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The Generalist - A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

Review of the Samsung Galaxy S2 (S II) i9100 Android Phone (International Version)

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Recently, my wife's old phone died. The old phone was a G1 and really needed replacing anyway so I had already been researching replacement phones. Some of the features I was looking for were a high-res large screen so emails and PDFs of scanned documents would be easier to read, responsiveness so less time is spent switching between apps, built-in tethering to support a tablet or laptop, a decent camera so she doesn't have to carry a separate camera, and GPS good enough to replace her dedicated GPS device. Also, our plan doesn't get us phone upgrades so whatever phone I choose we're paying for completely. Looking at the selection of Android phones out there, I found a few that were a bit cheaper and probably good enough. Once I'm paying that much though, it seemed like I might as well go all the way and get the best. So I ended up buying the Samsung Galaxy S2.

The phone is amazing. The Samsung Galaxy S2 is beautiful and powerful. The dual core 1.2 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM paired with the 4.3" screen make this feel more like a small tablet than a phone. In fact, now that my wife has used this phone some, she doesn't think she'll need a tablet anymore. All of the features I was looking for are covered and more. After spending some time setting up this phone, my Nexus One doesn't feel as special as it used to. Surprisingly, the battery even survives one wife day (my measurement of battery life). Her phone rarely gets a break during the day and it still claimed to have 43% battery life left when I plugged it in for the night. The new internal components and screen don't consume as much power as I would have guessed and the phone comes with an impressive 1650mAh battery.

Here are a couple things you might not like about the phone.

It's thin but slightly large. While the phone is very thin and light, the height and width are a bit big. When I first opened the phone, I was slightly worried that it would be too big to fit in my wife's pocket. It turns out it fits just fine. If you want a large screen, the phone has to be big enough to fit it. It's not a design flaw, and I wanted to purchase a phone with a large screen so I can't really complain. It just looks big. Also, the size paired with the weight make this device feel less solid than my Nexus One does. This isn't a bad thing, it just feels lighter than you would expect.

They apparently coated this phone in super slick plastic. I've never held a phone that felt this slippery. This is great on the screen where my fingers glide nicely without grabbing. On the edges of the phone this is a little more annoying. When I consider that my wife probably dropped her old phone multiple times a day, this worries me somewhat. I've ordered a cheap rubber glove for the phone though, so it shouldn't be an issue long term.

 

View RSS Feeds on an Android Mobile Phone Using Google Reader

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In the past I've never found much use for RSS feeds. I understand the theory, but have always been perfectly happy to just browse to the different web pages I read. Now that I spend a good deal of time reading articles on the train while fighting with spotty internet service, I've found RSS feeds to be very useful to me. I can cache the article stubs for all the sites I want to check out before I get on the train. If I see an article I want to read completely, but don't have reception, I can star it so I can come back to it later. I also don't have to spend time on the train browsing from news site to news site. I only load the articles I want to read.

I've installed Google Reader on my phone to manage my RSS subscriptions. I don't really have experience with other RSS tools to compare against, but I'll list the features I like here:

You can easily add subscriptions. From within reader you can type in the URL of a website and Google Reader will search for the feed for you. If a website has a RSS button, you can click that to launch Google Reader and add the subscription. I found that it was actually simpler to just give Google Reader the site's root URL and let it find the feed than to try to type in the URL for the feed itself.

You can subscribe to things other than RSS feeds. For instance, you can subscribe to specific search terms on Twitter or Google News and have related articles and tweets added to your feed. This is a nice feature since it allows me to keep track of news or comments about specific technologies I'm interested in.

You can star articles to bookmark them quickly. By hitting the star next to any article you bookmark it so you can read it when you have time (or an internet connection). This one is mostly useful to me when my internet connection drops during my ride. I can just star the article and read it later when my connection has recovered or when I get home.

Google Reader syncs with your Google account. If I want to, I can catch up with those starred articles form my laptop rather than my cell phone. My Nexus One is great an all, but if I'm at a laptop or desktop I'd rather read articles on a real monitor.

If you use your cell phone to read articles from multiple sites, I recommend using Google Reader or an app like it to help you browse through the content quickly. It will save you time and battery life.

 

WAMP Apache Won’t Load After Installing Microsoft WebMatrix - Solution

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I installed Microsoft's WebMatrix to test out. Unfortunately, I found that the WAMP Apache install on my laptop stopped working afterwards because port 80 was already in use. As part of the install IIS Express got installed and I couldn't find the right service to turn off. I finally determined that turning off the Web Deployment Agent Service seems to have fixed the problem. Now Apache will start again. As far as WebMatrix goes, I'm not real excited about it yet. After I try it out some more I'll write a review.

 

Google Gesture Search - Search with Handwriting on your Android Phone

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I happened upon Google Gesture Search one while browsing through the Android Market. It allows you to search through your phone by drawing letters on the screen. I find this to actually be much faster than scrolling through my list or typing on the on-screen keyboard when trying to look up a contact quickly.

 

Amazon Starts Taking Pre-Orders for the Samsung Series 7 Slate Windows Tablet - The One Seen at BUILD

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Update - It looks like the Series 7 Slate will start shipping on the 1st of November.

Samsung's new Windows 7 tablet, the Series 7 Slate, is now available to preorder on Amazon. This is the workhorse tablet for people who want to be able to use their tablet as their primary computer. This isn't a watered down system that does some of what your computer can, this is a full 64bit Windows 7 computer that does everything your desktop can. Here is a breakdown of the models:

Model

XE700T1A-A01US

XE700T1A-A05US

XE700T1A-A03US

CPU

Intel Core i5 2467M

Intel Core i5 2467M

Intel Core i5 2467M

OS

Win 7 Home Premium 64bit

Win 7 Professional 64bit

Win 7 Home Premium 64bit

Screen Size

11.6"

11.6"

11.6"

RAM

4GB DDR3 1333MHz

4GB DDR3 1333MHz

4GB DDR3 1333MHz

Hard Drive

64GB SSD

64GB SSD

128GB SSD

Resolution

1366 x 768

1366 x 768

1366 x 768

Wireless

802.11 b/g/n

802.11 b/g/n

802.11 b/g/n

Weight

~2.0 lbs

~2.0 lbs

~2.0 lbs

Battery

Up to 7 hours

Up to 7 hours

Up to 7 hours

Price

$1,099

$1,199

$1,349

 

All models also include:

1366 x 768 10 point multi touch screen

Wacom Digitizer technology for stylus input.

HDMI and USB output

Wireless 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and 3G.

If you're looking for a Windows tablet, this one is going to be king of the hill for the near future. If you want to try Windows 8, you can download the Windows 8 Developer Preview and install it on this. Since this is a full computer, you can plug a USB keyboard in and get to the BIOS. You can also install other OSs and dual boot.

You can find the pre-order on Amazon here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 15:43
 


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