Archive for January, 2010

Google Nexus One unboxing

Just got my Google Nexus One:

Check back in a few days for a review.

1 comment January 27th, 2010

Blackberry Curve 8520 now available in White on Rogers for $49.99 on a 3 year

Rogers just announced that they’re carrying the Blackberry Curve 8520 in white for as low as $49.99 on a 3 year voice and data plan.

1 comment January 26th, 2010

Nokia E72 review

When I think of the E71 I’d say it had a very nice design, so-so hardware (when it came out) and software that was obviously missing features compared with Nokia’s other phones. The E71 has been around for a while now so it’s time for an update. While it looks similar to the E71 the E72 has a higher resolution camera (which doesn’ t take purple tinged pictures), a much faster processor, support for an extra HSPA band and more software features you usually find on Nokia’s N series devices. So now it doesn’t feel like you’re giving up as much if you’re using an E series device.

Check out my unboxing if you want to see what the E72 is like in my hand along with some comparisons with the E71, Blackberry Bold 9700 and HTC Snap/Maple.

At a glance the E72 is quite similar to the e71, but there are a few major differences both hardware and software wise. First off the e72 is wider than the e71 – I didn’t notice this at first because the e72′s keyboard is the same width as the e71′s. This is a shame since I thought the e71′s keyboard, while not horrible could be a little wider. I also noticed that the e72 can charge via the mini USB OR the Nokia barrel port – horray! The 2.5mm headset jack is now a much more useful 3.5mm headphone jack. The headphone jack doesn’t have video out though it can act as a line out. The navigation keys have changed, on the e71′s the softkeys stuck out whereas now they’re flat – I prefer the e71′s softkeys. The center of the navigation pad is a trackpad thought it’s not that useful in my opinion. I found it got in the way when I was navigating menus and didn’t work well with the browser. I just turned it off.

In my opinion the biggest difference between the e71 and the e72 is that the e72 has a 600Mhz processor (up from 369Mhz). It makes a huge difference and completely transforms the S60 user experience – it’s a shame the n97, n86 8mp, etc don’t have it too. There is only 128MB of RAM which can put a damper on things.

Software wise the e72 is also a big improvement – particularly with regards to multimedia. Whereas the e71 felt like Nokia was holding back a bunch of features software wise the e72 feels much more like a N series device. You get DLNA client, the better picture viewer, in addition you get an improved email client with built in Nokia Email support Exchange support. While I’d say it’s getting late for this, not removing features is what Nokia needs to do to make their phones more compelling.

In the box is a leather case. It’s very thin and slim like the E72 but I found it difficult to fit because it fit so tightly.

There is predictive text support which had an uncanny ability to select the wrong word – even when I didn’t make any spelling mistakes. It drove me nuts so I turned it off.

Out of the box there is no support for threaded SMS which is pretty pathetic considering the E72 is marketed as a business phone with a QWERTY keyboard. There is a neat message reader feature that will read your SMS to you.

The messaging client supports POP, IMAP plus it has Exchange support. When I got my E72 I set it up with my gmail and it automatically downloaded my contacts and calendar too though I had to setup my email a second time and turned off Exchange mail because the built in Exchange client doesn’t seem to handle HTML email. Apparently it only works with the newest version of Exchange. That said when I set it up as just a Gmail account HTML mail worked okay.

You can adjust the size of the system fonts. While not a bad feature the E72′s display lacks the resolution and size to really make resized fonts look really good.

GPS wise you get Ovi Maps which now has free voice guided navigation. If you don’t want to use data you can connect the E72 to your computer to download map data so you can use it without an internet connection. You can also plan your trip online and then have it sent to your phone (I didn’t try this feature).

The e72 has a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash. It’s about average for 5 megapixel cameras. While it’s way better than the e71′s 3 megapixel camera it’s not as good as some N series 5 megapixel cameras. I suspect this is because the e72 camera sensor is less sensitive than the ones found on the N85, N95, etc because the e72 is much more reliant on it’s built in flash. The e72 also seems to be more prone to blasting out subjects with the built in flash though it’s not as bad as some 5 megapixel camera phones. The E72 doesn’t have a dedicated shutter button so sometimes the camera app is a bit unintuitive to use since the same button that controls the shutter can also be used to select camera options.

Video capabilities have also been upgraded so that video is now captured at 640×480 which is nice but the frame rate is only 15fps so videos always seem slightly jerky. I’m pretty sure the e72 is capable of capturing video at 30fps so I’m disappointed at this limitation. There’s also a minor bug with the video recorder, sometimes it won’t record and gives an error message instead. The way around this is to press right (this hides the options which don’t always show up) before you record.

The built in browser is pretty average. It’s reasonably fast but there’s not easy way to open up new browser tabs, it seems to crash more than I’m used to on most phones and it doesn’t automatically go to the last page you were looking at when this happens. The e72 could really use a higher resolution display. There is support for Flash lite so some Flash animations will work on the e72. The 600Mhz processor has enough power so most flash animations aren’t slide shows like on slower Nokia phones. The problem is that the e72 lacks the resolution to make this a really useful feature. If you don’t turn the trackpad off you’re probably thinking you can use it in a similar manner as the Bold 9700′s trackpad. Unfortunately the E72′s pointer doesn’t move with enough resolution so it’s not as useful as you’d think.

As far as office-y features go you get a version of Quick Office which lets you create documents (most phones come with a edit only version, you pay extra if you want to create), a unit converter and a business card scanner. I tried the business card scanner and didn’t find it accurate at all.

Out of the box the E72 has a SIP VOIP client which is completely integrated into the operating system. So when you dial numbers you can choose whether you want it to go via your cell provider or via VOIP.

Sound quality is not bad. RF performance is about average.

In the end, while I thought the navigation and softkeys were a step back from the e71 and I was a little disappointed with the displays’ low 320×240 display, the fact that it only has 128MB RAM and the narrow keyboard everything else about the e72 is a huge improvement.

When compared to the Bold 9700 both phones have very different strength. While both have push email support the 9700 has IM clients for MSN, Yahoo and GoogleTalk that you can download from RIM directly plus you can message other Blackberry users using PIN. The e72 has support for OVI chat (unfortunately I don’t have any friends who use it) and while you can use IM via a 3rd party client you’ll have to go out find it and download it yourself. For SMS the 9700 will automatically thread conversations while the e72 doesn’t.

RIM also offers Facebook, MySpace and Flickr clients you can download from them. Facebook recently released a S60 client for the E72 (which I tried installing – it didn’t work). As far as Facebook, MySpace and Flickr goes you’ll have to go out and find a 3rd party client yourself.

These differences show where RIM and Nokia’s priorities lay.

The 9700′s keyboard is also easier to use than the e72′s because it’s wider and the keys are a better shape. While I liked the e72′s shortcut keys, I preferred the 9700′s trackpad over the e72′s navpad + trackpad though you may find the opposite true.

As far as the display goes the 9700 wins hands down. It’s bigger and higher resolution than the e72′s.

While the 9700′s multimedia is adequate for most the e72 has a leg up in this department. The e72 has a slightly better camera with higher resolution video capture. Besides the camera the e72 also has a DLNA (not a feature everyone uses but it’s neat if you do).

The e72′s browser is much better than the 9700′s. It’s not that the e72′s browser is amazing (it’s slightly above average in my opinion) – it’s that the 9700′s is horribly slow.

The 9700 has a leg up as far as battery life – along with most other HSPA smartphones Though the e72 is much better than I was expecting.

GPS-wise the E72 has Ovi maps which now comes with free voice guided navigation. Ovi maps is very fully featured though it can take a while to get a fix. The 9700 comes with Blackberry maps which is a much simpler, less featured application.

Both come with leather cases. The 9700 comes with a belt pouch while the E72 has a thin leather slip case. While both are nice the 9700′s is easier to use.

I’ve been a fan of Nokia phones for years, but lately I’ve been disappointed with Nokia; I’m trying to forget the time I spent with the N97 plus I found that the N86′s processor couldn’t keep up with it’s 8MP camera.

The E72 is a big step forward for Nokia, instead of holding back features from it they gave it most of the features from their N series phones plus they finally put a decent processor in on of their phones. Let’s not forget that the E72′s slick design. The end result is a phone that competes better with it’s contemporaries.

Howard Chui
01.24.2010

3 comments January 22nd, 2010

Nokia Ovi now has free navigation

Nokia has just announced that navigation is now free for compatible phones.

Recently Nokia revamped their mapping application. It’s now pretty decent but the downside was that you had to pay for navigation – I didn’t have a problem with that but the thing is you can only purchase a subscription for it, it wasn’t a one time purchase. It made me feel like I was being nickel and dimed (only navigation cost a lot more then that).

Anyways now it’s free. Get it at www.nokia.com/maps.

1 comment January 21st, 2010

TELUS gets the Blackbery Curve 8530 for $49.99 on a 3 year

TELUS just launched the Blackberry Curve 8530 (a CDMA blackberry). It’s got 3G, WiFi, trackpad, BlackBerry OS 5.0, QWERTY and a 2 megapixel camera. Note that unlike the Storms 2 and Tour this one doesn’t have GSM/EDGE/HSPA built in so you can’t roam with it

It comes in red or silver.

Prices are $349.99 straight up and $299.99, $249.99 or $49.99 on a 3/2/1 year contract with a minimum $50 monthly voice + data plan.

4 comments January 20th, 2010

Nokia E72 unboxing

Here’s my E72 unboxing. I check it out and compare it with the Nokia e71, Blackberry Bold 9700 and HTC Snap/Maple.

Add comment January 18th, 2010

Updated list if you want to text to donate to Haiti

These work for TELUS/Bell/Rogers:

For donations to Salvation Army Canada: text the word Haiti to 45678
To donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee: text Haiti to 25383
To donate $5 to the rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International: text Haiti to 85944
To donate $5 to the Yele Foundation: text the word Yele to 501501
To donate $10 to the Red Cross in the U.S.: text Haiti to 90999

Text away!

1 comment January 15th, 2010

Rogers and Fido customers can text HELP to 1291 to donate $5 to help Haiti

Rogers and Fido customers can text HELP to 1291 to donate $5 to Partners in Health: Haiti.

1 comment January 13th, 2010

HTC Magic and Dream to get HTC Sense + Magic to get Android 2.1 upgrade later this year

Just got an email from HTC saying that the HTC Magic and Dream on Rogers will both get upgrades which add the HTC Sense user interface. This upgrade will keep Android at version 1.5

Later this year the HTC Magic (NOT the Dream) will get another upgrade which will bring Android up to version 2.1.

1 comment January 5th, 2010

Nokia N900 coming to Wind

The Nokia N900 is coming to Wind. Unlike all the other Nokia smartphones currently in the Canadian market the N900 is powered by Maemo which is Nokia’s Linux powered platform.

It’s got a 3.5″ 800×480 display, QWERTY keyboard, 600Mhz processor, 5MP camera with a browser that supports AJAX and Flash.

4 comments January 5th, 2010

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