Nexus Redux

I took a swing at Google’s new flagship device today – in a Verizon store, which seems to be the only way to see it.  Indeed, it’s the only way to see Ice Cream Sandwich in the wild at the moment, unless you already had a Nexus S and got it pushed out.  First impression: it isn’t any more intuitive to me than Gingerbread was, it’s plenty zippy but I don’t know how much is processor upgrade and how much is OS improvement, and it’s a freakin’ slab.  I know it’s 1280×720, but if I’m having trouble with something on a 3.5-inch screen, it’s not going to make a substantive difference giving me a 4.5-inch screen instead.

Gruber’s theory is that all the new Android phones are 4-inch and up (and largely clustering around 4.5) because they need to be that size to accommodate a battery that can go all day and/or handle the demands of LTE-based 4G.  Makes sense to me, plus if you consider the percentage of the population that carries a purse, a big-ass phone isn’t such a big deal.  Maybe something like a Galaxy Nexus (or Droid RAZR or whatever) would work in a suit jacket pocket if it’s flat and light enough.

Thing is, I’d like to take the time to get familiar with Android, but I can’t splash out hundreds of dollars on a phone that may never get an OS upgrade.  The ongoing struggle to get a commitment out of Samsung to update the original Galaxy S line (and it doesn’t look good) and the strange silence out of the update consortium – not to mention the pile of tablets and phones out there still being sold new with Android 2.3 – doesn’t help the notion that buying an Android device means you’d better be prepared to live with that iteration of the OS for the life of the gadget.

Meanwhile, a week with this year-old MacBook Air has sealed it for me: I’m good for now with technology.  All my work and personal apps run just fine, up to and including Apple Remote Desktop and flash-based ESPN3 coverage of Vanderbilt basketball.  It’s light enough and the battery is satisfactory enough that for now, I don’t feel compelled to run out and splash out on a notional iPad 3 when the opportunity presents itself.  So as I more or less guessed, the Kindle splits the difference for reading material and emergency RSS/Twitter while the phone still covers most everything else, especially if I can top up the battery on days when I’ll be out in the evening.

Along similar lines, there’s a very real chance I might be switching to a Verizon phone with the next iteration of the iPhone, just in time for my contract to expire.  Not only would it save me an extra $40 a month for work to take over my phone, but it’s possible the Verizon phone, like the current iPhone 4S, could be used on the CDMA/EV-DO network in this country yet unlocked for GSM service abroad.  One phone to rule them all – no more travel phone and no more temptation to buy a secondary unlocked phone just to have smartphone options abroad.  And of course, that would mean the Verizon options – separate data and tethering, unlimited data but no simultaneous voice use, et cetera.  LTE as well?  Who knows, although one would think by summer it’ll be a more plausible option.

But for now, I’m safely ensconced in last year’s versions across the board – iPhone, MacBook Air and Kindle alike – and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

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