Orbital debris, also known as space junk, is a problem that many people in government and the commercial space industry are hoping to solve — clearing the Earth’s orbit of old satellites and other equipment.
So here is Boeing’s idea: Get rid of the rubble with clouds of gas.
Category: tech review
Orbital debris, also known as space junk, is a problem that many people in government and the commercial space industry are hoping to solve — clearing the Earth’s orbit of old satellites and other equipment.
- PROS: If you are an Android or iPhone 4 user, you will love this phone. If you are a Blackberry user, do me a favor and choke yourself now. Who uses those lame things any way?
- CONS: If you are an iPhone 4S user, you will hate this phone.
- CPU/GPU – SGH i747 model used by AT&T uses the Snapdragon S4 (Snapdragon MSM8960) dual core 1.5 GHz CPU with the Adreno 225 400 MHz GPU.
EDIT: The Samsung SCH-iT999 has the Exynos 32 nm 4412 quad core 1.4 GHz (similar to the iPhone 32 nm ARM Cortex A9, but with twice as many cores) and 32 nm Mali-400/MP4 (similar to the iPhone 45 nm PowerVR SGX543MP2 in the A5).
- PROS: The user definitely does not need to wait on execution of commands. Edited nerd notes: By downgrading the CPU/GPU from the quad core Exynos CPU/ Mali-400 GPU to the Snapdragon S4 CPU/ Adreno 225 GPU, the benchmarks between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 are now a lot closer.
- CONS: Does the user really need all that flash and dazzle with the display? Well, okay. I should count this is a pro, because I like the eye candy. After all these months with crappy phones, I am finally happy with the eye candy and the performance of my phone.
- DISPLAY – 4.8″ 720p HD Super AMOLED Pentile
- PROS: Colors pop out, very vibrant and sharp. Nerd notes: as I continued editing this review, I added more notes on the display in this section under “Display: Cons” and “Peer Comparison”.
- CONS: The sensor keeps dimming the brightness. See below under “features”. Nerd notes: Supposedly the S3 has sensors to detect the ambient light environment and adjust the display accordingly. Sometimes the display feedback loop just does not work so well. They have the right idea. With some tuning, this could be a feature that I would move from cons to pros. Right now, it is a con, because its lack of performance is detracting from user experience. Other users may have better luck.
- PROS: Battery life is similar to Apple iPhone 4 and Motorola Atrix.
- CONS: Battery is much shorter on 4G LTE. Be sure to put the phone in power saver mode.
- NEUTRAL: For extra money, you can add a wireless battery charger. Note to Apple: for the love of Allah, put in a stinkin’ removable battery!
- PROS: Picks up on 4G LTE towers very quickly. Nerd notes: 4G LTE is only available in limited markets. Lucky for me, Los Angeles not only has the infrastructure to support uploads/downloads faster than 14.4 Mbps, but also 64QAM for performance closer to true 4G (whatever that means). Nerds can debate all day long on what is considered 4G. I draw the line at 64QAM and 3.0+ Mbps up/14.4 Mbps+ down speeds. This is a modified definition based on the balance between UMTS R6 and R10, based on actual network implementation versus theoretical speeds and specifications. A typical user will not know the difference in speed until 64QAM is available, or until the HSPA+ capabilities are built in and available on a regular basis.
- CONS: Sucks when you are on EDGE or bouncing between EDGE and 3G HSPA(+). Nerd notes: throughout this review I will reiterate that network tuning is not an exact science. This phone may perform better for some users than others, based on proximity to upgraded towers, numbers of users stacked per tower, and load balancing of the network.
- CAMERA – 8 Mp rear, 1.9 Mp front; 30 fps with zero shutter lag
- PROS: Nice camera. Fast. Easy to share pictures.
The pop-up tips slows things down.EDIT: once the user un-checks the option, no more pop up tips show up.
- PHYSICAL HANDLING
- PROS: Very lightweight, yet seemingly rugged thanks to polycarbonate (instead of metal) and Gorilla Glass (like the iPhone 4S).
- CONS: Feels cheap compared to the iPhone 4 and 4S. One thing I can never take away from Apple is that they have nailed tactile design. The iPhones always “feel” nice in my hand, and they take a beating. Supposedly the polycarbonate will take a beating despite the feeling of cheapness, but I will judge that for myself after this takes a few beatings.
- FEATURES (OS & APPS)
- Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich on kernel 3.0.8 – This is light years ahead of Android 2.2 Froyo and 2.3 Gingerbread. I had to root my Atrix to get Ice Cream Sandwich, and that was not an optimal user experience. This handset is optimized for ICS. ICS is fast and pretty, with only occasional lag that I cannot accurately attribute to the OS, the hardware, the network, or user error. Edit: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will debut for the S3 on 31 August. For once, I will not root the phone to get the latest OS.
- S-Voice – Comparable to Siri. Adequate voice recognition. Listens to dictated texts at a decent level of accuracy. Voice dialing is okay. Check out this video for a direct, head-to-head comparison. Apple Siri versus Samsung S-Voice. There are plenty more YouTube videos comparing the two. Personally, I think S-Voice is adequate for my needs. I think Apple actually has a more refined product, but both could use more technological maturation.
- S-Planner – This is by far the best calendar application I have ever used, irrespective of platform. The interface is logical, and the app automatically adds what it is supposed to add–the events on my Google calendar. You would be surprised how much trouble this caused me on the Atrix. The iPhone calendar interface had issues with updating changed events.
- S-Memo – Very nice. If I get bored, I can even doodle pictures. The PDF feature is very useful for sending in DTS receipts.
- Touchwiz UI – The UI is very pretty. I am a little concerned that this may make it lag behind in critical updates due to unique add-ons, but nowadays the unique interfaces on each handset appear to be the norm. Did I mention that it was pretty?
- Contacts – Samsung did a great job with the Contacts app. The standard Android Contact app fails to do certain things, such as consolidating contacts from different sources. Somehow Samsung improved upon this app in a much better manner than Motorola’s version. The Contacts app is very important if you are as popular a guy as me. I wish.
- Near field communication – I have not yet tested this feature. Looks promising.
- Position sensors – Somewhat accurate at determining whether or not the user is holding up the phone to make a call, or whether or not the display needs to be brightened for the user. I probably will not use this feature very much.
- PEER COMPARISON (using AnandTech and other open sources) – The previous section reflected my personal experiences with the S3, 4, and Atrix. Naturally, most will compare this to the iPhone 4S and the upcoming iPhone 5, and I have limited experience with the 4S and none with the 5, so this section will reflect data gathered from other sources, with my own nerd notes and personal observations where applicable.
- In favor of the Samsung Galaxy S3 over the Apple iPhone 4S:
- front camera – 1.90 Mp vs 300 kp
- battery – 2.1 Ah vs 1.4 Ah
- RAM – 2G
1Gvs 500M Edit: AT&T’s i747 and similar versions from T-Mobile have 2Gb of RAM versus the iT999′s 1 Gb.
- microSD – yes vs no. Nerd note: The additional memory is very useful for porting over entire music libraries and contacts from phone to phone.
- HSDPA (download) speed – 21.0 Mbps vs 14.4 Mbps. Nerd notes: Downlink speeds above 14.4 Mbps only applicable to cities/ networks with 4G LTE, 64-QAM. Note: most 3G networks are using 16-bit quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), 16QAM. 64-bit QAM is available in “4G” or “4G LTE” markets, but is not always used. Even in the HSDPA/HSUPA versus HSPA+ technologies, there is little difference in performance from the network point of view–performance in this case will be tied to chipsets and radios existing on your handset. Cellular network technology tuning is not an exact science. Just pray for best connection speed versus the hardware on hand and be happy with that.
- weight – 133 g vs 140 g
- CPU clock – EDITED: 2 x 1.50 GHz vs 2 x 800 MHz. Note that the iPhone 5 is rumored to use a 2 x 1.5 GHz CPU. Nerd notes: increasing the number of cores from 2 to 4 does not always result in twice the computing power. The actual performance is better measured in a CPU benchmark test.
- screen resolution – 720 x 1280 px vs 640 x 960 px. Nerd notes: Although the S3 has a larger display, its pixel density is still not as good as the iPhone 4S (see below). The iPhone In-Plane Switching (IPS) liquid crystal display (LCD) seems to favor more people than the Galaxy “PenTile” active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED). PenTile is a technology used by Samsung to overcome some of the weaknesses of AMOLED displays, most notably, the lack of brightness amplitudes. Pentile adds a white channel to the red, blue, and green (RGB) channels for backlighting. Without this, the display would be harder to read in direct sunlight. Theoretically, the handset using a PenTile AMOLED should have a sensor telling the display to add more white to the RGBW channels and boost the display depth for visibility.
- In favor of the Apple iPhone 4S over the Samsung Galaxy S3:
- pixel density: 326 ppi vs 313 ppi. Nerd notes: Apple’s Retina display is probably the best display available, and will only get better with the iPhone 5 and further distance itself as the best display in the smartphone market. Theoretically, depending on which reports you believe, the Retina display will have a higher resolution than the human eye at certain distances.
- HSUPA (upload) speed: 5.76 Mbps vs 3.00 Mbps. Nerd notes: Plain and simple, Apple’s fixed hardware to software upgrade cycle is well-timed with network upgrades. They understand that there is more to user experience than simply sticking in faster hardware and flashier software. The LIMFAC to smartphone user experience continues to be network performance, and Apple is playing it smart by locking in users to a hardware line long enough for them to optimize the next handset release to the next network upgrade.
internal storage: 64 Gb vs 16 Gb(this advantage is offset by the the Samsung’s microSD slot)
- Tie between Galaxy S3 and iPhone 4S:
- GPU. Edit: The AT&T version of the pairs the Snapdragon S4 (Krait) with the Adreno 225 GPU. This GPU is nearly identical to the iPhone 4S in most benchmarks. The main difference in performance seems to be performance under load, where the Galaxy S3 has a large advantage in some tests, but gets beat by the iPhone 4S in other tests.
- In favor of the iPhone 5 (based on the latest RUMINT)
- rear facing camera: 12 Mp > S3′s and 4S’s 8Mp
- dedicated camera button: yes (neither S3 nor 4S have one)
- front facing camera: 2 Mp > S3′s 1.9 Mp > 4S’s 0.3 Mp
- display resolution: 640 x 1136 px > S3′s 720 x 1280 px > 4S’s 640 x 960 px
Cubicle Warrior ‘s conclusion: Since Androids tend to be less refined at release date, I would anticipate that some of my complaints will be addressed in updates before the next iPhone is released. Case in point, some of my complaints were addressed between initial draft of this blog entry and the current version, mostly as my wife read the instruction manual to me. Other complaints were explained when a friend of mine pointed out that I was comparing the iPhone to the international version of the S3, not the AT&T version.
At this point, I would recommend any other Android user considering an upgrade to get the Galaxy S III. The Galaxy S3 and the HTX One S/X all share the same or similar hardware, so other Android users should consider the Galaxy S III or the HTC One the best smartphones available today. Right now, the iPhone 4S is neck-and-neck with the top Android phones. I would hope that the release of Jelly Bean and perhaps some CyanogenMod (or other) upgrades will prevent me from looking at the iPhone 5. For now, my recommendation would be to hold off on buying a phone and verifying the veracity of the rumor intelligence (RUMINT) presented here on the iPhone 5 before jumping to the S3, or waiting to see what Android phones are released in the fall with newer Snapdragon or Exynos CPUs.
- System-wide voice commands. Unlike Siri, Android’s voice functionality does not require Internet connection to a server, and the commands can be used to text friends, make lists, search the Google machine, play music, search for files, and read map directions. If you do not have Siri, the Apple voice commanding is definitely lacking. Siri just does not work as well as it does in the television commercials.
- Swype and keyboard flexibility. I can probably Swype 80 words per minute with proper punctuation. I think I can only text about 40 words per minute with proper punctuation. Going back to reason #1, I think I can speak-to-text about 100 words per minute on the Android. I can also swap out the keyboard for any style I want if I ever get bored of the stock keyboard.
- GPS navigation. Android has built-in, text-to-speech driving directions. iOS does not. Using VLingo, I could just say, “Hey, VLingo”, and the phone would wake up and wait for me to say “Go home” or “Fry’s Electronics El Segundo”.
- Choice of default applications. In iOS, the default mail and browser apps are chosen for you. Sure, there are ways around it. In Android you get complete control over the default applications and can change it at will.
- 14.4 Mbps HSPDA. My Motorola Atrix 4G gives me a slight increase in download speeds. My own results show a max download speed of 6.2 Mbps with the Atrix, or 5.7 Mbps with the iPhone 4 [ref: testmy.net and speakeasy.net]. As much time as I spend parking on the freeway during LA rush hour, I need 4G connection speeds to find alternate routes, or the nearest food joints to wait out traffic. Just for reference, the Atrix has 14.4 Mbps HSDPA, compared to the iPhone 4′s 7.2 Mbps HSDPA. Both have 5.76 Mbps HSUPA. There are reports of the Atrix 4G and the iPhone 4S being able to do HSPDA+, but I have not been on an AT&T network that is capable of supporting the increased speeds for such a comparison.
- Application flexibility. I can load any app from any source into the Android, even the crappy ones that I coded myself. Not so much with the iOS. Granted, iOS apps are typically more stable and more mature.
- Social networking integration. In the Android I can share any photo or video to any social networking app installed on the phone. On the iPhone, my choices are severely limited. On top of that, I can pin social networking apps to the home screen, or even build those apps into the phone wallpaper.
- Screen size. Even though the iPhone 4 is bigger than the Atrix 4G, my Atrix screen, like most Android screens, makes better use of the available screen space. Granted, the Apple Retina display is better than 99% of all Android screens. Some carriers do have Android phones with much better displays, but those phones are limited to certain carriers and tend to be expensive.
- Cutting edge technologies. My Atrix 4G had a biometric fingerprint scanner for unlocking the phone, a mini-HDMI video output, and a hidden Ubuntu Linux desktop (Webtop). Other Android phones have Near Field Communications (NFC) chips, 3D technologies, wireless tethering, and other new gizmos.
- Multitasking and task management. Only recently has the iOS started allowing multitasking. Even when it does multitask, there is no way to tell the apps to shut down and free memory space after, say, 10 minutes, as I can do with the Android. On the Android I can also set up application profiles, such as a nighttime profile to minimize activity after 10 PM, or a battery saver profile if I am low on juice.
- Notifications in the lock screen. Yes, I know. The Android does this as well. iOS does this part better. Compared to a stock MotoBlur, Gingerbread, ICS, or rooted CyanogenMod, the iOS does integrate better across its applications. Granted, the choice of applications is limited, but the integration of those selected few lends itself to a seamless, tightly integrated smartphone experience.
- Retina display and camera. No matter how I set up the lighting, photos and videos on the iPhone always looked better than my HD photos and videos, whether they were being viewed on my phone or on the computer. This tells me that Apple pays more attention to the quality of the optics and the display–input and output.
- Stability. The price we pay for limited choice somewhat makes up for the bonus in increased stability. Yes, it was fun to try new things on Android, but it was sometimes nerve-wracking to restore the Android phone after a bad modification.
- Better application market. Many will disagree, but if you have ever searched for useful apps in the Android Market, now Google Play, you will notice the plethora of apps that are fake, useless, or bad imitations. Bad apps proliferate on Google Play. As strict and restrictive as the iTunes market is, the App Store does have much better quality control. Google Play is so bad, that at times the imitation app is higher rated than the real one. I had to download Google+ three times before I got the correct one! One of those three even botched my phone.
- Tighter overall integration. The Apple user experience is definitely better. The apps work well, the hardware behaves well with the software, the software behaves well with the hardware, and there is rarely a glitch. The backups restore easily. On the Android the backups sometimes do strange things, such as duplicating every other contact or every other song on the playlist. On the iOS, the backups restore easily and correctly, the hardware behaves without glitches, and the software does what you tell it to do with only a few surprises. The best example is that even if I buy a Bluetooth headset or wired phone earpiece for the Android, it is hit-or-miss as to whether or not the accessory will work with the phone–even if it is expressly listed on the ****ing box! With the iPhone, if the box says “works with iPhone 4″, it works with the iPhone 4.
- Cubicle Warrior’s Motorola Atrix Diary, Day 1 [April 28, 2011]
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you will probably love the latest version of the Apple operating system, the Apple OS 10.7 Lion. If you have an Android, or if you are one those losers with a Crackberry or your grandma’s Motorola RAZR, you will probably not understand Lion. As a former iPhone user, I love how Apple has integrated gestures throughout the Lion operating system, and certain features on the desktop. Along the way, Apple has spruced up the interface a bit to make it a bit sexier.
There are some nuances one has to get past. For one, the scroll bar is now obsolete. One side effect from eliminating the scroll bar is that now I must pull down on the touchpad to go down, and push up to go up–I am pulling the content, not the bar. There is a little bit to un-learn there. Like the iPhone, I can now create multiple desktops, but on Lion each one can have with its own wallpaper. The Dashboard, Launch Pad, and Mission Control are interesting additions or modifications that make organizing the computer and launching applications so much easier.
Once Finder indexes all your files, it is amazingly simple to find anything just by searching. The Airdrop sharing feature is great for sharing files with family members. I love the automatic versioning and autosave features. I wish I had that while I was working on my master’s degree research papers.
All in all, I give this a 5/5. This is Apple’s best update to its operating system. Even after a couple days I am still learning of new features that I like.
Yes. There is an app for that. I actually found an app that increases my battery power. I was getting frustrated with that no settings or apps were fixing the battery consumption. JuiceDefender is the first battery saving app I have tried that lives up to its name.
I played around with a live wallpaper app on the emulator. Pretty soon I will be writing apps from scratch…well, maybe after I finish my master’s thesis and squadron officer school. Maybe.
Final verdict: I have decided to keep the Motorola Atrix, with reservations. No, it is not an iPhone killer. No, it does not live up to the hype. No, the performance does not match the hardware specifications. The only reason I am keeping this thing is so I can write code for it and gain back some technical skill that has eroded due to Air Force groupthink.
Display: Atrix 540 x 960 pixels; iPhone 4 640 x 960 pixels. Color and text is much sharper on the iPhone. Winner: iPhone 4. Note: even though the iPhone 3GS has a 480 x 320 resolution, the text is sharper and the colors are more vibrant. Winner: iPhone 3GS. Yes, you read that correctly.
Battery life: The online reviewers stated that the Atrix and iPhone 4 both get about 1.5 days of average use before needing a charge. Bull****! The Atrix depletes its battery at over twice the rate of an iPhone 4, even with the stinkin’ “battery saver app” on the Atrix. Heck, the Atrix barely has a battery life better than the iPhone 3GS. Winner: iPhone.
Performance: The Atrix has twin processor cores, but its performance is in between that of the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4. The Atrix locks up a lot, but does not totally freeze like the iPhone 3G or 2G. Oddly enough, the Atrix performs better after I have thrown it across the room and screamed expletives at it for a few seconds. I think I have finally taught the phone to fear me. Winner: living room wall.
Programmability: It costs $25 to register as an Android developer, or $99/year as an iOS developer. The iOS SDK and IDE are built into XCode . The Android SDK for Eclipse IDE used to spend about 30 minutes each day updating. Now that I have updated the crap out of it, the Android SDK and Eclipse IDE are a little more tolerable. So far, programming for the Android is less of a headache. I absolutely hated programming for the iOS. Winner: the cheapskate in me that refuses to pay $99/year for a headache when I can pay $25 one time for a headache.
Overall: As long as this hunk of junk survives my throwing it across the room every other day, I will continue to play with the Atrix. If I accidentally brick this phone, I will probably get the iPhone 4GS/5G when it comes out and just play with Atrix as a secondary phone.
I managed to go one day without wanting to throw this phone out the window, at the TV, or at Usama Bin Laden. Speaking of UBL, the b***** is dead! Woot! Back to the Atrix. I have pretty much customized the phone as much as I need to just for everyday use. My throat did not hurt today (from the California Crud), so I was able to test the voice dial and voice command functions. QuickOffice is a decent app. Vlingo is no better than the Google app for voice commands, so I do not see why that app costs money on other platforms. I only got a few bugs here and there using the native web browser. I have pretty much given up on Opera, which is a shame. Opera is a great browser. Maybe in a couple updates from now those Opera bugs will get worked out. I am a little disappointed at the lack of UNIX command functionality on the terminal, but I am sure I can fix that over time. Hopefully this week while I am at the conference I can sneak in some coding and hopefully not break the phone.
Look, I’ve tried pretty friggin’ hard to not be an Apple fanboy here, but none of my experiences seem to line up with anyone else’s. Longer battery life my ***! My wife and I started our day with a fully charged iphone 4 and Atrix, we used them similarly, yet I had weaker signal and shorter battery–and I was in max battery save mode! The Opera browser is fast when it works, but painfully buggy when it encounters active content. Copy and paste is terrible. I can either select the whole page or random parts of the sentence I highlighted. Searching a page is not as straightforward as it is in Safari. Sometimes the page will refresh before the browser resets the memory pointer. This happens when the browser is not integrated into the OS, specifically in assigning timing and priority on the memory pipes.
This has been a learning experience very much similar to my real world programs with modularity versus integration. The iOS is tightly integrated for a granular, fixed state computing experience. The Android OS is quite nebulous and loosely integrated for a wide array of computing experiences based on user customization. I need to get this thing customized before I lose patience and throw it out the window.
I don’t know how many times I have been tempted to launch this phone across the street. My buddy Matt offered up one tip that may have given the Motorola Atrix a stay of execution, the ADW Launcher. At least the phone will look pretty even if it annoys me until I get accustomed to it. With this app, I can get rid of that God-forsaken, Motoblur UI. Now I can easily access all my apps. Finally. With the Motorblur crap I was Googling for the app on my phone before each use.
I still hate the autocorrect. As bad as the iPhone autocorrect is, the Atrix autocorrect is a bazillion times worse. How on earth do people hook this phone up to a keyboard and call it a computer? It really bugs me when I am on a forum or typing out a long e-mail to my co-workers.
I need to find a way to search web pages the way I did on the iPhone Safari browser. This annoys the piss out of me.
For crying out loud–how the hell does the Atrix handle tasks and schedule priority threads?! I open up an app, hit the home button, and expect it to close. Nope. That is not the case. If I repeat that n times for n tasks, I will have n instantiations of CPU-hogging tasks bogging down my system. That is insane! is there a way to tell each task to shut down when I hit the home button? If not, can I renice the processes to give higher priority to the important apps and rob memory from the ones I do not care about? I need to really dig into this gadget.
EDIT: the Motorola Media Browser sure made it easier to get tens of gigabytes of music and video off the laptop and onto the phone.
The verdict is still out on the Atrix, because I have yet to set up my computer for compiling code. That will begin the true test.
- Day 1: Motorola Atrix Diary (walterkilar.wordpress.com)