Archive for September, 2008

Telus Launches the MOTORAZR VE20

$299.99 with contract, $99 with 3 year.

It’s a regular phone with one special feature; a search function which you can use to find contacts, web addresses, even phone functions. I tried it a while back and it’s pretty impressive – it’s fast and more importantly, it works.

Other stuff:

  • MP3 Player with expandable microSD memory slot up to 4GB
  • 2.0 megapixel camera with zoom and video capture
  • Bluetooth wireless technology for stereo and hands-free accessories
  • EVDO dual digital mode CDMA 800/1900 MHz
  • Internal 240×320 2.2” high-resolution QVGA screen
  • Windows Live Messenger
  • Text, picture, and video messaging
  • Downloadable ringtones, images, videos, games, and applications
  • Web browsing

2 comments September 30th, 2008

HTC Touch Diamond (CDMA) review

Here’s HTC Touch Diamond for CDMA. Unlike the previous CDMA Touch, the Touch Diamond boasts some impressive specs: 528Mhz processor, 480×640 VGA display, WiFi, Bluetooth, 4GB of built-in storage. It also sports an updated version of HTC’s TouchFlo software which I previously found to be a pleasant piece of software.

The Diamond is a solid phone. It has good heft to it and has nice rubberized paint on the back and sides.

Sorry for the huge image but that’s the screen. It measures 2.8″ diagonally and has a stunning resolution of 640×480. Compare that to it’s predecessor which has 1/4 the resolution (320×240). Text is incredibly sharp.

Having a super high resolution display is great but I noticed one problem; When I was trying to view an image of the New York Subway system, images display as half the size they are on a 320×240 display. This in itself isn’t a problem but when I tried to zoom in I couldn’t zoom in enough so the image was still quite small.

There’s a stylus which is located at the bottom right. The stylus holder is magnetized so it ‘grabs’ the stylus when you stick it in. The stylus even sticks to the right side like a magnet on a refrigerator – it’s pretty slick.

The navigation pad looks very special but in actuality the circle is the select button while the up/down/left/right buttons aren’t labeled – to press them just press the areas adjacent to the select button.

Besides the navigation pad, there’s a home, back, call and end buttons in front. I found that I accidentally press left instead of the home button sometimes.

At the top is the power button. On the left there are volume buttons.

The only connector on the Diamond is a mini USB connector on the bottom. It’s used for connecting to your computer, charging and for headphones. Included with the Diamond are a pair of USB headphones plus an adapter that lets you use your own headphones.

If you want to use the headphones and charge the Diamond at the same time, there’s an included adapter that lets you do this. It also lets you use regular 3.5mm headphones and 2.5mm headsets. The problem is that the adapter is big and clunky, it’s not something I’d want to walk around with.

Also included is an AC to USB adapter (for charging), a horizontal carrying case and an extra stylus.

Features:

I’ll be honest, when I get a new Pocket PC I immediately experience waves of boredom. For the past few years things have gotten quite stale. While Pocket PC’s often sport awesome hardware, the software hasn’t changed much – this is good because it means it will be compatible with many programs but also bad cause very little has changed.

If that describes how you feel about Pocket PC’s, I mean Windows Mobile Professional devices then rejoice – the Touch Diamond brings a few new features to the table that are quite interesting.

Besides the VGA screen you also get WiFi, something missing from the previous CDMA HTC Touch along with 4GB of built-in memory. You do lose a micro SDHC slot though which kind of sucks with the recent announcement of 16GB SDHC cards.

I transferred a bunch of mp3′s and observed a speed of about 1.8MB/second which is respectable.

HTC has updated their TouchFlo software; it’s now called TouchFlo3D and it looks fantastic. The effects are slick and they’re in 3D. It’s optimized for use with your finger rather than a stylus – though you can use either.

It’s a replacement for the today screen – but TouchFlo3D is much more than a launcher. It has 10 tabs of sorts: home, people, messages, mail, photos and videos, music, internet, weather, settings and programs. You can move between each one by sliding your finger across the different tabs near the bottom.

Many of the tabs give you a sort of preview. So when you go to the mail tab it will show you the newest email you’ve received. If you put your finger on the message and move it up it will show the next message. If you want to go to your inbox, hit the inbox link at the bottom left

The photos and video will show you the latest picture you took and scroll between photos in a similar manner as the messages. One thing you can’t do is zoom into your image.

While TouchFlo3D is really cool it makes for an uneven user experience because once you get past TouchFlo3D, there’s Windows Mobile Professional which works very differently – it works best with a stylus.

I also found that the Diamond would bog down a lot which would cause TouchFlo3D to become unresponsive. Despite its 528Mhz processor, the Diamond just can’t keep up.

Besides the TouchFlo3D apps, you can still access the regular programs by tapping the top left corner. The menu items are bigger than usual (to compensate for the Diamond’s 480×640 display and to make it easier to use with your finger rather than a stylus).

Another thing I found was that the messaging client and Opera don’t always show up in the recently used programs list if you press the start button located in the top left of the screen. This means it takes a few more presses if you want to multitask between the 2.

I found that when it came to text entry, the Touch’s 2.8″ display is way too small for use with your finger. The Touch tries to make up for this by offering a ton of different text entry methods; keypad, a suretype sort of keyboard that’s 5 keys wide and has 2 characters per key, keyboard, plus the old standbys; a different keyboard, letter organizer, block organizer and transcriber.

The default is the suretype-like keyboard. One thing I did like is that keypad and suretype-y one is that both have a T9 button which you can press to turn text prediction on and off. It’s very convenient.

Now on the original Touch the text area was often too small to use with a finger. On the Diamond the text entry area is much bigger. This should be a good thing but it ends up blocking most of the screen so it just ends up being annoying.

You can quickly jump to the Phone program by pressing the talk button. The phone app hasn’t changed much compared with previous versions of WinMo. When browsing the address book, there’s an alphabet on the left side which lets you move around the phonebook quickly.

One thing I don’t like about the Diamond (and many other touch screen phones) is that when you’re in a call you have to press a button to get to the keypad.

The messaging client is the same one found on previous versions of WinMo. It handles email (imap, pop and exchange), SMS and MMS.

The camera is has a resolution of 3.2 megapixel plus it has autofocus but no flash. Image quality is decent though it’s hard to take crisp photos indoors. The autofocus is very slow (like most autofocus camera phones) which makes it hard to take candid photos.

Music playback is handled by TouchFlo3d (WMP is still around if you prefer that). It works in a similar manner to the main menu. You slide the bottom around to switch between artist, album, genre and then move up and down between the choices. There’s a library mode where you can browse your songs as a list. When listening to a song you can move back and forth between songs or move within a song. My only complaint is that you can easily see the next/previous song without switching to library mode.

Browsing is handled by Opera which is a huge step up from Pocket Internet Explorer. It sort of mimics the feel of Safari on an iPhone – that’s a good thing. Opera renders pages similar to how they’d look on your desktop computer, you scroll around with your finger and then double tap when you want to zoom in and read something. Text automatically wraps itself when you zoom in.

Besides double tapping, you can also tap and hold – that’s sort of like right clicking with your mouse. You can do this to open links in new tabs (up to 3 tabs total). You can also use this to send links via text, email, MMS or copy them to your clipboard.

There is an address bar and toolbar which you can reveal by tapping the icon at the bottom right of the screen.

There is a nice history feature which works well. You also have an auto rotate feature like on the iPhone but just like the iPhone, it doesn’t always work.

While not a class leader, Opera is a huge step up from Internet Explorer.

Here are the ‘other’ apps that you get:

Messenger – MSN messenger/Live messenger, whatever they call it now.

MP3 Trimmer – useful since you don’t need a computer to create ringtones.

Notes, Pictures and Videos, Tasks, Voice recorder,

Windows Live – set this up so you can check your Hotmail/Live mail using the mail client.

Two apps which caught my eye are Remote Desktop and RSS Hub. I don’t remember seeing Remote Desktop AKA RDP, Terminal Services on my old Touch. RSS Hub is a RSS reader.

With respect to games you get Bubble Breaker and Solitair plus a new one named Teeter. It uses the accelerometer – you have to tilt the Diamond to move a ball into a hole while avoiding other holes. It’s a real fun game. I liked playing it on the New York Subway.

It seems items like the Calculator, Word, Excel, Internet Explorer are hidden from the menu. The apps are still around, you can use File Explorer to create shortcuts to them. For Word and Excel you can also launch them by opening Word or Excel attachments in your email.

Performance:

One thing I noticed about the Touch Diamond is that it gets warm anytime you use it for more than a few minutes. It never gets hot to the touch but it’s not the most reassuring thing either.

RF performance is average. I tested the the Diamond against a Motorola v3c and the v3c was noticeably better.

Sound quality is also about average.

Maximum earpiece volume is adequate.

Conclusion:

528Mhz processor, 480×640 display, 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera, WiFi, EVDO rev a, etc; While the Touch Diamond looks impressive on paper it has some serious ease-of-use issues. TouchFLO3D looks great but the Diamond can’t keep up – so often TouchFlo3D doesn’t work.

The screen is too small for efficient text entry. You either get keyboards which take up 3/4 of the screen or ones that are so small they’re impossible to use unless you’re standing still.

If you want to use your own headphones you have to use this idiotic dongle which is like the size of an iPod shuffle.

Still, I liked the Touch Diamond’s relatively compact size, you get a lot of power in a small space. Web browsing is somewhat a pleasant experience. It’s a pretty solid phone plus the magnetized stylus slot is sweet.

Howard Chui
09.28.2008

5 comments September 30th, 2008

Need Mor Space?

If 8GB or the rare 12GB micro SDHC cards aren’t big enough for you, Sandisk will have 16GB Micro SDHC and M2 cards available next month for 99.99 and 129.99 respectively. They’ll come with 5 yr warranties.

Add comment September 26th, 2008

Blackberry Bold Review

Here’s RIM’s Blackberry Bold. It takes all the features of previous Blackberries and puts them into one device. It also adds a fantastic higher resolution display, a snazzy leatherette back and more memory.

With its tapered sides, rounded edges and leatherette back, the Bold fits nicely and feels nice in your hand.

The entire back is a battery cover. I usually think this is a bad idea because the cover becomes loose then the whole phone will feel flimsy but on the Bold, it’s not so bad. With its leatherette back and pebbled finish, the Bold’s back really wows people.

Back aside, the Bold’s best feature is on the front; I’m talking about its fantastic 480×360 display. It’s very sharp and makes for very smooth text, great browsing, videos, etc. The default theme doesn’t have that much colour – it’s basically black and white. This helps the Bold’s screen work well in bright sunlight.

The keyboard is excellent. Compared with the 8800, the Bold’s keys are slightly slanted towards the middle of the phone. It’s a small change but I find it helps you feel the keys better so you can type faster.

There are stereo speakers on each side. They’re pretty loud and sound good.

Love it or hate it, navigation is handled via the trackball. Personally, I don’t hate the trackball but I’m also not crazy about it. It does allow you to do some neat things like select text from the browser without requiring a stylus. It also gives you more than 4 directions of motion when you’re browsing.

On the left there’s a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack (you can use ‘regular’ headphones with it), mini USB slot (charging and syncing), micro SDHC slot. There is a 3.5mm headset included in the box. You also get a menu button.

The micro SDHC slot can be accessed while the rear cover is on but it can be difficult to remove memory cards. I’m currently trying to remove my micro SDHC card and it’s stuck.

As for USB speed I copied a 105MB worth of mp3′s (about 5MB each) to the built in memory and observed a speed of around 2.5MB/s – not bad at all. I got 1.25MB/s for the built in card. Keep in mind the lower speed could be a result of a slower memory card. I’d take the memory card out to test it in a reader but it’s still stuck.

On the right there’s a volume switch plus a camera button.

One thing missing from my Bold is the ubiquitous leather case or holster that always seems to come with Blackberries. I don’t know if mine was just missing it.

Features:

If you’ve never used a Blackberry before, here’s how they work in one paragraph: They’re really easy to use. You move around using the trackball and press in to select. The menu button usually brings up a program specific menu. Pressing end will take you back to the standby screen. Pressing menu from the standby screen will take you to the main menu. From there you launch programs. There’s a launcher button on the left side which you can use to quickly switch between programs.

The Bold’s bread and butter is its messaging features. It handle emails, SMS, MMS plus you can message other Blackberries by PINning them. All your messages can show up in a unified inbox plus there are separate inboxes for each type of message. There’s a biult in dctionary which yuo can use to spell chcek your messges. As you can see, I didn’t write this on the Bold.

In case you haven’t used a Blackberry before, a server actually retrieves your email and then pushes it to your device. You can either use a BES; Blackberry Enterprise Server or BIS Blackberry Information Services.

BES requires software you buy from RIM. It will sync the Bold with a Microsoft Exchange server – your emails, contacts, calendar stuff, etc.

BIS will check your POP or IMAP email and send any new messages to the Bold. If you’re using IMAP, I just want to clarify once more that you’ll only get new messages (as in you won’t get any messages that were sitting in your IMAP inbox already when you set the Blackberry up). So, if you’re an IMAP user then BIS isn’t that ideal.

The Phonebook is pretty standard. You can search it from the standby screen by entering part of an entry’s name or phone number.

The calendar has daily, weekly, monthly plus a view which shows all your upcoming appointments by date. Besides the calendar, there is also a todo list and a memopad.

The phonebook, calendar, todo list, memopad can all sync with your computer using Blackberry Desktop Manager. It’s included with the Bold plus it’s a free download from RIM.

One of the Bold’s new features is it’s html web browser. It’s much nicer compared to the older retro style browser.

When you view a webpage, it actually gets downloaded to another server, compressed and then sent to the Bold. This helps pages load faster.

The open address feature resembles a webpage. In it, it lets you enter URLs plus it gives you access to your bookmarks and browser history – very convenient.

The browser is a huge step up from before. I only have 3 complaints about it. While pages do load quickly, you can’t always scroll while it’s loading. My other complaint is that you can only browse one page at a time – there is no support for extra windows or tabs.

Lastly, I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that the Bold is still a relatively new device or what but I found the browser to be very unreliable when it came to loading pages. HAlf the time, I could not get anything to load. At first I thought it was the Bold’s fault, then I thought it might be a network issue (Rogers in Canada). However, I took the Bold down to the ‘states and roamed on T-Mobile and AT&T and still found the browser to be unreliable so maybe there’s something wrong with RIM’s servers (remember, when you browse the web, pages go through them).

You can read PDF attachments. Like all phones, the Bold is horrible for viewing PDF’s as they’d look on a computer but there is a really useful text mode where it only shows the text and wrap it so that it’s easy to read. On some PDF’s this is extremely effective.

The built-in music player is pretty standard stuff too. Besides the usual ability to browse your songs by album, artist, etc. you can also search by title using the keyboard. It’s very convenient and fast – I like it.

You also get stuff like different equalizer settings (honestly I didn’t like any of them), a spacializer feature (didn’t like it either, made music sound more confusing).

When you listen to music, you’ll get a shortcut to the music player whenever you press the menu button. In lieu of dedicated media player buttons – pretty clever.

When you plug the Bold into an outlet, the clock application will activate. If you press in on the trackball you can set an alarm. I like this since many people use their Bold in bed. You can set your alarm and then go to sleep.

There is built-in GPS which will work even if you have no network coverage. Unfortunately the maps program requires a network signal to download maps. Go figure.

The built-in camera has a resolution of 2 megapixels plus a flash. You can activate it by pressing the camera button on the right side. It launches pretty quickly. Otherwise it’s nothing special. There’s a separate program for video recording.

RIM includes Documents to Go so you can edit doc, xls, ppt. This isn’t the full version so you can’t make new ones, just edit existing ones. The easy way around this is to create new Excel, Word and Powerpoint files and then email them to yourself. You can also download new blank ones here:

Word

Excel

Powerpoint

You can record voice notes plus there is voice dialing.

Passwords can be stored in a password protected area with Password Keeper.

Until recently, Blackberries have been synonymous with business. Well the bold has 4 built-in games and most of them are actually pretty fun. Besides Brickbreaker, you also get Word Mole (a game where you have to form words before time runs out), Texas Hold’Em King 2, Sodoku (crosswords for people with no imagination – just kidding) and Kondike. Word Mole and Sodoku are a lot of fun – Wheeeee!

There are weather and stock apps which let you check the weather/stocks from the main menu. You don’t have to open up a new program to view them.

One feature I really like about the Bold and Blackberries in general is that they allow you to see the current signal strength in dbm and not just bars.

Performance:

Sound quality was average. Incoming voices are slightly fuzzy and there is noticeable hiss. Outgoing sound quality is much better. It’s fairly natural sounding with just a bit of hiss.

For RF performance I tested the Bold against a n95 8GB. In HSDPA modem, the n95 8gb was slightly better holding onto a call where the Bold dropped it. In EDGE mode they were about equal.

Maximum earpiece volume is adequate.

Like most HSDPA devices, the Bold’s battery life in HSDPA mode isn’t so great. That said most users should be able to make it through the day with juice to spare – that’s good.

Conclusion:

It’s been a while since I’ve used a Blackberry, that said I enjoyed using the Bold. With the exception of the BIS/IMAP thing I mentioned, messaging on the Bold is straight forward and pleasant. While I’m not crazy about the trackball, it works well and the menu is easy to use and very consistant. I liked the way the music player uses the keyboard (how you can quickly search for songs). The html browser is a huge step up from previous ‘berries but the fact that it can only handle one page at a time plus the connectivity issues I experienced with RIM’s servers kind of ruined it for me.

The leatherette back is a real conversation starter. Everyone that has never seen a Bold before loved it.

The display is really nice and it’s high resolution is perfect for it’s size.

Yeah, despite the connectivity issues and average sound quality, I really liked the Bold. If you’re looking for a ‘berry and can fork out the cash – get a Bold. If you’re looking to upgrade your Blackberry and want a keyboard, the Bold is the one to get. It’s got all the features of the previous ‘berries plus an awesome screen and a slick back.

Howard Chui
09.25.2008

11 comments September 26th, 2008

n95 8gb and the City: My trip to New York

Traveling with my n95 8gb.

So my wife and I recently had a chance to visit New York. Now I really like New York and have been there a few times in the last couple of years. One problem we always have is finding our way around.

Since we don’t have a helicopter or a driver we usually take the subway. The problem with this is that it’s often disorienting to come above ground and then have to figure out which direction we have to go (remember, we’re not from New York).

Now, you can bet that I’ll try to use technology to solve this problem. The first time (a few years ago) I brought a bluetooth GPS receiver, a WM device (I don’t remember if it was a Smartphone or a Pocket PC) and the Navigation software CoPilot. The combo worked horribly and I could never get a GPS fix. Long story short we had to resort to using a Map.

Later I brought a Nokia n95. Since I’m from Canada I didn’t want to pay for data roaming so I used Nokia Maps (version 1) with the built-in GPS only. It also almost never worked. Luckily I also brought a compass and a map. I had previously loaded the Map of New York on my n95 so that plus the compass helped us get around. Old school meets new school.

This brings us to the latest trip. Before I go into details, let me give you some more insight into how we travel. Since we’ve already been to New York a few times we’re not that interested in sight seeing. We wanted to eat good food. I’m pretty picky in that food I eat has to taste really good. Yeah, I’m the bastard that points out that something is too salty when everyone else at the table is raving about their food. Previous trips, we’ve always been unsatisfied with the food we’ve eaten. The other thing we wanted to do was not spend $250 a night on a hotel. Manhattan is a cramped place and paying at least $250 a night for a hotel is not uncommon. Lastly we wanted to go shopping. I wasn’t planning on buying too much but my wife had a few things on her list plus it’s always fun to look.

First off, I downloaded the maps of New York to my Nokia n95 8gb. I’m talking about the latest ones from Navteq. The maps take up less space which seem to help Nokia Maps 2.0 to load faster. I also paid the $7.99 for 30 days of walking navigation. Secondly, I got a AT&T GoPhone SIM with unlimited Medianet so I could use AGPS along with the built-in GPS. I actually got a Motorola c168 plus $25 airtime for $35 + tax at RadioShack! Thirdly, I went to the MTS webpage and saved an image of the New York Subway map to my n95. Now there are 2 maps, one is a regular image, this isn’t the one you want because it doesn’t have all the streets on it. You want the PDF one. I loaded the PDF one, screen capped it, scrolled, screen capped more and then stitched the images back together.

So how’d it go? It went much better this time. There was the odd time where the n95 refused to get a GPS fix but over all it worked well. The problem is all the tall buildings really mess around with the built in GPS. The GPS has a hard time seeing the sky plus the GPS signals bounce off the buildings. Often times when I was walking around, the n95 would report that I was walking inside of buildings.

As far as data usage goes, getting a fix doesn’t really use all that much data. It uses anywhere from nothing to around 10kb. Searching for places using Nokia Maps also doesn’t use that much data; just a couple of kb per place. Looking back, My Canadian carrier Fido charges 6 bucks per MB when roaming in the ‘states. If I didn’t need to use my phone for other tasks besides Nokia maps, I would consider just roaming instead of using a GoPhone SIM.

To improve our culinary experience I looked up places to eat using Yelp.com. While I don’t mind paying a lot for food, from experience I generally don’t enjoy it more than more affordable places. The problem with Manhattan is that food there is generally pretty expensive. At first I tried searching for restaurants by neighbourhood. The problem I found was this usually brought up the more expensive places. Like most things I believe people perceive things to be better if they pay more for it – and while there is such a thing is amazing expensive food and awful diarrhea inducing cheap places we figured we’d stick to the cheaper places. Instead I searched by type; specifically Thai and Soul food.

To save a few bucks on the hotel, we stayed in Jamaica Queens all the way near the end of the E line. It’s about 30 minutes from our stop to Manhattan (Lexington St). From past experience we keep staying further and further from Manhattan and have found it’s not a big deal. The hotel was relatively new, clean, had free WiFi and the room was a good size. We paid around $75 a night so compared to a $250 room we saved $175 x 4 days – not bad.

So here’s how the trip went;

Day 1:

We arrived in Laguardia around noon (don’t ask why we stayed in Jamaica and flew into LGA). I saved the directions to the hotel on my n95 before we left. Take the Q33 bus to Roosevelt and then jump on the Jamaica bound E train.

When we landed I realized I forgot my GoPhone SIM card so I had to look for another one.

We went to the hotel to check in and we were hungry. We decided to check out a local fried chicken place. The chicken had a lot of flavour but overall was nothing special. Next we went to Times Square to eat at Yoshinoya. For some reason, the New York Yoshinoya doesn’t have chicken wings and isn’t as good as we remember the ones in California to be.

I checked the Duane Reade at Times Square for a GoPhone starter kit but they only sell GoPhone airtime cards there. Later we went to the Rite Aid at Grand Central but they wanted 30 bucks for the Motorola c168 starter kit. Not a bad price but I saw the same thing in San Francisco for 15 bucks last week – I’ll pass.

I checked an AT&T store but they wanted $103 bucks for just the SIM. $3 for the SIM with 100 bucks of credit. I don’t generally travel to the ‘states every month so I’ll pass.

Eventually I got desperate and wandered into a RadioShack. There I found a Motorola c168 starter kit for 10 bucks if I buy a $25 GoPhone card – yes! I activated my account and promptly stuck it in my n95. What’s nice about the n95 is that it will automatically setup data so I can use it with the n95. Very convenient. If you’re going to do this remember to configure the APN the positioning server uses. It doesn’t do this automatically nor does it prompt you to enter it if you use the Maps.

We were in the Upper East Side now. I found a Thai restaurant called Land NorthEast Thai. It wasn’t bad. My Wife’s Pad See Ew was better than my Duck. Land isn’t right next to a subway stop so I purchased navigation for Nokia Maps to help us find our way there.

At the end of the day I noticed my n95′s battery was on its last bar. From experience this is normal. All my HSDPA phones have horrendous battery life if you use them a lot. From the iPhone 3G, to the Blackberry Bold to the Motorola Q9h to the Nokia n95. Some are better then others but all are horrible.

I kind of anticipated this so I brought my Iogear Lithium Ion battery charger pack. The pack has a USB port on it and can probably charge my n95 fully 2ish times. It also has a sweet battery gauge so you know how much juice it has left.

It turns out the Iogear comes with a really weak connector which sort of broke so it wouldn’t charge my n95 when I left it in my pocket. It only works from certain angles so I had to put it on a table top to keep it still if I wanted to use it. If you’re thinking of a portable charger don’t consider this one or any of the other ones like it. I think Sharper Image has one too – They probably don’t actually make it, an OEM does). If you do get consider finding a USB to Nokia tip cable as a backup.

Day 2:

Day 2 was the day of the Nokia S60 meet. Before the meet, I had to go to B&H which is near Madison Square Garden. In case you don’t know, B&H is this really cool camera store. They have almost any camera product you can think of. When you order something, the salesperson places the item in a bin and then it gets placed on a track. The bin on the track, travels around the store via a series of rollers – sort of like a model train. Eventually it ends up downstairs where your order is sorted and your payment is made.

Across from B&H is a Soul place called Soul Fixin’s. I had fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and rice with gravy. She had chicken and dumplings. The fried chicken was good but I forgot to ask for dark meat. The mac and cheese was yummy as was the rice with gravy. I’m going to try the smothered chicken next time. Next time I go to B&H I’m going back to Soul Fixin’s.

I relied heavily on the Subway map stored on my n95 (the paper one you can get for free keeps ripping on us). Now I had to find the Nokia store. I’ve been there previously so I recognize the general area (it’s near the Apple Store on 5th nestled along high end fashion retailers). The irony is that my n95 was really throwing me off because of all the high buildings around the Nokia Store. The meet was a lot of fun. Dean Kammen, the guy who invented the Segway among other things was there to talk to us about how we should think of ways to use mobile phones to better the world – interesting stuff.

After the meet we went to Carnegie’s Deli near Times Square. The Corned beef and Hot pastrami sandwiches we had were good but got really monotonous after the first half. I wouldn’t go back but if I did I would share something next time.

Day 3:

We went to a Thai place around Union Square called Rhom Thai, We’ve been there before and liked it so we figured we’d try it again. When we got out from the subway, my n95 wouldn’t get a fix right away. I figured I’d remember how to get there since I’ve been there previously – whoops. Eventually I did get a fix, turns out I went the right direction but was on the wrong street. Oh well. I had duck again while she had Pad See Ew again. My duck was really lean so it wasn’t very interesting. She claims the Pad See Ew is still the best here.

Now Soul Fixin’s got us very excited for Soul food so we wanted to check out this place in Harlem called Melba’s up at 116th street. Despite the fact that there aren’t many high buildings in Harlem, the n95 wouldn’t get a fix. Luckily the directions (from looking at the map) weren’t hard.

I had fried chicken and waffles while she had fried chicken with mac and cheese (Melba’s famous). The waffles were really good. For dessert we had the Red Velvet Cake – wow, was it ever good!

Day 4:

Day 4 we wanted to check out this place near Times Square named Piece of Chicken (more soul food). We actually met up with HowardForums mod Wranger3383 and his wife. It turns out Piece of Chicken is take out only and has no where to sit so we ended up going to a burger joint next door called 5 Napkin Burger. I can tell many jokes about a business with the name ’5 Napkin’ in it but I won’t. Turns out the burger wasn’t bad. I had the 5 Napkin Burger while she had pork chilli (her dish was boring). The place is really decorated.

Later we were around SoHo, we tried this Asian-y fusion place called Mooncake Foods. They don’t serve mooncake there (I dont’ think). I had this strange steak with green ginger sauce and rice. She had chicken salad. Both were pretty good and cheap (at least New York Cheap). I don’t think we’d go back though.

At night we had to satisfy our soul cravings so we found another Soul place on Yelp called Amy Ruth’s (also in Harlem). Amy Ruth’s is right next to the subway stop. Of course, the n95 got a fix immediately when we came above ground – when I didn’t need it. I had Chicken and Waffles again while she had the same thing. We got a side order of Mac and cheese. Wow – the Chicken and Waffles here were amazing – much better than Melba’s (which was already really good). And IMO much better than Roscoe’s in Cali. Next time we’re in NYC we’ll be back here.

Day 5:

Day 5 is our last day. We actually had to fly out of LGA halfway through the day. We checked out, taking our luggage with us into Manhattan. We checked the luggage at a hotel and went to Union Square to eat. We went to the overrated Republic. Turns out we went there a few years ago but I forgot. The food at Republic isn’t that good but it comes really quickly and the service is good. I had duck curry soup, she had wonton soup – yawn. After we wanted to check out Max Brenner Chocolates. Our friend was raving about it so we went. We split a Munchies Waffle: 2 Waffles with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, a small vessel of melted chocolate, some whipped cream and these little chocolate balls that taste like Nestle Cruch bar bits. It was good, we’ll probably visit again next time we’re at Union Square.

GPS worked great so far. We went to Herald Square to get some stuff at Macy’s. After this we had to head to the Airport. We had to take the V to Roosevelt but took the B instead and ended up at 63rd St. With time ticking away we decided to go above ground, catch a bus and take it to the hotel (at 49th).

When taking the bus to LGA I wanted to see the route we were taking on my n95. For some reason it was all screwed up and we kept jumping all over the place. I rebooted the n95 and things were accurate again.

Eventually we got to LGA with 80 mins to spare. We probably should have gotten in sooner but at least the airport wasn’t busy so it wasn’t a big deal.

So that’s the trip. What would I do differently next time? First off I wouldn’t forget my GoPhone SIM card. Secondly I would get a better portable charger. I would also consider playing around with the GPS fix methods. On the n95 you get 4: Bluetooth GPS (don’t need that), Assisted GPS, Integrated GPS (old fashion GPS) and Network Based. I left the last 3 checked for the trip.

Food wise, we’d also go back to Amy Ruth’s and maybe check out some Thai restaurants in Queens.

Howard Chui
09.22.2008

3 comments September 23rd, 2008

T-Mobile Unveils the T-Mobile G1 — the First Phone Powered by Android

T-Mobile Phone Boasts an Intuitive Touch Screen and QWERTY Keyboard,
Plus Popular Google Products and Fresh, New Applications

NEW YORK – Sept. 23, 2008 – T-Mobile today announced the international launch of the world’s first Android™-powered mobile phone in partnership with Google. Available soon only for T-Mobile customers spanning two continents, the T-Mobile G1 combines full touch-screen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard with a mobile Web experience that includes the popular Google products that millions have enjoyed on the desktop, including Google Maps Street View™, Gmail™, YouTube™
and others.

“We are proud that T-Mobile is the first operator in the world to launch an Android-powered mobile device,” said Christopher Schläffer, group product and innovation officer of Deutsche Telekom. “Since 2005, Google has been an established partner in T-Mobile’s groundbreaking approach to bringing the open mobile Internet to the mass market. With the T-Mobile G1, we are continuing our strong tradition of being pioneers in the world of the open Internet.”

Cole Brodman, chief technology and innovation officer, T-Mobile USA, said, “The Internet and the mobile phone are both indispensable tools for our hectic lives, but only a fraction of us access the Web on our phones. The T-Mobile G1 is our opportunity in the U.S. to accelerate the mass adoption of the mobile Web, by unleashing Google innovation with a unique software experience that mobilizes the Google services hundreds of millions of consumers rely on every day.”

“Increasingly, connectivity does not just mean a phone call, but rather access to the world’s information,” said Andy Rubin, senior director of mobile platforms for Google. “Today’s news signifies an important first step for the Open Handset Alliance: With Android, we’ve opened the mobile Web not only for millions of users, but also to mobilize the developer community that understands the next most important platform in the world rests in the palm of our hand.”

With a fun and intuitive user interface and one-touch access to Google Search, the T-Mobile G1 is also the first phone to provide access to Android Market, where customers can find and download unique applications to expand and personalize their phone to fit their lifestyle.

T-Mobile customers in the U.S. have the opportunity to pre-order the T-Mobile G1, in limited quantities, beginning today at www.T-MobileG1.com and be among the first to experience this game-changing phone. The device will be available at select T-Mobile retail stores and online in the U.S. beginning Oct. 22, for a price of $179 with a two-year voice and data agreement. The T-Mobile G1 will also be available in the United Kingdom beginning in November, and across Europe in the first quarter of 2009. Countries include Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

Delivering the Familiarity of Google for a Superior Mobile Internet Experience:

The T-Mobile G1 with Google delivers a premium, easy-to-use mobile Web and communications experience in one device. Working together, T-Mobile, Google and HTC integrated Android and T-Mobile services into the phone’s form and function. The T-Mobile G1’s vibrant, high-quality screen slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard, great for communicating with friends online or using the phone’s e-mail, IM and mobile messaging capabilities. As another option for accessing the device, the T-Mobile G1 comes equipped with a convenient trackball for more precise, one-handed navigation.

“T-Mobile, Google and HTC share a similar vision for making the mobile Internet practical, relevant and fun,” said Peter Chou, president and CEO, HTC Corp. “The T-Mobile G1 represents the culmination of this vision by offering a variety of services, applications and content that introduces an Internet experience that everyone can enjoy. We are honored to be joining T-Mobile and Google today for this historic unveiling of the T-Mobile G1.”

With one-click contextual search, T-Mobile G1 customers in a flash can search for relevant information with a touch of a finger. A full HTML Web browser allows users to see any Web page the way it was designed to be seen, and then easily zoom in to expand any section by simply tapping on the screen.
With built-in support for T-Mobile’s 3G and EDGE network as well as Wi-Fi, the T-Mobile G1 can connect to the best available high-speed data connection for surfing the Web and downloading information quickly and effortlessly.

Google Maps Street View:

With Google Maps, Google’s groundbreaking maps service, T-Mobile G1 users can instantly view maps and satellite imagery, as well as find local business and get driving directions, all from the phone’s easy-to-use touch interface. The T-Mobile G1 also includes Google Maps Street View, allowing customers to explore cities at street-level virtually while on the go. Without taking a step, customers can tour a far-away place as if they were there — standing on the street corner. Even better, the Google Maps feature syncs with the built-in compass on the phone — an industry first — to allow users to view locations and navigate 360 degrees by simply moving the phone with their hand. Google Maps Street View is available today in many U.S. locations and soon in European countries.

Communicating on the Go:

The T-Mobile G1 features a rich HTML e-mail client, which seamlessly syncs your e-mail, calendar and contacts from Gmail as well as most other POP3 or IMAP e-mail services. The T-Mobile G1 multitasks, so you can read a Web page while also downloading your e-mail in the background. It combines Instant Messaging support for Google Talk™, as well as AOL®, Yahoo! Messenger ® and Windows Live Messenger in the U.S. With access to high-speed Web browsing and a 3-megapixel camera with photo-sharing capabilities, the T-Mobile G1 is ideal for balancing a busy lifestyle, whether sharing pictures, checking the latest sports scores or accessing social networking sites.

Embracing User-Generated Content:

Customers can use the T-Mobile G1′s 3G and Wi-Fi connection to attach and share pictures over email and MMS or download music from their favorite Web sites, and soon, upload and post pictures to their personal blog.  Built-in support for YouTube allows customers to enjoy YouTube’s originally-created content, easily navigate through YouTube’s familiar video browsing categories or search for specific videos.

Music at Your Fingertips:
The T-Mobile G1 comes pre-loaded with a new application developed by Amazon.com that gives customers easy access to Amazon MP3, Amazon.com’s digital music download store with more than 6 million DRM-free MP3 tracks. Using the new application, T-Mobile G1 customers are able to search, sample, purchase and download music from Amazon MP3 directly to their device (downloading music from Amazon MP3 using the T-Mobile G1 requires a Wi-Fi connection; searching, sampling and purchasing music can be done anywhere with a cellular connection). The T-Mobile G1 will be the first device with the Amazon MP3 mobile application pre-loaded.

Android Market:

The T-Mobile G1 is the first phone to offer access to Android Market, which hosts unique applications and mash ups of existing and new services from developers around the world. With just a couple of short clicks, customers can find and download a wide range of innovative software applications — from games to social networking and on-the-go shopping — to personalize their phone and enhance their mobile lifestyle. When the phone launches next month, dozens of unique, first-of-a-kind Android applications will be available for download on Android Market, including:

·         ShopSavvy: an application designed to help people do comparative shopping. Users scan the UPC code of a product with their phone’s camera while they are shopping, and can instantly compare prices from online merchants and nearby local stores.

·         Ecorio: a new application developed to help people keep track of their daily travels and view what their carbon footprint looks like. With access to tips and tricks, Ecorio allows users to record the steps they take throughout their day to help offset their impact on the environment.

·         BreadCrumbz: a new application that enables people to create a step-by-step visual map using photos. Customers can create their own routes, share them with friends or with the world.

For more information on the T-Mobile G1 in the U.S., please visit www.T-MobileG1.com. For more information on the T-Mobile G1 in the United Kingdom, please visit www.T-Mobile.co.uk/G1.

Notes: Additional charges may apply to features and services. 3G may not be available in all locations. Price and availability of device subject to change; taxes and other charges may apply.

Add comment September 23rd, 2008


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