Windows Mobile (may soon be Android), and other toys aka gadgets
New Posts Will Be On Frequent Musings Blog
Due to Blogger's elimination of FTP uploads, all new gadget posts will be to my Frequent Musings Blog
Older posts will remain on this blog for reference.
Windows Phone 7 - a disappointment
I am, or was until today, a big fan of WM based on:
- the easy UI customization
- plethora of business class 3rd party apps
- available alternate browsers which did both the full / mobile web well
- the ability to purchase apps from multiple places
- open file system with included file explorer
- a wide variety of screen sizes / physical keyboards
- Copy / Paste
I will reserve final judgement on Windows Phone Series 7 until the specs are finalized, and I have a chance to play with the new OS. I like the current standard pre-Series 7 WM interface customized with utilities such as Pocket Plus, and I multi-task applications daily. I have tried the slicker UI shells for WM, but usually end up back with the standard UI utilizing Pocket Plus enhancements. From my perspective, the pendulum has swung way too far in the direction of how pretty, animated, and slick the UI's are vs. does the device do what you want easily, quickly, reliably, and with the minimum number of inputs. It seems that no matter how feature deficient a device may be, and how many more steps it takes to perform a task, it is ok with the tech press as long as there are multiple animated transitions, and it looks "cool". Whenever the iPhone is mentioned in the mainstream, and tech press, the comments range in tone from salivating to orgasmic with barely a mention of the many features missing that other smartphones have included for years. Of course some Apple fans tell us those missing features are not needed. It is funny that when Apple adds one of the missing features in a software upgrade, those same Apple fans praise the new (old for other vendors) feature as a major innovation, and act like Apple invented the feature that has been around for years in other platforms.
I realize MS had to make a major change to keep pace with the more modern over-hyped, finger friendly, eye candy focused phone OS's, and I do not have a problem with that per se. Unfortunately, IMO, they went too far, and threw the baby out with the bath water, Based on the limited info available, the things I liked about WM such as multi-tasking, and customizable UI's have been discarded for extensive social network integration, and slickness. I know I am probably in the minority, but I am disappointed with this release.
I will reserve final judgement until the Windows Phone Series 7 specs are finalized; however, based on the initial info available, this long time WM fan (over a dozen WM PDAs / Smartphones) may switch to another platform, probably Android since the iPhone is too limited for my needs. I hope MS announces that many of the features power users like with WM are still there, and they only showcased the new features in their Barcelona presentation.Update March 15, 2010
The news posted on the gadget sites from the MIX10 Conference are not encouraging (from my perspective). Yes, the interface is cool, and the hub concept is certainly unique, but (and these are just the big negatives):
- no / limited multitasking
- no UI customization
- no external storage cards
- all apps must be purchased from the Microsoft Marketplace
- no user accessible file system (apps can only see their directory) - this is the killer for me
Goodbye WM, it was nice while it lasted. I may purchase a HTC HD2 with WM 6.5.3 while they are available, and (if I purchase), the HD2 will be my last WM device unless I purchase a used Classic WM device from eBay. Another option is to skip the HD2, and go directly to Android when my current contract is finished since the iPhone is way too feature deficient for my needs. If I wanted a feature deficient, over-controlled "smartphone", I would have already purchased the iPhone.Update March 17, 2010
The final straw was announced today by Microsoft at MIX10, no copy / paste. Unless Microsoft comes to their senses before I need another smartphone, definitely hello Android, goodbye Windows Mobile. In fact, their stripping of all the features I liked about WM from Series 7 has disappointed / annoyed me so much, I am not sure they could win me back even if they returned all my favorite features.Update March 26, 2010
Still have not changed my mind about how disappointing the new Windows Phone Series 7 is for me. MS basically threw out, or severely restricted the features I like while adding in the features that are of little interest to me. My current Sprint contract is up the end of October, and my Touch Pro is still running fine. I have not decided whether to purchase the HTC HD2 (probably the best WM Classic phone every made), or go directly to Android possibly the new Sprint HTC Android EVO 4G that should be available this summer. Fortunately, I have 7 months to make up my mind, and maybe Microsoft will have come to its senses by then, and restored the features us power users cherish. Since I am already a Sprint customer, I could probably upgrade to the EVO when it is released in the summer rather than waiting until the end of October.Clarification
Although I probably will not buy another Windows Mobile device after Series 7 is released, I will still use Windows Mobile devices. Since the "Classic" Windows Mobile meets my needs better than any other platform, I will continue to use my current devices until the hardware fails, or a killer app is released on Android. Although I have newer devices, I still use two 2004 era Toshiba e830 WM based PDA's daily for browsing, database entry, calendar, contacts, and spreadsheets. Pocket IE is constantly maligned in the tech press because it does not display full pages well. My personal preference is to view mobile sites on screens < 7". The older versions of Pocket IE are excellent for mobile sites, forums, and popular single column pages like Craigslist. Pocket IE allows you to increase the text size to a comfortable reading size, and flows the text properly to eliminate the need for the dreaded horizontal scrolling. This ability to increase text size with proper text flow is essential as you get older. Unfortunately, Mobile Safari, although excellent for full webpages, displays some single column pages with too small a font size to read comfortably even after using double tap zoom. If you pinch zoom with mobile Safari, unfortunately the text does not reflow, and you are forced to horizontally scroll to read every line which gets very old very quickly.
Samsung Mondi - initial impression - fantastic
The last thing I needed was another mobile device. When the Mondi was announced, I just could not resist. A 4.3" 800 X 480 screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, WM6.1, sliding physical keyboard. and built-in GPS. No wonder, the credit card leaped out of my wallet when I was able to locate the Mondi in the US. I am a big fan of WM devices, and the Mondi specs indicated it would be one of the best. I just received the Mondi yesterday, and I am very impressed. I will update this brief review after I have more hands-on time with the Mondi.
- Great screen quality - 4.3" 800 X 480 screen looks awesome, and responds well to both finger, and stylus input. With the 4.3" screen, you don't need the stylus. With ClearType enabled, text is very sharp, and easy to read.
- Physical keyboard is easy to use, has a nice feel, is backlit, and has a navigation pad. I am a big fan of physical keyboards.
- Although I still prefer physical keyboards, the on-screen Samsung keyboard is one of the best software keyboards I have used. The on-screen keyboard is easy to use with the 4.3" screen. A nice addition is when you hold down a key for more than a second, the second character (usually a number, or punctuation) assigned to that key is selected. My Touch Pro also has this feature, and I use it constantly.
- WiFi, and Bluetooth both work fine. Easy to connect, nice app to turn on/off/airplane mode, and work as expected. The device supports WiMax; however, I am not in a WiMax area. This device is such a pleasure to use with WiFi, I am sure it would be great with WiMax as well. Hopefully, WiMax will be available in my area soon.
- Have not had a chance to use the GPS yet, but with the beautiful screen, I am sure it will be fine. All maps are included.
- Mondi has both a rear camera, and a front messaging camera.
- Samsung has done a nice job skinning the WM interface. With the big screen, even the standard WM interface is finger friendly.
- Both Internet Explorer 6, and Opera Mobile are included. When I navigated to the SPB Software site to download the latest versions of my favorite apps, I was very pleasantly surprised when the flash videos showing the features of the applications on the site played fine in IE due to the included Flash Lite. Not only did they play fine, they played without dropped frames via WiFi. Full Flash support would be great; however, Flash Lite is a good start.
- In addition to about 90MB for program storage, 4GB of built in storage is included, and MicroSD cards (up to 32GB) can be added. After booting, about 40 MB of RAM are available for program execution. I would have liked more, but 40 MB should be ok to multitask desired applications.
- Samsung widgets are supported, and the widget screen is easily selected via hard button. I am a fan of hard buttons, and regret the recent fad to eliminate hard buttons.
- Nice 800 MHz processor which results in snappy performance. The power setting includes a performance tab with user selectable high, low, normal, and auto performance settings which adjust the speed vs. battery life. The default setting is auto. When it is available, one of the first settings I change is the performance setting. As you probably guessed, I immediately change the setting from auto to high (full 800 MHz) which makes for a noticeable performance boost. It is like adding a turbo.
The tone of my remarks demonstrates how impressed I am with this device. I know it is now fashionable to mock WM, but for my needs, it is the best mobile OS available. I have found WM to be very stable, reliable, "just works", with a plethora of business type applications that meet my needs.