This week has been an unusual one in Mobile Tech Manor, my home office, due to a quick trip to San Francisco. These trips take up a fair bit of time for the planning, and doing any prep work that must be done for the meetings that are the purpose of the trip. I am writing this in my hotel room in San Francisco, after spending a few hours with the GigaOM team. Come in for a visit and we’ll talk about the past week in MTM.
This week saw me doing another flip-flop on my working browser, something I do from time to time. I have switched to using Safari full-time on the MacBook, which is my main desktop system. I love Firefox, don’t get me wrong, but I spend so much time in the browser that I need it to be as fast as possible. I tested the latest version of Safari and found it to be faster than Firefox, so I have switched back to Safari for now.
I still use Firefox on Windows, because I don’t find Safari to work as well as either Firefox or Chrome on that OS. I find Firefox to be the best on Windows, so that’s what I use. I am able to keep Firefox and Safari bookmarks in sync using Xmarks on both the Mac and Windows. It sure makes it easier to switch back and forth as needed with no penalty as far as bookmarks are concerned.
Palm at hand
The good folks at Verizon sent me a Pre Plus and a Pixi Plus to evaluate. Both of these phones are available from Verizon, in fact Big Red has the exclusive on them both.
Overall I like both phones, although they can be a tad sluggish at times. This happens mostly when there is a lot going on. I must confess that even though the screen is smaller on the Pixi Plus, I am finding it to be the phone I prefer using. The Pre Plus is nice enough, but having the keyboard always available on the Pixi Plus is convenient. Sliding the Pre up to expose the keyboard has never felt totally natural, and the Pre Plus is the same.
The keyboards on both phones are roughly the same size and easy to use. The keyboard on the Pre Plus does have a mild curvature to it that the Pixi Plus lacks. In other words the rows of keys are in a slight “smile” shape, while the Pixi Plus rows of keys are straight across. I have to admit I don’t feel any difference typing on either one, so for me the difference is rather moot.
I have been testing the Palm Mobile Hotspot that is available on both the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus. A special Mobile Hotspot plan is required for $40 monthly, that is on top of the $30 monthly smartphone data plan required with these phones. Some folks may find that price to be reasonable as the Mobile Hotspot allows up to five devices to be tethered to the phone over Wi-Fi for sharing the 3G connection.
It’s a nice arrangement but I have run into an issue while testing the Mobile Hotspot in Houston. The bandwidth has been consistently slow using the Hotspot function on both phones, especially when compared to speeds obtained with the MiFi which uses the same 3G network as the phones. I’m not sure what is causing my consistently bad results in Houston, I have tested it here in San Francisco and have seen good bandwidth on both phones. It seems to be a Houston thing, although the MiFi doesn’t reflect the bad connection speeds that I see on the phones.
Some folks like to know what mobile gear I bring on trips like the one I am on now, and I am sharing that with you now. This trip is only a two day trip, my favorite kind as I can travel as light as I want with no ramifications.
To that end here’s my SF mobile kit that I am using:
- MacBook (13-inch)
- 2nd MacBook battery
- iPhone 3G
- Palm Pre
- Kindle 2
This kit is nice and light yet fully functional. I meant to bring the new Magic Mouse along for the ride, but I ran out and forgot to throw it in the bag. I am finding I don’t really miss it that much as the MacBook trackpad is more than adequate.
I also threw the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus in the gear bag, but that was only to show some of the GigaOM folks who wanted to check them out. I didn’t even bring the chargers for them.
e-Books of the week
This week I continued the epic journey into the world of the Wit’ch series by James Clemens I started last week. I am already in Book 4, Wit’ch Gate, as I can’t put them down. There is more action in these books than many fantasy books, and the story is told in great style. I am sad there is only one more book to go.
It’s after midnight and I am running out of steam so I’d better bring this to a close. I have an early morning too, so I’ve got to get some sleep. I hope you enjoyed this week’s column and that you’ll come back next week.