Friday, February 24, 2006

Gigabyte g-Smart

Gigabyte Communications Inc (interesting name choice - probably won't sound quite so good in 5 years) have launched a new smartphone - the g-Smart. This looks like a slick little device, and claims to be the first PDA phone featuring TV. To be honest, that has several connotations, so I'm not going to argue with them, but what we're looking at is a small Windows Mobile 5 device in a slider form-factor, and some interesting other features…

First of all, I'd like to point out, that looking at the product description on (Gigabytes website), it's easy to believe the handset has built-in GPS - it doesn't. It has PaPaGo G10 GPS software included with maps of Taiwan - you'd need to buy a separate GPS reciever to use the software.

The main selling point of the device though is that it's got a TV tuner which receives NTSC and PAL television signals, which as far as I'm aware, means you'll be able to receive analogue TV signals over here in England (by Analogue, I mean the 5 terrestrial channels). Neat eh?

Other things the device has… hmmm - an English - Chinese two-way dictionary. Nice thought, but not the kind of thing most people are looking for in a device. They could have possibly left this out, and left it to 3rd parties to supply it to those who really need it.

To show the numeric keypad, the phone incorperates the slider mechanism popularized in phones such as the Samsung E800, D500 and D600. I have to say the keypad doesn't really look that pretty.

The device is running Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC edition, which means it also comes with all the other features you know and love - Bluetooth (1.2), Touchscreen (262k, 240 x 320), WiFi (802.11b - the slow one), Intel Xscale 412Mhz Processor (pretty much standard at tho mo), MiniSD, 64Mb ROM, 64Mb RAM… There's not much this phone doesn't have - for it's size at least.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What is a smartphone?

Ok people, it's comment time. Since the first SPV, I've had a fairly certain idea of what I believe smartphones are - for me it's generally down to operating system alone. But the lines are becoming blurred, and I need to know what you think. If you want to know my thoughts on the matter, click on the 'read more' link below to read a short exchange between myself and Arne Hess - Publisher & Editor in Chief of the::unwired

The following follows a difference of opinion of the first Windows powered UMTS smartphone - the SPV M5000 in my opinion, but the ASUS P305 in Arnes.

Arne: The Universal is - by Microsoft's own definition - a Pocket PC Phone Edition (using Windows Mobile for Pocket PC) while the Asus P305 is using Windows Mobile for Smartphone which makes it the first UMTS Windows Mobile Smartphone. ;)

Me: Ahh, I see where you're coming from. Actually, I was wondering myself recently what actually defines a "smartphone". I guess it's been long accepted that the Microsoft OSs, Symbian Series 60, 80 and UIQ, and Palm all would make a phone a "smartphone" (in my way of thinking at least). But what with regular phones becoming better and better, the gap is certainly closing. Things that were once the domain only of smartphones - A fully featured internet browser, QVGA screens, QWERTY thumb-boards - have all been assimilated into the masses of "dumb-phones".

Perhaps it's the ability to run something else other than Java? How would you define it?

Arne: In the GSM world itself it was defined as or at least it was used as: Mobile Phone, Feature Phone Smartphone and you are right, the line between Feature Phone and Smartphone is fading out now. I would follow your suggestion that a Feature Phone might have a full Internet browser today but is running applications in a sand boxed Java environment only while Smartphones are a little bit more "open" and allows to run apps on the native platform (Windows Mobile, Symbian, UIQ).From the Microsoft point of view the Smartphone/Pocket PC Phone Edition definition was the following:Smartphone: Voice centric with data supportPocket PC Phone Edition: Data centric with voice supportToday I would define it as:Smartphone: Keyboard only inputPocket PC Phone Edition: Touch screen input which also supports additional keyboard support (today, with Windows Mobile 5.0)

So come on people, I know it's sunday (at the moment), but let's see some comments!


Via CoolSmartPhone, via The::Unwired (who place this as the first Windows Mobile Powered UMTS Smartphone - although personally, I take the view that the HTC Universal (AKA Orange M5000) recieves this honor) we have the Asus P305, an attractive 3G Windows Smartphone. Asus have been in the smartphone game for a long time now, but produce few handsets, and don't tend to have a great deal of success. In the UK, certainly, they're not well known for their smartphones. This model however has two advantages - it's one of only 2 Windows Mobile clamshells currently planned for release, and only one of 2 UMTS (3G) Windows Mobile handsets (providing it launches before the HTC Hermes). It's unfair to compare it to the HTC Universal, so for this overview, comparisons will be drawn to the HTC Startrek (AKA the i-mate Smartflip and the Qtek 8500)

First impressions are that it looks pretty good, but it has a distinctively 'ASUS' look about it. There's always something about their handsets that suggests there might be something missing - like it was designed according to the rulebook of smartphone design, but there's something impersonal and generic about it.

The ASUS P305 has a loudspeaker on the back of the handset, and the front of the flip includes an external screen and some media buttons, skip, play, pause - much like the Samsung E720. At the top portion of the flip, there is a camera, although ASUS have not released any details on the specs, and there's also a secondary camera for video calling built into the inside of the flip below the screen. The phone is also equipped with Bluetooth 1.2.

ASUS seem quite excited about the fact that the phone has software and hardware that can improve the "3G experience". The Maximum speed of UMTS is 384 Kbps, and the phone is able to take full advantage of these speed in both uplink and downlink (truth is, you will only get these speeds if you are the only person in range of a cell). I'm really not sure what they're going on about. The only thing that makes any sense is that the phone is powerful enough to remove any possible bottleneck of data at the phone end. Actually, I just checked ASUS' site and that's exactly what it is. They've stuffed in a powerful CPU, probably an Intel Xscale 412Mhz, and they're expecting a round of applause. I'd love to see what that does to the battery life.

Now in comparison to the HTC Startrek, the ASUS P305 obviously has some pros, and some cons, but while they're perhaps the most similar phones to each other due to their form factor, and the fact that they run Windows Mobile 5, they're not directly comparable. The HTC Startrek is a simple stylish smartphone, that can deliver more than it promises - I'm sure there are people out there reading this that have had smartphones for years and never used it to even remotely its full capability - but the point is it can do a lot of things very well, so it appeals to a lot of people. The P305 kind of balances on a knife-edge. It's the only phone ASUS have released in a while, and they're attempting to fill 2 niche markets with one phone. What they've ended up with is very bulky, kind of gormless looking, and is likely to have problems from trying to push the envelope of what it's trying to do. I just can't imagine the battery lasting a day if you make a few video calls and listen to some music. Even if it has a lower voltage Texas instruments CPU. My guess is that this will encounter problems and never launch, and if it does, be picked up in limited quantities after better devices have launched.

Verdict: Nice try ASUS, but you may want to stick to motherboards.


2Gb SD cards hit new low price!

2Gb cards have hit the lowest price I've ever seen - click the pic and link to E-buyer to check it out - £47! And no, I'm not being paid any sponsorship $$$ :( I still remember when it cost £50 for an extra 512k of RAM for my Amiga 500...

Friday, February 17, 2006

AnexTEK SP310

The dope just got doper with the introduction of the AnexTEK SP310 Pocket PC phone. Look familiar? Yeah, except they read my mind and bumped up the CPU to a beefy 520Mhz, included a 2 Megapixel camera, pushed WiFi up to 802.11g (the fast one) and GPS, making this an ultra-phone. Not sure why they felt they had to paint 2 of the keys though. This should be released later in the year, and with a 3G version heading out after.

HTC Startrek

The HTC Startrek is the companies first attempt at a clamshell smartphone. The only popular Windows smartphone with a flip form-factor that I can think of (in my country anyway) is the Motorola MPx200, and I think flip smartphones have a definite market, so it's interesting that HTC have never produced one before. The first to rebadge the handset (as nearly always) will be i-mate, dubbing the model the "i-mate Smartflip".

For the Startrek, they've obviously gained a lot of influence from the Mororola V3 RAZR, as many manufacturers have - not only is it very slim at 15.8mm, but it's barely bigger than a V3 in the rest of its dimensions. The keypad is also reminiscent of a RAZR, with that acid etched metal thing going on. And athough I have to admit that the keypad does look cool, if it's anything like the V3, I won't find it comfortable to use.

What else do we have… Well it's got a Texas Instruments OMAP CPU, which due to its lower power consumption, seems to be an increasingly popular choice over Intel Xscale processors. Bluetooth is of course included,however no WiFi on this one - EDGE is as fast as it gets. Screen is a standard QVGA 320 x 240, and the last point of interest is a 2 Megapixel camera.

It doesn't really get my mouth watering, but there really is a gap in the market for this phone, and there will be people who jump all over it. As with many things, if it's done right, it will draw in sales.

Orange SPV M600 screenshots

I keep going on about this one, but CoolSmartPhone just posted a bunch of pics of a real live SPV M600 (aka the HTC Prophet). This will serve as a replacement to the excellent Orange SPV M500 (aka HTC magician). Man this thing looks good.

Update: Qtek have now launched the HTC prophet under the name 'Qtek S200'.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Helio Hero and Helio Kickflip

Both of these via Engadget, the Helio Hero (left) and the Helio Kickflip (right). I'm not sure if they're smartphones, so this is just a quick heads up, but they look nice, and the interface looks very well designed (Orange take note). They're both 3G, and feature a swivel mechanism like the Sony-Ericsson W900i.

Nokia N92

I've been wanting to write about this phone for a while now, but what with all the furore over CNET and all the exciting new phones, I haven't really had a chance to scope it out.

The first thing that you notice is the dual-hinge form factor, reminiscent of the Motorola MPX although in actuality it is ever so slightly different in design. The next most striking thing in my mind, is that you half expect it to have a QWERTY keyboard - After the recent deluge of communicators, I'm almost glad it doesn't.

Like the HTC Trilogy It's designed to stream TV shows over the air. Nokia have decided to go with the DVB-H format, which is more efficient than the UMTS streaming we have now, and sends packet transmissions in short hi-speed bursts. And on the Nokia N92 you've even got the ability to record up to 30 minutes of the TV you watch onto the phone memory, and a 30 second replay feature. Woohoo!

The screen has obviously been included with a mind to high quality video, with a 2.8" 16 million colour screen, with a fairly standard 320 x 240 display. Admittedly, I'm surprised they didn't include a higher resolution screen. They were probably thinking that it would impact the quality of the streaming video, and I know that the network providers will prefer you to stream, but the N92 supports Mini SD up to 2Gb! A better screen would have pushed this a lot further in my opinion.

The internal memory is 40Mb which is ok for a device like this, but to use the device to it's full potential, you'll need a MiniSD card for things like music and movies. The phone does however come with an FM radio, which I think is great. I used that feature a lot on my Ngage, and I know a lot of people who listen to radio on their phones. It's a lovely extra, and surely can't cost much? I love that feeling that as long as you have your phone, you can never be bored…

Here's a list of the file formats the Nokia N92 supports:
  • Music: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, Real Audio, WAV, Nokia Ring Tones, AMR, AMR-WB, AMR-NB, AU, MIDI
  • Video: H.263, MPEG-4, H.264 AVC, Real Video
  • Images: JPEG, JPEG2000, EXIF 2.2, GIF 87/89, PNG, BMP (W-BMP), MBM

  • The camera is 2 Megapixel and has a flash as well which I think is probably just about perfect for this kind of device, and the battery… Ah the battery. This is where I start to worry. It's possible that if they use the same BL-5C batteries that other Nokias use, a spare would be easy to pick up. But while the phone has an estimated GSM talk time of 4 hours, and a standby time of 14 days, the watch time is 4 hours. With talking watching and standby, is this going to be enough? Maybe. I hope so at least.

    It doesn't have the old kind of batteries :(

    Sony-Ericsson W950i

    Now for a big review. Sony-Ericsson have crossed an iPod Nano with a phone - more precisely, a P910i. This phone is seriously going to blow everything away, and the only thing that even comes close is the Nokia N91, and the HTC Muse. So why am I going so crazy? This phone is the 6th Walkman phone to be released by Sony-Ericsson, and features:
    • 4Gb of flash storage
    • Touchscreen
    • UIQ operating system
    • Dedicated music buttons
    • Stereo Bluetooth
    • UMTS (3G)

    Let's go through the finer details, shall we?

    Firstly, this device runs Symbian OS 9.1 and the UIQ 3.0 platform - in other words it's the same operating system and interface as the the P990i, and very similar to the P910i, P900 and P800. This means it utilizes an intuitive touchscreen environment which is easy to pick up, but can be powerful enough for office features - also making it the perfect GUI for a music phone. In a marketplace where everyone must compete against the likes of Apple and their all conquering iPod, Sony-Ericsson needed an equally user friendly menu system for their equally powerful brand.

    The large touchscreen provides a quick way to search through songs by artist, genre, or even Album cover. And the coup de gráce is that the stylish, dedicated music buttons can control the music playback whatever else you happen to be doing with the phone, regardless of application.

    Next, we have the 4Gb of flash memory, which is gonna be more than enough for most people - although if not, there's no external memory slot, so you're stuck with 4Gb. This of course is not the first phone with 4Gb of flash memory - that title goes to the HTC Muse. It's not even the first phone with 4Gb - excepting the models on the Asian market, the Nokia N91 has a 4Gb microdrive.

    Flash memory is a more popular choice than a Microdrive because it has no moving parts, which means it's less likely to break, and it consumes less power. These days, it's reached a price at which it can compete with the older more established hard-drive based technologies. The device also features USB 2.0, and a drag and drop interface, which makes it that much easier to transfer files.

    The other main way to transfer songs however, is likely to be over the air from the network provider. Companies like Orange already have a number of music phones compatible with their itunes style web and WAP based service. Using a 3G phone like this will make it quick and easy to go from humming an old favorite, to logging on, buying it, and playing it back. The main filetype used for this is the ultra-small eAAC+ format, which compresses a track down to less than a megabyte generally while keeping "CD quality". There are however no specifics as to what filetypes are supported yet.

    The last point of interest I'd like to cover is that there's no camera, which while initially surprising (and in some cases annoying), shows that Sony-Ericsson, are moving away from "do everything" devices, into more niche markets such as business phones, and music phones. Wonder what we'll see in the future?


    Sony-Ericsson M600i keyboard

    This via PhoneScoop, It appears that the keys on the Sony-Ericsson M600i are little rockers - a bit like light switches. Previously it was assumed that it used a predictive system similar to a lot of Blackberry devices - but no, it's actually a fully fledged QWERTY keyboard. Phonescoop reckons it works better than the Motorola Q or the Samsung i320 - even after a few drinks!

    Orange SPV M600

    Yep, the HTC prophet has been picked up by Orange, and announced as the Orange SPV M600. A very good move by Orange in my opinion (in case you're wondering, that nasty Orange software should be removable).
    If you want the details, you can read my HTC Prophet review here

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Nokia messaging devices

    Nothing new here, just me jonesing over stuff I don't really need, can't really afford, and might well not even use - but damn these are cool.

    Bluetooth keyboards are nothing new, but have always always been cool, and this one is white, which makes it match my PSP. It also has Little Nokia buttons, and a "disconnect when folded" feature.

    The other thing is a pen, which writes like a normal pen, but records what you wrote to either send as an MMS, or to upload to a PC. The bad news? Only 1Mb, which is roughly 50 pages of A4. I know the pen doesn't sound so good, but maybe they'll bring out a new one soon with 128Mb and OCR built in? That would be cool.

    Nokia E60

    This is weird, I don't feel like I should be writing about this one - after all, it's a "no-nonsense" phone right? The kind that businessmen want, á la 6230i, right?

    Well kind of. This phone is designed to be the successor to the 6230i in that sector, and like the other E series (maybe E stands for Enterprise? Possibly not, as Nokia are a Finnish company, and wouldn't bother naming all their product line in English) there's no internal camera. But, the device does run Symbian Series 60 - what's so good about it?

    Well firstly, it looks like Nokia's putting a lot of effort into making this phone robust and reliable, which seems to include battery life although I believe a talk-time of 6 days is either wildly optimistic, or a typo.

    Either way, it supports WLAN, 3G, and GPRS, it has 75Mb of internal memory (why this phone and not the N80 I have no idea) and RS DV MMC, a 352 x 416 pixel screen, and Bluetooth 2.0. From the way they phrase it, I'd say that this is going to be one of the first phones on the market with the capability to switch seamlessly from WLAN (for voice over IP) to 3G and GPRS. Big things Nokia, big things.

    The last thing of note, is that it supports different screen modes, landscape, and portrait, and the phone is designed with rubber thumb-grips on the keypad for an ergonomic when using the phone in landscape. Looks like all phones are finally getting smarter.

    HTC Trilogy

    Ok, this is a bit of a sneak attack on HTCs side. The name Trilogy doesn't appear on the companies' Holy grail roadmap, although Trinity is there - so it looks like HTC have changed the name at the last minute.

    But again, HTC have proven that they're on the bleeding edge of mobile devices, this time with a phone that streams live TV and DAB radio over IP. That's right, proper TV like E4 and that. For some reason it's going to Virgin Mobile over here, who aren't even a real network, but a virtual one, running over other peoples networks.

    Now I know what you're saying, yeah yeah, it's been done before. But the exciting thing about this one (apart from the fact that it looks weird) is that it's running Windows Mobile 5.0 with everything good that that entails. I guess it reminds me of a 7610 in a way.

    The last thing is, I wonder if the ability to stream is network locked, or application locked? Or is it locked at all? Hmmm.

    Ipaq hw6510

    While I'm jonesing about QWERTY PDAs, it would be as well to mention this device. Unlike most of the phones I write about, this one is actually available now, and has been for a while. The downside is that it runs Windows Mobile 2003 SE, which means no push email. If that's not a big deal to you, you can take advantage of inbuilt GPS (woot), An SD slot AND a MiniSD slot (weird - MiniSD come with converters), Bluetooth, EDGE, a respectable 64 Mb ROM and RAM, a large 3.0" screen, and a slow, but do-able 312 Mhz Intel Xscale processor.

    All this could be yours for the bargain price of £314.

    Samsung SGH-i320

    Wow, there's some big competition hotting up with the smartphone communicator market. I'd guess partly due to the enhanced features of Windows Mobile 5.0 (such as push email), all the big names are bringing out a new Windows based QWERTY communicator.
    Samsungs effort looks a lot like the Motorola Q, which it has been rumoured may never see the light of day. The downlow according to Coolsmartphone is a 1.3 megapixel camera (bad for the business market?) MicroSD, 320 x 240 touchscreen, Bluetooth, etc etc. Looks good, no?

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Nokia Series 60 OS matrix

    Happy valentines day everyone - Just a quick post before I go off to do other stuff, but I made this yesterday to help with the renovation of SmartphoneZen and thought I'd put it up for my and your benefit. BTW, the new flash interface is done, and it looks pretty good. It's not up yet, but maybe in another month or so?


    Friday, February 10, 2006

    BenQ P50

    I think it's time for a review of the BenQ P50. BenQ are a Korean manufacturer who took over Siemens mobile division in 2005, and they've made never made a Microsoft OS based handset before. The device was scheduled to launch in early 2005, but has been delayed until now. Like a lot of phones, if it had been launched on time, it would have been something exceptional, and while it's a well designed device, there are certain factors which let it down in todays marketplace.

    The first issue is that it's not running Windows Mobile 5, but Pocket PC 2003 Mobile SE. The second factor is a minor issue, and that's the small amount of flash memory available (about 13 Mb). That's really not much really is it? This is a pretty damn good phone.

    It has a touchscreen, and as you should have noticed, a fairly large QWERTY thumboard, comparable to a Treo 650. It's also backlit. It has Wifi (802.11b - the slow one). It has Infrared. Why do I mention this? It's "User infrared". That means it's proper infrared that works at more than 3 feet away. AND it comes pre-loaded with software so that you can control any other infrared devices - your TV, your stereo, other peoples TVs… It instantly becomes that much more useful.

    It has a 1.3 Megapixel camera with a flash. Ok, that's not incredible, and I have no idea what the picture quality will be like, but are you starting to picture how this phone would have blown all others away a year ago? Even the touchscreen uses fairly recent technology to minimise the space between pixels, so you get a clearer sharper image in less space (compare an XDA II with an iMate Jam, and you'll see what I mean). Also the processor is a standard 412Mhz Intel Xscale, which will be fine for 95% of the things people use PocketPCs for, including video, Quake, and most emulation.

    It is slightly heavy at about 179g, and of course the keyboard means it's taller than some devices (although, I think in quite a good ratio). There's a camera button on the side, and a rubber-covered USB port, but for some reason, the SD Card slot is at the bottom. Uncovered. Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling that you'd lose more SD cards that way. I guess the final thing to say is that there's a 2.5mm headphone jack, which means you really have to search to get decent headphones that work (although I believe Expansys has a nice converter for about £10 if you can find it).

    Yeah, I'd say this was a pretty good phone!

    Nokia N71

    Nokia have decided to release a clamshell device for their flagship N-series. Before we start, I'd just like to point out that on paper, the N80 is better than the N71 in every way. Just to get it out of the way, the N80 has a higher resolution camera, a higher resolution screen, WiFi, more internal memory, and is slightly smaller to boot.

    But let's concentrate on what the N71 does have. It's 3G like every other N-Series phone. It has a 2 Megapixel camera with a flash that will be perfect for many mobile users, which - judging by the recent quality of cameras on Nokia devices - should give excellent picture quality. I'm also pleased with the positioning of the camera. Sometimes a manufacturer places the camera on the bottom part of the flip (ala Z1010), and the shooting angle is slightly different from the viewing angle. In this case, it's in the optimal position, allowing enough room for the secondary display.

    The external display is very high quality, allowing an impressive 65,000 colours. And it doesn't have one of those infuriating black bezels that make the display look larger than it is, when it's inactive - instead it's got a nice metalic frame. Many manufacturers use OLEDs for external displays, preferring the low power consuption over aesthetics. However, I'm not sure about this display, as it looks too good to be OLED. If it is, I'm impressed.

    The internal screen is a respectable 262,000 colors, and a fairly standard 320 x 240, which although the defacto resolution for Pocket PCs for years, has kind of seeped in to other formats. The handset itself has a paltry 10Mb, and for some strange reason, expanable memory is supported in the MiniSD format! Have Nokia given up on the MMC format?

    Now lets have a look at the software. Symbian Series 60 handsets are generally quite capable devices, and Nokia are really good at developing software in stages - the kind of thing where if you've used Nokias for 3 years, you'd expect them to be present in another handset. Nokia have included a very flexible music player which supports… ready? WMA, MP3, eAAC+, AAC+, M4A, MPEG-4 ACC LC, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, 64 polyphonic MIDI, RealAudio Voice, RealAudio7, and RealAudio8. I think that pretty much covers everything apart from Grandmas gramophone collection.

    Nokia have also included their "visual radio" software. While listening to the radio with this feature activated, you'll get to see certain images and information from participating stations - things like Album covers, text, competitions, and anything else they can think of. Cost permitting, his sounds like a splendid idea. Apart from that, Series 60 will be pretty much as you last saw it - which is a good thing.

    Verdict: If you want a clamshell, and you want a Nokia, you can't really go wrong. But… If you want a Nokia, and you don't need a flip, the N80 really does rock.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    What happened to... #1 The Motorola MPX

    Whatever happened to the Motorola MPX? Well nothing obviously. There are rumours that it was launched on the Asian market, in Malaysia and some other small countries, but as far as I know, nobody has imported any. In early 2004, the Motorola MPX was going to be THE phone to buy, bar none. At the time the closest thing was the HTC Himalaya (the XDA II), and the HTC Blue Angel was a twinkle in HTCs eye. So where did it all go wrong?

    First, lets look at the specs of the machine that crushed the dreams of gadget junkies around the world:
    Most obviously, it has a fantastic dual-hinge mechanism, that lets you open it like a conventional clamshell phone, or if you close it and re-open it, like a communicator. The Nokia N92 does this now, but the MPX was 2 years ahead. Once opened, you have an impressive QWERTY keyboard, with numbers displayed at an angle - depending on which way you open it, it activates the entire keypad, or in the phone position, just the numeric keypad. Pure genius.

    It was also (I believe) the first phone with integrated WiFi (802.11b - the slow one) It had a classic 320 x 240 LCD touchscreen displaying 65,000 colours, suprisingly reasonable battery life, a 1.3 Megapixel camera (gasp!), an SD card slot, Bluetooth, and of course it ran Windows Mobile Pocket PC 2003.

    The major major letdown is the onboard memory - a ridiculously poor 32Mb RAM, 32 Mb ROM - and it was a little heavy at around 180g. I still feel that if they upped the RAM, it could still make an impression on the market - but only just. 2 years ago, it would have killed everything dead. Without a doubt, the best phone Moto have EVER made.

    So what went wrong? Well, no-one really knows for sure. One story goes along the lines of China banning the use of unapproved WiFi devices, and Motorola pulling the MPX from the market (and refusing to remove the WiFi). Some say that the dual-hinge couldn't stand up to real world usage. Other people think that maybe it was just a bit too OTT for the communicator marketplace at that time. But if you want, check out what devices your network had in 2004. It just doesn't compare.


    HTC Artimes

    HTC Have about a billion phones planned for this year, and this is one of the more original designs - the HTC Artimes (I'm not sure if that's supposed to be "Artemis" - likely as there is another device known as the Hermes). The dope on this one is that it's packing GPS, and a little trackball instead of a joystick.
    Admittedly, we're not talking a quantum leap in mobile technology here, but it's the first phone I've ever heard of with an analogue control system, and it should work well with the GPS navigation.

    The other thing that I'm wondering, is that if it uses a trackball for the GPS navigation, is it possible we'll see a little mouse pointer in Windows Mobile 5? Nah, I doubt it.

    The other bits: Edge is as fast as it gets, with Bluetooth included and a 1.3 Megapixel camera. Expandable memory is via MiniSD, which is a bad bad thing. But not as bad as Transflash.

    Samsung SPH-V8200: Stupid.

    Samsung have made an 8 Megapixel cameraphone, for a niche market of NO-ONE. This is because any professional photographer probably wouldn't use a cameraphone to take photos, and anyone else just doesn't need an 8 Megapixel camera.

    Lets be honest, how many people actually need pictures with a print-size of 10x8 inches? The second point is, that a raw image file 8 Megapixels in size is roughly 45Mb. So if you wen't out and got yourself a 1Gb SD card (which are admittedly quite cheap), you'd be able to store about 20 images on there. Not a great deal.

    Samsung say that the picture quality rivals high-end (professional) digital cameras, which I find hard to believe. It's hard to get really good results from a small lens, and there are many other components that make up a good camera. It seems to me that this "Megapixel race" between Korean manufacturers is a publicity "proof of concept" stunt, which unfortunately has been pushed onto consumers. Until harddrives are standard in mobile devices, or flash storage like SD gets a chance to catch up, I don't think there is a need or a space in the market for this kind of device.

    And anyway, it's not even a smartphone.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    HTC Prophet on sale!

    Does anyone want to buy a kidney? The HTC Prophet is on sale over at Expansys, and I want one ASAP. The price is higher than I'd hoped, but about what I expected. So if anyone wants to buy my XDA II for about £435, let me know, ok?

    P990 delayed for extra goodies

    Just a quickie, The P990 has been delayed to the second quarter, but the good news is that they're packing in extra stuff. When it's released now, it should be compatible with ActiveSync, and RIMs Blackberry Connect service (the email push thing). Although it doesn't seem like much, this could really push the P990 to stellar heights - it will be compatible with nearly everything (hopefully Apple, like the previous P-series handsets), and be a massively powerful and flexible device. It really does seem like nothing is going to be able to match this.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Hyundai iBIT U250

    Ah, something original; the Hyundai iBIT U250. iBIT stands for "Inovative mobile terminal Beyond Information Technology". First of all, there's no Bluetooth, which is really a bit silly. But the device is otherwise well-rounded, with EV-DO, 64Mb RAM, and a massive 512Mb Flash ROM for storage, a 2 Megapixel camera with flash, GPS built in, text-to-speech software, and a P900-style active flip.

    The thing seems to be really dainty, possibly smaller than an HTC magician, and the operating system is Windows CE.NET 4.2 for some reason, rather than Windows Mobile 5.

    The thing really does look pretty, although previous owners of Windows Mobile touchscreen devices may be lost without the lack of a joystick when the flip is open. From the photos I've seen, the device looks pretty well put together, and appears to be plastic. There's no data I can find on expandable memory either.

    The other major gripe is a lack of WiFi. Here are the full specs as we know so far:

    • 320 x 240 touchscreen

    • 2 Megapixel camera with flash

    • Windows CE.NET 4.2

    • 64Mb RAM, 512Mb flash ROM

    • EV-DO

    • Text-to-speech software

    • 400Mhz Intel PXA273 CPU

    • Active numeric flip

    • GPS with pedestrian and vehicle mode

    Lastly, this phone is only available in Korea, and you will probably never have one.


    Blimey, those folks over at Engadget have a load of Treo information, including Linux running on a Treo 650, and a new non-HTC Treo made by Inventec. There's not much more to add, but it looks very interesting, especially the Linux-powered Treo.

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    New Palm Treo - the 800p?

    This via There are rumours of a new Palm-powered Treo, which judging by the specs, could be a worthy successor to the Treo 650, and a breath of fresh air to Palm fans. Featuring a 320 x 320 screen (yay!), EV-DO and WiFi, this could be the Palm device to regain a slice of the market. Of course rumours are only rumours, and everyone knows that even if a manufacturer does make a device, we still may never see it...

    Nokia N80

    It seems that after Samsungs continued success with the "slider" form factor, Nokia have gone ahead and decided to make as many slider phones as possible. On the smartphone end of things, we have the Nokia N80, which, if you like your Series 60 smartphones (and don't we all? How I miss my 6600…) is positively mouthwatering.

    The N-series is Nokias flagship range, and when they do something, they tend to do it right. First of all, we have a 3 Megapixel camera with flash - which may well be the first 3 mega-pixel phone to launch in the UK. It has increased functions, among which are red-eye reduction, and a 20x digital zoom. Whew!

    I'd like to point out here, that 3 Megapixel is probably the optimal size for a camera-phone. A lot of people will only be viewing their photos on the phone, or another digital format anyway, and in that case, 3 Megapixel is massive (a printed photo would be about 8x10 inches). Any bigger, and you're taking up valuable memory space, and in many cases, the time in-between shots is too long for anyone with even moderate patience. Anyway…

    The screen, although small has startling clarity with 352 x 416 pixels, and 262,000 colours. That makes it more than a match in terms of screen quality than almost any other smartphone, which coupled with the size of the device (95.4 x 50 x 23.4mm) is nothing less than remarkable.

    The memory has improved over the old standard 10Mb for older Series 60 handsets, and is now 40Mb. While this is a drastic improvement, it's probably not enough. A decent quality photo at 3 Megapixels will take up about 9Mb. Not only that, but the phone needs this memory free to run, most programs need to be stored in this memory, and by default, this is where yyour personal information will be stored (calendar, contacts etc). I know that Nokias reasoning is, that the phone has expandable memory in the form of RS-MMC (Reduced Size MultiMedia Card), and less memory will keep the cost of the handset down. But how many people are going to take 4 photos and wonder why their phone doesn't work? Hmmm.

    It's 3G, which among todays smartphones is pretty much a given, although it has WLAN too (yay!) and it plays a large number of music file-types: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, M4A/MP4, RealAudio, WAV, and WMA, and in keeping with the emergence of so called "music-phones" it has dedicated buttons so that you can control playback with the device closed. But if you do plan to take photo's and listen to music, you'll need a damn big memory card.

    The last thing I'd like to draw your attention to is the fact that the standby time is a respectable 9 days. If that's holds true, then with moderate usage, it looks like this could be one handy little device. If you're a series 60 fan, I have no doubt you'll love this thing.

    Samsung SGH-i750

    It looks like Samsung may have finally gotten round to releasing their PocketPC device with a sliding form factor. If you're into smartphones, you may remember the models that never got released. I'm not sure off the top of my head, but I think it was the i300 and possibly the i730. the point is, it was a good idea at the time, but releasing it now is a case of too little too late.

    The main thing is, it's running Pocket PC phone edition SE, and not windows mobile 5. Don't get me wrong, for a phone with that operating system, it kicks ass, and that's fine. But it's a slightly odd thing to release.

    Main gripe aside, it's got some good stuff: of course it has a touch screen, a slide out numeric keypad, a 2 mega-pixel camera with flash, Bluetooth 1.2, EDGE, WiFi (although it's only 802.11b), and you can connect it to a TV with the video-out function. The best (or at least most innovative) feature I've seen though, is the native ability to overclock the CPU! This device is pretty fast anyway, but the good folks at Mobile-Review managed to overclock it to 520Mhz with no loss of functionality! Not sure if overclocking is covered in the warranty - although I guess it should be…

    The last thing it's got going for it is that it's small. Smaller (although slightly thicker) than an HTC Magician in fact. And it takes Micro SD cards (TransFlash) Bleaahgh...

    Nokia E61

    Looks like we have another Blackberry contender here, and Nokias first attempt at this kind of handset (I'm not including the communicators). The first impression I got was that it has a nice big screen (240 x 320), looks pretty big, but for an email-communicator, it looks really nice. I'm also thinking that being designed so obviously for office-based functions rather than multimedia, the processor probably isn't too fast.

    Out of the 5 "key features" the two that stike me are that it has a backlit keyboard (good), and a ridiculous 16 million colours . I mean seriously, is there any way the human eye can differentiate that level of colour depth? Doubt it… another very prominent feature is the lack of a camera. This again shows the marketing direction, with many workplaces banning camera-phones amidst fears of data theft.

    The phone has WiFi built in, which to be honest is becoming a common although very welcome feature, whereas the phone itself is 3G. The phone has an impressive 75Mb of phone memory, and support for MiniSD cards, which given the office-centric skew of the device should be plenty.

    The last function of note is the increased support of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel - likely to be geared more towards opening and viewing email attachments rather than editing documents, but you never know.

    Sony - Ericsson M600i

    Aha, so that's it. The mystery Sony - Ericsson phone (see my post a few days ago) has turned up on Sony - Ericssons site. Click the pic for full deets, and thanks to Marcus for the hookup.

    Mmmm, looks nice - and comes in black and white to match your iPod and your PSP.

    Update: as Dwayne has been yelling, this device doesn't have a camera, so it looks like it's being marketed as a mobile office device.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Fujitsu - Siemens Pocket LOOX T810/T830

    This is from Mobile-Review again, and we have news of Fujitsu-Siemens moving into the smartphone/PDA market. Both the models are manufactured by HTC, and the only difference between the two is the lack of a camera (The T830 has a 2 megapixel camera, the T810 has none).
    They both have GPS, which is still fairly uncommon, and as you should be able to see in the picture, a QWERTY keyboard. But as in the case of the Treo 700w, that screen looks decidedly square...
    yep, it's another 240 x 240.

    Other goodies include Bluetooth 2.0, W-Lan 802.11g, and 64Mb of RAM.

    Sony - Ericsson P...

    I don't know exactly what this is yet, but according to mobile-review, it's a cut-down version of a P990 sans camera, and if you look closely at the photo on the right, you'll see that the keys have a blackberry style keypad.

    I'd say that it looks very nice, and there's bound to be a market for p910i/p990 users who don't need all the bells and whistles, and prefer a more basic handset.

    The other point i'd make, is that the p910i already supports push messaging, but networks in the UK don't. So while this interface is a novelty, in theory, the same capability exists. But that still hasn't spurred any UK networks to embrace it (as far as I'm aware). Will this keyboard make a difference? We'll see.

    Oh yeah, when can you expect to see this? 2007.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Palm Treo 700w

    Back at you Motorola: The new Treo 700w.
    Now Treos have been doing the QWERTY thing for a long time, and this device may not be as thin, but it's certainly gonna be a tough fight between the Motorola Q and the 700w.
    What the Treo would usually have in its favour is the massive Palm fanbase, but on this occasion, Palm have done something inconceivable - they're releasing a device running their competitor's (kind of) operating system.

    Yes, the Treo 700w runs the same operating system as the Motorola Q - Windows Mobile 5. One of the main disadvantages of 700w is the screen size - a miniature 240 x 240 compared to the Motorola Q's 320 x 240. (just in case you didn't know, the defacto standard for Windows Mobile devices is currently 320 x 240, and has been for years.) And this means that if you plan to install and use a lot of software, many games and applications may not run, or be unusable with this screen resolution.

    Dimensions-wise, I'd say the Q comes up trumps again. The Q is obviously much thinner, but has a slightly larger face than the 700w - but not much bigger. The killer is the weight, and that's a big issue for many. The Q weighs in at 115g, where as the 700w clocks in at a hefty 180g - over 50% heavier!

    The one thing the Palm may have over other phones, is that it runs EV-DO, so that if your network supports it (none do in the UK right now), you can have speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps. (I can't figure out whic revision of EV-DO the 700w is). Also, the battery life is usually excellent on Treos - for the 700w Palm reckon about 4 hours talk-time, 15 days standby, but real-world usage often slashes the ideal testing stats. The processor is a reasonable speed, but nothing special (Intel Xscale 312Mhz), the RAM is what you'd expect - 128Mb Flash (for music, videos, documents etc) of which you can actually use 60Mb, and 64Mb ROM (I think you can stuff about 25Mb in here, and this is where you want to put your applications - the ones that work that is...), and it has a 1.3 mega-pixel camera, Bluetooth and infra-red.

    Verdict: Motorola Q kills the 700w dead in almost every respect. Where the Treo would once be the obvious upgrade choice for Palm fans, this model steps into a market where all the competitors have been doing the Windows Mobile thang for a lot longer, and by now have reputations. The screen cripples some features that for many would be the sole reason for buying the handset. I think I know where Palm are aiming however - the office professional. And lets face it, the only device really threatened by this handset is the Blackberry. For anything other than basic office functions, there now exists a better device.

    Motorola Q

    I've been scoping the Motorola Q, and here's the downlow: it looks like a cross between a RAZR and a Treo, it runs Windows Mobile 5, and it's got a 320 x 240 display (65k colours), which looks kinda square to me.

    Now, I say it's a cross between a RAZR and a Treo, Motorola are marketing this as a RAZR smartphone. It's obviously aimed at the same kind of customer who dug the V3 RAZR, but needed more flexibility.

    The other obvious target market are Blackberry users. For those of you who missed all the hype, Windows Mobile 5 has some important improvements: Microsofts plan is to integrate mobile devices with the rest of your Microsoft network, including a more seamless interaction with Microsoft Exchange - in a nutshell, if you set it up right, you can get your email "pushed" to your handset, like Blackberry. Cool.

    The specifications tell us that it's the thinnest QWERTY (keyboard)
    device in the world at 11.5mm. Yeah, that sure is thin. And in this case, the reduction in thickness has a direct avantage: The surface area of the face of the phone is increased (ala V3), Which in this instance is a good thing. Because then you have more room for that sexy looking keyboard. The blank space at the bottom looks like it might be something to do with the battery. I'd guess that space makes one handed use more comfortable.

    Bluetooth 1.2 makes an appearance, which is good to see. Motorola have an excellent range of Bluetooth accessories, so it's in their best interest, but I really think that most of the innovation (good and bad) for Bluetooth products these days comes from Motorola.

    The other thing that Motorola keep doing is putting transflash in their handsets.
    I mean it's not enough that Sony insist on jamming Memory Stick Duos in everything they make, but now we have to have another memory format - one that is more expensive, uncommon, and has very little benefit over existing formats. I mean yeah, it's smaller, but I don't really care. An SD card is about the right size.

    The last thing I'll say is that the phone looks good now, but so did the MPX. And you don't see many of them, do you?

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    i-mate JAMin / XDA Neo

    Ok, it looks like the HTC Prophet is going to be released by O2 at some point as the XDA Neo, and also by Imate as the Imate JAMin. This looks like good news, especially as the suspected retail price is $500 - $550 (about £280 - £310). The specs are still slightly confused, depending on your source, but they don't vary an awful lot.