Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Installing a Custom Rom: Zen Aria Alpha 5

Now that we know how to use Nandroid to make backups and run system restores, it's time to take a look at installing a custom ROM.
What is a custom ROM? The best way to think of a custom ROM is to think of it as a new operating system for your android phone. Some are faster than others. Some offer more features that others. But for the most part, all of the custom ROM's out there in the development community are superior to the stock ROM that came loaded on your HTC Hero for Sprint.

So, what we want to do is load a custom ROM.

The first step in loading a custom ROM is choosing the ROM you want to load. For this tutorial, we are going to use the Zen Aria ROM.
Step 1: download the ROM. The Zen Aria ROM that we'll be using in this tutorial is available here.

Step 2: place the ROM in on your phone's sdcard in the root directory (that's the main folder [i.e. not inside some other folder]).

Step 3: boot into Nandroid using your method of choice and make a backup of your currant system. Once your backup is complete, move on to Step 4.

Step 4: for most ROMs, at this point you will want to WIPE your phone by selecting - Wipe data/factory reset, however the Zen-Aria ROM that we are installing will go ahead and do this for us during install, so we can just skip this step and move right along to Step 5.
Step 5:
once your backup is finished, select - Apply sdcard:choose zip from the Nandroid menu.

You will get a list of the ROM's that are on your sdcard.

Step 6: select

You will be prompted to install this ROM and you should accept the prompt using the HOME key.

The ROM will self install from this point and will then land you, once again in the Nandroid main menu.
Step 7: select
- Reboot system now

The first system reboot on the Zen Aria ROM is painfully slow. It can take up to 10 min for it to complete. Just wait it out. It may appear to be hung on the HTC screen; never fear, it will move along and finish up beautifully.

Quick Review of Zen Aria.

This ROM is incredibly fast. If you are mirgrating to it from a stock HTC Hero for Sprint, you will be shocked by how smooth this ROM is. There is virtually no sluggishness. As you can see, it is build on the Sense UI which I was a little worried about at first (not being a big fan of sense) but I prefer the styling on this quite a bit and, again, it's way zippier than the stock sense UI. I just installed it on my phone 30min ago, so I'm not sure how hard it is on the battery. I know that it overclocks the phone's CPU slightly so that might have some kind of effect, though, from what I can tell, the development community is absolutely swooning over this build. I'm looking forward to running this for a few days at least and may make a more permanent switch.

Bottom Line: Even with the Sense UI, this ROM is a Ferrari and stable enough for everyday use.

UPDATE (Sept. 3, 2010): The one drawback that I've noticed with this ROM is that on restart, the HTC screen will really hang for a long time. Sometimes it hangs for up to half an hour which is, in my opinion, unacceptable. I'm sure this will be fixed in the next update. I'm told that the hang time is due to sense UI having difficulty loading.

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