Monday, May 28, 2012

My review of Car2Go, a wonderful car sharing service that has one HUGE downside

I have given Car2Go a try recently and have to say I am pretty impressed with the service.  For those of you who have not already heard of it, Car2Go is the latest car sharing service to hit Portland.



The way this service works is very simple.  When you need a car just check the website and reserve a nearby car.  Then you go to the car, use the membership card they send you, and your off.  You can use the car as long as you want and drive pretty much anywhere.  They charge you $.35 per minute that you use the car.  For short trips this makes it very comparable to taking the bus.

If you want to learn more of the details just click the link below the picture.

The first thing that people notice about Car2go is that they use only small Smart cars.  I have always been curious about these cars and one of the top reasons i signed up for the service was so I could drive one around.  Although it felt a bit like driving a big golf cart, I still thought it was a lot of fun.  They feel safe and have more than enough power to drive on the highway just fine.

The cost is very affordable at 35 cents per minute   This means that a 15 min. trip will cost you $5.25.  That is more than double what a bus trip would cost but you save a lot of time.  Also if you are traveling with a friend the trip becomes very competitive with taking Trimet.

Now there are a few downsides I should warn you about.  First there is no guarantee that a car will be near you.  Several times I have been on the PSU campus and thought about using Car2Go only to find that there were none anywhere close to where I was.  Usually if you keep checking one will pop up, but you can't count on that happening.

The bigger downside for me though is the fact that I still have to drive.  I personally hate driving.  I find it stressful and a total waste of my time.  The reason I take mass transit isn't due to cost but the fact that it allows me time to read, catch up on email, focus on a podcast or lecture, write notes to myself, ect.  Mass transit gives me time to work on things I might not otherwise get to.  If I use Car2Go for a trip, I am stuck driving again and start missing out on all the things I could do if I had just taken Trimet.

The fact that I still have to actually drive is a serious issue and will mean that I won't be using Car2Go all that much in the future.  Although I somewhat save travel time using Car2Go compared to taking Trimet, the loss of productive time is a huge hidden cost.  I highly value being able to do many other activities that I just can't do if I am driving.  This actually makes Car2Go not such a great value for me.

Overall I was happy with Car2Go and will probably keep using it in the future if me and a friend want to quickly get around town.  If I am by myself and not in much of a hurry though, I will be sticking with Trimet.



Sunday, May 20, 2012

My HTC One S review

I finally have a new smartphone and it is amazing!  I dropped and cracked the screen of my Samsung Vibrant a few months back and have been waiting for the HTC One S to come out ever since.  I have to say it was well worth the wait.  The phone is exactly what I want from a smart phone.  Here is my review.


Design

I love the design of this phone.  It is super thin but doesn't feel cheap.  The American T-Mobile version of the phone is called Gradiant Blue which has this smooth gradiant change on the back case from a cobalt blue-like color to black.  I think it look nice but still personally prefer the international Black version. Still, this is the best design I have seen yet from an Android device and I like it better than the iPhone.







Screen:

This might be the only downside to this phone.  The screen is a nice 4.3 inch AMOLED screen. This means it is on the bigger side (but not too big) of screen sizes yet still retains the vibrant colors and deep black levels you would expect from an AMOLED screen. The only issue is that it is a Pentile display.  Please check out the link for the technical explanations for what that means. What it means for me though is a noticeable type of pixilation around the edges of images.  Many people don't notice this so your milage may vary.  This is one thing you should check before getting this device.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PenTile_matrix_family


Camera

This is the best camera I have ever seen on a phone.  Here is a sample photo and video I took with the camera.  Unless you are serious about your photos this should your replacement for any point and shoot camera you currently use.





Battery Life

So far the battery life has been great!  It easily lasts the whole day on a single charge.  Even under heavy use it has done great, which is good since the battery can't be replaced.  This is an issue some people have had with the phone.  Although this is the way the iPhone has always been, Android phones have usually had user replaceable batteries.  Traditionally Android phones have had TERRIBLE battery life and many users even started to carry around an additional battery in case they ran out of power at the wrong time during the day.  I never needed to do anything like that with my Samsung Vibrant and so far the battery life on the HTC One S is far, far better.

Custom UI

HTC uses a custom UI for android called Sense.  With this phone you get Sense4 which is a very welcome upgrade from past versions.  Although Sense has always been better than TouchWiz from Samsung and MotoBlur from Motorola it has never been better than the stock android experience you can get from Google.  I think that has changed now and personally i like Sense4 much more than stock Android 4.0.

ROOTING/Customization:

Many Android users like to be able to "root" and fully customize their phones.  The HTC One S is a bit of a mixed bag at this time for full customization.  You are able to unlock the bootloader and put on a custom ROM, but due to the lack of true S-Off there are some major limitations to what those custom ROMs can do.  Right now popular ROMs like Cyanogenmod and MIUI are still very much a work in progress.  This should change in the near future with the full release of the source code from HTC.  Until then you are a little limited with the number of ROMs available for the device.

Summary:

This is the first Android phone that i will honestly admit to being better than the iPhone.  You don't have to root it and put on a custom ROM to make it into a decent phone like you do with most other Android phones.  Everything is pretty much perfect with the small exception of the display being Pentile.  I think this is the phone to get right now and personally think it should handle itself nicely against any upcoming phones.

PROS: Amazing design, great battery life, custom UI is actually good, free Dropbox space, camera

CONS: Pentile display, no S-OFF yet, large amount of bloatware