Sunday, October 28, 2007

Heard about the Nokia 5310?

As I mentioned in yesterday's post about the N81, I had some free time in the morning and dropped by Incomm, Gadong to "check out" the Nokia N81. The few reviews I've read about it were pretty spot on:
  • The N81 felt quite nice to hold,
  • The games included were C-O-O-L. Touted as a device following the N-Gage's heart, gamers out there wouldn't be disappointed with the N81.
  • The touchpad-looking keypad definitely was a fingerprint magnet.
  • The quality of music was clear and SUPER loud. It scared a couple of the sales staff when I played some tunes. I imagined how easily it would wake you in the morning if you set it as a daily alarm. Impressive.
  • The navi wheel D pad was interesting to use.
Just as I arrived, someone else had JUST purchased a unit and was walking out of the store quite happily I have to say. Ahhh, guys and their new toys.... Anyway, I'll try get a unit to review soon.

While I was there though, I spotted a mobile that caught my eye. I asked the friendly staff there what model that was; it was the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic.
This must have quietly creeped on shores too. There really hasn't been that much hype about this model but one thing's for sure, it was REALLY nice to hold. The size blew me away, especially hot off the release of the Nokia 6500 Classic! Made me feel like I want one too!

Some specs:
  • Slim (!)
  • Comes in either blue or red.
  • Has a 2" 240 x 320 pixel display running on S40 OS.
  • A 2 mp camera
  • MicroSD card compatibility.
  • Bluetooth, radio...
  • And of course, being an XpressMusic device, the dedicated media buttons are easily accessible on the front. Definitely an improvement from the older XpressMusic models.
Retailing at BND448-00 at all Incomm outlets, don't forget to use your DST privilege card for better discounts.

Check it out!

Nokia N81 is on shore!

Hot off the heels of the launch of the 6500 series comes another stunner from Nokia, the Nokia N81. It is now on sale in Brunei.

Here's a short preview of the specs:
  • (Another) Slide form factor
  • 3G compatible
  • Comes in two variants; Normal (with option of external memory slot) and the 8Gb version (Incomm has the 8Gb)
  • Dedicated music keys for instant access
  • A first-nokia ever touch sensitive Navi wheel D pad (see here for demonstrations)
  • 2.4" 16M TFT Color screen, 2mp camera, WIFI
  • Device closely similar to the N-Gage in terms of gaming.
And, with that, its sure making me curious as to how it'll feel in hand. I'll try go have a look tomorrow.

Retailing at BND898-00 at all Incomm outlets now, don't forget to use your DST privilege card for better discounts.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nokia 6500 Slide is on shore!

I've just got home from the Mall. While I was there, I decided to check out the usual haunts on the latest mobile releases. First stop, Incomm @ Mall.

And there I saw it, the new Nokia 6500 Slide. Its finally here! I first posted about its announcement here, and now, i can actually hold it in hand.

I HAVE to say, it feels VERY nice to hold. Feels very solid and unlike the previous slider phones of yester-year like Nokia 6280, 6288 or even N80.

I tried to take a photo sample with the much touted 3.2mp camera the Slide is famous for, but because I was messing with a new unit, the sticker was still stuck on the camera lens... so I guess I'll wait till I can do a proper review on the 6500 series.

But all I can say for now is that I'm very impressed with the build quality. And, if you're an existing owner of the mobiles I just mentioned, and you're looking for a change, then look no further, this could be it.

Retailing at BND668-00 from all Incomm outlets, don't forget to use your DST privilege card for better discounts.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Sony Ericsson P1 review

Sony Ericsson (SE) has always been in the forefront in terms of releasing revolutionary models for many years now. Their first attempt at the pda smartphone market was with the release of the p800, seen as a true classic for many years. That marked the beginning of the P-series. I still remember those days, when being seen with a p800 brought oohs and ahhs from people around. The P series has since always had a loyal following, similar to the Communicator series of Nokia. SE then released the p900 followed by the p910 and just when it seemed as if SE had really begun to understand the smartphone market, they became complacent and released the p990i, which arrived sometime last year. Many saw the p990i as flawed and infested with firmware bugs. Even in Brunei, the p990i for some reason didn't boast a huge fanbase as compared to the previous models.

So what did SE do? They went back to the drawing boards and before the introduction of their latest Pseries, they came up with this...
The Sony Ericsson M600i, a rectangular candy bar PDA feaure packed model designed for the mass market. The M600i attracted many buyers because of the new revolutionary QWERTY dual button style. It was unheard of, 2 letters on 1 button?! It became a hit.

And so what did the SE designers decide to do then? They decided it was time to launch the newest member of the P Series family, tactfully named the P1, which supposedly addresses all the bugs and firmware issues of its predecessors. The P1 is fully packed with media capabilities and at the same time, allows the busy executive to get around his/her business.

I've had an extensive amount of time reviewing this new model. In some ways, I always had a love hate relationship with the P Series. Let's just say I had a tough time with the P800 back in the day, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I've honestly ignored the existences of each P series since, and had only limited my time playing with each of them. Until now. The P1 has been truly an experience. In particular with the QWERTY. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to use it, but it did take some getting used to. So what is my take on it then? Should you upgrade if you're a p990i owner? Should you try it out as a totally new user to the P series? Read on...


1 x Sony Ericsson P1 unit
1 x Sony Ericsson 1160mAh lithium ion battery
1 x Sony Ericsson travel charger
1 x Sony Ericsson CDS 65 desktop cradle
1 x Sony 512MB M2 memory stick
1 x USB Cable
1 x HPM 62 wired Stereo headset
1 x extra stylus
1 x carrying case
1 x User guide and other reading materials
1 x P1 i CD rom

First Impressions
After months of reading about the P1, I was only slightly curious as to what the big deal was with this new flagship model from Sony Ericsson. As I mentioned, I never did follow extensively any of the previous P series models. When the P1 finally did arrive onshore, I was informed about it and once I got to actually feel / play with one, I was impressed with the features that it offered, and it definitely looked classy and very business executive-ish. BUT, I also finally understood what the big issue was for many out there. The QWERTY keyboard. After trying to type some notes / SMS's, I immediately drew my first impression; I didn't like it.

Physical aspects / Build quality

  • The Sony Ericsson P1 comes only in one colour variant; Silver/Black. In my opinion, its perfect. Just holding it in hand, you get the feel that this is one beautiful device.
  • On the front of the P1, you're greeted with a 2.6" 240 x 320 pixel TFT screen, with (of course) the QWERTY keyboard.
  • On the left side, you will see the hole for your lanyard, the 3 way jog dial (a standard with all P series models) and a "Return key" button. (Which basically allows you to "return" to the previous menu/screen)
  • On the right side, you will see a Web quick key button, the M2 memory stick slot and of course, the dedicated Camera launch button.
  • On the bottom, you will see the slot for charging your battery / headsets / USB cable.
  • At the back of the P1, you will imediately see the 3.2mp camera lens, encased in black with both the Sony Ericsson and P1 symbols. Classy.
  • The main issue with the P1 is of course, the QWERTY. But, similar with its predecessors, you can also use the Styus for writing. The P1's character recognition is amazingly accurate and works in collaboration with the built in T9 predictive text. I had purposely tried to totally scribble my handwriting on it, and it still picked up my words.

Display / User interface
  • Here, I have to say that I didn't really see any revolutionary improvements compared with the previous p990i's. So I won't go into too much detail on how to move around the menu. The photos below are some screen shots.
  • As mentioned earlier, the P1 sports a 240 x 320 pixel TFT screen. Beautiful to look at both indoors and outdoors. The Symbian version and UIQ 3.0 used by on the P1 is also a fairly stable OS. However, I will admit, moving around this menu isn't as straightforward as most would like. For e.g. it takes a few additional steps just to reach your desired function. Of course, I'm comparing to other QWERTY devices from Nokia, Palm and even the iPhone. But, having said that, existing owners of P series models won't be too fussed about this.
  • The Home screen, other than allowing you to use any wallpaper you desire, also has a summary or "Active Standby style" details like Calendar entries, messages, missed calls and also other shortcut keys, which you can customise to select up to 15 "favourites".
  • Going into the menu, you can also choose your menu layout as either Grid or List view.
  • You can use either the Stylus or the 3 way jog dial to move about the menu, but personally, I prefered using my fingertip to navigate around, as I usually do with other touchscreen devices I've owned. I did notice a little lag in between moving around the menu though.

Calls / Messaging
  • Voice calls tested are nothing short of standard. All calls made / received were clear and without complaints. Volumes can be adjusted with the jog dial as well. Being a 3G device, you can also make video calls with the front facing camera. So Bmobile users out there, you won't have any complaints here.
  • Entering numbers on this dual QWERTY took some getting used to though. Numbers are clearly marked in red on the buttons and from the Phone function, you just need to enter it directly.
  • The P1 supports the usual messaging formats: SMS/MMS and Emails. Typing out your SMS's / Emails however, will definitely take a good few days to master. For me, after a while, I noticed that I began typing out my words faster and with more confidence. As long as I used both hands to do it. I tried using one hand to type and let's just say, that it was a really brain-teasing effort.
  • As with all QWERTY devices, the main two keys you should look out for are the SHIFT and ALT keys. They are important when you want to enter numbers, punctuation / question marks, fullstop's and comma's etc. All in all, after a few days of use, I didn't really mind it at all really.

Multimedia / Camera performance
  • SE's Walkman legacy has also been imprinted into the P1, with multimedia capabilities that would please the most hardcore of music lovers. The sounds, even on highest volume, did not result in any "cracking" or breaks. The P1 can also transmit your music streams via Bluetooth with A2DP. Transferring your songs into the P1 is relatively simple to sort out; using the USB cable, just hook it up to your pc and the P1 wil be read as a mass storage device. All it takes is "drag & drop" and you'll be set to go.
  • The Camera features of the P1 were quite satisfactory. You get Autofocus (very important) and of course, the usual onslaught of settings and shooting modes commonly found on all camera phones these days. You can even select whether you want to take 3mp, 2mp, 1mp ot VGA resolution for your shots. But, of course, please don't compare this against the SE Cybershot series models. Some samples of photos taken below.

A shot of a shot being taken
Night shot 1
Night shot 2
  • Overall, I was quite happy with the images taken from the camera. I can't say the same though, for the video performances. Fast moving objects taken in the video will appear jerky but I suppose it depends how fast your hand movements are.

What I liked about the P1
  • The size and executive feel of the overall build quality
  • The (light) weight of the P1. Take notes Nokia, Palm and other smartphone makers out there. You CAN make lighter devices.
  • The PIM features (Calendar and organiser) are better than those found on other SE models. This is a must for me in any phone.
  • The connectivity features are fantastic here. You get Wifi, Bluetooth, 3G, infrared AND USB. This will surely satisfy you connection junkies out there. Using the WLAN and testing out the speed on web surfing (like reading this blog) on the P1, it loaded fairly fast.
  • The battery life. With such a device as this, getting about 2-3 days worth of juice is not too shabby. Having said that though, note that I only use Bluetooth when needed, listen to music / radio occasionally, surf when there's a WLAN around, make a coupleof calls and send my usual barrage of SMSs.

What I didn't like about the P1
  • As much as I love QWERTY devices, I would say this is a love-hate deal with the P1. Yes I got used to using the keyboard after a while, but at the same time, I can type alot faster on more dedicated QWERTY buttons (like from my Treo's and the Nokia e61i). You could argue that writing is also an option.
  • The "dated" look of the UIQ. With the intro of N95 and even the iPhone, SE could have made more improvements in this area.

d3xlabs recommendations
At the end of the day, after using the P1 as my daily workhorse for a few days, I did end up actually liking and getting quite used to the QWERTY-ness of the P1. But I will say though that its not to everyone's taste. Aside from this though, you would be hard pressed to find an equally feature packed device out there in terms of media and connection capabilities. And look at the size too! Totally pocketable, both on work days as well as weekends. If you're a new user debating on making this jump, I'd say give it a go. You might surprise yourself.

But, if you're an existing p990i user, should you upgrade? Probably not, but you might anyway because you're a P series loyal fan. Remember though, the P1 has bug issues fixed already so your only obstacle now is just getting used to the keyboard.

My Sony Ericsson P1 rating - 4 stars
Selling price - BND848-00
Available at all Incomm outlets, Brunei's authorised distributors for Sony Ericsson.
(Remember to use your DST privilege card for better discounts)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Festivities and L.I.F.E.

I know this is a bit delayed but i'd like to wish all Muslim friends and readers a "Selamat Hari Raya". A season of being with families, visiting and not forgetting a tremendous amount of eating.

Most importantly though, Drive safe on the roads and remember:

PLEASE DO NOT SMS / TALK ON THE MOBILE WHILE DRIVING. There have been TOO many tragic accidents over the past few weeks. Its time to get serious. So what if the Police doesn't catch you, just remember, its YOUR life or the life of your loved ones, at stake.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nokia 6500 Classic is on shore!

Way back in June , I posted this preview of the Nokia 6500 Classic. It's finally here!
If you're wondering what's the big deal about it, other than the size, remember this; 1Gb built in memory!

Isn't she a stunner? I think this one will be a seller. And just in time for Raya too!
Retailing at BND588-00 at all Incomm outlets, don't forget to use your DST privilege card for better discounts.