Author Archive: Steve Wilson

rss feed

By March 1, 2010 Read More →

Acer beTouch E200 review

Acer beTouch E200 review Following on from my last Acer review which I was fortunate enough to have spent some time with the Acer Liquid, this device appears to be as diverse as it can get in terms of specification and price, let alone the size.

Acer have recently released a couple of new budget handsets, the beTouch E101 which is a touchscreen only handset without 3G connectivity (the E100 has 3G) and this the beTouch E200 which has a sliding 12 nemeric keypad. It’s also possibly one of the least expensive Windows Mobile 6.5 handset that you’ll find on the market. Other benefits of the Acer beTouch E200 include a 3 Megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1 and integrated GPS receiver. So it would seem that although it’s cut price it’s not cut spec.

Is the Acer beTouch E200 a bargain not to be missed or definitely one to avoid?

Read on to find out!

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,
By October 27, 2008 Read More →

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 review

About a month ago I was invited to go to the newly built Sony Ericsson HQ in Lund, which straight away was a great recognition from SE that more and more people are using Blogs etc. as their main source of information for reviews, updates, advice etc. the company have demonstrated that they are aware, ignoring this route to launch any kind of news or new device is done at your own peril. Although it wouldn’t make or break a device, if certainly doesn’t do any harm to encompass any and all avenues available to market.

As far as I am aware this is the first time that invites had been sent to anyone but the mainstream journalists and analysts, rubbing shoulders with the likes of the New York Times, The Telegraph etc. was very enlightening, if not somewhat boring at times. The hardships I had to endure to get a glimpse of the new X1!

This device has been long awaited and been victim to the usual release date delays…only this week becoming available in earnest, as mentioned by Matt, now available at Clove Technology.

As a different kind of review, I imagine that the X1 for many is going to end up as straight race between it and the Touch Pro. As I reviewed the Pro some time ago, I will try and add some direct comparisons taken from that review.

The first departure from the norm is that the unit I have been given is a ‘C&J’ (Customer and Journalist) model so the box itself is plain white with nothing on it apart from ‘Prototype’ and the basic phone details, we can probably update this part of ‘What’s in the box’ feature as and when the full retail device arrives, hopefully this week.

 

Whats in the box?

  • 4 plain white boxes presumably for CD’s, Manually etc.
  • Spare stylus
  • 2 pin mains charger
  • Stereo 3.5mm headset
  • MiniUSB to USB sync cable
  • 1500mAh battery

Perhaps any early buyers could confirm what, exactly, is in the retail box?

 

Xperia X1 Specification in comparison to the Touch Pro


Xperia X1Touch Pro

Windows mobile 6.1 Professional Windows mobile 6.1 Professional
Qualcomm MSM7200A @ 528MHz Qualcomm MSM 7201A @ 528MHz
512MB ROM / 256MB RAM 512MB ROM / 256MB RAM
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100  GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100
Recessed 3″ WVGA (800×480) screen, 65k colours Flush 2.8″ VGA screen (480×640),65k colours
7.2MB HSDPA / HSUPA 7.2MB HSDPA / HSUPA
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
Bluetooth® 2.0 with EDR Bluetooth® 2.0 with EDR
A-GPS function A-GPS function
3.2 Megapixel Auto Focus camera with flash 3.2 Megapixel Auto Focus camera with flash
Secondary videocall camera Secondary videocall camera
FM Radio FM Radio
MiniUSB MiniUSB
1500mAh battery 1340 mAh battery
110.5 x 52.6 x 17 mm 102 x 51 x 18.1 mm
158g 165g

General

The Xperia is very well made, my first impressions where that it was smaller than I imagined and a lot heavier than I had thought, as I am used to the Diamond, the majority of the people I showed it to commented on the weight. For me, as mentioned on previous reviews, I like my gadgets with plenty of buttons rather than the trend to have the minimal look, and the X1 doesn’t disappoint with no less than, 9 in total plus the d-pad. The phone is a great combination of chrome, metal and rubber available in both black and silver, it is very stylish and I think best described as well designed and good looking.

Around the device starting from the top, is the non-telescopic, 85mm long, slim stylus holder, the 3.5mm headset and the Power/Standby button.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 review

Xperia X1 top view

On the left is found the miniUSB sync/charge connector, and one of the back release clips.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 review

Xperia X1 left side

The flip side houses the volume up/down rocker and the dedicated camera button. As well as the second back release clip.

X1_right

Xperia X1 right side

At the bottom of the device you can find a recess for a lanyard, or fridge magnet, dangly thingy, and nothing else.

 

Behind the X1 is the 3.2 megapixel camera and LED flash, no portrait mirror. There is also the battery housing which is released by pressing the 2 VERY small clips on either side of the cover, if you have no nails, you will be prodding it with the stylus or pen or anything to hand that will fit, to access the back.

X1_back

Xperia X1 back view

Out of interest and don’t tell SE or Matt, during my time with the X1 I did drop it a couple of times and the back always flew off, but I wouldn’t recommend this as the preferred release method.

The business end of the device is found the recessed 3” 800×480 Wide VGA screen. Above which is the speaker, light sensor and miniscule front facing camera. Below, you can see the array of buttons including the left and right soft keys, the send and end keys, which also locks the device, an ‘X’ key which switches the phone back to the panels screen, covered later. And finally, an ‘OK’ Button.

X1_main

Xperia X1 front view

 

In the midst of all these buttons is the recessed optical joystick and surrounding d-pad. Although present I don’t think I found the need to use these to any great extent, I have managed without them for quite some time now and did not see the need to start using them now. For those of you who do use them, you will find them very quick, and unless you set to the least sensitive, almost uncontrollable, not for me, thanks I’ll manage without.

X1_dpad

Xperia X1 controls

At all 4 corners of the device on the sides there is some unusual, customisable and ‘switchoffable’ (is that is a new word?) status indicators, these warn of received SMS, Mail, Instant Messages, etc.

Finally, underneath, is the much talked about keyboard slider, this reveals the 4 line keyboard which again which I shall cover shortly.

X1_keyboard

Xperia X1 keyboard

 

Highlights

  • Stunning screen
  • Easy used with third party applications
  • Nice build quality
  • Adaptable ‘Panels’
  • Connectivity with accessories

Lowlights

  • Keyboard
  • Reset button
  • Back release

 

Software

 

Being of Windows Mobile 6.1 professional ilk, a lot of the software is familiar and easy to use as normal The usual programs are present such as Google maps, messenger, windows live etc. also included on top of these are eJava, QuickGPS, Adobe reader LE and Handango In Hand, which directs you to lists of available software and accessories with the likes of ‘Best Sellers’, ‘Recommended’, ‘Games’ and so on, also on offer is various promotions and savings.

Settings available are also familiar, with nothing much out of the ordinary apart from an illumination icon which allows access to configure the aforementioned LED notifications, an optical joystick icon, also accesses the.. er.. optical joystick, you can switch it off if you want, at least turn down the sensitivity.

I especially found that loading and using third party applications with this phone as a doddle, the likes of Tomtom runs great and the fears of certain application not being compatible with wider screen aren’t present at all, the X1 handles the differences very well and the crisp, sharp screen even allows a greater peripheral view of the map, especially in landscape mode, Google maps, which is preinstalled works fantastically well also. One more added benefit for me is that. in landscape, with the keyboard open, the car charger connects to the bottom of the Keyboard and is completely out of the way, it points downwards rather than, as normal out to the side.

clip_image002 clip_image004

The installed Opera 9.5 as always with this type of screen was also great to use and the extra width of the screen came into its own when viewing lists in portrait or webpage’s in landscape, no issues with compatibility here either.

clip_image006 clip_image008

(The EBay search was for Mark to make sure he wasn’t missing any deals.)

Most importantly of all, especially to Sony Ericsson, is the ‘Panels’ concept which Magnus from SE talked of at great length at the launch in Lund, this I covered in the video of the presentation previously posted, http://www.tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/2008/09/30/xperia-x1-showcase-video, this for me was a bit of fun and good to be able to switch ‘Today’ screens dependant on your mood or what settings you wish to have easily accessible, there are 9 available ‘panels’ all bar one of which are customisable. The only one that is fixed is the standard Windows Mobile ‘Today’ screen panel. It is like having a new phone every now and then when you fancy a change.

clip_image010 clip_image012

Over at Sony Ericsson’s website you can keep up-to-date with some of the developments and downloads available, they are also actively inviting companies and individuals to progress this area, should be interesting to see what peoples imagination can come up with, already available is Spb Mobile Shell from the SE website.

http://www.sonyericsson.com/fun/fnd?cc=us&lc=en&lf_res=gb#ts=1225038095812;applstate=contentlisting.contentdetails;contentCategoryId=800;filterId=0;genreId=-1;startIndex=0;phoneId=-1;contentItemId=34685;promotionId=0

I like the idea of being able to switch the screens to different views, I found myself using the middle one more often than not. A point to note here is that there is quite a lag when loading these panels, sometimes between 2-4 seconds is not unusual.

clip_image014 clip_image016 clip_image018

Unfortunately at this point, there are a few issues that will need to be resolved, whilst using the email I have fallen victim to the ‘smtp’ issue, and running the .cab’s didn’t seem to rectify the problem. Although this is obviously not an Xperia issue but a WM 6.1 issue, frustrating none the less.

Also certain applications do cause issues but I am confident these will be adapted and corrected as the device becomes available; such issues include this problem that I encountered with my favourite SMS chat, amongst others…take a look at SMS chat in landscape….

clip_image019

…this doesn’t always happen but occasionally, it does.

 

Review

 

First off I like this phone, the screen is fantastic, although the fact that is not flush can be a bit of an issue, digging into the corners to close programs etc, and scrolling is not as easy as it is on the likes of the Touch Pro/ Diamond. However the longer screen is helpful, the device I have been playing with has a trailer for the upcoming 007 film ‘Quantum Of Solace’ which looks and runs absolutely superbly.

The call quality and signal lock is perfectly functional, the loudspeaker is not necessarily the best but again adequate.

The camera is fine, it has the built in flash don’t expect fantastic results in low light conditions, it has autofocus and the unique touch autofocus by which you can select on the touchscreen an area to focus in on, the picture qualities for a non expert, like me, are perfect useable.

The battery life is, for me, the best I have used in a long time. Being a Diamond user, this has been a refreshing change, going a fully day with normal use ie. 2 hours of calls, a bit of web, 20 texts or so etc.etc. would result in half battery left at the end of a 14 -16 hour day. If only the diamond……

The 3.5mm jack is a welcome addition and allows personal choices of headset / headphones connection.

X1_angled

Now, one of the biggest questions, the keyboard, personally I don’t like it, I think the Touch Pro’s 5 row layout and key size is more user friendly. I found that the keys on the Xperia in the wrong lighting conditions are absolutely unreadable; I have no doubt that those who use it regularly and are comfortable with the usual layout will manage fine and with practice it does get easier. Being grey on silver I really struggled to be able to see what keys I needed. It was better to use in low light, because it is white light illuminated, and easier to see when it was darker; in bright light for me was a complete pain, having said that, I am also very aware that I am not a great keyboard fan anyway. I do feel that especially on the black model, which I have been using, a black keyboard with white keys would be have been preferable.

Another pet hate of this device is the reset button and microSD card slot, as I have mentioned already it is somewhat fiddly to remove the back panel because of the small release catches, but this you will have to endure if you want to soft reset the device as, ridiculously, the hole for resetting is under the cover, as is the microSD card holder.

X1_sim

Xperia X1 memory card and SIM card slot

 

I also agree with many that the omission of and accelerometer to enable automatic screen orientation was a minor slip up, I have been using the device with the left soft key configured to screen rotate and that works fine for me, as a second best option.

I do like the fact that Xperia proved really easy to connect with other devices, such as my laptop, car kit etc. these are not always trouble free but not an issue here. On more than one occasion, however, when I jumped into my car the automatic pairing did not happen because the Bluetooth had switched itself off for no apparent reason. Hopefully teething troubles soon and quickly sorted out.

I did also note that occasionally when I removed the phone from my pocket all sorts of things had been happening on the screen, top tip would be make sure you lock it before stowing it away. This could also have been the cause of the Bluetooth switching off.

 

Conclusion

 

I have been using this phone on a daily basis for about 2 weeks or so, and I find it very easy to live with, the speed, clear screen (albeit recessed) and quality of the device makes it very enjoyable. The battery life for me was the best bit; the ability to switch about in and out of the different panels was fun. I am sure that given time out in the wild, development in these areas, will prove that this is probably one of the all time classic devices.

My doubts on the keyboard and the d-pad are definite put off’s. I think in comparison to the Touch Pro, I have to agree with Matt, it really depends with your personal uses and preferences. My personal decision is that I really don’t use the keyboard enough to warrant having one on a phone; I have convinced myself that I can operate just as quickly on a touchscreen SIP, so for now I will be sticking with my diamond. But I will definitely be interested in the directions that software and ROM developments take this phone, it has a great starting point and can only get better, this is definitely the start of things to come and not the finished article.

As a footnote, whilst in Lund, I took the opportunity to suggest to the Guys in development that a great solution for me would be an X1 / Touch Pro, with a detachable keyboard, so that during the week, it is a business phone, but in the evening and at weekends, detach the keyboard and have the benefits of a slim, pocket friendly, social phone.

Watch this space, if it materialises, that was my idea!

 

Now I am going to try and answer some of the questions posted that Matt has not already answered:

What’s it like as a phone?

Works very well. Signal strength seems good, better than the Pro in this respect, and holds on to signal while in call quite well. Had a few dropped calls but only in known black spots. Battery life is good and sound quality/volume also good.

Navigating to the place to make an outbound call?

There is a send hardware button as pictured, which opens the standard Windows smartdialer.

What does it do when the phone rings? (pop up? etc)

Standard Windows Mobile fare, a pop up which can be disabled.

What about when an SMS comes in? Or if you want to write one?

Once again standard WM. Pop up, sounds etc can be configured. To write WM messages.

Is user is able to text message single-handedly?

You can, it’s easier for me on the screen, as I use TouchPal, you can on the keyboard but adding Capitals, figures etc tricky one handed.

Which display is better in sunlight?

As soon as I see some sunlight I could answer! Seriously though there isn’t much to choose between the two, the X1 has a slight edge as it seems to have one less layer of plastic in front of the screen for light to bounce off.

Hi, only major question I’ve got is how solid is the slider mechanism, is there any slop or lateral movement in it?

This is very good, very positive, satisfying click once open, very little to none lateral on this one, slightly more when shut than open but still good.

Can you confirm what the 3G specs for the device you have are? 850,1900 and 2100 mhz or just 2100?

According to reported specs 850, 1900 and 2100.

When will Xperia 1 be launched in Guam (part of u.s. territory)?

No idea sorry. Now on general release though.

What are the contents in the box if I will get to know dat it wud be easy to get my hands on em thanks a lot

As mentioned this is a C&J device, hope to confirm soon

Hey, I’m just wondering about one thing…how much do you think the X1 would be?…

Now appearing in stock, check out prices, as they are country dependant.

 

 

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,
By September 9, 2008 Read More →

Samsung i900 Omnia review

Now it is time to review the iPhone look alike Samsung i900 (Omnia). This is yet another high end, flag ship of a phone. Can it stand up to the claim from Samsung that it is ‘A truly all-in-one phone’?

For various reasons I have not really been a fan for the later variations from Samsung, in the early days of splashing out cash for phones, my 1st choice was always for a Sammy. Lately I have been tempted away from them to seek the joys and delights of Windows Mobile, so, now Samsung are even entering that market, can I be tempted back?

Samsung i900 Omnia review

The Samsung i900 Omnia (click images to enlarge)

 

What’s in the Box?

  • i900 Omnia
  • Mains charger with propriety connector
  • USB to propriety connector PC data cable.
  • 2 part stereo headset allowing own set connection through an adaptor.
  • Spare earpiece plugs
  • Detached telescopic stylus – see review.
  • Getting started disc
  • Minimal quick start guide

As always, you can check out Matt’s Samsung i900 Omnia unboxing video for more information on what’s in the box as well as a quick demonstration of the interface.

 

Samsung i900 Omnia review specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • 8GB Internal (ROM) 16GB model also available.
  • 128MB RAM.
  • 3.2” WQVGA Touchscreen (240 x 400 pixels)
  • Quad-Band 850/900/1800/1900MHz, HSDPA (7.2 Mbits)
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • WiFi 802.11g
  • 5 megapixel (auto-focus) camera, with face and smile recognition
  • LED Flash
  • GPS
  • microSDHC (up to 16GB)
  • TV Out
  • FM Radio with RDS
  • TouchWiz User Interface
  • 1440mAh battery
  • 112mm (L) x 56mm (W) x 12.5mm (H)

 

Around the device

 

General

The device is very well made, the chrome and black casing feels solid and doesn’t seem to attract the usual finger marks problems seen on most phones these days to the same extent. The back especially is difficult to mark. It is also not overly heavy at a stated 125g. It appears to follow along with a current trend to keep phone fascias uncluttered and minimal.

Samsung i900 Omnia front view

Samsung i900 Omnia front view

Top of the device there is the power switch and an LED status indicator. Also a very small reset hole.

Samsung i900 Omnia top view

Samsung i900 Omnia top view

 

On the left hand side of the phone, at the top end there is a lanyard connection or maybe the detached stylus connection, more later. Towards the bottom is the covered multifunction jack used for headset, PC connection and charging.

Samsung i900 Omnia left side

Samsung i900 Omnia left side

Top of the right hand side is a dedicated Main menu launch button; below this is the volume up/down rocker and finally the camera key.

Samsung i900 Omnia right side

Samsung i900 Omnia right side

The bottom of the unit holds nothing more than the mic.

Samsung i900 Omnia bottom view

Samsung i900 Omnia bottom view

On the back you can find the 5 megapixel autofocus camera and LED flash.

Samsung i900 Omnia back view

Samsung i900 Omnia back view

The screen on the i900 dominates the front as it is a 3.2” WQVGA Touchscreen, above you can see the small VGA camera, and below is the a Talk / Speakerphone button and an End / device lock key, these straddle the centred Trackpad.

Inside the back of the device is the side by side SIM card holder and the microSDHC card holder. The battery has to be removed prior to removing either card so no hot swapping here.

Samsung i900 Omnia back off view

Samsung i900 Omnia back off view

 

Highlights

  • Great camera
  • Easy to use
  • Great specification

Lowlights

  • Non standard Connectors as usual
  • Missing stylus compartment.

 

 

Review

At first I was determined that I did not like the i900 Omnia, it is too long and also resembles the iPhone so much, I was happy not to be a fan. The only reason for me that I took a second look was the specifications appeared impressive. Unfortunately, faults mentioned apart, this is a very nice device that I easily learned to live with and enjoyed a lot more about it than I thought I would have.

Samsung i900 Omnia vs Apple iPhone

Samsung i900 Omnia vs Apple iPhone

 

There are some points I do not like, for example, it is relatively expensive in its group; however there has to be reasons why it is sold out almost everywhere. So here are some of my thoughts, good and bad.

Firstly when switched on everything is different, the usual Windows screens etc. are nowhere to be found, it took me by surprise to start with, and I have to say I did not like it. I felt that the main menu screen appeared childish in form, the icons appearing in a cartoon style, and the Samsung widget sidebar seemed a waste of time. Now having spent some time with the unit, I have to admit that it probably one of the easiest phones I have used it quite a time, connecting with my car kit and network etc where an absolute doddle. The layout and functionality as a breeze and the icon simplicity made it easy for even those not familiar with Windows mobile to get on in a plain and uncomplicated manner.

clip_image002clip_image004

The unit certainly responds well and is quick in its opening of applications and the larger processor than standard is also noticeable.

 

Software

The Samsung widget is handy to use as it is acts as a shortcut to a lot of commonly used programs such as clock, photo album, games, music, radio, profile, notes etc. which can be dropped and dragged straight on to the main screen for launching.

clip_image006clip_image008

It also boasts Dix VOD straight out if the box once registered. There is also a themes editor allowing the user to change the standard background colour and text colours to one of the multitude of colours available.

The vibration touch screen option was fun at the beginning where a touch of the screen was registered by the phone omitting a gentle buzz, I found that overall this was a little erratic, sometimes it would not register but carry out the command anyway and vice versa, for me in the end it was better switched off. The same can be said for the Auto orientation motion sensor settings, I found that this was better for me set on low as, the simple act of putting the phone down would trigger the screen flipping into landscape, and then having to flip it back again, although it was a handy addition when you did want it to work.

It was also good to be able to rid yourself of the Samsung settings and revert straight back to the standard Windows menus etc. in a way like have 2 different devices really.

Included in the settings are add-on’s such as GPS extra, which I assume downloads satellite positions on a regular customisable interval. There is also a facility to switch the Trackpad between a 4 way navigator or finger mouse, neither of which I find useful, but I know a lot of people do. And as more common on Samsung devices there is also the TV out connection.

Programs are again pretty standard as the device goes, Google maps as you would expect works very well. There is a smart converter for quick conversion of weights, areas, volumes temperatures and lengths. A Touch Player, specifically designed to be able to play music, videos etc at the touch of the screen.

ShoZu enables sharing and watching music videos, shows and photos delivered to your phone automatically again subscription and registration are required.

Apart from the few points already mentioned above, the other good and bad points are as follows;

There is no stylus compartment anywhere on the phone, there is a telescopic stylus included in an attachable case, I find this completely unusable and would imagine one of the easiest ways to scratch the unit would be to attach the stylus and then stow it in your pockets. The advice from Samsung is not to use pens, pencils or any other implements to activate the screen; it fails to mention how to reset the device with your finger?!

The Camera is great, the options and use of the 5 megapixel autofocus was superb and probably the best I have used in a long time, also included was smile as well as face recognition, which seemed to work well enough. I liked playing with such options as the panoramic mode. The photos achieved overall means that you can do away with your extra point and shoot camera, when going out.

Samsung are still insisting that they use their own connectors which drives me crazy, why can’t they adopt the standard miniUSB connections used by so many other manufacturers?

Samsung i900 Omnia USB connector

Samsung i900 Omnia USB connector

The screen is not quite a bright and vibrant as certain new devices lately, although adequate and I definitely preferred the manual settings over the automatic mode, I also had a minor issue with the fact then when displaying a photo, occasionally the phone would fill in the side with a section of the photo repeated, to make up for the longer screen. Having said that, when searching through lists and websites the longer screen was a pleasant extra, as you can see more of the page that you are viewing. Opera worked very well in this form and there is also a built in page zoom when the side of the screen was touched.

The call quality and signal strength indicator appear more than adequate, the earpiece and speaker phones work very well. I also found that the battery life was reasonably good with light to moderate use a couple of days between charges, heavier use of Sat Nav etc. reduces this dramatically.

 

Conclusion

 

It is very nice to have Samsung on the Windows Mobile road and this phone was I mentioned above really did grow on me, which was not a real advantage. I am still torn between the Diamond and the Pro, this makes the choice even worse, and the Xperia is likely next week!

I think for me, the advantages of the HTC devices still holds its for me, the VGA screen and the stylus issues mean that i900 not my preferred device of choice. But I was pleasantly surprised on how good it really is. It will be well received by many and also well liked, get over the length of the machine and get involved with the preloaded applications and the ease of use and this will prove to be one of the best phones around. As I covered at the start of the review those in the know have already brought theirs, and that’s why they are sold out!

It has got to be one of the best times in the mobile world for choice of good devices at the moment and more due to follow, will there ever be the ultimate device, or will the makers keep bringing out more and more great devices to part us from our money?

 

 

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,
https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/surgical-face-masks