Friday, November 30, 2012

Samsung Transform Ultra Review

I've been wanting to upgrade to a smart phone.  My current phone, the Tracfone Samsung t404g , worked great and was good for texting, but I wanted to be able to have "emergency" internet access when I was out,  be able to move my calendar from the wall to google calendars, have GPS access, and be able to be a mobile hotspot for my tablet if needed.  I really liked having a keyboard, so I wanted one on my smart phone as well.  I didn't need a top of the line phone because I'd rather do most of my web browsing and email on my tablet.  I also wanted a phone that could fit in my pocket and had OK battery life.  I decided on the Samsung Transform Ultra with Ting as the provider.  I really like this phone.

  • fits in my pocket
  • battery life is acceptable (have to charge every other day with my light use)
  • keyboard comes in handy when my fingers refuse to type properly on the onscreen keyboard
  • alarms and calendar come in handy
  • camera does OK
  • works as a hot spot
  • netflix and angry birds run fine

  • original one I got had a broken settings button and was a little unstable, but the one I got as a replacement seems stable and works just fine (I got a refurb)
  • not the fastest processor in the world, but it gets the job done
  • screen is not high-def, I don't care, but others might
  • current version of Kindle app doesn't work well on it (hangs and hard-locks the phone), had to downgrade to an older version
  • When roaming the sms messages don't ring
Other thoughts:
  • not worth paying $200.  It's worth about $70 (the refurb price)

Don't let the long con's list give you the wrong impression.  This is a great phone for someone who doesn't need a top of the line phone. It does exactly what I need it to.

About Ting

Ting is cellular provider I'm using.  It runs on Sprint's network, but will roam for voice onto verizon.  I thought the rates were reasonable, especially since I won't use much data. I'll pay $25 a month for 500 minutes, 1000 texts, and 100mb of data.  An advantage is I can add another phone for $6 a month and it can share in the pool of minutes, texts, and data.  Because it is a pay-as-you-go plan, I had to buy my phone (Lucked out and got a refurb for $30).  If you like the idea of Ting, you can go here and get $25 off your phone.

update (1/16/2013):
I've had this phone about two months.  I still really like it for what it is: a quick way to check email, an ebook reader, a gps, and a phone.

Nexus 7 review

For my birthday, my husband surprised me with a Nexus 7.  I love this device.  I use it primarily for reading, web browsing, email, and Facebook.  I've owned an iPod touch 4th gen and the original Kindle Fire.

  •  smooth UI experience (especially with the Jelly Bean update)
  • very nice screen
  • access to the Google Play Store (the Amazon app store for kindle was smaller)
  • support for multiple users so my husband, I, and my kids can all have their own accounts
  • like the live wall papers.  I have these great tropical fish that swim around.
  • bluetooth works well and it can pair with the speaker I had laying around
  • Most websites work well, including the desktop version of (which is a site that most tablet browsers have problems with)
  • PBS streaming videos work well as does netflix
  • Stable, haven't had a hard lock yet (keeps fingers crossed, since I just called down the wrath of Murphy's law)
  • I can put app short cuts exactly where I want them.  
  • Calendar widget is very useful
  • Touch response is almost instant, I don't have to tap twice
  • Browser has this cool magnify feature that if it can't tell which link I clicked, it magnifies a little piece of the screen so I can choose, so no more wrongly clicked links.

  • don't really like the newest version of the kindle app, but that isn't the nexus's fault
  • multiple user support means you need to install apps multiple times, or rather, each account needs access to a Google play account that has a certain app purchased.  I created a new gmail account to just be for apps because I really don't want my kids having access to my mail.
  • I think there are still a few issues with multiple users, relating to memory usage, but a reboot fixes it and it doesn't happen very often
  • access to Amazon videos involves jumping through some hoops.  Installed Firefox Beta because it still supports flash (and the flash apk).  Amazon Prime videos work, but the video controls don't.
  • occasionally gets into a state where settings menus won't pop up for minutes.  Reboot fixes this. I'm not sure why it happens.  My current theory involves too many processes running.  I've installed an app killer.  Next time the problem happens, I'll be able to see if it is memory related.
Other thoughts:
  •  Battery will last all day, probably get a little over a day of web browsing, email, reading, and my kids playing games.  I charge it every night.
  • My husband likes this better than the Kindle Fire.  He didn't like the Fire's screen or laggy interface
So was the upgrade from Kindle Fire worth it?  I don't know.  It is a much nicer user experience over all.  The screen is great.  The faster processor means I'm not waiting around for anything.  My husband likes it a lot better. I'm glad I own it.  But the Kindle Fire did everything adequately.  The Nexus does everything well.

update 12-25-12:
So a few weeks ago my nexus started acting strangely. There was some kind of windowing problem where only the main window of an application would open. This affected facebook, kindle, the settings menus, and google play. I reset to factory defaults and the problem went away (although I also didn't have multiple accounts like I did before). Since the reset, it has been acting fine, so I'm not sure what the problem was.

I also got a bluetooth keyboard for Christmas. It makes typing text so much easier. My kids will be happy since I won't have to kick them off the computer every time I need to type something long.