Monday, September 24, 2012

The Best Phone EVER

It has been about 10 months since my last blog post. When I finally upgraded my phone from the original Motorola Droid to the Galaxy Nexus I had planned to post a review of what I thought was the best phone EVER. 10 Months later I finally decided it is about time, and in my opinion (what this blog is all about) it still is the BEST PHONE EVER! I have 5 good reasons, and some sub-reasons so read on to find out why.

Don't take just my word for it, I challenge anyone reading this to post why they think they have a contender. Just keep reading and you will learn just why I feel so strongly that the Galaxy Nexus still holds the title even after the release of the iPhone 5 and some other very impressive smart phones over the last year. Post your comments below.

 #1) PRICE. In today's economy price is key. There is no other phone you can buy with the features the Galaxy Nexus provides for less money. PERIOD. Today you can get this phone totally contract free for $349 directly from Google. For comparison, the best rated Android phone the Galaxy SIII will set you back nearly $600, or the 32GB iPhone 5 that you can't even buy unlocked in the US yet is expected to set you back $749! Sure most of you will upgrade when your contract is up so expect to pay from Free to no more than $99 for a Galaxy Nexus. You will pay double for an iPhone 5 with 1/2 the storage capacity or 3 times for the comparable 32GB model.

 #2) FEATURES. The Galaxy Nexus simply has more features than the iPhone 5, and all the features of the top smartphones on the market today at a fraction of the price. The Nexus spec's are dated but it still has a bigger display, faster processor, and more sensors. The iPhone 5 lacks NFC & a Barometer, but I will give the iPhones credit for a better main camera and iPhone 5 has the new Bluetooth 4.0, a feature the Nexus lacks. I don't own any 4.0 bluetooth devices, but I will concede the camera in the Nexus is it's only real drawback. Compare the specs yourself here.

 #3) FUNCTIONALITY. This is the main thing you should consider when buying a phone. No matter the design, the features, or the price if the phone doesn't do what you need it to do then what is the point! The Galaxy Nexus has done it all, and continues to impress me with the things it can do for me. Siri sure sounds great, no I have not used it, but my Galaxy Nexus with Google Now trumps what Siri can do by adding predictive results. It tells me the weather before I ask and shows me the traffic jam on my route before I leave the office. For example when I search on my computer for a destination I need to find, the map is waiting in my phone for me to access without having to re-enter the address. Google syncs search across all of your devices so you have all your information anywhere you need it. Let me dive in more deeply to what I am talking about.

  • Music is stored on the cloud and is accessible on any computer anywhere on the internet. Google Music allows me to download content from iTunes, Amazon, OR even iTunes and store it on Google Music to play on my phone, tablet, or on my computer. The best part is I can upload my music library I have collected for years and don't need to worry about iTunes "Matching" it to insure it is legit.
  • Maps and navigation have been a core function of my phone since I had a blackberry. Google Maps have gotten better and better, and my original Droid over 3 years ago had turn by turn navigation. Apple just abandoned Google maps and just now introduced Navigation. MAJOR FAIL.  Reliable navigation is a core use case for a smart phone. GPS and instant real time location data including traffic data found in Google Maps is unmatched on any platform. I can even download maps for use when I don't have a connection. Apple maps cannot be downloaded for use without a data connection so your lost when you lose your signal, and without public transit data or detailed traffic information good luck getting around even in urban areas.
  • Cloud Services. From Google Drive, to Gmail, Google is king of the Cloud. Every photo i take is on my phone, and backed up in the cloud, so are videos, I will never loose a precious memory. Apple will keep your photos online for 30 days but if your device gets wiped and you didn't back them up your out of luck. Gmail gives you so much storage for free I don't know anyone who has ever run out. I have years of email archived and I am a major hoarder.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) is a feature few phones have yet, and it may be a passing phase but I think it is great. I have Google Wallet on my phone so I can make purchases with my phone instead of my debit or credit card anywhere PayPass is accepted. It keeps track of my purchases, and is more secure than my card because you need both my phone and my PIN to use it. If I loose my card or forget my wallet I have my phone as a backup payment method in a pinch. NFC also allows me to do some other nerdy things but the mobile payments are really the best use case. Apple has a new Passbook that promises to do similar things but needs to get some traction in the market. Time will tell, but for today I can buy a 2x4 at Home Depot with my phone. Try that with your blackberry!
  • Widgets & Notifications keep me from staring at my phone all day so I can actually get things done. See people staring and tapping at there iPhones constantly? That is because they have to tap and tinker to get any information. With home screen widgets my Facebook feed, weather, recent emails, and currency conversion rates are in view with a glance. Detailed notifications with one swipe can be found and cleared without even opening the mail or messaging apps. Junk mail can be previewed and cleared quickly. iPhone improved notifications by cloning Android features but even the iPhone 5 lacks the home screen information super highway widgets deliver in the latest version of Android on my Galaxy Nexus.
  • Lastly I have to mention compatibly.  Your phone cannot be functional if it is not compatible. I don't need iTunes or a special plug to keep my phone up to date or add photos and video to my phone. The cable to plug it into your computer is the same as any micro USB wire you can buy for any phone anywhere. I own several, I can charge in my car, my office, my bedroom, and my living room. I paid $3 on Amazon for one that tricks my phone into fast charging in my car. A new apple iPhone 5 needs a special cable and a $30 adapter to use your old accessories with it. To transfer photos and video I use a free app and I don't even need wires, I can copy files from any computer with a web browser to my phone over WiFi using AirDroid or similar apps. PC, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, doesn't matter. Sorry Apple Fans, honestly the only phone that "Just Works" is my Galaxy Nexus.
#4) REMOVABLE BATTERY. The battery life on my Galaxy Nexus has been one reason I could not recommend this phone... until now. The recent software update has improved my battery life I now have to boast that this phone can go all day without a charge. The iPhone claims the same, as do other phones, while the Droid Razer Max has the best battery life in the market. Where the Galaxy Nexus wins is the removable battery. A spare battery fits in my wallet but I rarely use it. Just having a standard micro USB charging connector and a spare battery gives me peace of mind. What good is the best phone in the world if the battery is always dead?

#5) SPEED. This phone is FAST... it has been fast since I got the phone but while older phones seem to get slower as they get older, my phone just got faster. ? Yes, it just got a huge boost in both battery life and speed, my phone just got the upgrade to the latest version of Android. 4.1 Jelly Bean. This version is faster and smother than ever, and I can swipe through my photos like lighting and switch between apps with two taps. I can hop in my car, dock my phone, play some music, navigate to my next destination, and then call home using voice commands all before I get out of the parking space. The best part is this speed boost came at no extra charge. My phone is 1 year old and this week I feel like I just got a free upgrade. Thanks Google!

Yes I am a unabashed Google Fanboy, Guilty as charged.  At the beginning of this post, I challenge you to tell me what your phone can do better, and I don't want to hear it can take a drop from your pocket better. I'm not boasting the Nexus is the toughest phone, my claim is it's the BEST phone. I will admit I would love it if my Nexus was built with a uni-body aluminum chassis yet only worked as well as the iPhone I would not have been as happy as I am nearly one year after purchasing my Galaxy Nexus. If taking pictures is all you can boast then I just feel bad you didn't take your $300 and buy a good camera. 

That is my Viewpoint. What's yours?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Eye-Fi Connect X2 Review

When I heard that Eye-Fi had the latest Connect X2 cards at Walmart for only $39 I grabbed one. As soon as I got home I was eager to yank my 16GB SDHC chip from my camera and configure the Eye-Fi for use. What sold me on the new chip was the Direct Mode and Android app. With a quick software update, a few preferences set, and the install of the Android app I thought I was good to go. Unfortunately I rarely read instructions. While my photos were magically appearing on my laptop as well as on Picasa web albums at home, when I roamed away to test it off the WiFi I was disappointed. As it turns out some digging into the instructions is required to set up the direct mode with your phone. The Eye-Fi manager software provides a SSID and key to enter into your saved networks on your Android wireless manager and once that was done the transfers were going router free.

Now I am no longer tethered to a hot-spot when I want to upload my digital camera pics and no longer have to rely on my lousy Droid camera if I want to share a vision with the world. You can read my past posts on Eye-Fi if you want to know more or visit to see what your missing. Unless you like being tangled in USB wires or searching for your SD reader you will appreciate this small little chip.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

You Get What You Pay For

The title of this post seems like a concept forgotten. Don't get me wrong, those who know me personally can attest I'm as thrifty as they get. I enjoy deal hunting at thrift stores, buying second hand on Craiglist, and when something is FREE I will snag it up in a moment if it has value to me or anyone else. While some may say I am becoming a borderline hoarder I consider this a form of recycling. The laptop I'm typing on was purchased 2nd hand on ebay, the power supply is a spare I got at Goodwill. Buying retail makes me cringe but one thing I do know, you get what you pay for.

When something is free, there is always a hidden cost. This doesn't matter if the item is tangible or not. Free services are no exception.

Many of us use free services everyday. This blog is free, posting to it is free, sharing it on Facebook is free, in fact most of the popular services online now are free. Gone are the days when you paid to connect to the internet PLUS a monthly fee for the services you enjoy. Those who started out on AOL so when broadband internet came to the mainstream and it was a separate bill, some kept paying AOL. As I type I'm using free WiFi and free electricity.

But is free really free? This coffee cost me $1 more than the drive thru price. What are the hidden costs? It's simple really. There are two ways you pay for your free online services. You pay with attention or you pay with your privacy.

By attention I mean the ads on the screen that you view. Like TV commercials and radio ads, websites, blogs, and Facebook capture your attention with advertisements they sell. Google places context relevant ads in the unused spaces on nearly all of the services they offer. Most beta services they keep clean until you get hooked, then the ads start rolling. YouTube rarely had any advertising but now most videos not have commercials or sponsored ads in one way or another. This advertising is so effective they even pay me if people click on ads associated with my content. You should be seeing Groupon ads and Google Adsense ads on the right side of this post.

When it comes to making money exploiting your privacy, this is where the biggest growth will take place over the next few years. More people are walking around with trackers that report back where you are, and what you are doing at every moment. Some of us even help by posting what business we just "checked in" to and rating everything from food to music in real time. All this data is collected, analyzed, and monetized by the companies who provide these free apps, games, and services.

If you enjoy these things and yet complain about privacy, first think about why you get all this for free. Opting out of certain tracking is sometimes a good idea, but sharing your likes, dislikes and where you shop may not be such a bad thing. Before too long you may never see an advertisement for a product you have no interest in, everything will be so well targeted to where you are what you like you may even start enjoying commercials. You can be sure if you use Gmail, google knows more about you than your spouse and I think I trust google more to pick out my birthday present too.

Recently Sony's PlayStation network was hacked, users personal information compromised, and it still as of this posting is not yet back online. Unlike the XBox Live service that cost $59 per year to join, Sony's network was free. Sure you had to buy the console, but no annual subscription means it was a one time investment. Many are upset that this shouldn't have happened and that Sony was negligent. This was a free added value add on to the Sony game platform, if it is down for maintenance while they beef up security to prevent future privacy breaches I'm good with that. I'm not paying for the service so I'm not really loosing money out of my wallet.

Remember, you get what you pay for and if you complain about the quality of free services, then just ask for your money back and shut up.

That's my viewpoint.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Social Circle of Trust

Everybody on Facebook yet? Well.. not yet. It would seem most anybody who's anybody is. My Mother-in-law joined and she doesn't own a computer. Some friends of mine posted recently that they were setting up their parents with a FB page. Teens all had MySpace pages until they all learned Facebook was way cooler. MySpace is becoming a ghost town primarily focused on the music industry who is always late to the party and the ones left to turn the lights out.

One problem many people have with Facebook is separating business with pleasure. Official Facebook policy restricts each person to one user account. While many ignore this policy and create both a work persona and a personal account, doing so risks losing both and confusing those whom you are both friend and coworkers. It is possible to customize each post visibility but is not easy to find or configure.

Google is rumored to be cooking up a social dashboard to remedy the facebook fears for the cautious posters who risk offending various groups with over social awareness. Mike Elgan suggests that this new site "Social Circles" would allow you to define your social groups and allow you to post who sees what all while integrating all of the Google services you likely already use.

Will this service be as well received as facebook? Many of Googles launches have been half-baked and lacked the final polish of the many successful acquisitions Google manages. While YouTube and Picasa are amazing, Buzz and Wave have't made the same splash. Currently my Google Dashboard boasts I'm using over 30 of 42 potential Google Products, yet many overlap and often are just versions of the same basic information. How invested are you in Google's services? Would you join Google's Social Circle of Trust?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Further Decline of Society

By now most everyone has seen or heard about the recent Charlie Sheen interviews. TMZ & ABC are buzzing about it, and all the other usual media outlets are going to milk as much out of it as possible.

Some may see Charlie as having a problem, some may see him as a degenerate, and others a hero. I see him as a symptom.

Before I was born, rock & roll was controversial, but by the time I was a child, it you had to add sex & drugs to make rock & roll seem wild. During the 80's drugs went from the alley way to wall street. The MTV generation put bikini clad models in rock videos, and those rock stars were expected to be sleeping with them as well as the rest of the groupies in the same town. The 90's rolled around and pornography became mainstream, the internet and hotel sex channels made it freely accessible. During the last 10 years, MTV strayed away from music to feature teen drama's like 16 and pregnant, and skin. Glorifying what once was considered vice has become Hollywood's cash cow. You get the media to tell everyone how edgy it is to boost ratings. What was once wrong is now right, and what was right, is now wrong.

I'm not a prude, I don't deny that vice exists, or that it always has existed, what I oppose it the glorification of it.

Charlie Sheen is a symptom, his real life, however shocking he sees as normal. Doing drugs and porn stars he feels is now an admirable goal, a reward of his success that he feels those who look down upon are simply jealous.

Hollywood is simply turning society upside-down, what was once bad is now good, and what was considered virtue is now vilified. Just look to the last few years at what were considered normal are now endangered or nearly extinct. Virginity, sobriety, and for those few hold out of what we consider normality, all under attack.

When you start to see symptoms of a disease, you can find out what you suffer from, and look for a cure, simply treat the symptoms, or you can ignore it and continue on the decline.

Fight the spread of this disease, wash your hands of the mainstream media who propagate this virus and contribute to the further decline of our society.

That's my view. If you agree, share this, links below.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do You Sync or Sink?

I think i figured it out. When confronted with the choice between Android and the Verizon iPhone, it is all about sync. When I first played with a smart phone it was not my own. My boss asked me to help sync his contacts on his Palm Treo, and we had quite the adventure getting things to work properly. Making Groupwise, Gmail, Outlook, and Palm all play in the same playground was not an easy task and I spent hours reading technical manuals, forums, and blogs to try and teach myself the skills only a trained IT professional should have been able to master. An IT guy I am not, but I pretend to be because my services are usually free and you get what you pay for. When I got my first smart phone it was a Blackberry. Because my employer had an enterprise server, synchronized contacts, mail & calendars was to be expected. What made me a Google fan was when they introduced Google Sync for smartphones. Simply installing an app, put all my contacts, and appointments in my pocket. When I added anything to my phone, like magic, Google had it in the cloud for me to edit and improve upon at my desktop and without relying on the corporate server. When I resigned and they remote wiped my phone, it was only a matter of minutes that I had re-installed Google Sync and my address book was back in business.

Because Blackberry was, and still is no multi-media powerhouse, when the iPhone was released I was blown away. Because my employer provided my phone and Verizon service, it was not an option for my daily phone so I immediately sprung for the iPod touch. You can read my many posts on the iPod touch and know I am a big fan, and again Google Sync can get your contacts all mirrored onto you iPhone or touch just as swiftly.

Now here's the rub. What about the best aspects of the iPhone: media? Google doesn't sync your music, your photos, or your video. By design you must use iTunes on the iPhone and that kills it for me. Yes there are alternatives, yes you can jailbreak and sure, if your already an iPod owner your accustom to iTunes so you may not mind. The reality without going rogue is if you just want to add an album, a photo album, or a video to your iPhone it requires iTunes to sync it over. Again, I am not an iPhone expert but I have attempted to assist many times in this assuming simple task, only for it to lead to frustration and often surrender. Just kill me if iTunes is due for an update. Why every update is 90+MB is a mystery to all.

While adding media to my Droid is not flawless, mounting it as a mass storage USB device and just dragging what I want over makes perfect sense. I have even rooted my Droid and done this over WiFi although slow, it was possible and begs the question, Apple, Why Not?

While I typically rant, here I ask for your council. Have you come up with a way to sync your media to your mobile device? Do you stream it, or do you sync it?

The technology front is evolving so fast, new phones, data services, and tablets are all being dumped into the market faster than the average consumer can digest them. My passion is reading sites like Engadget, and CNET, and yet even I can't decide what is going to replace my original Droid . Although it is less than a year old it already feels like a antique. But this just might be what they want. I get this sinking suspicion while I want to be syncing, I'm actually being sunk.

For now I'm sticking with my Droid, but convince me otherwise, the Verizon iPhone is very tempting and my birthday is just around the corner.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Begin to Pay Today

Today your gas tax in Oregon goes up 0.06 per gallon. While this may notseem like much, consider folks in rural area, or people who can't afford new highly efficient vehicles. This regressive tax hurts lower income housholds, typically familys with more children, who drive less efficient vehicles. News reports claim the average consumer pay an additinal $35 per year in gas tax, but I can tell you that based on my math and my family it will be more like $100 per year. I commute to work, I drive the kids to various activities, and I enjoy taking my family on recreation in the summer, or to the mountain in the winter. This all stimulates our economy but I am sure as I second guess filling up the tank for a pleasure cruise, so will other Oregonians. Raising any taxes is bad for the economy, raising gas taxes is bad for familys, and bad for Oregon. This snuck up on me, as it may be a surprise to you as well. Let your local representitve know your displeasure with them.

VOTED YES…to massive gas tax hike, yes to hurting jobs and hurting middle class:Alan C Bates-D,Suzanne Bonamici-D, Ginny Burdick-D, Margaret Carter-D, Peter Courtney-D, Richard Devlin-D, Jackie Dingfelder-D, Larry George-R, Mark Hass-D , Betsy Johnson-D,Rick Metsger-D, Laurie Monnes Anderson-D, Rod Monroe-D, Bill Morrisette-D, Frank Morse-R, David Nelson-R, Floyd Prozanski-D, Diane Rosenbaum-D, Martha Schrader-D, Bruce Starr-R, Chris Telfer-R, Joanne Verger-D, Vicki L Walker-D , Jackie Winters-R
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