Monday, August 15, 2005

Call me in the morning

I have a hard time passing by anything shiny and new without taking some time to play with it. Gadgets--they're an addiction and I've got a problem! Cell phones definitely fall in the shiny toy category. I search and search and cannot find the right utility for my need. I now sport three cell phones (I should get a backpack for them all): a Blackberry 7750, a Motorola MPX200, and my newest hope for the future, the Samsung I730.

The Blackberry 7750 is great for e-mail, but it's one of the worst phones I've used. I feel like I am talking on a brick, and the features and usability are limited. As a result, it hangs on my belt to get the “important” e-mails, and it allows me to respond in a timely manner. But I stay away from any use of the phone function!

The Motorola MPX200 is a fine phone, but it is no good for e-mails. Typing is…well...impossible! In addition, with the change of AT&T to Cingular, the service and coverage went from good to bad. The two companies are trying to operating as one, but it feels like one company (the mothership, Cingular) has no interest in other company's customers (AT&T). With service and coverage like this, we do not have to be concerned about the multiplicity services and offerings for much longer. The market and customers will not put up with it and move to other vendors. My coverage is so bad that I have a recurring dream of throwing this phone in the Mississippi. This day is coming soooooon to a river near you.

Now let us talk about the hope for the future. I have a Samsung I730. Is it a phone or a PDA? Or an MP3 Player? Or what? For e-mail, it is not as good as the Blackberry; the keyboard is smaller and you have to request sync with the server. [This is something Microsoft is working on in the next release of Exchange. The solution they have developed communicates any change to the Exchange store via SMS to the phone trigger synchronization. Long live low-tech!]

Anyhow, this phone has a small slide-down thumb keyboard. The keys are smaller than the Blackberry, but are still usable. The i730 has a built-in EVDO/1xRTT capable mobile phone as well as integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability. (All mobile devices should have these capabilities!)

I have found that the battery life is suboptimal, especially using any of the wireless features, and requires the use of the second battery. Samsung must have experienced this challenge also and provided a USB desk cradle that folds up to easily fit in your pocket and has room to charge an extra battery. The device is based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software for the Pocket PC Phone Edition and includes “Pocket” versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and Windows Media Player 10. The performance of the unit is excellent (it runs on an Intel PXA272 processor at 520 MHz with 64 MB of RAM). The color touchscreen (LCD) has 65,000 colors and a resolution of 240 x 320.

I intend to trade my other phones off for this one--back to one device! There are some features that are “not so good”: 1) no support for modem use with a laptop, 2) wi-fi and phone cannot work simultaneously, 3) wi-fi is a battery hog, and 4) no camera is included in the this release. They left a space for the expansion of the camera, but unfortunately, not a feature in this release. Maybe they are leaving just a little room for the hobby hackers. All in all, I like this phone! I think we can not put too many features and functions into one device. This one would not make it to Valhalla, but with a few more features and functions could make it there.

I hope that Microsoft and cell phone manufacturers keep the features and functions coming. Whether useful or not, people like me are constantly searching for features and functions. I am looking forward to a cell phone platform that will rub my feet and take out the garbage.

For more review of cell phones, check out the top 10 cell products on CNET.


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