Tag Archive | "htc evo 3d"

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?

Review Roundup: Sprint Motorola Photon

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The Motorola Atrix has been AT&T’s flagship device for several months. No other carrier has had a similar handset from Motorola to-date, until now. With the debut of the Photon 4G on the Now Network, Sprint has a hardware set that might be able to entice more customers in the market for a super-smartphone featuring the latest version of Google’s mobile OS for smartphones. Reviews have started popping up around the web, so we thought it was a good time to give you a consolidated view of how the media is receiving the device. Common themes from the usual suspects are discussed below for your perusing pleasure.

Hardware impressions are pretty good all-around. The Photon seems to be the start of a wave where the manufacturers are starting to figure out how to deliver 4+ inch displays and dual-core processors in packages that are a little less chunky. I love my own HTC Evo 3D, but it is certainly not svelte. While that does not particularly bug me (you guys know I will take ruggedness over litheness any day), it does bother a lot of the mainstream, so this is a good direction for Motorola to move in. The edges have a diamond-cut to differentiate the device from HTC’s handsets. Given that HTC tied RIM for spot number two in the most recent Nielsen sales charts, it is either a really good idea to look different from their kit… or really bad. Regardless, most reviewers give Motorola a nod for trying to not look cookie cutter in this age of all-slab smartphones, even if it is only just a little.

Other hardware touches of note include a kickstand, a soft-touch back panel, and an 8-megapixel camera. If you want to get the remainder of the very detailed hardware overview, we would recommend reading Phil Nickinson’s review over at Android Central.

As a flagship device, the Photon carries plenty of packed in features in addition to the core specs. There are business-centric capabilities, such as global data roaming and support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync. The display is a qHD SuperLCD. Sound out of the speakers exceeded both quality and volume, and caused the reviewers over at LaptopMag to question whether they were actually listening to a smartphone’s speakers.

Motorola’s ‘MotoBlur’ interface is gone as a brand-name, but a lot of its elements remain in the proprietary GUI implementations on the Photon 4G. Most reviewers felt they were not nearly as intrusive as Blur used to be, but there are a lot of the technoratti who are never pleased with anything that disrupts the stock Android experience and removes them from that layer of customization control.

Early indications are that battery life is on par with the Evo 3D, and a little better than the average for most super-smartphones. There are mobile dock accessories that are available for the Photon; one for at home use, and one for the car. The at home dock also comes with a remote. Once connected to a TV via the HDMI port, a full-screen Firefox browser is available.

A lot of the reviewers have tagged the Photon with their editor’s choice award. Of critical interest, of course, is the question as to whether or not this becomes the premier phone to get on Sprint if you are in the window for an upgrade. And does it trump the HTC Evo 3D and Samsung Nexus S 4G, arguably Sprint’s top two smartphones as the Photon arrives?

I would have to say that a very slight majority of the reviews declare that the Photon trumps the Evo 3D and Nexus S 4G. I will add my personal assessment that I did not agree with some of the reasons behind those declarations. In one case, the Photon was designated the winner over the Evo 3D because of the kickstand and standard HDMI-out. I personally never use my phone to display video on my TV, so for users who are not worried about this feature, aother criteria would need to be established to determine a tie-breaker between the Photon and Evo 3D. Additionally, there are adapters which will allow HDMI out over microUSB from the Evo 3D, although the content that can be sent is restricted to content shot from the phone itself. This is an example of how your own use-cases may make deficiencies pointed out in some of the reviews be complete deal-breakers, or perhaps not matter at all.

The Photon was also considered a trump card to the Nexus S 4G based on call quality and internet speeds. I have personally found the call-quality on my Nexus S 4G to be better than on my Evo 3D, and better than any recent phone that I have owned. Additionally, the recent software update that was rolled out to the Nexus S this past week has improved internet access speeds somewhat. At $99 on-contract versus the $199 for the Photon, price versus features that a user may or may not use should be weighed. The Nexus S 4G is still a great deal at $99, and it has the advantage of providing the pure Android experience that some users clamor for.

This is not to discredit the opinions of reviewers that actually had hands-on time with the device, since I have not. It is to say, consider all reviews with a grain of salt, read several reviews to get an aggregate picture, and go into the store yourself to put any device through the paces as best you can, if at all possible.

 

 

Sources:

PCWorld

Boy Genius

PCMag

Laptop Magazine

Android Central

 

 

 

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