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Ah yes, time to get back to technology.  Today, I will try to persuade you to only buy a Chromebook if you are in a very select group of individuals.  This group is smaller than I had thought before.  In fact, I would say that the OS on these devices are crippled.

A Chromebook will work if you use all Google products and that is all you would like to use.  All others should look elsewhere.  Yes, there is a convenience factor as well.  The niceties fade quickly though.

My first though was that the device would make a good media player.  It is a good media player — if and only if you only watch videos from the Internet.  If you have your own media files you would like to play, they may or may not work.  The only video player you get is the one provided with the device.  It is limited in its capabilities.  It would play some of my home movies with video and no audio.

One of the biggest disappointments with Chrome OS is that it is strictly an Internet OS.  Note that it is not an Intranet OS.  You cannot share files through common methods with computers on your local network.  Please keep that in mind.  It is one of the biggest differentiators between Chrome OS and a typical OS.  For me, it is a deal-breaker.

The other flaw of the device is hardware related.  There should not be a fan in any Chromebook.  We are used to not expecting fans in these cheap devices.  We have the expectation of silence.  Some Chromebooks deliver on this, others don’t.

Chromebooks are cheap and provide good hardware for the money.  At the end of the day, it comes down to the question, “Can I be productive with this device?”.  My recommendation would be to go with a device based on Android instead.  An Android device is far more capable and will, most likely, enable you to be more productive.

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I am finally a cell phone owner.  It took about 9 months before something that could justify the exceptional expense that cell phones cost.

The experience of buying and owning a cell phone involves several parties.  The parties involved are the reseller, the service provider, and the phone itself.  I’m going to break these 3 part out for this review.

The provider:

This was the easiest decision for me.  Sprint has the cheapest plans right now.  Plus, I get a 15% discount through an employer perk.   The coverage isn’t that great, but it is good enough.  My overall rating of Sprint is a 6/10.

The reseller:

Best Buy was first on my list of places to buy the phone because they handle the rebates for you, instantly.  No waiting 6-8 weeks, no mailing out 17 pieces of information, they just handle it.  Plus, I will never go to a Sprint store again due to the awful customer service I’ve had with them.

I would have no problem buying a cell phone from Best Buy again.  They seem to care more than the Sprint store does about customer satisfaction.   There were two problems I had with the phone that they helped to clear up with me.  I think that these stories sum up my experience well.

The first issue I had was the phone went on sale three weeks after I bought it.  I was still looking in the fliers after purchase to see if the phone would go on sale.  It did.  The phone went from $179.99 to $99.99.   I was still in the first month of my plan, so I could cancel the phone and buy a new one for the reduced price.  This option would’ve involved quite a bit of hassle, so I was relieved when Best Buy credited my credit card with the difference without issue.  After the horrible experience I had at the Sprint store with the Palm Pre, this was _really_ a nice change.

The second issue I had was a phone issue.  The battery life on the phone wasn’t up to my standards.  I took it to Best Buy and they replaced the battery for me.  No prying questions, no acting like I was the problem; they just took a battery from another phone and gave it to me.

The phone:

I’m going to cover Android here to.  The phone and the software that run it are, warranty wise, inseparable.

The draw to the phone was two-fold.  I wanted a Android phone.  I wanted a keyboard.  The Samsung Moment was the only phone that meets these requirements that Sprint carries.

Android has been good but not great.  The Moment runs version 1.5 of Android.  I’ve found it buggy at times.  The default setup is odd.  For some reason, the GPS is on by default.  This will cause poor battery life out of the box.

Android has a great app store.  The app store is the main reason that the phone and platform are a buy.  I can download a million or so ringtones and wallpapers for free.  There are fun games to play as well to burn all of that spare time we have.  There are apps for Facebook, sports scores, alcoholic beverage creation, and for reading the US Constitution.  The amount of apps is staggering.  The quality of the apps is always iffy.  I’m only installing the top rated and downloaded apps.  Don’t be surprised if your phone crashes when using an unpopular or unsanctioned app.

The phone comes with demo applications that cannot be uninstalled.   Google makes money off of your personal information.  This comes through in their phones as well.  There is no option to not sync contacts.  If you don’t want Google to know about your friends, don’t buy one of their phones.  One of the best examples of Google trickery is the GPS setting.  There are two ways to do GPS, wireless networks, and GPS satellites.  The description under wireless networks reads: “See location in application (such as Maps) using wireless networks”.  The description under the GPS satellites reads: “Locate to street-level (requires more battery plus view of sky)”.  The descriptions are true, but biased.  Clicking on the Use wireless networks setting reveals why.  A consent form appears stating: ” Allow Google’s location service to collect anonymous and aggregate location data.  Collection will occur regardless of whether any applications are active.”  This means if this setting is on, you become a data provider for Google.  No, they don’t pay you for the information you provide.

The phone is mechanically great.  The non-slide backing feels really good in my hands.  The overall build quality is quite good.  I would rather have tactile buttons rather than the touch sensitive buttons at the bottom of the screen.  The screen is nice and bright.  It looks like a bigger screen would’ve fit in the same form factor.   I would’ve preferred the screen to fill out all the space instead of having a border.  The keyboard is good and has nice raised keys, keys for numbers, and a directional pad.  I’ve read some criticisms about the touchpad button.  I actually like it as a concept, but the implementation is poor.  The OS is slow to recognize movement on the touchpad, which makes it difficult to use.

Now for the Achilles’s heel, battery life.  The battery life of this phone is just aweful.  This phone should be thought of as more of a laptop in terms of battery life.  It is that bad.  I’ve followed all of the tips in the forums and still only get about 13 hours of standby time.  It’s bad enough where you have to plan a day around it.  If you stay at work late, or have a long drive home, the phone might die before you get there.  Connecting a personal phone to a charger at work is an annoyance and not the message I want to give to my employer.  Even using the GPS in the car makes me worry about when the next charge will have to come.  Its bad enough where it puts a shroud over all of the good features the phone actually has.  This phone has roughly half of what I would consider decent batter life.

Like I mentioned before, I’m keeping the phone.  It does what I want it to do, and I can cost-justify it.  However; i am, getting three phone chargers for Christmas and await a higher capacity battery with great anticipation.

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