Okay, here are my main impressions of the Touch Diamond so far:

  • Ridiculously small and thin to be as powerful as it is! Though it is thicker than the original EU version of the Diamond, I’m very happy with how thin it remains even with the larger battery and thicker back (which I think is still slightly thinner than the Sprint Diamond).
  • The matte back feels every bit as good as I’d hoped and makes me hope a similar backing becomes available for the Fuze (dear HTC please, although I’m not sure why the back of the original Touch wouldn’t work?)
  • Overall build quality is more plasticky than it should be.
  • Stylus is much smaller than I expected, and not meaty at all (very disappointingly), though the cool magnetic stylus silo works as advertised, thankfully.
  • TouchFlo 3D would be incredible on a capacitive touch screen, but on a resistive screen it is somewhat frustrating (though HTC deserves tons of credit for making it work at all on top of Windows Mobile).
  • Speaking of the screen, it feels like it’s further away from the resistive layer behind the screen than other WM touch screens I’ve used. And though I’m sure this was necessary to make the screen flush to the device, which looks great, in practice it means neither the touch, nor the stylus experience against the screen is efficient or satisfying.
  • Speaking more on the screen, the 640×480 VGA resolution sure is pretty, but on 2.8 inches of screen space it doesn’t seem to really add any more visibility in applications (with one exception to be discussed in a moment). Regardless, I think screen real estate matters much more than I realized (provided of course the resolution isn’t too low). Bottom line is the iPhone with it’s 320×480 3.5 inch screen looks nearly as crisp and definitely displays more info than the Diamond.
  • The Dpad, Home and Back buttons are certainly attractive looking in their flush positioning, but they are therefore as finicky to control as I expected. The strobing indicator light around the Dpad when a new message is waiting to be viewed is a very nice feature though.
  • The volume controls allow much quicker control over system and ringer sound than on any WM device I’ve ever used. Thank you for that HTC, and what the heck took so long?! (the stock non Touchflo 3D volume control in WM is in a word, abysmal)
  • The 3.2 mp camera with auto focus is very decent. In fact, I would argue it’s a good bonafide camera in good lighting.
  • Call quality is quite honestly outstanding on this device.
  • The build of the Opera browser I’ve been using (on a cooked ROM, so it’s further up the beta list than the one in the stock ROM) has been quite honestly awful though. The one on the stock ROM wasn’t much better (though it didn’t play flash in the browser as the latest build does). The rendering of pages is slow enough to make the presence of a 3G radio seem pointless at times.
  • Also, the other Opera mobile browser, Opera Mini was not meant to be viewed on a 2.8 inch VGA screen apparently, as at the largest font setting it is still illegibly small. This is the potential deal breaker for me and I’m hoping Opera Mini on the Panther will be as good as it was on the Tilt….iPhone you still have hope!
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After not even a day with the device, I had already decided it was not an iPhone 3G replacement (despite the iPhone’s continued post 2.01 software update sluggishness). I figured out how to hard reset it, reboxed it and even posted it on craigslist. Boy Geniuses report (damn I love me some BGR) yesterday about reception problems on many production units seemed to confirm my decision, except I saw nothing but a good 3G signal with it all around Atlanta on Saturday. GPS lock wasn’t real quick but it was tolerable, and Exchange Activesync seemed to work as flawlessly as it does on WM and iPhone 2.0+. The VPN software isn’t nearly as straightforward as it needs to be and Symbian as a whole though surely quite capable, is not mind blowing, and certainly not pretty. But the hardware of this device, the thin, narrow, sexy hardware of this device has been calling for me to come pull it back out of the box, and that I did just moments ago.  She’ll get some SIM time tomorrow for sure!

Give Tilt a Chance?

April 23, 2008

Impatient with waiting for Exchange Active Sync for the iPhone, I put it down recently and moved my SIM card to an AT&T Tilt.  Initially I had issues with the form factor and I was surprised by this as the Tilt’s ancestor, the HTC Wizard/Cingular 8125 was also a qwerty side slider and I loved using it.  But the mini OSX touch interface had spoiled me good, and so I was stuck in Goldilocks land for a time.  

To remedy this I purchased an unlocked RAZR2 V8 with 2G of internal memory and EAS, only to discover it didn’t actually have the EAS option it’s manual said it should.  So I Googled and ultimately found my way to a ROM I could flash to the device that hopefully would have this option and voila I pulled it off (thanks Rasputin007).  The V8 is truly a smartphone disguised as a feature phone and the form factor/build quality is superb.  Call quality was not as good as I expected it to be, but definitely better than Apple’s offering.  EAS worked as I’d hoped (except for a certificate issue that made scheduled sync impossible though it was I think an issue with the certificate and not EAS on the V8) and the native Opera browser was pretty snappy but not persistent.  In other words if you moved to another program on the phone the browser closed completely….not cool.  The other deal breaker was the challenge of text entry.  The iPhone keyboard may suck, but it is definitely better than T9 or multitap on a standard numbered phone pad.

So the tilting qwerty slider was catching my eye again and a few experiments with Opera Mini 4 later (PIE post Mobile Safari renders PIE even more unusable than it already was), the Tilt was back in black, or at least charcoal (which along with the black plastic trim, black rubberized backing, and chrome Dpad makes this device look as a sexy as a PDA can look I think).  I must say I’m rather pleased with it for the moment.  Call quality is actually top notch and I’d forgotten how great multitasking on WM is even if getting around the interface is a challenge.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard about it from other power users is battery life, but I’m not seeing that problem at all.  Here’s what my usage diary looked like today:

  • Starting at 100% I pulled the charger from the socket at 720a this morning
  • Browsed Google Reader in Opera Mini for 15-20 minutes
  • Checked some email (Exchange push on all day long by the way)
  • Reset on the way to work because the data connection flaked 
  • Browsed the NY times within Opera Mini for another 15-20 minutes
  • Bluetooth turned on at 530p and I called my wife and had a couple minutes of conversation via headset
  • Called AT&T customer service and stayed connected for 15 minutes while I asked them if I could switch to a Blackberry data plan (more on that later) and let my wife officially inherit the iPhone with the data plan (more on that later too)
  • Checked Gmail and had it polling every hour all day

At 1146p I still have 40% juice left.  Now I am running a cooked WM 6.1 ROM from XDA (DCS authored as I tried a couple of Dutty’s and they were quite frankly bug ridden), and maybe the chef optimized battery life in a way the standard Tilt ROM doesn’t?  My 3G signal at work is rock solid, but at home it can be iffy, so you tell me is that poor performance for a moderate day of usage?  Maybe if I made more phone calls I would be complaining, but I can’t based on what I’ve seen from Sir Tilt thus far.

I’ve rarely turned on the Wifi radio because the 3G data speeds are so good, but are they noticeably better in Opera Mini via HSDPA than in Mobile Safari over EDGE? They are but not drastically, though when you combine it with full EAS, I can live without iPretty for a time…..

And I cannot lie….. When it comes to how my eye finds reading on the iPhone, I now can’t go back to the itty bitty fonts found on most other smartphones, except mine is no longer technically a smartphone since I ran the 1.1.2 update. The fonts still rock regardless….

And I cannot lie….. When it comes to how my eye finds reading on the iPhone, I now can’t go back to the itty bitty fonts found on most other smartphones, except mine is no longer technically a smartphone since I ran the 1.1.2 update. The fonts still rock regardless….

Octoberbest

October 3, 2007

My favorite month in the year has indeed begun and my exhilaration is even more heightened this time than in the past.  Of course, the reason for my joy is the onset of post season MLB and though my Braves are for a second year in a row not involved (which is actually, sadly a relief for the 2nd year in a row too), I’m still thrilled about watching the teams who are, as is my 2 year old son who loves nothing more than he loves baseball (thereby proving that God does indeed exist). 

 The month did not get off to a great start for me though as TBS has the rights to the Division Series and NLCS games this year and also had the rights to the instaclassic playoff game between the Rockies and Padres Monday night, except no one at my cable provider Charter seemed to be aware of this, as the game simply wasn’t carried.  Locally in Atlanta what used to be TBS will now be “Peachtree TV” and TBS will become a nationally syndicated channel only and the change took place on Monday which was more than Charter was apparently prepared for.  The online options both desktop and mobile for keeping up with sports scores are plentiful fortunately, and I used MLB Mobile for the iPhone because my preferred way to do this via Pickleview wasn’t keeping up with the game either?

 Anyway, the father/son connections in the TBS broadcast booth will be especially meaningful for Braves fans, since anchoring the telecasts will be Ernie Johnson Jr. and calling the play by play, Chip Caray.  These highly talented and affable sons of longtime Braves announcers Ernie Johnson Sr. and  Skip Caray are probably along with my own son’s budding interest, the key to my level of excitement as I love listening to both.  TBS began this new era by first ending the era of Braves only telecasts which started back in the 70s.  Chip, who once inherited his late grandfather Harry’s spot in the Cubs play by play booth, has now inherited his father’s spot in the Braves booth, so it was only fitting that in the final Braves TBS telecast this past Sunday, father and son were paired together. At the end Chip whose enthusiastic delivery is more like his grandfather than his father said the kinds of things to his father that every father hopes one day to hear, and punctuated it with a kiss on the cheek for dear old dad.  Skip who is famously stoic and cynical, then had difficulty keeping his emotions in check (as did I), but eventually managed to give his standard and final TBS salute of “So long everybody”.  Highlights of all the signature moments on TBS followed and included Skip’s unforgettably emotionally unbridled radio call of Sid Bream sliding in safe to win the 1992 NLCS.  

 The last conversation I had with my own father was in October of 1998 about the Braves blowing it in the 98 NLCS to the Padres (not unhappy to see them get eliminated Monday night as you would expect) The first post season baseball I ever watched with him that I can remember was game 6 of the 1977 World Series, the game Reggie Jackson hit 3 homers for the soon to be (and even back then it was the 21st freaking time) World Champion Yankees.  Most every October since then I’ve been locked in and of course 1991 was the year when it got truly serious for me.   1992 I remember with great fondness as well, and October of 1993 began with the Braves winning the last great pennant race, sending the 103 win Barry Bonds lead Giants home to their pre-wildcard era fate.  It was this day 14 years ago that I traveled with a friend to see game 1 of the NLCS in Philadelphia’s Veteran’s stadium.  Curt Schilling started for the Phillies who would win in extra innings and set the tone for a series that other than the Yankees beating us in the 1996 WS, is my most bitter baseball memory.  We truly had the best team in baseball that year and I would rather have won it that year than in 95.  Cubs fans can certainly curse me (pun intended) for saying something so frivolous and of course the Phillies are today playing their first post season game since that memorable year, so I guess I should be grateful.

 I don’t remember much of that last conversation I had with my father in October of 98, but I do remember thinking at the time that there was no other person I would rather have been talking to.  Of course my own son won’t remember any of our first conversations about October baseball this year, but, speaking of being grateful, I can promise you his father will.

As I type this on a keyboard I have to honestly say I despise, I’m otherwise nearly as enthralled now as I was 11 Saturdays ago when first I fell in love. Actually the first couple days were more tenuos than that, as it took a bit to get used to revolutionary touch based interface. The hardware however, was and is head and shoulders above any portable electronics device ever made. In other reviews of the iPhone, I feel not enough has been said about this and, maybe the device is so stunning, it just goes without saying. I also think my device design druthers predisposed me to fall hard for this one. See, my ideal device would be 5-7 inch sleek, thin, slate, portrait oriented tablet computer. The iPhone/iPod Touch is currently the closest thing to that ideal available for purchase, if only it could be used like a tablet. If handwriting notes on the iPhone with some sort of special stylus becomes possible, I might be set for a long time. But, as it stands I still long for a device that doesn’t yet exist despite my tremendous overall happiness with the one I will always remember purchasing on 6/29/2007.

More excited than even my 2 year old

So, quick confession is in order: I was one of the idiots who bought the hype to such an extent that when I made it to the front of the line at the AT&T store, only soon to be defunct 4Gig models were available, and I was unwilling to risk the potential unavailability of an 8Gig model for even a few days. Little did I know, that I could have walked out of line and gone to an Apple Store 20 minutes from my house the next morning and picked one up, but when I have my sights set on something, my patience and purchasing discipline drop to near zero. I justified the $100 savings by telling myself that I don’t have much of a music/video library anyway, and that 4GB is 4 times more than any other flash storage amount used in any of my previous phones. Well, the $200 price drop coupled with the 4GB model end of life announcement by Jobs recently, made me feel used and stupid. Plus, my library has grown considerably since getting spoiledf by the iPod functionality of the iPhone, my first iPod. The unlocking achievements of late have made me encouraged that I could eventually buy an 8GB model, and more easily sell my 4GB model, but I still feel burned. The $100 early adopters credit also made me feel a lot better towards Apple, and I actually activated that credit a day ago and fancy using it towards either a Touch or a new iMac (brilliant implementation of the decision by Apple to throw the early adopters a bone as they stand to make more money from me sooner than they otherwise would have)

Though I will get into more specifics in upcoming posts, my overall grade of the iPhone thus far:

Hardware – A+

Overall UI – A+

Phone functionality – A

Phone performance – D

Email – C

Keyboard – D- (I haven’t gotten much better at it, but maybe I just suck?)

Web Browser – A+

Music/Video – A+

Camera – B+ (relative to other camera phones)

Viewing/Showing Pics – A+

Syncability – AHackability – A+ (now a true smartphone with a growing list of native 3rd party apps)

Blackjack compares nicely, but not that nicely:

Blackjack compares nicely, but not that nicely