Archive for February, 2010

Rogers annouces plans with including US Data roaming

Rogers now offers the following plans for those who roam to the US:

$20 Personal Email on BB CDN/US
$35 Consumer/Small business BB (BIS) 500MB CDN/US Plan
$35 Consumer/Small business 500MB CDN & US Data Plan
$40 Consumer/Small business BB (BIS) 1GB CDN & US Plan
$40 Consumer/Small business 1GB CDN & US Data Plan
$45 500MB CDN & US Mobile Internet Flex Rate Plan
$50 DAP (for MSD customers) 1.5GB CDN & US Data Plan
$55 Corporate BB (BES) 1GB CDN & US Plan
$55 Corporate BB (BES) 500 MB CDN & US Flex Rate Plan

Overage is $0.25 per MB. These do not include the Gov’t Regulatory Recovery Fee.

Add comment February 23rd, 2010

Rogers to carry the Acer Liquid

Last year Android wise Canadians got to choose from the HTC Dream, Magic and Samsung Galaxy. This year we’re got/are getting the Motorola Milestone, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and now the Acer Liquid.

The Acer Liquid has a 3.5″ WVGA (800×480) display, Snapdragon process that runs at 768Mhz (as opposed to 1Ghz on the X10 and Nexus One), 5 megapixel camera with no flash and runs Android 2.1.

Look for it Q1 this year. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Add comment February 22nd, 2010

Microsoft Annouces Windows Phone 7 Series (WinMo 7). Available Holiday 2010

For those Windows Mobile users who haven’t already switched to Android, iPhone or Blackberry or stopped using smartphones altogether, Microsoft has just announced Windows Phone 7 Series.

Here’s the press release:

Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Series
New phones designed for life in motion to debut at holiday 2010.
BARCELONA, Spain – Feb. 15, 2010 – Today at Mobile World Congress 2010, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the next generation of Windows® Phones, Windows Phone 7 Series. With this new platform, Microsoft offers a fresh approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences that bring to the surface the content people care about from the Web and applications. For the first time ever, Microsoft will bring together Xbox LIVE games and the Zune music and video experience on a mobile phone, exclusively on Windows Phone 7 Series. Partners have already started building phones; customers will be able to purchase the first phones in stores by holiday 2010.
“Today, I’m proud to introduce Windows Phone 7 Series, the next generation of Windows Phones,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “In a crowded market filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience. We believe Windows Phone 7 Series is a phone that truly reflects the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people.”

Designed for Life in Motion
With Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft takes a fundamentally different approach to phone software. Smart design begins with a new, holistic design system that informs every aspect of the phone, from its visually appealing layout and motion to its function and hardware integration. On the Start screen, dynamically updated “live tiles” show users real-time content directly, breaking the mold of static icons that serve as an intermediate step on the way to an application. Create a tile of a friend, and the user gains a readable, up-to-date view of a friend’s latest pictures and posts, just by glancing at Start.
Every Windows Phone 7 Series phone will come with a dedicated hardware button for Bing, providing one-click access to search from anywhere on the phone, while a special implementation of Bing search provides intent-specific results, delivering the most relevant Web or local results, depending on the type of query.
Windows Phone 7 Series creates an unrivaled set of integrated experiences on a phone through Windows Phone hubs. Hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 Series includes six hubs built on specific themes reflecting activities that matter most to people:
* People. This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.
*

Pictures. This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.
* Games. This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7 Series.
* Music + Video. This hub creates an incredible media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is rich and easy to navigate, and immerses the listener in the content.
* Marketplace. This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.
* Office. This hub brings the familiar experience of the world’s leading productivity software to the Windows Phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users stay productive and up to date while on the go.

Availability
Partners from around the world have committed to include Windows Phone 7 Series in their portfolio plans. They include mobile operators AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, and manufacturers Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC Corp., HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm Inc. The first phones will be available by holiday 2010. Customers who would like to receive additional information about Windows Phone 7 Series and be notified when it is available can register at http://www.windowsphone7series.com<http://www.windowsphone7series.com/>.
To watch the full replay of Steve Ballmer’s press conference at Mobile World Congress, and to experience Windows Phone 7 Series through an online product demo, readers can visit http://www.microsoft.com/news/windowsphone.

2 comments February 15th, 2010

Google Nexus One review

Here’s my review of the Nexus One, Google’s first phone. This one is manufactured by HTC.

These days, everyone seems to love Google (everyone besides the Chinese government, Apple, Microsoft and other competitors) so let’s see if I love the Nexus One.

Since it’s very subjective I don’t generally comment too much on a phone’s appearance. That said I was pretty disappointed when I first got the Nexus One. It looks like an ugly HTC phones from a couple of years ago. It really has an appearance deficit. Anyways now that I’ve had it for a few weeks I don’t really notice it anymore but I thought it was worth mentioning.

The Nexus one supports quad band EDGE but only has HSPA support on AWS bands (1700/2100Mhz). In Canada the only available network that currently supports AWS is Wind. I have a Wind SIM but I don’t have Wind service in my house (I’m about 5 mins from 3G coverage) so I tested the Nexus One mostly on Rogers network and on WiFi.

The display is a 3.7″ OLED with a resolution of 800×480. It looks fantastic indoors and manages to make most phone’s regular LCD displays look washed out. What’s irony is that it washes out when it’s sunny so keep that in mind.

In front there is a trackball and 4 touch sensitive Android navigation areas along the bottom of the display. The left side has 2 volume buttons. On top are the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack while there is a lone micro USB connector on the bottom for charging and hooking up to a computer. The back has a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash plus the speaker is located there too.

Check out my unboxing to see more:

The back comes off to reveal the 1400mAh battery, SIM card slot and Micro SDHC slow. Google includes a 4GB card in the box.

I did notice two usability issues with the Nexus One. The bezel isn’t very wide so I often found myself accidentally touching the side of the screen with my the palm of my hand. This can cause unexpected behavior. The second problem is that the menu buttons are part of the touch screen on the bottom. I found myself accidentally pressing them from time to time while other times I’d brush them with my palm.

In the end I found the Nexus One difficult to use with one hand. Typing is particularly trying.

The volume buttons are difficult to differentiate. It’s not a huge problem but I usually have to look at them before I can adjust the volume.

The trackball is mildly useful – It’s good for correcting spelling mistakes and some games but otherwise I rarely used it.

To save power the screen has an auto dimming feature so it will increase the brightness when it’s bright and lower it when it’s dark. – at least it’s supposed to. I found that the Nexus one had the most annoying auto dimming feature ever. It’s way too sensitive – I just ended up disabling it.

At the heart of the Nexus One is a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor. It works great in the Nexus one. While the Nexus one can lag occasionally when multitasking it’s generally very snappy feeling.

When inputting text there is usually a voice recognition button on the on screen keyboard. The voice recognition generally works quite well, the problem is that there’s a noticeable delay from when you finish speaking to when the Nexus One recognizes what you said. It seems the Nexus one actually uploads what you said so Google can recognize it – so if you don’t have 3G it can take a few seconds.

If you want to use the voice search feature just press and hold the search button and then tell it what you want it to do.

To get the most out of the Nexus One it helps if you use Google stuff like GMail, Google Calendar and GoogleTalk. When you start using the Nexus One you enter in your Google login and it will automatically download your contacts and calendar information plus it will push your Gmail to you.

If you want to use your own non Gmail/Google Apps email there’s a separate email app that can handle POP, IMAP and Exchange.

The browser works well and handles multiple browser windows with ease. It’s relatively quick and after a new firmware update a week or so ago it can handle multitouch like on the iPhone and Palm WebOS devices.

You can download programs from the Android Market. There are a ton of programs in the Market. Some are good and a lot are no worth downloading. Still, like the iPhone App Store I had a lot of fun downloading and trying programs.

I liked the picture gallery, it’s pretty fast and the firmware update I mentioned a while back added multitouch support.

To add music to the Nexus One you connect it to your computer, mount the SD card and then copy your music files to the Nexus One.

If you tether your phone a lot you should know that the Nexus One doesn’t come with a tethering solution out of the box. You’ll have to go out and find one.

Google Maps is built in. It’s very good at getting a GPS fix very quickly and it’s pretty easy to use. It has navigation in that you can ask it for directions – the catch is that there’s only voice guided navigation in the ‘States so up here in Canada I don’t have the option for it. There is multitouch support for zooming in and out of maps.

There is an app called Car Home which you can use to search for a location and phonebook entries using your voice.

The camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels. Quality wise It’s about average as far as 5 megapixel autofocus cameras goes. The flash tends to wash out subjects while the sensor could be more sensitive so pictures captured in low light lack some detail. The autofocus feels a hair faster than with most camera phones (though it’s still way too slow).

The camcorder captures video at 720×480 (DVD quality) into 3gp files. Video quality is above average but the microphone isn’t very good.

I noticed that the Nexus One uses a ton of data in the background. I managed to pull down around 25MB of data minimum each day which is quite a lot considering I wasn’t streaming anything besides a few short YouTube videos every couple of days. In fact according to a data counter widget I installed (search the market for “Data counter widget”) I used up 1GB of data in about 2 weeks. What more incredible is this is all over EDGE. Make sure you have a beefy data plan if you’re going to get a Nexus One!

Please note I’m still in the process of testing the Nexus One’s RF. I don’t have Wind 3G service in my house plus I’m running into some APN issues – I also have a Wind Blackberry Bold 9700. Check back in a week or so and I’ll have some observations on the Nexus One’s RF performance.

Battery life is pretty weak. The Nexus one will struggle to make it through the day. I’m terrified to see what the battery life will be like once I have 3G service. The included battery has a capacity of 1400mAh. I’d like to see manufacturers start using bigger batteries to keep up with the faster processors, bigger displays and more capable operating systems.

In the end I really liked the Nexus One. This really confused me since I didn’t enjoy using the Nexus One from an ergonomic standpoint – The bezel is too narrow which means the keyboard is difficult to use and the screen unpredictable at times. After more thought I realized I really liked how the Nexus One pairs Android (version 2.1 on the Nexus One) with a 1Ghz processor.

So I guess while I liked the Nexus One I’d advise you to see how similar upcoming phones are (like the Sony Ericsson X10).

Howard Chui
02.14.2010

6 comments February 2nd, 2010

Attn Rogers & Fido customers: WhoCalled doesn’t suck anymore

A while back Rogers noticed some HowardForums members complaints about WhoCalled:

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1539462&page=3&pp=15

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1389483&page=1&pp=15

Well it turns out they were listening. Rogers has made 3 changes to WhoCalled:

First and most importantly you’ll only get notified if you were out of service when you received the calls. That means no more notifications when you ignore a call from a telemarketer/private number.

Secondly the WhoCalled message now has the number and time on one line

Thirdly now you can call the number you missed from the text message.

3 comments February 2nd, 2010


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