Moving On Part 1: The Sprint and Samsung Fustercluck

Sprint_Galaxy_Nexus

Several months ago, driven by the love of Android 4.1+, I switched from my EVO 3D to the Sprint version of the Galaxy Nexus. I craved the latest Android OS to exist not just my wonderful Nexus 7 tablet but my phone as well. So I hopped on eBay, found the cheapest listing ($300) and a few days later my new Nexus was at my door.

The first few days were a mad love story. It was so thin! The unfettered Android experience was better than ever and the improvements in android 4.1 were a joy. Then after a week, the romance started to wane. I would unplug the device in the morning, go to work and 5 hours later my battery would be screaming for a recharge. What’s worse, the issues I had with Sprint’s services before were amplified. Having lived a year and a half with weak signals and slow data, the hardware in the Galaxy Nexus picked up cell signals even worse than they already were, killing the battery even faster as the phone desperately heated up while trying to capture a clear signal. What’s more, the WiFi antenna had a tendency to drop signal mere feet from any router. As it turned out, the GNex suffered from the exact same issues as the Nexus S (read: Samsung’s shitty build quality), something I’ve already documented some time ago.

How could this be possible? Had a year and a half really taught Samsung nothing about proper quality control? Obviously not.

The Galaxy Nexus’s battery issues are already well documented, and the inclusion of LTE on the Verizon and Sprint versions exacerbated the issue immensely. Sprint even went so far as to give free extended batteries to anyone who registered their GNex on their Sprint account. Guess what I did. And guess how much that fixed the issue (not at all).

For weeks I dealt with the issues, all to have the latest OS in my pocket, even going so far as to buy one of those Mophie travel battery chargers to give my Nexus a daily I.V. of extra life. My frustration grew in the face of Sprint’s horrifyingly slow data speeds. Months of speed tests in various locations in my region showed that I was lucky to ever net a download speed of 1Mbps, usually netting an average speed of 300kbps. That is egregiously BAD, Sprint, and inexcusable in the current mobile market.

The final nail in the coffin came after an impromptu trip to Atlanta for a weekend getaway. I was excited to finally experience an LTE service area, thinking that the experience would be so much better than my 3G woes that I would be given a boost of confidence big enough to wait out Sprint’s LTE rollout. I was so, so wrong.

At first, my phone connected to the LTE network just fine. I ran a quick speed test and averaged 3.4Mbps. Not at all the fastest when it comes to LTE carriers, but leagues better than what I was experiencing (for reference, I was with someone connected to Verizon’s LTE network, which has an average down speed of 14Mbps). Then the crap hit the fan. Not only did my phone drop it’s 4G signal, but it lost data altogether. Multiple times. Sometimes it would flat out drop all signal, both data and voice. For the rest of the weekend, my phone would latch on to a 4G signal for all of 30 seconds then revert to 3G and no amount of hard resets alleviated the issue. In short, my phone was rendered practically unusable and my battery averaged 3 hours per charge.

By the time we were headed back to Alabama that Sunday, Sprint and Samsung’s phones were dead to me forever more. I’ve given both companies more than their fair share of chances and been burned badly every time.

Where did all this lead me? Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out.

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Customers Receiving Botched Nexus 7s (And I’m One of Them)

Ah, there’s nothing like the sting of disappointment, is there? You spend a few weeks getting yourself all psyched up about something, then reality makes you its bitch. Thus began my Tuesday afternoon.

In a grand bout of First World Problems, I came home to find my brand new Nexus 7 on the doorstep. I ripped open the box, fired it up and, oh wait, what’s this? The left side of the screen seems to be detached. Lovely! And would you look at that. When I hold it, the thing makes a sticky popping sound and the screen distorts. How brilliant.

Yes, it seems Google isn’t having such a smooth launch of its first Nexus tablet. Hundreds of buyers are reporting that their screens are equally borked, resulting in a high number of replacement requests. Sad news, considering a fair chunk of preorders have yet to be filled and the ASUS-made device is already on backorder.

The good news is that Google has a 15 day replacement policy, however, just how soon ASUS is able to get those units out the door remains to be seen.

But let’s not dive into a panic just yet. This is a new and highly in demand product and is bound to have its share of launch issues. And before any of you Apple loving jerks say anything, just remember this: Antennagate.

If you’re the adventurous type, a quick (but not necessarily permanent) fix has been discovered over on XDA. Apparently it’s as simple as popping off the back and tightening some screws, but fair warning: you run the risk of breaking your tablet or voiding your warranty, meaning you’ll be stuck with your hack job of a repair if you F it up.

Otherwise let’s just sit back, relax and cradle our warranty cards for a while longer as we wait for our replacements to arrive.

Hello Nexus 7, Goodbye Galaxy Tab 10.1!

It’s summer, and you know what that means. I mean, aside from temperatures hotter than Satan’s spandex-clad taint. That’s right, last week was Google’s annual I/O developer’s conference. A.K.A. Christmas in summer for geeks.

The big news (that we all saw coming) was the announcement of Android 4.1 Jellybean and the reveal of their newest Nexus device, the Nexus 7 tablet from ASUS. But leak or no leak, Google still managed to impress.

Continue reading

Dear Samsung, Do Better [Galaxy Tab 10.1]

Just over a year ago, I posted about my very unhappy time with the Samsung Nexus S. It was plagued with wifi and cellular connection issues and had about as much build quality as a dollar store Barbie doll knockoff. Because of that unpleasant experience with the Nexus and two Samsung phones I had owned previously (the Sync and the Eternity), I forswore buying another Sammy product, lest I should live through that aggravation again.

Then I went a little crazy and bought the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Cheap plastic parts aside (I know it LOOKS like metal, but trust me, it ain’t), I didn’t have that much buyer’s remorse afterward. Hell, I would say it was the first Samsung product I actually liked. That is, until Samsung decided to be tight-assed about updating the damn thing. Continue reading

How Nintendo Made the 3DS Less Useless [Swapnote Review]

So, remember that angry post I made about the 3DS and the fact that I felt cheated? Well Nintendo is finally doing something right.

Last week Nintendo quietly launched a little downloadable app for the 3DS called Swapnote (Nintendo Letter Box for the UK), and since then I haven’t put my 3DS down.

The idea behind Swapnote is to create 3D postcard-like doodles and photos to send to friends registered on your system through the SpotPass feature. You can select a few or all of your friends to send messages to, which will be downloaded to their systems the next time they’re around a wifi connection. Recipients can then respond to messages (either visible to all fellow recipients who are mutual friends, or just the original sender). The end result is community driven fun!

The first day I received about 5 dick drawings (some much better than others), which is to be expected when all but 1 of your 50+ 3DS friends is of the queer persuasion. Unfortunately, no one has taken the initiative to just take a 3D wang shot and blast it out. What’s taking so long, boys?

However, a few very sexy shirtless photos have popped into my inbox, so I guess I shouldn’t look the gift horse in the ass.

There are some drawbacks:

    •  Each recipient is only allowed a single response to any message.
    • Creators of the original message cannot respond on their own messages.
    • Each recipient can only see responses from people who are also registered on their systems (another BS “safety” measure by Nintendo to protect the children).
    • Your response to a message does NOT appear in-line with others. For some stupid reason, your response will sit at the top of the list, even if you sent it last.
    • There is no keyboard for text, meaning everything must be hand-written. This is a huge drawback if you or one of your friends has crap handwriting. Plus, resistive touch screens such as those used in the DS family can only allow for so much accuracy. This means no matter how perfectly straight you draw a line, it’s still going to look squiggly.

    Some of these gripes seem minor, but they put a lot of restrictions on how carry out conversations through the application. This is supposed to be Nintendo’s (long overdue) version of a messaging feature that is prevalent in EVERY OTHER MAJOR CONSOLE. It’s a commendable first effort, but there has to be some changes made, which we all know won’t happen. It just isn’t Nintendo’s style to fix the things they release pre-borked.

    Whatever, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun and even though it has a 3,000 message limit, I’m already approaching 1,000.

    If anyone out there has a 3DS and wants to do some note swapin’, give me an add: 0301-9783-9629. Just remember to leave a comment with your own code, as adding friends has to be mutual.

    Happy swapping!

    Problem?

    I just can’t seem to keep this thing up, huh? But I do have a semi-valid excuse: work has been INSANE. It seems everyone wanted to get married in July. Weird. That left me with little more free time than what I needed to shower and read a chapter in whatever book before bed for the past 3 months.

    Although, what it has allowed me be is overly frivolous.

    So, yes. I caved. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 as a birthday present to myself. I’m a generous giver, I know. Too generous, maybe. Though I’ve never had any complaints (*wink-wink, nudge-nudge* Say no more).

    Ahem.

    But the point of the photo is to show this sickness that is geeky tech love. Currently in my bag you will find most, if not all, of the items picture above, depending on what my goal for the day is, of course.

    The phone (HTC Evo 3D) never leaves my side, as smartphones have become a crutch for society. The netbook tags along if I think I might possibly maybe sorta want to do some writing wherever I end up. Though lately, this hasn’t really worked out.

    The 3DS is usually tossed in the bag merely in hopes that I might pass another 3DS owner and exchange game data. That’s happened 5 times so far. Boo. The DSi is just there because original DS games look like turds on 3DS. But it’s rare I take the DSi anywhere.

    Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere without my baby, the nook. I try to read as often as I can and that thing makes it so easy. Absolutely no buyers remorse here, folks. I highly recommend you get one for yourselves.

    And now we add the Tab to the family. Yes, yes, I hear you. “Why,” you ask, “do you need a tablet when you have a perfectly good netbook?”

    Well, thank you for your question. Allow me to elaborate: The netbook, as much as I love it and most all things made by ASUS, is crippled by the forced inclusion of Windows 7 STARTER. Yes, Starter Edition. The mentally disabled stepchild of the brilliant Windows 7 OS. It’s so awful and nearly unusable that I find myself feeling daunted by the thought of turning it on, even just for instant messaging.

    It was for that reason that I started considering the tablet market since you can keep them on and in sleep mode at all times and still get days of use out of the battery. And so far, it’s worked out about as well as I had imagined. But I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to find one real, solid reason to keep it before my return period is up on Sunday.

    Maybe someone out there in the void can back me up on this?

    No?

    Damn.

    I Gave Nintendo $250 and All I Got Was This Lousy 3DS

    Anticipation; it makes fools of us all. We spend months getting all jazzed up, hoarding money like a squirrel in a panicked frenzy before winter, just so we can be one of the first kids on the block with the new toy. That’s right, jerks. You gotta come over to MY house to play.

    Then you get home, rip it open, fiddle around a bit and realize you’ve been saddled with nearly a pound of plastic with a 3D slider-doodle and nothing to enjoy on it.

    It’s been about a month since the 3DS launched and what I once Oooh’d and Aaah’d over (for about a week) now just sits unused and unloved on my desk where it will remain for the foreseeable future. A constant reminder of the money I’m out and all the fun I’m not having.

    Thanks, Nintendo, for jerking my inner child off the floor and booting it out into the yard. I’m gonna go fly my new Buzz Lightyear kite.