Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Buttons - Tactile vs Capacitive

Standard physical tactile buttons on smart phones are the lock and volume buttons. That's pretty much it. Manufacturers have differing views on what other physical buttons are included. Let's look at some of these:

Home, Menu, Back, and Search
The latest android smart phones have the infamous 4 capacitive buttons at the bottom of their display: Home, Menu, Back, and Search. Some phones (e.g., Motorola Droid X2) have opted for tactile, physical buttons for these useful functions. My question: What is desired? Do you like the capacitive (touch only) buttons, or do you have an inner desire to press down a physical button? Do you have accidental presses of said buttons?

This also begs the debate between a capacitive, on-screen keyboard (iPhone) vs a physical keyboard (Samsung Epic 4G). Could you live without your physical button QWERTY? Is the physical keyboard worth the extra girth in your pocket?

Game Controls
In my opinion, fighting games like Street Fighter are horrendous on a touchscreen. Accidental presses are inevitable, and intentional presses are misinterpreted. The player has to constantly look to see what they are pressing, like a 4 year old learning to play with a Nintendo controller for the first time. Turn-based, tap, and slow-paced games are great for touch-screen since the player doesn't need to constantly check where their fingers are.

What applications on a phone do you think physical buttons are a must have?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flame Wars: Apple Lovers vs. Fan-Droids

I love reading tech news. All these lovely tech morsels have a comment feature at the end of the post where idiots of the world unite to provide the least insightful comments this side of the Milky Way. Every blue moon, there is a gem...a beautiful comment that must be framed and hung in the "Comment Hall of Fame." But this post is not about the good ones. It's about a war...a war between the top two smart phone Operating Systems.

My favorite comment reel is on PhoneArena.com, where Android phone fans (Fan-Droids) and iPhone fans (Apple Lovers) square off in a battle royale of comment warfare. Terrible grammar and spelling mistakes abound, these two heated enemies launch grenades of "Yo momma can't run Gingerbread" and fire mortars of "My dog could figure out iOS." 

My favorites of the flame wars are the following: 
  • "Go check your FACTS!" when they themselves have no clue what a fact really is.
  • "LMAO! Did you really say that the iPhone is better because it's prettier?"
  • Subjective comments that someone else actually would prefer (e.g., battery life, User Interface, Call clarity)

Believe it or not...
...this begs an intelligent discussion. These hopeless fans are demonstrating one of the economy's greatest assets: competition. What if Apple was alone? What if the iPhone was the only smart phone ever to grace this Earth? We would have endless cycles of iPhone 3G to 3GS upgrades. With Android's strong presence and Microsoft lingering in the smart phone arena, Apple needs to rethink their release strategy (I'm looking at you white iPhone). Competition is what feeds our advances in technology and spurs innovation...the need to stay ahead. As long as competitors compete in competition, there will be competing competitors competing to compete.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smart Phone Eruption

(Revamp of my first ever blog post.)

What is a PC for? Desktops are dying, laptops are standard, and smart phones are taking over.
15 years ago desktop PCs were standard. 10 years ago laptops emerged and have now become a staple in a majority of Families’ homes. 

Today, smart phones and tablets are slowly killing the need for a laptop. I just checked my bank balance, paid a bill, sent an email, received a picture of my buddy in a tutu via MMS, and managed my Fantasy Football team all in a matter of minutes on my phone. 

Now these are perfect mobile tasks, but what about tasks requiring true horsepower? Motorola’s Atrix is attempting to blur laptops and phones together to create a lap-phone…or phone-top. You get the idea. It has a special dock to get a good size 11.6″ screen and full QWERTY keyboard. Granted it costs a few hundred bucks for the dock, but the fact that you can dock it is intriguing. This seems great for writing Word docs, constructing complex emails, and other MS Office-type tasks. I know what you’re thinking…”Can it do Crysis?” You and I know the answer is a resounding…”No,” but this idea sounds very promising for mobile gamers. Also, as phones get more powerful, laptops are likely to improve their performance and price points. Much like the advancement of the laptop has only helped the desktop PC become a very affordable home-computing option.

With the advent of dual-core processor phones, I'm excited for smart phones to start doing my taxes and household chores for me. The mobile future is bright, put on your technology sunglasses and enjoy the sunrise.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Top 10 Websites

Let's face it, the web is full of junk. Every once in awhile we need a filter, someone to guide us to the best of the web. It's time for the world to know about these excellent websites.

Gizmodo.com - Best Gadget news, reviews, and commentary.

LifeHacker.com - Don't let the term "hacker" fool you. A "hacker" does not refer to some geeky guy breaking into CIA's mainframe to steal their latest spy contact list. A "hack" refers to an upgrade or customization. This site gives great productivity tips, how to use the latest new PC/mobile apps, and cool new hobbies to explore.

PhoneArena.com - Best mobile phone and tablet news. Great reviews, hands-on videos, and comparison articles/videos.

Facebook.com  - No favorites list would be complete without Facebook. You can easily find "Pages" of the above sites and get updates to all of them right on your homepage, and of course get the latest updates from your buds.

Newegg.com - Best site for electronics components purchasing. They have an extensive library of PC parts, home theater equipment, and now they have branched into video games and kitchen appliances. They have a great user interface, good review system, great prices, and excellent customer service.

MonoPrice.com - Hands down the best place to buy bottom-priced and high-quality cables (e.g., speaker, HDMI), home entertainment accessories, and iPod accessories. I love this site.

Mint.com - Best site to track spending and finances by aggregating bank/savings accounts. Are you spending more this month than last month? You can also set budgets and financial goals each month.

Ninite.com - All those best and popular free PC apps? Check the boxes, download the installer to install all of them with defaults with 1 click. Did I mention no bloatware will be installed? Great site. New apps get listed all the time.

Metacritic.com - Ratings for Movies, TV, Music, Video games. Aggregates ratings from multiple sources to present a XX/100 rating.

 TalkingTechy.Blogspot.com - Best Blog site.  :-)

Sound off in the comments if you agree with the above, or if you found even better alternatives. I'm always interested in finding something better than the best!