HTC 4G EVO in the House: A Review

As a Sprint customer, I traded in my beloved Samsung Instinct for a 4G HTC EVO.  I think it’s going to take me a while to get used to this new phone, which is infinitely smarter than the first gen. iphone killa, which sometimes felt like a cheap knockoff sold by a street vendor from the back of U-Haul, to be honest.

Pros:  The HTC EVO is much faster than the Instinct.  Internet access is instantaneous even at 3G or at least it feels so by comparison.

News feeds are a breeze and work well.  I currently scan articles from the Huffington Post, the NY Times and some of the default news feeds that came pre-installed like Yahoo, Engadget, and the Guardian Unlimited.  You can zoom with your fingers to adjust the size of the text for the perfect reading experience.

All the apps I’ve used work well.  Facebook for Android has a pretty good look, though it feels sometimes like a Facebook lite edition.  I downloaded the WordPress blogging app from the built in Android Market app and it works pretty well too, for checking stats at least.  I find posting from it a bit awkward primarily because the Qwerty keyboard is so sensitive to the touch that I’m constantly typing the wrong letters and my fingers are not all that big.  This wasn’t as much of a problem for me with the Samsung Instinct.  I’m sure with time, I’ll get better – I think it’s more me than a design flaw.  I won’t be doing much composing on WordPress from the EVO, but I will be able to do some minor editing, which is convenient.   The Twitter app works just fine and the built in Peep app makes tweeting a treat, ok, not a treat but let’s say a snap.  Pandora also works as advertised, but eats up battery power like you wouldn’t believe.  To use Pandora, you’re better off having your phone plugged into your charger.  I know it’s probably just me, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to use Quick Office.  I’m assuming this would be where I could work on a Word file, or something like Excel.  When I tap on it, I get the message, no files were found on your SD card.  But I don’t want to access a file, I want to create one.  I did find a Notepad app that let’s me jot down ideas, and lists and this will have to do for now.  The Weather app is cool, but also seems to eat up a lot of battery power, so it’s best to turn off automatic updates and just manually refresh when checking the weather conditions.  The other app I have been using that is worth a mention is Google Books.  You can find tons of free books whose copyrights have expired.  I’m currently reading, or I should say finishing up William Dean Howells’, A Hazard of New Fortunes.  I think the reading experience with the EVO and Google Books is just as pleasant, for me anyway, as it would be on a Kindle.

The phone quality is good.  I’m on the east coast and have been talking to relatives in the Midwest as if they were in the same room.  I did get a echo once, but it might have been that my sister had me on speaker phone.

The camera and video are both impressive.  I’ve taken a few decent HD quality vids with excellent sound relatively speaking.  The camera is of the highest quality – 8 megapixels with a zoom and flash.  I haven’t taken very many pictures, but the ones I have taken turned out nicely.  The indoor shots I’ve taken with the flash, were good with sufficient light.  Without good lighting, the colors were somewhat muted to a brownish-yellow hue.  Let’s not forget that this is a camera on a phone, not a SLR.

Cons:  The thing is heavy and bulky; almost too big to put in my pocket.  I have to carry it in my hand or my coat pocket.  I suppose I could get a holster for the thing, but I’d feel armed.  Probably my biggest beef is that the EVO is a battery consuming monster.  A charge lasts about a half a day in the best of conditions.  I’ve had to disable a lot of the automatic updating functions on apps and put the thing on 3G.  On 4G, it seems like it constantly searches for 4G and to the best of my knowledge, has yet to find it, at least not in my house.

The sound is nowhere near approaching high fidelity.  It’s like one of the those mono transistor radios from back in the day that you had to hold up to your ear to hear properly.  Ok, it’s probably not that bad, but not great either.  The kickstand is cool – great for watching videos, but not for listening because the tinny speaker is on the back.  Do yourself a favor and buy some quality earbuds.  My Sennheisers sound great.

The EVO is smart, there’s no question.  To draw an analogy, it’d probably have very high SAT scores and could get accepted to a top school, one that cared more about numbers than the person.  The EVO is in your face smart.  But it lacks soul.  It doesn’t have any funky quirks, like pocket dialing.  I miss that.

Queen Guinevere Pitches the Palm Pre


My cell phone carrier Sprint offers the Palm Pre as its top smart phone.  I’m thinking to upgrade to it from my quirky Samsung Instinct. However, the Palm Pre commercials have given me pause.

Palm_PreHave you seen them? They began airing during the summer Olympics. Palm’s ad agency apparently raised Queen Guinevere from the dead to pitch the Palm Pre. In these 15-30 second spots, the Queen speaks in hypnotic tones, announcing that “my phone can read my mind…at first it kind of freaked me out”. She then touches the screen, presumably to activate the mind reading app. OhhK……In another spot, the good Queen proclaims that she is having “one of those days when everything just seems to work…bing, bing, bing, like you’re not even trying…just going with the flow.” She moves a couple of apps on the screen to get to what looks like a map, but it’s not clear what the app is – GPS maybe, maybe not. I’ll just call it the go with the flow app. Another is the running late app: “if you are running late, you should really let them know” then she touches the screen and says, “oh wait, you just did”. This is the calendar late notification app. I guess this is a useful app, but why not just call and say you’re running late. The Palm Pre is a phone afterall.

From what I can gather, the Palm Pre has a mind reading app, a go with the flow app and an I’m late app. Apparently it has a handful of other ones too, no doubt just as useful.

Queen Quinevere has not yet convinced me to upgrade. I’m waiting for the instant lottery win app, the go to work for me app, and the time travel app. Until then, I’ll stick with my quirky, but trusty Samsung Instinct.

Samsung Instinct clever, not smart

In  a previous post, I reviewed my trusty but quirky Samsung Instinct smart phone, the one I now consider clever and cheeky, but not smart – capable, yes, but an underachiever.  The thing pocket dials and has a volume that goes up to a feint 8 not 10 reminding me of the amp in This Is Spinal Tap that had an 11 setting – quirky.

And now I’ve found a couple of other annoyances.  The song shuffle.  Ok, select shuffle and you get a random sequence.  Select shuffle the next time, same sequence.  No shuffle.  Not even a half-hearted split deck shuffle.  And there’s this notepad function.  Have a thought, jot it down.  But better not have more than 9 thoughts because that’s the limit to the number of notes you can store on the phone.  9, why not 10…actually, you should be able to record an infinite number of notes on a smart phone.  Maybe the 9 limit is a tribute to the Beatles  White Album tune, Revolution 9, (not to be confused with their hit Revolution 1) Hey, and why not offer Revolution number 9 number 9, number 9 as a ringtone? That would be smart, clever and creepy.