Samsung Galaxy Note, it just might be perfect…
By Troy Saxton-Getty
We just received two Samsung Galaxy Note mobile devices last week. A full real world shakedown is under way!
Our travel continues and even though we try to find a case for our iPhones that doesn’t take away from its elegance, power eventually becomes an issue.
We reviewed the none flip version of the MiLi power packs a few months back and this time took a swing at the spring/flip top. Here are our thoughts.
The design is slimmer (it’s only the 1600mAh version) than the last one we reviewed and the back is flat. This makes for easier pocket usage and better resting on tables.
This version still has the power meter led on the side along with a button that lets you start charging or tell you how much juice is left.
For those that read often they’ll know that switching cases needs to be as easy as possible and the MiLi spring pack makes it a breeze. Simply flip back the top, slide in the phone, and lock the top closed. During a fall, it’s possible the case will open (only after initial impact) so will provide some protection but not a tremendous amount.
For power and looks, this is getting closer (other than a new iPhone that can last 16 hours with real use – we dream) but there are some draw backs. There is no kick stand on this model. If you plan on using this in a plane to watch movies, you’ll need to hold it. That’s not the end of the world but it’s less convenient. In addition, it’s a mini USB charger that is needed so if you already have iPhone chargers in every room of your house (guilty as charged) you’ll need to get some new cables – ones comes in the box, as well.
All in all, we’ll keep this case (we’re good at quickly liquidating after testing) and use it but understand why it might not be a fit for all. The good news here is that you can pick up one on eBay for about 50 bucks if you’re so inclined…not our used one this time, though.
We reviewed the Wacom Bamboo stylus a couple months ago and loved it. At the time, we didn’t think we really need to look for another stylus. Then we found the Pogo Sketch by Ten 1. Why do we like this stylus (other than the great colors)? For three main reasons:
1. It’s lighter. It really feels a bit better when writing on the surface of an iPad. It’s not heavy like those other styli so it feels good in your hand.
2. It’s thinner. It just feels more natural when you use this stylus.
3. The tip is NOT the standard rubber cone that doesn’t seem to slide as easily. This one has a different style tip that still works on iOS and glides across a surface (with the same accuracy as other styli).
These three things really made the difference for us and it’s become the stylus of choice (this week, of course). Oh yeah, did we mention you can find it for under $20 on eBay? Make it four reasons!
Using your iPod Nano as a watch is catching on. And why not? You can change the face of the watch at will and you can match your watch band to your mood with ease. Incase has entered this market with the Flex Wristband.
We purchased this to add some sport to the Nano. While the band looks fantastic, we quickly realized that it’s made for people with smaller wrists.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to use it but it’s certainly not as comfortable as the Hex line of metal watch bands that can be adjusted.
One other draw back is how the Nano sits in the band. With other bands, the Nano’s clip is utilized. This means that in every day use it’s rather hard to lose the Nano from the band. The Incase Flex uses a pressure design (you ‘pop’ in the Nano). This works well for light usage but a good bump on a wall when moving quickly or the right tug on the headphones could dislodge it. Nanos are light and durable but we’d rather not dropskip them too often.
As for looks, it’s really not bad. Even with the chance of losing the Nano we’d wear this band more often if it were only slightly looser.
Mango Windows Mobile Update is competitive and actually quite nice…
by Troy Saxton-Getty
We finally got the much anticipated Mango update to our T-Mobile HD-7 (it’s basically the same on all carriers) and right from the first boot, pretty impressive. The first thing you will notice is the improved main Tile interface, it is much richer and way more configurable than the first Windows Mobile 7 release, it is actually very useful.
You can group email, group contact and even Messaging can be a group of text, Facebook chat and/or other instant type communication.
Another great feature is Grouping of Contacts into sub groups, as you can see we have a Tile called Amigo’s, this is simply a small collection of favorite friend contacts (Thank you Aaron Fulkerson of Mindtouch fame for modeling )
The Inbox can finally be grouped or even “smart” grouped so that you can pick what you would like to see in a combined Inbox view or not. If you have multiple email accounts, you can select 3 of 6 for example to only show up in the combined Inbox view but still have separate tiles for the others.
Mango finally added multi-tasking so apps could run in the background, if you long press the Back button, you get this simple and elegant task swapping screen, simply swipe right or left to the other running application. It’s that simple.
If you long press the Camera button, even with the screen locked, the camera is available instantly. Great for practical jokes if you get your friend’s camera without them knowing. -grin
Mango took a long time to produce and release, we started to have our doubts, but with 500 new features, it is packed with new and fantastic tools, most are very practical, like cut and paste etc.
Another point of confusion is around the version number, the media and even Microsoft has called it version 7.5 previously, it’s actually version 7.1 – Mango is Microsoft Windows Mobile 7.1
If you want a simple, near fool-proof smart phone interface, the Mango release of Windows Mobile 7 really brings it all home, for a non-techie, it’s really great too. It ran really fast even on our older HD-7 Hardware, plus it’s widely available for most 7.0 models, one of our real gripes about Android updates.
As reluctant as we are to give Microsoft props, The Mango operating system update is Bad-Ass, and that is a technical term…I am saying this even with a pair of Apple iPhone 4S’s in my pocket for my main daily use. Damn, I am carrying 3 phones again…
Blackberry Playbook, still mostly useless…
by Troy Saxton-Getty
I pulled the Blackberry Playbook out of the dropSKIP toy box months later in an attempt to find an email client of any type… Still, after all these months, nothing!
The Research In Motion Co-CEO said “By summer we will have an email client”…
Clearly with two CEO’s you would think they could get this simple task done… not only do they not have an email client of any type, the have zero Microsoft Exchange connectivity for even simple things like Calendaring, Contacts and Tasks.
No POP, IMAP or anything, wtf? Seriously? Your web experience isn’t all that good, I couldn’t even get this article written using it on WordPress.
We are dumbfounded, as former RIM fans, you guys could have played hardball in the tablet space, since the regular Blackberry smart phone usage is dropping worldwide, a great tablet, with a great ecosystem and solid OS could have been a contender. Miss a few basics, make some lame ass excuse about getting it out early so people could use it and then you would come out with the much needed productivity applications is pure bullshit (that’s a technical term).
Seriously guys, who is holding you both accountable?? You committed to the people who bought this device with a forward looking comment about an email client coming in summer, late summer… Well, its starting to snow in some cities and where is it?
Why are we so pissed off? Because basically the Co-CEO of RIM outright BS’ed us all about having the productivity tools needed to make the Playbook a success just down the line from the launch. We are further pissed because RIM actually squashed a few 3rd party developers who had solid email clients just month after launch and RIM decided to sandbag these guys and not let their apps into the AppWorld store. aMail & Early Bird from Pepper.pk. If you go to their sites you will see the “We submitted our app to AppWorld, it’s still in review” message on the main page.
Instead, RIM basically forced these App Developers to use tricky “developer” methods to get their apps loaded, in fact, it’s so difficult that most techies I know just laugh and wonder why RIM would do this. RIM, take a chapter from Verizon who played all these crappy tactics to control the mobile handset software market…
This little hardware device called the Playbook could really be great, but your corporate BS is keeping that from happening… aMail, Early Bird, you guys have been duped by RIM.
More than 6 months later, still nothing… this isn’t how you try to compete, this is how you lose… look at the beating you are taking in the press about this issue!
A lesson from Steve Jobs, “It’s the Bozo Explosion” up at RIM.
A colleague of ours has made the transition from laptop to iPad. In fact, it’s all he carries. No laptop. No pad of paper. Just an iPad. This may not seem that drastic to everyone, yet, we were impressed and wanted to see if we could do the same thing.
We faced two challenges in doing so: one, tasks and flagged emails aren’t supported on the current iOS and many of use this feature extensively; two, writing on the iPad is not as easy as using paper. The first challenge is to be addressed in the new iOS release. The second challenge is harder to address because writing on an iPad is just not close to writing on paper…or is it?
We asked ourselves if we could use just an iPad if we had the right tool and app. This is where the Wacom Bamboo Stylus entered the picture. Why? Because there are a good number of iPad apps that allow handwriting, but using ones finger just doesn’t seem to cut it. So, did the stylus help?
The short answer is yes (the long answer is you’ll need an app like Notes Plus to really make this work). The Bamboo stylus was our pick as most iPad ready styluses had wide round tips. This works well with the iPad displays but makes it hard to be precise. This stylus has a much smaller tip (about 25% smaller than most), though not pen fine by any means. The difference was noticeable and the stylus’ weight makes it easy to hold when writing.
We also noticed that using the stylus to write takes practice. All of us learned to write with a pen and paper. The motions are the same. The pressure is different. Once we got used to this, we actually picked up speed and quality (yes, my handwriting is horrible normally, so there was only so much improvement to be had).
The Bamboo stylus did help. It felt comfortable in our hands and was closer to normal writing than a finger or thicker stylus. It does come at a price (~30 dollars) and you’ll still need a good note app.
At the end of the day, using the iPad instead of paper is doable but will take practice. Don’t expect it to feel normal at first. That said, typing on our iPhones after years of Blackberry keyboards seemed unusual, too. Amazing!