Wednesday, March 16, 2011

From Centro to Focus

Its been about a month since I stopped using my Palm Centro and started using my Samsung Focus. Probably due to everything I read about the Windows Phone 7, the transition was quite smooth.

I never really knew (or trusted) where to get apps for the Centro. As such I never got to experiment with what was available, or see how that aspect of PalmOS went. Fortunately, the included apps were good, and pretty much what I needed. Moving over to WP7 I was quite happy to find replacements pretty quickly, and some of them included by default. Data Viz’s excellent Docs To Go was replaced by Microsoft Office, Palm’s calendar replaced by Calendar (and is syncable!), the to-do list replaced by To Do Today, etc. I will say that while the calendar is nice, I think what I’ve seen of the Palm Pre’s accordian-style calendar is a lot more slick and functional – less wasted scanning through things due to the efficient presentation.

Amusingly enough, the lack of multitasking in PalmOS has helped me not be too fussy about the lack of multitasking with WP7. Go figure.

The three most important improvements for internet connectivity were a more modern browser, speed and wifi. Blazer was functional, but Internet Explorer coupled with a higher resolution display worked a lot better. Sadly, there’s no option for alternative browsers/engines like Firefox, Chrome or Opera, but oh well. Doing anything online with the Centro seemed to go roughly at dial-up speed, which was frustrating since I’m so used to broadband at home. Even email took a few minutes to check and download from the server. Having wifi has been tremendously useful since it allows me to use my home or work wireless network instead of my data plan. Since AT&T tiers data plans (I have a 2g/month plan), this is big feature for me. No sense using up my data allotment if I can just tap into my home network to watch Youtube.

As a phone it seems to be about the same, which is fine by me. I’ve found the speaker phone to be quite good, although the menu interface while calling isn’t immediately available like it was on PalmOS. Not a huge deal, but its still a ding against WP7 in that regard. Working with my address book is considerably better on WP7 though, and honestly makes adding people seem like a pain anywhere else, including online or via Microsoft Mail.

Battery life is pretty good, although I have to admit that my usage of the phone has it plugged it more than my Centro. Why? Because I’m constantly fiddling with it somehow! When I’m not using it as a phone I’m quite likely to be using it in some other capacity – media player, mobile gaming, surfing online, alarm clock, etc. As such, yes, its plugged in more often than my Centro was due to simple usage. I did find that I had to get a charger to take around with me, but this seems consistent with every other modern smartphone owner I know.

What is interesting is that I’m now a lot less likely to actually use my desktop PC. If I’m not working on a project or playing a full-powered PC game, I’d normally be on Facebook, various forums, reading newsites, etc. Not so much anymore since I can do all those things on the Focus. I find that some sites are actually improved by going to their mobile versions. Of course, some sites don’t have mobile sites and adjust poorly, but them’s the breaks.

All in all I’ve got to say its been a very worthy upgrade from my Centro, and I’m quite pleased with it.

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