Tag: cellphone

Hands-on with the Dell Streak.

So yes, I bought it, took it back and bought it again. But I’m keeping my Dell Streak now. It’s great. And this is my last post on mobile phones – well, this month anyway… ­čśÇ

Usually new mobile phones are known about well in advance of their launch. Everything from specs to early reviews are made available in order to create a buzz around the product.┬áFor example, a couple of years ago I was sent an LG Shine and encouraged (although not instructed) to take photos of it and blog about it. With the Dell Streak, however, apart from a great video at jkkmobile I stumbled across on the night before it was released in the UK, I’d heard nothing about it!

Full specs of the device can be found here, but the highlights are that it’s an Android tablet/smartphone hybrid with a 5″ screen. Yes,┬áfive inch! :-p

Let’s just get past the two (related) questions I’ve been asked most frequently over the last couple of weeks:

  1. Is it too big?
  2. Don’t you feel a bit stupid putting it to your ear to, you know, make phone calls?

My responses:

  1. It’s certainly on the upper limit of what counts as a phone size wise. Some, undoubtedly, will find it too big. But given that I tended to use my iPhone more for Twitter and other internet based activities than for phone calls, I don’t!
  2. It’s not Dom Joly size and I don’t really suffer from self esteem issues anyway. As for people who think that phones should only be able to make phone calls, get back in your cave please… ­čśë

Things I really like:

  • The whole experience and speed of the device makes it ├╝ber-slick
  • Spotify, Dropbox and other official apps are better (to my mind) than their iPhone counterparts
  • The size of the screen makes everything… just better
  • It’s really quite thin
  • Several virtual desktops means you can organize your stuff
  • I don’t have to jail break it to set it up the way I want it
  • Widgets provide real-time updates
  • The camera is legendary and the in-phone editing functions are actually useful
  • It’s got a ‘gorilla glass’ screen – check out this video showing it being torture-tested!

Things I’m not so keen on:

  • The placement of headphone socket
  • Volume buttons alter up or down depending on orientation (confusing!)
  • You can’t delete things (e.g. emails) by swiping
  • It’s not running the latest version of Android (v1.6)
  • Proprietary power/ sync cable
  • Current lack of third party support (eg cases, speakers, other add ons)
  • The quality of sound recording when shooting video isn’t gerat

Stuff other reviews might not tell you:

  • As with the iPhone, music stops playing when you remove the headphones
  • Sometimes tasks don’t shut by themselves and drain your battery (a force close app is pretty much essential)
  • It’s not really possible to use the Streak with one hand whilst walking for texting, etc.
  • With Android apps you’ve got 24 hours to get a refund if you don’t like it or it didn’t perform as you expected
  • The power cable is similar to the iPhone’s in that the USB end plugs into the power cable

10 apps that are awesome on the Streak:

  1. Dropbox
  2. Fring (for Skype & instant messaging apps)
  3. Google Listen (podcasts through Google Reader)
  4. Handcent SMS (iPhone-like text messages)
  5. Opera Mini (web browser)
  6. Profiles (change between ‘Normal’, ‘Night’, ‘Outdoor’, etc.)
  7. Quick Addroid (add stuff to your Google Calendar quickly)
  8. Realplayer
  9. SlideScreen (really classy home screen replacement)
  10. Spotify

I’m happy to answer any questions you’ve got – including making another video, so ask away! ­čÖé

…and 5 reasons why I bought a Dell Streak again.

Last week I explained why I returned the Dell Streak I purchased on a 24-month contract. In this post I explain why I bought another yesterday on a device-only deal.


1. It’s more fun.

You can customise pretty much everything with the Android operating system. You have to resort to shenanigans to customise your message tone on the iPhone, whereas it’s trivial to get some great sounds on the Streak. There’s widgets and weird and wonderful stuff. ­čÖé

2. The screen is just gorgeous.

Granted, I haven’t seen the screen on the iPhone 4 in the flesh, but the Dell Streak’s screen is so… well, touchable. The high-resolution screen is backed up by an extremely fast processor and enough memory to make flicking between apps easy.

3. The contract was part of the problem

Who wants the same phone after two years? I’m planning to wait until the earliest opportunity to get my Dell Streak unlocked and then go on an Orange SIM-only contract. Why Orange? It’s the only network that offers 3G where I live and my broadband is flaky due to our semi-rural location.

4. I’m online more than I talk

The default orientation of the Dell Streak’s screen is landscape. And that’s because it’s meant to be held like a PSP most of the time. It’s thin enough not to be heavy but substantial enough to feel solid in your hands. I like that.

5. The camera

The combination of large, hi-res screen, 5-megapixel camera and in-device editing functions feels luxurious, it really does.

There’s an active community for the Dell Streak over at http://streak.modaco.com and you should read this Techradar review which is both comprehensive and fair! ­čśÇ

10 reasons I returned my Dell Streak today.

It had nothing to do with it’s size.

  1. No multitouch. I didn’t realise until it was pointed out in an Android forum that this makes typing a whole lot easier.
  2. Lack of apps I use often. Having to use the National Rail website instead of it’s ┬ú4.99 app may seem trivial but it’s important to me. Apps pretty much always come out for the iPhone first because of the huge, standardized, user base.
  3. Lack of accessories. I could walk into almost any shop on the high street and purchase cases, speakers and other accessories for my iPhone 3G. How many cases did I have to choose from for the Dell Streak? One. And that was fugly.
  4. Unintuitive annoyances. Holding down the camera button should bring up the camera app. The device should charge if the power cable’s plugged in – even if it is in ‘aeroplane mode’ whilst I’m asleep.
  5. Email. Having GMail, Exchange and IMAP accounts means 3 different apps on Android. #fail
  6. Position of headphone socket. Why put it on top of the screen? Hold it landscape and the wire gets in the way. Put it in your pocket and it’s sticking out the side. Oh, and the volume up/down switch should do the same thing in landscape and portrait. #confusing
  7. Lack of website support. If you go to popular websites on the iPhone then you get a decent browsing experience because they’ve made sure it’s optimised for that platform. Navigating some websites on the Dell Streak was clunky, despite the lovely Opera web browser I installed.
  8. Apps that don’t work. The number of times I purchased apps only for me to have them refunded within 24 hours was ridiculous. I had to force-close so many I lost count.
  9. Lack of ‘magnifying glass’ function. If you’ve made a mistake in a text, tweet or email you to half-guess where to tap to get the cursor to go into the correct position. There’s no ability to ‘zoom in’. This leads to frustration.
  10. It’s not an iPhone. Close as I was to keeping it, the fact that I was indecisive about it kind of sealed it’s fate. I would have been tied into a 24-month contract with the Dell Streak. And that’s a long time for something you only like very much rather than love!

The Dell Streak is, technically, a wonderful phone, music player and internet device. It’s almost perfect for me. I loved the ‘Rooms’ (virtual desktops) feature and the ability to add widgets to these. Spotify was amazing on the big screen and Google Navigation is better than any Sat-Nav I’ve used. The Shapewriter app made text entry fun and the camera is top-notch.

It’s just that nowadays a phone has to be much more than the sum of it’s parts. And unfortunately the Dell Streak only consists of great parts reasonably well put-together… :-p

Mobile-phone based interactive whiteboards using WiiMotes?

Is this all we’ll need in the future for interactive presentations?

Excited blog posts and Twitter-comments have been flying back-and-forth across the edublogosphere this week. Why? Because it’s now possible to build a cheap interactive whiteboard using the controller from a Nintendo Wii.

I first came across the idea via Mr Platts’ blog which links to the video by Johnny Chung Lee below. Since then, CoolCatTeacher Vicki Davis has done her usual high-quality synthesis job on what’s out there. As she’s a bit of a beacon, the comments section looks like it’s going to be useful.

What I think everyone’s missed, however, is the fact that mobile phones are due to have projectors built into them in the very near future. This would be an awesome system. You could roll up to do an interactive presentation with nothing but a mobile phone, WiiMote and IR pen. Even better, buy several of the latter and students could use their own phones to do the projecting! I really do think someone needs to set up a web store selling those custom-built infra-red pens. I’d buy one. ­čśÇ

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