Archive for the ‘Nokia’ Category

Why I abandoned Windows Phone 8

I recently acquired a Nokia Lumia 920 to experiment with Windows Phone 8. But a few weeks in, I’m already back to my Android-based device.

A few months ago, I forced myself to switch to Windows 8 on my desktop system (and laptop) and ended up liking the operating system very much. Once I got used to the quirks and garish look of the new Start screen and learned many of the shortcuts built into Windows 8, I found myself enjoying the operating system and was more than pleased by its myriad of enhancements and performance improvements.

I initially made the switch to Windows 8 because I wanted to fully immerse myself into the OS before formulating any strong opinions. Considering how much I ended up liking Windows 8 on my desktop, I thought I would conduct a similar experiment with my smartphone. For the last few years, I have been deeply entrenched in the Android ecosystem and have experience with a multitude of devices. I enjoy installing custom ROMs on the devices and have experimented with countless apps and utilities. At this point my smartphone is an integral part of my day-to-day computing, and I’ve grown fond of a handful of apps and the convenience of always having my inboxes and access to the web in my pocket.
I picked up a [Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 920 and was initially impressed. The hardware itself is excellent. The Lumia 920’s camera is top notch. The device is obviously well-built. The screen looks great, and navigating through Windows Phone 8 was smooth as silk. At first, my Android-based device (currently a Samsung Galaxy Note II) remained my daily driver. I kept the Lumia 920 handy until I felt I was comfortable using its email client, browsing the web. But eventually I customized the Start screen to my liking and got a good feel for what Microsoft and Nokia were trying to accomplish with the phone. I installed only a couple of apps and got comfortable with them too.

After a couple of weeks and a good initial impression, I decided to dive in head-first and make the Lumia 920 my daily device. At first, I was happy with the decision. I dug the Live Tiles and the Lumia 920 never lost its luster; it’s a great phone.

But as I started to install more and more apps and dig deeper into the Windows Phone App Store, I was regularly disappointed. There seemed to be three kinds of apps available for Windows Phone 8:

Apps specifically designed for the OS that showed signs of greatness
Quick-and-dirty ports of apps obviously designed for other platforms
Kludges that were nothing more than wrappers for mobile websites

The apps designed with Windows Phone 8 in mind were mostly great. I especially liked the IMDB app, which blows away its counterparts on other mobile platforms. The Facebook app was also very fast and responsive, but it wastes a TON of screen real estate with larger-than-necessary fonts in the navigation menu and wasted white space in the feed. There were times when I could only see a single post in my news feed because of all the wasted screen real estate. I’m not sure what the app developers were thinking with that one.

Then there were the obvious ports that just didn’t look right on Windows Phone 8. One in particular, Words with Friends, comes to mind. I know it’s an older title and games aren’t a necessity, but I enjoy playing Words with Friends; it’s a nice break in the day. Anyway, fonts (like the one used to display the score) were nearly illegible and the game is just plain broken. As of a couple of weeks ago, you couldn’t use words with the letter “Z” and the main screen wouldn’t update when it was your turn. You’d think with the amount of complaints logged in the app store someone at Microsoft would fix the game, but no such luck.

And then there’s apps like YouTube, which seem to be little more than wrappers for the YouTube mobile site. Minimal effort was put into optimizing the app for Windows Phone 8, and it shows.

As you probably guessed by now, my little experience was a failure. I’m back to my Android device and don’t plan to give Windows Phone 8 another try for a few months. If Microsoft wants people to give Windows Phone 8 serious consideration, they’ve got to get serious about offering quality apps for the platform. It’s not just about the number of available apps, it’s about the quality, and at this point in time Windows Phone 8 trails in both departments.


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Leaving IT may be your best IT career path

The best way to ensure a successful IT career in the long run may be to go off the IT reservation. That was my takeaway from the Career Without Boundaries session at the Computerworld Premier 100 conference.

The panelists didn’t come right out and say that. But the IT executives on the stage all had done stints in other parts of the business – and brought that experience back. Kate Bass, CIO at Valspar, spent 21 years in finance. Dr. Katrina Lane, senior vice president and CTO at Ceasars Entertainment Corp., has a technical degree but cut her teeth in marketing, focusing on areas such as analytics, media planning and teleservices.
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Sheila McGovern, managing partner for the Human Capital division at IBM, has a degree in quantitative business analytics. She started in tech but then moved into the HR field before landing her current job. One day, she says, “I sat down with a business leader and he said, ‘You know Sheila, you’ll never go any higher with IT.'” So McGovern moved around, working in HR, supply chain, financial systems and finally HR consulting. “A few years ago I came back. I really benefitted from getting on the business side. I wouldn’t trade that experience,” she says.

Gaining business cred
This movement back and forth is more common between other business units than it is in IT, but such a move can help rising IT stars overcome a major stumbling block for IT executives: The general lack of understanding -– and lack of respect — for what IT does.

“Running an IT organization is like managing an iceberg. There’s only small piece of that anyone ever sees,” says Bass. And everyone and their mother thinks they can do that piece it better.

“When you go to legal or finance everyone knows you need an expert,” says McGovern. IT is different. “Most people go home and turn on consumer electronics and they work and work better than what they have at work,” she says. “And it’s only getting worse.”

“I left a finance organization, which is very highly respected. You don’t have to work at it, whereas in IT that’s not always the case,” says Bass. But coming in from another group can give an IT executive a level of credibility that may be difficult to achieve for those rising up within the IT ranks.

Leaving IT is not the only way to gain experience. Another way to attack this issue is to embed IT people directly into the business units, a strategy that David Zanca, vice president of IT at FedEx Services, has embraced. “If you want to understand the business units you have to walk in their shoes,” he says. But FedEx still fights the good fights against silo mentality. Marketing and IT, even when in adjacent offices, may still not be fully aligned. If you’re going to walk in their shoes, why not really walk in their shoes?

Increasingly, the IT career path demands this from IT leaders. IT careers are bifurcating into two groups: The uber-specialists with deep technical knowledge, and IT executives who can manage as business analysts. The great middle of IT organizations is falling away, says Barbara Cooper, CIO for Toyota Operations of North America. So getting very deep technically -– or getting that deep knowledge of the business, will be the career path choices.

The vast middle tier of administrative IT functions will become commoditized and “sourceable,” Cooper says. “What’s sweeping away is the bureaucratic layer of managers who are mostly administrative in nature. You’re either up and into this new frontier or you’re sourced.”

“The thing that’s left is the consultative roles around serious business problem solving and investment strategies for solutions sets for the business,” Cooper adds. She has actively recruited from the business to fill those new positions, but it’s easier to groom someone from the IT side to learn the business acumen than the other way around. It is, she says, “a new breed.”

At Toyota the door to IT now swings both ways. A former CIO for sales and distribution at Toyota, whom Cooper had managed and mentored, left IT to work in the business side. Three years later Cooper hired him back as part of her succession plan. If a tour of duty in the business is important, good mentoring is essential to develop a mature, nuanced management style and to develop the political skills to make it happen, Cooper says.

That’s what happened with another mentee of Coopers: 2011 Computerworld Premier 100 IT award winner Doug Beebe, formerly corporate manager of information systems, who was recently recruited by the business to a new position as corporate manager of real estate and facilities.

Cooper may have lost Beebe — that’s a consequence of developing strong business acument and leadership skills in your management. But she’s not worried about the brain drain. “This is a way station in his journey for broadening and rounding out his experience. I have a notion that he is destined to come back to the IT line of business.”

Android IceCream Sandwich 4.0 Features

Android IceCream Sandwich 4.0 aka ICS is finally announced and its packed with features. Galaxy Nexus is the flagship device that would run ICS.
ICS basically brings Android 3.x Honeycomb features to phones. Lets go through the features quickly:

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30minutes Video demo of IceCream Sandwich

Android 4.0 ICS Features:

Updated Settings:  Revamped Settings screen organization. Items are arranged much better now.
Disabling Apps:  ICS adds the ability to disable an app outright. Don’t like an app that came preinstalled? Disable it! Its resources never run and its launcher icon is gone until you re-enable it.
Improved Download Manager.
Support for Encryption for Phones:  Honeycomb added full-device encryption, but ICS brings it to phones.
Audio Effects:  There’s a new audio effects API. Better media players coming!
New Font, Roboto: Droid Sans font is now gone for good.

OnScreen buttons, no hardware buttons: You dont need any hardware buttons for running ICS device, all the buttons: back, home are on-screen. Like Honeycomb, the buttons go invisible, smartly, to let you enjoy full screen video.
Resizable Widgets, Folders, Favorites: Dragging apps and contacts on top of each other create re-arrangeable folders. Users can stow their favorite apps, links, and folders into a new Favorites tray for quick and easy access
Screenshots: Hold down the power button and the volume down button to take a screenshot.
Notifications Revamped: Music controls have been integrated, and notifications can be dismissed by swiping
Improved Copy & Paste
Face Unlock
Enhanced Talk-to-Text: It’s more accurate.
Browser Tabs, offline: Upto 16 browser tabs. You can also save web pages offline
Gmail: Gmail now supports two-line previews, and sports a new context-sensitive action bar at the bottom of the screen. Gesture support allows you to swipe left and right between emails.
Contacts – People App: Contacts get re-vamped by showing contacts from Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Data Usage: You can now look at the details of what app is doing what with your data usage. Best part: The ability to limit data usage to a certain threshold.
Camera: Image stabilization, improved autofocus, and integration with other apps for sending photos or instant upload to Google+, built-in face detection, panorama and time lapse modes, and on-the-fly photo retouching and enhancements.
Android Beam: An secure NFC-powered sharing platform that lets users share nearly any kind of content, save for applications (in that case, a link to the Market is sent instead)

Nokia Tiptoes Back Into Smartphone Market but Steers Clear of US

The Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 are what Nokia calls its very first Windows Phone devices. The company hopes to begin selling them in Asia in Russia by the end of the year, afterwards expanding into other markets. The U.S. likely won’t see them for sale soon, or perhaps at all — Nokia’s stateside push may come in the form of a completely different line.

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Nokia announced its first smartphones running Windows Phone at Nokia World 2011, being held in London through Thursday.

The Nokia Lumia 710

These are the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710.

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Both have social networking capabilities and 1.4 GHz processors, hardware acceleration and graphics processors. They will have access to a personal navigation device and a global music streaming application.

Nokia will release the Lumia smartphones in Asia and Russia toward the end of the year and expand to other markets next year.

The mobile phone giant will release new smartphones in the United States in early 2012, but it didn’t say whether they will be part of the Lumia line.

“While we cannot speculate as to which, or even if either, of the models introduced at Nokia World will be available in the U.S., many of the exciting elements that you have seen at Nokia World will be well represented in the U.S. portfolio,” Nokia spokesperson Karen Lachtanski told TechNewsWorld.
Illuminating the Lumias

Both the Lumia 800 and 710 include the Nokia Drive feature, which offers free turn-by-turn navigation and has a dedicated in-car user interface.

Both are roughly the same size and weight — about 4.5 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.5 inches and between 4.5 and 5 ounces.

Both smartphones use the 1.4 GHz Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) MSM8255 processor and are 3G devices using WCDMA.

The usual sensors, cameras, access to social networks and extended battery life are offered, perhaps to a greater or lesser degree than in the iPhone and Android smartphones, but the difference doesn’t seem enough to be truly distinctive.

Both devices run Windows Phone 7.5, a.k.a. “Mango.”

The Lumia devices are “generally a little better than their Android counterparts, particularly in terms of finish and ease of use, but [the iPhone's] iOS still remains unchallenged at the top of the stack,” remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
The Sound of Music

Taking a leaf out of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes book, the Lumia 800 and 710 both offer excellent capabilities for music lovers.

Both have the Nokia Music MixRadio application. This is a free global mobile music streaming app that delivers hundreds of local music channels.

Nokia Music includes Gigfinder, which lets users search for live local music and share discoveries on social networks.

Later this year, Nokia will deliver an update to Nokia Music that will let users create personalized channels and buy concert tickets through their Lumia smartphones.
Where the Lumias Fit In

The Lumia smartphones are the first Windows Phone devices offered by Nokia following their strategic partnership announced in February.

They may be the partners’ last chance at being players in the smartphone market. Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) fortunes have waned since Windows Mobile’s heyday, and Nokia’s getting its pants beaten off by the iPhone and Android smartphones.

Further, Nokia closed some of its factories earlier this year.

“If this doesn’t work out, Nokia is done and Microsoft will have another Zune,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

Zune was Microsoft’s attempt to take on Apple in the MP3 player market. After several iterations, it was finally withdrawn from the market earlier this year.

However, Vishal Jain, an analyst at the 451 group, contended that the launch of the Lumia line “marks the culmination of a highly anticipated Nokia reemergence.” Everything now depends on consumer demand, he added.
Coming to America?

Nokia appears to be staying away from the U.S. market for now because “Nokia is stronger in Europe and Apple comparatively weaker,” Enderle stated.

It’s likely that Nokia will introduce a different line of smartphones to the U.S. market, Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

“The U.S. market is crowded with many strong players and phones,” Hilwa elaborated. “To make an impact, a spectacular product riding on a strong ecosystem is needed, with near-flawless execution.”

Nokia has very little presence in the U.S., having closed its online stores in the country as well as in the UK earlier this year as part of a restructuring.

Microsoft and Nokia will miss the holiday sales season, when demand is traditionally strongest.

“It’s no great loss anyway,” Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld.

“You need to be in the market by September to make a brand new platform work,” Lopez added.

How to set up the perfect teleworking environment

Teleworking (aka working from home) is increasing fast as new technology and communications make it possible. Here’s how to make the most of it.

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It can be the best of both worlds – getting paid to work, but doing so from home where you can avoid hours wasted stuck in traffic or beating the train crush, not to mention saving on those transport costs and expensive cafe lunches. Plus, you can even sit there and work in your PJs, as long as you don’t sleep on the job.

But if you’re going to work from home – part-time or full-time – you need the right setup. This applies whether you’re working as an extension of your presence at work, or if working from home is your full-time employment. It is, as always, about the right tools for the job.

Work space
Ideally, you want a spare room. It’s not just that you need an area to work, or that the area is sufficient to support your work (if you can only fit a tiny desk it isn’t going to help if you work with a lot of papers), it’s also essential to help you strike the work/life balance: an area separate from the rest of the house allows you to close the door at the end of the day and separate your work from your home life.

Then, of course, you’ll need:

Desk
Don’t underestimate the value of a large desk. The height should be around 70cm tall and should have enough space to comfortably place your monitor 45-60cm away from you, and which should be adjusted so the top of the monitor is roughly in line with your eyes. Regardless of whether you use a notebook or a desktop, having ‘spread space’ to lay out your work on your desk helps you keep organised. You also need room for your mouse, keyboard, phone, printer and anything else you need to work (no, that espresso maker doesn’t count as essential for desk space!).

Chair
If you plan to telework extensively, you need to think about your health. A bad chair can encourage bad posture and ultimately lead to problems. If this is your full-time working environment, you need a decent, ergonomically sound chair to support your hours at your desk – just as is if you were in the office. So no, that kitchen stool is right out! The chair needs to be height-adjustable, and you need to set it so your hands and forearms rest on the desk at a 90-degree angle, with your feet flat on the floor. It’s not just a matter of posture – being comfortable and having your back properly supported enables you to work more effectively. There’s a reason chairs can cost a lot of money, so invest in a good one. In many ways it’s the centrepiece of your work space.

Lighting
This is often neglected, but the work space needs to have good lighting. Sunlight is ideal, but otherwise if using artificial light make sure it’s overhead and diffuse to prevent glare. If you have to use desk lamps, face them away from your field of vision. Be careful with windows for sunlight – monitors placed facing them will also suffer glare, and windows behind can cause contrast issues with the monitor and strain your eyes, so it’s usually best to place them perpendicular to the window. Blinds are very useful for controlling lighting in your work space.

Noise
Another often-overlooked component, how noisy is your work space environment? Your space at the office may be quiet or quite rowdy, but it’s usually consistent and you can tune out. At home, external noises such as the street or neighbours, to say nothing of internal ones from family or pets, can be distracting. If you can’t prevent the noise, you can reduce its impact by masking it with radio or playing music on low volume. You should also set a schedule of when you can and can’t be disturbed.

Hardware
By definition, teleworking is a surrogate for your office, and so needs much of the same equipment. You likely have most of these already, and what you don’t have your IT department may be able to supply – it depends on the policies for teleworking at your office:

Computer
The obvious one. Desktops certainly make it easy, but notebooks and the prevalence of 3G means you don’t actually have to be bound to any one place to telework. It’s also easy for an IT department to outfit a notebook with everything you need to telework installed and ready to go, which not only makes it easy for you but allows them to ensure security with a known installed software base and configuration.

Modem
Broadband is prevalent these days, and one of the key drivers for telework adoption. However, you can also use 3G through dongles or phone tethering (Android and iPhones make this a snap). If you plan to use remote desktop software (see ‘Router’, next), broadband will be all-but essential – 3G can’t match the latency or speed. Check your broadband plan – if teleworking will break your data cap, you’ll need to upgrade to a larger plan before you realise your cap is broken. Paying through the nose for excess 3G data, or being throttled by an ISP, will kill your ability to telework effectively.

Router
If you have other networked devices connected – notebook and desktop, network-attached storage, printer etc. – you’ll need a router. Most broadband modems these days include a four-port router and wireless, which is usually sufficient. These however are almost always 10/100. If you plan to move a lot of data at home, you’ll need a gigabit router or switch (a switch is preferred if you have heterogeneous devices with different capabilities).

Printer or MFC
If your role requires paperwork, you may be expected to print out material. Printers are cheap these days (though inks can quickly add up – read reviews before deciding on a model).

Backup and storage
Sounds boring, but this is vital. Firstly, where are you storing your work files? Are they only on the work network, or stored locally? If they’re on your notebook, what happens if it gets stolen? And do you have a backup regimen? Hardware fails eventually, so storing just on the desktop or notebook is not enough. An external USB drive or (if you have a lot of data) NAS is essential. If backing up is always last on your to-do list, automate it with specialised software. Cloud services are another option (more on this below). These days multi-terabyte USB drives can be had for peanuts.

Communication
Sometimes email and messaging isn’t enough. Your home phone is one option for keeping in contact, but a mobile is probably preferred. If you can, get a new mobile specifically for work. Not only can this help you keep your work and home life separate (leave the mobile in the office when you’re done for day!), but as it’s for work it should also be a work cost. Otherwise, VoIP is cheap if you have it as an option on your broadband plan.

Other hardware, aside from stationary (you did buy or borrow some pens right?) that’s useful are surge protectors (this is your work, getting behind due to a hardware failure probably isn’t what you have in mind), wireless routers if you plan to be able to ‘roam around the home’ with notebooks and phones for work, and if your ADSL or cable broadband connection is in a different room to your home office, powerline networking devices can allow you to connect rooms without stringing cables around the home.

Software
There are a number of solutions for teleworking. If your company encourages and promotes teleworking, it will likely already have a solution in mind – software specifically designed to make connecting remotely both easy and, importantly, secure. Traditionally, there are two key methods for teleworking:

Connecting to your work PC
As though you were sitting in front of it. You can interact with your PC’s desktop and do anything you would normally do if you were at work. Software to do this includes Citrix GoToMyPC, Symantec pcAnywhere, TeamViewer, LogMeIn, NoMachine, and Real VNC, among others. Microsoft also has remote desktop software built into Windows 7, as does Apple for Mac OS X, and there are a range of free tools for Linux.

Connecting to the work network
Usually via a VPN (virtual private network). This gives you access to shared drives, the intranet, printers and other services as though you were sitting on the network at work. For extra security, some companies will run remote desktop software through a VPN. Windows, Mac and Linux all support VPNs out of the box.

Both have their pros and cons. Remote desktop software is a virtual presence at the office, and has the advantage of providing any software and services at home that you would be able to access and use if you were at work. It also makes it relatively easy for the admins to keep the network secure, as your access is only via your PC. The downside is that this can be a bandwidth-heavy solution, operating your desktop remotely in real-time.

Access to a network such as with a VPN can be a lot less bandwidth-intensive – you’re literally connecting your home network (even if that’s just your PC) to the work network through a secure connection. You won’t have access to your work desktop, but you should be able to access anything else on the network that you would normally be allowed to use via the VPN.

There’s a third method these days that’s rapidly evolving thanks to the internet – shared cloud services. Rather than connect to a secure work network or PC, if a business migrates its email, office applications and file sharing online then the concept of the office no longer becomes the physical work network sitting in the building where your office is located – it becomes any place you happen to be, as long as there’s internet access.

This is something that groupware providers have been taking heavy advantage of, and three of the big players are:

Microsoft now provides Office 365 which integrates local Office software and web-based services. This include Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, SkyDrive storage, Exchange and SharePoint.

Google has its suite of apps that include Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk for messaging.

Zoho provides Zoho Docs, Zoho Mail, Zoho Meeting, Zoho Projects, Zoho Chat and even shared Wiki collaboration with Zoho Wiki.

All of these aim to provide a consistent suite of productivity and collaboration programs that work both at the office and remotely for teleworking.

Other software that is useful specifically for teleworking includes messaging – even if it’s just classics such as ICQ, MSN or Yahoo – and video conferencing, for which there are plenty of options, though Skype is the most well-known. Beyond this, depending on your role, you can even find shared cloud services that include web presenting, whiteboarding, screen sharing and project management. However while cloud services can still be secure, and provide a way to work and collaborate through purely internet-accessible tools, the downside is the reliance on cloud service providers – if they go down or suffer outages, so does your business.

Your company may also require some extra security software be installed (even if it’s just a reliable anti-virus/anti-malware suite). After all, your PC becomes an access point to the network, which is one more point of vulnerability. If this is the case, follow whatever procedures your IT department requires. It’s a small price to pay for the freedom of working from home.

HTC EVO View 4G (Sprint)

Here’s the deal: We’ve already reviewed the HTC EVO View 4G, under a different name. This tablet is just a re-packaged, re-branded HTC Flyer, with a few key changes, the addition of Sprint 4G coverage chief among them. If you buy the EVO View, you’ll be getting the same Android-plus-Sense-UI experience, the same fast 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor, the same excellent pen input features, and, unfortunately, the same limitations of the non-tablet-specific Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread”) that hurt the Flyer. For the in-depth nuts and bolts of you need to know about the EVO View, read our HTC Flyer review. Again, there are some differences, however, so read on if you’re interested in the EVO View.

 

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The short version of the Flyer review: It’s a very capable tablet that’s aimed at a specific type of user. It doesn’t run a dual-core, but instead uses a 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor that helps it zip along as fast as any Tegra-powered tablet. The 7-inch touch screen works well, but it’s smaller than many of the Honeycomb tablets we’ve seen so far with 10-inch screens. The biggest upside of the Flyer, and thus the View, is the pen input system, making it a great choice for those who want to draw on their tablets. Powered by a company called N-Trig, the tablet is remarkably detailed and accurate with pen input, and will let you do things like annotate a screenshot, or free-draw, with just the tap of a button.

The main downside of the Flyer/View is that it runs Gingerbread, which means the operating system you’re getting is one meant for phones, and not for tablets. HTC’s Sense UI covers up some of the glaring issues, but you’re still not getting Google’s best tablet effort, and without Honeycomb, which is version 3.0, you can’t get things like the updated Gmail app or video chat in Google Talk. There are some good apps on the device, like HTC Watch for video and OnLive for gaming, but the browser’s performance can be slow and the cameras are nothing special.

Pricing for the Flyer is simple: $499 for a single 32GB, Wi-Fi-only iteration. And there’s only one option for the EVO View: $399.99 plus between $29.99 and $89.99 for monthly service. A 4G plan will either cost you $59.99 per month (unlimited 4G, plus 5GB of 3G bandwidth) or $89.99 per month for unlimited 4G and 10GB of 3G. At least for now, unlike with the Flyer, you don’t need to pay the extra $80 for the Smart pen accessory, which you don’t need to operate the tablet, but is nice to have. It’s part of the introductory promotion with the EVO View, which will be available at Sprint stores later this month.
Specifications

CPU    Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8655
Operating System     Google Android 2.3 or earlier
Screen Size     7 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested)     32 GB
Dimensions     7.7 x 4.8 x 0.5 inches
Networking Options     Wi-Fi, 4G
Service Provider     Sprint

Design Changes
The HTC EVO View 4G is sleeker and more business-like than the Flyer, sticking to the tablet norm of black and dark gray, rather than the more noticeable but more toy-like light gray and white you get with the Flyer. The bezel around the screen is black, and the device’s shell is dark gray with lighter gray accents, and the occasional red flourish. It’s a very Droid-like color scheme, and the View actually looks like a bigger HTC Droid Incredible 2 ($199.99, 3.5 stars), with the bump-out camera lens and bumpy back. Otherwise, it’s the same device in weight and dimensions, and the same 7-inch 1,024-by-600 touch-screen LCD that is so responsive and sensitive to pen input.

New Apps
You get plenty of carrier bloatware with the EVO View. It ranges from shortcuts to websites that you’ll probably never use and games you’ll likely never play, to apps that let you access your Sprint account or other carrier services. Others, like TeleNav GPS Navigator, might be useful to some, but for many, they’ll just take up space in the app drawer. You can’t delete them, but you’ll learn to ignore them.

There are two important new cellular-coverage-related apps here. First is Sprint Hotspot, which lets you share your 3G or 4G connection as a Wi-Fi network (for a $30 per month fee). It works well as a way to get the whole family online through a single, unlimited 4G connection. The other is Messages, which is a full text-messaging client—pieced together with Google Voice or Skype apps, the EVO View could be a nice full-service phone all by itself. There’s an internal mic, but it’s not strong, so if you want to use the View as a phone you’ll want to pair it with a Bluetooth headset like the Aliph Jawbone Era ($129, 4.5 stars).

3G and 4G Coverage
The biggest difference between the Flyer and the View is all the G’s: the Flyer has none, and the View has 4. Sprint’s 4G coverage isn’t everywhere yet, but it’s growing, and where it’s available it’s fast. In my tests, in midtown Manhattan, I got 5Mbps down, and 954Kbps up, both about as can be expected from Sprint’s WiMAX network. 3G is more reliably available, but not quite as fast.

4G can be toggled on and off with just a tap in the Quick Settings menu, accessible via the pull-down Notifications windowshade; that’s key to battery life, because 4G can a serial battery killer. Toggling between 3G and 4G creates about five seconds of disconnect, but that’s not a huge problem unless you’re on a video call, and it’s nice to be able to choose between fast speeds or long life. Our own battery tests are underway, and will be posted here shortly.

Conclusions

The EVO View 4G is a solid tablet, that’s bolstered by its excellent pen input, but somewhat hampered by its lack of Google’s tablet-specific OS. HTC’s Sense UI helps, but it’s not a replacement for true tablet Android, which is Honeycomb. Overall, the View/Flyer is neither the best tablet nor even the best Android tablet your money can buy, but if handwriting, drawing and doodling are things that appeal to you, and the 7-inch screen size is right, it might be just the tablet for you. Similarly, if 4G coverage is something you must have, then you must have the EVO View 4G over the Flyer. If you want the best tablet you can buy, the Apple iPad 2 (4.5 stars, $499) still can’t be beat. But if it’s Android you’re after, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer ($399, 3.5 stars) has enough unique features, like a laptop-like docking system, to send it to the head of the Honeycomb class—for now.

Stupid user tricks 5: IT’s weakest link

But we were prepped. We were almost grinning, because we were about to be heroes. We told the IT guy that we have virtual images of his servers, that we had their configs registered with a local outfit that will rent us replacement infrastructure until he gets the new stuff on order, so all we need are the backup tapes and we can have him up and running in about a day, maybe less.

 

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Boy, that would have been nice. But we also learned that Mr. IT had gotten tired of going to the second floor to replace backup tapes. After all, that disk array was doing just fine as a backup. So the last tape they had was from four months before the four-post header.

Fallout: Not only did Mr. IT get fired, but the IT team lost the contract — unfair.

Moral: Do your daily backups, and don’t treat your  IT infrastructure like a fridge.

Stupid user trick No. 5: Letting mom monkey around with the admin console
Incident: One IT consultant tells tale of yet another hard-learned lesson in proper password management brought to you by that time-honored IT pro, mom.

A small-business client had us install a Small Business Server box for her. She had about 12 people working for her, including her mom, who was doubling as the office manager and her daughter’s personal assistant.

We did as we were asked. Everything was set up, tested, and found to be working. We established an admin account on the server and left it with the owner with strict instructions that it’s for emergencies when she’s on the phone with us only. She, of course, gave the admin account info to her mom to keep someplace safe without passing on the last part of the instructions.

Her mother went exploring and found this thing called Active Directory. Next thing we know, we’re getting an angry call from the daughter because our email server was sending strange emails to all her clients and friends. The story: Her mom had figured out how to get into Computers and Users and had been adding everyone in her daughter’s address book into AD, along with generating them an internal email address in addition to the one listed in her daughter’s rolodex. The system sent everyone a welcome email with an introduction to the “new” network they’d just joined.

Fallout: Apology emails around, consultant fees to delete all those users and set AD right, and palpable tension between daughter and mom.

Moral: Server passwords aren’t status symbols. If a person doesn’t need one, don’t share it.

Stupid user trick No. 6: Paying before planning
Incident: Hubris is no stranger to the world of IT. But when a trumped-up higher-up puts the purchase before the plan, the fallout can mean only one thing — a derailed career, as one developer recounts.

I worked for an Internet startup back in the late ’90s, complete with big-time VC funding and a small DNA kernel of three business whizzes and one techno geek who gleefully grabbed the CTO title.

The startup’s goal was to create a Java-based vertical accounting system followed by inventory and sales systems that would eventually comprise a “suite” of offerings. The three kernel guys land a huge bundle of first-round financing and sit down with two “experts” from the vertical to discuss what the initial application should look like and how it should run.

They’re in germination meetings for about a week, coming out with huge schematics and wireframes for the first rev. The CTO decided a messaging bus platform is absolutely required and proceeded to do a deal with the leader in that space at the time (name withheld), for — wait for it — $5 million.

Will the carriers kill the mobile revolution?

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I rented a car for the first time, I drove with one eye on the odometer because I was paying by the mile. Those days are long gone, but with all-you-can-eat data plans rapidly disappearing, more and more of us are downloading with one eye on the data meter.

 

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Consider a typical metered plan: An AT&T tablet user can use up to 250MB a month for $14.99 (see the plan for yourself). Go over your 250MB and you’ll pay another $14.99 for the next 250MB, which bring you to $30. However, a recent survey by Nielsen found that the typical user of an Android device consumed 582MB per month, for a total of $45 a month on that plan (to be fair, AT&T does offer a 2GB plan for $25). iOS users averaged somewhat less — 492MB per month — and unlike with voice plans, unused data allowances cannot be rolled over.

[ Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. | Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. ]

And I’ve just mentioned the easy-to-understand part of the plan. It turns out that there are huge gotchas hidden in the fine print that vary the actual charges based on the device you use. For example, AT&T and Verizon Wireless expect smartphone users who connect to corporate email to pay $15 more per month for the same amount of data.

Sure, carriers have a right to recover costs, and there certainly are data hogs among us who should pay for their gargantuan appetites. But charges keep going up. Verizon Wireless CFO Fran Shammo said in May that his company will ditch its $30 unlimited data plan this summer. Can Sprint be far behind?

If the telecommunications industry were competitive, the market would keep the carriers from raising prices even faster. But it isn’t competitive now; in most cities there are few choices for serious business users. If AT&T succeeds in swallowing T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless advances in its plan to smash the smaller, regional carriers, the market will be even less competitive and the mobile revolution will slow to dial-up speeds.

4G faceoff: ThunderBolt vs. Galaxy

However, it’s worth noting that the ThunderBolt weighs about 5.8 ounces – about 30% more than the T-Mobile Galaxy S 4G. It’s also somewhat thicker – slightly over a half inch. The extra heft is unlikely to cause a problem unless you carry the device in a shirt pocket. Part of the reason for the extra thickness is likely due to the “kickstand” that can be swung out from the back of the device. This is primarily intended to allow video viewing without having to hold the device at the correct angle while you watch. However it also proved useful when using the phone while navigating.

 

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Unlike some other CDMA-based phones, notably the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4, you can use voice and data simultaneously with the ThunderBolt as long as you’re using LTE. The device has a number of other useful features, including a WiFi mobile hotspot, support for DLNA which allows you to access DLNA-equipped servers on your network, and an 8 megapixel camera on the rear. The front camera runs at 1.3 megapixels.

While Verizon Wireless describes the display as “immense” it’s only slightly larger than the display on most other similar Android phones. You can see the difference if you hold the devices next to each other, but short of that the difference is not obvious. The ThunderBolt’s more noticeable difference was in screen sensitivity where it was possible to trigger a letter on the keyboard without actually touching the screen. You can open the applications screen by touching an arrow at the bottom of the screen, and then swiping your finger up and down to expose the entire list.

A more significant difference when using the devices side-by-side is the level of performance. I downloaded identical files from Gmail to both devices from a variety of locations that had strong 4G signals. As long as I was in a 4G area for both, the ThunderBolt was consistently faster by a wide margin. Normally the difference was about double – the ThunderBolt was usually twice as fast in downloads, sometimes faster.

While it’s unlikely that most people will spend a lot of time in varying locations downloading photos of the Frankfurt, Germany, airport data center as I did, the fact remains that the improved performance made the ThunderBolt able to deliver data-intensive results more quickly and seamlessly. This was obvious during navigation, for example, when the phone had to fetch new information from its cloud-based servers and did so without any obvious delay. Video streaming was smooth and usually without interruption, but the same was also true of the Galaxy S 4G.

One quick note of caution: During the period of this review, the Verizon Wireless LTE network went down nationwide. The ThunderBolt, instead of automatically reverting to 3G, fell back to an earlier version of EVDO, known as 1X.

To get back to 3G, you have to enter the settings menu and tell the phone to use EVDO Rev. A. If you do that, you’ll get the standard Verizon 3G network, and most functions will operate normally.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear that most users will know how to shift the phone to 3G operation manually, and as a result will be stuck with 1X for data speeds. This works, but it’s fairly slow.

Microsoft Windows Phones Built By Nokia Due in 2012

Microsoft and Nokia signed a definitive agreement that seals the deal announced in February between the two companies, creating a formidable competitor against Google‘s Android and Apple‘s iOS.

 

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Now, Nokia can migrate away from its aging Symbian operating system, embracing the Windows Phone software to create a new ecosystem of Nokia hardware and Microsoft software. The companies announced that Nokia-built Windows Phones are already in development, “with the aim of securing volume device shipments in 2012.”

While Nokia engineers are busying themselves creating hardware for the Windows Phone, Microsoft gains the power of Nokia’s mapping and navigation platform, certain to enhance Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Those mapping services will also show up on Nokia phones running Windows Phone, but there was no word about whether those mapping services would also run on Windows Phone handsets not made by Nokia.

What about developers? The companies plan to ease the transition for Symbian developers to move to the Windows phone operating system. According to a Nokia spokesperson (see video below), “All Symbian developers will have a free registration for the next year for the Windows developers program.”

Nokia will also reportedly open a Nokia-branded app store based on the Windows Marketplace infrastructure, where developers will be able to distribute their apps for Windows Phone, Symbian or Series 40 devices.

In our view, this looks like a mutually beneficial relationship, where Microsoft will have a formidable hardware manufacturer and map platform in its camp, while Nokia will gain Microsoft’s resources, including gaming expertise, Windows Phone, Bing search facilities on every smartphone and Microsoft’s vast marketing machine.

Which company do you think got the better end of the deal here?