First Look: HTC Touch Cruise

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mobile Devices, Windows Mobile

cruise I had originally ordered this device back at the beginning of November.  What I found most intriguing when I was looking for a new device was that this device was small, light, and had a GPS on-board. I put in my pre-order and expected it to be in my doorstep the week before Christmas.

No such luck.

As product release dates slipped, so did my hope of getting my hands on this powerful little device.  About two weeks ago, the shipment date had again slipped to the end of February.  I decided it was time to cancel that order, and put in an order for what I considered to be the next best device: the S730. 

From my last post, you now know that I received that device.  The problem was, I received a shipping notice for “my shipment” last Friday.  When I clicked on the link, it took me to my original order, which was supposedly canceled.  The difference was it was on a UPS truck somewhere between here and Chicago.

I decided I would take my chances and give the Touch Cruise a try.  So, last night I received my package and proceeded to unbox this device.  What a surprise.  Smaller than I expected, almost smaller than the S730.  How could so much goodness be squeezed into such a small casing?

Well, to make a long story short, I took my S730 and put it on eBay tonight.  I definitely like the Touch Cruise and everything it has to offer.

So, what makes the Touch Cruise so much better than the S730?

Processor & Memory
Although both of these devices have the Qualcomm MSM 7200 400 MHz processor, it seems that something in the way the Touch Cruise is setup makes it noticeably faster.  The Touch Cruise does have 128 MB RAM compared the 64 MB RAM on the S730.

The lag issues that I experienced with the S730 are non-existent on the Touch Cruise.  I run a number of applications at once on the TC with no problems, while running 1 or 2 apps on the S730 yielded memory errors rather quickly.

About the same size as the S730 without the extra thickness as a result of there not being a keyboard on the Touch Cruise.  This is something I thought I would miss, the the onscreen keyboard works decent enough to get around with, and I have found several free iPhone-like keyboard apps available for Windows Mobile online.

Battery Life
Considering what this device is capable of, I was rather impressed with the batter life.  I used the GPS for about 35 minutes this morning, used DirectPush all day long, took several phone calls and with all that, I still had 75% of the battery remaining at the end of the day.  The Touch Cruise ships with the 1,350 mAh battery, compared to the S730’s 1,050 mAh battery.

One of the nice applications that I found on the Touch Cruise was Opera, a web browser with the ability to do screen scaling and a bunch of other features.  You can buy it retail, but its kind of nice to see it included with this device as a competitor to Internet Explorer.

In addition, TomTom Navigator 6 is included.  No maps are bundled, but you get to download one free city map.  That’s kind of lame, but I guess it gives you enough of a taste to see if you want to buy the while map package for $150.  I am sticking with my ALK CoPilot Live 7.  CoPilot has some great features.  The only complaint I have is that the maps in my neighborhood are out of alignment, which is annoying when trying to navigate out of here.

Overall Impressions
Like I mentioned, I listed my S73 on eBay tonight.  I really have a lot of faith that the Touch Cruise will be my device for some time to come.  I’m getting used to not having a keyboard and going back to a touch screen, but it won’t be long till I don’t even realize that I don’t have them anymore.  The added GPS functionality is great and can be used for any GPS-aware app like Windows Live Search and Google Maps, both of which I have loaded on my Touch Cruise.

First Look: HTC S730

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Mobile Devices, Windows Mobile

s730 I received my HTC S730 from a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve been using it now to replace my T-Mobile Wing.  Here’s a quick rundown on what it does and my experience with it so far.  I’m pretty particular about what I expect from my mobile devices.  The closest I’ve been to a perfect device was with my T-Mobile Dash.  Let’s take a look at how the S730 stacks up.

The size of the S730 is perfect to slip into your pocket, although a little thicker (about .75 inches) than what I am used to.  Having had the Wing and the T-Mobile Dash, this phone fit the candy bar profile, but obviously wasn’t quite as thin as the Dash.  The weight seems lighter than the Wing and comparable to the Dash.  Overall, size is nicer and fits well in the hand.

Battery Life
Battery life so far seems to be pretty decent with DirectPush and Bluetooth all day.  I usually hook it back up to the charger before bed every night.  I haven’t used it enough to run it below 40-50%. 

The S730 has the new Qualcomm MSM 7200 400 MHz processor which is suppose to be pretty fast and also have the GPS capabilities built into the chip, however the GPS functionality is disabled on this particular phone.

Initial indications are that the device really isn’t that fast from a visual perspective, but speculation amid the Internet is that HTC is not shipping the correct driver (or any driver for that matter) for the video on the device which shows up in performance from anything like loading an application to screen refreshes.

Additionally, even though the device ships with a 256 MB ROM and 64 MB RAM, on a cold boot the device will only have 10-12 MB of free memory which doesn’t leave much for running applications.  This memory problem has also been acknowledged and is suppose to be fixed in an upcoming ROM release.

As far as data performance is concerned, this device supports HSDPA (high-speed data), however, T-Mobile in the US has very limited if any coverage for HSDPA at this time.  Users in Europe have found that HSDPA tends to eat lots of battery.

This is a smartphone, so it ships with Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard.  This means that the Office Mobile applications included are only capable of reading documents and editing existing documents; they cannot create new files.  For some, this is a shortfall, but then again, I don’t know how many people use Windows Mobile to actually create Office content.

Nothing out of the ordinary ships with the S730 from an application standpoint.  The standard Windows Mobile apps apply, as well as a Task Manager, but other than that, nothing special to write home about.  But why include any apps when you don’t have the memory to run them? 

A front and rear camera on this phone is a neat feature especially when video calls become more mainstream.  Until real high-speed data is available in the US, this probably won’t be all that useful.  Nonetheless, the camera on the front of the phone is a VGA camera, while the camera on the back is a two megapixel.  I’ve heard complaints about this, but what do you really expect your phone to do?  It’s a high expectation for a device that does practically everything else for you while in your pocket.

Overall Impressions
The size of this device is perfect and it fits the role of phone first, data device second.  This is the type of device I prefer. 

The sound quality is decent and the phone worked when expected.  Again, I use it as a phone first, and then email second.  It’s important for me to receive my email and calendar, but its critical that I can answer my phone when it rings and the party on the other end can hear me.

The performance isn’t quite there yet for the power user and hopefully with the help from HTC and a new ROM release, these issues will be taken care of.  However, the typical user in most cases will find the performance and capabilities of this phone completely acceptable.

Soft Reset Utility for Windows Mobile 6

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Development, Windows Mobile

I reboot my T-Mobile Wing pretty regularly to make sure that I have the most memory available to me.  One of the shortcomings of the Wing is that the pagepool size is so large that it leaves very little memory for running programs.

pc_capture1 Instead of having to do the standard “hold the power button for it to go into shutdown”, I wrote a simple app that performs the soft reset.

If you are looking for something to do that, you can download it below.  I have only tested it on the Wing, so I am not sure how it will function with other devices.  Hypothetically it should work on any device that is running Windows Mobile 5 or Windows Mobile 6, but I can’t guarantee, so don’t try it if you don’t want to risk data loss.

If you do decide to try it, feel free to leave me comments or suggestions from your experience.  I would like to eventually add a scheduler component so you can schedule your reboots if necessary.

To install, download the cab file to your mobile device, and click on it to install.

T-Mobile Wing and Pagepool Memory Modification

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Windows Mobile

I recently acquired a T-Mobile Wing since my wife needed a smartphone and wound up with my old T-Mobile Dash.

I love the Wing with the Pocket PC layout and Windows Mobile 6 with Office Mobile Professional.  The only thing I noticed and also have read online was that T-Mobile released it with a configuration of 12MB reserved for the pagepool memory.  This left in most cases less than 10-15MB available for the pagepool and would cause users to run out of memory rather quickly.

I did some research online and found that Paul from MoDaCo wrote up an article on how to modify the pagepool configuration inside the ROM.  This involved extracting the ROM from the device, doing some hex editing, and then reflashing the device with the modified ROM.  This process is not for the faint of heart.

If you’re interested in reading more on the process, you can find the information here.

Configuring the T-Mobile Dash to work with Bluetooth GPS & Windows Mobile 6

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Windows Mobile

I have been traveling quite a bit in the last couple of months.  I don’t normally travel with any type of GPS which means that if I am traveling to a city that I am not familiar with, it can make it difficult to find places to eat or other venues without a little driving around.

Windows Mobile 6 ships with the Live Search application which allows you to track your location with GPS.  You can also see traffic information and search for locations.  As far as usability, I think the app is poorly constructed and difficult to use.

After see the commercial for the iPhone that showed the current location on a map, and a search for “seafood” which yields a number of results around your location with the closest highlighted.  The mapping looked familiar, and I actually believe it is using Google.

I did some searching around and found that Google Maps Mobile is available for the Windows Mobile platform.  You can find more info here.

Live Search has the option to configure for GPS so if you have a GPS onboard your phone, or are using a Bluetooth GPS you can take advantage of it by selecting the COM port that it is configured for.

Google Maps doesn’t have an option for that.  It actually uses the GPS settings which are controlled through the Windows Mobile settings.  Unfortunately it seems that T-Mobile removed the GPS configuration option.

I did more searching and found a good article on how to make the required registry changes to get things working with Google Maps for Mobile.

I imported the CAB file from the article and GMM started working immediately.  GMM works just fine without a GPS and is actually more functional and easy to use; the addition of having a GPS is just gravy.

Give it a try and see what you think!