Android Phones and Tablets

I’m an Android freak.

Being on the technical side of the world, I’ve used / configured / fixed just about every device and OS out there.  As a techno-junkie, I’ve tried out just about everything as well and I tell ya I’m hooked on Android.  Holding Apple fanboys / fangirls at bay, yes my household has two iPods and an iPad as well…so don’t start that up.  =)

Getting to this point wasn’t quick…as as a general rule of thumb I don’t exactly embrace the cutting edge of technology.  Being on the cutting edge often leaves you…well…cut and bleeding.  I’m more of a “we’ll wait until Service Pack 1 comes out before drinking the KoolAid on this…” kind of guy.

About 9-10 years ago, when I was deep in the systems-side of my career, I was one of those supergeeks who had a servers (four to be exact) in the basement where I was hosting email, websites, FTP, (you name it) out of the house.  Everything local – tape backups, offsite replication, blah blah blah.  Hosting things elsewhere seemed really dumb to me at the time because “why would I do that when I can have full control of it here?”

Then one day while I was on vacation the power supply in my web server went out and – bottom line – my server was going to be down for two weeks.

(hold on for the Android tie-in…I’m getting there!)

Forget that!

On top of that, <sarcasm>little</sarcasm> things like:

  • My Outlook PST corrupting and the subsequent loss of years of email
  • The tape snapping in my tape backup drive
  • Just plain forgetting to swap tapes
  • External hard drives failing
  • General equipment failures
  • The HOURS upon HOURS upon DAYS of my life given up to maintain local stuff

all one day made me snap.  I made the choice that I was going to shove everything into the “cloud” or other offsite-hosting solutions.

Flash forward to last year.  (keep the faith!  I’m getting to the whole tie-in to Android)

Email and File Sharing:  I use Google Apps to host both my personal and business email and file sharing.  Five different domains all wrapped into a SINGLE interface for email.  Doesn’t matter who I receive email from or send to, it’s all just on one screen and I can access it from any web browser.  Cost…$0.00.  (well, I have to pay for the annual domain registration…)

Calendaring:  I again use Google Calendar to manage my personal, business, and family calendars.  Again, all in one interface on one screen…accessibly from any web browser.  Cost…$0.00.

Web / FTP Hosting:  I get a little more fragmented on this point depending on the need.  GoDaddy for MySQL hosting, HostGator for LAMP sites, and WordPress for blogging.  Cost…varies from $5.00-$7.00/mo.

Home and Business Phone:  I have been a VoIP junkie for years.  Business PBX installs, home installs…whatever.  If the actual technology isn’t the looming replacement for traditional copper lines, the concept sure is.  Just as many things over the years have “ditched the cord”, everything will eventually follow suit.  I’ll get into more detail on how I fully “VoIP’ed” my house in a later posting, but basically my entire house is running off of VoIP.  Personal, business, everything.  Cost…for 3 numbers and all the calling I need to do…$6.00/mo.

OK…so here’s the Android tie-in…

So I got all of this cool stuff in “the cloud” to speak and it’s all running great.  However, I still was tethered to a computer to access anything.

My first experience with a mobile OS was the Blackberry.  Great for email, flat-out horrid for everything else.

My next experience was 18 months with a Palm Pre.  This was my first true experience being able to essentially access anything, at any time, just through the phone.  This was both an incredibly freeing and incredibly confining moment.  I realized “holy smokes!  I can access everything from ANYWHERE!” as well as “holy smokes!  Anyone can access me from ANYWHERE!”.  HA!

When the Palm Pre literally fell apart in my hands (don’t get me started on HP/Palm’s customer support…grrrrr) I was unleashed on the mobile market in August of 2010.  iPhone?  Android?  Something else?  I knew a lot of people who had the iPhone and are vehement supporters of same / lambastes of different that told me that I would be throwing my life away if I didn’t hop on the bandwagon.

I have to give the iPhone credit – it is an incredible device.  It does 99% of everything one may “need” from a smartphone and has great battery life to boot.  Unfortunately of that 99% that it did do, I would only really use like 10% of that, and that 1% overall that the iPhone doesn’t do well I really wanted.  (Did you know that 74% of all statistics are made up on the fly?)

Enter Android.  Being a big Google guy already, they did what I needed:  Fully Unified Calendaring across ALL services.  Exchange, personal and shared Google Calendars (this is what Apple doesn’t do well at all), Facebook, LinkedIn, and a whole host more.  I went with the HTC EVO from Sprint (already a Sprint customer and got a killer plan discount through my employer at the time, plus they have true unlimited data) and haven’t looked back.  Going from Android 2.1 to 2.2, and now to 2.3 there isn’t a single thing that my EVO hasn’t been able to do that I needed it to…with the exception of more than 20 hours of battery life under “normal” conditions.  I use my phone quite a bit, and it’s darn near a real computer anyways…I’m a realist with this…so I don’t get erked off too badly.

Besides accessing stuff, 8MP camera?  Awesome.  HD video?  Awesome.  Only having to carry one device (ditching the point and shoot)?  Priceless.

Phone – cool…done – works great.  The only time I have to really crack open the laptop or take out some paper is when I’m in a meeting.  In one meeting, I see a guy whip out his iPad with a stylus and start taking notes.  Cool!  So here my mind goes on tablets.

In February, I picked up a Gen 1 iPad for the family.  16GB WiFi only at Target.  The girls can’t put it down – (mostly educational) games, Netflix, you name it.  My wife checks her email and Facebook on there now and again, and I just supply the credit card info for iTunes.  Looking at how the use it for just about everything (I’m darn near ready to pick up a second iPad to tell you the truth) my mind started shifting to how I could use one for everything that I do.

With my wonderful success with Android, I started looking around to see how the industry and devices were tracking.  A good friend of mine posts articles around the Internet about such things, and lo and behold today he posted one on an Android 3.0 tablet by Asus – the Transformer.  I really like this concept initially due to the attachable keyboard.  Take the thing to a meeting, take notes, but when you need to really bear down on a document, just snap on the keyboard and and use Google Apps.  Nice.  Throw in that I can extend the same success that I enjoy with the Android phone to a tablet, it seems like a no-brainer.

I know the iPad has bluetooth keyboard devices (we have a keyboard for ours), but I really don’t like what is out there.  The keys are too small for my sausage-like fingers and there is an annoying lag when typing.  Heck, the same thing could come to bear with the Android, but who knows.  I’m up for trying anything.  =)

Ok – so that wraps up my random babbling on Android.  Questions?  Comment.  =)

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