From the Editor's Desk: Sandy, Nexus and what's next

"What's it going to be like?" That was the question my wife posed to me sometime around Sept. 13 or 14 in 2004, just a couple days before Hurricane Ivan thrashed this part of the Gulf Coast -- and just some 56 hours before we were to be married. The answer, unfortunately. People were going to lose their homes, I told her. People were going to die. Beaches would erode, heritage trees would fall, and the very makeup of this relatively quiet (if quirky) community would be changed for a long, long time, if not forever. 

So it was with a heavy heart last week that I watched Hurricane Sandy blow into the Northeast. I knew what it was going to look like. Been there, done that.  It could have been worse. Much worse. A little more than a year after Hurricane Ivan, I sat in the newsroom, watching the AP photos start to roll in from Hurricane Katrina. Beyond heart-breaking.

These are very different times, though. Back in 2004-05 -- a couple years that saw an inordinate number of hurricanes hit the U.S. -- there was no Twitter. You couldn't upload to Youtube from your phone. Facebook was just a baby. The power went out, and the old-school FM radio (or maybe a TV with antenna) went on for a few hours. Being that unplugged was a blessing and a curse. For as quickly as we saw relief information shared following Sandy last week, so, too, did we see hoaxes spread. I wouldn't want to go back, though. To hell with the hoaxsters.

I really can't think of a worse way to document a storm than Instagram, though. Filters are a horrible idea for showing what it really looks like, to say nothing of the low resolution.

To the folks in New York and New Jersey and everywhere else affected by the storm: Stay safe. Stay patient. Help one another. When your power comes back on and life begins to return to normal, remember that someone else is still in the dark. Or has no home. Or lost a loved one. And you will get through it. This has all happened before, and it will happen again.

Oh, you were expecting some Nexus 4 talk?

So, yeah, the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Android 4.2

Like I wrote on Friday when the review embargo lifted, we're knee-deep in all this stuff. Android 4.2's got more in it than I realized at first. (Though it's worth noting that a lot of what you might have heard from some early 4.2 "leak" -- which wasn't even really Android 4.2 -- simply wasn't ever true in the first place. To hell with leaks.)

My tl;dr version of the Nexus 4 review: Damn good phone. A really good phone, both in terms of hardware and software. Folks are looking for it to be magical, though, and expectations still need to be realistic. There's no super 20-hour battery life. The camera (and the camera app) is much improved over the Galaxy Nexus. The phone is fast. It's a really good iteration -- not a revolutionary departure. Look for our review in the next couple of days.

The debate over LTE continues to rage on -- never mind that all the bitching in the world won't make LTE magically appear on the Nexus 4. It's not like Google didn't think this through. It's not like it doesn't have legitimate reasons for not including LTE. And it's easy to forget that so many countries are just now starting to get a little bit of LTE, to say nothing of blanket coverage. But, more important, I think folks still misunderstand the purpose of "Nexus" for Google. We've talked on our podcast about how at some point, despite the technological and licensing hurdles that come along with LTE, it's simply the next step for smartphones, and it will need to become standard on all phones. This time next year, should the next Nexus not have LTE, we'll likely be having a radically different conversation here.

The Nexus 10 tablet also is really good. But at the same time, I think I'm done with the larger-sized tablets. Seven inches (or thereabouts) is where it's at for me. Options are good, though. It'll be interesting to see where the next version of the Nexus 7 goes, in terms of hardware.

Some other musings for the start of November

  • There's still plenty more fun to be had this year. Recent posts from @evleaks seem to corroborate our HTC Droid DNA pictures. Five-inch HTC on Verizon? This is gonna be good.
  • Speaking of HTC -- everybody seems to love 'em, so what do they have to do to catch a break? Their financials still aren't great, even if the phones are. Is Samsung (and to a lesser extent, LG) just too damn powerful now -- and too-well diversified as a company -- to let the likes of HTC and Motorola truly compete anymore? I certainly hope not.
  • An interesting read from Engadget's Jon Fingas on how Amazon and Google bringing us rock-bottom-priced hardware, and how it might not be good in the long term. I disagree, though. Amazon and Google have the ecosystems to support the lower prices -- the apps and music and movies and books. They have things I want, and hardware at the price I want it. And, best of all, it's free from the shackles of the U.S. carrier system. Apple's managed to do so with higher prices -- and higher margins -- and with higher-quality hardware. Samsung's found a place in the middle and has sold a ridiculous number of phones in the process. And that's good, too. This is the way the market works. And it's the way it should work. 

That's it for this week. Loads more Nexus and Android 4.2 stuff coming up. And if you haven't voted yet (I love early voting), get out there Tuesday. I'll know if you didn't.

Phil Nickinson