Windows Phone 7: Initial Review

This may come as a shock but I recently jumped ship, from Sprint to T-Mobile.  Not because of anything wrong Sprint did.  I was just presented with an offer that I had to take advantage of.

So, that decision being made, the next one was what phone would I chose?  Was I really going to give up my beloved Evo?  After some research, I decided I really didn’t want any of T-Mo’s Android offerings.  What else was there?  Windows Phone.  I hadn’t had a Windows based phone since the beginnings of Windows Mobile (eek!).  So I checked it out.  Looked pretty interesting.  Read ALOT of reviews, both positive and negative.  So I knew what I was getting into… I thought.  The next choice was the phone itself.  It was an easy choice for me.  The HTC HD7.  I already am a fan of HTC phones (…Hero, Evo) and the looks and feel of the HD7 were very similar to my Evo.  Done.

image from everythingwm.com

First the phone.  I love the styling of the HD7.  If a phone can be sexy, this one is.  It’s actually thinner and seems lighter than the Evo.  Probably due to the difference in hardware.  The HD7 dosent have a front facing cam or expandable memory.  The cam it does have is only 5mp, instead of 8.  There’s no wifi hotspot capability.  There is no HDMI out port.

Do I feel like a took a giant tech step backwards?  Not really.  All that stuff I just mentioned are features I rarely used anyway.   Seriously.  I never used the HDMI.  So I don’t miss those features.  The HD7 is snappy quick and the screen is very responsive.  The cam takes great pics. It has a kickstand! (I have to admit I love this lol)

Now to the real reason for this post.  Windows Phone 7.  First of all let me clear something up.  WP7 is NOTHING like Windows Mobile.  It’s not even like Windows Phone 6.5.  So if you are basing your opinion of it on those to OSs you are grossly misinformed.

The first thing that hit me was the interface.  It is all tiles.  Kind of like WebOs in theory but not in approach.  Very minimalist looking and easy to navigate.  I can see it getting kind of un-wieldy though if i apply the same app hoarding mindset to it that I have with my Android phones.   Speaking of Android, the main I miss is the customization ability.  With Android, there is hardly anything you can’t customize.  With WP7, there is hardly anything you CAN customize.  No custom ringtones or alert sounds.  No custom  launchers.  Oh, but I can change the lock screen wallpaper and the “theme” color of the launch page.  Nice.

Deal breaker?  Not really, just disappointing.

The more I use WP7, the more I’m liking it.  Yes, it does have its limitations, just like any ‘new’ OS does.  The potential is what impresses me.  If Microsoft makes the right decisions (which admittedly they don’t have a great record of doing), WP7 could be a serious contender for Android and iOs.  Right now its more of an interesting up-start.

As I spend more time with the phone and OS I will see if my perceptions change.  Either way I will keep you posted!

Ciao!

My Time is Valuable…

I’ve had my HTC EVO now a few weeks.  Ive done about everything I can think to do with it, really put it through the “paces”.  Tried out several apps and widgets on it.  Took a gazillion pics with it.  I would say that qualifies me to have an “educated” opinion about the device, wouldn’t you agree? [of course you would! c’mon!]

Well my honest opinion is this:  this phone is freaking awesome!  Absolutely the best phone I have ever owned hands down!  I love this phone!.. I know, I sound like a fan boy.  I am aware of that.  Dosent change the fact that this is arguably [only by people who dont have the EVO lol] the best phone on the market today.  But… it does have a fault.  And its a big enough one to be a deal breaker for some folks.

Battery life.  The battery life on the HTC EVO, to put it plainly, sucks.  If I turn off ALL of the cool features, and only use 3G [which isnt a problem since 4G hasnt come to my city as of yet], i still only get about 6, maybe 7 hours with MODERATE use.   Moderate meaning some texting, light net usage, email, some twitter and some Facebook checking.  No video, no streaming music, no gps, no live wallpaper, etc.  Isnt that the reason I got the phone?  To be able to use all that stuff?  Whats up with that HTC?

So I’d been doing some research about extended batteries as that seemed like the most efficient solution. There are several out there, most notably Seidio and Mugen, but seemed overly pricey and huge.  Yes I know you get what you pay for.  I wanted cheap.  This was mostly an experiment.  So anyway I kept searching and found a few more names I’d never heard of.  Some of them seemed kind of obscure or had questionable feedback.  About to get frustrated, I stumbled upon [obvious pun lol] this one by Accessory One on Amazon.  The feedback looked decent, the battery size looked good (2200mAh, the original battery is 1500mAh), and the price was great!  So I ordered it.

Got it last night.  Delivery was fast.  When I unpacked it, the first thing I noticed was that the included battery door looked pretty good.  Even has that soft touch material on it like the original door.  That was a concern of mine.  The EVO is a damn sexy phone and I didnt want to muck it up with a jacked up battery door. [the new battery door is necessary as extended batteries are physically larger than the original battery]  The second thing I noticed was when I installed the new battery, it registered as nearly a full charge on my phone. *Dont let that fool you!  The Evo is setup to read 1500mAh as a full charge so you have to let the new battery charge up to 2 hrs longer to fully charge it* After letting charge at least 10 hours over night, I was eager to see the difference today.  Leaving the settings as I had them with the old battery, with approximately the same amount of activity, I can say its been nearly 12 hours and I still have a smidgen of battery life left.  I assume with further discharging cycles, the battery life will improve… theoretically.

So bottom line is so far, Im getting improved battery life with the extended battery.  If this continues to be the case, I may invest in one of the 3500mAh ones from Seidio.  On a side note, for those thinking of purchasing this battery from AccessoryOne, my battery door did arrive with some minor damage.  A couple of the connector tabs were damaged/snapped off, which prevents the door from connecting securely with the phone, leaving a couple of noticeable gaps on opposite corners of the phone.  Nothing dangerous to the phone or anything, just annoying.  I sent them an email this morning, and received a canned response saying they received it and will be contacting me soon.  Still waiting… more to come.

Ciao!

Its a Quandry it is…

So the time has come for me to upgrade my phone to a newer model. Nothing is particularly wrong with the old phone (HTC Hero running v.2.1). It still does the job, although it has developed some annoying little quirks as of late, which i attribute to being underpowered to run v.2.1. That aside, my initial choice for the replacement was going to be the HTC EVO as I am a Sprint customer. It was a given, hands down. First 4G phone, fastest processor, huge screen, and HTC product, hotspot creation! It was the god phone! The choice was a no-brainer. Now not so much…

[image via Android Trek]

Enter the Samsung Epic
It is everything the Evo is, PLUS a brighter screen AND a slider keyboard. Or is it? From the average consumers point of view, yes. But if you dig a little deeper, the differences magically appear. First of all, and probably the most important, lets examine the screen. EVO has a 4.3 screen, Epic a 4.0. Both at 480×800. You have hot to see them side by side. The Epic screen is amazing! Dont get me wrong, the EVO screen is incredible also, but next to the Epics screen, it is clearly in second place.

The processor speed on both phones is comparable, but I’d have to give the edge to the Epic. Is it enough of a difference to matter to the average Joe? I dont think so. So web pages load in 5 seconds instead of 8. The next difference is in the cameras. EVO sports a 8mp main cam and a 1.3mp front cam. Epic is rocking a 5mp main cam and a VGA front cam.[VGA? seriously?] Again, probably wont make that big of an issue for the average user.

The final difference worth noting is the hotspot ability. HTC says the EVO can maintain up to 8 separate devices on its hotspot. Samsung says the Epic can do 5. Again I say not a deal breaker as I dont plan on providing the neighborhood with access. There are several other minor differences that I feel are a matter of aesthetic preference more than anything else. For a good visual comparison check out this video…

Im going to try to get some more hands on with both phones before I make my decision. I have to admit, the EVO isnt the clear choice anymore. Like I said, its a quandry…

Ciao!

I Have A Dream…

Ok, Martin Luther I’m not, but I feel the inspiration.  No this post isnt about racial inequities or social injustice.  It IS about a dream.  A dream I’d like to share with all of you.  Instead of my usual attempt at witty narration,  I thought I’d give you a visual.  Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

And now I give you, my next phone! [you didn’t notice the drool did you?]

That is the single most amazing phone I have seen in quite awhile and I will be upgrading to it in June when my current contract is up!  Aren’t you excited?  for me I meant.  Well you should be.  Think how much more informed I will get using such a marvel of technology! LOL

Well thats all I really had for you tonight.  Thanks for indulging me.

Ciao!

Update… and stuff

Well I’ve moved.  I am now dwelling just north of Detroit, in between Harper Woods and East Pointe.  Im excited about the relocate as it puts me within arms reach of a myriad options.  It took me a few days to get internet at the house.  I attempted to do some blogging at the local Tim Hortons but it was too distracting.  LOL.

So I’m all settled in, time to get back to normal and get back on track with the blog.  Did you miss me?

I havent done all that much with my Hero over the past week or so due to the move.  I did end up giving Dolphin another try.  I totally uninstalled it, and then installed the new version.  Which in retrospect is probably what I should have done anyway.  The previous version actually said to follow those steps, but this time I didnt see that instruction so I just d/l and installed it.  Live and learn right?

I have also been playing with FourSquare.  For those that dont know, its a pretty interesting little app that lets you “check in” at different locations and broadcast that info to your friends via Twitter and other methods.  It’s kind of fun as you accumulate points for checking in, for hitting multiple spots in one outing, for hitting spots multiple times etc.  If you have a bunch of social friends that all use FourSquare, I could see this being a lot more appealing.  Right now for me its just yet another social app that I have to update.  I’ll keep my eyes on this app and see how it evolves.

So Apple is suing HTC.  You know I’ve been an Apple fan since almost day one.  Long before the iPhone.  I love Macs.  So when I heard this I was disappointed.  Not surprised, but disappointed.  This almost seems like a panic move.  Which dosent make sense.  Apple has the market share.  It will be awhile before that changes.  Plus they need to realize that people who buy the iPhone are not necessarily the same people who like Android.  There are still enough differences between the phones to be 2 different (almost) demographics.  Apple needs to just continue doing what it does best.  Innovate and produce top level product.  Don’t play the bully Apple.  It dosent become you.

Ciao!

Root: The Begining

No this is not a flashback, pseudo-historical docu-drama about slavery. (shout out to A. Haley) Although this scenario could end up being painful in its own right.

I’ve decide to root my Hero.  After weeks of research, forum reading, much deliberation I’ve decided to take the plunge.  So last night I downloaded every file that was recommended for any situation that might arise from the process.  Snatched up my handy dandy USB cable and I was ready!

The method of choice was the “one-click” root method using Fresh Pre-Kitchen 0.2. The ROM Fresh 1.1. Sounds simple right?  I have no idea.

I never made it that far.  For some unknown reason, my computer will not let me install the HTC USB drivers. Now I can connect my phone to my PC to use as a storage device or to use Double Twist with no issues.  It will not connect in USB debugging mode, which of course, is required in order to root my phone.  I have checked several forums, and followed several sets of advice to no avail.  I’ve deleted all possibly conflicting drivers.  Totally wiped and reinstalled the HTC drivers.  Downloaded and attempted to use the ADB drivers.  Nothing.  The drivers refuse to install.  If anyone has any insight as to why this is occurring, please share your wisdom!  My PC specs are below:

Toshiba Satellite

Windows XP Media Center Ed. v.2002 SP2

Intel CPU t2250 @ 1.73GHz, 2GB RAM

Meanwhile I suppose I will continue to work on this.  By the way, yes I did verify that it isnt a general USB issue. Bah…. [meditation & slow breathing]…

Where’s My Charger? Part deux…

More on the continuing saga of the battery life (or lack thereof) of the Sprint HTC Hero…

I was recently asked what I thought about extended batteries. I didnt have an opinion one way or the other, so I thought I’d better do some research.  This is what I found:

Mugen Power 3200mAh Extended Replacement Battery for Sprint HTCHero 200 (CDMA) with battery door in Brown.

$79.95 + s&h.  Mugen Power.

Looks like a good deal.  Reports for users claim at least twice the battery life of the standard battery.  I don’t actually have one in hand to review (I hope to obtain one soon.) but right off the bat I have to say the picture looks like the battery will add considerable bulk to the thickness of the phone.  It also comes with a custom battery door.  Aesthetics wise, I’m not a big fan of the bulk or the generic looking door.  Maybe they should have gotten with HTCs design department on that one.

Although, if the reported battery life is even close to being accurate, it’s a trade off that I think I can live with!  It’s so annoying having to port around a charger everywhere I go, “just in case”.

I also found the following products:

Innocell 3500mAh Extended Life Battery

$69.95 + s&h. Seidio Online Store

The pic really shows how much thicker the battery will make the Hero.  This back design is even worse that the Mugen version.  But it is covered by a “soft grip” coating, so that is a benefit.  It is also listed about $10 cheap AND 300mAh larger.  I don’t know how much time that really translates into, but every little bit helps right?

Innocell 1750mAh Slim Extended Life Battery

$49.95 + s&h. Seidio Online Store

This is a nice alternative for those that dont want to add bulk to their Hero.  I’m not sure just how much more time you’ll get out of this battery as it is only 250mAh over the standard OEM battery, but as I said, every little bit counts.

I should be obtaining at least one of these extended batteries in the next 2 weeks.  Stay tuned as I will be posting my reviews. Ciao!