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Oh My Tech!: You don't need a phone to enjoy Android apps
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Recently I downloaded an android app "cardio trainer" on my Samsung Wi-Fi-only 10-inch tablet. It works very well. The problem is that my tablet is a little large to take along when running. I do not have, or want,a cellphone. However, there are some features of my tablet like GPS navigation, running apps, camera, that I would like to have in a small cellphone-sized package. Can I buy a second-hand cellphone and use it as described above? If so, what technical specification should I look for? — Alexa Wilson, Salt Lake City.

First of all, Alexa, let me congratulate you for wanting to be disconnected from the world by not having a cellphone. I would KILL to be able to do that.

Since you've put yourself in that position, however, it's created this small inconvenience. However, you should be able to use CardioTrainer on a smaller device.

Samsung makes a series of Android-based music players that run Android apps but don't have a built-in phone. They're like Android versions of the iPod touch, which is like the iPhone without the phone.

Samsung makes three different sizes: the Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6 ($149.99), the Galaxy Player 5.0 ($229.99), the Galaxy Player 4.2 ($199.99) and the Galaxy Player 5.0 ($219.99). Each are Android devices that run Android apps and have screen sizes equal to the number in their title.

All three devices have all of the features that are probably required of the CardioTrainer app, namely a GPS receiver and an accelerometer that can measure how many steps you take.

What I'm not sure about is whether they can run the CardioTrainer app based on what version of the Android operating system these devices use. According to Samsung's website, these players run a version of Android called "Gingerbread," version 2.3.5. Alexa, you should contact the makers of CardioTrainer to see if their app can run on that version of the operating system and on those devices.

There also are a few other portable devices that are not phones that can run Android apps including the Sony Walkman Z ($249), the Archos 43 Android tablet or the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

The Google Nexus 7 tablet might be a little too big with its 7-inch screen, but at $229, it's a great value, and you could fit it in a pair of pants or shorts with large pockets.

Aereo finally out for Android

Aereo is that controversial Internet TV service in Utah I've written about in the past where you can watch live streams of local TV stations on your desktop computer or mobile devices.

It uses tens of thousands of tiny antennas the size of a dime that take the over-the-air TV signals and transfers them to the Internet where Aereo subscribers can watch them. It costs either $8 or $12 per month for the service, and it's been the subject of a number of lawsuits by TV broadcasters who claim it violates copyright law.

The service has always been available for iOS devices by logging into Aereo's website at http://www.aereo.com on the mobile Safari browser. This last week, Aereo has released an Android app, and it works beautifully.

I wanted to mention this because for some reason, Aereo has the best video quality of any mobile video service I've ever seen. On Android, Aereo's video feed looks beautiful. The stream is clear and detailed, and the video compression that the company uses is incredible. The same can be said for the iOS version of Aereo, too. The company must use some secret sauce in its compression scheme to make video look that good. I just wish Netflix's video looked that clear on a mobile device.

I reviewed the service before and mentioned that I can't imagine who would want to subscribe to Aereo since it's limited to just local over-the-air stations — which is more than 25 in Utah — and it doesn't include cable stations. It seems counterproductive to pay money for TV stations you normally can get for free.

But the service does include the ability to record programs on Aereo's servers, a virtual DVR if you will, and I just can't believe how good the picture looks. You can try out Aereo free for a month. It's worth checking out.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/Topics/ohmytech.

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