Rest in Peace, Yixin

I bricked my Yixin. It didn’t really take that much in the end: merely taping over the on-off button in an attempt to lock a micro SD into a defective slot. Ultimately, I de-springed a not very resilient  power switch, rendering this inexpensive Android device powerless, so to speak.

The market is flooded now with under $200 Android tablets with basic capabilities, most of which will not survive till the next holiday season.  And that is the point: overseas factories will be busy again next year around this time churning out the latest gadgedroids.

My New Year’s resolution after the jump.Continue reading

Yixin: Yikes!

I’m afraid my brief infatuation with Yixin may be nearing an end. I was having trouble with freebie voice recorder apps from the Android Market. Since many require an external chip to store the voice files, I knew it was time to purchase an 8 GB micro SD card. That started a chain of events that led to the disabling of my Yixin 7200’s power button.

Valuable lesson I learned: highly sticky moving tape can be dangerous.Continue reading

GetGlue: Platforms, Brand Ambassadors, and Puccini

I’ve been writing lately on rating and suggestion services and their underlying data prediction technologies, which are fascinating.

What about those users (like me) who don’t completely trust the algorithmically generated suggestions that are proffered?

They can instead lose themselves in the stream of likes and comments that are displayed in the standard “recent activity” box found on the home pages of these sites. It’s a direct way to pick up ideas on movies, books, food, TV shows, and lizards.

I made up the part about lizards, but the point is that with social rating sites, anything in this world can be judged as good or bad and then become a part of the intimate information flow for the rest of humanity to see.

For example, GetGlue, the recommendation service I’ve been referring to in my posts, has an Android (and iPhone) app that lets the crowd comment on what they’re currently reading, watching, listening, or thinking. It’s really a check-in service—Foursquare without being tied to a specific physical place

With my new Yixin Android tablet now on my coffee table, I’ve become another gadget-owning media critic. Continue reading

Google eBooks: The Search for Free

On Monday, Google opened the doors to its eBookstore. Google is just getting started as a ebook seller, but they are already boasting they have “the world’s largest selection of ebooks.” Take that Amazon!

While the Google claim makes for good copy, the truth is that most of their ebooks, over 3 million in fact, are from their trove of public domain classics—Dickens, Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, and all the others you were supposed to have read in high school.

In fact, these free books have been available from Google since 2009. It’s not a big secret that Google has been busily scanning books from partner libraries and making them available on-line.

Sure you can select new books from Google’s growing list. But for me the lure of free books, especially now that they can be read on my Yixin Android gadget, is irresistible.Continue reading

SIP on Android

One of my very modest goals in finding an inexpensive, usable Android tablet is replacing my cell phone with an open source SIP client. I spend enough of my time near WiFi hotspots that an Android gadget could do double-duty as a browser-email-ebook as well as a phone. And the chance to free myself from Verizon’s tentacles with WiFi telephony has been tempting me for a long time.

With the Yixin 7200 MID I finally had the right platform. Could I locate a functioning SIP client in the Android Market, Google’s answer to the App Store?

So I walked the virtual aisles of the Market and pulled a few SIP clients off the shelves for testing.

I did discover a working client and learned that the quality of Android freeware is, charitably, very uneven.Continue reading

A Holiday Gift Idea from Voxeo

I’ve been exploring less expensive Android gadgetry lately in my search for a capable but not overly glitzy e-book reader. My experience with Velocity Micro’s Cruz Reader, which I have previously documented, was not a positive one. I’ve now turned my attention to a Rockchip-powered Android tablet from Yixin, a Chinese electronics and toy manufacturer. I’m hoping to have one in my possession shortly.

The gadget gift giving season is upon us. And no doubt in the coming weeks many Android tablets will be wrapped up and adorned with ribbons and bows. But are there other creative ideas out there, possibly free, that could put a smile on a young child’s face?

I don’t normally turn to Voxeo in these matters, but I came across a neat suggestion in their blog for turning their Tropo multi-media development environment into a joy machine.Continue reading

iPad's Cost Advantage

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab

I had to gulp when I first heard about the pricing for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

I’ve since recovered my composure upon learning of the more reasonable carrier offers at around $400 (with a two-year contract) and a WiFi-only version of Tab for $499.

Samsung’s tablet is the best of the Android lot, and even they’re having trouble keeping up with Apple’s iPad.

ZDNet’s Larry Dignan nicely explains why the rest of the pack won’t equal the pricing and functionality of the current version of the Ipad for some time.  Cupertino’s wizards nimbly build the hardware they need to differentiate  and outsource the rest.

And Apple’s IOS tablet software won’t have any serious competition for another Android OS rev or two.  Continue reading