Posts filed under 'Canadian Wireless Industry'

Nokia Ovi Store now bills directly to your Rogers/Bell/TELUS bill

Attention Canadians: Purchases made from the Ovi Store can now be billed directly to your Rogers/Bell/TELUS bill.

Add comment June 1st, 2010

iPad and iPad 3G launches with service on Bell or Rogers

The iPad and iPad 3G have just launched in Canada. If you don’t know what the iPad think of it this way:  The iPad is to the iPhone like a Big Mac is to a cheese burger; a Dr Evil to Mini me, that sort of thing. It’s basically a large iPhone with a 9.7″ higher resolution display with a faster processor (1Ghz vs 600Mhz) and no ability to make calls over the network in a tradional sense anyways. There are 2 versions; one with WiFi and another with WiFi and HSPA. You can choose from 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions which cost $549, $649 and $749 while adding 3G costs $129.

3G services requires a micro SIM card which you can get from Bell or Rogers. 500MB of data costs $15 for 30 days or $35 5GB. If you use up all your data before 30 days is up you can purchase more. Both include unlimited WiFi at Rogers and Bell hotspots. Apparently you can sign up for Rogers plus purchase more data using just the iPad. There’s no need to phone in. Both provide tools to let you view your usage from the iPad.

Bell is allowing use of their Mobile TV until August 31st. Rogers is working on letting you share data from your Rogers phone’s existing data plan (that might come later).

You can pick up a Rogers or Bell micro SIM card from the Apple store, Best Buy or Futureshop. I just checked the Apple online store and it seems you can only choose to include a Rogers micro SIM for an additional $0.20.

2 comments May 28th, 2010

Blackberry Pearl 3G review

I have something to  admit, I really like the Curve Bold and Storm 2. I also have to admit that I hate the Pearl. While I’ve never posted a review for the Pearl I did get one  to review a while back and I hated it so much I couldn’t use it enough to post a review. It was slow, I hated the Sure Type keyboard, didn’t like the low resolution 240×240 display and it was just a very dated design (I was playing with a 8120).

While the Pearl 9100 is powered by a 624Mhz processor and packs 256MB of RAM (both identical to the Bold 9700) plus it has a 360×400 display.  I have to admit I was still skeptical. After all it still uses Sure Type and still has a smallish display.

The silicon cases in my video don’t ship with the 9100 but are optional accessories.

The 9100  I’m reviewing is a HSPA phone on Telus though Rogers and Bell will also be carrying it as well.

As I mentioned the display has a resolution of 360×400 which it’s a huge improvement from 240×240. You get more than double the number of pixels! I did find the color to be slightly washed out though it’s not a huge deal.

The keyboard has 5 keys across and uses Sure Type predictive text input – new for the Pearl 3G is the 9105; a version with a keypad that is 3 keys across. While I haven’t used a regular keypad in a long time I’m sure those who are will appreciate the the more familiar layout. Personally I’m not crazy about the 5 row keyboard since I grew up with a steady diet of regular keypads, I’ve never used a 5 row keyboard till I used the 8120. That said SureType works okay most of the time. The 9100′s relatively fast processor makes it easy to use.

As far as WiFi goes the 9100 supports 802.11n. So while I highly doubt the 9100 can utilize the extra speed you get with 802.11n it probably does a better job of co-existing with 802.11n networks in that it won’t slow your other 802.11n stuff down.

The 9100′s main feature is its messaging capabilities. You can configure the 9100 to push IMAP, POP, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! or AOL mail to your device. There’s also Blackberry Messenger which you can use to message with other Blackberry owners. Blackberry messenger will also let you create chatrooms.

You can download Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and even a TiVo program all from RIM via the Blackberry App World program.

There are multimedia keys on top of the 9100 in addition to the volume buttons on the right. On either side are soft keys whose functions can be redefined (by default the right is a camera shutter button) while the left is a voice dial key.

There are multimedia keys to control music and video playback on top of the 9100.

Speaking about the music player I’ve always like one of the 9700 so I like the 9100′s. It’s easy to use and has just enough features to keep me happy.

You get around 256MB of storage built in which you can expand to 16GB using Micro SDHC cards (you get 2GB in the box). The MciroSDHC card is located behind the battery cover – you have to remove the battery to access it. As far as write speed goes I got around 5 or 6MB per second. I have a feeling I would have observed better numbers if I had a faster memory card.

When browsing the menus I noticed how similar the 9100 is to the  9700 menu wise.  You get pretty much all the same programs as the Bold. It was hard finding differences so I checked the RIM webpage out. Apparently the 9100 doesn’t have Bluetooth DUN and plus you get some additional audio and video codec support.

I noticed you get a few extra games with the 9100. Besides Brickbreaker, Wordmole (my favorite), Sudoku and Klondike you also get Word Trooper and Texxas Hold’Em King 2.

You get a 3.2MP camera which is pretty standard fare. Image quality is not that bad for a 3.2 megapixel camera. The video camera records at 640×480@24fps which is actually higher res than the Bold 9700′s. Video quality is also not terrible.

The Achilles heel of the current crop of Blackberries is their browser. It takes forever to render web pages plus you can only view one page at time. On the upside once a page has been rendered the scroll speed isn’t so bad.

While the 9100 comes with a 1150mAh battery (1500mAh on the 9700) you do get a smaller display. Like most Blackberries battery life is measured in days.

To test RF performance I compared the 9100 head to head with a 9700. While both are close I found the 9700 to be slightly better. In an area with low signal I found the 9100 blanked audio more where the 9700 didn’t.

Sound Quality is good on the 9100. It has slight hiss and is ever so slightly harsh.

Now normally I find I tend to write a lot more for my reviews but for the 9100 I don’t have that much to say. I guess much of what I’ve said about the Bold 9700 applies to the 9100 as well.

So while I hated the original Pearl I don’t find the new Pearl 3G to be all that bad. Now that I don’t mind the keyboard I’m actually beginning to understand the appeal of the Pearl – particularly it’s form factor. It’s just slightly wider than a feature phone but still narrower and noticeably lighter than a regular smartphone. Another thing to consider is that horsepower wise you don’t lose anything over the Bold 9700. You get a the same amount of RAM the same speed processor and a 3.2MP camera. Of course the fact that you get so many of the Bold 9700′s goodies are a good sign that the Bold should be getting an upgrade soon (for example the Bold 9650 gets 512MB RAM).

In the past if someone said: “Howard you’re going to have to use a Pearl as your daily phone” I’d probably think about chopping my hands off to get out of it. With the 9100 though I wouldn’t complain much if that were the case.

Howard Chui
05.25.2010

6 comments May 25th, 2010

Samsung Messenger review

Here’s the Samsung Messenger. It’s a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone with a QWERTY keyboard, 320×320 display and a 3.2MP camera. It’s available on Bell for $0 on a voice an data plan or $50 on Rogers.

With Windows Phone 7 just around the corner it’s hard to get excited about WinMo 6.5 phones. That was my initial reaction when I got the Messenger (I took it out of the box and then forgot about it). Later I realized some people are used to WinMo 6.5 personal/Microsoft Smartphone and aren’t interested in moving to a new platform.

Like I mentioned the Messenger runs Windows Mobile 6.5. I’ll be honest I haven’t used many WinMo Personal (MS smartphone) devices lately. I do own a HTC Snap but to be honest it was so boring I don’t remember where I put it nor do I remember anything about it other then that the the keyboard was nice. The last MS Smartphone I used for a time was a Motorola Q9h which was running 6.0.

Smartphone has not aged well at all and while it has decent basic functionality it feels really dated. It’s like when my sister in law makes a big turkey. First we all enjoy it, then after 4 days of eating turkey left overs we’re sick of it. That’s how I feel about Smartphone.

While it’s powered by a 528Mhz processor (standard stuff), device speed feels adequate to slightly sluggish at times. I do wish it would scroll faster in Internet Explorer. One nice upgrade is that you get a 320×320 display instead of the usual 320×240 – so you can see 33% more. It’s still not enough but it is a welcome change.

Check out my unboxing and hands on video to see the Messenger:

The keyboard is very good. The keys stick out a lot and have a nice feel to them. I thought about the keyboard a lot about how the keys stick out compared to the keyboard on a Blackberry Bold 9700. At first I thought I liked the Samsung’s keys better but after typing on it for a while I realized the 9700′s fretted keys are better for fast typing because it’s harder to accidentally press neighboring keys. I wish there were a few more shortcut buttons as I’ve always found Smartphone’s menus to be a mess so being able to skip the menu is always a nice thing.

The home screen is customized with Samsung’s WizPro (sounds like something you’d find in a men’s bathroom) software. With Wizpro the home screen is split into different sections which you can scroll between sideways. There is a home section, communities, contacts, music, photo, shortcuts, settings Yahoo finance, Yahoo search  and AccuWeather.

The home section shows information like the date/time, new text messages, missed calls, new emails and Windows Live messenger messages. Communities has a link to a Facebook application along with links to the Friendster, Myspace, PhotoBucket, Flickr, Picasa and YouTube websites. Contacts is actually more of a speed dial where you choose your favourite contacts. I find the contacts feature to be pointless since typing in someone’s name on the today screen is faster. Shortcut allows you can define your own shortcuts to any programs on the Messenger.

While I didn’t fall in love with WizPro it isn’t a bad feature -especially if you don’t want to spend a lot of time setting up your phone. That said I did find it slightly laggy at times plus it also makes the home screen a bit of a mess.

Like I mentioned you can start typing in a name or number from the home screen and the Messenger will automatically search your phonebook for matching results.

Samsung includes some extra programs:

  • Alarms (so you don’t have to go into settings to setup an alarm)
  • Anniversary (no idea why Samsung included this since there is already a built in Calendar which syncs with Exchange)
  • Smart Converter (a unit converter)
  • Smart Reader (business card scanner)
  • Tip Calculator
  • World Clock
  • Photo Slides
  • Podcast
  • RSS Reader

I tried Smart Reader and got mixed results. It works really well with simple business cards but doesn’t work so well with cards that have backgrounds. That said it tends to save time if you get a lot of business cards.

The camera has a resolution of 3.2 megapixel with no flash.  You can start it up using the camera button on the right side. Image quality is not terrible but the autofocus takes a very long time to focus. There are a lot of camera functions available including burst mode and ISO settings. The camcorder records video at a resolution of 320×240 so it’s nothing special.

After you’ve taken a picture you can do basic stuff like email, MMS, or Bluetooth it. With the communities app you can also upload them to Picasa, Facebook, MySpace, PhotoBucket and Flickr.

The Messenger is a WinMo phone so you get the standard Exchange and Hotmail push email support plus IMAP and POP. There is support for threaded SMS.

Browsing is handled by Internet Explorer. While it’s better than nothing I found it to be slow at rendering pages plus it’s very slow at scrolling.

You get Mobile versions of Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Word which are useful for editing and viewing attachments.

Like I mentioned before the Messenger lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack so you’re stuck using micro USB headphones (or using a microUSB to 3.5mm adapter).

Battery life is not terrible, you should get about 1.5 days to 2 days of battery life so it’s best to charge it each night.

I found the Messenger sounded a bit fuzzy. Maximum earpiece volume is good.

I compared the Messenger’s RF performance with a Motorola Milestone. I found that the Milestone was noticably better in areas with weak signal. When I simultaneous placed calls and went somewhere with poor network coverage I found the messenger would blank audio where the Milestone still sounded fine.

In the end if you’re someone who really likes Microsoft Smartphone/Windows Mobile Personal, Maybe you have a HTC Maple/Snap, HTC S620, Motorola Q9h, Samsung Jack, etc and don’t really want to switch platforms give the Samsung Messenger a shot. The bigger screen alone makes it worth the upgrade. That said that that doesn’t describe you then you’re probably better of trying something else.

Howard Chui
05.24.2010

1 comment May 22nd, 2010

Official Mobilicity Plans

Well, they are official.  Below are the six price plans that Mobilicity will be offering at launch tomorrow, 10 am EST.

Plan add-ons

Unlimited East Asia (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam) and South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) long distance are both $20/month per region.
Phone Protection Plan $7/month
BlackBerry Internet Service is $20/month and will give you unlimited browsing, BlackBerry messenger, and e-mail

Unlimited internet access on your desktop or laptop is $40/month and requires the purchase of a stick.

live_strong

3 comments May 14th, 2010

More Mobilicity News

Mobilicity is getting ready to announce their service details this Friday, May 14th.  A press release issued today states the following:

The new wireless carrier is gearing up for its debut launch in Toronto and will introduce its unique business model that will offer Canadian consumers industry-leading, unlimited plans, unbeatable value and uncomplicated wireless – without contracts or credit checks. 

HowardForums user “ron6400” was able to snap this picture of a Mobilicity kiosk at a local supermarket.

Judging by the photo we are expecting Mobilicity to offer four devices at launch.  Sifting through the rumours it looks like Mobilicity will launch with the BlackBerry 9700, Nokia 5230, Sony Ercisson TM506, and Huawei U7519.  It would also make sense for Mobility to launch a USB internet stick such as the Huawei E181.

Check back Friday after 11am EST for official details.

live_strong

1 comment May 12th, 2010

Rogers Releases Samsung Messenger

Although the Samsung Messenger is currently listed on the Rogers website the full QWERTY device is currently out of stock.  The messenger should be arrive at your local Rogers retail location in the coming days.

The Samsung Messenger ensures you stay productive wherever you are. This Windows Mobile is perfect for the mobile professional looking to keep connected to emails, edit documents and manage your calendar. It comes loaded with a 3.2 MP camera, GPS and Wi-Fi and 3G speeds.

When the Samsung Messenger is available in retail location and online it will set you back:

$49.99-3 year term (select plans)
$299.99-2 year term
$349.99-1 year term
$399.99-no term

Follow the “more” link for two enlarged photos of the Samsung Messenger.

live_strong

Add comment May 12th, 2010

Mobilicity to Offer Unlimited for $65?

New carrier, Mobilicity, is getting ready to launch service in the competitive Canadian wireless market.  Mobilicity has been silent about rate plans and devices, but a possible slip in a CTV article may be the start of future leaks.

With launch of the wireless startup predicted to be early June, a source close to the company told CTV News that “a cornerstone of the company’s offensive will be an aggressively priced unlimited talk, text, long-distance and data package for $65.“  Assuming Mobilicity will use the concept of Home and Away Zones like WIND Mobile does, users will have to pay for addition usage outside of Mobilicity’s coverage area.

WIND Mobile is also offering unlimited rate plans but with a slightly higher price tag.  Unlimited voice, data (soft capped at 5GB), and texting will set back $80/month but includes voicemail and caller id.  Assuming Mobilicity will charge an extra $5 for voicemail, customers will be looking at a cost savings of $10/month ($120/year) when compared to WIND’s unlimited plans.

Looks like there is competition between the new entrants, now we just need the existing carriers in Canada to react.  Discuss the leak in the comment section below or on HowardForums: Your Mobile Phone Community & Resource.

live_strong

1 comment May 11th, 2010

Rogers iPad Data Plans

You can now pre-order your iPad on the Apple website in advance of the Canadian launch of May 28th.  Although the iPad 3G will be compatible with all three major Canadian carrier (Rogers, Bell, and Telus) Rogers is the only one to officially announce data pricing.

Earlier today the Apple website did mention a $20 option that would allow you share your existing data plan with the iPad, but that reference has since been removed.

live_strong

2 comments May 10th, 2010

Solo Mobile Releases LG 230

It appears parent company, Bell Mobility Inc., has decided to bring out the defibrillator and zap Solo Mobile back to life.  The discount carrier has basically been kept out of the spot light since Bell assumed full control over Virgin Mobile Canada.

Today the LG 230 appeared on the Solo Mobile website reviving the all but dead company for a few more months.  The LG 230 is a basic flip phone that will set you back an even $100 if purchase outright or an affordable $25 on a 2 year term.

Buy your LG 230 online or at a Solo Mobile dealer near you.

live_strong

3 comments May 6th, 2010

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