General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

A service of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Technology eReport

American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

NOVEMBER 2010

Vol. 9, No. 4

Columns

 

ProductNotes

HTC Evo 4G

Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen

The folks at Sprint were kind enough to send one of their HTC Evo phones to me for a review. I must say that I found the phone impressive. I still prefer the iPhone, but if someone did not want to get an iPhone for some reason and asked me for a recommendation, the HTC Evo would immediately come to mind.

A 1 GHz Snapdragon processer provides the engine that powers the Evo. The processor enabled the phone to work well and with speed. The Evo has the ability to run on the 4G network that Sprint is cobbling together. The phone works noticeably faster in terms of Internet browsing and connectivity in areas that have 4G, but the areas of 4G coverage are still few and far between. It also works quite well as a 3G device, albeit somewhat slower, particularly in Internet-related activities.

The Evo comes with a very large 4.3" touchscreen display that provides one of the best images I have seen on a smartphone device. It has dual cameras and is GPS enabled. It provides all the other features you would expect from a smartphone including the ability to access the Internet, handle email, play music, display photos, work with Bluetooth wireless devices, engage in flash photography, etc. It also works with Sprint TV. The phone lists for $449.99, but you can get it for $199.99 with a two-year plan from Sprint if you open a new account or have upgrade eligibility.

The Evo works runs on the Android 2.2 system (see review of Android 2.2 in this issue for more information about the operating system). It runs the system well and matches nicely with its features. It also provides access to the Android Market, allowing you to download free apps as well as to purchase and download apps sold in the Market.

The Evo sports an 8-megapixel camera, which I found somewhat disappointing. I expect better image quality from an 8-megapixel camera. It also does 720p HD video, but again, with lower quality than I expected. I have seen better results from telephone cameras with lower resolution. By comparison, the image quality pales in comparison to that from the 5-megapixel iPhone camera.

The fact that the Evo operates on a 4G system (when and where available) is one of its best features. When you can connect with 4G, you get much better and much faster performance. Sprint claims that it is up to 10 times faster, but I did not experience that much of an increase. I suspect that when Sprint develops its 4G network more, the performance will improve because you will have better ability to handle the traffic, as well as greater and more reliable access. At the present time only a few cities have 4G capability, and it is not always easy to get the 4G network connection and keep it, even in those cities. If you lose the 4G connection, the 3G kicks in and the phone continues to operate, albeit more slowly.

The Evo comes with the ability to function as a WiFi hotspot using Sprint’s 3G or 4G (where available) networks. It works quite well as a hotspot, although I recommend that you plug it into a power source when you use it as a hotspot because it drains the battery more than regular usage. Speaking of the battery, the phone comes with a 1500 mAh battery that lasts reasonably well, despite the very large display it powers. I found that charging the phone once a day worked adequately for me in normal usage patterns (moderate Internet browsing), email, occasional app use, taking a few pictures, and telephone usage.

Oh yes, it also operates as a telephone, and quite a good one at that. The voice quality was quite good. The phone does not work as well in noisy environments as some others that I have used, but you can improve on that performance by using a Bluetooth headset with noise cancellation features built into its microphone system. I have had good results with such devices from Jawbone, Motorola, Plantronics, and Jabra.

The Evo is one of the largest smartphones on the market (2.6" x 4.8" x .5"), but also one of the thinnest. It just fit into my shirt pocket. The phone weighs in at a very reasonable 6 ounces.

Despite the limitations with the camera, the Evo is an excellent smartphone, easily my first choice of those sold by Sprint and my second choice among the current generation of smartphones (the iPhone remains my first choice).

Android 2.2 Operating System

Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen

A few years ago, Google got into the smartphone game by releasing its Android operating system for smartphones. Initially, the system aroused some interest, but did not seriously compete with the established systems. As the OS matured and evolved, the system became more popular and now has reached the point where I consider it the second-best smartphone operating system on the market (I consider Apple’s iOS 4 the best). I have looked at the newest Blackberry OS (OS6) and consider it third best, behind the Android 2.2 system.

Unlike either the Apple OS or the Blackberry OS, the Android 2.2 system does not limit itself to the hardware offered by a single manufacturer. As a result, several manufacturers make smartphones that employ the Android 2.2 OS, and you can find an Android phone available for use on most, if not all, provider networks. I have tried phones using the Android OS on both the Sprint and the Verizon networks and found that the system works well with the equipment available on both networks.

The Android OS 2.2 provides a significantly enhanced operating speed in comparison to the earlier versions of Android. It works quickly and smoothly, handling the tasks assigned to it by the hardware manufacturer, your use, and the apps it runs from the Android Market. The OS also includes Adobe Flash, which allows it to run many graphics on a variety of websites. As you may know, the iOS does not run Flash. You can turn the ability to run Flash off, an excellent feature because leaving it on gets you a lot of ads while you browse and also slows down the operating speed of the system.

I like the interface provided by Android 2.2. It is fairly intuitive and works well. It is one of the easiest to use that I have encountered with smartphones.

Phones using the Android 2.2 OS can access the Android Market. The Android Market offers free and for sale apps to enhance the features of your smartphone. The Android Market continues to evolve and now has a pretty decent collection of apps available for you. The last number I saw for the available apps was 35,000. While 35,000 gives you a pretty decent selection, it pales in comparison to the iTunes App store and its support for Apple’s OS. The fact that the Android OS supports hardware from numerous manufacturers as well as all major service providers, however, creates the potential for the total number of apps to grow rapidly as developers try to cash in on the rapidly growing acceptance of the Android OS by manufacturers and users.

I am less pleased with the way Android 2.2 handles email by comparison with the Blackberry OS. Blackberry still excels at the handling of email. Nevertheless, the handling of email was satisfactory.

The Android OS has evolved to a very smooth and very powerful contender in the smartphone marketplace. I would not hesitate to acquire a phone using Android 2.2. Android 2.2 represents enough of an improvement over Android 2.1 that you will want to opt for it in your selection process. Unless handling email was my priority and my primary use of the device, I would choose an Android device if, for whatever reason, I did not want or could not get an iPhone 4 and its iOS 4.

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the law firm of Graves & Allen with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. Graves & Allen is a small firm in Oakland, California. Mr. Allen also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor of the Technology eReport and the Technology & Practice Guide issues of GP Solo Magazine. He also serves on the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal. Mr. Allen regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for attorneys and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, Jeffrey has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He is an associate professor at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. Mr. Allen blogs on technology at www.jallenlawtekblog.com. You can contact Jeffrey via email jallenlawtek@aol.com.

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