Friday, May 31, 2013

So... is the HTC One the best smartphone?

After dropping the S4 and starting to use the One, this is what happened in short, twitter style:

Colleague been excusing S4 short comings, ill functioning gimmicks, lag and 2 master-resets in a week.
I and the HTC One stay silently cool.
This is the Samsung S4 vs HTC One essential difference.

The Samsung has become the fanboy device. "The S4 has this, is better in this way, is brighter, it's shinny, sensor this, feature that, Sense sucks etc." 

The ONE just lays there being cool. Simple. Discrete. Effective. "quietly brilliant".

Not being a fan of Android (too many inexcusable or unbearable faults for me, personally), the best compliment I can make the HTC One is that I don't even feel like I'm using Android. Except for the keyboard. But that's the BB Z10 fault. I find any other keyboard lacking in precision and intelligence now.

The HTC still has some new marketing names like "Ultra Pixel" and "Blink feed". But that is basically it. And you use them. And know what they are. The Samsung has S Beam, Air View, Air Gesture, Smart Stay, Smart Scroll etc, etc, etc... which you end up turning off (mostly) and never quite know what is or where to disable a specific feature. Which leads me to one of the biggest pet hates on Android. Menus, under menus, sub-menus and side menus, extra menus, tab menus etc. The Samsung is a master of making a mess of the Settings menu (<- singular). After configuring all your accounts, try deactivating SMS sync. I'll wait...

Even the display is set up brighter, with stronger colors like a LED Tv on a showroom display. At first glance looks better. But is it? Do videos and photos look accurate? I think not.

The jury is still out on the camera. Since I have to use it for quite a while to compare with the iPhone 5. But that's a good sign. I discarded the S4 gazillion pixel as fast as the rest of the device.

Finally: build, touch, feel and perceived quality. 

No crappy tear off back cover (the Z10 has one, but a proper one) or "iPhone4 like" hard edges, no slippery plastic and/or glass, no home button, no chrome. Just silver/black in general and a bit of white plastic (yes, I got a white one*, again). Looks, feels and is solid.

Only real fault so far? It's rounded back. Makes one hand typing with the phone lying on a desk, wobbling, very hard. That kinda says a lot when you have to nit-pick to point out a fault.

But in a world where white cars, phones and tablets are trending, where "look at me" is the way of life, the S4 blends in perfectly and is selling very well with the white, flashy, colorful, spec-y "look at me I just spent €600 on that better than the iPhone thing" look. It does however look just like any other Samsung, like the Galaxy Express for instance.

It's a personal choice. You pick. But me, like I said before I prefer "Solidity from first contact. Usability in the long rung."

Pretty sure I'm gonna stick with the ONE for a while.

Check out these photos from cnet. These do it justice, it's how it looks IRL:

PS (update):

One more thing. Sound. Beware of the headphones you use. It'll destroy them and your ears in the process as well. If you really appreciate music, use (or buy) proper headphones capable of playing the quality this device puts out, and also take the power it dishes as well. And turn off "beats". It acts like "loudness". 

Stereo speakers sound good too. Not that you should go around with music/video playing.

Oh and since there's no need for iTunes, this has taken the iPhone spot as the best music phone ever. Easy.

Can't believe I forgot to mention it... #facepalm

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Real Racing rant - Part IV

Status update:

75% completion
39/49 cars owned (going on 40 as soon as I get enough for this week's bargain)
740 Gold / 800 Needed (for Agera R, remaining already bought)

Money spent: €0

Granted, I've been playing less. But if I had it all to start with I'd be too after a few months.

Needs more and better refreshes. Not saying the one we got wasn't good, but...

We already know a new track is coming and I could swear the car on the photo below is an LFA.

Can't wait to... hear it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4. Best mobile in the world?

Last time I just came here just to make fun of it, not having experienced it yet...

Now I did.

In short, the S4 is just another Android, but with more (quite useless, or ill functioning) gimmicky sensors. And low storage.

Only new feature I found useful was the swipe over to answer. Still, I usually find a clean finger (or a couple knuckles) to deal with any situation...

And just like its predecessor, it's easy to slip from your hands, camera may be just "good enough" but the software sucks, buttons are easy to press by accident (side and touch - option and back - ones) and the tear-off back cover is still a terrible idea. Oh and the low storage... on a device that wants to "sell" specs and hardware?

I guess reviews like this are spot-on:

The "old" HTC One X is still a better handheld (literally) and UI experience than the new Samsung. Sense is not clutter (for quite some time now) and the device feels more solid and safe in you hands. Not to mention how simpler it is, since the already confusing "Settings" are now flooded in the S4 with new stupid names "features" to access and configure (or simply just deactivate) all those rather useless and battery hogging sensors.

Just look at the quick settings switches!

Considering how I love the BB Z10 grip (and UI, but that's not the point here) and how the new HTC ONE looks very much like it, I'm pretty sure that specs and hardware and gimmicks aside, the ONE is my next "best Andoird Phone in the woooorllld...."

Solidity from first contact. Usability in the long rung.

Guess that sales will tell us if people are thinking the same or not.

So far the ONE seems to be on high demand, short on stock and holding it well despite being extremely under-advertised by comparison.

Can't wait to try ONE!
(see what I did there?)

Friday, May 10, 2013

The electric car...

The serious electric car is good.

I'm not gonna go about dissing on "hybrids" and petrol locomotives*. I'm writing this to say electric, done properly, is good.

No mater how much hate, roadblocks and lobbies they have to fight. Sooner or later, all cars will be fully electric.

The sooner manufacturers evolve and adapt, the sooner they can make proper electric cars. And by proper I mean this:

That's 99/100 from consumer reports.

And it actually scored above the charts (110) but got points deducted for being released in a world that lacks general electricness to support it properly (via Jalopnik).

And... it drifts too!

So, forget the green/blue colors, the eco lights and modes, and all the marketing crap you're making up, and just make a proper car, that happens to be an electric one. That's what Fiat kind of accidentally did (as stated before).

Of course my "family man" status would mean more in the lines of this instead:

But first prices need to come way down. And accessible cars need to be made, well, accessible. By means of mass production (reducing costs) and creating competition (usually = lowering prices). It will take a few years to happen. Too many obstacles from the established "system". Too much petrol to sell yet, fat companies to leach on it from extraction to distribution, and jobs to save/convert.

Anyway I do not see myself buying another petrol/diesel ICE (internal combustion engine) car. Ever. Unless it's for collection purposes, and/or I suddenly turn rich and can buy a GT-R.

Meanwhile, guess I could always turn my Datsun into a zombie while I wait...

Hey, it even kicked a GT-R in a drag race...

* the Ampera works like a diesel train locomotive. When there is no power in the batteries, it's petrol engine produces electricity that then drives the car. That's kind of cheating.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Racing Weekend Highlights

"History has a way of repeating itself..."

WEC: Spa 6h

Pizzonia crash at Eau Rouge.

Carbon copy of 2012:
Hazebrouck crash at Eau Rouge.

and 2011:
Christophe Bouchut crash at Eau Rouge.

Anyway, the Audi Tv weekend highlights:

DTM: Hockenheim
(Filipe Albuquerque foi 16º)

MotoGP: Jerez

Marc doing a Rossi on Lorenzo, at "Lorenzo corner". 
This 2nd place lets him keep the lead in the championship.

Also... way back in time, Lorenzo:

IRL: São Paulo

NASCAR: Talladega

The Busch flip

The Big One

The awesome Finish

Friday, May 3, 2013

Google Now on iOS and Porsche 911 Turbo no-manual.

No, you are wrong. I'm not here to rant against both of them.

So what can the two possibly have in common?

First, I've never allowed an app to run with GPS on in the background. Why? No one/app needs to know where I am all the time and it "destroys" the battery. Fact.

Well, things change, or at least the way some do things can change. Sometimes for the better. And then I can change as well. And take advantage of the feature while having none or little of the downside. This is what happened to the usage of location services on Google Now for iOS. I've been using it and it barely does anything to the battery, while keeping itself updated all the time (*).

What does this have to do with cars? Well, as die hard fan of manual gearboxes and proper slouch box hater, I see no problem with recent 911 Porsches dropping the manual option.

Why? Because (apparently) it's properly done. It is not a slouch box, a "hunting" semi-auto, an undecided shifter, or a piece of outdated and poorly put together excuse for a gearbox. Done properly it will allow you to use the full advantages of paddles (speed, precision, balance and ability to focus 100% on trajectory) while having none of the down sides. You can even press both paddles and "de-clutch" to rev it up. Wish I could afford one...

Reports that Google Now on iOS drains battery life are incorrect. We understand people’s concern about seeing the Location Services icon stay on when they use Google Now. Many apps that keep the icon on actually do drain the phone’s battery because they require very accurate location. (For example, some apps have to run your GPS all the time during navigation to keep you from missing your turn.) This update to the Google Search app is built very differently: it uses cell towers and wifi hot spots for much lower battery impact.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4. Best mobile in the world...

Responds to gestures and has accurate weather info. Samsung just invented the best mobile in the world.

Maybe? No? Well, surely yes, if you're a "Weather Mime":


And yes, there are many out there... well, at least two.

Ok... just one more:

Done mocking. For now... :-)

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