PhanMail Friday: Back From Google I/O [May 20th, 2011]


Yes, I know I promised these would go down every Friday. But last Friday was different. We were hot off the heels of Google I/O and there was a crap ton of stuff to do. (You can find all of our coverage link the wrap-up post here, by the way.) But it’s another Friday and it’s about time for another session of PhanMail. Lots of things have come in since the last time we’ve met so let’s not waste any time digging into it all. And remember, you can easily submit your own question by heading over to our contact form here. (We can’t promise that every single question will be met with an answer.) Let’s go!

“Why aren’t companies expanding the tablet market to offer dual boot Android (Honeycomb) / Windows 7 tablets? My online search for such a device rendered only 1 by viewsonic, but it’s subpar especially due to it’s severely outdated Android (1.6 I think).

I have a hard time justifying investing $400-700 dollars in a tablet alone since much of what it might do I can do on my Android phone or my laptop already. But a tablet that could also run Windows software and could be used for Windows computing via touchscreen, then could spin around and through superhero-like magic become a Honeycomb Android tablet…

Now that is something I would actually stand in line to buy! (So long as the hardware specs were enough to support the power it would need.)”

— Eric

Trust me, Eric – we’d all love to see that. Unfortunately, this is not common even in the desktop space. It’s usually always one or the other, with users being given the choice to dual or tri-boot alternative operating systems. It’s amazing that we even have devices in mobile that allow this out of the box, no matter how outdated that version of Android is. Mobile is even more difficult, not only due to licensing and legal speed bumps, but due to technical feasibility. I’m no expert on any of this stuff, but portability with mobile chipset technology isn’t quite as easy as you might think. It’s possible, but most OEMs don’t care to offer such a product. They’ll offer one, the other or both in separate products and it works for them. I don’t see many dual-booting tablets or smartphones headed our way inn the near future.

“I read Quentyn Kennemer’s HTC Incredible 2 review. Now that the Droid X2 is days away, what do you feel is the better solution between Incredible 2 or Droid X2? I do not want to go to 4G and I will be new to the android market (leaving the BB). I am mainly a phone, e-mail, text, and little web user.” [Editor’s Note: The DROID X2 is now available online.]

— Bill

Thanks for the note, Bill. Unfortunately, I have not yet played with the Motorola DROID X2 so I can’t give an opinion on it. I can definitely tell you that the DROID Incredible 2 is a fantastic option for some who doesn’t need the absolute latest in specifications. The single core 1GHz processor in the Incredible 2 is fine enough for all of the things you’ve listed plus more. And as you’re a former Blackberry user, I imagine you value battery life. The DROID Incredible 2 is great in that regard and lasts longer than a lot of products I’ve tested recently. Do note that Kevin Krause will be reviewing the DROID X2 shortly, so be on the lookout for that and use it to get an idea of what it’s like up against the DROID Incredible 2.

“Has AT&T resolved the Amazon app-store yet, or did I miss this lead?”

— Whiskey

Not quite yet, Whiskey. While they have released a phone that allows you to sideload applications (the Samsung Infuse 4G), their existing phones are still locked down. AT&T has confirmed that several of their existing Android phones will get an upgrade to enable this functionality, though. We’re not exactly sure how long this will take, but they haven’t forgotten about you folks. Sit tight.

“I am currently on Sprint, and my contract is up, and I’m jumping onto my first android phone. My only necessity is a hardware keyboard. After doing some research, I found the Epic 4g to be the phone that best fits my needs. However, with the Galaxy S II released in Europe recently, a US launch, and hopefully an Epic 4g 2, seems imminent by July to August. The Galaxy S II is arguably the best android phone available, and if there’s a chance of US variants again. Should I hold out and wait for the possible Epic 4g 2 or jump ship to the Epic 4g, and be stuck with already dating hardware for two years?”

— Ralph

While there’s a possibility Sprint could provide a hardware keyboard for the Samsung Galaxy S II, nothing has been confirmed. In fact, all signs are pointing toward Sprint adopting the international Galaxy S, just as AT&T and Verizon are rumored to be. This came by way of an accessory listing that said one case was interchangeable between all three of their versions of the Galaxy S II. And that isn’t the most concrete information in the world, but it’s all we have to go on. Also note that the Galaxy S II is a 4.3 inch device – keyboards are only usually included on devices 4 inches and lower. That’s not to say there isn’t a chance Sprint could opt to include one, but given the history of the smartphone industry that’s highly unlikely. I’d hold out until at least June or July to see what cards Sprint is holding.

“Are keyboards going the way of Pagers? It seems like now a days every phone that comes out is all about the huge touch screen instead of a nice quality keyboard. What are your guys thoughts?”

— Sapan

It certainly seems that way, Sapan. Keyboards on smartphones (with any operating system) are at a premium these days up against sole touchscreens. Thankfully, they haven’t completely been phased out just yet. Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and more all produce several phones that include hardware keyboards. Some folks can never seem to find the combination they want, though. 4G? Dual core? Stock Android? Front-facing camera? Some of those but not all? There are still hardware keyboard phones to be had, but options are definitely limited and you can’t be picky if you want one in this day and age. I don’t know if they’ll ever go the way of the beeper, but I imagine they won’t.

“I know that the software update to the motorola xoom is rolling out but this miss anything or the SD card issues still will be missing?”

— Jose

Unfortunately, the latest upgrade to Android 3.1 still did not enable SD card support. Some folks at XDA have gotten it up and running if you’re into that sort of thing, though. Otherwise we’ll need to wait for Motorola to issue that upgrade. (Which we imagine might not come until they start upgrading XOOMs to have 4G radios inside.)

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1.  about dual boot tablets, now that win8 will run on ARM we will probably be more likely to see a tablet that dual boot android/win8

  2.  The key reason we don’t have dual boot is because of 86x versus ARM architectures.  Windows 7 is not currently compatible with ARM (Win 8 is supposed to be, but 86x software compatibility is still up in the air) and it’s unclear to what extent Android is compatible — there are some Intel reference phones supposedly floating around and Google TV runs on Intel Atoms, but certainly nothing on a mainstream phone or tablet device.

  3. The lack of keyboards on the current crop of phones is driving me nuts. I am deaf and my phone serves purely as a email/IM/TXT device. I cant stand the onscreen keyboards, a real keyboard is required. I had to buy a used G1 recently because there are currently so few phones that meet my wants (android w/ custom rom available+keyboard+vga or better+UMTS850 for ATT 3G)

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