Friday, January 26, 2007

Fact or Fiction - Nokia E61i

While surfing through the my usual daily site feeds to sift through what new mobile morsels are out (or will be out), I couldn't believe what I saw. Rumours of a new and improved Nokia E61i!

Although its just a rumour (and unconfirmed by Nokia), numerous sites have already reported the likelihood of its release by Nokia sometime this quarter.


If this picture is anything to go by, the most (noticable) upgrades would be: -
  • The addition of a camera!
  • Redesigned shortcut buttons layout
  • New metallic look and feel
Some sites also report that there will be an addition of a microSD slot as well as the existing E61's wifi/3G/GPRS/EDGE capabilities. In other words, the E61's just got better! Or rather, potentially, its become the phone it was SUPPOSED to be in the first place!

Now, I know I've been gasbagging and dragging the name of Nokia through the dirt recently (due to my frustrations with their new-yet-not-so-new releases and same-innies-redesigned-outties strategy *grumble, grumble*), but I have always thought quite highly of their latest smartphone, the Nokia E61. Arguably, the best business Nokia phone around. It does everything you would want it to, and more. Its only downfall was its lack of camera and touchscreen.

But, if you're an existing E61 owner, I wouldn't start looking for buyers yet though. E61i's just a rumour at the moment, and even then, who knows whether it'll be up to scratch. But then, knowing Nokia's habits of throwing an "i" into some of their models, it should prove to be a contender, aside from pissing the heck out of all existing non-"i" owners. (On that note, I HAVE to add, is a must-visit site if you're an E61 owner)

Meanwhile, let's just sit back for another month or so and ponder whether this E61i is a Fact... or Fiction.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I don't want an iPhone

Hello world...

Yes, I've been rather silent lately. Work and family commitments mostly, plus, the mobile world's been pretty unexciting too, sadly.

That is, until the official arrival of the APPLE iPHONE.

Lots of friends have asked me why I haven't done a write up on this new Apple release (that promises to take over the world). *oh brother*

Well, two reasons really why I haven't jumped onto the bandwagon like so many other bloggers, writing about the iPhone and the million-and-one reasons why they want it (now).
  1. Firstly, I wanted to spend some time reading up about reviews, forums and feedback from the "rest of the world" first. Sure it looks great and oh-so-tantalising when you read about the specs and oogle over the sheer look of the iPhone.... with its patented Multitouch recognition capabilities (if you don't know what I mean, it means you haven't really read up (much) on the iPhone), its slimness, its OSX software (Sthg to watch out for symbians, WMs and Palm) and the fact that its basically an iPod built into a phone! (Incidentally, treonauts has done a great, albeit maybe biased, review on the treo vs iPhone, here.) So far, from what I've read, its caused a buzz worldwide for sure. Its like EVERYONE is waiting for it. (Not that its out yet. US release - June07, Asia - 2008). Even Treo critics have used it as a bullet to slam Palm on what-they-should-have-done.
  2. Secondly, I'm definitely not one to rave about a mobile which I've not seen, or touched, in person yet. It would be like fantasizing about a Ferrari, and telling the whole world why its the best car in the world, and yet, thats just based on looks and what you hear/read about it without actually owning one. How pathetic. So, with the iPhone, that's my take on it. I don't want one.
But, at the end of the day, what do I think about it? Sure it looks great and all, but this 1st generation iPhone may not be the treo-killer some people are raving about. (It would beat the Music-edition Nokias or the Walkman-Sony Ericssons for sure though). Give it another few upgrades and tweaks (look at the 1st gen iPod compared to the now-5th gen iPod, and you'll understand what I mean), THEN it will be a force to reckon with. And, knowing Apple's strategies and marketing campaigns, its gonna be huge.

But, till then, I'm sticking to my trusty ol'treo 680. Time to show the world how dedicated I can be. Hey, what matters is how I finish right? Not just how I started.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Review of my Treo 680

Close to a month (anniversary) for my 680 now, what better time to (finally) conclude my own personal hands-on with the Treo 680.

Having first been introduced to the Treo 650, from the (then most advanced Nokia flagship model) Nokia 9500 Communicator, I have come to a realisation that the Treo is probably the best smartphone in the world today. This was back in early 2005. I loved my Treo 650. Used it constantly, downloaded every conceivable program more than what I needed or used, had numerous games, watched uncountable episodes of Lost, Top Gear and other movies on it. Using it for 11 months was a testiment of how I valued it. (Hey, 11 months is historical in my books). But, through all this though, there were a few issues I had with the Treo 650; the limited memory, the stub antenna, the weight of the 650, the location of the SD and sim cards at the top and most irritable of all, the frequent resets (due to firmware, which is upgradeable not to worry).

To cut a long story short, I decided I'd sell off my 650 during its peak, in anticipation of the rumours of the new treo model (which eventually took a whole bloody year to finally come out. By then I'd already had already gone through my mass onslaught of "temp" phones ranging from Nokias to Sony Ericssons. A dark era in my history needless to say). Eventually, the Treo 750v was released and, after such a long absence of a treo in my life (which was, by now, really messy. I never did find another equivalent Personal Infomation Management (PIM) to run my life, like the 650 used to handle. Nokia's symbian sucked big time), I thought the 750v was my redeemer. The total package. For a while it was. I was getting the hang of the highly rated Windows Mobile 5.2 integrated into the form factor of a treo. It did everything. Handled mp3's, videos, my appointments, my reminders, some games, had nice themes, handled my calls fantastically an most importantly, never resetted. (That in itself says it all)

But, at the back of my mind, I still missed the Palm OS. Reminiscent of my 650 and what it did for me a couple of years ago. And what did I do? I sold it off and ended up with the one model I've been waiting for all my life... the Treo 680. Its finally mine. I'm finally back to where I belong. Kinda like, once you've used a Mac, then you try Windows for a while, but you realise, you've always been a Mac at heart.

So, what do I love about my Treo 680? Here we go, my top 10 likes:
  1. The Hi-res screen! 320 x 320. The clarity just knocks my socks off. I can see every single tiny icon from my Agendus program (my PIM app that replaces the default calendar) like nothing. The 750v I had Pocket Informant, which did the same thing, but the screen res just spoilt it for me. With 680's hi-res screen, I've loaded tons of wallpapers, backgrounds, hi-res skins and 5-star-rated hi-res games like Bejewelled 2, Text Twist, Zuma, Tetris and (my latest) Puzzle Bobble! (Astraware games just rock!)
  2. The increased memory! Lots of RAM now. I've shoved in my favourite apps like Agendus, Splash money (good finance management app), MyBible, mRing, Butler (my alarm clock), Rescoviewer (awesome photo viewer), Fonts4OS (app for changing 680's fonts to whatever you like. Currently on Tahoma) and TCPMP (app for watching my episodes and movies on my 2Gb SD). After all these stuff, I've STILL got 45mb free in my 680! With my old 650, I'd have less than 10mb by now.
  3. The position of the SD card holder is now on the right hand side of the device. Perfect location in my opinion. Coupled with my black Vaja iVolution case, there's no chance of it EVER slipping out.
  4. The sim card is now located under the battery as compared to the 650's position on the top. There are pro's and cons of this, especially to the frequent traveller who might like switching sim cards here and there.
  5. The weight, shape and size of the 680 is just perfect. The 650 now feels heavy compared to the 680, which feels noticeably lighter in hand. Furthermore, with the absence of the antenna stub, its close to what its perhaps meant to be as a full fledged pda phone.
  6. The keyboard has also been improved from the 650. It feels more tactile and more spread out. This has improved the overall experience of using the 680 now. In other words, a joy to use! I must note that its strangely and subtly different from the 750v though, albeit both sharing the same layout. Odd.
  7. The internet surfing app, Blazer is now noticeably faster too. Web pages load more than twice as fast than the 650's version. Its more tolerable now. Before, to view a page would take a good couple of minutes to load. Of course, don't compare the 680's speed to broadband speeds. It does not have 3G capabilities like the 750v has. On this note, I've yet to try the Verichat app (MSN / Yahoo / AIM) with this.
  8. Phone quality is clear. A tremendous improvement from the 650, which needed an app called VolumeCare to increase its volume for calls. Now, it just works well.
  9. The phone interface has improved with the introduction of "tabs". Moving left or right would bring you to (from left) Dial pad, Favourites (No limit on number of favourites I can save here, ranging from applications, speed dials, sms messages etc), phone main screen, Contacts and Call history. I personally like this new layout as compared to the 650's with drop-down styled tabs. Alot more user friendly than before.
  10. Last but not least, it does not reset! This is a major factor for me, and perhaps many other Treo users out there. I will admit though, that there have been occasional instances, but this is because of my own doing, installing incompatible apps during my testing stages as previously posted. Otherwise, its plain stable, just like the 750v.
As with all things, there are downsides to every coin. For the 680, I've got my top 3;
  1. The Battery. I'm surprised to experience the lifespan of the 680's battery. With my usage of few calls during the day, heavy sms texting, occasional games and maybe the odd listening of my mp3's, by the end of the day, the battery indicator is down to about 15-20%. Compared to the 650, this is quite a difference. Some say that this factor alone is the achilles heel for the 680. I attribute this to the smaller (lighter) battery which Palm has allocated for the 680. Personally, I've always been a person who charges my phone on a nightly basis anyway, so its not a major dealbreaker for me. I'll just wait for higher capacity batteries to be released in future.
  2. The Camera. Sadly, Palm did not upgrade it from the 650. It still sports the 0.3mp camera. At least the 750v owned a (perhaps) market entry 1.3mp camera under its hood. The bright side of the 680's camera, the hi-res screen which makes the 0.3mp shots look acceptable, with ample light and colour balance on most photos. So, I've learnt to live with this handicap. (Besides, using my Rescoviewer app, I save alot of my photos taken with my 6.3mp Fujifilm Digicam into my 2Gb SD for viewing. Beautiful)
  3. Last but not least, the Software incompatibilities. I'm again surprised by the refusal of 680 to work with apps successfully tested on the 650. Both sharing the same OS version, Palm OS 5.4.9, I fail to see why this is an issue. Apps like my Mp3ringer, TreoAllegro, Agendus 10 and Zlauncher just do not work on my 680. I suspect that this is a software issue, not a treo problem. But then, I've already found alternatives to these apps (I mentioned them under item 2 above) so I'm not really bothered by this, just nit-picking I guess.
All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with my Treo 680. My Vaja protects it well too. Coming to my 1st month of use, I'm aiming to convince myself this new year, that by this time next year, I'll still be using the same device. I'm just loving my 680. I'd recommend it to anyone without any hesitation. Treos are just awesome. Don't diss it till you try it. As Palm's marketing campaign for the 680 goes, "Add some colour into your life". So what's stopping you?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year's ReVolution

Happy New Year 2007 to all. The new year has come.... so soon. 2006 came and went, just like that. I still can't believe it. Christmas was here, then New year's eve (a quiet one at that. For me anyway) and now, its 2007.... as if nothing happened.

As with every beginning of a new year, resolutions are usually the first things on everyone's minds. It usually revolves around weight issues, diets, personal development objectives, financial gains or, in my case, something related to phones. Geez, I can't even remember what last year's resolutions were. All I remember is getting a Nokia 6681 (after selling off my Treo 650), and telling myself, THIS is the one I'll be using until the new Treo is out.

Yup, that's probably the last time I'll ever make ANY resolutions regarding phones. What's the point of depressing myself right? This is one lesson I've learnt for this new year. So far, I'm off on a good start.

Over the past few days, I've been taking note on what tasty morsels of models Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and Motorola are all releasing. Here's whats new for Jan'2007, in order: -
NOKIA - N95, Nokia 6086, Nokia 6300, Nokia 6290 and Nokia 2626.

- z310

F300 Ultra Music, F500 Ultra Video and i600.

(yes, both the F300 and F500 look identical)


I've included the links to Gsmarena for all the specs of these new releases, rather mention them (again) in my post. Judging from what I've read about them, they're nothing revolutionary, just evolutionary.

This month though, promises to see the N95 arriving on our shores. My take on it? Probably a carbon print of the N80, with the major difference being the 2way slider and the 5mp camera, a first for Nokia. Otherwise, just the same ol'stuff from the Finnish giants. *yawn*. Just a mention though, the Nokia 6300 looks somewhat interesting, Nokia's attempt in bringing out "slim" phones.

Otherwise, it looks like a boring start of the year for anyone planning to upgrade. Don't hold your breathe waiting for these models.

On the 2nd hand market though, there are a few models floating around.
Nokia - N80 Silver, Nokia 3250 Black and Nokia 6680
SE - w810i

Please email me if you're interested. All in good condition. Viewing also possible, subject to owner's discretion.