Archive for category Mobile

Should I jailbreak?

Since an untethered jailbreak is out for iOS 5.0.1, I’m debating whether I should jailbreak my iPod now. I decided to make a poll so my readers can vote (as well as Twitter followers).

 

Your browser doesn’t support iFrames 😦 Vote for this poll here.

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Pantech Laser Review

A few months ago, I posted my First Impressions on the Pantech Laser. After having it for a few months, my opinions are pretty much the same. I will go more in-depth in this post though.

HARDWARE

Responsive Touch Screen – Like I said in my first impressions, the screen is pretty responsive, for a resistive touch screen. It isn’t up to par with capacitive screens (obviously) but it is pretty good. The screen has not lost any sensitivity since I posted the first impressions. The screen seems to scratch pretty easily, so I would recommend a screen protector (I do not have one and I have a bunch of scratches). A screen protector may reduce responsiveness however.

Keyboard – I like the keyboard on the Laser. I have noticed that it is a little stiff, but I think I’ve gotten used to it. Also, I’ve noticed myself pushing multiple buttons at the same time, however that’s probably because I’m not carefully watching the keyboard as I type. I actually touch type to some degree, but I can’t completely type without looking. As I said in the first impressions, the isolated keys help very much, since they are very flat to accommodate the sliding mechanism. I really wish the keyboard had arrow keys though, because it’s kind of hard to tap right where you want to edit some text, so it’s easier to just delete everything before that point.

Battery Life – The battery life on the Laser is definitely worse than my Eternity. I get more than a day with normal usage, but I don’t usually get over 3 days on one charge. If you charge your phone overnight, then you should be fine with the battery. I usually just wait until the battery is low to fully charge it, and I have been finding myself having to charge it during the day instead of at night. Ironically, my dead battery reminded me to write this section.

Standardized Charger/USB – This is actually very nice. On my family plan, all five devices have the same charging port (three of them are Lasers, two are basic Nokia flip phones). If one of us forgets our charger, we can use someone else’s charger.

Front Buttons – Below the touchscreen, there are three physical buttons: Call Send, Back, and Call End/Power. I have noticed more than a few times my phone has turned on in my pocket. This is because these buttons are fairly easy to press. They are also not flush to the surface, so they stick out a little. When the phone is on and in my pocket (or off and the only thing in that pocket) there are no issues (the lock screen prevents accidental phone usage). Other reviews have stated that the phone unlocks in the pocket easily, but I have not found this to be the case.

Camera – The camera quality is pretty good. It will not replace a standalone camera however. In the right lighting conditions, colors come out fine, but it doesn’t seem to focus as well as a normal camera. It’s a pretty good camera for a phone. Video quality isn’t much better, and again, wont replace a standalone camera. If you would like to know more information, please leave a comment on this post.

SOFTWARE

User Interface/Operating System – I still like the UI on the Pantech Laser, even though scrolling is kind of laggy. Another annoyance with the UI is that the text can be kind of small. Being visually impaired, I wish there was a way to make the text larger, but there isn’t. The Operating System is somewhat limited as well. Many file types cannot be opened, such as HTML and TXT. Also, when viewing a photo, you cannot zoom in. You can zoom while taking a picture but not when viewing. This is a very annoying aspect of the OS. There are some other quirks, such as deleting everything in a text field when holding down the delete key.

UI Layout/OS Features – There are three separate homescreens. The first homescreen can be customized with shortcuts to applications. Unfortunately, most of the shortcuts available aren’t very useful. For example, you can have a shortcut to an individual text message, but not to the messages area. The middle screen is reserved for a clock only. It can be considered a waste of space, but some of the clock options are kind of cool. The third and last screen is for contacts. This is probably one of the more useful screens. The contacts show with the display name and picture. Tapping a contact brings an overlaid window with all call, text, and video share history with that contact. It also has shortcuts to call, text, video share, and visit the website of the contact. Sliding the keyboard open while on a homescreen brings up a grid of icons (separate from the main menu), so the homescreens cannot be accessed in landscape mode.

The main menu is the same as most feature phones. It is a standard grid of icons, but you can add as many screens as you would like. Icons can be rearranged by tapping and holding (similar to most smartphone OS’s) and an “Add” icon appears while in this mode. Links to social media sites (Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook) are included in the main menu (and cannot be deleted).

I have not tested any internet-related features as I do not have a data plan, but many AT&T bloatware services are included. Examples are ATT GPS, Mobile Video, AppCenter, ATT SocialNet, and ATT Music. This software cannot be removed (yet).

Messaging – Messaging is pretty good on the Laser. When texting, threaded texting is pretty much the only option. You can tap each message to view it in a non-threaded view. You can also choose to reply from this screen in a non-threaded style composition screen. I, and others I know who have the same phone, have noticed a few bugs however. One such bug is that sometimes new messages will appear before the last message you have sent. Here is a diagram to explain:

Notice how the text that was received later (1:30) was inserted above the text sent previously (1:20). This doesn’t happen all that often, and replying by tapping the message and tapping Reply usually fixes it, at least temporarily. There is also a separate IM client and email client. The IM client isn’t the greatest, but it does work for sending and receiving instant messages. I have not tested the mobile email application (since I don’t have a data plan) but it is the same as on other AT&T feature phones. Do not expect a smartphone-like experience from these applications.

Conclusion: This is a very nice feature phone from AT&T. It has some bugs, but overall a nice phone. It will not compare to smartphones (as it’s just a feature phone) but if you are looking for a good texting phone without a data plan, this could be a good phone for you.

If you would like to know anything else about this phone, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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Pantech Laser: First Impressions

Last week, I upgraded from my Samsung Eternity to a Pantech Laser. There are a few things that I found should have been in the firmware (and could easily be added in a firmware update) but I think it is a worthy upgrade.

Instead of writing a long blog post about the phone, I’ll just do a list of pro’s and cons. A full review should be up in a month or so.

Pros:

  • Responsive Touch Screen – Yes, the screen is resistive (like the Eternity) but is much more responsive than the Eternity. I don’t have to use a stylus or fingernail to touch the screen.
  • Nice physical keyboard – After using a touch only keyboard for 1.5 years, it’s nice to have a physical keyboard. The keys are isolated, which makes them very easy to type on. I’ll cover the keyboard more extensively on the review.
  • Thinness – This phone is thinner than my Eternity, and it has a full slide-out keyboard!
  • UI – The user interface on t he Laser is very nice, and is a little different than Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. It’s nice to have something a little different.
  • Threaded Texting – If you’ve never used threaded texting, it’s basically like an IM conversation. This makes it much easier to follow conversations.
  • Standard MicroUSB Charging/Data Port – This is so nice compared to the proprietary port on the Eternity. If your charger breaks, you can simply buy a general, cheaper charger.

Cons:

  • Lack of support for displaying files – The Laser can play back images, video, and audio, but if you want to view anything else, you’re pretty much out of luck. It can’t display HTML files with the built in browser, nor can it open plain text (.txt) files.
  • Can’t install apps..yet – I haven’t been able to install any kind of app (I don’t have a data plan so I can’t use the browser. If you have a data plan you can probably install apps.) through the data cable. I will keep trying and make a blog post if I figure it out.
  • Not able to zoom in on pictures – You can zoom in the camera while taking pictures, but not after you take a picture. You also cannot zoom in on pictures people send you or that are on your memory card.
  • Laggy UI – The interface on the Laser is nice, however it can be laggy at times. This isn’t a huge deal though.
  • Non hot-swappable SD card – To remove the MicroSD card, you have to remove the battery. It was the same way on my Eternity though.

Undecided:

  • Camera – I haven’t gotten to use the camera much, so I’ll write more about the camera in the review.

Do you have the Laser or are thinking about getting it? If you have any questions about the Laser (or anything else technology related), leave it in the comments below or use the Contact Me page.

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Samsung Eternity Full Review

A while ago (in August) I got a Samsung Eternity. I also blogged about this phone not too long after I got it but I haven’t done a full review yet. Here is my review of the Samsung Eternity:

The first thing, if you want to completely customize your phone with themes and change every sound that plays through the speaker, then this is not the phone for you. This phone really only allows you to change the wallpaper behind your widgets (not the lock screen wallpaper) and change your ringtone/text tone. You can also choose from a few default vibration patterns for incoming calls and texts but other than that there isn’t a whole lot you can change. There is no way to get themes, not even by hacks. The OS on this phone is very locked down (although a LOT has been discovered over at http://samsung-eternity.com/)
Also, this phone is discontinued at AT&T. Good news however, there are a few devices, such as the Solstice and Mythic, that are very similar to the Eternity (although they have basically the same limitations). Since this phone is discontinued, your best bet at getting one would be E-Bay, but I would only recommend choosing the Eternity over other devices from AT&T if your contract isn’t up but you still want a decent phone.

I’m just going to list the pros and cons of the device to make things easier.

PROS:
Very good resistive screen – You won’t get the same responsiveness as the iPhone (or any capacitive touch screen for that matter) but if you don’t care if you have to push a little, the screen is very good.
Pretty decent camera – The Eternity comes with a 3.0 mpx camera (although megapixels don’t really matter too much). The camera takes very good pictures for a phone but I would not sell your point and shoot digital camera and depend of the camera on this device.
An OK set of widgets – There are some useful widgets that come with the TouchWiz OS. I really don’t use too many other than the Clock and Date widgets but the media player widget is pretty useful.
Not too laggy – When using the phone I hardly notice much lag. There is some when loading large lists or the “Games & Apps” menu but overall it’s not that bad.
SD Card Slot – Most phones have Micro SD card slots but others *ahem* iPhone *ahem* don’t, which makes it harder to transfer over music and pictures.
Good community – This isn’t really with the device itself but the community (samsung-eternity.com) is awesome!

CONS:
Lack of customization – I mentioned this above but I find this a major con of the device.
Many small bugs that are very annoying – Some I don’t notice too much but others are VERY annoying. One example is the increasing ringtone bug. This is a bug (or as Samsung calls it, a feature) where even if the sound setting is “Normal” and not on “Increasing” the ringtone will start off soft and get louder. This even applies to text messages, so my current text tone has a few seconds of nothing (silence) before the actual tone chimes.
No flash on camera – I’ve never owned a phone with a camera flash but it would be very helpful when outside (or even inside) at night when there isn’t much light.
No physical keyboard – If you want a physical keyboard, get the Impression. The Eternity relies solely on a virtual keyboard, which is somewhat hard to use because of the resistive touch screen.
No proper email support – The phone is classified as a feature phone (or a dumbphone) and so there isn’t proper POP/IMAP email support. There are a few 3rd party applications that allow this but none are as good as a built in client (although there IS a mail client, but its limited to predetermined mail services)
Boring UI – This sort of goes along with the lack of customization but after a while, the little effects between menus and the overall user interface gets boring (and there’s no way to change it!)
Old and discontinued – If you are just now buying this phone, you may be disappointed. It does not have all the features a newer phone has and doesn’t have the specs of a newer phone. It is also NOT a smartphone so don’t expect smartphone functionality from it (although its pretty close without having to pay the $30 extra a month for data).
No addition of widgets – The newer TouchWiz OS phones have the ability to add widgets. This phone is not able to have added widgets and no hacks have been found (yet) to allow them.

If you don’t want a smartphone or don’t want to pay for data, this is a pretty decent phone. It is old and can probably be only bought online (i.e E-Bay, Craigslist) but has an excellent community behind it who is willing to help you through any problems or questions you may have (as long as you search first. If the question’s been asked before, the mods may get mad..)

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Install games/apps from memory card on Samsung Eternity

I have a Samsung Eternity. If you have one, you may have heard of or are even part of http://samsung-eternity.com/ This is a great forum with some very knowledgeable people who have found a lot of hacks for the Eternity.

The most recent breakthrough was from Agoattamer who figured out how to install Games and Applications from the memory card. The post is here: http://www.samsung-eternity.com/index.php?topic=7716.0

Basically, you just install the application BlueFTP (which is posted at the end of the forum post, you have to be a member to download it though). Once BlueFTP is installed and app you want is in it’s own folder on the memory card, you simply copy the folder into the filesystem with BlueFTP. I won’t go into detail here so if you want step by step instructions, please visit the forum post linked above.

This is a really great discovery because the previous method was that you had to use TK File Explorer, which is a very buggy program.

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Samsung Eternity

I’m really sorry I haven’t been blogging much. I’ve been really busy and haven’t had much to blog about. Recently, I got a new phone, a Samsung Eternity. I’ve had it for a few weeks and its a really nice phone. It has a resistive touchscreen, but it is a really good one as far as resistive ones go. It was a little hard getting used to at first because I have an iPod Touch, but now that I’m used to it, it works fine.
The camera is 3mp but is defaulted to taking pictures at 2mp to allow for zooming. The camera quality is very good.
The Eternity does have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but it’s in a very weird place, it’s on the top right side of the phone, so it might be uncomfortable if you put the phone in your pocket with headphones in.

Overall, if you have AT&T and don’t want the monthly costs of data for the iphone, then the Eternity may be a good choice.
If you already have an Eternity (or are planning on getting one) then I suggest going to http://samsung-eternity.com
This website is a great forum with really helpful members.

Thanks for reading,
Lee

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