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The smartphone market has matured dramatically since the last time (spring 2010) I was in the market for a new phone. Earlier this year Android surged into the lead for smartphone OS nationally and globally, ahead of IOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Symbian. The increased volume gives us a wider range of choices on the Android platform, including niche devices with improved social networking or multimedia features.
I will be upgrading from my current HTC Droid Incredible on Verizon Wireless, which has exhibited remarkable reliability and burrowed into a comfortable spot in my front pocket. The Droid Incredible, which arguably helped launch the most recent Android wave along with the Motorola Droid, , has been showing its age lately. Looking at my wife and stepdaughter’s new HTC Thunderbolt, I marvel at the rapid response and 4G LTE speeds, and envy their shiny 4.3 inch super AMOLED displays.
The two current Android smartphones which I’m evaluating are the recently-announced Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Droid Razr. It’s ironic that the Samsung Galaxy device is named “Nexus” since last year I was originally planning to purchase the Google Nexus One, which eventually only saw limited release. (Too much Nexus – have been working with lots of Cisco Nexus switches this year too)
The Motorola Droid Razr is currently available, and lists for $299 at Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be available first from Verizon Wireless, but pricing and availability has not yet been announced.
The devices match up very closely to each other, with Samsung Galaxy Nexus distinguished as the first smartphone installed with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and the Droid Razr coming in lighter and thinner though with a smaller screen. Having handled the Razr, I can attest that it’s very comfortable in your hand, however for me the tie-breaker will likely be Ice Cream Sandwich.
Here’s a chart comparing the primary features:
|Samsung Galaxy Nexus||Motorola Droid Razr|
|Screen||4.65″ HD(1280 x 720) Super AMOLED||4.3” Super AMOLED|
|CPU||1.2 GHz dual core processor||1.2GHz dual core processor|
|Memory||1GB RAM||1GB RAM|
|Storage||16GB or 32GB||16 GB microSD card pre-installed|
|Camera(s)||5 MP (rear facing camera), 1.3MP Front||8 MP (rear facing camera), 1.3MP Front with 720p HD|
|Android OS||Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)||Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)|
|Dimensions||135.5 X 67.94 X 9.47 mm (LTE)||130.7 x 68.9 x 7.1 mm|
|Interfaces||Micro USB, 2 Mics, HDMI via Micro-USB adapter||Micro USB, HDMI® Micro, 3.5mm|
|Battery||1850mAh||1780 mAh Li Ion|
|Data||CDMA800, CDMA1900, LTE B13 700, WiFi, Bluetooth||
CDMA800, CDMA1900, LTE B13 700, WiFi, Bluetooth
I finally have my new studio workstation completed and running…took most of the summer (and fall) obtaining the components:
- Antec P183 Black enclosure (Quiet performance)
- Nexus 430W compact P/S
- Intel i5 2400 CPU, 3.10 ghz Quad core , 6 MB cache LGA1155
- Intel 320 series SSD, 120 GB SATA
- ASUS P8Z68-V PRO Motherboard
- Corsair 16 GB DDR3-1600 RAM
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, SP1
The performance is incredible, web pages jump off the screen and wakes from Sleep in less than 2 seconds. Importantly, the entire workstation is whisper quiet, I can barely tell when it’s powered on, and apparently is rated at < 20 dBA . The Intel 320 is my first SSD drive, and I’ve been suitably impressed with its speed.
I’ve known about but shied away from powerline-based adapters in the past. Working in data centers on a routine basis, I’m used to CAT5/6 whenever possible, and wireless second. Having just moved into a new house with enough free space in the garage for a lab setup, I wanted to extend my network without playing the roll-your-own cable game, and stressing my knees while drilling holes, so I decided to test out the ZyXEL HomePlug Powerline adapter.
Have to say that I was impressed at how simple setup was, just connect one adapter w/LAN cable into my core switch, install the other adapter into outlet in the garage and was online in no time. There is an encryption feature too, though I probably won’t be using it. The marketed speed is 200 Mbps which I have not yet tested, however speed tests through my ISP (Verizon FiOS) to the Internet were comparable to wired connections.
Have decided to finally follow through with much-needed OS updates throughout the home network. My primary home PC, a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop from about 3 years ago, is still running Vista dual-boot with Ubuntu Linux (8.04) . After completing my 24×7 Ubuntu desktop experiment early last year, and seeing more and more recent symptoms of Vista nastiness…inevitable Windoze slowdowns, occasional blue screens (USB) and delays in sleeping and waking up, it’s time to upgrade!
I’ve been generally impressed with Windows 7 stability through heavy usage on daily workstations, primarily Dell laptops, and have come to appreciate little improvements like the multi-windowing taskbar.
Am waiting for my Windows 7 Home 3-pack upgrade from Amazon, which should come also in handy for upgrading my music workstations. I need maximum compatibility for devices like USB digital audio and MIDI controller, plus I already have ProTools M-Powered for PC. In the meantime, need to finish researching sound-proofed PC cases like this one from Antec, and then will be ready to build an ultra-quiet machine possibly with SSD. But more on that in the future-
I’m currently evaluating network analysis tools to support with assessment projects at Dell.
On a recent onsite engagement, a colleague suggested that I check out Fluke Networks’ ClearSight Analyzer for application analysis. I was really impressed with its ease-of-use, and ability to quickly highlight application layer traffic. It provides real-time monitoring through an intuitive, appealing display.
ClearSight Analyzer also supports Wireshark format captures, though it appeared to provide reduced detail for analysis compared to native ClearSight capture files. It also highlights errors or issues detected with a particular network flow. I’m finding that more projects are requiring network assessment and analysis to extend up to layer 7, so this tool from Fluke definitely deserves a closer look.
As well, I plan to dive deeper into Opnet’s Application Performance management Suite, in particular AppResponse Expert.
In the meantime, I always like to plug open-source projects, and Wireshark is absolutely a must-have tool for network analysis. It does demand some investment to uncover more advanced functionality, but the effort is well worth it simply for the exposure to application-specific protocols and data traffic.
I’ve been meaning to post updates on this handy device, but have been unusually busy getting up to speed at a new job. More on that another time.
- Performance – With a 1 ghz Snapdragon CPU and 288 MB RAM, response time is quite snappy. Verizon’s 3G network is reasonably reliable, averaging 1 mbps downloads when tested at home.
- Camera – Since I upgraded from a humble Blackberry Pearl, have taken many more snapshots using the excellent 8 megapixel camera on the Incredible. It’s easy to use and the flash works well, though have read reports that IPhone camera is still better…so what.
- Usability – Android interface is really well-designed. Took me less than a day to feel comfortable. Having five screens allows you to set up lots of apps for quick navigation.
- Form factor – Very light and easy to hold. Occasionally gets a little warm stuck in my pocket, a reboot helps.
- Video and sound – Very bright and large 3.2 inch display easy on the eyes. But sometimes hard to view in direct sunlight. Sound quality beat out my Ipod Touch, Blackberry Pearl and CD Player in testing, it’s become my primary playing device in the car.
- Apps – Pretty good selection, including techie and music-related apps. Google Sky Maps is an Android-only special, and caused my sister to literally snatch my Droid away to gaze at the night sky!
- Seems like Yahoo Mail isn’t supported through a Wifi connection, which is annoying since I still haven’t made the full leap to GMail.
- Accessories are still not widely available. Not a lot of protection until custom cases finally hit the market.
- Android App Market is pretty good, but still playing catch-up to the IPhone App Store. We’re getting there, last quarter Android devices collectively outsold the IPhone globally.