Monday, December 20, 2010

Hands on a Dell "Beast" err,,,, Dell Streak ;)

As noted in the title for this post I am now the proud owner of a Dell "Beast" errrr...... Dell Streak

Disclaimer... I cannot take credit for the nickname "The Beast" as I have seen the word "Beast" used in conjunction with the Dell Streak in a number of other blogs and reviews but it just fits this thing and is what it is called around here ;)

I picked up "The Beast" at BestBuy last week for $99.00 with 2 year extension on my AT&T contract. Have I mentioned this thing is a Beast ;) as in BIG... but surprisingly after a few minutes it really starts to feel comfortable both when using as a 'tablet' but also as a phone and while I am sure I will get some stares from anyone that sees me using it as a conventional phone, holding it to my ear, it really just works :)

However the smarter option is a Bluetooth headset especially when out and about, and EVERYONE should be using a Headset when driving or NOT using their phone...

Anyway back to "The Beast" OMG... why did I wait so long to get a smart phone... Oh maybe I was waiting for them to mature? well they certainly are mature now. browsing is like being on a netbook, and the apps that you can add just so very cool...

Now as this is "The Beast" we are talking about here you do have to get used to the size but this is the only Phone I have seen that offers a Virtual Qwerty keyboard in both Landscape and Portrait modes and the Accelerometer is very snappy when changing from one view to the other.

Need (or want) a GPS navigation tool, well no need to buy a separate piece of hardware, with Google Maps and turn by turn voice directions you have a perfectly good (as far as I can tell a very good) navigation device as well as GPS location abilities built in.

With the addition of the right Apps (Handcent SMS and Speech Messaging Service, both are free) you can have your text messages read aloud to you as well as reply to them using your voice...

Have a bunch of Store Reward cards (everyone has them now) then get another Free App, CardStar, and using the Free Barcode Scanner app, scan your cards into your phone and no need to carry the cards in your wallet any longer...

Music is pretty good, the default player is average but the sound through Stereo Bluetooth headset is almost as good as using the Nokia Xpress Music phone. Make your own ringtones from any music you have on your phone with the free Ringdroid app, and need to find out what song is playing somewhere use Shazam to identify the song...

Want a Nook (my preference) or a Kindle, no need to have a separate piece of hardward again, just install the Free apps they both provide and use "The Beast" as a eReader (works extremely well with the Nook which is what I use)...

The options are endless, with the Android Apps store, and with "The Beast" and you are not squinting at a small screen when browsing the web or reading a book.

Oh have I mentioned WiFi? I use mine almost exclusively with WiFi as I have a fairly nice network at home, and it is fast and has good reception. I roam around my house and yard without any problem using WiFi with solid connections. Allows minimal Data plan from the carrier this way, you can enable and disable 3G, Edge and GPRS networks with a simple click...

So in summary...

"The Beast" is large but can be held in one hand in portrait mode fairly comfortably and in landscape if fits easily in two hands, with a solid full grip.

MP3 player
GPS Navigation
Phone (works surprising well when held as well with Bluetooth)
Full Qwerty Keyboards (virtual) for texting (ability to add Voice texting)
Full web access viewing full sized web pages.

Now note mine is still running Android 1.6 and expect AT&T to push out an upgrade to Froyo 2.2 within the next month which should add even more of everything :)

Oh I know what you are asking yourself... How does he carry it?

Well the phone as is will slip into pocket on a pair of jeans without any problem, however there are cases that have belt clips such as the Otterbox Defender case and also it is rather easy to modify the Otterbox Commuter case and add your own belt clip (you can pick up belt clips online and from Kiosks such as PCS Metro). With the belt clip I wear mine clipped to my jeans pocket as in that position it is easy to get to and not in your way when you sit.

Of course if any Ladies out there are considering "The Beast", they can carry it easily in their purse or bag and some men are already dealing with carrying a bag with them so...?

While I have had the phone less then a week i have found it an easy jump into the Full Smartphone realm with this phone and I appreciate the extra screen space I personally don't have a problem with the size however i am sure that it would put some folks off. Best thing to do if you are considering "The Beast" is to visit your local BestBuy and hold one and also compare how much more screen you get compared to those Other smartphones ;)

I will post more as time passes as well as provide more information regarding the apps I am using...

For now "The Beast" and I wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and for those politically correct folks, which I will never be accused of... A Very Happy and Safe Holiday Season to all!


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Making the Switch to U-Verse

Ok the switch is already done but been waiting to see how things go to post...

Found out about 6 weeks ago that U-Verse was available in my area (I have been watching hoping to be able to move from DSL 3.0 to DSL 6.0). After much, and I mean much, research I finally decided that we would make the switch...

$40.00 a month savings (not including any incentives) when bundling 2 telephone lines, Internet (12 Mbps versus 3 Mbps) and TV over our previous AT&T 2 line package, At&T DSL 3.0 and Comcast HD Television.

Internet 12 Mbps versus 3 Mbps

Television was a concern as it actually costs more for U-Verse TV versus Comcast to get our required channels (ESPN and Speed for NASCAR were musts) and have to have a Box for every TV at a cost of $7.00 per box after the initial box...

However after much hand wrangling and searching and talking out loud to myself and disappointment that U-Verse TV actually costs more then Comcast, I finally decided that the overall savings and much higher Internet speed were worth the plunge and I placed the order...

Now I have read a number of U-Verse installation horror stories, and a number of positive ones, and even heard of a Friend of my Sister taking 3 weeks until they got his all connected properly, however mine went exceedingly well :)

At 8 AM on the appointed date a AT&T field tech showed up to test the line to be sure we could get U-Verse, he had to make a change in the line that fed the house from the pole but otherwise he said we had an excellent signal and no problem.

At 9 AM Albert, the AT&T U-Verse Technician showed up, very polite and nice guy and after a bit of mucking around outside at the box he and I walked the house and I pointed out what was where and my thoughts on best way to make the connections, which he whole heartily agreed with.

Overall it took about 5 hours, had a bit of an issue with the final connections which were the telephones but he called another U-Verse Technician and decided that a filter was needed at the connection to the U-Verse Modem and bang we had telephone.

The only wires that required changing was a couple of cable runs from the wall connection to the TVs, they were old cheap cable wires and Albert replaced them with digital cable runs. Our main TV, the 56" HDTV did not require any wire changes, which will become a point later when comparing Comcast and U-Verse TV signals...

Ok so after all was said and done some observations...

1: Albert, the U-Verse Technician was outstanding and very communicative as to what he was doing and how things were going. He also left me his Cell number which I have read other U-Verse Technicians doing.

2: Internet is 100% better, what a difference going from DSL 3.0 to U-Verse 12... WOW :)

3: Telephone is mostly unchanged, except when someone calls Caller ID pops up on the TV screen if we have it on, which I never thought much about until it happened and it is a pleasant extra feature IMHO.

4: Television is unbelievably improved over Comcast, we get all the channels we used to get and a few more, the picture quality is Exceptionally better including all TVs and the 56" HDTV (even though no wire was ever changed on that TV). We went from mostly watching Nascar on ESPN non-HD because ESPNHD almost always was pixelated during races to watching two complete races on ESPNHD without any glitches whatsoever.

Overall TV quality is improved on all TV's as I mentioned, noticed by all members of the house, and hardly any issues with pixelation which was a daily occurrence with Comcast. The DVR recording abilities are great, record up to 4 shows at once, set recording from any TV or Online and watch any recorded show on any TV, 80 hours storage, another really unanticipated bonus that I doubted our use of but have found to to be used extensively already.

The bottom line, for us, is a Savings of $40.00 a month (plus incentives totaling almost $325.00), much improved Internet and Television and same Telephone service.

For us this was a change well worth making, better service from U-Verse TV, 4 times increase in Internet Connection speed and long term $40.00 a month savings.

Your mileage may vary, as well as any savings depending on what you are paying now and for what level of services, but it is worth looking at for anyone not completely happy with Comcast or looking to increase your DSl connection speed...