Hi. My name is Adam Saunders and I live in the world of 1's and 0's. This is my tiny contribution the vastness of internet information. It's just an opinion and should you have your own, please comment it!
So this is a difficult one. It's been a year since I bought my current "daily driver", the Samsung Galaxy Note, which I have loved. Though I still can't settle on a ROM, and I'm not too happy about Samsung and their Jelly Bean update, or lack thereof. (Another story perhaps).
Now I've had a chance to have a play with the successor for the Note.. the aptly names Note 2, and the changes are very apparent. I have to say that there is one really good thing that Samsung does and one really bad. They are great at bringing out successors, the S2 to S3 for example was a massive leap forward, and this Note to Note 2 is the same. They are still bad at software though. I STILL don't like the look and feel of their TouchWiz software, although it is far faster and smoother, the usability is still lacking.
The Note 2 is by far a greate leap forward. The faster processor and more memory along with Jelly Bean and its butter programme makes for a compelling device. I still think the fundemental applications of Samsungs devices are terrible. The dialer doesn't solve real world needs and the overall TouchWiz look is just... ugly. It's no MIUI. It frustrates me that these people have a lot of potential and just blow it at what I would say is the most important aspect of a smartphone. But I suppose I would say that being a software designer.
With the Note 2, the basics are still not at the level I think they could be, but they have added plenty of bells and whistles. Split screen applications, more integrated pen capabilities and much more, are all really good and perhaps in some cases a little bit of a gimick, but I still wish they brought in someone with a greater idea of UI like Apple and HTC etc have done. It's like they are playing wth half the formula.
So, the smoother, faster use of the Note 2 is a good reason to upgrade, but I'm not actually very interested in that as the Note isn't exactly slow. It is also bigger than the original too which I was very surprised about. I was hoping that they would reduce the size of the phone whilst keeping the size of the screen the same or perhaps a little bigger. But the resolution has changed to 720px wide from 800px, which means it is 16:9 and not 16:10. It is thinner and longer which I'm not sure felt better.. perhaps a little worse to be perfectly honest. What I really want to find out is whether the battery life is as good as the reviews and rumours are saying, Heavy use will still give you 2 days use... For any smartphone, that is MASSIVE.
Will I upgrade? It's a really difficult question. Have you?
Once again, I've not posted in a while, and that's mainly because it's been so busy. I've decided to make a post mainly to try and convince myself either way whether getting the new Google/Samsung Galaxy Nexus would be a good idea, or whether I would just go for the cheaper option of the Samsung Galaxy S2.
One thing for sure is that I want to upgrade. I still LOVE my Nexus One but some of the more recently hardware changes, such as the screen technologies really appeal to me considering the type of usage I have.
I think the Nexus series is a great idea, and I'd love to follow on from my current Nexus with a new one. The Galaxy Nexus is a very attractive device. The large screen, but not considerably larger phone (than the S2) makes a hit with the increasing amount of web browsing I do on my phone. The Nexus One is a pretty quick phone, but its not the fastest for browsing and the screen is reasonable for periodic use. The extra horse-power of either the S2 or Galaxy Nexus will improve the experience, but that larger and much higher resolution screen on the Galaxy Nexus would change the amount of browsing I'd like to do.
Along with those key updates the Galaxy Nexus also has NFC support (though its a growing technology for now, so would be an early adoption), barometer which can aid the GPS satellite lock-on considerably (in many cases can make lock-on almost instantaneous, which is a real plus when using the phone a fair amount for navigation like I do. These are all great arguments for getting the Galaxy Nexus and I wouldn't hesitate pre-ordering one already if it wasn't for my reservations.
I love the form factor of the Galaxy Nexus over the S2. The more roundness and curved screen is a real plus with the Nexus S, and the weight difference could be really key. The S2 is just too light, and a number of owners have mentioned this. It's so incredibly light that its a problem with holding the phone steady or even noticing its in a pocket. Most have had to get a case just to add some weight to it, and personally the additional weight should give a feeling of sturdiness. I'm not saying the Nexus is heavy, just that it should have the right weight to make the phone "feel right".
So what are my reservations? I'm certainly not alone, when I look at the Galaxy Nexus and consider the price tag compared to the rest of the market, I find some aspects that seem to have been dismissed but not for the price. The most prominent or should I say, surprising feature was that there is no removable SD card. All the other Galaxy phones have this along with considerable built in memory, and I've always had it in Nexus One too.
So should you and I consider the Galaxy S2 or the Galaxy Nexus? The answer to this would It really depends on your key usage of the device. If its mostly comms (phone, text, email) then it doesn't really matter too much which device you will have, but if you are a web site user and use it for navigation a fair amount, those extra pixels and large display will really do the browsing justice, the improved browser and generally getting everything first the Nexus is very attractive, plus the barometer for very rapid GPS lock on should be noticeable for your navigation.
I'm in the same boat as others regarding the No SD card. I think it's a major oversight, though the Nexus S didn't have one either and I have to say, I've not heard any complaining. I suppose the question you need to ask yourself is, how much space is enough for you? As I have said before, I have a Nexus One currently with 16GB SD, and I simply do not fill it. I could, but then I'd be filling it with crap that certainly wouldn't be necessary and I do have plenty of that already on this one. The other thing that I've come to notice is the number of times I remove the removable SD card... Hardly ever and the rare times I have, I had other options. So I suppose I should next ask, would I want a 16 GB SD card? or 16 GB built in where the built in memory is generally much faster? or would I want the 16GB built-in and an additional 16GB SD card? I'd obviously want the 16GB 16GB SD.. that the S2 offers. Therefore the real questions for you and I would be.. Do you REALLY NEED it?
Should you wait? I can confidently tell you, or remind you that every technology will improve in time and if you wait for the next thing, you'll just be constantly waiting and will end up with nothing. If you have the Galaxy S2 already, stick with it.. it's a VERY good phone and I simply can not see any benefit of upgrading to the Galaxy Nexus. You'll get your Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich at the start of 2012. Better late than never!
I have to say that I'm absolutely LOVING MIUI (miuiandroid.com/) on my Nexus One. It's a really slick interface where I just haven't had to download and install replacements components such as dialers and contact managers (even browsers) because it all works together so well. It's a very productive ROM, and looks so slick too.
Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich has now been announced and the one of the key features is the unification (finally) of the interface. I.e. the way the device works should be far more consistent than it ever was before. Though this isn't exactly hard. Android has always felt quite segregated in the past.
I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Android 4.0 and seeing if the move away from MIUI is going to leave me home sick. Watch this space!
I thought I'd try and post a blog via my new transformer. Managed to get the one with the keyboard and have to say its VERY good indeed. There still needs to be some better support for Tablets with the existing applications in the market. I'm sure that will change a lot over the coming year.
You never know with these things if its just a rumour of if its something real, but there does seem to be some pretty positive talk about Samsung showing off the next "Nexus Two" that will have Gingerbread on it on the 8th November. That isn't long away, and Samsung do have a conference on that day, and they have sent invites out saying that they will be unveiling a new device. What is more is that Google have also added the Gingerbread man to their front lawn to sit aside the previous desert based sculptures that represent each of the main Android versions. They only do this when the version is imminent. Gingerbread is looking likely to be version 2.3 with Honeycomb (probably something to expect at the first or second quarter of next year) will be version 3.0.
What I like about this is that Google have managed to keep all the details regarding Gingerbread behind closed doors much like Apple do with their software. Why I like this is that it stirs more interest as speculations come around which in turn should drive interest in the platform in general. I want Android interest to grow as I'm much more interested in Android development than I am iOS development.
I currently own a Nexus One, and have to say it's absolutely brilliant! Because it is a "Nexus" and has the core Android platform direct from the kitchens of Google, it has become the most widely supported device amongst the Android communities. For example every iteration of Cyanogen Mod that gets released, such as the recent version 6.1, it feels like I have a brand new phone. Quite simply, the Nexus One was the best investment in a mobile phone I have EVER made by a LONG LONG way.
This incredible support by the trio of platform provider (Google), hardware provider (HTC) and the open source community has proven they are a recipe for total success. Everyone wins, especially the consumer!
And for this reason I have a huge amount of interest in this new phone. It's based on Samsungs current Galaxy S phone, but the fact that it wouldn't have all the Samsung branded Android components (if the rumours ARE true), that it comes with an awesome super AMOLED screen, and the design looks insanely thin as well as the processing capability being outstanding, means this could be one hell of a tasty device.
The other rumour is that it would be available at Car Phone Warehouse here in the UK almost immediately. This means that it will be available across all the mobile providers and it won't get any of the provider crapware installed on it!
But like with all things like this, its a matter of "wait and see". It might just be another new Android mobile by Samsung that is just like the others in their line of Android devices. Here's to hoping for a "Nexus Two"!
UPDATE: It seems that the rumours are indeed all rubbish. Samsung have denied they are announcing a Nexus Two or "Nexus S" and are in face going to announce a dual screen phone. A concept where a smaller screen below the base of the main display can show the clock, notification icons and weather using less power than switching on the full display.
UPDATE2: Nexus S it is then! Beautiful phone too!
I while ago I posted a list of apps that I had installed on my Nexus One to give an idea of the sorts of apps that I like or I thought were very cool.
Well, a lot has changed since then, and there are loads of amazing applications that you can get on the Android that simply aren't on any other platform thanks to it's openness.
Here is my current list thanks to AppBrain:
I finally got to install the latest release candidate Android ROM for Nexus One on to my phone. When I say finally, it was only released yesterday, but I've been wanting to install this since I first glimpsed a . It wasn't too long ago that I had installed Modaco's Froyo build because I wanted to get the benefits of some of the enhancements that were made in Android 2.2.
The Cyanogen Mod is THE most popular build and the ease of rooting and installing this build of Android is incredibly easy and just seems to get easier and easier.
I don't want to get into all the things that the Cyanogen team have put into this build, but its lightening quick and some of the features are just amazing. The AWD Launcher has matured well, and is now my default launcher, and the advanced settings are very cool indeed.
What's most significant with this release of Android is not only does it have a HUGE community of developers and testers behind it, but it also will be made available on lots of Android phones including the original G1 (one of the first android phones) and the HTC Hero GSM (great because HTC have been CRAP at keeping their devices up to date).
I'm now looking forward to Gingerbread where Google will be adding some significant UI enhancements.. Sounds familiar.. its exactly where we are with Neetrix at the moment :-)
I've not posted a new blog in a while, and that is because I've simply been very busy, but when something so unbelievable comes along, I just have to post it up.. So today my long break away from posting has been broken with the announcement of Android 2.2
Watch the video below for a quick overview of what they have added. It's simply everything smart devices should have without the compromises and control that has been the biggest thorn in the side with Apple.
And this video quickly sumarises what's new with Android 2.2.
Put quite simply, the iPhone and iPad are a destination of dismay. They have a huge following at the moment but Apple aren't innovating and these alternative platforms are just getting leaps and bounds ahead in capability and usefulness.
I thought I'd list the apps that I use on my Nexus One Android phone (In no particular order). Some people ask now and again, but really want to list them so I don't forget next time I do a factory reset :-)
If you think you know better alternatives to the ones above please make a comment in the comment section. Also if you think you have found real gems you think I should look at let everyone know in the comments too!
I was reading some articles about Google Nexus One vs HTC Desire to see what people thought about HTC Sense on a device as powerful as the Nexus One when someone mentioned the website GelaSkins.
This is SO tempting (I'll have to do a proper image as this was just a very quick mock up to test it out)
Having customisation like this is godly for a high-end phone. Certianly makes it stand out of the crowd and couldn't mistake it for anyone elses!
There are a lot of Android phones coming from HTC and the Nexus One is a big deal when it comes to the progress of Android as a smartphone platform. Google are so "in to" the Nexus One they want to call it a superphone, but I'm not buying into that term. Its a smartphone, because it can do much more than a normal mobile phone. It doesn't matter how powerful the device may be, its actual functionality hasn't changed.. It just does it quicker and with more pizzaz. That isn't a new breed.
It hasn't been long before the Nexus One is out that trickles of information about the HTC Bravo are hitting the tech blogs and from what has been rumoured, the HTC Bravo is exactly the same as the Nexus One except it has a track pad rather than a track ball, and it has the highly regarded HTC Sense installed.
That does sound like a recipe to quickly top the Nexus, but I'm questioning if that really is the case. I have to say that I do like the idea of a track pad instead of a track ball mainly because of its aesthetics. Functionally however they are merely identical, and as a long term HTC Hero user I do think its an important feature as it does make the finer selections (esspecially inputting text) far less frustrating than using a chubby finger to hit that 1mm² block between characters, and more accurate when selecting items in a list whilst on the move. So I suppose what I'm saying here is that the Bravo has Sense and the Nexus One does not... Is this a reason to go for a Bravo.. Perhaps not, and I'll explain why.
Sense made absolute sense for Android 1.x. The platform was lacking in style and user functionality and friendliness. 1.x was a platform for the geek, and as such Sense gave the lick of paint and additionaly functionality such as multi-touch to everyone else. Basically, it made the HTC handsets attractive to the world. Now comes along Android 2.1, and Google have done a great job in improving the interface to attract the wider market. They've added more panes on the home screen and improved on the overall feel of the OS.
So this is the important stuff. Sense gives you the built in apps, but in all honesty I've stopped using almost all of them. Within the market there are better apps. I use K9 for email, Handcent SMS for text messaging and Mixzing as my media player. Now 2.1 gives contact integration and the photo/video album gives improved integration with online services, I simply find it impossible to see what Sense is really giving me.
One thing for sure, however, is that Sense is probably giving me more of a headache. I've had the HTC Hero for quite some time, and because it has Sense the firmware updates need to comes from HTC (I don't want to use baked ROMs). This should have been all fine except HTC have become TOO slow in releasing updates to the handsets meaning that I can't get to use the new Android 2.1 when everyone else is. I can't see this changing for the Bravo, and hence why at this time I actually thing getting a Nexus One would be a smarter move. The focus by Google on user friendliness and funtionality blurs the lines of Sense, and the quick over-the-air updates mean that you'd get all the latest as it happens.
Like everyone I like good news, so this week has been a double wammy of smiles in the phone area for me. Firstly is the announcement of Android 2.0 (code names Eclair).. Ok, so the version wasn't announced this week, but the official video was released which demonstrates some of the major new features that the Android team have added to the mobile OS.
The video probably doesn't do the update as much justice as it could be worth. The bluetooth API alone is something I've been really missing with my Android and wasn't expecting to get it so quickly, and they've kept it open for some really innovative app developers to use in very imaginative ways... Imagine a game of virtual ping-pong between two devices where you use the phone as a kind of bat, or a form of two player curve ball. Although for now, just being able to send files and data over bluetooth would cover a very important missing device feature.
The multiple accounts with sync support is a big deal too. I can see an amazing array of uses including an outstanding integration with Neetrix. I'm looking forward to seeing just how far that new area has been pushed.
Google haven't stopped there either... for "with Google" devices (these are devices that include Google apps such as Google Maps, Market place etc) there have been a number of big updates.
The second piece of good news was that this update is coming to the HTC Hero!! This means, arguably, the best phone currently on the market is going to get a voice recognition, text to speech support as well as the bluetooth updates as above, plus updates to the Google apps like the following amazing update to Google Maps allowing for Navigation by natural voice.
This is a really impressive navigation system simply because of the monolithic amount of information Google holds on what seems like everyone and everything. Who could possibly fault the satellite view, or the street view to aid with turns and destination? Potentially very useful indeed.
Slightly less to smile about was Garmin and TomTom stocks plummeting when the news of Google's new Navigation update was announced. However I think this is pre-emptive, as the really important point missed here is that Google Maps is a cloud application. That means it requires an internet connection in order to send and receive the data it needs. Possibly not the same in the US as it is in the UK, but I can't imagine it could be that different, where mobile network provide far from 100% coverage, and its more than likely you won't have the coverage just as you need it the most. What is the point in a navigation application that could suddenly just stop feeding directions as soon as you start leaving towns or hit a grey or black area? Sounds risky to me, and it's going to be sometime before the mobile networks improve their network coverage to such a level that you could totally rely on them for a fully connected application like this.
I'm excited to try this out, but I've no regrets with the Copilot Live I already have on my Android HTC Hero!
UPDATE: It is infact Android 2.1 that will be coming to the HTC Hero. Even more to look forward to!
I love to jump to conclusions about a forthcoming update to HTC's Hero phone, but the evidence does seem to suggest that the universal moaning surrounding the device "lagging" has driven HTC to pull their finger out and do something about it.
I have to say, as a HTC Hero user, I'm not finding this lag a problem, just an annoyance. An update to resolve this would in fact have a massive impact in those choosing to compare the HTC Hero with the iPhone, where their only difference is the responsiveness differences, and that's down to the way the two devices operate. HTC Hero can run many apps at the same time (multi-tasking) and iPhone cannot except a few core apps of its own. If the Hero can run as smoothly as the iPhone, then that will be a massive one-up on the much more expensive counterpart.
This video by Paul from Modaco shows an early release of the ROM, and although short, shows a pretty much lag-less HTC Hero.
I'm staying sceptic at the moment as there is a little lag showing up on the device at around 1:22 where the widget loading gives a VERY SLIGHT jigger, however reports from others that have managed to get their hands on the pre-release ROM such as Evan Selleck of the HTC Hero Facebook group, seem convinced that the update is a winner.
My scepticism in these reports is that the most noticeable lag only comes up after extended period of use, and I've dealt with most of mine through the experiments I've been running. These people have just reset their phones, which always seems MUCH faster after doing so and for a few days. Time will tell exactly how much this update improves the performance, and I'm sure HTC will have been on the case, and will continue to be as long as people have a need to report the problem.
When is this update expected? Rumours say mid-September, which would be about the right time-scale considering the timing of these leaks put out for people to test and report on.
If you are having problems with your HTC Hero lagging, you probably already tried fitting a Class 6 SDHC memory card into the device.. If not you must do this! It really does make a big difference to the overall performance of the device.
After installing a few apps etc you may still be getting some problems, and I've noticed that different people are getting different behaviour which doesn't really make sense if we were to blame the HTC processing power, or the HTC software optimisation.
Today I was playing with a friends HTC Hero after he said it was lagging and although he has now the same SD card as I do, and after his first factory reset the phone was flying along, his Hero is experiencing much more lag than mine. Mine currently (touching wood) is flying along, and is as slick as ever, but it wasn't after some time of use, but it is now, and it might be down to an experiment that I'm trying.
This time I'm not going to change any of the hardware, or put the devices through resets, but I am going to change the way I use the HTC Hero.
In previous posts I've talked about using apps like TasKill and TaskPanel to close down processes that don't need to be running any more. The theory is that closing as many of these as possible will free up memory and processing time, and thus reduce lag like any conventional computing device.. But I've found that Android doesn't work like this. It has its own process and memory management that makes this original concept of "resident" processes obsolete, and thus TasKill and TaskPanel apps are really only good for closing hanging applications, which I have to say I've not had yet. So the first part of my experiment to NOT close processes.
The second part of the experiment is the way I believe the stand-by part of the Android platform works.. or perhaps how HTC Hero (Sense) behaves whilst in stand-by. I believe (happy to be corrected with proof) that some applications don't do the same processing as they would when the device is on, thus when you wake the HTC Hero it is doing various "catch up" tasks. One hunch that I have is that if you force the device into stand-by by tapping the "hang-up/power" button, that these processes are forced into their "sleep mode". This is all well and good, but if you constantly wake and sleep the device, these processes aren't getting a chance to finish what they started to do, and possibly due to poor threading management of these applications, some of the threads are hanging up causing the phone to slowly ground to a halt the more times the device is on and off stand-by. This is entire speculation, and is just based against my development knowledge and the general behaviour of the device.. essentially a professional hunch. I could be completely wrong, but this is why I'm experimenting with this idea by NOT putting the phone into stand-by almost as soon as I've only just woken it up.
I want to ask others to try this out, as over the last week I've been trying this, it seems to be working, and I've not had to close any processes or restart the phone! But I don't want this to be utter coincidence, and the other way to tell is for others to try this out as well.
Post a comment if you are going to try it out, and let me know over a week or two of use, if you have noticed any reduction in extended lag.
I'm finding that some of the applications that I want to try out have very suspicious capabilities according to the installation warning. Whenever you install an Android applications from the Android Market, it will tell you what parts of the phone and its services the application needs to access, however there are the odd few that request access to things that clearly aren't appropriate. For example, when would a card game need to access your text messages and the internet!?!
Just a warning, although this could simply be lazy administration from the developer, or possibly an error at the Market, I would still recommend reading carefully the warning that the market gives, and if it needs access to areas of the device which is shouldn't, don't install it. It would be nice to think that all Android developers are thumbs up for "the cause", but with any 3rd party applications like this, they can't all be properly vetted, and therefore there is a strong possibility of a handful that could be abusing this trust.
Comparing to HTC Hero's side by side, one with the 2GB SD card that comes with the device and the other with the previously talked about 8GB Class 6 SDHC card, there is definitely a very noticeably difference.
There are still areas that will gutter slightly, and I would still recommend using apps like TasKiller to keep the quantity of memory resident apps down, but when it comes to loading up or searching through contacts, albums, music, emails, text messages etc, there is a considerable amount of difference in responsiveness.
If you have the Hero, I highly recommend getting an updated card. However, I do also hope that HTC will release updates to HTC sense to streamline some areas that obviously have room to improve.
As for any other problems. I've spotted one or two very minor bugs that most users probably won't even pick up on, but the only big issue I've had is the IMAP support with the HTC Mail client. For the most part it is fine and works well, but I just happen to use hMailServer on my servers and just happens that HTC Mail client and hMailServer aren't playing ball. Luckily hMailServer has a very good lead developer (Martin) that seems keen to try and get the problem resolved.. Would be important I guess to get that done considering HTC is planning to replicate the whole HTC Sense software across their entire Windows and Android phone portfolio!! *fingers crossed* that will be sorted out!
What do I think of the device? Amazing.. I've used everything from Nokias, iPhones, Blackberrys and various other HTC windows devices, and this one really just feels right. There may be tweaking to do, but its just way ahead on the usability of any other devices in its market.
Anything I don't like? Probably only one thing if I was pushed for an answer. I wish that more of the apps developed for Android would close properly and take themselves out of the process and memory space when they simply have no excuse of being there. Android has the ability for more than one app to be running at a time, but I don't like developers getting lazy or exploiting the fact. Thankfully there are apps to help, but just means something else to do just because these people couldn't be bothered. The only other thing is the lack of BlueTooth stack support. Being able to push files and contact information would have been very useful. Lets hope for something in the Android "Donut" update.
A particularly geeky post, even for me. As I wait for my Hero this morning I've been running some disk benchmarking on the micro SDHC memory cards I have around here.
|Device||Average Write Speed||Average Read Speed|
|1GB Class 2 SanDisk Micro SD||3.8 MB/s||8.4 MB/s|
|4GB Class 4 SanDisk Cruzer USB Stick||6.78 MB/s||13.3 MB/s|
|8GB Class 6 SanDisk Micro SDHC||11.9 MB/s||17.4 MB/s|
Desktop HDD (whilst in use)
|~25 MB/s||~70 MB/s|
That is quite a significant difference between the devices. The 8GB Class 6 Micro SDHC that I purchased for the HTC Hero really looks to be exceptionally quick for a SS memory card.
Baring in mind that smartphones are doing a lot of read AND writes to their main storage because of the wealth of applications, background processes and more over, swap file requirements, especially of the Android platform, I'm expecting this to have a significant difference in the general response of the phone. The swap file in particular will require plenty of read and write throughput when the device is in use, especially when the device is loaded up and is more and more reliant on that file.
Luckily I'll have TWO HTC Heroes here today, which means I'll be able to do a side-by-side comparison between using the 2GB Class 2 (?) Micro SD card that comes with the device, and the replacement 8GB Class 6 Micro SDHC card. For the sake of £14.99 which included a small USB card reader it's barely a price to pay for what I hope to be a significant difference in user experience.
After months and months of waiting around for a device that could really do everything I needed and more, and also opened me up to a new development platform and "play area", I decided to go with Android. There are so many devices coming out with this platform as their main UI OS, and each are as powerful as any other smartphone you can mention.. even that iPhone. All that competition means they are also half the cost of ones like iPhone. Its a recipe in my books for overall success in the long term.
I'll happily admit that I'm not always right, but I'm going to be putting my money where my mouth is with this one.
I should finally get my own next week and am already trying to work out which apps I want to try out from the huge Android Market app store.
The HTC Hero seems to be getting a massive following, however some reviewers are already bitching for more processing power out of the phone as this device can multi-task, meaning that it is easy to overload unlike devices such as the iPhone where the smaller processor only needs to deal with a single application at a time. To me, its much more likely that these issues they experience is because they are loading up the phone as part of "playing" with it, and also because the new UI (namely HTC Sense) is still an infant.
Looking forward to a bright and interesting future with this device!
Ever since Palm brought out their personal organisers and mixed them up with phone capabilities, there has been a battle for the enterprise market. And because it was the enterprise market much of the battle was like some Mid-African conflict. You know its happening, but it doesn't get any focus of the rest of the world since to everyone else it does seem to matter who "wins".
Now that Apple has come on to the scene and have worked their usual marketing magic, "smart-phones" seem to been brought to the attention of the little people, and with it a promise of amazing new ways to use the computational power of their once mundane mobile phones/devices. As the battle is brought to the front door, so is the limelight, and as more and more of the masses fall into the same sudden realisation of what these devices can for their lives, it is like they just experienced some sudden apparition. What a lot of people don't realise is just how long the war has been raging, though its only in the last year, may be two that consumers finally understand what part software plays when it comes to any electrical device.
What is frustrating is that people got the idea that their iPhone has lots of programs to pick from that can suddenly make their phone become a toaster. They quickly finish their mocha coffees and then all "hail Apple for such an amazing invention". I suppose its probably quite fascinating and mind boggling if you have never realised that everything electrical in the home these days has some kind of ware helping make the device actually function. However, what is the most frustrating is that devices like the Windows PDA and Mobile, which was out some decade or so before Apple had that glimmer in the eye, also had more applications than you can wave a stick at. For the 50,000 odd applications for iPhone, there are 250,000 for windows, but that seems to have been lost somewhere in the hype (please keep in mind that when they say 50,000... 100,000... or even 1,000,000 applications, a massive percentage of that are probably apps that do just the same thing or just barely do anything at all). I'm not meaning to sound all pro-windows here. Microsoft once again had a monumental chance to take all the cream, but no-doubt were once again totally engrossed in what everyone else was doing they forgot they had to come up with ideas too.
My point here is that applications are important, and what your smart-phone can do for you is really all about what developers have done for your device. And this brings me on to a new contender in my own personal decision in which side I'll take in the smart-phone war. I'm not choosing a smart-phone because I can turn it into a fish tank or a drum kit. Such things are completely crap after 20 seconds and moreover totally unfulfill a reason I have a smart device. Because there are so many device and choices out there these days means I can be a lot more selective about what I'm actually after, and I think if you are looking at what smart-phone you really want, you should ask your self the same questions. Spending 400-500 quid for a phone (or more than twice that if you got suckered into buying the iPhone, fool) you have to make sure you are really buying the right ones.
So far there are the Symbian (Nokia), iPhone, Windows Mobile, WebOS (Palm) and Android (Google) that make up the smart-device platform top dogs. I have to point out that the lines between them are really blurring out as they get more and more alike, apart from Symbian which is quickly looking outdated but its also the oldest and more estabilshed meaning that it just does the job it is required to do bloody well and without all the frills.
Recently I've been looking at the HTC Hero which is based on the Android platform, and I was always skeptic about it in the past. I didn't
like love the interface. Then again, I also hadn't really looked at it in more detail than the homescreen features which is about where most reviews and demos seem to get hung up on with most devices. What I missed was that this platform was actually really good for my needs. I do more email and web browsing than phone calls and texts (by a hefty difference I'd like to point out), and this platforms improved interface by HTC, its already reasonable email support and its excellent web browser (tests show vastly better than Windows and iPhone) has really grabbed my attention. Filling in the small gaps is important to me and definitely gets me swaying heavily in favour of any platform, and the third party application support for this considerably new OS has is showing massive promise (Several thousand already). There isn't a single app out there that I can't find to fulfill my needs, and most of them are free or half the cost of iPhone apps or quarter of that of Windows or Symbian. This could be because of the push for open source development Google has been doing, but what ever it is, its working.
What I am surprised about is the cost. I was expecting it to be cheaper than the latest HTC windows counterparts since the platform isn't licensed like Microsofts (still almost half that of an iPhone I'd like to point out again). But it does have a few differences such as the 5 megapixel camera, the 3.5mm headphone jack, the digital compass and the capacitive rather than resistive screen (though lower resolution which was disappointing to see! It has the same resolution as the iPhone). These might push the costs back a little, but I think it was more down to a business decision for equilibrium across their product line than actually overall manufacturing cost. Pitty if that was the case, but understandable.
I'm looking forward to getting my hands on one for a proper test, much like I am still for the Palm Pre, and finally getting to write a conclusion to this long long debate.
Some sites including play.com are now taking pre-orders on the new Nokia N97. This is one of the phones that I've been waiting to try out for some time.
It's pricing between £499 (on play) and £624 (on other sites) which is quite a difference, but this does make it a high-end phone, competing in the price brackets of HTC HD and IPhone mobiles. However it is stuffed with some impressive, and useful technology.
I'm going to wait until I can actually play with one in the shops before deciding to actually purchase and I've still got more of the heart set for the Palm Pre at this time.
I just realised the other day that my phone contract was up for renewal last month, and baring in mind that I have changed my phone recently to a Nokia E71, have been pondering what to do with the renewal.
So I rang O2 customer services to see what sort of deals I could get and what sort of phone they would recommend based on my typical use. As normal, the first recommendation was the Blackberry, but I've never liked them. I forced myself to use the curve for a couple of months to see if was any good, and I just couldn't get used to the restrictive way it provides messaging. The thing I find with agents and phone sales is that they have it drilled into their mind that Blackberry is the only way to get instant email and is the most suited device for that, but that simply isn't the case. I'm currently using the E71, and its a better phone all round. It's more sleek, better quality and more standardised than the Blackberry.
I asked about a few, like the iPhone, just to get the chance to try them out, and perhaps experiment with some developments on them. The contract arrangements mean that you can not use any other phone, and they are 24 month only contracts too. Basically if you don't like the iPhone, you are stuck for 2 years having to use the damn thing. Not appealing when there is no way to really "try" it out.
After going over my options with the sales rep, I came to the conclusion that there simply isn't a phone better suited than the E71 available yet. So I'm now going to have to wait, postponing my upgrade so that I can get a heavy discount on something better that I would like to use, and I decided that I wasn't going to go for, say, a Sony X1 and making a hefty profit on it on eBay.
Two phones I'm eagerly awaiting for is the Palm Pre which I'm expecting to be a fantastic competitor to the iPhone, and an upgrade of my currently E71 which would be the Nokia N97.
The N97 seems like a completely new breed of phone from Nokia as the interface and OS seem considerably different, but this could purely be just a facade. It's less wide than the iPhone, but very slightly longer and the sliding keyboard will mean it will feel a little chunky. One thing I like about the E71 is that its wafer thin, and tiny in it's dimensions. Slipping unnoticed into any shirt pocket. The N97 has my attention because of the massive features such as touch screen and accelerometers, huge capabilities and capacity and a new way to do developments so that it is easier to write applications for it. I just hope the size won't be a burden.
Getting a little bit of insider information from a Palm employee friend can really make your ears prick up when they seem to get excited about a new phone and phone OS that their own company has produced, especially it comes from a company that has been mostly doom and gloom for the last few years.
Even with an insider I couldn't get more information than anyone else other than to ensure I would watch the CES 2009 palm announcement.
Well I found the whole presentation on YouTube, and I have to say that it really does look like Palm could have pulled a last minute gem out of their pockets and saved themselves from oblivion. They really need that GSM version though, and more over, need to get the same silly over hype that iPhone had.
Everyone is going to compare this to the iPhone since that phone is the current market consumer leader. Apple introduced the multi touch, clown like interface with features very much oriented to the consumer such as better web browsing and integrated rich media support and social services. If I was forced to compare, I would say that iPhone had a bunch of people with a wish list of cool technology that already existed, and a marketing team that said "it doesn't matter how much it cost, we'll be able to sell it", and so the team went to work cramming everything they could to push an iPod to become the iPhone forgetting the odd essential on the way.. Palm however, seem to have thought about people actually using a phone which could do media and social stuff, and realised that a whole new OS was required to get better cross product integration and interface management, much like Google, Windows and Apple had done/are doing.
I believe what they have done is saved themselves, as long as they can scream from the roof tops over the echo's of iPhone this, iPhone that...
Key stuff that hasn't been mentioned yet is the approx battery life, and they didn't talk about the new induction charger which allows the phone to be charged without having to plug it into a wire. You just have to leave it on the desk and it will charge.. Great for those that find that problem where the phone will ring then you find yourself wrapped in cables, or ear glued to the desk because the cable is caught or too short! Definitely well thought out, and they are working on the GSM version.
Here are the things I'm not so conviced about. The 3MP camera seems a little small for high end device when competitors are hitting 5-8MP now, and the screen resolution (number of pixels on the screen) is 320 x 480 that is better than the conventional 320 x 240, but I would really hope for a least 640 x 480 or as some devices are going 800 x 480. It makes for much better web browsing, esspecially when the device is oriented around that very feature.
Something I hadn't had time to check in the first few weeks, was what the bluetooth was like with the Nokia E71, when everything is very much handsfree.
One thing with Windows that I really love, is the Voice Command application you can buy for ~$25 that gives you voice recognition for applications and contacts WITHOUT having to prerecord anything.
I did notice that Nokia has something similar, which was a massive relief, and I was eager to know if it would work over bluetooth, like Windows version does. Glad to say that it does, however, it isn't as smart as the Windows version. You can give it someone's name, and the recognition is very good, but it will only dial the default number, and you can't "cancel" it if it gets it wrong. It will give you feedback to say which name it thinks you said, which it has been pretty much always right, however, I can't say "Call Joe Blogg on Mobile" like I can with Windows, and then give a "Yes", or "No" if the confirmation question is right. Instead you just say "Joe Bloggs" and it will say "Calling Joe Bloggs" and about 1.5 seconds later it is ringing.
So not perfect, but far better than nothing and what I was expecting.
I've always been after the ideal phone, and it has always been a compromise... I love one aspect about one phone, and it doesn't have something else I love about another.
This simply drives me crazy! There has been 2 phones that have stood out to me that I have liked so much for their own unique reasons. Firstly is the HTC Tytn II, which I have had as my main phone since the day it was launched in the UK. It was at the time the most powerful phone money could buy, support the Windows 6.0 mobile operation system, which later could be upgraded to Windows 6.1 from HTCs website. The huge processor, however, was necessary for such an operating system. Windows Mobile is still the slowest base platform across the spectrum. However, this downside is raised by the sheer quantity of software available for the phone. Microsoft have the (rightly so, but not without consequence) attitude of not stepping on partners' toes, unlike software giant Google for example. This means that the curse of lack of support for the base installation of the phone, is met with the quantity of alternatives instead. The Tytn II is so good that I kept trying new phones, and simply went back to it after just not finding the mobile tools I need.
The second phone is perhaps no surprise then to be the Blackberry (or Blueberry as many like to forgetfully say). This, however, might be a surprise to those that know me, as I constantly talk about how much I hate the phone. So let me clear up why I love it and why I hate it so much. Blackberry is a good business phone, and its messaging support is almost better than it is actually a phone, however (and this is a BIG however) what makes it really good is the hardware. Every computer is based on the two essential parts of hardware and software, and for a perfect system, both have to meet in unison. Where Windows leaves this to the winds of partnerships, Blackberry take this on themselves. And I have to say that Blackberry do win completely on this. Windows mobiles are much too expensive, and the continual move to be more and more powerful to try and get the software's shortcomings to come up to scratch with today's demands of cosmetically clown like interfaces whilst being super smooth and somewhat effortless, just means people are having to pay the premium to get Microsoft's operating system as they want it. And people do! Myself being one of them with the Tytn II. What is so remarkable about the Blackberry is that the phone itself is exceptionally well designed with a very useable, quick thumbnail qwerty keypad, and low spec software requiring only a low end processor. This therefore brings the benefits of the interface being quick, the phone being cheap, and as a messaging device, very pleasurable indeed, plus a fantastic comparable battery life. In fact I strongly believe that it is because of the hardware that the phone has become the "Crackberry" which I'll explain in a moment. However, I still hate the phone, and I think that the Blackberry has that Marmite (love it or hate it) persona because of its hardware and software. Simply put, I love the hardware and hate the software. The fact that emails are only plain text and formatted in a "mish mash" manor and it relies on a stupidly expensive server solution which I just can't see the point in. Yes, the Blackberry has push email meaning you will get your email immediately, but so has the low end mail servers of today, through common protocols such as IMAP IDLE. To me, that's just reinventing the wheel! And the only reason they need to do that is to squeeze the enterprises out of more money. Now, there are arguments to say that they do it so they can reduce the data transfers etc etc, but honestly, all the protocols do the same thing for the same reasons. But it isn't just that reason I just couldn't stand using the Blackberry, the way the software was designed was so bad, I actually was forcing myself to use it for 3 months to try and see what people must actually like about it, and those 3 months were really like torture.. I honestly thought I was missing something really important, because I just couldn't see why it was such a popular business device! This seems to contradict what I just said earlier about the messaging being better than it being a phone. I still think that is the case, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the device!
So, there are my two top devices.. until a little stop off at an Orange store changed everything (not that I use Orange, but they do have the widest range of phones), for no reason but to nose whilst the other half does her part for the clothing market.
Through my experience I've known that I really wanted a phone better suited to mobile communications such as email, web browsing and instant messaging on the move, plus the internet industry is moving swiftly to online software (like my new Neetrix business), so a phone has to be compatible with the way things are moving and yet not to forget it's root needs of being a phone at the end of day. I loved the Blackberry hardware, so finding one just like this, but without the software shortcomings, perhaps more business orientated like Windows is rather than iPhone. It's a lot to ask it seems.
Out of the corner of my eye whilst looking at a long stand of Blackberry looking phones a shiney Nokia E71 caught my attention, and it really has that glam look about it. Now, a long long time ago, I was a Nokia user, and moved away when Nokia firmware was just not moving as quickly as my needs, or not at all at the time if I remember rightly. Now they use the very mature Symbian operating system, which I thought would be a good time to check out. I beat the manual out of the Orange staff to try and see what support the phone actually had and see if it was even a contender. I mean, there are Windows phones with front-side qwerty keyboards like the newish HP 910c and some of the recent Palm devices like the Palm Treo Pro which has been on my "interesting" list. But I know that these won't solve the sluggish problems if the Tytn can't. Afterall, they are generally less powerful even though the form factor is better. So, a new contender would be welcome, and the manual didn't mention any IMAP IDLE support much like one with Windows wouldn't which was a huge blow as push email is something that I did like from Blackberry and Windows. Asking the staff about IMAP IDLE was like asking a fish a simple maths question.. Just wonders if you spoke the same language, and blows bubbles of hot air trying to bluff an answer out. (off subject here, but if you work in a phone shop and you don't know the answer, just say so! Else you look like a twat. Nothing wrong with not knowing everything!). So finally leaving the shop after the staff fall over themselves looking on websites and phoning numerous phone numbers to final out an answer, I left the shop and checked online and low, and behold the Nokia site said it does.. why they just couldn't check that one first still baffles me. Now, some people will be wondering why I would only check IMAP IDLE support, since, in all honesty it isn't as high on the list as a good email client and being able to actually look at websites as they should look. The answer is simply this. If a phone is to support IMAP IDLE, chances are, they had some people with a bit of brains and a proper plan for the phone. They want standards compliant for the business market, and if they thought of IMAP IDLE, they probably had the rest of my list at the top of theirs too, and actually made sure it was done!
So now this phone has my full attention, and the first things I want to know is, what do reviews say, how much is it, and does it really tick all the other boxes. Keeping it short, Symbian 60 series is old enough to not require the heavy hardware, but kept modern enough to support the latest needs. This means the phone is mid to low market price range, and the battery should last more than a day or two. In fact I was finding it impossible to find a bad review or a serious complaint, which for the internet is outstanding. So next step was some ebaying.
After a couple of weeks of nail biting ebaying, I managed to get a completely brand new Nokia E71 for just over £200. The guy selling it was ironically selling it as he wanted to move to HTC, perhaps glazed by the new click 3D interfaces of the HTC HD and Diamond ranges.. I'm sorry my ebay friend, but you just made a really bad mistake.
I've had the Nokia E71 for about 3 weeks now, and it was by this time with the Blackberry that I wanted to jump out of the nearest tall building phone first, however I did suffer from the "Crackberry" syndrome at the same time. What was really amazing to see, was that I had the exact same "Crackberry" behaviour with the Nokia E71, which is why I now strongly believe it is because of the form factor. I just CAN NOT put the phone down, and at the same time I really don't want to throw the E71 out of the window, in fact I want to bathe it in gold and frankincense. FINALLY I think I have actually found the phone where hardware and software meet at their highest levels. The front-side qwerty keyboard, gorgeous proper chrome metal finish and it's true eye candy! No flashy graphics on screen with hours waiting for stupid elements to scroll back and forth, just instant gratification. I could list so many things I love about this phone, like the phone features actually work so much better than its Windows and Blackberry counterparts, and that it has the push email support that the others offer, but without the stab in the back costs and infrastructure requirements, but I suppose two of them really stand out to me. Firstly, is that they REALLY have thought through this phone and what it is being used for, or they have actually taken note in the long life of Symbian users, and added simple features like setting when it should and should not be collecting mails, so getting over the "Crackberry" habit whilst you aren't at work or sleeping, and secondly, the most surprising one to me, was one I couldn't find much information on before, was the web browsing support. I would never thought something would be better than Opera, bearing in mind the amount of time and effort they put in to this single piece of software, yet the web browsing on the Symbian platform is absolutely faultless and outstanding. The device might not be touch screen, but it still is easier, quicker, smoother, and more compatible than any other mobile browser I've ever seen.
In summary, I think I've finally found THE business mobile of this time. No doubt times will change with need, but if Nokia and Symbian continue to press on with listening and fulfilling these needs then Blackberry and Windows shouldn't be worrying about the press hogging Google phones, and iPhones and they should all watch their backs with a contender like this one, if indeed their markets are the true business users..
I had to ask my Dell rep about this as I'm looking at Android development. I strongly believe that it will not take too long for that platform to be the most widely used, and have a very wide choice of phones all supporting the platform.
It's interesting to hear that the rumours are within Dell as well as outside and although its not official, it's certainly not being denied by anyone both externally and internally.. I suppose we'll all have to wait and see.
The first Android phones are meant to have an appearance at the beginning of 2009 from people like HTC (who I believe are making the most promising phones at the moment)
In the meantime, iPhone has released its 3G version, fixing the most widely requested missing attribute, though I still just don't feel confortable when using it. It also hasn't got the some of the capabilities that Windows mobiles have such as internet connection sharing etc. There are many eyes still waiting to see what Microsoft have behind closed doors with regards to Windows Mobile 7.0. The problem is that this might end up being too late unless they can really pull something remarkable out of the bag.
I'm just on my way back from meetings in London, sitting on a train heading to Bristol. The amazing thing is that I don't have to stop working (unless I choose too). Travelling is a time sucker for business people, so being able to make the most of that time is really important.
On this trip I happen to have a couple of key items.. A laptop and a Windows mobile phone. I have a business tarrif with O2 which means that I get unlimited internet data, so thought that I would see if there was ways to use it than the tiny web browser and basic email you get on the phone. So I plug in the laptop to the plug socket that is available on every train table, and then the USB cable between the two devices and start the "Internet Sharing" application on the Windows mobile phone. Next thing you know my laptop springs into glorious 3G life with broadband speeds on the move. It's SO easy!
So now I'm able to write this blog entry along my journey, whilst having a video conference with a friend over Skype. I get wide-eyed looks from people around me as, although this technology has been available for a little while now, its not something you see very often.. esspecially as rich as this. I can imagine to many, it might seem something from a sci-fi movie..
With a little annoyance, I was only able to get the new Tytn II today instead of yesterday after missing the delivery and trying to change certain CityLink vans.
However, now I have it, and have been trying to get everything up and running on it over the course of the day.. between work and everything else that is going on.
Well this is just a preliminary review, as the two key failures of the original Tytn I just HAD to test out first and report on them.
Firstly the Skype compatibility. It's working!! I do still suffer the annoyance that calls are made through the speaker and not the phone ear piece. That's really, really annoying and I wish Skype would add an option for this. Strangely I, and I'm sure many others, would like calling people on Skype to be as private as normal phone calls.
Secondly, and more importantly to me, the Microsoft Voice Commander over Bluetooth. That was a miserable failure of the HTC Tytn, and I've just had a chance of trying on the Tytn II and it looks like that is all thumbs up too!!!
So all in all so far, I am a VERY VERY happy chappy. This has to be the most perfect PDA phone ever made by a long, long way.
I've ordered a new phone. Simply because its not just a new phone, its something that really just shames anything that as ever existed before.
This phone quite simply is the swiss army knike of mobile technology. I receive it next Monday and will be selling my current Trion and Mini-S to fund it. Very much looking forward to trying it out!
It's an exceedingly popular new phone. I ordered one from one online store that had 20 in stock to only face an email in the morning to say that they had run out and I was on a back log. So I went elsewhere who told me that they were selling about 50 of the devices every 2-3 days (that's just one store!) Thats simple astonishing considering its a very high-end phone at £470 a time.
I'm hoping the new Bluetooth and CPU make will solve my bigger Trion/Tytn gripes. MS Voice Command over bluetooth, and using Skype for making calls. *fingers crossed*. I have to say though, since the Trion and because of this, I think i'm going to be hard pressed to use anything but HTC devices. Even the much talked about Apple iPhone has nothing in comparison to something like this.
More info: http://tytnseries.htc.com/htctytn2.html
This is the O2 XDA Trion. In a nutshell, it is a Windows Mobile PDA device with phone features. This is my current phone, and have been using it for about 3 months I think. I actually obtained it on the very day O2 released the phone, as it had some real benefits over the XDA Mini-S which I was using before.
As I mentioned in the XDA Mini-S post, one thing that I found really fustrating is that the phone had everything it needed except a good CPU to makes things speed along. Instead it was fustrating too much of the time waiting for it to perform simple operations that I needed. This is where the XDA Trion was a beaming ray of light, as it had all the real benefits of the Mini-S, such as the sliding Qwerty keyboard and the simple fact that it beautifully combines the Windows PDA and the phone into one nice, neat package, but on top of this it has a 400MHz processor instead of a 200MHz, and the inbuilt memory seems to be slightly faster. That makes it pretty much twice as fast, and it is very apparent.
Once I received the phone I was pleased to see that it was a full 3G phone (faster over the air data connection) so that I could syncronise with my MS Exchange server faster at times that WiFi or USB connectivity wasn't available, and also meant that you could make video calls.. but like most people I know.. no one makes video calls.. I did one as a test and thats about it. It still had WiFi access like the Mini-S (which I use a lot whilst lying in bed catching up with emails etc) and Bluetooth which I use all the time for my bluetooth headsets.
So the whole thing seemed to be a big plus all round, hence, not even a hesitation to get it as soon as I was up for an upgrade and it was available.
So here are my opinion on the Pro's and Con's. Bare in mind these are my opinions and will only be appropriate for those that use phones in the manor as I do.
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These are the declassified opinions of Adam Saunders. I take no responsibility for the effect these opinions may have on you. Do not read with care...