Of new phones and Nexdocks

I’m not sure if you’re aware but I broke my phone. I’m not sure if it was just me or if it was a particular turkey because since I got it the USB port always felt a bit bad and loose.

Anyway, after dealing with Samsung on Wednesday (sorry guys, great phones but your customer service sucks balls) and finding out I’d have to send off my means of business communication for anything up to 2 weeks, and with the risk that they could then send me a bill for an unspecified amount I decided to claim on my insurance.

I had one day without a phone yesterday and it felt like my arms had been cut off. I couldn’t get things like passcodes and manuals for things despite having a tablet (of course a WiFi dongle could allow me to use the tablet out and about). My watch acted as my phone but the text messages didn’t seem to come through as they should and it was just so limited.

So my service provider sorted me a new phone the next day. Same as the last one. Possibly only temporary anyway as I’m really liking the idea of the Fold 3. A lot of money yeah, but I think foldables are finally entering mainstream.

After an evening of setup and clearing the inevitable junk that’s appeared on it; and rationalising the installed apps (I’ve always previously restored from a backup but this time I had time to clean it up in the process of the restore) I’m up and running again.

Like I say the Fold 3 is really attracting me. Yeah it’s a downgrade on the camera as it’s back to what appears to be the Note 10 camera system (unless they surprise us) but the thought of a foldable has really cried out to me since the original Fold first appeared on the market.

Obviously I’d need to consider the s-pen issue (the new one works with the s-pen but unlike the Note there’s no dock in the phone to store this) – would I end up with a case to hold this too? Would I lose it? Will it be Bluetooth as I use the Bluetooth shutter release so much when I’m doing my photography.

So what about the new Nexdock?

Honesty, having used it briefly the USP of it flipping back to front isn’t a selling point. The Nexdock Touch is the better device. Sorry guys, but in your redesign you’ve taken away two features I really use.

1. USB – yes, USB C is a big thing now. But USB A is still commonplace and as someone who uses it a lot to get footage off drives getting rid of the USB A port is a killer. I don’t want dongles. It’s more crap to lose!

2. HDMI – they’ve gone down the route of mini HDMI. Again, more crap to carry. I can buy a HDMI cable in Poundland in an emergency – I often need to monitor CCTV systems and I need to use the customer’s existing architecture to plug in. HDMI is essential to me! I can’t be doing with non standard ports and dongles again. I know they supply you a cable, but again, more crap to carry!

I don’t think I’ll be ordering any more. Yeah for the common or garden user I’d say jump and get one if Samsung DeX is your thing; it’s just the old version is my favourite.

Amazing Sunset

Manual mode. Colours and light levels about what they were when seen visually.

I captured this in manual mode on my Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as automatic mode just wasn’t doing it justice (see below).

I think I got the colours pretty close to what you could actually see visually.

How automatic mode saw the colours. Much too bright. The sky was pushed and it just made the scene look insipid.

Amazing!

An absolutely beautiful sunset captured using my a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. This photo was taken using the 108 megapixel mode and so zooming in on the original renders far more detail than I could believe.

A few days with the Nexdock

So I’ve had the Nexdock a few days now, and I suppose you’re all gagging to know what I think of it?

Well first things first – it is very important to remember that the Nexdock does not have an OS as such. If you are buying one because you think it’s a laptop then you’re going to be very disappointed. You have to connect some form of device to the Dock for it to do anything at all.

After the initial “oooh” moment I have now had chance to remove my rose tinted glasses and actually use it, and I’ve discovered a few things which may or may not be helpful.

Software

DeX, whilst a really good idea still needs work. A lot of programmes really don’t like it at all. BBC iplayer was one of my biggest disappointments! Also Google Apps really aren’t actually optimised for the DeX layout, although thankfully Microsoft have pulled their finger out and the android versions of their office suite work beautifully.

The wide screen, whilst at first appearing advantageous is actually not good for most Android apps. Running them in Landscape format is awkward and most of them end up with a very poor user experience. Thankfully apps can be resized and a tall thin window emulating the aspect ratio of a phone looks good. Apps that do adapt to the layout well, though, look stunning.

I tried a little Google Stadia on it. You would think the dock was made for Stadia! The sound is solid and bass, and the screen works beautifully with games such as Little Nightmares.

Browsing feels really natural, although I’ve actually found Samsung’s own browser to be a better performer than Chrome. The tabbed browsing feels like a PC browser and it renders windows much truer to a PC format rather than trying to render them to a tablet view.

I would like to add that the software limitations above are nothing to do with the Nexdock and are brought about by DeX.

Hardware

As for the hardware itself, well it’s certainly a very solid device! It feels heavy and substantial. Yes it fails the one hand opening test for laptops but I’m not too bothered about that personally.

The keyboard is a good if slightly springy one, with a good layout. I ditched the silicon skin in the end though as it was grippy and annoying, and so now I’m using a US layout. It’s not a major problem for me though as I used to use Acorn archimedes computers back in the 80’s and they always had the “odd” American quotes position.

One thing I did find is the proximity of the touch pad to the space bar does cause occasional nuisance touches, but the touch pad can be turned off easily with Nex & Escape key combination. I haven’t found this documented, but it’s good to know.

The screen is OK. It’s nice and bright, and the definition is very sharp but a cycling white @ colours test screens shows where compromises have been made. Mine has two blotches where the brightness is irregular. It’s a fairly standard panel though so I’m sure replacing it with a better quality panel wouldn’t be a massive deal.

The final thing to bear in mind is that the charger is a PD (power delivery) charger so you won’t be able to charge the device using your normal phone charger. I have two PD chargers. Both worked fine and charged it.

Final thoughts

Honestly it’s amazing.

A business usage scenario I see is staff are provided with a Galaxy S/Note smartphone and a Nexdock in place of a laptop. Desks in the business have monitor and keyboard setups with the original Dex docks. This means nobody needs a laptop, thin client isn’t required, and upgrading phones also upgrades the laptop simultaneously.

A forward thinking organisation should be heading down this route if, as per most businesses, they don’t actually use Windows and most of their software is browser based. My business is certainly going down this route with PC’s only being supplied to those who actually need them.

It reduces laptop theft, and because with a good administrative background Android is a robust business platform, you can increase device security to a very high level.

The Galaxy Note 20. The first few days.

I didn’t make it totally obvious but I got a new phone on Tuesday. A Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Initial reactions?

The most obvious change from the Note 10 is the total 180 flip of the design. The buttons move from the left hand side of the chassis across to the right hand side. It didn’t take much getting used to and actually feels more natural. They aren’t as easy to catch for a start.

The s-pen moving to the left on the other hand is a really awkward change. As a right handed person I want to grab my pen with my right hand, but I have to twist awkwardly to do this. I’m sure I’ll adapt, but bad Samsung. Lefties will be loving it though.

One UI 2.5 is sweet. I never had much love for Samsung’s old UI (Touchwiz) but I adore how smooth One UI is, and with 2.5 we gain some really nice improvements. Samsung have stopped loading it down with useless clutter and now make meaningful changes to how it works.

Wireless DeX seems interesting. I’ve played with it a couple of times (I do use DeX a hell of a lot) and whilst it’s not great on our TV as the lag is about half a second (a 2014 Samsung model) it works much better on my Microsoft wireless display adaptor and has hardly any delay. I think it’ll come in most useful for my presentations. If I ever do any again with the current situation!

Now let’s get to the camera.

With COVID I’m not traveling and photographing in the same way so I’ve not really had chance to do much with the camera, but it does seem better than the old one. I did take a photo of woods yesterday with the 108mp mode turned on and it was “interesting”. From a distance the level of detail looks really good, but not amazing.

Zoomed in however the software has turned it into something slightly trippy and as if Google Dream has had a bit of influence.

I’m going to have a few more tries with the 108mp mode but I’m not exactly blown away with it.

On the other hand the general photography has yielded good results in both good and poor light.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts.

The final issue that a few people have noticed is battery life. I don’t have many anxieties myself, but I am a very battery anxious person. I keep my life on my phone and if the battery runs low I panic.

That said, the Note 20 even with the Exynos processor isn’t faring too badly. I know you could say we don’t get a good a deal in Europe as the USA gets, but we do get a base storage of 256 gig in place of the 128 base the USA gets.

The phone definitely runs warmer, and on my initial setup the phone wouldn’t charge because the processor was fully throttled up – the charger merely maintained the battery percentage – but other than that I haven’t really noticed much difference between the Note 10 and Note 20 in real world use.

So final thoughts?

Well it’s a nice little upgrade, and certainly with the cameras feels less iterative, but if you don’t care for the cameras and you like your note 10, stay where you are.

I got a new phone.

I was rather surprised to receive a notification on my phone saying I was entitled to an upgrade. It surprised me as I’ve only had my phone for 12 months!

Upon contacting my provider it was indeed correct! I can only assume that with the size of my monthly bills they want to keep me.

The decision was already made up – upgrading my Galaxy Note 10 to the Galaxy Note 20. Not much changed in the device, but being as much of a photography fan as I am I really fancied getting something with a real zoom lens and the increased size sensor (108 megapixel! Seriously).

Sure enough, the deal was done on Monday, I collected the new phone yesterday, and I’m now using it!

As for the photos? They’re amazing! This was my first night mode photo and it’s almost like daylight.

I also took a photo of Pip this morning. I asked him if he wanted a sosig.

And Bilbo.

So I’ve hardly done any photography yet, and with the current situation photography isn’t something I can really go out and do; but perhaps soon…