Mobile Blogging

This is my first time in using the WordPress app for android, but not the first time to use a blogging app. Have been enamored with the elegant tumblr app since trying it out on the iPhone a few months back.

What are your thoughts on mobile blogging? Mobile for micro-blogging feels right but what about for the likes of wordpress and blogger?

How many words will it take for you to feel comfortable posting your thoughts here? Do you think its ‘right’ to use txtspk to type in your entry?

Ultimately, is mobile just for microblogging?

an unfair perspective of Android – quick view of the Samsung Spica

Before we start, I have to admit that this will not be a fair “review” since I will be comparing my first impression of the Android OS via an entry-level device (Samsung Galaxy Spica) with my 6 month old iPhone 3GS.

samsung spica side by side iphone 3gs

an unfair comparison

To be blunt about it, Android is a capable and promising OS, but it’s not “here” yet. Pundits say that the os has arrived, but after giving it a spin for about a week or so, it really feels unfinished.

Perhaps we can blame the apps. Or my familiarity with the iOS version of the apps. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, 4SQ, TweetDeck and Social City – these are my staple apps both on my 3GS and on the spica. Now I don’t want to go in to @nal details, but I can’t help but feel that the Android versions of the apps are forcing the issue of using the menu/back buttons for the ‘droid. Some actions HAVE to be seen from the get go and not shown after a button click. Try 4SQ and you’ll get my drift.

Screen

The spica’s screen is quite nice for it’s pricepoint. Resolution is so-so, the brightness is manually adjustable and is capacitive -which means it should be responsive to say the least. Never mind if it doesn’t support multi-touch out of the box, but it should be responsive, right? Wrong. Even with a speedy 800mhz processor, for some reason, the display IS JUST FRIGGIN FRUSTRATING! It’s just so unresponsive that there are lot of moments that I feel like smashing my phone on the ground! Scroll through tweets and you’ll end up clicking on a particular tweet by accident. And accidents do happen with the screen.

Right now, I’m on the standby screens of both the 3GS and the spica and the spica just won’t let me swipe to unlock. I have to press a bit more or use a different finger for it to respond. What the hell is this? A capacitive/resistive display?

Anyways, just typing my impressions of how unresponsive the display is just frustrates me so I have to cut this short. I might end up just bashing the phone (unfairly) because of the display. I’ll try my best to come up with a better review of this soon, but if I don’t, you’ll know what happened – I probably got rid of the phone! hahaha

Cheers!

ZIP 188 – the little phone that could

Zip188 Review

“No more excuses not to be online”

Product Description

(from the Smart Shop website) Surf the web wherever, whenever at broadband speeds of up to 5.8 mbps, powered by SMART’s HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) network. Get the new Zip 188, SMART Buddy’s most affordable HSDPA phone. Includes a SMART Buddy SIM Card. Available color: Silver

Handset Specifications:

– Frequency HSDPA/UMTS 2100/850MHz
– EDGE/GPRS/GSM 1800/ 900MHz
– Chipset MSM6260
– ID Bar Type, Internal Antenna
– Dimensions 108mm x 48mm x 12mm
– Data Speed UMTS 384KBPS UL
– Display 176 x 220 pixels, 262 K color TFT Screen, 2.0″
– DRM, OMA1.0 UMB, PIM, Video Streaming
– Memory T-Flash Slot
– 72 Polyphonic ringtones
– Multimedia Support MP3/AAC+/MPEG4/H.263/H.264
– USB V 2.0 FS
– Messaging MMS, WAP2.0, JAVA MIDP2.0, Email
– Battery performance talking Time/Standby Time:200min/200h
– 2 megapixel camera

Package Content:

1 pc       Transceiver
1 pc       Charger
1 pc       Earphone
1 pc       Battery pack
1 pc       User Manual
1 pc       Warranty Card
1 pc       Data Cable
1 pc       CD (PC Suite)

First impressions:

“Another unbranded phone from SMART” was the first thought that crossed my mind when I heard about the new Zip188 phone.  Being a brand snob, didn’t expect much from this phone after finding out that it was from ZTE.  Still, the premise of a well-priced HSPA phone enticed me.

The Box:

The kit comes in a nice white and green motif box, with interesting graphics, and some call outs that says it’s Sandbox ready, HSPA powered, 2MP camera.  That got me hooked. (photos  1 and 2)

Zip 188 Photo 1

Zip 188 Photo 2

Unraveling the goodies inside, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the accessories that comes with the phone.  A well written manual, CD installer (more on this after), the phone, charger, micro-USB plug, and headphones – this pack is ready to go! (photos 3, 4 and 6)

Zip 188 Photo 3

Zip 188 Photo 3

Zip 188 Photo 4

Zip 188 Photo 4

Zip 188 Photo 6

Zip 188 Photo 6


ZTE has a warranty card inside, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to submit this for validation or if SMART will honor this.  After sales service might be an issue, but for now let’s go through the goods. (photo 5)

Zip 188 Photo 5

Zip 188 Photo 5


The Phone:

The Zip188 is a standard candy-bar type of phone, that isn’t spectacular looking nor will catch phone-snobs attention.  That said, it’s not a bad looking phone at all.  The keypad setup looks like it was lifted from Sony Ericsson, with a committed key for delete/cancel and a return/back key.  Tactile feedback is positive, and you get a very nice “click” when you press the pad.  You might want to turn-off the default key tone as it is very annoying.  When you try to SMS you sound like you’re composing your own ringtone as the keys are arranged musically – do re mi anyone?

The phone is made of average plastic parts, but there are some very thoughtful details that will help prolong its useful life.  For example, instead of having a flimsy cover for the USB/charge port, they installed a slider cover.  You won’t lose it, and you won’t break it, and it protects the port from dust and grime. Well done.

Installing the battery is just like any phone – slide off the back cover, insert the battery and you’re done.  However, the batter prevents  you from pulling out the SIM card (which is just so) and the T-Flash card – which means that you’ll have to power-down and remove the battery every time you have to remove/replace the memory card.

Fully loaded, the phone is about the size of a Nokia 2630 (photos 7 and 8) albeit slightly thicker.  But this added thickness is welcome in exchange for HSPA!

Zip 188 Photo 7

Zip 188 Photo 7

Zip 188 Photo 8

Zip 188 Photo 8

Camera

Looking at the rear of the phone, we have a standard 2 Mega Pixel camera. It works fine, but is far from what we consider “good” out there.  There is an annoying lag between clicking on the shutter, hearing the shutter, and actually taking the photo.  This will result in a lot of blurred shots.  Perhaps a future firmware update can speed this up.

Screen and Interface

The screen is a generous 2 incher, with vibrant colors and a neat menu.  It’s not cryptic nor archaic and even without going through the manual, practically anyone can navigate the menu.  The only real difference here is how the directional keys are mapped to open different menu items. Standard phone settings, which is usually buried underneath several menu clicks, is just a right click away from the home screen – which is both good and bad. (photo 12)

Zip 188 Photo 12

Zip 188 Photo 12

Texting is a three-click affair.  Click on the center button, click it again to go to messages and then click again to create a new message.  I’m not so sure if you can create shortcuts or reassign soft keys, but for now, it’s 3 clicks away.

Mobile Internet

Ah, now here is when things begin to get exciting.  Smart has recently invested in a kick-ass HSPA network that already allows subscribers covered by the signal to access the internet (on good days) at DSL speeds.  On a personal note, I’m already very happy with my Smart Bro plugit because it averages upwards of 1Mbps when I access the ‘net – what more with a dedicated HSPA enabled phone like the Zip188?

Accessing the ‘net is easy thanks to the dedicated Sandbox key.  One click and it takes you to the Sandbox mobile portal (m.mysandbox.com) and from there you can already do your social networking, blogging and chatting – FOR FREE!  I understand that the Sandbox Mobile Site is free to browse if you’re on the Smart network.   For some reason though, Sandbox doesn’t look to good on the Zip188. I’m not too sure if it’s because of the smallish screen or if it’s because the site doesn’t recognize the wap device signature of the Zip188.

Next stop was Facebook, and it was good.  The site loads up really quickly with no hitches at all.

Zip 188 Photo 13

Zip 188 Photo 13

USB Modem

If you have a laptop, you might want to take a good look at the capabilities of this phone as your modem.  The bundled software (cryptically named “Join Me”) is a breeze to install and it really unlocks the potential of this phone.  From the menu, you can easily manage your contacts, messages, and connect to the internet with one click.  You probably won’t need another dedicated USB dongle once you get the hang of the software.

Just for fun, I tried downloading a torrent file of a 700MB movie, and guess what? I completed the download under 2 hours, with the average download speed hitting 2.2Mbps! (photo zip speedtest)


A pleasant surprise here is that since the phone connects via USB and the charger cable is based on USB, you get to charge your battery while you use the phone as a modem.

Conclusion and Recommendation:

The Zip188 is one amazing phone for its price.  The SRP is Php3,995 and if you buy it in the smart shop, you can get it even lower at Php3,795.  In absolute terms, the phone itself is dated, with a so-so interface, three-click message access, two-inch screen and a sluggish camera.  However, considering the cost and value, as well as the bundled software and HSPA capabilities, this phone is a very good buy.  It’s far from perfect, but for people wanting to try mobile internet either via phone or hooked up to a pc, this phone can’t be beat.

Pros:

Fast mobile internet (in areas with good HSPA coverage)
Very good bundled software
Easy to use, though subjective
Generous kit with accessories
USB Charging  (and you get to charge your phone while connected to the internet via USB cable)

Cons:

Phone feels and looks dated
Poor camera
Lack of Bluetooth
System tones not customizable

For people interested in mobile internet:  8.5/10

For people NOT interested in mobile internet: 6/10

my zpdee now hitting 1mbps

This is a very geek post for me, but I’m just stoked that my two-year old Zpdee connection suddenly gave me a speed boost, up to 1mbps.

We’re paying about 900 bucks initially for around 380++kbps two years ago. About a year ago, the speed went up to 512kbps while maintaining the price. Zpdee didn’t email or announce anything then, so I was really impressed with that.

About a week ago, I noticed that http://www.zpdee.com was redirecting me to the sky cable internet site, and the site was offering insane speeds of up to 12mbps. Went through the site and really, nothing was said about existing Zpdee clients and connections.

The past two weeks have been internet hell though. Speed was really inconsistent and torrenting was a pain.

Well, I just hope that this speed boost will be permanent and will be the norm for my internet connection of choice.

Boracay in October – part 1

Boracay is my favorite quick-break vacation spots. It’s such a familiar place to me already, yet I don’t get tired of it. There’s something about getting away from it all, having the sun shine on your face, the waves lapping gently at your feet, while the fine soft sand caress your toes… really, it’s that wonderful. Add some familiar creature comforts like ice cold beer, excellent buy-one-take-one beach cocktails, fresh (albeit expensive) seafood and relatively good service – I’m in paradise.

Last weekend was no exception.

Ela and i hurriedly booked our trip there, a mere 2 weeks before peak season starts. Flights were still cheap and accommodations aplenty and reasonable. We ended up taking PAL Express and staying in Nigi Nigi Too.

Two firsts in one

It was our first time to take PAL Express – the new budget airline extension of PAL and it was our first time to go to the new Terminal 3. T3 is really nice. It reminds me of Kingsford-Smith International Airport in Sydney. It’s big, yet not intimidating, spacious without being too massive. Just what we need to welcome weary travelers. Oh yeah, make sure you BRING A JACKET when you’re passing through terminal 3. It’s really cold there!

It was raining cats and dogs that cold Friday morning, so we were rather worried that either our flight gets canceled or delayed. Surprisingly, we flew out just in time. Oh yeah, funny thing about taking PAL Express in the new terminal – you feel like you’re a second-class citizen in the airport. The gates are in the lower part of the terminal – with some electrical wirings still visible and temporary sound systems in place. Heck, you even have to board a bus and drive far from the terminal just to reach the plane!

No biggie though, because the new PAL Express planes are quite nice. Q300 – that’s the aircraft model they have. Turbo-prop, very clean and neat inside. The FA’s uniforms are festive too. Floral button down shirts and bermuda-looking shorts.

But there aren’t any potholes in the sky…

The weather was awful and the minute we took off, it was evident that we had to tighten our seatbelts throughout the flight. Clouds clouds everywhere, and the plane was battered by monsoon winds. There was even a moment that the plane was pitching and rolling in all 4 axes for about 3-5 minutes – which seemed like an eternity! Man o man… that was one of the scariest flight experiences I’ve ever had. Seriously!

Mercifully, the turbulence ended soon, and it was relatively smooth sailing all the way to Caticlan. I have to applaud the pilots of PAL Express – they landed that plane quite well. You know how scary Caticlan landings can be right? Rushing down and approaching the runway at over 200KPh, and you can see the water mere meters away, and then when the plane hits the ground, the pilot seems to slam it and hit the brakes as hard as he can…
That wasn’t the case with our flight. It was smoooooth as silk.

next up… pictures and pictures of our stay in boracay

Things I want, 2008 edition

Last year, I posted this on my multiply site:

http://chewychua77.multiply.com/journal/item/33/Things_I_need…_alteratively_titled_as_things_I_want
“…  I decided to make a list of the stuff I think I need and not just want…

1. a nice dell/acer/hp laptop with at least a pentium core 2 duo at 1.66ghz (up to 2.0ghz) at least 1gb ram (2 better) about 120gb hdd, 128mb nvidia card, 4x usb 2.0 ports, firewire etc…
2. iPod video 30gb or bigger
3. 1 or 2gb flash drive (perhaps this can be a freebie when i buy the laptop?)
4. 250gb external hard disk (the big one)
5. 120gb external hard disk (the pocket sized one)

and since we’re at it… ”

Luckily, most of the things I lusted after, I actually got!

I now have a kick-ass laptop
a 160gb portable hard disk drive
a 500gb external drive
over 10GB worth of flash drives (who would have thought that they’d cost a little more than 2 starbucks coffees now??)
We now have a Wii back in sydney (with all the fun games and the Wii fit)
I got a free iPod video and a shuffle
a real fender strat
a real gibson les paul
several kick-ass amplifiers (marshall, line6, peavey)

these things aside… here are the things I want for this year:

minimum 32″ LCD TV
non-overheating xbox 360
a good condition playstation 2 (yep, i still love my old games)

hmmm. that’s not a very long list, ain’t it?  being 30 has been good to me 🙂