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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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VuPoint “Magic Wand” Portable Scanner – First Impressions

magicWandST410AI recently received the VuPoint PDS-ST410A-VP. As you can tell by the title, it’s a portable scanner. Basically, you can scan anything so long as it’s flat by placing the scanner at the top of the document, pressing scan, and sliding it down to the bottom. A great thing about this scanner is that it uses standard ports. Images are stored on a MicroSD card and can be transferred to the computer via a Mini USB cable (which you can see in the picture). It also runs on two AA batteries, which are easily accessible by sliding off the silver plastic piece on the right. Standard ports are much better, because it’s not a pain to replace cables or memory cards, one can just buy a generic cable for much cheaper. Probably the best thing about this is how simple it is, not only to setup but in general use. I’ve only used this for about a day, and can safely say that it couldn’t get similar without losing some function (other than taking away the ability to change the dpi). When you first use it, you are supposed to calibrate it by scanning an included white piece of paper. I neglected to do this first, and the images still looked very good. I didn’t see much of an improvement (if any at all) after calibrating. Image quality was excellent on the default setting (I haven’t tried changing the DPI yet). It works very well for scanning paper, and can even be used to scan pages out of a textbook while still retaining the excellent image quality. Scanned images cannot be viewed on the device itself, but that isn’t very necessary. Transferring images to a computer is very easy as well. Simply plug in the included USB cable, and it shows up as a Removable Device (which also allows for more universal file transfers. It can be used on pretty much any OS that can find a driver). Viewing pictures is the same as how you would view a picture on something like a phone (or camera) in mass storage mode. Just go to the appropriate folder (In my case, they are in DCIM\100MEDIA) and drag the image to your desktop (or just view it). It’s very portable as well, and is even better with a carrying case that is sold separately (as it has a place for the USB cable).

image

The portable scanner does include software, but it’s not what you would expect. The included software is ABBYY Screenshot Reader, which is OCR software. If you don’t know, OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Basically, the software takes text that’s in an image and converts it to plain text that is editable. In the case of ABBYY Screenshot Reader, any text that is on the screen can be converted into plain text and can be recognized in multiple languages (if you want to know the specific languages, feel free to comment and I will respond). The software has many options as well. It allows you to take a portion of the screen, a window, the entire screen, or a timed capture of the entire screen. It can export the text to the computer clipboard, Microsoft Word or a text file. It can recognize tables and export them to the clipboard, Excel, and to a file (.xls). ABBYY Screenshot Reader can also recognize images (it just takes a screenshot, like the snipping tool built in to Windows) and export them to the clipboard, a file, or an email message. There were a few errors in recognizing text, but overall it worked pretty well.

Pros

  • Standard ports/slots (a huge plus, no proprietary crap)
  • Very good image quality
  • The simplicity and ease of use
  • The small form factor for it’s portability

Cons

  • The device requires a steady hand (or a smooth surface). If it is not held steady while scanning, the image will have some unreadable spots.
  • It would be nice to have a rechargeable battery via the USB cable, but having standard AA batteries allows the use of rechargeable batteries, so it isn’t a big deal.
  • The screen doesn’t have a backlight, but you don’t really need to see the screen to use it.
  • The build quality feels a little cheap, but again not a big issue.

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons (in my opinion) and is definitely a good product that I personally can see many uses (and will hopefully need to use it for those uses, if that made any sense). I will post an actual review in a week or so.

Have you ever used or seen a portable scanner? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Website Review: vImg Pro

What do you currently use to host images that you want to post to forums and other websites? Do you use Photobucket? What about ImageShack? Maybe you use Flickr? Most photo upload websites require the user to sign up with an account to upload photos or don’t allow direct linking to the photos. Sometimes you don’t want to sign up for an account on these websites and just want to upload a photo, get a link to that photo, and post it in an instant message, to twitter, in an email, or on a forum. A relatively new website, vImg Pro, does just that.

The website is very simple. Just go to vimgpro.com, click “Browse”, check whether you want to photo to be displayed to the public, and click “Upload.” Uploading pictures takes very little time. As soon as it’s finished uploading, you have three different options. You can copy the direct link to the picture, you can copy a UBBC link (which is usually used for forums) or you can copy an HTML link that can be placed on a web page or blog post.

Pictures can be in a variety of formats such as .png, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .jpe, .jfif, .gif, .bmp, .dib, .tga, .tiff, .tif, and .ico. Pictures can be a maximum of 20 megabytes in size, but that should be fine for most pictures.

All of this is presented in a clean, fast interface and best of all, its completely free. http://vimgpro.com/

If you liked this blog post, please check out the rest of my website!

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