanner, a 16 MP primary camera, a 3,050 mAh battery and more. The handset promises to offer a solid experience and is available for about $500, give or take, a price which is quite reasonable considering its traits. More details are coming next, keep reading if you’re feeling interested.

Inside its retail package, the Galaxy A8 comes along with its charger, a microUSB cable for charging and making data connections, a pair of headphones with in-ear buds and a tool for ejecting the SIM card.

When I was saying that the A8 looks great, I really meant it. The largest from the A-series is also Samsung’s thinnest smartphone, measuring 158 x 76.8 x 5.9 mm and weighing 151 grams. Thin, compact and quite lightweight considering its size, the A8 is extremely well put together and boasts a stylish appearance that comes close to its premium siblings. A metallic frame surrounds the body, which is made from a high quality plastic that rejects fingerprints, smudges and offers a good hand grip.

Now, let’s get to the selling point of the device: its screen. The Galaxy A8 brings a 5.7 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen that has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, a pixel density of 386 ppi and is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. Being an OLED display, you can expect a magnificent contrast and some really deep blacks; also, the screen will please your eyes with vibrant, punchy colors, very wide viewing angles and an excellent sunlight legibility.

When it comes to software, the Galaxy A8 comes loaded with the latest and greatest from Android, Lollipop 5.1.1 and also the latest TouchWiz version. The handset can be secured with a fingerprint and the scanner works like a charm. The lockscreen displays the time and date, weather info, your notifications – which can be hidden, if you want to – and shortcuts towards the camera and dialer.
Beyond the lockscreen is the homescreen, which offers support for widgets, folders and themes. The notification area holds your notifications, a row of quick toggles and a brightness slider.
The handset also offers S-Voice and Google Now as your personal assistants, Multi Window support, free 100 GB on cloud through One Drive, a Quick Settings option which displays the options used frequently and more.
The interface is a pleasure to browse through, being smooth and user friendly.

In terms of hardware, the Galaxy A8 comes in two flavors: one with an Exynos 5430 chipset, that has an octa-core processor with four cores of 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 and four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A15 cores and Mali-T628 MP6 GPU. The other version is based on a Snapdragon 615 chipset, which has a quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 and a quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A53 and Adreno 405 GPU.
Both versions have 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card of up to 128 GB.
I only have the Exynos powered device on my radar, which delivers an excellent performance and will provide you with a great user experience, free of any lag or other unpleasantries.

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Another great feature that comes aboard the Galaxy A8 is its camera. The handset is equipped with a 16 MP snapper with autofocus which takes stills with a maximum resolution of 5312 x 2988 pixels and is helped by a LED flash in low light conditions. The camera application reveals support for HDR, Panorama, manual settings for adjusting the ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and more.
The pictures delivered offer a great image quality, with pleasant and accurate colors, good contrast and a lot of resolved detail.
Although it might seem unimpressive due to the lack of 4K support, the video camera is very capable and will produce some smooth 1080p videos @30 fps.
For making video calls or taking selfies, there’s a 5 MP front-facing camera on board.

Some other apps and features from the Galaxy A8’s basket full of goodies are Google Chrome for offering a satisfying browsing experience, two very good media players for video and audio playback, a GPS receiver with A-GPS and GLONASS support, Google Maps and Navigation for getting around, an FM Radio with RDS support and more.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 is kept alive by a 3,050 mAh non-replaceable battery and will last for almost three days under a moderate usage.

Samsung-Galaxy-A8-Colors

Spain Travel Guide

September 8, 2015

Save money on international calls to Spain.

Detail of Palacio de Comunicaciones at Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, Spain

Detail of Palacio de Comunicaciones at Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, Spain

One of the most beloved tourist destinations from Europe, Spain is a country gifted with passion, culture, diversity, a magical natural beauty and amazing architecture, having the second largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the top place being occupied by Italy). Whether you’re visiting it for its cultural treasures, majestic and rich landscape, electric nightlife, generous resorts or all of these combined, your holiday in Spain will reward you with a wonderful experience, inspiring you to draw beautiful memories and to promise yourself that you’ll come back  at least one more time. Yeah, Spain really does have that effect on most people, being an extremely diverse country geographically and culturally speaking, and I’ll try my best to write about the best places to visit here – and boy, there’re a lot of them!

Spain is an European country situated on the Iberian Peninsula which neighbors with Portugal on the west and France and Andorra to the north and northeast. Its south and east sides are bathed in the Mediterranean Sea, while the northwest shore takes a dive in the Atlantic Ocean.
Spain spreads its territory over a surface of 505,990 square km (195,364 sq miles) and has a population of 46,439,864. The country is organized as a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy and has its capital at Madrid.

madrid

What to see, what to do

One of the first places to explore when visiting Spain is Barcelona, the country’s second largest city which is considered by many as the most beautiful city in the world. Its attractions include the outstanding Sagrada Familia church, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló , Parc Güell – which are only a few of the masterpieces of world renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, Museu Picasso, the Font Màgica dancing fountain, the famous La Rambla street and much more. Barcelona is an absolute must-see and I would recommend spending at little bit more than a few days there for admiring at least a part of what it has to offer.

barcelona-spain

Madrid is also a cultural treasure for its architecture and museums, so be sure to check out La Prado, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Plaza Mayor or the Royal Palace.
The industrial city of Bilbao is home for the amazing Guggenheim Museum, which will please your eyes with its unusual, mesmerizing shapes. Another popular architectural masterpiece is the Alhambra complex in Granada, an outstanding Islamic monument that consists in some beautiful gardens, majestic palace, a mosque, imposing towers, walls, patios and more. Another grandiose Arabic piece of architecture is Mezquita, the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

andalusia

Also on your list should be the Cádiz province, where you can explore the Andalusian city of Cádiz and its Old Town and plazas, go hiking or relax on one of its many beaches.
Sevilla, the city of flamenco and Don Juan, is another popular tourist destination and will delight you with its romantic atmosphere, majestic cathedral (the third largest in the world), temples, churches, festivals and beautiful architecture.
For another breath of culture, be sure to visit Valencia for its City of Arts and Sciences (a complex which consists in an arts centre, a science museum, an IMAX cinema/planetarium, an oceanographic park, restaurants and more), the Valencia Cathedral, a plethora of squares, gardens, medieval churches and museums.

Mezquita-de-Cordoba-in-Spain-1For enjoying some paradisiacal beaches and lush vegetation, you have plenty of options to choose from, such as Costa Blanca, Costa Brava, Costa del Sol, Tenerife, Almeria and more. The islands of Ibiza and Mallorca are also world renowned for their amazing beaches and wild nightlife; if you want to party, these are the places to go to.
In Spain, you can also go hiking (in Galicia, for example), climbing (Siurana, Los Mallos – Aragon), skiing (Sierra Nevada, the Cantabrian and Pyrenean ranges), mountain biking, fishing, surfing, sailing, scuba diving and all the other watersports.

palma de mallorca

Food and drink

When visiting Spain, be sure to try out the traditional cuisine. Here are some regional dishes that are absolutely delicious: paella – a rice dish with meat/seafood, chorizo – sausage made from pork, salt, garlic and pepper, jamon – air dried ham, morcilla – black pork sausages with rice and onion, tortilla – egg and potato omelette.
As for local beverages, I would recommend drinking sherry (pale sherry wine), sangria (made from wine and fruits), horchata (made from tigernuts and sugar), cava (a Spanish wine).

Spain-food

Visa Requirements

Spain is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID card for visiting the country. For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).