Quick Rant: Android Portable Media Players Are Not Just A Waste Of Consumers’ Time And Money, But A Waste Of Time And Money From Android Manufacturers As Well

 

As Android continues to grow as the preferred ecosystem among people worldwide, we are seeing an explosion of innovative and impressive devices. I’m not talking about an explosion of just smartphones either. We are seeing an explosion of devices designed to improve your TV, full-fledged gaming systems, innovative tablets and even a nifty camera or two. Now while those type of Android devices are impressive and all, there’s a type of Android device that I failed to mention and for good reason— Android portable media players or PMPs for short. Android PMPs are neither innovative nor impressive– compared to other Android counterparts. Generally speaking, Android manufacturers generate buzz and excitement for various products, yet consumers never hear anything about PMPs and see any real excitement or reason to talk about them. Knowing there’s no real push or excitement for PMPs, is it really important for Android fanatics or even the average consumer to go out and buy a PMP? More importantly, is it important for manufacturing giants like Samsung to continue churning out PMPs, despite there being no major push or excitement these devices? I will respectfully say no to both questions.

In the interest of full disclosure— even though I am an editor of this great Android website and have a great deal of passion for the Android ecosystem, I’m by no means an Android fanboy. I own numerous Apple products including an iPod Touch for my commutes on the New York City Subway or for use when working out. I love technology as a whole— but when it comes to having my personal media player on the go— music, video, pictures and gaming for example— I would rather use an Apple iPod Touch before using an Android PMP, without hesitation. The Apple iPod Touch has set the standard when it comes to managing a consumer’s personal media, while giving the same consumers items like an impressive display, abundant number of applications and plenty of accessories for starters. Android PMPs on the other hand often feature uninspired designs, horrendous features (i.e. lackluster displays or Gingerbread) and few, if any accessories available. Simply put, Android PMPs are a waste of money and resources for consumers and manufacturers and that’s why the average consumer should not even bother with Android PMPs. I’m sure many of you are interested in seeing my reasoning for my strong claim, so go ahead and jump past the break to see my thoughts in greater detail.


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Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE Review: Hands-Down The Best QWERTY Slider Phone Available On Sprint’s Network

 

As Sprint has launched bigger and better smartphones for 2012, it’s only natural that we see an entrant in the QWERTY arena and that’s why Sprint decided to bring its customers the Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE smartphone. Now many of you are thinking wait a minute— the original Photon 4G was neither an LTE smartphone nor a phone with a slide-out keyboard. While those two points are certainly true, the 2012 refresh of the Photon Q certainly has a lot going for it. There’s a fast processor, gorgeous ColorBoost display and a pretty slick design. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt the physical keyboard is possibly one of the best keyboards on an Android phone.

The Photon Q has internals that competes quite nicely with other premium phones, but the phone is priced at a princely sum of $200. That’s certainly a far cry from Motorola’s Atrix HD which is essentially a premium smartphone priced at $100. Then again Sprint’s other QWERTY smartphones currently in its lineup are the Samsung Epic 4G that is priced at $100— despite it being a two-year old device and the Kyocera Rise smartphone priced at $20. So in essence, the Photon Q certainly has an edge over the other QWERTY devices because of the fact that well, there’s virtually no other phone to compete with in Sprint’s lineup as far as pure specs and raw power. So is Sprint’s newest Motorola toy worth the price? Join us after the break to see if the phone is indeed worth the money.


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How The Nexus 7 Has Changed My Device Use Habits

There’s no question that Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is a success. Google and ASUS have managed to create something extremely compelling for such a low price point. Typically, when I spend $199 on a device of this nature, I’m not expecting it to be a premium, high-end device. But the Nexus 7 has proven itself to be not only a serviceable tablet, but something that belies its budget price tag.

Since receiving my Nexus 7 at Google I/O this year, I have noticed a shift in my device use habits as the 7-incher has wedged itself right smack dab in the middle of my daily use patterns. How has adding a device to my daily routine changed how I interact with all my other devices? First, I should list out the devices I use on a daily basis. I currently have an HTC Evo 4G LTE phone, and a Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi 10.1-inch tablet. The use of these two devices in particular has been impacted by the Nexus 7. I also have a Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV set-top box, and a Nexus Q.

Hit the break to find out how the Nexus 7 has impacted my Android device usage.


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Talk Android’s Smartphone Buyer’s Guide Fall 2012: A Guide For Students, Geeks, Show-Offs And Android Newbies

 

Fall is almost here for those of us here in the States and many of you may be in the market to grab a new phone. Whether it’s the latest and greatest quad-core beast, something that will let you be able to share all those updates of your trip around the globe or if you’re upgrading from a dumbphone to a basic Android smartphone that will give you the most bang for your buck, this guide has you fully-covered. In this guide, you’ll find the device that will be well within your budget range as well as feature items you may care about most such as a full touchscreen or slide-out keyboard, solid camera and topnotch multimedia capabilities. Without further ado— let’s hit the break to see what phone will suit you best on your respective wireless network.


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Official Xbox Live for Android application launches. How does it compare to the competition?

If you’re both an Android lover and an avid gamer, chances are you will been waiting for Microsoft to release it’s new My Xbox Live application on the Google Play Store. With the application hitting Apple’s App Store last month it was only a matter of time before we’d see it arrive on Android and the good news is that today is that day!

I’ve personally been a fan of both Android and Xbox for a few years now and have been searching for the ideal application to suit my needs. For me, one of the biggest attractions that keeps me coming back to the Xbox is the social aspect of online gaming. The majority of my close friends are on Xbox Live and from time to time one of my favourite means of winding down after a long week at work is spending a couple of hours playing capture-the-flag whilst chatting with my friends. I was always interested in the concept of being able to glance at your phone to see who’s online and what they’re playing before deciding whether to fire up the Xbox or watch a film. With a number of popular, third party applications on the Play Store, the biggest challenge was always finding an application that you could rely on.


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How do you protect your Android phone?

Choice is a wonderful thing, for many of us it’s probably the primary reason we own an Android phone in the first place. Speaking of which, it’s hard to beat that initial feeling when you get a brand new device. You remove it carefully from the box, peel off the plastic screen protector and admire it as it gleams spotlessly in your hands. Keeping your phone in such pristine condition throughout its life isn’t easy; however there are numerous solutions on the market that can help. The question is which solution works best? A quick search on the website of any mainstream tech retailer will bring up hundreds of sleeves, pouches, wallets, skins, cases and films. Would you prefer leather, suede, neoprene, plastic, rubber or even “invisible”? I’ve tried various solutions over the years with mixed results.

I’ve been a mobile phone connoisseur since the mid 90’s when Nokia ruled the roost. My trusty 3330 would be thrown in my pocket alongside my keys, coins and wallet without a care in the world. The one and only time I dropped it, I simply popped into town and bought a new exchangeable cover; job done. It was one of my early ventures into the smartphone world that made me re-evaluate the benefits of phone protectors. Back in 2004 I bought a sim-free iMate Jam (HTC Magician) and paid £500 cold hard cash. The store I purchased it from suggested a leather case for protection, which I decided to go for as I could definitely see the benefits. The case in question was a classic design which anyone who has been using phones or PDA’s for a number of years will definitely be familiar with. A couple of pieces of black leather on the front and back, joined by a few strips of black, elastic material with a leather ‘lid’ that folds over the top and sticks in place by way of some velcro tabs. If my memory serves me right, I think it even had a belt clip on the back (did anyone actually use those?). There was no question that this case would protect the phone. The problem was that the iMate Jam was a hefty old device. It was made of metal, as thick as a yellow pages directory and could probably have been used to anchor a small boat. Putting this phone in such a rugged case made it virtually impossible to pocket. It didn’t take long before I ditched the case and it also didn’t take long for me to regret that decision. On a visit to my parents’ house, the iMate was sitting in my shirt pocket. I bent down to pick something up and out it flew dropping a few feet onto the slate finished kitchen floor. I’d gained a sizable dent on the bottom corner and clearly some kind of loose connection somewhere as the device would perform a master reset every time I pressed the top half of the screen. Lesson learned.  
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Are the latest Android flagship phones female friendly?

I’m sitting here today with my Galaxy Nexus by my side with its wonderful 4.65″ HD Super AMOLED display and I’m feeling a bit of tech envy towards the 4.8″ display that’s set to arrive when the Galaxy S III hits the shelves. I’ve had some hands on time with the HTC One X and its 4.7″ screen and Motorola’s current flagship device, the Droid RAZR, offers up a 4.3″ display. It seems that most Android phone manufacturers are of the view that bigger is better and with the runaway success of devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note, it would appear that they might be right.


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Why the Galaxy S III is a great phone (but why I will not be buying one)

 

The dust has finally settled in London after Samsung finally unveiled its next flagship phone at the Unpacked event at Earls Court. After month upon month of hype, rumours, mocks-ups and supposed leaks, the most anticipated Android phone of all time showed its hand for the world to see. The Galaxy S III had arrived. It was inevitable really that, in some areas, the specifications weren’t quite as spectacular as many of the rumours had hyped. We were promised quad-cores, Super AMOLED plus screens, state of the art graphics processors, 2GB of RAM, dual boot OS, 12 MP cameras, ceramic finishes and many more bleeding edge features. The response from the tech world was positive for the most part but as ever there were claims that the phone was underwhelming, not a true upgrade from the Galaxy S II and that it was just plain ugly. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch in person where I got the chance to visit the demo stands showing off many of the news features as well as getting a reasonable amount of hands-on time to make some judgements for myself. I’ll come back to that later.

 


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UX Corner: How ICS Follows Basic User-Centered Design Principles

 

At the beginning of this year, Google launched the Android Design Principles Web Site. This site outlines how and why the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich User Interface (UI) is built the way it is. For those of us who work as User Experience Designers, it’s a treasure trove of information and insights into the minds of Matias Duarte and his team.

What I would like to do is break down a few elements of the Android 4.0 UI and talk about how they follow tried-and-tested user-centered design principles. Yeah, this might be a bit geeky even for us geeks, but trust me… it’s these kinds of solid building blocks that can make or break a platform. Read on after the break for my take on how Android is implementing and evolving their User Experience (UX).


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Review: Football Manager 2012 for Android

 

The History

For young football fans (soccer for my American friends) of the 80′s and 90′s, Football Manager wasn’t a game, it was a way of life. For the purists amongst us, you will no doubt remember the game by its original name Championship Manager. This was a game that you could load up on a cold, wet Saturday morning with a view to playing one or two matches before realising that it’s nearly time for your Sunday night bath ready for school the next day. When engrossed in Football Manager, days seem like hours and hours seem like minutes such is the manner in which the game sucks you in.

For the uninitiated, Football Manager is not your typical football (soccer) game, you don’t use a direction pad to run your players around the pitch etc. Football Manager, as the name obviously suggests, puts you as the manager of your chosen team and tasks you with the day-t0-day running of a football club. This covers everything from stadia, player transfers, finances, match tactics and so much more. You set up everything behind the scenes, pick your team and then sit back and watch as your players perform according to your instructions. Depending on the team you manage a successful season could be anything from winning the Champions League to surviving relegation to the bottom division.

A blast from the past?

The Main Game

From its humble beginnings on the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, Football Manager is one of those games that receives an annual update around the same time each year updating the player rosters and adding new features. It hit the PSP and iOS last year and finally it’s landed on Android.

Football Manager Handheld is not a direct port of the desktop version, anyone expecting that could end up slightly disappointed. The handheld version is a cut down version that’s designed to be easier to access in order to cater for the more casual gamer who may just be looking to kill some time on the daily commute. The game transfers to a touch-screen format nicely with a simplified layout, there are less options and not as many facets of the managerial role. Let me reassure you now, a stripped down game does not mean stripped down fun, the game is still as much fun and just as addictive as ever.

All of the major leagues and clubs are represented and there’s a huge database of over 20,000 real life players. The main match view will be familiar to those who have followed the franchise over the years. Watching the match involves watching 22 coloured dots swarming around the screen, moving along a white dot (the football). It may not sound like edge of the seat stuff but just try it for yourself and see!

Just like the desktop version, the game lasts as long as your managerial career does. You might find yourself poached by clubs from other countries, you may find yourself called up to manage a national team or perhaps you’ll get the sack. I recall entering the 20th season of my career on the 2002/2003 desktop version of the game, an achievement that I won’t (but undoubtedly could) replicate on the handheld edition.

 

 

Challenge Mode

In order to really make the most of the handheld edition, there is a separate challenge mode designed for the more casual gamer. Challenge mode throws you into the middle of one of four set scenarios where you are tasked with leading your team through a particular crisis or campaign. The challenge must be complete before the end of the season.

The challenges include scenarios such as steering a poor performing club from relegation, avoid being sacked from an injury struck club, and leading a top club to an undefeated season. They are each straight forward enough to pick up and play easily however they are tough enough to keep Football Manager veterans satisfied. All in all, a welcome edition to the main game.

 

 

Summary

Football Manager Handheld 2012 will cost you £6.99 (approx $11) and brings all of the polish and playability you would expect from a Sega title. Long time followers of the series will enjoy this game, the stripped down handheld edition actually feels a lot like the desktop version did circa 2003 which, in my opinion, was when the game was at its best. Subsequent releases became a little too complex with the sheer number of options available almost getting in the way of just playing the core game.

Casual gamers and Football Manager newcomers may well enjoy the main game however the four challenges are sure to be the ideal way to introduce people to the game and allow them to cut their teeth before progressing to the big wide world of career mode.

This is an addictive and immersive game that will help the longest train journey pass in a flash as well as being responsible for losing entire weekends without trace. So what are you waiting for? Dig out your sheepskin coat and hit the link below to get downloading!

 


Google Play Store