My First Ever Impressions with Android

I’ve been tasked with developing basic troubleshooting tips and tricks for mobile devices by my employer.IMG_1747

Now, outside of two short and awful Android experiences, I’ve had no real world use with one of these devices but clearly I was going to have to become a pro with them very quickly.

So I ordered a Samsung Tab S2 tablet.  Why?  Well first off because it currently runs Android Marshmallow (Android’s 2nd most adopted OS to date), it will have the ability to upgrade to Nougat (Andriod’s latest but not yet adopted OS), and lastly it won’t have much of the garbage software that carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile install on Android devices before being sold.

First Impressions

Where the hell is the back arrow?  Using the back button located on the lower right hand side of the device is taking a lot getting used to.  With iOS when we need to go back we typically look to the top left hand corner of the app or simply swipe backward.

Why do I need multiple user accounts? (Google and Samsung)  One thing I learned at Apple is, people can’t remember their usernames and or passwords to save their lives.  Upon booting up my new tablet I was prompted to enter my gmail account for the Google Play Store (where you get all your apps) PLUS they wanted me to create a Samsung user name and password separate from my Gmail account.  I’m not exactly sure what they use this for but I’ve been getting prompted every so often to do so, so that I can take advantage of some “Samsung Essential Apps”.  This is very annoying and pops up on my screen regularly.

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Live Widgets are Fantastic.  Apple attempted to use live widgets but decided to put them in hidden places like Notification Center.  Android really allows you to customize your home screen for all of your up to date information.  I really hope Apple finds a non battery draining way to do this.

The Vibrance of the Display.  The “Super AMOLED” display is extremely vibrant.  It oddly does seem to be a magnet for dust and fingerprints though.  I find myself cleaning the screen extremely often.  I almost never have to on my iPad Pro.  Also it seems like many of the third party apps aren’t prepared to use such an available color palette.  Most of the third party apps have a very bland look and feel.

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What was that noise?  I’ve got my notifications set to minimum but I find that the device is almost always beeping about something.  You really don’t know what it is until you pull up your notifications.

Oh I get to nerd out?  Unlike iOS, Android gives you a ton of control over the device.  You can see RAM and CPU usage and how the impact battery life.  This is nice if you’re very tech savvy and want to know those things but don’t have a whole lot of real world use.  There are ways to completely customize this open source device which I haven’t really jumped into just yet.

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User accounts. Being able to have multiple user accounts (locally) seems pretty wonderful.  Our computers have been doing this for decades but mobile device haven’t.  If this device were to be shared with anyone that feature is amazing.

Day to Day Experiences

I found the tablet pretty easy to pick up for most day to day things.  Notification management can be a bit tricky and it LOVES to make noises whenever it can but I’ve just found that putting it in Airplane mode when I’m not using it, solves that issue.  Or does it?

One thing that drives me crazy is when it is in Airplane mode, it treats your notifications like water trying to get through a kinked hose.  We all know what happens when you un-kink that hose.  All the notifications come flying in at once making a horrible long lasting noise of notification awareness.  Even if I’ve addressed these notifications, such as email, from another device.

One big surprise was how well Android plays with Apple’s AirPods.  Apple specifically designed them to work optimally with iOS devices.  Now that doesn’t mean that they don’t play nice at all but it’s a different process.

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To recap how they work with Apple devices, any iOS or Mac with the same Apple ID remembers your AirPods even if they’ve never been connected through traditional pairing processes.  This makes it very easy to switch between devices.

With Android you just need to follow the traditional bluetooth pairing procedures and they work just fine.  I was surprised that the AirPods did not have to be re-paired traditionally with my Apple devices after being paired with my tablet.

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I miss the easily addable accessories such as my magnetic cover for my iPad and my keyboard cover that uses Apple’s smart connector.  I never realized how important they were to me and since I’d rather not carry around a separate keyboard this device is basically unusable for any long amounts of typing.  It seems Samsung is attempting to resolve this with the Tab S3.

Overall

I’m surprised how much I enjoy this device.  Being someone who has never ventured outside of iOS I was worried of the potential for culture shock.

The Samsung Tab S2 is extremely thin and light but I’m constantly afraid I’m going to scratch it.  I guess I’ve learned to trust what Apple devices can withstand as far as physical abuse over the years so this might change.

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I haven’t even really scratched the surface as to what this device can do but I’ll certainly get more technical with it as time goes on.  For anyone considering, maybe take a look into the more affordable devices and see for yourself.

Take it from someone who’s never ventured outside the box until now.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Moving From a Crop Camera to a Full Frame Camera.

I purchased my first DSLR in 2007.  A Canon Rebel XT (350D) with 18-55mm & 70-300mm kit lenses.  I had ZERO idea how to use it or any of the theory behind proper photography.  I did have a strong desire to learn.

I would bring it with me everywhere and read as much as I could on forums about how to use the Rebel.

Finally I used a college elective to enroll in an entry level photography course which would teach me the basics of Apertures/Shutter Speeds and how they compliment each other.  They didn’t teach anything about ISO at the time because I think anything over iso 400 at the time was almost unusable.

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One of the first portraits I took with my Canon Rebel XT, 50mm 1.8 and 430EX Flash.

I upgraded to a Canon 20D, 30D, 50D and the 60D that I use today.  All of the cameras I’ve ever owned use what is called a APS-C or “Crop Sensor”.  These sensors are a bit smaller than a traditional camera and part of those drawbacks are that they give you less color definition and less light.  One small advantage is that they give you 1.6x further focal length on your lenses.  Example a 200mm on a Crop Sensor would really be closer to a true 320mm using Canon’s 1.6x Crop Factor.

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Notice the much larger mirror on the 6D.

This is great if longer focal lengths is what you want.  But for me I enjoy shooting a lot of landscape and live music photography which really needs better low light capabilities as well as a wider focal length.  The width is much easier to achieve with a Full Frame camera that true to spec of a  35mm film sensor.

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Let me share an example.  Since I’m currently using a 60D which has an APS-C Crop Sensor, every lens I put on there is really 1.6x further focal length than it actually reads.  So right now I use a Tokina 11-16mm lens almost exclusively for my landscape shots.  This lens was designed specifically for cameras using an APS-C sized sensors.  So if you were to mount on a full frame camera you’d have more of a true 7mm focal length which would give you an almost unusable shot.

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Photo Credit: Andrew Reid from ESOHD.com

So to recap, I want to go Full Frame for the light and color advantages but the Tokina 11-16 Lens I’m currently using isn’t going to work on that camera.  Anyone want to take a guess on what focal length I’ll need to achieve similar results to my Tokina 11-16 lens?  Hmmmm about 17-25mm.  Fortunately Tokina makes a 16-24mm lens and Canon makes a fantastic 16-35mm lens.

So now that you have a small understanding of the difference between a Crop Sensor and a Full Frame Sensor you can see that it’s a pretty major transition.  My main camera body and favorite lens are going to need to be replaced as a pair.

As you may have read, I had the ability to test out a Full Frame Canon 5D MK3 and Canon 16-35mm 2.8L Lens for a weekend.  I became obsessed with the image quality I was getting and I’m very happy with how the photos came out.  Let me know what you think.

A week or so after I was obsessed with finding a Canon 6D (Canon’s prosumer level full frame camera) with a reasonably low shutter count (similar to mileage on a car) that was within my budget.

After about two weeks of searching high and low, I was able to pick up a Canon 6D and Canon 16-35mm L lens to replace my 60D and Tokina 11-16.

Now I haven’t had a ton of time to test it out but with the 500 shots I’ve taken with it so far I’m blown away.  The colors are more true to life, the high ISO shots are much less grainy than any crop sensor I’ve shot with, and the true 35mm focal lengths are fantastic as well.

I’ll do a full review on the Canon 6D after I’ve had a few weeks to play with it.  Sure I know it’s nothing new.  In fact The Canon 6D MK2 is rumored to come out in Q2 2017, but it’ll be a good article for those considering switching on a budget.

Here are some of the things I sacrified going from my 60D to a 6D.

  1. Rotating Display – This might not sound like much but it was great for protecting the screen when not being use as well as being able to get a preview of your image in those awkward angles you sometimes shoot in.  (Especially if doing long exposures)
  2. The Continuous Drive – The Canon 60D can shoot up to 5.3 full resolution raw images per second.  The Canon 6D just 4.5.  That might not seem like much but if you’re the type of person that shoots actions shots or sports this will make a huge difference.  For me I don’t do much of that, so I’m alright.

That’s really about it.  When I do my full review of the Canon 6D, I’ll make sure to talk about all the new amazing features I love about the 6D but for now I hope you got some good insight if you’re considering moving from a crop sensor camera to a full frame camera.

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

This week my new MacBook Pro finally arrived.  To be specific it’s configured as follows.

Apple 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Space Gray)
2.9Ghz i5 Processor, 16Gb of Ram & 512Gb of Flash Storage.

Size and Weight

It’s noticeably lighter than the non USB-C model.  (.46lbs lighter)  Also the bezel on the screen is much thinner around the edges and the machine is noticeably thinner. (.11″ thinner)

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The Transition

My biggest concern migrating to this machine from my 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display, was like most people, the transition to solely USB-C ports.  To give you an idea here is what my old setup looked like.

 

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So as you can see there is a LOT going on here.  Most would probably say, “Just buy an iMac or a MacPro.” But the fact is I need to be portable with my photography.  My main obstacle was going to be getting the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Dock to work with a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to work sending data, audio, and video flawlessly.  Because remember the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar does not have anything but an Audio Jack and 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

I was thrilled to learn that Apple’s adapter worked just as anticipated.  Problem is that was not the only adapter I was going to need to make all of this work.  In fact here is a list of all the adapters I did need.

1 Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter
1 Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter
2 Apple USB-C to USB-A Adapters

This very quickly tacked on another $100 but if it wasn’t for my Belkin dock still working that $100 would have easily turned into almost $300.

As for the USB-C transition it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  My setup now looks like this.

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Not awful.  My biggest concern right now is I don’t have an SD card reading option.  9to5Mac did a poll on which port users use most and surprising only 18%+ people use that SD port regularly.  The photographers of the world might disagree.  Of course for another $30 Apple has the Adapter Available.

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The Speeds

I must also note that the read write speeds of the built in flash storage is ridiculously fast. To give you a comparison here is the read/write speed of an External HD, Flash Drive, and Built in Flash Storage.

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Apple Built In Flash
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USB Hard Drive
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USB Flash Drive

I’m really blown away with these speeds.  Even with the entry level i5 processor tasks like rendering in Final Cut Pro fly.  I maxed out the non-upgradable ram to 16GB.  Most people wish they had a 32GB option even it was exclusive to the 15″ model but 16GB will cover most people outside of creative professionals. If you’re going to do any upgrades at all upgrade the ram from 8-16GB.

As I mentioned the internal flash storage is wicked fast but if you can live with 256GB of storage internally and the rest on externals you’ll save yourself $200.

The Touch Bar

5 days into own thing this machine and the only thing I’ve used the Touch Bar for is changing the screen brightness.  I think the success of this feature is going to depend heavily on how third party apps incorporate their functionality into it.  Apple current uses it for predictive typing, showing my tabs in a safari browser, and your standard function keys and although I’ll admit it’s very fast, I just don’t see a ton of value in it.

Touch ID

This is Apple’s first computer to incorporate a Touch ID sensor similar to their mobile lineup.  They use it for the same functions such as unlocking the machine and approving Apple Pay transactions.  I don’t use it much as I do not use Apple Pay online and my Apple Watch typically unlocks my machine for me.  Interesting fact the Touch ID sensor also acts as a physical power button for force shut downs.

Overall Impression

The size and weight of the machine are easily my favorite part of the update.  Carrying it around in my camera bag the weight makes a huge difference.  If your considering upgrading I would heavily consider the pervious model that Apple is still producing.  You’ll save hundreds of dollars, not have the burden of having to carry so many dongles around, and still have an extremely capable machine.  As time goes on a USB-C becomes more mainstream it’ll make more sense but until now it’s not completely necessary.