I just upgraded my phone, a Droid X, to the latest Samsung 4G Droid Charge running on Verizon’s network, and I must say, after a bit of tweaking, I am quite happy. 4G is amazing with blazingly fast download and upload speeds, in fact, my phone is now as fast or faster than most people’s home intenet here in Pensacola. The folks at the Pensacola Verizon store on 9th ave were great as always, making the transition as painless as possible. While 4G is fairly new to Pensacola, I was pleasantly surprised on a recent trip to New Orleans to find that 4G was available for a good portion of the trip and it seems to be pretty strong in most areas of Pensacola. The Droid Charge has a ton of great points and a few not so great points, though with a bit of tweaking, those not so great points are easily manageable.
The Droid Charge 4G gives you quite a few things you definitely won’t find on any iPhone, starting with 4G. 4G speeds allow for much faster communication on the internet and allow applications like Netflix to work as they are supposed to, without freezing and stuttering. It also allows for smooth video calls via apps like Fring or Google Talk. Browsing the web is also a pleasure with full Adobe Flash support so you get to experience the full web (something no Apple iOS device can do). The Droid Charge also has a pretty good 8MP rear facing camera that takes good pictures and video, and a front facing camera for video calls. Add an HDMI port so you can hook up an HD monitor (although with the Allshare app you can easily share your media via a wireless network to wireless devices).
Stock out of the box, the Samsung Droid Charge does not have the greatest battery life – in my tests I was getting about 8-10 hours of normal usage. However you can get an extended battery, or even better, you can avail yourself of the wonderful Android development community (I like xda-developers.com) to find a wealth of free custom ROMS that replace the stock Android software. Most of the custom ROMS are pre-rooted (which allows you much more freedom in customizing your device), and many are highly optomized to give you better performance and much better battery life. Using some apps like the LTE switch (which allows you to switch easily between 3G and 4G) and a custom ROM, I am now easily getting a full day + of battery life with a bit heavier than normal usage. There is a HUGE community of developers behind the Android devices, and people are coming out with new tweaks, fixes and enhancements just about every day.
4G on Verizon also give you what ATT touted for a long time with their iPhone – the ability to talk and surf the web at the same time. While I never really saw this as a must have feature, it is nice to know you can do it if you want to. The Droid Charge has an amazingly bright screen which you can see even on a bright sunny Pensacola Florida day, and with all of its features like GPS, 2 Cameras, HDMI and USB ports, highly customizable Android OS, it is the best smartphone I have ever owned. Add in the ability (once rooted) to add free wireless tethering apps that you can use to make your phone a wireless hotspot without the extra charges (just don’t get greedy), I have found that the Samsung Droid Charge 4G from Verizon is certainly making my communication a lot better and easier. With my work for Pensacola Computers, I can easily access what I need to when I need to and have fun doing it!
I got an original iPad when it first came out, both because it was something different and so I could support a number of clients who were getting them. It was cool, a very slick toy, but in the end it was a toy, just a larger iPod (which is Exactly what it is). Sure, it had some cool apps, most of which cost $$$ that add up much too quickly. The interface is very polished, as well it should be considering the years of iPod development that came before it. But in the end, it is the glaring lack of some things that make it undesirable (despite what Steve Jobs hype machine will try to make you believe).
It doesn’t support flash, which contrary to Steve’s godlike wishes isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Without flash, a very sizable chunk of the web is not accessible, and I for one am not happy having a device that is that limited when it comes to web browsing – I hate that Steve Jobs is the one to decide what I can and can’t view – it is not that the iPad can’t view flash, it is that Steve will not allow it to, plain and simple. The hardware can handle it, albiet on some sites it might stutter, but at least give me that option. I also hate that I cannot easily transfer files to and from the iPad – both because of the lack of hardware support like the ability to use a SD type card, and the huge limitation of the software of iOS which is after all designed for a toy and not a computing device.
With the growing influx of Tablets running Android, I now have a choice. A choice between a number of devices which easily can view the entire web including flash content. Devices that support external media like SD type cards. Devices that have an actual file system that you can easily transfer to and from other devices (I can even do it very simply over a wireless network). In addition, I like having devices that have a huge development community behind them, a community that is not based on one man’s whim’s. The Android community is constantly striving to provide enhancements (free) to make your device better, more customizable, and more personalized.
I got a Viewsonic Gtablet back in November and considering it was less than 1/2 the cost of an iPad, has full flash support, supports an external SD card, USB, HDMI, and has a huge number of custom software ROMS available, it is a good starting point for Android. I have used this device for months, and while it doesn’t have built in 3G, it is very easy to tether it to my Android phone and use its data plan (and I don’t pay any extra for that either!). While in all honesty, the gtablet’s screen does not have as good a viewing angle as the iPad, and the current Android 2.2 software is not totally tablet optomized, it is one of the first of a new breed of Android devices.
Then comes my Xoom, which has pretty much totally replaced my iPad usage. The Xoom was the first Android 3.0 device, and while still having some growing pains, it is so much better in so many ways than the iPad that in the few areas that it is currently lacking, I can easily get by and actually not get ticked off when using it as I often did with the iPad. Steve Jobs is definitely smart and a Master of deception. One of the biggest complaints of Android devices is what they call Force Closes (FC’s). These happen on apps when something goes wrong, you get a message saying the app has a problem and is closing. This is frustrating for sure, and is often caused by people trying to run apps designed for other devices (phones apps on a tablet etc). Apple was much sneakier – instead of the common practice of coding applications with error code that runs when something goes wrong, Apple apps just disappear when they encounter a problem, or in the rare case, the device just freezes. This has the effect of making many people think that it is They who did something wrong, like accidentally closing the app – smart ploy by Apple that takes advantage of people by making them think it is their fault their device is not working properly.
With my Xoom, I have full access to all of my files, both on it and my home and business computer. I can watch TV shows, movies, browse the FULL web, watch all of the videos on YouTube (something you can’t do on any iOS device), I can even easily write my own apps and install them plus I have access to many different app markets like the Google Android market, the Amazon Android market (which gives away a free paid for app every day!), as well as numerous other smaller app marketplaces. I like having a CHOICE in my devices, in what I can do with them and in how I want to use them. The Xoom even comes stock with the ability to Unlock it to allow you to install any kind of software you want on it!
Despite all of the iPad hype - I think Steve’s ad machine has done a great job duping the public into believing they Need an iPad 2 (come on, it’s a slightly slimmer iPad with crappy cameras that aren’t even a megapixel, as compared to the Xoom’s 5 MP and 1.3 MP cameras). But while people play and PAY with their Apple toys, I will quietly work and enjoy my freedom of choice with Android.
There are more Android tablets coming out every day, and I have been lucky enough to own a number of them. From my first Archos 5 internet tablet, to the Gtablet I have had since last November, to my latest, the Motorola XOOM, Android is poised to take a huge chunk of the tablet market away from Apple. Not that the iPad is worthless, it has its place. The iPad is a wonder of fine design and it definitely sets the mark in some areas for what others should strive for. Of course it is overpriced and limited in some critical areas, which is why Android is going to be able to whack away at Apple’s current domination of the tablet market.
I love how you can easily tether the Gtable and Xoom to an Android phone. With the gtablet, it is as easy as Rooting (or installing a pre-rooted custom ROM) and then running one of the better tether apps - my personal favs are wifi-tether and barnacle( see Viewsonic G-Tablet Wireless tether to Droid 1 via Barnacle video). The XOOM is even better as it has native Bluetooth tethering and I can easily tether it to my DroidX phone and use the Droids data plan (the XOOM does not have to be rooted to do this either!).
The thing I really like the most about the Android devices is the amazing community of developers and helpers that it has spawned. There are numerous forums devoted to making these devices better with custom ROMS and tips and tricks to get them running great! The people are amazing and so helpful. My favorite site is xda-developers.com, which has an incredible number of amazing people who thankfully post a great collection of How-to’s for a huge number of Android devices. Want to know how to Root your Xoom? Want to know how to flash a custom ROM to your Gtablet? Want to learn how to tether your Xoom or tether your Gtablet? xda-developers has how-to’s for every one of those topics. I myself have made a bunch of video tutorials on how to do things on the gtablet and the XOOM, but almost everything I have learned has started with things I read on xda-developers.com. Super thanks to everyone there! Android Rocks!
For a bunch of my tutorials, head over to my site: http://pensacolacomputers.com
The iPad 2 is coming, the iPad 2 is coming and it is the greatest thing ever (NOT) – this is what the Steve Jobs hype factory is blowing up our rears, and it is sad to see how many suckers are falling for it. Is the iPad 2 better than the original iPad? Sure it is, it has a better processor, better graphics and ooooooo it now has cameras on it (pretty poor cameras, but if Apple tells us that having the cameras makes it so much better then we must obey and jump up and down with joy ).
The truth is, most of the enhancements are things that most normal people will never notice the difference, nor are the added features ones that people will use more than as a novelty. The performance of the original iPad was pretty good when it came to browsing the limited Web that Steve Jobs allows us to view, and most apps ran pretty good on it. The difference in performance will be noticed by the uber-geek crowd, but not by many others. The cameras are a total joke – the pictures they take look grainy at best, not even high enough quality to post to facebook without people feeling sorry for you for having such a poor camera, and the video capabilities are nothing more than a novelty for most. Sure you can use the ‘cool’ photo software which Steve makes money off of, but do you really want to spend money on an app to edit a crappy looking picture?
The real sad part is the people who are all rushing out so they can have the latest and greatest Apple hype toy are going to be out another wad of cash when the iPad 3 comes out later this year (believe me, the Apple hype machine will start ramping that up as soon as the sales of the iPad 2 level off in a few weeks). If you held off buying an iPad because you were waiting for an iPad 2, you would be much better off waiting until the iPad 3 or better and best, waiting for the new crop of Android tablets which will spank the iPad in so many ways. Steve and Apple may be running way ahead right now, but they are running with their shoes untied and they are headed for a nasty trip and fall!
Then of course is the fact that the iPad 2 still doesn’t support Flash. Steve Jobs is up so high on his high horse that he cannot afford to backtrack and allow Flash on his precious devices, and sorry to tell you Steve, Flash isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, a number of video sites have added the capability for other formats so that you can see limited videos on the iPad, but still a large number of the web’s videos are Flash, as are a huge number of websites. I personally think that it sucks big time that you spend so much money on a device to view the web, and you go to a website and all you see is a box because some company president cannot produce a high priced piece of technology that a cheap $250 walmart special PC can run, or perhaps they can produce such a thing, but his ego is too big to allow it because ‘he’ doesn’t like it. Apple is all about control, controlling everything you do with the product that you bought but they still consider to be theirs.
While the Android devices are still in their infancy, they show promise and I will put my money on them because at least they offer me something that Apple never will – a choice to have things my way! Android phones have already surpassed iPhones and Apple will never regain that lead, and the tablet market is poised to have the same thing happen. Sure, Apple and the iPad have a huge lead, but once again, Apple is offering you a very limited choice (it’s their way or no way), while the Android device market is all about having as much choice as possible. Developers for iPad apps are rapidly jumping ship to Android because they see that there is more potential, and they are not subjected to the huge Apple tax that is imposed upon them.
So go out, get the iPad 2 and look cool to everyone – for at least a few months until the iPad 3 comes out, and the new crop of Android tablets comes out, at which point you are then stuck with yesterday’s cast off which means you aren’t cool any longer (at least in Apple’s eye’s).
Just a note to the fanbois – I own an iPad, and for what it is capable of, it is a great device – not worth the price really, but it does run pretty smoothly. I also own a few Android devices, which while not as smooth are much more versatile in what I can do with them (and they allow me to view everything on the web). The new Xoom tablet has a lot of potential, and at least it has good cameras, the ability to run Flash, and easily allows me to swap files between my computer and it and use these files in any way I want. I can also tether my Xoom easily to my Android phone with bluetooth or wifi hot spot which makes it even more affordable.
Pensacola Computers presents: We show you how to tether your Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 3 Honeycomb, to a Droid X via built in Bluetooth. This ‘should’ work on some other Android phones as well and they shouldn’t need to be rooted in order for this to work.
Visit http://pensacolacomputers.com for the latest updates and support for computers and Android devices.
Pensacola Computers Presents how to tether your Motorola Xoom Android 3 tablet to a DroidX using the free Wireless Tether app. This will work on phones that have the ‘ability’ to create a wireless hotspot but do not have the Verizon hotspot plan.
This past year has seen a huge explosion in the mobile phone market with the newest crop of Android phones jumping past the iPhone and Blackberry’s as the most popular – and for good reason: Android is a much more open platform, allowing developers to make applications freely while also not being subjected to the draconian Apple apps rules and fees. While both the Blackberry devices and the iPhone offer some pretty good features (the Blackberry still being the best for Enterprise business users), there are things that have contributed to their losing market share, such as the crappy ATT service (Pensacola ATT service is spotty at best in many places).
So if you are looking for a new phone, the question comes, what to buy? One of the biggest factors is what you need your phone to do, as well as how much you want to pay for it – the initial cost of the phone is usually not as much of a factor as the continuing cost of the service. Smart-phone costs can add up quite quickly, especially with the added services such as tethering or mobile hot spots and high usage data plans (ATT has stopped their unlimited data plans and now requires you to pay in blocks which can be very expensive if you use just a little bit too much in a month.). Personally I have found that Verizon coverage is some of the best -Pensacola Verizon service is pretty good, and it definitely is one of the best when travelling across the US, however their pricing is not the cheapest so it is a trade-off between cost and benefits.
I currently am using a Droid (the original, although I plan on moving to a newer Android device in the near future). One of the things that I love about the current crop of Android phones is their ability to view Flash websites and play Flash games, something that the iPhone will never be able to do thanks to Steve (wanna be god) Jobs. In addition, I do like the easy integration with Google apps (gmail, google maps, etc). Also, with the soon to be released Android and Windows based tablets (like the Samsung Galaxy), the wireless hotspot capabilities may come in handy (while I currently have an iPad, I hate being hampered with its shortcomings such as the lack of flash, no usb ports, no camera, etc).
In the end, it comes down to a dizzying array of choices when it comes to phones, so be sure to take some time and do a bit of research before taking the plunge, and look carefully at all the associated costs.
While Motorola Droid users are patiently waiting for Verizon to push out the latest Android 2.2 which includes such wonderful things as the ability to use Flash Player 10.1 for mobile, tethering, faster web browsing and general faster experience overall, the web is now ablaze with an apparently ‘official’ version of Android 2.2 for the Motorala droid direct from Google, with accompanying instructions on how to install it yourself. I successfully installed this on my Droid this morning, and then installed the Flash 10.1 player. I am including the instructions and links I used, however be warned “This procedure should only be attempted with the knowledge that if you mess it up, it could mess up your phone beyond repair“. I personally had no problems doing this, but that doesn’t mean it will be successful for everyone, or that there isn’t a risk of bricking your phone if you mess something up on the way. Following is the instruction set I used with the website sources I got them from:
“You can download the new update from Google’s servers here (42mb). Instructions for updating are similar to past Android OS releases from Google: Re-name the downloaded .zip file to “update.zip” (without quotes), and place it in the root directory of the SD card. Turn off the phone, and reboot while holding the “x” key on the keyboard. When a screen with an exclamation point appears, press the “volume-up” and “camera” buttons simultaneously to select from available boot options. Select “Apply update.zip” from the list using the D-pad.
The update will be applied, and then return to the boot screen where you can now safely select the “Reboot” option from the list. The first boot after updating will take longer than normal, so give it some time and leave it plugged in to a power source for the duration. Enjoy Froyo!”
Once you have done this and gotten 2.2 up and running you will need to install Flash 10.1 – now I searched myself to find the easiest way to install it, but it seems that trying to get it direct from Adobe.com isn’t supported yet for some reason on this build, however I did find instructions and a download that worked for me here: http://blog.laptopmag.com/how-to-installing-android-2-2-froyo-onto-the-motorola-droid **NOTE: only follow the instructions related to installing Flash as I have outlined below:
Download Android Mate. Before you can install Flash, download the Android Mate application from the Android Market 0 it is a free app
Download Flash. Download the Flask .apk file. (click here) – Note: this download comes as a Zip file, I just changed the extension to .apk before copying it to the Droid in the next step
Connect the Droid. Connect the Droid to the computer , and enable the USB file transfer mode. Place the Flash .apk file on the root of the microSD card.
Launch Android Mate. Open Droid Mate, then locate and launch the “adobeflash3.apk” file. This will install Flash 10.1 (beta 3) on the Droid
Remember, use this procedure at your own risk. While it worked fine for me, it is still not ‘officially supported’ by Verizon – Unlike many of the ‘cooked’ ROMS floating around out there, this one appears to be more ‘official’ as it comes direct from Google itself.