PK-01 V Red Dot Optic for AK Pattern Rifles

Yesterday my new red dot optic for my AK-47 arrived. The optic I ordered was a PK-01 V Russian red dot optic that mounts on the AK’s side rail. Here it is mounted on my rifle:

The optic comes fully assembled and in that camouflage carrying case you see above the rifle. I chose this optic because it has several features I found desirable. First and foremost is mounted on the side rail of my AK. I wasn’t about to pay money to get hand guards with integrated rails just so I could mount my optic on top of that large moving gas piston. The second feature this thing has that I really like is the power source, two AAA batteries. I hate having to stock uncommon coin style batteries so I look for things that use regular old AA and AAA batteries. The third major reason I went with this optic is because it sits low enough that it co-witnesses with the iron sights as seen here:

I apologize for the crappy picture but trying to photograph a co-witnessing optic with your camera phone is a pain in the ass. I’m not one to trust electronic gear fully as batteries can die and other stupid shenanigans that make the optic worthless. That’s why I like an optic that co-witnesses with the iron sights, if the optic goes down it’s not a huge deal as I can just switch to the iron sights.

Some things I liked about this optic immediately were the adjustment knobs. Windage and elevation can be adjusted while you’re wearing gloves, no special tools required. Likewise the optic is built like a fine Russian tank, it strong like bull. Supposedly the entire optic is water proof but I’m not willing to submerge this thing in water just to test that claim. The battery compartment has a rub gasket on it which leads me to believe water shouldn’t be getting into the optic. Installation and removal is dead simple as are most side-mounting AK optics.

Sadly I haven’t had a chance to take it to the range yet so I can’t give a full report on how well it works. I can tell you that the red dot can be turned up to a very bright setting through. My eyes have a terrible red affinity meaning there are many red optics I can’t see. Giving my anything besides the brightest of red laser pointers if futile because I won’t be able to see the dot. The PK-01 V has eight brightness settings and I can see the dot anywhere from setting four on up.

I’ll have more to report when I get this suck to the range, sight it in, and either put rounds on paper or totally miss (in which case I’ll consider the optic shitty as I can’t possibly blame bad shooting on myself).

After a Few Months on the iPhone

I’ve been using my iPhone as my primary cell phone for a few months now and figured now is a good time to give my overall thoughts so far.

Overall I like it, it’s been a dependable phone and I haven’t had to reboot it once so far (any system that lasts more than a week with me without crashing and burning is pretty damned solid). This is the first computer (face it modern smart phones are just small computers) I’ve owned that has ever made it past week one without some kind of major operating system crash. Much of this could be contributed to Apple’s insanely tight controls over what you can and can’t down on your phone but it also requires a pretty solid operating system as a good foundation.

Using the phone has been pretty bloody simple. When it comes to interface design Apple is usually pretty solid. There really isn’t anything included with the phone that requires actions to operate that I would consider not being obvious. With that said having a nice dedicated back button ala Android phones would be a nice addition. I do think Apple is trying to cram a bit too much functionality into the single home button. Currently the home button will take you back to your list of applications, bring up the task manager when double-clicked, and bring up the voice controls when held down. I know Steve Jobs hates buttons but really some other system should be thought up besides using the single front facing button for everything.

I still think the multitasking system isn’t well thought out. Only being able to run certain services in the background really limits the types of things you can do. My main gripe comes from the fact an IRC server can’t run in the background for more than 10 minutes (an application can request up to 10 minutes to finish up doing work when you tap the home button) because there is no service for keeping a network connection open in the background. For the most part though you really don’t notice the lack of multitasking as most phone apps really have no need for it.

The number of available apps is rather insane. This would be a great thing if Apple actually had a decent method of searching for new applications. When you search for anything popular you may be that app you’re looking for but it’s equally likely you’ll get a list of unrelated apps that used a name purposely selected to show up when people search for more popular titles. This is also a problem on the Android Market and frankly both Apple and Google need to find a way to fix this shit.

Likewise using iTunes for everything is fucking retarded. Why am I using a media player to sync my phone and install applications on it? The name iTunes implies media functionality, it doesn’t imply syncing with a phone. There is an application in OS X called iSync that implies syncing devices with your computer, why not just use that? Hell iTunes is used to sync books, music, podcasts, apps, notes, calendars, e-mail accounts, and practically everything else on the planet so why doesn’t Apple just change the name to iDoFuckingEverything? This isn’t that big of a deal but it does go against Apple’s usual attempt to at least try to be somewhat logical with what applications do based on what they name it.

The antenna on the iPhone is retarded. Yes “holding it wrong” in your left-hand will cause your signal to drop. Apple did a short campaign showing this was a problem on every phone but they kind of missed the point. My Evo 4G will lose signal strength as well, when I grip the top of the phone. Who the Hell holds their phone by the stop of the device when talking on it? Nobody. Who holds their phone in their left hand when talking on it? A lot of people. And that there is the main difference.

Even though the antenna design is stupid at least the phone feels solid. Although making the back out of glass was a poor choice in my book (come on glass isn’t durable when it comes to dropping and people drop cell phones all the time) it does make the phone feel like it could take a bullet. Nothing on the phone flexes, creaks, or otherwise gives the impression of poor construction. I do appreciate the amount of time Apple’s industrial designers must have taken to ensure the phone doesn’t feel like a cheap piece of crap.

The number of accessories available for the iPhone is pretty damned impressive. Then again when you’re talking about a phone that everybody and their grandma is practically using I guess this shouldn’t be surprising. In the sea of stupid accessories there are some really neat ones that I find useful. My favorite are the video-out cables that are available. These cables are either AV or composite cables (depending on the ones you buy) that allow you to display movies on your phone onto a standard television. Being all my movies are on a computer it’s kind of difficult to bring them over to friends’ houses as they usually don’t have a computer plugged into their television. With the video-out cables I can load them onto my iPhone and play the movies are other peoples’ houses via my phone. Simple things like that do make my day a little nicer.

One of my biggest gripes about the Evo 4G was the simple fact the battery life was measure in hours. There is no way I could get through two entire days on one charge with my Evo but I can do that pretty easily on my iPhone. Then again I could swap a dead battery in my Evo for a fully charged one whereas Apple doesn’t allow such useful functionality on their precious phone. Trade offs I guess (although I’d say it’s more stupid design decisions by Apple).

Overall I recommend the phone as it’s a pretty damned solid platform, unless you actually like customizing your phone. Apple doesn’t allow you many freedoms with their devices but what is there works well. Android allows you far more customization of everything, Hell you can replace the default phone application. Likewise when the iPhone you take what you get and realize you’re not getting anything else until the next phone is released where many manufacturers are releasing Android phones meaning if you want little things like 4G you’re likely to find a vendor who provides it.

Yeah I like the iPhone.


I finally got around to watching Machete last night. Personally I think the film is an unbelievable, way over the top, extremely violent, and has no real plot; exactly what I was hoping for.

I loved the movie, it’s downright hilarious and has enough action sequences to feed anybody’s appetite for violence. The purposeful racial stereotyping was very funny especially when this day and age people are trying to edit past works in the name of political correctness.

iPhone Thoughts

I’ve been running on my iPhone for roughly a month now so I figured I’d give a quick overview of my thoughts on the device.

Because I’m a cantankerous asshole I’ll start with the things I don’t like about it. Apple put some rather silly restrictions in place on the phone. There are obvious ones such as the fact you can only install applications that Apple has personally approved but there are also odd little ones that you look at and get a headache trying to wrap your brain around. One of these restrictions is the fact you can’t download anything through the iTunes or App Store applications over 3G if it’s larger than 10MB. I don’t get this at all. AT&T uses tiered data now meaning you get 2GB and then pay an additional $10 for ever gigabyte over that. How that data is used should be irrelevant. Hell since they’re charging for tiered data they should throw in tethering for free. It’s retarded. On the other hand third party applications aren’t restricted to this behavior which is a nice thing.

Another thing I don’t like about the iPhone 4 are the fact that signal does drop if you hold it in your left hand and the back is made out of glass. The antenna thing has been covered to death and frankly you all know what’s up with that. Likewise I’m sure you can determine why making the back out of glass is a bad idea on a device that is generally dropped at least once in it’s lifetime (I haven’t dropped a phone yet but my friends have dropped my phones, on the iPhone 4 that’s pretty much game over).

Of course there is AT&T. I’ve not had any major troubles with their network or customer service (which I haven’t had to contact) yet. Their coverage sucks and back in my hometown there is no signal to be had. Meanwhile my Sprint phone has no issue finding a signal almost anywhere except in some valleys back in my hometown area. AT&T’s data network also seems slower than Sprints (and I’m not even talking 4G here). And there is that whole tiered data thing that AT&T has going but it seems Verizon is looking to do exactly the same thing and T-Mobile already has something in place (when you go over 5GB of data on T-Mobile they throttle your speed down to below 3G). Sprint is the last network with unlimited data but I wonder how long that will last.

Do you like iTunes? If not you’re going to absolutely hate the fact that everything done on the iPhone has to go through iTunes. Loading music, pictures, apps, movies, anything is done via syncing with iTunes. Frankly this is complete shit compared to doing the same tasks on Android. On my Evo I just plug the phone into my computer via a standard USB cable, enable disk drive mode, and copy the files I want to put onto my phone over through the file browser on my computer. Simple, easy, and effective. I wish Apple would implement this but that would destroy their god-like powers over their device which I know won’t happen.

You know what sucks about my Evo? The battery life. You know what rules about my Evo? The fact that I can just carry a spare battery. The battery in the iPhone is fixed which is just fucking stupid. The device’s battery life is great but it would be even better if I could just drop in a different battery when the primary one dies. Just saying Apple it wouldn’t be hard to implemented an easily replaceable battery.

Now the things I like about the iPhone. The device itself just feels sturdy. There isn’t any plastic to be had on the outside casing meaning you don’t have any real “creak” factor when you try to flex the device. It’s not a big deal but it does make the phone feel well built.

I really like the fast app switching implemented on the iPhone. In order to switch between previously opened applications you double-click the home button and a bar appears with every applications currently residing in memory. It’s fast and extremely easy. The Android equivalent would be holding down the home button for a couple of seconds and having the list of the last eight applications you used appear. Although Android has a better multi-tasking system their interface for dealing with it needs a lot of work (they should really just up and copy WebOS here).

The entire phone interface feels polished and consistent. When you have complete control on what can and can’t be loaded onto your device you can enforce some measure of consistency. I would like to see such consistency come to Android in the future but I don’t think that it will happen anytime soon.

iOS actually syncs properly with my Exchange server at work. This is a huge plus in my book because my Evo has had endless troubles syncing with my calendar at work and when it can’t sync with the calendar it refuses to sync with e-mail as well. I can actually use my iPhone for work, it’s great.

Likewise unlike my Evo the iPhone doesn’t have any trouble using Pandora or (Pandora problems have been mostly fixed on the Evo at this point but is still unusable). Apple has a stable and well tested media layer that they seem to be content with leaving alone. I can’t say how much I appreciate this fact.

Apple also makes quite a few cool accessories for my iPhone. Although my Evo has an HDMI-out port on it it’s not really very useful. Apple has VGA, AV, and composite cable adapters for the iPhone (they also work on the iPad) that allow you to push any video you’re playing on the iPhone to a television or projector. The VGA adapter also allows you to use an iPad as a Keynote presentation tool.

Overall I’m rather happy with my iPhone so far. Although I like the freedom that Android gives my experience with my Evo has left me sour. I’m still pissed that Google lost all records of Market apps that I purchased for my phone. Between the iPhone and my Evo I’ll take the iPhone hands down even with all the stupid limitations Apple has put into place.

iOS and Android Compared

I’ve had some time with iOS on my iPad and Android on my Evo 4G. Obviously there are a lot of differences and I figure I might as well record some of them.

I know there is a lot of debate on whether Android is open or not. Personally I’ve complained several times about how locked down Android is on most phones. After working with iOS for a while I can say for a fact that iOS is a veritable prison compared to Android. Although Android can’t do a lot on a phone that hasn’t been rooted it isn’t tied to a desktop computer.

Generally I don’t have to connect my Evo to my computer unless I need to get some files off of my desktop. I can download most files onto my phone from my phone. The iPad is far different in that it requires all files be downloaded through iTunes. You can’t do a damned thing on an iOS device without a desktop running iTunes. That’s pretty restrictive if I do say so myself.

A big part of this problem comes from the lack of a universal file storage area on iOS devices. On Android devices any files stored on an external media (think SD card) are readable by any application. This means if you use the browser to download a file onto an SD card you can open said file with another program. This can’t be done on an iOS device. If you want to download a file and open it in another program you must download that file on your desktop and transfer the file to your iOS device via iTunes. This is probably the largest limitation in iOS devices.

Another thing that keeps the iOS platform locked down is the inability to install application from a source outside of iTunes. If apple doesn’t approve an application you simply can’t install it. On most Android devices you can side load applications. This means you’re not at Google’s mercy when it comes to applications you can install. Once against this is a pretty severe restriction to place on a device.

One thing that Android has that if find lacking in iOS are widgets. I never thought I’d like widgets so damned much but honestly they are very nice to have. My home screen on my Evo displays the time, weather, upcoming appointments, and my todo list. To see these I just have to turn my phone on. On my iPad I’d have to open a weather application, the calendar application, and a todo application one after another. Widgets make getting specific information quickly easy.

The final mistake made in iOS was the notification system. When an application sends a notification a dialog box pops up and must be dealt with before returning to whatever you were doing before being interrupted. Android has a much nicer system where an icon appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and you can read the notification but running your finger from the top of the screen down. Doing this brings down the notification area with a list of all current notifications that haven’t been dealt with. Neither is as intuitive as WebOS’s notification system though.

Now that I’ve bitched about iOS let me focus on the things it does well. The mos notable difference between iOS and Android is the interface. Apple has a long tradition of having consistent and easy to use interfaces. That tradition holds true on iOS. All the included applications have intuitive interfaces which are easy to navigate. Navigation is done consistently in the included applications as well. For instance if I open and application, flip to a new form, and want to flip back I can rest assured that the button to return me to my previous screen will be in the upper left-hand corner of the new form.

Android is the opposite of this. The user interface in Android is inconsistent at best although it has been improving over the various versions. Hell there isn’t even a unified e-mail application included in Android. If you use GMail then you can use Google’s GMail application otherwise you are stuck with the other stock Android e-mail application. These two applications don’t even work in similar manners. For example GMail has a threaded interface with the controls for replying at the top of the e-mail header. The other e-mail application has no conversation threading and replying is done via two buttons at the bottom of the screen. I haven’t a clue what Google was thinking with this but it’s not done properly.

Although it hasn’t been released for the iPad yet I’ve played with iOS’s multitasking via emulators and devices at the Apple store. I’ve mentioned that the back end mechanism for doing multitasking in iOS is poorly implemented but the interface for switching between running applications is better than the standard Android mechanism. In iOS tapping the home screen twice brings up a list of “running” applications (application still in memory but not using CPU time). Every application that’s still in memory will be listed and can be selected by tapping on the application’s icon. Android’s mechanism is… inconsistent. Holding down the home button will bring up a list of the last eight used applications which is tedious (it’s roughly a one second button hold which doesn’t sound long until you’re trying to quickly navigate between three applications). Some applications are good enough to place an icon in the notification bar which makes navigating back to that applications as easy as opening the notification area and tapping on said icon. One again neither are as intuitive and quick as WebOS but this post isn’t about how to do an interface correctly.

If there is one thing Apple is good at it’s polish. I can’t never say that enough because it’s honestly very true. Most things under iOS just scream polish job. The interface is consistent, animations always run smoothly, and shit happens when it’s supposed to (when I rotate my iPad the screen rotates instantly, sometimes my Evo requires a few violent shakes to get the screen to notice I changed the device’s orientation). Everything on iOS is kept simple and uncluttered which I really appreciated on a mobile device.

The bottom line is you have a choice; a very pretty and well run prison or a village to roam where little was planned in accordance with other parts. Frankly Android still wins in my book because I can actually have a device that doesn’t need to be tethered to my computer at any time. On the other hand using iOS is a very pleasant experience and I can know with some matter of certainly what will happen when I do something.

The iPad

Due to completion of a fortuitous side job (here’s an interesting fact, knowing assembly language for Freescale based microcontrollers can be extremely profitable) I found myself with a good chunk of extra money in my pocket this month. I’m sure anybody who read the title can figure out where this post is going, I used some of that money to purchase an iPad.

OK just let out your gasps of surprise and outrage, I’ll wait…

Still going?

Done now? Good. I’m sure you’re wondering how after all my bitching, whining, and complaining about Apple’s mobile products why I’d get an iPad. In all honesty for two reasons. First the iPad fulfills a few needs I have. Second as much as I hate the Apple store, iOS development is something I should know how to do as it’s incredibly popular.

First my needs. I’ve been lusting after a tablet device running a mobile operating system for a very long time. A small and portable device that is big enough to do real web browsing on appeases to me. Likewise It would be nice to have something besides my big honking laptop when traveling. I love my laptop but 15″ doesn’t fit on those plane seat-mounted tables very well. Mostly I wanted a mobile media device.

Why not wait for an Android tablet? Because the only decent one announced so far has a 7″ screen is is tied to various cell phone carriers. I wanted a 10″ screen, simple as that. In addition to that I also wanted a Wi-Fi only device that I didn’t have to pay a monthly fee for. The iPad does all of that and any competition won’t be out for quite some time.

This post is mostly going to be about my initial thoughts on the device. To make things more interesting I’m posting this using my iPad with an paired Bluetooth keyboard (yes this is an awesome feature, a tablet that can use a standard Bluetooth keyboard). Because I’m in a positive mood I’ll start with the things I like about the iPad so far.

To begin let me talk battery life. The batter life on the iPad is phenomenal. I mean that. I used the device for roughly five hours last night and was trying to use every battery draining feature I could come across. Out of the box the iPad had a 90% charged battery and by the end of the five hours it was still above 60%. This includes web browsing, playing some games, watching YouTube videos, and having the screen running for almost the entire time. In fact I set the auto-lock timeout to 15 minutes to ensure the screen wouldn’t be off very often just to beat on the battery. Color me impressed.

Next up I want to just say when it comes to polish Apple knows their stuff. The interface on the iPad runs smoothly. There is no lag when scrolling web pages pages, zooming into pictures, or rotating the screen. It all happens instantly and smoothly. In order to get my Evo to rotate the screen I sometimes have to shake it in an exaggerated manner to finally get it to the orientation I want. The iPad also has a switch to lock the orientation so rotating the device won’t cause the screen to re-adjust. Videos, even HD ones, play without so much as a stutter. I used VLC to play a bunch of television shows I have and at no point did I notice any slow down. Everything feels complete and well thought out which is Apple’s modus operandi.

As a media and web device the iPad is great. Of course now it’s time to rattle off when I don’t like so far on the iPad. The biggest drag is the fact that you have this nice, big, and powerful device with wireless network access and you can’t do a damned thing without plugging it into a computer (and the iPad doesn’t charge off of my USB ports, just a small niggle to irritate you). Now only do you have to plug it into a computer, but a computer that has iTunes installed. Getting data onto the iPad is reminiscent of the old Palm OS and Pocket PC days.

Let’s say I want to put a movie onto my Evo. To accomplish this goal I plug my Evo into any computer with a standard USB cable, turn on drive mode, and copy the files to the Evo’s SD card. It’s simple, straight forward, and works very well. Now let’s say I want to put a movie onto my iPad. To accomplish this goal I have to plug my iPad into a computer with iTunes, tell iTunes what movies I want to upload and what application to use those movies on (more on that in a bit), and finally click the sync button and wait. I mention the waiting part because if you try to use the iPad during a sync operating it seems to stall until you lock the screen again. This could be user error as this is an initial thoughts post instead of an actual review.

I mentioned that you have to tell iTunes what application to upload the movie to. Android has a nice setup where anything on external storage is readable by any application on the device. If you have an application that you want to keep the data private one you store that data in the device’s memory which is secure form being read by any other application. iOS lacks the first mentioned mechanism as there is no universal file storage area. Every file on the device is usable by only the single program you copied it to. This means if you want a photo uploaded for use with two applications (let’s say two photo editors that do different things) you need to copy the file onto the device twice. I’m going to be honest here, this is stupid. I understand the desire to sandbox applications, that’s a good thing, but at least have a mechanism for sharing data between applications.

Let me use another example. There is a website I frequent that you probably haven’t heard of. This site has a ton of free PDFs for downloading and reading. On my Evo I just select the PDF, download it to the SD card, and open it with my read of choice. On the iPad I… swear up a storm because I can’t just download a file and open it with another application. When downloaded that PDF is locked to Safari so it can’t be read in another application. I order to get that PDF into a reader application I have to either download it on my desktop and upload the file via iTunes, highlight and copy the URL of the PDF document and then hope the reader application has the ability to download PDF files, or read the PDF in Safari.

To boot the ability to sync with online services just isn’t well implemented. When I add a Google account to my Android phone everything on that account can be synced. This means once setup my phone will automatically pull down my e-mail, contacts, and calendar. The only way to do this on the iPad is using an Exchange server. Adding a Google account only grabs the e-mail. To get your Google stored contacts you have to have Address Book on your Mac sync with your Google account and then use iTunes to sync Address Book with your iPad. The same goes for your Google calendar. I realize that Apple sells their MobileMe servier but frankly if you want to have a device this day an age it should sync with most major online services. There is no reason this day and age to require me to plug one of my portable device into another computer in order to get my contacts and calendar. Fucking ridiculous.

Since I mentioned reading let me get to another task the iPad does poorly. I downloaded the Kindle application and synced Old Man’s War to the iPad. As a reader the iPad sucks. Plain and simple. I don’t like reading on back lit screens now that I’ve experienced the wonders of e-ink. There is no way I could ever go back when it comes to reading novels. On top of that the iPad is very heavy compared to the Kindle meaning you arms are going to tire of holding the iPad for any extensive amount of time. So yeah the Kindle is staying.

One thing I never thought I’d miss on a device is the Android back button. It’s hard to realize how often you just need to go back to a previous screen until you’ve had a device with a dedicated back button and then used a device that doesn’t. It’s a small thing but every time I want to go back in an application I generally have to tap a button at the top of the screen. I’ll admit it’s not a big deal just a little something I noticed.

Overall I like the iPad for the reasons I purchased it. It’s a far more portable device than my laptop and handles media very well. Until iOS 4 becomes available for the iPad I’m not going to give it an serious consideration as a communication device because I need multi-tasking for an IRC client. The iPad also oozes polish and user experience. It’s seriously fast and the interface always runs smoothly. As a phone operating system I don’t think I could get by with it. I’m too used to having a phone that isn’t dependent on being connected do another computer.

The bottom line is I like the iPad for what I bought it for but do not line iOS as anything outside of a media operating system (so far, maybe that will change as I find new things). There are also some seriously fun games for the iPad… just throwing that out there.

Comcast Business Service

I do a lot of bitching on this site but rarely am I able to give out compliments. Consider this post one of those rare changes. For those of you unaware the connection I have at my apartment is Comcast Business. I did this for several reasons include the desire to have a static IP address and the only other options being Comcast Residential (which his horrible from what I’ve heard) or Qwest (which is also horrible from what I’ve heard).

Yesterday afternoon my Internet connection died (I know it was in the afternoon because that’s when my VPN tunnel exited and I couldn’t reestablish it). When I got home I did the usual dance of rebooting the router and such which lead to no change. So I decided to call Comcast for the first time. The support line for their Residential and Business services are completely separate from what I can tell as it took me less than five minutes to talk to a living human being (who had no accent I might add).

Mind you this is around 6:30 at night. The support agent had me redo my dance of rebooting the router which I did just to humor him at this point (frankly it takes less time than arguing that it’s a pointless gesture as I’ve already tried it). Once the router rebooted the support agent was still unable to see it so he wrote up a trouble ticket and dispatched a field agent. Around 8:00 p.m. the field agent showed up, came up to my apartment, checked the line, and found there was no signal. At this point we went down to the electrical closet where we learned somebody had disconnected my line (again, this is the third time somebody mucking about in there has disconnected my service). Once it was reconnected I was good to go.

I have to say Comcast’s Residential service may suck major donkey balls but their Business service is pretty bad ass. I can get a support agent there 24/7 instead of having to take off of work and wait three hours for somebody to show up. Anyways I’m a happy customer at this point.

The Expendables

I’m often late to the party and this is no exception. Last night I finally got around to seeing The Expendables. After watching it I must give this movie my utmost recommendation. The Expendables does what it’s intended to do very well, which is be an over the top action movie akin to old films of the ’80’s. Every big name action movie star in the last three decades can be found here, even Schwarzenegger.

Everything in the movie eventually gets shot, blown up, or has a knife stabbed through it. It’s pure mindless destruction and famous action movie stars being awesome.

Palm Pre vs. Evo 4G: Hardware

OK I’m late to the game but hey I do finally have a Palm Pre to compare against my Evo 4G. Today I’m going to compare the hardware of the two devices. Obviously being a newer device the Evo is going to have a faster process and more RAM so I’ll not concern myself with those. I’m also going to ignore the 4G radio in the Evo as that wasn’t available when the Pre was released.

Both phones have 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radios built-in. Likewise both of the phones I have are CDMA meaning they’ll work on Sprint and would work on Verizon if they were unlocked. All the radios on both phones work well so I can’t say much here.

Let’s start off with overall build quality. One thing that I like about HTC’s phones is that they are usually built pretty sturdy. The Evo is a pretty tough customer and I haven’t had anything on it break yet (keyword being yet). While the Pre has a plastic screen that scratches easily the Evo has a glass screen that is pretty damned scratch resistant. The default back cover on the Pre is a shiny plastic making it slippery and a fingerprint magnet while the Evo has a nice rubberized backing which improves gripping.

The Pre I purchased was used and it came with a blown out speaker and a bad power button (the power button sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, you really have to press it hard to ensure proper operation). I did a little searching online and both of these issues are common as is another issue called Oreoing. Oreoing is where the screen can not only slide up from the keyboard but also rotate around. Why is this a problem? Because the phone wasn’t designed to do this. An additional issue that appears common are the volume buttons breaking. Did I mention the fact that the little cover over the micro USB port have a habit of snapping off? I didn’t? Well they do and to rub salt in the wound the cover prevents many standard cables from fully plugging into the Pre (the corner of the tab obscures the edge of most cables from fully seating). Yeah the Pre has a lot of issue on the hardware side of things.

Palm built the Pre on a fairly shoestring budget and you can tell in the lacking quality of the device. One the other hand HTC built the Evo has a flagship device and spent an amazing amount of time making sure all the little details were covered. The one hardware feature I absolutely love on the Evo is the kickstand. Yes HTC realized the Evo would benefit from having a kickstand and tossed one on. It’s not a flimsy piece of plastic either, it’s a fairly substantial piece of plastic. Really the hardware on the Evo just screams quality build with the only real issue is some light leakage between the outside frame of the phone and the lit touch buttons at the bottom. The Evo’s build quality is far and beyond the Pre’s.

While the Pre has a built-in 8GB flash card for storage the Evo has a removable microSD card. The stock card that comes with the Evo is 8GB in size giving these phones the same amount of storage space out of the box. Unlike the Pre’s storage the Evo’s can be increased (which I did the day I got the phone) up to 32GB (32GB being a limitation of the microSD specification not of the Android operating system). The 8GB of on board storage in the Pre is pretty small by today’s standards and was out shined by the iPhone as that had up to 16GB when it was released. I stated that because the Pre was primarily competing against the iPhone and Palm had said some pretty antagonizing things about Apple’s pending phone release. If you’re going to say antagonizing things to your competitor you should be able to produce a product that is superior in every way. I like removable storage (if my computer had a fixed hard drive I’d be pissed) so I’m giving this to the Evo.

The Pre is a slider phone while the Evo is a monstrous slate phone. I’m pretty sure the Evo is such an advanced black rectangular object that throwing it into the monkey pen at the zoo would cause them to learn the use of weapons. The Pre has a much smaller profile than the Evo which comes at the cost of having a noticeably smaller screen. One thing I love about the Evo is the 4.3″ screen. In my opinion the Evo right on the border between being too large for a phone. The Pre is comfortably pocketable.

Being a slider the Pre actually has a physical keyboard. I’ve become accustom to the Evo’s on-screen keyboard but have to say I’ve always preferred having a hardware keyboard if all other things remained equal. The on-screen keyboard on the Evo is damned good so I don’t really mind the lack of a physical keyboard (honestly I’m glad it doesn’t have one otherwise it would be thicker than it is). I came from a Palm Treo 755p which has the ultimate in phone keyboards in my opinion.

The keyboard on the Pre is slightly smaller making it slightly harder to use than the Treo’s keyboard. Adding to the difficulty is the fact the keyboard is sunken into the phone leaving a lip under the keys which can cause some slight annoyance at times. One thing I really dislike about the Pre’s keyboard is the fact it’s a membrane board meaning instead of individual keys there is just one membrane covering all of the keys. These membranes have a habit of developing tears. One downside of a physical keyboard is the inability to type while holding the phone in landscape mode. This wasn’t an issue with the Treo as it had a square screen thus there was no advantage gained in holding the phone sideways. On a phone with a rectangular screen such as the Pre not being able to type while holding the phone in landscape mode is a pain. I actually have to give the Evo the win in this category even though I’ve always been a fan of physical keyboards.

With the keyboard out of the way let’s talk screens. The Evo wins here, hands down. The Evo screen is larger, brighter, and higher resolution. There really is no competition.

Both phones come equipped with cameras. I’m not really doing to say much on this because the camera on the Pre was standard affair when the phone was released. The Evo has an 8.0 megapixel camera (meaning the censor is too small for the number of pixels crammed on there and you get a TON of noise unless there is really good lighting) which is capable of taking 720p video (which ends up looking like shit due to the censor being too small). There is a flash capability on both phones which means you can have washed out shitty looking pictures regardless of the phone you used to take it.

How about the battery life? Both phones are pretty neck-in-neck here, which is to say they both have shitty battery life. Both phones can’t get you through the day with moderate usage of texting and web browsing so long as you’re in a good signal area. Unfortunately the second your signal quality turns to shit so does your battery life. Down in my hometown Sprint has pretty abysmal coverage (while there is zero GSM coverage). The last time I was there I noticed the battery life on the Evo went from acceptable to dreadful as it couldn’t get through the day (not that big of a deal for me as I carry an additional battery just as I can an additional magazine for my carry gun). The Evo can talk all day without any real drain to the battery which is nice. I’m not sure on the Pre’s talk time as I’ve not actually had a long conversation on the device. Both phones are tied for battery life, and by tied I mean they both suck.

One feature the Pre has available (for additional cost) is the Touchstone. The Touchstone is an inductive charger which means it charges the Pre simply by placing the phone on the charger. There are no cables to plug in, just a new (rubberized thankfully) back cover to clip onto your Pre. There is a magnet in the Touchstone that ensures the attached Pre won’t fall off. It charges pretty quickly to boot. I want to be perfectly clear on this, these types of chargers should be standard on every phone produced from here on out. This is one innovation Palm really did right and I wish every other phone manufacturer would copy them. Sure plugging a cable in isn’t too much of an inconvenience (unless it’s the Pre and you have to open that fragile tab every time) but damn it we don’t need to anymore so why are we doing it?

Hands down I prefer the Evo’s hardware without even considering the processor, RAM, or 4G radio. HTC can build nice phones and really pulled out all of the stops when they constructed the Evo. Palm has had slight hardware issues with most of the products they’ve released (for example I have a Palm T|X with a broken power button, a very common issue with that PDA). The Pre has a lot of known issues and suffers from a general cheapness of the design. One the other hand the Pre is much easier to fit into a pocket and has a physical keyboard which many people far prefer.

I’ll write up a comparison of WebOS and Android at a later date.

Kindle 3

My new Kindle 3 arrived last night and I must say it’s pretty sweet.

First thing to note about the new Kindle is the size, it’s notably smaller than the previous model. The screen itself remains the same size but the overall device size is smaller and the device is lighter. Of course to accomplish this shrinkage they removed the dedicated number keys on the keyboard and put them into the symbol menu which I’m not too wild about. The backside is no longer metal but a rubberized plastic making it easier to grip but at the cost of feeling slightly chintzier.

The new E Ink Pearl screen is fantastic. The improved contrast is noticeable the second you see the screen. On previous generation Kindles the background was kind of a very light gray. The new Pearl screen’s background is almost white making the text a little easier to read. Additionally the refresh rate of the screen is faster than the Kindle 2 by a notable amount.

Having both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity is a plus for those outside of 3G coverage. I hooked mine up to my Wi-Fi access point to test it and it works perfectly fine. With that said I’ll probably just continue using the 3G network because it’s always there and has always worked well for me. Still it’s a nice feature and if you don’t spend a lot of time in areas with 3G Amazon does offer a Wi-Fi only version.

I also like the new color. I’ve never been a big fan of white devices. It’s not that I hate white devices I just don’t like how they look as much. When I purchase a device I want it to be blacker than the blackest black times infinity. Well the new Kindle is graphite which is close enough to black for me to give it the head nod.

Ultimately I only have on real complaint, collections don’t sync. One of the best features of the last Kindle firmware update was the ability to put books into collections. This greatly cleans up the book selection screen which without collections ends up being something like seven or eight pages long for me. With collections I have two pages worth of stuff to dig through. Sadly when I redownloaded my books they did not go into the collections I placed them in on my Kindle 2 meaning I had to manually re-add them all to their proper collections. Really that’s a slight annoyance but it’s something I’d like to see changed in the future.

Overall I think it’s a great device and a good upgrade. Is it work upgrading to if you already have a Kindle 2? Probably not. All the new features are evolutionary instead of revolutionary meaning you probably aren’t going to notice a heck of a lot of difference. If you’re happy with your Kindle 2 you can comfortably remain on it as there are no new features that will blow you away. The improved screen is very nice through and with the upgrade if you plan on selling your current Kindle (I don’t think the improved screen itself is worth $189.00).

So why did I upgrade? Because I’m a device whore that’s why. I saw something new and shiny which meant I had to have it.