Category Archives: w00t worthy

HP Touchpad – Initial Thoughts

The venerable HP launched their competitor to the iPad earlier in the summer. As with most things slated to be a killer of any Apple product, it was not to be, and it’s a real shame. 

With a price of $499 for the 16 gig and $599 for the 32 gig version, the Touchpad was close, but not enough to really pick up market share. This lead to a huge write off for HP and a sweet deal for those of us who had been on the fence about a tablet. With a firesale price of $99/$149, I couldn’t resist, and after a few weeks of patience following a cancelled order, CDW came through with the 16 gig version for me.

It arrived late last week, and immediately it felt far superior to any of the Android tabs I have tested, including the Xoom and several Galaxy tabs; that made it worth it, if nothing else. The build quality is good, and never having played with the Palm Pre, I now see why people are big fans of the WebOS.

The home screen is clean and simple, and much like the Vista screen scroll feature, going through cards (or apps) is a visually appealing way to see what’s going on. The keyboard doesn’t offer haptic feedback, but is fast and allows for multiple digit entry. Same goes for copy and paste – it’s functional and effective.

I was nervous to tweak the OS, but simple online guides had me overclocking and turning off nannies in no time. I turned off much of the logging, overclocked to 1.5ghz and made a number of other tweaks to vastly improve how it works.

If a Android were immediately available for the Touchpad, I think I’d stick with WebOS and what I have because it works effectively. The browser leaves a good amount to the imagination, but is functional. The inability to organize and rearrange favourites is a bit of a pain.

I haven’t fully got Skype up and running, but voice works fine, there just seem to be some issues with the video. Similarly, have other apps to try out, but Google docs and WordPress (on which this post was written), among others work great. The app ecosystem may not be so rich as Apple or Google, but if clean and simple – with a lack of bloat, is the goal, this is what you want.

All in all, this is a great tablet, and if nothing else, you can’t get a digital photo frame with this quality for the money. With an iPad case from the VZW store I’m good to go, I think I will invest in the touchstone charger and stand at some point. It doesn’t take well to charging from standard USB phone chargers. People say the ecosystem is dead, but I think this WebOS tab has some life left in it, numbers alone I think will make that happen. Plus, if a good Android tablet build comes out, it will be interesting to see how the tablet takes to it.

But for HP, I think this about sums it up, via the WSJ:
Let’s say you were given a year to kill Hewlett-Packard. Here’s how you do it:

Will add more as I get my hands dirtier.


Making the Switch – Droid Update

So I made the switch today. After several weeks of trial, including some travel, I handed in my trusty blackberry to use the Droid incredible as my primary work mobile. Thanks of course to Derrick, for making it all click.

The devise is not without some drawbacks, which I will get into on a future expanded post.

In the meantime, I’m off to the marketplace to check out more apps.

(posted via WP for Android)   

First Thoughts – Experiencing the Verizon Droid Incredible

This will be a post in progress as I highlight and document my experience with the relatively new Android smartphone by HTC – the Incredible on the Verizon network.

As a heavy BlackBerry user since 2002 or so, the change is dramatic, and though I will still have my trust BB Curve 2 on standby during this trial, my goal is live exclusively on the Android OS.

Unlike the BB, the Droid doesn’t have a physical keys – so there is some vibrating feedback when a key is pressed, but there are no tactile keys or the touchpad/ball/wheels I had become accustomed to with the BB. It is a leap to be sure, and to date, my only real experience with touch-based smartphones was with the iPhones (pre-4).

First thing to note, it doesn’t sit in the pocket like the BB did, and it is a little heavier and longer than the BB, but naturally, comparable to the iPhone. The form is much more pleasing than the original Droid by Motorola. The biggest decision to date is whether to use the case and holster (something I haven’t needed to do since I got the original BB Curve.

Continue reading

Road Warrior: MiFi and the Netbook

Here is my promised initial 30-day assessment of life on the road with the MiFi wireless hotspot from Verizon and the Acer Aspire netbook.

I traditionally travelled to NYC every week or two with a HP or Dell desktop replacement laptop and a Verizon Wireless’ PCMCIA PC5740 broadband access card.

This was a robust combination, but, for example the downside was the added weight when trekking from WAS>BWI>ISP>JFK/NYC>NYP>WAS by a combination of bus, train, cab, subway and plane with more than 10 pounds of hardware in my messenger bag and the garment bag in hand. Never checking bags and extensive use of mass transit required a solution to help me lose some weight from my shoulder and to allow me to run from train to train as needed.

By way of a sidebar, a wholesale store near me late last year whet my appetite to the netbook market with a ridiculously cheap Acer Aspire One with the 8 gig SSD (not a spinning hard drive, but a solid state one – like RAM or a memory stick). It ran XP and I tried Ubuntu’s netbook remix on it, but unfortunately though the aesthetics were pleasing, the performance resembled molasses. But I was hooked, I liked the small form factor and my dad has had a great experience with an Asus EEE netbook he has used and travelled with for several years.

Thanks to Derrick in our IT shop, I was able to liberate an Acer Aspire One, 160gig spinning HDD, XP home with the Intel Atom chip and a gig of RAM. After clearing the bloat off it, I proceeded to cautiously add Office 10 beta. I was worried that this would overwhelm the system given the minimal RAM, but it in fact runs pleasingly. After an initial pain in the arse to get the VPN installed, the Outlook runs and syncs nicely, and multitasks nicely with Chrome and IE8. The main thing I have to plan for when getting on the road is my file usage and needs on the office server – as I do not have server or SharePoint access from the netbook.

Things got interesting when Derrick suggested I guinea pig the two ounce Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 ( a mobile wireless/WiFi hotspot that taps into the VZW 3G Ev-Do, after some initial arm twisting, I relented and said I would try it on a very limited basis (no really, I fought this change hard, honest!) This devise essentially acts the same way as a broadband router at home – you can connect a laptop, Zune, iPod, Kindle, Touch – whatever you want just by connecting to the wifi signal from the MiFi and plugging in the password.

The great thing is, that once charged, it does not need a tether. In theory, one can keep the MiFi in a pocket and browse the web with nothing more- a real bonus compared to the finicky PCMCIA air card (that didn’t like standby or hibernation). One thing I did notice, was that a full size laptop (the Dell) will charge the MiFi, but the netbook must not have the power to-the MiFi operates on netbook power, but does not charge. Luckily it also comes with a wall charger, but I elect not to use that to save weight. One other nit is that the MiFi has a proprietary mini-USB charger size, so a BlackBerry or other charger/sync cable is not compatible.

The inaugural trip was a trip with SWA to Albany from BWI. Both at the airport, on the plane and in the hotel, the setup worked flawlessly. In fact, I have discovered the MiFi offers me a better connection to the VZW network than did the old PC5740 – that in itself makes the move worthwhile.

All said, the battery life on the Acer and MiFi is stellar. Coming back on the Acela (2171) a couple of weeks ago, there was no power at the outlets, but I made it the whole way on battery power – including charging the BlackBerry and watching a TV show on VLC player via a USB stick. The extended life battery on the netbook is a big factor in this. Skype works great thanks to the built in camera – even on the MiFi (when on EV-DO) the picture and speed is healthy, with no noticeable lag.

On the whole, life is good with this new setup – and my shoulder is happier. Will post more as it matures, in fact tomorrow when I am on the 21oo to NYC.

One final piece of advice, if using or contemplating a netbook, definitely get a wireless optical mouse, they netbook is good, but the track-pad does leave some substantial room for improvement.

Web 2.0

I’m waiting for some video cuts to upload to Vimeo from a presser I did a few weeks back, and it got me thinking.

Back in the 80s, before my dad brought the PS/2 home, I recall getting onto an older machine using PowerMenu by Brown Bag software, this was before I was blown away by 3.1. How far we have come…indeed.

What is truly amazing these days is the software you can download and install in seconds – no coding, headaches or restarts. Thanks to AIR and others, Tweetdeck, Flickr, Twitter, Vimeo and others can all be operated simply and easily. This has to be one of the largest democratizations of software and hardware in history. The prevalence of netbooks, webcams, Droid phones and other devices brings this all together. I look forward to trying out the WordPress app on my BB, should be interesting.

There is still part of me that misses Run DOS Run.

PowerMenu image

Brown Bag's PowerMenu