The Diary of an Android Virgin: Google Nexus S absolute power entertains absolutely

Previously in The Diary of an Android Virgin – Google Nexus S a well endowed communication device.

The Google Nexus S benefits from a powerful 1Ghz processor and the intuitive Android 2.3 operating system to make it an excellent gaming and multimedia device. For all your gaming/app needs, there is only one place to look: the Android Market.

A Market for all your needs

Apple has the App Store on the iPhone, Google has the Android Market on the Android. And just like Apple, Google has made the market accessible both on the phone as well as the desktop. One advantage the desktop version of the Android Market has over the iTunes Store is that any app/game you choose will be synced up with your phone wirelessly, i.e. just choose which device you’d like to download your new app to (it retains a list of all Android devices your account has been set up on), it will just automatically begin downloading onto it. Less clicks to get your new app up and running compared to Apple’s.

It should be noted that a Google Account is required to access the Android Market. If you already have one synced to your Android phone, just log in and you’re set.

The Android Market has a great selection of apps for your every need, from audio players to news widgets to converters to religious references. It also has a growing number of games to choose from. And yes, Angry Birds is available on the Android Market and best of all, it’s free! And Angry Birds on the Google Nexus S’ 4” Super AMOLED screen is simply breathtaking.

Music to my ears

The Google Nexus S plays music through the bundled stock Android music player. The user interface is clean and simple. It even supports landscape mode (for whatever reason). You can use a software called doubleTwist to sync all your songs and playlists to the Google Nexus S, which makes it really simple to import all your existing music libraries to your phone.

One thing that surprised me was that the Google Nexus S does not include FM radio, unlike its cousin the Samsung Galaxy S. I guess Google must have thought that since Apple got away with not including it in their Iphone, they can get away with it too.

Video killed the radio star

Videos are played via the Gallery app, which stores both pictures and videos taken by the Google Nexus S or downloaded from the web. It is simple to use; just tap a video and it’ll start playing on the screen. The playback controls are pretty idiot proof and also includes a bar for skipping forwards or backwards. Despite this simplicity, it was able to play most videos without a problem.

The Google Nexus S also comes bundled with a YouTube app to view your favorite online videos.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille!”

As previously mentioned, the Google Nexus S features a front facing 0.3 megapixel VGA (640×480) camera and a rear 5 megapixel (2560×1920) camera with LED flash. You’d think Google installed these features to enable native video calling feature (i.e. video telephony over the mobile service provider network) on the Google Nexus S. Wrong. Again, unlike its cousin the Samsung Galaxy S, Google has decided to forego native video calling on the Nexus S. However, this misstep by Google has been addressed albeit by a third party app called Tango, which is available for both Android and Iphone platforms thus allowing cross platform video calling.

There’s no dedicated shutter key to activate the camera app so you’ll have to scroll through the app tray to start up the camera.

So how does it perform? It does respectably in good outdoor light and surprisingly well indoors too. Apparently, the stock camera has been tweaked to correctly illuminate the object while running the autofocus routine – the result is that in the dark shots are now focused properly.

The user interface (like with all user interfaces in Android 2.3) is elementary. Most settings are easily accessible with just a couple taps on the viewfinder, which is a nice departure from having to scroll through a Settings menu. One of the newly added features is the ability to select focus settings manually. You can select from Auto, Infinity, and Macro. You can also switch from the back camera to the lower resolution front camera.

The Google Nexus S however does not include the touch focus feature. Touch focus is useful as it makes it relatively easy to choose the focus level you want.

Here are some sample shots taken on the Google Nexus S’ 5MP camera:

Standby, lights, action!

If you’re looking to capture high definition 720p video with the Google Nexus S, you’re in for a disappointment. It is only able to shoot at a maximum resolution of 720 x 480, which is DVD-like quality. As a consolation though, it is able to shoot at a frame rate of 29 fps which looks decently smooth. However, once you start shooting under low lighting, this is reduced to 16 fps which basically blurs any fast or abrupt movements.

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