iPhone? Not my phone.

Cellular phones have come a looooong way. Fran was the pioneer in our family, adopting one when they were still brick-like and cost two small fortunes. Her phone made and took phone calls… and that’s it.  Kind of unreal. Then there was the whole Pocket PC craze (remember the ipaq- why?!). Then the cell phone and Pocket PC were merged into one mostly harmonious whole and we achieved “nerdvana” (that term was coined by Scott Adams in his Dilbert cartoon strip).

Nearly eighteen months ago I got the Sprint HTC Mogul (below left) and I wasn’t sure how things could get any better. Then along came the Apple iPhone (below right, as if you didn’t know). It was sleek, easy to use, versatile, and inexplicably it was only available on the AT&T network.  I was still happy with the Mogul… I had high speed Internet. Then along came the 3G iPhone. Now they had high speed Internet too! Meanwhile my phone began to slowly die. One day after the seventh reset I decided that maybe an iPhone was in my future after all.  But I still had 7 months left in my Sprint contract… what to do?

Initially I was pretty determined to pay the early cancellation fee for Sprint and hop on the AT&T iPhone train. I even went to buy an iphone…twice. After some extensive research, price comparisons and a good deal of persecution I decided to stick with Sprint and buy a new phone. Right now I have a great deal- 1300 mins, unlimited night & weekend, unlimited texts, unlimited data, and all the other good stuff for $56 a month. That’s the final statement price, including all the taxes. Hard to beat. It would be almost double with AT&T. The Sprint phone I ended up buying was the HTC Touch Pro (below center). Following is my review of the Touch Pro.


On of my biggest gripes with the iPhone is the that you have to type on the screen with the phone in a vertical position. I’m sure that I would have gradually gotten used to it, but I really love the slide out keyboard on the HTC Touch Pro (and on my old Mogul). The keyboard gives you five lines (one more than the Mogul) of typing real estate and the tactile feedback is exceptional. The keyboard is backlit which is another nice feature. Granted, the keyboard makes the Touch Pro a bit on the thick side, but the phone still has a very nice feel and it isn’t nearly as bulky as its predecessors. Given the amount of typing I do on my phone I’m not ready to give the keyboard up… yet.

What impresses me most about the Touch Pro is the screen. The resolution is stunning (640 x 480 on a 2.8″ screen). When I was growing up we had the Atari Lynx, the Sega Game Gear and other color hand held games. You could clearly see the red, blue and geen of the pixels. It drove me nuts. LCD screens, like phones, have come a looooong way. The iPhone screen looks great, but when I look at the Touch Pro screen I’m floored every time. The pixels are so small they aren’t even visible to the naked eye which makes the Touch Pro screen the sharpest I’ve ever seen. A huge problem with the Mogul was that the screen became virtually invisible in bright light. The Touch Pro screen is clearly visible in direct sunlight and from every angle. It’s a little on the small side, but I can deal with it.

Speed-wide the Touch Pro is adequate. I still find myself waiting for things to load occasionally, and sometimes with too many applications open everything crashes. It amazes me to think that this little phone is more powerful (and in some cases much more powerful) than my first five computers. The Touch Pro runs Windows Mobile 6.1 which seems pretty stable for the most part. HTC has created an interface they call Touch Flow 3D which runs over Windows and makes it a little easier to use (you can actually avoid the stylus altogether for most functions). Truthfully I think the iPhone’s interface is more intuitive and better thought out, but HTC has taken a step in the right direction here.

Functionally I really like the Touch Pro. Email is easy to use, text messaging has been improved (and again, I really like the keyboard) and Opera is the default browser now (it works very well). The 3.2 megapixel camera takes passable pictures (the color seems a little off), but I do like the fact that I can take videos with the Touch Pro. Window’s Mobile gives me access to Windows Live which is a pretty comprehensive information tool (maps, directions, traffic, movies, shopping info, etc). Applications aren’t as easy to get (the iPhone store is something to behold), but there is plenty of software available if you don’t mind a little digging.

The Touch Pro isn’t perfect- I have a few minor complaints. The touch screen seems to require more force than my Mogul did (I have to push a good deal harder to get the same results). HTC uses a proprietary input jack so you need an adapter for headphones. Touch Flow 3D isn’t as customizable as I’d like either. Still, all things considered this is a great phone and I’m really enjoying it. For the time being, my phone is not an iPhone.

I’m going to poke Fran and see when the next Hughes Family Blog update will be. I may have to start posting some of our activities over here! We’ve kept pretty busy this past week (the first week I’ve really felt up to doing anything) with movies, food, family activities (I finally went to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point) and friends. I’ve really cut back on work these days and I’m taking it easy. Sometimes life is really great.

Where Does the Time Go?

Wow. January 2009. I completely missed November and December of 2008. I have my reasons though. In November I was busy combating a “failing economy”. In December we were so inundated with business that I could barley breathe and I spent a lot of time wondering why I was so worried in November.

The BladeHQ 2008 Report: Our 2008 December sales were up 40% over 2007 and overall sales for 2008 were up 32% over 2007. The amount per order dropped a bit but our order volume surged and the post Christmas sales have been promising. While the preliminary data has been encouraging I don’t feel like we’re out of the woods by any means. I’ll be curious to see how January pans out for us. I’m cautiously optimistic.

The Hughes Family 2008 Report: We made it through 2008 and all of us are still alive. Quite an accomplishment, really. December is always hard on Fran becuase I’m at work so much and this year has been particularly difficult becuase of sickness (everyone over here has been sick at some point in December). The kids are doing good. Gabe (18 months) walks now and says a few words.  Claire (3)  is still a little fire ball and full of mischief. She’ll start going to preschool next year.  Mike (5) begins kindergarten this year and he’s very excited. He seems well adjusted with a hint of crazy.  For more on the Hughes family check our Fran’s blog (click here).

The Cam Report: December has not been kind health-wise. I think I’ve gotten everything a guy can get. Bronchitis usually hits in mid December (it recurs each year). This year the flu hit on top of that, coupled with what I believe to be Salmonella poisoning. At some point during the “recovery” I acquired the common cold, strep throat and an ear infection (all of which I am still dealing with). I can’t recall every being sick for this long- it will be 3 weeks tomorrow. I may just have to go see a doctor. Not a really a fan. If only Dave was finished with Medical school… he could hook with up with some meds!

Nothing too noteworthy happened in November. Well, to be fair I’m sure there were a few things of interest but I was too consumed with the failing economy to notice. December was so incredibly busy I’m glad that it’s over. My New Year’s Resolution is to work less and enjoy life a little more (shouldn’t be hard since there was virtually zero enjoyment in December). Christmas day was alright, except for the fact that I was miserably sick. Santa brought some fun stuff though!

We got Mike Leapster 2 video game system. I wanted to get him a GameBoy Advance, but Fran was adamant that Mike learn something while he played video games. The Leapster 2 is a nicely built system, and the games seem like a lot of fun. I’m impressed by the thought Leap Frog put into the design. The only drawback the I saw was the low quality screen- I would have been willing to pay a little more to get crisper resolution and a faster refresh rate, especially given how vivid and colorful the graphics in the games are.

Back in September we Gave Claire a Kidcraft dollhouse. The thing is huge (so huge it’s subsequently been discontinued and a new smaller version is available). It’s designed for 12″ dolls and has three floors and 10 rooms where the dolls can live. We cleverly kept the furniture that came with the dollhouse stashed until Christmas and are dishing it out in small doses. We also got her some new dolls and she’s nearly ready to play with everything correctly.

Gabe is only 18 months so he got some Duplo sized Megablocks and a few books. He seemed happy. Besides, Grampa and Grandma spoiled the little guy silly! Our kids are very lucky to have such generous grandparents.

I tried to get Fran an iphone, but she’s (wisely) decided to wait until July. For our wedding anniversary we’ll get iphones together (July is when my current contract with Sprint expires). Looking forward to that. Maybe they’ll release a new model and the wait will be worth it. Maybe. Fran also got an all expense paid trip to Reunion Island! Lucky girl.


Fran gave me CSI season 8 (just about finished- one perk to being stuck in bed) and Santa brought me a new Yamaha Keyboard. Maybe it’s tacky to post the Christmas haul on here, but come on- everyone wants to know what everyone else got. Don’t pretend you don’t!

The new keyboard is the Yamaha Motif XS8 workstation. Yamaha makes the XS in an 88, 76 or 61 key configuration. Anyone who has any serious interest in a workstation like this should get the 88 key version- no regrets. Plus the 88 key version features weighted keys for a feel that more closely resembles a real piano. I’ve had numerous Yamaha Keyboards over the years. Below you can see my keyboard evolution. The first is the Yamaha P120S which is exceptional. I actually wrote a review for it (you’ll have to search a bit).  Next I had the Yamaha Motif ES. I never really clicked with the ES. I found the sequencer nearly impossible to use and the manual appeared to have been written by super intelligent extraterrestrials with no regard for the limitations of the human mind. Now I have the Yamaha Motif XS and I’m thrilled. Yamaha added a much larger color screen which makes navigation, editing and everything else much easier. The sequencer is very simple to use and the manual seems much more straightforward. This is the keyboard/workstation that I’ve been waiting for. Yippe! Now if only I could play the piano…


And in other news I have finally found watch love. I’ve spent a long time looking for a watch that has the functionality I want, suits my style, and is wearable in a practical way- enter the Tissot T-Touch Expert. I actually owned the prior version (just the standard T-touch) but I made the mistake of getting the polished casing. That, coupled with the fact that the watch was a little small, made it a bad choice. The Expert has a much larger case and it suits me better (I’m a big guy and I like a big watch). Plus the casing is brushed titanium which is light enough to not bother me and ha sa nice low key look. The dial is carbon fiber which I like. And the Expert has a backlight, which is an added bonus. All in all a great watch and one I can recommend to anyone. If Tissot comes out with a solar version is may very well be the perfect watch.

For some reason (ha ha) Mike became obsessed with the idea of having a watch too. We found a reasonably good model for him at Walmart. Watch technology has come a long way- when I was a kid I saved up for a watch just like his and it cost me nearly $50 (and that was in 1987!). For $10 we found a water resistant digital watch with a backlight, chronograph, date/day display, alarm and a nylon strap with Velcro. Teaching Mike to read time has been tricky, but I think he’ll get it soon. Ah, the joys of mini me.


Well, that’s about it for now. I’m glad to have 2008 over and done with. Looking back it was a challenging year in many ways and I’m looking forward to being a little wiser and little more careful in 2009. No regrets this year- that’s my goal. I know it’s impossible, but it will be a good guiding light on my quest to better myself and contribute meaningfully to my family. Hopefully I’ll have more time to blog this year. Cam on Commerce needs some love!