Friday, December 23, 2011

Hurray for Honeycomb

I had all but abandoned any hope of my View getting Honeycomb so you can imagine my surprise on Wednesday night when I suddenly had an available update to 3.2! I was hesitant to go ahead with it until I noted that it promised I would not lose my data. I applied the update and in a few minutes was enjoying the best that Honeycomb had to offer. The layout is still taking me a bit to get used to- my muscle memory makes my eye flicker to the top right of my screen to check the time.
All the apps I had still work with 2 notable exceptions: HBO Go will not even launch now bit that's fine since I could never get it to actually play videos. The most painful loss is StylishGirl, where I have meticulously and lovingly logged months of outfits only to have it force close on startup.
But, on the bright side, a good number of apps have slicker tablet versions I can now enjoy. Aesthetically I'm finding that I enjoy the overall look of HC. And the scribe pen which could previously only scribble notes can now interact with all aspects of the device. So thank you Sprint and HTC for a pleasant Christmas gift!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

AppSnap: Next Issue

Last month I wrote about some of the gaps between the iPad and the Evo View. I was especially bummed about the lack of support for the People Magazine digital edition. Then yesterday I stumbled upon NextIssue which is in beta but works fantastically already.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I was thrilled to find that, like the iPad version, I could parlay our print subscription into a free digital edition. Once I entered my number, I was able to get the current issue and I get an email reminding me when a new issue is available. But the best surprise by far was that this app supports all the 'bonus' content. The People app has a good amount of interactive content that makes the reading experience even better.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Acer Iconia A100: A brief affair...

I've had a somewhat unhealthy fixation on Honeycomb for a while now- and eventually just flicking through at my local Best Buy wasn't cutting it. Over the Thanksgiving shopping period I noticed the Acer Iconia had dropped to as low as $189. I didn't act quickly enough to snag one at that price, but I did find one at Gamestop.com for $240 and convinced myself it was worth my while.
The first thing I noticed was how light it is compared to my Evo View. Not that my View is a brick, but I definitely noticed how heavy it was next to the Acer. The body was slick and had an interesting shape. When I turned it on, I spent the first few moments playing with Honeycomb. I didn't like the stock launcher as it wasted a lot of space allowing for the rotation from landscape to portrait. So, after downloading Launcherpro I felt more at home. More exploration led me to realize that Honeycomb is not that much different from Gingerbread on a tablet. In fact, there is a certain uniformity that Honeycomb is missing- everything in Gingerbread happens in the status bar, but in Honeycomb you need to go right for the clock, go left for the task switcher, remember which icon is used to go back.
In the end, the thing that annoyed me the most about the Iconia was the home button. In portrait orientation things were fine, but hold it in landscape and your fingers inevitable brush by the button dumping you right back on the home page. If there is already a home button as part of the OS, please tell me why there is a need for another physical button? I bundled the Iconia back up, but because I wasn't quite sure what the Gamestop return policy is I decided to go to a local store to return it. My first try was unsuccessful but the manager did point me to a store that stocked the Iconia and would probably take a return. So, I was able to return the Iconia, less shipping cost, and finally was able to put my Honeycomb curiosity to rest.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

AppSnap: MVideoPlayer

My video player of choice is mvideoplayer. Great features and presents my videos in a great interface. Added bonus- the app let's you look up the selected video in IMDB.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Operation Admiral Fail: Mission Accomplished!

Just stopped by the Sprint store where they refunded my Admiral purchase with no questions asked. As an added bonus today I got an email from Verizon in response to my email and they added back my $5 text plan! Hurray!

Operation Admiral Fail: Phase 1 Complete

Last night was a cold and rainy night as I navigated my way back to my local Verizon store. I was pleased that it only took about 20 minutes for them to port my number back from Sprint. The only real downside is that in my haste I seem to have lost my $5 text message plan. Next phase is tonight when I head to the Sprint store and return the Admiral.
Side note: I have never been so happy to hold my Droid Pro as I was last night when the re-activation was complete!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Motorola Admiral Tried...and Tanked

On Friday afternoon I popped my Droid Pro on my work charger, figuring I would give it a quick boost before the long evening planned. After over an hour I took it off and noticed that the battery had not gotten a boost. But I had no time to investigate further and wrote off the incident as a fluke. But by Saturday morning my battery was at 20% after an overnight charge- I knew I had a problem on my hands. My immediate emotion was anger- it was just too much of a coincidence that I had passed the 1 year mark on my Droid Pro and suddenly almost to the day the phone had its first malfunction. So, I did some research and decided to port my Verizon account over to Sprint and pick up the Motorola Admiral. So on Saturday afternoon I went to my local Sprint store (and with the same agent that sold me my HTC View) I picked up the Admiral and moved my number over.
When I first spent some time with the Admiral I was impressed with the screen resolution. It wasn't the night and day difference that I thought it would be but it was enough to feel that I had upgraded. However, a few swipes in and I noticed that the screen was very finicky- it would select when I meant to swipe all the time. I switched screen protectors but the issue persisted. Next, I realized that the camera had no way to mute the shutter sound. This is a big annoyance to me as I take photos of all my receipts while in my office and do not need it to sound like I'm having a photo session behind closed doors.
Then the little glitches started- Launcher pro refreshes every single time I return to the homescreen, no matter what settings I have it configured to. The screen resolution is challenging for a number of apps (especially homescreen replacements) leaving me with overlapping or weird letterboxing. And finally this morning I had 2 spontaneous reboots for no apparent reason at all.
Now I've decided the aggravation is just not worth it. When I planned to sell the Droid Pro I popped in to Verizon to have them look at it and they were able to clean out the charging ports and that resolved the charging issue. Now, I just have to convince them to port me back over, and hope that I can bypass the ETF fees from Verizon and not generate any from Sprint. More details later!

Photobucket

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Netflix Redesign

I am in love with the new look of Netflix for Android! It’s sleeker and makes my tablet look more media-centric. Navigation is much easier and on a single screen you get a great snapshot of all your recent Netflix activity.

Greener Grass....Tablet Edition

I've spent some time today with our iPad (better known now as Dean's iPad). Size asides, there are some definite pros and cons when I compare it to my Evo View.Here are some of the things that jumped out at me today:

1. Hulu:

Photobucket

I don't have a Hulu plus subscription but with DroidLu I don't need one to enjoy Hulu on my View. No such offering to be found on the ipad.

2. People Magazine

Photobucket

This one stings- the iPad app for People Magazine looks absolutely stunning. It's free and ties in our print subscriptions.


3. Photobucket:


Photobucket

Again, the Photobucket app for iPad is gorgeous while the Android app is not size optimized for the larger screen.

4. Widgets

Photobucket

I am definitely a widget-holic. This dates back to my Windows Mobile days (when they were known as plugins). I can't imagine not being able to have my mini-apps right on my homescreen. I was surprised that the iOS 5 version of widgets is restricted to notifications.

5. HTC Scribe Pen

I love my scribe pen so much I ordered a second one. Hands down, this is one of my favorite things about my View.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Plan on Every Carrier

As of the end of last month our household had 4 plans- 1 AT&T plan from my Blackberry days (kept it to have the unlimited data), 1 add-on (family plan) for Dean's phone, 1 Verizon plan for my Droid Pro and 1 Sprint plan for my HTC Evo View 4G. Needless to say, it was becoming quite expensive. 2 weeks ago or so I decided to take some drastic steps to cut our costs- When Dean got his iPhone 4 I had him switch to my old number to take my data plan. It turns out that with his job discount he is eligible for a 25% rate reduction so with the plan in his name we can take advantage of that. We killed off his old number since there was now no need for it.
Since Dean moved to the iPhone we have been using WhatsApp for messaging instead of texting. With that change I was able to drop my texting plan to 250 from unlimited, saving about $15.
After careful consideration I dropped to the $19.99 3G only plan for my Evo View from the $44.99 plan that included 4G. And that's when the fun ended. With the slower 3G data suddenly I wasn't having as much fun streaming video or doing anything data-centric outside my Wifi zones.
So yesterday I decided to add my Sprint 4G plan back to my View. After all, with all the other cost savings I could definitely feel good about that expenditure. Today, just as I was about to hit the button I saw the news that Sprint had changed its plans. For the same amount of money, I could now get a 3G/4G plan and there is an in-between plan of $34.99 for 3GB of data. So, I flipped the switch and am very pleased! We're down to a reasonable 3 plans and 1 of them is only $20 a month and it includes 4G. Winning!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Year with the Droid Pro

I noticed a most shocking thing yesterday as I looked at my calendar: I've been using the same phone for a year! This may not seem like much but its a huge feat for me- I've hit pretty close to 9 months here or there, but never the full year.
I've been generally happy with my Droid Pro. The only real gripe I have is with the amount of memory. Every so often it slows down to the point where I need to manually kill apps using SystemPanel. My minor annoyance is that since the Gingerbread update my keyboard light has developed a mind of its own.
But besides that my Droid Pro has really been a champ. I took it to London in January and was able to unlock it and pop a local sim card. In August I took it with me on our family vacation to the Dominican Republic. There I mainly used it as my camera.
Will I be upgrading? You know, I really haven't seen anything that I feel is a compelling step up. My next phone will be a QWERTYBar Android phone with a large memory boost and a drop-in dock like the Nexus One had. Perhaps when the Ice Cream Sandwich phones start rolling out, I'll encounter one I like. Until then, I guess I'll have some more time with my Droid Pro.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

App Snap: ChannelCaster

http://market.android.com/details?id=com.handmark.mpp.gateway

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kindle vs Kindle

When they announced the new Kindle a few weeks ago I was taken with the idea of having an e-reader without a keyboard- I usually push my purchases to my Kindle so I don't really do any typing.
I popped into my local BestBuy yesterday and got to get my hands on the new Kindle. Verdict: not a fan. I'm not exactly sure what rubbed me the wrong way: maybe it was the blockier footprint, or the color which I found jarring compared to the darker shade of my existing Kindle.
In the end I decided that I am content with my Kindle keyboard- it has longer battery life and I know I'm happy with it. As they say, if it ain't broke...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Hierarchy of Tablet Needs

Last March I wrote a blog post about my hierarchy of smartphone needs. I would have to say that my list has not changed much for smartphone needs:
A. QWERTYBar
B. Homescreen Widgets
C. Active App Development
D. LED Notifications
E. Battery Life

In recent months my use has shifted slightly- I am using my Evo View a lot more for media consumption and games. My Droid Pro is where I take my calls, text, IM and generally do the socializing that requires data entry. I am generally happy with my Evo View- my opinion improved greatly after I was able to drop from the $45 monthly data plan down to to $20. In general my biggest gripes are the weight, lack of HBO Go and lack of Hulu Plus. Not huge deal-breakers but annoying nonetheless.These niggles have got me thinking about my hierarchy of tablet needs which are:

A. Portability: Most important thing a tablet must do to be useful to me is fit in my purse. For this reason the 7-8 inch is the max screen size. I'd like it to be as light as possible- I'm learning that from my use of the Evo View!
B. Battery Life: while I can imagine carrying around a spare smartphone battery, I would definitely not tote a tablet battery in my bag.
C. Connectivity: Even though I am mostly covered by Wifi at work and at home, there is something about the freedom in being able to connect anywhere.
D. App Compatibility: even though Honeycomb has been wheting my appetite for a while I just think that its not worth it if all apps won't run on it. I want a tablet that can run all the shiny new apps-especially the media-themed ones (Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go).


Photobucket

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gingerbread on my Droid Pro

My Droid Pro is almost a year old...which is virtually unheard of for me! But in the past month it's been really showing its age and has slowed down to an almost unbearable crawl. So I set aside some time today to do a hard reset- and the timing couldn't have been better as I ended up being just in time for the Gingerbread update. I had to flash SBF to get my Pro back to stock, then go through each of the updates from 2.26 on up to 4.8.7. But at the end I got the things that I have wanted most in my phone:

1. Dark notification bar (without having to do any monkeying around)
2. Ability to select text in a normal fashion

So now I've got a snappy phone and I can nearly imagine myself going another year on this phone.....nearly.




Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pool Construction Project

The past few months have been mostly spent doing home improvements. The largest project was the construction of our new in-ground pool. It was pretty cool to watch the entire project as it moved along. It took about a month from dig to dip. I'll update with some more pictures soon since we just finished the landscaping today.

Day One- Excavation 8/11/2011

Re-bar steel framing 8/12/2011

Blasted with cement 8/17/2011


First Swim Day 9/16/2011


Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Kindle Layout

Saturday, August 20, 2011

App Snap: Stylish Girl

http://market.android.com/details?id=com.ddnmedia.stylishgirl

Color swap....Melkco Case

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Real Housewives Tragedy

Received: Melkco case

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

App Snap: Nook Reader

I use my Nook app exclusively for magazines. http://market.android.com/details?id=bn.

ereader

Testing: HP Touchpad

Photobucket
I have the chance to hang out with an HP Touchpad for the next 2 days. Its a trial unit as we decide what tablet to provide our doctors for electronic health records. My initial impressions are good except for the unreal amount of fingerprints it garners. The touchscreen implementation leavers something to be desired- you need to press precisely for touches to register. More later as I explore it some more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

App Snap:Widgetsoid



http://market.android.com/details?id=com.jim2

Ordered: Melkco Case for HTC Evo View

This weekend I spent a lot of time getting re-acquainted with my View- especially the stylus, as you can see from my recent entries. I decided it is high time that I consider using it for notes around work and in meetings....but the difficulty is in finding a way to tote around the stylus.
I decided to search for a professional looking case which would also hold a stylus and finally settled on the Melkco Jacka case. In addition, it would allow for me to use my case as a stand which is something I really need.
I should be getting my case before this week is up, and I will give an update on how its serving me for my needs.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ink test

Saturday, August 13, 2011

App Snap: USA TV Droid


Get it free here


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Innovative Advertising: AT&T


Someone forwarded me this today:

Using just painted hands and a phone, AT&T advertised worldwide incorporating themes and colors for different countries. It's quite brilliant advertising.
























Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Android Market

I just launched my market app and got the new version! Apparently I may be able to rent movies and download books too! Have I mentioned lately how much I love Android?!

Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

Friday, August 5, 2011

Flooring Project

Once we got back from our vacation we decided to use the next week to do some home enhancements. Our first project has been to remove the carpet from our first floor and get wood flooring installed. At the recommendation of our neighbor we got in touch with a great company that did the whole project within 8 hours. Here's my living room before:


Photobucket


and after:

Photobucket

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tech I Take for Granted

There's nothing like a trip to another country to help you appreciate the luxuries you enjoy at home. I had already experienced wifi only during my trip to London this January so I was prepared for my 3g withdrawal. I had prepped by loading movies on my HTC view and making the ipad kid friendly with the best that Nickelodeon has to offer.
I was somewhat surprised to realize that Netflix and Blockbuster are all a no-go here in the Dominican Republic. Wifi has been painfully slow and only works when we get right up to the window. I decided to make an ebay purchase but somehow (probably because of the international wifi?) my Paypal account suddenly got restricted and is requiring me to submit a bunch of documents or accept a call to my landline to prove my identity.
The most pleasant surprise I've had tech-wise is that my Slingplayer works. Last night as I wrestled with insomnia I was able to Sling the last episode of True Blood and watch it at standard quality which was quite acceptable.
I decided to use my Droid Pro as my camera during this trip too. The upside is crisp clear photos, the downside is that I really have to gauge an appropriate time to take it with me. For example, tomorrow I am going on a Spa cruise, but after accidently losing Dean's sunglasses off the edge of the last boat we were in yesterday I don't think I can risk taking it.
Overall, its been an amazing trip so far and I'm looking forward to the 3 days left.


Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dominican Vacation

We arrived in the Dominican Republic on Sunday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find that our resort (Paradises Palma Real) is only a short drive from the airport. So far its been a wonderful time of relaxation and exploration. The main tech I've been using is my Kindle which I am so glad to have. I can get the time, do some reading and still not overly worry when I leave it poolside as we take a dip.
I've thought about downloading an offline translator to help with my Spanish but I've found the pantomime and guessing to be a much more organic approach. :)

Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New and Improved Evernote

Photobucket

Evernote just got a significant facelift on Android....enough to make me seriously consider getting a paid subscription! The snippets view is fresh and minimalistic and once you open a note it appears to open over the list of notes. If you haven't already, nip into the Android Market and get the latest version!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blockbuster App Update

A few days ago Blockbuster updated it's android app making it more modern, and easier to navigate. I'm looking forward to renting a few movies before our vacation in a few weeks.
I'm a bit surprised to see Blockbuster still putting work  into it's app...aren't they out of business?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Honeycomb Argument

Photobucket

I've been playing with my new View all day and I can't help but admit that one of the things that makes it such an enjoyable experience is the app compatibility. I mean, what's the use of having the latest and greatest if you're restricted to a handful of apps only?
I'd been keeping an eye on the Viewsonic Viewpad 7x for a while, but after checking out the optimized tablet list I decided against it. It seems that Gingerbread is the most compatible Android OS at the moment so it makes sense that I stick with it for a while.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Galaxy Tab 7 vs Evo View 4G

Here are some side-by-side shots of my Galaxy Tab 7 and Evo View 4G:

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket