Tuesday, 12 July 2011

HP touchpad pt2 (after the reboot).

I really want this device to win, so after the reboot, I try again. I click on photos again, and we appear to have loads more thumbnails. The whole thing now looks much nicer. But there are still loads missing.
I click email, it's sync'd with most of my webmail, which is a massive account. (perhaps that was causing the issues?). Either way, I read an important email and respond. It's becoming usable and it's correcting and highlighting my mistypes for me. I 'star/favourite inbox and sent items and they're the only mailboxes that appear. Neat touch. I go back to the apps and all of the yellow exclamation marks have gone. I click the HP app store and it loads. Categories. Featured. Bookmarks. Search. It looks gloriously like the Apple app store. I search for twitter again and am disappointed to find, no app. I install weTwit lite. It's another Palm pre app, only half the screen size of the touchpad. I delete. I return to just type and type "this isn't going as well as I'd hoped" now, Facebook has disappeared... and I'm signed in under accounts! I double check and then click settings - Just type. I uncheck twitter as a search and click, 'find more' from the web os store. Facebook for Touchpad... Bingo(?) 102 review 4.5 stars 96% positive. It loads, it knows my sign in details. It looks sweet! Pages within tend to swipe right to left (to move them out of the way). I return to just type and find it! UPDATE FACEBOOK STATUS. Result. Feel like I'm winning. Email alert. It's coming to life. Finally. Reply to email. Hunky dory. It's syncing with Exchange 2003 really well. Back to just type apps and I think I've found my twitter answer in a program called, er, Spaz HD. Uhm.
I install it and sure enough. It gets just type working the way I thought it ought to from 'out of the box'. Spaz HD requires me to log into twitter and paste a code. Copy and paste work excellently and I'm in. Three neat colums show me Home, Mentions and Messages. Ooh, I have a new one. I delete the messages column and add favourites. Neat program. Oddly though even after a google search, I can't get update using Spaz HD to appear in the just type menu. I close the program and re-open. I go back in and it appears in just type preferences. Although it's not as slick as I'd expected as it DOES open the program to post. Not that closing programs is difficult. swipe up, swipe up. done. Photo's still syncing. I try to display one as a background picture, but end up opening a new email. I can move it to another folder. Or print it. No I can't, because my networked printer is Canon, not an airprint compatible HP one! Doh. Screen and lock under settings allows me to choose another pic. Only..... er, not from my syncing facebook ones. No matter, I choose a stock photo and it transforms the device.... why isn't one on by default? :/ I click the messaging icon, And click find more, there is nothing more in the app store. AIM, google, Skype or Yahoo. That's yer lot. I get an email from a mail user at work. Mine was gobbledegook. I need the ability to send plain text. Email, preferences, nope. Oh dear.
Programs take too long to open, perhaps I should stop closing them down.
The front page of the app store has a magazine, which showcases several apps, some of which show NA at the mo. So many of these pre installed apps are set to work in a tiny screen, much like the iphone/ipad app problem and they're utter rubbish! The game we played at the training was far more impressive. Robotek HD... this looks promising. I let it install in the background and I throw a few apps into the favourites. It looks ace. This is much more impressive. I have no idea whats going on, but it looks great.
Some apps have links to videos in the app store, on you tube.. I look at the web browser again and restart top gear. This time.... it plays without a hitch. In fact.... it even remembers the place I left it! The sound really is excellent for a tablet. You can feel the back vibrate, which is supposed to make it sound better.

So.... now, it's working. I'm feeling involved with the content and it's all working well and good. I can open and close programs and group them together using 'cards'. After a truly terrible start. The little unit has redeemed itself. Flicking from program to program, issue to problem was swift and efficient. When you're more involved with the content, you can see it works well. The app store is still sadly lacking some basic apps, (like an official twitter app for starters) and I'm sure the OS will undergo some update to alleviate the initial problems. But. I like it and perhaps surprisingly. I really want one.

HP Touchpad

After an initially disappointing start to the day. I arrive in work to find the New HP Tablets have landed, or should I say; 'touched down'. Having been to the training for these several weeks back, it's great to see them finally land in store. Due for release to the general public on Friday the 15th, I think this could be the machine, to take the fight with Apple, one step further. The HP touchpa we tested was a prototype, with an OS that despite still in beta, was extremely slick with a number of neat touches, that make it stand out from the rest of the pack. The initial challenge comes in opening the box. The training materials etc all had magnetic flaps to secure them, this too appears to have a magnetic flap, but it's a decoy, it is in fact a slide out drawer. I succeed without causing the box any damage. On top of the box, the unit greets me. It's identical to the prototype and very iphone 3gs in appearance. Albeit far larger. But the back is sculpted in the same way. Without an accompanying palm pre, this will only be half a test, as there is interoperability across the two devices, that, (like the blackberry playbook) suggests it'd be best purchased as part of a bundle deal with the handset. For example Web URL's can be passed from the phone to the tablet, simply by touching the two devices together. For the time being, I'll have to see how it fares as a standalone product. To my delight, the unit has enough charge to power up. With just the small glowing HP logo in the centre, the initial impression (by comparison to a retina display) is that its pixelated. But this is an unfair assumption as the screen (eventually) lights up its WebOS welcome screen, it's clear to see it's excellent.  English>United Kingdom>tick>Select Wifi network>Accept terms and conditions and I have to create a HP account. But I can't, my email address is already associated with an account, so I ask it to resend me my password, but I can't, because it's not associated with an account. Doh.
I persevere and eventually. It's on. But it took far longer than I anticipated. Could be because it's a few days before it's official release? Regardless, it's restarting now it's finished it's lengthy setup process and........ wait......... wait..........HP logo is glowing (cue quick toilet break); we're in and it's on. The opening screen welcomes me with 6 icons and Just type at the top. Just type is HP's new way to do more stuff. Like spotlight on a Mac, or the start text entry on Windows. With just type, you can find programs, start a web search and link it with other apps, so you can send updates to facebook, or twitter, straight from the just type bar. I type "just testing the new HP touchpad" and I have the options to search maps/wikipedia/twitter/HP app catalogue. I press twitter and slide the screen up (during the detail entry screen) and like the palm products (and playbook) the window shrinks..... it's multitasking! Home settings>Wifi and I've switched wifi networks. It's highly intuitive. Swipe up, swipe up again and it disappears (with a satisfying woosh noise).  My twitter update, was in fact a search.... no one has updated twitter with this yet. I try and find a way to use just type to update twitter, (like we were advised would be do-able) but, I can't make it happen. I click on 'find more' to try and see if there is a twitter update app, but I get the error message 'unable to resolve host' (this isn't the wifi anymore, this is a problem).
There's no twitter app in the web Os App store.. I'm stumped. The only way to update twitter... Is by logging into the website? There are also other problems with some of the apps that came pre-installed, they have yellow exclamation marks next to them and clicking them enters https://index as a website url, which obviously, can't be found. This is looking sloppy! Downloads are failing and auto update isn't happening. Three days before launch, these sorts of problems shouldn't exist. The photos app isn't updating my facebook pics. Even when I log into a folder. Even though the internet signal is working fine. I boot up M racer and try and enter my usual screen name... it exists already. I get in making another one up, but the screen is tiny.... this is a Palm Pre game? In fact, it's not a racing game at all. Its a racing manager game... yawn! Delete.  I try to delete the errored apps, but they won't. Photo's have started syncing in the background, but it's very slow.
This is the biggest disappointment ever. This machine is looking more and more hopeless the more I use it.
I try something easier. I google iPlayer. I start iplayer.... it's struggling. Full screen won't happen. It catches up..... its running ok. I try another episode. Episode 2, where I missed the first 10 minutes. It works fine (with the exception of a lengthy buffer after 12 minutes). Success at last. The sound is excellent. Much better than any other tablets I've heard. It's a victory. 
Truth is... it was hopeless.
Perhaps.... system updates.... Nope. It's up to date. I can't get in the app store. I can't do anything. I can't even get the dam thing to turn off. I reset using both buttons.... like an iphone, it works.

Something has gone badly wrong. Perhaps it's just today?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The LG P920 Read on!

I'm excited. Excited like it's Christmas, or like its an Apple product launch. Neighbouring stores have had this handset in, but we haven't. I'm distraught. Even though I've seen one before and been initally unimpressed*, with a brief encounter, everyone is now raving about it, so I figure, perhaps I've been too hasty. So I plea with a neighbouring store to let me borrow one. He transfers it across and excitedly, I go and pick it up. I ask the team.
"What's it like?"
"Amazing, unbelievable, really has got the wow factor".
I rush back to my store and show the team..... I've got one! One of the team members follows me into the back and we open it up. Upon boot, it would appear to be yet another humdrum Android handset, albeit fast. We skip through the usual setup process and finally we're in. There it is, straight in front of us. The button that reads "3D Space", no glasses required, this part of the menu leaps out at you with the content on the handset that is fully rendered in 3D. Youtube clips (which don't appear to work on first inspection), Games, Camera, (it has a full stereoscopic camera) tips and Gallery. Now.... either you've eyes that can cope with this, or, you've eyes that can't, or eye's that may take a bit of time to adjust. Although it can be tweaked, like the Nintendo 3DS, You'll either see it and be comfortable with it. Or you'll be endlessly adjusting it and giving yourself a headache in the process. Having said that, some content is clear and amazing, whilst other stuff really just doesn't work. The racing game Asphalt didn't work for me, although the trailer did, the game Nova on the other hand was a fab FPS which I had to remind myself I was at work and drag myself away from! For the time being though, this is a world first and it's a highly encouraging start. LG really have produced a stunning handset. Team members said either "wow, thats incredible", "I don't see it" or (somewhat unimpressed) "it looks like cardboard cutouts". After a small amount of time with the handset, I really could see the 3D pictures and most of the video content too (as I mentioned though, some is just plain bad). The photo's from the camera were especially impressive and I saw the full depth of the surfaces, where others just saw flat. The video was also good, although perhaps less impressive. I have to confess though, I think you perhaps need to be determined. I'm convinced, given enough time, people could battle through their initial nausea, (vomiting and migraine) and find a tuning setting that works for them. For me, it seems to be just over 2D. Oddly, this is where I get the most depth and clarity. Under the surface, on a day to day basis, yes, it is just another Android handset, you can change the layout of the menu's, you can have them in grid, or list, or pages. Although it does have a dual core processor, so it's quicker than many rivals. The screen, when viewed in portrait mode is not 3D and will not work in 3D, however it is as clear as any of its competitors. This ladies and gentleman, is going to be a VERY popular handset regardless of what else it's like.
Android handset are good, good ones are even better, 3D ones are currently unique. Most people love unique. If you want 3D without glasses on your handset and you want a top of the range handset, so far you only have one choice. Although I doubt too many people will be disappointed. Very, very impressive.
*The first time I saw this product was immediately after a demo of a 3D lg HD passive Tv, which was mind blowingly good. I guess the comparison of that, vs this, marred my initial reaction. It's no 3D HD tv, but... for a phone, it too is exceptionally good.