Entries Tagged as 'Android'

Google Music – Beta

Google has launched their cloud based streaming music service as a beta; you can request an invitation (using a Gmail account) via the link below.

What does it get you?

Well, up to 20,000 songs in your cloud storage; play back support on most Android devices; play back support from a browser; and an upload program that will sync your library to the cloud.

Not bad for free.

Apple provides a similar service for $25 per year; there’s no limit to the amount of music you can store.  The main differences being that there’s no Android support (basically devices iTunes supports is supported), and Apple actually finger prints the files and serves their iTune version of the music rather than your copy (likely at a higher bit rate — they, of course, don’t incur the storage overhead).

Amazon provides a similar service for $20 per year (you also get some storage for other files); and there’s no limit to the amount of music you can store, but you might find their uploader is a little less friendly to use (OK — to be fair it’s been updated since I tested it — so maybe not).

You can play with the free 5GB version of the Amazon service and decide if you like it, and it’s worth the $20 (I was hoping they’d just bundle it into Prime — but if they’re serious about Hulu they really need to start Al-a-cart charges for services, or Prime is going to have to go up).

Anyway, if you have an Android device, I highly recommend you go ahead and request an invite to the Google Music Beta — you can try the Amazon out as well… if you have an iOS device, you’re probably stuck with the Apple solution (but you’re an Apple customer, so you’re used to having to shell out money for everything).

Also, the Amazon tablets will reportedly ship with a free Prime subscription, possibly a free year of cloud storage might be thrown in as well (that’s speculation on my part).

http://music.google.com/about/

Originally posted 2011-09-10 02:00:28.

Google TV — Post Notes

Just a follow up to my Google TV post… the Logitech Revue Google TV box’s price has been slashed to $99, and it will be updated to run Honeycomb and support a host of new apps.

While the current version isn’t compelling, the new price just might be — at least when Honeycomb actually ships on the Revue and you can do something useful (like run Google Music perhaps).

 

Google TV

Originally posted 2011-08-12 02:00:00.

Remember when…

Remember when it was just so darn easy to share files with other computers on your local area (home) network?  It was ever simple to share files between PCs and Macs.

Have you noticed that while Windows was once a very easy platform to share files with others from it’s become almost impossible to even share files between two PCs running the same version of Windows?

If Microsoft is seeking to make their operating system more secure by making it unusable I they are getting very close to realizing their objective.

I really have grown tired of the complexities of sharing folders between PCs, more and more I’m finding that just using Box or Dropbox, or Google Drive is a much more efficient way to transfer small numbers of files between two machines — even if it’s a one time transfer.  I mean, yeah, it’s kinda retarded to send files to cloud storage potentially on the other side of the country to just copy it to a machine that’s a few feet away — but let’s be serious, it’s quicker than figuring out why Windows say the same user (with the same password) on two different machines, who should have unlimited rights to a directory can’t copy a file from and certainly can’t copy a file to a machine.

Yeah, it may seem retarded, but the days of using *nix copy command between remote machines seems easier…

Microsoft needs to take a hard look at human factors, and not of all the wizzy new feature they keep adding to their operating system, but to the foundation features that people (all people) actually use day in and day out for productivity — after all, we don’t all have domains at home… and not only do we sometimes move files between machines we own, but occasionally some of us might have a friend with a laptop come over.

I guess that’s why I keep a few fairly large USB drives around, because Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to actually make computers that run their operating system usable.

Originally posted 2013-11-03 10:00:23.

Cloud Storage

 There are tons of free (and paid) cloud storage services… and you can use more than one of them (I actually use all of the following myself).

 

Amazon

Amazon changes their cloud storage option fairly often, currently it’s 5GB free with 250 songs — the subscription for storage and music storage are separate now.

 

Box

50GB of storage.  Works with Windows, Max, Android, and iOS – plus there are several other apps that allow easy migration of files to Box.

 

DropBox 

2GB of storage plus an extra 500MB for using the above link to sign up (there are other bonuses you can get as well).    Works with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry.

 

GoogleDrive

If you have a Google GMail account (or Google App account) you already have this, just sign in to activate it.  Works with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS — probably others as well.  The storage amount you get seems to vary based on when you sign up.  NOTE:  Google Music is stored separately.

 

SkyDrive

If you have an MSN, HotMail, Live or any other Microsoft hosted/provided account you already have access to it.  Works with Windows, Android, iOS — probably others as well.  The storage amount you get seems to vary based on when you sign up.

 

Ubuntu One

5GB of storage, plus an extra 500MB for using the above link to sign up.  Works with Windows, Mac, Ubuntu (Linux), Android, and iOS – plus can be used automatically to store large Thunderbird attachments (great if you’re sending the same attachment to several people).

Originally posted 2013-08-27 11:10:21.

SugarSync Epic Failure

Today I decided I would test out SugarSync, they offer 5GB (not much by today’s standards) free cloud storage when you sign up through the Windows 10 App.

I signed up, downloaded the PC sync app, and got both the welcome as well as the verify email address email.

I clicked on the verify link — and below I what I got.  Just to be sure it wasn’t something pathological about Edge, I tried Chrome, FireFox, and Opera multiple times (I also tried a few more browsers, and clearly it’s no my network connection or DNS resolution — since I get an error from SugarSync).  To add insult to injury, there’s absolutely no way I could find to report this issue to them (other than write them a letter and send it via the US Postal Service).

Great way to build confidence in your product SugarSync — great way to make me want to shell out money…

FORGET IT!!!

You can never undo damage to your reputation like this.  My recommendation, close up shop — there are many choices in the cloud storage space, and they actually work.


SugarSync Epic Fail

SugarSync Epic Fail

CyanogenMod 7.1.0

While loading customer firmware on a smartphone isn’t something new (I did that with my HTC Touch Pro and HTC Touch Pro 2 Windows mobile devices years ago) it is something that is very easy to do with Android handsets.

My Droid A855 (that’s the original Verizon Droid — and I actually have two) with it’s slow 600 MHz ARM processor has been running Gingerbread (2.3) for almost a year; and as of last night the handset I carry has been updated to the third build of Gingerbread.

Why?

Well, Android is far from a finished and polished product; and Froyo (2.2) which is officially supported on the phone lacks a number of features.

To take advantage of a custom ROM you first need to root your phone (which has other advantages besides just allowing you to install a custom ROM, but if you’re going to root — you definitely want a custom ROM).

Once you’ve rooted your device, you can choose between a number of different custom ROMs — I try and go for stability; and I’ve tried a number of different ROMs, CyanogenMod is the one I’ve settled on.

Also, if you purchased an HP Touchpad — CyanogenMod has an Alpha release of Android for you… that may make your tablet a great deal more usable.

CyanogenMod.com

Originally posted 2011-10-20 02:00:15.

Android – Must Have Apps

So you have an Android device… and you haven’t figured out what all you can do with it… hopefully my short list of “must have” apps will help you.

  • Google Maps with Navigation – free application from Google that provides turn-by-turn directions.  Provided your Android device has a GPS receiver, and you either pre-plan your routes while connected to WiFi of have a generous (unlimited) data plan, this is definitely an app that’s hard to live without.
  • Google Voice – must have way to take control of your phone; used with a Google Voice number it’s a good way to give yourself extra features on your phone for free.  Also, you’ll want Google Voice Callback if you want to take advantage of any numbers you can specify free from airtime.
  • Google Music – good selection for most people for a streaming music service.  It’s totally free, allows up to 20,000 songs, and it works well.
  • Amazon MP3 – this is a good selection for people with a large amount of music who don’t mind paying $20 per year for the ability to store unlimited songs on Amazon.
  • Hacker’s Keyboard – free application that provides a very configurable on-screen keyboard.  While I prefer the slide out keyboard on my Droid, on my Xoom I don’t have that option.  Hacker’s Keyboard allows you to pick between several layouts, as well as control the height of the keyboard in both landscape and portrait mode.  Much better than any other free (or paid) keyboard I’ve found for Android.
  • Opera Mobile – the default (crippled) Chrome browser for Android is horrible, and FireFox for Android isn’t any better.  As bizarre as it might seem, Opera Mobile is by far the best browse I’ve found for Android.  It’ll operate in a desktop or micro browser mode, and while on a small screen it might not always be easy to view a web site, Opera Mobile will allow you to.  Opera Mobile does take a little getting used to — but it’s worth it the price (free).  Do not confuse this with Opera Mini, that’s not the version you want.
  • Amazon Appstore for Android – nice addition, and the paid app free every day often has a useful application.
  • Super Tool Box – a free (or paid for the pro version) application that provides a veritable Swiss army knife of functionality.  A good application to start with to see how many of your needs it addresses.  The pro version was offered as an Amazon paid app for free.
  • ezPDF Reader or ezPDF Reader Lite – very good PDF reader, and it was offered as an Amazon paid app for free.
  • ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner or Barcode Scanner – applications that allows you to scan the UPC code of an item on a store shelf and get competitive pricing locally and online.
  • netTALK Smartphone – free application that allows you to make outbound VoIP calls using WiFi or your data plan.  This app will not work with Honeycomb at the moment.  Using this app does not require a netTALK VoIP (TALK DUO) account, nor at the moment can you integrate it with a netTALK VoIP account
  • Dropbox – free application with free cloud storage that allows you to backup your configuration (also, Google backups up some of your device’s configuration when using Gingerbread or newer).
  • File Manager or Fiele Manager HD (Honeycomb) – great file manager’s; and I actually prefer the standard File Manager, but this is going to be somewhat a personal preference; both are free.
  • Gas Buddy – good tool for finding lower priced fuel when on the road, my only negative comment on this is that it doesn’t interface with Google Navigation (or any navigation), but does provide a map function.
  • GPS Test – great little tool to make sure your GPS is working properly.
  • Root Checker – simple tool to allow you to check to insure that your device is properly rooted.
  • FreeTethering or Wireless Tether for Root Users or Easy Tether or Easy Tether Lite – these apps provide the ability to tether a computer (laptop) to your device; check on which will work with your devices and check your carrier to see if there are any restrictions on tethering.
  • ClockworkMod Recovery – replacement recovery system for Android devices; this requires a rooted device, and allows the flashing of custom ROMs.  There are a number of recovery replacements for Android – ClockworkMod Recovery is one of the best, and free.
  • ClockworkMod ROM Manager – very nice tool to locate, install, and mange customer ROMs.  The free version will likely do all you need, but I recommend supporting the developer by purchasing the pro key (that also unlocks a few more capabilities).
  • Titanium Backup – great application for backing up and recovering applications (a must have if you’re going to flash custom ROMs).  The free version will likely do all you need, but I recommend supporting the developer by purchasing the pro key (that also unlocks more capabilities, and makes it a little easier for you to do restores and backups).

There are many other applications that you’ll probably find useful; but the above list should get you started.  I’ll probably add to this list over time and re-publish it.

I’ll also publish some additional Android resources on eBooks, CAN/ODB II (for your automobile), as well as some rooted device helpful hints.

Originally posted 2011-10-21 02:00:52.

Moto g4+ and g5+

moto_g4+_g5+

The Moto G5+ is the current version of the Moto G line; but how does it stack up against it’s predecessor the Moto G4+…

The differences…

The G5+ has a 5.20 inch display, a 2GHz octa-core processor, and ships with Android 7.0 (there are various models with different RAM and storage configurations); plus has a metal back.

The G4+ has a 5.50 inch display, a 1.5/1.2 octa-core processor (four cores at each speed), and ships with Android 6.0.1 (there’s an OTA Android 7.0; and there are various models with different RAM and storage configurations).

There’s, a slight difference in physical size (because of the screen size), and stylistically some minor differences in the general appearance… but really they are more similar than they are different.

The pluses…

The handset are solidly built, not bloated with useless apps (in the unlocked versions), support a uSD card up to 256GB (though if you’re buying a phone like this I suspect 128GB is the largest you’ll want to pay for at this time), have turbo-charging, and reasonably good battery life (the two have slightly different size batteries).

Accessories, like tempered glass screen protectors, cases, chargers, etc are aggressively priced and easily available.

Both are have been well received by the hacker community, so there will likely be good support for rooting and custom ROMs for the foreseeable future.

The minuses…

Neither have NFC (at least in the North American models), and both have micro-USB rather than USB-C.

The subjectives….

The finger-print scanner is on the front.  Lenovo (Motorola) hasn’t been doing extremely well in this market and have made efforts to move more upscale (so there may not be a Moto g6+ to carry on the lineage).

Conclusion…

From my perspective, if you’re looking for an unlocked handset that is feature rich, with good performance, and won’t break the bank — either of these will do you nicely.  Watch for “refurbished” or “customer returns” and you can find these at about 40% off — making them an incredible deal.

Also, if a handset will last you easily a year — I’d pass on any type of insurance, but at these prices single payment cell phone replacement plans won’t empty too much extra out of your wallet (remember there’s a fee when using the insurance, so figure that into whether just buying a new or having the insurance makes the most sense for you).

 

g4+ specs

Network Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE
Launch Announced 2016, May
Status Available. Released 2016, May
Body Dimensions 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm (6.02 x 3.02 x 0.39 in)
Weight 155 g (5.47 oz)
SIM Single SIM (Micro-SIM) or Dual SIM (Micro-SIM, dual stand-by)
Display Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 5.5 inches (~71.2% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Platform OS Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), upgradable to 7.0 (Nougat)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617
CPU Octa-core (4×1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.2 GHz Cortex-A53)
GPU Adreno 405
Memory Card slot microSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot) – single & dual SIM models
Internal 16 GB, 2 GB RAM or 32 GB, 3 GB RAM or 64 GB, 4 GB RAM
Camera Primary 16 MP, f/2.0, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, check quality
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, auto-HDR
Video 1080p@30fps, HDR, check quality
Secondary 5 MP, f/2.2, auto-HDR
Sound Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
Comms WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, LE
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Radio FM radio
USB microUSB 2.0, USB Host
Features Sensors Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Java No
– Fast battery charging
– MP3/AAC+/WAV/Flac player
– MP4/H.264 player
– Photo/video editor
– Document viewer
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
Misc Colors Black, White
SAR 1.09 W/kg (head)     1.48 W/kg (body)
Price $179 US
Tests Performance Basemark OS II: 951 / Basemark OS II 2.0: 799
Basemark X: 6380
Display Contrast ratio: 1435 (nominal), 2.582 (sunlight)
Camera Photo / Video
Loudspeaker Voice 64dB / Noise 70dB / Ring 73dB
Battery life

 

g5+ specs

Network Technology GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE
Launch Announced 2017, February
Status Available. Released 2017, April
Body Dimensions 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm (5.91 x 2.91 x 0.30 in)
Weight 155 g (5.47 oz)
SIM Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Display Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 5.2 inches (~67.1% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (~424 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Platform OS Android 7.0 (Nougat)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625
CPU Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
GPU Adreno 506
Memory Card slot microSD, up to 256 GB
Internal 32/64 GB, 2/4 GB RAM; 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
Camera Primary 12 MP, f/1.7, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, auto-HDR
Video 2160p@30fps
Secondary 5 MP, f/2.2
Sound Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes
3.5mm jack Yes
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
Comms WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
NFC Yes (market dependent)
Radio FM radio
USB microUSB 2.0, USB Host
Features Sensors Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser HTML5
Java No
– Fast battery charging
– MP3/AAC+/WAV/Flac player
– MP4/H.264 player
– Photo/video editor
– Document viewer
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
Misc Colors Lunar Grey, Fine Gold
Price $229 US

 

 

 

 

Motorola Xoom MZ604 and Vizio VTAB1008

I picked up a Motorola Xoom MZ604 (US WiFi only) several months ago when the prices dropped (actually a package with a few accessories), and another a week or so ago when Target put the Xoom and portfolio case on sale for $399…  The Xoom runs Honeycomb (Android 3.2).

I also picked up two of the Vizio VTAB 1008 about the same time I purchased the second Xoom at Sam’s Club when they dropped the price to $194 (I got the Vizio cases at Walmart for $19 each since I didn’t care for the accessory package Sam’s Club had — or the price).  The VTAB runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3).

And yes, I have two Motorola Droid A855 handsets as well — so I currently have six Android devices; and I’ll consider a quad-core running Ice Cream Sandwidth (aka ICS, Android 4) when those come out.  My Droid is running Gingerbreak (Android 2.3) — and, no, it’s not an official release; the official release for a Droid is Froyo (Android 2.2),

I’ve rooted the Droid, the Xoom as well as the VTAB; and I’ll write up a review for each of the Xoom and the VTAB in the next several days and get them posted (if you really want a solid, reasonably priced Android handset with a slide out keyboard, the Droid, or the Droid 2, or the Droid 2 Global are great alternatives; but I see no need to review devices that are not currently produced or nearing end-of-life).

There are a lot of tablets out there on the market; but the Xoom is a great dual core 10.1″ tablet, and the VTAB is a pretty good buy for a single core 8″ tablet.

Now keep in mind that all 8″ (and 7″) tablets aren’t the same.  Many do not have GPS or Bluetooth.  Not only does the Vizio have that, but it also has IR (Infrared) and will act as an entertainment remote control (which I’ll probably toss the Neo Pronto I have aside in favor of just keeping the Vizio handy).

Like I said, I’ll do a complete review on each of the devices; and with the Xoom I’ll contrast and compare it to the other devices I considered.

The bottom line — if you’re looking for a tablet, this is the year of the tablet; there are going to be lots of them offered at very attractive prices over the holiday season, and I suspect you’ll find quite a few even better deals once the CES show announcements hit the press after the first of the year.

Do your homework, and know what you want, and determine what you’re willing to pay.

Originally posted 2011-11-23 02:00:50.

Xoom

Several weeks ago I purchased a Motorola Xoom (WiFi only model), I’d looked at the Acer, the Asus, the Samsung, and read up on the Thrive — I decided that the Xoom was the best candidate of the available Android/Honeycomb tablets available now.

I’m happy with my purchase, and it’s amazing how quickly a “gadget” can find its way into your everyday life.

I will write a lengthy review of the Xoom to let you know everything I like about it, and the things I really don’t think are that great… plus I’ll write a post on my rooting adventure (after all, it’s Android, why wouldn’t you root it).

Let me just close with it’s a great tool, and if you’re willing to carry something like that with you it gives you incredible access to books, news, entertainment, information…

I do expect that prices for 10″ tablets will continue to come down… but I’d definitely recommend you only consider a dual-core (or better) tablet.

Originally posted 2011-08-03 02:00:04.