Monday, July 23, 2012

Video of the Moment: Walk the Walk

"The Substitutes" by DSquared. Fun video from the most famous Canadian twins. Get your man-heels ready!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lust of the Moment: BlackBerry PlayBook

In an attempt to stay relevant in the mobile computing industry, Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry, taps into the tablet competition. I absolutely love the PlayBook not only because it gives a more professional vibe but it also reminds me of my Palm Pre Plus (from the gestures right down to the multitasking capability--almost like webOS!).

I am rooting for RIM to make this work. You can do it!

P.S.: The ghostly and hip soundtrack is "Where I'm Going" by Cut Copy.

P.P.S.: The 16 GB version of the PlayBook retails for a very down-to-earth price of $199.99. Eyeing on the 32 GB version plus a leather envelope case. Totally reminded me of the jelly clutch from Christopher Kane--if it was more business and less party.

Review of the Moment: Palm Pre Plus, Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a lot of things to praise about the Palm Pre Plus, namely its superb multitasking ability. After using the phone for approximately six weeks, I think I am able to give a more complete recount of how the Pre Plus performs.

Unlike the original Pre Plus, the unit that I got was pre-loaded with webOS 2.1. HP, after acquiring Palm, initially promised that the Pre Plus and other "mature" products (i.e., the original Pre, the Pixi and Pixi Plus) would receive webOS 2.0, an OS update that features Flash (so websites with Flash content can run seamlessly, and not as crippled as mobile versions of websites) and other neat capabilities like "stacks." Sadly, HP didn't follow through with their plans and reserved webOS 2.1 to the Pre 2; so the latest OS version for the "mature" devices was webOS 1.4.5.

The first time I turned on my Pre Plus it prompted me create a Palm profile (currently called the HP webOS profile). The Palm profile allows Pre users the ability to back-up the data in the phone to a remote server. In case a Pre user loses the phone or it gets stolen, he or she can remotely erase the data in the phone, but still keep the data saved in the servers. Once the user gets a new Pre and inputs the Palm profile account, the phone will load the data from the old phone onto the new phone. Pretty much Palm asserts that with a Palm profile, nothing is lost.

I actually had the chance to test the usability of the Palm profile, but that's for another post.

Setting up the Palm profile is very easy--if you have a data plan. I didn't have a data plan so I had to do a quick workaround, which eventually resulted in reflashing the phone's OS, reverting it back to webOS 1.4.5. Rats! It was only after the fact that I discovered a tutorial on how to activate a Pre without using a data plan (for webOS 1.x and webOS 2.x). Coolio!

Regarding the reflashing-the-OS part, Palm made it very flexible for users to experiment on the Pre. If you installed something that caused your Pre to act funky (especially if the funk is severe) and you have no idea what to do, you can simply "doctor" the OS. The doctoring process will erase every data you have in the phone, so be sure to back-up some files (check out the guide here), and it will restore your Pre to the factory setting, which means you have to enter your Palm profile info afterwards. Since the Pre automatically backs up your apps via the Palm profile, there is no need to re-install apps.

Anyway, I had to doctor and re-doctor my Pre several times because I wanted (so badly!) to bring back webOS 2.1 (for a how-to guide, check out this wiki). I was successful with my attempts but it seems that the back-up feature always failed while my phone was in webOS 2.1. Oh well; I'll just go back to 1.4.5!

Clearly, this phone was open to be hacked and improved on by dedicated webOS developers. Which is a wonderful thing if you're so inclined to take control of your device.

Moving on....

Once the Palm profile is made, I was ready to go! First task is to transfer my contacts from my old phone to my new Pre. GSM makes it easy to transfer contacts because I can simply save them to my SIM card. Now, the hard part is saving my contacts from the SIM card onto the phone's memory. The Pre doesn't make it an easy process (or at least an obvious process). Since I wanted to take advantage of the phone's back-up feature, I wanted to save my contacts to my Palm profile (this is highly recommended since I don't wanna enter my contacts again if my phone needed to be doctored). According to the manual, I could do this by adding a new number to my contacts--this will automatically save a contact from the SIM to the Palm profile.

Another special feature of the Pre Plus (and remember that the phone was introduced in 2010, so it's relatively old) is Synergy. Once you open the Contacts, Calendar and Messaging apps, you are prompted to enter your Facebook account, email account (whether it be Gmail, Yahoo or Exchange or something proprietary), and instant messaging account (only for the Messaging app). The cool thing is that the Pre will aggregate all these contacts (and events from Facebook and Google Calendar) in the phone so it would be easy for you to sync with the cloud. Now that's innovative!

Some people may complain that webOS doesn't have a lot of apps in its App Catalog (the webOS version of the App Store). In my experience, I thought there were more than enough apps than I could find any use for them--webOS Nation's latest report says it's over 4,000 apps. In fact, if you install Preware (a repository for homebrew/indie/beta apps) in the Pre, the amount of apps and patches and other add-ons available exponentially increases. Preware is highly recommended especially if you want to customize your Pre. Scroll bars for the web browser? No problem! A fresh new theme? Why not! Don't like the phone's default screen sensitivity? There's a patch to fix that! Well, you get the point.

The Pre Plus is equipped with a 16 GB flash memory (approximately 15 GB is user accessible). I thought this wouldn't be sufficient for my media (from my desktop, laptop, MP3 player, as well as the apps and patches that I will install, etc.) but it's surprisingly roomy. I uploaded my photos and music onto the phone using drag-and-drop (no software necessary to access the phone!). In addition, I installed a number of apps and patches. It didn't really affect the memory that much; at the moment, I'm at 12 GB of free memory.

Oh and before I forget! This is actually the meat of why Palm Pre as well as webOS are so differentiated from the rest of the competition: the Palm Pre Plus doesn't feature any buttons on its front. Besides using the capacitive touch screen, how do you navigate? It's actually simple and I can't believe nobody thought of this before: gestures! The video below will give you a preview of how gestures work; it's so intuitive and very functional, it makes operation of the phone way ahead of its time--so much so that my siblings couldn't figure out how to go back to the previous screen or how to exit applications.

To me, the Pre Plus has a lot of positive attributes going for it. The problem is that some people are not adventurous enough to take advantage of the possibilities that the Pre can offer. It's a real shame. Anyway, the more people use the newest Android phones or the iPhone, I feel more of an iconoclast just by using a phone that is arguably a bang for my buck.

For more videos on how the device works, check out HP Palm's YouTube site.