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Summary:

The week flew by in a blur with all the activity at Mobile Tech Manor, and that means time to share the week with you. Mobile Tech Manor was a busy place, and I spent far too much time feeding my app addiction.

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The week flew by in a blur with all the activity at Mobile Tech Manor, and that means time to share the week with you. Mobile Tech Manor was a busy place, and I spent far too much time feeding my app addiction. The fastest phone I’ve ever used went back where it came from, and I read a free book full of great pixels.

Bye bye Pre

The Sprint EVO 4G was sent back to the folks at Sprint who let me take a look at the phone that is launching today. It was the fastest phone I’ve ever used, and I regretted only getting to play with it for a long weekend. Since today is launch day I just went to my Sprint account online and verified I qualify for a full upgrade on the EVO. Why do I have the feeling that I will be visiting the Sprint store today? My Palm Pre may get retired today.

The Pre has served me well, it is still my main phone. I find that webOS has the best user interface around, and I am anxious to see what HP intends to do with it since buying Palm. I suspect we’ll see new phones with webOS from HP quicker than we might think, and I want to see what webOS can do on really good hardware.

Android is very nice, especially when fronted with the HTC Sense enhancements which really sharpen the user experience. The EVO 4G with Sense is a great phone to use, although it does like that battery. If I get an EVO I’ll have to keep a close eye on battery consumption and see how that goes. That was the only concern about the EVO in my limited trial. Everything else about the phone is outstanding. That large screen is to die for, and sipping 4G on a phone is mind-blowing.

Taking two monitors to the coffee house

I spent a lot of time in the iPad App Store this week. I never got into the whole app thing with my iPhone 3G. Maybe that small screen never tickled the app center in my brain; I have only bought a handful of apps in the two years I’ve owned the iPhone.

The iPad is another matter entirely. I suspect it has to do with the larger screen that makes apps shine. Or perhaps it is the sheer usability of the iPad that makes for good app usage. Whatever the reason I am hopelessly addicted to apps on the iPad. There is something special about finding an app for a buck that adds a lot of value to my time on the iPad.

I picked up two apps this week that have given me far more value than I expected. Air Display is the equivalent of buying an external monitor for my MacBook for ten bucks. I admit I bought the app for its cool factor, never expecting it to make my work sessions better than before. You can watch my short video of Air Display in action to see what it does, but that doesn’t demonstrate how Air Display is adding the most value for me.

This week I was working in the local coffee shop, working on a long article I’m writing. I have gotten spoiled with my dual monitor setup in the Manor, and I miss it during work sessions like this one. I had a technical document I needed to refer to while writing the article, and while that would have been easy in my office I only had the MacBook with me in the beanery.

I remembered Air Display so I pulled the iPad out of my bag and fired it up. In seconds I turned the iPad into a wireless additional monitor for the Mac, and I opened the technical document in portrait orientation. This let me see a whole page of reference material at once, while keeping the MacBook screen free for the writing. This made a huge difference for this session, and I am convinced the work went much faster than it would have otherwise. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this a lot.

Docs2Go

A new version of Documents to Go was released for the iPad this week, and they had a one-day deal for 20 percent off the normal purchase price. I picked it up for $11.99 and have been using it a lot. It is a full office suite that has outstanding compatibility with MS Office docs, and it has already replaced my use of the Apple iWorks apps.

The iWorks apps have received a lot of deserved bad press due to compatibility problems with complex documents. I’ve experienced those incompatibilities first-hand when opening documents on the iPad, particularly spreadsheets and presentation documents.

Docs2Go handles those documents just fine, and the icing on the cake is the tight integration with both SugarSync and Google Docs. I use SugarSync for my cloud backup, and we use Google Docs at GigaOm. These both work great on the iPad and I am very pleased with this purchase, even though it was a bit pricier than most iPad apps.

e-Book of the week

This week I read a murder mystery that was a light read. Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent is a simple story about a murder in a small town, and the cake baker who solved it. I guess the police are glad the cake baker moved to town. I got the e-book free from Amazon on the top seller list I keep telling you about. You are checking that regularly, right? Many of the free books are quite good, as Amazon gives them away to expose you to new authors.

Wrap-up

That’s the week in Mobile Tech Manor. Gadgets, apps and e-books, or business as usual. Until next week take care of yourself.

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  1. ramfrancisuk Friday, June 4, 2010

    Hi James, I was wondering why GigaOm does not just take contracts with the main mobile telecos and buy sim-free phones for you guys to long-term test/review, as oppose to you having to buy phones and contracts yourselves? You would be able to pass them around the core group of writers, and get different views if any. Then either sell them or do a reader contest.

    1. We do get our fair share of eval units from the telcos. I prefer to buy my own phones as I am the one using them and I get what I want that way.

      1. Thank you James. I see that, but phone evals seem to be very short – and in that time your not be able to do a long term test. People reading your reviews are in it for the long term (2years). There is only so much you can buy and effectively use.

      2. Re: Ramfrancisuk

        While long term reviews would be nice, I think the reality of the market is that new phones are coming out at a breakneck pace — more frequently than the time period it would take to do such a reasonable “long term review.” In the past month or two, we’ve seen the introduction of the HTC Incredible and HTC Evo, and the iPhone is due to be announced in the coming days–all on different networks, and all of which ostensibly speak to a different set of users as a result. Who is to decide which phone should get treatment over the others?

        At any rate, I too will be retiring my Pre. It’s a shame too, WebOS was great. As mature as Android has come in the past year, it’s still immature in a lot of ways–even when compared to WebOS. I for one will miss the awesome copy/paste abilities I had in WebOS.

  2. ramfrancisuk Friday, June 4, 2010

    Re: Neoterix

    I am thinking Long Term Review is three months. I and agree the pace of new phones coming out is very rapid. But that said, people read this site to get an insight into features, pros and cons, that you cannot get from the retailer or the paper magazine. With James and Kevin you can email them and ask them a question and get a response. Today and these comments is an example of this.

    But in any case this is moving way form my initial point – why does GigaOm not buy the conracts and phones for Long Term Reviews (upto 3 months)for their Reviewers. :)

    1. I think it’s a fair question that you’re asking. My take = if we personally spend our own money on a phone, that tells readers something right there – the phone is worthy of our wallets to begin with. While that doesn’t mean it will be a great phone, it tells you that it made our first important cut.

      With so many handset models out there, and those getting upgrades from time to time, it’s really a challenge to use a phone fairly exclusively for a few months. Could we change our internal business model and have GigaOM buy contracts and phones? Sure we could, but I don’t know that it would change any of our reviews or evaluation processes. I don’t see that going down that path would make much of a difference in how we do what we do.

      As you said, “There is only so much you can buy and effectively use.”

      Having GigaOM buy every major phone out there would address the first part of that phrase, but wouldn’t change the second, which is far more important in my mind.

      1. Hi Kevin and James. That’s fine, I was just wondering why you guys had to buy these things. I take onboard and accept your points. Putting down your own money does speak volumes. Thank you

  3. Nice to see a tech blogger with with positive things to say about webOS and the Pre. The EVO is very tempting but I am holding off for (1) more long term opinions on battery life and (2) 2.2 being made officially available. Battery life is a personal concern but Android 2.2 availability is a show stopper. 2.2 brings full support of MS Exchange security standards and administration. No 2.2=no sync with business email/calendar=no go :(

    1. I think the vast majority of bloggers and press had good things to say about WebOS; it was critically received amazingly well. I remember David Pogue could not stop raving about it at one point.

      …alas for whatever reason (poor marketing among other things) the Pre never took hold of the public consciousness. Here’s to hoping Palm can get back on the horse, but for now Android it is for me.

  4. James, if you go today take alot of patience. I mean alot. After trying and giving up on a Radio Shack at 6am and went to the Sprint store that had me down for one.

    It took one hour and forty nine minutes to get back out of the store!!! In that time they activated 20 phones. It was incredibly worse than the iPhone 3G launch.

    I had the phone 20 minutes and it got it’s first OTA patch. I barely got the 4G turned on to download the 14MB with. Well, I wish I hadn’t taken the patch: it kills the “free” hotspot. :-(

    Now I’ve got to go back today to get the $30 tacked onto my account.

    I’m lovin’ the phone but still in shock over the incredibly poor purchasing experience. Sprint and Radio Shack both gave themselves huge black eyes today. The Sprint clerk was pleading with me to not give them bad marks on the customer satisfaction survey. And while I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt over the IT side of things, the clerks were in charge of not managing to call tickets in order. That started to get very nasty when they couldn’t keep track of which number was next.

  5. I had a similar horrible experience at a Radio Shack in Chicago. I was first in line and ended up walking out without an Evo an hour later. Called back an hour later and the customer who came in after me was still waiting to get the transaction completed. I know the Sprint sire must have been slammed, but they should’ve had a better plan. 1.5 – 2 hours to buy a phone is ridiculous.

  6. In Salt Lake City today there were about 20 people on line at the Sprint store when they opened at 8am, and we don’t even have 4G here. Everyone I asked said they don’t really need, or care about 4G too much. They all just like the specs and what they’ve read about the EVO’s features. Hotspot was #1 on everyone’s list.

    They had sold out the 40 they had by about noon, and started taking names for a wait list. Quite a few people trading in old iPhones for the EVO.

    Sprint seems to be having a problem with OTA data service provisioning today. A number of us left the store with voice calls working, but no data service. They told us to check manually for updates and that it should start working soon. Working fine on WiFi for now.

    I also retired my Palm Pre today. Great OS and it served me well for a year. But poor quality construction and it’s recently started rebooting itself every few days.

  7. James, since the Air Display app works over Wifi I was curious if it had an effect the battery life of your MacBook… Considering how you never carry a power brick with you.

    I really am thinking about getting that toshiba NB305 with a rated 11 hours of battery life, that way I wont have to carry a power brick around either. :)

    1. It has no noticeable impact. WiFi is already running for connectivity, and I don’t think slinging the display over it would take much more juice.

  8. Just picked up my evo and visiting this site and omg I can see flash stuff on the browser !!! How is this possible???

    1. James Kendrick sam Saturday, June 5, 2010

      It’s magic, more magical than that iPad thing. :)

    2. HTC has a support for Flash Lite (not Flash 10.1) built into the Evo. We’ll still need 2.2 for the full Flash experience.

      1. Thanks for the clarification Andre, I have yet to stumble upon a flash site that would not work on the evo…so far so good no pb at all !!! (sent from my awesome evo :) )

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