Samsung Galaxy SIII is one of best smartphones ever, period.

When I pulled the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone out of the box recently, I immediately noticed two things:

1. It was packed in there really well, with no wasted space. A little like Apple handles its iPhones and iPads.
2. It was gorgeous, thin and, well, very large.

The Sammy Galaxy S3 or SIII is 4.8 inches long. Remember when we all laughed at people using the 5-inch Galaxy Note as a phone instead of a tablet? Well, this is a phone nearly as big. It’s very thin. It’s thinner than an iPhone 4S, so in the hand it doesn’t feel huge, but the biggest drawback on this otherwise other-worldly device is the sheer size of it.

Just like the iPhone 4 and 4S have simply gotten too small for some users, the Samsung Galaxy SIII is simply going to be too big for some users. Yes, it fits in your pocket. Yes, it feels great, but for many of you, you won’t be able to hold the phone in one hand and touch all areas of the screen.

That drawback out of the way, the phone does almost everything else well.

We’d tried the Verizon version thanks to our Verizon friends down in Greenville, S.C. The network is fast. We got upload and download speeds faster than many home networks. This is not uncommon. Pages loaded fast. The beautiful photos we took with Galaxy — photos good enough we’d never carry a camera around with us — were sent with ease, no waiting. Big files downloaded fast. YouTube streamed with no slow downs. Call quality was home phone good, even while driving.

Count us as believers in Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Samsung is really getting good at hardware design. Each year, Sammys get better and better. This phone looks good and feels good, if a bit plasticky. It’s easy to hold and the screen is big and gorgeous. It’s not iPhone 4 and 4S “retina” display clear, but it does deliver richer colors, even if they are sometimes overdone.

If you look at a movie on the Samsung and go back to iPhone, you can see the difference, but over time, you won’t notice that some people look a little too red or that orange from the sky is a little too orange. What you will notice is that most screens and everyday task screens look phenomenal on this phone.

It’s fast. It’s smooth. Battery life was good. I could be a heavy user and not need a charge until late in the afternoon.

A few more features: the screen will even go dim if you stop looking at it, say you fall asleep while reading. If you start texting a contact, but decide to call instead, just lift the phone to ear once you’ve typed the texting contact in and the SIII will call automatically. Using a feature called “S-Beam,” users can tap two SIIIs together to share files (I couldn’t find anyone to try this out with). A Siri-like feature, “S Voice,” was sluggish and a little slow (it recognized what I was saying less than Apple’s Siri) and it didn’t work nearly as well as the competitor’s version, but it shows promise.

The phone, over time, will recognize your friends/contacts faces from photos and bring up windows over their photo faces with the ability to socially contact or contact them with a click. You can even retrieve files from your PC using another feature.

My favorite feature, though, was the ability to go picture-in-picture, so to speak. I could be watching a movie and send a text at the same time without stopping the show. You could minimize the movie into another corner of the vast screen while you perform the other task.

So, end of the day, for me, this is the best Android smartphone ever made, and it’s not even close. The big question, in any smartphone review is this: does it top the iPhone? I’d say yes for the Samsung Galaxy SIII in many areas, but comparing it to a year old iPhone 4S isn’t really a fair battle. A year in smartphone technology is like five in the real world or something.

Apple is set to release its new iPhone soon, so a better comparison can be done then, but know this, Samsung has set a very high bar with the Galaxy S3 and unless you’re heavily tied into Apple’s iOS operating system and ecosystem (read you’ve spent half your life’s savings on Apps you can’t bring over to Android), even Apple users or wanna-be Apple users need to check out this phone.

It’s that good.

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The Cinebarre movie experience sure agrees with us, and why it might do the same for you

Recently, a new Cinebarre location opened up in’s home market in beautiful Charlotte, NC. Of course, being the tech geeks and film geeks we are, this seemed like a match made in heaven.

Despite the name, which is easily confused with the more popular cinnamon bun spot that is in nearly every airport in America, Cinebarre is a neat movie-going concept. It’s got locations in Asheville, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Denver, Colo, Salem, Ore, and Seattle, Wash.

Plus, now Charlotte.

The idea is simple: provide an adult-themed movie experience that is second to none. The idea is take “Dinner and a movie” and make it a one-stop shop, minus the teenagers who can make adult movie-going a sometimes harrowing experience.

To get into Cinebarre, all minors must be accompanied by a parent or someone looking like a parent, read older looking. So you can’t have Jeannie, your 24-year-old daughter, take Jake, your 15-year-old son. Won’t work. And there are never any kids under 3 allowed, except on Tuesday, for the first show only (they call this “Cry Baby Day” so parents can enjoy Cinnebarre without needing a babysitter).

One other note here: kids under 6 get in free on Cry Baby Tuesday. Kids under 12 eat free on Mondays.

The best way to handle this place is to arrive 30 minutes early for the preshow and place your order. Each row of seats has a table in front of it. The tables, at least in the Charlotte location, could be a little longer, but worked OK. You had to scoot up to eat and if you try to eat once the movie gets going, it’s best to have one of those little flashlight apps going on your smartphone, otherwise you might dip your fries into the soda instead of the ketchup.

But assuming you do it right, you get there early and order. The food arrives and you sit back and eat while the trailers or other entertainment gets running and the lights go down for the main event. You can still order during the movie by placing a little white sheet of paper in a holder, but remember our warning of trying to eat in the dark.

Now, you don’t have to order at the theater and the menus are available on its webpage Pricing is like Applebees or Chilis, though $5 for a 32-ounce Sprite was a bit much. I had a grilled chicken sandwich which was quite good with some fries that tasted better than I would have expected.

Also at Cinebarre, you can order alcohol, appetizers and deserts. There’s a full bar outside the theater, for pre- or post-show gatherings as well as leather sofas and a pool table. The new Charlotte theater itself is done in deep black and extra clean. It’s more upscale than a traditional theater.

The sound quality is superb, on par with the best (non-IMAX) theaters we’ve tried and the screens are crystal clear. “The Dark Knight Rises” was an absolute visual treat in the Charlotte Cinebarre. And it’s nice to know that you can have a nice adult night out away from some of the teenage distractions at the multiplex, and have a beer while you do it.

We’ve got a new favorite theater in town, and if you visit a city that has a Cinebarre, you have our permission to try it out. They’re golden.




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