How Much Do I Love My Samsung Galaxy S3?

It’s been awhile since I talked about getting my new cell phone from work.  As you may remember, I chose to get the Samsung Galaxy GS3 over the Apple iPhone 4S, which was what was offered at the time.

I felt that the S3 offered a bigger screen, the same amount and quality of apps, and ran an OS (Android) which I’m more familiar since I’ve yet to become an Apple guy.

So far, I have to say I love it.  Here is my mini-review of the Samsung Galaxy S3 (aka Samsung Galaxy S III)

  • Service – The company provides service on the AT&T network, which is vastly superior to the Sprint network, where I was previously based.  Sprint has not yet rolled out 4G, let alone LTE, in our area, so the difference in download and data speeds is remarkable.  Not to mention, our house required a data booster to even work adequately with Sprint, but AT&T has so far given me no connection problems.
  • Screen – Oh, the screen.  I remember when my wife got her HTC phone after her Blackberry died (the phone I had the same model of).  I thought hers was so big.  Then, my S3 came and it’s practically double the screen viewing area.  I love it and it has great resolution and color depth as well.
  • Size – With the screen comes a phone that is much bigger across and up/down than the Blackberry I had.  But, it’s quite a bit thinner and doesn’t weigh any more (at least to the touch).  I typically don’t carrying things in my pocket, so I was afraid that the S3 would be hard to deal with, but so far it doesn’t bother me at all.
  • Applications – I love the applications that I can download and use so easily.  Pandora was available on the Blackberry but with the unwieldy interface (no touch screen), the slow service, and the spotty coverage, I barely used it or any streaming music coverage.  Now, when things get loud at work, it’s easy to pop in the buds and get some music.  I also love some of the standbys like Gas Buddy and Angry Birds 🙂
  • E-mail – Even though Blackberry was designed for the enterprise, it would constantly truncate e-mails.  Longer e-mails simply couldn’t be downloaded.  This was a point of major frustration for me.  This is no longer an issue with my S3.  E-mails come through right away, and more importantly, in full.
  • Swipe – I love that you can type or you can swipe between characters on the keypad.
  • Commercial – I love the commercial that aired all the time last month where everybody in the Apple line was talking about all the features that the new iPhone was going to have, only to hear that the S3 had even more built in.  There’s one guy that’s talking about the earphone jack getting moved to the bottom, and he motions that it blows his mind.  I’m not one to buy into marketing, but that kills me every time.

There are a few things I wish were a little bit better that are somewhat steps back:

  • Spell check – Blackberry had a built in spell checker that would (like Microsoft Word) keep words highlighted that might be spelled incorrectly.  With my S3, if you don’t correct the word immediately, it doesn’t keep it highlighted. I’ve yet to find a third party app that works to my satisfaction.
  • Touch keypad – Having the buttons on the Blackberry took a lot of room, but they made for faster and easier typing than the touchpad.  Even though the keys are ‘big’ since the screen is so big, I still make frequent mistakes, more so than with the buttons.  Hopefully this is something I can get used to.

All in all, there are a few minor issues but I suppose that’s going to happen with any piece of technology.  I don’t think anything is perfect when it comes to a gadget, especially when everybody just works to make their next product better than the competition and their old one.  I’m sure in two years or so, I’ll be sick of the S3 and itching for the next big thing.  Whatever that will be 🙂  Until then, the S3 is definitely for me!

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Here Wii Go Again

It was six years ago when Nintendo revolutionized the video game console with the Wii, the first video game system to allow control by body movement versus the traditional limitation of the handheld controller.

I first saw one at a buddy’s house and I have to admit it was pretty slick.  At the time, it was the only system to incorporate the full body motion, so it had an edge, even though it was lacking in other areas such as resolution, HD compatibility, and overall game play (the graphics were still geared more toward ‘Mario’ and not your hi-resolution games).

Because Nintendo had a hold on this segment of the market, they controlled it and it showed, with the product constantly being back ordered for years.  Yes, multiple holiday seasons came and went with Nintendo Wii nowhere to be found.

I refused to give into any of the hype, waiting until it finally became available, which I think was in 2009!

Since then, the other video game manufacturers have stepped into the realm, most notably the Xbox 360 Kinect, which made it so you didn’t even have to hold a controller (a requirement of the Wii) to detect motion, instead relying on UV sensors.

Nintendo took six years but is finally releasing the followup console, the Wii U.  This will, as expected, take their gaming to HD compatibility.  They also upped the ante by including a screen on the controller itself, allowing for even more flexibility in game play.

As expected, the hype is huge.  I just wonder if the Wii U is going to be as popular and will be as scarce as its predecessor.

The original Wii was a great boon for eBay, as units were constantly bought up and re-sold at a higher price than the sticker value.  Nintendo refused to increase production, preferring instead to limit the output based on their capabilities, not wanting excess capacity once sales leveled off.  It was an interesting strategy, but they likely lost the interest of a lot of customers, or at least delayed the interest as many (like me) simply waited.

We likely would have used our Wii had it been more available and had we been able to get one prior to 2009.  As it was, by that time we had started our family, and the time to play games simply wasn’t there as it might have been in 2006 or 2007. As it stands today, there is even less time (with the addition of a second child), so even if the Wii U were made available without delays (unlikely from what I’ve been seeing), we wouldn’t be in the market.

Are you planning on getting a Wii U?  If you have an original Wii, share your experience on how you got it and when.

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Our Quirky Video Monitor: The Levana Safe ‘N See

We are on our second baby video monitor.  Both have been purchased from Costco.  The first one was by a company named Lorax and it did pretty much everything we needed.  The issue was the connector was very poorly placed.  It was essentially a micro USB connector that stuck up out of the base.  This meant that you had to wiggle it on and place it exactly onto the base.  My wife noted right after we got it in February 2011 that it was ‘weird’.

Sure enough, the design caused the receptacle in the actual monitor unit to come loose and eventually break off within the unit.

Costco has a great return policy where most items can be returned indefinitely.  So, we took it back even though it had been 18 months.  They took it back no questions asked.

They don’t sell the monitors in the store, only online, so we went looking for a replacement.  Our biggest requirement is that it have two video cameras so that we can monitor both kids.

They no longer sell the Lorax, but the closest that they had with our price point was the Levana Safe N’ See monitor.

We ordered it and it came a few days later.

It’s definitely different.  Here are a few things we like and don’t like:


  • Temperature gauge – It actually shows the temperature in each room which is a nice feature.
  • Big screen – The screen is 3.5” diagonal which is pretty big.  The Lorax was probably 2”
  • Remote intercom – The Lorax had this as well but this also has the ability for us to ‘speak’ to our children from the monitor
  • Lights and music – You can also turn on a nightlight and start a lullaby to play in your babies room from the monitor unit
  • Price – It was the most economical unit available which included two cameras.


  • Pairing the second camera – The second camera must be paired to the base unit, as it is a closed circuit unit.  We followed the directions and it didn’t work.  One of the steps was to cover the light sensor of the camera, which tells it to start transmitting the pairing signal.  Even though I covered this completely, it wouldn’t work because I did it in the afternoon and some ambient light must have been getting through.  When I tried it again in the evening, it worked like a charm.  They should tell you to do this in a darkened room.
  • The video can’t be fully turned off – Both monitors have a feature where it will flip back and forth between the two cameras.  This doesn’t work though if you want the video off (and who doesn’t during the middle of the night?).  The only way to turn the video off is to set the ‘VOX’ which monitors the sound level and only turns on when it detects noise.  Unfortunately, when you activate VOX, it locks on one camera. Luckily we have a sound-only monitor so we can use this in one kids room, and set the other for the second kids room, but it seems silly.
  • Harder to hear – Most monitors we’ve seen are a little too good at picking up noise.  My in-laws have one that can pick up someone having a conversation across the street….through a closed window!  Ours are about 12’ from the kids beds and it is pretty muffled.
  • Out of the box battery issue – The monitor can be unplugged, so it has a rechargeable battery. It looks as if ours is defective, as the charging light never turns green, even though it’s plugged in all night.   I have to call them and see if they will send me a replacement.

All in all, it’s a pretty average unit, but for the price you can’t beat it.  A comparable two video system will cost you at least $100 more.  There’s nothing wrong with the Levana unit, it just has some features (and non-features) that you could tell were not engineered by parents that actually used the thing.   Considering our oldest is over three, I don’t expect that we’ll need the video for all that long, so I didn’t want to put much more into it.  And, since it was purchased at Costco, we have a warranty for as long as we need it.

Do you use video monitors for your kids?

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Rest Assured, PCs and Laptops Are NOT Going To Die

I laugh every time I read articles about how tablet computing is spelling the end for the traditional desktop PC and even the laptop computer.

Admittedly, tablets are growing in popularity.  I actually bought one a few months back, an HP TouchPad, which as you may remember was introduced and promptly pulled from production about a week after it’s launch.  This dropped the price, and I was able to recently pick one up for $200.  While I like it, it’s never going to fully replace the PC and laptop that I also have at home.

But, that’s not why I say that PCs and laptops won’t die.

The reason is more simple:


Many of you work in an office, right?  I do.

On every desk there is either a desktop computer or a docking station for a laptop.

There are many people that walk around with tablets, and I believe a few really progressive types have ditched their desktop or laptop, but I’d say that number is probably about 1%.

Our office has roughly 300 people, which means that 3 people have ditched their laptop or desktop.

Meaning that 297 have not and are still using them.

The fact remains that while tablet computing is great for people on the go, and it is great for apps and browsing, many people at spend eight hours (or more) per day at work cannot achieve the same productivity on a tablet as you can with a desktop or laptop.

At least not without paying significantly more.

Yes, you can purchase better keyboards and likely can get external mice and bigger displays for a tablet that can bring the efficiency that tablet computing can’t offer when it comes to word processing or working with spreadsheets, but at that point, a fully loaded desktop or laptop is still much cheaper.

And most businesses are still about making money, and one way of doing that is to keep costs down.

I’m sure there are companies out there that may consider loading up their employees with tablets and ditching the desktops and laptops altogether, but either they are going to pay a bundle in ‘extras’ to make sure that their employees can work more efficiently, or they will see a drop in productivity.

My guess is that number would probably rival the 1% or so tying back to the people in our office who have ditched their PC / laptop altogether.

In other words, there is no direct threat to shut down operations for companies in the desktop and laptop business.  Not that I can see.

Now, if I’m an investor, I do see limited growth in those areas.  I might not be buying up thousands of shares of Dell as would have been a good idea in the 1990’s, but if I already owned them, I wouldn’t be worried about them heading to zero, either.

What do you think?  Will tablets take over the world or will desktops and laptops be around for the foreseeable future?

Disclosure: I own no stock of any company mentioned here.


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