Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘samsung

Peak Smartphone?

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Samsung’s new S9 and S9+ smartphones are in just in time for Mobile World Congress (MWC) to kick into high gear.  What a coincidence!

The Verge has a hands-on look at the two devices, claiming they have the same look and fell as the S8, and a welcomed and improved fingerprint reader placement. The S9 will launch with Android 8.0 Oreo, and the S9 and S9 Plus will work with the Gear VR that launched last year (as well as with Google’s Daydream View headset). 

The Verge also makes much of the S9’s new camera system, with a single lens on the S9 and a dual camera on the S9 Plus, noting that the new camera is Samsung’s first with a mechanically adjustable aperture and can switch between a very bright f/1.5 to a smaller f/2.4. For true photo junkies, I would imagine the “manual” overrides are much welcomed.

Pre-orders from Samsung and T-Mobile start March 2 for $720 for the S9 and $840 for the S9 Plus. AT&T comes in at $79/$915, $800/$930 from Verizon, and $792/$912 on Sprint.

Back in Barcelona, MWC gets underway as worldwide smartphone sales have dropped for the very first time after years of unbridled growth. The decline, 5.6 percent YOY in the last quarter of 2017, can likely be attributed to a confluence of factors, including consumers moving more upscale in the smartphone feature sets and thus being able to hold on to their devices longer than they used to.

Or could it just be we’ve all grown weary of looking down all the time, ignoring everyone and everything around us?

Me, my iPhone SE still chugs along just fine, and when I want to look at a bigger screen?  Well, that’s what an iPad is for.  

They still make those too, right?

Written by turbotodd

February 26, 2018 at 9:06 am

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

Turbo’s New Hammer

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Turbo’s new “hammer,” a Samsung Chromebook that he loyally bought from IBM client Best Buy when he was supposed to be out just grabbing lunch. Read the full post to determine whether Todd will keep his new hammer and whether or not it’s worthy of a life lived mostly in the cloud.

I’ve not written a personal technology post in a couple of weeks, but I had occasion to acquire some new technology recently, and I decided that must change.

First things first: Never let me loose in a Best Buy with a credit card.  It’s not a pretty sight.

Which is precisely where I found myself last week during a lunch break, when I allegedly stepped out to get some food.

Of course, the place where I was getting the food was also close to where the Best Buy is located.  So, one thing led to another…

And to be fair, if not to myself, then to the telling of the tale, I didn’t wander into the Best Buy without having in my mind’s eye a certain technology I wanted to check out.

Mind you, I never had children, much to my mother’s chagrin, so my indulgence IS the acquisition of new technologies, of all varieties.  I could open a museum dedicated to the long dormant carcasses of technologies past.

Some of them I could make a good argument at the time I needed them, others I would have a difficult time in making that case to a mock court filled with sympathetic nerds.

But regardless, it is my passion and weakness (that, and golf).

Now for my juicy rationalization on this particular lunch break: Though I didn’t need a new computer, I wanted to try something new.

That’s as rational as it’s going to get.

Hey, it’s better than going out and buying a Porsche on a lark, right? Or a motorcycle of some kind, which would surely get me killed!  At least this Chromebook won’t kill me, I thought as I walked through Best Buy the parking lot.

So I walked into the Best Buy and *specifically* wanted to check out the Chromebooks.  That would help me limit the damage.

I already told you, this wasn’t an entirely rational act, although there was plenty of rationalizing as I went through the door.

Also, how’s this: Best Buy is an IBM client! When I buy stuff from Best Buy, I’m helping support a customer who helps support me because they buy our stuff!

That’s pretty good, you must admit.  I was about to close the deal with myself and I hadn’t even yet seen the Chromebook.

By now, I’ve walked past the mobile phone section of Best Buy, which for me is like a person who has a gambling problem having the willpower to walk through Caesar’s Palace without stopping at a blackjack table.

But I did it. And I kept on walking…past the 3D TVs, the Internet-enabled fridges, past the camera section (Wait, I’ve not bought a camera at least in a year!), and on into the computer section.

I asked the friendly sales guy if they had any Chromebooks on display, and he said, in fact, they did. Two models, one from Samsung, and one from Acer.

The Samsung had a 16GB hard drive, and the Acer, I think, a 128GB drive.

Of course, you’re missing the point with a Chromebook if you’re thinking about how much hard drive space there is.

The whole point of a Chromebook is to live almost entirely in the cloud.

And this was my goal. To see what it was like to live in the cloud.  Another rationalization. “I have to go live in the cloud, because…I must know what THAT’S like!”

That and to support one of IBM’s great clients, Best Buy, by buying more stuff from them.  Our client.  Who buys our stuff.

I know, I have a problem. I just want you to know how my mind works.

The nice sales guy answered a bunch of questions I had, machine gun fashion, Amy Poehler style, and then mentioned they had an “open box” of the Samsung, a return.

“Why’d they return it?” I asked him.

“Because, I don’t think they realized what they were getting into buying a Chromebook.”

Then, I saw the price. $216!!!  Aha, even better, I was going to benefit from the misery of another customer who had returned the thing because they didn’t understand they were going to have to live in the cloud.

I could feel my credit card literally melting in my back pocket. Like it was oozing between the seams and burning down my leg like hot wax.

“And can I bring it back if I don’t like it?”

“Thirty days,” he smiled.  Well there you go!  If I don’t like the thing, I’ll bring it back (Fat chance that was gonna happen, but it gave me an out).

The sales guy left me there to play with the Samsung Chromebook some more, but it was a no brainer!

$216 for an item that was listed at $249 and for which I’d seen folks charging close to $300.

So I bought it, the endorphin rush carrying me out the door back to my car.

It was supposed to come with 100 GB of free storage from Google for two years, but because it was an open box, the doofus who bought the thing and returned it, had cashed in the free storage and I was left to buy my own.

That’s okay, because as it turns out, I don’t need a lot of storage. I’m mostly saving small text docs.

And now, let me explain my net summary of the Chromebook experience thus far.

First, I’m a writer, first and foremost. So I like writing on something I like to write on.

Whether a typewriter, in a specific word processing app, or on a keyboard that has just the right feel…well, that’s the point: You know it when you feel it.

The Samsung Chromebook has the right feel, for me.

Second, less is more. For basic productivity, so long as you have a good Internet connection, most everything you need is in the Chrome cloud.

Writing apps, presentation apps, spreadsheets, games, music (Pandora, etc.)…

IF you need anything else that’s specifically hidebound to Mac OS or Windows or even Linux, the SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK IS NOT FOR YOU!

Third, I haven’t had to try and use it offline yet. Though I’m told a number of the Google apps work great offline, I haven’t yet gone there. So, stay tuned for more on that.

The ONLY thing that doesn’t yet work that I want to work is Netflix…and, I’m told, Google’s working on it (they’re having to do some recoding due to the ARM processor used in the Chromebook).

Everything else has been great, including, as mentioned, job one, the ability to write.

I found an application in Chromebook called “Writer” that’s free and that’s where I’m writing this post. My post saves every few seconds to the cloud, autosave extraordinaire, voila…no lost posts, no local OS or app crashes.

And the Chromebook display is gorgeous.  The multitasking is no problemo, due to the light footprint for Chrome.

And you know something else, I think one of the things I like most about it is its simplicity.  It just works!  The operating system doesn’t get in the way, as it so often does when I’m using Windows or Mac OS or even Linux.

The footprint is SO light there’s really not much there to crash!  And after twenty years of fighting operating systems, I have to say, this is one helluva breath of fresh air.

This is the network computer as it was being banted about in 1998, that’s actually come to fruition because the bandwidth has matched the application capacity.

Ultimately, it’s pushing technology the hell out of my way so I can get real work done.  What a concept!

And yes, this is mainly a “second” computer for me, but it’s a powerful second computer, and because so much of my life is now spent in the cloud, and considering that a computer is for me like a hammer is to a carpenter — well, that’s how I ultimately justified the purchase: I got myself a new hammer for only $216, and I’m out there just hammering away nails like it’s nobody’s business.

So before you go spending $800+ on that 128GB iPad, make sure it’s going to do what you need to do…that can’t be done on a $216 Chromebook!

Written by turbotodd

February 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm

The Turbo Android

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A few weeks ago I blogged about breaking up with AT&T, which meant my iPhone would become an expensive and glorified iPod.

Turbo debriefs on his recent transition from iPhone to Android...and buys the most expensive product he's ever acquired from a vending machine.

That’s okay, you can never have too many iPods lying around.

But, I also promised to come back and tell, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

So after AT&T couldn’t or wouldn’t offer me any relief for my cracked iPhone (which also froze for a full 24 hours), I broke up and decided to try something new.

Not because I didn’t like my iPhone…there were lots of things to like about it…except for the bill I got every month, one at an average of $90/month that yet had a cap for both phone and data usage.

I ended up heading out to Best Buy after first doing a little online research, and I decided that a no-contract phone was my best option, but there were several providers. At the Best Buy, a sales associate explained that he thought Virgin Mobile had the best deal, because for only $35 a month, I could get unlimited data (and 300 voice minutes), and if I so desired, could upgrade to $45/month with 1200 minutes and unlimited data, and $55/month for unlimited of both.

Where do I sign?

My fatal mistake, however, was to accept his first recommendation on the device, a Samsung Intercept that looked great, but was not less filling.  It was an early Android release, it seemed to have the RAM of a 1986 386 box, and I couldn’t even take phone calls on it reliably.

After two weeks of trial usage, I went back to the same Best Buy and explained what a piece of junk phone they had sold me, and that I wanted something better.  A new clerk helped me settle on a Motorola Triumph, which I’ve been very happy with (save for the anemic battery life — I have to charge it twice a day if I talk on it with any frequency).

No doubt, I was an irresponsible consumer when I decided so quickly and without much research on the new phone.  However, the shift to Android has been a blessing in disguise.

Let me explain: As much as I liked the tightness of the iPhone/iTunes platform, and the quality of the apps, I could feel myself becoming more and more confined. This isn’t about the device anymore: It’s about access to information and services in the cloud.

For as long as I can remember, mobile phones, smart or otherwise, have become a real pain when it comes to contact management.  With both Androids, that problem was solved on setup: I simply synched with my Gmail contacts, and I was done.  Now, I can add a contact to my phone and have it synched up with the Google cloud and not worry about where I’m going to enter the information.

Similarly, my Google calendar is now pervasive across all my computers, tablets, and, now, my phone.  Why? Simple, because of that cloud connection.  Yes, iCloud may NOW be providing some of these capabilities, but at the price, and with the promise of being in a more open operating ecosystem, I would argue I’ve become much more productive because these simple but often confounding necessities like contact management have become so much easier via Android.

Of course, that includes the synergy I have between my MacBook Air and the Google cloud as well.

As for Virgin Mobile, so far, I don’t have enough good things to say.  I’m able to “top off” my service using a credit card on a monthly basis, and, depending on my schedule, decide whether or not I want to spend $35, $45, or $55 for a month’s worth of service, as opposed to the $90+ my AT&T service was costing.

Furthermore, the Virgin Mobile web site makes it easy for self-service provisioning and account management.  I always liked the way Richard Branson did business — now I have proof why. From his airlines to his mobile phone service, he focuses on the consumers’ needs.

I was so pleased with Android, I stopped and purchased the single most expensive item I’ve ever acquired from a vending machine (this one from Best Buy), an HTC Flyer tablet.  Though it, too, has some battery issues, I’m finding it to be an also very useful and productivity-enhancing tablet experience. Not necessarily as “clean” as the iPad experience, but easy enough to master and use for everything from my corporate email to blogging to reading books to watching Netflix…And it’s only 7″, as opposed to my original iPad.

Geek that I am, I will likely continue using devices across both platforms — you’ll pry my MacBook Air out of my cold, dead hands.  But the Android smartphone experience is proving quite useful, and in the process I’m becoming more familiar with an increasingly relevant platform that, until a month ago, I was only vaguely familiar with.

And did I mention Madden NFL 2011 plays beautifully on the HTC Flyer???

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