Category: Smartphones

AT&T Data Woes

I started a new job back in November and it has been a whirlwind.  As part of the transition, I have changed cell phones and added an aircard.  In a future piece, I will discuss my new Palm Pre.

My employer offered the option of three mobile data providers: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.  Sprint coverage is not good where I live and so I debated between AT&T and Verizon. I eventually chose AT&T because online articles had suggested that AT&T had the fastest network (excluding VZW’s new LTE which had not been announced at the time) and because AT&T’s GSM technology would work better outside of the US.  Both arguments later proved faulty since Verizon offers GSM capable aircards and recently announced high-speed LTE service.

I was excited when my new USB Connect Lightning arrived and was surprised by its large size.  However, I was happy to have the service and that the unit arrived just before a trip.  The initial configuration was painless although I was slightly disappointed about the weak signal in my house.  Signal strength is not great where I live, but my cellphone appeared to handle the situation better.  Regardless, I was looking forward to having Internet access wherever I traveled.

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Re-thinking the iPad

I have blogged on numerous occasions about how I dislike Apple’s closed approach to iOS/iTunes.  However, I have also blogged about my search for a PDA for my wife and she chose an iPhone because she preferred its ease of use.  It is in the context of these contrasting perspectives that I have begun to ponder whether to acquire an iPad.

I am in the process of changing jobs (blog post here) and during the transition, am without a laptop.  Surprisingly, I am really missing the portable computer.  I used it frequently to surf the Internet during commercial breaks on TV or watch football on Slingbox while my kids viewed movies.  Additionally, I often found that the best time for blogging is in the evening on the living room coach after everyone has gone to bed.  Unfortunately, none of these activities are possible now since I only have a desktop computer.  Mynew job will provide a laptop, but I think that I need my own hardware.

My goals in purchasing a new system are to minimize expense and to choose a solution that best meets my requirements.  As I see it, I have three options. Read More »

I have lamented in the past about RIM’s Blackberry OS and how serious changes are needed to compete effectively with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.  The latest iteration, Blackberry 6.0 is improved, but I questioned whether it is enough to compete.  Recently, rumors have surfaced of a new iPad-like device from RIM called the BlackPad which brings the OS question back to the forefront.

The first assumption by most experts is that the BlackPad would be powered by RIM’s Blackberry 6.0 similar to how Apple leveraged iOS for the iPad. This made sense from a time to market and ease of implementation perspective, and is the only choice if RIM is committed to Blackberry OS over the long-term.  However, the latest rumor is that the BlackPad will be based on an OS created by QNX Software. (RIM acquired QNX back in April.) If true, this is a major shift for RIM and potentially represents the long awaited OS rewrite.  If RIM does release the BlackPad with QNX technology then I believe that the smartphones must follow.

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There have been numerous leaked videos of the upcoming Blackberry 9800 slider.  The device brings a new form factor to the Blackberry, but most importantly incorporates a brand new OS, 6.0.  The combination of 6.0 and the 9800’s touch screen mimics the experience found in competing phones running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, but is it enough?

I have blogged before about how I believe that RIM has to re-write their OS to become competitive in the rapidly changing and multimedia-centric smartphone market.  OS 6.0 represents RIM’s strongest move yet in this direction, but is still based on their traditional Java OS.  Crackberry.com has links to sample videos of the new phone/OS combination in the links below.  (Note: that some of these videos have been removed, and most can be found here.)

These videos show an impressive improvement in Blackberry functionality and features, but I am not convinced it is enough.  If you look at the market, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android battle on hardware and software features.  They are constantly trying one-up each other with enhancements like video-conferencing (iPhone) or wireless hotspot (Android).  RIM is behind on touchscreen functionality and 6.0 is a catch up release for them.  It breaks no new ground but rather brings RIM a touch interface that is similar to what Android and iOS have been offering since inception.  Where is the innovation in the platform? Read More »

This week Microsoft announced that they were discontinuing their Kin product line.  The Kin phones are their new social-oriented devices that were developed by their Danger subsidiary who also designed the Sidekick family for T-Mobile.  (On a side note, the Sidekick was discontinued this week too.  Coincidence?)  The Kin was the first all new phone design out of Microsoft in recent years, and they are currently working on another new platform, Windows Mobile Phone 7 (WMP7).

The Kin makes an interesting case study; it was developed by a team with a proven track record of releasing successful Sidekick phones.  One would have expected the successes to translate to the Kin, but unfortunately that is not the case.  The phones suffered from an overly expensive pricing model and a number of questionable design decisions.  You would think that Danger’s experienced phone designers would know better, and I worry that the same myopia could lead to a WMP7 failure. Read More »