Friday, 25 September 2009

New Phone

A day and a half ago a little present dropped in my lap, a HTC Hero phone. I've had a while to play with it now and thought I'd give my impressions.

Here is my phone, as you can see it's my sisters birthday today, so Happy Birthday Sis!

For starters, the HTC Hero runs on Android, what initially started out belonging to Google. It's been plunked in to the same boat as all the other Apple iphone killers. Unfortunately, for reasons that I dislike Apple and it's software, I've never owned or touched an iphone/itouch, so I cannot make comparisons myself.

The phone itself is decent sized (112 x 56.2 x 14.35 mm). A lot smaller then I had originally thought it was going to be. When I unpacked it I was surprised at just how small it was. It is a bit on the heavy side and the casing is made with some kind of metal but overall it makes the phone feel very sold and sturdy rather then a weak plastic phone.

The phone runs on an Android/HTC Sense UI hybrid software. Although I read on some forums that the phone suffered from some lag when changing screens/opening applications I've never encountered any of these problems. Also I was a bit lucky that when my phone did arrive there was a new update to upgrade the firmware on the phone which I think resolved some of these issues.

The phone can connect with your Google/Facebook contacts. Using your Gmail contact list your phone book will be updated, then using the built in Facebook app you can link a contact to their Facebook profile. You can then use their info, birthday/profile picture on your phone. It will also keep you updated with events and notifications on that person when you go in to their contact information.

The main focus of the Hero and Android is that you can download apps from the Android Market (similar to that of Apples iphone apps). Most of the apps are free. A lot are pointless (apps that give you a switch to turn on/off bluetooth/wifi/GPS, I don't understand when the phone already has them???) Downloading apps is straight forward. You go to the Market application on your phone either search or browse for the app you want and click install. A few minutes later you will be told that the app has installed.

The main feature with HTC Hero's Sense is that you can have 8 scenes or home screens. To switch between scenes you swipe your finger. Each scene can have any app or widget running on them. You can have one scene for media, another for settings, on for texts and emails and another for your address book. It's all very customizable. And the widgets are very cool. Rather then just being a button you click to get access to a certain app, some apps, like the built in Twitter app Peep, can take up a whole screen and will constantly run in the background getting your friends feeds, working in the same manner as a desktop top Twitter app.

Here are a few of my favourite apps that I've currently got installed.

Taskiller One of the few problems that I do have with the phone is there is no built in application manager. If you open a browser (for an example but this issue is with ALL apps) and exit it it will still run in the background. This eats up memory, battery life and in some cases if you're not careful you will get charged for data roaming fees. Android doesn't have a way of exiting or stopping these processes. That's where Market comes in and more specifically Taskiller. I found this to be one of the best ways of killing all running apps. If you go for the paid version you can have a little widget on your phone that shows all running apps and with one single click you can stop everything. Sweet. Another good thing about this is you can create an "Ignore" list. So if you want to always have Twitter or something running, add it to the Ignore list and it will never get closed with the one hit kill.

Gmote This app turns your phone in to a media controller for your PC. Connecting over wifi at any range (within that wifi) you can control your computers mouse using the touch screen and control media on your computer. Browse files on your PC, via your phones screen, select the movie or track you want to play and hit start. You can then pause, skip, play and control the volume from your phone no matter where you are in the house. Another feature of this app is what is being tested out in Beta. You can play songs/videos that are on your PC from your phone. So if you wanted to watch a movie while in bed but didn't want to take the laptop in, you can watch the movie straight from your phone instead.

Google Sky Map Using your phones built GPS and compass you can point your phone at the stars and then find out via the screen the name of that star. You can also search for planets and your screen will display an arrow showing which direction you have to face to see that planet.

Google Maps. It's Google Maps. On your phone. With one great feature which could possibly stop me from holidaying anywhere else. Here is a little video.
So using this I can stick myself in any city and go sightseeing from the warmth of my living room.

My Tracks For anyone who likes to exercise. Switch this app on and using the built in GPS and accelerometer this app will track your movements and measure how far you have travelled. It can then display this information to you in many ways including a file to add to Google Maps/Earth showing where you travelled.

PicSay Pro This comes in Lite or paid for variety. I got the paid one at around £2 (€2.37). With this you can add speech bubbles, effects (like black and white, blur, morph) paint and place amusing stickers on any photo on your phone. Then quickly and effortless upload those photos to your Facebook/flickr/Twitter/Gmail account. Highly amusing for getting new Facebook profile pics.

Netcounter With so much of this phone connected to the internet it's always a good idea to see how much date you are using. This is one way how.
(Luckily the phone has a big tick option in it's wireless menus to switch off all data roaming so you will only use wifi.)

ChompSMS A different way to view text's. Customize the colours of your inbox but the main point to this is you can view your texts in an iphone style speech bubble conversation way. And even all that is customisable. Listen to radio or simple just scrobble what your playing and send to your account. 

Metal Detector I have no idea why I would ever need to use this. Or when. What I know is that some how, maybe magic, this app actually works. Switch this on, hold your phone next to something not metal, nothing. Hold it near something metal and the phone starts vibrating. Some Android based phones are shipped with metal detecting sensors.....WTF!!!

I can't think of many things I don't like about this phone. The battery life up to now isn't very good but saying that I've had wifi and GPS switched on since I got it and been installing/playing around a lot. The one big problem I do have though is getting the back cover off. Rather then having a little button to push to pop the back off the phone this one has a thin hole that you have to stick your thumb/nail in to just pull the back off. And with the SD card slot being inside the back cover I have a horrible feeling I might break off a little important hook-y thing one day taking the back off.

Posted via email from itsmoirob's posterous

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