The Tube Jr.

Tube and JuniorTube Jr Homescreen againThe tasks I do require me to have at least two phones on my person most of the time. I do have a preference for smartphones. To this day, I think the Psion 5mx and Revo Plus remain unequaled.

Presently, I have a brace of Nokia Touchscreen phones, the 5800XM and the 5530XM, that meets my needs.

The 5800 needs no introduction. I think even Nokia did not expect it to be a runaway bestseller. It has its bugs but I expect the forthcoming major firmware update due in October will fix most of the irritations.

Now, the 5530 is Nokia’s low-end entry into the touchscreen arena (the N97 covers the high-end and the  5800 covers the mid-tier). Another low-ender, the 5230 is also arriving on the scene very soon.  Most reviews have been positive because the 5530 sports kinetic scrolling, an enhanced homescreen, a great display, solid build, and, more importantly, a great price.

The homescreen of the Tube Jr alone will tell you that Nokia has another winner. Just check out the pictures above. You have a scrolling contacts bar with up to 20 of your favorites (4 in the Tube). There are no physical hardware buttons (the Tube has 3 in front). And you can put the music player’s controls (with album art) on the homescreen (or the radio’s buttons)!

Lest we forget, the Tube Jr. has a lot of goodies (3G, video-calling, GPS, etc.) that are missing compared to the more expensive Tube.

The Nokia Tube

Nokia Tube

Nokia Tube

I have been reading quite a lot of Nokia Tube (5800XM) and Ipod Touch/Iphone comparisons lately, and have come to the conclusion that, given a choice, I would pick the Tube.

Yes, Apple has sold millions of Iphones. Over twenty million I think since the device came out in 2007. The Tube has actually sold quite well too. About one million devices each month since it came out late last year.

Why did I choose the Tube? Simple. It is a stand alone device. You can purchase one, drop your SIM card, and be off taking advantage of all its features in no time. You can’t do that with the Apple device. First, you need a computer. And then you need ITunes.

Qik Response

qik

qik

Qik is one of the first applications I install on a brand new smartphone.  The install process is really “qik” and the application is ready to go in a few minutes.  Most people who see it in action for the first time find it hard to believe that I’m streaming live video through my phone.

I use Qik to do four things on a regular basis. First, I stream short videos of my students in action. They come from different parts of the country (and the world) and their families and friends would love to see how they’re doing in school.  Second, I stream videos of my colleagues and friends’ “light moments”. You know, taking a Starbuck’s break, a fellowship meal at Mang Inasal, that rare Videoke Night, a quick trip to Baguio… Third, I stream videos of church people fulfilling their prophetic commitment (joining the people’s SONA, making a stand against extra-judicial killings, protecting Mother Earth). Last,  I stream videos of family gatherings. We’re all over the place and live video streams are better, much, better than pictures.

And, yes, all these video streams were taken with the consent of the subjects.

If you haven’t tried Qik, fire up your phone’s browser and go to d.qik.com.

Pocket Computers

Laptop and Smartphone

Laptop and Smartphone

Nokia’s tagline, from desktop to laptop to pocket, is more than a tagline. A recent article featured in allaboutsymbian.com argued that Nokia is the world’s biggest computer manufacturer.  I agree.

I treat my smartphones as laptop alternatives and thus handle them the way I do computers. I install applications only on the phone’s memory, keep all files on memory cards, and backup regularly. I always use screen protectors and keep my phones in protective cases.

Yes, they are phones. But they are pocket computers too.

Mobile Browser Wars

Actually, there’s no war. I think we should stop using “war” to describe things that actually has no connection whatsoever to the tragic reality that is WAR.

Skyfire just got out of beta and, if you haven’t visited get.skyfire.com you should. If the beta was great, this new one is better. No other mobile browser can deliver the multimedia experience on a phone like Skyfire.

For a really cool way to “wow” people with Skyfire, use your phone’s TV-out on a wide-screen television or LCD projector and show them what streaming video on a phone is all about.

For those who want to experience “iphonish” (is that even a word?) mobile browsing, check out Ozone. It was recently reviewed on allaboutsymbian.com. Try GMail or Google Reader using Ozone and you’ll agree with me.

With over 60 million downloads and, according to online sources, the biggest browser in China, UCWeb remains a very good alternative to my all-time favorite, Opera Mini. Try version 6 and you will be amazed by the wealth of options available to you.

I’ve been using Opera for years. And years. For reading and research (which, you already know, I do a lot of), it remains my number one choice. I have dedicated keys on all my phones assigned to Opera Mini.

Try them all out. Having choices is an excellent thing.

Tools for the New School Year

It’s almost June and a lot of people– fellow teachers and students– have asked me for recommendations regarding the best tools for the coming school year.

Netbooks. I always tell folks to get a netbook if they already have a desktop. They are excellent 2nd computers.

Smartphones. Unless you already have a Nokia Wireless Keyboard, Nokia’s E-Series QWERTY Smartphones are very good alternatives to netbooks. I still believe that the E61i is an excellent choice as well as the E63. Mobilepakistan.wordpress.com has an excellent article on how the E61i “outperforms” a laptop. If you can afford an E71, you can afford a low-end netbook.

Among the N-Series, the N-95 remains, for me, the top of the line. It might not have the Xenon flash of the N-82, but the N-95 started the “desktop to laptop to pocket computing” trend that the forthcoming N-97 is riding on. As an over-all device, even the newer N-85 and N-96 fall short of the N-95. If you shop around, you can get an N-95 brand new or used at very nice prices.

The Nokia E63 and E61i take over…

Nokia E63

Nokia E63

While netbooks are quite popular these days, I find myself using mine less and less. I’ve been turning to my Nokia E63 and E61 for most of the things I used to do on my netbooks. Let me explain why…

First. I read a lot. With the quintet of QuickOffice, Adobe Reader 2.5, Mobipocket Reader, Opera Mini, and OliveTree’s Biblereader, I have all my bases covered. I can practically read anywhere and anytime.  I can check my students’ grades, catch up on my Bible reading, take a quick glance at today’s lesson plan, and read Rizal or Mark Twain wherever and whenever I want.

Second. Web access. Opera Mini and the S60 Browser meet my surfing needs quite well. I almost never go online to be entertained. I go online to read (there’s that word again) and do research. Access to information from the net, within seconds, is very important to me. Both phone browsers allow me to save webpages.

Third. Email. I check my GMail, Yahoo, Ovi, and office email on my phones first thing in the morning. It takes less than 10 minutes to get all my accounts updated.  The landscape screens on my E Series phones are great for reading email. And both work well outdoors.

Fourth. Listening pleasure. Nokia’s Podcasting application is a treat. I particularly enjoy listening to the guys at AllAboutSymbian.com. I’ve been using Nokia Betalabs’ Audiobooks since it came out and I can’t recommend it enough. The wealth of free stuff at LibriVox.org and the free Nokia Audiobook Manager provide me the tools to make my own Audiobooks for my Nokias. If you haven’t had the opportunity to “hear” the Bible or the Classics,  then this is your chance. Depending on my mood, I fire up Internet Radio or Visual Radio. Together, these radios allow me access to my favorite FM stations and talk shows.

I could go on and on.  If you own a smartphone, QWERTY model or otherwise, you know what I’m talking about.

Two EEEs, an ACER Aspire One, and an HP Mini

from CNET

from CNET

If you’ve been counting, I have had the opportunity to work with four netbooks in the past year or so. First was the Asus EEE 701. Its biggest selling point was its portability. I convinced close family members and friends to buy their own. Next came the Acer Aspire One. I fell in love with its keyboard. Mine has an 8GB SDHC card in its storage expansion slot. A dear friend got one for herself. I bought my spouse an Asus EEE 1000H for Christmas. I have borrowed it from her on several occasions. I call it a powerhouse. It can actually replace a full-blown laptop. Its 6-cell battery can last over 5 hours on power-save mode.

The HP Mini 1000 I now use as my primary netbook sports the crappiest webcam among the four.  Its battery life is so-so.  It has no VGA port so there’s no way you can connect it to a monitor or a projector unless you buy the HP dongle.  Yet, despite these flaws, it’s my current favorite. Aside from its excellent keyboard, which I’ve written about earlier, the Mini is probably the coolest looking netbook you can find at its price range.  It’s under an inch think, weighs just a tad over 2 pounds, and is actually, with its 10.2″ screen,  smaller than the ACER, with its 8.9″ screen, in over-all dimensions.

All four devices work very well in a school setting. The 1000H, over 3 pounds, is still light enough to carry in a backpack or even large purse.  These carry-everywhere computers only work if you carry them everywhere.  Except for the Mini, the netbooks come with a sleeve or case.  I usually carry both the Mini and the AA1 in my Sandugo backpack.  All four connect with no problems with the Wi-fi services available at Mocha Blends, Burger King, Robinson’s Place, and my brother’s house.   I can easily surf the web on the Mini and the 1000H via bluetooth using my Nokia phones. Globe’s Visibility USB Modem works great with the Aspire One.

These devices are great for word processing and other office apps, for surfing, for blogging, for skyping, for reading, for listening to audiobooks and music, for watching the occasional video, and for playing Solitaire and other relaxing games.  They are great as second or third computers. They are not supposed to replace a desktop.

ASUS 1000H and HP Mini 1000

ASUS 1000HMy son, Ian, will inherit my EEE 701 as soon as he gets back from the Regional Schools Press Conference in Batangas City. He’s the Features Editor of his school paper and he’s in the RSPC to represent not just his school but the province of Cavite. The 701 has served me well but, as I’ve already written earlier, its keyboard was too small for my hands. The ONE is much, much better for typing. My work, though, requires me to have a Windows machine so I got an HP Mini 1000. Its keyboard is awesome! Better than the ONE’s. I also got an ASUS 1000H. These 10-inchers remind me of my dearly departed Thinkpad 240. The ASUS is for my spouse.

The 1000H is a workhorse. Its battery life, its multimedia features, and solid build make it the excellent choice for my spouse. Her work requires her to be in the field a lot and the 1000H has the features and the juice to meet her requirements. Skype works great on the ASUS.

I’m a teacher and researcher so I type a lot. And I mean a lot. The HP’s keyboard is the best among the netbooks I’ve handled so far.

The One vs The EEE

This is not your regular review. I just want to share my thoughts on some key elements that are important for one in my line of work. For starters, some would say that comparing The One with a first generation EEE is totally unfair. What I’m doing is simply comparing the two ultraportables that I currently have.

1. As far as portability is concerned, it’s a tie. Both units are very easy to bring along. The Acer, though a tad wider than the Asus, would fit in a lady’s handbag (in this case, my spouse’s bags). The weight difference is minimal. There is just no excuse not to bring a PC that’s 1kg in weight.

2. Both boot-up in under 20 seconds. The Acer is actually faster. For those who need to write a lot, quick access is very important. Bottomline: no one would grow a beard waiting for either of these to boot-up.

3. As netbooks, web access via wired or wireless access is great on both units. Burger King, by the way, is my favorite place to test Wi-Fi on laptops (and phones).

4. Video playback. I use a lot of video for my lectures and presentations. This is where the Asus, first generation at that, connected to an LCD projector, beats the Acer. I can play most video files on the EEE. I’m hoping that updates will come soon for the Acer.

5. Office Work. I’ve had the Asus longer but the Acer’s better keyboard and wider screen provide a much user-friendly platform for which to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and slide-shows.

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