Reviews

By October 30, 2008 Read More →

SanDisk Sansa Clip review

Introduction

Matt recently sent me a SanDisk Sansa View which made such an impression on me that I asked for another SanDisk MP3 player to review. Matt got hold of his contacts over at SanDisk and got hold of a Sansa Clip for me.

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SanDisk Sansa Clip

This was great news but he then told me I had to do a review on it too which kind of scared me a little because I had only ever reviewed Phones before and admittedly I was a little worried about how this review would go.

The 10 Second Review

Device: SanDisk Sansa Clip
Cost: £39.00
Available from: SanDisk Store
Best of: Sound, Packaging, Price, Ease of Use, Ability to add music
Worst of: No separate power cable

What’s in the box?

  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warning Leaflet
  • Special offer card from audible.com
  • Earphones
  • MicroUSB Charge / Sync Cable
  • SanDisk Sansa Clip
  • Mini Installation CD

Specification

  • 4 GB internal memory (2 & 4 GB model available)
  • FM Radio
  • Built in microphone for recording
  • Four-line OLED screen
  • Easy-to-wear clip
  • Battery Life: Internal rechargeable battery lasts for up to 15 hours of continuous playback (Depends on settings and file types)
  • MP3, WMA, secure WMA and Audible file formats
  • 2.2 x 0.6 x 1.4 inches

General

The SanDisk Sansa Clip is the smallest in the Sansa range and is very lightweight. 

Taking a look at the front of the Clip there is a very small OLED display but not so small that it can’t be read or seen. A HOME button, jog dial and select button can also be found here.

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SanDisk Sansa Clip Powered On

On the left there’s a MicroUSB port and an ON/OFF/HOLD slider switch which moves to left or right.

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SanDisk Sansa Clip Left View

The right side has the volume rocker and the headphone jack socket.

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SanDisk Sansa Clip Right View

The bottom and top of the Clip are very empty except some printed text on the bottom telling you the model number and I think the part number.

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SanDisk Sansa Clip Front View

The back of the clip again is very straightforward and has just the namesake plastic clip and the SanDisk name printed with the size of the model.

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SanDisk Sansa Clip Back View

Highlights and Lowlights

+ Superb sound
+ Ample Memory Capacity for Size & Price
+ Light Weight
+ FM tuner (20 Presets)
+ Voice Recording
+ Loveable Design with Fantastic Colour Options
+ Format compatibility (MP3, DRM WMA, WMA, Audible)
+ USB 1.1 and 2.0 connectivity
+ Can be used as a USB drive / mass storage
+ Can sync music with drag & drop or via software 

– Only way to charge is via Data Cable

Sound Quality

The sound quality of the Clip is surprisingly up there with the View. Comparing the same MP3 track and using the same headphones the sound given from the Clip is very much like the sound like that you come to expect with the View.

There are various EQ modes and sound level adjustments available in the menu too which will help get the sound perfectly suited to various audio devices.

Review

When I opened the box of the Clip I was seriously shocked at just how little it was. Not many things this small have a screen of any sort and the OLED display hides itself with a mirrored front on the silver version and when powered on stands out very clearly.

The first thing I wanted to do after getting it powered on was to stick some songs on it so I took out the Data / Charging cable stuck into my USB 2.0 port on my Windows XP ran laptop and immediately it changed into sync mode and started finding the drivers etc….

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SanDisk Sansa Clip Angled View

Transferring the music was simple, drag and drop…. no iccy manufacturers software to load / run.

After getting the music across I then disconnected the device safely using the safely remove hardware function on XP and plugged in the earphones to start my review.

I was impressed with how easy the menu system was and also how many features it had.

The music quality was awesome without even tweaking the EQ settings which made life a lot easier as I plan in giving this to my 7 year old daughter.

CONCLUSION

Once again SanDisk have done impressed me beyond what I expected. If you are looking for something small, lightweight and affordable with an excellent battery life then this is just what you need. The other good thing is the fact that you wont be rejected by your loved ones for not having an iPod as it’s sill very stylish.

Defo worth the money and a device that I would fully recommend to others

Review by: John

 

 

 

Posted in: Reviews
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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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….

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…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 October 23, 2008 Read More →

Velocity Mobile 103 and 83 review

My introduction to Velocity mobile went along the lines of:

Matt… "Can you have a look at a Velocity from me?"

Steve… "What’s that?"

Matt… "a new windows mobile, of course!"

At this point you are probably in the same boat as me, never heard of them, so let’s have a look at the new kid on the block with a little background.

 

Velocity Mobile, in collaboration with Inventec Corporation of Taiwan, designs and engineers 2G and 3G mobile devices and data cards based on Qualcomm and Samsung platforms. Its expertise spans market analysis and evaluation, design, software, quality assurance, sales and marketing and after-market support.

Established in 1975, Inventec is one of the world’s top three Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) for notebook computers with over 25,000 employees and revenues of more than $8 billion in 2007.

LONDON – September 10, 2008 – Velocity Mobile, a nine month collaboration between one of the world’s largest notebook computer manufacturers and a team of veteran wireless designers and engineers, today announced the retail availability of its first touchscreen phone, the Velocity 103. Built on the belief that the simplest solution is the best solution, the Velocity Mobile 103 combines an easy-to-use Odyssey Interface, Velocity Over The Air updates (Vota) and a sleek and attractive design, to change the way people think about and use smartphones. The unlocked Velocity 103 is available for pre-order online now through Expansys for £334.99 and will ship by the end of September.

Matt unboxed the 103 and the 83 earlier this month but we’ve had to hold back on the video until we got the ok from Velocity.

 

Velocity Mobile 83 and 103 Unboxed

 

So lets start with the Velocity 103.

 

What’s in the Box?

The box itself is a smart design with a smoke effect semi transparent cover that allows the phone to be seen through the packaging from the off. In the box itself

  • The Velocity 103
  • A suede feel, soft touch pouch (which is very tight fitting)
  • Getting started disc and Quick user guide
  • USB to mini USB sync and charge lead
  • The annoying 2.5mm plug headset with inline controls
  • 2.5mm to TV lead

I am not sure that this is a standard production unit or a test unit, it seems finished, and so I do assume that this is as you will receive it as is in retail form.

 

Velocity 103 Specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Qualcomm Mobile Station modem tm MSM 7201 400 MHz chipset tm
  • GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA 850, 1900, 2100
  • 2.8” 640X480 VGA Touchscreen, 262K Colours
  • 256MB ROM, 128MBRAM
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
  • WIFI 802.11b/g
  • GPS NMEA 0183 / AGPS Compatible
  • 2.0 Megapixel Camera fixed focus
  • 0.3 Megapixel front facing camera for videoconferencing
  • TV/VGA out
  • MicroSD expansion slot
  • 1410 mAh Battery
  • 113x58x15mm
  • 130g weight

 

GENERAL

On the top of the device is a nifty and useful power slider button, sliding it to the left locks the device and keys, slide back to the right unlocks, slide to the left and hold prompts a shut down pop up. A little unusual, but welcome adaptation of the power button, it is handy in that it unlocks simply without multiple screen presses etc.

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Velocity 103 top view

 

The right hand side of the device is the annoying microSD slot, annoying in that it looks as though you can pop it open and hot swap your cards, however there is a small tab that tucks under the back cover, meaning that you have to remove the back cover to open the slot cover. Don’t try to prise the cover open like I did thinking it was just new and therefore tight! Below this is a non telescopic stylus which is on the small side and is very similar in size to my Diamond stylus.

103_right

Velocity 103 right side

 

The bottom of the unit holds the miniUSB connector slot, and a rather fiddly back cover lock, microphone and reset button, followed by the 2.5mm headphone and video out hole.

103_bottom

Velocity 103 bottom view

 

On the left is the camera button at the top, up and down volume buttons, and a ‘Velocity button’ this will be covered later, and is configurable.

103_left

Velocity 103 left side

 

The Back holds nothing but the camera lens with portrait mirror and speaker grill.

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Velocity 103 back view

 

Around on the front of the phone is the now preferred 2.8” VGA screen which is 640×480, at the top of which is the earpiece with an LED indication light for battery and signal. Left of this is the front facing camera.

103_main

Velocity 103 front view

 

Underneath the screen is the more customary, minimal, button layout, holding just the Send and End buttons flanking a small clickable trackball.

The phone itself feels reasonably solid, I must admit that the buttons don’t feel like they inspire confidence in particular the side buttons along with the back case lock, could have been better made. When the back case is removed this also feel on the flimsy side. It is on the larger end of the mobile spectrum, being similar height and width to the Omnia and Asus P750, as well as being 15mm thick.

 

Highlights:

  • VOTA – Velocity over the air updates
  • VGA Screen
  • Clear call quality

Lowlights:

  • Flimsy back case and buttons
  • Basic camera
  • Dull?

Software

Velocity don’t seem to have messed around too much with the usual Windows mobile software, the additions of mention are:

VOTA – this enables a live check on the up-to-date software upgrades, data connection permitting. This operates quickly and with the on board speed available was easy to use, straight out of the box there was an update available which was downloaded and installed with no issues whatsoever. I couldn’t find an option to make the checks automatic or periodical which would have been an improvement.

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The only really unique point on this phone is the Odyssey Interface, as described by the makers,

‘Our interface is designed with purpose, not just to look cool. Its designed to look and feel familiar, to have interactions that you are used to and provide features that meet specific or multiple needs all optimised to the form factor of the device.’

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In reality it is a nice feature where you can have your favourite/ most used program or files at the swipe of the screen, I found that this was a little hit or miss, and the preferred method was to use the Velocity Button the side of the unit, which worked much better. Also the ability to call on this function while in any screen was helpful, and was easy to use and a handy edition.

As I mentioned previously I am not sure if this was a pre-retail unit but I did have issues with a few of my regular Third Party apps, such as being unable to load MyMobiler, SMS Chat took a few attempts to load and in the end havd to revert to a previous version to get a good response. Yet others like my favourite TouchPal etc worked fine… this of course, could be that this is not a final version unit, or could even result in more regular VOTA updates.

The call quality and signal strength where fine and better than some. The 1410 mAh with moderate use lasted around the day, day and a half Mark. The camera is exactly as you would expect for a 2 megapixel fixed focus unit, this is not a dedicated camera replacement by any means, and definitely not in the realms of the 5,8 10 megapixels options appearing all over the place.

There is as mentioned a TV out, the options available are NTSC, PAL, PAL-M and PAL-N and on top of this the leads are included.

REVIEW

For me the Velocity is slightly too big and slightly too dull, (this is a great way to describe this PDA, thanks Matt). It is nice to see a predominantly British company having a go and I have another device from the same people to do a mini follow up on, when I have the time to explore its features, but I think this unit is still work in progress, the Camera is a major disappointment in this day and age.

Most of the other points I have covered off in the Software and overview sections, additionally…

The trackball works well, unfortunately I am not a fan of the trackball in the first place very rarely used it.

The slider on the top of the unit is nice to have, being used to the Lock switch on my Asus, I have been used to having this available, and in my review more devices should include this.

The 400 MHz chipset works very well and is speedy and efficient, it is somewhat let down at times from the slightly unresponsive screen, which again works well in the main, but occasionally requires 2-3 taps.

Conclusion

This is a difficult one as it is not as expensive as the current run of ‘top end’ phones, available at the moment. The 103 is not perfect, but it is capable, the specs are not bad overall. The VGA screen is great and on the whole the unit is quick and efficient.

The downsides for me are the build, the camera and I am not convinced that this phone has a USP (Unique selling point) that makes it standout enough in a crowd to scream ‘Buy me’. Looks wise it, again will not make itself instantly recognisable, going for the minimalist option is fine but I still prefer my gadgets to have loads of options and buttons, personally.

There is the company alternative in the form of the Velocity 111, which unfortunately we haven’t had a chance to play with yet, but I think I might be more interested in that form that this one.

If you are looking for a ‘cheaper’ unit with VGA, good speed, good call quality and you are not that bothered about having the latest known device, than have a look at this phone and draw your own conclusion, for me the negatives far outweigh the positives, unfortunately.

 

Following on from the Velocity 103 review – a Mini Velocity Review

Along with the Velocity 103 I was also given a Velocity 83, which was only a test unit and therefore is not yet available for a full review, so here are a few notes. Even the box itself is empty apart from the basic charger.

 

Velocity 83 Specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Samsung S3C2442B
  • 64 MB DDR SDRAM, 128 MB NAND Flash for OS & storage
  • 2.8’’ diagonal Display
  • 240×320 pixel TFT LCD 65K colors
  • Class 10 GSM/GPRS/EDGE on 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz bands
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g (Option)
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • USB 2.0 OTG High Speed 11pin mini USB
  • 2.5mm stereo audio jack
  • GPS – Sirf (GSC3FLP)
  • Camera – 2 Mpx fixed focus
  • Two MicroSD
  • Battery – 1130 mAh Li-ion
  • Dimensions – 112 x 59.5 x 12.1mm
  • Weight – 103 g with battery

 

Around the velocity 83:

I did like the feel of this phone it is just about the right size to hold with regard to width and thickness, and the back, covered later, made it a nice comfortable to hold and use. In that respect it was nice to see something different that works.

There is nothing to be found on the top, no nifty slider here.

The left side is the home to a small start button, two further buttons of up/down volume, followed by the ‘velocity button’ which is used to bring up the Odyssey Interface covered earlier or customisable. And the covered Mini USB slot.

83_left

Velocity 83 left side

 

Opposite on the right side, is found the Power on button, reset button and the dedicated camera button, all of which are on the small cheap side they are not nice to the touch but purely functional.

83_right

Velocity Mobile 83 right side

 

The back is interesting not for the fact that it only holds the meagre 2MP fixed focus camera, but because of the feel and texture, I would describe it as being similar to a golf ball dimple effect, which works well in both feel and grip, not to mention that it remains fingerprint free.

83_back

Velocity 83 back view

 

Underneath is just the stylus holder.

83_bottom

Velocity 83 bottom view

 

The main face of the unit holds the 240 x 320 QVGA 2.8” touchscreen. Below which is the D-pad (not dial), and the basic send and end buttons.

83_main

Velocity 83 front view

 

As you can tell this is designed once again to be minimal, smart design, for me it is minimal to the extreme, as I have spoken about before I prefer my devices with a few more buttons.

 

REVIEW

Unfortunately I was not able to carry out a full review on this unit as it was purely a test unit, maybe in the future people who get time with this unit could update us as to the retail differences. What I can remark on is that this phone comes as with the new interface mentioned above, there was no VOTA but I would assume it would be included on the final version.

I can say this device also surprised me for be remarkably fast, with good reactions and speed, maybe this was because it was not loaded with the usual paraphernalia included on finished versions. But it was impressive, perhaps that is as good a reason as any for not dumping loads of applications and tweaks on a phone and let the buyer customise?

Also most all of the Third Party apps that I tried to install failed and the included software was also minimal. I can say that the voice calls where absolutely fine as was the signal strength and overall functionality of the phone.

This unit is due to be released in Q4 of this year so time will tell what conclusions can be drawn once it is finished. I am interested to know where it will fit in the price bracket, as it hasn’t got the VGA or quite the same spec as its sister the 103, and therefore could be a neat option for an even ‘cheaper’ device with a reasonable spec.

 

Reviews by: Steve

Posted in: Reviews
By October 19, 2008 Read More →

Wacom Cintiq 12WX Review

What do you get if you cross a graphics tablet with an LCD monitor? The answer is the Wacom Cintiq range.

In this particular case the Cintiq 12WX a 12″ widescreen monitor blended with a Wacom graphics tablet.

So after the Bamboo Fun review the other week, how is this one going to fair.

Wacom Cintiq 12WX

The Wacom Cintiq 12WX

 

What’s in the box?

  • Cintiq 12WX Pen Display
  • Video Control Unit
  • Grip Pen
  • Pen Stand
  • Replacement Pen Nibs
  • DVI, VGA, USB, and Power Cables
  • Power Adapter
  • User Manual
  • Installation CD
  • Adobe® Photoshop® Elements (6.0 WIN / 4.0 MAC) for editing, retouching, enhancing, organizing, and sharing digital photos
  • Corel® Painter™ Essentials 4.0 for creating natural media art and turning photos into paintings

 

General

Wacom are well known and well respected in the field of graphics tablets. They have, relatively recently, started doing a range called Cintiq where a LCD and a graphics tablet are combined into a single object. The obvious upside of this is that you are literally drawing onto the screen just like painting or drawing with a brush or pencil onto paper. This means there is much less technology between you and your work.

The first thing that struck me with the box is that it was larger than I thought it would be, especially as some people were talking about using this as a portable unit to go with their laptop.

But anyway, let’s unpack it all.

First off you come across the Cintiq display itself, very pretty :D. It’s immediately obvious that the Cintiq is an extension of the Intuos 3 range, the casing is very similar to the A5 Intuos 3. The big difference is the LCD that is laid into the middle of the unit.

As you can see from the full specs below, that screen is 10.3″x6.4″, 1280×800 pixels and supports 24bit colour depth.

As you can see there are a group of 5 buttons to both the left and the right of the LCD. The large ‘bar’ on the outside of these buttons is actually a slider sensor, which is very useful for scrolling or zooming your images. All of these buttons can be reconfigured to commonly used ‘modifier’ keys that you are likely to want to use whilst you are in your programs.

Underneath the display there is a fold out stand that will hold the Cintiq at a more comfortable working angle, but if you prefer to use the unit flat or in your lap, then just fold it back in, it tucks away very neatly.

Wacom Cintiq 12WX

Cintiq Stand

 

The only connection on display is at the back/top and this goes to the Video Control Unit. Basically the power and the computer video signals coming to the display go into this box as does the USB connection and then a single cable runs to the display. I think they’ve done this to try and minimise the amount of cables you are dragging around if you are moving the display whilst working. The buttons on the Video Control Unit allow you to change the settings on the monitor just as you would on any display, things like contrast, brightness, colour temperature – all the normal controls.

Mac users should be aware that if they have the mini-dvi connector then they will need to get an adaptor to use this product as the included cables will only connect to either VGA or DVI-I.

cintiq_box_top

cintiq_box_back cintiq_box_front

Cintiq Video Control unit

 

The pen has a little stand and some replacement nibs for when you wear the one in the pen down :D. Like most tablet pens it has a nib and an eraser – in this case both have 1024 pressure sensitivity levels.

cintiq_pen

Centiq tablet pen

There are also a couple of pieces of art software included – Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 and Corel Painter Essentials 4.0

 

Wacom Cintiq 12WX Specification:

GENERAL

  • Overall dimensions: 16″ wide x 10.5″ high x .67″ depth
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs. with video control unit
  • Data port: USB
  • Graphics input: Analog RGB (HD 15pin) or digital DVI (29 pin)
  • Display connector: Proprietary DFP – DVI-I on video control box
  • Display adapters included: DVI-I to VGA, DVI-I to DVI-D
  • Stand adjustability: Flat on desktop, 25°to 60°
  • Rotation: 360° flat position on pivot
  • Mounting hole pattern: VESA 75mm
  • Power supply input: 100-240 VAC 50-60 Hz
  • Power supply output: 12 VDC 3.3A
  • Warranty: 2 years

 

DISPLAY

  • Aspect Ratio: 16:10
  • Screen size: 12.1″ diagonal
  • Display area: 10.3″ wide x 6.4″ high
  • Native resolution: WXGA (1280×800)
  • Total pixels: 1,024,000
  • Number of colours: 16.7 million
  • Pixel pitch: 0.204mm x 0.204mm
  • Brightness: 180 cd/m2
  • Contrast ratio: 600:1
  • Viewing angle: 85°/85° H, 85°/85° V
  • Color management: ICC profile, 6500° K whitepoint default
  • Color management control: DDC/CI

 

INTERACTIVE FEATURES

  • Technology: Patented electromagnetic resonance method
  • Resolution: 5080 lines per inch
  • ExpressKeys: 10 user-assignable
  • Touch Strips: 2 finger-sensitive, front mounted

 

PEN

  • Type: Pressure-sensitive, cordless, battery-free
  • Switches: Tip switch, 2 side switches, eraser
  • Pressure levels: 1,024
  • Tilt range: +/- 60°
  • Grip: Latex-free silicone rubber
  • Model: ZP-501ESE
  • Nibs included: 3 standard, 1 stroke, 1 felt
  • Optional pens: 6D Art Pen, Airbrush, Classic

 

REVIEW

Having had a play with the Bamboo Fun before this I was looking forward to seeing one of Wacom’s more professionally targeted devices to see how they compare.

Straight out of the box this is a much slicker looking unit (as it should be for the price difference). It’s immediately obvious that the Cintiq 12WX has benefited from Wacom’s experience with their Intuos range of products. The buttons placed on either side mean that the device is equally suitable for left or right handed users, the stand allows people that want to have a tilted display to work that way without having to find something on the desk to rest it on, and the single cable at the top of the unit means that you can turn and twist the display to a position that is best for you whilst you work, without having to worry about yanking lots of cables around the desk. You won’t believe how thin the display is until you have it in your hands either 😀

The unit is straight forward to setup – you connect the Video Control Unit (VCU) to the PC with either a VGA or DVI-I connection and a USB cable, you then plug the power into the VCU – then finally the display connects on other side of the VCU with a single custom cable. Drivers are included on the CD, though the first thing I always do with this sort of thing is download new drivers.

The display can be set as primary monitor or as a secondary monitor (or third or fourth I suppose for those with multi card setups) – personally I connected it to the DVI-I output of my graphics card and set it up as a secondary monitor, extending the desktop.

The first thing to do is to go into the driver setup and realign the pen – this asks you to click on some crosses on the screen so that it can check the pen alignment with the screen position (more on this later). All nicely lined up, let’s get going.

I booted up my favourite art package, created a new document and started doodling. Instantly this was a different experience to the Bamboo of the other week or my other cheap tablet. The most obvious point is that because the monitor is part of the display you feel that you are interacting directly with the screen, it is suddenly just like normal drawing or painting as the pen appears to lay ‘ink’ into the screen. The pen moves smoothly over the display without much resistance, but enough to let you sense the resistance to your pen pressure – very nice.

Wacom Cintiq WX12 quick demo video

The real difference for me was the way the pen performed – it was doing exactly what I wanted it to. This seems like an obvious thing to say really, but it makes all the difference for art work. With other tablets I’ve used the sensitivity of the pen just hasn’t been high enough to sense subtle differences in the pressure that I applied, meaning that whilst the location was usually fine I couldn’t predict the weight of the line I was drawing. With the Cintiq 12WX it claims 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and whilst I can’t exactly check that, I can confirm that it is a completely different quality to anything I’ve used before.

The tablet underneath the screen has a rating of 5080 lines per inch, so accuracy of the position of the pen is never going to be a problem either.

The ExpressKey buttons on each side of the display can be reassigned to various functions – the neatest of which, I found, was flipping between monitors so that the pen was now controlling my primary display. This meant that I could put all my pen tools on one screen and just the drawing area on the Cintiq.

The screen of the 12WX is 1200×800 pixels, which some people may think is too small but personally I found it fine once I’d pushed my tools onto the primary display area. The slider control then let me zoom in and out of the images, whilst a quick press of an ExpressKey let me drag the image about. The screen being the size it is means that the sensor is about an A5 size, which I found very comfortable to work with, things were never that far away so at no point was I having to make huge hand movements.

All of which made for a very pleasant experience.

Like most graphics tablet pens the 12WX pen has a nib and an eraser, which in actual fact are just detected as 2 different pens within most packages so you can make the eraser function as something else if you prefer. A quick flip of the pen and you can rub out your mistakes – or being on a computer just a quick CTRL-Z 😀

I really enjoyed using the Cintiq 12WX, but I did run into a one small hiccup whilst using the display.

When you realign the pen you are realigning it based on your drawing position at the time of clicking on the little crosses. If you move your position or the tablet then you are no longer aligned up quite the same way – this is because of the plastic surface between the pen nib and the LCD surface. It’s there for the protection of the LCD surface, but that thickness means that the pen nib is never quite ‘touching’ the LCD display, so as you manoeuvre the tablet around or you shift in your chair you are changing the angle you are looking at the screen through this plastic, which changes the perceived alignment slightly.

It’s only a few millimetres of plastic but it does affect the viewing angle slightly. It means that every time you (or anyone else for that matter) sit down to use the tablet your position will be slightly different to last time, so you will need to realign the pen again, and if you do end up twisting the display  to get a better drawing angle, then you will likely need to realign again.

For me this became a frustration.

This may be just me though, as I’ve seen lots of online videos of people very happily drawing away with their Cintiq’s (and with far more skill than me I should add).

Matt also had a chance to play with the Cintiq for a little while. Matt had a chance to use the tablet to do some photo editing for touching up and background removal. He found that using a tablet drastically reduced the amount of time that these tasks take and made many of the edits he was making much easier to achieve than using a mouse.

Matt also decided to use his creative flair and although, by his own admission, he is no artist managed to achieve some great results as you can see from the painting he did below.

Walt1

Matt’s painting of Walt Disney

 

Highlights

  • viewing angle of the monitor is excellent
  • pen sensitivity is excellent

 

Lowlights

  • alignment became frustrating for me personally

 

Conclusion

I really do like the 12WX, but my frustration with the alignment led to me try using the display as a traditional tablet to draw on my primary monitor. I was much happier working this way as I wasn’t visually expecting the pen and the display to be aligned, I just watched the cursor position. So personally, I think I’d get an Intuos 3 – but I can certainly understand the appeal of the Cintiq 12WX, and if you are getting a tablet then I would certainly recommend trying the Cintiq 12WX to see what you think.

 

Review by: Iain

By October 16, 2008 Read More →

Slingbox Classic Review

Ever find yourself with time to kill, wishing you could watch some TV? or even a program you’ve recorded on your Sky Plus?

Well that’s what the Slingbox does, it allows you to control your home TV whilst you are on the move. You can watch programs live, or if you have a Sky Plus type setup, you can watch recorded programs – basically everything you can do at home you can now do from anywhere in the world over an Internet connection.

http://uk.slingmedia.com/go/slingbox-classic-slingplayer

What’s in the box

  • Slingbox
  • Power adapter
  • 2 Audio/Video cables
  • Scart adapter
  • S-Video cable
  • IR Control Cable
  • Ethernet cable
  • RF Aerial cable
  • CD-Rom

General

The box itself is a fairly simple looking affair – all the connections at the back and just a couple of LED’s on the front to confirm it has power and an Internet connection.



The clean front of the Slingbox


Connections across the back of the box

Most users of the Slingbox, in the UK at least, are going to be using it for controlling their Sky box remotely so I’ll talk in those terms. [Though if you look at the SlingMedia site you’ll see that the Slingbox supports lots of other devices].

In general I would imagine that everyone would use the Scart Adaptor, that comes with the box, plugged into one of the Sky outputs. Then the 3 pin Combination Audio/Video cable plugs into that, and then the other end into the input of the Slingbox.

Then you hook up the ethernet cable to your router, plug the IR Cable into the Slingbox and route the cables so that the IR transmitters are pointing at the right part of the Sky Box.

Plug in the power and that’s the box setup done.

You then need to install the software on your PC/Mac to let you setup the box further.

Once the Software is installed it will find your Slingbox on the network and walk you through the setup, all very straightforward.

At the end of the setup process it offers to setup the remote access that will allow you to view your video from anywhere in the world (providing you have Internet access). If you are just planning on sharing the signal around you home network then you don’t need to set this up obviously.

The only other thing you need to setup is the software on the devices you plan on watching your programs with, be it a laptop or a mobile phone.

Computer Requirements

Minimum PC Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows XP SP2
  • 1.3 GHz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 150 MB available disk space for installation
  • 24-bit graphics
  • 16-bit sound
  • Network connectivity

Minimum Mac Requirements

  • PowerPC G4/G5 800 MHz or Intel processor
  • Mac OS X v.10.3.9 (or higher recommended)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 150 MB available disk space for installation
  • Network connectivity

Minimum Network Requirements

  • Cable or DSL modem (for out-of-home viewing)
  • 256 Kbps upstream network speed recommended (higher upstream network speeds yield higher quality video)
  • Home network router – wired or wireless (UPnP compatibility highly recommended)

Audio and Video Sources

One aerial/coaxial antenna and one standard definition audio/video source such as:

  • DVB-T Freeview Set-top Box
  • Digital Cable Set-top Box
  • Aerial/Coaxial Antenna*
  • Digital Video Recorder (DVR) such as Sky, Virgin Media or one provided by your cable/satellite provider
  • DVD Player/Recorder
  • Satellite Receiver such as Sky
  • Video/Security Camera
  • Windows Media Center

*Includes built in Freeview DVB Tuner

Review

Windows or Mac based PC – check

High-speed Internet connection – check
Home network router – check
Want to watch Sky TV on the move – check

So assuming you also have the same checklist, then the Slingbox is an interesting device.

It literally gives you remote control of your Sky TV wherever you have a decent Internet connection. You can be sitting in an airport terminal or your local coffee shop using their WIFI access to watch the latest episode of your favourite soap on your mobile phone. Sitting on a long distance train journey and have time to kill? then watch the movie you recorded last night (assuming the train has WIFI access and isn’t the old rolling stock that so much of the UK still has).

All sounds great, certainly something that could change how people watch their TV.

Out of the box there are a plethora of cables to allow you to hookup your Slingbox – nothing is left to chance, I can’t actually think of a setup that the cables supplied don’t support [apart from HD, but that’s a different product].

Everything connects up really obviously, nothing complicated in that.

And then you reach for the CD to install the software that finishes setting up the device…

In my case, I’ve got a Windows XP system and after putting in the CD it pops up with a menu.

OK, click Install, wait what? That says ‘Download & Install’, surely that can’t be right, someone must have labelled the button wrong.

slingbox1

Nope, that’s right folks, out of the box you have a 40MB download to do before you can setup your box. The CD shipped is the equivalent of a web address. And the kicker? When you ask the software to check for updates, it again opens a webpage in the browser and tells you that you need to download an updated version, and yup it’s ANOTHER 40MB download 😮

Once you get the software down and run the installation it then opens up a wizard to setup the Slingbox. It’s all fairly straight forwards – which country is the Slingbox in, which input on the Slingbox are you using, What is your Television Source (Sky in my case), Brand of the Device you are wanting control, etc.

[Please bear in mind that all these screen caps are missing the actual video as my capture software doesn’t grab it correctly]

slingbox2 slingbox3 slingbox4

slingbox5 slingbox6 slingbox7

slingbox8 slingbox9 

Once that’s all set and you’ve tested the control of the device, then you just setup the box password and the box’s administrator password.

If you are wanting to control the box over the Internet instead of just your local network then first you register with SlingMedia. This will setup an account that keeps track of the IP address of your box on the Internet, which allows you to point your mobile devices to it over the Internet [in one version of the software I played with you could also set the box to use DynDNS.org to keep track of the IP address].

slingbox10

A couple more screens to auto-tune the video settings and away you go – it starts up the client program and you are watching and controlling your Sky box over your network.

slingbox13

The actual player

All the settings are reconfigurable from menus in the player, you can either let the player control the amount of network bandwidth the Slingbox uses or manually configure it, you can change your picture to widescreen, letterbox etc – in fact every setting I could think of wanting to play with was there, all very nice.

For viewing you can install clients on Windows XP, Mac OS X or some mobile phone OS’s (Windows Mobile, Symbian S60/UIQ or Palm).

These can connect to your Slingbox either over your local network or over the Internet from wherever you happen to be.

Although I was primarily testing this over my local network on desktop PC’s, I did try the Windows Mobile client (there’s a 30 day demo) and I was very pleasantly surprised – it just worked, what more could you ask 😀

[Obviously be aware that mobile connections to the Internet can be chargeable depending on your connection type and phone contract]

 

And once it’s all running there’s not a lot to do but kick back and enjoy it.

 

Picture quality on the desktop is OK, nothing special – but it’s never going to be DVD quality from the input source we are using, which is then compressed. That same picture quality on the mobile screen is far more palatable. [You can look at the new Slingbox HD for higher def solutions]

In both cases I could definitely imagine myself watching programs over the Internet – I’ll happily accept the slight dip in picture quality as a trade-off for being able to watch your own TV anywhere.

 

Highlights

  • good selection of cables to hook things up
  • seems to have a very good library for devices it can control

Lowlights

  • 40MB download before you can even start
  • Software downloaded from the CD Link is out of date, so another 40MB download is on the horizon if you want to get up to date

Conclusion

So after the surprising lack of inclusion of the software you need on the included CD the rest of my experience with the Slingbox was very very smooth.

The ability to sit potentially anywhere in the world and not just watch, but also control your TV is very cool in my opinion, and is an excellent addition to any Sky Plus setup to allow you total control over your TV viewing no matter where you are.

Just be sure to warn the people at home you are going to be remotely controlling the setup to avoid freaking them out 😀

Posted in: Reviews
By October 15, 2008 Read More →

Eten Glofiish X610 Review

Introduction

So this is my second Glofiish review in the past 3 weeks and with this review I intend to cover some of the points raised by readers in the past few reviews. I have been using both Glofiish phones for the past 3 weeks and of the two I’m afraid that this one was not my favourite.

 x610_main
Eten Glofiish X610

The 10 second review:
Device: Eten Glofiish X610
Cost: SIM free only: £464.13 (Inc VAT).
Available to pre-order from: CLOVE technology (Go and buy one from here)
Summary: A pretty depressing device with very little more to offer than GPS and an FM radio that requires no headset attached.
Best of: Box & Packaging, FM Radio, Battery Life
Worst of: WiFi connection, phone signal loss, Design

What’s in the box?

Well we wont go into too much detail about what’s in the box as we have an Unboxing Video already online.

Specification

Matt has posted the specs along with the  Unboxing Video already so have a look there before reading on.

General

The Eten Glofiish X610 not unlike the other x range Glofiish handsets out there. Weighing in at 136g it’s a good bit lighter than the V900 which was reviewed earlier this month.

The phone design is rather rectangular and apart from the curved edges it looks old. With a  large 2.8" 320 x 240 touch screen its not a clear in resolution as the V900. At the top of the screen there is an small square earpiece grill and a status light to both the left and the right hand side of it. The bottom of the pone consists of (from left to right) a call start button, quicklink GPS button, 4 way D-Pad with silver submit button in the centre, home key and call end button.

x610_angled_right
Angled view of Glofiish X610

The left hand side of the phone has just 2 buttons starting at the top with the rocker volume switch and a button a bit lower down which is defaulted as Voice Command but can be customised. The reset button and the 2.5mm Jack socket (please stop this device manufacturers) can also be found here.

x610_left
The Left Hand Side

Moving over to the right hand side we find the power button and the camera button.

x610_right
The Right Hand Side

The top of the handset again has nothing interesting to see except for a simple GPS logo etched in.

x610_top
Top View

At the bottom we find (from left to right) the telescopic stylus, microphone, MicroSD slot and the miniUSB port.

x610_bottom
Bottom View

Looking to the back of the phone we find the 2MP camera, the tinniest self portrait mirror I have eve seen, an LED flash, and large speaker sitting just to the right of it. At the bottom of the back cover there is simply a windows logo etched into the plastic. A surprising addition to the back of the phone is the sticky out part of the stylus which means that if you want to remove the back cover the stylus has to be removed too (not a great move Eten)

x610_back
Back View

Removing the back from the phone allows you access to the Li-Ion 1530 mAh battery and simcard area. The battery can be removed by flicking a catch downwards that is set to lock the battery in place.

Highlights and Lowlights

+ GPS

+ FM Radio

+ Screen Size

– Loss of phone signal

– Poor ability to hold a WiFi signal

– No full paper version of instructions

– Design & Shape

Review

Considering the phone is priced phone is priced alongside the better V900 I was surprised at just how depressing the phone was. Aimed I guess at the business end of the market and the less techy people this phone really didn’t do a lot for me. You might find when reading through this review that is reads very similar to the V900 review but take it from me that whilst paragraphs may well read the same the phone’s are very different.

When I took the phone box out of its box the first thing that caught my eye was again a very simplistic yet very orange box. Opening the box again like the v900 was very refreshing, no confuddle of leaflets, cables etc… just a very plain cardboard insert housing the phone. Underneath the initial cardboard insert lay a cardboard box which was very neatly packed with the cables and leaflets that normally clutter the box.

Powering on the phone gave the normal Eten bright orange background After running through the normal Windows Mobile set up it loaded the spb Shell interface which we are seeing being built in as standard more and more now.

Navigation was very simple as you’ll find that all Windows Mobile systems handle the same way. The D-Pad was a lot better than the V900 to navigate with.

Inside the phone menu there was not a great deal on offer program wise with the highlight being the Multimedia folder which had the FM Tuner.

The MicroSD slot this time was 1 million times easier to use than the V900 with a simple slot at the bottom which took and released the card very easily with a finger push.

Moving on to some of the normal asked questions I’m gonna go with Matt’s X1 Q&A section to keep it clean.

What’s the in-call sound quality like?

Actually very good, I had not a single complaint from anyone whilst on a call either outbound or inbound

What is the actual RAM in the device?

64MB SDRAM however the settings page shows 46.25 Storage memory and 49.13 Program memory

What is the Spb Panel like?

Not a big fan of this at first but it seems to work really well and its pre installed which is always a good thing

Can you post sample shots taken from the X610 camera?

I’ll ask Matt if he has the time to post some of these however I will say that the picture quality on its low spec 2mp camera is bumpy and doesn’t really take a great photo.

Does it have a motion sensor?

Nope, fraid not

How is the speed switching between  screens?

There is an approx 0.5ms delay in switching screens or launching apps.

How is the feel and reaction of the control touch screen?

To touch it’s the normal smooth texture and the touch is nice and sensative.

How is the sound output quality of the speaker?

Very poor to be honest, in speaker phone mode it’s quite distorted and a little annoying

How well does the FM radio work? How is its reception in areas with weak signals?

This works really well but I do have a very high signal where I live and round about me given that most places in my town can see the FM transmitter mast.

How well does it hold on to cellular signals during calls?

During calls it’s great but off calls it seems to loose itself every 10 to 15 minutes and when you have put the device to sleep it wakes itself back up as a result of this.

Is the hardware fast enough to cope with several applications in the background?

100% no, it’s slow when running 3 apps never mind multiple.

How quickly does using GPS, 3G/HSDPA and Wi-Fi drain the battery?

The battery is one of the better bits of the phone, even using the WiFi it seems to last over a day.

Which is better, the V900 of the X610?

This is a simple one for me, the V900 everytime

How did the GPS handle?

I honestly have no idea because despite having the GPS ability there was nothing worth using on the phone to test it.

x610_angled_left
Left Angled View

Conclusion

I used the phone for over a week and found it a tad simple and boring. I not saying I never enjoyed having the phone but for me there we just too many downsides and I would not be wiling to spend the money wanted for the phone. I am a big Windows Mobile fan and in general love all phones so to have a phone I didn’t find exiting was a bit disappointing for me. I really hope Eten stay away from making devices like this in the future and concentrate in making the v900 a better phone.

I intend to be sending the phone back this week so if you have any more questions then let me know and I’ll do my best to post them before handing the phone back to Matt.

If you are interested in this handset then why not pop over to CLOVE technology where you can pre-order this handset for £464.13 (Inc VAT).

Posted by: John

Posted in: Reviews
By October 7, 2008 Read More →

Camcorder group test (Part 3) Toshiba Camileo H10 Review

Toshiba Camileo H10 Review

The H10 is Toshiba’s budget entry into the high definition camcorder market. The most remarkable thing about this camcorder is the fact that it’s a high definition camera (HD) for about £180. Not long ago this would have been much more expensive and out of the reach of most of us. Having been mildly impressed by the “handiness” of the SDR-S7 I was interested to see how the H10 would perform with its HD capability given that the two machines are virtually the same price.

toshiba_h10

The Toshiba Camileo H10

 

What’s in the box?

  • H10 video camera
  • Li-ion rechargeable battery, 3.7v/1050mAh
  • USB cable
  • AV cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Mains charger
  • Remote control
  • Strap
  • Quick start guide
  • Software CD

 

Toshiba Camileo H10 unboxing video

 

General

The H10 is a clean and uncluttered design with an encouraging lack of buttons to tweak and render it useless. Physically, it’s a bit of a brick, albeit a compact one with some decent features. A brick because it’s too big to fit into my pocket, compact because it feels dense in the hand. The dense feel also helps it to feel well-built despite the low price.

The H10 has a 5x optical zoom and can record video in 720p HD MPEG-4 format video on SD or SDHC Cards at frame rates of up to 30fps – this is a decent specification for an entry level camcorder and genuinely useful.

h10_controls h10_battery h10_connectors

The Toshiba Camileo H10 controls

 

Rear: Video record; 5-way multi-function keypad for selecting modes and menu items

Top: Zoom in/out; still camera shutter release

Underneath: Battery compartment; SDHC card slot; tripod socket

Left: Power switch; AV-out socket; HDMI socket; USB2.0 socket

 

Toshiba Camileo H10 Specification:

  • Image Sensor: 10.48 Mega Pixel CCD Sensor
  • Operation Modes: Movie Record, Picture Record
  • Lens: F3.5 – 3.7 (f = 6.8 – 34 mm)
  • Focus Range Macro: 1 cm ~30cm
  • Normal: 30 cm ~ infinity
  • Optical Zoom: 5X
  • Shutter: Mechanical Shutter
  • LCD monitor: 2.7” LCD
  • Storage Media: Built-in 64 MB, SD/MMC Card Slot
  • Image Resolution
  • High: 4608 x 3456 (16M pixels)
  • Standard: 3648 x 2736 (10M pixels)
  • Low: 2592 x 1944 (5M pixels)
  • Movie Resolution HD: 1280 x 720, 30 fps
  • D1: 720 x 480, 30 fps
  • VGA: 640 x 480, 30 fps
  • QVGA: 320 x 240, 30 fps
  • White Balance: Auto/Manual (Daylight, Fluorescent, Tungsten)
  • Exposure: ± 1EV in 0.3 steps
  • Self-Timer: Approx. 10 second delay
  • Flash: (for still) Auto/ On/Off/Red Eye Reduction
  • File Format Image: JPEG
  • Movie: AVI (H.264)
  • Image play: Single Image/Thumbnails/Slideshow
  • PC Interface: Mini USB2.0
  • TV out Digital:: HDMI
  • Analogue: Composite Video (NTSC/PAL Selectable)
  • Battery: NP60 Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery, 3.7v, 1050mAh
  • Dimensions: 117mm x 65mm x 56 mm
  • Weight: 314g (without battery), 340g(with battery)

Highlights:

  • Simple
  • Robust
  • Uses SD cards
  • Easy to use

Lowlights:

  • A bit portly
  • No conventional viewfinder
  • Slow zoom
  • Heat

Review

Although substantially smaller than many mini-DV cams, the first thing to strike me after using the compact SDR-S7 and Sanyo Xacti is just how chunky the Toshiba is. It certainly won’t fit in your trouser pocket. It could be used to as a weapon and it feels like it’s hewn from billet alloy. The upside is that the larger size does make the Tosh’ somewhat easier and more comfortable to hold at eye level when compared to the Panasonic SDR-S7.

Fold the screen out and it switches on automatically to either present you with the video filming mode or the still camera mode depending where it left off last time. Switching between the two is merely a single key press away. Video recording is simply a case of pointing it at the subject and then pressing the record button on the rear of the camera body.
There is plenty of control over shooting modes via the menu system, which is easy to navigate by virtue of the fact it is very simple and clear.

The Tosh’ is capable of recording in HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second (fps). This is quite some going for a budget model when you consider that most DV cams work at 720 x 576 and 25fps. You should be aware though that editing such large images is fairly demanding for any pc and some well-known photo-editing applications still aren’t HD ready. There’s plenty of other resolutions available that take up far less storage space if your needs are less demanding, however, it seems to be pointless using them unless you upload to a video mangling service like YouTube.

Accessing the menu system is not obvious initially and there is no menu key per se. It’s done via the centre-select key on the 5-way navigator keypad. The menu system has sensibly been kept simple and logical, but alas it has one really annoying flaw. Once you have selected an option it closes down the menu subsystem entirely to return you back to the camera view. What if you want to change another option or undo the changes you’ve just made? You have to navigate all the way there again.

The 5x optical zoom is quite limited when compared to conventional DV-cam opposition. This is typical for a budget camera. Unfortunately, the zoom control is extremely tardy and the lens is both slow to zoom and focus. This renders the camera less than idea for sports footage or fast moving subjects. In normal general filming it would be less noticeable.

I was pleased to see that the charging is done via the USB2.0 mini-socket. This means it should also be possible to charge from your computer when connected. The battery itself is a 3.7v/1050mAh item which gives a life of around 50 minutes – this was slightly less than I expected but probably reasonable given the higher definition. During charging and normal use I noticed that the entire camera got very warm – this is a bit disconcerting. The same heat was also transferred to the SD card which, doesn’t bode well for longevity of the card – another reason why a man might not wish to put it in his trouser pocket!

There is no conventional lens cover – instead the lens is protected by a large hard plastic cover. This is all very well, but the cover doesn’t appear to be replaceable so, if it gets scratched then you compromise image.

h10_lens

Toshiba Camileo H10 lens

 

Movie quality was entirely acceptable although I really didn’t notice any improvement in quality rendered by HD over SD. The whole thing is quite subjective really and depends upon so many things such as the quality of monitor it is viewed on, the physical size of the CCD, compression etc. I daresay if you had a HD tv then you would notice the difference. As a stills camera it makes a passable job and there’s no reason why it couldn’t be your only stills camera although the normal caveat still applies – if you want a stills camera then buy one.

You can download a sample video – taken straight from the H10 memory card with this link.

 

Conclusion:

The H10 is a versatile camera that should satisfy most users needs unless they are serious filmers. It’s easy to use, feels well put together and it’s not expensive. Really, for £180 the buyer is getting a decent machine for not much money and I feel it offers better value than the Panasonic SDR-S7 for a similar price. Having previously said I would be happy with the Panasonic as an everyday device, I am now having to revise that in favour of the Tosh’. Just beware of its bulk.

Join me again soon for the next camera in the Camcorder Group Test or head over and look at Part 1 to see which cameras we are including or have a look at my Panasonic SDR-S7 review or Sanyo Xacti HD700 review.

 

Review by: Nigel

Posted in: Reviews
By October 5, 2008 Read More →

Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet review

The Wacom Bamboo Fun is one of Wacom’s entry level graphics tablets.

For those who don’t know what a graphics tablet is, think of it as a pen and pad that replace the mouse as a way of controlling your computer. (You can use a special mouse on these pads as well, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually uses them)

bambooFun_5

Wacom Bamboo Fun (in blue obviously!)

 

Some people just use it as a replacement for their mouse as it can help with RSI or just because they prefer the pen input over a mouse, but most people will use it in art packages for everything from photo retouching to painting their own Mona Lisa.

 

What’s in the box?

  • Bamboo Fun pen tablet
  • Bamboo Fun mouse
  • Bamboo Fun pen
  • Pen stand
  • USB cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Installation CD (includes tablet driver and electronic user manual)
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 Win/4.0 Mac
  • Corel Painter Essentials 3.0
  • Package of 3 replacement pen nibs

 

Wacom Bamboo Fun Specification:

  • Tablet Size:
    Small: 8.4" W x 7.3" D x 0.3" H
    Medium: 11.0" W x 9.3" D x 0.3" H
  • Active Area
    Small: 5.8" W x 3.7" D
    Medium: 8.5" W x 5.3" D
  • Pressure Sensitivity
    512 Levels
  • Resolution
    2,540 Lines Per Inch
  • ExpressKeys
    4
  • Finger-Sensitive Input
    Touch Ring
  • Color
    Available in Black,
    Silver, White and Blue

Quick tour

The setup of the Bamboo Fun couldn’t be any easier – it just plugs into a free USB socket and after the installation of the drivers you open up your favourite art package (or install the included applications) and start drawing your very own masterpiece.

At the top of the pad are ‘Express keys’ that you can customise in the drivers to do common shortcuts, and the big circular thing is the ‘Touch Ring’. This is used for things like zoom in and out, or scrolling – all very useful.

The thing that will take some people a little time to get used to is that the surface of the pad represents the whole of your monitor, so top left on the pad is the top left of the monitor and bottom right is bottom right. So unlike your mouse where you lift it and the cursor stays put, when you put the pen to the surface the cursor jumps straight there.

When you are just in normal applications or on the desktop then you can use the pen to single or double click just like you would with a mouse – the pen also has left and right click buttons built in.

bamboo-fun

This natural mapping and the use of a pen instead of a mouse make graphics tablets good for people who suffer from RSI as tablets provide a less physically stressful input method.

The pen is also pressure sensitive – in this case 512 levels of sensitivity – so in programs that support pressure information, they can translate the pressure that you applying and change the affects on the program. The simplest example of this is when you are in an art program and set it to use the pressure to set the transparency of the strokes – light pressure with the pen produce light marks, pressing harder with the pen produces heavier marks, very cool and very different to using a mouse.

Some other examples of things that the pressure can control include brush width and brush colour,  and these options differ from program to program, so I won’t even attempt to list all the possibilities here.

What this means is that using the pen is very much like using a normal pencil or paintbrush – with the big advantage that on a computer you can press UNDO 😀

bamboo_pen 

Wacom Pen

 

The pen also has an ‘eraser’ on the other end, which is also pressure sensitive – so if you want to rub out part of your art then just flip the pen upside down, exactly as you would if you were using a pencil in the real world. Very useful for erasing mistakes or softening edges.

The eraser is really a second tip, so if you want to tell the program to use that end of the pen for something different then you can.

And it’s not just traditional painting programs that can use these tablets either, some of the 3d art packages also support the pressure information to allow things like sculpting.

For anyone who’s worried about the pen nib wearing down, don’t as you can replace the nibs very easily – there are even 3 included in the package.

bambooFun_3

Bamboo Fun Controls

 

The Review

I’m primarily a programmer, but every now and again I do things like photo retouching, website design, game art etc, and so a couple of years ago I decided to have a look at graphics tablets.

Without question the most respected name out there was Wacom – but I couldn’t really justify anything expensive and in the end I picked up a cheap tablet from another manufacturer. I use it occasionally and it’s functional at best, and I’ve always wondered what a real Wacom tablet would be like.

The Bamboo Fun is targeting people just like me in many respects – people who don’t want to spend lots of cash, but like the idea of having a graphics tablet as an input device for doing their doodles or photo retouching. As the name says, Bamboo Fun.

The pad is dead simple to install, and once I’d realised that Wacom pens don’t actually need batteries, I was good to go. (Wacom tablets use their own technology that is different to other manufacturers)

I opened up my trusty art package and away I doodled. I tested out the pressure sensitivity input in all it’s various guises and generally made a very pretty mess of the screen. The ExpressKeys are useful for commonly used tasks, as is the Touch Ring, but being placed at the top of the tablet isn’t ideal – I realise that it’s there as otherwise they’d have to put 2 sets on (for left and right handed people) but they are just a little awkward at the top.

After a bit of playing I realised that something didn’t quite feeling right with the pen interaction. I decided to try the included software instead, as that would obviously show the pen at it’s best.

So I installed Photoshop Elements and once I’d worked out how to use the program and enable the pressure sensitivity stuff, I was away and doodling again.

Again something wasn’t quite right. The sensitivity of the pen at the light pressure end of the scale was a little poor, so it went from near zero to mid pressure with very little change in actual pressure on the pen. I tried holding the pen differently and tinkering with driver settings, but I couldn’t get it quite where I wanted it to be.

In a general input sense the pen was accurate enough though, so for actual input, the tablet is fine. The size of the working area might frustrate some, but at the end of the day if you want a bigger area, you buy a bigger tablet.

On a personal note, the other slight niggle was the feeling of the nib on the surface of the tablet. It felt a little ‘scratchy’ to me – but this might be improved with a different type of nib.

 

Highlights

  • draw directly into your PC, very cool
  • accuracy of the pen’s movement is something Wacom are well known for

Lowlights

  • it would be nice if the USB cable was a little longer
  • surface feels a little ‘scratchy’ in use – might be fixable with new nibs

 

Conclusion

As an input device to just replace a mouse the Bamboo Fun is fine. As a tablet for the occasional photo retouching or just messing around in art packages, kids will love it, then again it’s fine.

If you are looking to do lots of artwork and need delicate control from the pen, then I’d try another of the Wacom pads instead.

 

Review by: Iain

Posted in: Reviews
By October 5, 2008 Read More →

Eten Glofiish V900 review

Introduction

As Matt mentioned earlier I have been playing with the Eten Glofiish for the past week or so. This was the first time I had used a Windows Mobile device that wasn’t manufactured by HTC which was one of the main reasons for wanting a shot of this phone. Another reason was the full DVB TV which I’ll tell you more about as the review moves forward.

v900_main 
Eten Glofiish V900

The 10 second review:
Device: Eten GlofiishV900
Cost: SIM free only: £464.13 (Inc VAT) from Clove Technology.
Available to pre-order from: CLOVE technology (Go and buy one from here)
Summary: As far as Windows Mobile devices go this is fairly bog standard but then we look at the phone and see there’s just a little more to this than meets the eye.
Best of: DVB TV, Box & Packaging, GPS Folder (See below), FM Radio, SMS Service
Worst of: Screen Flicker, Bottom App Section

What’s in the box?

Well we wont go into too much detail about what’s in the box as we have an Unboxing Video already online.

Specification

Matt has posted the specs along with the  Unboxing Video already so have a look there before reading on.

General

The Eten Glofiish V900 didn’t really follow in the same design the other Glofiish handsets out there (not that there is a specific Glofiish design). Weighing in at 147g it’s not quite the lightest handset out there but saying that it really isn’t heavy either.

The front end of the phone boasts a large 2.8" 480 x 640 touch screen. Sitting at the top of the screen there is a front facing VGA camera for 3G Video calls and an earpiece grill which houses two system indicator lights.

v900_angled_right 
Angled view of Glofiish V900

The left hand side of the phone has just 2 buttons and the DVB antenna which looks like a stylus when tucked away. The button at the top is the rocker volume switch which I have to admit would have been better on the right hand side for comfort. The second button is defaulted as Voice Command but can be customised.

v900_left
The Left Hand Side

Moving over to the opposite side we find the power button, reset pin hole, MicroSD slot, camera button and the Stylus.

v900_right
The Right Hand Side

The top of the handset has nothing but a simple GPS logo etched in.

v900_top
Top View

At the bottom we find (from left to right) the 2.5mm Jack socket (please stop this device manufacturers), miniUSB port and the microphone.

v900_bottom
Bottom View

At the top left hand side on the back of the phone 3.1MP auto focus camera with the self portrait mirror, LED flash, and large speaker sitting just to the right of it. Underneath this lot we see the Glofiish name and windows logo printed on the removable part of the back cover.

v900_back
Back View

Removing the back from the phone allows you access to the Li-Ion 1530 mAh battery and simcard area. The first thing I noticed when removing the back cover was a label saying "Don’t Tear" which if I’m being honest I have no idea what it relates to but can only guess that its talking about a piece of plastic film that’s been stuck to the battery to make it easier to remove.. 

Highlights and Lowlights

+ DVB TV

+ GPS

+ FM Radio

+ Screen Size

– Screen seems to get brighter every now and again causing a flicker effect.

– Flimsy Antenna

– No full paper version of instructions

Review

The phone is priced quite highly which for me was a downside, even with the DVB and GPS. If I was to pick a group of people that would be interested in this phone I would go with the Windows Mobile fan who just wants a little more tech in his technology.

When I took the phone box out of its very nice "Special Delivery" pack and bubble wrap the first thing that caught my eye was a very simplistic yet eye catching box. In saying that I found it funny that the box told you where to buy it despite the fact that by having it you have already bought it (or had it for Free like us). Opening the box was very refreshing, no confuddle of leaflets, cables etc… just a very plain cardboard insert housing the phone which did however take me a wee while to get the phone out of there as I had not seen Matt’s video at this point. Underneath the initial cardboard insert lay a cardboard box which was very neatly packed with the cables and leaflets that normally clutter every other box.

Powering on the phone gave a very bright orange background which if you look at the glofiish website seems to be their trade colour. After running through the normal Windows Mobile set up it loaded the spb Shell interface which in general I am not a fan of but it was nice for a change to see it coming built in.

Navigation was very simple as you’ll find that all Windows Mobile systems handle the same way. The D-Pad wasn’t however just as easy to navigate with. I found this quite cumbersome and slow to respond. I decided that for the remainder of my trial I would only use it if needed.

v900_controls 
Angled D-Pad View

There were lots on nice things sitting inside the programs menu like the GPS folder which had a GPS viewer, Location SMS and Satelite Data Update tucked inside it. The next "nice thing" was the Multimedia folder which had the FM Transmitter, FM Tuner and Mobile TV Player inside. I played a lot with all of these tools and loved everyone of them. The FM radio needed no headset to play which was a great feature and the Location SMS was simply fun to use.

If asked to describe the Mobile TV Player I would say I have mixed feelings. After speaking with Matt we thought that it might only be possible to get this service working on London or Birmingham as those were the only 2 cities in the UK listed in the presets however after fiddling about with the settings a little more I eventually found a section that would allow me to scan deeper and low and behold I had Digitial TV working on the phone. This was met with a little annoyance as it did take over 10 minutes to scan and load the channel lists.

At the bottom of the today screen there is a section that contains nearly every app / program the phone has, I found this really annoying as I prefer to have a clean desktop but would admit that this could come in handy if your not as fussy as I am.

The MicroSD slot was a nightmare! I had to use the stylus to insert and remove my 8gb MicroSD as the slot was sunken so deep a mere mortals fingers would struggle to get anything in our out of it.

If you were to ask me what I would change on this phone I would say remove the D-Pad, remove the app /program launcher at the bottom of the today screen, include a paper user manual, fix the software on the Mobile TV to allow for a quick scan, sort out the MicroSD slot and more preset Cities and strengthen the antenna. Having said all that there are a number of features I would hate to have changed such as GPS, SMS and FM radio.

v900_aeriel_up
Antenna View

Conclusion

I used the phone for over a week and found it very easy to use. Having never used another manufactures windows mobile device I was surprised to see that there was so much that could be tweaked / customised from one device to another and that Eten took advantage of this. I enjoyed using the phone and despite it’s downsides and would honest still buy one for the TV & Radio systems alone. I think it was a very bold move for Eten to include the TV on the phone but I think it was a move which will pay off for them.

If you are interested in this handset then why not pop over to CLOVE technology where you can pre-order this handset for £464.13 (Inc VAT).

Posted by: John

Posted in: Reviews
By October 4, 2008 Read More →

Sony Rolly (mini) review and video

I have to say, when Sony asked me to review the Sony Rolly I’d never heard of it, when they then explained it to me it sounded like a terrible idea. However, when it arrived a week ago and I’d had time to play with it I decided that it was actually quite cool.

rolly_off

The Sony Rolly

 

So what is the Sony Rolly? It’s actually quite difficult to define. Is it an MP3 player? Is it a toy? Is it a bluetooth speaker system? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Looking a little like a rugby ball with wheels I expected the Rolly to be about that size, however, it actually fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

The Rolly has 1 or 2GB of internal memory (depending on the model) which can hold your MP3 music. To transfer the music to the Rolly though you’ll have to use the supplied PC software called Rolly Choreographer. There’s no MAC version of this. The Automatic Choreography feature uses 12 tone analysis and beat analysis technology to analyse music on your Rolly, and then automatically creates motion that matches the music. You can manually work on the choreography if you want using the software too.

rolly_end

Sony Rolly on its Cradle

 

When you turn Rolly on its arms open to reveal the built in loudspeakers that are on each end. Now Rolly can be used as media player without any dance movements or you can press the play button again and Rolly enters dance mode.

The display-less Rolly will play MP3 files, as well as ATRAC, streamed via Bluetooth from your computer or mobile phone. It also contains sensors that know which way is up, so that volume can be adjusted by turning the player clockwise or anti-clockwise, tracks can be changed by rolling the player forwards or backwards or shaking it.

It’s probably easier to show you what the Rolly is all about rather than tell you so have a look at the video below:

 

Sony Rolly unboxed and previewed

 

So how do we define the Sony Rolly? I guess you’d have to call it an entertainment gadget. Everyone seems to like it but then goes on to ask what it’s for!

rolly_with_stand

Rolly with its stand

 

Whether or not it’s worth the £175 price tag personally I would have to say no. Sony’s robot technology is spectacular and you’ll want to watch Rolly dance for a little while before it simple turns into and expensive set of bluetooth speakers. Granted the audio quality is good but for the price you could by a high capacity MP3 player and basic bluetooth speakers and still find change from the £175. I guess if you are a DJ or Club owner then the cost maybe more justifiable. Or maybe you just want to own one of R2-D2’s distant cousins?

 

Review by: Matt

Posted in: Reviews
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