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Old 09-28-2010, 05:59 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rambo47 View Post
Left BlackBerry for Android, and came back. Again.

Iím a serial switcher. There. I said it. Iím always looking for the latest/greatest device that will make me more productive. No apologies for that. I have no silly loyalties to any platform or company and I donít think anybody should. You should use the device that best suits your own individual needs, and nobody knows what those needs are better than you. Everybody has different focuses. For some itís entertainment while others are all about multimedia. For me itís communications and PIM functions.
When I discovered BlackBerrys the 7230 was the new hotness. Yeah, I go back a ways. My Treo 650 let me down in the middle of a major project so my search for a reliable alternative with mobile email took on an air of urgency. I quickly realized that all the available Palm apps meant nothing if you couldnít rely on the device to function at all. BlackBerry had exactly what I needed already built-in. No aftermarket apps but suddenly that looked like a good thing. Serious communications, unrivaled reliability. BlackBerrys were not trying to be too many things at once. Instead it was a purpose-driven communications device designed for professionals. Genius!!
Over the years Iíve been seduced away from BlackBerrys by various features offered by other platforms. And the same thing happened every time: I found myself trying to turn this new device into a BlackBerry. Iíve tried Nokia phones in both the N-series and E-series, SonyEricssons, a couple of Windows Mobile phones, and I even gave Palm another chance when the Pre and WebOS arrived. After trying unsuccessfully to turn these various sowís ears into silk purses I did the only smart thing. I went back to BlackBerrys.
My latest flirtation with an alternate platform was Android on the Samsung Epic 4G. After experiencing all the neato wowee features of Android and the Epic I appreciate my BlackBerry even more. As cool as these features are and as sweet as about a bazillion apps may be, few of them made me more productive.

Epic Positives:

4Ē Super AMOLED Screen. Wow! Spectacular display. It looks like a small plasma tv in your hand. Even compared to the EVO the Epic display is killer. Bright, crisp, and vibrant. As Iíve gotten older my BlackBerry screen has gone from being perfectly fine as far as size to just ok. That big beautiful screen on the Epic is very alluring.
Widgets. These are cool and fun, but few of them make the user more productive. The best of them seem to be weather widgets and the Google Search box. Often they are for more closely monitoring your phone or your twitter account. They may not be geared towards productivity but theyíre a big part of the Android user experience.
Live Wallpapers. Very slick. The Epicís 1 GHz Hummingbird processor enables this kind of functionality without the system taking too big a performance hit. Basic animated backgrounds, but when tied in to the Android system they can update to reflect the time of day. Bright at mid day, they darken as the day goes on, finally reflecting the same scene but at night. Combined with a live weather widget you can get some very cool effects.
GMail Integration. Set up a GMail account and youíre instantly backed up. Enter a contact in GMail on a pc and itís instantly on your Epic. Same with the calendar. Very tight integration.
Apps, Apps, and More Apps. Rivaled only by Appleís developer community, Android is like Palm was back in the day. You could find ANYthing for Palm, and today itís that way with Android. Free apps, paid apps, itís all there. And the marketplace app in Android is full of reviews, screenshots, and descriptions.

Epic Negatives:

Battery Life. Although the Epic 4G comes with a 1500 mAh battery, itís powering a 4Ē screen and a 1GHz processor. The AMOLED screen is more efficient than other screens of that size but itís still power-hungry. Saying the Epic is better than some other Android phone (which it is) may be true but it still doesnít make it good with respect to battery life. Just better than the EVO, or Droid, and theyíre abysmal.
Overall Size. Itís big. Too big, IMHO. Maybe thatís the price for having that gorgeous 4Ē screen and a slide-out keyboard. The phone is just a bit oversized to be convenient. Definitely not a pocketable phone. Perhaps the shape has something to do with this. Although I havenít used one besides at a quick inn-store demo, the EVO feels better and more usable in my hand. Even with itís bigger footprint, the shape and thinness of the EVO just seems better ergonomically. I really like the size of the Droid/Droid2. Iím beginning to think that the 3.7Ē screen is about the ideal compromise between a large screen and an ergonomic design. Itís a trade-off and totally subjective, like all my observations.
Email Handling. Iím comparing the Epic to a BlackBerry and thatís really not a fair contest. BlackBerrys are designed with email functions as one of their prime directives. But with email as my primary concern in a phone itís a comparison I have to make. What works best for me? Screw fair comparisons, this is all about me. The Epic really was not bad, it just wasnít up to BlackBerry standards. I put one exchange account and three POP3 accounts on my Epic. All the accounts except the exchange account were on a polling schedule. Mine was set for every Ĺ hour which seemed like the best compromise between timely email and battery life. These same accounts on my BlackBerry Bold are pushed instantly to me. That instant push email gets addictive. And with email communications as my focus this becomes a major benefit of the BlackBerry over Android.

Minor Stuff. There are little things that I believe will get ironed out in a future update of the Android platform. One thing is sorting contacts. The Epic only sorts your contacts by first name. No option to sort by last name or company. Can you believe that? Another is lack of a alphanumeric password. You unlock the device with a swipe pattern on the locked screen. You draw a shape on a field of dots and thatís your password. Try convincing your IT department that a swipe pattern is the same thing as a password. And with only 4 points on the dot field, most donít see it as secure. My IT department didnít and I had to work outside the system to get my exchange email account on my Epic. Thatís never a good thing to try and is often grounds for immediate dismissal. Maybe pure touchscreens are simply not for me. I like the trackpad on my BlackBarry. I can also appreciate the nav pad on the Moto Droid. While the Epic has a keyboard, itís designed really just for typing, not navigating around the main screens.
I found just the opposite. Non BES email on the BB is horrible. Everyone says the BB is an great email device, and on BES, that's true. But if you are limited to BIS, then the BB is dead last IMHO. No true IMAP, no Exchange support. How is that so great. I set up my Exchange account and my Gmail on my Android device and they get mail instantaneousness. Full wireless contact and calendar sync with both Google and Exchange as well.
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