Friday, June 30, 2006

Customer Service, Major flaw

Last night I had the opportunity to experience Verizon customer service when I canceled the VCAST V PAK while still in the one month trial period.
Their customer service was friendly and efficient, and deserves the high Consumer Reports rating.

I've found one problem with the Motorola RAZR V3c, one that I have not seen mentioned in any reviews. The main (internal) display is unreadable in sunlight and with no way to increase the brightness this makes it almost impossible to dial calls outside. This is a major flaw in an otherwise excellent phone. I really though that Motorola would have fixed this by spending more on a better screen - but keeping costs low may have been their primary concern. After all, who uses their cellphones outside?.
My old, soon to be sold, Treo 600 has an extra bright screen to overcome this. Inside you need to keep it at the lowest brightness setting, but outside there's plenty of brightness on the slider bar to make the screen readable. I have on occasions used it as a torch (flashlight).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Got Gripes?

While searching for a review of ZoneAlarm software the other day I came across this detailed gripe about ZoneAlarm.
I had struck the mother lode, a site dedicated to both software and hardware Computer Gripes:

They also have a link to PC World's 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

Monday, June 19, 2006

V3m vs. V3c

Just after I bought the Motorola RAZR V3c, the Verizon Online Site had its successor, the Motorola RAZR V3m on special for $69. That’s a lot more than I paid for the V3c, but it still grated a bit. Of course Amazon’s price for the newer RAZR is $199 after rebates, they must have a lot of the V3c’s in stock.

Anyway, a comparison on reveals that the differences between the two are not that important to me:

First is a Memory Card Slot for microSD / TransFlash cards. No Comment.

Then the V3m has better battery life - standby time is increased from 215 hours (9 days) to 325 hours(13.5 days). No change in talk time though.

The updated RAZR has a Music Player. No big deal.

Oh, a converged device; music player and cellphone, you say.

Sorry, my Treo 600 had that, on top of being a handheld computer with a keyboard. I prefer the sound of a dedicated DAP (Digital Audio Player).

Also, the V3m is all of 1mm thinner than the v3c (or 0.03 inches). Now, that really makes a difference.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

RAZR Early impressions

So far I'm really impressed with Motorola RAZR V3c. Fortunately I was expecting the Verizon interface and the crippled Bluetooth, otherwise may have been disappointed. It certainly is the coolest cellphone I've owned, easily surpassing the Motorola V600. The main color screen is bigger than I expected for a cellphone. The keypad is really cool, especially when it is lit up. My only minor gripe is that I seem to press the directional keys sometimes instead of the main "Select" button in the main navigational keys. Not being able to fully customize these keys is what I expected. If I really wanted to use the EVDO highspeed features I would be frustrated as EVDO reception is patchy and variable in my home. I have also since discovered that the North Shore and South Shore of Long Island are not in the EVDO coverage area, which I guess explains the bad reception. The cellphone itself is small and light, very easily pocketable. In my tests of the most important cellphone functionality - voice reception - it is pretty good.

By the way, thanks to The General for pointing out that the "Q" in the Motorola Q stands for "Qwerty" - that makes sense as it has a keyboard.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

RAZR not Razor?

Questions for Motorola:
Why drop the "o" from Razor to make it RAZR, or the "b" and "e" from PEBL? Okay, so short CAPS are eye-catching - ROKR instead of Rocker. I guess V60 or V600 wasn't catchy enough. Now there's the Motorola Q. Does Motorola have to pay royalties to Ian Fleming's estate? ("The lasting impact of 'Q' does not refer to the Motorola Q")

Monday, June 12, 2006

Target Acquired


(I hope, and not "Mission Accomplished")

Cutting Edge technology:

....a year ago

Can you hear me (now)?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Non-Mobile cellphone

A cellphone by definition should be mobile.

I was very interested in the VZ Navigator feature from Verizon. When it first came out I had read about it, probably in PC Magazine. Now, this seemed like a really cool and useful technology. A cellphone is something you carry almost all the time, and is (usually) smaller than one of those handheld GPS devices. So basically you shold have access to GPS whenever you really need it (assuming there is coverage in the area you happen to be lost in, but that's another matter). The way Verizon prices it is appealling - either $10 a month (for the constantly lost), or $2.99 for a 24 hour period whenever you need it. From a flyer (aka junk snail mail) Verizon had sent me, it appeared that they only offered 2 cellphones which were GPS enabled: the Motorola V325 and the LG VX 9800. At first the VX 9800 sounded like a cool phone loaded with features like BlueTooth, a Megapixel Camera etc,, but then I realized it's a brick.
Dimensions 4.57 inches, 1.97 inches, 1.0 inches, weight: 5.19 ounces. For a cellphone that's a brick.

The LG VX9800 as a cellphone

The LG VX9800 is not a PDA, as it doesn't have an OS, but is a text messenger.

(Mobiledia has larger pictures of the LG VX9800 in their review)

As for the Motorola V325, it was the first to have VZ Navigator, and had good user reviews on CNET, Phonescoop and even on Amazon. Yet it lacked bluetooth - kinda ironic for me to want bluetooth, since I have it on my Motorola V600 cellphone and have never used it. I also have it on a couple of my handhelds, but never have tried hard enough to get it working - infrared works easily between handhelds (this includes Palm and PocketPCs).
Anyway, I digress.
Also, the Motorola V325 only had a VGA camera, and since I was upgrading a better camera would be nice (the camera on the V600, although low resolution, takes pretty good pictures for a cellphone). The one nice thing the V325 had was a World Clock.

The General (the cellphone expert) mentioned the RAZR. I had a look at it on the Verizon site, and saw that it supports VZ Navigator. Sneaky Verizon - they don't want to tell you that upfront - it would affect the sales of "The V" (the VX 9800, I guess V stands for Very Big cellphone). The Motorola RAZR V3c goes for $99.99 after rebates on the Verizon site and in their stores.
On however, it can be had for free after rebates.

The prey was in my sights...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Smells like a Hunt

Before the last blog entry about Ubuntu, I was so engrossed in a hunt that I didn't have time to blog.
What? Yes thanks.

Anyway, I didn't expect to find myself on a hunt, especially considering I've basically blown my personal technology budget for at least the next year.
I've being wracking my brain trying to figure out how I got into research mode, which quickly morphed into hunt mode.
No, I don't hunt Polar bears - this is a technology hunt.

I was looking at getting onto a "Family Plan", and after checking when my wife's cellphone contract ended, I quickly checked when mine ended. To my surprise my contract had ended last year, and I've been on month-to-month since then.

Aha, research mode became hunt mode. I checked out my current cellular provider, Cingular, and saw that their cheapest plan was $39.99, which is $20 more than my current plan, but with 10 times the minutes I currently have. But their free phones were not particularly inspiring.

Instead, since I'm eligible for a discount from Verizon (don't ask why, it's a state secret), I had a look at their plans and phones.

The first phone which interested me was the Motorola V325, to be seen here on its own blog. One of it's most interesting features was the VZ Navigator which allows GPS Navigation from a cellphone - see PC Magazine review here.

This phone seemed ideal, it even had analog roaming, but...

The hunt continues...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Linux for Astronauts

A new version of Ubuntu Linux has been released, version 6.06 (6.06 meaning the release date of June 2006, not June 6!)

Why Linux for Astronauts?
Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project, was also the first South African in space, having paid $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket in 2002 (see his website)