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Hot products, hotter problems
BS Bureau in New Delhi | January 13, 2006
Some months ago, when a team member bought an HP iPAQ PDA phone which took forever (5-10 seconds usually) to connect after you pressed the call-accept button, it was "proof" enough that a computer firm couldn't really produce a phone -- only "phone' companies like Nokia or Sony Ericsson were to be trusted when it came to phones, even phone-PDAs.
Over the past few months, however, while we've reviewed phones and other products in this space, and it's apparent the so-called killer apps have their own share of problems. A look at some of them:
Nokia 6600: One of the models Nokia's banking on now at the entry level as far as smart phones are concerned, the 6600's frustratingly slow to start, and then use. It takes about 30 seconds to reach the "enter PIN" stage and then another 10 to get operational -- most Nokia phones take 8-9 seconds.
Almost all users of this phone will tell you it has exceptionally large number of key-press delays and either jams or hangs frequently. As for the keyboard, in order to look stylish, the first row of keys (the 1-2-3 row) has bigger keys and they get smaller as you go down to the 7-8-9 -- this makes even SMSing a real pain.
The option of using an MP3 file as a ring tone is just hype since it sounds really bad. The voice and video recording are there purely for show since 60 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively, is of little use to anyone.
This is, perhaps, the only Nokia phone that has a Bluetooth compatibility problem and so, if you go shopping in Delhi's Nehru Place, they'll tell you to buy just one or two headsets as these are the only compatible ones.
Sony Ericsson P910i: The coolest PDA phone to use undoubtedly, given the jog dial which allows you to use most functions with just one hand unlike most PDAs which require both hands.
Yet, it hangs frequently enough -- you just get a white screen -- and then the only option is to remove the battery and instal it again. For a PDA phone, it strangely does not allow you to copy text from an email and paste this onto a new/existing word file (the iPAQ, needless to say, allows this).
In fact, if you want to access email, either by surfing the net or through the Airtel Blackberry/Hutchmail kind of push-mail, the battery's the real killer -- so if you want to use the phone for an entire day, it's a good idea to carry your charger with you.
As with all non-Windows-based phones, there's no global search facility and you have to do a search in each category separately -- contacts, email, word files, excel sheets and so on. In the iPAQ, by contrast, a single search throws up all references, whether they are in the contacts list, in emails, or in excel/word files.
One of our staffers who uses a P910i kept getting a disc-full warning even after he removed most applications and pictures/songs -- finally, he had to get the software upgraded which meant that all information on the machine was lost and had to be backed up from the PC all over again.
Mini iPod: Undoubtedly the coolest product that's come out in a long time, despite the host of iPod wannabes that have been launched since, with video screens, and without them. The problem, however, is that the machine hangs very often, especially when you're hearing one song and want to switch to another.
Also, if you don't use the instrument for a few days, the battery drains out completely and recharging it through the computer cable isn't a smooth exercise either and requires you to switch on and off the instrument a few times.
The adapter to allow recharging from a normal electric point doesn't work too well either. Most important, unlike the Walkman genre of equipment that use removable batteries, the iPod's battery is fused in the product and so can't be replaced by you when its life runs out. It costs $60 to get it replaced.
Nokia 9300: Nokia's PDA killer app scores over many available in the market since it is Edge-enabled and makes surfing two to three times faster than on others like the P910i.
The biggest problem, however, is that moving from one application to another takes almost as much time as it does on an iPAQ. The keyboard's keys are too together to use anything but your thumbs and the model doesn't have the obligatory touchscreen and stylus that every other self-respecting PDA has.
LG T5100: Though sold as a music-phone, the set hangs up every time you listen to music and a call comes in. The "call accept" key refuses to work, as if reluctant to move after the musical experience.
Even the flaw is not consistent. Sometimes the music continues and even though the display shows "call waiting", you can just helplessly look at it and wish that you hadn't turned the MP3 player on.
On the other hand, the caller gets "user busy" tone even if you have a "call waiting" activated. The problem, sadly, seems to be genetic since the newly launched M4400 also suffers from the same drawback. The phone, while playing music, shows "call coming" but the keys jam up.