The HTC HD2 – yes, I would.

The HTC HD2 Smartphone is a beautiful device, with two failings.

  1. It’s not an iPhone.
  2. And it’s covered in ads for the phone carrier (Telstra in this case).

HTC_HD2 Oh, it tries to be an iPhone with multi-touch, and automatic screen rotation, but it’s not.  It’s too slow.  You can fix that, the team over at XDA Developers have a number of bespoke firmware updates to help you out there.  But it would still be putting lipstick on a pig.  The lipstick covered piggy being Windows Mobile 6.5.

Advertisements placed on the phone by the carrier (Telstra).  Let’s count them, the ones circled in RED are carrier added programs.  The ones in GREEN are ones I’ve installed.
HTC HD2 Ad covered screen 1 HTC HD2 Ad covered screen 2 HTC HD2 Ad covered screen 3 HTC HD2 Ad covered screen 4

  • 30 HTC/Microsoft added programs
  • 12 carrier added programs
  • 3 Wisefaq added programs.

I hate this sort of thing, because carriers are giving the Noddy User the impression that these programs are part of the phone.  In reality, they are web links, which cause you to consume bandwidth.  And provide more profits to the phone carriers.

I’ve never seen a phone with so much carrier-added crud before.  Makes me want to visit those XDA guys straight away.

Aside from those gripes, the screen is absolutely beautiful, with a size of 480×800.  Battery life seems reasonable at over 2 days, of email and web surfing.

I don’t know how “droppable” the phone would be.  My gut feeling is all you would need to happen is for the HD2 to bounce on the floor, and the glass screen would crack.  If I had a “budget for expensive smartphone drop testing”, I’d try and see.  But I have not.  So you only have my gut feelings, and my vast experience at breaking phones.

Would I be buying one? You know, yes I would.  But not from Telstra.  They put far too much rubbish on the phone.

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Some Windows Phone 7 links

windows_phone_logo-300x300 I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into Windows Phone 7 programming.  Especially since Microsoft has said the developer tools will be free.  These are the Microsoft links I’ve collected so far:

Oh yeah, it’s on: welcome to the party, Windows Phone 7 Series.

Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone CTP

Free ebook: Programming Windows Phone 7 Series (DRAFT Preview)

Windows Phone 7 Series Developer Training Kit

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Windows Mobile backup program – Sprite Backup

Sprite Backup - what it backs upThere are “free” backup programs, if you have a search around XDA Developers.  Sometimes “free” is a code word for pirated.  I much prefer to purchase my software.  So I  purchased Sprite Backup.  Which is want I’ve done.  Sprite Backup is one of the few programs I’ve found which  backs up phone call and SMS logs.

Sprite Backup - warning If you select an item which is being sync’d to another device, such as a PC with Outlook, Sprite Backup will warn you.

After you’ve selected the backup location, Sprite Backup will ask you to restart your Windows PDA.  This is so Sprite Backup can backup files in use by the operating system.

Sprite Backup - Backup progressOn the loan iMate 9502 I had, it backed up 30.51MB.

Now I handed over $29.95 for this program, so I am happy with it.  I like that fact that it creates self-extracting backups.  Handy for when you are moving to a new device.

What I didn’t like, was that I wasn’t able to take a Windows Mobile 6.5 backup, and restore it to a Windows Mobile 6.1 device.

I should have known better of course.

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The HTC Snap is a great little phone.

htc-snap I carried the HTC Snap for a week, and was surprised how much I actually liked it.  It has the same Windows Phone operating system as the Samsung Blackjack II I loathed in my The Good, the Bad, and the “Git Off My Lawn, Boy” post.

HTC_SNAP_S523

The difference I think, is the processor speed.  The HTC Snap has a 528Mhz processor, compared to the 260Mhz processor in the BlackJack II.

Battery life? Well I got 2 days out of the Snap before I had to charge it.  Sure, it’s not great, but it’s a compromise given the small width of the Snap (12mm).

The web browser isn’t that good.  My usual replacement choice is Opera Mini, but Windows based PDAs don’t have Java by default, so that ruled Opera out.  And normally, Pocket Internet Explorer is ok to use, but the version which ships with Windows Phone 6.1 is pitiful.  Slow to load and difficult to navigate.

The biggest surprise in using the browser, is that the HTC FAQ site for the HTC Snap isn’t mobile friendly:
HTC Snap - FAQ site

Why would I buy this phone? Well the slim width of it at 12mm.  And the price.  Shopbot has retailers selling the phone from $300.  A good little cheap Windows Smartphone.

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So I borrowed an iPhone 3GS and thought

iPhone with v-Cockpit software running IT WAS CRAP.

Ok, so that’s a tad harsh, but it is overpriced for what it is.

The things that went well:

  • it’s responsive.  More responsive than any other PDA I’ve used to date.
  • the web browser was better than anything else I’ve used on a PDA.
  • the camera was a) basic and b) fast.
  • it’s slim, and I like that.

The things which sucked:

  • battery life,  a day at best.
    To explain, the iPhone was being used as a BlackBerry replacement, so I needed to read email, take calls and use the web browser.
    And one day in, my emails were lost due to a Mobile Mail application crash.  Not happy Jan.
  • the cost of the thing!
    $1000 for the 32GB iPhone.  No protective case included.
  • what’s this “you have to download the iTune application onto your desktop PC, so you can download a app to the phone” requirement?
    No real need for it, unless Apple are trying to craw more personal data from us.

Would I buy one?
Yes, but I would want

  • the price to dropped to $600
  • improved the battery life
  • jail-broken so I can install what I want.

At the current price, the iPhone is too rich for my tastes.

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It’s a new BlackBerry Bold (the 9700).

Good Yes - Fast Yes - Cheap No So Telstra Australia have finally released the BlackBerry Bold 9700.  And if you loved the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series, you’ll love the new Bold.

If you have a BlackBerry Bold 9000, you’ll love it not as much.  That’ll be because the 9700 is a 9000 in a smaller package.
And you Curve users?  Well it’s the same size, and thinner than the Curve.

What’s to like about the 9700?

  • Size, it’s smaller than the current Bold 9000, and a little thinner than the BlackBerry Curve.
    BlackBerry 8300 side-by-side BlackBerry 9700 BlackBerry 9700 is thinner than BlackBerry 8300
  • It’s lighter than the Bold 9000.
  • While in the holster, you can have an audio cable plugged in.
    (this is one of thing that annoys me about some PDAs)
    BlackBerry 9700 in holster
  • Faster than the Bold 9000.
  • The BlackBerry 9700 has a physical lock button, which means we don’t need to place a Lock icon on the home screen.
    BlackBerry 9700 Lock Button

What’s not to like about it?

  • The physical lock button.  I kept hitting it by accident.
    I’m sure I would get used to it.
  • The microSD card is hard to get out.
    There seems to be some sort of lip or catch that holds the card in.
    BlackBerry 9700 - Cover off
  • Trackpad takes a little bit of time to get used to.

How do I think it’ll go in the field, amongst real users?

Very well.  I think it will sell like hotcakes.  And with the Trackpad replacing the fault prone TrackBall means we’ll see a lot less (faulty) handsets being returned to us.
It’s definitely a GOOD thing.  FASTer than the Bold 9000, but unfortunately not any CHEAPer than the current Bold 9000.
I’m looking forward to our customers getting their hands on the 9700.

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Android and Microsoft Exchange

"android-rendered" graphic by Rich DellingerThe Android has some Microsoft Exchange support; how good it is depends on the vendor.

I was at a PDA software presentation the other day, and the vendor mentioned the problems of integrating the different Android handsets with their products.  I asked if it was because of the different operating system versions (Cupcake, Donut, Éclair) out in the market.

No, it’s because there are several different Exchange ActiveSync clients, some are better than others.  Another thing to note, if the Android handset has “Powered by Google” stamped on it, it means there is no Exchange ActiveSync client installed.  You have to go and download one.

If I owned an Android phone, I would buy the DataViz RoadSync application.  DataViz has been working in the handheld device market since 1984, and are a Microsoft Gold partner.  And they make the Documents To Go product, which I can recommend highly.

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The iMate Ultimate 9502 PDA

Ultimate 9502 There is a lot I like about this PDA.  It’s got a 640×480 screen resolution for starters.  It has video output to TV.  It’s got your GPS built-in and a physical keyboard.  I even like how the MiniSD card is stored under the battery cover.

The 2.5mm audio jack I’m not excited about, but I could live with it.

But I still would not buy one, because iMate have made a fundamental design flaw:

iMate9502 iMate9502 - cannot close holster

Yep, you can’t close the holster when you have the supplied hands-free earpiece plugged in.

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Windows Mobile screen capturing

I raved on about Pocket Controller Pro as being a superb screen capture/remote control tool for Windows Mobile PDAs.

But it is not free.  It is licensed to an individual PC and PDA.

That licensing model REALLY annoys me.  It’s like they’re saying,

“Oi!  You’re a thief if you’re trying to use it on more than one PC”

MyMobilerIt’s REALLY annoying when you’ve paid for the product.

SO I went looking for an acceptable alternative.  MyMobiler is it.
On the GOOD-FAST-CHEAP review scale, it gets a
Fast? No 

GOOD – Stable product.  Runs on Windows Mobile 6.1, and Windows 7 64-bit.  Which is outside the specifications for the program.  That tells me that it’s been well programmed.

FAST – No, there is a lag between what’s displayed on the PDA and what shows on the desktop PC.  I would guessimate that the delay is a 1/4 second.  It’s liveable.

CHEAP – undoubtedly, it’s free!

I’m very happy with MyMobiler, and heartily recommend it.

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