Archive | December, 2011

Galaxy Nexus: First Impressions

29 Dec

I’ve had my Galaxy Nexus (Google’s new phone, and the Android operating system’s flagship product) for a little over 24 hours now. Despite the huge anticipation, the phone was one of the worst product launches I’ve ever seen (more of a whimper than a bang), and was plagued with delays and misinformation ahead of launch. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen perhaps, with Google, Verizon and Samsung all involved.

There were also some issues with Google Wallet (google’s payment system that they were to showcase on this phone), which Verizon ended up blocking due to ‘security concerns’. Interestingly, Verizon have their own similar product coming out next year, in partnership with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Make of that what you will.

Anyhow, here are my first impressions of the phone, after playing with it for 24 hours.

The Good

  • Verizon’s 4G is quick. And I mean really, really quick. Apps download in a flash and web pages load almost instantaneously. It’s a joy as an internet device, it really is. HUGE plus for me there given how much data I use.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich (the new version of Android, only available on this device thus far) is really slick. Still not quite iPhone levels of slickness, but getting there for sure. Definitely a big step up from previous versions.
  • Call quality is great: much, much better than my previous phone (HTC Incredible). People sound sharp and clear.
  • The screen is absolutely stunning.  Incredibly clear and sharp. Love it.

The Bad

  • Battery life is appalling. Really, really bad. I have the standard (non extended) battery in there, and I get about six or seven hours of very light use. Not good. Makes me scared to use features like GPS.
  • It is a really big phone. Not heavy, just BIG. The footprint isn’t all that much smaller than my Kindle, and although it still manages to feel sleek and elegant, there’s a part of me that feels that it’s just too big as a phone. Hold an iPad to your face for an approximation of what it’s like to talk into.
  • It takes an ages to find signal again when I come up from the subway. I assume it’s Verizon 4G network related rather than the phone, but it’s still really annoying.
  • No hardware button for the camera. Why? I hate that bloody software button. May sound like a minor gripe, but I love to take pictures with my camera, and this really annoys me. Pressing the screen is just not the same as pressing a button. Despite the fact that the photos come out nicely (see below), this really bugs me.

Summary: it’s a really slick phone, but I’m definitely disappointed with the battery life and the software camera button. The camera itself takes nice pictures (not iPhone nice, but still decent), and the 4G speed is a joy, but so far I have to say I’m a little underwhelmed.

Early days though: I’ll re-evaluate again in a week’s time.


Volcano surfing, for the random Aussie guy :)

23 Dec

Ten years ago I was on a surf/snowboard trip, taking in some of the best spots for both the world had to offer. I was traveling light, other than my eight foot surf board that went with me wherever I went… including the ski hills.

I arrived in Calgary on my way up to the Banff ski area with this huge surf board bag in tow. I’m dressed inappropriately (having just come from Central America), and am dragging this massive bag that anyone who surfs would recognize as having boards in it.

As I’m walking through the airport, a guy who looks like he could be a surfer looks me up and down somewhat incredulously, then without missing a beat, says in a super thick Aussie accent: “sorry mate,  afraid the surf’s not been too good here lately”, before winking and walking off.

Bear in mind this is December in Canada, the temperature is well below zero, and we’re not on the coast. There is definitely no surf in Calgary (which is inland) in December.

It would have really easy to make fun of me, or to say something mean or to mock me. After all, I was headed to a ski hill with a surf board… but instead, this guy took the time to think of something witty, and to deliver his line in a thoroughly charmingly way. I remember it, and him, as if it was yesterday.

I thought of that guy this week as I drove inland from the Costa Rican coastline, where i was surfing, to take a look at the volcano Arenal, a good way away from the coast. Not a lot of surf there either though, obviously, and when I looked at my rental car with my surf board stuffed into it, I saw an opportunity to pay homage to that guy who made me laugh a few years back.

So, random Australian guy in Calgary airport 10 years ago…. this one’s for you mate:

Yep, that’s me with my surfboard (leash attached), in front of one of the world’s most active volcanos, for no reason at all, really. And yes, I know it’s cloudy, but here’s a shot from the exact same spot 24 hours earlier, when you can actually see the thing:

Monster. It’s an actual working volcano. That black stuff is where the lava has been. Gnarly, huh?

So thanks for the laugh that day random Aussie guy. I’m still appreciating it, even all these years later. Pura vida 🙂

The Kindle’s Killer App

21 Dec

When I was asking friends about their Kindles, trying to decide which of the new batch was for me, one comment in particular really jumped out at me: Ian Sohn told me that he loved his basic model, and that he particularly liked that it didn’t multi task. Sort of an odd statement when you think about it, but it didn’t really register with me at that time.

Given the arms race of a tech society we live in, it’s  unusual to hear somebody citing the lack of a feature or features as a positive. Now that I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks, I see exactly what he means, and he’s 100% right.

I read more because all my Kindle does is let me read. I don’t have the distractions of apps or videos or a million other things. Sure I had the Kindle app on my iPad (and loved having it there), but it was all too easy to switch to something else, to check my email or the score in the game. On the Kindle, it’s read or nothing. Sounds stupid, but it’s absolutely true.

So as Ian said, the Kindle’s killer app is that is that it doesn’t multi task. It’s just a reading device.  In an age where attention is at an absolute premium, the importance of that can’t be overstated. I love mine, and on this vacation I’ve used it every day. The iPad on the other hand, has come out once.