Value on top of value – Microsoft Lumia 735 Review

Physically, the Microsoft Lumia 735 looks really good despite it being a budget phone. The Lumia line has always had swag in the design department so it’s no surprise that the Lumia 735 continues that tradition. It doesn’t look cheap at all! It does FEEL kind of cheap; however, but that’s mainly because of the plastic backing and weight of the device.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

With the way the Lumia 735 looks, it definitely gets me excited for what Microsoft has in store for it’s Windows Phone 10 flagship device. I feel like these budget phones are beta devices for Microsoft. And they’re using them to see what works and doesn’t work. With the way the Surface pro’s are designed, I’m definitely encouraged to see what Microsoft has in store for its Windows Phone flagship device.

One of the Lumia 735’s design features that I like is how the camera is flush with the backing. You normally don’t see that with most smartphones nowadays.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Removable back – Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Speaking of the backing, its “awesomeness” lies in the fact that it’s removable. When you first look at the Lumia 735, it looks like one solid piece of polycarbonate material attached to the display, but lo and behold, the back can be removed to expose the battery! Having the option to change out the battery is a valuable feature that’s usually left out on most smartphones these days, so it’s nice to see that option on a smartphone of this caliber.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

I’m really starting to love the size of what use to be a normal smartphone these days. And the more devices I review, I’m coming to the conclusion that a 4.5″ to 4.7″ display with overall dimensions around 5″ tall x 2.6″ wide is the sweet spot for me. The Lumia 735 was within the sweet spot for me. Overall, the size of the device was not an issue for me.

I hate to say it, but Apple was right. I can see why they were so hesitant on creating an iPhone larger than 5″. As the masses move on to Phablet’s like I did a couple of years ago, I’m moving back to normal sized smartphones. Specifically display’s no bigger than 4.7″. A 5″ would be pushing it in my honest opinion.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Speaking of the display, it’s vibrant and bright, even in sunlight thanks to the Clear Black Display technology. I had no problem using it outside here in Arizona.

Microsoft Lumia 735 Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Being able to see your smartphone display in any environment is an important detail that gets overlooked. It’s nice to see that even on a budget smartphone like the Lumia 735 the display will work anywhere.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

The Lumia 735 sports a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 6.7-megapixel rear camera. Both cameras outperform expectations for a budget smartphone. Whether it was a selfie or a picture taken with the main camera, the Lumia 735 outperformed my demanding expectations. In my honest opinion, it can outperform some high-end Android devices!!! I recently went up to Antelope Canyon in Page Arizona and took some really good photos. Check out this link to see what the camera can do.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Carl Zeiss Lens – Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha + Camkix macro lens

The amount of detail that I was able to capture was impressive. The cameras performance is just more added value to an already value rich smartphone.

The Lumia 735 is tagged as a “Selfie Phone” and it delivers on that front. Now I’m now selfie king, but I did tend to use it a lot, especially with my kids. Knowing you have a decent 5MP front camera gives you the opportunity to take some memorable selfies. Besides, photos are always better if you’re in them!

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

The Specs:

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

The Negatives:

  • There’s no “hey cortana” voice listening assistant – Cortana is still available, but you have to manually tell it to listen to you. It’s not a big deal.
  • No rich capture or 4k recording – But that’s expected for a budget phone. You still get 1080p video recording which is really all you need.
  • There’s no dedicated shutter button – A physical shutter button seems to be  reserved for more of the high-end Windows Phones.

 

Microsoft Lumia 735
Reflection – Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

The Lumia 735 is the king of mid tier budget smartphones if you can get past Windows Phones app deficiencies. It’s a cheap smartphone for people who mainly just need a phone with Microsoft Exchange support, a really good camera, a decent web browser, and battery life that can last a whole day.

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

But if you’re an app/game whore, and you’re constantly on social media like Instagram, then Windows Phone might not live up to your standards. Yes, Instagram is available on Windows Phone, but the app isn’t up to date like it is on Android and iOS. WP fans just need to face it, an updated Instagram app for Windows Phone is never coming. I mean… c’mon Instagram (@kevin and @mikeyk), WTF? why wouldn’t you want a smartphone with a Lumia Camera to use what your app has to offer? Lumia smartphones are the best camera phones available today. And I mean real photography too, not just useless selfies. You see the communities for it (nban). They’re “arms, legs, and A-HEAD” above everyone else!

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Value is found everywhere on this phone. A more than decent camera, built in wireless charging, microSD expansion, CBD display technology, expandable memory, and a removable back with the option of swapping out batteries. The Microsoft Lumia 735 oozes value on top of value. Check it out here to see if this is the budget phone of your dreams!

Microsoft Lumia 735
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

 

Partagas Cifuentes Review – Maduro Double Robusto (Gordo)

The Positives:

Has the look – The maduro wrapper has a nice color to it and the oils on it give it a nice shine.

Solid construction – Since I’m a biter and like to hold the cigar in my mouth while I do shit, the end held up pretty nicely. It didn’t fall apart like most cigars.

The cigar burns slow and evenly – The gordo took forever to smoke. To smoke this version, you’ll need some time to fully enjoy it.

Partagas Cifuentes - Gordo
Shot w/ a Microsoft Lumia 735

1/3 – The first third was kind of nondescript. There was a woodsy taste with a hint of coffee but it wasn’t terribly strong. The smoke was solid and the draw was clean, but nothing to write home about. The Partagas Cifuentes is on the cheaper end so this wasn’t surprising. As the smoke trickled into my nostrils; however, it did give me a good tickle.

Partagas Cifuentes - Gordo
Shot w/ a Microsoft Lumia 735

2/3 – The second third was much stronger. I could barely leave it in the mouth while I type out this review. The cigar tasted much better but the flavor was very small. The woodsy flavor was very prominent though.

Partagas Cifuentes - Gordo
Shot w/ a Microsoft Lumia 735

3/3 – The last third was definitely better. There was a heavy wood taste that hit hard. Burn and draw was consistent. It took some time to get through the last third of the cigar.

Partagas Cifuentes - Gordo
Shot w/ a Microsoft Lumia 735 + Camkix Macro Lens

Would I buy a box? I probably would if I can find the right price. It’s one of the cheaper Partagas cigars available, but the quality of Partagas remains. If you’re a Partags fan then definitely get a box and let a sit for a couple of months. The ones I smoked sat for two months in my humidor. I can only imagine they would be pretty good with at least 6 months rest.

Partagas Cifuentes - Gordo
Shot w/ a Microsoft Lumia 735

The Partagas Cifuentes is a strong full cigar. Especially at the end. It’s not for the lightweight smoker for sure. Noobs should stay away from it until you’re ready to take on a full cigar.

 

Function over form – Sony SmartWatch 3 Review

Design wise, the SmartWatch 3 is not the prettiest watch to look at. The overall size of the wristband is super thick and it feels like it adds unnecessary bulk to it. The wristband get’s real sweaty after a while too. Which can be uncomfortable if you live in Phoenix like I do. And since the wristband is of the rubber matte kind, it’s a certified dust and lint magnet. Not many Sony devices fail to impress me when it comes to design, but sadly the SmartWatch 3 is one of them.

Sony SmartWatch 3
Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735

The core is even thicker. It looks really big on your wrist. I know I have small wrists, but this thing is just bulky!

Sony SmartWatch 3
Action button – Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735 w/ Camkix lens kit

I can see where wearing the rubber wristband at the gym or during outdoor activities would be okay. But if you’re dressed up and you’re going somewhere a little more fancy, you might want to get one of the different wristbands that Sony offers.

Smartwatch 3 SWR50 Bands

Popping out the core (the actual smartwatch) from the wristband is really easy, so changing your wristband depending on the occasion shouldn’t be a problem. Personally, I’d get two wrist bands. The black rubber wristband for myphysical activities and the stainless steel wristband (only available in the U.K. for now) for my more formal events. If you have even more money to burn, then I ‘d get the leather strap wristband for my “everyday at the office” wear.

Sony SmartWatch 3
Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735

It does feel like the SmartWatch 3 could withstand a lot of abuse though. I just wish Sony would have created a smartwatch similar to it’s slim Xperia devices. I think Sony would’ve created more noise in the wearables market if they created a smartwatch that matches it’s Xperia line.

SmartWatch 3
Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735

At least there’s some reason behind the design of the SmartWatch 3. The square display makes it easier to view apps and notifications versus a circular frame. And the rubber wristband is made for people with an active lifestyle. So regular wear and tear and even some occasional abuse won’t slow down this smartwatch.

Sony SmartWatch 3
Sony branding on the back of the core – Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735 w/ Camkix lens kit

The SmartWatch 3 does have some really nice specs; accelerometer/compass/gyro/GPS, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of built eMMC storage, a Quad ARM A7, 1.2 GHz (which is kind of overkill on a device like this), Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and built in WiFi. And while most smartwatches come with some sort of proprietary charging scheme, the SmartWatch 3 charges up with good ol’ micro USB! So charging anywhere you are shouldn’t be a problem.

Sony SmartWatch 3
The core – Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735

Performance wise, the SmartWatch 3 runs really smooth. Scrolling and interacting through items is fast and easy. The display while not mind blowing, is good enough for what it does. The transflective display makes it easier to use in direct sunlight which is plus if your the “active” type.

Battery life was good enough for normal day use. It’ll last you a whole day, but you’re going to need to charge it everyday. I did notice an increase in battery drain on my smartphone however. So keep that in mind when you’re looking to invest into a smartwatch. Although, I can only imagine if you use the SmartWatch 3 as a stand alone device, the battery life would be better and your smartphone’s battery life wouldn’t suffer.

One thing I did have some trouble with was pairing the device initially. It wasn’t smooth at all. But I blame that more on Android Wear then on the device. I had to mess with the app on my phone in order to get it paired correctly. Make sure you have Android Wear installed on your phone before you start to pair it.

Sony SmartWatch 3
Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735

One of the main features with this smartwatch is that you can use it as a standalone music player. This was one of the features I was really excited to try out. Although loading music on the device is confusing and a pain to do (you need to be a Google Play Music user), but once you get music on the watch, it works just like a mini Walkman. A Walkman that’s on your wrist!

It’s real handy for sure since you can leave your smartphone in your locker at the gym or in your pocket/armband while you go run. It’s super convenient, mainly because you can operate music playback easily. Having to carry your smartphone everywhere with you in the gym is a pain in the ass. Since you risk dropping or losing it every time you workout. You do need a Bluetooth headset to listen to the music on the SmartWatch 3 however. But most people have that now so I don’t see that as a problem.

At least this smartwatch doesn’t turn into a “stupidwatch” when you don’t have it connected to your smartphone. As a standalone watch you can:

  • View the time and date.
  • Set an alarm.
  • Use the stopwatch.
  • Use the timer.
  • View your agenda for the current day.
  • Listen to music saved on your SmartWatch 3 with a connected Bluetooth® headset.
  • Keep a record of your outdoor activities.
  • View your step count.
  • Change the watch face.
  • Turn Airplane mode on or off.

It’s nice to see that the SmartWatch 3 doesn’t turn into a piece of junk if it isn’t connected to your smartphone. Besides using it as a regular watch, you can view your agenda for the day, listen to music off of it, and sync your activity to apps like Lifelog once you actually connect to your smartphone are big pluses in my mind.

Sony SmartWatch 3
The clasp – Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735 w/ Camkix lens kit

If you’re an active or fit Android user and looking to invest in a smartwatch, then the SmartWatch 3 might be for you. It truly is a device that takes function over form. And that isn’t a bad thing. What you get are; Sony’s build quality (which is usually built to last), multiple options in easily exchangeable wristbands (even though they’re hard to obtain here in the U.S.), a Walkman on your wrist, and a standalone watch that can function without it’s smartphone. Digital timepiece anyone?

Sony SmartWatch 3
Shot w/ a Mirosoft Lumia 735

If you’re NOT an active or fit person and you’re looking to invest in an Android smartwatch, then I suggest you read up on Android Wear first before making a decision as to whether or not you actually need one.

Punch Signature – Review

  • Strength: Full
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo
  • Origin: Honduras
  • Brand: Punch
  • Shape: Robusto (5″ x 54)

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The newest line of cigars out of Punch, Signature, sports a special Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper that the cigar world has never seen. Grown in the Los Rios Province of Ecuador sandwiched between two volcanic mountains, you can say that the Signature is special. Inside the Signature, you’ll find both Dominican and Nicaraguan long fillers.

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With the first third of the cigar, there were strong flavors of nuts and wood. It’s flavor and smoke were on the lighter end of the spectrum, rather than being too bitter and heavy like other Punch cigars.

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There was a ton of thick white blue smoke which I tend to prefer. And when there’s more smoke you tend to enjoy the cigar more. I don’t know why, but it just feels better.

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As I continued to smoke the bad boy, I felt the nicotine tickle my nostrils. It was so good I couldn’t stop puffing on the cigar just so I can feel the tickle again!

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By the midpoint, the flavor subdued to the point where the nut and wood flavor were gone. Nothing but a hint of spice was there. The smoke became chewy all of sudden and the feeling of a light smoke was gone. I couldn’t be any happier. I prefer a chewy smoke rather than a smoke that’s too light every time you go for a puff.

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This Punch cigar was different from the rest of the Punch’s I’ve smoked. It was so different that if you told me it was made by Punch I would be surprised. It had more of a Montecristo type of feel to it. It felt like smoking a boutique cigar and not like a “this is going to kick your ass” kind of cigar like most Punch’s are. It was lighter and less flavorful. But it definitely had some punch to it.

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The ash wouldn’t hold throughout my time with it though. The ash broke on me multiple times which sucked. But the nicotine that tickled my nose hairs were still there , and that’s always nice. It’s definitely not a cigar that you you’ll be holding in your mouth like a “yard ‘gar”.

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The Punch Signature is a cigar that will take some time for me to get used to. Because whenever I want a Punch, I want something hard and full. The Punch Signature, although not bad, does not fit that same classification. It’s more of that “fancy” type of cigar that’s good while you smoke it. But it doesn’t make me want to smoke another one right after sadly. I was a little disappointed because I was super eager to try it. This cigar has been sitting in my humidor for more than 4 weeks. I think I “overhyped” the cigar in my mind a little bit too much.

The Punch Signature will blast you with a ton of thick white smoke. It’ll hit you with a consistent stream of nicotine. And it’ll make you look good while doing it. But I’d try a “five pack” first before committing to buying a box.

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I have a few more to smoke so maybe my opinion will change. But until then I’ll have to put this in the “one and done” batch.

If looks could kill – Sony Xperia Z3v Review

If looks could kill then the Xperia Z3v would murder the competition. The glass, aluminum and matte rubber combo (Verizon version only) is one of the best combination of materials I’ve ever seen. It’s a design you’ll instantly appreciate once you hold the device in your hands.

Sony Xperia Z3 - Profile
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

Physically, the device is legit. Sony’s engineers should get a medal for creating another beautiful piece of hardware. No doubt about it, the Xperia Z3v is a beautiful piece of hardware, but it does border on being a little too big for some people. And that includes me. Despite the rounded edges which is suppose to make the Xperia Z3v easier to grip, it still feels kind of big. I’ve got small hands and I’m realizing that I prefer smartphones that are a lot smaller! I think I’m growing tired of my Lumia 1520’s monster size. Especially after using the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and Samsung Galaxy Alpha.

Sony Xperia Z3 - Machine
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520 + CamKix lens kit

Visually, the device is gorgeous. It’s so beautiful that you become extra cautious every time you take out the device to use it. It’s like having your first baby and never wanting to take the baby out of the house because you’re afraid something is going to happen! Every time I used the device I felt like I was going to damage it somehow. And even though I am a big proponent of rocking your device naked, you’ll want to get this bad boy some protection. Unless you’re made out of money and you can afford getting it fixed! I use my smartphone too much already and the odds of something happening are high. Just look at what happened to my Nokia Lumia 1520!

Sony Xperia Z3 - Full Frontal
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

“There’s nothing wrong with being flashy as long as you’ve put in the work to back it up.” When it comes to overall performance, it feels really good. It has that new gadget feel. But all the time. Over a period of two weeks it still felt brand new. It’s like sitting in a brand new car with that “new new” smell! Like nothing has corrupted it yet. There’s no lag whatsoever either. And that’s saying something because “I use the shit” out of my smartphone and Android tends to slow down once you get a lot of apps installed. There were some occasional app crashes during my review but that had more to do with the app then with the phone.

For the “tek-heads” that care, the uptime was way better than I expected. It even outlasted my Lumia 1520 when it came to manual reboots. I only had to reboot once since I had it (around 2 weeks). And I only needed to reboot the device because of a system update by Verizon! I’m pretty sure it could have lasted the whole time I had the device.

Sony Xperia Z3 - Back Glass
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

The device does get kind of hot though. And here in the desert it did tend to get really hot if you were outside. It got so hot that the camera wouldn’t work unless it cooled down. You could definitely feel the heat through the glass. Kind of a bummer since I live in hot ass Arizona.

The screen is gorgeous. The 5.2″ Full HD 1080p display with 424ppi is more than you really need on a device this size. Combine those specs with Sony’s mobile display technology TRILUMINOS and X-Reality for Mobile, and what you get is one of the best display’s available. Viewing angles were really good too! I could watch a YouTube video with the device laying flat on a table and I was still able to see it clearly! Even the icons and text, were really good to look at. All day long, I would unlock the device just so I could see the display light up!

Sony Xperia Z3 - Display
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

The camera on the Xperia Z3v really surprised me. It was way better than I expected. It’s ridiculously good for an Android. Finding a good camera on an Android is hard to find. Something Android users know too well! Sony includes many different modes that are useful. But only if you know what you’re doing. Most people won’t use them.

Shot w/ a Lumia 1520 + CamKix lens kit
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520 + CamKix lens kit

There’s a manual mode for people with more camera education.  And it’s the only way to take advantage of the 20mp rear camera. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a 8mp picture on auto. But it’s more than enough for the masses.  Also need to point out that the manual mode on the device isn’t as robust as the manual mode on a Lumia device like the Lumia 930 or 1520 (sorry Sony!)

In the end the “intelligent auto”  setting will do just fine for pretty much everyone else. What you get is a really good point and shoot camera inside your smartphone. The Xperia Z3v also comes with a really good album app too. A detail that probably goes unnoticed with most users and even top reviewers. The album app is really impressive. It has a great unique flow to it when viewing your pictures. Plus, the integration of an interactive map to see where the photo was taken is pretty awesome too. I can’t really explain it, you’ll just need to see it in person to know what I’m talking about.

Sony Xperia Z3 - GLens
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520 + CamKix lens kit

I like how Sony has continued to improve some of their apps. The power management technology and the intelligent auto mode with the camera are really impressive. When you think about it, Sony has taken the liberty to do it the “Apple way” and do all the configuration for you. All you have to do is use it. It’s why Apple is so successful with the iPhone and why I think Sony are geniuses to follow that philosophy. People just want their smartphone to work. It’s as simple as that. There is the “one percent” of users that truly care about customizing their smartphone. Those users choose Android because they tend to know what they’re doing since they can do anything they want to it. But if you’re not one of those Android users and you’re in the simple category, then a Sony Xperia would be a really good choice for you since it “just works.”

The battery and the camera are two out the four important things when it comes to a smartphone. (Camera, battery, software and design are the big four if you didn’t know)! Coincidentally the battery and camera are usually the downfall of an Android smartphone. So it’s nice to see Sony continually pushing the standard on these two items in the Android world.

Sony Xperia Z3 - Glass Reflection
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

Check out the video below to see what Sony gives to you when you buy Xperia.

The stereo speakers perform surprisingly well. It can easily do the job in a small office or for a few people sitting around having drinks. It isn’t as loud as the HTC One M9, but it doesn’t fall too behind it either. For what you already get when you buy the Xperia Z3v, the stereo speakers are an added bonus for sure.

When it came to being an actual phone, I had no problems with it. Phone calls sounded good on both ends. Connection was solid here in Phoenix throughout the day and LTE speeds were up to par for a smartphone of this caliber. I was on Verizon’s network and there were no major issues.

Sony Xperia Z3 - Bottom Half
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

Every time I get to trial a Sony Xperia device, switching to Android always crosses my mind. If I wasn’t a sucker for Nokia hardware I would be Sony all the way. In fact, besides Apple, I think Sony and Nokia are the best engineers at creating a beautiful piece of hardware.

The Xperia Z3v is a rare Android indeed. Nowadays, people are rocking either a Samsung Galaxy S device, HTC One M8/M9 or the more recently released LG G4. You’ll even see an occasional Nexus 6 in the wild too. Owning a Sony Xperia device puts you in a rare breed of individuals. Only hardcore “tek-heads” really know about it. And when we “tek-heads” see one in the wild, we usually give that owner the nod. Because we know, they know their shit.

Shot w/ a Lumia 1520
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

The Hardware: (via androidcentral.com)

Display 5.2-inch 1920×1080 (424 ppi) IPS LCD
Processor Snapdragon 801 quad-core at 2.5GHz
Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB
Storage 32GB internal, MicroSD expandable
Cameras 20.7MP f/2.0 rear, 4K video
2.2MP front
Connectivity 802.11ac Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS
GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G)
UMTS HSPA (3G)
EVDO (3G)
LTE (4G)
Battery 3100mAh non-removable
Charging Micro USB 2.0, Qi wireless charging
Dimensions 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
Weight 152g
Resistance IP68 water, dust resistant

If you want an Android that’s high end then the Xperia Z3v is definitely what you’re looking for. As far as specs and design go, I believe the Z3v (Z3) is one of the best, if not the best Android available. Especially for the price. You can get it at Verizon for just 99 cents on a 2yr contract! The best part of the Xperia Z3v is that it’s not gimmicky like most smartphones nowadays. It’s a great smartphone through and through.

Shot w/ a Lumia 1520
Shot w/ a Lumia 1520

P.S. -> I do prefer the Xperia Z3 Compact for overall feel and handle. I got small hands! You should definitely try both Z3’s to see what’s comfortable for you if you’re considering getting one. The only compromise between the two spec wise is the display and the physical frame. Not really a compromise however, just a slight downgrade of the two on the Xperia Z3 Compact.

Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate

  • Strength: Medium-Full
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Brand: Drew Estate
  • Shape: Robusto (5.5″ x 52)

Herrera Esteli

The slick wrapper may throw you off, but this cigar has some kick. It has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper which seems to be a popular choice right now for cigar manufacturers mainly because it’s of Cuban-seed. The cigar comes out of Nicaragua and contains the Esteli leaf which is known to be the strongest Nicaraguan tobacco. The result is a smoke that has plenty of body, flavor and aroma.

Herrera Esteli

For me, it was clean smoke. It did get pretty “spicyyyyyy” towards the middle. At the end is where the nicotine can hit you surprisingly hard and stun you. Make sure to eat something first before smoking this bad boy. Would I smoke it again? If I could afford it. In reality, I’ll put this in the “It’s good, but I’ll smoke it if I can get it on the cheap” section.

Superb design and hardware for a smaller device – Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review

The first time I saw the Xperia Z3 Compact it reminded me of an iPhone. The color and size are the most obvious reasons. But the main reason why it reminds me of an iPhone is because of how gorgeous it looks. It definitely has an iPhone vibe.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Magazine
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

I honestly think that Sony’s Xperia’s devices look better than the iPhone and most Android’s available. The main reason would be the display.  It’s all display. Bezel to bezel. Plus, there’s no physical button on the front screen to distract you from the beauty it has. The Nexus 6, LG G3, HTC M9, Oppo OnePlus are similar smartphones that follow the same design philosophy. No physical home button. I love this detail. Going all the way back to the Nokia N9 (I loved that device). Shout out to all my Nokia N9 fans out there! That’s what a touch smartphone should look like. F*** a physical home button!

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Side Profile
Shot / a Nokia Lumia 1520

Despite the plastic frame on the Xperia Z3 Compact, it still looks great. But I just wish it had the Galaxy Alpha’s aluminum frame.

Sony Xperia Z3 - Lighter
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Don’t get me wrong though, it definitely has a super clean look. Especially from the back. It looks flawless. I don’t know if I ever loved the back of a smartphone this much until now. The machine metal buttons are still present on the side, which to this day still impresses me. However, since this is such a smaller phone than I’m used to, the shutter and volume buttons are a tad bit too small which makes them harder to press.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Power
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha + Camkix Lens Kit

A cool design detail carried over from it’s big brother the Xperia Z3, are the two charging prongs on the left side of the device. It’s awesome because you won’t need to open the waterproof flap to charge the device. However, you’ll need to buy Sony’s magnetic charging dock to take advantage of this feature.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha – Cigar: Alec Bradley Nica Puro Bajito

Oddly enough, it doesn’t feel as good as the Galaxy Alpha. The Galaxy Alpha is slimmer and lighter (114grams vs 129 grams for the Z3 Compact). But you’ll appreciate the extra weight and girth once you understand where the extra weight is coming from. Sony is all about function behind their design. And that means a bigger battery. Compare the 2600mAh battery on the Z3 Compact to the Galaxy Alpha’s 1860mAh battery and you’ll understand why Sony wasn’t able to keep the weight and thickness down. It was a “pimp decision” by Sony and I think it’s worth it. Don’t get me wrong, the Xperia Z3 Compact still feels really good. It feels more phone than smartphone if that makes any sense. And I kind of like that. Managing the behemoths that are out now can be tiring for sure. Just ask anyone who owns a phablet. In reality, it’s all about what you do. If you do most of your Internet work on a smartphone then a larger smartphone makes sense. If you use your phone for what it really is like phone calls and text then a more compact device makes more sense.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Show w/ a Lumia 1520

The display is actually really good for a 720p display. No complaints from me. Because in reality, you won’t be watching full length movies on a device of this size unless you’re a child! It does the job. It’s sharp, colors feel more natural and using it in direct sunlight is actually better than most smartphones out there. When it comes to actual performance, it’s buttery smooth. I didn’t experience any performance hiccups with the device over the two weeks I had it.

Sony Z3 Compact - Sony
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Did I mention how smooth it is? The minimalistic Xperia launcher makes a difference when it comes to using an Android device. It’s something Samsung, LG and HTC haven’t figured out yet. They all suck when you compare it to Sony’s iteration of Android. Sony has gimmicky features like floating web browser, calculator, timer and gallery. But it’s functional and out of the way rather than being a main feature. One notable feature for me however, is the “double tap” to wake. And that equals awesome! That always takes me back to my Nokia N9 days! I still love the on screen buttons on the Xperia launcher too. Back on the left, home in the middle and recent on the right. A layout I always preferred.

One of the negatives with Xperia devices is the massive bloatware that comes pre-installed. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about what Sony includes so let’s get through them to see if you should keep them or dump them.

Walkman – Sony’s built in music player – Actually really good compared to other built in music apps by Samsung/LG/HTC.

Lifelog – A diary of your digital life – could be useful if you’re into logging your life. It’s kind of creepy of how much it logs though.

Album – Simple gallery of your photos and videos. The implementation of GPS tags and maps to see where a photo was taken works beautifully.

PSN – A portal for everything Playstation related. Kind of weak because it just routes you to the website more often than not.

Movie Creator -Automatically makes movies out of your camera roll. Kind of ehhh…

Movies -Sony’s video player with integration of Video Unlimited.

News and Weather – Why bundle news with it?

Social Life – News Aggregator

Sketch – Drawing app. Useful if you’re into doodling.

Live on YouTube – Stream live video on YouTube with friends or a selected audience. Kind of cool.

Sony Select – Gathers apps, games, music, movies and only selects items that are 100% guaranteed to work on your Sony device. Kind of redundant considering the amount of ways you can get those things . Like Google’s Play Store.

Track ID and TV– Redundant if you use Google’s services which are more robust.

Update Center – Useful. Keeps your device and Sony apps up to date.

Video Unlimited – Sony’s video subscription service buy/rent movies/ view trailers/download movies.

What’s New – Cool but redundant since it just gathers what’s new from the PlayStation store, Videos Unlimited and music store.

Xperia Lounge – Gathers content such as trailers and interviews and behind the scenes. Plus it provides different Xperia promotions. I don’t know if anyone would really use this consistently.

Avg Anti Virus – I don’t believe in anti virus that much so kind of useless for me on a smartphone.

Apps With Trials – Garmin/File Commander. I don’t like how it comes pre-installed.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Xperia
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha

A lot of the installed software is redundant and I wish Sony would keep all of their apps in a certain section. I would prefer if Sony would allow you to decide which ones you want at first boot instead of loading your device with it.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Lens
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha + Camkix Lens Kit

As far as Androids go, it’s a decent camera. From what I experienced. The camera is as advertised. The 20mp camera is available only in manual mode. But that’s okay since that should only be used for professionals who know what they’ re doing anyway. The 8MP photos on auto are just fine. Grainy as you zoom in. But this can be expected on an Android device. Low light photos are okay. Just don’t expect the photos to blow your mind.

Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha + Camkix Lens Kit
Shot w/ a Samsung Galaxy Alpha + Camkix Lens Kit

The camera get’s the job done and that’s what most people really need anyway. It’s not a Nokia Lumia camera but it’s a better shot taker than most Androids. Even better than Samsung’s SG5 and Alpha. You can see some shots I took with it here. Yeah, I edited the photos but only basic filters. No lighting/contrast editing. I also paired it with a Camkix lens kit to take the macro shots.

As far as Androids go, battery life is superb. First day of using the bad boy lasted from 5:30 in the morning to midnight. Power management technology is still the best I’ve seen on any Android device. I’ve been raving about this since the Xperia Z1 and it still remains true. Additionally, I like how it will report to you if an app is hogging your battery! 3rd party apps not needed. All built in. You got to love that.

The stereo speakers on the front display are decent. Although the speakers aren’t large, on a device this small it’s doable. It will more than fill a quiet room. And it’s perfect for working in a confined space.

Sony has incorporated ClearAudio+ technology and it works really well actually. Especially with rap music. It can make it sound more clearer at a high volume. What Sony did with power management they did with audio settings. One touch fix. It’s pretty cool.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Back
Shot w/ a Nokia Lumia 1520

I think Sony has finally found their vision of a great smartphone. The Xperia Z3 Compact loses some points for bloatware but for the most part it is a great smartphone. The Xperia Z3 Compact is the best compact Android smartphone available. It’s legit.

If I was going to get an Android it would probably be a Sony. I’d probably get a compact one too like this one. It has superb design and feel for a smaller device. Battery life and camera performance are stupendous for an Android. And oh yeah, it’s element proof. Get it now unlocked @ sony.com

If you prefer a larger full HD display then take a look at it’s big brother, the Xperia Z3.

LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX

I’ve been looking for a multi-tool to add to my EDC (everyday carry) for awhile now, so I picked up the LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX.

LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX
Blade Open – Shot w/ XperiaZ3 Compact

It has the essentials I was looking for. Mainly a pocket knife that was big enough and swing open without having to open the whole damn tool.

LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX
154CM Stainless Steel Blade – Shot w/ Macro Lens (Camkix) w/ XperiaZ3 Compact

In addition to the 154CM blade, there are: needlenose/regular pliers, hardwire cutters, bottle opener and large bit driver (phillips/flat).

LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX
Fully Opened – Shot w/ XperiaZ3 Compact

What’s cool is that LEATHERMAN sells bit-kits so you can add more “utoooolity!”

LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX
Shot w/ Macro Lens (Camkix) w/ XperiaZ3 Compact

 

The sleek new Leatherman Skeletool CX gets you back to basics… very cool basics. The Skeletool CX has only the most necessary of multi-tool features, because sometimes that’s all you need. With a 154CM stainless steel blade, pliers, bit driver, pocket clip and carabiner/bottle opener, you’re set. Lightweight, low volume, perfect size. The Skeletool CX: who says more is better?

 

LEATHERMAN Skeletool CX
Shot w/ Macro Lens (Camkix) w/ XperiaZ3 Compact

Retails at $99.85. You can find it cheaper on Amazon.com

 

Cigar Inn

Cigar Inn: 4830 N 16th St Phoenix AZ

Another great cigar lounge I frequent throughout my work week. Selection is top notch. The humidor is a decent size and they hold a variety of cigars like Don Pepin to Private Stock. Prices are reasonable for what you’ll find in Phoenix. The owner Mike and his team are very helpful. Mike is actually the one that got me into pipe smoking by teaching me all about it. He has a decent pipe selection and a shit-load of Meerschaum Pipes. He’s always got the T.V. going so there’s always something to talk about! If you check it out,tell him Aaron sent ya!