After I bought my Android smart phone, it is naturally that I am going to play mp3 and navigate with the built-in GPS when I am driving. Therefore I need to buy a phone mount to hold the smart phone inside the car. There are only two types of phone mount in the market, suction cup that sticks to the wind shield or flimsy clips that clips on to the air ventilation. I am not happy with both solutions, the former one blocks my view and the later one blocks the wind.
I did some search on eBay and Google and come across this one of its kind phone mount, the Mountek MK5000 that mounts on the CD slot. Since I no longer use the CD player, the space in front of CD player is pretty useless. It is the perfect place to mount my smart phone. It does not block anything other than the useless CD player. The MK5000 phone mount is very sturdy, it has an adjustable blade than I can slide inside the CD slot and lock it tight. The mount support vertical and horizontal rotation for easy screen rotation. It has spring loaded adjustable arms that fits devices of different size.
I have been using the mount for a couple of months and it works very well. Every day when I hop into my car, I place my smart phone onto the mount. The only disadvantage of the mount is its price. A cheap made-in-China phone mount costs less than $10, sometimes you can even get one as low as $5. The Mountek MK5000 is currently selling for $20 at eBay. Although it is more expensive, the design and the quality of the product worth the premiums price.
My Palm Treo has reached the end of its lift, it is time to buy a new cell phone. I have been debating whether or not should I get the iPhone 4. iPhone 4 is sleek but I disapprove the control freak business tactics of Apple. Although almost everyone around me use a iPhone, I decide to go against the trend and embrace Android, a truly open platform compare to Apple’s walled garden. I naturally picked the Samsung Galaxy S, since it is the flagship Android phone and its specification is on par with iPhone 4. I used Rogers, so I have to picked up the AT&T version of Galaxy S Captivate. All Galaxy S versions are essentially the same under the hood, only cosmetic difference on the shell.
Galaxy S is actually slightly lighter and thinner than the iPhone 4. The Captivate looks like a Blackberry while the Vibrate looks like a iPhone. I must admit iPhone has better design of the shell, however that’s purely cosmetic. Galaxy S use normal SIM card, I just plug in my old SIM card it simply works. It comes with 16GB internal RAM and a micro SD card slot, so I can expand the memory if I ever need more, another point winning over iPhone. The screen and sound quality is top-notch, although the screen resolution is slightly less than iPhone 4. The battery is pretty good, I can watch 5 hours of video before runs out of the battery. In stand by mode with Wi-fi data enabled for background update and occasional short phone calls, it used about 20% in a day.
The contact and calendar links up to my gmail and facebook account. Since all the data is stored in Google’s server, I don’t have to worry about sync up with my computer and I can access my data anywhere. Transfer contact from my Palm is really easy, I just need to export the old address book to a vcf file and then import it to gmail, I got all the numbers and addresses into the phone in less than 30 seconds.
The haptic feedback of the screen is nice, every time I press a button or a key on the screen, the phone will vibrate to give me a freedback. The swype keyboard is definitely an improvement over iPhone. I don’t have to lift my finger when I type, I can simply trace the characters on the screen. I think with enough practice, I can type in swype as almost as good as using a real keyboard. The only complain is the stock OS does not come with Chinese input, I have to download the Chinese IME separately.
For most applications your found in iPhone, you can find the pretty much the same on Android. The Android apps market is the equivalent of the iTune app store. I can find most of the apps I need for free. I can also download paid software without paying from Applanet instead of download from the Google Market. iPhone boost to have many more apps than Android, but most of those extra apps belongs to the long tail that nobody really use. Android allows game console emulators, combined with the one stop game ROM download apps, I play virtually every single old games from the 80s and 90s on my phone.
iPhone has has a one stop sync up solution for music and video files with iTunes. Android does not come with any fancy sync up tools. Although Samsung has the Kies software but it is not very user friendly. For better or worse, a Android phone can just act like any other USB driver. I can easily copy files between my computer and my phone using Windows Explorer. I have a few options if I don’t want to plug in the USB cable all the time. I can either run FTP client from the phone to log into the FTP server on my computer or run FTP server on the phone and log in from my computer. The only problem is FTP cannot not handle Chinese character properly. Double Twist Air Sync comes close to a one stop solution, but its file database still has too much influence from iTune and does not let me control the directory structure. Web Sharing seems very promising, I can mount my phone as a network drive on my computer.
The stock Captivate comes with Android 2.1, so I decided to upgrade the OS to 2.2. Flashing the ROM of your cell phone is not for the fainted heart. I bricked my phone a few times before I get the new OS up and running. Instead of using the Samsung stock firmware, I used the Cognition ROM, which is better performance and has more features built into the OS. It double the speed of the stock ROM according to benchmark result. This is a major advantage of Android over iPhone, I can do whatever I want with the cell, including installing a complete new OS.
Android is not only a smart phone, but is really a full function computer inside your pocket. It just happen to be I can also make phone calls from this pocket computer. After all Android is Linux under the hood, with the root control I have complete control any feature of the phone.
My new Treo 680 has built-in bluetooth connection, which is pretty much a standard feature of all new cell phones. To get the most out of my new phone, I set out to buy a bluetooth headset so that I can talk wirelessly. I browsed alot bluetooth headsets and eventually decidded to get the Plantronics 510, which is PC Magazine editor’s choice. The 510 looks quite stylish, unlike other bluetooth headset with a big chunky module clip to the ear, the hardware module of the 510 is very light, compact and hidden nicely behind the ear. Just like any other bluetooth headset, the 510 is very easy to use, just fully charge it, turn it on, pair it up with the phone and you are ready to go. The voice quality is very clear and it has a good range. I can walk around my apartment without losing connection. Using the wireless headset is more natural than holding the phone or with a wired headset. It feel like talking face to face instead of on the phone. I can even have noodle soup and talk at the same time without feeling awkward. You will never go back to the old way once you had experienced a wireless headset.
I forgot to bring my cell phone to work in two consecutive days. I have a habit put all the stuff I have to bring everyday in one spot, and put everything into my pockets in the morning blindly. If I don’t see the thing, there is a high chance I forget to bring it. Let me count how many items I have to gear up before walking out the door. There are wallet, coin purse, home keys, car key, cell phone, eye glasses, watches and palm. The problem is that I put my stuff on the right hand side of the monitor, while the cell phone has to placed on the left hand side to recharge. I can’t simply put everything on the left hand side since it does not have enough space. There is no easy solution to this problem, not until I move back to my own place where everything is nicely arranged. For the mean time, I just have to remind myself about the cell phone every morning.