Reviews Technology

General Blah On Cellphones

I happened to get my hands on two cellphones recently – when a relative who owns a Nokia 6260 came running to me looking for tech support; and when I got to play with my pal Prashanth’s Motoflip W220. I thought it’s time for a few cellphone reviews.

Ah, tech support. Damn, I keep I on doing a lot of that, but I love it. šŸ˜€ It feels nice to be the Dial-A-Geek option on many a people’s phonebook. Not a week, hell, sometimes day, passes when I don’t get calls for tech advice or help. I’ve across some pretty everyday stuff, and sometimes, pretty vexing situations too. It keeps you on your toes – and there’s never anything better than getting to know something new in the process. Sometimes though, it does feel sorta depressing that the only thing people may remember you for years down the line is as being ‘the free tech support line to call when something goes wrong with my gadget’. Oh well.

Well, coming back to the topic. As far as cellphones are concerned right now, I thought I’d give my view on what the cellphone companies are doing right now. People keep on asking me for advice on which cellphones to buy; and these general tips shall surely help you make the right choice.

  • Samsung is leading the way with cellphones that have style AND functionality. They make some of the slimmest cellphones in the world, but don’t seem to be targeting the lower end market very much. In fact, they aren’t targeting it at all. Whatever lower end models they DO have, are pretty run-of-the-mill and bear practically NO resemblance to their richer cousins.
  • Nokia has been caught sleeping, and others are catching up. Their lower end series is stagnating – no significant additions have been made to it in the past two years. It’s pouring its energy into the likes of N-Series, which haven’t really taken off because the Symbian OS (also found on other manufacturers’ models), hasn’t really found stability. Indeed, beyond the initial euphoria, many users complain about slow responsiveness and frequent lockups of the OS. My verdict – wait out before jumping on the N-Series bandwagon. And there’s nothing much new on the lower end to speak about.
  • LG makes the most value-for-money phones. Go to any shop, any model segment, and it’ll be the LG phone that offers maximum features for the lowest price, and throws in loads of freebies too. My grudge though is that LG phones are not stylish at all – a clay brick probably looks more beautiful. Apart from the LG Chocolate / Prada model, each and every phone from their stable practically look the same. LG can do better, if only its designs were better. Also, it needs to make its navigation better.
  • Sony Ericsson is something you should buy ONLY if you’re interested in their Walkman / CyberShot series. Nobody has got music better than Sony. It’s standalone Walkman series has been no match for the iPod, but as far as style, quality, stability and sheer functionality and drool factor goes for music-capable cellphones, Sony Ericsson is right there the top.
  • Motorola made a huge splash, and changed the whole scene of slim phones with the RAZR, but in tech era, that was long long ago. Surprisingly, it hasn’t done much in the top end segment after that, only churning out ‘better’ (read ‘slightly redesigned’) RAZRs. RIZR, SLVR, ROKR, PEBL, MING – none of these really caught the imagination of the public like RAZR did. For Linux enthusiasts though, I might point out that the Moto RIZR and Moto MING use Linux as their OS! Motorola has though made some interesting models for the lower end market, which are value-for-money, and look good too.

One more debate – the one between T9 and iTap – is something I always wanted to blog about. Don’t know what they are? T9 and iTap are both predictive text technologies. By that, I mean that on cellphones, they traditional way to input text has been to do repeated keypresses on the number pad until you get the character you want.

T9 is one such technology used by Nokia, LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson (correct me if I’m wrong). In this, the user press the key associated with a letter ONCE, and keeps on doing so until he finishes the word. At each keypress, the character combination on screen changes – T9 matches it with its own dictionary and determines possible matches on frequently they’re used. In case the one presented does not match, the user can the press ‘*’ to see other possible matches. If all else fails, then you can enter the traditional way and that word too gets stored in the dictionary, so that you can enter it with T9 next time. Note – the user-defined words aren’t static, depending upon the phone memory allocated to T9, you’ll only be able to store a limited set of words. Only the ones you use frequently will remain, the rest will get overwritten as and when you try to store new words. T9 is pretty much standard, no matter which sort of model you’re using from whichever manufacturer, the capabilities are limited only by your phone’s memory. The only difference can be that older phone will have an older dictionary.

iTap on the other hand, is a technology used by Motorola. It too is predictive text, but the main difference is that it’ll try to complete full phrases too. It’s far more ambitious – it works the same way, but it preempts you with matches. So what exactly is bad about it? Well, for one, iTap requires you to use the d-pad / softkey to choose the other matches. I find that really irritating, because it breaks the flow of typing on the keypad. Otherwise, iTap is ok. One more thing – depending upon your Motorola model, you’ll get a different version of iTap with lesser / more features.

Now for the two reviews…which you can read in my next two posts….

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