Posts filed under 'Phones'

Sony Ericsson X10 Review

When I think of Sony Ericsson and smartphones the first thing that I think of is that they were all late. The P800, was late, so was the P900, P910, etc all the way to the Xperia X1. Now we have the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, an Android phone. On paper it’s a nice phone; 4″ 854×480 display, 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.  SE also launched it in a timely matter. So how is it? Read on.

As I just mentioned the display measures an impressive 4.0″ with a resolution of 854×480. Compared to the Google Nexus Ones which has a 3.7″ 800×480 displays you get an extra 54 vertical pixels. While 0.3″ doesn’t sound like much I can really tell that the display is  larger. That said I don’t really notice the extra resolution. Sometimes the X10 uses really small text which can be difficult to see; particularly at the top of the screen. I think it’s a Sony-ism; they think small text is cool. That’s why some of their laptops have relatively high resolutions for their display size. It’s an LCD display (as opposed to a OLED one) so compared to my Nexus one the X10′s screen’s colour isn’t as intense but at the same time it works better outdoors in direct sunlight.

Check out my first impressions which includes a quick tour of the device.

The X10 feels lighter than it looks which makes it feel slightly cheap but really build quality is fine. The back is covered with rubberized paint.

It has slight curves on it and fits well in your hand.

I only have 2 minor complaints, first off the micro USB port has a cover on it. I’m not a fan of those. Secondly none of the physical buttons light up! For the 3 menu buttons in front there is a light behind them but it only lights up the space between the buttons so you can’t see the markings above them when it’s dark. Basically it’s like light seeping through on a cheap phone.

The keyboard is slightly different from the default Android keyboard. The X10′s keyboard has more keys along the bottom of the keyboard including left and right buttons which are useful since the X10 doesn’t have a navigation pad. There is also a smiley button. When you’re typing the predictive text has up to 2 rows of guesses. There is an option that will vibrate the phone when you type (it was off by default on mine). There’s also an auto-correct option which didn’t work for me even though it was turned on – That was really annoying.

Given the size of the X10′s display I wish the keyboard was a little bit taller but this is really a minor thing. One problem I have with the Nexus One is that its sides are too curved which makes it difficult to type on – the X10 back of the X10 is curved but the front isn’t so it’s easy to type on.

The X10 comes with Google customizations so you get Google Maps, Google Talk and Gmail. On every Google customized Android device I have tried signing into a Google service automatically populates my phonebook and calendar. On the X10 you can choose to sync with Google or Sony Ericsson (or presumably you can use Moxier to sync with Exchange). You have to pick which one you want to choose before you can sync.

Sony Ericsson is really touting their Mediascape and Timescape applications.

Mediascape is basically a media player with some extra functionality. It will let you view pictures/video/music on your device.

The X10 has facial recognition so it recognize faces (up to 5 per photo) so once you’ve tagged a photo with someone’s name it will automatically recognize them in the future so you view all pictures with that person in them. You can also view pictures by date plus there is a section where you can view your Facebook (wall, profile and albums) and Picasa photos.

When listening to music Musicscape  can go out and download album covers (provided you’re connected to WiFi) plus you can search Google and YouTube for similar content. Particularly you can search YouTube without having to leave the application. It will launch the YouTube app if you click on a result. The Rogers X10 has integration with their music store (which apparently has some DRM free music) so you can buy music from there. Music can be viewed or searched by Track, Artist, Album and Genre.

Another thing I like about the X10 is that you can move skip forwards/backwards by pressing and holding the volume buttons.

Mediascape is a very cool program and reasonably well thought out. My only comment is that sometimes I don’t want all the features turned on; it would be nice if there was a ‘simple’ mode which is just a music player.

Timescape is an even more interesting program. Basically it takes your SMS, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Call History and even photos and music and ties them together. It’s sort of a history of what’s going on with each. There’s a list of what happened to each of them in chronological order. So let’s say you got a SMS from someone then you listened to some music and then a friend updated their Facebook. Timescape will have in order the Facebook update followed by the song you listened to and then the SMS.

You can sort the list by each SMS, Email, Facebook update, etc or you can view them all on a list as they’ve happened. It actually a really efficient way of managing all of them since you can do it all from within the Timescape.

Like I mentioned the X10 automatically runs photos through facial recognition so photos will automatically be associated with their specific contact.

If you click on a list item there’s a context sensitive list of things you can do; you can call them, send SMS, etc.

One thing I noticed about Timescape is that there is no instant messaging support plus it doesn’t integrate with the Gmail app (I’m not sure if it integrates with Moxier) so you’re stuck using it with a POP3, IMAP4 or Hotmail account. Of course you can always enable IMAP on your Gmail account.

Overall Timescape is a really useful application. It’s a real time saver since you only have to open one program instead of separate Facebook, Twitter, SMS, Email, etc programs.

You get the Android web browser which works well. It’s good if you like to browse multiple webpages at once. The X10′s version of this browser doesn’t support multi-touch which is a shame since some HTC Android devices, the Motorola Milestone and Nexus One all support it.

As far as Email goes you can check your Gmail/Google hosted email using the Gmail app. IMAP and POP3 can be checked with the mail app while Exchange functionality is courtesy of Moxier Mail. Moxier also handles Exchange calendar syncing thought I didn’t test Moxier.

The camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels and is capable of capturing some decent pictures. It does fine outdoors but it’s not that great indoors. Indoors it uses very slow shutter speeds so pictures have a tendency to be blurred. I’ve noticed this problem on pretty much every single Sony Ericsson phone I have ever used. It really needs its flash indoors but I noticed that you have to access the menu if you want to use the flash as opposed to just pressing a flash button on the screen. And when you want to use it you basically leave it on or off all the time so it’s kind of annoying. It would be nice if the X10 could decide when the light is need and when it’s not.

In camera mode the display has icons for resolution, scene ,modes and whether you want to touch the screen to trip the shutter. You can toggle between photo or video mode plus there are thumbnails of recently taken photos/videos. There’s also EV compensation. I wish there were more icons because there’s a lot of room on the sides of the display for things like flash control, self timer, etc. My guess is this camera program is also meant for lower end Sony Ericsson Android powered phones with 480×320 displays (that’s just my speculation). so they can’t cram too many icons in there.

Video can can be captured at 800×480. I found video quality isn’t terrible but there seems to be too many compression artifacts. I also found the microphone picks up a lot of handling noise (noise your fingers make when they move against the phone). There is image stabilization but the catch is that IS doesn’t work in the highest video mode. I don’t know about you but when I’m taking video I prefer to capture it in the highest quality and then shrink it if I’m going to send it. I do understand that the X10 doesn’t have optical IS and that digital IS degrades quality a little but still…

As far as call handling goes the X10 I’m not sure if the X10 has a presence sensor because it doesn’t shut the screen off when you put it to your face (at least not for a while). However, once the screen is off it seems to know when I’ve moved it away from my face because the screen turns back on (I’m guessing it’s using the accelerometer to sense when you move it away). Anyways this is really annoying if you’re using the dial pad since you can accidentally dial numbers when you put it to your face. Anyways I was annoyed when I had to use the dial pad. Of course if you’re using a headset then you don’t really need to worry about this.

I compared the X10′s RF performance to the Motorola Milestone. I found the Milestone cut in and out less in areas with low signal.

Compared to the Milestone the X10 sounds more natural but has noticeably more hiss.

Battery life


Sony Ericsson likes to point out that they won’t design a plain jane Android phone. This isn’t a bad thing but it means the X10 only ships with Android 1.6 (Milestone has 2.0, Nexus One has 2.1) since apparently Timescape and Mediascape aren’t compatible with newer versions (or so SE have told me) which makes the X10 kind of dated compared to the existing completion. That said both Timescape and Mediascape are pretty useful applications. Timescape especially is a really convenient and a big time saver. Indeed if you like them than go out and buy an X10.

I was surprised that the X10 has is no multitouch support – the Milestone has it, the Google Nexus one has it, the X10 which launched after them doesn’t. There’s also no presence sensor so the screen doesn’t shut off when you hold it to your face (Though it will time out eventually). The fact that the buttons don’t light up is also pretty cheesy.

Other thoughts; the 4″ LCD is nice and it works in sunlight. That said I’d rather have an OLED display. The 8 megapixel camera doesn’t have the greatest camera software. It’s not efficient to use and video looks very compressed.

In the end I liked the X10 and am happy Sony Ericsson managed to launch it on time but I thought it looked better on paper.

Howard Chui

3 comments April 18th, 2010

Rogers Launches SE Xperia x10

Rogers Wireless has officially launched the Sony Ericsson Xperia x10.

Experience a whole new level of connectivity with Sony Ericsson’s flagship Xperia X10. The signature Timescape™ application pulls all your emails, texts, Facebook or Twitter updates into one place so you can intuitively flick through. Mediascape allows you to manage photos, videos and music easily – jump from your favourite song on your X10 to instant YouTube or Google search results with one quick tap.

Featuring a 4″ high resolution touch screen,  8.1 MP camera, WI-FI, GPS, and Google Android (v 1.6) operating system the x10 is currently listed at $150 on a 3 year term with voice and data.

3-year contract: $149.99 (voice and data)
2-year contract: $449.99
1-year contract: $499.99
No contract: $549.99

Add comment April 15th, 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.

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<>.
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

2 comments February 15th, 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

3 comments January 22nd, 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

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 coming to Rogers soon

The Android powered Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is coming to Rogers sometime this quarter. No word on pricing (But based on the specs it won’t be free on a 3 year anytime soon).

It features Sony Ericsson’s UX user interface which sits on top of Android. It’s powered by a 1Ghz snapdragon processor and has a 4″ 854×480 pixel capacitive touch screen made of mineral glass. It has a 8.1megapixel camera and 1GB of built in memory (expandable using SDHC cards).

It features 2 signature applications: Timescape and Mediascape. Timescape lets you manage communication across Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Email and SMS. Mediascape is a picture and video manager that also works with YouTube.

2 comments January 5th, 2010

LG IQ review

LG IQ front

I was very excited when I first saw the LG Eve and IQ. They represent LG’s first really attempts at Smartphones. As a person who loves phones I hoped that the Eve and IQ would be competitve entries in the marketplace.

While I liked aspects of the Eve ultimately I found it came up short. Here’s the IQ, let’s see how I like it.

Let’s talk specs; the IQ has a WinMo6.5, 1Ghz processor, WVGA display, 4 row QWERTY keyboard, 5mp camera, WiFiBTMicroSDHC, etc, etc. It also has a fingerprint reader/optical mouse plus an optional projector that attaches to the battery cover. I tried the projector in my hands-on video a while back.

It’s not very good but it’s still a really cool accessory.

LG IQ profile

The touchscreen is the resistive variety so it works best if you use your finger nails or a stylus. I found it slightly small for it’s resolution; 800×480 on a 3.2″ display so I found it hard to tap certain UI elements like the  icons across the top of the screen – even when I used my fingernails (which aren’t super short) – best to stick with the stylus. The stylus doesn’t fit inside the IQ so you’ll have to bring the included stylus around with you. There is an on screen keyboard when you’re using the IQ in portrait mode. Like I just said the little small (actually it’s too narrow) to type effectively with your fingers.

The keyboard is quite nice. The keys have a great feel when you press them in. I like how it has shortcuts to open up the messaging client, browser, calendar and main menu. I also like how it has directional keys.

There is predictive text entry when using either keyboard. If it guesses the wrong word you can choose the right one by moving left or right. I just leave it off since I used the physical keyboard all the time.

When the screen’s closed up there are send, end, back keys plus an optical mouse/finger print reader. The optical mouse really works more as a scroll wheel. You can use it to scroll vertically or horizontally. While it doesn’t work poorly or anything I don’t see how it’s better than just scrolling with your finger. I would have rather LG had just put a navigation pad there – too bad they’re going out of style on WinMo devices.

Like I mentioned before you can also use the optical mouse as a fingerprint reader. You can set the phone up so you have to swipe your finger before you can use it – I didn’t test this.

There is also an LG interface but it’s a bit of a disaster. LG calls it their S-class interface – they should have picked a better name, S-class has already been taken.

First off LG has their own today screen. You scroll the screen left or right. Scrolling left brings up your favourite contacts, right brings up your favourite media files. The center screen has some program shortcuts along the bottom, you can scroll those left and right to see more programs. There’s a link to bring up the main menu. You can bring up a menu that allows you to open the wireless manager, activate flight mode, change and change the ringers/alert or themes. While a bit of a mess I didn’t mind the today screen.

The main menu has 4 categories; communication, multimedia, applications and settings. Each category get’s it’s own row with 4 icons. To view more options you can scroll each row left and right.

At this point you can open the keyboard. There are still 4 categories but now you can see 8 icons on each one. Each icon is just a picture, there’s no text which makes this menu view pretty pointless – it’s really more for show (notice how I used it in my IQ picture – it sure looks impressive).

If you’re already in a program and the keyboard is open, pressing the menu button brings up shortcuts to messenger, internet explorer, search, schedules, write new message, message invbox, write new email and email inbox, call history and your contacts. What really irks me is that I can’t figure out how to bring up the S-class interface when the keyboard is open.

If I wanted to be mean I’d say the ‘S’ in S-class stands for something but I’m a nice guy and won’t.

The IQ does have one saving grace – the multitask button. Once you have the programs you want open you can bypass the LG and WinMo menus completely.

Besides the S-class interface LG has their own contact manager, SMS client, music player, photo album, plus another program named ‘my multimedia’ FM radio, camera, video recorder, calendar, alarm clock,  weather, calculator, tip calculator and stop watch. LG even has their own settings menu. I didn’t mind these LG programs.

If you don’t like the LG programs the equivalent WinMo 7 apps can still be accessed via the WinMo 7 main menu (just tap the top left). You can also turn off the LG applications and use the WinMo ones.

The LG programs resemble the ones you find on LG’s non-smartphones. One thing I’ve noticed about them is that they use relatively large fonts – this is a good thing since text on the IQ’s 800×480 display can be kind of small at times.

Unlike some of the IQ’s competitors the IQ doesn’t come with Opera so browsing is handled solely by Internet Explorer. While it doesn’t support tabbed browsing it was able to load my test page ( in around 15 seconds – not bad at all.

For some reason the IQ wouldn’t show up on my computer whenever I connected it to my computer. While the IQ would charge it wouldn’t show up under mobile device center. I tried multiple computers. Maybe there’s an option I missed under LG’s messy interface – but at the same time, I’m quite thorough and tried everything.

There is a music player and a photo program plus a program named ‘my multimedia’ which appears to be the same program as the photo program only you can choose which folder to look for media – it’s kind of confusing. One thing I liked about the picture viewers is that you can choose favourite pictures to show up on the home screen. It’s nice to see that they’re integrated.

To test video playback I transcoded some video from my high definition camcorder. My camcorder captures video at 1440×1080 at 60fps interlaced at around 15 or 20mbps (sorry I don’t remember off hand) as AVCHD files. I transcoded them using handbrake as 1920×1080  h.264 inside a mp4 file container (basically they’re mp4 files). To make a long story short I was able to play files which were 1920x1080p with a bitrate of 4mbps with no skipping or hiccups in the video. While it’s true there’s little point to being able to play high definition on a 800×480 display it’s still amazing that the IQ can handle it. I tried doing this on a Samsung Omnia 2 which a 800Mhz processor and it would not playback the file properly.

I should point out that I had to use Windows Media Player to play the file smoothly. The LG video player was choppy.

As far as music goes the IQ uses a micro USB connector – and you don’t get a micro USB to 3.5mm adapter in the box (at least I didn’t). The built in speaker is average sounding – it’s not terrible loud and kind of thin.

RF performance is lacking, TELUS and Bell share the same HSPA network. In areas where I can use a Blackberry Bold, Samsung Galaxy/Omnia, Nokia N97 just fine the IQ won’t work even though the signal meter says there’s signal.

It was hard to test the battery – I have very weak TELUS/Bell HSPA signal in my house (even in my office which faces forward and is on the top floor) so the IQ spends most of the day searching for signal.

I felt the IQ was better on paper than it was in person. That said on paper it brings a lot to the table.

In the end the IQ does have it’s problems. First and foremost it has questionable RF performance. It has a confusing menu system (though you can always disable it,  and no 3.5mm headphone jack. Despite these flaws as far as WinMo phones go the IQ wasn’t bad. I’m sure the USB connectivity problem is just my unit.

As far as WinMo phones go the IQ isn’t a bad choice it has a decent nice feature set, fast processor, a nice keyboard, high resolution display a 5 megapixel camera, finger print reader (if that sort of thing floats your boat) and even a pretty nifty projector that fits on the back. Let’s not forget the multitask button.  Another thing to consider is that the IQ is currently $100 on a 3 year on TELUS. While I don’t think any phone is worth it on a 3 year contract the IQ is relatively speaking a good deal.

Howard Chui 12.20.2009

22 comments December 23rd, 2009

Whooosh! Wind is here!

Wind, the first of the new Canadian wireless entrants is here.

Before I start I just want to remind you all that Wind uses AWS frequencies. So unless you have an unlocked AWS phone (or buy one from Wind) it won’t work on in HSPA mode on Wind. AWS is the same frequency T-Mobile uses in the States for their HSPA service. Basically none of the phones from Rogers/Bell/TELUS will work on Wind’s 3G- even if you unlock them. Note, if you bought a Nokia N900 and have been using it on EDGE, well now you can pop a Wind SIM in and use it on HSPA. You can use a phone in EDGE mode with Wind but it will be in roaming mode ($0.25 a minute).

They have 3 phones at launch and 1 USB modem; The Blackberry Bold 9700 is $450, HTC Maple $300 (WinMo), Huawei U7519 $130 (a non-smartphone) ;  Samsung Gravity 2 $150 (a non-smartphone) and the Huawei E181 USB modem $150. Note that the modem is 7.2mbps only.

There are 3 plans; Chat, Always Talk and Always Shout. All 3 plans coming with unlimited incoming text and Wind to Wind calling. You also get calling waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, conference calling, call hold and missed caller alerts.

Also, included minutes/unlimited minutes are only when you’re in areas with Wind (as opposed to roaming) coverage. Roaming costs $0.25 a minute.

Chat is $15 a month (no extra fees besides taxes)  and includes 50 outgoing texts and 100 in province minutes.

Always Talk is $35, you get unlimited in province minutes, unlimited incoming calls and 50 outgoing texts.

Always Shout is $45, you get Canada wide calling, voice mail and unlimited texts.

Unlimited text and voice mail are $5 (included on Always Shout).

Unlimited calling to the States or unlimited calling within Canada is $10.

Blackberry add-ons are $10 and $35. For $10 you get access to Facebook, MySpace, BlackBerry Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, and AIM. For $35 you get everything else (including browsing, email and tethering).

Data is $35 if you have a voice plan and $55 if you just use a modem. You get 5GB of data, after that Wind can throttle your service if they choose to.

There’s more info at

3 comments December 16th, 2009

Video: Very quick comparison of the LG Eve and Samsung Galaxy

I have a LG Eve and Samsung Galaxy sitting around. They’re both Android phones.

While they’re on 2 different carriers I thought I’d do a very quick comparison of the 2. Full reviews of each device will come soon.

3 comments December 15th, 2009

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