Here’s my Helio Drift review. It got delayed a while because I had mixed feelings about the Drift and was unsure about my conclusions. Make sure you check out my Drift picture gallery for pictures related to this review.
The Drift is Helio’s newest phone. It has similar features to the Hero and Kickflip plus it throws in stereo Bluetooth support so you can use it with Bluetooth headsets and headphones.
While the drift isn’t a flimsy phone, it doesn’t have that ‘dense plastic feel’ that other Samsung phones have. Still, despite this and despite the fact that it’s a sliding phone, the Drift passes my squeeze test with flying colours. Some of this is due to the fact that the Drift’s battery cover is built into the battery.
Size-wise the Drift is a lot smaller than the Hero. Look at the gallery pics to see what I mean.
While the keys are a good size and easy to find the placement of, the back button is awful. Whenever you press down on a button there’s a very good chance that you’ll also get the back button. It’s truly maddening.
There are a bunch of buttons on the side but there are also a lot of slot covers which makes things a bit confusing. On the left you have a volume, play/pause, voice and a memory card slot cover. On the right you have a headset jack, charging port and camera button.
The display is nice, big and easy to look at.
The battery release button is on the bottom. I found it was far too easy to accidentally pop the battery off if you close it by holding the phone with your thumb on the bottom and your middle finger on the top.
You get a speakerphone, 2.5mm headset connector (on the right) and support for Bluetooth headsets.
There is 128MB of built-in memory which is a lot but you can easily get MicroSD cards that are way bigger then that. The MicroSD slot is located behind a door on the left side.
The top level menu has been customized so that it resembles the menu on other Helio phones. It’s laid out in a 3 x 3 icon grid.
If you press the buttons really quickly when you’re navigating the menu, it can be little confusing. Here’s what I’m talking about (it’s a little hard to understand). If you’re at the standby screen, go to the menu and press right rapidly. You will first move right, then you will start scrolling around the outer menu choices in a clockwise pattern. The same thing goes if you press left. So sometimes left is right and vice versa. However, if you stop pressing for a second, then the menu will operate more predictably in that if you press left then you’ll move left and vice versa. It’s really strange – an answer to a question no one asked.
The display has a resolution of 240×320 so icons and text look great. When you’re entering numbers the text is very large.
I don’t normally mention this but I liked the sounds the Drift makes when you open/close it, press the buttons, etc. They’re interesting without sounding too silly.
The top and second level menus are easy enough to use but sometimes I found it kind of confusing to change settings. Take the alarm clock for example. There are all these choices but there’s no on screen choice to save (to save press the center button on the nav pad)
Phone Related Features:
When you’re dialing a number, the Drift will look for matches in your recent calls list and phonebook which is kind of neat. If you’ve ever used a Microsoft Smartphone (now named Windows Mobile) you can liken it to Smartdial.
The phonebook can store up to 1000 numbers. You can sync the phonebook with your PC using PCLink Pro. There’s no Outlook sync but you can import Outlook contacts into PCLink Pro. Phonebook entries can be organized into groups.
There’s also an over the air phonebook sync that I didn’t get a chance to try.
There’s a USB cable in the box plus the Drift supports Bluetooth.
You can download both PC Sync software and file management software for free download on Helio’s site. PC Sync software lets you sync the Drift’s phonebook with the software. You can IMPORT your MS Outlook phonebook into the software which you can then sync with the Drift but you CAN’T sync the phone with Outlook directly.
When it comes to transferring stuff to the Drift, it clocked in at about 123KB/S (72.2MB in 590 seconds) which is really slow.
There appears to be Bluetooth support to send and receive files or connect your laptop to the internet but those features appear to have been disabled.
There’s no built-in email client but there is a link to Helio’s online email service.
You can download Helio’s H.O.T. app which turns your phone into somewhat of a RSS reader. It’s different from other RSS readers in that it takes over your standby screen and automatically updates the feeds as you’re using it. It works well – I found it pretty useful when I was taking the bus.
The browser is pretty standard fare. You can’t use it to browse HTML sites.
If you want to use your PC to transfer music and videos to the Drift you’ll need to download Helio Media Mover. You can’t just take the MicroSD card, pop it in your memory card reader and copy mp3′s to it. Instead Media Mover has to first convert all your music to mp4′s and videos to 3g2 files which is kind of annoying since it can take a while. It’s like iTunes when copying files to your iPod in this respect.
It’s a compromise. I hated having to wait for my files to be re-encoded but I liked how Media Mover can handle both music and video plus it’s a pretty simple program to use. I also liked how it would resize your videos.
There is a side mounted play button which is useful if you’re doing something else and want to pause… unfortunately you can only really access the text messaging menu when you’re listening to music which is totally lame. Also, the side mounted buttons are locked when you close the drift so if you want to pause playback you have to press and hold pause for a second or two and then tell the Drift you want to unlock the keys.
Stereo Bluetooth support seems pretty standard. If you have a pair of A2DP headphones, you can start the musicplayer by pressing play. The A2DP buttons (play, pause, volume, skip forwards/backwards) work even when the Drift is closed.
I said it before but I’ll say it again. It totally sucks that you can’t listen to music and say use H.O.T. at the same time.
The camera has a resolution of 2.0 megapixels. There’s a flash and a self portrait mirror. Like most camera phones, pictures looked great when viewed on screen but they’re not so hot when you download them to your computer. There’s pretty good resolution but pictures are quite noisy. Colour balance varies but it’s generally okay.
The camera takes a few seconds to start up. I liked the camera user interface; it gives you a lot of information without seeming cluttered. It’s also responsive and there are numeric shortcuts for popular functions.
Pictures can be transferred to your PC using PCLink Pro. You can also save the pictures to your MicroSD which you can then pop into your computer.
Included is a calendar, to-do list, wake-up call, alarm, calculator, world time, unit converter, notepad, stopwatch, user memory and voice memo.
The calendar and to-do list sync with your computer using PCLink Pro but don’t sync with MS Outlook. I also don’t see the Drift on Apple’s iSync webpage (support for it will probably turn up much later based on Apple’s previous track record).
I’m not sure what the difference is between wake-up and the alarm clock.
It’s nice to see that there is a built-in unit converter.
RF performance is so-so. The Drift is programmed so that if you’re in an area where Sprint has a weak signal, it will constantly be trying to get on to Sprint which can be bad for service.
Sound quality is average. It doesn’t sound as clean as some other CDMA phones but it does sound more lively.
I thought the Drift’s battery could be better. I’m basing that comment on my experiences with the Drift when I’m in the States (when I use the Drift in Canada it’s constantly look for it’s home network so of course battery life is going to be bad).
While the Drift has a nice spec sheet, I didn’t feel it worked all that well. Most of this is due to the fact that the music player sucks because you can’t multi-task (besides text messaging) when you’re using it.
The back button was a constant source of annoyance and was one of the reasons why my Drift review took longer than usual. I just couldn’t stand the device because I was constantly hitting back by accident.
I’m not crazy about the Drift. When I think about it, it’s not that bad a phone but it doesn’t really make me want to use it like some phones can.
|Ratings (out of 5)
|Phone Related Features
|Ease of Use
|Degree of Customizability
|Overall (not an average)
|*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.
- A2DP Bluetooth support
- Large display
- Lots of built-in memory
- Back button is inconveniently placed
- No background music play
Discuss this review at HowardForums.com
See the gallery here
Written by Howard Chui 02.19.2007
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.
February 19th, 2007
Nokia also announced two more models at 3GSM last week. The Nokia N77, a candybar handset powered by Symbian Series 60. This model is similar to the N73 although downgrades the camera to 2 megapixel but adds DVB-H mobile TV support.
“TV is the biggest media in the world and we are mobilizing it with the Nokia N77. The pocketable and affordable Nokia N77 further drives broadcast mobile TV based on DVB-H technology towards the mainstream market phase. The ability to watch live television on a mobile device has never been so easy,” said Jonas Geust, head of Nokia Nseries Players Category, Multimedia, Nokia. “The wide 2.4″ flat screen with up to 16 million colors and high quality stereo sound makes it the ideal personal mobile device for enjoying live TV and music on the move.”
The other handset announced is the Nokia 6110 which comes standard with GPS navigation and also features a 2 megapixel camera and Bluetooth.
“The Nokia 6110 Navigator features full personal navigation experience with integrated maps, routing and navigation available with the click of the phone’s one-touch Navigator key. With the Nokia 6110 Navigator, consumers can quickly and easily view their current location on the map, search for destinations, find specific routes, or locate services such as restaurants, hotels or shops that are nearby. Featuring full turn-by-turn 3D navigation, the Nokia 6110 Navigator suggests the best route to follow to reach a location by car or on foot. Clear instructions by voice guidance and turn arrows on a map ensure finding the fastest way to the destination.”
February 18th, 2007
Somehow this post didn’t get posted but here you are:
At 3GSM, Nokia has announced several new E-series handsets including the all new Communicator. All the handsets announced are Quadband GSM with HSDPA 2100.
We’re going to start with upgrades. The Nokia E61i is the upgrade to the E61 and gets put in a slimmer body and gets packed with a two megapixel camera.
“Nokia E61i, designed specifically for extensive mobile email usage, provides advanced attachment handling with on-the-device document editing. The new full keyboard design with Navi and One Touch keys offers an unbeatable mobile user experience in the palm of a hand. Nokia E61i supports corporate mobile email solutions such as Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email, Good Mobile Messaging, Mail for Exchange, Seven Mobile Mail, and BlackBerry Connect and most popular consumer email solutions. In response to customer demand, the device also features a high quality 2Mpix camera, a music player and a video player.”
One of the new handsets includes Nokia’s new E90 commnicator. A featured packed device sporting Symbian OS and includes QVGA display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and a 3.2 megpaixel camera.
“The Nokia E90 Communicator sets the standard for an uncompromised “mobile office” experience. The latest technologies at the core of the device bring business necessities and personal amenities to the hands of people independent of time and place. Fast and inexpensive connections over WLAN and HSDPA-enhanced 3G accelerate the mobile use of data- and transmission-rich applications. The interface to business and leisure applications and the Internet, the stunning Nokia S60 browser, with 16 million colors, is capable of displaying the full width of a web page at once.”
The new Nokia E65 is a slim slider that comes packed with HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 2 megapixel camera.
“Nokia E65, the slim slider, contains the mobile business capabilities of a Nokia Eseries device in an exquisite package with top notch materials. Nokia E65 has been designed for easy access to the most frequently used applications from the One Touch keys on the front cover. Users can make conference calls, access their contacts database, mute and unmute calls, and access an application of choice through ‘My Own’ key with just one push of a button. Active Standby, the capability to customize the phone display to show and provide quick access to user-defined applications, together with One Touch keys, simplifies connecting to business and personal applications and switching between tasks. Furthermore, Nokia E65 can be integrated with leading corporate telephony systems ¬- with Nokia Intellisync Call Connect for Cisco, Nokia Intellisync Call Connect for Alcatel and Avaya one-X Mobile Edition for Nokia solutions. The Nokia E65 device also supports the most used corporate and consumer email solutions.”
February 18th, 2007
At 3GSM this week Motorola also announced several new upgrades to their KRZR, SLVR and RIZR lineups.The Motorola SLVR L9keeps the SLVR’s slim design however brings a more updated design to it. The SLVR L9 comes packed with Quadband GSM, EDGE, an upgraded 2 megapixel camera with flash, microSD memory card slot and a FM radio.
“MOTOSLVR L9 takes Motorola’s breath-taking MOTOSLVR design and packs it with outstanding music and imaging capabilities.” said Ron Garriques, president of Motorola Mobile Devices. “The handset has an eye-catching mirror-reflective finish with feature rich functionality to deliver an entertaining mobile experience that matches today’s digital lifestyle.”
The next is the Motorola RIZR Z8is the all newly designed RIZR thats powered by Symbian UIQ and comes packed with Quadband GSM, EDGE, HSDPA, 2 megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth and microSD memory card slot.
“MOTORIZR Z8 is yet another example of how Motorola is redefining the mobile experience for consumers,” said Ron Garriques, president of Motorola Mobile Devices. “By introducing, for the first time ever, true high-definition mobile multimedia, and once more reinventing the form factor, we are delivering on our ‘no compromises’ approach to leading this industry by uniting cool design and cool experiences.”
Second last is the Motorola KRZR K3, the next addition to the KRZR series which just upgrades the KRZR K1 with HSDPA and adds a camera for video calls. Last we have the Motorola W510 which comes in a KRZR-like design and comes with Quadband GSM, EDGE, microSD memory card slot, 1.3 megapixel camera and stereo Bluetooth.
February 13th, 2007