Archive | June, 2010

The real review: HTC Desire

15 Jun

This isn’t my last post on the phone but just the full-on ‘proper’ review.

Will have a retrospective Day with the Desire log up soon but here’s a post written for the people who want to know the answer to the burning question: Should I get the damn phone?

Because most tech reviews are, seriously, bloody boring, I will do this review in the style of…Team Fortress 2.

tf2guys

Bring it, bitches

If you haven’t heard of TF2, it’s only the most fun multiplayer shooter on the planet. I’ll do the review from the viewpoints of various classes in the game. So let’s bring it on!

icon_scout DESIGN: Surveying the territory

“Well, first impression of the phone: SWEET! OK, you have to admit it kinda looks like the Nexus One. The Nexus seemed lighter, though and the Desire has dedicated physical buttons as compared to the Nexus’ and swaps out the girly ‘nipple’ for an optical trackpad.

That suede back makes the phone easier to grip and the front portion show some great design of real estate – dedicating most of it to the SWEET AMOLED 3.7-inch screen. Good placement of ports – volume controls on the side, headphone jack on top neatly spaced from the power button. microUSB port on the bottom for quick connecting of charging cable.

But man, that back cover. Hell on the nails, know what I”m saying? And not making it easy to hotswap your microSD cards out by having a side port is insane. I have to take out my battery and the back cover just to switch microSD cards? Only good if you’re scared of losing your data.

UI-wise, if you love the HTC Sense UI, you’ll love how polished your Android experience is compared to Motorola’s kit. The purists who want to run Froyo, well stick to the Nexus One. For those who would great eyecandy and super usability, the HTC UI makes sense even if it means getting the latest Android updates a bit later.

So after surveying the terrain, the HTC Desire ain’t sexy (though the screen is, hell yeah), it is a nicely made piece of kit. Slim, easy to carry but make sure you get a nice big microSD for the phone as replacing it is a fiddly, annoying endeavour.”

icon_heavy SPECS: Is the Desire packing enough ammo?

“Ain’t easy playing tank so I need all the firepower I can get and it had better be enough to kick the other team in the teeth. So does the Desire deliver? Well, the innards speak for themselves: 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of memory, 512MB internal storage, 5 MP camera, 1400mAh battery (up to 340 hours of standby time) and support for up to 32GB of microSD storage. That’s quite the arsenal if you ask me.

The bad: 512MB is hardly enough if you want to get your fill of apps. If the internal storage isn’t going to be much, then make it easy to upgrade your microSD card for chrissakes.

480 x 800 WVGA is pretty decent resolution for the screen but AMOLED makes it unusable outside in harsh sunlight. You’ll just be looking at your face reflected right back atcha.

But it’s a great multitasking taskhorse. Screens are zippy, loads fine, OS very much stable. With minimal usage (read: no surfing/gaming), it can go over 2-3 days without charging. But with heavy YouTube usage, Tweeting, surfing or IM, battery can go down to 6-7 hours. Hope HTC’s planning optional higher capacity batteries.

I say the Desire’s got the goods under the hood all right.”

icon_engineer FEATURES: Can the Desire prove a great workhorse?

“Well, the Heavy’s got a great summary of the power the HTC Desire packs. Like the Scout says, the Sense UI is pretty sweet. Customising screens is a dream compared to the iPhone’s fiddlyness. You can pick and choose as many icons as you want. There’s so much more flexibility at your fingertips.

The camera? Eh. It takes great pictures outside, but it’s not going to be the ideal replacement for your pocket camera. Video could be better – someone figure out how to hack the Desire to shoot HD too, please? They managed it on the Nexus One after all.

You have to say Google’s Market does the job where apps are concerned. Not as informative or as fun as Apple’s App Store but definitely pwns Nokia’s pathetic Ovi Store.

Music player is rather boring, iTunes does it better. The headset that comes with it isn’t particularly stellar and the speakers? They’re loud, I’ll give you that.

But as a multimedia machine, I have to say watching video on it is great, with a decent set of headphones, sound is decent and browsing on it? Sure beats Safari on the iPhone or any Nokia browser. Though I like the native YouTube app, the syncing is a little off. Hope they fix that in an update.

If you, like everyone else on the planet, have Google accounts, this syncs perfectly with your contacts and Gmail. The iPhone doesn’t come close to doing mail as well as HTC’s Android does – IMAP, POP, native Gmail accounts – this is top-notch stuff.

As a regular phone, reception’s all right and a tad better than the HTC Legend (what the heck persuaded them to put the antenna in the bottom rubber attachment? Morons). Call quality is clear and not as wonky as the Nexus and its dual mics.

I have to say the specs make the touchscreen probably one of the most responsive ones I’ve used. The touchscreen keypad is very usable though you’d probably want to turn the autocorrect feature off. Damnably annoying.  Texting and making calls with it has a slight learning curve but practise makes perfect. Give it half an hour or so.”

icon_demoman CONCLUSION: Is it worth it?

“You bet your pansy ass it is! If you gave up on Nokia, don’t want to be associated with the iPhone fanboys, find Sony Ericsson
etc etc boring and want a real Android phone…the HTC Desire is the IT-phone.

Sure, it could do better but the niggles are tiny. It’s very usable, has a hell of a great UI, can beat any phone to the multitask crown (I’m looking at you, N900) and you can’t call it mediocre in any aspect. This is probably the best Android phone on the market, period.

Granted, this isn’t for the pussies who can’t be bothered to learn how to stretch battery life or really master using this sweet piece of kit (sorry, Scout) (wait, I’m not sorry) then you don’t want an Android phone. But out of the box, it works great.

You want a good phone? YOU WANT A GOOD PHONE? This is a good phone. “

wallpaper_team_fortress_2 (Disclaimer: Team Fortress 2 is the property of Valve and is just being abused by me for the sake of not boring myself to death. KTHKSBAI)

 

 

Monday Music: 'Love the way you lie’ by Eminem (featuring Rihanna)

13 Jun

Eminem is back on form with his latest album, Recovery. Currently his song “Love the way you lie” featuring popular chanteuse Rihanna is getting lots of play on YouTube.

It would be easy to dismiss it as another of those paint-by-numbers hip hop faux duets. Remember those neverending songs featuring Ashanti? This isn’t one of them.

When it comes to rap, I’m a Bone, Thugs-n-Harmony kinda girl. It’s all about the flow which is why angry black man gangster rap from Tupac or Biggie never appealed.

But Eminem is to rap what a poet is to verse. There is a lot of anger and barely controlled madness in his lyric but there’s a polish and restraint and an understanding of the power of melody to complement good rhyming.

Rihanna’s laidback vocal is a good contrast to Eminem’s rapping. The song’s theme, about a volatile, tempestuous relationship, would probably grate on the overanalytical or rabid feminists.

“He’s being misogynistic! He’s being mean to women again!”

The song’s easy to misinterpet as being about a deadbeat who is justifying treating his woman badly. It’s more about the push-and-pull and conflict that can easily erupt in a relationship, methinks.

Anyone who’s been in that kind of situation knows that sometimes you end up falling in love with someone who pushes all the wrong and all the right buttons. Passion is a scary thing and people, like chemicals, don’t often react the same way to different people.

But you promised her
Next time you’ll show restraint
You don’t get another chance

Eminem is quite clear about the effect of violence in a relationship – you hit your woman, she has every reason to walk away.

I rate this an 8/10 and I’m betting it’ll be a hit on radio.

"Haven't we met?": HTC Desire first impressions

11 Jun

Hope you enjoyed my ‘unboxing’ video. As promised, a real writeup on the HTC Desire. This will be the first of a series but today it’s just about the initial experience.

I’ve been carrying it around for a couple of days already. Having reviewed the Nexus One and owning an HTC Legend, the Android OS and Sense UI were things I’m already used to.

The Desire is pretty much a slightly souped up Nexus One with some minor tweaks here and there. Nearly identical specs but the Desire has 64MB more RAM and a few design changes as I’ll explain later.


Yes, you might have met my twin the Nexus One

For a phone dubbed the ‘Desire’, it doesn’t bring much to the table in the sexy stakes. The design award would go to the stylish unibody Legend.


You want me, you know eet

Physically what the Desire does have going for it is its light 135g. Very light, surprisingly thin (11.9mm) and the build feels solid. I like the rubberised back and burnished metal sides.


So thin, I make the Legend look fat

Have to say I really like the the 3.7 inch AMOLED 480 x WVGA screen. Lovely – the Legend’s feels cramped in comparison. Both phones’ screens are rubbish in bright sunlight, just so you know.


No release catch to slide off the back cover = pain

Getting the phone back cover off was a bitch, though. Took quite a few tries to remove and it’s annoying that you have to remove the cover and battery to swap out the microSD card. The SIM I can understand but not the SD card.

.
Hello custom buttons

What primarily differentiates the Desire from the Nexus One is the absence of the latter’s trackball. Instead, it sports a similar optical joystick to the HTC Legend, as well as additional buttons at the bottom.

How has the first day of use been?

My notes:

1. The battery life on the HTC Desire is disappointing. It’s not so bad if, like me, you spend most of your time at the desk or in front of a PC so you can keep the phone charged via USB. But the battery lasts 6-7 hours if you’re a power user like me. I listen to music to it on the train, check email, Tweet, Foursquare, listen to Internet radio and the like.

EDIT: On normal usage, it can last about 16 hours before needing charging. You will still need to charge it everyday.

2. The 1 GHz Snapdragon processor makes a lot of difference. The screens are zippier on the Desire compared to the Legend. The latter tends to lag when taking photos or video but the Desire can handle my running 4-5 apps at a time without crashing.

3. The responsiveness of the touchscreen is great – I’d have to rate typing with Desire’s onscreen keyboard the best I’ve experienced, even next to the iPhone 3GS or third-gen iPod Touch.

Summary: So far I’m having fun with the phone. The fast processor and massive memory ensure the absence of lag and build quality is good but not as impressive as the Legend. What is annoying, though, is the battery which could have been better. Also questionable design choices where the back cover/microSD card slot is concerned.

Next up, how the HTC Desire takes being pushed to the limit of social media usage.

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The laziest unboxing video evah – HTC Desire

9 Jun

Somehow Maxis got suckered into letting me review the HTC Desire for 2 weeks.

It was hinted that an unboxing video would be nice, but there was one problem.

To be honest, I fall asleep through most unboxing videos.

It’s hardly exciting hearing a stranger randomly drone about something he or she just brought though Google’s Ninja unboxing video of the Nexus One was hilarious.

Also check out the iPad stop-motion self-unboxing video.

Being too busy/broke to do anything that fancy, I just took my HTC Legend and shot a few stills and video of the HTC Desire as I ‘unboxed’ it. Kept the video very short and concise so you get an idea what’s inside the box without going into a coma from my monotone voice.

For a full specs-list, go to HTC’s site.

More to come as I chronicle my experiences with what is supposed to be the best Android phone of 2010. In the UK, it’s selling out which shows the phone certainly is proving ‘desirable’.

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The laziest unboxing video evah – HTC Desire

9 Jun

Somehow Maxis got suckered into letting me review the HTC Desire for 2 weeks.

It was hinted that an unboxing video would be nice, but there was one problem.

To be honest, I fall asleep through most unboxing videos.

It’s hardly exciting hearing a stranger randomly drone about something he or she just brought though Google’s Ninja unboxing video of the Nexus One was hilarious.

Also check out the iPad stop-motion self-unboxing video.

Being too busy/broke to do anything that fancy, I just took my HTC Legend and shot a few stills and video of the HTC Desire as I ‘unboxed’ it. Kept the video very short and concise so you get an idea what’s inside the box without going into a coma from my monotone voice.


For a full specs-list, go to HTC’s site.

More to come as I chronicle my experiences with what is supposed to be the best Android phone of 2010. In the UK, it’s selling out which shows the phone certainly is proving ‘desirable’.

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Monday Music: Happy

7 Jun

So I get to catching up with a friend of mine and we talk about, of all things, being…happy.

“Hah, I bet you’re happy that I haven’t been all that emo lately.”

“No. I don’t mind if you’re emo. Just that when you are, I get worried.”

We talk about the people we know who are unhappy. The people we think should be happy but aren’t.

Us? We’re doing OK. Life’s not perfect.

I think on things that happened over the past year and realise that sometimes, we do stupid things because we think it will make us happy.

Loving someone everyone says is bad for you, loving someone even if you know you’re going to hurt the people who already do love you, loving someone even if you know you’ll be left sad, alone and hurt.

We’re wired to want it, this elusive thing we call happiness.

Romantic love is a madness, a sickness of the brain that fools you into thinking you can’t do without it.

Leona Lewis’ Happy is, at the heart of it, ridiculous and codependant and…true.

So what if it hurts me?
So what if I break down?
So what if this world just throws me off the edge
My feet run out of ground

You run, you chase, you catch, you fall. You crash and burn. Some of us keep running all our lives. Some give up and resolve never to get up again.

I think this is what it means to be human. To bleed. To feel. To rage. To want everything. To want nothing.

To choose.

Free will’s a bitch, ain’t it?

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We, a nation of zombies

3 Jun

Today a tragedy occurred because two Malaysians were unable to think for themselves.

Rather than hand over a fire extinguisher, staff at a BHP petrol station cited directives not to open the kiosk’s doors after hours.

Their caution did have some basis. Holdups are common occurrences at petrol station kiosks and mini-marts in Malaysia.

The reality, though, is that a woman’s life might have been saved if a fire extinguisher had been on hand. Instead, she burned alive while helpless onlookers watched.

It’s a sad reflection of how Malaysians have become so used to not using their heads. We toe the line, we play it safe.

“Oh, so now you’re blaming the government.”

Yes, I am. Its heavy-handed approach to public governance has led to a nation of citizens unwilling to move without directives or think for themselves. Whether it will admit it or not, by discouraging independent non-government sanctioned thought, Malaysia is encouraging its citizens to act like zombies.

How could I not be critical of our leaders as I read an interview with our former international trade minister, where she blames the ‘rebels’ of society for our slow march to developed nation status and share such gems like the following:

““When I became a politician, I never dared to speak out against my seniors… I was in awe of them and I wanted to learn from them,” she said.”

What Rafidah fails to remember is that it is healthy and necessary to question the status quo. Before the age of enlightenment, people believed bathing was bad for you. That everything could be cured by leeching. You could be executed for saying that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around.

Martin Luther questioned the authority of the Roman Catholic church. Gandhi questioned the British’s claim to rule in India. Nelson Mandela questioned the rule of apartheid.

The only place where absolute subservience is a given is in a dictatorship.

We want great things for our country but until we can make space for discussion, healthy debate and the right to question the authorities, we’re not going anywhere.

Look at our sorry excuse of an education system, where our future generations are force-fed information and expected to regurgitate it all at exams.

Malaysia claims to desire innovation and creativity, but effectively kills it in its schools.

The solution is not, like Pakatan keeps ’suggesting’, to change the government. The key here is to change ourselves. As citizens, we need to step up to the plate and demand our rights. No political platform or ideology can claim that for us.

So my countrymen, you know that thing between your ears? Learn to use it. Give it some exercise.

As a nation, we can choose to stop being stupid. Or at the very least, elect people who will stop treating us as if we are.

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