Finally tipped over to the dark side – My new iPhone replaces the need for my LG Viewty and Nokia N810

February 3, 2009

I’ve been holding off on getting the iPhone since it was launched in Canada, since I didn’t want to be sucked into the exorbant data plans up here, and have been boycotting Rogers like alot of other Canadians when they announced their price points for the iPhone data plans…But I’ve seen how big the iPhone app store has become with 3rd party developers building so many free, fun, and useful applications.  So I finally caved in and picked up a 16Gig white model w. the Rogers minimum 1Gig data and voice plan for $60/month last New Years Eve when a 3rd party vendor was giving away $80 rebates for the iphone.

Some of the useful free apps I’ve been using are The Weather Channel that provides hourly weather forecasts and extreme weather alerts in your city; MultiConvert that converts almost anything you can think of; iTV for your local TV guide; OneTap Movies that shows movies playing at every theatre near you, along with the movie ratings/reviews and trailers to view; Yelp to find nearby Starbucks, banks, restaurants and other stuff near you, and also addictive games like Wurdle for Boggle fans.  

I find that I have a need for all the useful apps on the iPhone more than the advantage of the 5MP camera that my old LG viewty phone provides, and over the past year I found that I haven’t been using my N810 outside the home too much, especially since it’s so hard to find free wifi hotspots here in Toronto, and didn’t feel like carrying another device in addition to my phone, especially since I do alot of travelling and wanted to minimize on the road.  It’s also nice to have an all-in one phone, ipod player, and camera device with me now when I go out for a long run.  So it came in handy when I was able to listen to my iPod and take pics along the way while running the Disney Marathon last month.  Now if only Nike can update their Nike Plus Sport Kit so it’s compatible with the iPhone…until they do this, I’ll be keeping my Nano.  

But am looking to sell both my LG Viewty and my Nokia N810 now, and plan to post them on eBay or Craigslist soon, so if anyone is interested, feel free to contact me.  They’re both in minty condition.

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My Sangria Red Sony PRS-505 Digital Book Reader

November 17, 2008

I bought the Sangria Red version of the Sony PRS 505, the 2nd generation Sony Digital Book Reader at Toronto’s annual Book Fair, “The Word on the Street”.  So ironically my purchase made me avoid buying any printed books at the Fair…Something the organizers should have thought about when they decided to allow Sony to set up a tent to promote the Digital Book Reader.  This device is great for travelling when you don’t want to lug around heavy hardcovers or several books during your long haul flight, and of course it’s great for the environment with no more need for printed books.  I just wish it was compatible with MAC.  

Yes, this post is a bit late since the PRS-700 3rd generation Reader was already launched last month in Oct, but being in Canada, I don’t know when we’ll be able to get our hands on this latest version (as it’s currently out of stock on Sony.ca at the time of writing this post) considering the PRS 505 was only launched last May in Canada, while it was available since Oct 07 in the US..oh well I guess we should get used to that by now.  But am still waiting for the Amazon Kindle to come out in Canada, so there can be more competition up here!  The Kindle’s key features that would make you consider buying it over the Sony Reader, is that it has a wider selection of books, and you can connect to their e-book store and download books wherever you are via EVDO network in the US.  Yet, I find the Sony design and external casing much sleeker than the Kindle!  

The latest PRS-700 will come with built-in backlight, touchscreen display, which allows you to turn pages by swiping your finger (iphoney-like), and highlighting text and make notes with the on screen keyboard or with the included stylus.  All this will cost you an additional $100 over the PRS-505.  

I might wait until Sony comes out with colour e-ink technology so I can see my photos in colour and also my books that contain photographs as well.  And maybe a version with video playback will be just around the corner too!

 

Sony PRS 505

Sony PRS 505

 

Sony PRS 700

Sony PRS 700

 

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle


The Nokia N810 – My new Wifi Internet tablet and sidekick to my Mobile phone

May 23, 2008

 

Why I chose the N810 Wifi Tablet over OQO and Sony UX UMPCs 

I finally decided to get the Nokia N810 after waiting a few years now for the OQO or Sony UX series UMPC prices to drop, but they still haven’t yet and are still over $1,400 for the latest models. So when Nokia upgraded the N800 with the built-in keyboard, I finally decided on Nokia instead, since I concluded that the only reason why I would want the the OQO or Sony UX UMPCs was that it had Windows XP/Vista, and MS Office, so I could have the flexibility to do work outside the office, but I knew that I would primarily use it for surfing.  The OQO/Sony UMPCs act as secondary mobile PCs, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to work for too long with that 4-5″ screen size (my eyes are bad enough with too much time on the computer…and being Asian).  So at this size, it would really only be realistic to do light surfing and not real work, and I could only justify buying the OQO/Sony UMPCs if the price came down by 50%, since you can get the Nokia N810 for only $370, which has Wifi and a built-in keyboard to meet my surfing needs.  I would rather buy the 11″ ultra-portable laptops than the OQO/SONY UMPCs to give me the flexibility to do work on the go.  

OQOSony UX390

 

N810 vs. iPod Touch

Others may compare the Nokia N810 to the iPod Touch.  However, the N810 is by far more superior for only the $60 extra cost at this time, since the N810 has these advantages:  

  1.  Can play Flash and videos directly from websites, such as YouTube, while the iPod Touch cannot.  In the iPod Touch, Youtube videos can only be played via the separate built-in YouTube application.  
  2. Has a bigger screen size, which is easier on the eyes for surfing the web and watching downloaded movies.
  3. Has the flexibility of a built-in keyboard for typing those long emails, yet it is also touchscreen.  
  4. Has Skype for free calls (while connected to the Net)
  5. Has built-in speakers (and it’s quite loud as shown from my dog in the video above).  
  6. Has Bluetooth so you can connect to your Mobile with a data plan to surf when you’re not in a Wifi zone, and make hands-free calls.  
  7. Has integrated GPS receiver so can act as a GPS Navigation device (but need to pay for the software), and is on par with standalone devices. 
  8. Has a large and growing developer community base that continues to build more applications and improve upon the OS and features, making this an evolving and better product over time.  Apple only recently launched their SDK Developer program to build applications for iPhone or iPod Touch, but it has contractual restrictions, making it very limited for developers.
  9. The N810 has a 0.3MP camera, while the iPod Touch doesn’t, but these days you can look for camera apps for the iPod Touch or try out this knock-off version that has a built-in 1.3MP camera for only $69.99:

touch21

Ok, it may be a bit more fun surfing with the animated touchscreen navigation on the iPod Touch though, but I can live with that…  


LG Viewty KU990 – My Touchscreen Camera YouTube Phone

January 16, 2008


After researching numerous blogs and reviews to decide on which new mobile to buy for a while now, I finally chose the LG Viewty KU990. The name “Viewty” links to it’s tagline on the product packaging: “View the Next Technology”. First, this is not the mobile for everyone though, and others could debate that there are others in the market that are better, so it depends on what features you’re looking for – I was looking for more of a fun “camera phone”, which could take photos comparable to a standalone camera, so I wouldn’t have to carry a camera around as well for taking that spontaneous photo. The video feature and the ability to upload videos directly to Internet, was also an added bonus, so this was the phone for me.

My key deciding factors for choosing the LG Viewty:

1. It’s sleek (14.8mm thick, so not too bulky for all the features it has) and unique (not officially available in Canada)
2. It’s touchscreen (which is the new trend of mobiles and is so much easier to use) with cool haptic vibration feedback when you touch the screen options, which the iPhone doesn’t have.
3. Advanced Multimedia Features – It has a 5 MP Camera, and a high speed 120 fps video recorder, with image stabilization, DivX player, and a Schneider-Kreuznach lens. I can write on the photos or videos with the stylus and it will appear on playback; it has various advanced photo/video editing options that are not even found on stand-alone cameras, such as adding sepia or b&w colour portions or entire photo, as well as mosaic blur, softening, morphing, blurbs, built-in icons and adding picture frames, and much more! Muvee Studio feature also allows you to create an image slide show combined with music, as it also comes with the standard MP3 player feature. (The iphone only has a 2MP camera)
3. Internet Features – Browser with bookmark creation, landscape and portrait view, and ability to scroll with finger, like the iphone. (However, the iPhone wins in this area though as their browser seems alot more fun to use with its interactive user interface features, but the LG Viewty does the job for surfing)
4. Convenient pre-loaded features allowing you to connect directly to them with a click of their icon:
– YouTube – There’s also an option to upload my videos created on the phone directly to YouTube
– Google – Search, Mail, Maps
– Blogger: Create your Blog feature

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Features I wish the LG Viewty had:

1. WiFi (just so i can surf freely at home, since it’s unlikely that I can find a free WiFi hotspot living in Toronto)
2. Windows Mobile 6 (So I can use it for work too and won’t need to carry around my Moto Q9h to retrieve my Outlook emails (although for a PDA, the Moto Q9h is quite nice looking)
3. Built-in GPS – At a usable speed and without extra carrier fees.
4. A lens cover for the 5MP Camera

Other Contenders:

iPhone               HTC Touch                LG KS20             Nokia N95

iPhone          HTC Touch (White)   LG KS20 “Dominator” Nokia N95 (Black)

Before I decided on the LG Viewty, I was also considering these other contenders in the market, but didn’t end up choosing them for the following reasons:

1. iPhone – Since I’m in Canada, where it’s not officially available yet, I didn’t want to deal with paying the fees to unlock the US Cingular version, and not be able to update the phone with the Apple patches to add new features and fix bugs without turning the phone into a brick..Yes, hackers will be able to crack the code again to unbrick the phone, but didn’t want to deal with the headache for searching for the crack and go through the never-ending cycle with the next Apple patch. The camera is still an average 2MP found on every phone these days, and cannot take videos, while I was looking for more advanced camera/video features, so I can upload videos of Buddy to his YouTube Channel (BuddytheSamoyed).

2. HTC Touch – The black and grey models soon became available through the Canadian mobile carriers at cheap prices with contract, so it would soon become another ubiquitous phone, and it was borderline sleek looking, resembling too much like a business PDA, and not enough of the “fun-factor” that I was looking for in the $300+ price tag that I would be paying for in an unlocked version (as I didn’t want to get the contract). So I was then considering the white model sold in Asia, and the HTC Dual which was also announced with enhanced TouchFLo Navigation, but the LG Viewty just looked better with cooler features.

3. LG KS20 “Dominator” – This is the new version of the LG Viewty that was announced last September, and not launched yet. So I would still have to wait a while before I could buy an unlocked version anywhere online. This model follows the similar design concept as the LG Viewty, and answers my “Wish” feature for Windows Mobile 6, yet only has a 2MP camera and does not come with the same advanced camera features as the Viewty. So this is the “business version” of the LG Viewty, but I still prefer a physical keyboard for business use, for texting lengthy emails, and I already had my business PDA.

4. Nokia N95 – Every phone that I have bought up until now has been Nokia, as I’m a Nokia brand advocate, and have always thought the ‘N95’ was the “king of all mobiles”, but ever since trying out touchscreen mobiles and how much easier and fun it is to navigate with, I couldn’t go back to this boring traditional keypad/button navigation type (for “personal” and not “business” use). The newer black version has a bigger screen and 8GB internal memory over the original silver version. Both models also have built-in GPS, but I thought it was really slow when testing it out on the silver version and find that I would hardly use it at that speed, and I find the size too bulky (21mm vs vs. 14.8mm thick for LG Viewty). Plus, the hefty price of approx. US$700 would be more than what I would pay for a phone, knowing that I would soon want to buy the next sleek phone out on the market with newer tech features…So I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next Nokia touchscreen mobile, as the touchscreen trend continues to rise.


Time to replace my Sony VGN-U50 UMPC…and looking at the options out there

March 8, 2007

I bought the Sony VGN-U50 UMPC (ultra-mobile PC) in 2004 because it was the smallest and sleekest PC handheld with touch screen back then. The U50 runs on Windows XP Home Edition, has a 900MHz Celeron processor and 256 megs of RAM. The U70 model was also released shortly after and looks the same as the U50, but runs on Windows XP Pro, has a 1GHz Pentium M Centrino processor and 512 megs of RAM.

Sony VGN-U50
u50-with-keyboard.jpg

But of course the U50 was not available in North America yet, like all the cool Japanese gadgets, so I bought the Japanese version imported from Japan, and I installed the English Windows XP, but it had some bugs in it and now only the Japanese version works. So unless someone can convert my Japanese version to English, I may be tempted to buy a new UMPC soon, since now there are alot more options to choose from, and the most popular ones that I’m eyeing are:

Sony VGN-UX50

This is one of Sony’s latest UMPCs, and it’s smaller than the previous U50/U70 models, and has the same Wifi and Windows XP OS features, yet is also still limited to just the Sony memory cards and not SD cards. But it has these cool new specs:
-Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage 1.0GHz CPU
-30 Gig HDD
-SVGA screen with XBRITE technology for enhance image clarity
-Built-in slide-away blue backlit keyboard,
-Two built-in cameras – one in front for VoIP/video conferencing and one on the back to take pics like a camera.
-optional Bluetooth GPS receiver
-and last but not least – a biometric fingerprint sensor! Very James Bondish!

The Sony VGN-UX50 UMPC is selling for US$1500 and has been out for a while now (so long that a Canadian version, VGN UX380, was also finally released with the same features except for 40 Gig and 1.33 GHz vs. 30Gig HDD and 1.0 GHz of the UX50). But the UX380 costs CDN$2500! The full specs of the UX380 are at the Sony site

But Sony also released upgraded models, the Sony VGN-UX90PS and VGN-UX90S, which have 16 Gig flash-based memory instead of the internal 30Gig HDD of the UX50. Although the Flash versions have less memory, these newer models result in better performance and smoother operation, and can perform some actions 6x faster in Windows applications. Plus, it also the U90 also has built-in mobile TV support. The UX90 launched July 2006 in Japan at US$1800, but there’s no official release in the US yet.

Sony VGN-UX50
sony-vgn-ux50.jpg

Samsung Q1
The US version launched in May 2006, and is the first UMPC developed as part of Microsoft’s Origami Project. It’s selling for around US$900 now, and a few specs are:
-Mobile TV expansion modules
-30 Gig hard drive
-Special software for thumb-typing
-Optional GPS

Check out the full specs at the Samsung site

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Samsung though has just announced the Q2, and a preview can already be shown at Engadget

Plus, now that Windows Vista has launched, I’m hoping to test it out on my UMPC first. So I also joined the Microsoft Origami Project community to check out the latest on the improvements being made to the UMPCs, and saw that the Microsoft Origami Experience™ package (a more functional version of the Program Launcher, Vista touch settings, and Sudoku) is now available for a free download (when you upgrade to Vista) for a better UMPC user experience.

Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

I wouldn’t really call this a UMPC, since it doesn’t run on a computer OS such as Windows, but it’s more like a PMP (portable media player), where you can play audio/video files, surf the Net with Wifi, and listen to Internet Radio. So it’s also much cheaper at only US$300 compared to the rest of the UMPCs selling at over US$1000. But i wanted to highlight the Nokia 770 here, since it’s featured as a UMPC on other sites. Plus, Nokia just updated the 770 with the release of the Nokia 800 priced at US$400 with new features like a built-in web camera, microphone for VOIP/video conf. calls, dual memory card slots, stand, and speakers, making for one sleek gadget at US$400, so is worth considering if you don’t need the extra Windows applications on UMPCs.

Nokia 770
(Check out the full specs at the Nokia site)
770_pro.jpg

Nokia 800
n800.jpg

I’ll provide a review of the new UMPC or PMP that I may end up getting soon, but since the price tag may ultimately dictate my decison, and that the Samsung Q1 reviews have not been spectacular so far and doesn’t have a built-in keyboard which I prefer for using any Windows applications, I’ll probably be deciding between the Nokia 800 and Sony UX50.


The latest Nokia N95 replaces my long obsession over the Nokia N80

February 13, 2007

The Nokia N80 released early last year was one of the first phones I ever saw with Wifi, and it also had a 3 MP camera! With all its powerful features, it was still relatively compact in size (about the size of a credit card) and it had a slider form factor, which I preferred over the clam shells. This was the only phone last year that I was really interested in buying (after my brief infatuation with the LG Chocolate which quickly subsided when it launched here in Canada and became so mainstream), but the price was just too much (close to US$800 at launch and now down to around $CDN600 for a parallel import version here in Toronto), knowing that a better model would be released shortly…and soon enough Nokia has done that with the new N95. “It’s what computers have become”, is the slogan that Nokia uses for this model and it looks to be a higher-end version of the N80. It’s slated to be released mid-March 2007 in the UK with a $US700 price tag. No gadget this sleek will ever be officially released here in Canada, but I’ll be looking out for the parallel import version that should come out soon in the Asian stores.

Here are just a few specs to impress:

-5 MP Camera with Carl Zeiss optics
-WiFi, Bluetooth
-GPS Mapping
-DVD quality video playback in the 2.6″ screen
-MP3 player, and FM Radio tuner

Images and videos can also be viewed in landscape mode with the playback buttons revealed at the opposite end of the keypad upon sliding the phone. But with all these features, it may turn out to be a big battery hog that will require recharging quite frequently, similar to the N80. Still, I can’t wait to see it soon in the window displays of the Asian stores with all the other imported sleek gadgets that will never be officially released here.

N95N95n95_low_gallery_02.jpgn95_low_videoscreen.jpg

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The Sony NW-S205F: My new iPod replacement…but only when it comes to running!

January 29, 2007

Okay, who can really replace the iPod? Everyone knows that Apple owns the market on MP3/portable media players with the iPod, and will soon move into the mobile market with the much anticipated iPhone in June. But they still haven’t launched any special features to cater to alot of their customers who listen to their iPods all the time when they’re running…like me! That’s why I bought the Sony NW-S205F (which I like to call my Sony “test tube” because of its unique shape) for only $99 at Best Buy during their 1 day online Boxing Day specials. I bought it even though I already have the shuffle, nano and video iPods because they all don’t do the trick when it comes to running.

In my first post, I wrote that I’d buy the iPod sport kit if it only had a feature to synchronize songs with your movement, so I can hear faster/upbeat songs when I’m speedy and slower songs when I’m winding down because I currently have to do this manually with my iPod, which interrupts my runs…Well the Sony test tube does this song switching automatically with its special “G-Sensor” feature. It switches betwen your fast and slow tracks based on how fast your arm is moving, as it’s attached to the armband that comes with the test tube. Plus, it also comes with a built-in stopwatch, an FM Tuner, wrap around sport earphones, all of which the iPods don’t include, or you would have to pay extra bucks for these add-on accessories. However, I do have some beefs about the test tube – the wrap earphones are not adjustable so they don’t fit well, unless you have long Spock or Buddha ears. So I use my other Altec Lansing adjustable wrap earphones instead. Also, the SonicStage software that you are required to use to transfer songs, is not user-friendly if you’re used to using the easy iTunes and have all your songs stored there, like me. Plus, SonicStage doesn’t come with a Mac version so I would have to use my other Sony Micro PC for it, and then it becomes such a hassle transferring my songs from my Mac to the PC.

So it looks like Sony beat Apple to the market with built-in running features for the MP3 Player, but I bet when the 2nd gen Apple sport kit comes out, it will allow you to do something similar, and I’ll be looking out for that since the Sony SonicStage software requires more effort than the simple synch with iTunes.

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