Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is Airtel Internet TV DTH set top box.
I used to have a regular Airtel DTH connection at my place; the non-smart ones where the Set Top Box connects to an external satellite dish antenna and you watch TV. One day the set top box straight up and died so I contacted Airtel for a replacement. They told me that they have an offer where if I pay a years’ worth of subscription fee at once, they will upgrade me to the new Airtel Internet TV set top box. The set top box was supposed to combine the best of DTH TV viewing and App based streaming along with:
1G Ethernet and WiFi connectivity
4K output with 4K Netflix capability (Along with Prime, Hotstar etc.)
Voice activated remote with touch sensitive surface
Internet enabled programme guide
DVR capabilities with storage on external USB devices
I bought it mostly for 4K Netflix capabilities. I was sceptical about getting it because it ran Android TV (Fagdroid), but decided to keep an open mind and give it a try.
It would be safe to say that this was the worst product (across all categories) I ever bought in my life & realised it the same day. Android TV (Fagdroid) is the worst OS ever to power any gadget in the world, period. Some of the complaints that I faced (On day 1) were:
Slow as fuck interface (Even with things like quad-core Qualcomm processor etc.). I blame this part entirely on the Android TV (Fagdroid) OS. Even changing channels took 2-3 seconds.
Apps crashing all the time. Even the TV app which showed content from satellite crashed regularly with no apparent triggers.
The smart Bluetooth remote control froze from time-to-time. The only way to recover it was to remove the batteries and insert them back again.
Doing a factory reset was not a straight forward job. After the reset, half of the channels would disappear and would require going into settings and entering some satellite related parameters manually.
Advertisements showing up randomly on the UI & also a perpetual, huge Airtel Logo on the corner of the screen
Software updates would fix some issues and introduce others.
After tolerating this for a few months, I had had enough & even with 8/9 months of subscription remaining, I threw it in the trash. When I asked Airtel to move me back to the old (non-smart) set top box, they told me that was no longer possible. Eventually, this brought to an end the era of DTH in my house forever & I moved to streaming services permanently; also cementing my resolve to never buy anything Android (Fagdroid) powered ever again.
Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, which was my 29th phone.
I was super-excited to buy this phone since the day it was announced by Microsoft. In the months leading up to the actual launch, I used to send my family members to the Microsoft Store at Ambience mall every Sunday (one-by-one) to ask about the phone’s launch date. I even had a Google search alert setup which sent me emails as soon as any news article were published about this phone. Although this phone was great on paper (Great hardware, huge display, excellent camera), this phone was my 7th Windows Phone overall and by the time this phone launched, Windows 10 Mobile was all but dead.
I remember the day this phone launched; I had just started a new job that week. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and went to Ambience mall to buy it (For ₹55,000; of course, I had pre-booked the phone months ago). The store employees told I was the first person in North India to get my hands on this phone. At that time I thought I was special. In hindsight, it is clear now, I was one of the few fools in North India to buy a Windows Mobile (at the tail end of 2015).
Within months, Microsoft announced the death of Windows 10 for mobiles. Within weeks after that, app developers abandoned the platform. There was still a small community online of loyal fans but we were more and more reliant on 3rd party apps for basic services. Uber, specifically, was a huge pain point. There was no easy way to search for destinations, you had to zoom out on the map, zoom in to where you thought you wanted to go and mark the location manually.
I also remember claiming some of the phone’s cost from my company (There was a company BYOD policy) and my manager laughing at me that I spent such a huge amount for such a phone.
Slowly and painfully, over the next year, the number of useable 1st party apps dwindled to almost zero and I eventually made the jump to Apple’s (Walled) Garden putting an end to my Lumia misery. If I could do things over, I should have bought an iPhone for the same amount and prevented myself from a year of misery.
Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bose QC 35 II headphones, which I regretted buying.
Don’t get me wrong, the Bose QC 35 II are great headphones, with stellar sound quality and impressive noise cancellation. I just realised after buying them that I am not a “wearing huge headphones in public” kind of guy.
A bit of history, my earphones of choice used to be the Bose Soundsport Wireless, which I happily used for a few years, but lost during my last trip to Xiamen, China. I was quite devastated and for some time, considered buying the same earphones again, but couldn’t find them anywhere in Xiamen. I almost bought Apple Airpods from the Xiamen Apple store, but somehow controlled myself because of the poor audio quality.
After returning to India, I saw the Bose QC 35 II on sale at half price and I had wanted to dip my toes into Noise cancellation, so bought it.
The sound quality & the noise cancellation blew me away (Sony MX3 performs even better they say, but I was a Bose purist then). However, after the first few days of use, the novelty began to wear off. I would feel awkward walking in public with them around my ears, sitting at my desk in office. Having phone calls on them looked even more awkward so I started regretting my decision very soon.
On top of that, Apple soon launched the Airpods Pro, which had everything I wanted in the original Airpods and I was done with the QC 35 IIs.
I eventually sold them to a couple of illiterate Gym Bros via OLX at almost the same price I bought them for, so the regret didn’t last for long.
This is first of a series where I reminisce about my best purchases and purchases I regret to this date.
I will start with something positive, my second smartphone. The O2 XPhone II, 9th in a long list of phones I have used over the years. Although I did have an N-Gage QD before this, it was barely a smartphone, severely crippled by software.
In technology, ecosystem is a big thing. I remember, 10 years ago, while looking for a device/service, one would go for whatever is best in that category. This approach doesn’t work that well anymore. These days it makes sense for a person to stick to an ecosystem and use products/services mostly in that ecosystem, otherwise things get messy. This is because each of the three big companies want the users of their services to use their products exclusively and as a result, don’t support cross-platform compatibility very well.
Here’s an overview of the services/products offered by the Big-three. For those who are curious, I am firmly planted in the Microsoft ecosystem.
I was introduced to Google back in school, when it was just a search engine. Now it has its fingers and feet in almost every product/service category and is undoubtedly the market leader in most of them.
After Google search, I started using Gmail, then Google Chrome. It was only by chance that I didn’t buy an Android handset (almost bought the T-Mobile G1 once) and I am glad I didn’t. Google is evil. Google is at the moment, what Microsoft was in the 90s. Ruthless and evil.
Google has the right to read through your e-mail, use that information however it pleases and targets ads depending on the text in your e-mail. Also Google has deliberately not supported Windows Phone for years.
Yes, Google is evil
So a few months ago, I decided to say “fuck you” to Google and start moving away from all Google products. OneDrive replaced Google drive. Outlook.com replaced Gmail (it was a pain changing my e-mail address everywhere) and today, as the final step, I migrated my blog from Blogger to WordPress and deleted everything on Blogger.
Bye Bye Google, I am never coming back.
I have been a smartphone user for almost as long as I have used a cellphone. As a user, I have evolved over these years. Most of my smartphone experience has been with Symbian (95%) and Windows Mobile (5%).
Planning to move to a Nokia Windows Phone in the future, these are certain features I am used to, which I find sadly missing on Nokia WIndows Phones Notification LED: Its an LED on the front panel of the phone which blinks periodically whenever there’s a new Missed call or SMS.
For me, this is highly useful because most modern smartphones don’t show anything on their screens when in standby mode and you have to press a button and go to the lock screen to see whether there are any messages or missed calls.
Windows Phone supports this for Missed calls and voicemails only, not for SMS.
Nokia Windows Phones don’t have a Notification LED at all. Profiles: I prefer to use different profiles when I am at home (Loud Ringer, no vibration, email alerts), when my phone is in my pocket (No Ringer, vibrations, no email alerts), when I am sleeping (No vibrations, low volume ascending ringer , no email alerts, calls only from family members) and Silent (No notifications at all).
This is something I have gotten used to such an extent that I felt terrible when I had to use an iphone for a week.
Windows Phone does not have this functionality natively at all.
Without these 2 features, there is no way I can buy a Nokia Windows Phone.
I wrote a post earlier comparing various mobile O.S.es on things like features, stability, battery backup etc. Here I’ll do a comparison of some features I find unthinkable to live without. This is not an exhaustive feature comparison, just some features which I regularly use. I have used Stock OSes to compare. CLick on the image for a bigger version
Multi-tasking:- Symbian/Android & Blackberry OSes support full multitasking, where any program minimized will keep running in the memory in the background and will be able to perform all functions it normally can, in the foreground. This means that a minimized browser will continue to load a web-page in the background, a messenger application will continue to stay connected to its server and keep you online. iOS and Windows Phone 7 on the other hand have a slightly different concept of multitasking. Any minimized application is frozen in memory and can perform only basic functions in the background. This means that a browser will not continue to load web-pages in the background, but will resume where it left off. However, messenger applications will be allowed limited connectivity so that they stay connected with the server and can show notifications whenever there’re any updates. They below semantic explains how this works on Windows Phone 7.
The latter method is inherently more restrictive, but more efficient in battery, RAM and CPU usage, especially for users who forget to close apps after using them.
Notification LED:- Symbian, Blackberry (and some) Android phones support a physical LED on the phone front, which would blink whenever there’s a notification (Missed call alert, unread message, email etc.) that needs attention. Blackberry goes a step further and employs 7 different colors in its notifications LED depending on the kind of alert. Now this feature was present on feature phones since the last 10-15 years but has conveniently been left out by Apple & Microsoft in iOS and Windows Phone respectively. This feature is even more important on modern smartphones where the display is switched off when the phone is in standby. There’s no way to know if you have any notification without bringing your phone out of standby and looking at the display.
Profiles:– I have a been a Nokia user ever since I started using a mobile phone and this is one of those features I am completely used to and cannot live without. Basically, profiles allow you to configure different behavior exhibited by the phone when there’s a notification. I have at-least 4 different profiles I use everyday (General, Pocket, Car and Sleep). e.g. in General, there’s high volume ringing and no vibration, in car, there’s low volume ringing and no vibration, in pocket, there’s no ringing, only vibrations, in sleep, there’s no vibrations but ascending ringing tone. This is just one aspect that can be customized; I am used to customize everything e.g. message tone, e-mail tone etc. iPhone, Windows Phone 7, Android all allow just a toggle between “General” & “Silent”. For me, this is not enough.
Free turn-by-turn Navigation with offline maps:-As the names saw, this is the ability of the Mapping/positioning software to provide turn-by-turn voice based navigation. Nokia has an excellent Maps application which can do this with ease, Android’s Google Maps version supports this only in a few countries, iOS doesn’t support it a all natively, nor does Blackberry or Windows Phone 7. However, it is confirmed that Windows Phone 7 will get Nokia Maps for Nokia Windows Phones. Offline support means that the maps for a certain country/region can be stored on the device rather than the device downloading it from the server every time the maps application is invoked.
Access to device Filesystem:- This mean that you can simple connect your phone to the computer using a USB cable and without any software installed browse the device memory card/native filesystem, copy files to and from the device. Nokia, Android, Blackberry all have it, but iOS and Windows Phone 7 don’t. This means that you have to reply on a software like iTunes and Zune respectively to copy files to and from the device and also that there are only a few supported file types you can copy to the device. Far cry from how I often use my Nokia as a USB drive to transfer files
Custom ring-tones:- Frankly, this is not a must-have feature, but something I have got used to. Symbian, Android, Blackberry all alow you to set any mp3 file as a ring-tone. iPhone doesn’t allow this without a jailbreak, Windows Phone 7 allows this, but you have to trim the mp3 file and rename it etc.
Everyone may not want all these features, but are something I would look for whenever I would like to switch to a different O.S.
It’s more than 6 months since I got my Nokia E7-00 and I am already bored with it. Earlier, I always knew which phone I wanted to buy if I had the money, but currently, there’s no phone in the market I would rather have.
This is why I want a new phone:-
Software update roll-outs are too slow. Belle for newer Symbian phones is already out but update for existing phones like the E7-00 would still take at least a month more and maybe even 2 months.
The beta applications by Nokia (Maps etc) which make the experience bearable are still un-refined
Widgets are fixed at rectangular shapes and suck big time. There’s no good weather widget available at all
This is why I don’t know which to buy:-
Apple iOS is still restrictive/too proprietary to hold my attention for long
Android is too un-refined and power consuming
There are currently no good Windows Phone 7.5 with a physical keypad available (Dell Venue Pro does not have good reviews and HTC HD7 is HTC)
My best bet should be to wait for a Nokia Windows Phone device with Nokia Maps and other Nokia add-ons.