More thoughts/an update.

February 8, 2008

Ok, so its REALLY time for an update.

It’s been a heck of a last couple of months what with Christmas and visiting family, family birthdays and then all of January I’ve been busy keeping away from my computer because Rosie (the g/f) has been off for nearly a month recovering from a Thyroid glad partial removal operation, which left her in no state to drive to work or actually do much which involved head turning at all.
So she read books and played Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 and read loads of books while I pretty much did everything for her, which as it turns out was quite a bit of stuff including changing the lights in our lounge, light switches, running network cables through the attic, driving her out to get new books, cooking, and other menial tasks which somehow fill your day at a moments notice.
So that concludes me making excuses for not updating the blog anyway.

Still what it did allow for was a good couple of months to really use the phone to it’s full and really decide what my gripes where and that kind of thing.
What I had also said I think last time was that I was going to cover texting and text input on the phone but seeing as how that’s all rather dull it’ll be better to cover it under several short general points about what I like, dislike, and maybe how it could be improved on some kind of Skypephone v2 should Three ever make one.

So as you all know, I’ve had problems with the size of the phone in the past, either the phone is too small or my hands are just too damned big, I don’t know which but I’ll settle happily for the latter.
In some respects the size has been one of the best parts about the phone. It’s diminutive size actually allows the phone to fit in some of those silly small pockets that you get on bags that are meant for phones but anything larger than a 50p piece never actually fits in.

However its size is STILL the largest gripe I have with the phone because of the keypad.
While I’m getting pretty quick at texting with the phone the angles on the keys and the narrow spacing (read: no key spacing at all) really leads me to believe they didn’t actually bother handing the phone to an ergonomics expert at all before releasing it to the masses.
The angles make it hard to type on with larger fingers able to hit the other nearby keys resulting in lots of typing errors meaning I have to delete what I’ve just written and start again. *sigh*

Text entry and keypad:
Text entry in itself is also quite a mixed bag. The T9 predictive text works great in the places you want it (text messaging, Skype messages) and also all at the same time, doesn’t work in places that you want it to work at all.
You see, someone decided that it would be a great idea to have non-T9 entry as the standard input method for Java Applications (MSN) and web pages with no visible way to change that option, so that you have to change input from “Abc” to “T9Abc” EVERY time that you navigate away from the previous page you were entering text on when it comes to websites or every time that you send a message via MSN. And by that say I was having a conversation with “John”, I would open a new message, change entry mode to T9, type, send, get a reply, try to send another message and have to change the entry mode to T9 AGAIN!
Also please someone re-design that terrible MSN client, typing a message then pressing menu then send is not fun, just allow me to use green or the Skype button as an “OK” button to send. Thanks.

The phone itself though, actually still looks as nice as the day I bought it, the white has remained surprisingly stain/dirt resistant and is also still surprisingly glossy and scratch free.
Mind you I do tend to handle things with kind gloves a little, ya know, just treating it with care and not putting it in pockets with keys or loose change.

The call quality over-all has been nice too, especially once you get used to the way that the phone feeds back slightly. There is a name for that but I’ve forgotten exactly what it is though I do remember it’s meant so that you can hear yourself slightly so you don’t end up yelling mindlessly into the phone like Dom Joly in a Trigger Happy TV sketch.
While I appreciate the theory the feedback is just slightly too loud, this would be nice to have revised via a software update or in future revisions of the phone.

Battery life:
Battery life actually has been getting better over the past couple of months, maybe thats because I’ve made less calls to friends and family because I’ve been seeing them over the holiday period or because the battery is actually deciding what it’s max charge is. Either way, its pretty reasonable.
Now all they need to fix is the fact that it gets so damned hot under use of the 3g/web/phone calls/anything where the battery discharges or charges.
Honestly, I’m not kidding when I say it gets hot. I had a half an hour call the other night to my Mother and about 2 mins in the phone decided it was going to start saying it was low, so I duly plugged it in and had it charging all the while and it really felt like my ear was on fire and that if I held the phone any longer I may start to get burns.
I’m probably over exaggerating a little but it does get quite hot quite fast, my totally un-scientific tests indicate that I guess it gets to about 40C which cannot be good for the cells of the battery as batteries do break down under heat.

It’s also worth noting as some people don’t seem to have yet realized this, you can charge the phone over USB.
Yes, thats correct, just like an iPod/MP3 player of choice it can be charged over a standard use port with any standard USB A->B cable which is great if like me you don’t have space for yet another plug under you desk in the 8-way power strip.
Of course this also means that anyone on the go can charge it from a laptop, though how much of a drain this will put on your laptop battery is anyones guess as I’ve not actually tried it.

Ok, if you’ve made it this far I’m impressed, please however bear with me, this is 2 months of testing and venting going on right here! :p

Misc features:
On the whole though, the phone is actually pretty good, I enjoy using it (bar the minor niggles every now and then) as much as I enjoyed using my w800i, the Three service has been fantastic and I STILL get reception where other phones fail miserably such as inside shopping centers, I still somehow manage to get 2-3 bars of 2G reception which is just great.

I’ve also used the data for the Nokia 770 that I have over bluetooth for internet and GPS map downloads on the go.
The speeds were actually pretty good, I didn’t take measurements because honestly, I didn’t need to as it was more than quick enough that I didn’t feel the need to check. Of course however I am in a good 3G coverage area so your actual mileage of such services may very.

Skype itself if implemented pretty well too even though I used it mostly for IM’s rather than calls due to the MSN implementation being so bad.
Skype voice quality wasn’t bad but it wasn’t stellar, hardly better than a regular voice call for both recipients really which while it being a shame isn’t too much of a problem as well, its a phone after all, what do you expect.

I guess I should wrap this up to stop you lot falling asleep at the keyboard or dying of boredom due to the insane length of this entry.

So a conclusion:
The phone itself is pretty hard wearing and great to use if you can forgive the minor niggles or don’t have large hands.
It’s ideal for women (due to the generally smaller hand sizes) or people who want a small phone with the added bonus of being able to use Skype and not having to burn up all your credit making calls to other people who also use the Skype service.
MSN is also great for sending free texts to anyone else that uses MSN either at their computer or on their phone.
Data speed is good and reasonably priced at 50p for one 24 hour stint or £5 for the month.
The cost of the phone makes it easier to forgive the faults though some things REALLY have to be changed (the battery heat issue).
No Skype out is a downer.

Over all I would say there are far worse/less featured phones that you could spend £50 on so go grab yourself one, and maybe one for a loved/boyfriend/girlfriend one and get the benefits of Skype and then you have no excuse NOT to call them more frequently. Also you won’t manage to rack up £150 in a month on your land line as I may or may not have once done in the past.

Wow, why couldn’t I have just written the conclusion first, it would have stopped me writing the previous 1200 words!


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