Galaxy 6 from Samsung, just Ho-Hum but not all bad

From the technology desk of Ribbie’s Weblog

I finally “upgraded” to the Samsung Galaxy 6, from the Samsung Galaxy 4, which, by the way, was and still is a pretty decent smartphone. Galaxy.  Where did they come up with that name?  I imagine it was designed to conjure up space age technology, whatever that is, or some kind of concept of futuristic sophistication. But being the late blooming baby boomer that I am, one of the last I’m told, it just conjures up memories of the Ford Galaxie, like the one that Sheriff Andy Taylor drove on the Andy Griffith Show.

1963 Ford GalaxieThat was one monster of a car by today’s standards, and so is the Samsung Galaxy 6 when compared to the Galaxy 4. At first glance, they look about the same size, but the 6 is appreciably heavier, although I can’t say I appreciate that. The 6 has a metal trim, not unlike the iPhone, whereas the 4 was constructed of some sort of plastic composite – what do they call it?  Polycarbonate? Maybe it’s carbon fiber or fiberglass, I don’t know, but it’s noticeably lighter, which reminds me of the song by Heart called Lighter Touch.

Perhaps a deal breaker for some is the fact that the two phones look about the same and no one will know that you have upgraded if you do.  But upon closer inspection, apart from the weight, there are some differences. The camera lens on the back of the 6 protrudes a bit, whilst (to borrow the term from the Brits) the camera lens on the 4 rests flush.  This protrusion is slightly annoying and does not appear to offer any advantage to the user.  The speaker on the 6 is next to the charging hole which is a welcome improvement over the stupid backside speaker placement on the 4, which means when you set the phone down you can still hear music playing.  The sound of the speaker is not much of an improvement, however, and sounds just as tinny as ever.  Configuring the thing to play music over a Bluetooth speaker is the way to go.  I’ve got a little JBL that sounds swell.

The 6 is faster, I’ll give it that.  It’s fast as lightening in fact.  It comes with a load of Samsung bloat, but at 32GB of storage, it’s got all the memory I’ll ever need.  Some folks on message boards refuse to get the thing because unlike the 4, the 6 has a solid body, like the iPhone, which means you can’t take the back plate off and add a memory card or replace the battery.  If you need more than 32GB of storage, you’d be better off with a tablet or another kind of phone.  How many apps does one need, really?  Hey, if you shoot a bunch off memory consuming videos, get a video camera or a DSLR. Or if you don’t want to deal with multiple devices, just offload some of your stuff to the cloud or you home computer rather than storing everything on your phone. And it’s smart to back up your stuff anyway.  But trust me, for the average user, and like it or not, most of us are just that, average, 32GB is plenty enough.  Look, the Samsung 4 came with 16GB and that was all I needed and then some and I took a ton of pics, a ton.

The screen seems sharper and I feel like it reads better in sunlight than the 4.  The camera has lots of effects and you can download still more for free, but I don’t think it has a zoom, if that’s important to you.  Well, it might, but I haven’t been able to find it.  Zooming isn’t that important to me anyway.  The 16 MP primary camera takes sharp pics that will make you forget about your old point and shoot if you still have one.  While the camera is not quite a Nikon, if you know what I mean, it’s plenty good and said to be better than the 8MP camera on the iPhone 6.

Battery. I used to have a HTC with a battery that lasted me about 3 hours a day. I finally gave up and got the Samsung Galaxy 4, which had a much better battery life.  The Galaxy 6 seems to have a slightly longer lasting battery than the 4.  I’ve been able to go a day with fairly heavy use and not run out of juice.  The battery has a quick charge feature, which is nice, but it won’t quickly charge up all the way, just some of the way.  As mentioned, you can’t change out the battery.  That is, you can’t pop in a spare, if the other one dies or runs out of juice.  Smartphone batteries are designed to be recharged everyday so if you think you won’t have access to an electrical outlet when traveling, well you’ll be out of luck eventually, even with a spare.  I also got a little wireless charger with the 6.  It’s neat.  You just plop the thing on the disk and it starts charging.  But the charging pad itself has to be plugged in, so it’s technically not a completely wireless operation, but it’s still pretty cool.

In the end, the Samsung Galaxy 6 is an excellent phone but may not be appreciably better than the 4 or 5.  I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, but the advances are, let’s just say Ho-Hum. So, before you buy, see if you can get a closeout deal on the 5.  Galaxy users, if you must take the upgrade plunge like I did, beware, you won’t be blown away by the 6, but you’ll feel the difference in more ways than one and you won’t have buyer’s remorse.

WIRED

The thing is we’re wired, really we are.  And maybe even a little weird, at least we would have appeared that way to someone who had awakened from a coma after 30 years.  Wired used to mean wide eyed after drinking too much coffee.  Now of course it means connected, connected to devices.  In the 80’s about the only device anyone would have been connected to was the then ubiquitous Walkman.  While this made social interaction challenging  – ever try having a conversation with someone wearing headphones? – today, folks may be having a conversation via blue tooth which sometimes creates the illusion that they are talking to themselves.  Who knows, they may be.

We are seriously wired.  Blue tooth, blackberries, MP3 players, Ninetendo, iPads, iPods, iPhones, and others of the smart variety, netbooks, notebooks and Kindles.  If you observe people on the subway these days, yes, even underground, most are fiddling around with their electronic devices.  Riders don’t interact with one another anymore, not that they ever did.  No one reads a newspaper, not even the free Metro that litter the subway cars.  Folks don’t carry books anymore.  Instead people are hooked on newsfeeds and eBooks, and incessantly checking their Facebook and Twitter accounts, updating their status -“OMG, I’m on the subway and it smells like popcorn and dirty socks in here.  LOL”.  In some ways I think social media is actually anti-social.

We are wired 24 7.  It’s gotten to the point that when I come home, I no longer relax with a good book, or watch a TV show.  First, I take out my netbook, and tab it up – Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, E-mail, NYTimes.  Then I get out my HTC Evo and go to my newsfeeds.  I turn on the TV and channel surf while I go from one application to another on my netbook and smart phone.  I don’t know where I get all the energy after a long day of work, but I’m wired.  When it’s time for bed, my mind is racing and I have a hard time relaxing.  And here I am first thing in the morning, blogging.  I’m wired.  And time for another cup of Joe, as I watch MSNBC Morning Joe, and CBS, and CNN, and the Fishing Channel and play another addictive round of Angry Birds.  And I can’t stop playing till I get to the next level.

Cell Phones are smart, but not solid

I might have been the last person of my age to adopt a cell phone.  Must have been 1998 or so.  I remember my wife insisted I have one, not to keep track of me, but so that I could call the authorities in case of an emergency.  I used to walk alone at night from the subway station home .  I thought it was reasonably safe to do so, but my wife kept reading reports of armed bandits on bicycles terrorizing the neighborhood.  I never saw them, but I had a cell phone just in case.

That phone was solid as a brick.  Actually, I could have protected myself better by using it as a weapon than by calling 911. I think my minutes came from a phone card – like 40 minutes a month for 10 bucks or something.

A few years later, I upgraded to a Sanyo.  Another solid phone that I clipped onto my belt as if it were a tape measure or cordless drill.   The pull out antennae came in handy as a pointer, a feature a teacher like me used to teach the finer points of English…and you could poke someone’s eye out with that thing.

After the Sanyo, came the LG flip, which was quite a trip.  That it flipped open was about the smartest feature on the phone, that and speed dial.   I could wear it on my belt, and flip it open with a quick Elvis snap of my hip like something you might see on Letterman’s stupid human tricks.

My cell phones

My cell phones

My current phone is the Samsung Instinct.  I’ve come to like it, but it’s fast becoming old school as smart phones go.  I’m in the market for another.   We have Sprint, so I’m looking for the smartest phone in their lineup.  Looks like it’ll be the PalmPre.  I’ve heard good things about it, but I checked it out at Best Buy and the thing is tiny, and made of cheap lightweight plastic.  Though I could probably buy a little holtser for it, it is definitely not a weapon.