Posts Tagged android

New life for an old lapdock

The thought of a ‘pocket computer’ really intrigues me. Being able to carry my computer around in my pocket but then being able to plug it into an larger dock and get a full-sized experience out of it sounds really cool. Imagine my excitement when Motorola came out with the Lapdock. I was on Verizon so I couldn’t get in on the original Atrix, but I got a Razr and immediately went out and got the Lapdock 500. Then there was the disappointment of actually running the Webtop application for the first time. From what I could tell they booted up a full linux distro then tried to run Firefox ontop of it. To say it was pokey is a complete understatement, it was unusable. However, I had heard that the Razr was due for a major upgrade in ICS and so I kept my fingers crossed.

The Ice Cream Sandwich update came and I hesitantly plugged the Razr into the Lapdock. It switched display mode and started behaving like a tablet. The keyboard worked good, and it was finally usable as a netbook. That’s all I really wanted, just a simple netbook-like experience, nothing crazy. After using it for a while I started to encounter annoyances. The trackpad was on all the time, so when I was typing I would bump it and move the cursor. Sometimes it just freezes, for no reason, so I have to reboot the phone. It was still usable in my opinion thought.

I started thinking about what is going to happen if I were to ever change my phone. Then I realized that the life of the lapdock was tied to the phone. This just wouldn’t do, it’s a nice piece of hardware and I would hate to just have to throw it away. Then I found this article: I should have never doubted the modder community, of course the Raspberry Pi could breathe life into my laptdock! There were other options I had never heard of as well. I am actually looking forward to getting this project going in the near future. We will see if I can follow-up with some articles on my experience. There have to be enough lapdocks out there that someone might find it interesting.

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Lapdock 500

Ever since Motorola came out with the Atrix and the original lapdock I have been enamored with the idea of a ‘pocket computer.’ Not so much the idea of having computer in my pocket, I was doing that with my old Texas Instruments calculator 15 years ago. More the idea of having the computer I could do daily computeree stuff with, check my email, play a game, create an office know the drill. My first foray into the lapdock was a disaster, it was slow, clunky, and didn’t do more than run Firefox..poorly. My RAZR was upgraded to ICS over the weekend and with it came the upgrade to Webtop 3, and let me say it is a whole new experience.

Gone is the old mini-Linux disto that would have to boot up and hog all the memory only to run a single Webtop application. Now Android switched to tablet mode and most of the zip of the phone is still there. Applications now stretch to fill the screen and the particularly smart applications switch to a tablet mode to take advantage of the expanded screen size. There are still some bugs with the system, for example the touchpad doesn’t disable when I am typing so every couple of words the cursor jumps around and I am suddenly typing someplace else. The system can become a little slow at times, but it’s nothing you wouldn’t encounter with a netbook.

I have been customizing my new Webtop and playing with it to determine its capabilities and I am continually impressed with how far it has come since 2.0. If Motorola keeps this up I see the Webtop becoming a huge selling point for Motorola phones. At least…it will be for me 🙂 Oh, and this post was done on the lapdock with the WordPress for Android app.

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Rooted my droid

So I couldn’t resist the temptation to root my droid any longer. I have been running the stock ROM since I first got it around Christmas ’09. I was perfectly content to just use what was given to me on my phone, besides, with what I was paying Verizon, I didn’t want to chance bricking the phone and be left with an early term fee or having to buy a new phone.

So there I sat for 14 months content with mediocrity. Then I read this article on Lifehacker and my curiosity overwhelmed my better judgement. To say that the stock ROM on my droid was running slow say, rather an understatement. I am not sure if I had installed too much stuff, or there were too many background programs running, all I knew is it routinely took more than 45 seconds when I switched from an application back to the desktop for me to be able to see the desktop icons…definitely not within my realm of patience.

So I took the dive and first rooted my phone with the SuperOneClick. I DID have to reboot into Windows for this, because the program only ran there and Wine couldn’t find my phone (again, fears of bricking made me err on side of caution). After NOT click the ‘Install Drivers’ button and spending a good 20 minute refusing to read the instructions, I realized my error and before I knew it SuperOneClick had rooter my phone.

Next I rebooted and installed ClockworkMom ROM manager. I downloaded the most recent MIUI zip and transferred it to the SD card. Selected the zip file in ROM Manger and rebooted. After a lengthy back-up of the stock ROM and install of the new MIUI ROM, it was done.

A couple of things I noticed immediately that were probably obvious to more experience rooters.. not sure what to call them. First off, HOLY JUMPING JELLY BEANS, this thing is screaming fast! Faster than I ever remember the stock ROM being, and the user interactions are really snappy. I spent a good 5 minutes just flipping between screen to watch how quick everything was, score.

Second, even though I backed up all my application settings with Titanium backup pro, and I reinstalled some of my original applications (installing a new ROM means re-installing all your apps again, FYI :-0 ) I couldn’t restore my previous settings, bummer, looks like I will have to redo all those Angry Birds levels.

Third, this should really be the default GUI for droid, it looks incredible, everything si extremely well polished, usually there are little things that escaped the programmers but I have only found 1 very minor graphical oops. No kidding, this ROM is really good looking, usage of transparencies and gradients really sets this apart.

I highly recommend people give MIUI a try, especially those with pokey first gen Droids that are waiting for their contracts to be up so they can get some new hotness of a phone (*cough Atrix *cough)

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