Froyo on myTouch is okay…

I was super excited to get a Froyo upgrade on the T-Mobile myTouch and even though they notified me in Septemberish it might be showing up soon I think I got it just before Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Actually, it may have been a prophecy on what effect using Froyo on the nearly obsolete myTouch (no headphone jack) would have.  You get sleepy from eating too much turkey on Thanksgiving, so did the myTouch when having too much frozen yogurt.

Don’t get me wrong, I like finally having access to a better OS and I’m not blaming Froyo in the least, I’m blaming the myTouch’s mucho suckiness (which has done much to persuade me to ditch T-Mo completely when my contract is up.  Hello Verizon!)

It’s just that now my phone responds like my family after a big Thanksgiving dinner.  Barely at all.

I’ll list the grievances it brings in no particular order:

1. If your security screen is more complex than one dot, you’ll probably have to enter it a couple of times, because of lag.
2. Random system reboots.
3. Text messaging will become your least favorite program due to slowness and bugginess.
4. Answering calls will occasionally prove difficult.
5. Downloading from the market will occasionally prove difficult.
6. Count on all of your programs running slower.
7. Google Maps now takes 10x as long to open and use.
8. Count on staring at your background sans apps for several seconds if not occasionally a minute while it loads them.
9. Occasionally count on the same problem when you go to your apps section.
10. Hate that you can’t have the speed of 1.6 with the apps of 2.0+

Some Froyo-induced problems (I’m guessing):
1. Alarm clock takes longer to get to.
2. You can no longer use vibrate and silent in the same setting. It’s either set phone to vibrate OR silent. (Before I would just volume down to vibrate or one more notch to silent, convenient.)
3. Voice dialer (or whatever it’s called) only works with a bluetooth, which I have, but not on me 24/7.
4. Browser starts as small as possible on pages that aren’t mobile friendly.
5. USB connectivity will sometimes not appear when you’re plugged into a computer (I usually have to reboot the phone and then it will recognize it’s plugged in via USB, never a problem with 1.6).

The annoying stuff I have to go through with it reminds me of having to constantly buy a whole new Mac computer cuz when you installed OS 10.newest the old computer didn’t like it and ran slower. I guess that’s just technology, or maybe just less good phones.

But I’ve got some work arounds for those of you stuck in a contract you can’t wait to ditch when it comes time.

Auto Task Killer
This free gem is available on the market and let’s you end programs, like it says. Sometimes freeing up memory is like giving the myTouch a little coffee after the turkey dinner.

Text Messaging
*Limit the amount of texts your phone will save so it will delete some, that will speed things up just a hair.
*When I write a completely new message, sometimes when I try and type in the recipient it wigs on me and does the letters all screwy. Instead, leave that box for a second and type out the message first, then add a recipient. Works like a charm every time. Oh, and if your text is sluggish, wait a few more seconds, it’s like the phone has to catch up. I know, waiting sux.
*If you need to get a message out quick, use someone else’s phone. Unless you’ve already been texting the person and have the screen already open it will take longer than you’re used to.

Security Screen Wiggy
*Knowing that your screen is going to freeze or move slow, if it looks like it’s not following your finger anymore, just hold still on the dot your own for a second to let it catch up and then resume. Timing will be tricky on this, but if your phone does it often enough, you’ll get the hang of it.

Lastly, the best solution of all is ditch the myTouch as soon as you can. Get a phone with the latest Android OS on it, since it will have been designed to run at that efficiency.

And get used to counting on things taking forever to open, like an old Dell PC loading up. After all, you’re stuck with this phone, unless you’re cool with 2 more years of T-Mo, then just get a newer, better one–if they’ve got it.

Oh by the way. If you got an upgrade notification, but navigated away from the screen and are thinking, great I’m screwed, well, you’re not. Just go into settings>about phone>system updates. You should be able to continue the download.

I Phone It With Android

No, iPhone isn’t getting Android.  That’s far too stifling an environment for the Android platform.

For many of us the conversation is changing from “Hello, I’m a Mac” to “Hello, I love me some Android.”  As an avid Mac-user (I still can’t part with my lime green iMac for nostalgic reasons), when I first heard of the iPhone I only dreamed of the day when ownership of another Mac toy would soon become a reality.

Then the money came, and the T-Mo contract was running out.  Do I iPhone it?  My biggest turn off?  AT&T.  Yeah, I know, it’s not like T-Mo’s network is giving me the coverage of Verizon, but hearing the nightmarish stories from friends and that a lot of people were getting unlocked iPhones for T-Mo, I hesitated.

Second biggest turn off: Mac snobbery.

I love my Mac, I do, but let’s face it.  Mac does the same thing every time.  They grab the market on something and then make it impossible to customize and charge ridiculous prices for cool technology until someone gives them a much needed ego slap in the face.  I am a little pleased to acknowledge I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of that much needed slap: the Android platform (for me, via myTouch, but I say if it’s got Android, love it).

Google Knows, iPhone Woes

Let me be straight with you.  All I know of iPhone is what I’ve seen other people showing me and the few random minutes I ever get to play with one.  iPhone is pretty cool, but some of them apps have a hefty price tag, especially considering the apps you can get with the Android market for free.

COOL FREE APPS

Google Maps. Much like what you’re familiar with if you use the web, Google can find it for you and fast.  Plus with GPS enabled on your phone, you can follow along with a little blue dot…at least until Google Navigation, a free addition to Google Maps.  Don’t want to pay Verizon, or Apple for expensive navigation apps?  Not willing to fork out the dough for a sweet Garmin Nüvi?  Google Navigation is your answer.  Mind you, it’s still in beta testing as of this post, but I find 95% of the time it works the way I want it to, and when it doesn’t, it’ll still get you there, it might just take a street longer.  Hence, “beta” testing.  In the end, I’ve just saved $100+ to get me a road navigator (and you can buy something to hold it up in your car like a Garmin).  You can also use it to look for restaurants, shops, whatever, and read reviews about them.

Pandora. Is it free on iPhone? (I really don’t know).  Well it is here, runs like a gem, and I can get my Pandora fix anytime I want.

Geobeagle. I love Geocaching.  Check out geocaching.com for more specific information.  But once again, with this free app, I can go caching (think treasure hunting) for free, once again without buying a Garmin.  You can also look up clues via the browser on your phone, use Google Maps to get an idea of the area it would be in, and log the cache all without your computer.

ShopSavvy. Wondering if you’re really getting a deal on something?  Scan the barcode using this app and find out what it’s going for on the net.  (And supposedly local too, but less available depending on where you live).

Ringdroid. Make your own ringtones, quick and easy.  (aka, you don’t have to edit them on your computer, export them, import them on your phone…. etc.)

Shazam. Heard a song on the radio and every time you never catch the name of it?  Use this app to find out not only what it’s called, but who wrote it and the album it’s on.

Reveal. An eBook program with a lot of free classics on it, such as Treasure Island, the Scarlet Pimpernel, etc.  I also use it for scripture reading.

Amazon MP3. Just as easy to use as the iTunes Music store, with the ability to sample songs, and a quick download via linking to your Amazon account.

The list could go on and on.  There’s free apps for Facebook, Twitter, something cool called Google SkyMaps, fun free games, reminder apps, and more.  All of this available on any Android phone.

One more thing… I love the interactivity with GMail and the Google Calendar. I can edit contacts on the internet, as well as calendar items, which to me is a huge plus because it seems like the phone (even the swankiest) can be much slower than just doing it via computer. You can also color code events via different calendars. I have contacts birthdays, US Holidays, personal, and work calendars all in different colors.

Convenience
could easily be synonymous with Android.

THE MYTOUCH SPECIFICALLY

There is some small regret that I didn’t wait just a little longer to go Verizon with the new Droid, but I’m still pretty happy with my HTC myTouch.  The virtual keyboard took me all of a day to get used to and the customizable background a huge plus (especially over the non-customizable iPhone).

The camera is a step up for me coming from the Nokia 5300, at 3.2 MP, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit higher, especially considering the Droid at about the same upfront cost has 5 MP (in addition, a physical keyboard).  But the pictures are still sharp, and the video great for a phone.

Battery life can seem short if you’re constantly using the 3G network for internet access.  I ran Pandora on both 3G and wifi, and got much longer life connecting via wifi.  I was also told by a few people that the 3G was faster.  Not the case for me.  Downloads were significantly faster with wireless, though the 3G speed is still good.

The keyboard text predictor is fabulous and I find typing for me goes just as fast if not faster than having a physical keyboard.  I have noticed, however, on occasion while browsing the virtual keyboard is a bit sluggish–not enough to make me hate it though.  And I do love me some full web browsing.

The ringtones are easy enough to customize, but your alerts and alarms will take some thinking (and probably ringdroid), which I felt was a step down from my old Nokia.  Still, the phone is something I love and I promptly bought a protective hardcase for it with a swanky design.  The phone does come in 3 colors: red, black, white (I chose black).

Android Platform: A++
myTouch phone: A-

Netflix Instant View: Instant Visual Crack?

I’ve been a member of Netflix for 5 years now, and I’ve found it very much a sufficient way to “feed the need” so to speak. The DVD turn around isn’t so bad, and I’ve zipped through series and movies quickly without forking out the $$$. So, yeah, I’m pretty satisfied. :

netflix01For those who are unfamiliar with Netflix, let me give you a quick rundown: Netflix is an online DVD rental service (with Instant View service described below). You can get anywhere from 2 DVDs a month to 8 out at a time unlimited from $4.99 to $47.99. The selection is basically if it’s on DVD, odds are Netflix has got it (they boast 100,000+ DVDs). And yes, blu-ray is included in the mix.

Why is that better than Blockbuster Online? It really depends on the one renting. If all you are interested in is Hollywood Blockbuster movies, then Blockbuster is probably the one for you and will satisfy you just fine. My tastes, however, include independents, foreign, and of course, anime and animation. If you’ve taken a good look at the “shelf” that Blockbuster has dedicated to its foreign section, you could see why one would search elsewhere.

What is the turn around on DVDs? For me it works like this: I get a DVD on Monday, watch it that night, send it back Tuesday, they receive it and ship a new one Wednesday, I get my new one Thursday.

I also like being able to get recommendations based on my interests so I can discover new movies. There’s also the option of seeing what your friends thought of a movie (Netflix friends) and see if it’s worth it or not.

Basically, Netflix makes filling my Visual Crack needs easy.

And then, of course, Netflix had to go and introduce its instant view, which is basically like free access to the candy store (some strings attached). The quality is 480p (with Higher Def in the works) and looks at least as good as a regular DVD on your HDTV (provided your Internet connection is good). All you need is an unlimited plan and you’re good to go.

Unlimited plans start at $8.99 (which is the 1 DVD at-a-time unlimited plan + unlimited watching).

The Pros: Instant viewing. No waiting for the DVD to arrive, no going to the video store, and no additional rental fee (see Amazon and iTunes). I love it for being able to watch The Office whenever I want, plus I’ve got something to watch in between DVD snail mail arrivals. Netflix also makes it easy to spot which DVDs in your queue have been converted for Instant View.

I’ve been watching SeaQuest DSV via Instant View and while normally it probably would have had to wait somewhere in the depths of the queue before I got to it, but now it’s something fun to have on while waiting on video renders at work, or to keep me company Photoshopping or Illustrating.

The Cons: The library is growing, but it’s still small. Don’t expect everything you could possibly want to be in there. Aside from the time-consuming task of converting 100,000+ DVDs, there are copyrights issues slowing down selection additions.

It *used to only* run on Internet Explorer. 😦 What? Not a Con you say? I won’t go into the security issues around IE, and although Netflix has promised future Firefox compatibility, it hasn’t happened yet. According to Netflix you can watch it on Firefox without any add-ons, but this is always useful for whatever reason some places do IE only:  LUCKILY, Firefox took the initiative, or at least someone who built an add-on and gave us the option to use Firefox instead. (command delete IE7.exe check!)

It *sort of* only runs on PC. Sorry Mac friends, unless you’ve got Bootcamp or the like to run Windoze, you’re generally excluded (Netflix has started its beta testing, see here).   😦 There is a sort of solution to that problem, depending on how much you care about instant view, and if you don’t want to spend a grand or so on a PC you’d only use for media playing.

Introducing: The Roku Netflix Player

netflix02This nifty little gadget lists at $99 ($110 with cheapest shipping) from Roku.com. You don’t have to pay any extra monthly fees–aside from your account–the $99 is it, like buying a DVD player. It has multiple hookup options for your TV (including HDMI!!) and while Netflix doesn’t have HD standard stuff yet, when it does the Roku player is ready for it. It hooks up to the internet wirelessly or by ethernet, comes with a simple remote and can take care of your Netflix-hates-Macs blues (which is actually more like Apple-hates-Netflix, since it’s Apple holding up the delivery. BTW, I have a Mac, so I understand the frustration).

So why didn’t you run out to the site and pick one up already? Believe me, the day I knew it existed, I had my credit card in hand ready to go. But since I have access to a PC in my apartment and at work, I paused.

Let me tell you why you may want to do the same: 1) While the player is cheap, its features are at best limited. The remote is simplistic and according to what I’ve read, fast forwarding has regressed to VHS style. 2) You can only browse movies in your queue. In other words, if you’re interested in watching a movie that’s not in your queue, you’ll have to add it first to watch it. 3) Netflix has encouraged/given plans/comissioned other companies to make their instant viewing available. This includes a blu-ray player in the near future (end of 2008).

It is the first and probably will be the cheapest device you can buy, but I’m waiting for better options since I have access. You may or may not want to.

**UPDATE**

There are more devices available to you Instaview fans out there.  According to Netflix you’ve got the following additional options:

1)  LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Player $349 MSRP

2) Samsung BD-P2500/BD-P2550 $399 MSRP

3) TiVo HD DVR $299 MSRP

4) Xbox 360 $199 MSRP

The Roku player remains the cheapest, but I’m still hoping the addition of the XBox might mean Wii support in the future, and I don’t see why not PS3 support as well.  At least if you have a PC/Mac you can do it that way.

If I didn’t say it enough, I love Netflix, and I’ve saved quite a lot of money watching first and not having to try and find or buy copies elsewhere. If you haven’t tried it, do it. You get two weeks free your during a first time trial and hey! Who doesn’t love seeing a big red envelope waiting for them in the mailbox or instant visual crack online? 😉

The verdict:

Netflix: A
Netflix Instant View: B+
Roku Player: B-
Additional Player Options: B

I don’t know where I’d put it, but I want one

It’s entirely drool-inducing.

Could you even imagine playing a video game on a screen this size? Of course, it’s not as big as LG.Philips effort, but still, did anyone ever think TVs could get this big?

Via Instapundit.