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Daniel W

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19 Feb 2019
The rightmost key on the top row is, on its own, supposed to be backspace and, in combination with shift, to be delete. That works fine when I use the left shift key, but with the right shift, I get a somewhat strange behavior.

When the cursor is at the very beginning (in the first position of the first row, if it's a multi-line edit) of somewhere I can type, right shift + backspace, as expected, works like delete, but whenever the cursor is somewhere inside a text, right shift + backspace doesn't become delete, but just backspace.

The behavior seems consistent across the apps I've examined so far, such as AirMail, Agenda, Messaging, some notepad apps, and even in oddball locations, such as when editing a filename in the FM Radio app, so this seems to be a keyboard issue rather than a problem with any particular apps.

The only exception I could find, was when I used the Microsoft Remote Desktop client to log on to a Windows computer. There, none of the shift keys made backspace work as delete, probably because Windows itself doesn't think shift + backspace equals delete.

My Gemini has a Swedish keyboard and the "Integrated keyboard" is set to "Gemini Keyboard - Swedish", though I doubt the selected layout matters, as delete, presumably, is supposed to work the same across all locales.

While waiting for the Cosmo, I'm trying to use my Gemini for most mobile-related things (except photos/video, actual phone calls and messaging) and thus I'm increasingly typing on it. I can press left shift + backspace even with one hand (say, when holding something edible in the other), though it's a bit awkward and sometimes a stray knuckle brushes against the screen, causing random results.

Does anybody else experience this, and, if so, is there a fix for it?
2 Jan 2019
While I'm largely looking forward - for reasons beyond this topic - to replace my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with a Cosmo (provided the camera isn't terrible), I'm not looking forward to loosing my S-pen. For plain text, the Cosmo keyboard will be better than any pen, but for manually solving simple equations, doing basic sketches or as a rudimentary mouse, the S-pen is great. For those unfamiliar, it's an active inductive (thus requiring the phone to have some extra hardware) pen with about the resolution of a ballpoint pen, miles ahead of fingers or a "rubber crayon" type stylus. I used to say that using a smartphone without such a pen is like being forced to use a very small typewriter, which will probably be very true for my Cosmo, keyboard and all.

For some time, I've been using an Adonit Dash 3 with my Gemini. It's an active capacitive pen made from brushed (probably anodized) aluminum, using battery power to cause stronger interaction with a regular capacitive touch screen, thus allowing a substantially finer tip than would be possible for a passive stylus. Below is a picture comparing some different tips:

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As can be seen, the Dash (middle left) has a tip about as fine as a fairly blunt pencil (top left). On the top right is a fine ballpoint, below which is my Note 8 S-pen. I no longer own a "rubber crayon", but the finest such tip I got working reliably was about the size of that round blue-green eraser on the bottom right. It did help me type a bit better on a small on-screen smartphone keyboard than when using a finger (bottom left), but that was it. While the S-pen gets its power inductively from the Note, a "generic" active capacitive pen needs a battery, so it can't be as small. Here's the Adonit Dash 3 compared to my Gemini, a pencil and a small Bluetooth mouse I used to carry around:

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So, how is the Dash to use? Well, it's a lot worse than an S-pen, that's for sure, which shouldn't come as a surprise. For one, the Gemini doesn't appear to sample its touch screen as often as the S-pen digitizer does, so unless I'm slow enough, fine details gets lost. Strictly technically, the Dash probably doesn't offer much more accuracy than a finger BUT it lets you see what you're doing. Here's a simple problem I solved with the Dash. I mostly had to zoom to 200% and pan around:

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As you can see, it makes my handwriting look I'm five years old again. This is partly because a pen of this type can't support palm rejection, so I can't rest my hand on the glass while writing. Thus, the experience becomes a bit like when trying to write small text on a whiteboard. Here's the same problem, using just a finger, at the same zoom level (except for the title, I think I used 500% there):

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At first blush, it's not a huge difference, but, honestly, while I, in the first case, actually SOLVED the problem, latter, my main struggle was to COPY the already known solution in a somewhat readable manner. I'm not sure if solving it using just a finger would have been viable. For reference, here's the same problem from my Note 8, using the S-pen:

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I can't show how the Dash 3 works as a mouse. Obviously, it can't have buttons, so unless the OS you run can take a tap as a click, a long-press as a right click and a press-and-drag as a click and drag, a pen like this can't do all that much, but in Android, it's effectively a noticeably sharper finger, which has allowed me to leave my small mouse at home.

One thing I don't like, is how easy the Dash 3 is to turn on by mistake. Much like a ballpoint pen, it has a button at the top. Press once and a little green LED sequence shows that it turned on, press again and a red LED sequence shows that it's turning off. Simple as that. If the Dash hasn't been used for fifteen minutes, it's supposed to turn off, but just keeping it clipped to my shirts chest pocket apparently turned it on by mistake often enough for fourteen supposed hours of battery life to be all gone in two days. When the battery is low, by the way, it uses the red LED for the turn-on sequence. While your mileage may vary, I chose to sacrifice a suitable pen cap I happened to have, to make a sleeve:

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The button is now a bit recessed, which solved the issue for me. That was a few weeks ago, and I haven't had to charge it since (though I haven't been using it heavily either). The Dash 3 is charged from any powered USB type A port in about 45 minutes, using this little included dongle:

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It has a magnet strong enough to hold the pen in any orientation (the picture shows the closest they would be and still stay apart). As the dongle is mostly plastic, one may need to be a bit careful with it. I don't carry mine around, but keep it stuck to a metal part of my desk at home. Should I bring it, I'd put in inside something, not just shove it into a pocket.

In the end, for me, this was $50 well spent. It solves a real problem sufficiently well. While I can't say for sure until I've actually used a Cosmo as my daily driver for a while, I think this pen will allow me to not also carry my Note 8 around just-in-case, and it has already allowed me to leave that Bluetooth mouse at home when I bring my Gemini (which I currently mostly use for e-mail on the go).







6 Nov 2018
Just noticed the $549 Early Bird Special is back again. As of now 831 of 999 are claimed.

From what I understand, the three or so that backed the $595 perk, can just cancel and back the Early Bird again. I guess this extension is final, as they went with 999, rather than 1000.
5 Nov 2018
As I kept an eye on the campaign, I saw it reach 100% funding at 12:35 GMT (on nov. 5 2018), and I was really tempted, but I thought it would be irresponsible to replace a perfectly good Gemini after such a short time, especially since it's "just" my secondary/spare smartphone (as I'm a too much of an S-Pen addict to commit to just a Gemini). So I made a "devils pact" with myself, saying IF they extend the Early Bird campaign, then I'll bite. And they did. So I did. I guess we're going to need a new YouTube player in the living room some time next summer (as the current Windows 10 tablet struggles as soon as there's an update pending) . Oh, well. Enough ranting. Got get a Cosmo (reasonably cheap) while you can. I'll be here, contemplating what I just did, hoping there won't be any "first batch" issues this time.
28 Jun 2018
My rear camera module came in the mail today. Here is the packaging
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The actual camera module measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 4.0mm.
Including the connector cable, the total length is 17.4mm.
The connector itself is about 7.6 x 1.5mm.
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To make it sit securely, this piece of plastic, confusungly called "connector", is needed.
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It has a bit of rubbery material on the back, pressing on the camera connector.
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For protection, there's also a plastic front cover.

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Let's get installing. Here are the instructions.
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There's a slot for the camera module under the top cover.
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The module is attached via its connector.
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It's held in place with that plastic piece.

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Then the new top cover is mounted.
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And finally, with the front lens cover mounted.
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Before my Gemini was 15.2mm at its thickest point.
Now it is 17.0mm when measured at the camera hump.
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Now for some pictures, here's a B4 page of text in reasonable light
The rear camera has auto focus, but isn't all that sharp.

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This picture is taken at dusk, about one hour before sunset.
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Here is the same picture, but with the front camera.
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And, for comparison, a picture from my Samsung Note8 @ 5MP.
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Here is the sun setting over the neighborhood.

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The same picture with the front camera.

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And, again, with my Note8.
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So, what do I think? Well, the rear camera is clearly better than the front camera, but that doesn't mean it's good. It resolves very little detail for 5MP. The pictures looks more like 1MP stretched to 5MP. As the camera module claims it can record video in 3840x2176, which would be 8.3MP, it seems the module itself isn't afraid of some interpolation. This makes me think even the 5MP it reports to the camera API might be after some interpolation, but without knowing the exact specs of the module, I'm just guessing here.

Anyway, I find it reasonable for what it is. Sure, I would have preferred a camera at least as good as the 2MP camera in my 2006 Sony Ericsson K750i cellphone, but this is an add-on for a first generation crowdfunded device, bought in very low quantities, and the price paid must cover everything from the new front cover to international shipping and, presumably, UK VAT, so I'm not going to complain. If sufficiently large, it reads even the biggest QR codes without issue and it can make a page or screen of text readable. That's likely the most I'd demand from it, so, yeah, I think it's ok. That said, don't buy this if you need actually good pictures.
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