Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Opera Browsers and Blogging

One thing that a lot of reviewers are not doing, is to look at the most practical aspect of mobiles, and that is Blogging.

Right now I am using my new Palm Treo Pro to write this post. I am actually not using it, but the browser in it. The browser is actually not the boring old Internet Explorer, but the new Opera beta.

So yeah go to Opera mobile and download it. It's free and has a lot of that Touch Flo 3D stuff without overwhelming the mobile like it does on the HTC Touch Pro.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Push Email: from T-Mobile to Vodafone

One of the most fascinating aspects of these new phones of course, is that it takes you away from that horrible sitting position behind the keyboard. If you are anything like me, you get ideas in the most unsuspecting places. To that end, the mobile network you are with is the most important element in communication. That is why I chose Vodafone. They were the first and they have masts all over the place. It is the only network that works well in the kitchen, and downstairs bathroom - two of the most inspirational areas of the house! So you can see how important it is to get ones fingers and thumbs to work right away, and respond to whatever; be it a piece of news you browsed by with your left hand, when you were in the kitchen munching away on a kebab or fish fingers. I won't go into the other inspirational areas just mentioned, but you can get my drift.

The one thing that the networks all go on about is Push Email. You get the feeling that it could be and is really quick. Hmm, well it depends. I switched recently from T-Mobile because the reception was so bad. I still have the Blackberry 8310 on the T-Mobile, and it was an absolute nightmare trying to make it "instant email". Bascially you have to forward your email, be it gmail or your own domain to the T-Mobile instant email account, and then they relay it back to you. That is pretty quick. At best it is 15 seconds, and 15 minutes at worst.

As you know WM 6.1 comes with "pull mail" or the usual old way of getting the mobile's outlook to access Gmail or other email server. That system cannot be set to poll faster than every 5 minutes. So you would think that the Push Email is better. Well with Vodafone, they give you a simple software to install, and then they don't ask you the detailed POP IMAP or SMTP questions. The software tries to guess it, and inevitably gets it wrong. Not all servers are pop.xxxxx.com. I had to call customer service, who are not really that trained in this sort of rubbish, and then you have to wait to speak to their level 1 technical, who after a little persuation got around to look at the settings that were automatically set wrong.

You would think that Vodafone would send you a test email to see and time it to see whether it worked, and it was fast enough. Luckily for me, I was put in touch with Tony Dawson who like me was "driven like a Terrier" and a Palm user, to get this thing sorted. First it was the fact that the server had not taken my password, and then there was some authentication detail that was wrong. Beyond me, but the lads at Vodafone Business section had taken the trouble to actually simulate my settings and see what the f... was going on. It had driven so many and so many phones mad.

So a well done to all. I think then if we can just tweek the servers a little more, to make the push email at Vodafone a little faster, then we are very cool. At the moment it takes between 5 to 10 minutes to get the email. Just Ok. It would be nice to get it under a minute. Anyway if you know anything about Astrology, (as I do) then you would know that Mercury retrograde really finds all these communication problems, and we will get to the bottom of this by Thursday.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

From HTC Touch Pro to Palm Treo Pro

My dilemma on phones continues. I discovered that the bookmarking in the opera in HTC Touch Pro puts a the virtual keyboard on the edit bookmarks. So it has to go back. I am getting the Palm Treo Pro back. You need those buttons for mail internet in front. The Touch Pro 3D is a gimmick.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

From Palm Treo Pro to HTC Touch Pro

As I wrote earlier, I was all the rave with my Palm Treo Pro. Wonderfully thin, with touchscreen. What a relief from Blackberry's ball. That ball can really get on your nerves. What if something greasy gets stuck in it, and it stops turning. I quite like my old BB 8310 and it is nice to have such a small gadget with all those functions. But touch screen is a must.

So when I looked at the Blackberry Bold, when I eventually got it, I was really laughing. Life knows best. No wonder it took so long to get to me. It is huge. The Bold is the size of the 8310 with the leather cover on. Once you put the cover on the Bold, it is massive. Then the text rendering on forum sites was awful. With no touch screen, back it went, and I stayed with the Palm. But then one day I was trying to synchronize my email with the Vodafone business mail server, and it just did not guess my server's details. This so called push-mail actually is useless, if it takes 15 minutes to get to you. I prefer to set it up as normal windows pull mail. Finally the software in the Palm is not recognised too many places. Go to Opera and they don't know whether it is a smartphone or a pocket pc. You end up with softwares that do not use the Windows Mobile 6.1's features. Ah it's a mess. Vodafone said they will send me another one as it could have the wrong updates from the server at their end.

The mail arrives, and I get a HTC Touch Pro instead. Wow, that is weird. The names are two similar. So I thought, "well maybe there is a message in all this?". I will give it a go. Now I am person who was the first person to try the first Pocket PC called the MDA Vario on T-Mobile yonks ago, with good old version 3, then 5. So I knew this son on TytnII's pedigree very well. I never considered it, because I thought it was going to be too big. Well let me tell you this. This thing is lovely. First of all it is really shinny and narrow and not too long. It needs to be thick to have the sliding keyboard. The Keyboard is so much like a normal keyboard.

So it really comes down to keyboard. When you want to type on a Blackberry, you need to press so many function keys to get a stupid comma or full stop or an apostrophe, that you forget what you wanted to say. Now you might say, "why don't you just sit down behind a normal desktop or a laptop". My answer is that I usually get inspired at the toilet or some stupid place, and I do not have access to my laptop or desktop. So it has to be a handheld device.

Then you have the one handed moments in your life. And this new HTC Touch Pro accomodates that situation really well. Because they have kept the length and width down and thickened it, as if you feel you are holding a Mars bar. So if you are on a bus with one hand on the hand-rail, the other thumb can do everything with the virtual keyboard like the iphone. Yeah it has that same effect of making the letter pop out, as soon as you push on the screen. If you want to put numbers you hold the key for a split second more. Really easy. So this phone has all the features of iphone, smartphone, as well as the sliding keyboard that a laptop has. Ingeninous.

But nothing goes without a few errors. The folks at HTC need to put a few more buttons on the phone. The way it is, it is lovely. The phone switches off the screen quickly and you can wipe that shinny glass very nicely forever and it will look just like new all the time. Everything is flat and smooth. But they should have allowed more virtual buttons for customization, and let the user decide what to do with the physical buttons. You only get one button you can customize. On the Palm you have a side button as well as the front ones to customize. Long pressing is what people do to, to get a dual function. So I have to push the Start Menu on the long press phone button (the default is voice dial). The other way is to use voice commands for everything instead of buttons. But then you are stuffed if you have a cold. So two recordings are needed.

So there you are. Life moves on. I have my eyes on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1. They make all this fuss about the nine panes, which is what I meant by customizable buttons. The keyboard though looks like it has much better metal buttons. You know what would be nice. One should be able to draw the buttons, and then have the software make a connection to it. Special needs people could really use it. Hopefully one day with the new Haplo technology it will even give you the bumpy feel you want.