Verizon

New Year = New Smartphone

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I just ordered my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, from Amazon Wireless (beta) . Didn’t even know that Amazon sold smartphones, and had stumbled on the site recently while searching for Galaxy Nexus discounts.  I was a little bummed that currently you cannot apply Amazon gift cards,  anyways I was still able to purchase for $229 with upgrade pricing. I’ve been pleased with Verizon to date as far as service quality (mostly), and certainly have become a seasoned user and advocate for Android.

There’s also a new Trade-in site on Amazon, where you can quickly find trade-in values on electronics, books, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and video games. My old HTC Incredible should fetch about $50 for trade-in, leaving my Net pricing on the Nexus around $180.

Will share first impressions once I’ve had a chance to get my mitts around the Galaxy Nexus. 4G here I come…

Happy New Year!

Android Smartphone Matchup: Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Motorola Droid Razr

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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)

(Pictures not to scale)

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)
Weight 150g 127g
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

HTC Droid Incredible: First Impressions

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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.

The Breakdown

  • 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!

Gripes

  • 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.

HTC Droid Incredible on Verizon (no Nexus One)

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Happy to report that I will be upgrading to an HTC Droid Incredible in the very near future. I had been waiting months for the Android-based Google Nexus One to arrive on Verizon, since I’m also planning to move off T-Mobile. Both models sport similar features, performance, and form factor in addition to running on the much-touted open-source Android 2.1 OS, but several reviews including CNET have given the edge to the HTC Droid Incredible. I’m especially excited about the 8 megapixel digital camera, 802.11n for wi-fi up to 108 mbps (optimal), and the 8 GB of internal memory.

Here is a useful first look at the Droid Incredible courtesy of ZDNet-

But the final straw in favor of DI over Nexus One was the somewhat surprising recent news that Google will not be releasing Nexus One on Verizon at all, after much teasing about a Spring release date.

Will need to get to the store soon after reports that the smartphone is already sold out at Bay Area Verizon Wireless retailers!

Anticipation for Nexus One (Verizon)

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I’ve been in the market for a smartphone for some time, caught between reluctance to part with my trusty, crusty Blackberry Pearl (T-Mobile) and avoidance of the IPhone due to AT&T carrier lock-in and a persistent distrust of Apple (to be explored further). Have been using a Pearl for more than 3 years since Version 1, and always appreciated the compact form factor, but the small screen and sluggish performance are no longer acceptable. On top of that, I’ve noticed significant call quality degradation on the T-Mobile network in the last couple years, not to mention terrible delays using the Blackberry Internet service.

The Google Nexus One from the Android family has caught my attention, and continues to garner generally glowing reviews. In addition to the appealing form factor, packed feature-set and Snapdragon 1 Ghz CPU, I’m impressed with the new approach Google is taking with the Android devices, not only with open source code (observed by none other than Linus Torvalds) but also carrier independence. The Nexus One is currently only available through T-Mobile, but the latest rumors appear to confirm an upcoming release date of March 23 through Verizon. Strangely, it’s been difficult to see a Nexus One in person, as a T-Mobile store employee here in LA recently informed me that “no stores” were carrying demo versions. Have to wonder if the same policy will apply with Verizon, or is this another case of software-centricity overwhelming marketing good sense?

In any event, anticipation is building and still have to decide whether to purchase through Google online or Verizon.

Looking at netbooks

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Though I’m not sure if netbooks are indeed one of the three horsemen of the “Coming Networking Revolution,” I still think they’re pretty cool, useful and am planning to get one any day now.

In early 2008 I bought and tested a Fujitsu U810, a mini PC which arguably helped pave the way for the current wave of netbooks. I was quite satisfied with the usability and features which included a webcam and fingerprint-based biometrics, though annoyed that I was stuck with the Windows Vista version. However, the combination of Vista Home version which limited its utility in the corporate office (no Active Directory authentication), limited free WiFi where I was residing (Tysons Corner, Northern Virginia), and absence of mobile broadband definitely reduced the usefulness of this handy little machine. In the end I reverted to a standard light Dell laptop which I’ve used more as a desktop replacement with occasional mobile use.

In terms of technical requirements, having Ubuntu as the OS is an absolute must since it’s become my primary client OS. I’m satisfied with the standard netbook specs including Atom N270 CPU and 1 GB RAM. The main usage will be, not surprisingly, casual web browsing and email, though I also have needs relating to remote sys admin, assuming I set up a mobile broadband plan. Must-have apps include PuTTy, Terminal Server client, terminal, Firefox, and a PDF viewer.

dell-mini-10-notebook

So far I’m leaning heavily to the Dell Mini 10v, which fits the bill and has a comfortable keyboard. I also looked at the new Dell 2100-N but it’s a little too heavy in mind for a netbook and is designed primarily for the student market.

The HP Mini has a good sized keyboard too, though its a $100 premium over the Dell Mini. On the other hand, the keys on the Acer Aspire, which is being marketed through Verizon/Radio Shack for $49 lately, were just not usable based on my testing.

Now I need to finish research on the Mobile Broadband plans available, leaning towards Verizon but also want to check out AT&T and Sprint.