Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Couple of Major Upgrades for Me

I haven't posted much on this blog recently but I've had a couple of significant (to me, anyway) upgrades.

First, I finally decided to replace my 1997 Ford Expedition, which I had since 2003. The brake problems back on April 4th were the final straw. This was the second big repair bill I had on the Ford since the Fall and with a 14 year old truck, I just saw more big bills coming. Even though it was in generally good shape car parts in general start failing due to age, and I figured it was only a matter of time before I got stuck somewhere.

So, I did some looking around online and on April 23, I bought a 2007 Nissan Xterra with about 29,000 miles on it from Peruzzi Nissan in Fairless Hills, PA.  I got what I think is a decent deal. I negotiated the price down to a bit over $18K, got $3K for the Ford in trade, put another $2K down, and I'm financing the rest. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have a car payment again but I should now have a reliable vehicle that gets better gas mileage than the Expedition.  My new ride:

I've wanted an Xterra since they first came out about ten years ago.  So far, I'm loving it.

The other upgrade was to my cell phone. I'd been using one of the original Motorola Droids since Black Friday 2009. For most of the time I owned it I was happy with it but the past couple of months it felt like it was degrading.  I.e., slowing down and crashing a lot more than previously.  After rooting it, I tried a couple ROMs (Bugless Beast and Cyanogenmod).  Cyanogenmod was generally good at first but after a short while, the phone started misbehaving again.  I considered another Android phone like a Droid X or an HTC Thunderbolt as a replacement, but last Friday I went to the Apple store on Walnut St. in Philadelphia on my lunch break to look at the iPhones.  I checked out an iPhone 4 on Verizon, liked what I saw, and decided to give the Apple phone a try.  I got the 16 GB VZW model, a bumper to go around the phone, and a car charger.

I've only had it a couple of days but compared with the Droid it's much faster, the UI seems smoother, and overall feels more polished.  I still don't like that you need tools to get at the battery or that storage is non-expandable.  OTH, I never filled the 16 GB microSD card in my Droid.  As for the battery, I'll pick up an emergency cell phone charger.

A couple specific items on the iPhone which are better than the Droid are the maps application and the camera, both of which load much more quickly. The iPhone camera takes better pictures, too.

Call quality seems equivalent to the Droid.  I use only a fraction of my 450 minutes each month but use the heck out of the data features, especially email.  I'll be able to get ActiveSync enabled on my Exchange account at work and then iOS's native Exchange support will allow me to get my mail and calendar, without installing any extra software.  A few coworkers use iPhones for their work email and calendar and reported they works well.

OTH, the Android OS's support for widgets is a point in its favor, as is the better customizability when it comes to notifications. For example, the Android phones make no differentiation between ringtones and test message notification tones.  On the iPhones, ringtones are different from text message notification sounds.  So, while I was able to make some customer ringtones in iTunes and copy them to the phone, I couldn't use one for text messages; I'm stuck with the sounds Apple loaded. LAME.

If you use a Mac the integration between the computer and phone is impressive. For example, when I did my initial setup iTunes read the configuration of the email accounts I had setup in and transferred them to the phone. Likewise, you can sync Safari bookmarks on your computer and the iPhone.  (I've had an on-again/off-again relationship with Safari on the Mac. I will say that Safari on the iPhone is quite a bit better than the stock Android browser.)

I still have a great deal to learn about the iPhone and will try to post about new things I discover.

No comments: