Cool Random Tech Stuff

Random ramblings of a tech enthusiast

HTC EVO 4G LTE Review – Available Now from Sprint

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is very similar to the HTC One X on AT&T that I last reviewed. Some differences with the Sprint version of this line is that the EVO 4G LTE has the signature kickstand for the EVO line, a dedicated camera button, and is aluminum with an anodized black finish (you can also get a white version). The EVO 4G LTE also includes packaging made from recycled material for that bit of eco-friendly vibe.

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is the Sprint specialized version of the international HTC One X. I will keep this review simple since there are a lot of similarities.

 

Bottom Line

The EVO 4G LTE is currently available for $199 on a 2-year contract with Sprint. Like the One X, it has the newest version of HTC Sense 4, built on top of Android 4.0. The dedicated camera button and kickstand are definite positives that you don’t see on many other devices out there. It is a great Android phone on the Sprint network, but I don’t think it is compelling enough to bring customers to Sprint.
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HTC One X (AT&T) – Review

The HTC One X is the latest HTC super phone. It is from the same line as the international versions, as opposed to Verizon that decided to have the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE with lower specs. The One X from AT&T is a 4.7” Android phone with HTC’s Sense UI. It is being offered for $199 on contract at AT&T. This handset includes the newest version of HTC Sense 4 built on top of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). At the time of phone’s release on May 6th, Ice Cream Sandwich was the latest Android OS; it is now outdated just by a minor visual upgrade in Jelly Bean. HTC has confirmed that the One X is on the slate to receive the upgrade at some point.

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Samsung Focus Flash Review – Available Now from AT&T

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I’m going to preface this review with a pretty blunt statement: if you are looking for high end phones, stop reading now. This phone is not that, which can be seen in the current 99-cent price tag (with two-year contract). It definitely has its drawbacks, but I feel they aren’t as bad as some other Android phones in the same price range.

That said, this phone is a great starter smartphone and is much better in quality than other phones in the $0-$50 range. The Windows Phone software really makes the interface seem smooth. The hardware features two cameras, but their picture quality is somewhat lacking compared to some other phones out there.

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Why I Got into Tech Blogging

I thought I’d take a step back from product reviews and random tech news to discuss why I personally started this blog.

This post has no pretty pictures and is just a look into my desires for getting my hands on technology and sharing that knowledge learned with other people. Read at your own risk.

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HTC Rhyme Review


The HTC Rhyme is a new 3.7” Android phone being offered for $199 on contract at Verizon Wireless. This handset includes the newest version of HTC Sense built on top of Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread). It is clear that this phone is marketed to women with the plum color as well as the LED charm notification light that is advertised as something to hang out of your purse to both see notifications and to fish it out of it. Maybe Desmond Howard could use it with his satchel in Europe (yup, that’s a shout out to ESPN Gameday). This device also comes with an inductive charging dock that sweetens up the deal for the price.

Bottom Line


At $199 on a 2-year contract, this phone is a mid-range device with unique accessories bundled in. If design and the plum color piques your interest, then definitely consider this device. For everyone else, there are better phones out there on Verizon for the $199 price point.

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AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II Review

The Samsung Galaxy S II is a line of phones that first were available globally in May of this year. These lines of phones were made into three variants for the U.S. carriers and have been released in the September-October time frame. The Sprint version is the Epic 4G Touch, while the T-Mobile and AT&T versions being called Galaxy S II.

This review covers the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II, which was launched October 2nd, 2011 for $200 on contract.

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Consumer Electronics’ Purpose

I love technology! But who doesn’t these days? Are you on Facebook and Twitter? Have your smartphone linked to your email and constantly texting friends instead of calling someone? Me too.

Technology can be great but you must not lose site of its purpose. That’s why I’m taking some time to write down my thoughts and hope that it helps someone decide on technology they may want to purchase.

I believe consumer electronics have three basic functions: 1) Communicate, 2) Consume entertainment, and 3) Produce content for school/work/organizations/etc.

Number one is a basic human necessity. Everyone communicates in some fashion, and technology helps communication. It could be between friends or groups of friends. It could be a major advertising firm trying to communicate a message to consumers. It could be someone posting their thoughts about technology on a blogging site. Here are a few technologies I would say are primarily for communication: Email, SMS/MMS, IRC, AIM, Facebook, Twitter, Phone Calls, Skype, Flickr.

Number two is the times you sit back and observe. Watching some TV or a movie. Listening to music or learning a foreign language. Consuming entertainment and other content can be a primary function of some electronics. Examples are: DVD’s, Cable Boxes, TV, MP3’s, iPod, Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, YouTube, family videos and slide shows.

Other electronics will focus on producing content instead of communication or consuming it. Everything that is in the communicating and consuming categories can be produced on a device. There are also other tools to produce content like Office products and movie editing. Plenty of content needs to be created electronically, or at least edited. Examples are: Budget/Expense reports, typed letters, movies, mixing songs, writing resumes, your coffee maker that has coffee ready at a certain time. (The last one isn’t a digital content production, but I thought it was worth mentioning).

Most devices or software are going to be used for more than one of the primary uses, but I think it is a pretty good way to think of basic functions. Everyone gets carried away with the excitement of new stuff, but try to remember the basics of the device or software you are purchasing or using. If you do that, you will probably feel better about the purchase in the long run.

My Next Smartphone Dilemma

I was looking at a Nexus One as my first smartphone but that got cancelled for Verizon, and thus I went with the Droid Incredible, which is very similar in specs. I bought the phone because it was a leader in its hardware at the time and I knew it would last me a while. I have also rooted it to extend its use to me, but I think it is time to venture into a new phone with LTE and a dual-core processor.

Android options are the finally (to be) released Droid Bionic by Motorola, rumored Nexus Prime by Samsung, or the HTC Vigor. Motorola makes great hardware, but are not particularly friendly to the development community with encrypted bootloaders and such. The HTC Vigor is rumored right now and I know that the waiting game sucks! I would have gotten a Droid Bionic if it was released in the first half of the year, but now being close to the holiday season I’m considering waiting to see about the Nexus Prime.

The Nexus Prime would allow me to have the pure Google experience that is the Nexus line. I think that’s what I really want: control over my phone from the get go.

Then there is the iPhone 5, which is rumored might be available for multiple carriers in one device. I wrote about my obsession with this concept before. European countries and carriers are like this where you can move from provider to provider with the same phone. It appeals to me, but the US carrier system doesn’t do that yet. Maybe a feature like this in the iPhone could change my mind about getting an Apple.

There is also the Nokia Windows Phones that are going to be coming out any month now… Or any of the other Windows Phone 7 Mango handsets. I can honestly say that the Windows Phone 7 OS was one of the best I’ve used in function and appearance.

All in all, it seems I’ll be playing a waiting game for the device that fits my needs.

Dell Inspiron 14r (N4110) Review

From Dell Inspiron 14r

The Inspiron 14r second generation (N4110) is a refresh of the original lineup. This includes the second generation Core i3 or Core i5 chips, as well as Intel WiDi. The model I was sent to review seemed to include more of the upgraded options on this model, which I will base most of my review off of. Keep this in mind if you are considering a purchase of the 14r with other options. I priced this laptop with the review specs and it came out to $799 after a $209 discount, but you can get one for as low as $499 depending on options.

Bottom Line

I absolutely love the chicklet style keyboard. I have one on my HP dm4 as well as my Logitech Revue keyboard and will never go back to a non-chicklet style keyboard. Thank you Apple for popularizing them. I am not a fan of the overall design of the Inspiron 14r (N4110), especially the hinge system for the screen. It will suffice for a laptop if it is the one you choose though, and comes with decent options. Who couldn’t save a few bucks these days while still getting updated hardware internals?

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What a crazy week in tech!

This week has been pretty crazy in big tech news. Monday morning started off with the early announcement by Google that it was going to acquire Motorola Mobility. On Thursday afternoon HP announced it was discontinuing their WebOS hardware for the time being and getting out of the PC market.

Google to Buy Motorola Mobility

This was personally shocking to me, and probably to most as well. Google, a software company, was buying a hardware company! The motivations behind this move are not completely revealed. On the investor conference call Monday morning, Google was not shy about talking up the patent portfolio of Motorola Mobility but would not comment on their entire strategy. They said they would keep Motorola running as a separate company, even having them compete with other OEM’s in their Nexus phone program. So that would mean Google wanted the patents to protect Android, and would just get Motorola Mobility as a side business. Seems cheery and the best defensive stand for Android.

There has also been talk about Google buying Motorola and their patents to protect Android from partners suing each other. Motorola was threatening to sue other manufacturers of Android devices, such as HTC and Samsung. This would be disastrous for Android as a complete system. This would also point out problems with the open source nature of Android where the manufacturers carry more of the patent burden than Google. This is in contrast where Microsoft licenses Windows Phone 7 at a price because it has the patents to back it up. (Apple doesn’t license their software to other companies, but has plenty of their own patents).

So what now for Google and Motorola? I wouldn’t mind a sweet Google TV box with their Motorola set-top box business. Or how about more plain Android devices instead of skinned phones everywhere? (Is it that difficult to ask for a pure Google experience on Verizon?) Google could also be aggressive with the patent portfolio and begin suing the likes of Apple and Microsoft instead of maintaining a purely defensive strategy, but I don’t see that being a popular option.

The HP Bombshell

Thursday afternoon I started seeing alerts about HP spinning off its PC business. Then a little bit later it was revealed they would be discontinuing their WebOS hardware. Nothing really shocking there. The TouchPad wasn’t selling well, nor were the WebOS phones. The only shocking thing was that this came a little bit over a year after HP bought Palm for over a billion dollars in July 2010.

The real bombshell in my opinion was the fact that HP was getting out of the PC market. The number one PC manufacturer was throwing in the towel saying the tablet effect on PC sales is real. Instead, HP will be focusing on the enterprise and business side of things. This is more profitable for the company and they are trying to drive more value for the shareholders. They also announced a purchase of a British software services company to move more in to the higher profit margin services market.

Conclusion

Google buying a hardware manufacturer for patents, and maybe more. HP moves out of the consumer space and more into enterprise and software services. I don’t know many who would have guessed that for this week in August. I’m sure things will calm down a bit, at least until next month. Until then, try to digest the magnitudes of these two announcements.