Droid Does

My aging Verizon XV6900 (HTC Touch) was again showing signs of water damage for no apparent reason and it was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to keep it running for too much longer. I’d considered holding out for Windows Phone 7 phone but with MS going toward an Apple like infrastructure and starting over with no way to port my current investment in windows mobile apps it was time for a change.

My choice came down to the Motorola Droid or waiting for the Nexus One to hit Verizon. I settled on the Droid for a couple of reasons:

  • Physical Keyboard – so far I don’t regret it
  • Manufacturer – Dara and I have have not had good success long term with HTC phones.  Her tilt and my touch ( among others) simply wouldn’t last the length of a contract in normal use. We’ve never had quality issues with Motorola phones.
  • Exchange – there are significant reports of MS Exchange issue with the Nexus One and I need solid exchange support.
  • Popularity – The Droid has sold more than a million units. If an issue pops up someone else will have seen it too and hopefully we’ll have a fix.

There’s a lot I like about the Droid and the Android OS so far:

  • Plenty of apps
  • Great physical look and feel. With the Motorola case it looks like an industrial tool. Very Arnold in Terminator.
  • Great browser and mail
  • Little touches like the backlight turns off during calls when put the handset up to your head and then turns back on when you pull it back down.
  • I was able to sync all of my existing Windows Media files from within Windows Media. (None had DRM). I did have to change the format of my playlists to M3U but that was easy enough.
  • The location enable parts of this phone are fantastic.
  • Ability to run non-Android Market apps. The ereader app is not in the market but is available and works just fine.
  • Hootesuite (twitter) and Facebook apps are awesome.

There are a few things I don’t like:

  • No Oultook task integration. Nada. There’s an expensive third party that syncs tasks to the calendar but that’s not acceptable.
  • Many of the media pieces are weak. No WMV support, no streaming ASX or Quicktime or Real files, playlists didn’t synchronizes (files did, just not the lists.) I haven’t found any good third parties to address these shortcomings yet.
  • Still some missing apps like  Slingbox and  Audible.
  • Widgets seem to be next to useless. Not nearly as good as some Widgets I had with Win Mo and SPB Shell.

On the whole I’m quite happy and looking forward to using the Droid for a long time. I’ve named DRK-1 after the related Star Wars Droid. Yes, I’m a geek.

[Big thanks to Kevin Tofel for being willing to answer questions.]

Convertible Notebooks is the Perfect Traveling Companion

As much as I love my UMPC, I agree with James Kendrick, a convertible notebook is the perfect traveling companion.

TSA Laptop Bag Process is Better

A couple weeks ago, after TSA’s approval of bags that didn’t have anything between the bag and the laptop, I tried sending my UMPC through the belt in it’s case with nothing else. TSA asked me to remove it from the case. This week, I left it in the case again and it went through without a problem. Maybe they are paying attention. Then again, maybe they aren’t paying attention!

I won’t know for sure until I try this a few more times. I have to say that not having to remove the UMPC from it’s bag is a huge help in getting through security so I hope this trend continues.

The State of Syncing, Still Pretty Bad

I’ve been looking at options to sync data between a couple of my computers for a while now. I had a nice little setup with a USB Key and SynchBack SE until I was seduced by Live Mesh, but more on that later.

I’ve got a simple setup, everything I want to sync is in one folder, called Sync, on each machine. Currently the size is under a gig. If I found the right solution, I’d move OneNote folders and some other items but the total would still be under 3 gigs.

I’ve used SyncToy in the past as well as FolderShare. SyncToy kept generating duplicates and FolderShare requires both machine to be on to sync. Often that doesn’t happen for me. Frequently one machine is in my bag while I use another.

I’ve also looked at online options just for backup of synchronized data. Microsoft Skydrive was interesting and you can drag and drop with IE but you can’t drag and drop folders. You have to create the folders yourself. Bummer. Gspace for Firefox lets me store data using my gmail account but it refuses to login to the account I want to use. The Gmail drive shell extension logs on properly but there’s a folder depth problem with my data. Some of the data is too deep for the Gmail structure.

I’d really like an online, asyncronous option but I’m not willing to pay for SugarSync. I thought Microsoft’s Live Mesh was the answer. Getting the folders just right and syncing took a lot more effort than it should. Once setup, some items simply refused to sync from some PC’s. They would be on one machine and on the web but would never migrate to the other machines. Obviously there’s still a lot of beta left in Live Mesh.

So I’ve gone back to USB syncing but left Live Mesh up as a backup. I also backup to a portable HD regularly. I really like the idea of Live Mesh but I’d like a button to force it to sync. There are times when I know I won’t have a particular machine available and I want to make sure that everything available via the web.

Delta Putting WiFi on Planes Part 2

Ok, now that I’ve thought about this I’m left with more questions:

1) Why will I be able to use WiFi on a plane but not Bluetooth? I can’t imaging that they are only shielding the plane’s electronics against certain frequencies and I’d really like to use my BT headphones.

2) Why can’t I use external WIRED USB peripherals like a USB Hard Drive? (Hint: it’s specifically prohibited in Delta’s magazine.) Does this odd prohibition mean that I can use a USB WiFi connector?

3) If it’s shared WiFi among the plane and everybody uses it on a 767 will it slow to a crawl? If it does do I get a refund?

4) Since it only works over land, will Delta be smart and not let you buy it for a transatlantic flight or will they be dumb like they are today and simply tell you not to. (As an example, you can buy a 2 hour movie on a 1 hour flight but they make announcement and tell you not to.)

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