products, tablets, technology

it’s all about the user’s experience

Thanks to Apple and the iPad, tablets are all the rage. Android-powered devices look to be most viable com­peti­tor to the iPad. Motorola recently released the Xoom tablet, fea­tur­ing Android’s new Hon­ey­comb oper­at­ing sys­tem, which is opti­mized for tablets. From what I’ve been able to gather, the Xoom sales have not been as robust as Motorola had expected. This is purely con­jec­ture on my part, but I think some people’s ret­i­cence about pick­ing up the Xoom is because it seems too complicated.

That may not be the case, but per­cep­tion is key — par­tic­u­larly in con­sumer elec­tron­ics. It used to rub me the wrong way when peo­ple would take shots at Apple prod­ucts being “dumbed down” for con­sumers. The more that I try to tweak my Android-powered Droid X smart­phone, the more I appre­ci­ate some­thing that doesn’t require me to learn or deci­pher code. Most peo­ple, includ­ing a lot of very smart peo­ple, don’t want to pro­gram or fid­dle with their com­put­ers or smart­phones. The vast major­ity of peo­ple want to sim­ply turn on the device and have it per­form as needed/expected. I think Google needs to bet­ter address this with Android devices, because it’s becom­ing per­ceived as a prod­uct for com­puter nerds. And that’s actu­ally prob­a­bly being unfair to nerds, which I con­sider myself. While I appre­ci­ate being able to per­son­al­ize my device, I don’t want to sac­ri­fice con­sis­tent performance.

As we move to rely­ing even more on mobile devices such as smart­phones and tablets (I absolutely refuse to say “post-PC”) a rock solid user inter­face (UI) is para­mount. It is crit­i­cal because peo­ple on the move need things to be easy to nav­i­gate and use.

Don’t take this yarn as an indict­ment of Android. I’ve been tough on Google for its han­dling of the Android OS lately, but I’m still a fan. On top of seam­less inte­gra­tion with Google ser­vices, one of the best fea­tures built into Android is the abil­ity to use cus­tomiz­able wid­gets. Aside from the turn-by-turn nav­i­ga­tion, app wid­gets are prob­a­bly what most my friends with iPhones com­ment on as an envi­able fea­ture on my Droid X.

Irre­spec­tive of Steve Jobs com­ment about Hum­mer phones, it appears that users do like a smart­phone with a screen a lit­tle big­ger than the iPhone’s beau­ti­ful crisp, but small­ish 3.5″ dis­play. Since the release of the EVO, larger screens on smart­phones have gained trac­tion. It looks like a 4″ screen is the sweet spot between the iPhone 3.5″ screen and the EVO and Droid X 4.3″ screens. It remains to be seen whether this “more is more” car­ries over with tablets. The near 10″ of the iPad and Xoom would seem to be pre­ferred for peo­ple look­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate a tablet from a smart­phone or laptop/netbook. I think the addi­tional screen real estate of a tablet is par­tic­u­larly attrac­tive to devel­op­ers, now opti­miz­ing apps for the larger tablet screens. I’m left to won­der of the Flyer and orig­i­nal Galaxy Tab, with 7″ screens will be viable. I can see them being pop­u­lar from a con­ve­nience stand­point (porta­bil­ity), but they may not be the best for view­ing the new optimized-for-tablet apps. I guess time will tell. I don’t think there nec­es­sar­ily has to be a stan­dard for tablet screen sizes, but the design of the apps may dic­tate a min­i­mum, func­tional size.

Based on what I’ve seen of the Motorola Xoom — I have yet to get some hands-on time with one — the wid­gets look inter­est­ing. How­ever, the wid­gets look too small to me on that large screen. I am not sure if the wid­gets are expand­able like they are on Motorola Android smart­phones, but hav­ing a tiny cal­en­dar wid­get that I can scroll through serves no pur­pose if I can’t make out the tiny font.

To that end, I came across this video for a soon-to-be-released tablet by HTC, called the Flyer. I’ve seen pre­views and men­tions in blogs, but after watch­ing this longer walk-trhugh, I am intrigued. HTC, arguably, has the best Android user inter­face over­lay — Sense UI. This video does a good job demon­strat­ing the fea­tures that, in my esti­ma­tion, make the Flyer more appeal­ing to con­sumers than the Xoom. The wid­gets look large and usable.


From what I under­stand, the HTC Flyer will debut with Android 2.4, bet­ter known as Gin­ger­bread. There’s no word from HTC on when the Flyer will upgrade to Hon­ey­comb, but I sus­pect that it may be a while, given that the UI on Hon­ey­comb is some­what of a depar­ture from Gin­ger­bread and Froyo ver­sions of the Android OS. Given what HTC has been able to do with putting UI skins on both Win­dow and Android, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if they pull out a slick update for tablet-specific ver­sions of Android.

I guess that gets me back to the under­ly­ing point about the user expe­ri­ence. As you may have gleaned from this post, I am torn. I have come around to appre­ci­at­ing the mer­its of Apple’s so-called walled off ecosys­tem. If only from a design per­spec­tive, Apple has done a ter­rific job cre­at­ing a fam­ily of devices that all feel famil­iar. There’s some­thing to be said about being able to move from one Apple device to another will no real learn­ing curve. Things tend to be in the same place, and func­tion on the iPad, as the would on the iPhone, as they would on the Mac­Book Pro or iMac. The flip side of that, how­ever, is that it’s homoge­nous. There’s no diver­sity of look and feel. I can­not dif­fer­en­ti­ate my iPad from yours, other than the cover and wall­pa­per image. Whereas, on Android devices, users can cre­ate, essen­tially, a com­pletely unique inter­face. I can use dif­fer­ent wid­gets, or even a cus­tom ROM on my Droid X that reflects exactly who I am and how I use my smart­phone. It’s not purely cos­metic. The catch is that once you drop below the sur­face of third-party launch­ers, you have to root or loosely repro­gram your phone to take advan­tage of a lot of cool changes. I’ve done it, but have become fatigued with hav­ing to run to a forum to fig­ure out some glitch.

This sleuthing may be okay with a smart­phone I picked up for $100–200; but when I’m look­ing at drop­ping $500–700 on a tablet, my inter­est or will­ing­ness to lift the hood and tin­ker dimin­ishes almost imme­di­ately. For instance, I had a sim­i­lar feel­ing with my iMac recently. I had some prob­lems with the iMac shut­ting down. There were plenty of forum threads sug­gest­ing that I pull out screw dri­vers and install dodgy diag­nos­tic soft­ware. Con­sid­er­ing the coin that I dropped for that iMac, my sense of adven­ture was reduced to mak­ing an appoint­ment with the “Geniuses” at the Apple store. I think this resis­tance to tin­ker and cus­tomize doesn’t make peo­ple less intel­li­gent. Most peo­ple are busy and sim­ply don’t have the inter­est in spend­ing sig­nif­i­cant chunks of time soupin’ up their tablet. That’s why The Gap sells more clothes than a tai­lor shop.

I don’t know. I don’t think it’s fair to say that I’ve already gone to the Dark Side of Apple zealotry. If noth­ing else, I think that I just see things a lit­tle more clearly now. Apple is by no means per­fect. The line at the ser­vice area…ahem Genius Bar…confirms the fal­li­bil­ity of Apple prod­ucts. But, 100% uptime is not the point. It’s about under­stand­ing your user. Apple seems to get the basic needs of peo­ple buy­ing its prod­uct. The thing with Android-based prod­ucts is that we are being pitched a some­what schiz­o­phrenic expe­ri­ence. The stock Android expe­ri­ence is loaded with fea­tures, but comes across as a lit­tle too cold and techie for most peo­ple. It seems that HTC gets that, and puts a attrac­tive facade on that sturdy Android foun­da­tion. Is one nec­es­sar­ily bet­ter than the other. Instinc­tively I say no. How­ever, when think­ing about the “aver­age” user [non pejo­ra­tive], I think if Google hopes for Android to be a com­pelling alter­na­tive to Apple, it has to give con­sid­er­able atten­tion to the user inter­face. It feels like Google is enam­ored with mak­ing stock Android the Craigslist of oper­at­ing sys­tems — highly effi­cient, but ugly and/or bor­ing as hell. No frills has its place, I just don’t think it’s on a device like a tablet or smartphone.

Thanks for bear­ing with me. This post didn’t really travel the same path that I started on yes­ter­day when I began typ­ing. That’s actu­ally some­thing I love about writ­ing. Nev­er­the­less, I hope that I made a point in here somewhere.

android, mobile tech

deals on droid incredible and droid2

If you are in the mar­ket for a smart­phone, and have been eye­balling the Droid Incred­i­ble or the Droid 2, today might not be a bad time to shop. Best Buy has added the Droid Incred­i­ble to its Free Phone Fri­day pro­mo­tion. Fur­ther, accord­ing to, the Droid 2 will join the Fri­day Fee­bie party, though I have yet to see con­fir­ma­tion of the Droid 2 in today’s Best Buy’s Free Phone Fri­day pro­mo­tion online.

Ver­i­zon is offer­ing some­thing nearly as good as free. Big Red cur­rently has a BOGO (buy one, get one free) offer on the Droid Incredible.

ALERT: The word on the street is that the Incred­i­ble and Droid 2, though both released this year, already have an EOL (End-of-Life) date set within the next three of four months. Rumor is there is an Incred­i­ble HD on the way, and the Droid 2, will be replaced by a Droid 2 Global (run­ning on CDMA domes­ti­cally and on a SIM card inter­na­tion­ally). Add to that, the HTC Merge will be out soon, too. Finally, Ver­i­zon is switch­ing over to a 4G net­work in the com­ing months, and there will be a num­ber of new phones intro­duced to take advan­tage of the increased speed.

With all of that said,  both phones are more than capa­ble, and will be so for some time. The only unknown is how long Ver­i­zon will sup­port these phones — namely with updates — into the future of a two-year con­tract. For exam­ple, the Droid Eris was barely on the mar­ket for one year before it reached it’s EOL date. Addi­tion­ally, Ver­i­zon pushed out one update (Android 2.1) and will no longer sup­port the phone with updates. It’s, unfor­tu­nately, that’s how things are going to be for a while.

So…here’s my advice. If you’re some­one who loves to have the latest…wait. If you’ve been look­ing to upgrade to a smart­phone, and want a reli­able device, I would con­sider tak­ing advan­tage of the Best Buy free or Ver­i­zon BOGO offer. Nat­u­rally, if you’re hold­ing out for the iPhone to debut on Ver­i­zon, you were just read­ing this blog piece to humor yourself…or me. :-)

mobile tech, windows

a [big] htc windows phone 7 coming this fall

The folks at TmoNews, a great site for news about prod­ucts on T-Mobile, are report­ing  that HTC will likely reveal the HD3, which will serve as a Win­dows Phone 7 upgrade from HD2 (run­ning Win­dows Mobile 6.5), at a press event next Wednes­day in Lon­don.  The expected launch date is Wednes­day, Novem­ber 17th.

Reported specs for HD3 include:

  • Win­dows Phone 7 oper­at­ing system
  • 4.5″ AMOLED screen (Appar­ently, HTC has resolved it’s screen sourc­ing issues.)
  • dual-core 1.5 GHz processor
  • GB of RAM
  • 32 GB of inter­nal stor­age (wow!)
  • 8 megapixel cam­era capa­ble of shoot­ing HD video (again, wow!)
  • 1800 mAh battery

If I had to guess, pric­ing on the HD3 will be around $249.

I orig­i­nally thought devices with screens over four inches would be too big for com­fort­able daily use–as a phone. After hav­ing some hands-on time with the EVO4G and own­ing the Droid X — both with a 4.3″ screens –  my think­ing has shifted. Though too big for some, the EVO4G and the Droid X are not as big as one might think, and are quite com­fort­able for every day use. I don’t think the .2″ increase on the HD3 will be too sig­nif­i­cant. Whereas the Dell Streak’s 5″ screen pushes it into tablet ter­ri­tory. We’ll see.

android, mobile tech

android ‘world phone’ headed to verizon?

Rumors have been fly­ing around for a cou­ple of months about a dual-radio device com­ing to Ver­i­zon. If you’re not famil­iar cel­lu­lar fre­quen­cies in the US.  Ver­i­zon and Sprint use a CDMA net­work, and T-Mobile, AT&T, and just about every­where else in the world usesa  GSM net­work. By pro­duc­ing a dual-radio device, the HTC device would use  Verizon’s CDMA net­work in the US, but run with the GSM radio when out­side the US to allow for ‘global roam­ing.’ device.

Pic­tures of a device with a siz­able screen and a [bright red] full QWERTY key­board started to leak. Then, Engad­get got it’s hands on this device work­ing its way through FCC clearance.

source: engadget

Release of this device, code named HTC PD42100, is expected to be early 2011.  In addi­tion to the dual radios, this ‘world phone’ is rumored to sport a 4″ screen,  1.2GHz proces­sor and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, as the details are spec­u­la­tive at best. If the 2011 release holds up, this device may be one of  the first devices to run on Verizon’s upgraded, faster LTE (long term evo­lu­tion) net­work. If you really want to get your mobile geek on, click here to read more about Verizon’s net­work upgrade.

I will be inter­ested to see RIM’s reac­tion to this device, which could present seri­ous com­pe­ti­tion to global-capable BlackBerries.


htc’s clock/weather widget for your desktop

The Sense User Inter­face (UI) on HTC mobile phones seems to gen­er­ate love it or hate it feel­ings with Android phone users. Those who love it, remark that it adds a nice pol­ish to the Android oper­at­ing sys­tem. Those who loathe the UI tend to be fans of stock Android and don’t want any­thing to “pretty.”

Well, if you fall into the first group, you’re going to love this. Code­Plex, an open source project com­mu­nity, has released a ver­sion of the HTC clock and weather wid­get for your Win­dows 7 desktop.

To down­load this desk­top wid­get, click here.

android, mobile tech

first impressions of the droid incredible

A Lit­tle Background

As some of you know, I took the plunge and picked up the HTC ADR6300…better known as the Ver­i­zon Droid Incred­i­ble. Until a few weeks ago, I was patiently wait­ing for the Google Nexus One to show up on Verizon’s net­work. Some­thing told me that there was a chance that this phone may never see the light of day on Ver­i­zon, and this was proven true this past Fri­day (Google Announce­ment).

I have been toy­ing with the idea of upgrad­ing from my LG flip phone to a smart­phone. Just as with any self-respecting tech nerd/geek, I have been read­ing all the tech­nol­ogy and mobile tech blogs to get the most cur­rent infor­ma­tion about devices on the mar­ket, or ones expected to release soon. I have a num­ber of friends and col­leagues that own the iPhone, and have been bend­ing my ear for years about pick­ing one up for myself. I enter­tained the idea, but mov­ing to AT&T wasn’t appeal­ing, and I, in all can­dor, was not that enam­ored with the iPhone. Before any­one makes claims of me being an Apple hater, let me clar­ify that I am very fond of Apple prod­ucts and design. In the case of the iPhone, I just wanted some­thing better.

What that “bet­ter” was, I didn’t know. In the last year, there has been increas­ing talk about the devel­op­ment of devices run­ning with Google’s oper­at­ing sys­tem called Android. Last fall, the Android device that made the most noise is the Motorola Droid. Though the Droid enticed me, I was inter­ested in a phone being devel­oped by Google called the Nexus One. The Nexus One was released on T-Mobile at the begin­ning of the year. At the time of it’s release, Google shared that it Ver­i­zon would carry the Nexus One by the spring. Sub­se­quent to the announce­ment, word started to spread about a new Android OS device for Ver­i­zon. The specs for this Ver­i­zon Android device were, sur­pris­ingly, bet­ter than the Nexus One. So, my delib­er­a­tion on what road to travel really boiled down to 1) won­der­ing whether I would wait to see if the rumors about a CDMA ver­sion of the new iPhone 4G com­ing to Ver­i­zon were true; 2) con­tem­plat­ing jump­ing net­works to get the HTC EVO-4G debut­ing on Sprint in early June; 3) hold out for the Nexus One; or 4) stay on Ver­i­zon and get the Incred­i­ble. A fifth option that I’ve taken off the table for now is the Win­dows Phone 7, expected to debut this fall.

As much as the EVO-4G was (and some­what still is) call­ing my name, I decided that I would go with the Nexus One or the Incredible—really whichever one came out first. On April 12, Ver­i­zon announced the Droid Incred­i­ble would be avail­able on April 29. Pre-orders started on April 19. I was reluc­tant to pre-order the Incred­i­ble because some of the sneak-peek reviews com­mented that the body felt “pla­s­ticky.” This was a lit­tle unset­tling, since the Nexus One has a good deal of metal in its body. After a good deal of last minute hand-wringing, I took my lunch break from a train­ing class for work to run to the Ver­i­zon store on April 29 to pick up the Incred­i­ble. The first store I went to was sold out. My first thought was “Damn!” I was told that another store a short Metro ride away had them in stock. I thought, “Hmmm. Maybe this is a sign that I need to think a lit­tle longer about this.” How­ever, by the time I hit the door of the store I decided to dash to the other Ver­i­zon store. Score! I returned to the last day of my train­ing class (a tad late) with the Incred­i­ble sit­ting on the table charg­ing. It was done. I joined the Android fam­ily. Ok, now onto the phone.

Basic Tour of the Incredible

Once you get beyond the stan­dard HTC and Ver­i­zon splash screens upon startup, you reach the lock screen. (Note: The Incred­i­ble runs on Android OS 2.1, dressed up with HTC’s user inter­face – Sense. Here’s a peek at the “stock” Android lock screen.)

I added an addi­tional, optional, lock screen to the device.

Once the lock pat­tern is swiped, you reach the home screen.

The Incred­i­ble comes with seven adjustable screens, as opposed to the three screens that come with the Motorola Droid or Nexus One. You can quickly add or delete wid­gets and programs/apps to any page. You can swipe left or right to reach the dif­fer­ent screens (a lit­tle bar — just above the phone tab in this pic­ture — moves to let you know where you are in the order of screens) or you can use HTC’s fea­ture called “Leap” that allow you to reduce the screen to a thumb­nail view so you can see all seven screens at once. To reach this view, you can either pinch the screen or press the home button.

From this Leap view, you can touch any of the thumb­nails to imme­di­ately go to a par­tic­u­lar screen. I like the Leap fea­ture, because at times I get tired of the swip­ing ges­ture and want to get a screen quickly. The other way to get to pro­grams or apps quickly is to press the up arrow — to the left of the phone tab in the pic­ture below.

Press­ing the arrow pulls up your program/apps launcher. This screen scrolls up and down. You can look at the pro­grams and apps in a grid or list view. I pre­fer the grid view because your list can get pretty long if you start adding a bunch of apps. You may have noticed an “M” in the stop left cor­ner of the screen in the pic­tures above. This is the noti­fi­ca­tions area of the screen. This is the area of the phone that will give you infor­ma­tion about new e-mail, text mes­sages, and updates com­ing in to your apps. (Mul­ti­task­ing) For instance, the “M” in the noti­fi­ca­tions bar on my phone indi­cates a new e-mail. To learn more about the noti­fi­ca­tions, I sim­ply swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the noti­fi­ca­tions window.

From the noti­fi­ca­tions win­dow, you can touch the par­tic­u­lar noti­fi­ca­tion, and it will take you to the pro­gram. If you want to ignore the noti­fi­ca­tions, you just swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen to close the noti­fi­ca­tion window.


I am pretty com­fort­able with dif­fer­ent oper­at­ing sys­tems, so the tran­si­tion from a basic cell­phone to the Incred­i­ble and Android OS was pretty easy. Though I use a Black­berry for work, the oper­at­ing sys­tem is noth­ing like what you’re used to. I think any­one that’s accus­tomed to an iPhone or iPod Touch will move around the phone pretty intu­itively. There are cer­tain things that act dif­fer­ently from the iPhone, such as the screens swipe left and right more than up and down. Minor dif­fer­ences, though, in the scheme of things. Basic set up is reallyeasy, espe­cially if you use Gmail. Once you type in your Gmail user­name and pass­word, the phone will pop­u­late with your e-mail, cal­en­dar and con­tacts from Google. If you use Yahoo, Hot­mail or any other ser­vice for e-mail, includ­ing Microsoft Exchange, you can add the accounts eas­ily in the HTC mail client. Here are a cou­ple of things worth not­ing about the way things work with HTC Sense.

  • If you use Gmail. Be aware that the Gmail app baked into the oper­at­ing sys­tem doesn’t, at this point, have cut-and-paste. If cut-and-paste capa­bil­ity in e-mail is impor­tant to you, use the HTC mail client. The cut-and-paste in the HTC mail client is easy to use. The only draw­back, that I can see, to using the HTC mail client is that it doesn’t appear to show HTML e-mail—at least con­sis­tently. The Gmail app shows HTML mes­sages, usu­ally ask­ing you if you want to show images before draw­ing all that addi­tional data.
  • HTC Sense has a great “peo­ple” (think con­tacts) fea­ture. Instead of hav­ing to search around for an e-mail, text mes­sage, or phone call from a par­tic­u­lar per­son, you can just go to that person’s con­tact page in your Peo­ple app. At the bot­tom of each con­tact page are a series of icons that let you see all the e-mails, text mes­sages, pho­tos, social media updates and phone calls from that per­son. How­ever, in order to take full advan­tage of this fea­ture, you need to use the HTC mail client and run your text mes­sages through the HTC mes­sages pro­gram. I use the Google voice and Gmail apps, so my e-mail and text mes­sages don’t asso­ciate with con­tacts in HTC’s Peo­ple feature.

There are a ton of videos and arti­cles that can give you more infor­ma­tion on the Sense and gen­eral Android fea­tures, so I won’t drone on about them here. Android Cen­tral has a great round up of arti­cles and infor­ma­tion (includ­ing videos, and tips and tricks) about the Incred­i­ble on its site and forum.

Let me touch on the fit and fin­ish of the devices body, which ini­tially gave me pause. Though the front part of the phone is made of a shiny black plas­tic, it doesn’t feel or look cheap. I analo­gized it to my Zune. It’s plas­tic, but if feels sub­stan­tial. The back of the phone is contoured.

The mate­r­ial used on the back of the Incred­i­ble feels some­what rub­ber­ized. Though a bit unusual, the con­toured back doesn’t affect the feel of the phone, and, in my opin­ion, adds a lit­tle bit of a unique design flare to the Incredible.

The Incred­i­ble is very light. Not cheap-feeling light, but light. I prob­a­bly would have pre­ferred some­thing a lit­tle more sub­stan­tial in my hand, but the light weight is great when you have this phone in your pocket. Addi­tion­ally, the Incred­i­ble doesn’t feel flimsy in your hand. I was just sur­prised that a device with all these capa­bil­i­ties would only weight a touch more than my flip phone.

I will write another install­ment to go over some of the apps—both native and those down­loaded from the Android Mar­ket, but I want to talk about just a few other things really quick.


If you’re mov­ing from a basic mobile phone or a smart­phone, such as the Black­berry, with a phys­i­cal key­board, to a touch screen-only device, it can be an adjust­ment. Most iPhone users I know say, “You get used to it.” That may be true, there is some­thing to be said about a phys­i­cal key­board. Even after a few weeks with the Incred­i­ble, I find that I type much faster on my Black­berry. The Incred­i­ble does give you feed­back when you touch let­ters on the screen, which helps.If you like the Android OS, but want a phys­i­cal key­board, you need to look at the Droid, CLIQ, Ally, or the new MyTouch3G slider that’s com­ing out soon.

Like most peo­ple, I find that the key­board is much eas­ier to use in land­scape mode (hold­ing the Incred­i­ble side­ways) than in por­trait mode. Per­haps because I have larger fin­gers, but the most accu­rate way to type in por­trait mode is one fin­ger tap­ping. Using two thumbs in por­trait mode, for me, caused me to hit the wrong keys too often. In either ori­en­ta­tion, I appre­ci­ate — well most of the time — the auto=correct or sug­ges­tion fea­ture. As you type the Incred­i­ble intu­itively tries to fig­ure out what you’re typ­ing. It’s par­tic­u­larly help­ful on long words because as you type, words appear above and you sim­ply tap the word to replace what you started. The prob­lem comes when you have words that you know are right and the auto-correct replaces the word for you. The sim­ple, but some­what annoy­ing way to deal with that is to tap the word you typed on the sug­gested word list. When you do this, the word you typed is added to the phone’s dic­tio­nary for future use. It’s a nice fea­ture, but I’ve found that hav­ing to add words here and there through an e-mail slows down my typ­ing. The up-side, I don’t know if it’s unin­tended, of the auto-correct is that it forces me to proof what I’ve writ­ten. (Though I usu­ally do that anyway.)

Oh, if you make errors while you’re typ­ing, you can tap the screen to move the cur­sor back to the area you need to cor­rect. There’s also an opti­cal track pad at the bot­tom of the Incred­i­ble that allows you to move through ele­ments on the screen. I’ve found the opti­cal track pad to be quite respon­sive. You just have to get accus­tomed to the amount of fin­ger move­ment required to get around the screen accurately.

Bat­tery Life

One of the biggest knocks I’ve seen on the phone is it’s rel­a­tively weak bat­tery life. I’m sure the mul­ti­ple programs/apps run­ning have a lot to do with bat­tery per­for­mance. There are pro­grams you can down­load to con­trol or “kill” back­ground apps to save bat­tery life. You can also adjust the default sync­ing option for the phone to con­trol what pro­grams and apps draw data automatically.

I was a bit con­cerned about bat­tery life in the first week with the phone. I was, admit­tedly, play­ing with the phone a lot, so I couldn’t really judge whether the bat­tery was weak or if I was abnor­mally tax­ing the phone. In the past week, I’ve noticed much bet­ter bat­tery life, but “bet­ter” still means I only get less than full day’s use with a charge. Unlike stan­dard cell phones and Black­ber­ries, you will need to charge the Incred­i­ble daily unless you have almost no apps run­ning on the phone.

There are other bat­ter­ies avail­able that fit into the phone, and extended bat­ter­ies are on the way. I may con­sider the higher capac­ity bat­tery that fits into the phone, but I don’t like extended bat­ter­ies because they alter the dimen­sions of the phone—pushing out the back with a dif­fer­ent cover.


I am a pho­tog­ra­pher, so my scrutiny of the qual­ity of images is prob­a­bly more exact­ing than oth­ers. While I don’t expect the Incred­i­ble to replace my DSLRs, I have been curi­ous to see if the 8 megapixel cam­era could stand in place of my point-and-shoot for daily snap­shots and video. Right up front, I will say that I am dis­ap­pointed that the video cam­era does not record in 720p high def­i­n­i­tion for­mat. This is par­tic­u­larly curi­ous, given that the Sprint EVO-4G has the same cam­era and records in 720p. If you spend any­time look­ing at video on YouTube, Vimeo, or other sites, you will appre­ci­ate the qual­ity of HD video. Set­ting that annoy­ance aside, I found that the cam­era takes pretty decent images. The cam­era has selec­tive focus, mean­ing you can touch dif­fer­ent areas of the screen to shift the focus, but so far I’ve found that the focus sys­tem is not as accu­rate as I’d like. Here are some exam­ples I grabbed for this piece.


Notice that Carla’s pic­ture is not quite in focus. I touched the focus area on her face sev­eral times before snap­ping the pic­ture. I even reduced the res­o­lu­tion of the images from 8MP to 1MP in the hopes that it would write faster, and, thus, reduce any affects of cam­era shake.


Again, notice in the sec­ond video that the rose is not in focus, though it’s clos­est to the cam­era. I selected the focus area on the rose, and made sure I was a suf­fi­cient dis­tance from the rose so it was not too close to focus. I sus­pect that spend­ing more time with the cam­era will result in bet­ter image and video quality.


The Incred­i­ble has a great screen with vibrant col­ors and deep, rich blacks. The response to touch, which is crit­i­cal on a device with no key­board, is fast and pre­cise. I like the hap­tic feed­back (it vibrates a lit­tle) when you make par­tic­u­lar touch inputs. Speak­ing of touch…if you any­where near the OCD issues I have, the fin­ger­prints and smudges on the screen will just about drive you batty–even with a screen pro­tec­tor. I keep a soft lens cloth with me at all times. I guess this just comes with the ter­ri­tory with touch screen devices. It is worth not­ing that one of the draw­backs of AMOLED (Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screens is that they suf­fer from sig­nif­i­cant washout in direct sunlight.

I don’t know how many of you are walk­ing around using your phone in direct sun­light. How­ever, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, you might want to think twice about this phone and look at the Droid, instead. In the cou­ple of weeks that I’ve had the phone, screen glare has not been a problem.


I love the Incred­i­ble. If you’re look­ing to upgrade from a stan­dard phone or an exist­ing smart­phone, I don’t think you can go wrong. As with any smart­phone on the mar­ket, there are pros and cons that you should weigh, but the Incred­i­ble has far more pros and cons. If you’re on Ver­i­zon, or open to chang­ing net­works, I would strongly rec­om­mend this device. In all can­dor, more than a cou­ple of times, I’ve won­dered whether I should return the phone and move to Sprint to get the EVO-4G, because (among other things) it’s larger, has HD video record­ing, and can act as a mobile hotspot for up to eight devices. The thing that would likely keep me at home on Ver­i­zon with my Incred­i­ble is that I don’t like bulk and can’t imag­ine hav­ing the EVO in my pocket. Stay tuned for another piece, or two, on some of the pro­grams and apps, as well as some tips for using the Incred­i­ble. Please let me know if you have spe­cific ques­tions. I’d be happy to add them to my next piece, or cre­ate a Q&A sheet.

android, mobile tech

incredibly purdy

Maybe only a tech geek would refer to a phone as pretty or sexy, but the HTC … ahem … I mean Droid Incred­i­ble announced today for Ver­i­zon Wire­less is def­i­nitely one good lookin’ piece of mobile goodness.

For a num­ber of peo­ple wait­ing on the Google Nexus One to debut on Ver­i­zon, the Incred­i­ble throws a seri­ous wrench into the mix. In many ways, the Incred­i­ble has more fea­tures packed into it than the Nexus One.

Here is the offi­cial press release from Ver­i­zon, which lists some of the excit­ing fea­tures. 

It’s a Droid, It’s Incred­i­ble, It’s on the Nation’s LARGEST And Most Reli­able 3G Net­work DROID Incred­i­ble™ by HTC Com­bines Power of Android™, Usabil­ity of HTC Sense™, Exclu­sively from Ver­i­zon Wireless

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., and NEW YORK – Ver­i­zon Wire­less today announced DROID Incred­i­ble by HTC, the newest Android device on the nation’s most reli­able wire­less 3G net­work, will be avail­able begin­ning April 29. Fea­tur­ing a “topo­graphic” design that demon­strates the pow­er­ful engi­neer­ing just beneath the sur­face, DROID Incred­i­ble by HTC is designed with crafts­man­ship and pre­ci­sion while mak­ing it eas­ier than ever to stay con­nected. DROID Incred­i­ble by HTC fea­tures the newest ver­sion of the HTC Sense expe­ri­ence, a seven-panel home screen with a wide selec­tion of inter­ac­tive wid­gets so the most impor­tant con­tent is imme­di­ately avail­able at a touch.

Cus­tomers will enjoy seam­less inte­gra­tion with Exchange ActiveSync®, quick and easy access to Flickr for shar­ing and view­ing pic­tures, video, and Android Mar­ket™ with more than 30,000 Google appli­ca­tions. DROID Incred­i­ble by HTC is the first Ver­i­zon Wire­less phone that takes advan­tage of Qualcomm’s 1GHz super­fast Snap­dragon proces­sor, and it’s the first avail­able phone from Ver­i­zon Wire­less to include an 8 megapixel camera.

Shortly after the phone becomes avail­able, cus­tomers will be able to enjoy two of the lat­est exclu­sive apps from Ver­i­zon Wire­less – NFL Mobile and Skype mobile™.
Addi­tional Key features:

* Android 2.1 with HTC Sense experience
* 1GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon™ proces­sor for max­i­mum responsiveness
* Friend Stream for uni­fied Flickr, Face­book and Twit­ter updates
* “Leap” view for quick access to all seven home screen panels
* 8 megapixel cam­era with dual LED flash for crisp, detailed images
* Razor-sharp 3.7 inch WVGA (480×800) AMOLED capac­i­tive touch display
* Opti­cal joy­stick for smooth navigation
* Ded­i­cated, touch-sensitive Home, Menu, Back and Search keys
* Prox­im­ity sen­sor, light sen­sor and dig­i­tal compass
* Inte­grated GPS
* Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
* 3.5 mm head­set jack

Price and availability:

* DROID Incred­i­ble will be avail­able for pre-order online at begin­ning on April 19 and it will be in Ver­i­zon Wire­less Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Stores on April 29. Pric­ing will be $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year cus­tomer agree­ment. Cus­tomers will receive the rebate in the form of a debit card; upon receipt, cus­tomers may use the card as cash any­where debit cards are accepted.
* DROID Incred­i­ble cus­tomers will need to sub­scribe to a Ver­i­zon Wire­less Nation­wide Talk and an Email and Web for Smart­phone plan. Nation­wide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access. Email and Web for Smart­phone plans start at $29.99 for unlim­ited monthly access.
* For addi­tional infor­ma­tion on Ver­i­zon Wire­less prod­ucts and ser­vices, visit a Ver­i­zon Wire­less Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Store, call 1–800-2 JOIN IN or go to
As you can see, the phone will retail for $199 (after a $100 rebate) with a two-year con­tract, or $599 unlocked. Don’t for­get you’ll have to add a $30 data plan if you intend to get this phone.
Pre-sale for the Droid Incred­i­ble starts this com­ing Mon­day, April 19. Click here if you want to sign up for infor­ma­tion about the pre-sale.

In case you’re won­der­ing, I think yours truly will be fork­ing over two bills on April 19 and be up early on April 29 (my annivesary) to retrieve this beauty.