Entries Tagged as 'Smart Phones'

Smart Phones

If you’re looking for a smart phone, you’ve got lots of great choices now.

Whether you’re interested in an Android based phone, a Windows Mobile 6.5 based phone, or holding out for a Windows Mobile 7 based phone you really want to take a look at HTC.

I believe HTC phones are available on all the major US carries, and most all the smaller regional carriers (your selection might vary).  Internationally you can purchase an unlocked GSM version — and several of the HTC handsets are multi-band, multi-format.

HTC innovated the smart phone interface; and the worlds most popular smart phone (the Apple iPhone) appears to have “leveraged” off the work HTC did years before.  What, you thought Apple created that gesture based user interface all by themselves?

HTC built the first Android based phone; HTC released the first Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (and supplied upgrades for a number of Windows Mobile 6.0 phones); and it looks like HTC will release the first Windows 7 phone (there are already rumors).

Other than the Motorola Droid (which HTC already had shipped a similar phone) HTC phones are the “hot ticket”.

I have an older HTC phone — the 6850, aka Touch Pro — and I love it.  It’s been upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 and works well.

A smart phone provides me with the ability to keep my contacts synchronized (without having to attach my phone to my computer), get quick answers on to questions on the Internet, be alerted to email (or read and send email for that matter), use mapping software (or act as a full blown GPS since I have Garmin loaded as well), check fuel prices, check the weather, and tether my laptop when I can’t get a free WiFi signal.  I guess I could use my phone for a multimedia player (video and audio); but that’s not a requirement for me (but you could — and I’ve played with streaming audio and video to my phone, so I wouldn’t be limited by the 8GB flash card I added to it).

Today smart phones are a viable solution for people who want more than just voice communications in their pocket, and don’t want to carry multiple devices.  Over a decade ago my friends and I “dreamed” of a convergence device that would give us PDA, data, and cellular all in one — today that dream is a reality.

Originally posted 2010-01-14 01:00:20.

Smart Phones

I have a great deal of respect for what Apple’s ability to re-invent itself and market form (over function) to the masses… and I’ve underscored many times that *nix based operating systems will likely never gain critical mass until they have a cohesive environment for the user (as Apple has done with it’s Unix based OS-X).

But respect doesn’t mean I’m going to “drink the Kool-Aid” and believe everything Steve Jobs tells me.

Clearly Jobs does an exceptional job creating devices with glitter and glitch and making the gullible believe that Apple pioneered the technology and that consumers simply cannot get along without purchasing it (and purchasing a new upgrade every time a new bell or whistle is added).

The bottom line is Apple creates nothing… Apple puts a shinny new coat of paint on existing technology, brands it, markets it, and calls it their own.

Apple isn’t driven by innovation, Apple is driven by greed — almost makes you wonder what inadequacies Steve Jobs is trying to compensate for.

And certainly (as I’ve posted) the iPhone is one of Apple’s greatest charades!

Serious smart phone users wouldn’t consider an iPhone as anything more than eye candy; both Windows Mobile and Android devices are far better choices for a serious user.

The next time you walk down the street and see someone sporting an iPhone don’t laugh too loud you might give them a complex — I fear most iPhone users are like Steve Jobs, and feel a little inadequate.

Originally posted 2010-06-14 02:00:25.

My Droid 1 Does Gingerbread

I decided that the state of the Android 2.3.2 (Gingerbread) development for the Droid 1 had reached a point that I was happy enough with the stability to put it on the Droid 1 I use day-to-day; so I flashed in Peter Alfonso’s GPA12 build last night along with this overclocked kernel modification.

Without the overclocked kernel modification Gingerbread seems just a little sluggish on the Droid 1… usable, but far from snappy.  With the overclocked kernel modification it’s fine.

There are a lot of small feature improvements in Gingerbread; and I believe still the only official release of it is for the Nexus S (the Samsung Galaxy S class phone that’s Google branded and unlocked — I have one of those as well, but it’s a GSM phone, so I use it to travel abroad since my US carrier is Verizon Wireless — CDMA).

Keep in mind to use any custom ROM on your Android phone you do have to root the device… that’s generally pretty easy on most devices (particularly on the Droid 1).  There’s little to worry about, and you’re not likely to brick your phone as long as you follow the instructions (you might want to read over them a few times before trying, and if you’re not clear on something find another set of instructions).

Let me end by saying the Droid 1 is an incredible device — it’s well built, and a great value… while it may not have all the whizzy new features you find on the front line phones, until we get to second generation Android LTE handsets, I think I’ll be happy.


Originally posted 2011-02-22 02:00:45.

Sprint 4G Surcharge

So I was looking at Sprint devices, plans and coverage — they have the Samsung Galaxy S 4G handset, and their model includes a slider qwerty keyboard (I really like keyboards on smart phones)… of course we’re talking about Sprint’s network, which has marginal service in this area and no 4G within about 300 miles (and likely no 4G for a very long time any where around here) but the interesting thing is they still insist on charging a $10 4G surcharge for plans on 4G phones even when the phone is used in 3G service areas…

Personally I feel that if a cellular company is going to charge me a surcharge for enhanced speed (and features) that I should be getting those features…

I don’t think I’d be too keen on Sprint for anyone of a number of reasons…

Let’s see, first and foremost would be a horrible experience with Sprint and Sprint’s billing practices when they first started.  And their CEO can keep apologizing about it, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t tend to try Sprint unless they offered me a deal that was just incredible (and charging me for a service I’m likely never to get isn’t a way to make me feel like it’s a deal I can’t refuse).

Then there would be the fact that their service and coverage here is abysmal — even worse than AT&T!!!  In fact, their service is so spotty they actually caution you about it on their web site when you go to browse phones and plans.

Then, they choose WiMax rather than LTE (like the rest of the world).  Though since they’re depending on Clearwire for WiMax services and Clearwire has been showing more and more interest in LTE (and ditching WiMax — which probably doesn’t make Intel happy) who know if Sprint will actually really keep rolling out WiMax or shift to LTE.

Anyway; I like the Galaxy S… but I’m holding out for HTC to make a high end Android phone with a slider and I’d prefer it to be a CDMA/GSM/LTE handset.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 02:00:34.


Nokia has announced a launch of the MeeGo (N8) smart phone by the end of Q3 2010… and they stated that it will not be using Android, nor will they be shipping a tablet any time soon.

Nokia, once a dominant force in the cellular handset market, has seen it’s profits eaten away by Apple, HTC, and Motorola…

Here’s a bullet list summary…

  • On the N8: The N8 is more of a high to mid-range smartphone. It will be launched before the end of Q3. It will be available in the US, and carrier partnerships will be announced at a later date.
  • On MeeGo: The first MeeGo phone will be announced before the end of the year and will be a “milestone product” for the company. Nokia’s done a lot of work on the interface and done away with a lot of the “legacy” of Symbian.
  • On Android: Nokia has no plans to use Android on its smartphones. End of story.
  • On tablets / larger phones: The company’s made “no decisions” on entering the market. Savander seems to think larger screened smartphones are awkward.
  • On netbooks: The Booklet 3G was priced a bit high, but they are still in the market.
  • On 4G: Nokia has no plans to produce WiMax devices, but LTE will be a big focus.

One thing is certain, if Nokia doesn’t re-capture a larger part of the smart phone market soon, they may see the window of opportunity closing; and one has to ask the question why not capitalize off the Android hype?

Originally posted 2010-08-14 02:00:05.

Kit Kat – Android 4.4 / 4.4.2

My Nexus 4 and my two Nexus 7s updated to Kit Kat about a month ago and other than Google+ becoming far more pervasive I can’t say I’ve really seen any improvements that matter much to me (yes, I’m aware that “under the hood” there are some substantial changes)…

Some things I have noticed (that I’m not happy with) are:

  • Bluetooth shuts off and cannot be turned back on until you reboot the device.
  • Bluetooth will disconnect and reconnect (by itself) from devices that worked perfectly under Jelly Bean.
  • Devices reboot periodically by themselves (without asking for confirmation — probably more often than you realize since you’re not using them continuously).
  • Devices freeze; sometimes they respond after a couple minutes — sometimes you have to power cycle them (I haven’t had a case where I had to force a reboot yet).

I’m hopeful I won’t see this on my Nexus 5 (when I start using it after the first of the year), but from what I’ve read in the forums I’m not the only one seeing stability issues with Kit Kat, and it appears to be on all devices that have received updates — including the Nexus 5.

I’m afraid this is another case of people who work on Android not really using (or testing) the product well before it hits the street — and while I don’t feel that Google employees working on Android should be forced to trade out their iPhones, I do feel that a substantial number of the engineers working on Android should have to use the latest release (maybe replace their desk phones with cellular handsets that run the latest Android version to help debug the hardware and software).

Bottom line — you might want to hold off on your move from Jelly Bean to Kit Kat until Google releases a few more updates.


Android: Kit Kat

Originally posted 2013-12-30 08:00:58.

SyncMate 3

I’ve written about Eltima’s SyncMate before, but they released a new version about a month ago, and I’ve spent some time using it and decide that it’s well wrote revisiting.

SyncMate 3 is very similar to SyncMate2; it’s an excellent utility for keeping your Mac synchronized… particularly if you have an Android phone, Windows phone, Nokia phone, depend on Google for services, etc.

Like with the previous version of SyncMate you may find that the free version has all the features you really need; but the low price of the Expert Edition might make you just go ahead and buy it for one of the useful features included with it.

The only major disappointment I had with SyncMate 3 is that it didn’t migrate my sync accounts and setting from SyncMate 2.  That’s not really an issue for most people, but I had a large number of sync devices setup in SyncMate 2 and I had customized the icons and settings quite a bit for each of the test devices.

Beyond that… SyncMate 3 worked, and worked well.

I really couldn’t test the direct Android sync since I use Google to sync my Droid; and I highly recommend you do not try and sync both directly and via Google – you’re not going to be happy with the outcome (and I guess there isn’t any real way for SyncMate to detect you’ve entered the same device twice).

One of the things I use SyncMate for is to synchronize multiple Google accounts; actually I had one main account, and prefer to have the contacts from it pushed to the other account (which are used mostly for Google Voice).

The list of features is long, and you’re much better off to view them on Eltima’s web site than have me try and list them here.

While the software is very easy to use, you’ll find that it supports a number of sophisticated features — and really what you do with it is limited to your imagination more than the software.

This is a company and product that I believe is well worth taking a look at.

SyncMate 3

Originally posted 2011-02-19 02:00:59.

DROID Doesn’t

Motorola has confirmed that the upcoming DROID X and the DROID 2, unlike the original DROID, will require digitally signed ROMs.

Great going Motorola; you may have killed one of the most successful handsets you’ve had in years.

The original DROID became almost an overnight sensation with the Android community because it was a well engineered smart phone, featuring Android — and a keyboard..

Many serious phone users and hackers alike purchased the DROID because they could use it as an Android test and development platform since they could flash their own custom built Android ROMs into the device — thus avoiding the need to wait for Motorola (and the carrier) to issue updates.

It looks like the Android community won’t be very accepting of the new DROID X or DROID 2, and they’ll purchase the DROID at fire-sale prices or all move over to the HTC handsets (including recycling HTC Windows Mobile handsets).

We understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with Android system development and re-flashing phones. For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes. At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers, and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.

The use of open source software, such as the Linux kernel or the Android platform, in a consumer device does not require the handset running such software to be open for re-flashing. We comply with the licenses, including GPLv2, for each of the open source packages in our handsets. We post appropriate notices as part of the legal information on the handset and post source code, where required, at http://opensource.motorola.com. Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years. This practice is driven by a number of different business factors. When we do deviate from our normal practice, such as we did with the DROID, there is a specific business reason for doing so. We understand this can result in some confusion, and apologize for any frustration.


Originally posted 2010-07-15 02:00:07.

SyncMate – Expert Edition

Several weeks ago I took a look at the free edition of SyncMate, and I had some fairly good things to say about it.  In fact, I was so impressed with it that I started using the free edition to synchronize my Windows Mobile device.

Eltima Software contacted me and offered me a license for the expert edition to enable to me more fully explore the capabilities of it (and to write a more in depth post about it).

I agreed, and here’s what I found…

I decided that this would be a fairly comprehensive test; it would involve a number of different operating systems, and synchronization environments.

The operating systems I tested were:

OS-X 10.6.1 (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit)

Windows Vista (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 2003

Windows XP

Windows Mobile 6.5 (HTC Touch Pro 2 – XV6875)

Windows Mobile 5.1 (MotoQ)

Outlook Look 2003, 2007, 2010 on the PC

Entourage 2008 on the Mac

Windows Contact / Windows Calendar (on Vista and Windows 7)

Live Contacts / Live Calendar (on Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows 7)

FireFox (Windows)

Safari (Windows and OS-X)

Additionally I took a quick look at iTunes and iPhoto (even though I don’t use either of those normally); and I took a quick look at Google synchronization (including synchronizing to an Android handset).

It’s a long list, and I assure you that the coverage of the tests were not exhaustive — but rather concentrated on suites of versions that would be most commonly found together (though I have a reasonably good feeling that unless there were some real flukes, the sample of tests I performed are probably indicative of all combinations).

My first test was to synchronize my Mac Book Pro with my Mac Pro… I’ve never really put any effort into making sure that the contacts and such agreed between the two, so I install unlocked the free version of SyncMate I’d installed on both and proceeded to enable all the plug-ins.  After fighting with both iPhoto and iTune (you wouldn’t need to worry about that if you actually used them they would have already been setup and ready to sync). the little spinners started and in just a few minutes I had everything on both machines (which also included all the calendar and contact information I’d gotten from my smart phone to start with) in sync.

I went ahead and disabled iPhoto and iTune for the rest of my tests — I’d seen it work, and certainly synchronizing those would easily be covered with the folder synchronization (which was a more generic test — but of course it was nice that the iTunes/iPhoto sync could be enabled with a simple click).

I decided next to see what the various versions of Windows and Office Suites would do… so I brought up virtual machines using various OS images and installed versions of Office in them.  I setup the Windows component of SyncMate and then decide to just do everything at once — so I added all the machines to SyncMate on the Mac Pro and hit the sync button.

It took a few minutes, but then on every machine in either (or both) the Windows Contacts and the Outlook Contacts there was a full copy of my contacts; as well as files I’d put in a test folder.

Things were going very well, so now I turned to a couple Windows Mobile devices.

Both were easy to setup via USB, and both synchronized perfectly (frankly I was a little surprised when the MotoQ running Mobile 5.1 worked as well as it did).  So then I tried WiFi sync on the XV6875 — worked just fine (there’s a nice feature of the SyncMate driver on the WinMo device that will tell you the IP and name of the device if you need).  Next was Bluetooth synchronization… and unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that on either device — during setting up the connection I kept getting “Uncompatible Device” (a newer version of SyncMate has corrected the awkward english construction; but unfortunately I still cannot use Bluetooth synchronization with either my XV6875 or Q), so I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, but I would consider Bluetooth synchronization more convenient than WIFi — though I generally use USB since I can charge the device as well.

Then I decided to try a few more scenarios from the SyncMate feature list.

Folder synchronization with a USB flash drive worked perfectly.  And from that I’d be fairly confident that iTunes/iPhoto/folders could be synchronized to any USB (disk) device.

Google synchronization worked just as documented; and synchronizing an Android handset with Google just happens (all you have to do is enter you account information into the handset and enable synchronization).

Here a few comments on individual features…

Call history and the SMS manager are both very nice features of the expert edition… I’m not sure it’s sufficient motivation to pay for an upgrade, but it certainly is a sweet feature.

Mounting a Window mobile phone as a USB disk is a feature that didn’t make much sense to me; my XV6875 has the ability to select whether or not it makes an ActiveSync style or USB drive connection when you connect it; though on an older device like my MotoQ it does let you see the file system on the Mac much as you would on a Windows desktop.

Time synchronization is another feature that just doesn’t make sense; all devices get synchronized to the network (and thus to atomic clocks) so I see little value (and a number of reasons not to) synchronize them to each other and defeat the mechanisms already in place (if this were a camera, not a cellular phone I’d consider this a plus — but I’m going to say this feature should be removed; and certainly not used).

As noted before, synchronization to Windows Live isn’t support (and since this is a Mac centric product I don’t think that should come as a surprise — but, of course, some people who have Windows Mobile phones may use some of the Live services).

One thing I haven’t really covered to this point is how you setup a sync partner in SyncMate; and I guess I haven’t focused on it because it’s fairly easy, and definitely straight forward.  It isn’t “automatic” (and I actually consider that a plus — I absolutely hate ActiveSync trying take ownership of a device I just want to attach once).  A nice touch to the way you add a partner is that you can both name it, and include an image for it (though it might be a little nicer if Eltima included more stock images with SyncMate, or created a web interface to find images of handsets — but I just downloaded one of each of my phones and then used that).

The number one quality of SyncMate is that it works — and by far and large it works as advertised.  In this round of tests I didn’t have any instability in the version of the Windows sync driver I installed (unlike in the previous tests where I did have some issues with the Windows sync driver crashing).

One feature I felt might be interesting for Eltima to add would be a “mesh” type synchronization — really all they’d need to do is have an ability to synchronize the partnerships between Mac hosts (ie — all the synchronization partnerships I entered on my Mac Pro could instantly appear on my Mac Book Pro the next time the two machines sync’d — and then conflicts would just be handled throughout the mesh on a peer-by-peer basis just as they are now).

As I’ve stated previously I find the price a little steep — but you and your wallet will have to decide for yourself…  If you like the free version, and have needs for some of the additional plug-ins; I suspect you’ll be favorably impressed by what you get once you purchase a license.

Eltima Software

Originally posted 2010-07-26 18:04:01.

Toshiba IS02

The Toshiba IS02 is a Windows Mobile 6.5.3 powered smart phone with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a 4.1″ AMOLED touchscreen sporting a 3.2MP digital camera, 384MB RAM, 512MB ROM, business card reader, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi with a GSM quad-band radio and 3G data.

It’s reported to be one of the slimmest WinMo phones available — and it has a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard!

Hopefully Toshiba will export the phone to the American market, and continue to innovate and push the competition.

Toshiba IS02

Originally posted 2010-07-19 02:00:11.