Wednesday, October 26, 2011

International Cellular & Mobile Computing Bliss

This blog post entry will expand on the previous blog entry from yesterday, by listing very specific purchases which can be made prior to your travels in order to assure you stay both connected, entertained and charged up for a long day of travel, surfing, itinerary review and keeping in touch with the office or family members.

Fact is, a well engineered, state-of-the-art, handheld cellular or tablet device can be APPed up, customized or altered to indeed be all things for all people, just like any good solid piece of mobile or desktop computing. And while there are many faults I have previously discussed about so called "state-of-the-art" devices these days; most having to do with the manufactures desires to limit users to a single "ecosystem" of media and applications, or cellular providers exorbitant, long term contract pricing and highly restricted and costly data plans; I am not going to worry about these previously discussed limitations in this blog entry. Instead I am going to point out the limitless possibilities available to those wishing to fully exploit the current potential of truly mobile computing.

This "link happy" blog entry will assume at this point that you get I am a fan of the Android platform and Motorola (aka Google's) more recent method of "unlocking" the power of the Android platform through the use of a an advantage they have termed "Webtop". These combination's of reliable hardware, extensive wireless handset experience, and advanced VM and OS techniques, provide for the lightest, most connected, most compact possible solution for your communication, e-mail, entertainment and laptop needs. With the convenience of a solid state full size laptop.

Side Note:
For those just not sure if they can trust the equipment I am encouraging, given some of the lack luster reviews both Android and more specifically the Motorola ATRIX have been subject to over recent months; I submit the following:
Most current technology reviewers of these new devices and OSes mistakenly try to compare these devices and their ingenious peripherals to the functionality of a Laptop. While the form factor is indeed similar, that is where the similarities end.

 With the philosophy of Web 2.0 based applications; and the emergence of viable "Software as a Service" (aka SaaS) models of delivering applications; in order to make a valid comparison (if one should even be attempted with such completely different approaches to computing) you would have to incorporate into a valid review the utilization of Web Based Application on the Webtop device. I have yet to see this appropriate approach attempted in any reviewers comparisons. However, to this end, I have created my own website for helping me both access, compare and benchmark these types of SaaS (Software as a Service) websites.  You are welcomed to register with any of the service providers made available on this Virtual Desktop I've created; most offer a free or "free-mium" approach to signing up new users of their application. Or in many cases no sign up is required at all.

Back on Point:
In the case of those wishing to take advantage of utilizing and traveling with a mobile computing device like the Motorola ATRIX, I have compiled the following list and advice of accessories and equipment and techniques I followed while traveling internationally with this equipment.  And I must add, utilizing these practices and technologies during recent overseas travels, I have never felt more portable, less encumbered and more connected during any of my previous international vacation or travels. Mobile computing platform such as Google's Android, and hardware made by company's as experienced as Motorola are definitely the combinations of expertise which will usher in this new era with little compromise and unimaginable opportunities and freedom.

Keeping in mind, "the future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed." So if the goal is to utilize and travel with such equipment today, let's finally review some "best practices" and helpful tips and accessories.

Since the Laptop Dock charging adapter is of course internationally capable (but is a 3 prong plug) I simply bought the following charging adapter (not converter) and also the following portable power strip. In addition I found thefollowing charger to be excellent, since it is compact, and allows both the phone and any brand or shape EXTRA battery to be charged at the same time.

Besides assuring I was always thoroughly charged and connected to the Internet; my only other travel considerations were providing some portable entertainment, and keeping up with the various Micro SD cards (Do NOT use "Class 10 micro SD cards" on an Android phone) and SIM chips I inevitably keep handy during such travels. So I did order a couple of helpful accessories to this end.

For more reliable SIM chip use, storage and compatibility I grabbed both ahandy wallet organizer, and a Micro SIM to SIM adapter. And for entertainment, I loaded two of these handy USB to Micro SD adapterscombined with 32 GB Micro SD's. This provided me with endless movies (80+), songs (1000+) and audio books and ebooks; as well as document storage for a few work related projects I kept up with while in the air and on trains. You see, the Laptop Dock has two USB ports located on the back of it, so you can simply leave these USB Micro SD adapters plugged in, and each time you dock your phone, presto, Movies and entertainment library! (I also have a 32GB Micro SD in the phone (for a total of x3 when docked), so there is plenty of on board storage as well, when I don't wish to make space for the "Lapdock".

A quick mention for those who like to takes lots of photos and videos while traveling:
If you really think about the implications of a phone (aka: mobile computing device) with access to extra USB ports, you can consider another option I depended on daily. Since I shot reams of 3D video footage (which incidentally shoots 2D .JPGs simultaneous to every 3D photo, and provides completely compatible videos for YouTube / Vimeo uploads) of my trip each day; I needed to free up the space 3D footage requires, from the camera's 32GB SD cards. So each night I also used the laptop dock as a file manager. I simply attach a 500GB 3" portable, external HDD (must be FAT32 formatted) to the back and a SD card reader to the other slot, and copied every picture and video to the HDD repository.

I hope this veritable "brain trust" of accessories and related information gives you some idea of the options and opportunities available to you with the right GSM hardware. I have also gathered (and personally performed) the thorough, step-by-step instructions, necessary for any and all "unlocking" you might choose to do to your new ATRIX, assuming that is the route you choose. And I am happy to forward these instruction to anyone wishing to know more about these details. But again, none of these OS and Boot-loader "unlocking" actions are really needed to take advantage of the opportunity required for typical day-to-day use and travel. ...just the Subsidy or SIM unlock.

Incidentally, as is always the case with technology, Motorola has continued to advance their Webtop / power phone offerings since the release of the ATRIX this last spring. Most recently with the announcement of the new Motorola RAZR line of Android devices. To this end they have also updated the laptop Dock product line with a new smaller 10" model called the Lapdock 100 and a new larger 14" model called the Lapdock 500. However, the only version of these handsets I have seen available for pre-order are not GSM capable, they are only Verizon/U.S. compatible, so they are really irrelevant for yor application. In addition, my understanding is the new Lapdocks are not backwards compatible with the first Webtop Motorola devices. so yo can't simply order one and expect the additional features of the updated Lapdocks to provide anything for you.

Admittedly, the only thing I do think they should have included with their first iteration of the 11" Laptop Dock, was an integrated web camera at the top of the screen. Alternatively, for any live, international video conferencing you wish to do, you will simply hold the handset by itself and use the front facing camera with any standard video chat app., such as Google Chat, QIK, Tango or Skype. I also don't care much for the touch pad on the device, so I keep handy a small portable Bluetooth mouse. Also a bluetooth headset can be real nice if wanting to have a voice conversation while typing away at the Lapdock.

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