Monday, November 29, 2010

Supplemental Review: X10 Mini Pro Eclair (2.1) Part 2 (Camera and Battery)

Ok, more noticeable improvements in 2.1.  Somethings I hadn't noticed earlier: Significant improvement in the camera's 'Twilight' setting.  Although still not as sensitive as I'd like it to be... way better than 1.6 which almost had no difference between 'Auto' and 'Twilight'.  Unlike with Donut, the Twilight Setting now actually does something significant.  Shutter speed slows down, so moving subjects will be blurred. But there is a big jump in exposure.

Automatic Setting

Twilight Setting

There also seems to be a very significant change in power management.  Although I still need Juice Defender to manage my 3G/HSPA settings, I can now leave wifi, gps and bluetooth on all day and still get the same battery life I did with them all off in 1.6.  HSPA and PUSH services though still eat up a lot and can kill your phone in under a day.  Juice Defender handles mobile data quite nicely and can give you 2-3 days of average use.

If you're always within a wifi area, you can leave your wifi on the whole day (no sleep) and it won't drain your battery as much.  I never could do this with 1.6.  This is a big help now since I can leave my phone connected over wifi whenever I'm home.

GPS can also be left on since the chip only seems to draw power when an app needs it.

Currently, with the exception of my 3G services which are scheduled every 15min by Juice Defender, I have all my background data services and all radios on all day.  By the end of the day, I still have over 50% power.  It's not a marathon battery life, but the fact that I can leave all the features of my phone on now and it'll still last a day is a significant improvement in how I can now use my phone.

*Dec 10, 2010 - Battery experiment update*

I decided to try just switching off mobile data and wifi for a couple of days.  All other settings are the same.  No Task Killer, no CPU underclocking, and no power management.  After 33 hours straight... I still have 50% battery left.

***December 20, 2010 - Momax Portable Battery Review***

Thursday, November 25, 2010

RIM: Do Not Pull Kik From BlackBerry – An Open Letter to Kik Users

Shortly after going viral (1 million users in 2 weeks - Facebook took almost a year to reach their first million), Kik Messenger was pulled from the Blackberry Appworld.  This is a sad day for Blackberry users, since it seems that RIM is feeling threatened by Kik.  For those that don't know, Kik is a cross-platform messenger that allows instant, real-time chat between Blackberry, Android, and iOS (both the iPhone and iPod Touch) devices.

I'm not fond of having so many messengers.  I have MSN and YM... then there's Google Talk, and Facebook Chat.  I'm hoping for the next big messaging app to come so I can ditch the rest.

Maybe Kik can merge or sell their tech to Facebook.  Considering how lame Facebook chat is, maybe a Kik merger would help stabilize Facebook's system and allow a much cooler Facebook Mobile experience!

Supplemental Review: X10 Mini Pro running Eclair (2.1)

Since the update came out, SonyEricsson has finally decided to let it's X10 family out of the stone age running Android Donut (1.6) into the 20th century to join the rest of the herd running the current Android Eclair (2.1)...  I'm still wondering why SonyEricsson didn't just skip over Eclair all together and hit the latest FroYo (2.2) version of Android instead.  Oh well.

Anyway, how different is it?  And is it worth the wait?  Well, yes and no.  Don't get me wrong, it's a GREAT update... but starving your customers to release a non-earth-shattering update doesn't win SE any points.

The update itself is relatively painless.  Sony Ericsson has a great internal back-up and restore function that saves all your messages, missed calls, etc so you can easily restore most of your phone after the update.  Apps that are not compatible with 2.1 have to be replaced with alternate apps all together.  No big deal though.

First up, it is faster.  Not by much, but on the Mini Pro, it's a welcome upgrade.  Running 600MHz, any speed increase is a blessing.  Had the update been to FroYo, the tiny CPU on the Mini Pro would've really been given a well needed boost.  But I'll take what I can get.

Rooting... Since I don't primarily run Windows anymore, I'd rather not have to hook up my Mini Pro and root it through a computer.  UniversalAndRoot no longer works, but Z4 does the same job... one click root and unroot.  It's just a lot slower to root now.

Barnacle Wifi works a lot better and way more stable.  For those that are still experiencing drops when the phone goes to sleep, enable WEP security.  This, for some reason, lets your device bypass the need for re-association with Barnacle even after long periods of inactivity.

Although not a new app... I wasn't fond of Launcher Pro running on 1.6 and preferred ADW... but Launcher Pro is waaaaay faster and more responsive than ADW is, running 2.1.

Apps that can now run well on 2.1 and the Mini Pro:

  • Skype
  • Kik (so much better than Pingchat)
  • Official YM (a bit battery hungry but it does work quite well)
  • Gmail!!!!  Yes, Android's own app is actually usable now.  I was able to ditch K9 Email all together.  One gripe, you can't change font sizes, something that K9 could do.  Very useful on the small screen of the Mini Pro.
  • Official Twitter app

Things that have changed in Eclair:

  • Official Send Via Bluetooth!
  • Multiple Google Accounts, full contact, email, and calendar sync between multiple accounts.
  • Power widget looks better, as does the Settings Menu
  • Auto-brightness is now permanent.  No more setting to disable it.
  • Automatic contact list integration between Google, phone, Facebook, and Twitter.  Although it looks like there are double entries, there aren't.  You can join contacts and consolidate all your addressbooks easily and automatically.  This is a big deal for me.
  • Timescape is a bit faster now and more integrated into the Contacts app... not perfect, but getting there.  SE should move faster on developing this app.
  • Unlock screen is new... annoying that you can't disable the haptic feedback of the unlock screen... I think it's a useless feature that wastes the little battery that the Mini Pro has.
  • As much as I like the 4-corner UI of SonyEricsson, the app drawer is too cluttered and difficult to organize over LauncherPro or ADW.  I really do love the 4-corner approach.  But the app drawer is just a deal-breaker.
  • Camera response is a lot faster, but start-up time is still slow.  No additional functions have been added, nor has picture quality and low-light sensitivity been improved.  Too bad.
  • New signal indicator differentiating 3G and HSPA connectivity.
  • Live Wallpaper.  This chews up battery like crazy specially if not properly coded.  Cute and fun, but not very useful.  Specially on the limited battery life of the Mini Pro.
Over-all great, but its a LONG OVER DUE update, and quite frankly, I can't understand what took SE so long to bring it to their products.  Let's hope they don't abandon a FroYo update soon because the only thing holding back their sales is poor software support.

Part 2 (Camera and Battery)

Monday, November 22, 2010

...and the countdown begins...

iOS 4 for the iPad!!!!

I'm so happy... first, the long awaited 2.1 on my X10 Mini Pro
and now iOS 4 on my iPad!!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Instant Messaging...

Today's Tech Gospel is about mobile instant messaging.

Yahoo! Messenger is my preferred IM for the computer because it has nice emoticons.  The problem with YM is that it's not a cloud-system.  Messages are not stored online, and there are a lot of dropped messages when switching devices.

BBM has the advantage of global messaging and is almost as fast as chatting.  But you're stuck with RIM's BlackBerry devices.

Now, you can get YM on your mobile phone, but that's extremely slow and unreliable, not to mention is chews up your battery in just a few hours... so I've been looking for much better mobile solutions...

The two I've tried are Pingchat and Kik.  Both work across Android, Blackberry, and iOS. 

Pingchat is great, low overhead, video, photo, audio capable messenger.  It has 2 problems though: it's quite slow, it's more like texting than chatting.  Another is that Pingchat is tied to your device, not your account.  That's a problem for people like me who have multiple devices.  My phone has a different account from my iPod, and another account for my iPad.  Not useful for chatting if you forget your device, but handy if you're trying to find your device by pinging it! Hahahaha.

Kik seems to be the best of BBM and YM!  It's light, fast, and can be installed on multiple devices.  I'm not so sure how it handles off-line messages, but there doesn't seem to be a function to save previous chats. But it is real-time chatting.  You can see if the other party is typing... there are sending, delivered, and read reports.  And it doesn't seem to eat up that much battery.

So far, I'm preferring Kik more.  I'll be asking my friends on BB to install it to see how well it works across platforms.  But so far, so good between iOS and Android.  Both can be downloaded from the App Store and Android Marketplace.

Android: by Giorgio Armani

I've always liked Armani stuff.  Stereotypical, but ya, I'll admit, I do like their designs.  Hahaha.  Although I still prefer the styling of my X10 Mini Pro, the new Giorgio Armani Galaxy by Samsung looks pretty sleek!  I wonder if it comes free if you buy a suit...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keeping up with the iPad...

How do e-readers keep up with tablet technology?  The promise of longer battery life may not be enough.  Thankfully, the guys at e-ink, have come up with the next gen of e-paper... in COLOR.

As LCD tech reaches its full maturity, and flexible screens come into the picture, colored e-paper is a very promising tech for extremely low-power, semi-static displays.

I wonder when Amazon's Kindle will adopt this display...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Elementary, my dear Watson

A phrase mistakenly credited to the fictional character Sherlock Holmes... may now be given a new meaning by the blue boys at IBM.

Watson's task is to compete (and eventually beat) the World's best Jeopardy champions.

Now, most people might be thinking that chess is a more difficult game than Jeopardy, considering that a computer can access all the information that it could need to compete in Jeopardy.  True... but access to information isn't the goal of Watson.

It's understanding human language.  For those of you who have been using voice-recog apps, you know how frustrating this can be...even through Google's network, it doesn't quite understand simple queries.  And usually, only key-word speech is understood well.

Unlike Deep Blue that had a human operator tell it what moves Kasparov made, and in return Deep Blue told it's human operator what moves to make in return, Watson will have to listen, understand, buzz in (yes, buzz-in), and give the correct question (using the proper syntax) in order to be awarded the points.

The fact that Watson has to listen, buzz, and speak is a big step forward for computer evolution since it effectively makes the machine adapt to the human, rather than the other way around like typing, gesturing, clicking, swiping, etc.

Consider what this means in principle.  Currently, when we do a search, we are presented with hundreds of thousands of results.  In the end, we still have to sort through it all and select the answer that is relevant to our search. (or Ask Jeeves for those that reached him) was the first crude attempt at automated language comprehension.  Although not much more than a keyword analyzer, it was an important step in computer-human interaction.

In Jeopardy, Watson will have to understand the topic, then the Jeopardy answer, before sorting through all its information, then giving its final response.  And take note, even for humans, recognizing context isn't as easy as it looks... hehehehe...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LIVE! On Tek Tok TV

Ok, this is only a test broadcast. This entry has been posted automatically to test if I can broadcast from the Tek Tok TV studio.

If you don't see anything between 10:30am and 12:00noon GMT +8 time, try refreshing... If not, then that means I couldn't get signal inside the studio.  For those viewing from their iOS devices, click here for a direct link to the video instead.

This webcast aired live on Nov 3, 2010 10:30am - 12:00nn GMT + 8.  You are watching an archived video.  I was using my Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro and Bambuser to do the live webcast

******update Nov 15, 2010******

Stay Tuned!!!

I've been given a fantastic opportunity to be a guest on Tek Tok TV ... a tech show on GNN (Channel 21 on Destiny Cable TV)

In 12 hours, the show will be live on GNN.  I'm hoping that I can get decent 3G reception inside the studio...

If I do, I will hopefully be able to do a simultaneous webcast behind-the-scenes.  I will try to embed a live webcast tomorrow (signal strength permitting).

Stay tuned!!!!  (12 hours til broadcast)

Monday, November 1, 2010

SonyEricsson X10 Android 2.1 update begins...

One of the last to adopt the Eclair 2.1 version of Android's OS... SonyEricsson FINALLY starts rolling out their 2.1 updates in select markets.

Nordic countries, like Sweden, have already gotten it... shockingly, Japan hasn't gotten the update yet.

So far, no news on the Philippine update yet.

Impatiently waiting...

**Update Nov 5, 2010 - Official response from SonyEricsson Philippines**
Hi John! The 2.1 update for the X10 and X10 mini pro will be released on the week of Nov 20. The 2.1 update for the X10 mini will be released in the week of Nov 27. You will receive a notification on your phone once an update is available. Thank you! :)

Past Tech Gospels

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