Happy New Year!
Sorry for the radio silence recently, it wasn’t planned but fortunately it isn’t for a bad reason this time. I’ve just been pretty busy with work, the usual holiday hassle, and some of the last minute wedding preparations. (In case you’re new here, I’m getting married in five weeks – 2/4/12.) Fortunately it has also been kind of slow on the tech news front lately, at least as far as the stuff I usually write about goes. So I don’t feel like I’ve really missed anything huge.
That’s probably because CES is just around the corner and all of the big news is being saved up for the associated deluge. Unfortunately I won’t be attending CES this year. I had been thinking about returning this year but after some consideration I realized I’d have to be crazy to do CES so close to my wedding. Even ignoring the cost and the PTO I’d need to burn, when I have plenty of expenses and time off pending for the wedding and honeymoon, there are plenty of last minute things to attend to and I really don’t need the extra stress. So maybe 2013 with mark my return to CES. My fiancee has never been to Las Vegas and would like to see it too, so it’d be easier to justify. While I won’t be at CES this year I’m sure there will be plenty to cover and comment on.
All of that aside, there has been some gizmo activity in my life and I’m hoping to make a few full posts out of it. But for now I’ll share a little.
Just before xmas the Galaxy Nexus finally launched on Verizon and I ordered one immediately to replace my OG Droid. I love it. I was somewhat jealous of the Droid RAZR my fiancee picked up a few weeks earlier, but that evaporated when I got the G-Nex. I’ve decided to leave it completely unmodded for now – no unlocked bootloader, no root, and no custom ROM. I’d been running Cyanogenmod on my OG Droid for a long time, but I want some time with the ‘raw’ Ice Cream Sandwich experience to really see how it has improved. I have to say that, overall, I’m really impressed and pleased with it. I may end up sticking with the stock experience, we’ll see. So far there have only been minor things I’ve missed and I may be able to find apps for the functionality.
I will share one word of warning; the official Verizon car mount is a completely worthless piece of plastic crap. I purchased one and returned it an hour later. You may have seen posts on other blogs about it not having the built-in three pin connector for charging and audio output as we’d seen in some pre-release reviews, and that’s part of it. But for me even if it had the three pins I’d still think it sucked. It has a fixed neck, several inches tall. The only adjustment is the ball joint at the end where the phone goes. When I used it in my car the bottom of the G-Nex was as high as the top of my Droid in it’s mount. The OG Droid car mount was quite nice – plenty of adjustment. The G-Nex was way too high, and it blocked a good chunk of my view of the road, so it had to go back. Trying to mount it on my windshield was worse – even more visibility lost. Maybe it’ll work better in your vehicle, but that wasn’t the only issue.
The part that holds the phone is a very tight plastic ‘cup’ that you have to snap the phone in and out of. It took way too much force to both insert and remove the phone from the mount. Enough that I felt like I was risking damage to the phone. It was just too much of a pain in the ass. With my OG Droid I could snap the phone in and out of the mount with one hand instantly. I think the G-Nex mount sucks in every way and I really hope some decent third party options hit soon. I’m also waiting for the desktop dock to release; that at least looks like it is decently designed.
But the phone is just fantastic. Get one.
I also got another new gadget that I’ve been loving. My fiancee gave me a Kindle Touch for xmas. It is my first Kindle. I’ve been kind of eyeing them since the first Kindle, and e-readers in general since they hit the scene. Since I’m almost as addicted to Amazon as I am to Google, I knew I’d pretty much have to get a Kindle when I finally got an e-reader. (And it was definitely a when, not an if.) But the models with a keyboards always seemed a bit too clunky to me, and the Touch was the first model that really looked like what I was waiting for. It is nice and compact, about the size of a paperback (my preferred format), but lighter and even easier to hold than a real book.
I like it as much as I hoped I would. I plowed through the first novel in a couple of days, Scratch Monkey by Charles Stross. Now I’m working on Rule 34, also by Stross. I have a few other books already purchased and loaded, and I expect to be buying Kindle Editions going forward.
It doesn’t stop there. My nephew-to-be got an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and keyboard dock from us; which I’d snagged at 04:00 on Black Friday from Best Buy with a little social engineering. (It was a ticketed item. I didn’t have a ticket. I’ll tell more if I get a full post up.) He’s 12 – yeah, we kind of spoil him. I set it up for him on xmas and loved it. I’d decided to pick one up for myself months ago, but held off based on early reports of the ‘Transformer 2′. That’s of course, officially the Transformer Prime now.
After my experience using his tablet on xmas I decided that I definitely needed one for myself. My birthday is 12/26 (yes, the day after xmas) so I now have a Transformer Prime and keyboard on order as a gift to myself. I’m really hoping it arrives before I leave for the wedding and honeymoon, as I’d like to take it instead of my laptop. (We’re getting married in Epcot, a destination wedding.) Either way I’m looking forward to it, and I’m sure I’ll have something to say once I have my hands on it.
And last, but most certainly not least, I’ve had a TiVo Premiere Elite review unit in my hands for a little over a month now. I’ve been using it as my main unit and I’ve had enough experience with it now to write up my review. I’ll get that out soon, but the short version is that TiVo is going to have trouble getting this unit back from me. I love it. I’ve had a couple of minor hiccups, but nothing of real note. I had a Premiere for a while around the time it released, though I never did review it (it was during ‘the hiatus’), but the Elite with the 14.9 software is definitely an improvement on my experience with the Premiere at release. And it is a notable improvement over the Series3 that is still my main personal unit. There are a few changes in the HD UI (which is what I’ve been using) that I’m not completely happy with, but on balance I’d recommend the Elite without hesitation. And if I’m allowed to purchase this unit at the end of the review loaner period, I will. The only thing that is really missing as a retail TiVo Preview. If I could pair one of those with the Elite it’d be perfect for my bedroom.
It hasn’t all been good experiences with tech though. My Slingbox PRO-HD seems to have died at some point in November, as I discovered just before a week-long trip to Seattle for work in early December. That’s unfortunate. And a couple of days ago my Onkyo TX-SR606 receiver started exhibiting an issue where it takes several minutes to ‘warm up’ and start passing the HDMI signal from any input to the TV. Checking online I see this is a long-standing known issue with capacitors on the HDMI daughterboard.
My unit is out of warranty by now since I bought it way back in June, 2008 and it only carries two years parts & labor. I haven’t had much time yet to look into repair options, but it has been a long, long time since I did any soldering myself. I’d probably have to find someone to do the work for me instead of risking it on my rusty skills. Not to mention the fact I no longer have the tools for the job. I’ll probably start with Onkyo and see what an authorized repair would cost.
All in all I’ve been having some fun with my new gizmos and I hope to get some full posts up with my take soon. Of course, I owe TiVo a review on the Premiere Elite for kindly sending me a loaner to try out, so I really need to get that out in any case.
I hope everyone had good holidays. Did anyone get any new tech toys worth mentioning? Leave a comment!