Tag Archive | "android 3.2"

Changing My Tablet Loadout, Iconia A100 is My New 7 Incher — Video Impressions and Photos

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Early last week, I received my notification that my HP TouchPad order was going to be one of the final production run we have all heard about, and that it was expected to ship in 6 to 8 weeks. This stuck in my craw for a few reasons. I had seen the charge from HP flutter back and forth between pending and then disappear for several days. I thought HP was actually trying to fulfill my order out of current stock. While the TouchPad is a case outside of the norm, my usual schtick is not to let people hold onto funding for an order for product that I am not going to receive for several weeks. When I put my order into the HP Small & Medium Business site during the TouchPad firesale, I originally received a notice of intended shipment two days later, so I thought I was ordering from stock. None of this is to say that I cancelled my TouchPad order because I felt HP had dropped the ball. I cancelled my order because I had lost interest in the TouchPad in the face of not getting it immediately, and I had other issues to deal with as well.

While I was ecstatic at getting HoneyStreak to run on my Dell Streak 7, the experience was not without its issues. HoneyStreak is a custom ROM that implements Android 3.2 Honeycomb on the Dell Streak 7. The major thing that was corrected was my Streak’s constantly dropping Wi-Fi connection, but I also received a boost in battery life. However, I lost a few things like the external SD card reader. Keeping the Streak 7 as part of my kit became called into greater question as the number of apps that I wanted to run as part of my routine were found to be broken or partially functional under the Honeycomb ROM. I experienced problems with Gallery, IMDb, and then Google Books. At the end of the day, the partial functionality of my collection of apps on the Streak 7 went beyond what I was willing to bear. My plan had been to run HoneyStreak on the device until my TouchPad showed up, then replace the Streak 7 with the TouchPad. When the HP date moved 6 to 8 weeks to the right and my problems with the Streak 7 increased, I decided it was time to make a different call.

Before I go any further, let me say that the issues with HoneyStreak were likely not insurmountable. I did not hit the XDA forums to see what issues others were having or what work-arounds had been figured out. For all I know, there was an updated version of HoneyStreak available. DJ_Steve, the code’s primary author, has been curating the build since he got his hands on 3.x earlier this year. However, the demands of school have been increasing, and, for the devices that I am going to employ, there is just not as much time to tinker. Loading the custom ROM was a cool thing to do during one soft-spot in my summer semester schedule, but I could not afford continuing maintenance and tinkering. I needed something stock, which is really where I live anyway. So my conundrum was: a Dell Streak 7 which was borderline unusable with its stock install, a custom ROM load that was not sufficiently functional when interacting with some of my more important (or at least frequent) apps, and the planned replacement suffering a 6 to 8 week delay in delivery.

The decision I made was to first cancel my HP TouchPad order. I decided I would be better off taking that $150 and  putting it towards a device I could get my hands on now. I then ordered an Acer Iconia Tab A100. I was very satisfied with my Acer Iconia Tab A500 so far, so the concept of the same device in a 7-inch form factor was appealing. While I awaited the arrival of the A100 from TigerDirect, I flashed the Streak 7 back to its stock install. Well…almost. I actually replaced some of the image files with some from the Wi-Fi stock install. I am not sure exactly how much difference there is, or if that difference even matters, but I will say that for the short time I had with the Streak 7 after the roll-back, I was no longer seeing the Wi-Fi disconnects that I had been before. I also saw a trend indicating even better battery life than I had seen when the device was running Honeycomb. I can only say that I saw these improvements as trends that hopefully prove to be truly improved functionality on the Streak 7. After the rollback to the stock OS image, I only had about 12 to 14 hours with the device before I handed it off to a potential buyer to demo over the weekend.

You can see and hear some of my early impressions of the Acer Iconia Tab A100 after the first 24 hours of use in the embedded videos below. I do some comparisons between my other two Android tablets, the Motorola Xoom 3G and the Acer Iconia Tab A500. My apologies for the low resolution  and framing. The only thing I had available to shoot video with this weekend was my Sony point-and-shoot camera. I have also dropped some pictures in for viewing. So far, I like what the A100 is bringing to the table in its 7-inch form factor. It is a huge improvement over the Streak 7, and a good compliment to my current set of mobile gear options. I will be posting later short-term and long-term reports as the device gets put to more use.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5qA3KBJ3w0

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r_v3DGsS4o

 

Openness and Stability — the Self-Administered Mobile Ecosystem

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I love Android. Actually, on any given day of the week, I am probably in love with various mobile Operating Systems. Every once in a while, I even do a desperate Google-Bing deep-dive in an attempt to find a viable WindowsCE device. On those different days, I am likely to be most in love with the mobile OS that is aggravating me the least. Due to this dynamic, it gets a little unfair for the most popular OS in my current kits, because it gets more chances to irritate me due to the increased exposure.

Android comes with a decent set of cons for every pro that it carries. I love the suppleness of the software design, which allows developers to bend it to their will and deploy many different flavors of operability. The Android Market features many different riffs on common themes for apps, which allows you to find one that is tailored to your particular tastes. I think this effect is less prevalent in the Apple App Store, where I feel like once one developer figures out the hook that gets everyone on-board with their app, then we just see derivations of that common design. As a consequence, I run significantly fewer apps on my iOS devices than I do on my Android devices.

However, Android could be perceived as suffering from more instability due to the very openness that makes it so powerful and attractive. Instability in core apps that any Android user would be dependent upon has occurred. Add the multiple sources of apps that so many of us access, vice the one-stop source that the vast majority of iOS, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry OS users go to, and the risk of instability increases. Users and the media go on-and-on about how Flash gives Android an advantage over iOS, yet it is one of the first things I disable on any desktop OS or mobile device. Besides the security vulnerabilities, I absolutely despise the performance hit that occurs whenever I go to a site that automatically  runs a heavy flash video that I have zero interest in seeing.

But then… maybe I am not the best Android user, because I am arguably a horrible system administrator. If things start to go bad, I do not have a lot of time to troubleshoot. My regular job, writing for the various tech sites, the dog, grad school…when something does not work, I am likely to just punt.

I have had to reset my Motorola Xoom to its factory defaults and start over for the first time this week, after about 3 months of use. Unfortunately, this is not the first Android device I have felt compelled to take this approach with. I have been using Android extensively for about 15 months. I have gone through about 7 devices so far. With each, there always seems to come the point where I install the one app too many. Or some setting that I configure injects a level of instability that just never recovers to an acceptable state, despite power cycling and soft resets. This happened numerous times on my Motorola Droid. I have felt compelled to wipe my Dell Streak 7 twice. I will admit that the original Archos 7 Home Tablet was a questionable product and perhaps I should not count its instability in my Android reset totals. Still, I had to perform a do-over several times in the brief time that I ran that device.

You may have been following my series on using the Acer Iconia A500 for business purposes. One thing that I am doing vastly different in that use-case is that I have installed a very specific set of apps, and I do not intend to add anymore. I also do not run any widgets on my homescreens, other than the Calendar Widget. It is vitaly important that I retain a robust level of stability on that device. When my business device goes down, I am severely hamstrung. That need for stability is in fact one of the reasons I went with a new Android device for this go-round, rather than try and use one that I was already running. Which brings me to why I cannot solely blame Android for my problems.

The truth is, I know what I need to do to stop some of this instability. I know that I need to stop deploying widgets across every homescreen as soon as I set up a device (see Ben’s article from last year on his feelings on widget-oriented OS’). I know that I need to establish a set of baseline apps, install them, run that configuration for a few weeks, and then add apps a few at a time. But I cannot help myself. On Android, I exhibit the same app junkie behavior that I chastise so many iOS users for. In that vein, I am a digital hypocrite. And for that reason, I sometimes wind up paying the price in running my little Android farm.

The good news is that a wipe and reset of an Android device is not has destructive as, say, doing the same on a Windows desktop system. In fact, in certain ways it is even fun. And backing up and syncing your apps to your Google ID makes restoring any Android device a snap. So, while self-administering devices that have a skosh less stability than some others incurs an additional burden, it is not yet at the level that I am considering reducing my Android entrenchment. Maybe one day; but not today.

How about everyone else out there? Do you find the need to do a total restore on your devices to reinvigorate them, or have you been happy from day one?

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