Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Swyper No Swyping: HTC + Swype = HTC Trace

One of the nice new features many people may overlook on their shiny new Evo 3D's (or T-Mobile's HTC Sensation pictured above) allows users to get Swype-like functionality right on the stock HTC keyboard! I've never been the biggest fan of Swype, preferring HTC default keyboard; but now there is no need to choose (unless you are a die-hard Swype fan).  I'm not sure if Trace matches all the intricacies of Swype's functionality, but I've always felt that it could be useful in certain situations if integrated into HTC keyboard and apparently they thought the same and decided to swype the design from their competitors.  I'm curious to hear from die-hard Swypers; how does it measure up to Swype?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sprint's HTC EVO 3D

The day has finally come and my Evo 3D is in hand and I must say I am thoroughly impressed thus far. I've only had a limited amount of time to play with it so here are my initial impressions so far:

The Actual Phone:

Picking the phone up it immediately feels better than the Evo 4G. Its a bit more narrow and a smidge longer but this redesign in shape makes it more comfortable to hold. The build quality seems better too. It just feels a bit more solid and the battery door (which wraps around the enitre phone) seems to fit more snug than its predescessor and feels like it is built better. The Evo 4G battery door felt flimsy and cheap in my opinion, whereas the Evo 3D's door is solid and has a nice textured design on the back which feels great and adds grip. I will say that the huge dual camera bay is going to take some getting used to; there really is no way to hold it with out having your hands all over the camera(s), aside from this however the phone feels great in hand! I have no complaints about the power button like I read in some other early reviews/previews. Weight seems to be very close to the original Evo and overall it feels a little better in my pocket (most likely due to it being slimmer).


So far I'm really impressed with the new camera's 2D functionality. The E3D uses the top camera when taking pics in 2D and despite it being 5MP instead of 8MP like the OG Evo the pics are better! This is due to improved camera sensors and camera software. Pics are taken much faster when the shutter button is pushed and the camera app itself can be launched much faster. The actual physical shutter button (another reason for my upgrade) is amazing! It feels great (very solid build quality) and has the ability to be pressed halfway to focus and then fully to take the shot, like a real camera shutter button.  It definitely makes taking photos easier and more enjoyable. The on screen camera button on the original Evo made it difficult to snap pics and hold the phone sometimes, especially since the display is so large.  If you use your Evo as your main camera like me you will LOVE the new shutter button! There have also been some enhancements to the on-screen user interface that really streamline the navigation of camera functions. 

The Evo 3D upgrades the display form the Evo 4G's TFT display with 800 x 480 resolution to a 4.3" 960 x 540 resolution display and it is immediately noticeable.  The E3D's screen is more crisp, colors seem more natural and because of the increased resolution it can fit more onto the screen. So for example, when looking at a list such as contacts you can see more on the screen (10 contacts versus 7) which means less scrolling is required.  The screen is really impressive and is one of the main reasons I wanted to upgrade; it really keeps the E3D on par with other next-gen super-phones.

When the Evo 3D was announced the 3D feature initially was a turn off for me and almost made me skip this phone. After seeing the other specs I knew I couldn't pass it up, but 3D was still not a deciding factor for me. I honestly feel like 3D in general is a bit of a gimmick. With that out of the way, I'm actually impressed by the 3D functions on the Evo 3D... I'm not sure if that will wear off over time or not but it's something I think I'd rather have than not, especially since it can easily be cut off.

The 3D is kinda weird to look at, and everyone has a different reaction. Some say it hurts their eyes, it doesn't bother mine but it is a little trippy.  You have to be looking at the screen at just the right angle and it sort of pops into focus! The Evo 3D comes with a demo for a Spiderman 3D game, Green Hornet in 3D and some sample pics that all look and play great! They really do an excellent job of showcasing the E3D's 3D capabilities.  I also watched some YouTube videos in 3D that where really impressive. I am actually looking forward to utilizing the 3D capabilities of the phone. Now if Netflix would just get some 3D movies...

Edit: I got a chance to take some more 3D movies and pics and... WOW!!! I am very impressed this is something I definitely can see myself using more!

HTC Sense 3.0:

I'm a fan of Sense and despite some of its short comings I tend to prefer it over other alternate launchers available in the market; Sense 3.0 makes this even more true! I feel that HTC does a great job of offering extended functionality and allowing customization that is easy to use and doesn't require rooting or advanced tweaking. It adds nice cosmetic improvements like 3D-ish transitions between screens and nice new weather effects.  HTC Hub lets you download themes, widgets, apps, various ringtones and notifications, wallpapers and skins to customize your phone; even down to details as small as the highlights when you make selections on your phone (which is something you typically need to root and or do advance tweaking to do). The lock screen is amazing with new animated lock screens such as weather or floating pics from your albums and customization quick launch options for up to four apps! There are a lot of small tweaks that really make it an even more enjoyable experience; like the ability to quickly access important settings and recently used apps from the notification bar. Another nice tweak that must be turned on in settings is the ability to activate Swype-like features right in the stock HTC keyboard. I haven't tried this much yet, but I think it is a feature that I will really enjoy. I always thought Swype could be useful if I could easily switch between it and my stock HTC keyboard and now I don't have to its built right in!

I haven't had much time to test the battery life yet, but so far it seems to be really good.  I have to test it more to make a final decision. Also I'm still on the fence about the updates that have been pushed out to "fix" some minor bugs; some are saying that it significantly improves their battery life, but others are saying that it causes new issues, so I have not updated mine yet.... But so far I'm very impressed and think this will be an excellent device and it is easily a worthy upgrade from the original Evo 4G... Check out the videos and pics before and I'll continue to play with the phone and post my impressions.


Screen shots borrowed from Geekfor.me


Friday, June 17, 2011

HTC EVO Shift 4G Gets Updated to Gingerbread

After the Evo got its update to Android 2.3 (2.3.3 to be exact) a week or so ago it's keyboard equipped sibling the Evo Shift 4G will be getting its update too, just before the new big sibling the Evo 3D drops. Monday June 20th Sprint will start its OTA (over-the-air) updates to all Evo Shifts. Be on the lookout for the notice on your phone. Or if you don't want to wait Sprint has announced that the update is available now by manually starting it. Simply  press your MENU key from the home screen, go to SETTINGS, then SYSTEM UPDATES, then HTC SOFTWARE UPDATE. Your phone should start the download and run the necessary process to upgrade. In addition to the improvements in Gingerbread you'll get improved download management, fixes for media streaming and a few other tweaks.  I've really been enjoying Gingerbread on my Evo just from the improved battery life and enhanced cut-and-paste capabilities. I've read that updates have been going smooth and come with some enhancements to HTC Sense too, moving it to version 2.1! It also adds SWYPE for all you fans of this keyboard. Now if I could get a very special lady in my life to let me upgrade her Shift early.... lol ;) ;)


Sprint's HTC EVO 3D Review of Reviews

The official hands on reviews of the Evo 3D are beginning to come out and so far so good... Well except for Engadget's.  Most of the reviews found the E3D to be a great; emphasizing the main reason I want it, those 1.2GHz dual processors. Reports are saying that the phone is FAST!!! I cant wait. I love my OG Evo but I definitely push it to it's max running multiple apps almost constantly and multi-tasking like crazy, an extra processor should help with these issues.

Most of the reviews say the increased battery capacity helps; maybe not as much as hoped, but it improves noticeably. Honestly, even Engadget's review which said it wasn't to great gave it 14hrs 44mins with all radios on taking 80 pics and video (with 50% of it being in 3D) sounds pretty good to me. I'm pretty confident I can't get much more mileage out of the E3D with proper settings and still nearly 15hrs with 4G on alone is an improvement over what I see on my Evo 4G. (BTW looking at pics w/out battery cover show that the larger battery and dual cameras take up the space where the kickstand would've gone)

Engadget also slammed the camera and said that the optics on the camera cover created rings and basically that it was just not a great shooter; whereas other sites seemed to praise at least its 2D capabilities. I'm not surprised at all that most reviewers found the 3D to be  bit "gimmicky". I honestly feel all 3D tech is a bit gimmicky at this point and like many of the reviews I feel that the rest of the phone's specs hold their own with or without the 3D icing! But it seems clear that for some people the 3D just isn't a good experience some reviewers said it was even painful and nauseating, so you may want to try it out for yourself once its out.

The display is another area there where mixed reviews. It was criticized for its poor viewing angles, 3D funkiness and not having as vibrant colors as the Super AMOLED- Plus toting Galaxy S II.  But other reviews said the clarity was great and it has a much improved display that sits with the best available soooo... idk. I know it wont be as vibrant as a Samsung Super AMOLED-Plus and I can live with that. I was geeked tho, to find out that the screen is covered in Gorilla Glass, a super strong glass that helps prevents cracks and scratches. As far as the viewing angles.... Its a phone. When I hold it, can I see it? Yeah? Ok, we're good lol.  I honestly wouldn't mind reduced viewing angles for some privacy. One down side to these new massive screens is that it makes it too easy for nosy bystanders to look at your screen over your shoulder or while next to you. I wouldn't mind if their unwanted viewing angle was not view-able lol.

Finally, one last  area of concern was that reviews stated it had poor call clarity/quality... This is another one I will have to test for myself. I have never tried a phone after reading it had poor call quality and truly felt like it was a big deal. I guess my expectations just aren't as high or I have never truly experienced superior call quality. I'm sure it will meet my modest needs as long as it is loud enough and I can hear what you are saying I'm sure it'll be fine for me. But that's just me. I've just apparently never been as critical as these reviewers in this department and I doubt the average user is either. I never heard anyone I know say "Man I love this new phone, but the call clarity isn't good enough I think I'm returning it". Again, could just be me, but we'll see.

 I am not swayed and will still be getting my Evo 3D next week, then I will decide what I think is good or bad about the phone and determine whether or not to keep it. Tho I'm pretty sure since it upgrades my beloved Evo 4G in every area that matters I will be sticking with the Evo 3D until the next Evo with better specs (or slightly improved specs sans 3D) is offered. It's important to remember with any device, especially smart phones, if you buy it when it first comes out there will likely be some bugs! That's early-adopter 101! Most of the concerns in the reviews can and will be addressed in firmware updates before, at or slighlty after launch. Believe, Sprint is going to take care of their new baby. Like I said I'll have mine come launch day... What about you?!

Check out some of the early reviews below and share your thoughts!

The Wall Street Journal
This Is My Next
Boy Genius Report
Phone Scoop


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Transitioning From The OG EVO 4G to The EVO 3D

If your upgrading like me or thinking of upgrading from the OG EVO 4G to the upcoming (June 24th) EVO 3D, you might want to check out this handy comparison chart posted over on Good and Evo's blog. The EVO has been the best phone I've ever had and is arguably one of the top phones to date, so it definitely isn't necessary to upgrade but lets be real the EVO 3D is a beast! In addition to the 3D features which may or may not excite you, it improves upon it's one year old sibling in many other categories. EVO 3D has more horsepower; 1.2GHz dual-core processor, double the RAMof the original EVO with 1GB and four times thee internal storage at 4GB of ROM helping the phone handle all the apps you throw at it even better. The Evo 3D has a superior 4.3" qHD screen, so while it is the same size it has much better clarity and resolution (960x540 pixels to the EVO 4G's 800x480). It has dual 5MP cameras instead of the EVO 4G's 8MP shooter but it is a better quality camera sensor, recording 1080p 2D video (vs the OG EVO's 780p) in addition to 720p 3D video. The E3D has a combined HDMI and microUSB port called a MHL port instead of the separate microUSB and HDMI ports so yes you will need another cord if you already bought an HDMI cord, but luckily MHL is becoming the new standard for mobile devices.  Another big plus for the EVO 3D is the increased capacity battery; the E3D has a 1730mAh battery vs the EVO 4G's 1500mAh.  I'm sure many will want it for the increased battery alone lol.  When you take into consideration the $200 price tag for new/upgrading customers this is a great deal.  No one is losing here tho because the still very capable OG EVO is seeing price cuts all over the place!

Edit: Almost forgot to mention the enhanced HTC Sense 3.0 "skin" that HTC puts over Android 2.3 Gingerbread. I've been playing with some Sense 3.0 ROMS on my EVO 4G and I am pretty impressed! I'll post a video below to show some of the new Sense 3.0 features.

For me the 3D is just icing, The 1.2Ghz battery, upgraded (2D) camera specs, increased RAM/ROM, and battery capacity are enough. I will be counting down the days until this beast drops I can't wait.

Good and Evo


Friday, June 10, 2011

iOS 5 Brings Many "New" Features

Apple will soon be rolling out its newest update iOS 5.  With this update comes many new features to the OS that while new to Apple and iOS may be familiar to other OS's. The updates will be available to the general public this fall for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (with some features being limited on the older iPhone 3GS).

First off is the Notification Center. This "new" feature will look really familiar to Android users, it finally gets rid of the intrusive pop-up notifications that iPhone users frequently complain about and provides an Android-style pull down menu that flashes notifications at the top of the screen and allows users to pull down a detailed notification list from the top of the screen.

I wont get into the obvious similarities here with Android's notification system, but I would like to touch on the nice advantages to the Apple approach. Similar to what many of us have done on our rooted Android's Apple has provided users with the ability to customize this Notification Center.  This is a really nice touch that I wish Android included in their stock notification system. Apple lets you add, weather or stocks, choose what and where you see various notifications and click a small "x" in the corner to clear specific notifications instead of just "clear all" like Android.  Additionally Apple has included customizable lock screen notifications that let you add various notifications to your lock screen and respond to them by swiping right from the screen. Nice touches that Android might want to incorporate while they are all "sampling" from each other. 

Next up is iMessage what is being called Apple's version of BBM. This service will allow mobile to mobile instant messaging between iDevices and is smart enough to switch over from text to iMessage when it detects that both users are on iOS devices; changing the color of the text bubbles from green (for text) to blue. Early reports from developers and those testing the early beta-release of iOS 5 have really been enjoying the service. iMessage will let you send pics, show when others are typing and is compatible with iPods. Many are looking at this as a potential way to end their need for a SMS plan.  

iOS 5 brings Newsstand, which will make one local place for all of your newspaper and magazine reading pleasure.  This fall the launch of iOS 5 will bring a new section of the App Store specifically for newspapers and magazines. You will be able to fill a virtual news stand with all of your subscriptions similar to iBooks. 

Twitter integration is another great feature included in the iOS 5 update. Apple users will now be able to Tweet from within Apple's native apps, websites being viewed on Safari or from pics in the Camera app. User can login once to their twitter accounts and it will be integrated across the OS, similar to how Android users can "share" to Twitter (or other Twitter apps (or really any applicable app)) from various points throughout the OS.  The Keyboard automatically adjusts providing @ and # keys when you are tweeting as well as autocompleting  usernames. 

Apple says the iOS 5 update contains 200+ improvements! Some of the other major improvements are a split screen keyboard for the iPad, many settings changes allowing users to tweak notifications, led notifications and vibration patterns, new accessibility options, improved reminders, camera upgrades with improved photo editing, Safari reader and updated tabs, and much much more!

Many argue that Apple has stolen their "new" features from other OS's but it seems like in typical Apple fashion they have done a great job of improving upon the competitions features.  Apple customers will definitely be in store for some great new features this fall when the iOS 5 upgrades roll out! For even more details on the new iOS 5 features be sure to check out the source links listed below!


Sprint's Motorola Photon 4G

Sprint is coming hard with super Android 4G handsets! Following the upcoming Evo 3D, Sprint will be dropping the Motorola Photon 4G that comes with a few more industry firsts! It is the first US global phone with 4G connectivity, the first Moto 4G phone for Sprint and the first Motorola phone with a kick stand! The Photon will have a 4.3" qHD display, 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA TEgra 2 processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage and Gingerbread (Android 2.3) as well as the newest version of Motorola's GUI skin MOTO Blur (Which could be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences). It also has a dedicated camera button, and USB and HDMI ports which should work with upcoming Moto docks and it has "enterprise-friendly security" features. The kick-stand is a "smart" kick-stand that automatically puts it into landscape mode, and it has a 8MP shooter on back with a VGA cam in the front for video chat. The Photon 4G is set to drop this summer!

The Photon will also be capable of HDMI mirroring allowing you to connect to your TV for gaming, videos and photo sharing. Check out the vid of gaming via HDMI mirroring below.

Looks like Sprint customers will have some great options this summer!


Android Community

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo's Next Console!

Nintendo's just showing off it's newest console the Nintendo Wii U and once again they are aiming to change the game by innovating how wii (couldn't resist) interact with the games.  First and foremost the console is completely compatible with all of the Wii's software and accessories!!! That's right so ALL of your games and wacky controllers, boards, nunchucks, etc will work with the new console! The system will FINALLY feature full 1080p HD graphics allowing the Wii U to compete with Xbox and PS3 with more hardcore games like Madden and shooters (which was a big downside to the original Wii in my opinion).

In addition to the enhanced graphical and computing power a lot of the new experience focuses around the new Wii U contoller.  The controller in addition to a pretty standard button layout (with dual analog) houses a 6.2" touch screen, stylus for writing and drawing, front facing camera (for chat) and motion sensing!  Check out the videos for a better idea of the innovative ways this can be used in gameplay.  It will really open up the door to limitless creative applications for game designers! We'll have to wait and see but this could really be a winner. Nintendo continually proves to be true innovators in the gaming industry!

I'm really feeling the idea of being able to continue my game without a TV allowing me to watch TV or let others around me watch TV while I continue gaming.  And the in game applications seem amazing too! I can't help but feel like this could be everything the Dreamcast controller dreamed of being and soo much more!

Still not sure but I may be grabbing one of these at launch if for nothing else than the Nintendo exclusives; Zelda, Mario and Mario Kart will be crazy on this!!! Hopefully they get the online gaming part right. And hopefully they release one in black.