Straight Talk Huawei Magna

Specs – Straight Talk Huawei Magna

straight-talk-huawei-magna
Dimensions Height 4.96″ x 2.51″ x 0.43″
Weight 5.29 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM 4g with WiFi/Activated with either AT&T or TMobile
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels
Screen Size 4.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 10 days stand by & up to 10 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price n/a

About the Huawei Magna

I’m not really sure what to make of the Huawei Magna. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this device. It’s got good specs, an excellent price and it does everything well. My problem with this phone is that it just does not stand out.

There’s not a single item on this phone that I can point out is unique to this particular model.  About the only thing I can say is noticeable is the 4g data speeds. Now don’t confuse this with 4G LTE as it is not the same. This phone is more of enhanced 3g speeds.

Specs

Specs here are fairly average for a phone at this price range. The main reason I have always liked Huaweis was simply because they were inexpensive and reliable. The same can be said about this phone and its specs. I will try to summarize everything here though to be honest, there’s nothing that really stands out about the phone specs wise.

For starters, the phone comes with a 4.5″ screen measured diagonally which is not about the standard size on most new phones.  The screen performs great and displays bright and clear, no complaints there to be sure.

Next, is the 1.2 ghz processor that performs great with Android 4.3. This is not a dualcore unit like the Alcatel LTE devices, which I highly recommend by the way. The equivalent to this device is the Alcatel One Touch Pop Star LTE. Anyhow, continuing on, we next find a typical 5mp digital camera that performs admirably.

Final Thoughts

The Huawei Magna is a fine device with a great price tag for the budget conscious. That said, there is simply nothing on it that stands out for me. I would say this phone is about average compared to most others at this price point on the Straight Talk line up. This is not to say the phone performs in an average manner, it’s just that there are any stand out highlights on it to speak of.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Mega LTE

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega LTE

straight-talk-alcatel-mega-pop
Dimensions Height 6.39″ x 3.32″ x 0.34″
Weight 6.42 Ounces
Form Factor Xtra Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM LTE 3g with WiFi/Activated with either Verizon or Sprint
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.4 ghz Dual Core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 5.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 22 days stand by & up to 14 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price n/a

About the One Touch Pop Mega

The Pop Mega is the grandaddy of them all when it comes to the Alcatel One Touch series. As the name implies, this phone is over the top HUGE. Make no mistake, this phone is bordering on phablet territory, it’s still a phone but almost a tablet.  This is by far the largest screened budget device Straight Talk has released to date. Of course the large screen implies that the phone body is large and it is indeed. This thing measures close to 7 inches in height! It’s also rather wide at over 3.25″ wide, most phones are around 2.5″. The good news is though that it is quite slim measuring in at just .35 inches in thickness.

Aside from the obvious large size, the other notable aspect of the Pop Mega is the fast LTE data speeds.  Be aware that this phone is GSM so will require either AT&T or TMobile LTE coverage. In short, I think this is about as close to the S4 in terms of size you are going to find at this price range.

Specs

I think the star here is obviously the ENORMOUS screen size. This one comes in at around 5.5″ measured diagonally. This one is not for the faint of heart when it comes to size and don’t even think about it if you are a pocket carrier because this thing will NOT fit in any pant pocket.

Yet another star on this phone is the excellent 8mp camera. It’s one of the only budget Straight Talk devices with that many megapixels at its disposal. Most other phones in the Straight Talk line come in at the usual 5 mp resolution.

Lastly, is the 1.4ghz Dualcore processor that’s coupled with the 4.3 Android version. This one has plenty of horsepower to drive the massive screen.

Design & Look Feel

The most obvious design feature here is the impressive size. Other than that, everything else is pretty standard on the phone. It comes with all black plastic construction which is typical for a budget line phone and everything is located where one would typically find things on a phone of this nature. The Android buttons below the screen are capacitive touch and per usual, you only get the 3 button layout. The phone is void of any decorative type elements such as chrome trims and such.

The one cool feature is the fact that there is very little wasted space on the face as the massive screen takes up just about 100% of it. It’s quite efficient on real estate usage to say the least.

Final Thoughts

You really need to be a HUGE fan of large form factor phones, no pun intended. This phone can be summed up with it’s name sake MEGA. If that’s your ticket, then I highly recommend this phone as it has Samsung S like features at a very sub $300 affordable price tag.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Star LTE

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Star LTE

straight-talk-alcatel-pop-star
Dimensions Height 4.84″ x Width 2.50″ x Thickness .38″
Weight 4.6 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM LTE with WiFi/Activated with either AT&T or TMobile
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Dua lcore
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price n/a

About the One Touch Pop Star LTE

Here is another long named Alcatel device from Straight Talk. This phone can be considered the baby brother to the Alcatel Sonic. This is because the One Touch Pop Star has a much smaller 4″ screen. Essentially, all other specs are quite similar to the a fore mentioned Sonic. One notable feature is the fact that the Pop Star comes with the newer Android 4.3.

The main feature here is that the One Touch Pop Star comes with the fast LTE data which would be activated with either AT&T or TMobile.  I would recommend this phone if you want the fast LTE data in a smaller form factor than the other Alcatel One Touch devices.

Specs

I think that this little phone has some excellent specs for the sub $200 price tag. To begin with, the Pop Star comes with fast LTE data. The next item worth talking about is the 1.4ghz dual core processor. This fast processor coupled with Android 4.3 makes the Pop Star a super fast performer. I think this phone is a bargain for the specs.

One of the items I really like on this phone is the same 5mp digital camera that comes with the One Touch Sonic. The camera on this little phone takes excellent images. In addition, the camera has built in LED flash so you can take decent low light images.

Overall, specs are great on this phone and you really can’t go wrong considering the relatively low cost.

Design & Look Feel

Perhaps the one and only slight disappointment on the Pop Star is the rather pedestrian looks of the phone. As with the other One Touch models, the Pop Star has the usual 3 button Android layout below the screen. All other items are in typical locations with the power/lock on the top, the headphone jack is also found on the top, the volume buttons are on the top right and finally the charge port is on the bottom.

So despite the Pop Star name, the phone isn’t exactly a Pop Star in looks. I think this is ok because this phone is all about great specs at an excellent price.

Final Thoughts

Like all the other Straight Talk One Touch series phones, the Pop Star LTE has some impressive specs for the price. Despite the sub $200 price tag, this phone is an excellent performer. I also like the compact form factor while still retaining the LTE data speeds. I would not hesitate to recommend this phone to anyone that has GSM LTE coverage in their area.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Icon

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Pop Icon

straight-talk-alcatel-pop-icon
Dimensions Height 5.55″ x Width 2.84″ x Thickness .39″
Weight 5.22 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g with WiFi/Activated with either Verizon or Sprint
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Dua lcore
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.4
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.7″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price n/a

About the OneTouch Pop Icon

Besides being  a mouthful to say, this Alcatel device is a large screened entry level device for the multimedia lovers out there. Highlights here is an enormous 4.7″ screen. The item to note here is that this is a CDMA device so it will work with either Verizon or Sprint. This is an excellent large device for the money.

Specs

For the price, the Pop Icon brings an excellent spec set to the table.  For starters, you get a 1.4 dual core processor along with one of the newer Android versions in the form of Android 4.4. Most obvious of course is the huge 4.7″ screen which looks great when watching movies and the like.

The phone also has a great digital camera. Though it is only 5mp, this camera takes great pictures that are quite clear. Probably one of the better digital cameras in a phone at this price level I have seen.

Design & Look Feel

The design is nothing super special here. It comes to us with the prototypical 3 button Android layout that has now become standard fare on entry level devices.  An all black plastic body highlights the simple easy to use design. While it does not look like a super high end fancy device, this is not one you will be ashamed to carry.

Final Thoughts

I always like Alcatel phones because they have great features for the money. The OneTouch Pop Icon is no different. You get excellent specs for the amount of money you spend.  Before you buy the OneTouch Pop Icon, be sure you are in a Verizon or Sprint calling area. Keep in mind that this phone is 3g phone only.

Straight Talk Audiovox Car Connection Safe Driver Review

Straight Talk Car Connection

 car_connection4
Kit Contents
OBD2 Car Connection device with 10 days initial service, instruction manual
Connection Type
Connects to OBD2 diagnostic port
Compatibility Car must be equipped with OBD2 port – Most 2003+ Makes and Models.
Installation Simple plug and play
Monthly Plan $10 a month or $100 a year
Coverage
Requires GSM you must have either AT&T or TMobile coverage
Price
139.99 – Check Availability

About the Save Driver Car Connection

The Straight Talk Save Driver Car Connection device allows you to monitor various aspects of a car’s health, MPG,  and location by using a cell phone signal to transmit the data to either a smartphone app or online.  In addition, it allows you to set up cell phone restrictions using the Zoom Safer app on a target device. This is an excellent device for monitoring your teen driver or spouse any time anywhere.  The monthly cost is $10 a month or $100 a year.  Initially, I thought the device was kind of gimmicky but I was pleasantly surprised to find the comprehensive data logging very interesting and useful.

 car_connection2

How it Works , Compatibility and Installation

The device works by using a GSM cell phone connection to transmit the cars data to either a mobile app or online.  The data is provided by your vehicle’s OBD2 diagnostic port which is standard on most 2003 and newer cars.  While the device is advertised as being compatible with 2003 and newer vehicles, there are lots of cars with OBD2 ports prior to 2003 which I verified by plugging it into my 2002 Subaru Impreza.

car_connection3

What’s neat about this device is that you can monitor all kinds of data remotely without having to have your smartphone in the car. So you can be at home yet still be able to monitor the car anywhere there is GSM coverage.  The only drawback that I found is that you must have the device active with Straight Talk or the device is nothing more than a $139 paper weight. Without the Straight Talk service, you cannot get any data out of it since it cannot be connected to either a computer or phone as it does not have Blue Tooth capabilities or USB connector.

Installing the device is very easy. The hardest part is locating your OBD2 port as it varies from car to car. You will need to Google this if you do not know your car’s OBD2 port location. Other than that, you install it by simply plugging it in. It only installs one way so installation is very easy and takes 1 second.

The Data

I found the data provided by this device to be both comprehensive, useful and quite interesting. The device is able to monitor just about all aspects of your vehicle’s health including check engine lights, possible recalls as well as maintenance intervals. One of the coolest thing I found about the device and service was the ability to diagnose a Check Engine light by telling you exactly what triggered it and a description of the fault. Below are some screen shots of the data.

IMG_0106 IMG_0105 IMG_0104

Next is the ability to monitor the location of the car by its ability to log each trip. The device logs everything the car goes on a trip and parked. Whats really cool about this data is the fact that it logs the max speed to each location. In addition, it is able to detect and alert on items such as what aggressive acceleration. What’s impressive about all this is the fact that you can see this data from either a smartphone app or online from the car connection website.

IMG_0108 IMG_0109

Yet another impressive feature is the ability to create “Safe Zones”. With this feature, you can set up an area where you can be alerted when the car leaves said area.  So for example, you can create a zones as large as your city to as small as 600 feet,  so if the car leaves your safe zone, then the device will alert you either by email or text.

The data logging capabilities of this device was very impressive and very accurate since it gets it’s data from both GPS and your cars computer. So for example, unlike GPS only devices, this device can determine your car’s speed extremely accurately.  I found the location data to be very accurate as well. All in all I was pretty amazed with all this thing logs.

Cell Phone Call and Text Restrictions

I was a bit disappointed with this feature. The reason for that is the way this feature is set up and works. The first thing is that you have to install the Zoom Safer app on the target phone.  So if you’re wanting to do this for your teen driver, then you must get their phone and install the app. The app is only available for Android and iPhone so it will not work with a non smartphone or a Windows phone. Anyhow, when the app installed, the service communicates with the app and thus enforces the restrictions you have set up. The problem with this is that your teen can easily uninstall this app without you really knowing it thus defeating the whole purpose of it.  The other problem here is that it of course will not apply restrictions to any other phone in the car.

So while this part of the service works, I just don’t think it will be all that effective.

Conclusion

I was very surprised by the device’s capabilities. I can see lots of benefits for concerned parents and spouses. The vehicle health capabilities were also really cool and beneficial. All in all, I would recommend this service to anyone. The only drawback of course is the $10 monthly price, though you could do the 1 year $100 option. The call restrictions were a bit disappointing but I guess it was because I was expecting it to some how jam all phones in the vehicle. I would say this device is a must for any parent with a teen driver.

Straight Talk ZTE Quartz

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Quartz

Default
Dimensions Height 6.11″ x Width 3.00″ x Thickness .36″
Weight 7.00 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g Data with WiFi
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz dualcore
SD Card/Internal Storage 2gb built in/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card. No SD card included.
Android OS Jelly Bean version- 4.3
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels
Screen Size 5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 12 days stand by & up to 12 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons with physical push center button
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the ZTE Quartz

Today we examine the all ZTE Quartz from Straight Talk. This is a ginourmously large screened device that doesn’t break the bank. If you like large screens but don’t want to spend a ton, then perhaps this one is worth taking good look at. Other than the large screen, the Quartz features and excellent and Straight Talk class leading 8mp digital camera so this one is a great choice for the selfie and picture loving taking bunch!

Specs

The Quartz features some eye popping features for the price. First and foremost, I must mention the large 5″ screen. Yes, that’s right, the 5″ screen! This screen looks amazing for the cost. Videos, images and web sites look simply amazing with the high resolution so those who enjoy their multimedia should really take a close look at this phone.

Another feature really worth mentioning is the the class leading 8mp digital camera. By class leading, I mean for Straight Talk mid to entry level devices. No other Straight Talk phone has this high a camera resolution to date, that is this far south of the Galaxy S class and iPhone. Suffice it to say, this phone will take one mean selfie and/or picture.

The remaining specs are quite typical for a phone at this price range. With the Quartz, we get Android 4.3 and a 1.2 dualcore processor.

Design Look Feel

The design on this phone is typical ZTE. That is to say, all plastic construction (including the screen). One thing I really like this phone is the fact that they made the screen take up just about the entire face of the phone. This is a good thing because this device is quite large so real estate is at a premium here.

The layout is fairly typical in that you get a 3 button layout just below the screen. The strip that houses the buttons is quite small because again, the screen is the real star here. The rest of the layout reveals a slightly different than usual layout with the both the volume and power/lock button living on the right had side of the phone, the headphone jack on top and the charge port on bottom.

Now this phone is more squarish than round so it tends to feel quite large in the hand. That said, I don’t think a rounded design would make this one feel any smaller because the phone measures slightly over 6″ in height.

Final Thoughts

This phone is really large so pocket carriers need not apply! This is a great multimedia device on a budget. Additionally, it features and excellent high resolution camera so the Quartz can actually double as a full time picture taking device. If you like large screened devices without the large screen price, then this one may be the ticket. While not on the iPhone or Galaxy S class caliber, I think this comes quite close at a fraction of the price.

Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

Specs – Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

straight-talk-galaxy-ace-style
Dimensions Height 4.75″ x Width 2.46″ x Thickness .41″
Weight 4.16 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g Data with WiFi
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz dualcore
SD Card/Internal Storage 2gb built in/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card. No SD card included.
Android OS Jelly Bean version- 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels
Screen Size 4″ Diagonal
Battery Life 12 days stand by & up to 12 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons with physical push center button
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price 149.99

About the Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

The Galaxy Ace style is newest entry level compact device in the Straight Talk Galaxy family. This one is quite similar if not nearly identical to the popular Samsung Centura in terms of looks but boasts specs that are far superior.  While design wise, this one looks just like the Centura, it is an updated device as it brings a newer Android OS and a much more powerful processor.  While it may look like the Centura, rest assured, this device is light years ahead in terms of specs and performance.

Specs

Specs here are quite typical for what we now expect for a phone at this price range. The processor is of the 1.2 ghz dualcore variety which vastly improves on the weak 800mhz unit found in the Centura.  This makes the phone perform much faster and reliably than the Centura. Another spec item of note is the larger 4.0″ screen.  The screen is one of the main selling points on this phone as far as I’m concerned. The reason for this is the clarity and brightness that makes videos and images look great. While I’m on multimedia, I will say that the sound quality is really good on this phone as the speaker is well placed on the top to the right of the camera. This prevents your hand from fully covering it when holding the phone in either portrait or landscape mode.

ace1

Another item worth talking about is the newer Android 4.3. While not the absolute latest, this is one of the newer Android’s available on Straight Talk, in fact, this is only the second or third phone to be available with this OS.

Finally, we have the 5 mp camera which captures excellent images. In fact, I will say that this one has one of the better cameras of any Straight Talk phone at this price range. I found the images taken by this phone to be extremely clear given it’s only 5mp. While it does not have an LED flash, it takes good low to medium light images. Another thing I liked about the camera was the unique camera interface that has different image modes. The interface is presented in a carousel style where you can swipe through various different modes such as night, action and the like.

One item on the specs that I do not like is the fact that it does not come with an included SD card so you will need to buy one as this phone only has about 2 gb of built in memory with about 1 gb used up by the operating system.  You will for sure need to get at least a 4 gb SD card if you want to use this as your primary music playing device or if you enjoy lots of apps.

As far as cellular technology goes, this phone uses CDMA so Straight Talk would activate it with either Verizon or Sprint. On the downside, this phone is standard 3g so you do not get the faster 4g or LTE data speeds. That said, that is fairly standard on the lower spectrum phones.

Digital Camera

As I touched on previously, I was really impressed with the images coming from this phone’s camera. While it’s only 5mp, the images were clear and crisp void of that cell phone taken picture graininess. I will say that this is probably one of the best image takers in the entry level Straight Talk phone category. Below are some sample images.

20140718_140454 20140718_140538

While the camera preformed admirably, I was disappointed by the fact that it doesn’t have an LED flash. Surely Samsung could have sprung for the extra $1 or $2 it costs to install one. This is one item where the ZTEs shine as most of those have built in LEDs. That said, the Ace Style does have a front facing VGA camera for the selfie taking bunch. Anyhow, even though it does not have an LED flash, it does take some excellent low light shots such as the one below. Yes, that is beer!

20140723_224512

One item on the camera that I really dug was the mode interface. While you could say it’s a bit of a gimmick, I really liked the carousel interface it is presented in. While most other phones have a boring mode interface, this one looked really cool and impressed me enough that I thought it worth mentioning. I believe this is a Samsung proprietary thing as I have not seen it on any other Straight Talk phone to date. Here is a shot of the phones screen showing the carousel style mode.

ace5

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Style really shines in the performance category due to it’s newer Android OS and 1.2 dualcore processor. One of the best places to test performance is on Google Maps and this phone does not disappoint as it handles maps with ease. You can pinch zoom and rotate without any noticeable lag or hesitation. The same can be said with videos as they super smooth and look amazingly near HD quality.

I think this phone will handle just about any Google Play store app with ease. Every app that I tested performed flawlessly and without hesitation. Despite the price, this is no dog!

Design Look Feel

One of the things that might make this one popular is the fact that it looks just like their best selling Centura.  The button design is even the same though I would say a bit dated for a new phone since the middle button is of the push button variety.  While the center button is of the push variety, they did put a bit of chrome trim around it so it doesn’t look terrible. The other Android buttons are of the capacitive touch. The remaining layout elements are located in typical fashion with the volume on the upper left, the iPod type head phone jack on top, the power/lock on the upper right and the charge port on the bottom.


ace4 ace3 ace2 ace1
One of the things I have always liked about the Samsung Galaxy phones is that they look just a bit more sophisticated than their entry level brethren from LG and ZTE. I particularly like the chrome look bezel surrounding the screen. Another design element that I really like is the slate look front face that surrounds the screen. For some reason, this minor element just makes the phone look a bit more expensive than it really is.

As expected, the entire phone is made of plastic, this includes the screen so we do not net to enjoy the benefits of Gorilla glass on this phone. That said, the phone has a substantial feel to it and does not feel cheap.

Perhaps one of the more unique things I found about this phone is the fact that despite the 4″ screen, the phone still feels very compact. Maybe it’s because of the rounded corners and semi rounded back. Suffice it to say it feels much smaller than it really is.

Final Thoughts

While this phone looks just like the Samsung Centura, specs are much improved over the meager Centura specs. This one brings a powerful processor and faster Android 4.3. Much of what people like about the Centura remains, namely in the form of a compact body and good looks.

On the downside, the phone is a bit pricey when compared to other Straight Talk phones in this class. Of course you are paying for the Samsung brand and quality. My conclusion is that the phone is well worth the money as it simply looks and feels better than the cheaper ZTEs and LGs. I think this would make an excellent phone for those who value quality over price.

Straight Talk Remote Alert Kit Review

Straight Talk Home Alert Specs

Kit Contents
Control Key pad, AC adapter for control unit power, motion sensor, motion sensor wall mount, 2 9 volt batteries, $10 monthly card, instruction manual.
Motion Sensor
Senses up to 26 feet with 120 degree field
Monitoring Self monitored. Delivers triggered alerts via text or voice call.
Installation DIY installation, all sensors are wireless. Central unit plugs in using AC adapter.
Monthly Plan $10 a month or $100 a year
Compatibility
Requires CDMA you must have either Verizon or Sprint coverage
Control Zones Monitors up to 4 zones – up to 16 sensors per zone
Arming Modes
Standard Arm, Silent Arm (Does not have a siren)
Number of sensors Compatible with up to 64 sensors (16 per zone). Kit only includes 1 motion sensor.
Price $149.99 – Check Availability

straight-talk-ra13Today, we review an interesting all new service from Straight Talk. This is the Remote Alert system which retails for $149.99 with your first months service.  This kit can be used to remotely monitor your home, apartment, storage unit, RV or the like. This kit is basically, a totally DIY  non-monitored “home alarm” system.   By non-monitored, I mean that the device does not rely on a land line connection to dial out to a monitoring service such as ADP.  This is where the kit differs from a traditional home alarm system. Additionally, the kit does not include a siren so it will not alert your neighbors or be terribly loud for that matter.

By now, you might now be wondering, what is the point of this thing and what exactly does this it do?  The answer is that it is basically a self monitored system.  By this, I mean that the sole purpose of this device is to alert you any time it is triggered.  It accomplishes this by either calling and texting a set of pre-programmed numbers that are stored on the device.  This is where Straight Talk comes into play because the system does this via a cell phone signal, so Straight Talk will actually program this thing with a local cell phone number so that it can send its texts or phone calls to you when triggered. This is the basic premise of the device so please keep reading if this sounds interesting to you. A quick disclaimer here, Straight Talk does not market this as a home alarm and this is clearly stated on the box.straight-talk-ra11Opening the the Remote Alert kit reveals of following components:

  • A control key pad unit with AC wall plug and 9 volt battery backup.
  • A motion sensor with 9 volt battery and wall mount.
  • 1 month $10 card.
  • Instruction manual.

straight-talk-ra1straight-talk-ra2straight-talk-ra10Normally, I don’t even bother looking at the included manuals when it comes to Straight Talk products, but with this kit is absolutely essential that KEEP your manual because it contains all of the programming instructions.

How it Works

As I mentioned in the intro, this Remote Alert system basically functions similar to a standard home alarm. The Remote Alert system, however, is self monitored, meaning it cannot be monitored by a third party company like say ADP.  It is also completely wireless and self sustained so you do not need a home land like to use it.The system works by having a cell phone number programmed into it when you activate it with Straight Talk. This will be a local phone number Straight Talk will assign to it based on your zip code. One item of note here is that it uses CDMA coverage. This means that you will need to have Verizon or Sprint coverage in your area to activate it. This may sound strange for a “home alarm” system but that is what makes this thing unique and easy to use. Anyhow, once this kit is activated by Straight Talk, you simply program up to 3 phone numbers it can call simultaneously or up to 6 cell phone numbers it text. This is where the self monitoring part comes in. Because this works via a cell phone signal, you must keep this device activated with Straight Talk or it will not work. This will set you back either $10 when paying month to month or $100 a year when you prepay the entire  year up front.straight-talk-ra4The  kit comes with a motion sensor that looks very much like the motion sensors used in motion sensing lights Once set up, the system sends a text message and/or a phone call to the programmed phone numbers when the motion sensor is triggered.  You ca add additional sensors, either more motion sensors or magnetic window/door sensors but those are sold separately for around $30 a pop.straight-talk-ra1The control unit has 4 individual zones and you can add your sensor(s) to any of these zones. Each zone is capable of controlling up to 16 zones so you can have up to 64 total sensors hooked up to this thing.Controlling the unit is done via the control key pad just as you would on a regular home alarm. One cool thing about this kit is that you can use your cell phone to Arm and Disarm it. There is an app available for Android and iPhone users on their respective app stores. You can also arm/disarm by simply texting the unit from your cellphone (remember, this thing has a cell phone number assigned to it). Additionally, you can purchase the key fob which allows you to arm/disarm just like a car alarm.

Using and Installing The Kit

One of the things I like about this kit is the fact that it can be installed in about 2 minutes since the sensors are connected to the control unit via wireless signal. So you don’t need to have this installed professionally or run ugly wires all over the place.  All you need to do is place your control unit within 6 feet of a power outlet since this thing needs to be plugged in for power.  That is the extent of wiring!

As for your motion sensor, it comes already paired for your device so you simply install the 9 volt battery and find a good location for it. The sensor is capable of detecting motion in 120 degree range from up to 26 feet. With this in mind, you can either simply place it on top of a bookcase or the like or wall mount it with the included mount. The mount can either be screwed into the wall or used with strong double sided tape. One item of note here is to locate this such that it is not easily triggered if you have pets or you will be getting lots of false alarms.  You can make this system more reliable by placing a magnetic door switch on all of your entry doors but this will cost you an additional $100 for the magnetic sensors.  I would definitely go the magnetic sensor route when using this in an apartment, RV, storage unit or shed where entry doors are minimal. Additional sensors must be paired to the control unit on one of the 4 available zones.

Once you have everything installed, the system is quite easy to use.  In addition to the numbers you want it to call/text, you can program exit and entry delays so you have time to arm/disarm the unit when coming in and out of the house.   Arming it is quite easy and can be set up as a silent arm or standard arm which makes a beep when triggered.  One item of note here is that the beep is not very loud  and will probably not be heard outside of the structure you are monitoring.  Anyhow, disarming is easily done by simply entering your 4 digit pin, using the app, texting the unit or using the key fob.Pros and ConsLike anything else, there’s always pros and cons. Here are the pros as I see them

  • The unit is very easy wireless install as it does not need professional installation or wires.
  • The price is affordable.
  • Great for apartments, storage units, sheds and RVs
  • Can be expanded with sensors to suit.
  • You do not need a landline to use it.
  • Self monitoring via text or phone calls

Here are the cons:

  • Cannot use it with a monitoring service such as ADP
  • Not very loud when triggered
  • Additional sensors can get pricey when used as home alarm since additional sensors will be needed.
  • Motion sensor is prone to false alarms
  • Must keep it active with Straight Talk and will not work unless it is kept active.
  • You must have CDMA coverage from either Verizon or Sprint.

Conclusion

I really liked this system for its intended use. It was extremely easy to install and program. I found it to be a reliable security system when used with the  window/door sensors.  I also liked the fact that it notifies me via text or call when triggered, though to be honest, I am not sure what I would do should it ever alert me for real. This kit is probably best used to monitor small structures because the window/door sensors are the best way to go about it as it makes it quite reliable. The motion sensor worked well but it can easily be triggered thus leading to false alarms.  I think if you have a small structure you’d like to monitor, then I feel this kit presents the perfect solution.

Straight Talk LG Optimus Fuel

Specs – Straight Talk LG Optimus Fuel

straight-talk-lg-fuel
Dimensions Height 4.28″ x Width 2.32″ x Thickness .47″
Weight 4.0 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g (Activates with either Verizon or Sprint)
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz
SD Card/Internal Memory 4gb SD card included, supports up to 32gb
Android OS Kit Kat version- 4.4
Digital Camera 3 mega pixels/no LED flash
Screen Size 3.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 9 days stand by & up to 5 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive Touch and physical push with multi color LED light
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $59.99

About the LG Optimus Fuel

straight-talk-lg-fuelThe LG Optimus Fuel is a very affordable device with great features. While you don’t pay alot for this phone, you get a phone that’s quite similar in specs to phones costing 2 to 3 times as much, with the exception of the screen size that is. Despite the low price, the Fuel is a fully functioning Android phone with all of the Android apps found on more expensive devices. Overall, this is a great little phone at an even better price. A great phone for children, teens or someone who wants an affordable phone.

Specs

Specs are quite impressive on this little phone even though it only costs $60. You get a 1.2 ghz processor, Anroid 4.4 and 3mp digital camera (no LED flash). What’s impressive here is that this phone has Android Kit Kat which is one of the newest versions out there. This is one of the first Straight Talks to come with Kit Kat. Lastly, it comes with a preinstalled 4gb SD card. The screen on this one measures only 3.5″ diagonally. This is both good and bad because while it makes for a very small device, the screen resolution leaves somewhat to be desired. You will find videos to be a bit more grainy that you find on larger phones. Images also don’t look as good as they do on bigger phones. This is always one of the drawbacks of small screened phones. On the positive side, the phone has a great speaker with excellent sound quality.

Design & Look Feel

The Fuel is very minimalist in the design department. That is to say, there isn’t a whole lot of bells and whistles here. It’s got all of the functional bits, it just doesn’t do it in a very fanciful way. For starters, it has the typical 3 button Android layout. The buttons are of the capacitive push variety but do not light up when pressed. The middle button is not capacitive, but rather is of the push button type. The middle button does have a cool little feature though as it has LED lighting around it which changes colors depending on what the phone is doing. For example, it lights up green on incoming calls, multicolored when the alarm goes on, red when charging and other modes. As expected, the phone is of the all plastic construction variety including a plastic screen. The battery cover has a textured finish and is easily removable. The remaining phone buttons are located as follows: volume on the left, headphone jack on top, power/lock on the right and the charge port on the bottom. Overall, this is by no means a fancy phone but it does it’s job in easy to use fashion.

Final Thoughts

The Optimus Fuel is a great little phone for the price. Probably the best performing phone at this price range from Straight Talk to date. It has plenty of power to perform any task you ask of it. This would be a perfect budget phone though it does still require the $45 unlimited card.

Straight Talk Motorola MOTO G

Specs – Straight Talk Motorola Moto G

straight-talk-moto-g
Dimensions Height 5″ x Width 2 1/2″ x Thickness 1/2″
Weight 4.9 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology XT939G – GSM 4g data with Wifi/Activated with either AT&T or TMobileNote that this is not LTE but 4g which is enhanced 3g
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quadcore
SD Card/Internal Memory 8gb built in/no expandable memory
Android OS Final Jelly Bean version- 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash/Unique Interface/Geo Tagging
Screen Size 4.5″ Diagonal/Gorilla Glass
Battery Life 9 days stand by & up to 5 hrs talk
Button Types No buttons/Android buttons built into Android
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $169.99

About the Moto G

straight-talk-moto-gIt’s been a while since Straight Talk introduced and offered a Motorola device so the Moto G is a welcomed mid level device to their line up. The Moto G is offered as a GSMphone so will work in AT&T/Tmobile calling areas. While the Moto G is new to Straight Talk (released in May), the phone has been available since late December 2013. Specs geared more towards making the phone affordable but still comes with some neat items like Gorilla Glass, a water resistant coating and color battery covers (sold separately).

While on paper, the Moto G looks quite average, the phone has a very upscale look feel you can only find on the higher end brands like Samsung, HTC, Nokia, etc. This is a great phone for those who want an affordable device and a solid brand.

Specs

As we mentioned above, specs aren’t really mind blowing on the Moto G. Don’t get this confused with the higher end Motorolas because this phone was designed for the mid level consumer. For starters, the phone comes with a 1.2ghz quadcore processor which is plenty quick to run the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS.  Keep in mind that  this processor is much more powerful than your run of the mill dual core and single core units found on the other mid level Straight Talk offerings even though it is labeled as 1.2 ghz.

While the phone has plenty of horse power to run the latest Android Kit Kat, Straight Talk is shipping this with Android 4.3 which is still considered to be Jelly Bean all be it the highest Jelly Bean version before Kit Kat.

Moving on, we find a rather pedestrian 5mp camera which is somewhat disappointing but still good enough for most.  I found the pictures to be of good quality though they can be somewhat blurry in lower light situations.  I did like the camera interface as it is quite intuitive and different than most. It has a cool carousel type interface that you swipe and spins around, think Wheel of Fortune here, to reveal all the options. Another cool thing on the camera is that you can zoom by swiping up and down instead of the slider type zoom interfaces found on other devices. Also worth mentioning is the Geo tagging feature that allows you to tag the location where the image was taken. Lastly, it does have a 1.3 mp front facing camera which I found to be quite good when compared to other phones in this segment.

One bummer about this phone is the built in 8gb memory without an micro SD card port. This means that this phone’s storage capacity cannot be expanded by inserting a larger sd memory card. Another somewhat slight bummer is the non replaceable battery which cannot be what they call “user removed”.

Overall, the specs look somewhat average for a mid level phone but be aware that the processor on this thing is much more powerful because of its quadcore nature.  Also keep in mind that there is no other Straight Talk that will come with Gorilla Glass at this price point.

Design & Look Feel

The design of the Moto G is very familiar. That’s because it is designed in similar fashion to just about every other Android out there. One thing I will mention here, is that the phone has the curved back found in much more expensive phones instead of the flat brick like backs on the ZTEs and the like.  This and the rubberized cover make this one feel real nice in the hand. With that said, there are a few of design elements on this phone which are cool and out of the ordinary for a Straight Talk.

The first, is the water repellent coating that’s built into the phone. This means you can use the phone in rainy weather and the like. Don’t mistake this for waterproof because the phone is by no means waterproof.

Another cool element on this phone is the “floating” button design. What this means is that the phone does not have any physical buttons below the screen. Instead, this one has sort of buttons that are almost just like the Android icons and float above the Operating System screen at the bottom of the screen. This is easier seen than explained but can been in the in image above. Suffice it to say, this is a pretty cool element and one we have not seen on a Straight Talk device before.

Finally, there are colored battery covers that can be swapped out in lieu of the usual charcoal black job that it comes with. There are several colors available but must be purchased separately. One item of note there is that I couldn’t find where to buy them online but they are supposed to be out there someplace.

Final Thoughts

The Moto G is an excellent premium mid grade device. What is pleasantly surprising here is that the Moto G is actually cheaper thn other mid level Straight Talk ZTEs. The Moto G will give you far superior performance and quality for your money but there are some drawbacks such as a 5mp camera and non expandable memory. If you are looking for a mid level phone but don’t want to settle for the off brands, then the Motorola Moto G might be worth a good look. Another plus is tha Straight Talk is offering for both GSM and CDMA calling areas.