Pocketables Editor Spotlight is a weekly series that shines the spotlight on each of our editors. Last week, we got to know our associate editor of Pocketables, Bryan Faulkner, and today let’s get to know the associate Android editor of Pocketables, Aaron Orquia.
I would have to say that my attachment to technology started on my 13th birthday, in what may be a slightly long story. The summer before, I had decided that I wanted to have a desktop computer. However, I had the problem that all kids have when they want something nice and new: money. So, I spent an entire summer doing yard work to make money for the computer. Of course, I didn’t make much, and was left trying to figure out how to get as much computer as possible for a cheap price.
Eventually, I stumbled upon the idea of buying parts and putting together your own computer. I watched hours of video and read probably thousands of forum posts, learning everything I could about processor speed, graphics cards, and motherboards. Finally, I planned out my perfect machine, the parts for which I received on my 13th birthday thanks to a little help from the parents. I had it assembled and working within the next 12 hours, and suddenly realized that building and learning about computers and technology might be a new full-time hobby.
The reason I mention this story on a mobile focused blog is that it plays a big part in my first mobile device purchase. This was the Nokia N810, which I researched similarly before purchasing a few years later. Since I was used to trying to get the most out of my hardware, I started reading about Maemo customization, and eventually ended up doing even more research to tweak the N810 just perfectly. At this point, I stumbled upon Pocketables for the discussion of Nokia’s devices, back when those kind of UMPCs were a thing.
Soon enough, though, the N810 just wasn’t cutting it. Android was just beginning to gain public recognition, and I was ready for an exciting new device. When the Motorola Droid first launched, I knew I had to have it. I waited a few months after the release, and bought the device used on Ebay. Here’s where things started kicking up a notch, and I learned all about Android rooting, apps, custom ROMS, kernels, and even hardware tweaks.
I used the Droid for quite a while, until the coolest device ever came along: the HTC EVO 4G. Once again, I waited a few months after the announcement to pick up the device, and immediately began looking for ways to customize the device. I started running CyanogenMod, bought custom back covers, removed the paint from the bezel, and generally did all kinds of crazy mods. Around this time, I found GoodandEvo through Pocketables, and began reading it regularly for the helpful news and tips. Then one day, I noticed a post from Jenn looking for new editors. I applied, and to my great delight was given a job at Pocketables. Now, I get to write about Android smartphones, tweaks, and hacks, every day, not to mention try out all kinds of cool new hardware under the guise of a job. What’s not to love about that?
Since then, I have owned too many Android smartphones and tablets to count, but my current personal device collection includes a Nexus 7, KDE Debian based desktop, and Galaxy Nexus, which you can see below.
With my long winded tech biography out of the way, let’s get to the questions that my fellow Pocketables editors asked me.
Jenn K. Lee: How long do you usually keep a gadget?
Aaron: Well, that is actually a tough one, because it depends on a few things. Some of my devices I kept for a year or more, like my original Droid, EVO, and N810. Other things I have gotten rid of after a month of use, like the Acer A100 and Droid Incredible. I think a lot of it has to do with how many other people adopt the device, and as such what kind of community there is around it. I find it boring to keep a device stock, so I’m much more likely to get rid of something early if there is no one developing for it, but will keep it longer if others are helping to keep it relevant. However, I would say that I generally have a 4-6 month cycle for smartphones, and get rid of tablets after a couple months.
John Freml: Now that you’ve had a chance to play around extensively with both devices, do you prefer HTC Sense 4.0 on the One X, or pure Android on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus?
Aaron: I have to say, despite HTC’s great hardware and the improvements they have made to their software, I still prefer the Nexus and pure Android. The hardware is good enough, and with such a great development community around it there are always plenty of software tweaks and improvements to be had. I really like the One X, but especially when you compare the unlocked price of the two, the Galaxy Nexus wins. I’m willing to forego the very newest hardware for the right software, and in my case customized Jelly Bean (available almost immediately after the announcement) is the right software.
William Devearux: Which device could you not live without?
Aaron: Right now, that would have to be my Galaxy Nexus. I got the device just a few months ago, but it was my only personal mobile device until the Nexus 7 got here. I’m sure it’s a bit cliche to choose a smartphone as your most important device, but other than my desktop that is all I have. Anyways, getting back to the point, I use the Galaxy Nexus for everything: calender and agenda, Netflix and music, casual web browsing, email, and of course phone calls. It is a rare moment when I don’t have my Galaxy Nexus within reach, although I sometimes wish there were more times when I could get away from the constant pinging of new notifications.
Bryan Faulkner: What are some necessary features that your next mobile device purchase must have?
Aaron: As far as basic specs, I’m going to have to say at least a 720p display, quad-core processor, and nice 8MP camera. For extra features, I would like pogo pins with video out, NFC, inductive charging, USB host, a 2,000mAh battery, and perhaps a kickstand. Currently, I would have to say that it would also have to run Android, although that could change in the future. (Tizen? MeeGo? Ubunut Mobile? Anyone?) The hardware maker would probably be HTC, although Samsung is a close second. Other than that, I really haven’t put too much thought into building my next smartphone or dream device.
Calob Horton: What made you decide that Linux was your favorite desktop operating system?
Aaron: It wasn’t as much of a decision as it was a process. Like I mentioned above, I built my own desktop to save money, so spending over $100 on an OS when I could get one for free just seemed silly. I had never used either OS before, so it wasn’t as if I switched to Linux. I just installed the build of Fedora (and quickly switched to Ubuntu) because it was easy, free, and worked fine, and ended up sticking with the choice. I did use Windows 7 for a time when the consumer preview came out, but when that prompted me to buy an upgrade to the real version, I couldn’t find a reason to spend the money. Linux (my current preferred version is Debian with KDE) works well for me, it’s free, and I’ve pretty much figured out all of the little problems with it. You know how sometimes when you have an old car, you begin to understand all the little problems about it and how to make it work despite them, and then even get attached to the flaws? That is somewhat like my situation with the Linux desktop. Sure, it has some flaws, but for free I think I can stand to embrace a bit of quirkiness.
Paul King: What’s your most hated and loved piece of tech junk you’ve acquired?
Aaron: Do you mean both hated and loved at the same time? If so, then that would have to be my HTC EVO 4G. That thing caused me a whole slew of problems, and I had to send it back to HTC for repairs no less than 5 times. I had tons of activation trouble with it, ended up switching to MetroPCS, and had to buy an expensive extended battery in order to use the device normally for a day. Despite all these problems, I loved that EVO. Something about the hardware, which was best in class at the time, combined with a highly customized build of CyanogenMod just had quite a bit of charm, and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Plus, that is the phone that taught me most of what I know about Android, so I might not be here if it weren’t for that. As far as my single hated device, that would have to be the Acer A100, that thing ended up causing me so much trouble there is no way it was worth it. Most loved would have to be the N810, that thing was incredible and started my journey into mobile device customization.
Andreas Odegard: What are your future tech plans?
Aaron: Well, currently I’m trying to trim down the number of devices I own and how often I get new ones. For a while, there was a stretch where I had a new phone or tablet almost every few weeks, but I simply can’t keep up with that anymore. I have other things to worry about, so I’m going to try to settle down with the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 for a while to come. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing as it will give me a great opportunity to customize them exactly how I want, and really make them personally useful to me. I’ll be able to really watch the development, and perhaps find some tips and tricks to help keep the devices relevant. Also, as both are Nexus devices it would be nice if Google kept them updated for a while, but I’m not too hopeful. In fact, I am a bit worried that Google might announce new Nexus devices for the holidays, because if they do, I’m certain to be quite tempted.
All of Aaron’s posts can be found on his author page, so be sure to check it out! Next week, Paul E. King takes the spotlight.