06-17-2008, 10:41 AM #1
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
Misc., multiplatform hardware, software and rebate news
Yes, it was quite a long ago that I've published my last Misc news. The reason for this is my having been really busy:
1. I've acquired a Tablet PC, a HP TC1100, and have read through all the Tablet PC forums. I've had some severe problems with the XP SP3 upgrade - see THIS if interested -, which was cured by a BIOS upgrade and/or forcing it to download the SP3 from Windows Update, as opposed to downloading it manually and doing the "Checked" Registry hack explained HERE. I've also tried setting up Vista Ultimate checked/debug with SP1 on it, but, unlike what others have reported, I was just unable to make the Wi-Fi card (in my device, the 2100) work. (And, of course, it's pretty slow compared to XP, even with the 1.5 GB of RAM and 5400 rpm 160 GB Samsung HDD. Dunno if it'd be faster with a 7200 rpm one - I don't want to have additional heat, noise and power consumption from switching to 5400 to 7200 for sure.)
BTW, speaking of the Wi-Fi card, I've also made some thorough tests to find out whether it's indeed as good as some TC1100, comparing its sensitivity and range to that of the new HP iPAQ 210 Pocket PC (running the default 1.00.06 stock ROM) and the Nokia N95 (with firmware version v21). I must state the reports on the TC1100's having great range are overly exaggerated. The iPAQ 210 has definitely better range. The TC1100 has about the same range as the Nokia N95.
The TC1100, otherwise is absolutely gorgeous. It does have some minor problems (for example, it's very slow at scrolling PDF files and, in portrait, the screen I have in my device isn't very well polarized; fortunately, the latter is less of an issue if you increase the backlight and don't use it at its lowest level), but, for a year 2003 model, it's just great, especially at the (current, second-hand) price, you will hardly find a better tablet. The alternatives would have been either much more (at least two times) expensive or considerably heavier - or both. The weight of the device (3.1 lbs, 1.350 kg without the detachable keyboard) is pretty much acceptable with a feather-weight (350g without the shoulder strap; 520 with it) bag like the 12" Tucano designed for the Mac Powerbook (and is, therefore, slightly oversized for the TC1100, but there simply wasn't a smaller bag in the shop) I've bought. Just a comparison: the 15" notebook bag I've received as the MS MVP gift in 2006 weighs 1300 grams - and, of course, is laughably oversized for a 10.5" tablet. A tablet, with the bag, weighing 1870 grams, is already very easy to carry everywhere. Just a comparison: my old 15" IBM Thinkpad a31p weighs, with the above-mentioned 15" MVP bag, almost 5 kg and is very hard to lug around. My favorite pastime, in addition to using it as a computer in the bed, is taking it out for excursions and walks. Two shots of my using it outdoors; in the second case, for video phoning, tethered it to the N95 via (feel free to zoom into the image - with the second shot, I've left it at 12 Mpixel, "only" decreasing the quality to reduce the storage need) Mobiola WebCamera:
The battery life of the TC1100 is also very cool. With the lowest backlight level, when just reading a book or a static, unanimated Web page (that is, no CPU-hungry tasks like Flash animations on Web pages are running), the power consumption is around 7 Watts. (Just for comparison, the one-generation older, Pentium 4M-based a31p consumes about 24 Watts the least. The more than three times more power usage is both caused by the older architecture of the CPU and the huge, power-hungry IPS screens. Unfortunately, IPS screens, while they have orders of magnitude better quality than plain TN + film TFT's, have always been pretty power-hungry.)
BTW, now that I also have a tablet, except tablet-related news & tips & reviews too in the future.
2. And yes, another (Microsoft) mobile platform I officially start to publish on: I've received a Microsoft Zune (second generation 8GB model), thanks to the Microsoft Company Store, which does ship them to abroad. Were I situated in the States, I would have access to its major selling point: the flat rate Zune Pass (costing US$14.99 a month), "take it (almost) all" store. Too bad while the hardware is already accessible outside the US and Canada, you still can't sign up into Zune Pass (you need to enter a valid US / Canadian address). I might ask some folks there to help to sign up? ;-)
Hardware-wise, I like the (second-generation) Zune pretty much, particularly now that there already is some kind of third party XNA app / game development for the device (see THIS and THIS for more info). I will definitely post on the latest news, hacks and, of course, development (games etc.) news on it too - but, for the time being, no Zune Pass / Zune Marketplace-related info as I'm in Europe and, as has already been stated, can't sign up for Zune Pass.
The stock earbud headphones coming with the device are really-really excellent (for an earbud, that is; of course, they can't beat supra-aural headphones or tightly fit canalphones [in-ear monitors]); they are of definitely better quality than the stock headphones (which aren't bad either) of the Nokia N95. My biggest grief is "just" the complete lack of A2DP (this is pretty much a showstopper on the long run) and the lack of a miniUSB or comparable socket for universal and easy synchronization / recharge access (no need to carry around the proprietary sync cable). I really hope Microsoft fixes these issues in the third generation Zunes due out next year.
3. Having read the written version of my recent W3C presentation, I've been invited by no one else than Dominique Hazael-Massieux, the Activity Lead and the co-Chair of the Test Suites Working Group, to contribute to the W3C Mobile Web Initiative. (BTW, he also has frontpaged my presentation and called it impressive, which is a BIG honor for me!) This means I needed (and will need) to get up to speed with the projects in there and will post even more Web browsing related, even more in-depth and developer-friendly articles on all the mobile platforms I support (Windows Mobile, Symbian S60, BlackBerry, MS Zune and, hopefully in the not distant future, the iPhone).
4. Of course, I've been working on my generic Bible on Digital TV, radio and all the like. The task turned out to be of epic proportions because I'll also elaborate on a lot of related subject, even on maths and digital signal processing. That is, I plan to give you an overall picture on what books there are on DSP, telecommunications techniques, which you should use for actually understanding how these technologies work etc. Be patient.
5. A quick blog-related note: you may have noticed that, on my blog, migrating has removed the HTML chart and/or paragraph markup from several dozens (hundreds?) of my articles from b2evo to Drupal. I'll try to address the problem as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you do run into an unreadable (old) article, please use THIS LINK instead (notice old_blogs instead of blogs - that is, you can access the articles in the old engine if you just add old_ in front of blogs in all the (old) URL's). There, everything works as in the past. Please do NOT post comments in there, only under the new interface (that is, under http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/).
mobile2day.de goes English - at last! So far, it being German-only caused a lot of headache to non-German speakers. What is more, they offer a generic 25% and a select 50% rebate until 6/22/2008; see THIS for more info. Just to name one of the developers sold at 50% rebate (yes, ALL their stuff is offered for half the price!) certainly worth purchasing from: SHAPE services, SBSH, Herocraft, Iambic and In-fusio. Quite a bargain if you ask me. (News source: email from Damien of PocketPlayers Reloaded).
BTW, still speaking of SHAPE services, the BlackBerry version of their RDM+ (see THIS for a complete review) has, finally, received file transfer support - time to update if you haven't already done so.
New software and reviews
(note that I haven't listed the titles I've devoted a separate review to; for example, Pocket Commodore 64 3.0, mDesktop / Jeyo 2.1, Orions: Deckmasters etc.)
1. Spb have updated Spb Backup to version 2.0, introducing a lot of goodies; for example, ROM upgrade support. The upgrade only costs $9.95 for previous users.
2. Resco have also released a backup application; it also supports ROM upgrade support and a lot of other goodies. I'll try to update my well-known Backup Bible with both this, Spb's new app and all the related, newly released, similar tools like PIM Backup
3. Still speaking of Resco, they have released Resco Explorer 2008; now, with a lot of goodies like iPhone-like touch support, speed enhancements, a brand new FTP module. (The latter is indeed good news as the old FTP module was pretty slow in cases; see my benchmarks HERE.)
4. PPCT have published an extensive review of the since-updated TouchBrowser (that of Nate Adcock HERE; also see my initial, now-outdated review HERE)
5. There's an excellent PDF reader roundup at MobilitySite - certainly worth a read, including the comments
6. MyTodayScreen has published a decent article on mobile browsing
7. There's a new version of the free(!) Desktop SMS Manager V2.02 + Smartphone 1.11 HERE
8. Now, there's a free version of Inlux Messenger (see my review HERE), Inlux Messenger Lite, HERE (thanks for XDA-Devs forum member RPG0 for the tip!)
9. As far as connection utilities are concerned (tethering Windows Mobile phones to, say, notebooks or other, not necessarily x86-based mobile devices over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and/or USB), WMWifiRouter has been updated to 1.20beta and ICS Control to v.21. As far as the third application in this category, WalkingHotspot, is concerned, I still haven't received any answer from the developers, despite my numerous mails (I used to exchange several mails with them before this). Hope they do answer soon on whether the new Windows Mobile betas have already been released. As I've already created a new Best Software Awards 2008 category for these kinds of (very important) apps and have already nominated WMWifiRouter and ICS Control, I urgently need feedback from the WalkingHotspot folks to see whether the current version is worth nominating or not. Also, as soon as I get the current version of WalkingHotspot, I publish a generic comparison of the three titles.
10. CorePlayer 1.2.5 has been released and 1.3 will be soon released. The latter promises, for example, 'Channels' (for not only YouTube video playback support, but also on a lot of other video repositories) and progressive downloading. I REALLY hope it also gets the promised HE-AACv2 support at last (it still doesn't have it; in my e-mail discussions with their CEO, I've been told about a month ago most of the coding have already been done). They also stated they'd release a BlackBerry and an Android version before long - along with, of course, the iPhone one.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem in 1.2.5, YouTube playback-wise (see my YouTube Bible for more info on this), haven't been fixed: hit lists still only contain 13 records and you just can't see the rest.
11. Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine has run a nice survey on the best games for Windows Mobile. See all the posts HERE (fortunately, they have a separate category and, therefore, I don't need to link to all the individual articles separately - this is also a big advantage of the common category system used in the new blog engine). The May blog subject was Spring Cleaning as is accessible HERE; the April one was Features I would add and the March one Hack or Tweak I Can't Live Without.
12. The VITO Technology folks haven't been lazy either: they've released several touch-friendly apps; some of which have been also announced in the PPCMag blogs; see for example THIS. I've also tested their EyePhoto but decided not to publish a comparative review of it because it, in my opinion, still needs some speed and memory optimizations. As soon as they're done, I post a review comparing it to other "sliding" image viewers like s2v and PocketCM reviewed and compared HERE. And, I will surely review their launcher, along with all the comparable titles and TouchFlo (3D)-alikes (including the free ones available from XDA-Developers coders and hackers) in a forthcoming Bible.
13. Speaking of iPhone-like launchers, you may also want to check out TekSoft's SkyBox, which is also stated to be pretty cool - see Nate Adcock's review HERE. I'll review it too.
14. (According to many,) probably the best and most tweakable (commercial) lanuncher Spb Mobile Shell has also been updated (to 2.1). There's a nice comparison between the traditional, well-known Pocket Plus and Mobile Shell (both from Spb) HERE, should you want to know which way to go.
15. Tim Hillebrand's reviews Text Message Clients and SMS Enhancements and How to turn your Windows Mobile touch screen into an iPhone are also worth reading.
16. I post this info here too because you may have missed my review: if you liked the multiplayer games on the Commodore 64, did you know the just-released Pocket Commodore 64 3.0 offers IP-based multiplayer capabilities? It's certainly worth checking out - for example, Wizard of Wor works just great in Wi-Fi p2p mode. Also, if you use it in multiplayer, you will only need one license (on the server); the client can be unlicensed. In this regard, it's pretty much similar to Starcraft's (by Blizzard) spawned multiplayer mode. My only grief is the fire button not working in Archon (not even in single player mode).
BTW, speaking of Archon, I've recently acquired the original Commodore 64 version of Archon II (Adept) for my computing history collection (I have hundreds of other old, original games). As the abandonware sites (and Wiki) have very bad shots of the box, I've made some for you:
(front of the "box")
(back of the "box")
Some other shots:
the inner contents of the (foldable) box
the platform-independent manual: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
the C64-specific manual: 1, 2
the CGW leaflet: 1, 2.
Also, still on the subject of retro games and emulation, I highly recommend the desktop Windows title Hurrican (German-only homepage of the developer HERE), a free(!!) remake of the Turrican on home platforms around 1990. And, of course, the also-free Xenon 2000: Project PCF, on which I've already elaborated HERE.
17. While still far from being released, there is a lot of heated discussion on the (unlike with the unofficial and long ago discontinued Minimo) official Firefox mobile port. The related, most important (pretty technical) Wiki page is HERE; there's Symbian-freak's mostly Symbian-specific but for other operating system users, also cool remarks HERE. There's also a concept video HERE. As of now, no downloadable, publicly available implementation is available.
Yes, the subject everybody has been speaking of, iPhone 3G. I recommend the following threads:
MSMobiles - here, I elaborate on why I consider the lack of a front-page camera a VERY bad mistake. At All About Symbian, particularly if you (also) have a Symbian (most importantly, an N95 [8GB]) phone, I also recommend
THIS, THIS and THIS.
If you own a BlackBerry (or known them), you'll want to read THIS, THIS, THIS and THIS. The "review" the first article links to also spends some time explaining why the author thinks A2DP (stereo Bluetooth audio) should better be left out: "Sure, you can't (yet, see below) listen to hideously compressed BT audio via A2DP on an iPhone (though any audiophile worth their lossless codec probably thanks Jobs for that Apple has a long history of not releasing as-yet-unperfected technologies unto their devices. If the tech is good, they're the first to dump the old and embrace it (floppies for CDs on the iMac, CDs for WiFI on the Air). If the tech isn't so good yet, they just wait until it is. They have standards." This is (sorry for the language) complete BS: A2DP is of great quality as of today. Except for, of course, the legendarily bad Microsoft BT stack before Windows Mobile 6. All, and I really mean ALL other Smartphone platforms and implementations (Symbian S60, BlackBerry, Widcomm and Windows Mobile 6+ Microsoft for Windows Mobile for sure) have excellent sound quality and few people will tell the difference between a pair of good-quality A2DP headphones (like, for example, the Plantronics Pulsar 590) and a wired one. Even I, who used to be a big Hi-Fi fan and audiophile some 20-25 years ago, find the (better) A2DP headphones adequate for my needs.
Otherwise, I consider the lack of A2DP the biggest letdown with the new model - and, of course, if it'll be impossible to tether it to an external, say, notebook, which is the case with, at least, AT&T.
BTW, there are a lot of new iPhone-related blogs and even papermags out there. The All About Symbian folks have started All About iPhone; the Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine will publish an iPhone edition etc.
As far as Windows Mobile is concerned, you have surely heard of the HTC Diamond and the MDA Vario IV (aka HTC Raphael). There are numerous threads and reviews on / of both models.
Review: mobile-review.com's: generally, they're pretty happy with the device. For example, the video playback performance, with VGA-resolution videos, seems to be pretty good. Of course, they also mention the TouchFLO 3D's sluggishness (hope this will be fixed later - albeit, frankly, knowing HTC's fix record, I don't have high hopes.).
ZDNet (it also has links to other reviews at the bottom of the article)
Note that the brand new TouchFLO 3D is reported to be a bit sluggish and you may want to get rid of (switch off) it entirely. See for example the forum comments HERE for more info on this issue. (Note that THIS XDA-Devs thread contains some hacks to - somewhat - speed it up.) I, in addition, certainly dislike its storage being only 4 GByte and the device's not having a memory card slot, even if under the battery as was in the HTC s310. This really makes it pretty much useless for real multimedia usage - 4 GB of storage is plain insufficient. No wonder the basic(!) model of the iPhone 3G comes with 8GB and the Nokia N96 will sport no less than 16 GB of built-in memory AND a microSD card slot.
There are also some reviews of the HTC X7510 for example HERE. You'll also want to read my generic comments, particularly on the, in my opinion, lousy thumbboard, at MoDaCo.
Symbian-wise, unfortunately, there isn't much to report on - that is, there still isn't a Nokia N95 killer anywhere. (Currently, I consider the Nokia N95 by far the best non-dumbphone.) There are two new E-series devices: the E71 (see THIS and THIS) and the E66. The N78 has hit the shelves, at least in Finland. There's an N78 review HERE (the first part only as of now).
BlackBerry: final version of OS 4.5 is finally out!
BlackBerry-wise, you may already have heard of the Bold. You can also find pictures of the other, flip model, the KickStart, for example HERE and HERE. Finally, the, it seems, Verizon Wireless exclusive and, unlike ALL the other BB models (including the Bold / KickStart), touchscreen-based Thunder is worth mentioning. Note that AT&T will offer Javelin and Niagra (see THIS for more info), a 3G-less and a CDMA version of the BB 9000 (Bold).
Also note that Vodafone Germany has released the final (!) 4.5 ROM for the 8100/8300/8800 (no 8700, sorry). Note that these ROM upgrades can safely be installed on even locked devices of other carriers. I had absolutely no problems with installing it on my T-Mobile-locked BB 8800 running 22.214.171.124 beta ROM; I didn't even need to remove Vendor.xml. Restoring my 126.96.36.199-based backup resulted in some problems like being unable to access the Net; therefore, I've wiped the entire device and reinstalled / set up again everything. The situation seems to be similar to the 4.2 -> 188.8.131.52 upgrade, where I've found out (after having severe problems with not being able to send mails and deleting them from the online mailbox) you should NOT restore a 4.2 backup to at least 184.108.40.206. That is, set up it from scratch.
Finally, with this ROM version, I no longer had problems installing the current version of Opera Mini 4.1 over-the-air - that is, by going directly to mini.opera.com from the built-in Web browser. (With the previous, 220.127.116.11 version, I did have problems - it just wouldn't install - always displayed a “COD error” error message upon downloading.) Fortunately, it supports the file system too - that is, you can back up and restore on the BlackBerry too.
Incidentally, still speaking of Opera, my fellow blogger at the Opera Mini Fan blog, Serola, has just published an article Opera 9.5 and Opera Link. I have only superficially read it; I'll try to read it more thoroughly. (I've long having been huge problems of synchronizing my Opera Mini favorites with my desktop Opera 9.5 betas: synchronization only seemed to work between Opera Mini clients.)
Finally, another Opera-related item of news: Opera 9.5 has finally been released for the desktop Windows; it even has a USB version not requiring any kind of setup. So far, few browsers (for example, XeroBank's xB_Browser) have done the same.
Some people have reported Vito AudioNotes v1.3 autorecording with data connections active, at least on the HTC TyTn II / Kaiser. Resco's Audio Recorder doesn't exhibit this problem. I'll try to look into the problem some time; in the meantime, keep this in mind if you use (in autorecord mode) Vito AudioNotes on a WinMo phone that you also access the Internet from. (See my Audio Recording Bible for more info on these apps.)
The HP iPAQ 210 has received a patch for the power problems. Some people reported on it having helped; others weren't so successful. See THIS for more info and comments.
My attention was brought to Nokia's using pretty strong JPEG compression with their high-end, N-series phones like the N95 (all models are affected, with the latest firmware versions) and the N82. I hope Nokia comes up with an additional quality level setting - or a third-party camera app is released, with an alternative JPEG encoder. (Which was, BTW, the case with Windows Mobile and CECam - see THIS if interested for more info on the very similar problems plaguing some past WinMo models and external camera cards.)