Monday, January 25, 2010

Motorola is usless, but Google is downright naughty

Maybe Motorola should have shut down its mobile division.

While it has produced some great Android devices, tech support for them outside the US has been non-existant. While US consumers have the Droid, EU customers have the Milestone; one is CDMA-based, the other GSM-based, but the insides are technically the same.

But, US consumers have a device running 2.01, and us EU customers have 2.0 ? Shades of Nokia, Motorola. Shame on you! Customers love the hardware, but not the rubbish software support. And going to a stupid Facebook page for updates is extremely poor.

And in addition, Google, you are naughty, naughty, naughty. You forced me to root my phone in order to install market-enabler, which allows me to buy apps from anywhere on the market. So I got the main app I was looking for.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Motorola Milestone

Motorola released a device called the Droid, exclusive to Verizon Wireless in the US. A short while later, they announced the Milestone, a non-Verizon-locked phone.

I ordered one, and have been playing around with it for a week (not long, but long enough).

So, some thoughts.

  1. The initial thought is that all smart phones will come this way
    • the day of the monolithic phone OS and majority built-in apps is over
    • the phone OS will do very little, but will provide a platform
    • your functionality will come from apps that you download (free or paid)
    • your phone stability might be compromised, as could your information depending on the trust worthiness of the app provider
  2. Its not better than my Nokia E75 in many respects, but there is the promise and hope of improvement in the very active Android Market, which is teeming with tons of apps (both rubbish and useful)
    • It doesn't allow you send/receive business cards via SMS or e-mail
    • You can't send a file to it via Bluetooth (or receive one)
    • You can't change the sort order from First Name, Last Name for contacts
    • You can't adjust the sync frequency for syncing to the various Google services (e.g. Contacts, Calendar, Mail) and corporate services other than, at most, 1 hour. Weekday/weekend, 4 hour and other options would be nice.
    • Battery life is just as rubbish - 1.5 days, maximum
      • But not bad considering its a much bigger screen
    • etc, etc
  3. Its fast, and the on-screen keyboard isn't bad - I haven't yet had to resort to the physical keyboard
  4. The IMAP and corporate syncing (read Exchange) support is superlative
  5. It multi-tasks!
  6. Android OS is still immature, and rough around the edges - that's why a manufacturer like HTC spends time and money developing their own UI

All points to a device that requires some polish, both from an OS and app provider perspective. Sounds positive! So what are the negatives ?

  1. Come on Motorola, where is Android 2.1 ? Its been out now for at least a week, and this Milestone of mine is still running 2.0. Hell, I'd even be happy with 2.01
  2. Come on Google, I thought you were all about "not doing evil" ? Why can I not buy paid applications from the Android Market ? Its only available in some countries.
    • There is a way to get around this; use market-enabler, which requires you to hack your phone, which I can't do yet because the phone is still so relatively new

Overall, I'm happy with the device. Should I have waited for the Nexus One ? Nah, I like a keyboard on my devices. I'll pass.

Lets hope Motorola and Google get their act together.

Blackberry Bold 9000

In a previous post, I spoke about how I was irritated by my phone device (Nokia E75), and was going to try out a Blackberry Bold 9000.

Well, I tried it. And I have been trying it since mid-December. And, I have to say, I get it. I get the whole Blackberry phenomenon. It does e-mail really, really well. Its simple to use, and has a decent superficial skin. Poke a bit deeper though, and you quickly hit the smartphone equivalent of a DOS prompt; long linear lists of text, with obscure configuration options with no decent help.

I have activated it using my employer's BES server, and thankfully, they haven't gone down the whole "lets lock everything down" route; its relatively untouched and was actually quite a slick process. There are some issues overall though.

  • there is no way to switch off e-mail syncing - ever
  • the battery lasts about 1.5 days if you're a light phone user, a day if you're a moderate user and not a minute longer
  • if you use a BES, you are forced to browse and access the Internet through your corporate's network
  • your device experience is only as good as your IT department's competence
  • the default "blink red for every e-mail" notification is annoying, and should be disabled

My summary; I've put the equivalent of a pay-as-you-use card into the device, and will continue to use it as a "work" device. It fulfills this role perfectly, and if I ever go overseas, I know I'll use this device a lot because of the unlimited data plan. But as the overall personal/work device, this isn't there yet.