The past couple of months have seen some big changes in the technology in our house. I'm not sure how it all happened but there have been some new devices and some changes. I wish I could say that I was on the cutting edge with all of it, but it's been more of a slow go.
Still, I'm very excited, and I thought by putting it out there, maybe I could get some tips and tricks for any readers who have any of the devices or similar type items:
- Samsung S4 Galaxy – My former employer had provided us with cell phones. My new employer elected not to do that so I had to get a new phone. We already have a Sprint family plan, and although the Sprint coverage is pretty bad, it would have been an out of pocket cost of two times more to go with another carrier. I decided to bite the bullet and go on the family plan, and was able to snag a new S4 at Best Buy for no cost a few days before Christmas. My old phone was an S3 so I already knew the Samsung, the OS, and was very impressed. It was a pretty seamless transition, though not without hiccups. I had my two phones and attempted to transport all of my settings, application configuration information, and files to the new device. Although everything transferred OK, the phone itself seemed a bit buggy. The Android versions were different, so I felt maybe something got messed up along the way. A couple of weeks after getting it, I ended up wiping it to factory reset and starting from scratch, this time setting everything up manually. It took about two hours from start to finish, but I have noted that it does perform better.
- Google Nexus tablet – My wife surprised me with a new Google Nexus tablet for Christmas. I love it. The tablet is Google so it has the very latest version of Android. The tablet is great, but I've been without one for so long that I tend to forget to use it. Around the house, it's great for web browsing, playing music, and playing games. I just need to remember to grab it when I need to do those things. I still usually reach for my phone out of habit.
- Old tablet made ‘new' – I bought an HP Touchpad several years ago at a pretty dirt cheap price. I realized pretty quickly why I didn't really use it that much, as it was based on the HP/Palm WebOS platform, which has since been abandoned. Very few apps meant that it was a shiny gadget without much purpose. Well, after seeing the new tablet and how cool it was, I pulled the HP out of the drawer and set to do something that I've been talking about for two years: Root the device and install Android. I did so, and it's actually pretty cool. The thing is pretty heavy compared to today's tablets, though it does have a bigger screen. I'd like to get Netflix and I'm thinking that this would be a good tablet for watching Netflix on the go, and probably not much else.
- New TV – We bought a new 50″ LED TV a year ago. Imagine my disappointment when I found that it had been cracked. I think my kids were the culprit. Our daughter went through a phase where she was chucking toys around just because, and I'm pretty sure an errant minion (from Despicable Me) gave the TV a non-repairable crack. The TV is still watchable, but as a primary TV, it was not something I wanted long term. I found a deal on an off brand TV that got great reviews, and so far it works great. My wife did have to adjust the colors on it, and I have to say she did a great job.
- Chromecast – I got a Chromecast for Christmas. With the stash of Android devices I noted above, we have plenty of means to control the device. And I love it. As of now, I primarily use it to stream stuff from YouTube. My 4-year old son loves anything to do with dinosaurs, so we are able to find various cartoons and educational episodes that keep him delighted. As mentioned above, I'd like to get Netflix, which is integrated into the Chromecast. I've also heard that Google will be releasing the API so that third party developers can start writing streaming apps, opening up the door for more apps such as found on the Roku. Speaking of…
- Roku – I purchased a Roku 3, which is pretty snazzy. After some technical difficulties getting the remote control paired with the device, I was able to start using it. Basically, it looks pretty slick and I've found a list of apps that seem to have access to good free content and cheap paid content. Part of this will be the learning curve and just figuring out how to use it. This will just take some time.
That's quite a bit of technology being introduced to our household in a relatively short period of time. So far, it's been pretty slow go as far as getting familiar with the products and maximizing their usage. I think two things will over come this. The first is time. I just need time to sit down and get used to them. The second is familiarity. Having never had devices that stream media to a TV, you don't have that integrated into your activities or have it click in your head to check that when looking for something to watch. Same with tablets. I've never really had one, so now that they're there, I just don't think of them reflexively. That will change simply by using them and discovering what they can do.
What type of technology have you added recently and how is it going? Any tips on any of the devices above?