Reviews

By April 1, 2007 Read More →

Parrot PHOTO VIEWER 7″ review

The Parrot PHOTO VIEWER 7″ is the bigger brother of PHOTO VIEWER 3.5″ that we reviewed last year. We liked the 3.5″ version as its compact size meant that it could easily sit on one of the desks in our office and allow us to upload the photos from our mobile phones via bluetooth.

Since then we have been looking to buy a larger photo frame that we can have in our lounge so were keen to try the PHOTO VIEWER 7″.

The Parrot Photo Viewer is unique in that it uses Bluetooth technology rather than a USB cable or SD card in order to upload and display pictures. Parrot have aimed this product at people with camera phones, giving them the ability to transfer their favourite photos from their phone to display them on the photo frame. Since the launch of the PHOTO VIEWER 3.5″ Parrot have done some work with the firmware running on the PHOTO VIEWER 7″ and have improved the bluetooth connectivity. The 3.5″ version suffered some problems in this department, often requiring a power cycle to get things working again. The 7″ does not seem to suffer the same problems.

Parrot PHOTO VIEWER 7"

At just 22.2 x 17.6cm the frame isn’t huge. It’s slim too measuring just 2 cm deep. However these dimensions include the frame, the LCD screen has an effective diagonal of just 7 inches and has a resolution of 720 x 480. This is a reasonable high resolution for an LCD of this size and therefore images look very sharp. The backlight is bright and evenly lit and can be adjusted to suit your needs. There is also a light sensor on the frame so that when the room is completely dark the frame goes in to a sleep mode where it simply displays the time. This is a nice idea if you are using the frame in a bedroom for example. You can turn this feature off though if you wish.

Available in 10 frame designs the frame can be used in either portrait or landscape and what’s more, the frame has a built in sensor that can tell which way is up and rotate the images on screen to suit; a pretty cool feature.

Parrot Photo Frame Designs

The photo frame is powered by the supplied mains adapter. There is a switch that allows you to turn the unit on and off. One thing that is did find strange and somewhat annoying is that, having chosen a black surround for my photo frame, I’m still stuck with a white adapter and power cable!

Parrot Power Cable

Uploading images via Bluetooth is dead easy. On my HTC TyTN I simply browse through the images I have saved and choose the one I want to send. Selecting beam file brings up a window where I can search for devices in range. Once the Parrot Photo Frame is shown on the list I click send and a few seconds later the picture is displayed on the screen.

Parrot Bluetooth

Transferring files from a PC is equally simple but gives you the added benefit of being able to send more than one picture at a time.

The Parrot Photo Viewer will accept jpeg images in a variety of sizes and will automatically scale them to fit the screen. That said, it is a good idea to resize large images on the PC before you transfer them to save space as the frame has only 128MB of Flash RAM available for images. 128MB Should be plenty of room for hundreds of images, however you can’t necessarily fill this all up as even if you are below the memory limit the frame will not accept more than about 500 images. This should be ample for most people though!

The photo frame has a built in menu system that allows you to change various settings, review and delete stored images alter the backlight brightness, etc. The on screen display is really intuitive and is accessed by three buttons on the rear of the frame. You can also alter how frequently the images are changed from 5 seconds up to a few hours. The one thing that we thought was missing from the slide options on the 3.5″ model has now been added to the 7″ so that you can now display your images randomly.

Photo Viewer Rear Buttons

The Parrot Photo Viewer is mains powered and comes with a slim power adapter. I would like to see a battery power option for this as it really is the ideal size for passing round to show people your photos. When most people see it for the first time they immediately want to pick it up.

The box for the Parrot Photo Viewer is also impressive and is ideal for anyone purchasing it as a gift for someone.

Parrot Photo Viewer Box

High-quality display
Featuring a high-resolution LCD screen with 720 x 480 pixels and 262 144 colours, the Parrot PHOTO VIEWER 7″ benefits from the TFT technology to guarantee you the highest level of rendering in terms of colours and sharp details.
It comes on during the day and switches off at night
An LCD screen gives off light, which can be a pain if you want to put it on your bedside table. The Parrot PHOTO VIEWER 7″ features a sensor that switches off the frame when the light level drops.

Technical and commercial specifications

Parrot PHOTO VIEWER Bluetooth® wireless photo viewer

  • High-resolution LCD TFT screen with 720 x 480 pixels
  • 262 144 colour display
  • Effective LCD size: 7 inches
  • Built-in light sensor
  • Compatible image format: JPEG (700 K to 7 M pixels)
  • 128 MB internal memory for storing over 100 photos
  • Stores over 500 photos in its internal memory
  • Automatic image resizing
  • Menus: Slideshow, Picture, Delete, Reposition, Language…
  • Fitting: free-standing or wall-mounted
  • Power lead
  • Automatically rotates the picture
    (portrait/landscape)

Bluetooth®

  • Built-in Bluetooth receiver
  • Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR
  • Bluetooth profiles supported: FTP, OPP and BIP
  • Receives pictures from up to 10 metres away
  • Pairing: not required with this product
  • Software updates by Bluetooth

Dimensions and Weight

  • Width: 22.2 cm Height: 17.6 cm Depth: 2 cm
  • Weight: 358 g (not incl. frame)

Processor

  • Samsung 2412 Microprocessor
  • Memory : Flash = 512Mbits – SDRAM = 128Mbits

Conclusion
I like this Parrot PHOTO VIEWER 7″ we have it sitting in our lounge at the moment. The images are very sharp and clear and colours appear very rich. The firmware is a great improvement over the old 3.5″ version. If you are looking for a digital photo frame then consider this one!

Matt

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By March 30, 2007 Read More →

JAVOscreen iPod screen protector review

Big thanks to Chris for this JAVOedge JAVOscreen review.

Once again, having only recently purchased a 2nd generation iPod Nano I was anxious to keep it looking pristine.

JAVOScreen

I was very impressed with how easy it was to fit the protectors. They are nice and thick making it easy to apply them without getting troublesome air bubbles. It also means you can remove them for cleaning, something you can’t do with thinner screen guards. A cloth is provided so that you can clean the screen before applying. One of the cool features of the protectors is that they are anti-reflective making it easier to see your iPod screen in daylight. Although the protector is thick it does not blur the screen. The pack also comes with a protector for the clickwheel.

Key Features

  • Keeps screen clean and protected
  • Anti-reflective
  • Scratch proof
  • Dust repellent and washable
  • Re-positionable
  • Durable
  • Overall: I am very impressed and feel confident the JAVOscreen will protect my iPod screen and clickwheel from being scratched.

    You can buy the JAVOscreen screen protectors from http://www.javoedge.com/reflexeshop/productCatalog/getProduct.do?poid=1012&pbmId=5606.

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    By March 28, 2007 Read More →

    Javoedge AlloyVision iPod case review

    Big thanks to Chris for this JAVOedge AlloyVision review.

    AlloyVision

    Having only recently purchased a 2nd generation iPod Nano I was anxious to keep it fit and healthy. The JAVOedge case is very easy to fit; all you have to do is slide the iPod in. I was initially skeptical that the iPod might fall out, but after extensive shaking I am happy to say that it stays put. There is a strip of non-stick material along the inside of the case to ensure this. There are cut-outs for the headphones, charger cable and hold switch. The jog wheel is exposed through a cutout. Most importantly, the case protects the screen, something that is missing from many hard cases. The case comes with a carry strap long enough to go around the neck (very good for the gym).

    AlloyVision

    Key Features

  • Very easy to fit
  • Does not add much to the size of the iPod
  • Provides the same protection as armor metal cases
  • Lightweight
  • Looks good
  • Screen is well protected
  • Available in five colours
  • Overall: I was very impressed and feel confident that should I drop or bump my iPod it would be well protected.

    You can buy the AlloyVision case from JAVOedge.com

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    By March 26, 2007 Read More →

    Orange SPV M700 review (Part 1)

    Edit: You can also listen to some other SPV M700 comments on our Orange SPV M700 Podcast.

    It’s taken a little while but finally we have been able to get our hands on an Orange SPV M700 to review. We’ve fielded a lot of questions about the M700 over the past few months so I’ll incorporate the answers in to the review.

    Orange SPV M700

    After a few false starts, the Orange SPV M700, which is the Orange version of the HTC Trinity/HTC P3600, was launched on the 19th February. There has been some confusion about the colour of the device but, as you can see below, the M700 is available in both black and white varieties. The black is aimed at business and the white at consumer customers. However the colour is the only difference between the devices.

    The M700 is the first device on the Orange network to have built in GPS so it is a little surprising that Orange are not shouting about this feature. In fact you’ll be pushed to find the GPS mentioned anywhere within the literature or on the Orange website. Furthermore, Orange customer service staff are struggling to get to grips with supporting this device many of them being unaware that the M700 has GPS capability. However I have been assured that Orange are addressing this issue and are updating their staff training.

    Upon initial inspection the M700 looks a lot like the SPV M600 being virtually the same size and having a very similar key layout. The most obvious difference between the two devices is that the M700 includes the front facing VGA Camera for video calls. Both the black and the white M700’s have a glossy finish with metallic accents on the bottom and sides of the unit. Size is where the similarity ends, the M700 is completely different on the inside!

    M700 vs M600

    Compared to the popular SPV M3100 the M700 is a little smaller and quite a bit thinner. It’s also quite a lot lighter than the M3100.

    M700 vs M3100

    M700 vs M3100

    On the bottom of the device you’ll find the Enhanced Mini USB (EMU) connector which acts as sync/charge as well as being the place to plug in the supplied headset. This proprietary connector has been a source of frustration to many but as most new HTC devices have this connector more and more adapters are becoming available to allow you to plug in your own headphones. Also on the bottom you’ll find the infrared port and the hole where you jam your stylus to reset the device. The full-sized stylus pulls out of the bottom of the device too.

    SPV M700 bottom

    On the left side of the device you have the Scroll Wheel which provides a useful way for scrolling through menus and emails. Pushing the wheel opens or selects the chosen menu or email. Below the wheel is the ‘OK’ button which functions more like a back button.

    M700 Left Side

    The right hand side of the device is home to the power button, Voice Speed Dial button Camera button and the miniSD card slot complete with protective covering flap.

    M700 Right Side

    Below the screen you’ll find the customary D-pad for menu navigation, two soft keys, the red and green phone keys, the Windows key and finally another ‘OK’ button. The D-pad on the M700 is positive and easy to use and, although it’s smaller than the one on the M3100, it sticks out that little bit further and is a little easier to use with your thumb.

    SPV M700 Keypad

    Turn the device over and you’ll see the main 2.1 Megapixel camera and slot for the loudspeaker. The rest of the back is seamless as the whole of the back removes, by popping upwards, in order to gain access to the battery and SIM card. This catches a lot of people out as they wonder where the battery goes!

    Opening the M700

    SPV M700 Back

    Camera
    The main camera is auto-focus so does not have the macro/normal switch found on many other HTC devices. This is handy as I always shot the first picture or two in the wrong mode. The picture quality is pretty decent, and is considerably better than the unit found in other devices at the moment. The M700 does not have a ‘flash’.

    Camera Application

    Battery
    The Battery in the M700 is physically quite large occupying a large cavity in the back of the device and is 1500mAh in capacity. In practice the battery life is impressive, compared to the M3100 the M700 lasts much, much longer.

    M700 Back Off

    Screen
    The screen on the M700 is 2.8″ diagonal and has a resolution of 240 x 320, pretty standard these days. However the screen is a lot brighter and more evenly lit than the M3100 and does not suffer from the yellow colour cast as on the M600. The contrast ratio seems a lot higher than on other devices we have seen in the past. This makes the M700 screen a pleasure to use.

    Software
    The M700 is powered by Windows Mobile 5.0 and by default has the standard Orange homescreen. I know that the Orange homescreen puts a lot of people off so it’s worth mentioning that this can be disabled in favour of the standard Pocket PC homescreen. I wont go through the software installed in the device as there is no real difference between this and any other device you might find at the moment.

    Orange Today Windows Today

    GPS
    I’m sure that most people will be reading this review in order to find out more about the GPS built in to the Orange SPV M700. In some ways the built in GPS unit could be one of the best kept secrets of this device. As we mentioned in past posts, even Orange retail are largely unaware that the device is GPS capable.

    In the early days we had a lot of emails from people that had just purchased their M700 and thought that their device was missing its GPS. Strangely the M700 does not have any GPS control panel or settings that would give you any indication that there is a GPS installed. Not even the Comm Manager offers any GPS information. Furthermore there are no GPS applications installed by default.

    M700 Comm Manager

    In order to try out the built in GPS you’ll have to install some third party software such as CamerAware, Orange SatNav or even Tom Tom. When you register your M700 you qualify for a trial of the Orange SatNav software, the details of which should be given to you when you register, if not you’ll find details on the Orange NAV page.

    Orange SatNav Orange SatNav Orange SatNav Orange SatNav Orange SatNav

    The GPS unit installed in the M700 is pretty good. It picks up a satellite signal quickly and tracks accurately, for the most part it will even work indoors. One tip with the GPS is that you do NOT need to turn on the bluetooth in order to use it, doing so will only drain your battery more quickly!

    The Orange SatNav software isn’t bad. It will give you directions to a destination and provides live traffic information. You should bear in mind that the Orange SatNav software uses your internet connection to download map and traffic information so could quickly become expensive. However it will give you the chance to test the GPS in your M700 if you don’t have any other software.

    It’s a lot more convenient to use the M700 with its built in GPS than to use a bluetooth GPS device.

    Accessories
    The SPV M700 comes with a few more accessories than you might expect. On top of the normal mains charger and USB cable you get a leather effect pouch style case and, rather unusually, you get an in car charger that plugs in to the car cigarette lighter socket. You also get the standard ‘getting started’ guide and a generic manual, neither of which mention the GPS much beyond defining what GPS means.

    Conclusions
    A lot of people have been asking me of the M700 is worth the upgrade. I suppose that the answer is ‘it depends’. It depends on what device you already have, and what you use your device for. If you have an M600 at the moment and you want a faster device with 3G and Sat Nav then the M700 is definitely worth the upgrade. If you have an M3100 and can live without the keyboard and you are looking for a GPS enabled device then consider the M700. As much as a like the M700, and it really is a pleasure to use with its fast processor responsive operating system, I love having built in GPS. However I cant do without a built in sliding keyboard.

    If you have decided to buy an M700 which colour do you choose? Well if you are a consumer you will only be offered the white device and if you are a business customer you will be told that you can only have the black one. If you really want the one that is not normally available to you then I would suggest that you speak to a team leader or retentions and ask for the one you want. Most people that I have spoken to have said that they have been able to get their preferred colour. Having played with both I would say that the white is the one I prefer. You may think that the black is the more practical when it comes to getting dirty, however the opposite is true. The black one attracts dirt and finger prints whereas the white one stays relatively pristine looking. It’s also worth mentioning that the black units have had some problems with the metallic paint flaking off around the keys which is something that has not been reported with the white one.

    White M700 Front

    Overall the Orange SPV M700 is a good device and if you are looking for an all-in-one gps phone then you should seriously consider this.

    Orange SPV M700 Specification

  • Dimensions (width x height x depth): 58.2 x 108 x 18.4 millimetres
  • Mass: 143 grams (battery included)
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Phone Edition AKU 3.0
  • CPU: 400Mhz Samsung S3C2442
  • ROM capacity: 128MB, including 61.02MB user-accessible non-volatile memory
  • Expansion Slots: miniSD, SDIO
  • Display: 240 x 320, 2.8″ colour transflective TFT
  • Supported networks: GSM 850MHz, GSM 900MHz, GSM 1800MHz, GSM 1900MHz, UMTS 850MHz, UMTS 1900MHz, UMTS 2100MHz
  • Supported WAN standards: CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.0
  • GPS: Qualcomm gpsONE
  • Wireless LAN: 802.11b, 802.11g 54Mbit/s
  • Main Camera: CMOS sensor, 1600×1200 (1.92 million pixels)
  • Front Camera: 640x480pixel, 20frame/sec
  • Battery: Lithium-ion, removable 1500mAh
  • Estimated Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Matt

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    By March 21, 2007 Read More →

    Qtek 8500 review

    Regular readers may remember the competition we held back in December where we gave away about 40 different prizes in the run up to Christmas. One of those prizes was a Qtek 8500 (aka HTC StrTrk) which was won by Mark.

    Mark decided to write a review of the Qtek 8500 and sent it over to me. So without further ado, here is Marks review:

    Having won the 12 days of Christmas Qtek 8500 prize, I thought I’d write a short (but belated) review of the device, as a thank you to the site.

    Qtek 8500

    The HTC Star trek was one of the more eagerly anticipated Windows Mobile Smartphones, and was probably given more web-forum time than many other devices before or since. The HTC Star Trek is also known as the Qtek 8500 or the I-Mate Smartflip. The prize itself and the basis for review is the Qtek 8500. This new device from HTC has a fairly recognizable slick design and unique looking keypad, which at the time was exclusive to the model.

    Qtek 8500 keypad

    The first impression you get of this device is somehow strange. Although the 8500 has a wide keypad, it’s not actually that easy to type out a SMS with one hand. The keypad is, if anything, too big! Unfortunately the flat buttons also ensure that you cannot type blindly. This is not a good phone for speed texting!

    Another bad point to get out of the way first is the lack of mini-usb. This phone has a new plug type which I don’t believe has a name. I’ve certainly not seen it before, and it’s a real shame that HTC have gone proprietary with this device. I’m not sure if this is down to space or just an attempt at yet another ‘standard’.

    Qtek 8500 Connector Qtek 8500 Connector

    The phone is also limited to a 64MB ROM, which nowadays is a bit old school. However, the phone does perform well regardless. Having used a Smartphone right from the original Orange SPV, I’m well used to the “features” of certain Smartphone’s, but didn’t experience any lockups or slowdowns with the Qtek.

    It actually seems a fairly well built bit of kit, and I’d certainly be hopeful of it surviving a clumsy butter-fingers moment!

    Camera

    The camera is 1.3 Megapixels in terms of quality, but don’t expect miracles. I’m not all that surprised – Smartphone’s aren’t known for their camera quality and in such a small frame, it was never going to be great. The standard “version 2” HTC camera app is included, and as usual, is jam packed full of features, many of which are missing from ‘dumb phones’. The various features and modes can help improve the photos taken, and a video mode is available, should you feel the need to take pointless clips for YouTube 😉 The photos themselves are stored in JPG format, the videos being MP4. The camera mode is also automatically suspended if not used, to save on battery life.

    Qtek 8500 Camera

    External Screen

    Under the camera we find a rarity on a Smartphone – an external screen, on which all kinds of information can be shown. As well as a copy of the top status bar, the screen also gives you the time and date, and status of any incoming messages. Media player can also be controlled via the screen and external buttons. Finally the screen is also used as a ‘mirror’ when taking self pics with the clamshell closed. The screen is genuinely useful, and a really good addition to clamshell Smartphone’s. There are some slight bugbears with it – for example the screens seem to be locked together – if you press an external button to turn the external screen on, the internal screen will also light up. I’m not sure why, but it’s a bit of a battery waste.

    Qtek 8500

    Internal screen
    The internal layout of the open clamshell is pretty standard – large screen up top, buttons down the bottom. The internal QVGA Screen is actually very impressive. Colours seem really vivid, and it’s one of the best screens I’ve seen on a Smartphone. Closing the shell, the springs fire the two sides back together, with two rubber grips used to lessen the bump somewhat.

    Keypad

    OK, let’s get the good point out of the way – the keypad does look good. However, it’s really hard to use! It’s actually too big to use properly, even typing numbers is taxing using one hand, and SMS is really hard work, not just because of the size – but the age old thin-phone problem of a flat keypad. It’s not tactile, so blind texting is a no no.
    Other than that, the keyboard is Smartphone standard – with two soft keys either side, and the normal Home and Back keys.

    Qtek 8500 keypad

    It’s also worth noting that the keypad is automatically locked when the shell is closed.

    Sides
    The sides of the phone are home to the volume controls, and a camera button. The flat-Mini USB port is also located on the side. The new style plug is a pain for any Smartphone veterans – yet another set of cables to source and buy.

    Qtek 8500 Buttons Qtek 8500 Buttons

    Speed
    This device very quick! I’ve used a large variety of different Smartphone’s, and this is right up there, if not the fastest I’ve used. This was surprising for me, as the phone only comes with 64mb ROM and a 200 MHz processor. Changing between applications is very fast and by starting up several applications at once, and really pushing it, the phone still copes admirably. The processor seems to work very well, even with applications which perhaps take up a greater percentage of resources, such as the camera. Equally the phone functions also perform well.

    Memory Card Slot
    The phone takes micro-sd, which again, appears to be a new, but fairly common standard. Unfortunately once again the card slot is located under the battery. I believe micro-sd cards are now available up to 4gig, making this a great mp3 player replacement.

    Qtek 8500 insides

    Speaker and hands free
    The speaker is pretty good really. As a veteran used to the problems with the Orange SPV E200 for example, most speakers are passable (!), but it is really clear and I was perfectly happy with it.

    The headset again, is pretty much HTC standard, but with the annoying flat-mini-usb connector. It’s low cost and feels cheap, but works as well as any other Smartphone hands free.

    Visuals
    The phone looks great. While there are still problems (its size is still too big), its brought Smartphone’s a lot closer to being “cool” in the Nokia-fans sense of the word. Whether you think that is a good or bad thing, I guess is up to you.

    Qtek 8500 half open

    Battery
    The battery is rated to 750mAh and really does an excellent job. Compared with other devices I’ve used – it lasts ages, I guess due to the fact keys don’t get knocked, and when not used, the screen stays off. Obviously turning on Bluetooth/GPRS and using the phone functions does limit the battery life, but I was still very surprised at how long it took to discharge, as the battery is so small.

    Software
    As far as I can tell, the software is completely HTC standard, and Qtek have added nothing to the ROM. Outlook and Activesync is included as normal on an accompanying cd, but software wise, the package is rather limited.

    Summary
    Positive points

  • Very fast
  • Very flat!
  • External screen
  • “Cool” look
  • Bluetooth present
  • Good multimedia properties
  • Great battery life
  • Negative

  • No Wi-Fi
  • Strange connection, non Mini-USB
  • Micro-SD card is under the battery
  • Only 64mb memory
  • Conclusion
    It’s a great phone, and a great prize. While it has its problems – the usb connector being a MASSIVE inconvenience, it look good, lasts days without charge, and feels expensive, and well built. I’m really quite surprised that the device isn’t more popular. Maybe this one passed under the noses of a lot of the Smartphone community, since it didn’t get an operator branding in some major markets? Available now from eXpansys.

    Mark

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    By March 7, 2007 Read More →

    T-Mobile Ameo review

    MSMobiles have managed to get their hands on a T-Mobile Ameo and have published a nice review of the new device.

    T-mobile Ameo

    As you can see from the photo above it’s by no means a small device!

    Is it a bird? A plane? A pocket pc? A phone? Well except for the bird and the plane it is all of that and more! Too big to be carried in your pocket as the everyday mobile phone but fast and feature rich enough to replace your heavy weight laptop for certain jobs you may have to do. Let’s figure out the pro’s and con’s of the T-Mobile Ameo, aka Dopod U1000 or HTC X7500!

    Check out the full review on MSMobiles.com

    Matt

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    By February 18, 2007 Read More →

    UMPC Group Test (Part 4) OQO model 01+ review

    This is the third week of our UMPC group test and this week I have been trying out the OQO Model 01+.

    OQO Model 01

    The OQO is the smallest and lightest device in our UMPC Group Test, weighing in at 421g and measuring just 134mm x 86mm x 23mm, bigger than a PDA but smaller than an ultralight notebook, the OQO Model 01 is an ultrasmall Windows XP computer that will appeal primarily to businesspeople who need applications with them when they’re out of the office.

    Unlike the other devices we had in the group test, the OQO has a built in keyboard and TrakStik–a small, rubbery joystick that controls the cursor. The keyboard is hidden under the slide-up screen which moves on a rack and pinion mechanism. The keys may be quite small but the OQO’s keyboard is easy to use. You won’t be able to touchtype but thumb typing on it is easy enough. The TrakStik is placed to the right of the keyboard, and buttons for left- and right-click are on the left.

    OQO Keyboard OQO Keyboard close-up

    At the heard of the OQO is a 1GHz Transmeta processor and has a 20GB hard disk. I found the OQO to be adequately powerful, it wont win any records but for Word, Excel and Outlook it’ fine and it will quite hapilly play back full screen video.

    The built-in 5-inch transflective screen has an 800×480 native resolution which is quite impressive looking considering the size of the display, the back light isn’t very even though with some noticeable light and dark areas. The OQO comes with a neat docking cable. This plugs into the bottom of the unit and provides connectors for an external keyboard, monitor, and speakers. The docking solution uses an unusual cable with a handful of ports (Ethernet, FireWire, video, USB, audio, and AC power input) spaced out along it.

    OQO Bottom
    OQO Dock Cable

    The main complaint about the OQ is that is runs quite hot during normal use. This makes it quite uncomfortable to hold after a while and you end up changing hands while using it.

    Another thing that’s differnt about the OQO is that the screen is capacitive rather than touch-sensitive. This means that you can only use the supplied stylus with it, you can’t use your finger or another pointing device on it. This can be rather frustrating when you just want to quickly tap on something on-screen. You also have to make sure that you calibrate the stylus correctly and it makes a big difference whether you are left or right handed when you use it. I struggled with the stylus accuracy on the OQO. The stylus is housed top right of the unit.

    OQO Stylus

    The OQO Model 01 has full wireless capabilities, both Wi-Fi (802.11b) and Bluetooth. There’s one FireWire and one USB port on the unit however the USB is 1.1 only, not the faster USB 2.0. There’s no video-out on the unit itself, this is provided on the docking cable, but the device doesn’t make for a good presenation machine.

    OQO

    The standard battery in the OQO lasted about 2 hours and the extended battery about twice as long. The battery seems to take rather a long time to charge and this too seems to develop quite a lot of heat. The power adapter is also rather noisy while the battery is charging, producing a high-pitched whine.

    Overall the OQO model 01+ is a decent device. WiFi and Bluetooth quality is better than the other devices on test both in terms of range/reception and reliability. On the down side the temperature that it runs at is the biggest cause for concern though, it’s probably a bad idea to allow the unit to chage within its carrying pouch.

    So come back next week to see how we rate each device side-by-side where we’ll consider thing’s like cost, warranty etc.

    OQO Closed

    Matt

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    By February 13, 2007 Read More →

    UMPC Group Test (Part 3) UBiQUiO 702 review

    This is the second week of our UMPC group test and over the last 7 days I have been using the UBiQUiO 702.

    UBiQUiO 702 Main

    Weighing in at over 1kg the UBiQUiO 702 is the heaviest (and largest) of the UMPC devices that we are reviewing in our group test. The 702 design is similar to the Samsung Q1, the screens are the same size and they share the same black gloss finish. The thing with the black gloss finish is that it looks great until you touch it afterwards it shows up all your finger prints!

    This week the UBiQUiO had a good outing as I have been out of the office on a CCA Training course. The 6 cell battery offers great endurance lasting around 4 hours with fairly heavy use. The issue with the 6 cell battery is that it adds a lot to the weight and size of the device as it sticks out from the back of the device although this can be useful when you have the 702 on a desk as it doubles as a stand.

    UBiQUiO 702 back

    The 702 has an instant advantage over the Q1 in that there is a built in mouse buttons and pointer control. This works really well when you hold it in both hands and allows for efficient navigation, of course you can still use the stylus and touchscreen too.

    UBiQUiO 702 mouse buttons
    UBiQUiO 702 mouse

    Whilst on the subject of using the device hand-held this is one area in which I found two potential flaws with the design. Firstly when you wrap your hands round the device to hold it you end up covering the CPU fan vents. Obviously this can lead to overheating. The other thing is the placement of the USB connectors. There are two USB sockets, one on each side of the unit. Both are in the exact position where you hold on to the device. This means that you can’t have anything plugged in while you are holding it, you can’t use USB keys.

    UBiQUiO 702 left UBiQUiO 702 right

    Like the Samsung Q1 the UBiQUiO 702 allows for text input via on screen keyboard or via Dial Keys but once again the relatively low native resolution of the display (800 x 480) means that the dials take up half the screen which limits their usefulness.

    In terms of accessories, you do not get a great deal with the UBiQUiO. There is the obligatory charger, spare stylus, wired headphones/microphone and a plastic desktop stand. The only other thing you get is a yellow(!) cloth bag to put the device in. This wont offer much protection!

    UBiQUiO 702 in the box

    The 702 offers WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Once again, setting up a bluetooth partnership with my mobile phone was an effective way to get internet access this device but bluetooth is the only way you will be able to achieve this with the 702 as there is no PCMCIA or CF slot to use for mobile 3G cards. Fortunately the bluetooth on the 702 is reliable.

    Although the bluetooth may be reliable the same cannot be said for the WiFi connection. Although the connection was easy to set up the connection would stop working at random intervals and at times would require a reboot to get it working again. Reception was also bad, even sitting close to my wireless router I could only get a ‘good’ signal, my laptop in the same place reports an excellent signal. With the 702 you’re stuck with WiFi as there is no ethernet socket to use instead.

    On the plus side the battery life is good while the processor is reasonably quick and the hard drive, being a 2.5″ unit, is fast when compared with the Samsung Q1. The screen is quite large and is sharp and bright, touch screen is accurate enough but the native resolution too low in my opinion. On the down side, the biggest problem with the 702 is the weight. 1.02Kg may not sound like a lot but after holding it in your hands for 10 minutes you begin to realise how heavy it is, just like carrying 10 mobile phones! WiFi performance is also poor and there is a distinct lack of external connectors for VGA and wired ethernet.

    Overall the UBiQUiO is a capable device but come back next week to see how the UBiQUiO 702 and Samsung Q1 shape up against the OQO model 01+ and I’ll be deciding which UMPC I liked best!

    Matt

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    By February 6, 2007 Read More →

    i-Mate JAQ3 review

    I finally got my hands on an i-Mate JAQ3 to review. The JAQ3 is a device that I have been looking forward to getting hold of. Most of the candy-bar with keyboard devices are Smartphones and I have always found the Smartphone OS somewhat frustrating. The reason for wanting the JAQ3 is that the form factor lends itself nicely to one-handed use but where it differs from similar devices is that it’s a Pocket PC Phone Edition device complete with a touchscreen!

    i-mate JAQ3

    The JAQ3, manufactured by TechFaith Wireless, has a very similar look to the extremely popular BlackJack, it’s just a bit bigger. In fact at 126 x 67.5 x 14.5mm the JAQ3 isn’t a small device. It may be pretty thin but in terms of width and length it’s not much smaller than the HTC Universal. If you compare to the Orange M3100 below you’ll see what I mean!

    JAQ3 compared to M3100

    Looking at the picture above you might think the JAQ3 is a bit of a beast but once you start using it it really doesn’t seem that big. This probably has a lot to do with how thin the device is but the weight also has a lot to do with it. At 145g on my scales it’s about 20% lighter then the M3100. The balance is pretty even and it sits in the palm of your hand quite nicely.

    The JAQ3 is a Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition device running AKU 3.2 and has just about every feature that you could want from a device. Just one exception – there is no UMTS/3G. Personally I dont think this is a big deal with push email the speed that the data comes down at seems less important and EDGE seems more than fast enough to browse the web. I know 3G is important to some people but I’d question how many people actually make full use of 3G.

    For those that need a faster connection method the JAQ3 has 802.11b/g WiFi built in. I don’t use WiFi very much but compared to other devices that I have the performance of the JAQ3 is very good both in terms of speed and range. I can use WiFi all over the house which is something that other devices can’t manage.

    Memory expansion on the JAQ3 is via the microSD card slot on the top of the device. The slot has a neat cover to keep the dust out and also stops the microSD card ejecting itself if you drop the device.

    JAQ3 microSD

    Another plus for me is the standard mini USB socket for sync and charge and the standard 2.5mm Jack Socket the device utilises for headphones. 2.5 to 3.5mm headphone adapters are much more common place than EMU adapters that you need for current HTC devices.

    JAQ3 sockets

    On the left hand side of the device you’ll find a scroll wheel, an ‘OK’ button and the camera button. I like the fact that a scroll wheel is included as I have become used to this on my HTC TyTN.

    JAQ3 Left

    The right side of the device has the USB socket, the headphone socket and the power button.

    JAQ3 Right

    The camera is a 2.0 megapixel unit on the back of the device. The image quality isn’t bad but there is no ‘flash’.

    i-mate JAQ3 Camera JAQ3 Sample Image

    One of the biggest reasons that I wanted to try a device like the JAQ3 was that I wanted to be able to use the device with one hand. I do like the keyboard on the M3100 but even with big hands it’s almost impossible to use single handed and the one thing I miss most about smartphones is the ability to text or email with one hand. The placement of the keyboard on the JAQ3 gets around this problem as the device fits nicely in that palm of your hand and allows you to use your thumb on the keypad. The keys are reasonably large and well raised, they also have a positive ‘click’ action so that you know when the button has been pressed.

    JAQ3 Keyboard

    As I mentioned earlier, the i-mate JAQ3 differs from similar devices of this type in that it has a touchscreen and runs Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Phone Edition where as devices such as the HTC S620 and the Samsung i320 are Smartphone devices without touchscreen support. I find that working with a PocketPC is much simpler and always found that the Smartphone menus and settings were rather awkward.

    The JAQ3 has an excellent screen, it’s sharp and evenly bright and there is no sign of the yellow colour-cast that can be found on some LCD screens. The landscape screen arrangement is a pleasure to use. The touchscreen is accurate and so far I have not experienced any alignment issues.

    The stylus is a decent size and is located on the bottom of the device.

    i-mate JAQ3 stylus

    The joypad is centrally placed below the touchscreen and is pretty easy to use. The action button in the middle seperate which is something that I prefer rather than having to press the whole joypad down. On either side of the joypad you’ll find standard softkeys and the start menu, email, ‘OK’ and Internet Explorer buttons as well as the usual red and green phone keys.

    JAQ3 softkeys

    Battery life of the device is pretty good. I have been getting a few days use between charges with average use. Battery life is helped by the relatively small screen and lack of 3G. Generally I would say that it’s on a par with most Pocket PC devices out there.

    Having used the device for a few weeks I have to say that the biggest drawback is the CPU speed. The 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processor feels sluggish and at times can be quite frustrating. Several times I found myself pressing buttons more than once thinking I hadn’t tapped the screen successfully the first time. However this wasn’t a button or touchscreen issue but the processor lag. You do get used to this after a while and I wonder if it’s more noticeable to me as I have been spoilt by 400mhz devices.

    In conclusion, the i-mate JAQ3 is a decent device that I enjoy using. I like the ability to use it with just one hand which is something of an advantage over the sliding keyboard devices. It is a rather large device but the fact that it’s thin means that you hardly notice it in your trouser pocket. The processor performance is a bit slow and the lack of 3G may put some people off. That said, I still like it and would recommend that anyone looking for device with a ‘front facing’ keyboard that you can use with one hand should seriously consider the JAQ3!

    The JAQ3 is currently on offer at Clove Technology and you can save £20 of the purchase price using our voucher code. Find the full details HERE.

    i-Mate JAQ3 Specification:

  • Windows Mobile for PocketPC, AKU3.2
  • 200MHz TI OMAP 850 CPU
  • Quad-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE
  • WiFi 802.11b/g
  • 128mb ROM & 64mb RAM
  • Stereo Bluetooth 1.2
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 2.0 mega pixel camera
  • 2.4″ 320×240 65k LCD Touch Screen
  • 1200mAh battery
  • Size: 126 x 67.5 x 14.5mm
  • 160g with battery
  • 150Hrs standby/4Hrs talk
  • Scroll Wheel
  • Matt

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    By February 5, 2007 Read More →

    UMPC Group Test (Part 2) Samsung Q1 review

    This week I have been trying out the Samsung Q1 which is the first device in our UMPC group test.

    Samsung Q1

    The Samsung Q1 was one of the first true UMPC devices to come to market. It has been around for a while and there is a new 32Gb solid state disk version coming out soon.

    The design of the Q1 is pretty neat and I quite like the gloss black finish. I lost count how many times people at work and even strangers on the train said to me ‘That looks cool, what is it?’.

    The main reason for me wanting to try a UMPC type device is that I want something that I can use hand-held as I often end up standing for at least part of my journey to work and using a laptop while standing is virtually impossible. I thought that a UMPC might offer the solution.

    The first disappointment about the Q1 was the control of the mouse. I thought that the control on the left of the screen was some kind of analogue stick and that would control the pointer. However, it does not! Despite it having an analogue feel it’s actually a digital control that acts like keyboard cursor keys. This is quite frustrating and I am obviously not alone in making this assumption as everyone that tried the device out all tried to move the pointer with this control.

    Samsung Q1 Controls

    You are therefore forced to use the touchscreen for pointer control. This is ok as the device is easy to hold with one hand while using the stylus with the other. General navigation is pretty easy with this method.

    Test input in the Samsung Q1 is via one of two methods, there is an on-screen keyboard for use with the stylus or there are ‘Dial Keys’. ‘Dial Keys’ are displayed on screen on the left and right and allow you to use your thumbs to type whilst holding the device with two hands. They take a lot of getting used to but I’m sure with time they could be quite an efficient input method. However I did find that the native resolution (800 x 480) of the Q1 limited the usefulness of the Dial Keys.

    Q1 on-screen keyboard

    Q1 Dial Keys

    While on the subject of the screen I am quite impressed with the quality of the LCD. It is sharp and clear and is bright and evenly lit. But still I do not think it’s native resolution is high enough.

    Q1 USB Keyboard

    The Q1 ships with an organiser pack and a USB keyboard. The organiser is a leather and suede pouch in which you can mount the Q1 and the keyboard. This seems like a decent idea but all this does is effectively turn the Q1 in to a laptop device which seems to me to defeat the object, especially when you consider that this also puts the weight up to about the same amount as an ultraportable laptop. It does however give you another way of using the device.

    Q1 Organiser

    One thing that I did think was a bit silly about the keyboard fitting in the organiser pack was that the USB plug was too big and stuck out of the side of the case which means that you have to unplug it each time you want to put the thing away. Fitting a slimmer USB connector would have solved this problem.

    Keyboard Plug Keyboard Cable Sticks Out

    Samsung claim that the battery life of the Q1, with the standard battery, is 3.5 hours. In reality I have been getting between 1.5 and two hours of use out of the Q1 with the power saving settings set to maximum. I initially thought that the battery was faulty but despite this being replaced by Samsung for a new one the battery life remains the same. This is a long way short of the claimed battery life.

    There are two speakers on the front of the Q1 and the audio playback is pretty decent. The audio is enhanced by SRS; the setting for which can be altered through software controls.

    Q1 Right Speaker

    One of the other things that I must have on a device is the ability to connect to the internet on the go. With the Q1 I simply set up a Bluetooth partnership with my phone and used that to get online. The Q1, unlike the other two devices on test, has a Compact Flash card slot on the top. Once CF 3G cards become readily available this with be a much better solution.

    Q1 CF Slot

    I struggled with the WiFi on the Q1. Despite the Q1 connecting to my 802.11g wireless router I found the performance quite poor, the range quite limited and it would also occasionally stop working all together. Luckily the Q1 has an RJ45 Ethernet socket so I was able to use this at home and work but this isn’t practical in a mobile scenario.

    Another thing that I really liked about the Q1 was the stand that is built in to the unit. Whilst working at home I was able to stand the Q1 next to my laptop and watch videos playback while I was working.

    Q1 Stand

    Yesterday I went to visit family that I haven’t seen in quite some time so before I went I loaded all of our photos on the Q1 and I then set up a slide show and passed the device around. This is so much cooler than taking your photo album with you!

    The built in VGA socket adds to the usefulness of the device. I can imagine that there are a lot of people out there that would want to take this device with them for presentations. You just need a standard VGA cable to hook the Q1 up to a larger monitor. This is something that I did earlier this week too! The VGA Socket is also hidden behind a flap which keeps the unit looking neat when you aren’t using it.

    Q1 VGA Socket

    Overall the Samsung isn’t a bad device. With practice I’m sure that I would get used to the other input methods and become more productive. I used the Q1 while walking around the office and it was quite useful to be able to still have proper PC apps. running on the device, which is something you just cant do with a Pocket PC.

    Come back next week to see how the Samsung Q1 compares to the other devices on test. We’ll also have a summary in a few weeks time!

    Matt

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