This Week in Mobile Tech Manor #86: Incredible and the Flu

Mobile Tech Manor

This week has been spent fighting the flu while business in Mobile Tech Manor was conducted as usual. I had the unfortunate opportunity to find out what happens when a cloud service fails, and got to experience good tech support as a result. A new phone hit the Manor and I’m trying a new technology that I’m liking so far. Come on in and I’ll share my week with you.

I have been fighting the flu (and losing) for several days this week. It came on quickly and settled in for the count. It had me waffling between feeling fine and horrible for a full three days. It’s still refusing to go away but I am beginning to feel like a human again as I write this.

Only one gadget

Droid Incredible

Given my health it’s a good thing only one new gadget appeared at the Manor, and at the end of the week at that. The folks at Verizon sent over a Droid Incredible by HTC on its release day. The Incredible is what you get when you take the Google Nexus One, update the hardware a little and add the HTC Sense interface bits. A very nice update, in other words.

I haven’t gotten into the details of the phone yet but one thing has consistently impressed me about the Droid Incredible — it is so fast. I would go on a limb and state the Incredible is the fastest smartphone I have used, and that covers a lot of ground. I haven’t used a Nexus One, a phone often praised for its responsiveness, but I have played with a few of them. The Incredible is definitely faster that the Nexus One in every way.

I am surprised how light and thin the Incredible is; it is as thin as the iPhone 3G I have, and lighter by far. This is due to the plastic case on the Incredible, and while it feels very well made in the hand, I wonder how rugged it might be over time. I can’t imagine dropping it in a concrete parking lot and having anything good come out of it.

I am impressed with the latest version of Android on the Incredible, and the latest HTC Sense interface. The HTC interface makes Android so much better, and gives them a definite advantage over other Android phone makers IMHO. I’m glad they signed that deal with Microsoft to protect them from any problems a la the Apple suit. I hope that suit gets resolved quickly, I’d hate for HTC to stop making Android phones. The Incredible shows how far HTC can take the platform, and I’d hate for legalities to wreck that.

My next phone?

Sprint EVO

I believe a phone coming soon from HTC may be the next phone I buy for full-time use. The HTC EVO coming shortly from Sprint is going to be hard for me to resist, given all the features it’s going to be packing. Back when I reviewed the HD2 from HTC, I stated that if I could have that great hardware with Android onboard it would be the near perfect smartphone. That’s the EVO in a nutshell, and I believe it’s going to be a dynamite phone.

The HD2 was saddled with Windows Mobile, a shame as it made that phone unstable. My podcast co-host Matt Miller agrees with that, as he stated on the latest episode we recorded yesterday (recording should be available soon). He bought the HD2 and has become totally frustrated with the instability that Windows Mobile brings to the device. We had a good conversation about that but basically the conclusion reached was Windows Mobile is inherently unstable on smartphones of today. Hopefully this will change when Windows Phone 7 hits late this year. It better.

I cannot remember when a webOS phone, Android phone or my iPhone 3G locked up and had to be rebooted. That just doesn’t happen with phones running those platforms, but the same can’t be said for Windows Mobile in my experience. Every single WinMo phone I’ve tried for years has occasionally locked up, requiring the phone to be either soft or even worse, hard reset. That’s not acceptable in my view, and why WinMo has never done well in the main consumer market.

The Sprint EVO hardware running Android is going to be outstanding, and I admit it’s been a while since a phone has gotten me excited like this one. That giant 4.3-inch screen in a great form factor will be great. Throw in support for Sprint’s 4G network and the EVO is a geek’s dream phone.

Break in the cloud

I have been happily using the SugarSync service to keep my important files backed up to the cloud. It automatically keeps my Mac and Windows system in sync as part of the process. The ability to use the iPad app and access my files on the iPad are a bonus. SugarSync quietly runs in the background on those two systems and when a file is created or modified on either system the update appears in the cloud and on the other system. It has worked flawlessly until this week, when it stopped on the Mac.

I noticed early in the week that the SugarSync icon had disappeared from my MacBook’s system tray. This concerned me as the MacBook can only stay in sync with the cloud if the background app is running. I manually fired up the SugarSync File Manager app and it wouldn’t run — it would start and then disappear. I uninstalled and reinstalled it to see if that would fix it but no dice.

I filed a help ticket online with the SugarSync support team and waited to hear back from them. This is that gray area with a company when you’re not sure what to expect. I am happy to report the tech support experience was outstanding. I received an email a few hours later asking me to send the log files created by SugarSync so the tech support guy could have a look.

I did that and it didn’t shed any light on the problem so he had me uninstall and reinstall the app again. He actually called me and provided one-on-one instructions on the uninstall, as OS X had put some configuration files in different places when the app was installed. I dutifully removed them and reinstalled it and sure enough it worked.

Apparently, the file index stored on the Mac was corrupted, and SugarSync couldn’t handle it. Totally removing all traces of the app from the Mac allowed the reinstall to reindex the files as part of the reinstall and all was soon good again. It’s important to note that my files were safe in the cloud, only the local index was hosed. The tech support for SugarSync was top-notch, and I was duly impressed with the experience.

Instapaper is nice

This week I finally got around to trying something I have put off for a while. I’m finding it pretty useful so I’m glad I got in gear and gave Instapaper a shot. Instapaper is basically a way to easily capture web articles for later reading. I decided to give it a try as the iPad app is a pretty good free way to interact with Instapaper.

I am finding it more useful than I thought I would. It creates a “Read Later” bookmark button in the browser and when I see something I want to read but don’t have time I simply hit the button. That stores the article in my Instapaper account where it’s accessible through any browser and a number of mobile apps (iPad, iPhone, etc.). I use it quite a bit and it’s all free so give it a try if you haven’t.

e-Books this week

This week I finished the long Under the Dome by Stephen King. It was a good story, although not quite as original as I thought going in. I read another book with the same basic premise a while back; I forget which book it was. It was still a good read.

I also read Healer by F. Paul Wilson and I enjoyed it. It’s an interesting sci-fi novel that tells the story of someone who accidentally becomes immortal. It is part of Wilson’s LaNague Federation series and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Wrap-up

That’s my week as it went down in Mobile Tech Manor. I enjoyed sharing it with you and hope you enjoyed it too. I know I am more than ready for this flu to leave the Manor, it’s not been fun. Until next week — be safe.

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