Its once again been a while since my last blog post. Just a quick update on a few recent bits and bobs (in no particular order)
• Canon 450D sold – the whole lot went for £200. That’s a pretty great deal for the guy who bought it. As a result of that…
• Finally got the Sony 55-210mm telephoto lens that I wanted for my NEX-5R. Its a great bit of kit, I’ll get a few sample shots uploaded on Google+ and Flickr when I get the chance. For those interested there’s a nice Flickr group with loads of sample shots here.
• Haven’t been playing much tennis and there’s a bit going on behind the scenes at the club which I can’t be bothered with. Might be time to move on, we will see.
• Went to see Iron Man 3. Meh. It was alright, if loaded with too many over the top extended scenes. Funny in parts though so that was good.
• Gaming – I picked up ‘Dishonored’ for the PC and I’ve been playing through that. Linear but I’m quite enjoying it. Its also been a good month for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Much to my surprise I’ve been absolutely hooked on ‘Catherine’ – a story-based logic plat former type game that’s impossible to describe and explain in a sentence – check out IGN’s review here. Its unexpectedly fantastic. Aside from that I’ve not played the new Hitman game yet. I did try out ‘Sine Mora’ though which is a nice shooter for the Vita.
• Dropped the Nexus 4. It didn’t explode into a million shards of glass as I thought it might. In fact, there’s barely a scratch on it.
• (Re)discovered that the Nexus 7 is thin and light. Having taken it out of the faux-leather case that I’ve been using I had forgotten how small the profile is on this thing. I’m writing this blog entry from it right now and its not anywhere near as fatiguing as when I use it with the case.
• Been using ‘MightyText’ for Android. It syncs your SMS (and other bits and bobs if you want) between your phone, tablet and web browser for an iMessage-like service for Android that works pretty well. Its free, grab it here.
• Had a play with a Galaxy S4. Quick verdict: amazing screen, not as big as I expected, great camera, same touchwiz nonsense that bakes my noodle, still feels like a toy but will probably hold up to general wear and tear quite well. Enough to pull me away from the Nexus 4? No chance. Not unless someone sends me one for free.
• Paranoid Android have been making a lot of noise with their latest ‘Holo’ notifications feature. It takes Facebook’s new Chat Heads feature and builds on the concept for all notifications and allows for greater multitasking capabilities. Haven’t tried it yet but looks interesting.
• Google IO soon. Great time to own Nexus devices. Shall be watching the livestream as long as I have time.
• Google Music’s instant mixes feature is awesome. Start playing a track and it’ll make a playlist based on similar music. Simple and effective. Its what I’m listening to on the N7 while listening to this.
So that’s about it off the top of my head. Time for a breakfast at mother-dearest’s fine establishment.
I always used to think of Android’s face unlock as a bit of a gimmick – mainly because on the phones that I’d used it on previously it was a bit slow to respond and it was just quicker to use a lock screen pattern. Since moving to the Nexus 4 loaded with Android 4.2.2 it actually works rather well. Even in low light scenarios it seems to recognise my ugly mug without issue. Should there not be enough light available it reverts to the regular pattern lock screen. Nice. It’s not the most secure system in the world but for the occasions when I leave my phone on someone else’s desk at work then it should at least provide something of a challenge for the person who wants to write immature comments on my social networks
I’ve got my display set to sleep after 1 minute and my phone to lock another minute after that, this seems to be the most convenient configuration I’ve found so far. Give it a try.
I’ve never been a fan of Samsung’s touchwiz. I find it a bit fisherprice if I’m honest, clunky and a not particularly quick. The stock dialer, contacts and messaging apps on the Galaxy S3 are, if I’m completely honest, rubbish. They’re slow. I’m quite demanding when it comes to mobile phones, they need to be instant for near all actions. I had been running a custom touchwiz-based ROM on the S3 and replaced the dialer, contacts, messaging and keyboard apps with replacements. Thankfully now that the CyanogenMod nightly builds have become stable enough and pretty much feature-complete I’ve blown that away and I’m running with CM 10.1 as my daily driver. This means I have a stock Android 4.2.2 build running on the S3 and it simply blows Samsung’s own ROM out of the water. The only two replacements I’ve put in are the launcher (replaced with Nova Launcher Prime) and the camera (replaced with a port of the Huawei camera that works even with the flash enabled which stock camera does not). The CM team have worked hard to iron out as many bugs as possible and the ROM is really coming together nicely. There was a leak of the 4.2.1 Samsung ROM recently which allowed the latest drivers to be ripped and ported so that has helped with GPU performance.
If Samsung would just pull their socks up and sort out the shoddy performance of their customised apps then I might consider moving back at some point. Its nice to have the choice though.
So this afternoon we went out for a walk around Penyfan Pond. It was a decent opportunity to try out the new camera though the light wasn’t ideal with it being very overcast. I took a few nice shots but this one came out pretty nice after a bit of post-processing.
If I had been using my Canon 450D then I would have had to hook it up to the computer, copy the photos off and then edit and upload from there. The Sony NEX-5R has WiFi built in so I transferred the photos to my Nexus 7, uploaded those I wanted to share with the family to Google+ and edited this photo with Pixlr Express. It came out pretty nicely.
I love photography but have always struggled to get out there with the camera as often as I’d like. This year I’m changing that.
I picked up the Nexus 4 last Friday so I’ve had a week with the device to use as my ‘daily driver’. Here are my thoughts.
Things I like:
• Premium-feel device – with glass both sides and no front facing buttons, its a handsome phone and makes the Galaxy S3 look like a bit of a toy in comparison
• Vanilla Android OS – as you’d expect with it being a Nexus device, its loaded with Android 4.2.1 just as Google intended for it to be presented and used. Just the way I like it.
• Super quick – that Snapdragon Pro processor and 2gb ram make it a bit of a monster
• The screen – fantastic SLCD IPS display puts the quality of the screen above just about everything else out there
Things I don’t like:
• Fragile – I look after my phones but this really feels like it needs a bumper / case for it. I know my SGS3 will survive a few drops whereas this doesn’t stand a chance
• Non-expandable storage and no OTG support – you get 16gb and that’s all you’re having which ain’t much in a high-def, big game world
• Useless battery life – standby time is average but turn that screen on and you can literally watch the battery percentage plummet. Deal-breaker for me.
• Disappointing camera – with all the hoo-har about Photosphere I had big expectations. Bottom line is that it takes decent photos in good light but rubbish photos in lower light conditions. And the autofocus pisses its pants occasionally
• Bug-ridden – considering this is meant to be Google’s reference device its got too many bugs to make it a reliable phone. Wakelocks, camera problems, signal drop issues, Bluetooth problems – its a bit of a joke really. Will be fixed via software update but that’s besides the point
• Hotter than the sun – general use will make the phone hot to the touch, play a few 3D games and expect to have to put the phone down to let it cool off
I really wanted to love the Nexus 4 but couldn’t. Simply put, now that I’ve got my SGS3 set up the way I like it the Nexus 4 falls some way short of being a replacement candidate. With the software bugs fixed it would come closer but the poor battery and camera performance are deal breakers for me. As a result its going back to Google for a refund.