Saturday, July 29, 2006

Big and Smart

Unlike the svelte Motorola Q smartphone, some early smartphones were really big.

I got to thinking, what is the biggest Smartphone out there? Is it the Sierra Wireless Voq A11 with dimensions of 5.25" x 2.16" x 0.96" (133 x 55 x 24 mm) and weighing 5.11 oz (145 g)?

This smartphone has neither a camera nor Bluetooth, but does have a cool flip open QWERTY keyboard:

But it is easily overshadowed by the huge Hitachi G1000 Pocket PC Phone, which weighs in at 8.4 oz (238 g) with dimensions of 5.8" x 3.3" x .9" (147 x 84 x 23 mm).

The Hitachi G1000 has a 3.5" 320 x 240 pixel color transflective display, a standard QWERTY keyboard layout and an integrated VGA digital camera.

The first GSM Pocket PC 2002 Phone from T-Mobile weighed in at 6.80 oz (193 g) and was 5.08" x 2.87" x 0.71" (129 x 73 x 18 mm), with no keyboard:

To get away from Microsoft OS based smartphones, the first Treo Phone, the Treo 270 weighed 5.40 oz (153 g), and was 4.20" x 2.80" x 0.82" (107 x 71 x 21 mm).

There are a number of smartphones reviewed at

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ubuntu #1

Ubuntu Linux 6.06 is the number one Linux distribution according to DistroWatch.
The All about Linux Blog refers to the "Kubuntu" variant of Ubuntu as "An excellent Linux distribution"

Friday, July 21, 2006

Microsoft's planned iPod Rival

From My Way News - Microsoft Confirms Plans for IPod Rival. According to this article, and the BBC News article "Zune challenge beckons for iPod", the name of the new device is the "Zune".

Somehow Listen to a tune on a Zune is not that catchy...

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I was going to call this entry "Spyware Begone!" but that is the name of a dubious-looking spyware scanner.

I recently tested a trial version of an AntiSpyware program from Ashampoo. Firstly, the company is aptly named, because although they produce some good utilities, it is a shame how they use spamming to sell their products (pooh!). They are generous with their trial periods though - usually 10 days, and then if you give them your email address you get another 30 days for a total of 40 days. Unfortunately the Ashampoo AntiSpyware program refused to update its definitions as it was a trial version. That sucked, as most other AntiSpyware programs will update to the latest definitions during their (admittedly shorter) trial periods. Then the program to over an hour to do the scan - okay, it was running on a 500MHz machine, but I have read complaints elsewhere that it is slow. Finally it found 800 plus cookies. I wasn't impressed. The program is advertised for $29.99. Not too long after registering for the extended trial I got an email advertising the program for 50% off, if I buy it now. If I ignore this email (which I will), I'll get another offer in a few days time for about 40% off the full price (better buy it now, the discounts are getting less!).

I bought ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite from ZoneLabs. During its 15-day trial on another machine, I got rid of a pesky folder which opened with Windows on every startup, no matter what I tried, as well as some other less innocuous spyware. Much better than Ashampoo AntiSpyware,

To Ashampoo's credit I have bought several of their software titles - Ashampoo WinOptimizer Platinum is one I use almost every day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

LG VX8300 thoughts

"The recipient" read the"No end in sight" blog entry over my shoulder and let me order the LG VX8300 cellphone.

Before I get to the cellphone some mild gripes about Verizon's online ordering service. Although I supplied an email address they didn't send any order confirmation. They also didn't email me when the phone shipped. However it arrived on the Tuesday after being ordered on Saturday evening.
What always amazes me are how small the boxes are that cellphones are packed in. The Verizon boxes seem particularly small.
Okay, the contents, I know, I know.

I'm not going to do a full review as there is a fairly good one (albeit badly in need of a spellchecker) with pictures at HowardForums.
Admittedly it is bigger and thicker and doesn't look quite as cool as the RAZR.
However, unlike some other LG cellphones I have seen though (notably the VX5200), it looks professional.

Okay, first my doubts - I'm not sure how good the RF would be it borderline areas with patchy coverage. In pseudo-scientific tests, when one bar of signal strength showed, conversations tended to break up a lot.

As a counterpoint, when the signal strength is two bars or more, conversations are clear. The microphone also doesn't pick up as much wind noise as that of the RAZR.

Customization is a pleasure with the VX8300. I liked being able to silence the Verizon power on and power off jingles. The backlight of both the main screen and the keypad can be set to "Always On". Unfortunately the brightness of the main screen cannot be adjusted though. This would make it more readable in sunlight, but it is already miles better than the screen of the RAZR.
The Flash Lite interface offers two animated interface themes in addition to Verizon's standard interface themes.

I prefer the way that LG handles messages (showing unread/total), as well as the way speed dial numbers can be assigned to numbers after the fact. The keypad is easy to use, and it didn't take long for me to get used to the layout.

Although the LG VX8300 is bigger and bulkier than the RAZR, I would swop in a heartbeat

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Windows 98 Permanent Shutdown

Microsoft shuts down Windows 98 from The BBC

Saturday, July 08, 2006

No end in sight

This hunt is tiring me out. If it was for a cellphone for myself I would have ordered my top choice today just to get it over with. However since the recipient has said I should wait another week...
At the moment my top choice is the LG VX8300.

I have overcome my dislike for LG handsets after spending a week with the low-end LG VX5200. Its main screen is readable in direct sunlight, and the phone is a lot more customizable than my Motorola RAZR V3c, allowing the power on and power off tunes to be turned off, something I would love to do with my RAZR. Still, I would not swap the RAZR for the LG VX5200.
Okay, so why the LG VX8300? Ease of use is one reason. It also appears to be the smallest and lightest cellphone featuring an memory card - this is excluding the RAZR V3m, which is not even in the running. The only "Con" from the CNET editors' review was "The LG VX8300's Bluetooth feature does not support file transfers." which of course applies to all Verizons cellphones. My second choice is the Samsung SCH-A930, its main disadvantages being the skimpy external display and unusual rectangular shape.

It may cool and different look different but oddly shaped phones are more difficult to hold.

Then there is the Motorola E815, which is unfortunately a bit too large and "long in the tooth".

No Rumors Rule

I'm not one for spreading technology rumors. Yet an interesting one about Microsoft has emerged : that Microsoft is working on an "iPod killer". This story has been spreading like wildfire - its even being mentioned in magazines like PC World "Next iPod Killer - From Microsoft?" (so far, there hasn't been an iPod killer, so maybe they mean next attempt at an iPod killer),
PC Magazine "Microsoft's iPod Killer Plan".
Even Fox News has a story "Sources: Microsoft's 'iPod Killer' to Hit Stores by Christmas" (Oh, it must be true!).
Of course the tech rumor site Engadget has "blurry pictures"

It sort of makes sense that Microsoft would go after the lucrative MP3 Player market. Time will tell though.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Yet Another Cellphone Hunt, and so soon.

No, I didn't return the RAZR V3c.

My wife's cellphone contract ends soon and I'm looking for the best deal I can get for her. The criteria is different of course, and now, so soon after the last purchase I'm hopefully a bit wiser. This time I don't want to buy a cellphone which is replaced by an upgraded model within a month. Also, my desire for high tech needs to be balanced with ease of use and practicality issues. The simplest route would be to get the Motorola RAZR V3m, as the V3c is quite easy to use - except outside in sunlight where the main (internal) screen washes out in bright light, and is totally unreadable.

Verizon's choice of phones is somewhat limited. Sure they have Smartphones, and Camera/Video/Music phones and simple phones. But there are no Sony Ericsson models and Nokia has stopped making CDMA phones. Basically the big names are Motorola and Samsung. Then there is LG, which used to stand for Lucky Goldstar, but now on the company's website it seems they prefer "Life's Good" (Good for the company's owners/shareholders or for their customers?).

At first my main criterion was for Tri-mode phones - in the CDMA world this means phones with analog roaming capabilities. The idea behind this is that the old Analog networks pretty much cover the whole US, so if you travel a lot (or surprisingly, just around Long Island) you should always get a cellular signal, even when their is no digital signal. Anyway, after owning three Motorola cellphones in a row (including the Motorola RAZR V3c), with a detour into smartphones with the Palm Treo 600, I naturally first looked at the Motorolas.

To my surprise, the only Motorola tri-mode cellphone currently available for Verizon is the Motorola V325. I don’t particularly like it, but it got added to the shortlist. The only other tri-mode cellphones were some LGs. Verizon has very few analog-capable handsets. Sprint, on the other hand, carries a large number of analog-capable handsets. However, from my personal experience with Sprint's customer service, or lack there of, I would not deal with them again.

The Sprint story:
The first cellphone I owned in the US was a dual-mode Samsung on the Sprint network. I didn't use it much, as it was mainly for emergencies (cellphones were regarded as a required safety device in South Africa). Then the earpiece stopped working. Of course the phone's 12-month warranty had expired. I phoned Sprint's Customer Service, who basically said "Sorry, there is not much we can do, come in and buy another phone and sign up for another contract". Instead I saw a free phone advertised with a years contract with AT&T Wireless, and signed up with them. Of course when I called to cancel my Sprint month-to-month account, they decided they could offer me a free phone. Too late, I told them.

To get back to Verizon, I read somewhere that they were scaling back their Analog network. So I began looking at their "All Digital" handsets.

Another cellphone hunt continues...