Archive | May 2013

Stumping Up

I’ve always to been reticent to pay for apps from the Google Play Store, not because I’m tight, but because there’s always been another app that has the same features and is free. Or there’s a ‘lite’ version of the paid app that might be missing a couple features here and there but by and large performed the same. All that changed a couple months ago when I invested in DeskSMS from Clockword Mod and Helium (formerly known as Carbon). Both apps have been talked about by me on here and the reviews are hyperlinked above.

Three months on from paying for apps, I’ve stumped up a few quid for some more apps; largely because Google implemented a clause in their T&C’s which removed ad blockers from the market place, rendering AdAway on my devices completely useless and suddenly filling my phone with all manner of crappy ads and banners.

Titanium Backup is something I’ve used for over two years in it’s free version, but the Pro version is far more useful than I’d previously thought. AnTuTu CPU Master is also something I’d used for ages in the ‘lite’ version, but the Pro version again is more useful than the freebie, so I invested in that.

Poweramp is something I’d used a couple times in previous years, but had always been put off by the 15-day time limit. Downloading it again to experiment with the balance features after getting a blocked-up ear due to a cold, I found the app to be superlative in almost every way when compared to other music apps.

Play Music is good enough, but a bit simple. The Sony Walkman has a great EQ but can be a bit buggy on the Z. MediaMonkey for Android is still in a beta version and is also buggy at times – though the WiFi sync does work really well.

Poweramp jettisons the bugs from the afore-mentioned apps and, with the exception of WiFi sync, brings all their good points together:
* The library always pulls through artwork from ID tags, or downloads it for you.
* The companion Smart App for the SmartWatch works incredibly well and looks great.
* The EQ facility is way better than anything else I’ve ever used and has a pre-amp so you can boost your sound beyond the standard volume limits and is endlessly adjustable to compensate for any potential distortion issues that may occur.

In short, and for some of the peanuts being charged for some of the above apps, it’s really worth investing in the Pro versions to get value for money.

Z-Day +one month

The Xperia Z plopped onto my doormat roughly a month ago and it’s been an interesting and enjoyable ride since then.

Regular readers will be aware of my criticisms regarding the WiFi issue with the handset, which I won’t dwell on too much here, but experimentations with various custom ROMs have yielded positive results; though not without some protests from some quarters of the social universe.

My first foray into custom ROMs for the Z was with FXP214 from the FreeXperia team. An AOSP rom based on sources from stock 4.2.2 and some Cyanogen bits and pieces, the phone performed very well on this firmware, though it should be noted the WiFi issue wasn’t quite fixed.

I moved back to the stock Sony ROM shortly afterwards, to test out the HDR capabilities of the camera and was pleased with the results, though it should be noted that to take really great photos with the HDR facility the phone does need to be still. Very still. Extremely still.

Looking for an answer to the ongoing WiFi concern but to maintain some of the feature of the Sony ROM I actually do like, I found the KA Xperia Revolution ROM from krabappel over at XDA. I’d used these ROM’s with my Xperia S last year and found them a great firmware to use. Stripped of bloatware and running like a dream, the KA ROM’s are the best of both worlds when comparing Sony stock to AOSP stock. The KA7.1 ROM was released on the 1st of May and it’s been something of a revelation – the WiFi issue had been fixed in a previous release – it’s fast and it’s light, which lends itself to great performance – exactly what I need.

Experiments with ROM’s aside, the last month has been a great experience. The phone itself is getting a lot of admiring glances from friends and colleagues and it’s always hilarious to leave the phone in a workmate’s glass of water, then ring it when they wander back to their desk! I’ve also managed to convince a couple people of the merits of the phone and they’ve since upgraded to the Z or are in the process of upgrading. A great result all around.