World of Wireless

Netflix: iPad vs PC

I was away for work this week, and while in my hotel room at night, decided to try the Netflix instant streaming. I figured with their account giving me unlimited streaming of their library, I should check it out. I had an iPad and my laptop, so I tested it out on both.

On the iPad, I have 3G and WiFi service. Even with hotel WiFi, there really wasn’t much of a difference in picture quality. When starting the program, it the buffering would take less than a minute. However, a re-buffer is necessary when rewinding or fast forwarding. This is true for 3G and WiFi. The 3G service was more consistent for quality, and it was my only option when the hotel power would go out (because of bad weather). The picture would sometimes get blocky, but would then clear up. Audio was always in sync with the picture on both services. All in all, it served the purpose, but if you are interested in crystal clear quality, you need a faster WiFi connection.

On the PC (laptop), WiFi was only available. Picture quality was a bit better (probably a better video card on the PC than iPad). Sound was clearer, but that’s probably because of the better sound components on a laptop over an iPad. Buffering time is the same as the iPad. However when the power went out, I had to go to the 3G iPad to continue the movie. Once I was on a faster LAN, picture quality was near perfect. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try the iPad on a faster WiFi to compare.

For the $8/month plan, which is for the online unlimited streaming only, it’s well worth the money. Over the few days that I was using it, I watched 3 movies. Yes, Netflix doesn’t have the latest and greatest available, but there are plenty of previously released movies that I haven’t seen yet. I didn’t use the hotel TV once!

Motorola Droid vs Motorola Droid 2 Global vs HTC Incredible vs Samsung Fascinate

Oh yes, a foursome versome! I’ve had the opportunity to personally experience all four phones. At this stage in the Android game, I’d like to review these phones according to my personal experiences and opinions, based on out-of-the-box features and capabilities.
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Gmail and Mail Fetch

I have Cablevision/Optimum Internet email, and for years I’ve struggled with its web portal for email. Even their new interface is just overly complicated and too “busy”. I thought maybe I could leverage my Gmail account to send/receive my Optimum email. It was very simple to set up, and it works great. Generally third-party mail receivers can only do just that, and not “send as” that other email address. Gmail is capable of doing both. This way I can send emails from Gmail that have the “From” address being my Optimum account.

Cars, Bluetooth, and Your Phone

I love the bluetooth option in my VW. I always think I have to talk louder for people to hear me. But how do I know how it sounds on the other end? Simple… test it out with a friend and swap roles. Have a friend call from your car to another phone that you can answer. Using bluetooth while driving is definitely safer, and of course, cooler.

Tablets and the Enterpise Environment

Tablets are all the rage right now. Why shouldn’t they be? They provide good portability and connectivity. They fall right in between a cell phone (downside: limited screen space) and standard laptops (downside: weight, size, portability). Netbooks never truly took off the way I think we all thought they would. Running Windows on a netbook left something to be desired for performance.

Bring on the tablets. Slim and snappy OS kernels, flash memory, no moving parts, light weight and very portable. They are relatively cheap, and some can even connect via cellular signals and don’t need to rely just on WiFi (Apple iPad). These devices are slowly making their way into the enterprise environment. And why shouldn’t they? It definitely makes access to your office network much more convenient in more locations than ever before. IT support and security become an issue. Allow these devices on your office network? How much can we control them? How do we protect the office infrastructure?

Apple makes a nice utility for iPhone’s and iPad’s that allow IT personnel the ability to preconfigure VPN, Email, and WiFi settings. It can also remove the ability to download applications and/or music. You can even set a password policy – for both the end user, and to remove all of the configured settings. Blackberry has the ability to lock the device with a password via Enterprise console. Of course this means the phone must be powered on and connected to the mobile carrier, to receive those new settings.

Where is this for Android? Windows Mobile? Palm? Android in particular has 3rd party programs available, like MyLookout (free!). If you lose your phone, provided it’s powered on, MyLookout will track it via GPS. You can even wipe it remotely, or initiate an audible “scream” to help you find it or frighten whoever stole the phone.

Word to the wise – before allowing these devices on your office network, make sure you have adequate security protocols in place. Whether that is MyLookout, or the iPad configuration utility, etc. If you find yourself in a situation where a user lost their device (yes, it happens!), think of how you will respond to the situation, and start planning now for that!

Android Mail and Sync’ing

I currently have my Android (HTC Incredible) set to download my POP3 email. It was also set to “delete email on server” (when deleted on the phone). I did this to help with keeping the mailbox clean on the phone and web portal of the email. Well yesterday, by accident I deleted the Inbox on the phone. Ok, no problem right? I attempted to go to the Trash folder and move the emails back to Inbox. They moved, but upon exiting email and going back in, the emails were gone! Not in trash, inbox, anywhere. And guess what, “delete on server” kicked in, and the emails were gone on the web portal. Pissed off!

So for now, my advice to you is to uncheck that option, and find a good utility to back up your email. I haven’t found any recovery apps yet, and I’m afraid that none exist.

WordPress App For Blackberry and iPod Touch Installed!

Finally got around to adding the WordPress application to my Blackberry and iPod Touch. Now I can post from anywhere!

Blackberry Tour – Trackball Lag!

As much as I love the Blackberry’s and how far they’ve come in just a few years time, they just can’t seem to get it right! The latest buzz is revolving around the Tour and the redesigned trackball. The redesign has been out for some time in the new Curve 8900 (from T-Mobile) and the Bold 9000 (from AT&T). However, the latest model to use the phone (from Verizon and Sprint) is the Tour 9630. The trackball looks and works the same, so that begs the question, is it really the trackball or something else? I posted previously that changing the theme seemed to have helped the issue, but time will tell what the real problem is.

Jump over to this CNET article to read the latest.

“I need wireless access, like at a Starbucks!”

For years now, more and more retail stores are offering wireless Internet access to their customers. Companies such as Optimum provide larger Wi-Fi outdoor access at places such as train stations, supermarket locations, etc. With all of these various places to get a wireless signal on your mobile device, why do we still refer to finding such locations as “going to Starbucks for wireless”? It’s funny to think back to them being one of the first retail chain stores to provide such a service, and probably because of so, we still refer to that type of commodity as “going to Starbucks”!

New Blackberry Tour 9630 – Verizon Wireless

Some Blackberry users at my work were recently upgraded to the new Blackberry Tour 9630 from Verizon Wireless. This phone is a great addition to the Verizon Wireless family because it includes 3G support, which was previously found only in the Storm. However, it lacks Wi-Fi, so if you can’t get Verizon Wireless service (or the appropriate abroad carrier), you’re out of luck. That shouldn’t be a big problem because Verizon Wireless has a huge coverage area in the lower 48 states and their affiliates around the world.

After configuring two of these phones today, one right after the other, I noticed some considerable “trackball lag”, as it’s being referred to on the Web. Basically it appears as if the phone is locked up for a few seconds, then responds to trackball movements and keyboard input. Forums talk about utilizing the Memory Scrubbing feature, or having the phone replaced all together. One option that I found was to change the theme, which so far seems to be working well. The phone comes with two themes – VZW and Precision Zen. If you’re experiencing this “trackball lag”, try changing the theme. The layout is basically the same, except for a different background (of a cool looking arched bridge).

The phone seems to be a winner in other aspects though. It’s slim, feels solid in your hand, and takes cues of all the new Blackberry case designs. Comes with a 2GB microSD memory card, a global SIM card, international charging adapters, and a belt-clip style holster. It’s very close in size to the new Curve 8900, with a similar keyboard to that of the 8800 models – just “refreshed” for the new Blackberry designs, and of course the latest trackball design.

If you’re looking for a new Verizon Wireless Blackberry with international and 3G features, but can live without Wi-Fi, get your hands on the Tour. And if you’re eligible, VZW is offering a “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” of any Blackberry!

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