Galaxy Note 7 Grounds SWA 994

It would have been ok, had it been in the smoking section, right??

Yeah… maybe not so much.

Reports streamed in on Wednesday 2016-10-05 about a passenger’s Galaxy Note 7, that despite being powered down, began smoking and popping while passengers were boarding SWA (Southwest Airlines) flight 994 to Baltimore.

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The incident occurred at approximately 9:15am, local time. Arson investigators confirmed that the device in question, was a Samsung phone that had overheated, leading to smoke in the cabin, according to local news reports.

Passengers were safely evacuated from the plan, which filled with enough smoke for the crew to initiate that action. The flight was also cancelled.

Passenger Brian Green of New Albany, OH indicated that he was waiting to take off when his recently replaced, Galaxy Note 7 overheated shortly after powering it down. He said it made a popping noise and started to smoke. He took it out of his pocket and threw it to the ground. The device was initially replaced two weeks prior to this incident by AT&T.

Samsung expressed skepticism regarding the replacement status of the device, saying in a statement released to the public, “We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause…”

Southwest is urging customers to insure that ALL Galaxy Note 7’s are turned off, before boarding their flight, saying, “Safety is always our top priority.”

Since its release on 2016-08-19, Samsung has officially recalled more than 1M Galaxy Note 7 devices sold worldwide before 2016-09-15 due to “serious fire and bur hazard [risks].” By that time, Samsung had received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the US, resulting in 26 reported burnings and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If I were Samsung, I’d be worried at this point.

The Galaxy Note series is a very popular device, and its one that has continually gone head to head with the iPhone; and is (likely) the reason why Apple released the 5.5″ iPhone “Plus” version of their popular iPhone smartphone. I wouldn’t want to be the project manager responsible for the Galaxy Note 7, right about now…OR the Supplier Quality guy, either.

If I were either of these guys, I’d be looking for a new gig.

Now in the grand scheme of things, this may end up being nothing more than a strange blip; but at least in the immediate, I’d be a bit concerned if I were Samsung. Their competition with Apple is fierce. The last thing they want anyone to do is think twice when it comes to purchasing ANY of their products. I mean, would you want one of these if there was still a chance that the replacement units had bad batteries..??

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Pardon Me, but is that an Exploding Galaxy Note 7?

Samsung appears to be having issues with its Galaxy Note 7

Over the past few days, after you get past the hype of the latest Apple Event announcing Apple Watch 2 and iPhone 7, you KNOW there have to be executives at Samsung that are – at least for once – glad that Apple has all the limelight. The latest news out of Cupertino has, no doubt had them thanking everyone for moving on from the latest news out of Seoul: Exploding Galaxy Note 7’s.

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Last week, stories of exploding batteries have been all over the news. It got so bad that Samsung indicated that they were not only going to halt sales of their flagship phablet, but recall the device as well. To dates, there have been 35 reported cases of exploding or bursting batteries. News of fires and burns as at least one of the 35 was reported to have exploded in someone’s pants pocket.

Low quality battery cells were reported to be responsible for the issue and recall.

Reports of what countries are effected and are not effected have varied, with at least one report indicating that Note 7 customers in China are unaffected due to the battery supplier used for units there.

Samsung is using lithium-ion batteries in the Note 7. Possible causes for the issue appear to be damaged power cells caused by substandard components, chemistry or design. If a lithium-ion battery is compromised by being over charged, by overheating, damage, or age, the inner cells can “outgas” the flammable, electrolyte mixture within the membrane. An undamaged battery membrane will stretch and bulge to contain this material to some extent; but at some point, the membrane will rupture, and the battery will explode.

Depending on where, when and how violently the battery finally ruptures and explodes, the damage can be devastating.

Samsung has issued a statement informing customers in the United States that they will be able to replace their Note 7s with new units as early as next week.

Customers will be given the option of trading their units in for either a new Note 7 or a Galaxy S7/S7 edge and a refund for the difference. All accessories can also be exchanged for their S7 equivalents.

Samsung is also offering a $25 phone bill credit, or a $25 gift card, for the inconvenience. Device owners can call 1-800-SAMSUNG to arrange a mail exchange, or they can return their device to the retail store where they purchased it.

US mobile carriers are offering the following options to Note 7 owners:

  • T-Mobile is letting customers return their Note 7 in any store for a full refund of the purchase price and any accessories you may have bought. You’ll then be given the choice of buying another phone or receiving a new Note 7 when they are put on sale again, if you wish.
  • Sprint customers can return their device to any Sprint location and can pick up a comparable loaner to use in the meantime
  • Verizon says it has stopped selling the Galaxy Note 7 and has waived the restocking fee for the device through the end of September 2016
  • AT&T is working with Samsung to facilitate Note 7 exchanges. They are also allowing customers to return their device for a different smartphone. Refunds for the difference and for accessories purchased directly from them will be offered
  • U.S. Cellular has not yet announced its plans for handling the recall, but I am assuming they will provide offers to effected device owners.

Did you buy a Galaxy Note 7? Has the battery on this device given you any cause for concern? Have you returned the device or have you decided to hold on to it and roll the dice? If you traded yours in, will you wait for a new Note 7, or did you opt for a different device? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me all about what happened to you?

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Pebble Steel is Timeless

Even at nearly 6 months old, PS is the shizzle.  Here’s my take on it…

There are a number of Smartwatches out there (or soon to be out there). In my opinion, Pebble Steel is the only one that really has a decent handle on the market at this point.  C|Net had an interesting article on this, too; but it doesn’t touch on all of the points I’m going to make here.  I’ll try to run down why, as quickly as I can.

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The Right Size
One of the biggest issues with fitness bands and Smartwatches today is their size.  Too small, and you can’t get enough information on the screen to be of value. Too big, and you may as well strap your phablet to your wrist. Finding the sweet spot – i.e. the right size – has been an issue that most current Smartwatches have failed at.

Regardless of what the Pebble and Pebble Steel do or don’t do, they don’t look like anything else other than a watch, and that is largely due to the fact that the Pebble is watch sized.  Most Android based watches, including the second generation Galaxy watch from Samsung, the Samsung Gear 2 and they are large and bulky on your wrist, unless of course, you’re someone like Andre the Giant or LeBron James, and then you’re likely not going to look at the device and think, “man, this thing is huge.”

The Right Functionality

·    Apps and Watch Faces
This may have something to do with the amount of time that the Pebble and Pebble Steel have had on the open market; but there are a number of usable apps and watch faces available on the Pebble platform.  Android Wear is still very young, and while there are some apps available for it, the Pebble still has more.

However, I’m not making this bullet about the amount of apps available on one platform over the other. I think Android Wear will quickly close the gap over time.  My point here is the difference between platforms and apps.  Pebble is about telling time and putting usable, value-added information on your wrist where you can use it. Pebble notifications allow you to see the events pushed to your phone on your wrist, allowing you to check the notification(s) without seeming rude. Most other Smartwatches try to be a smartphone on your wrist and not a companion or extension of your phone.

·    Great, readable screen
The Pebble Steel uses an e-paper styled reflective LCD display that’s readable in all types of light, including – and most importantly – natural, direct sunlight.  If you’re in a dark room, Pebble supports a “shake to light” backlight. It’s not too bright, to be too disturbing to others, yet bright enough to see; and it doesn’t stay on too long, either.  Other smartwatch displays like those used by Samsung use OLED displays, and those appear black in direct and/ or natural sunlight. LG’s G Watch is the same way.  Both the Samsung and LG watches also sport color displays, while I’m certain they’re beautiful to look at, they also suck battery life.  The Pebble’s display is always on, and is always available.

·    Battery Life
Speaking of battery life, one of the best features of the Pebble Steel is that it lasts up to four to five days on a single charge (depending on how many notifications you get and how often you have it update weather, news and other info).  With Smartwatches, it’s all about data, notifications and update frequency. The more you have pushed to your watch, the shorter the battery life.

The Samsung watches can last up to two to three days on a single charge most other Android Wear watches require daily or nightly charging. There’s also a chance that you could run out of power during the day, and then what good is the device as a watch?

The longer the battery lasts, the better off you are. Even analog watches that require manual winding usually last a longer than two to three days on a single wind.  This is going to be one area that wearables in general are going to have to concentrate and innovate heavily in. If wearables require daily or nightly charging, I don’t see them getting used much in the long run; and they’ll likely end up being a category of devices that doesn’t last long.
·    Notifications
Notifications are the lifeblood of a smartwatch.  The Pebble app on your smartphone pushes any and all notifications received AND displayed on your device (a very important distinction, especially if you can control what notifications your phone does and does not display) to your watch.  This allows you to discretely check your notifications without having to take out your phone, turn on its screen.  In many cultures and countries, glancing at a watch is a much more acceptable action than interrupting a conversation to check a vibrating smartphone.

While Pebble and Pebble Steel don’t do much more than this, one has to ask if there’s much more that a smartwatch needs to do?  This is the great wearables conundrum. What should devices in this category do?  While fitness bands like the Nike Fuel Band can display the time as well as the fitness information it tracks, what the right balance of functionality and displayed information is, has yet to be universally defined or accepted by users and their most primary voting power – their money.

This part of the whole smartwatch field – what should a smartwatch really DO – has yet to be clearly defined by either a vendor or a demanding public.  As a result, the Pebble with its simple notification system, does a good job. It provides users with the information they want and provides for upgrades and updates via new firmware in the future.
·    Waterproof
The Pebble Steel is water proof to 5 ATM (about 160 feet or 48.77 meters). That being said, you could conceivably not only swim and shower with it, but you could go on shallow dives with it. However, I wouldn’t want to test how long each watch would stay water tight at depth.

Other Smartwatches, like the Samsung Gear watches or the LG G Watch are water resistant.  The difference is that you can get a water resistant watch wet, but it will need to be dried off as quickly as possible. It can’t be held under water.  A water proof watch can be held under water without fear of water coming in contact with the interior of its case.

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Apple iPad & Samsung Galaxy Note – The Great Stylus Debate

I have seen both sides now, and still somehow, I have stylus illusions, after all.

Steve Jobs was adamant – “This,” he would say holding up his index finger, “is my stylus.”

Steve had seen Microsoft’s TabletPC’s as well as Pocket PC’s, Palm Pilots, etc., and he wasn’t impressed with the styli that he had seen tethered to them. In fact, he hated the dependency that those designs had on such an easily misplacable accessory. Steve vowed that the iPad would never need one.

However, the finger as a writing instrument leaves a bit to be desired. It works…but it isn’t optimal, and people don’t write their best or most legibly with just their index finger. It doesn’t offer the fine point or accuracy that some writing or notations really require.

Microsoft’s TabletPC’s have a truly wonderful pen experience. With the right handwriting recognition software, their Pocket PC’s and later Windows Mobile devices (prior to Windows Phone) also had a truly awesome handwriting experience. I really miss this at times…even today.

I have both an Apple iPad and a Windows 8 TabletPC (netbook). I’ve owned many a PocketPC and have used Phatware’s Calligrapher on nearly all of them. The experience was really very satisfying.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note is a tablet/handheld hybrid that attempts to bridge the gap between the two device types; and while the writing experience may be just as satisfying as my Windows 8 TabletPC or the PocketPC’s of old, it does bring up a huge question:

How do you satisfy end user needs to use their tablet or handheld as a digital notepad?

Further, how do you REALLY give them the ability to take handwritten notes in meetings without having to awkwardly hover your hand over the screen so nothing but a compassative stylus touches the screen?

From Apple’s perspective, the design question remains. How do you do all that without killing the current user experience; and requiring the use of a passive stylus to do all screen touch and navigation?

The answer is in there…somewhere, but the issue has yet to be resolved. I want to take handwritten notes. I want to use digital ink, so I can save a tree, and use my tablet as the digital notepad it was intended to be. However, I want to be able to swap between passive and compassative modes on the fly. There are times when I’d rather touch with my finger than with a stylus. The technology doesn’t exist yet where the iPad oror even the Samsung Galaxy Note, can distinguish between the two. The Galaxy Note comes close, but the stylus free experience isn’t as fluid as the stylus-based experience…and then (Steve’s standard complaint) what happens when you lose the stylus (and at some point, you likely will)?

This is the great debate. This is the enterprise issue that has yet to be resolved. There are many executives who would drop their PC’s in a heartbeat for a tablet if they could do this with their iPad or an Android tablet. I would, at the office at least.

Apple doesn’t want to kill the user experience. The right technology doesn’t currently exist to allow for a combined experience. The right solution has yet to be identified, but its sure to be interesting no matter what it is.

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Galaxy S2 Owners Soon To Get Their Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung has finally announced that it has begun the process of rolling out an Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones. Needless to say, the announcement will be music to the ears of Galaxy S2 owners.

While Galaxy S2 owners residing in Poland, Korea, Hungary and Sweden received the update on 13 March, UK owners of the smartphone will have to wait until 19 March to receive their much anticipated update for the new version of Android.

Samsung made the important announcement via its corporate Twitter account and the internet was rife with reactions as soon as it was made.

It has been a curious strategy by Samsung, who were an integral launch partner for Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Despite its Nexus smartphones being one of the first to use it, Galaxy S2 owners have been made to wait for the crucial update. Some have done so patiently, while others have expressed displeasure over the delay.

The Galaxy S2 has been a major force in the smartphone market for Samsung, selling more than 22 million units since the handset’s launch in February 2011, assisting Samsung to rise to its position as the largest seller of smartphones in the last quarter of 2011.

Considering that more than 52% of smartphones are Android-based, the length of time to introduce Android Ice Cream Sandwich for Galaxy S2 smartphones has left many owners puzzled.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich delivers a whole host of features improving usability. Key improvements include the refined touchscreen, far better multi-tasking abilities and a new security feature through which users can unlock their phone via face recognition.

Despite not giving a set date, Samsung has also announced that it plans to update and enhance its Tab and Note features with Android Ice Cream Sandwich in the not too distant future.

Now Samsung has announced a UK date of 19 March for its Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones should owners be rejoicing? Well, yes and no, because the whole rollout will be staggered according to which network provider Galaxy S2 owners are using, which complicates the issue somewhat.

Once Google has supplied its Android Ice Cream Sandwich source code to a manufacturer like Samsung, the manufacturer must spend time ensuring the software works seamlessly on their hardware, which of course takes considerable time and resources, as it has done with the Galaxy S2.

However, this is only the initial phase, as network providers must then make sure the new software works perfectly with their network, or face the wrath of angry network users disappointed with the service they are being provided.

To date, network providers Three, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange have confirmed that they have received the update from Samsung and will be striving to release the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy S2 as close to the 19 March date as possible. However, O2 has announced it won’t be releasing the update to their customers until mid-April.

Galaxy S2 owners anxious for more news on the release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich for their smartphones should check the Samsung website and their network providers for updates.

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Samsung Galaxy Note – the link between Smartphone and Tablet

Galaxy Note has been released internationally since autumn, by skipping the US market. Only now at the Consumer Electronics Show 2012, Samsung decided to announce its product for the AT&T carrier in US. It is the third 4G smartphone announced to be available soon in the States after Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II.

Based on consumer research, Samsung decided to create a brand new type of smartphone that brings diverse mobile utilities while maintaining the smartphone portability. With its 5.3 inches HD AMOLED display (1280 x 800), the Note looks to be a hybrid between a smartphone and a tablet. Many of you will say that this is nothing else but a mini tablet. But this is not necessarily true. The Note comes also with an Stylus-Pen that widens the functionality of this device.

The S Pen is combined with the full touch screen to create a best-in-class mobile input experience. It is the most advanced pen input technology featuring an array of functions including pressure sensitivity, preciseness, speed and more. With the S Pen, you can easily sketch drawings or write notes with increased accuracy and ease. Also, the S Pen functionality is deeply integrated into the GALAXY Note’s native applications to provide a richer interactive experience.

The device runs Android 2.3.6. on a 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor with support for 4G LTE, EDGE/GPRS networks. Its huge 5.3 inch multitouch display is capable of 1080p Full HD video playback, adding support for an Advanced smart pen. The 16GB Internal memory plus microSD slot for up to 32GB makes the Galaxy Note a hyper gadget for the business class and for the ones that have big pockets…to stuff it in.

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