Friday, July 30, 2010

on Sony Ericsson's Timescape...

Timescape was introduced by Sony Ericsson as a one-stop messaging app/widget for all your contacts.

In theory this is great. You always see the latest updates in a fancy 3D gallery.

Now, in practice, it's very different. The app is quite nice, but far from 100% practical.

There aren't many settings to customize HOW your data is displayed... and it's not an all-in-one app. The 2 major features it is missing are call history (all calls should be logged by Timescape as well, not just missed calls), and of course... email! Why can't I tie it in with my email account(S) to show me any and all emails I have with any given contact?

And multiple updates from the same contact come out as separate 3D cards... there should be an option to collate by contact... like only the contact with the latest update is on top... and all their previous updates aren't displayed until you click on their card.

This is an issue because if contact A sends me an SMS... then another contact B decides to post 20 things on Facebook... the SMS gets buried under 20 cards of contact B. If it was sorted by contact. Then I would only see 2 card... the SMS of contact A, under one SINGLE card of contact B which will only expand if I click on his card.

Now, Timescape does have a practical use, as a widget, it always displays the latest update whether it be a missed call, SMS, Twitter or Facebook update... but the lack of an email tunnel limits this app to just a cute show-off app for now.

In it's infancy, Timescape is fun... it has the potential to be an incredibly great app that could be THE all-in-one news collector if it was refined further, and email was added.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CHARGE!!!! an X10 Mini Pro battery review...

Ok, after a week of using my X10 Mini Pro, I've been trying to use it in different ways... and so far these are my observations...

Full use... everything on (Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, Sync, and backlight on full) ... chatting, downloading apps, and the screen never turning off... drum-roll... 4 hours. Granted, that's how long my iPod Touch lasts when I surf that much too... so no big surprise there.

Medium use... backlight set to medium, wifi set to auto-off when screen locks, GPS on only when app turns it on. I was able to get a respectable 16 hours... broken down to about 2 hour of surfing via wifi, an 1 hour of calls, and about 75 SMS.

Light use... backlight on medium during the day and on low at night. 30 min of surfing, 30 min of calls, and about 20 SMS... this can make your phone last over 24 hours.

Although I can see the phone lasting more than 2 days with really light use, it defeats the whole purpose of getting a PDA phone. The screen really does chew up the battery. Calling and leaving wifi, bluetooth, and 3G on don't kill it... playing with the phone does. Screen constantly eats up about 85% of the battery charge.

The phone is also way more efficient at handling a 3G/HSDPA connection rather than a Wifi one. Leaving this on is a much more practical way of surfing than via Wifi.

Best way, I've found, to conserve battery without sacrificing the functions of the phone are:
  • 3G on
  • wifi off
  • backlight on medium
  • screen timeout to 30 sec
  • Bluetooth on only if you have a headset
  • disable the 'media' function of the headset unless needed
  • get an app that consolidates your communication functions, my fav is Executive Assistant. It minimizes the number of times you check on your phone for messages, email and SNS updates.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MY PHONE IS DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can imagine my horror this afternoon as I was charging my phone, when it suddenly switched off. I pressed the power button, it vibrated but the screen wouldn't light up... crap... this happened to my P1i before, and the boot ROM needed to be reflashed... crap. Not a big deal but that would mean that I would still have to go to the SonyEricsson Service Center in Glorietta.

So I went to Glorietta and the guy checked my phone with my SIM, he confirmed that the phone needed to be reflashed, and this has happened to a few models before... not a big deal, I could've waited for it if it wasn't closing time.

He kept trying to restart the phone however, in the hope that maybe it was just a software bug or something. So I was ready to leave my phone with them, I got my SIM back and placed it in my old phone. He said he'd try to restart it one more time, but since I didn't want to take my SIM out again, he got out one of his dead SIMs... and oddly enough... my phone switched on. So I placed my SIM back... and my phone wouldn't turn on again. Take note, my SIM never stopped working on any other phone... just my new X10 Mini Pro. And my Mini Pro would work with EVERY other SIM except mine.

But since the X10 Mini Pro works without a SIM (just functions as a PDA) and it worked with all the other SIMs at the Sony Ericsson Service Center, I went over to Globe.

Turns out, there are cases where a defective SIM can render a phone dead... only with THAT particular SIM. This is very different from defective SIMs that don't log into the network. Globe Customer service was very efficient... got my replacement SIM in 5 min, activated in 1 hour. It really was the SIM... Globe said that some of the newer 128 SIMs are quite sensitive and can cause compatibility problems with some phones. New SIM worked right away. No problem with the phone... whew...

So, tip for the day... if your phone suddenly dies... and a hard reset, or battery swap doesn't work... try a SIM swap, with all providers.

...Battery review to follow...

**Follow up tip... problem happened again this morning when I tried to restart my phone... I think the SIM overheats... long story short, I found that if this happens again, I just press the back (non contact side) of the SIM against something cold... then it works again. This issue only comes out when restarting the phone**

Monday, July 26, 2010

X10 Mini Pro, the keyboard review...

One of the things that most people interested in the Mini Pro are curious about is the keyboard. It's pretty good. Solid build, no creaking, back-lit, and keys spaced well.

But among all the qwerty phones I've had, P990i & P1i, including my Mini Pro, I have to say the P1i had the best qwerty board I've tried to date.

When I first saw the prototype photos of the P1i, I thought to myself, "WTF?!?!! What designer in their right mind would think of such a crazy design? Rocker keys THAT small????" ... cut to 5 hours after I bought my P1i... "WOW!!! This is just genius!"

Don't get me wrong, the Mini Pro keyboard is great. I just think the rocker design on the P1i was better. On such small keys, the rocker switch design led to far less typos, felt better under the thumb, and led to much faster typing right out of the box.

Next up... X10 Mini Pro battery review... real world testing...

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Been testing out my X10 MP for a couple of days now, and I have to say I'm very impressed.

Been downloading, installing, testing, uninstalling apps for the past 3 days... battery life is about 5 hours of non-stop surfing, chatting, and camera use. Screen on full power. The follwing are apps that I think I'll be keeping on my phone for a while.

GPS - MapDroyd ... amazing little app. Works offline, and has quite detailed street maps of the Philippines. Has other countries as well, taken from

The X10 Mini Pro's GPS is very decent. Takes a while to get an initial lock, but keeps a lock quite well. I don't have data service active yet, so it was running purely on the data from the GPS, cel-ID, and compass. Under stormy conditions and under an elevated highway, GPS stayed locked while the phone was resting on my center console in my car.

Over-all, I have to say that the GPS is almost as good as a dedicated Garmin unit... although Garmins still outperform mobile phone GPS (regardless of brand, unless it's the Garmin mobile phone) for non-critical applications, it's decent enough.

**Thanks to Mr. Dennis Manzano of SE PH for the tip on this app at the SE Expo!**

SMS - Handcent SMS. Much nicer to look at than then default SMS app. Allows easy access to speec synthesis for reading your incoming SMS to you.

Contacts - Phonebook 2.0 .. still not perfect, but way better than built in phonebook. I wish Android has much better contact management. Sort order can't be changed, and fields are a bit clumsy to edit. This is more inherent in Android than the apps for it. Maybe 2.2 will introduce a much better phonebook app.

Internet - Opera... nuff said. Dunno if the built in browser is a stripped down Chrome (why wouldn't it be) but it's not very pleasant to use. Default browser keeps opening a new window everytime you enter a new page... very annoying. Switched to Opera, much better.

Misc - Tricorder ... for all Star Trek fans... this thing displays all the information gathered from your phone's sensors... Wifi, Blutooth, GPS, cel-ID, accelerometer, gyroscope, electronic compass, etc.

Other neat apps that I like are
PhoneVoice: speaks alerts when incoming calls or SMS are received and says the name of the caller or sender.
Calendar Pad: Much better calendar viewer... gets data from built in cal app.
eBuddy: centralized IM app (although I was never a fan of this, YM for Android isn't official yet and the one out now keeps crashing)

On a separate note, the following Google apps are amazing: Google Goggles, Sky Map & Google Translate.

What apps do you have on your droid phone?

Friday, July 23, 2010

big things come in small packages...

I FINALLY got my X10 Mini Pro (currently the smallest Android phone on the market). Thanks to Sony Ericsson's Expo at the Megatrade Hall, I was able to get a hold of one of the first few units that were sold here.

Will give a much more detailed review once I get all the apps and settings done the way I want.

Granted the most annoying thing is that Sony Ericsson went with 1.6 (Donut) and is still "promising" 2.1 (Eclair)... by the time they release 2.1, (FroYo) will be out already.

Ok, initial impressions:
It's REALLY small. But surprisingly, the screen size isn't that much of a hindrance. Coming from using an iPod Touch as my primary PDA, there are a few things to get used to, but going from iOS to Android opens up way more flexibility.

Oddly enough, the Gmail app is the most limiting app on it... allowing only 1 Gmail Account to be registered. Hopefully future software updates of Android will fix this limitation.

Camera is quite decent, 5 megapixels, LED flash. Response time is pretty good, although video recording is a bit slow to start.

Now, onto the keyboard. It's very well built. Keys are well spaced and feel sturdy. For those that surf the web a lot, or blog, the Mini Pro is better than the regular Mini... but if you only check email, facebook, and twitter... and don't type a lot... the Mini is slightly smaller... a whole lot lighter... and comes in more colors.

I'm also very impressed with the GPS reception on the X10 Mini Pro. Granted, I'm impressed that it can get a decent lock for a phone... anyone who really needs a navigation system, please get a Garmin instead.

If anyone has any tips, or questions about the X10 Mini Pro, or Android, please feel free to post it here.

I will be posting a more in depth review on this in the days to come... so stay tuned...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Touch tip

Quick tip... for iPod Touch and iPhone users running OS3 onwards... the new way to end an app that hangs is to press and hold the power button until the red slider appears (do not turn off the device), the press and hold the Home button until the home screen appears again.

(For those that haven't upgraded to OS3 or higher, the old way was to just press and hold the Home button until the home screen appeared)

Past Tech Gospels

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