One thing I “forgot” to mention in my review: I am an Android fanboy, so I often neglect the fact that the iPhone (and all touchscreen iOS devices to date, pretty much) multitouch and overall screen sensitivity and reaction is significantly smoother than any Android device I’ve seen yet. This Xperia Pro’s touchscreen, while strong, is still not as good as the iPhone 4.
We at NorthGeek recently got our hands on the yet-to-be-released Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro. Fido here in Canada will be the first carrier in the world to launch this device. And it’s a great little Android number. The first things you’ll notice about it are the full slide-out keyboard, 8MB camera, 3.7″ screen with 265ppi pixel density, and Android v2.3 Gingerbread (the newest smartphone Android OS). Compare this to the Nexus S (my favourite Android device), which has a 4″ 235ppi screen and weighs just a bit less but has no physical keyboard. Also compare to the iPhone 4 which has a 3.5″ 326ppi screen.
For many people, the Xperia Pro will be the ultimate Android device. It’s fast, has the latest operating system, and has a physical keyboard. I’m of the camp that once you get used to the onscreen touch keyboard, you won’t need a physical one, but so many people would like exactly what the Xperia Pro offers.
- Keyboard: this is perhaps the most significant standout option against the Xperia line. Even just having hard text cursor movement arrows is great, better than the one on the Nexus One, and versus the nonexistent feature on the Nexus S
- Perhaps the best camera on a mass market smartphone, but it still can’t replace my dedicated cameras
Good use of three hard buttons on the bottom: back, home, options
- Timescape: it’s a slick and fun little way to scroll through all your social media and phone messages. It’s a fun toy, but I find it quite over-designed and flashy, so not as functional or efficient as dedicated apps
Device has a noticeable but not overbearing light for notifications
- Apparently, the device comes with ANT+ compatibility, which would be awesome for the devices I use: heartrate monitor, bike power meter, etc. I’d love to see this more widespread and useful on smartphones
General Android pros:
- The best Google products integration. I love my Google products and Gingerbread nails them so well. I’m not sure how you can live without Google Navigation, fully integrated Google Voice, or even Gmail specific email app. This is so superior to what the iPhone offers here.
- Not the most exciting, but I love the unlock pattern option for the Android devices. So much easier than lifting your finger between digits on the iPhone unlock numerical code.
- NFC: it’s not just hype. Payment services and so much more are here and upcoming
- Now I can have Instafetch on my Android devices to read articles on-the-go and offline. You are no longer stuck with Instapaper on the iPhone
- I miss not having an iPhone hard button toggle to turn the ringer off. Some Android device will eventually figure this out.
- Why is the user forcefully prompted to create a Moxier mail account and run antivirus protection? Very annoying
- I’ve become so accustomed to using my device in vertical screen mode, that using the physical keyboard only when sideways becomes such an interruption to my workflow. Again I’m not personally sold on the physical keyboard anymore.
- The screen is smaller than the Nexus S, albeit bigger than the iPhone
- You will be missing iPhone only apps. Can you live with that? Really, what’s so impossible to live without: Instagram, Ness, another game that isn’t Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, etc?
If you’re looking for an Android device with a physical keyboard, the most up to date Android OS, and would enjoy the bonus of an impressive camera and some Sony Ericsson features like Timescape, this is a 9/10. Compared to the Nexus S and iPhone 4 (in my opinion the two best phones on the market right now), I’d give it a 7/10.
Google has done it again. This time with Samsung (previously HTC), they’ve release the hottest new mobile device, the Nexus S, follow up to their geeky delicious Nexus One. These are both clean installs of the most up to date Android operating systems, and the new Nexus S comes with brand spanking new OS 2.3, code-named “Gingerbread,” and some hot and fast hardware to boot. (Read TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb)
But they’ve goofed again. 3G on this first version of the device supports 900, 1700, and 2100 MHz. That’s great for a whopping 34.5 million mobile users, ie. 9% of the North American market.
In the USA, two networks support any of the bands, which is the 1700MHz AWS band. T-Mobile has 33.8M subscribers, and Cincinnati Bell Wireless has 571k. Out of a total of 292M, that’s 12% of the market.
In Canada, only the upstart carriers support AWS: WIND has 100k, Moblicity 50k, and Videotron 50k (and I’m being generous here for the undisclosed statistics). Out of a total of 23.4M, that’s 0.9%.
In Mexico, where there are 74M subscribers, nobody has 900, 1700, or 2100 (please comment below if I’m wrong here).
NINE PERCENT. BLAH. At least going 850MHz (like the iPhone or second release of the Nexus One) would serve today 114.8 million in USA and Canada alone (36%).
Does Google hate AT&T? How does T-Mobile get US “exclusivity”? Of course you can still make phone calls on other GSM networks, but you’ll only get slow EDGE (aka 2.75G) for data. This sounds like a dumb move by me. I’ll just sit and twiddle my thumbs (ie. mash my iPhone typos) a bit longer.
Approximate subscribers number for late 2010:
FYI In USA: AT&T 92.8M, Verizon 93.2M, Sprint 49M
In Canada: Bell Mobility 6.8M, Rogers 8.4M, Telus 6.8M
In Mexico: Telcel 57M
From our previous post, iPhone, Nexus One 3G Frequencies:
|T-Mobile USA: 1700MHz (AWS)||AT&T USA: 850 (1900 originally?)||Rogers Canada (850MHz)||Wind Mobile Canada: 1700MHz (AWS)|
|iPhone: 850, 1900, 2100 MHz||no||you bet||yup||no ;(|
|Nexus One/S: 900, 1700, 2100 MHz||yes, go buy one||no, only EDGE access||no, only EDGE||yes…|
We at NorthGeek are pretty lucky. All we ever do is geek out on tech, gadgets, cars, sports, apparel, and more – and sometimes, we have companies (like DigiFinder, for example) who send us products to review and GIVE AWAY TO OUR READERS!
This review covers the DigiFinder.pro LCD viewfinder, a $60 must-have accessory for HDSLR owners. The one featured in the video is for our Canon Rebel T2i (or 550D for our European readers), but we have two other sizes – a 2.7″ inch and 3″ variant – to be given away to two lucky readers/Twitter followers. To win the DigiFinder.pro model of your choice, simply leave us a comment below or on the YouTube page of this review, with why YOU deserve this free HDSLR LCD viewfinder. That’s it, that’s all! Winners will be selected by Christmas Day.
Also, if you’re Canadian and want these DigiFinder.pro LCD viewfinders to be more readily available up here in Canada, please let us hear it in the comments! NorthGeek may just start bringing them in for sale up in the Great White North!
Enjoy the review, below:
Also worth noting, the DigiViewer eyecup is now available for sale! It’s $25 USD. Here’s what it looks like:
Our buddies over at BuyiJet sent us this nifty gift guide they put together for the holidays. As you’ll see, they have some really cool accessories for your iPad/Pod/Phone, at very competitive prices. We’re hoping to get some product at NorthGeek HQ to do some video reviews, and give out some prizes just in time for the holidays! Have a look at their gift guide, below:
If you haven’t already, go check out Omni-Tracker. These guys build affordable, professional-grade camera dollies for everything from a Flip to a RED ONE. I, personally, look forward to getting my paws on one for some Hollywood-esque pans with my Canon Rebel T2i.
I’ve been in touch with Warren over at Omni-Tracker, and he sent me this sexy time lapse clip, apparently shot using a prototype motorized Omni-Tracker dolly. Can’t wait to hear more, and when we do, NorthGeek will deliver the scoop. In the meantime and in between time, enjoy:
UPDATE: I meant to say that pro OUTDOOR baseball lives in Canada – please forgive me, Jays fans. I’m not forgetting about Toronto’s MLB team, it’s just that this experience really gave me that “now, this is what sports should be like” feeling.
If you haven’t yet, go check out Nat Bailey Stadium for a Vancouver Canadians baseball game. This minor league club, currently at 11-11 and 4 games back of the first place Everett AquaSox, know how to put on a show for their fans. Nat Bailey Stadium, at Main and 30th in Vancouver, is a beautiful and well-maintained outdoor ballpark seating just over 5,500 loyal fans (I think – although Wikipedia disagrees). Tonight’s game, the third of five home games in a row against the Yakima Bears, was a special “fireworks” evening at the stadium – with ongoing entertainment following Vancouver’s 10-1 crushing of the Bears. The club didn’t disappoint – winning big for the first nine innings, and putting on a spectacular pyro show after the game.
Aside from being in a fun and energetic setting among the thousands of fans, in an open-air (packed) stadium, with the sun heating up the perfectly manicured natural grass field, there are plenty of things to keep the whole family entertained. Mascot races, animated beer and hotdog guys roaming the stands, and more – including a choreographed dance by the club’s grounds crew after the 5th inning at every home game:
I took this next video with my phone to send to my friends back home in Montreal, to show them how magical local baseball is:
Tickets to see the Canadians play are just $12.50 and less – depending on your student status, age, and whether you buy packaged deals. They also do a great job hosting groups in picnic or BBQ areas, and they even offer corporate boxes. The kids have a blast, too – even if they’re not into the baseball, there are plenty of activities and areas to keep them entertained.
While at Nat Bailey Stadium, be sure to check out the Canadians Baseball Hall of Fame – see who has worn the C’s uniform. It’s pretty impressive! Who knew Sammy Sosa once lived in Vancouver to play for the Canadians?? Also, keep your eyes open for General Manager Jason Takefman – he’s got a pretty amazing story!
Here’s a short clip from the fireworks show after the game:
GO CANADIANS GO!
Editor: Welcome to new NorthGeek contributor Chris Manitt!
Like many Apple loyalists and perhaps those who were just plain curious, I was anchored at my office desk last Tuesday to watch Steve Jobs make his annual keynote address from the World Wide Developers Conference in SF. Of course when I say “watch the keynote,” I’m referring to how I was reading live blog posts from those who were lucky enough to be there in person. Even still, reading the posts, as they popped up on my screen giving me the play by play, I was excited to hear what Steve had to say, what new innovative products Apple was bringing to market and most importantly – why I had to have them.
What made this Keynote different from others was that in the weeks leading up to it, a much publicized lapse in judgment let the “new” iPhone see the light of day a little sooner than expected. I still had faith in good old Steve in being able to wow the crowd at the WWDC not only because of an inevitable “one more thing…” but because Steve hadn’t yet told the masses the “why,” even we thought we only knew the “what.”
iPhone 4. We knew what it was going to look like, had a pretty good idea of what it was going to do, but expectedly I was still surprised at how much more there was to it. While Steve explained that there are over 100 new features in iPhone 4, he only focused on 8. Of those 8, the following stand out in my mind the most:
- FaceTime. If iPhone 4 had only this feature I would still go out and buy it the day it is released in Canada. FaceTime is something that is classic Apple. It’s not about having two 5 mega pixel cameras or even an LED flash, it’s about being able to see loved ones when you’re away from home on a business trip. If you watch the FaceTime video on the Apple site closely, you’ll even see a deaf couple signing via this new marvel. The question is, will FaceTime work with any other video chat App – like iChat or Skype – or will I only be able to see other iPhone 4 users?
- New form factor. Up until the day the not-so-spy shots of the new iPhone were blasted all over the web, I thought that my iPhone 3GS looked great, felt great in my hand and was exactly everything I ever needed my iPhone to be. And then the pictures hit the web. At first I thought that it didn’t look very Apple. But, as I examined the pictures and video more and more I realized that not only was it completely different from what I thought an iPhone to be, it was 1000 times sexier than what was sitting on my desk. From that moment on, I looked at my iPhone 3GS as an older model (which is less than a year old) with an outdated shape, large clumsy metal bezel and rounded edges that just didn’t stand up. All of these thoughts were reinforced at the WWDC keynote and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on one to see what it feels like. Just because I think it’s worth mentioning, when I do get my hands on it, it will be a white iPhone 4. After seeing both the black and white version I thought that the iPhone 4 would be the first time I go to a black iPhone. However, in seeing the photography of the black Apple branded bumper they’re selling (for $29.99!) on a white iPhone – I was once again sold. White it is.
- Retina display. From what I’ve read, this screen is something that really needs to be seen to be appreciated for what it is. Also, it’s everything and more that Steve hyped it up to be. From the numerous side by side comparisons that I’ve seen in the last week and even the podcast of the Keynote I can tell that this screen is going to be something specials. Like the form factor, I will not be able to appreciate it until I see what I’ve been missing. “It’s like digital ink…” Steve says.
- HD video. This was very simple for me: with my daughter now running around these days, the last thing I want to do is lunge for the video camera before she’s out of my sight and miss the moment. I usually end up taking a couple of minutes worth with my iPhone 3GS which is great except when it comes to the final edit of my iMovie masterpiece – the quality just doesn’t look that great on a 1080p screen. I’m really looking forward to having one device in my pocket that can capture the HD video that I want and be able to take a call and do all the other iPhone things too.
iOS4. While this was previewed back in the winter, there was still much to learn about the next evolution of the iPhone OS. Again, many new features were announced and given their time in the spotlight on stage. But without being able to have the OS on my growing number of i devices yet, here’s what’s keeping me dreaming in i’s:
- Mail. Updated and it seems like it’s better than ever. I love that there’s a universal Inbox now.
- Folders. This is something that has been a long time coming and a feature that was perhaps a necessity once the powers-that-be at Apple realized how many Apps people would house on their iPhones and iPads. It’s a welcome feature that will be useful and something we’ll wonder how we lived without, but will force many to rethink their screen layouts.
- Multitasking. Unlike the two features above, multitasking isn’t something that I’m looking forward to or even something that I feel I need. I’ve given myself the chance to try and understand how I could use it in my daily life to do things faster and more efficiently, but I don’t see how it will all fit in yet. Good for Apple to wait on multitasking until they figured out the right way to do it. Releasing it in such a way that battery life would suffer would have been a bad thing. I guess time will tell. Like folders, it’ll probably be something that six months from now I will not remember what it was like with it.
Does anyone else feel that more and more the updates to the iPhone OS are looking like the jail broken versions that have been available over the years since the iPhone was released? Am I alone here? I’m an Apple traditionalist. I update software via Software Update the day it comes out, I buy my Apps through the App store and I’ve never hacked my iPhone. Why would I want to? The reasoning I use is that someone at Apple believed in a given feature enough that they felt it was perfect for the iPhone. It didn’t need to be fancy, it didn’t need to be flashy, it just needed to work and that’s exactly what it would do. When the iPhone 3G came out, I had an answer for every criticism that was thrown its way. There wasn’t video functionality for a reason, cut copy & paste wasn’t needed either and why would you ever need a faster iPhone anyway?
John Gruber wrote a fantastic back page column in MacWorld last month. It really put Apple’s yearly ground breaking innovations in perspective using the simple analogy of building a snowman. You’ve got to start off with a solid base (iPhone 2G), add a middle section (iPhone 3G), add the head (iPhone 3GS), then add the buttons and carrot nose (iPhone OS 3). If Apple came out with an iPhone 3GS running OS 3 in 2007, it probably wouldn’t have been as good as it could have been because, as we’ve seen, Apple takes the time to build things one step at a time. They won’t ever take a next step unless they’re sure that the one that preceded it has been firmly established. In a way, it’s managing our i-expectations.
Oh and “one more thing”, this entire post was written, edited and submitted via my iPad. Yes, it may look like a giant iPod Touch or iPhone to the uninitiated, however once you get your hands on it you’ll know why it’s much more than that. Currently I use it at home as a replacement to the iMac that my wife uses for her writing. From the night that I brought it home, I use it more than my iPhone. In fact, I find myself using it preferentially for email, browsing the web and, of course, discovering the multitude of purpose-built iPad Apps that don’t have anything on their iPhone brethren.
No, it’s not something I would break out on my morning commute – because that’s what my iPhone is for. My iPad is a device that I use at home and at the office, that, for me, completely replaces any need I would ever have for a MacBook. I upload, edit and print photos from my iMac. I walk, talk and message with my iPhone. I sit down, email, web surf, and browse my entire photo library with my iPad. I’ve never done that on my iMac! That says something to the UI or lack of one on the iPad that makes me want to browse ALL my pictures and not just a a few here and there.
So, “what do i want?” No, it’s “what do i need?” iPhone 4 will be yet another addition to my Apple collection that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
This US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Orlando is on a brand spankin’ new (well, at least it looks that way) Airbus A321. The interior is beautiful – so 2010-esque, the lighting is targetted and pleasant, the seats comfortable, more legroom, and, best of all – WiFi baby, WiFi!!
The first week of GoGo In-Flight WiFi aboard US Air’s fleet of A321 jets is absolutely FREE to use – that is from June 1st – 8th 2010. After this, it will be about $10 to connect for your flight. Some notes:
- Web browsing speeds are satisfactory.
- Skype connected, but I’m not popular enough to have had any friends online to test with. The “test call” with the Skype system worked like a charm.
- My SIP phone (through Acanac, using X-Lite) disconnected after I heard “Hello?” on the other end of the line – I guess bandwidth isn’t high enough.
- I couldn’t get online in Mac OS X – thank the lord for Bootcamp (I run XP Pro, and it connected on my first attempt)
- For more info, check out US Airways’ WiFi page and GoGo (by Aircell).
Adios from somewhere 36,000 feet over the Carolinas!
Today, WIND Mobile has finally launched in Vancouver. They held an opening day launch event at their Yaletown store this morning. We at NorthGeek really appreciate having a new player in Canada to offer mobile services to the masses and finally to bring some competition to the stale Rogers, Telus, and Bell. However, it seems there’s still much confusion over what exactly WIND is.
So here’s our rundown for you, thanks to Melissa Clark, WIND Mobile’s VP Sales and Distribution, and some of their technical team.
WIND Mobile is NOT:
An MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator, like Virgin, the major success around the world, and unfortunately a flop (shuffled under the Bell rug) here in Canada. An MVNO piggy-backs on a carrier’s network, is the front facing entity to the customer, but doesn’t own the network themselves. “MVNO” has become a taboo term, especially in Canada, with their spectacular flops (Amp’d in the US).
IS full carrier. WIND Mobile paid $442M for wireless spectrum (as auctioned in 2008) in pockets across Canada, but none in Quebec. They are spending more than that (to date) on network infrastructure (switches, base stations, etc). Oh and they’ll need much more. Building a mobile network in a country as spread apart as Canada is no small task. However, they have the backing of Orascom (global group of telecom companies) WIND affiliates, and other foreign investors (hand-cuffed by Canada’s stifling foreign ownership policy. They paid big money for network gear from Huawei and Alcatel Lucent — unfortunately nothing from Canadian vendors. Boo.
NOT just offering regional, urban coverage. When Fido originally launched as Microcell in 1997, they only had coverage in urban areas. Well, 2010 is very different. Consumers expect coverage everywhere: talk, text, data.
IS full coverage across Canada, however you’re going to pay an additional cost outside of the (current) five zones. They’ll be adding more zones in the coming months/years, and have plans including this “roaming” — you just wouldn’t be advised to get WIND yet if you live outside of those five current zones.
And it was no small feat to get coverage across Canada. Rogers, Telus, and Bell were evidently extremely uncooperative allowing WIND Mobile to share their cell towers (common practice across the industry). In fact, appealing The Big Three on this is a one-by-one incident affair. What a waste of resources. Outside of WIND Mobile zones, customers will roam on Rogers. I believe this is only talk and text, unless your phone supports both WIND’s 3G frequency (1700MHz) and Rogers’ 850MHz.
International roaming is looking good. In the US it’s currently just 25 cents a minute — what a bargain versus Rogers’ robbery of $1.50/minute! Around the globe, it looks pretty similar to anyone else.
NOT an iPhone carrier. Currently the iPhone 3G doesn’t work on WIND’s 3G frequency. You can still use your iPhone on WIND if you’re willing to unlock the phone AND accept EDGE data speeds. iPhone is just not available in 1700MHz (a bane for US’s T-Mobile as well), and don’t hold your breath for that to change.
Will your phone work with WIND? Most phones support multiple bands. For one, it has to be a GSM phone (has a SIM card in it). If it supports 1700 (check the specs), you’ll have 3G (fast data) access, otherwise just talk and text. Get in touch with customer support to find out. They want to hear what phones you want to use.
Android devices will be coming to WIND soon, likely the first from Huawei. Maybe even the HTC EVO? There are two Blackberries in the current lineup.
NOT just another Canadian mobile carrier, we hope. WIND is trying to promote value and transparency. That is their shtick. It’s no gimmick, but is certainly missing in Canada.
IS going to fight hard to make inroads into the market. Some might say they’re even desperate. They’re offering a $150 porting bonus (check for details, this deal is on the down-low), 6 month half price on your plan, no contracts yet discounted phones, and plan prices to compete. There are no contracts, so these are big gambles. The cost per new subscriber is quite high in the wireless business. WIND’s could be even higher.
Is it sustainable? For one, today they were offering $1 hot dogs on the street. Did you get one or ten?
IS… Even if WIND fails, it will have a significant effect on the current Canadian market. Rogers copied them with their Redboard — an online forum for Rogers customers to communicate with the marketing folks and vice versa (well, they listen and reply, but don’t really do anything).
Canada needs this. Canadian mobile consumers desperately need something fresh. Rogers, Bell, and Telus have dragged their asses for too long. I want to support WIND (and Moblicity and Videotron and any other upstart) for that simple reason. And it’s going to cost WIND a whole lotta dough to get mindshare and understanding in Canada. Bring on the marketing team!
Are you out of a contract? Consider joining them. I would, but alas I’m one of the suckers who signed with Fido for 3 years just to get the iPhone, that being my first mobile phone contract ever. I’m certain I will never do that again. Bring on open Android devices and upstart carriers like WIND.
Here are some other things I really like about WIND and you should like too:
- Simple plan choice. Have you ever tried to wade through the Rogers website to figure out your plan?
- Fair usage: “If you exceed 5GB of data usage within any given month, we won’t cap your usage but we may slow your speed so that all customers can better share the network.” That’s on the $35/month Infinite data add-on.
- Treating pre-paid customers the same as post-paid. Both have access to the same plans. Pre-paid customers are no longer second class citizens.
Update: WIND Mobile has tweeted a correction to our published promotion. Don’t quote us on the deal above, but keep in mind that they are offering some great promotions this early:
We drank Hoppelganger earlier this week, from the bottle, then got to enjoy a tour of the brewery as part of the Vancouver Craft Beer Week. And then, yes, we had more Hoppelganger.
Name: Hoppelganger IPA
Style: Northwest style India Pale Ale
Brewery: R & B Brewing Co
Brewery Location: Vancouver, BC
Color: Amber, slight red
Apparent Flavours (according to DW & NB): Slight hoppy, orange, floral, some bitterness (fits with the slight hoppy)
NB Summary: Formerly called Hop Goblin, the Hoppelganger is a very drinkable IPA. It’s a nice combination of five hop varieties and premium english malt. For someone new to bitter IPAs, this is a great start and easily likable, as it’s well balanced and not overly bitter or hoppy. The first impression is that it’s sweet and pleasantly malty and would easily accompany lots of meals. It’s not as distinct or strong willed as some other Northwest style IPAs, but I will definitely drink this one again, especially considering the brewery is just a hop from where I live (support local).
DW Summary: As a fan of true (American-style) IPAs, I was quite pleased with R&B’s Hoppelganger. It’s a really easy-drinking bitter beer – not overly bitter, and the hops are not overwhelming – just right, in my opinion. Very refreshing. After seeing the brewing process at the R&B brewery (great tour led by Rick – the “R” in R&B), my appreciation for this beer in particular is stronger than ever. Looking forward to opening up another jumbo bottle soon.
NB’s NorthGeek Beer Taster Ratings:
This beer is a: Casual drinking beer / Meal companion beer / Dessert beer
Goes down easy 8/10
Head consistency 8/10
I would recommend this beer 9/10
DW’s NorthGeek Beer Taster Ratings:
This beer is a: Casual drinking beer / Meal companion beer / Dessert beer
Goes down easy 8/10
Head consistency 6/10
I would recommend this beer 10/10
NORTHGEEK TOTAL: 65/80
What are your thoughts on this beer?