Apr 8 2012

My new Android smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket — the best $20 I’ve ever spent?

It finally happened.  I broke down and purchased my first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.  Long name, I know.  Here is what’s important:

  • Android device, with update to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) soon to arrive according to the rumor mill.
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.
  • 4.5″ AMOLED display.
  • Support for 4G LTE network, and Boston is one of the few markets currently supporting 4G LTE!

My now retired trusty Sony Ericsson T637 with my new Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.

By renewing our contract with AT&T (we were going to stick with them anyways; I’ve had AT&T for 10 years) we were able to purchase refurbished Samsung Skyrockets for $20 apiece.  That’s right, $20!  (The Samsung Galaxy S II, which doesn’t support 4G LTE and has a 4.3″ display is only $10 refurbished!)  Samsung makes great products (we have laptops, laser printers, monitors, etc. made by Samsung) so we were comfortable going with refurbished phones from them.  Plus they come with a 90-day warranty AND I used my American Express to pay for them which doubles the warranty, so we felt comfortable with the amount of warranty that we’d have on them.  They arrived in recyclable AT&T packaging with the phone, battery, battery cover, earphones, manual, charger, micro-USB cable, SIM card, and activation instructions.  Both phones appear flawless.

We had to add two data-plans and opted for the 3 gigs per month for $30 each ($10/gigabyte) since any overage results in buying another 1 gigabyte block for the same $10/gigabyte rate.  The only reason AT&T pushes the 5 gigabyte per month package is to up-sell you on being able to tether your device so you can create a WiFi access point using your dataplan and phone.  It’s a waste of money.  There are a bunch of other options including rooting your phone (warning: might void your warranty) and using free apps, or some apps that don’t require rooting your phone (FoxFi seems like a great option, and it’s free!).

After doing some research (which, yes, included YouTube), we opted for the Otterbox Defender series case.  Watch this video of an iPhone in an Otterbox Defender case survive a drop from 23 stories — I sure hope that isn’t faked in any way.  The cases are offered in two colors: all black and black with grey (called knight); we bought one of each so we could easily distinguish our phones.  The cases seem VERY protective, although there seem to be some manufacturing quality issues at Otterbox (more on that in a separate post).  They come with a holster which doubles as a kickstand, although the device might be a bit too big to wear comfortably.  The dust covers are also a really nice touch.

After playing with the phone for a few days and installing about 40 apps so far, I absolutely love it!  Expect future blog posts about some of the great apps that I’ve already found.

This might be the best $20 I’ve ever spent.


Apr 3 2012

Dear Netflix…

Oh Netflix, I am so conflicted about you.

Your online streaming is really convenient.  I love being able to watch series from beginning to end.  And it is reasonably priced for me.

Sometimes your streaming selection could be better.  (Not to be confused with Netflix red™.)

Your DVD service helps to fill many of those streaming gaps.

But your DVD service is overpriced.

Your dashboard is well designed.  I love the interface.  

Your queue management is horrible.  Why when I’ve watched something does its status in my queue seem pretty much unchanged?

Your suggested content is great.

You need to handle your browser support better.  It is ridiculous that the Firefox 11 update breaks your instant streaming and requires me to install an add-on that spoofs the Firefox 10 user agent string (User Agent Switcher for those having the same issue).  AND your browser compatibility information is incorrect as it lists “Firefox 3 or higher”, when clearly it should say “Firefox 3-10” given your browser support mechanism. Here is my Firefox 10 user agent string

“Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:10.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/10.0”

and here is my Firefox 11 user agent string

“Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:11.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/11.0”.  

You are seriously telling me that you can’t programmatically support that update?  *I* can support that programmatically.  Even if you can’t, you weren’t paying attention to when the Firefox 11 update was released so that you could manually update your allowed user agent list?  After Internet Explorer, Firefox has the 2nd largest share of the browser market.  Why wouldn’t you stay on top of supporting that?  And by supporting I mean simply updating your list of allowed user agents.  You could complete that code change in less time than it would take to create the ticket to track the issue.

You have THE BEST server error experience that I have ever seen (and fortunately for you, I have only seen it once – good thing I’m quick with my Print Screen key). *Brilliant* idea to provide a 100 or so streaming selections that so users could still watch something.

So that’s about 5 greens and 4 reds… I guess I’m sticking with you for now.  Please do something about your User Agent support.  That is probably the most annoying issue.  When I want to kick back and watch something to relax and forget about your other foibles, that browser support issue is REALLY (and ironically) frustrating.  FYI, here is the RapidRelease calendar for Firefox.  Please study it.  New releases about every 6 weeks.  That’s a lot of recurring opportunity to lose otherwise [very? mostly? somewhat?] happy customers.

Well, I’m off to find that Arthur and the Invisibles DVD that we’ve had sitting around since October 26th and still haven’t watched (no lie, and don’t laugh).

Sincerely,

Another (happy?) customer