Monday, May 17

Google Autocomplete: scary!

A friend emailed me this Google Autocomplete via the Firefox search bar of the phrase "Can I":

And Google Autocomplete in Chrome showed _me_ this:

Sunday, May 16

Review Followup: HTC Incredible on the road

I've owned the HTC Incredible from Verizon for a little over two weeks now. I spent a week traveling from Albany to Denver by way of Cincinnati, then Denver to San Diego, then back to Albany via Dulles. Along the way I encountered a few other happy new Incredible owners, as well as a lot of recognition of my Incredible by non-owners. I think I converted a few to soon-to-be owners as well. Everyone loves it, even Blackberry and iPhone 3G owners -- and ESPECIALLY WinMo owners. (Joe, I'm lookin' at you pal ;)

Signal in Albany, Cincinnati, Denver and San Diego airports was good to great; signal in Dulles was EXCELLENT, at least in the United terminal. Reception in general in all these cities was reliable, 3G included. Denver International Airport might have been a bit of a 1X zone however.

Battery life continues to be a concern for me, as well as a few other otherwise overjoyed owners I spoke with. I'm debating a +200mA upgrade battery that fits under the OEM cover. I'm also debating a 2100mA upgrade battery that requires a matching, bloated aftermarket cover. I think it would be unfortunate to disturb the beautiful lines, the compact profile of the Incredible however, and as I'm now looking at skins and cases, I don't want to mess with fit. The marginal utility of a $50 standard-fit 200mA upgrade is highly debatable however.

One note: a lot of apps execute in the background without explicit user activation. Using Advanced Task Killer, regularly wiping out resident background apps, I do seem to get better battery life, but not great. I'm working on uninstalling a bunch of useless apps I added, in the hopes that less background app activity will lengthen battery life.

I am currently in love with GPS + Google Maps Navigation on this Android 2.1 device. One word: SICK!!!!!!!! Two words: fothermucking SICK!! No need for a separate GPS device for automobile navigation ever again. Other than some hiccups over direction retrieval after an update last week where since updating only explicit addresses seemed to work for navigation route lookups, Google Maps Navigation readily guided us from place to place with great navigation perspective and excellent, responsive recalcs and voice turn-by-turn directions in Denver and San Diego.

Search by Voice needs some training, but it has a TON of hands-free potential. Searching by location in general is an EXCELLENT way to find ATMs, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, parking, client offices. I am totally, completely in love with this heavily integrated set of map & navigation features, aside from its battery-draining potential.

On the road for work purposes, I was occasionally forced to tether, especially when "high speed wireless Internet" at Doubletree Golf Resort San Diego or Fairfield Inn in Denver was simply unusable, as it was numerous times in the few hours I spent awake in my room in either location. I am having difficulty with USB drivers, HTC Sync and Windows 7 x64; these do not seem to have been entirely resolved by installing Windows Mobile Device Center 6.1; I have not been able to get Verizon Mobile Broadband to work with my notebook yet. After installing WMDC 6.1 I was finally able to get PdaNet to work, which provided some much-needed, better-than-dialup connectivity at times when Doubletree's wifi couldn't get its act together. I have still decided that I, or the office, will still need to be investing in a 3G broadband card, but PdaNet and the Incredible over Verizon aren't a bad emergency option.

Typing is still a bit of a chore, but definitely getting more comfortable with it. I'm not disappointed at leaving the physical keyboard of the TyTnII/Kaiser behind -- not one bit.

Enjoying the beautiful sunny blue sky by the bay at Seaport Village in San Diego Friday afternoon, the screen on the Incredible was pretty much unreadable. That is a bit unfortunate, but using one's hand, and/or finding a bit of shade, is an acceptable compromise for me in an otherwise dynamite mobile device.

I would absolutely buy this phone again, and unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for a new smartphone. I am exceedingly happy with both the phone and with Verizon signal and 3G broadband.

Saturday, May 1

Review: HTC Incredible

*inaccurate mockup pic removed :)*

HTC Incredible - sexy on both faces! HTC Incredible - super shiny screen. Too shiny? HTC Incredible - LOVING that AMOLED!

I have had the HTC Incredible from Verizon in my grubby little hands for about 20 hours now, approximately 15 of them waking. Here's my first impression.

As an AT&T refugee, the experience with Verizon to date has been EXCELLENT. Everything went smoothly and quickly and slickly. I was originally told a ship date of May 4th -- then an hour after I placed my 7:30am order, I got a shipping notification. Phone showed up at 1:15pm the next day. Activation and porting were both painless. Reception is excellent, the broadband experience is superb.

Now, let's get to the phone itself. Packaging was minimal. No extraordinary efforts required to open. I unboxed it at the Apprenda office, where our sales guy, Bob, former telecom guy, could hardly wait for me to get my own look at it before he virtually snatched it out of my hands for his own examination. Our CEO, Sinclair, who has had a Droid for six months or so now, was eager to check out the Incredible of course, though I think Bob was really the most eager out of the three of us.

The phone: incredibly light and compact. Battery came half-charged; case snaps open to install battery. Almost-perfect weight: I won't feel like I am holding a cinder block to my ear, nor will it blow away in the wind. (Remember the Motorola Q anybody?) It could be a tad lighter, but my beer muscles are in good shape, this phone should not present any fatigue issues when I choose not to use my Bluetooth headset. And, the screen? BEAUTIFUL. No other word for it. Great resolution and color and responsiveness. The phone takes a fair amount of time to startup, but it is certainly still an improvement over WinMo 6.1 boot times on my old TyTn II / HTC Kaiser.

Every one of my pain points with a six or seven year history of using WinCE/WinMo phones, almost all of them HTC along the way, seem to have been addressed. The power button has a great click -- no irritating, flakey power-off pushes like my HTC Kaiser and Hermes. Getting where I need to go, and getting "back," are perfectly enabled with the back or return physical button on the bottom/righthand side of the phone. The camera is fast -- fast to start, super fast to focus, fast to take a shot, fast to return to shooting. Just plain fast. And the pics are FANTASTIC! 8MP of awesomeness. And the optical joystick is a super clean way of triggering your shot -- none of those overly-tough buttons HTC used in the past that almost inevitably led to you jiggling the phone when trying to take a slow-to-shoot shot.

A shot from my morning dogwalk My lab-mix, Nick

I'm not sure what I think of the optical joystick yet. Still getting used to it. The touch typing, however, was a HUGE concern of mine. I'd stuck it out with physical keyboards for years, but I have grown tired of making the compromises that come with a physical keyboard. I wanted a big, beautiful screen in a slim-as-possible profile. No more physical keyboard.

So, how is the touch typing? Pretty darn good. I'm still making a few more mistakes on average than I would with my old physical keyboard HTC devices, but I suspect, especially when autocomplete is better trained, to be flying along at something a lot closer to my standard PC keyboard 95WAM.

Loose ends: GPS. EXCELLENT!!! Super fast to get your position, and it seems to track in near-realtime at a walking pace. Bluetooth: smooth. No contortions required for use. Everything. Just. Works.

Battery life? Don't know yet.

Apps: great pre-load, and a huge set of awesome free apps readily downloadable from the Market. I'll review specific apps sometime down the line, when I'm more familiar and have some standout favorites. Everything seems to run very smoothly and quickly with the right amount of OS and cross-app integration. Again: Everything. Just. Works.

EDIT: I almost forgot Exchange integration. So far, so good, but I have yet to test notorious calendar invite and attachment issues. Also, HTC Sync does not seem to play nicely with Outlook 2010. GMail integration however is awesome, so maybe I don't need to sync my PCs at all, since GMail/GApps drive all my non-Exchange mail already.

I think that about covers it for now, thanks for reading. Any specific questions, hit me up in the comments, I'm happy to follow-up!

EDIT2: Well, I just gave it a full workout in bright sunlight. My conclusions:

1. When you're shining a spotlight, or the sun, at it, yes, it's unreadable, as is any other screen, gloss or matte. A few angles tend to produce this effect, but it wasn't horrible.

2. In bright direct sunlight, reflection is present but not horrible; the bigger downfall for me was that the camera loses detail on-screen. However, I found that reading email and writing on the touch keyboard were still pretty easy. Visibility in sunlight really not a huge issue for non-video apps it seems to me. No, it's not eye-popping wow like it is indoors, but I find it to be very usable, at least in comparison to two older HTC smartphones I've owned.