January 2, 2012

Tech Reviews: Droid RAZR, Kindle Fire, and Apps

This past Christmas was a big one in terms of tech stuff for me. As an early gift, I got a Droid RAZR, which is available through Verizon Wireless.

I've been wanting a smartphone for a VERY long time -- my dad is an iPhone enthusiast, whereas I was always more seduced by the BlackBerry and Android phones, and Android ultimately won out.

Keeping in mind that this is the very first smartphone that I have ever owned, I don't have much to compare it to. But, the OS has been fairly slick and reliable for me, and the connection speeds are fairly decent too -- this phone comes with access to Verizon Wireless 4G LTE, where available. Something that some people might also find as a plus with this phone is the size of its screen. I've had comments from family, friends, and passersby about how huge the phone is. It makes it easier for people with vision problems to see, but the disadvantage is that it makes the phone rather cumbersome to try & carry around in your pocket.

The main complaint that I have with it is the battery life -- which, from what I have heard from people who use Android phones, is a common complaint with Android phones in general. Some Droid-owner friends of mine, I believe, have been able to find stronger batteries for their phones ... but with the RAZR being so new on the market, I'm not sure if anything like that is available for it yet.

Another surprise tech gift that I got this year is Amazon's Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is basically a step up from previous e-reader devices, because it also gives you access to Internet, email, and Android apps through the Amazon.com app store. The Kindle Fire, as you may have guessed, operates within the shell of Amazon.com.  You get access to books, magazines, music, & movies from Amazon, and the Amazon app store gives you access to many popular apps for Android -- such as Facebook, Words with Friends, Twitter, Pandora Radio, Angry Birds, and such. But it does not give you access to Android Market, nor many of the other apps that are otherwise available on Android Market. That, and there are more paid than free apps in the Amazon store, it appears to me.

The bottom line for the Kindle Fire is, if you want the full functionality of a tablet, you're better off spending the extra money for a tablet, as opposed to the Kindle Fire. But, if you just want something that gives you some Internet functionality (browser, email, etc.) and access to some of your favorite Android apps (with better battery life than you get on an Android phone!), a Kindle Fire may be a good choice for you.

Now:  APPS!  The biggest struggle for me has been finding the perfect app for posting to my social networks.  I like the look and feel of the official Twitter app for Android, but it does not give you the ability to post to Twitter & Facebook simultaneously.

One app that I've tried and seem to like is Seesmic.  Personally, I don't like the look of it as much as I do the official Twitter app, but it does pretty much everything I need it to do, in the way I like to see it done.  It's fast (for an "unofficial" app), there are no ads, it posts to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, and I prefer Twitter apps that give you buttons to go between your timeline, your replies, and your messages, as opposed to just making you slide from one screen to the other.

Anyway, this is just a start of something, in hopes to get this blog rejuvenated over the coming year.  =)  Keep watching for a lot of stuff, and  here's hoping for lots of good stuff in 2012!

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