Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another "phone" post

For years my wife had referred to me as "Mr. Pushy Buttons" because of my fascination with electronics. It started when the first LED watches came on the market around the mid-1970’s ( Prior to that, I had always used Timex analog watches—they were cheap and somewhat dependable (and easily replaceable when they were no longer dependable, LOL). I’ve always been an “early adopter” of any technology but limited funds kept me from having all the toys I wanted.

When the Commodore64 computer came out, I was at Gemco (now defunct) and bought one, along with a monitor & printer. When I showed a peer (we were both in our early 30’s) how “neat” it was to write “Hello world” in Commodore’s implementation of BASIC, he was not impressed. I was. My wife also wanted nothing to do with them—“I won’t touch that thing until it learns to wipe my ….” (I’ll spare you the details.)

Years later I was proud owner of an HP “Jornada 720” Handheld PDA that was a miniature computer with a touch-screen full keyboard in a clamshell design. It fit inside my suite jacket and I really thought I had something very special. Well, within 2 years the touch screen stopped working and I pretty much vowed to myself I’d never ever have another touch screen device. Well, it turns out that “never ever” was actually only about 8 to 9 years. That was when I got the Samsung Impression touch-screen phone. It wasn’t an iPhone, but it was affordable and had a touch-screen. Other manufacturers were playing catch-up. And actually, I love this phone. I’ve had it for nearly two years now and I must say that the touch-screen has never given me any problems at all.

My wife had also had a Samsung product, the Eternity, but it was having problems—inexplicably powering down. It was just occasional at first, but then it got to be a real issue, powering down several times a day, sometimes in the middle of a very important call. My upgrade option was available so I took her to AT&T. I had previously looked at the Samsung Captivate when it was first released, but paying for early upgrade was not something I was interested in. When she saw it, she was very impressed.

Now, I knew about the Android OS, but not really any particular details. I had never played with it. So after my wife chose the phone & we got it home, I was more than mildly impressed. I had actually thought it would be nice to get one of the new Windows Mobile phones because of it having Word & Excel. Though editing on these phones is not anything I relish, I still felt it was better than nothing. What turned me off to the Windows phones was that they still (as of this writing) haven’t resolved the “phantom data” issues the phones are sending. It wasn’t until we actually got the Captivate home and I started reading the PDF user manual that I discovered it came loaded with QuickOffice. (No printed manuals are included anymore, which really irritated me). That application allows not only viewing but editing of Word & Excel files as well as viewing Power Point (I never use it) and PDF files. That alone sold me.

When my wife & I started discovering all the apps we could download for free, I started to drool. Now I feel deprived. She has a virtual computer in her hands and I have what I now view to be an anemic proprietary OS by Samsung that is very limited. So why don’t I go out and upgrade? Because around the June 2011 timeframe, Samsung will be releasing the Infuse. AT&T calls this a 4G phone, but industry writers say it is more like 3.5. It is not LTE, but rather an HSPA+ phone. It is supposed to have Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) loaded on it, whereas the Captivate is still using 2.1 (Éclair). (What gives with the slow OS upgrades on AT&T anyways?! After all, Gingerbread (2.3) has been out for over a month; Honeycomb (ver. 3.0) was previewed this month and Ice Cream Sandwich (version number yet to be announced) is expected in the middle of 2011. So unless the Infuse is updated, it will be coming out with a version that is 3 generations old!)

Anyway, the point I started out making is that I have always been a gadget enthusiast (ok, “freak”). I am very much looking forward to upgrading my phone to something that is considerably smaller than my HP Jornada and yet infinitely more powerful. If you haven’t checked out Android phones (and, like me, you are not an iPhone fan) I highly recommend you check out Android phones, regardless of which carrier you are on. (Yes, the “Droid” phones offered by Verizon are Android. For some reason, they chose to “brand” their Android offerings by making it sound sci-fi current.)