n00b looking for advice


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  1. 3club

    3club Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Good morning to all my new friends.

    I've never owned a smartphone before, and would like some help in my decision making process. Maybe I'm just looking for a sounding board to bounce my thoughts off of.

    What I do:
    People call me for help, usually with their computers. I drive to their homes, often out in the sticks with no broadband, and sometimes with no cell signal.

    Why I want:
    I hate dial-up. I'd like to take some kind of broadband with me in such cases, to temporarily hook up to other people's computers.

    Also I like to set up a local network while I'm there to transfer files from my laptop to their pc. I'd also like to be able to check my appointments anywhere (I use Google Calendar) without getting out my laptop.

    Also (I have many "alsos") I currently have two Skype phone numbers and a Google Voice number. I'd like to free myself from having to lug out my laptop and plug in headphones every time I want to make a call.

    What I'm thinking:
    I currently have Alltel (I resist referring to them as Verizon because they piss me off) and think I'll stay because other companies seem to have worse coverage in rural areas. I'm leaning towards a Droid X. I welcome all comments from people suggesting otherwise. That's why I'm not posting this in the X forum just yet. Somebody please talk me out of this! lol

    My beef with verizon:
    Last year, before the evil V hijacked my service, I was perfectly happy with my Alltel account for $24.95 a month. I had 300 anytime minutes a month, free nighttime started at 6pm, and could call from just about anywhere in Michigan, free long distance to anywhere in the US, unlimited tethering for an additional $9.99 per month (which I dropped because I wasn't using it very often).

    Then the big bad came along and hijacked my account, promising that nothing would change. But then came the roaming charges, even within my own home town. They said my Alltel coverage area only included one tower, so if I drove to the other side of town I was roaming.

    After arguing all day, they bent me over a barrel and almost doubled my bill from $24 to $40 per month. I feel totally violated. Anyway... Sorry, it just feels good to get that off my chest.

    My concerns:
    I understand that if I get this droid, I'm also required to pull another $30/mo from my backside. That's where I draw the line, and I'll take it like a man. On top of that, another $20 for tethering??? That crosses the line. I'll root it first and not lose any sleep over it. But if I do this WiFi tethering, I've read that it's ad-hoc, not infrastructure, so will I be able to use it for pc-to-pc file transfers, like a router?

    At least it has Skype and Google Voice, right? But I hear that the evil V won't allow them as VOIP, even though I'd be paying for unlimited data, and that they'd burn my minutes instead. That also crosses the line. If I root my phone, is there a way to use VOIP?

    I do have ONE "friend or family", which currently is my Google Voice number. I currently have to call that number first, and then manually dial the person I'm calling. Is there any kind of "calling card" app that would do this automatically for me?

    Calendar:
    Is there a calendar app that will sync with my Google Calendar and keep a local copy I can view when I'm out of cell signal range?

    GPS:

    I used to use the GPS app on my old phone, Samsung u520, but it would quit working if I drove into an area with no service, so I bought a real dedicated GPS, a Garmin Etrex Vista HCx and dumped Alltel's GPS program and the data package (which I also used for occasional tethering). If I get the droid, will it have the same problem? Does the GPS require cell signal to function? Will it work in airplane mode?

    GPS Sensitivity:
    My first GPS experience was backpacking with my friend's eTrex Legend. It would lose the satellites in the woods because of the foliage. So I bought my eTrex Vista HCx which has a high sensitivity receiver. Now I can get a satellite lock even in my basement. What is the sensitivity of the GPS in a droid? Would it be suitable for backpacking in dense foliage with no cell service? If I can carry one less piece of equipment, that would be great. Can I load topo maps on it and save my tracks to a .gpx file?

    Navigation from Calendar:
    When I'm looking at my appointment in Google Calendar, which has the address in it, can I navigate from there? I'd hate to have to write down the address on a piece of paper, close the calendar, open the gps app, and manually enter it in there. Can droid make it easy?

    Phone while GPS?
    Another problem with the old Alltel GPS was that if a call came in, it would take over the phone, and I'd miss turns until I ended the conversation. Another reason I switched to a dedicated GPS. Can a droid handle the call in the background and still let me navigate?

    Music?
    I plug my phone into my car tape adapter to use as MP3 player. I do like that it would pause playing when a call came in, but if I want to initiate a call, I have to totally shut down the player. With a droid, can I just pause it instead? Also, and I know this is a long shot, can I play music while using the GPS to navigate?

    Camera?
    I have a Canon PowerShot A570IS, just a cheap but nice pocket camera. I know the DroidX has a big fat 8MP sensor, but with that little tiny lens, are pictures as good as my couple year old Canon, which has Image Stabilization and optical zoom? Also, does it automatically geotag the photos?

    Whew! I know that's a lot of questions. If you're still with me, thanks for hanging! If anyone can suggest a better phone for my needs, or any other ideas, I'm totally open to suggestions. If droid can't do most of these things yet, maybe I'll just wait another year or two and look again later.

    Summary of questions:
    Can wifi tether act as router for pc-to-pc transfers?
    Any hope for Skype or Google Voice to use VOIP instead of minutes?
    How about at least a calling card app to route calls through my friend or family?
    Can calendar cache a local copy?
    Does GPS work without cell service?
    If yes to above, is it sensitive enough to use in dense foliage?
    If yes to above, can I download topo maps and save tracks?
    Can I navigate in car while playing music or making a call?
    Does the camera geotag the photos?
    Could it replace my Canon camera?
    Is there a better phone I should consider?
    Should I just scrap the idea and keep waiting?

    Thanks everyone!
     

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  2. Martimus

    Martimus One bite at a time... Moderator

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    Welcome to the Android Forums!

    That's an awful lot of questions for an introductions thread...

    Let me give this some thought.
     
  3. 3club

    3club Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thanks Martimus. I'm totally new here, didn't realize I was posting in "introductions". Should I try to move it someplace else where I can get more readers?
     
  4. 3club

    3club Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    Since writing the original questions, I've had a few more thoughts.

    My GPS uses two 2500mAh AA cells, for a total of 5000mAh. When I'm camping, I have to shut my phone off or the battery won't last but a few hours trying to find a non-existent signal. The droid cells look to be about 1500mAh, so I'm wondering how long it would last if I used it as a GPS all day? What about if I put it in airplane mode? *IF* it works well enough to even use at all in the woods, would I be able to use it all day anyway? It shouldn't be transmitting anything, so maybe it will last a while, but it still has only a third the mAh of my Garmin.

    Anybody have any experience with this, or willing to try and test?
     
  5. adi19956

    adi19956 Well-Known Member

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    don't quote me on this, but in my experience, my Garmin connects to more satellites at any one time and is, all things considered, better than the GPS on my phone... maybe the receiver is weaker and so uses less battery? I don't know.
    I would suggest you turn off the GPS in Settings and use your Garmin if you have one because although your phone has a GPS, it's not really designed for heavy usage and proper navigation whereas your Garmin is. Believe me, I tried to use my HTC Legend for navigation on a mountain in Wales, it guided me completely the wrong way and as it was foggy, I didn't realise until I was 5 - 10km off course, I then whacked out the map.
    I would suggest heading to the Android lounge Android Lounge - Android Forums for general questions or maybe the Lounge The Lounge - Android Forums
    Happy Androiding :)
     
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  6. adi19956

    adi19956 Well-Known Member

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    I'm terribly sorry, but I couldn't read the whole thing!
    I read the summary though. I suggest wait until February (CES) when all the new phones get announced.

    So respectively:
    EDIT: Yes I think this is possible, Android is owned by Google after all! I don't really use the calendar myself though

    Yes the GPS does work without the cell service BUT unless you've stored maps in cache, or you want to get one of HTC's brand new devices which have maps stored on them, then I'm pretty sure you need to have mobile internet available to download maps as you travel

    The GPS can see the satellites most of the time, but with very thick coverage, I'm afraid like most hand held GPS's, it begins to fail.

    You could... I don't think it'd be compatible with Google Maps but you could save them as pictures and just use the grid reference your GPS gives you as a guide... complicated though

    Yes you can, but use a car speaker system for calls!

    It does geotag them in most Android phones. I remember seeing automatically when I was skim reading your 'essay' and it's in the camera's settings

    I'm not an expert photographer, I don't think there's an Android with optical zoom, don't quote me on that. phones like the Sony Ericsson X10 take really good pictures, it's a Cybershot, thing to remember is megapixels aren't everything, you'll need to do some research in this.

    I think you should wait for more Gingerbread 2.3 phones because I remember in your essay you asking about Skype and other webcam and internet calling

    By no means scrap the idea but you need to think if your desired phone has all the capabilities you desire, if not, would you miss them that much? If you would, maybe you should wait for 2011 as Gingerbread devices come out.

    Best wishes :)
     
  7. adi19956

    adi19956 Well-Known Member

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    I just saw that you said a year or two.
    If you're going to wait, I think you'll only need until Summer 2011 at the latest, hopefully Honeycomb 3.0 will have come out by then :p
     

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