Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the HP TouchPad – CyanogenMod 9 Alpha 0.5 (bug fix)

The Cyanogen team does it again. I took the leap and installed this on my TouchPad and wow!!! This is wicked.

I went to Best Buy today to compare the performance on the TouchPad to that of other available devices. I left the store with a smile, the TouchPad even with the remaining bugs in this build, can compete with the most expensive Android 4.0 device. I cant wait till the Cyanogen team perfects this mod.

Today they published an update (actually a bundling of updates).

Alpha0.5 Release notes:
This is a minor release that bundles fixes that were previously a separate download and a few other things:

  • Fix kernel crash that happened most frequently with Titanium Backup but also many other apps(fix found by verygreen)
  • Touchscreen fixes by Dees_Troy(helps with rapid distinct touches being interporated as a single motion)
  • Fix graphics corruption that was happening in some games
  • CM9 changes from Flemmard
  • CMStats added
  • Browser: open link in incognito mode
  • Change needed for fsck replacement
  • Other general changes that were merged since alpha 0

Size does matter – Choosing between the iPad, Galaxy Tab, Nook and Kindle Fire

Nook Tablet



Galaxy Tab 10.1

8.1 x 5 x .48


9.5 x 7.31 x .34


7.5 x 4.7 x .45


9.09 x 6.21 x .33


We could go back and forth on the merits and flaws of each operating system (iOS vs. Android), but today I am only focusing on utilization.

As iOS and Android continue to one up each other, choosing the right device for you has become increasingly difficult. The differences between Apple’s iOS 5 vs. Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) are so few now and the availability of quality apps now leveling out, the decision now comes down to how one intends to use the device.

I’ve had the opportunity to live with both Apple’s iOS 5 vs. Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on tablets for a couple months now and honestly its hard to choose one over the other, the size and shape of the device really does determine how much you use it.

Is bigger better?
Well, it depends. If your primary use of the device is reading, then the answer is no. I have yet to complete a book using the bigger devices. They are just plain uncomfortable to use for prolonged reading. You can whip out the smaller device from your jacket pocket and read with one hand while riding in a New York subway train (on average I see 12 people a day doing so). That’s not so easy to do with a 9×7 device.

Is less really more?
Here too it depends. If your primary use of the device is web browsing and working on documents, then no. Viewing websites and navigating on the smaller screen is painful. You will also find that the bigger devices have faster processors and additional features such as camera, GPS, HDMI ports etc.

Features and use for the smaller devices
At $200 the Kindle fire seems to be a bargain, but it really isn’t. There are some serious design flaws. The device itself is very slippery and the location of the sleep button is just plain dumb. I found myself constantly hitting the button. With no SD card slot, you can’t add more memory to the 8GB that it comes with. The Nook Tablet on the other hand has grips all around the device, come with 16GB of memory and has an SD card slot that can take up to a 32GB card. These features alone make the extra $50 in price worth it.

The Nook Tablet offers a better experience in this size category. The screen is more responsive the browser is faster and the battery life almost 3 hours longer than the Fire. Since these devices are both based in Google’s Android OS, there really aren’t any OS level options to compare.

Obviously my choice here is the Nook Tablet but as stated before, don’t expect too much productivity out of these devices, they are after all sold as e-readers that have a few more features.

Features and use for the bigger devices
If you are like me and move from computer to computer, you will find the limitations imposed by Apple on device synchronization to one machine very restrictive as well as similar restrictions on native application options. In the Android world you aren’t restricted, you can simply plug in your USB cable to any machine and copy data on or off in a few seconds without having to launch an iTunes like interface and you have a number of alternative apps that can be downloaded to replace the native (built in) applications.

The Galaxy tab is the real winner for me. Better hardware (camera, battery), while both of these devices lack an SD card slot, the Galaxy tab does have an SD card adapter available for purchase.

The bottom line
How you intend to use the device should guide your choice. If you just choose based on popularity you might just have an expensive ornament on your coffee table.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the HP TouchPad.

That $100 investment keeps paying off. This is the 3rd OS for the hardware that HP just couldn’t sell with Web OS.

And then there was Zune HD

I have blogged about this device before, but I am really enjoying it sooo much I had to share.

While it may be impossible to surpass the Apple hype, it is possible to make a quality product.

The Apple fan boys can say what they want (and they will), but the Zune is a superior product (I wont go into the technical details today, I’ll wait for the haters to comment). Take it from someone who owns an iPhone, an Android phone and the Zune HD. The only device worthy of my music listening time is the Zune HD coupled with the Zune desktop software and the music subscription service.

Finally I can play my music on every machine in my house and use a shared subscription on multiple devices (PC’s, xbox360, Zune HD player).

Not only am I unrestricted in my device choices, they also chose to convert purchase music to mp3 format and strip the DRM, this allows you to use the file on any device (I also sync my Android phone and iPhone). Apple will never see another dime of mine for music, it took me days to strip the DRM from music I purchase from them. It’s mine, I paid for it, why should I be restricted to playing it on Apple only devices and software?

I should also mention that credits on my Microsoft Market place account are available in the Zune software, so when I tag a song from the built in radio and add it to my shopping cart, I can make the purchase once I have internet access on the device or from my computer.

My only complaint is that with the unlimited access to this much music, it’s hard to pick 10 to keep each month.

Say it isn’t so Microsoft!!!

After months of waiting and saving for my birthday present to myself, I just found out that Microsoft has killed production on the courier.

This day sucks!!!

I am sitting in an airport restaurant in Milwaukee eating the worst meal I have had in a longtime, but I’m hungry and pissed off that my flight got delayed and I missed my connecting flight I now I have a 3 hr. wait. My new flight has a 50% chance of being delayed or cancelled due to an approaching storm, so what do I do? I get online to catch-up on the news and check on my favorite gadgets and the first article I read is this, “It has been made official by Microsoft that the production and development of its tablet Courier has been terminated. Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices division

So to sum up, I get to spend my birthday-eve in an airport, the one tech toy I wanted is dead and the sky looks like the end of the world is upon us.
Now to go find a power outlet.

Android vs. iPhone vs. Windows Mobile, Part 3

A year later and several updates have occurred in both the iPhone (the iPhone 3Gs) and Android (the Nexus One) world, not to mention the launch of the Kindle, Nook and iPad, with Dell and HP to release Windows 7 tablets and Microsoft Courier on the way, so it’s time to issue and update here as well.

So let’s start with the iPhone, not enough has changed here, so we got copy and paste, multimedia messaging, Bluetooth head phone support, video recording and voice dialing, these are all things that all of the other devices on the market already did, the funny thing is that Apple advertises it like something new. The GPS on the device is still weak when compared to standalone GPS devices (Garmin), you still can’t tether the device (not allowed with AT&T or you have to pay extra), the browser still sucks (no flash support and a lot of the multimedia on the web does not show) and working with it for anything besides music or games gets annoying. Apple’s tight control over the App store is killing innovation and forcing users and developers to live within their ecosystem. To get many of the really useful apps you have mod your device and live outside of their world.

The Android phone, here was a chance to take the touch screen phone to a new level and Google and its partners have dropped the ball. They came close to answering the call of the public, yes, copy and paste was there from the start, and they added full Bluetooth head phone support, video recording and GPS capabilities that rivals that of many of the devices on the market (in fact the addition of live traffic and other features (like social networking), but the haphazard device update strategy that seems to have been left into the hands of the business partners (phone companies), has left a number of users in the dark, as they see features advertised that they can’t get because their vendor has not pushed the update.

Windows phone 7, the new player. This is a combination of the Zune player and a Windows 7 approach to their mobile phone operating system. Guess what? It works! Microsoft got it right finally! They’ve taken a new approach on the user interface and experience and have added a significant amount of discovery features. To understand what I mean by discovery features, just download the Zune desktop software (no you don’t need to own a Zune), the Zune pass feature allows you to download all the music you want and keep it as long as you want (so long as your subscription is in good standing) and they allow you 10 DRM free songs per month. I have discovered so many new artists via the bio and related artist features in this software that I was compelled to try out the Zune HD device, well, to make a long story short, my iPhone has not seen the light of day since. The Windows phone 7 interface is like viewing a web application for each feature area via an aperture, you can scroll (swipe) across the page (Hubs, people hub, pictures hub, games hub, etc.) to see more. This is far better than trying to fit everything into the small single pane. Gone are the icons and menus associated with the Windows world , the phone interface is Zune HD inspired, focused or user habits and a clean picture like interface. What’s missing right now are apps. I was disappointed at the lack of apps in the Microsoft Market place, but I’m sure there will be a flood soon.

 The iPad, another disappointment. The same iPhone, only big and bulky, with no USB port, memory slot or print capabilities. This device quickly becomes a living room coffee table novelty. If you are in the market for an eBook reader, then this is an expensive choice. I found that got tired of fighting the restrictive iPhone interface and bulkiness of the device and each time I tried to read a book with it, I always ended up play a game or listening to music instead (web browsing when the wifi works was just as bad as it is on the iPhone, because is it the same device). I quickly got over the hype that Apple works so hard on and had buyer’s remorse, but then I remembered that it was a loaner  :-).

Kindle and Nook. Now these are eBook readers! They both try to do a little more, like media players, but the interface leaves much to be desired. The nook takes things a bit further and adds a little color, and with its next update they promise a web browser. Both of these devices are exactly what they state, they don’t pretend to be anything else, they both feel right in one hand and the screens are perfect for reading. No buyer’s remorse here if you are an avid reader, with all the instant gratification of automatically downloading a newly released book without having to go to the book store. Note, these are not speedy devices, but the act of reading isn’t fast like video, so speed isn’t a major factor when the single page is being looked at for minutes at a time.

Windows 7 pads. Well, I already use a tablet PC, so I know what to expect. The stability of Windows 7 and the tablet features that are built into the operation system makes for a solid performing device, the promise of a pad sized device I find interesting and appealing, but I like having a keyboard, so the devices that come with a removable keyboard base would be the way that I would go, but I’m holding out for …

Microsoft Courier, now this is the one I’m waiting for. This is a digital journal and eBook reader and it sports dual 7 inch touch screens that fold over like a real book. This device is due this year and I’m saving my pennies for it

Just can’t say that I love either of you, but I like one better! – G1 vs iPhone part 2

Ok so I’ve been using both the T-Mobile G1 Google phone and the AT&T Apple iPhone now for a few months and here’s the verdict.

IPhone, it’s got the cool factor but that’s it. Just like their computers, they do the flashy stuff well, but when it comes down to actual work, they leave you hanging. If you need to look up a number fast, search for an email, edit a document, or simply copy a file to the device to read on the road, forget it. This device just can’t or does so poorly. This is no blackberry killer.

Google Android Phone (AKA the T-Mobile G1), all function and not enough style. It’s like the MAC vs. PC ads all over again. The G1 does everything well, but is less visually appealing. It’s obvious that Google designed the OS, almost everything points to their online service (which is a good thing) so you are never without your data if you forget your phone at home. (I wish someone would design an app that logs your calls on Google as well, this way I can see the calls I missed). The one weak link in the G1 is Video, I wish there was a better way to purchase and place video on the device, the Amazon store is clunky (it works however).

The bottom line: Having a keyboard and copy and paste functionality is key to why the G1 is a better device, this is simply more efficient, Apple has taken us back to the stone ages with their implementation (kind of reminds me of the mouse with only one button, it took them a decade to get up to speed), you are back to one finger typing on the iPhone. The other pluses are things like the SD card slot, smaller width (making it feel like a phone, when you multitask like I do this is important, I have broken an iPhone already because it fell out of my hand, its shaped like a brick), better in-call sound quality, better desktop icon management (you can choose which icons you want on the desktop without having to remove the entire application), apps that can run in the background or resume when you have switched away from them, with the iPhone you have to start all over.

I carry both devices, one for entertainment and the other for functionality, I’m sure by now you know which is which. If I had to choose which one to keep, the G1 would be the winner, it’s not flashy, but it does the job well.

P.S. they both suck at battery life, this is one area where the blackberry is still king.

P.S.S. I also have the black berry bold, but there really isn’t much improvement over the Curve (only faster, better graphics and a SD card slot – come on Apple, get with the program) so there was no point in comparing it to these guys. When blackberry has a better application store (market) that has cool free apps like the G1 market or Apple Apps store, then maybe we’ll see a real fight, for now, the Blackberry still remains king of business use, but in my book the G1 is the only competitor that can do both business and pleasure well.