New Cell Phone(s)

After the last couple of years using my Sony Ericsson T68i I decided to upgrade to a new phone. I’m a big fan of Sony Ericsson phones because of their design and features likes Bluetooth and great screens. My needs for a phone are pretty basic and I really want “just a phone” and not something that takes crappy pictures and can play MP3s. I don’t even need/want PDA like features except for a list of phone numbers.

So, I was intrigued by their latest offerings the Z200 and the Z600. Both are flip-phones which I like due to the fact that it’s a lot harder to accidentally call people on a flip-phone. I would always forget to lock my phone and I would end up calling friends accidentally. Also, I liked the new design of these new phones. I especially liked the Z200 which admittedly has a cutesy design and the most basic of features. But I was sad to find out that it had lousy RF (meaning lots of dropped calls and noisy calls) and the address book functionality was butchered. Basically, it would display all your contacts with all of their numbers in the list. So, if a contact had 3 numbers associated, you would see their name 3 times in the list. This was a strange decision considering that their other phones don’t do this. They normally have a contact’s name which drills down to a list of their different numbers which is much more logical.

On the other hand, the Z600 is full of features and has the better address book. While I could do without the camera, the phone itself is just plain better. I get better signal reception and I hold calls much better even with almost no signal. The screen on the Z600 is also vastly superior to the Z200 as it’s far brighter and with a larger resolution. The Z600 is a little bigger than the Z200 but I guess I can live with that. The phone is actually easier to use than my older T68i since it’s easier to handle when it’s full open.

I’ll probably do a quick review of both phones before I get rid of the Z200 so you can also probably expect that in the near future.

Running battery tests…

I’m in the labs running some battery tests on the Sony TR. Battery tests are really hard to do because it’s hard to truly simulate usage and what settings people like to use. Anyways, I’m trying my best to do so and will have some pretty interesting results to provide once I’m done. The sad thing about doing battery tests is that they take so damn long because the batteries last so long and take a while to charge.

At any rate, my initial thoughts are that the latest generations of Pentium M based subnotebooks designed for long battery life actually do provide long battery life. Basically, the last generation of these kinds of notebooks allowed one to watch a DVD (at reduced brightness settings) and with just a little time left to do other stuff. Nowadays, the bar has been raised. Now you can watch at full brightness and still have an hour or more to do other stuff. In some cases, you still have as much as 3 hours left!

Anyways, stay tuned for more info!

Making the switch

After much thought and agonizing, I recently changed my mobile phone service. As a Cingular customer for over 2 years, I was generally happy with the service but there were a lot of little issues I had with them. Part of it was their weak data offerings and part of it was their awful customer service which accidentally cut off my phone service more than once. I was scared about the switch process because I wanted to keep my phone number.

I had pretty much decided to go with T-Mobile because I’m mindlessly crazy about Catherzine Zeta Jones. Just kidding…I like their promotions and they have great data options. The data options aren’t perfect but at least they offer you ways to get unlimited data for a reasonable price (as low as $19.99). I was also curious about coverage since T-Mobile uses the same network of antennas as Cingular. However, I was curious if their coverage was slightly better since T-Mobile phones work really well at my parents house which has almost no signal for Cingular phones. I wanted to test their service over at my girlfriend’s place and the T-Mobile guy actually let me take his phone for about 15 minutes and drive around her area to see if I could get a signal. That’s GREAT customer service!

So, I switched and 24 hours later, the phone is nearly switched completely. All incoming and outgoing calls are working. The last thing I’m waiting for is the Cingular logo to switch over to the T-Mobile logo. That’s the sign that Cingular has relinquished full control over the number. So, it really was an easy process overall and I wasn’t charged any activation fees or anything else.

The dark side of Fry’s and HD upgrade headaches

I picked up a Hitachi/IBM 180GB drive for $69.99 this weekend at Fry’s Electronics. It was essentially $179.99 with a $90 and $20 rebate. The evil thing about Fry’s ridiculous deals is that most of the rebates expire that same day! No one ever mentions it to you and it only says so in the small text of your receipt. Of course, any smart consumer always double checks their receipts before they leave the store but I’m pretty sure a whole bunch of people who purchased the drive thinking they got a sweet deal didn’t end up sending out the rebate and will get a rude awakening when they realize it’s too late. Of course, one could simply return the drive (assuming they haven’t cut up the box for the UPC label). Anyways, I rushed home filled everything out and dropped off the mail at the post office.

Now that I have this nice new drive, I decided to stick it in my external Firewire/USB2 enclosure which currently only has 80GB in it. To my dismay, the enclosure only sees 128GB which means the current firmware doesn’t support larger than 137GB drives. Ugh! So, now I’m trying to figure out a way to update the firmware. I’m constantly amazed at how a lot of systems and enclosures don’t support the super large drive sizes even though the drives have been out for a long time. I think it’s part of a major conspiracy by manufacturers to constantly try to get you to upgrade.

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