Welcome to Broke Man's Tech. On this blog I will discuss technology companies, product reviews, and current trends. I will do all this will keeping budget in mind in an attempt to give you the best bang for your buck. Please never hesitate to comment and if you like me enough, please follow. Once again, welcome!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Correction, The AT&T QWERTY Slider is Not Actually the Galaxy S II

It seems BGR's original story on the Samsung QWERTY slider coming to AT&T was actually correct.  While the phone is still headed to Big Blue, it is not actually a Galaxy S II.  It seems it is just another device from Samsung heading to AT&T.  So at this point it is more likely that two major Samsung devices are on their way to AT&T sometime in the near future.

To add mystery to this device though, it is running firmware which is actually a Honeycomb build.  There is no information as to what Samsung is doing behind the scenes but it is an interesting tidbit nonetheless.  

Source:  BGR

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Samsung Galaxy S II is Coming Soon to the States

Samsung just opened up a site to get more information on the Galaxy S II.  You entire your information and they will notify you whenever there is new information available.  Samsung has already gone on record saying that the Galaxy S II would launch in the states in August so this should come as no surprise, it is still nice that this is being put out there just to put minds at ease.  The international Galaxy S II has received nothing but high remarks so I personally can not wait until they finally get here.

If this page weren't enough, some bloggers have been getting these packages in the mail from Samsung with a piece saying "Keep watch for the next generation Galaxy S."  The package came with a telescope as well which is pretty nifty.

Sources:  Samsung, Phandroid

Gmail Gets Updated!

Today Google updated the Gmail app for android bringing it to version 2.3.5.   The already amazing app now allows you to only priority messages as well as allows you to set specific ringtones to specific labels.  While the casual user will probably never use these features, they are a great addition to people keeping an eye out on certain incoming mail.

For example, I got a lot of work related emails that need to be responded to quickly.  With priority, I will know which ones are time sensitive and they will come through without the clutter of my subscriber emails and updates.  As to the ringtones they are also great because instead of immediately answering my phone because Amazon has a deal on something, I know right off the bat if it is something pertaining to work.

As with any other Google application, Gmail continues to expand into robust application that continues to bring new and useful things to the table.

Source:  Android Market

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

AT&T Galaxy S II Leaked and Afterthoughts

The guys  at BGR have done it again.  They originally were able to get shots of the Sprint Galaxy S II variant, the Within.  Now they are back with exclusive shots of the AT&T variant.  Like the first time around with the original Galaxy S, it seems each carrier will be receiving its own "unique" build.  The first time, it was Sprint with the Epic 4G that received a full QWERTY keyboard with their device.  This time it seems AT&T gets the honor of adding a keyboard on and will probably be the only device that does.  A few months back an accessory case was released saying it would fit for three out of the 4 variants of the US Galaxy S II phones.  It is almost certain now that this AT&T model will be the 1 of the 4 that will not fit in the case because of the QWERTY keyboard.

Though I love the keyboard on my Epic, I usually stop and ask myself I I actually like that US carriers are modifying the original Galaxy S II.  The US variants are usually the last to launch and the last to receive updates and I feel the carrier modifications are the main if not sole culprits.  Part of me wishes that the carries would each just pick up the international version with the only modifications being changing the radios to suit the network, whether it be GSM or CDMA.  If this were done, launches would be more in line with international releases and we wouldn't have to wait months after the international version got an update in order to finally get it ourselves.  This whole modification business is the main reason that I am tempted to simply wait for the next Google flagship phone and always get updates right when they come out.

Source:  BGR

Monday, July 25, 2011

$100 off coupon for tablets Staples

I first saw this on Android Police but thought I would re-share it here just in case some people have not seen it.   Staples is currently offering a $100 off coupon on any in-store tablet purchase.  I would love to take advantage of this and snag a Galaxy Tab 10.1 up for only $400 but sadly that price is still too high for me when I have bills to worry about.  Still if you've got the money to blow, take advantage of this wonderful deal.  It is valid through the 30th of this month.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Multiple APK Support comes to Android: A godsend or a menace, or possibly nothing

Yesterday Google introduced multiple APK support for apps on the Android Marketplace.  This means that developers can place multiple APKs on the market, each tailored to specific devices.  For example, if a developer wanted to make something specific to tablets with higher resolutions, it would make a specific APK for those devices.  Specific APKs can also be made for devices running different versions of Android.  If the developer chose to, they could make an APK for 2.3 and one for 2.1 to make sure that the prodcut can reach more devices overall.

This is a system may already be familiar to people on their personal computers.  When I go to download a program on my computer, I am usually given a list of different exe files and I simply choose the one formatted to the system I am running, usually just one tailored to 32-bit windows 7.  

Many people are already discussing the system wondering how it will actually be used.  Will developers actually use it the way its meant to be used.  Even if they do, will it just create more hassle for them being unable to maintain various different APKs?  Will developers simply ignore this new feature and continue simply using one APK that targets as many devices as possible but still leaves other devices completely in the dark?

Only time will tell how this new feature effects the market and if Google might finally have answered the issue of fragmentation.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Netflix, It's About Damn Time....

Today Netflix updated their application on the Android marketplace to support more devices.   While they still have a long way to go to cover all the devices out there (At least the ones capable of running the app), it is a fantastic step in the right direction as a lot of popular devices made the cut.

The supported devices are now:

• Casio G'zOne Commando C771 with Android 2.2
• HTC Droid Incredible
• HTC Droid Incredible 2
• HTC G2
• HTC Thunderbolt
• Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet
• LG Revolution
• Motorola Atrix
• Motorola Droid
• Motorola Droid X
• Motorola Droid X2
• Motorola Droid 2
• Motorola Droid 3
• Samsung Droid Charge
• Samsung Epic 4G
• Samsung Galaxy S
• Samsung Galaxy S 4G
• Samsung Fascinate
• Samsung Nexus S
• Samsung Nexus S 4G

This leaves handsets, but more importantly tablets (though some are having luck with the apk) out in the cold but hopefully that will change in the future.  

As you may know from reading my previous entries, I currently use an Epic 4G as my day to day device.  The Epic, as well as the other Galaxy S variants, made the list.  I dove into the application to give it a shot and was very impressed.  It worked beautifully through wifi and 4G but stuttered a bit in 3G.  In 3G the quality noticeably dropped and buffering occurred.  However, even at the lower speeds, videos were good enough to enjoy.   At 3G speeds, videos were similar to that of watching a low quality video on Youtube.  Overall, I was very happy with the application, especially now that I can watch Pawn Stars on the go.  

Check out the code for the App if your device is supported or try your luck with the APK.

Check out the APK at xda-developers 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Galaxy S II and the Nexus Prime (Sprint Edition)

I currently own and use a Samsung Epic 4G for Sprint.  I've had it since last September and honestly love it.  Though it occasionally has its crazy moments, leaving me swearing up a storm, the majority of the time it just works.  When I say it works, I mean it works beautifully.  There is nothing better then plugging it into the car and listening to your tunes while the free Google Navigation directs you to your destination.  A call will come through and a seamless switch will be made to bluetooth or speaker (with a touch of the screen) and swap right back to the previous business once the call is over.  It works the way a smartphone of this time and day should work.

While a lot of credit needs to go to Android for the experience above, the Epic is definitely a factor behind it working so smoothly and efficiently.  Before the Epic, I had both an HTC Hero and HTC Evo 4G and while they were good phones, I always felt like they were missing something that truly made them great.

With the Hero, it was simply a device that had outdated components in almost every regard which should have been expected for both either an early Android device/ a mid-tier device all together.  The screen was too small, the camera was sub-par at best, and the processor couldn't handle too much.  The Evo improved upon all of these fields but still left me wanting more.  While the screen, camera, and processor were better, they were no where near the latest technology for that time.  To me, HTC skimped out and went the cheap route instead of building a device to the top standards.  AMOLED  screens were already starting to hit the market, as were OMAP processors as well as the next gen Snapdragon processors. The camera was okay but did not leave me comfortable leaving the point and shoot at home (Well the DSLR but still...).  To me the Evo was simply an update from the Hero but not a climb to the next level.  I, however, found that with the Epic.  It worked and worked damn well.  The screen was gorgeous, the camera took shots in conditions my DSLR struggled in (and captured some great videos), and the Hummingbird processor simply chewed through everything I put through it.  It is because of this fantastic experience (I will be writing an Epic 4G review soon) that when I move on to my next phone, I am eyeing what Samsung is putting out there, which currently leaves two options.

The Samsung Galaxy S II has been on the scene for a few months now but is still no where to be seen state side.  As usual, Americans have to wait in order to get their hands on the phone many are toting as possibly the best handset on the market.  Still, we know the GS2 is on the way to each of the carriers but the question of when is still unknown.  This is my next recently were sent pictures of the Sprint variant, the Galaxy Within.  Like the international GS2, it will carry the 8mp camera, dual core processor,  beautiful Super amoled plus screen, and a wide assortment of other features.  This is clear successor to and not simply an update (This is reserved for the Epic 4G currently also speculated for Sprint) to an already amazing phone.

While jumping on this phone when it first comes out seems to be an almost obvious choice, another factor introduced itself that messes everything up, the next Google flagship phone.  Boy Genius also recently put up tipster giving them information about Google's next flagship phone, the Nexus Prime.  The phone will be very similar to the GS2 while having its own advantages.  This comes to no surprise since Samsung is thought to be the manufacturer.  The article, however, also mentions that Google is working with various manufacturers to create multiple flagship phones, a unique one for each of the carriers.  This raises many questions as to who is being plugged in to make these phones and where their final destination will be.  A bigger question is when they will be released.  Boy Genius says that the phones will come this fall which falls hand in hand with the release of the GS2 phones.

If both the Within and the Prime (the Samsung variant) where to come to Sprint, I feel the Nexus Prime would be the clear winner.  It would be the first to receive firmware updates while still having amazing hardware.  This makes me think that both will not be released at the same time but that one will come out well ahead of the other or that Sprint, or any other carrier for that matter, would receive a Galaxy S II phone and a different Prime from another manufacturer.

Due to my love of the Epic, I really hope the Samsung Nexus Prime lands in the yellow carrier.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Making Android a Better Place

I recently read an article that discussed whether or not front facing cameras on phones are actually important. When I thought of the question at hand, I quickly found myself thinking of many other topics and more importantly things that I feel needed fixing in Android.  While I enjoy tinkering with my phone and customizing to exactly how I want it, there are things hat should be standard features.  In order to attract a wider audience Google needs to implement a similar experience like that of the iPhone where features "simply work," all while leaving the customization and "nerdy" factor intact.   Lets break it down to each specific area starting with the camera itself:

With front facing cameras coming with more phones, it wouldn't be wrong to think that it will most likely soon become a standard in the industry (in smartphones at least).  They are useful for the random very occasional self shot but the majority of the time will go unused.  This, in my opinion, can be blamed on the lack of and substance on the software side.  While users with 2.3.4 gingerbread can now use Google Talk in order to video chat, it requires that users go into the specific app and use it from there.  This is something that the average user will either not know about or will not go through the trouble of doing.  A simplified system is needed where google talk/video chat is integrated into the phone's contact list (A system similar to that of Apple's Facetime).  Restrictions like wifi only, however, should not be placed though because it ruins the experience. Yes wifi is available on the go but the majority of the time, one will be accessing it from home where I personally think it is idiotic to use a wifi only service on a phone when I could easily boot up my computer.  

Third Party Apps:
While the front facing camera issue should be fixed by standard Android software from Google, a more immediate solution would be a more known company supporting phones with front facing cameras across the platform *loud cough* SKYPE!  *loud cough* I don't understand why only specific devices are supported while the rest are left in the dark.  I personally own an Samsung Epic 4G which is technically a Galaxy S phone.  The Galaxy S is supported, my phone is not.  Why can't Skype do what not only Google but many other companies do and set a firmware requirement and support any phone at that firmware or higher.  I feel many companies, especially large, powerful companies do this a lot (I'm looking at you Netflix).  I don't get how if a smaller company or solo developers can get it right, why can't massive multi billion companies not do it.  

Many will think this is an issue of fragmentation on the Android platform and I don't think it is.  I personally love that Android is set up in the manner it is.  It allows companies to either create powerhouse phones or simple cheap phones for the masses who just want to check their emails and maybe see a YouTube video every now and then.  As mentioned before, many developers as well as Google follow the system of setting a firmware minimum on certain applications.  I like this system with the exception that is does cause a bit of discouragement to developers who want to reach every single phone. In my opinion, though I feel they should simply focus on what the vast majority have (I think 2.1 is a fair spot even though more and more devices are making the switch to 2.2 or 2.3).  

Android Overall:
It is not fair for me to sit here and basically demand that developers do certain things.  I have never developed software in my life.  I assume it is difficult and took a lot of time of practice for people to get where they are in that field.  For that reason, who am I to say anything.  I am more attempted to suggest that differences be made.  Overall I am happy with Android, but would love it to be changed for the better so that a better user experience would be created.  I know that ultimately, for all my concerns to actually be taken care of, something big will need to happen and that will come down to Google.  It will come down to Google to create a platform that simply works.  One that has a fantastic user experience that the masses will love will maintaining its current personality.  Hopefully one that will create a more unified system across devices that will hopefully let apps be easily created.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Facebook Will Launch In-Browser Video Chat Next Week In Partnership With Skype

Facebook Will Launch In-Browser Video Chat Next Week In Partnership With Skype

Techcrunch posted this article on details of the announcement that Facebook is making next week.  Facebook up until this point has never had a video chat system so this will be a welcome addition.  The article goes into detail about how Facebook is using its Microsoft connection which is using its Skype connection (*deep breath*) in order to provide this service.  This is all well and dandy but the article completely does not mention Google + or its hangout function.  It might be simply a coincidence that Facebook announced this feature right as Google + came into being showing off its video chat.  While this is probably for the best since it would only create a needless argument, but I feel there is something here. 

A few days ago I blogged about the major tech companies in the industry and how they are shaping the future of consumer electronics.  In that post I discussed how the joined efforts of Microsoft and Facebook could one day do harm to Google’s way of life.  The idea put forth was that Microsoft would use its Bing service and integrate that with Facebook exposing the social network’s 750 million users to the search engine.  People would not need to open a tab outside of their favorite website (Facebook) to open up Google when they could simply do a Bing search. 

For this reason I felt it was necessary for Google + to come out when it did to at least attempt to make its move first before that of the competition.  With the Skype announcement it seems Facebook and Microsoft have already begun their move forward with the integration of their services.  The Techcrunch article mentions that the video chat is not the main task that the Facebook team behind it is working on.  Only time will tell what that feature is.  As always, leave your comments below.  

Source: Techcrunch