Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: NexusHD2 ICS 4.0.3 CM9 v1.2

Ice Cream Sandwich
All the flavor, none of the calories

I couldn't resist the allure of an Ice Cream Sandwich.  I just had to have a taste of Android 4.0.  After a little bit of research, I decided to tryout tytung's NexusHD2-ICS-4.0.3-CM9 v1.2.  I based my choice on tytung's reputation as developer of custom Android builds.  This build is based on CyanogenMod 9 Android 4.0.3.

Installation was rather easy thanks in large part to the HD2 NAND Tool kit. This handy utility is a God send to frequent flashers.  Right out of the box I was impressed with out quickly it booted.  Normally on the first run it takes about 10 minutes, sometimes as long as half an hour. It already gave me the feeling of a light weight build despite it's required 200mb partition.
I had to resist the urge to start playing around with the various menus to see what was hidden behind the scenes.  I always try to give a new ROM a chance to "burn" in for at least a half hour before I start installing applications and personal touches.  It helps provide a more stable experience in the long run.  The temptation was strong though after seeing how smooth the screens transitioned during my sneak peak.  After my eternal half hour I got right to it.

Widget Drawer
After flipping through the various home screens I was immediately impressed with how smooth and fast it was.  My real astonishment came after I dug into the application drawer.  From home screen to the drawer was eye candy enough, but then as I kept going, I got to the widget drawer.  Widget drawer?!   With the Trebuchet launcher included in this CM9 based build, the application drawer transitions into the widget drawer.  Or simply hit the Widget tab at the top of your app drawer.  Where you can simply drag and drop your desired widget anywhere to your home screen of choice.  Very, very nice and intuitive.  A more simple way then long pressing on your home screen, then scrolling through a pop up to find the widgets, then scrolling through the widgets to find what you're looking for.

Organized neatly together.

Another nice feature with the Trebuchet launcher is being able to group applications together into a "folder" of sorts on your home screen.  It's more like a hole in your screen that you simply dump apps of your choice into.  Very similar to what MIUI has done.  By the way, here is my short review of MIUI:  Installed for less then 8 hours.

The data connection was very stable.  I did not experience any drops from the time I installed.  Call quality was excellent.  I did not test the blue tooth, simply because I do not have any blue tooth devices.  At some point I'll have to remedy this, just not sure when.  Wi-Fi was rock solid as well.  Battery life was what could be expected from a custom Android build.  6 hours at best under normal use.  My normal use is email push notifications, texting, social networking, internet and some gaming.  Under very heavy use, I might have gotten 4 hours.  Not bad in my book considering the age of my beloved HTC HD2.  I honestly never had any complaints in regards to battery life on any build I've installed.

Quadrant Score
This being a relatively new build it does have some issues.  Namely the stock camera is very buggy.  tytung does have a work around that requires flashing another camera modification from another developer.  A rather simple process that I decided not to due.  The Gallery application does have a tendency to freeze or simply force close and I was never able to get it to work. This is a known issue related to incomplete hardware acceleration.  The workaround for this issue is to simply install QuikcPic, which is an application I primarily use to begin with.  The quadrant score came out quite a bit lower then I would have expected from such a fast and smooth ROM.  The quadrant score is really a bench marking tool and is not indicative of the quality of the build.

Overall this is a very functional daily driver for your HD2.  It has some great features that I am excited about.  It is a very smooth and very stable first generation CM9 based build.  If your looking to get a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich then I would highly recommend giving this build a try.