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Welcome to Android April 26, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Technology.
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In December, I finally took the leap. Actually, two giant steps. Step 1 was from basic feature phone with no internet and a 3rd Gen Apple iPod to a SmartPhone. It was a big step because I could not justify the extra $40 a month. I am still not sure I can justify it but I have to say it is nice always having access to, well, everything. So, Step 2, not an easy decision. I have a Mac Book Pro and have deeply embedded in iTunes with apps and constant podcast listening for the last four or five years.

AndroidVSiOS
Step 2 – iPhone 5 or one of the multitude of Android phone options? With all the apps I had used and had data with and a major addiction to my iTunes podcast subscriptions, it would have been an easy decision to go with the latest Apple phone. But, I guess I am not settling for the easy route lately. (I moved to OS X in 2009 because I wanted to experience a different OS than what I will always deal with at work.)

So, then which Device/Manufacturer? HTC, Google, Motorola, Samsung, LG? They all make great phones and in terms of hardware, they are typically outmatching Apple at every turn. How to decide? To me, since I consume so much content on my device, it was an easy decision. I went with the biggest screen of any phone on the market, the Galaxy Note II, which was released just after Thanksgiving 2012. I got the big screen and the built in stylus which, turns out is a good gimmick that I used a lot for the first couple of months, but haven’t used too much recently.

I did I make the right decision? Absolutely. I am so glad, I went with Android and the Note II. Do I think I need the $40 data plan still? I am still not sure about this. I have managed to use an average of less than half of my 2 GB data plan each month. I do love having Internet wherever I am, but after being always on at work, I don’t need to be always on outside the office and house too.

Next Up: My first four months with Android…

Tech Review: Casio Elixim Phone July 26, 2010

Posted by shwaldman in Technology.
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This phone was released in the Spring/Summer of 2009. Over a year later (more than six months after I was eligible for a phone upgrade), I decided to take the leap. I did have a short term experience with the Samsung Intensity, but returned it after it repeated “butt-dialed” a co-worker (speed dial #8) even though it was supposedly “locked.”

I wanted the best phone I could get without a data plan. For me the best phone means having good battery life, good sound quality AND a good camera. I have a great Canon G9, but it isn’t something I like to carry around all the time. At the spur of the moment, it helps to have a camera, and since I always have my phone…

Unfortunately, the feature phones that have no data plans, have horrible 1.3MP cameras with no flash, no zoom, no controls. So, in comes the Casio Camera Phone. It is a perfect fit for what I was looking for. Granted it is a little bigger than my old feature phone, but for a 5.1MP camera with flash and zoom and several preset photo settings it does well. Of course, it also have Bluetooth and sync’d easily to Ford Sync.

I have not yet played with the MP3 capabilities, but the phone sound quality is good, both through the earpiece and through the speakerphone. I like the display that appears on the closed flip door – it gives time, reception bars and missed calls notification. The camera quality is decent. The shutter speed is a little slow so many of the photos are blurred when the subject is moving, but when you have still scene, the result is very clean.

And while the phone is ruggedized like other Casio phones, I am not necessarily willing to test mine by dropping it my pool. But it is good to know if I take it by the pool and one of the kids knock it in, I shouldn’t have a problem. I have been disappointed with the number of scratches that have appeared on the metal camera front side. The plastic flip/display side seems much firmer and scratch resistant, but it does attract finger prints. I do really like the flexibility of the flip/spin design of the display. It makes for easy use in many situations.

And as for battery life… I have been very happy with its charging time. Granted, I do not use my phone very much at all (sorry family!) but I can get 5+ days without setting it back on the cradle. Of course, that brings us to the cradle. Why oh why do companies create such proprietary accessories? (Yes, that is a rhetorical question.) It is annoying that I have carry around a cradle, but given I can get 5 days it isn’t a big deal. I can charge it on weekends and be good for the week.

All in all, I am very happy with this purchase. I have not butt-dialed anyone and have taken lots of good photos. I will try to post some here when I remember to get them off the phone.

Reviews from CNET and from G4

Cell Phone Downfall March 12, 2010

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Society, Technology.
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I wrote about cell phones almost exactly one year ago. And now, here I am after a year trying to figure out how I am going to handle the end of my contract. The technologist in me is dying for a new fangled little machine in my pocket. But the conservationist in me is not finding any justification for it. In case you are wondering how the cell companies can afford to advertise as much as they do, keep reading.

To start, there are three levels of phones out there now. And Verizon Wireless has decided to make a very clear distinction by forcing them into three specific contract plans. Number one is the smart phone market that gets the greatest advertising dollars. These phones cost upwards of $600-$800. Of course, average consumers rarely see those prices since the cell carriers subsidize the price with their 1 and 2 year contracts. To do this, they charge typically $30 per month… $720 over two years on top of their standard voice plans, which run $40 to $70/month depending on your minute needs. Just so you don’t have to the math… the cost of owning a two year contract runs you $1,680 to $2,400. That seems fair, right? Oh, wait, to walk out the store, the top smart phones are still going to cost you another $150 – it is not a complete subsidy. For that, you are essentially carrying around a small computer with constant access to the Internet with no usage limits.

Granted, that is your most expensive option. Option #2 is the mid-range phone. It still gives you basic Internet access and email functionality. But lumped into this mid-range phone is the basic usage plan, only $240 over the two years, but you only get 25MB per month. There is no good measure of what you can really do with that on the web and email. Of course, the provider would be happy to upgrade you at any point to the more expensive plans. Don’t forget, you are still going to pay for the voice, too, at at least another $960 for the two years.

And option #3 is called the “feature phone.” Ironically, these phones have the least amount of actual features. These are these phones the carriers will basically give away just to get you on the basic $960 for two years contracts. They may have limited “modern” features, but nothing like the above options. But that is not why you get these phones – you just want a PHONE.

The cell phone carriers are racking in the money. And because of this, they can control how you get and pay for their services. If you want basic voice services, you can not get the option 1 or 2 phones. Above is the current phone I want, but am not willing to pay the extra $240 for. If you have to pay for the extra data services you don’ t want, the company is taking advantage of its customers. To me, this violates monopolists regulations… forcing you to pay for more because they can and just because you want a specific device.

Arrrgggh! So, this is why I am now waiting. I can barely justify the cost of the voice plan – which is why I am on a family share plan with someone who can justify the expense. In this new economy, I hope everyone is looking at the expenses they think they need versus what they really need. Everything comes at a price, you just have to know what it is.

Recession and the Cell Phone Industry February 27, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Uncategorized.
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I was reading this article in CIO magazine this morning and an less than obvious question popped into my mind. The article reviews a Texas university that has started a program that puts a Apple iPhone or Touch in all it student’s hands to access university resources. Part of the implementation includes a policy that students can upgrade their device after two years.

Now, I am of the believe that a large part of this recession is due to the fact that people are finally becoming aware of how wasteful we have been. Whether it was “keeping up with the Joneses,” keeping up with new technology (Moore’s Law), the economic push to use “cheap credit” or whatever reason, in America people have come to just buy and buy. People had no problem running up huge credit debts, purchasing things they most likely did not need. All this wasted purchasing produced lots of physical (and especially electronic) trash. With this recession, this consumerism has given way to a more conservative approach. Not sure if their jobs are going to be there in weeks or months, we are only buying what we need.

We are in a tremendous recession that is changing the way many people have view basic purchases. And in this information age, we are starting to take cell phones for granted… how many people do you know (over the age of 10) that don’t have a cell phone? (Yes, there are several phones on the market for school age children even.)

Cell phones appear to have become a need, rather than a want. So, it would seem that cell phones have become near “recession-proof.” And given the common two-year contract period with most cell phone providers, people generally get a new one every two years. To me, and I am certainly included in the list of people who do this, it would seem that this is a huge waste of environmental resources.

I wonder how this will play out over time. Will we stop wasting energy upgrading, will we do a better job of recycling old equipment, will contract policies change, will the environmental damage we are doing affect the Moore’s Law of progress? I can’t wait to see.