Archive for Reviews

Palm Pre Review

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While I was in New York City, Plaz and I visited a Sprint Store and had the chance to try out the new Palm Pre. At first I thought the Pre was the first phone that could challenge the iPhone but after using the device it seems the Pre still needs to be developed significantly to be a true iPhone competitor.

The device itself is significantly smaller the iPhone also leading to a smaller screen which makes the device harder to use. The other major issue is the keyboard, while the iPhone has a generous touch screen keyboard, the Pre has a minuscule plastic hardware keyboard and makes it difficult to do long writing on while on my iPod Touch I can easily write full blog post and data entry to me is very important in choosing a mobile device.

The Palm WebOS is nice but has a steep learning curve. The gestures to operate the phone are quite confusing and makes getting started using the phone complicated. The multi-tasking is the one feature that makes iPhone user jellous and it is well done in a Mac OSX  expose style. However at first using this powerful feature is hard to use. The other major flaw is the lack of and app store and it’s over dependance on web apps. This enraged early iPhone users and I had hoped that Palm had learned from Apple’s earlier mistake.

Overall, I think that the Palm Pre was a good first try to challenge the iPhone but still needs a lot of improvements before becoming a real iphone challenger. It has potential but if they fix the problems I pointed out, then it could be a rival to the iPhone. But for now and with iPhone 3.0 Software and the new iPhone 3Gs on the horizon, they are still the best smartphones on the market.

Video: Evernote Tour and Review

Mike Gdovin gives a review and tour of the great Cloud software, Evernote

Motorola C76g Review (Tracfone)

When my old phone was on the verge of breaking, and I was already at the shopping center, I decided to buy a new cell phone to replace my old Motorola C70 and I chose it’s big brother, the W76g which although is very similar to my old phone, has a few features that are very conveient for me.The Motorola C76g is a prepaid flip phone that costs $30 from Tracfone, which is my favorite prepaid cell phone provider.

The W76g is a basic flip cell phone that does everything a regular phone does. The phone itself, is slimmer than my own phone but, besides that it looks almost identical to the old phone.  The keyboard is great, it is a very nice, rubberized keyboard that makes typing very enjoyable as well as easy. Another feature that I probably will never use is the built-in Fm Radio Tuner, but as I have said, I am not very interested in radio. The camera on the phone is very nice, it has various shooting modes and options that are very advanced for a camera phone like exposure control, that usually only appear in higher-end digital cameras. This is my first camera phone and I think I will make good use of it in the near future. The only complaint is that the camera is at the base of the lid and sometimes my fingers get in the way when I am holding the phone. The other big feature is Bluetooth, which is great for using hands-free headsets and headphones.

Overall, the W76g, is a very good basic phone that does everything I need for only $30, I reccommend you buy it because if you use your  phone infrequently and just need a no-frills phone this is the phone for you. It also comes with a built-in freee minutes for life subscription so everytime you buy a airtime card you get double the value for as long as you continue to use Tracfone.

iPod Shuffle Review

Yesterday, Apple unveiled their newest version of the iPod Shuffle  and just to preface this review, I have never been a major fan of the iPod Shuffle and am a very satisfied iPod Touch user and do not think the shuffle is what I would need. Despite all this, I will give a fair  review of the new product top help my readers get a fair  picture.

The new  iPod Shuffle has a new capacity of 4 Gigabytes, which holds about 1,000 songs. The price has also gone up to $80, a  $30 difference  over the old price. The design has been reverted back to the original “Stick of gum” design and has moved the controls onto the headphones which I do not understand why they did that. The only new feature they added was Voice-over, which allows your  ipod shuffle to read the name and the artist of the songs before they play so that you  know  what song  is coming up, this also works on playlists which is great. The shuffle also allows you to use multiple playlists and with voice-over, you can choose the playlist  you want.

All-in-all, I guess the  iPod Shuffle is a good entry level iPod  although I would recommend getting a Nano, Classic  or Shuffle that has a larger capacity and a screen.  However, on the  other hand the voice-over feature has replaced  many of the functions of a screen but, I like more features. I was surprised  at the price jump they made because Apple usually  updates features and keeps prices the same but they practically doubled the price this time. All-in-all the iPod  Shuffle is a great basic  music player although I doubt it will continue in the current fashion much longer.

iPod Touch Review

The ipod touch has been the best experience I have had with any Mp3 player and is even better that my two PDAs. It is slim, yet powerful, and is more than just a MP3 player. The ipod touch plays music, videos, and podcasts, that is all standard features that most MP3 players have.  The ipod touch took it one step forward with a web browser, email app, weather app and an application store that allows the users to choose additional applications to install on their device over WiFi. This allows the device to operate  as a gaming device as well as a productivity tool because the applications let you choose what you want to use the device for.

The iPod Touch starts at $229 for the 8 GB model, I recommend getting the mid-level model which is 16 GB for $300 and for those  who have a lot of content, you might want to look at the 32 GB model that is $400. The device is sleek and there are times that I forget that I have it in my pocket. The media playing features are easy to use and navigate and makes consuming media extremly enjoyable. The web browser is very powrful and the multitouch zoom is great to get a closer look on websites. Email is also very powerful and I love how Gmail Contacts and messages sync with much ease. Finally, the app store makes it easy to get more apps and expand the functionality of your device and I think it is great for the device.

The only downsides that  I can come up with, is the lack of copy and paste and I would like it if it had a built-in Microphone and camera. However, all-in-all the iPod Touch is probably the best MP3 player on the market.

Ipod Touch Thoughts

With it’s amazing touch screen, powerful email, great web browsing, and vast app store, the iPod touch was an obvious choice to replace my Creative Zen Vision M  Mp3 player. I know that this contradicts the article I wrote about the Nokia N800 Internet tablet being a better replacement for the iPod Touch but, I believe it is the better choice. I have had a host of non-iPod MP3 players and they all break down and they do not work as well and as simply as an ipod.  Besides that, the iPod Touch is more than just a portable media player, it does so many different things that makes it a extremely flexible device.

First of all, the iPod music player is very powerful and elegant. The revolutionary multitouch interface makes scrolling through your music simple and enjoyable. Also, if you are connected to the internet you can make a Genius Playlist which allows you to make an entire playlist of song that are similar to the selected song. The most innovate feature is that when you flip your iPod horizontal, you can flip through the album covers and get a unique visual experience.

The iPod touch is much more than a music player, it has built-in WiFi which allows the user to surf the Internet, check email, and buy music over the Internet. In addition, the iPod touch works extremely well as a PDA with a calendar and contacts app that supports Exchange and allows it to work as a powerful business tool! The N800 was quite the opposite experience since it does not come with productivity tools pre-installed and even if you install applications to fulfill that function, synchronizing does not work well.

The email application is very powerful and makes checking email where ever you go easy and convient. Email messages are easy to read and if the default size is not big enough to read, then you can zoom in and make the text the optimal size! Mobile Safari is also very powerful websites work very well and allow you to zoom in and out using multitouch! I know that many people complain about the lack of Flash on the iPhone platform but, I do not need it because the ipod touch comes with a Youtube application so you can watch Youtube videos and make needing Flash not a concern, at least for me, I do not need flash for any other sites that I visit, although a Hulu application would be greatly appreciated.

The Apps Store has thousands of different applications to choose from many applications are free and some are paid, but, there are so many applications.  To the contrary, the N800 has very few applications and many of the ones that are availible do not fully work or just not work at all! The apps store is easy to use and has every app you can imagine and then some!

The iPod Touch is such a amazing piece of technology and very different from the average MP3 player and for me, it serves as both a Music player and a PDA which makes it a great choices for both a Mp3 player and a PDA. The iPod Touch does not have the Cellular internet, cell phone, or camera capibilities and I think they would be all nice additions but, for the price the iPod Touch is a great device and I enjoy using it. Check Gdovin.net later for a full iPod Touch review and a full pictorial comparision between the iPod Touch and the Nokia N800.

Macbook Pro Review

Two weeks ago, you might have noticed that I did not write a Friday post for that week, the reason is that I had just gotten my new Macbook Pro and was busy migrating to it from my old Dell to the Mac and was unfortuantly not able to write a post. I got the newly-updated Macbook Pro, and after using it for two weeks, think it is the best computer that I have used in my entire life.

The Macbook Pro has a gorgeous 15.4 inch screen that is both bright and glossy and make watching video or look at pictures an extremely enjoyable experience. The keyboard is extremely comfortable, and easy to use although, it does lack a home and end key which is nice for when I need to get directly to the top or bottom of a website. Another really nice feature, is that the keyboard has a LED backlight and because of that if there is not enough light then, the backlight will go on allowing you to see the keyboard and get your work done. The built-in super drive makes optical media a simple solution even though it sounds very crunchy and sounds horrible when the drive starts up. The speakers are extremely high quality and equally important they can be amplified to extremely loud volumes. One of the biggest new features is the multi-touch, which has gotten rave reviews both positive and negative over the lack of buttons. I think it works extremely well without the button and allows the users to customize their trackpad to the way they like it. Although the gestures are cool, I have not incorporated them in my daily life mainly because I don’t use the trackpad built-in to any of my laptops but, also because I have not gotten a chance to learn them all yet because there are so many and I do not see them as much of a time saver. Another thing the Macbook Pro has over the Macbook is the firewire port and an express card slot. These are important mainly to professionals who need firewire for cameras and express card to expand their computer, the average user probably is better saving money with a Macbook unless they need faster graphics, express card or Firewire. Another amazing feature is a hardware battery meter which can be used whether the computer is on or off to determine what the battery charge is, previously this was on the bottom of the laptop but, it is now in the much more convenient location on the side of the laptop.

As far computing goes, the Macbook Pro runs a 2.4 GHZ duel core processor which makes computing very fast and also has the option to be upgraded as high as 2.8 GHZ. The Macbook pro comes with 2 GB of the new, faster DDR3 RAM and has been tested to utilize as much as 6 GB of RAM. The other feature the Macbook Pro has over the Macbook is it has two graphics cards and allows the users to toggle between the two cards for the option of better graphical performance or better battery life. The switch can be made simply by selecting option and then logging out and logging back in.

Overall the Macbook Pro and the Macbook, which is really the same computer with a slightly less-powerful processor and smaller screen are both extremely elegant and powerful laptops. I only have two complaints, first is that all Mac notebooks do not have memory card readers which is something that I think every computer needs since, more and more devices use memory cards and a memory card reader is something that every computer should have. My only other complaint is that the new line of Mac laptops use a proprietary display port that require users to buy an adapter just to use a secondary monitor which is plain ridiculous for a computer at that price! Even though I veyr rarley use a secondary display I always like having the option and choice to use it.

I plan to continue coverage of my major switch expirences not only for the remainder of Apple Week but, also throughout the future of my blog.

MobileMe

A few months ago,  Apple had relaunched it’s .Mac service as a MobileMe and has graciously christened it “Exchange for the rest of us”. The idea is getting enterprise-like Exchange features without going through the work and expense of setting it up and managing it! I signed-up for a trial account and would like to post my thoughts about it and to help anyone considering to sign-up for this service to determine whether or not they would really want to get it. First off, I would like to say anyone who knows me well or has read my copious amounts of Apple-related blogs, knows me as a Bona Fide Apple Fanboy and this review will totally go against that  although, this is not intentional, I am writing this post to  save people from signing up for a service that they might regret spending their money on. With that said, I will go ahead and write my thoughts on Apple’s Mobile Me Service.

I would like to list the service you would get if you decide to sign-up for Mobile Me:

  1. Web Storage– You get 20 GB of storage which is good for backing up files and sharing media or hosting a website. However, you can sign up for Amazon S3 account and pay just $3/Month or $0.15 per Gigabyte and you can expand that and not get cut off at 20 GB making it a much more useful service.
  2. Mail– You get a 5 GB email account with the username of your choice @me.com. The exchange part of this service is that the email pushes to all your devices like your iPhone, iPod Touch, computer mail client, and webmail. I will write further on this “Push” service and it’s reliability.
  3. Address Book– You also have a Push address book where you can add contacts from anywhere and it “Instantly” synchronizes with all your devices.
  4. Calendar– It also synchronizes your events calendar with all your devices as well “instantly”.
  5. Photo Gallery–  Share your photos online once again, you could get free flickr or if you want unlimited picture uploads, get Flickr Pro for $25/Years!
  6. Iweb– A service that allows Mac users to use iWeb of the iLife Suite and publish websites with ease. Once again, using a higher quality web service like my amazing host 1and1 which is a much more professional host and allows the developer to do virtually anything with plans starting for only $3/month.

In concept, MobileMe is a great concept cloud computing solution however, the “Push” services are some what unreliable and have given early adopters issues. I also have tried to use their web applications and they are extremely slow in comparison to Google’s apps, which are FREE, and is ridiculous in my opinion to pay for web apps which I live in daily that are slow and lagging. I also think that to be a  complete web suite it needs a task list application like Remember the Milk with sync capabilities that actually works. If a service doesn’t work 99.9% of the time, then it is not worth paying the service fee. I do believe that in a few months, Apple will finally kick out all the bugs and make it a good Cloud Computing service but, I think that most of it’s services can be obtained for either free or for a smaller fee. In fact, I will write a blog post later this week on how to save the $99/Year from MobileMe and I expect a cut of the savings!  So, check Gdovin.net everyday this week to find that post. Until then, reconsider getting Mobileme it is not worth the price especially since I will be writing a post about how to get the services for much less in a few days!

What I Think of the HTC G1 (The Google Phone)

On Wednesday,  the HTC G1 smartphone will become available. This phone is probably better known as Google Phone but,  it really isn’t because Google only designed the phone’s operating system called Android, which will be availible on many other phones in the future.  This new phone is probably one of the first smartphones that is a true challenger to  Apple’s iPhone in both software and hardware. The HTC G1 has some features that the iPhone does not have built in like a hardware keyboard. The Android OS is also more open and has more features like Google applications built-in to the operating system like Gmail, Google Contacts and Google calendar. Being the Googleholic that I am I think that if they made Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Google Reader a feature of the phone that I would definitly get it.

In hardware, the G1 has a lot more buttons than the iPhone which I originally thought wasn’t much of an issue but, the plastic buttons get in the way if you don’t need to use that phone for that specific use. For example:  the pickup button and call hangup buttons should be on the touchscreen because, they are only used for when making and ending phone calls and usually just gets in the way otherwise.  The G1 also has a trackball which I do not see the point of  because the G1 has a touchscreen as far as I can tell there is no point of using the trackball.  The touchscreen does have a multi-touch interface like the iPhone but, it is really not a necessity and it will not appear on any non-iphones because Apple owns the patents to the technology and I truly doubt that they will share it. Multitouch makes zooming in and out and other things easier but it is not really a killer function. The G1 has a lot of hardware that the iPhone has built in: GPS, Wifi,, Bluetooth (not stereo), 3G support, and much more.  But, don’t forget that the G1 has a full hardware QWERTY keyboard which is one thing Apple sworn never to add and makes typing much easier of email, text messaging and SMS.  Unfortunatly, it also has the enbeded headphone jack like the original iPhone which forces users to buy the proprietory HTC headphones. This is rediculous stupid because Apple switched to a flush headphone jack and I think it is a total mistake to make you get a HTC headphones instead of just using your own favorite pair of headphones.

Now as far as software, the Android operating system has built-in Google applications, Amazon Mp3 store, an alarm clock, a web browser,based on Chrome browser , Google calendar, a camera application for taking pictures,  your Gmail contacts, a phone dialer (it is a phone remember), an email application,  which I don’t understand why they build that in  inaddition to Gmail which you can just use Gmail for all your email accounts!  Other applications included is an Instant messaging based on Google Talk, Google Maps, text messaging and a music player.  The G1 also has a marketplace which is a store to download new applications allows you to post applications and get them without the limitations like the iPhone’s app store  which only allows applications that do not compete with services that Apple provides and does not do anything Apple does not want to allow to run on their phone. Google does developer contact information so if the application is breaking laws or causing problems T-mobile can contact the programmer andfix the problem.

Things I do not like is the G1 does not support Google Docs or Google Reader as of yet which would really make it a killer phone. The interface is not nearly as slick and elegant as the iPhone but, is more open to developers and better for users because they can install any Application they want on their phone. The G1 also does not have a video player which is a major part of the media player function but, it is nice that you can buy your music through  Amazon’s DRM-free store.

On the bright side, you get google street view and most of your google applications anywhere and you have a lot more freedom than the iphone as far as customization and applications. In the future, I think the Android OS will become even more advanced and can be a full blown iphone killer if the UI is developed better and made more slick and adds Docs and Google Reader I think the G1 may be a better option for a phone.

The HTC G1 will be $179 with a 2-year Tmobile contract, which I am not fond of but, if you have a contract with another provider and you want a Google phone then, you can just wait for an Android phone to come to your provider, that is if you are happy with your provider or you can just wait till your contract expires and switch to a cell phone service who has the phone. Personally in writing this I have become interested and might consider getting on of these phones especially if they add Google Docs and Reader. This is perfect for nerds but, not really for average users because the OS is still a little too complicated for the mainstream.

Bluetooth Review

Yesterday I went out to my local Staples and bought a bluetooth ear piece and a USB bluetooth dongal. I love the ear piece I got it is comfortable, sound quality is great and it is much lighter than a full headset that I used to use for Skype. Pairing was super easy and I just love that I am able to make calls at any time I want. I also bought call-out credit for Gizmo so I can now make calls to regular phones and I got a free 775 area code number for W3life so now, we have free voicemail for us and we can call back.

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