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Archive for the ‘Cell / Mobile Phones’ Category

There is a website called Jott (free) which lets you call their phone number, designate a person to “jott” in your address book, and leave a voice note.  Then they will transcribe the note, and then send it to you, or whoever is in your address book as a text message and/or email.

There is even a feature to upload your whole gmail address book, but turns out this is not a good idea.

There seems to be a bug where if you don’t say a name right in the list, then it will keep asking you to choose one of the say 3 on the list.  But if the one you wanted to choose is not on the list, then you’re out of luck.  Need to hang up and call again.

Just keep a few in your Jott address book to minimize confusing Jott’s voice recognition system.

Note:  it’s in beta stage, so their website is a bit slow – hope it gets better.

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iphone.jpg

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile! I’ve been busy over the Christmas season – but anyways, I have time now for about a 10 minute quickie commentary on the new iPhone by Apple.

If you’ve been keeping up w/ the news, there’s a lot of hype surrounding this phone. Believe me, I love macs myself, and I’m typing on one now, but I try to be pretty objective. I saw apple’s site about this iPhone, and the demonstrations are impressive if not mindblowing. I couldn’t help thinking “now this is a true smartphone, what a phone SHOULD be!”

I’m not going to bother you with the tech specs of this phone, b/c a million other websites probably do that by now.

But here are some questions you should ask before you think about if you want to shell out $499 (for the 4gb) or $599 (8gb) for the iPhone. Ask yourself:

1.  What are the features I really need in a smartphone? It looks like to you that you might want to use every feature, but get realistic. Do you really schedule your appts in your Mac now? If not, the calendar feature won’t be of any use, b/c you probably won’t do it on your Mac to sync it over to your iPhone. How does it handle to do lists or memos (both of which exist in Palm)? I didn’t see any presentation on that. I’m a major to-do list guy, I get nothing done without a good to do list with alarms. Can I enter one on the fly into the iPhone? Does it even have a To Do list? What about reading/editting Word docs? Palm does that, so does Windows. But the word is, iPhone will not have it. I mean, will Microsoft make an iPhone version of Office for them? I doubt it. Do you read ebooks? I do – a lot. Will the iPhone have an ebook reader natively installed? I hope so, b/c you can’t download and use one. The word on the street is that it will not support 3rd party apps, at least for now, so don’t count on some company stepping up to the plate to fill some functional gaps. So if having mobile office is important to you, iPhone may not be for you, unless you want to carry a separate PDA with it.

2.  Do you have the money? Did you count the hidden costs? What I mean by this is that just b/c you have $499, it doesn’t mean that you’re set to bring this iPhone home. First of all, how much is Cingular going to charge you? You will probably need to buy a new plan that includes a data plan so that you can access the internet – otherwise, what’s the use of an iPhone? So I guess that will be around an extra $40 per month (just a guess). That will mean an extra $480/year. Also, if you already have a cell plan w/ another mobile carrier, say Verizon, you will have to pay a cancellation fee of $250. Then, on top of that, you will probably want to buy a new nice case to protect your baby. Another $20-30. Then for you really careful guys, you will want maybe insurance? (yes, there are insurance companies out there that cover electronics/computers for accidental coverage – search ‘insurance’ in my blog, I’m too lazy to look it up). That will be more $/year. Total that up, and that’s the real cost of ownership, you do the math.

3.  What if you accidentally drop it and don’t have insurance? or stolen? or plain lose it? Self-explanatory, call me a pessimist… then you’re out loads of cash.

4.  Will another smartphone do the job for me for cheaper? For example, windows smartphones can do pretty much all that the iPhone can do in terms of functionality (minus the easy gestures w/ your fingers on the iPhone). Read about it here. I don’t know much about windows mobile, but I’m not sure if windows mobile can multitask, so that’s something to consider. Palm on the other hand, can’t multitask at all! They are so behind (yes, I own a palm myself) but they are banking on the Linux platform to save them, but no news about them in awhile, so I’m not sure how the development is going on that. I need to stop, I’m geeking out, not helping the average joe.

5.  Will the first edition of iPhone be stable enough? If you’ve followed the MacBook, or any new invention or major release software, you’ll know that the first release is always a bit buggy. MacBook and the MacBook Pro had some heating issues and other minor glitches (just google “macbook problems”). Also, the second edition of the MacBook Pro is much better, and less buggier – problems fixed. Problems that they probably knew about upon the first release. I’m not bashing Apple on this, it’s just expected for the first release of anything.

6.  Can this multifeatured iPhone not fall to early obsolescence? What I mean is, with all its bells and whistles, how long will it last? The rule of thumb for mechanical/electrical devices is that the more features it has, the more it’s prone to break down. For ex., how long will that nifty touch screen last? Will it be just as sensitive and responsive after 2 years? Something to think about. It’s made in China by the way (I heard), but then so are their laptops.

7.  Lastly, how long is the battery life? How long do I need it to be and how will it impact my routine? My guess is about 4-5 hours. But if you plan to use it a lot to watch movies and surf the web, I expect significantly less, perhaps 2 to 3? Is the battery replaceable? (I heard that it’s not, at least not unless you want to take it apart!). What if you don’t have your charger, and you need to make that crucial phone call? Even if you have your charger, uh, what if you are in a place with no outlet? It happens to me and my Palm at times.

    I hope this brings you down to earth before it comes out in May/June ’07 so that you don’t just shell out $$ because you just found yourself drooling for it.

    Whew, this was long, I think I might take another month long break!

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    I’m not sure if he’s getting everything really correct with the terminology, and also he doesn’t specify the carrier specific limitations and specifications.

    Also, the prices are not really correct.  They will cost about $400 and $600 for 650 and 700p respectively, but that’s full price.  For example, on amazon.com, with Verizon, you can get a 700p for under $200 if you sign up for a new plan.

    However, it’s good enough for the “average joe” which is what this site is all about, right?

    In addition to this video, I recommend that you read the user opinions in the link above at amazon.com.  700p’s battery life seems to be quite short, almost to the point of being too short.  Additionally, for that ultra fast broadband type speed this guy is talking about, you need to pay an additional $50 to $60 /month for Verizon.  So unless your company is paying for your Treo 700p and its use, I’m not sure if it’s worth it for personal purchase.

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    If you have the motorola e815 phone (or the older v710), you can get internet for free via the following instructions posted by a user in a forum.  I have tested this myself, and it works.  If you use yahoo email, it’s even better.  You can check your yahoo email via your phone.

    Basically, this sets up your phone to use the yahoo portal.  You can check such things as the latest news, but you can’t play yahoo games, and some other features.  Try it out.  By the way, I have no idea what the user is talking about when he mentions “snapshots”. It’s not avail in my phone menu.   Perhaps that was something specific to the v710?

    Please note that it uses up minutes, although it doesn’t charge you for internet connection.  But if you are on offpeak or weekend hours, yes, it’s truly free.

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    The instructions are for the motorola v710 phone and Mac OS X Panther (10.3), but it works the same for the Motorola e815 and the Mac OS X Tiger (10.4)

    After you’ve paired it, you can also use Apple’s built-in iSync software to synchronize your contacts and even your datebook. Not all phones are supported, check here for Apple’s official list.

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    Bluetooth logo

    Many of you many have heard about bluetooth, especially with cell phones. You might not have a phone with bluetooth in it right now, but maybe you're wondering if your next one should have one.

    Basically, it's wireless technology used to "link" bluetooth enabled devices together, allowing them to "talk" to each other. You link them by pairing them with each other. Usually for something like a PDA or computer that has bluetooth, it has some bluetooth device pairing wizard type of software. It searches for another bluetooth item within range. Then after it finds it, it asks you to enter a 4 digit number to pair the 2 devices. You can enter any 4 digits, and then go to the other bluetooth device, and enter the same 4 digits. Then you're set! (btw, this is for security purposes, so no one can just link up t your bluetooth device without you knowing).

    So for an average joe like you, what is it really useful for?

    Perhaps the most common use these days is to have a bluetooth enabled phone, and then to get a bluetooth headset. There are a lot out there that just hang over one ear. They usually have a button or 2 to activate the headset, allowing you to use the voice-dial feature (probably included with all bluetooth cell phones) to dial your number. So if you have a Joe Smith in your address book, you just press the button, say "Call Joe Smith" (this is an example of what I say on my Motorola e815), and it will dial the number for you. It's very convenient to use while driving. You can find a good headset at www.amazon.com.

    Some other uses for bluetooth is with your computer or PDA. If you have bluetooth turned on, you can send files to each other without being connected to the internet. FYI, all the Mac laptops these days have bluetooth (latest PowerBooks, MacBooks, MacBook Pros).

    Just to let you know, there are Windows laptops with bluetooth, but pairing devices via Windows from my experience was not easy. I tried to pair my Palm T3 before with my windows desktop with a bluetooth adapter, and I wasted much time to no avail. I hope you have better luck.

    There are also bluetooth enabled headphones coming out now, and you can use them with your bluetooth enabled laptop or mp3 player (the latter is not really out yet).

    Also, if you have a bluetooth enabled cell phone, you may be able to use your mobile phone as a modem to dial up to the internet. This is more geeky and advanced, so if you want to know, leave a comment, and I'll post the info.

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    Even if you're not much of a gabber, the truth of the matter is you might forget to charge it one night, and in the midst of that crucial conversation, your battery will die.

    If you want to avoid such hassles, buy an extended battery for your mobile phone. If you try to buy them in store at Verizon or Sprint or whereever, it will cost you more than $20-30. However, if you buy them on ebay.com, you can get them for much cheaper; probably less than $10. Search for 'extended battery' for your phone model.
    I own one for my Motorola cell, and I don't have to charge it everyday. Battery life is nearly doubled!

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