Sunday, 1 January 2012

Android Community

Android Community

Happy New Year 2012: Android Resolutions

Posted: 01 Jan 2012 10:58 AM PST

Happy New Year from Android Community! I know many are probably still sleeping off the nights party but for those making resolutions, or already made a few last night we thought we’d chime in with a few from the world of Android. Traditionally people resolve to eat less junk food, stop a bad habit, lose some weight, be nicer to people and more — we have a few Android-based resolutions of our own.

Once I really sat down and starting to think about a few new year resolutions for Android I quickly started getting all sorts of ideas. From saying to leave nicer, more useful comments in the Android Market comment/reviews section, to be friendly in forums and developer sites and help your fellow Android enthusiasts. Although I do agree people need to search, investigate, and read how-to guides before asking silly questions when it comes to modding and hacking Android. Either way — be nicer to our friends and foes in the Android Community.

Battery Life

Battery life: we need bigger, better, with shorter charging times. Obviously the technology has only came so far and there is only so much room in these increasingly thinner phones and tablets. Batteries like the one above plastering 2,430 mAh (wow) in a big noticeable sticker isn’t what I have in mind either. That cheap battery probably is 1000 mAh under that wrapper. I’m talking about real battery improvements — whether that be in general power management with OS, displays, and apps — to bigger and better batteries that wont make our devices larger.

If people can drive 100 miles with a Prius with nothing but battery power then why can’t my Android smartphone last 3 days like my old Nokia candy-bar phone did? Just a thought. That is my first resolution for 2012.

Google Nexus Tablet

Now I wont spend too much time on this Nexus Tablet thing — mainly because we heard it from the big man himself. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said back in December that a Google Nexus Tablet could be here within the next six months. Now this is a very real possibility and something I’ve wanted forever (well, since the Xoom let me down). My only concern is making the design impressive enough for it to blow up, without getting Apple’s slew of lawyers in crazed dash for the courtroom. That is also my next resolution — chill out on the lawsuits everyone! Back to the tablet though, I have a feeling Google is planning a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 Android 4.1 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet that will hopefully set the tone once again for Android. Who’s with me?

Lawsuits and Carrier IQ

This entire lawsuit and Carrier IQ disaster than has erupted throughout 2011 is actually very irritating. I seriously almost didn’t even want to mention it but I feel it is quite necessary. Between the Apple/Micro$oft vs Google thing to the train wreck many are calling Carrier IQ. These types of things in general need to stop — although I’m almost positive the never will. The countless countless lawsuits thrown around by Apple are starting to get a bit ridiculous, not to mention all their “innovative” patents. And don’t even get me started on Carrier IQ.

Micro$oft needs to focus on Windows Phone 7.whatever and leave Android to do its thing. Attacking every manufacturer in their grasp isn’t going to do any good for anyone or the technology market as a whole — other than make Bill Gates richer.

Now I might have ended that on an angry note so sorry about that. I’m going to keep this sort of short and sweet and leave you guys with those few resolutions although here at Android Community we could think of plenty more. I do love innovation and the increasingly better and faster technology and devices, but could a few manufacturers (I’m looking at you Motorola) slow down on the releases. I know many Bionic owners were angry to see the RAZR appear so soon, and the DROID 3 getting replaced by something awesome isn’t sitting well with D3 buyers either. The rate of speed smartphones are being released and produced is awesome in every way that is for sure. Getting locked into 2-year contracts is almost a crime and something I just don’t see myself doing again. I’ll buy outright and enjoy the best whenever possible — but that is just me.

I’m sure many of our readers have resolutions of their own, plenty probably of which are Android related. Feel free to share any and all resolutions you may have in the comment section below.

Happy New Year!


The 5 Best (and Worst) Android Devices of 2011

Posted: 31 Dec 2011 02:28 PM PST

Ah, New Year’s Day. A time for reflection and resolution, and in many cases, staying up too late in the company of good friends and large amounts of alcohol. Here at Android Community, we like to ring in the new year sitting quietly in wingback chair, staring contemplatively into a roaring fire and guzzling a $5 gallon of brandy while watching the Times Square ball drop on our Android tablets. Before we start getting the old DT’s, we’ll wrap up the best – and worst – devices of 2011.

Give me the bad news first, doctor:

5.  Kyocera Echo

Ambition and risk go hand in hand. Kyocera learned that lesson when they released the Echo, the first Android phone with a dual-screen design. As much as we’d love to double our pleasure and our fun with an extra screen (most of us are dedicated multi-monitor users on the desktop side) the reality turned out to be awkward and at times downright frustrating. The multi-tasking possibilities and custom apps were overshadowed by hardware that simply wasn’t up to the task. There’s no reason that the idea couldn’t work, and we’d love to see another try. By someone else. Anyone else. Preferably a long time from now.

4. T-Mobile Springboard

The Springboard, T-Mobile’s rebranded version of the Huawei MediaPad, is a study in how bad software can ruin great hardware . And it is great – a dual-core processor, 720p screen and HSPA+ connection running Honeycomb on an aluminum-clad 7-inch body makes for one of the most solid tablets in its class. But meddling with the software (we suspect T-Mobile) makes it sluggish, crash-prone, and just plain frustrating to use. The decision to block the video section of the Android Market seems to have had multiple detrimental effects. On more than one occasion, we found Honeycomb apps that just wouldn’t show up, despite the fact that the SpringBoard is running Android 3.2.

3. Motorola DROID BIONIC

Oh, BIONIC, we had such hopes for you. As Motorola’s first Verizon 4G LTE phone, and the first to carry the storied DROID name with LTE, the BIONIC had a lot riding on its shoulders. But a redesign that did nothing for its chunky body, a long-delayed release and multiple recurring bugs soured what was supposed to be a star-studded release. The BIONIC was announced at CES 2011 (almost an entire year ago!) but was delayed until September. Add to that the almost instant buyers remorse that new owners felt after the svelte DROID RAZR was released just a month or so later, and you get what’s easily the worst superphone release of the year.

2. LG G2X

The “T-Mobile G2X by LG”, a rebranded version of the Optimus 2X, looked pretty good when it was first released. A dual-core phone (a big deal early this year) with a big screen and vanilla Android? What’s not to love? A lot, as it turned out – the more we used the G2X, the more we came to loathe it. The problems with extended use went way beyond the minor bugs and foibles you’d expect from a new device. Massive screen bleeding, unexplained reboots accompanied by a maddening BEEP (not a great experience at three in the morning) and a confusing, protracted Gingerbread update makes the G2X one of the most frustrating high-end phones out there.

1. Samsung Dart

We hate the Samsung Dart. If you didn’t get that the first time around, let us reiterate it: we hate the Samsung Dart. The low-power, low-expectation “smart” phone hardware is decent enough, but the one thing we really can’t stand is the tiny 3.14-inch, 320×240 display. It’s so dark and low-resolution that using the phone for more than a few moments at a time is headache-inducing. The build quality is actually okay, but bare-bones software that’s still encumbered by TouchWiz makes for a achingly slow user experience. Appropriately, we’d be completely comfortable hurling the Samsung Dart at the nearest wall.

Now that a year’s worth of ranting is over with and the healing can begin, let’s get it off to a good start. Without further ado, Android Community’s pics for the best phones and tablets of 2011:

5. HTC Sensation 4G

The first of HTC’s dual-core phones is also one of its best, and a great pic for T-Mobile’s network. HTC’s typically awesome build quality is highlighted by some remarkable performance, and though we always prefer clean Android, HTC Sense doesn’t drag down the user experience thanks to high-end internals. Gingerbread was thankfully included at launch, which was far from a sure thing in June. A new 8 megapixel camera beats out the other HTC phone cameras on the market, at least until the Amaze 4G came along. One of the first 4.3-inch QHD screens rounds out an excellent package that should please just about anybody.

4. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

The Galaxy Tab series of tablets is solid through and through, but one model stands out: the 8.9-inch version. It keeps all the charm of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, including a razor thin profile and a 1280×800 screen, but manages to find a size that (to us at least) is the perfect middle ground between size and portability. A Tegra 2 processor and 1GB of RAM make for a snappy Honeycomb experience, even with TouchWiz running on top of it. Sure, it’s not as expandable as other tablets, but the overall performance is excellent. If you want a mobile connection, AT&T’s got an LTE-flavored version… for some extra cash and a 2-year contract.

3. Samsung Galaxy Nexus

You knew this one was coming. The first Ice Cream Sandwich device has earned a spot on this list, because Android 4.0 really is that good. A gigantic Super AMOLED screen and solid aesthetics make the Galaxy Nexus one of the best choices for any user, and pretty much the only one for dedicated Android modders who are eligible for a new phone. So, why isn’t the Gnex higher on this list? Aside from some software-related bugs, the phone that’s supposed to be the standard for Android is only available on Verizon in the US at the moment. That’s a major bummer for anyone who’s happy with their current carrier… or stuck with them for the next two years.

2. Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

The original Transformer was a great Honeycomb tablet, but the Transformer Prime is nothing short of amazing. Stellar build quality, a fantastic screen and blazing performance thanks to NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor make it the best tablet on the market by far. At $500 it’s a better deal than most of its competitors while beating every one of them in hardware, fit and finish and software performance, and that’s only likely to continue when Asus delivers its promised Ice Cream Sandwich update. And if you’re in the mood to get some work done, you can always attach the external keyboard for some good old-fashioned QWERTY input. Tegra 3 will be popping up in a lot of hardware next year, but for 2011, the Transformer Prime just can’t be beat.

1. Samsung Galaxy S II

The Galaxy S II, in all its variants, isn’t the fastest phone around. It isn’t the thinnest or the biggest, and it doesn’t run the latest software. The international version is almost six months old. But it still stands out as the best all-around Android device available today. Reliable performance, stellar build quality, an amazing Super AMOLED 4.3-inch screen (or 4.52-inch despite its relatively low resolution) and great battery life make it an excellent choice for almost any new buyer, and 16GB of storage and a great 8MP camera round out the package. The GSII is available on three out of the four major US carriers, plus an unlocked version, and AT&T has the excellent Skyrocket 4G LTE variant. No matter which flavor you choose, the Galaxy S II is a worthy phone for any Android user, or just about anyone else.

If you’ve got some extra time while you’re recuperating from your hangover on Sunday, be sure to check out our Yearly Wrap Up. Feel free to leave angry responses in the comments section, and Happy New Year!


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