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Help us Save GPS on Windows Mobile

Dear Readers,

As you may know, the GPS situation on Windows Mobile is becoming unacceptable.

We're not talking about the fact that on certain phones you need to go into settings and muck around with Program Com Ports and Hardware Com Ports (though that, too, is pretty unacceptable). We're talking about GPS being locked down. This has to stop and we need your help to stop it.

Read on for the rest of our letter to you, our readers (but we hope that Microsoft and the manufacturers are reading, too).

GPS is Being Deliberately Broken

What do we mean by 'locked down'? We mean that GPS is there, fully functional, yet hidden from the OS and third party applications by the carrier. With several devices, users have to resort to registry hacks or other, 3rd party programs to 'enable' GPS for Windows Mobile and 3rd party apps to access it. Verizon is by far the worst player in this little lock-down game, but the other carriers aren't innocent either.

Often this 'lock down' is pretty easy to get around -- huge shout out to MoDaCo for freeing our AT&T WinMo Standard devices -- sometimes it is not. In both cases it is, as we said, unacceptable.

Why is GPS locked down? Well, so that only one program on your device can access it. It's known by several names: VZ Navigator, AT&T Navigation, Sprint Navigation. They're all the same program, though, TeleNav. By locking down GPS to only work with TeleNav, the carriers (and TeleNav, we suspect) are trying to force users into paying the monthly fee for Telenav instead of using free alternatives.

Here's the thing: Many of us love TeleNav. Some of us pay for the unlimited subscription and use it when we travel. Some of us even endorse it to people over on-SD-solutions when we're confident they'll usually have data available in their travels. TeleNav is fast, stable, provides nice 3D views, and good voice prompts.

Despite the obvious quality of TeleNav, we feel that locking GPS down out of the box so that it will only work with TeleNav breaks GPS on a smartphone.

Broken GPS Breaks the User Experience

Locking down GPS and forcing users into a subscription that, for many of them, is unnecessary is just plain wrong. It's turning something into a for-pay service solely by blocking functionality for users who aren't savvy enough to know what's happening. It's the evil god of ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) driving his horde of minions to perform unholy acts upon Windows Mobile, corrupting it with his dark stain. It's a devil's bargain and it needs to stop.

Imagine if the WiFi on your device only worked with AT&T hotspots, for which you had to pay a subscription. Imagine if the Bluetooth chip on your Q9h only interacted with Motorola headsets. Imagine if your phone had software built-in that purposefully blocked all IM clients except for the carrier-approved version from working.

That's what we're standing for right now with GPS. For you, reading this at this site, the pain of this isn't so bad. You know enough to know that you can get GPS to work with other programs after a bit of searching and a bit of work. Most people don't know this. Most will either not use GPS or think that they have no choice but to pay the subscription fee to use TeleNav.

Broken GPS Breaks the Windows Mobile Platform

Since most people are stuck in that situation, GPS may as well not even be on the device as far as development is concerned. Imagine you have an idea that will finally, finally, manage to really bring some sort of social/location based networking to the masses. It's popular enough and easy enough and clever enough that it will garner enough wide usage to become the 'de facto' LBS app that everybody uses and nobody will bother mucking around with trying to get their friends to sign up for this friendfinder or that friendfinder, because your genius app is the friendfinder. There are dozens of these companies around right now, but maybe you've figured out the LBS/Social trick that they haven't yet (hint: it probably has to do with FaceBook. Shh!).

Now imagine you have to pick a smartphone platform to release it on. Windows Mobile is easy to develop for, right? Most Windows Mobile phones these days have GPS built-in and a lot of users know that, right? You want it to be popular both in the US and abroad, right? You want it to work on a wide array of devices from the very cheap to the high end, right? Windows Mobile seems like an awfully attractive platform for you, dear LBS developer.

Now imagine a customer on Verizon who knows their phone has GPS because they use it with TeleNav. They download your app, GPS doesn't work, they tell their friends your app sucks. Not good. Maybe it's time to look at another platform for your first launch.

We're writing to our readers, sure, but just as importantly, we are writing to Microsoft and their manufacturing partners. Microsoft: this situation hurts your app, Live Search. It hurts your platform, in that it confounds people and drives developers to other platforms -- platforms that offer location APIs to all apps, not just to select, for-pay partner apps. It hurts your users. It hurts us. We hurt.

If a phone supports GPS it should support GPS at the OS level and make it available for all apps, just as is done on other mobile platforms like the iPhone and Android. Windows Mobile still can claim to be more 'open' than any other platform out there (perhaps barring Android) because of the deep and powerful access to the bits of the OS made available to developers. But if functionality can be locked down willy-nilly at the whims of carriers, suddenly the platform becomes arbitrarily closed and we lose those bragging rights.

How Can We Fix This?

We as Windows Mobile users have complained to our carriers, but yes, we could and should do more. We should boycott devices with locked-down GPS, but honestly we're likely to buy them anyway and unlock the GPS ourselves via backdoor methods. Granted, these methods aren't often actually 'hacks' but just small configuration changes -- but these settings should be the default.

So we'll make you a deal. From now on, whenever we find out that a carrier is releasing a Windows Mobile device with locked-down GPS, WMExperts is going to write an executive at that carrier a nice letter, on real paper, explaining why this is a bad idea. We encourage other lovers of Windows Mobile to do the same. If we all promise to do that, will you please try a little harder to stop your partners from locking down the GPS?

We've drafted up the our first letter to Verizon, here it is in PDF form. We invite you to write letters of your own (they're more effective if you write them yourself instead of just copying ours) as well. Just as importantly, we at WMExperts are publicly asking Microsoft to please work to place more pressure on carriers to stop breaking GPS for the good of the platform.

The short term gain in ARPU that carriers get by forcing users into branded versions of TeleNav is causing long term losses for Windows Mobile as a platform. It should be stopped. Now.

Hugs and Kisses, XOXO, and Happy Thanksgiving,

the WMExperts Team:
Dieter Bohn, Brian Hart, HobbesIsReal, Malatesta, George Ponder, Nick Gebhardt, Phil Nickinson, and Tim Ferrill

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11

Inside an HTC Facility: Rumors Galore!

So an interesting thread popped up over at ppcgeeks lead by criticalaudioinc.

A fairly recent member, Criticalaudioinc claims (and has verified with a moderator) that he works for HTC in one of their "repair/order/design" facilities and seems to have quite a grasp on the technical aspects of their phones. He then basically spilled his guts in 50 pages of posts. Must have been all that coffee.

So take the following with a shaker of salt, but here is a nice summary of what was revealed in the thread.

Read on for some interesting tid bits about the Diamond, Touch Pro and something about a CDMA Touch HD....!!

WMExperts: We sort through & summarize 50 pages of geek talk just for you!

(Note: we have added questions to facilitate criticalaudioinc's answers for sake of brevity; all block quotes are verbatim except for spelling corrections)

Delay for Sprint Touch Pro release--why? Needs a ROM update to fix the following:

  • Camera Lag issues: Software
  • GPS Lag issues: Software/reg edit
  • TF3D exception issues: software/reg edit/update
  • Camera Update - Software
  • System Performance with Processor - Software Update/patch
  • Speaker Volume issue - Check Hardware - Software/AD Update
  • Control PAD malfunction - Software/Update

CDMA Touch HD?

HTC is currently in discussion again on bringing the HTC Touch HD to the US, I currently have a GSM model that we were asked to convert to CDMA, All that was needed was to pull a board from the diamond and re-solder and flash the the rom. From what we can see it is working pretty well the solder isn't pretty but again its a test. But its looking good so far.

Battery Life + Heat Problems on Sprint Diamond?

Battery life issue on the diamond is due to the radio in constant refresh, basically instead of interval of 300ms the diamond was set to 100ms and causes battery drain. The heat issue is also another cause but the reason for the heat is due to the heat plate was not added to the sprint version behind the keys like it was supposed to and sprint and HTC are discussing that.
...the heat plate is on the Pro, also I tested the phone and over clocked the processor to test to see if there was a heat issue, there was not a problem at all, and the processor took the over clock nicely. I tested the radio also for the heat issue and after 2.2 hours it was warm to were it could be noticed but correct me if I'm wrong what phone doesn't get warm with that amount of talk time.

ROM Update for Sprint Diamond?

Once the updates are fully verified and fully tested which is what we are doing as we speak HTC will obtain the updated rom, Normally it takes around 4 to 6 weeks to release but I think there going to push this due to sprint is climbing down there backs about this.

Verizon: Crippled Touch Pro?

Yes, will it be crippled SADLY yes, it will have a lower CPU and memory, but from the test model I honestly did not see a difference unless you use some serious programs.

Is Sprint anxious to release the Touch Pro?

...they want the phone out before AT&T due to rise in iPhone sales, AT&T also had another rise in 3G sales due to the delay and from what the corp was telling me they are starting to lose an amount of customers due to the delay and moving to AT&T.

Video Cables for TV Out on the Sprint Touch Pro?

Video cables do not come with it sadly due to the high costs and such.

Release date for Sprint/Best Buy?

...the release looks to be nov 2 for EVP, telesales and Corp Consumer. Now From the information I was provide Bestbuy wants this shipped by the 24th which is what HTC wants pushed, and possibly out the 26th

How do you mass flash these damn WM devices anyways?

We use computer systems with 16 USB port configuration. We currently have 153 systems, These systems are designed to flash 16 phones in 7 minutes that is around 2448 phones ever 7 minutes with all 153 systems. That is around 20983 phone per hour all together.

Update: For further reading, check out this thread started by Stroths!

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2

Registry Edits I Have Loved

A while ago I wrote a detailed step by step tutorial on how to edit your Registry on your WM phone. Since then I have been asked several times, across multiple boards, which registry hacks should they do. If you are new to editing the registry and go searching across the internet, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed with how many reg tweaks you find. There are hundreds upon hundreds of registry edits / tweaks / hacks (they all mean the same thing) that you can do. Some are very specific for certain phones, some are for the more advanced users, but most are easy to do... but which ones should the average user do?

To help answer this question I have gone through several forums, websites, threads, etc... and I have picked some of the most common and helpful. (Not to mention fun, cool, and easy). This list is not meant to be an extensive resource of all the reg edits that you can do. This is a list of some of the most popular and useful reg edits to help those who may not know which ones to do when searching the web and forums with hundreds of reg hacks to choose from. I know there are loads that I have left out for one reason or another... too hard, too phone specific, known conflicts, or simply had to whittle down from the thousands to choose from. If you have a favorite reg edit that you feel I should have included, then please post it below to add to this one stop resource of the most common reg edits.

Meanwhile, read on for a massive list of Registry Edits I have Loved!

Sections:

But before we begin, I want to give the standard warning that editing the registry can stop your phone from working... until you do a hard reset and restore your last backup. No matter if you are a noobie WM user with your first WM phone you bought a month ago, or a six year veteran WM power user, you will need to do the following 3 things before you begin:

1) You will need to download and install Registry Editor on your phone. My personal favorite, and very highly respected and preferred choice of many, is the Registry Editor included with Resco Explorer 2008. You can also use the popular free PHM Registry Editor.

2) Review a couple safety tips for editing your registry. Even if you are veteran user, please read the "Safely editing your registry" section in the Edit the Registry Tutorial.

3) Backup your phone before each time you are going to edit your registry.

Also a quick note of clarification when the directions below say to reset your phone after making a change in the registry. If you are using WM03, then you can simply reset right after you make the change, without any problems. But if you are using WM 5 or 6, the memory is handled differently. Simply put, it will take several minutes after you make a change in the registry for the change to stick. If you find that you made a change in the registry and then reset the phone only to discover that your edits are missing from the registry, then you did not wait long enough before resetting the phone. A few minutes time should be long enough in most cases. If the geek in you gets the best of you, you can find technical reasons of why this happens here.

Please also note that some reg edits may not be supported by all phones due to different WM operating systems, manufacturer or carrier enhancements for specific models, etc. On the flip side, there are also loads of really cool phone model specific registry hacks that are only supported by those specific phones. Because of this, go the the forums for your specific model of phone and you will find some threads listing many registry tweaks just for you.

Now, let's start digging in!


Performance and Optimization


Increase phone performance

This is the one that is shown step by step in the Edit the Registry Tutorial, so this is the perfect one to start with. You can change the memory used to cache fonts glyphs, this allows you to use more memory to speed up the display.

Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GDI\GLYPHCACHE\
You can change the "limit" value :

4096 : this will slow down the display, but use less memory
8192 : this is the default value on Pocket PC, average memory/performances
16384 : this will speed up the display, but use more memory, twice the default Pocket PC value

In addition to the above edit if you have WM 5 or 6 you can also do the following:


Enable FileSystem cache

To enable the FileSystem cache, speeding up overall performance at the risk of the cache not being written on a sudden reset:
HKLM\System\StorageManager\FATFS\EnableCache = 1 (DWORD decimal)

To disable again:
HKLM\System\StorageManager\FATFS\EnableCache = 0 (DWORD decimal)

Note that by default, the cache size is zero, and you will see no effect. See "Increase FileSystem cache" below to increase the cache size.


Increase FileSystem cache

To increase the file system cache:
HKLM\System\StorageManager\FATFS\CacheSize = 4096 (DWORD decimal)

To return the file system cache to zero:
HKLM\System\StorageManager\FATFS\CacheSize = 0 (DWORD decimal)

You can set the value to pretty much anything you like.


Increase FileSystem filter cache

To enable the file system filter cache, speeding up overall performance with file management:

HKLM\System\StorageManager\Filters\fsreplxfilt\ReplStoreCacheSize = 4096 (DWORD decimal)
To return the file system filter cache to zero:

HKLM\System\StorageManager\Filters\fsreplxfilt\ReplStoreCacheSize = 0 (DWORD decimal)
You can set the value to pretty much anything you like.

Please note: When increasing Cache you are using up more of your RAM. If your phone has a large amount of RAM, then it is beneficial to increase the cache sizes. But if your phone has a low amount of RAM, like with the PPC-6800, then you can still try these edits, but if you start to run out of memory too fast, you may have to revert these back to the default or lower settings.


Increase your Battery life


General edits

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Comm\AsyncMac1\Parms
Default value type and value are
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:1
Change to
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:0

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Comm\Irsir1\Parms
Default value type and value are
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:1
Change to
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:0

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Comm\PPTP1\Parms
Default value type and value are
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:1
Change to
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:0

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Comm\L2TP1\Parms
Default value type and value are
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:1
Change to
“DisablePowerManagement”=dword:0

You can find detailed explanations of what each of these do here.


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2

Fall CTIA 2008 postmortem

Dieter's dodging Hurricane Ike as he wings his way back from the West Coast and CTIA, so let's recap what all he brought back for the rest of us.

First up was live-blogging the keynote event with the chief executive officers of T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. Some good nuggets about openness in the industry and Yahoo Go.

Of course, what we all couldn't wait for was for the big D to get down on the floor and get his hands on some devices. And he didn't disappoint, with videos and full photo galleries.

Check in after the break for the entire rundown, in one easy-to-carry package.

Best of Fall CTIA 2008

  • The HP 910C: This is the device that WM Experts reader Eric had to have, and he sent in a full review in July. (Thanks again!) Dieter grabbed the 910C and put it up side by side with the Treo Pro. And it's a pretty fair fight.

  • Sprint Touch Diamond: Easily one of the most anticipated - and blogged about - U.S. releases of the year. (And it should be available any day now!)The red paint job isn't as bad as you might think, and it's not as much as a fingerprint magnet as the GSM version.

  • HTC Touch Pro: We're still looking for this guy anytime now on Sprint and AT&T (as the Fuze). Dieter points out that it's not nearly the brick we made fun of reported on in the past.  And just when we thought he was done with the TP (er, let's not call it that ever again), Dieter hit us again with even more photos and video.

  • Velocity 83: The first of a bevy of Velocity devices. Our interest was piqued at CTIA in April, and now it's time for some new hotness. How about a Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro device with a cool new interface, two microSD card slots and an accelerometer?

  • Techfaith Vista 850: WinMo 6.1 Standard, quad-band EDGE, 2 gigs of ROM, and a poor choice of a name, with Microsoft's maligned OS immediately coming to mind.

  • Toshiba G810: The specs were good, the execution was not so good. That's disappointing, because we had hoped the marriage with SPB Software House in developing a UI would pan out. But alas, no.

  • Motorola Q9h (silver): Some WM Experts writer, we won't say who, wasn't that impressed when the silver version of the venerable Q9h was announced. But Dieter did unearth one moderate gem when he took a closer look - an over-the-air update system separate from the one WinMo doesn't use. Dieter's verdict: It's still a workhorse and good buy, but not worth upgrading to if you're a current Q9h owner.

  • Velocity 83, 103, 111, 301 VOTA, Odyssey: What a finish. A redux of the 83, unboxing and hands-on video of the 103, the Q9 competitor 111, a look at the future 301, and VOTA (Velocity Over The Air), which is what the aforementioned Windows Mobile Update should be.
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6

Sprint Touch Pro: Hands On and Video

Sure, we just fed you the specs on the HTC Touch Pro on Sprint earlier today when it was officially announced, but they bear repeating: A WM6.1 slider with a 640x480 screen, EVDO, WiFi, 1340mAh battery, Opera 9.5, 512mb RAM and 288mb ROM, microSD for expansion, and a 3.2mp camera all make the Touch Pro the Touch Pro. Above, just a very quick little video of the new device.

So should you drop your $299.99 (after rebates) on October 19th? Well, we can't exactly tell you that, but we can give you our initial hands-on impressions and a photo gallery after the break.

Impressions

The Sprint Touch Pro is classy and professional, full stop. The back of the device has a silver, matte finish and is gently curved to improve the feel in the hand. The sides are finished with chrome and look really slick, and the front, while still a fingerprint magnet, is still fairly hot. The keyboard seems like a small step up from the Mogul in terms of tactility and usability, though I do think the keys are a tiny bit smaller. Notable: no more physical soft buttons on the front or when the device is open.

The thickness is, well, the thickness. It's thicker than I'd like by about half. The curve on the back of the device helps. However, comparing this to the Mogul is just night and day. HTC has trimmed up the width of the Touch Pro and it makes all the difference in the world. With the slider closed, the sucker feels like a phone, which is not something I've typically been able to say about WM Pro sliders with a straight face before.

Given that both the Touch Pro and the Mogul are .7“ thick, one might be tempted to say there's not enough innovation here. One ought not be -- going from 2.3” wide to 2“ wide while simultaneously adding a higher-resolution screen is feat enough and, again, I'm not fooling when I say it feels good in the hand. In the pocket, maybe not so much.

TouchFLO 3D, HTC's custom interface, is as snappy as I've ever seen it with the possible exception of the Sprint Touch Diamond I handed earlier today. It's darn good. One of my chief fears was that Sprint would muck it up like they did with the original TouchFLO and those fears have mostly been allayed. Everything is standard TouchFLO 3D here with two exceptions: they've added a Sprint TV shortcut (fine) and they've changed TouchFLO's music player to work with Sprint's instead of WMP. Now, Windows Media player on WM isn't much to begin with, so maybe it's no great loss, but Sprint's media player is worse, so that's disappointing. The good news is that you can still play the music direct through the TouchFLO Interface.

Gallery

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1

CTIA Keynote Day 1: Livebogging

We're live at CTIA 2008 in San Francisco and the Keynote is set to begin in about 10 minutes. On tap is Marco Boerries of Yahoo's "Connected Life Division," plus CEOs of T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, plus the Chairman of Clearwire.

What to expect? We're hoping for new software from Yahoo (Yahoo Go 4.0 would be nice), maybe a mention of the Kickstart from T-Mobile, and perhaps a surprise or two from Verizon and Sprint -- i.e. it's be nice if Hesse talked up Windows Mobile this year instead of the silly Instinct.

Anyhow, it will be relatively low-key, but hit us up after the break for what news we can gather!

New updates at the top, Yo.

The Liveblog

10:30: Alright, show floor time. We'll catch you guys soon -- more as we find the gadgetry out in the booth sea.

10:28: No more "one more thing" expected, folks.. or not -- They've created an SDK within the iPhone SDK with Blueprint.

10:26: It also includes a new yahoo-developed, cross-platform mobile browser -- sort of. Companies can basically make 'apps' of their websites that are essentially mini-browsers.

10:25: Yahoo Go is built on blueprint. You can develop Yahoo Go widgets with Blueprint.

...Now you an make standalone apps for Windows Mobile, Java, and Symbian. Develop for all three platforms with one language. That's actually pretty cool. Available as a developer preview today.

10:20: Blueprint as a new mobile platform. "The best way to create mobile internet services." It's not another mobile OS, not a platform for games, not proprietary, not limited to Yahoo.

It offers a very quick mobile services development platform based on XML. Basically it's a large set of XML setup you can program a mobile app in and it will display very nicely on different platforms -- iPhone, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, etc. They are opening it up for anybody and anybody can distribute however they'd like. Yahoo would prefer you use Yahoo's ads on your apps, but not requiring it.

10:15: Demoing oneConnect. Socially connected addressbook is pretty sweet. Come on, Microsoft, you need to get this sort of stuff done on WinMo.

10:12: OneConnect for the iPhone. A socially connected address book. Nice to see somebody at CTIA admit the iPhone exists, eh?

It works with Yahoo Messenger and can fall back to SMS-based Messenger, all integrated. pretty cool.

Post status to facebook, twitter, etc. "Pulse" like Friend Feed -- includes a bunch of social network feeds into a neat iPhone screen. Should be available in the App Store any minute now.

Sigh -- bring this to Windows Mobile, okay, because I think Yahoo Go is still a big disappointment.

10:11: It's too bad that Microsoft didn't take these guys over -- Ballmer gives a lot better speech than this. Yahoo's OneSearch powers AT&Ts MEdiaNet search now. They're going to launch a Today Screen Search Bar for Windows Mobile soon (it's on Nokia now).

Talking up Yahoo Go very briefly.

10:10: OneConnect and Yahoo Blueprint is on the agenda. Both appear to be ways for 3rd parties to use their Yahoo Go! platform. The stuff is cross-platform, so they hope folks will target it instead of targeting individual platforms.

10:08: Marco Boerries of Yahoo takes the stage. Whoa, he's low key.

10:06: The chat is over. Next up: Video introducing Yahoo Mobile.

10:06: Dobson: BlackBerry isn't open, but it has the best email experience in the mobile world (I beg to differ)... Making the point that closed can be good.

10:05: Do you want to put any device and any software on any network? Scattered applause (I whooped). "We need to be careful not to all run to the same side of the ship." Um... Talking about how people go to Verizon for support for their phone but don't go to their cable provider for support for their desktop computer.

10:04: Verizon/McAdams: We get another bite at the Apple with the release of LTE. (Wokka Wokka Wokka!)

10:01: Consumers rights to have unfettered, Open access to the web on mobile devices -- why not on T-Mobile (aka: I hate you T-Zones)? Dobson -- standard answer about how the experience sucks on a two inch screen. They'd rather make the mobile internet fit what consumers want. (Pah! Don't try to figure that out, T-Mo, it changes too quickly.)

9:58: McAdams wants to put cell radios in Thermostats, medical devices, airplane engines, etc. Plenty of opportunity to expand the industry -- hm, these embedded devices might actually be a great way to actually utilize Verizon's Open Initiative.

9:55: Why not use any phone on any network, eh? Dobson: well Europe has it. In the US we have CDMA vs. GSM. People who put a random, unlocked phone on a T-Mobile network don't have an optimal experience. Hm.. oh, he's referring to data and MMS setup, ok sure. (Well, the solution is to FIX THAT and MAKE IT EASIER, not to lock it down... it looks like Dobson might agree...)

9:54: Dan Hesse "there's such a thing as too much choice." 1 in 5 cell phones given as gifts last Christmas were returned.

9:52: What's up with the Open Initiative on Verizon? McAdam says we're seeing results of it now. (Tell that to VX6800 owners!). Showing off a random featurephone and a wireless router that you can plug a Verizon card into and it makes it into a WiFi network (meant for insurance agencies for emergency hotspots). That last is pretty cool.

9:50: Walled Garden or Wild West. Does the "wild west" hurt customers? Dobson says you need to have "stewardship and control." Dobson hating on municipal WiFi because of the security and variability of the network. "Walled Garden sits in the past" and that helps innovation explode. Talking about that balance. Ok, fine.

9:47: McAdam of Verizon (will this be rich?). Hm, "What the carrier thinks of open is irrelevant." Ok... "Opening up the doors and protecting the network [..] is the only thing we have to do." He's talking up their new open initiative. Put the risk on developers to place bets on new ideas.

9:45: Dobson of T-Mobile's turn. Most important piece is unleashing innovation. (Come on, Dobson, stick it to everybody else over Android and openness. Come on). http://developer.tmobile.com for getting everything you need to develop apps for T-Mobile. Ah, here he mentions Google. But only in passing. Chicken.

Faster time-to-market, speeds and feeds, somehow that helps with openness. Ah, open source can speed up time to market. KK, we'll buy that.

GSM: Advantages and disadvantages of being open via SIM-swapping. Up to 30% of devices in NYC are on non-T-Mobile locked devices (!). Dobson says he wants to ensure 4G LTE has that same SIM-swapping ease.

9:42: Hesse starts is up as you'd expect: "Open is not regulation." Open applies in three cases: to the customer, to the developer, to the device. In the 3 and 4G world, there's less need for 'walled gardens' because data is faster. Hesse talks up full HTML browsing across all of Sprint's devices. Of course, he mentions the "Simply Everything" plan. Today Sprint launches "One Click" (hi Amazon, now is when you file the lawsuit). They're 'tiles' for shortcuts to "voicemail, email, text, google search, a website, etc." Gawsh, we hope he's talking about featurephones there, because we've managed that fine.

For developers, "Open means making it easy to put apps on the network." Yes please.

For devices (please stick it to Verizon...). Mentions that GSM has it easier to switch because of SIM cards (holla!), but at least Sprint allows for MVNOs (what?). He does mention that with WiMAX you can more easily 'bring your own device.'

9:40: Larget introduces the CEOs: T-Mobile's Robert Dobson, Sprint's Dan Hesse, and Verizon's Lowell McAdam. It looks like they're all going to share the stage and have a nice little coffee chat about Openness.

9:35: Video telling us how much wireless companies have done for us. Now Largent is talking about how wireless is rocking and rolling despite the fact that the economy as a whole hasn't been doing so hot.

Here comes the stats:

  • Data Revenue: 14.8 billion in the first 6 months of 2008. It's more than 20% of overall carrier revenues.
  • America has just pulled ahead of Western Europe in Mobile 3G adoption - that's a big shift. 28% percent of US consumers have a 3G device.
  • Text messaging is huge. 75 billion text messages every month. 160% increase over last June. 2.5 billion texts a day.
  • More fun stats at http://ctia.org

9:30: Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA is up. Get ready for wireless stats. He's talking up how incredible the last year has been -- we fully agree, just think about how much awesome we've had. Ah, here comes the campaign to "influence legislators."

9:27: About to start. One thing I forgot to mention that we're expecting: plenty of political talk about how regulation of the Wireless Industry is evil and bad. He we go!

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HP 910C Hands-on, with Bonus Treo Pro Comparison

Not much more to say about what we have for you here, the first of our galleries of what Microsoft is showing off at CTIA this year. We've already reviewed both the Treo Pro and the HP 910C, two Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro devices that are pretty much in the exact same category: Front-Facing QWERTY, Touchscreen, 3G on GSM, and only available unlocked.

We're giving the slight edge to the Treo Pro here, but only based on size and the slightly larger screen resolution (320x320 vs 320x240). If you're looking to power through a lot of email, though, the 910 ain't no slouch and has a bigger keyboard.

Meet us after the break for more images!

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Hands-On with the Sprint Diamond

It's announced, it's coming in a matter of days, but until then, the best you can get is our hands-on gallery and impressions.

Those impressions now: Yeah, it's not as shockingly small as the GSM Touch Diamond, but it's still plenty wee. We prefer the finger-print-friendly paint on Sprint's Touch Diamond and are also digging the red color (seriously!). TouchFLO 3D seems ever-so-slightly snappier than we've seen it in the past, but without a full-on review don't take that as gospel.

One other note -- although I like the fancy zoom-in / zoom-out touchy-feely features of the d-pad (towards the end of the video), the standard up/down/left/right feel of it is a little sub-optimal -- a bit hard to distinguish from the surrounding area.

After the break -- some more images as well and a quick comparison to the current generation Touch.

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When it rains, it POURS. This time we find them from nomad2000, again in our forums, who found them at treo8. What we know:

  • 400Mhz CPU , but snappy response
  • 256MB ROM, 128MB RAM! (Other reports show “In use: 43.96mb, Free 57.72mb”)
  • 320*320 screen
  • GPS
  • Full Tri-band 3G, Quad-band GSM
  • 2 Megapixel camera
  • microUSB connector!
  • 3.5mm Earphone connector
  • 1500mah battery (this is looking like it might actually be true?)

Hit the thread / comments after the break to see a massive number of them!

Update: Also after the break, Scottymomo has dug through his cache and found the original flash demo that was taken down by Palm. There's lots of juicy Treo Pro details to dig through, so click through!

New details on the Treo Pro

  • The battery is pretty much confirmed to be a near-unbelievable-for-this-size 1500 mAh.
  • The WiFi switch is over on the side and works exactly as you'd like it to
  • There is a decidedly non-Treo-esque power button up on the top, which brings the Treo more in line with traditional Windows Mobile devices.
  • Plenty of program memory to work with:
    • Storage Memory Total: 103.05mb
    • Program Memory Total: 101.18mb
    • Program Memory in use (not sure what was running at the time though): 43.96mb
    • Free: 57.22
  • The Treo Pro includes the HTC Memory Manager. Check out the little drop-down in the upper-right of the today screen.
  • Speaking of HTC customizations, it also looks like the Treo sports something very similar to HTC's wireless manager
  • Preinstalled software includes Adobe Reader, Embertec Java for java apps, Telenav, and Sprite Backup.
  • The microSD card and reset holes are underneath the battery cover, but you don't need to remove the battery to access them. It will support microSD cards up to 32gb!
  • It has the 800w's neat screensaver
  • LED isn't all that useful

Be sure to check out scottymomo's new post for the images and the rest of the details!

Treo Pro Gallery

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In the forums some users have found a neat little exploit to see other devices on the Sprint network. But is it something to worry about?

Probably not.

The trick is to use Resco Explorer --> Menu --> File --> Network --> Map Drive

After waiting a few moments if you hit the [+] sign to expand the list, you may see a bunch of device IDs. Interestingly, these appear to be all Sprint devices as WiFi is not enabled at the time and my Treo 800w is on Sprint.

So what is going on here?

Click to read an explanation plus some more screenies...

Basically this appears to be info broadcasting from our devices (and laptops with connect cards) to the carrier towers. Snce a WM device is basically a PC, you can see who's on the network. There are two important caveats here though:

  • None of the devices in the list are user accessible
  • This is not exclusive to Sprint's network

The former is important for those concerned with security. But this appears to be equivalent to turning your Bluetooth on in "Discovery" (Visible) mode in a crowded area. You too will see the screen populate with devices. In fact, using a freeware tool like BT Spammer could allow even more malicious use than browsing your carrier network.

Lesson learned? Don't leave your BT on in "Visible" mode--not only does it zap your battery, but it is a security risk! Thank you though to all the commuters at Penn Station NYC for giving me hours of amusement.

The latter caveat is also relevant. This doesn't seem to be a Sprint network thing as forum member alcedes says he can do the same thing on AT&T (and suspects T-mobile won't be much different).

So, is there any real concern here?

Doubtful. We don't see any thing serious, alarming or unique and at this point it seems more of a novelty. The only real danger here is you'll kill your battery if you leave it on "Map Network Drive" for an extended duration. Most WM devices are not acting like file hosts, so they should not be accessible and we don't see any open ports.

But hey, we'll keep you posted if t3h 1337 h4x0|2z find some ZOMG! cheats with this knowledge ;-)

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In addition to the expanded compatibility and retail availability of the Redfly, we're also happy to announce that Celio is sponsoring a giveaway. Yes, folks, we're giving away a free Celio REDFLY. Heck, Celio also tossed in 10 T-Shirts as runner-up prizes as well.

One more piece of news: there's now an Official Celio REDFLY Developer Forum, where you can go and get questions about the Redfly answered by the WMExperts community and by the folks directly at Celio. Which apps work with Celio? Which ones dont? How long does the battery last? What graphics capabilities does the Redfly really have?

Contest details after the break!

How to win a Celio REDFLY

  1. Comment on this post or head to the associated thread new Redfly forums at WMExperts
  2. Answer the question at the top of the thread, namely “How will the Redfly help me or my business?
  3. While you wait patiently for September 1st (the date we'll announce the winner), read our review of the Redfly or check out the compatibility list.
  4. On Sept 1st, we'll pick the winner and 10 runners-up randomly from all the posts in the thread (one entry per person).

More Rules

  1. Not open to Smartphone Experts employees or contractors (Sorry, writers!)
  2. Only one entry per person from the thread will count towards the drawing, but you can enter as often as you'd like.
  3. Not really a rule, but remember that the Redfly has a limited (but growing) compatibility list, check it out here.

Thanks again to Celio for sponsoring the contest!

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Can customs seize your Windows Mobile device?

A bit of hoopla was raised last week over border search policies disclosed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In almost every news story, the word "laptop" was used in the headline. And this is true. Your laptop can be seized and its information inspected for an unspecified amount of time, no suspicion necessary.

If you're visiting WM Experts, you're probably a fine, upstanding member of society, and a model patriot and benefit to the American way of life, blah blah blah.

But the next logical question is, "Can they take my Windows Mobile device?" Check in after the jump for the answer, and for some tips that could save you some time and embarrassment. (Though if you're looking for a way to completely sneak one past the government and cause some shenanigans, you're at the wrong place.)

Welcome back. So can The Man snag your phone and look at your data?

The answer is: Absolutely. Along with just about anything (electronic or otherwise) you have on your person.

From the Policy Regarding Border Search of Information (pdf link), dated July 16, 2008 (bold section emphasized by us):

CBP [Customs and Border Protection] is responsible for ensuring compliance with customs, immigration, and other Federal laws at the border. To that end, officers may examine documents, books, pamphlets, and other printed material, as well as computers, disks, hard drives, and other electronic or digital storage devices.  These examinations are part of CBP's long-standing practice and are essential to uncovering vital law enforcement information. For example, examinations of documents and electronic devices are a crucial tool for detecting information concerning terrorism, narcotics smuggling, and other national security matters; alien admissibility; contraband including child pornography, monetary instruments, and information in violation of copyright or trademark laws; and evidence of embargo violations or other import or export control laws.

The policy isn't new, and it applies to anyone entering the United States, citizen or not.

Handling the information

So customs can snag your device, copy your data or inspect it on site, and there's not a whole lot you can do to stop them from doing so. If they find probable cause that you're up to no good, they may "seize and retain the originals and/or copies of relevant documents or devices, as authorized by law."

And your data can be copied and shared with just about any other governmental agency.

Copies of documents or devices, or portions thereof, which are retained in accordance with this section, may be shared by CBP with Federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies only to the extent consistent with applicable law and policy.

Absent probable cause, they can only keep information regarding immigration matters.

Other provisions

Windows Mobile is primarily still a business device, and businesspeople tend to travel with sensitive information.

There are provisions for "business information," though it doesn't say much more than "We'll do what we can to keep your stuff from falling into the wrong hands." And it adds that "Depending on the nature of the information presented, the Trade Secrets Act, the Privacy Act, and other laws may govern or restrict the handling of the information."

But we don't recommend claiming that the photos you took of the, er, entertainment, on your - cough, cough - "business trip" to Tijuana are proprietary information.

Attorney-client privilege is also addressed. While claiming such can't keep them from being searched, it should bring an extra level of oversight in the handling of your data.

Correspondence, court documents, and other legal documents may be covered by attorney-client privilege.  If an officer suspects that the content of such a document may constitute evidence of a crime or otherwise pertain to a determination within the jurisdiction of CBP, the officer must seek advice from the Associate/Assistant Chief Counsel or the appropriate U.S. Attorney's  office before conducting a search of the document.

What can you do?

The easiest answer is, leave your laptop or WinMo device at home. But that's not much of an answer, is it?

Here are a couple of simple solutions.

1. The cloud: We love the cloud. We talk about the cloud all the time. Store your data in the ether, and you don't have to worry about someone snagging it off your device. (Who has access to it way up the sky is a whole 'nother matter, but that's for another day.)

2. The ninja-stealth move: We'll keep saying it until we're blue in the face. Backup software is your friend, and SPB Backup 2.0 is perfect for this one.

It's as simple as doing a full - and encrypted - backup of your device, and saving that backup to a storage card (which you should already be doing) or, better yet, somewhere in the cloud (though the 20-meg or so file sizes could be a problem there).

Then, before heading back across the border, do a hard reset and wipe your device. When you get back home, restore from the backup, and you're right where you left off. No muss, no fuss.

The caveat

This isn't a foolproof way to keep your data completely out of the hands of, well, anyone but you, nor is it meant to be. If Jack Bauer wants to make sure you're not using your phone to make his next 24 hours a living hell, he's going to do so. (And, yes, we're well aware that it takes more than a simple reformatting to make data irretrievable.) This is just the equivalent of keeping a screener from riffling through your underwear in your suitcase, looking for a shotgun.

That said, there isn't a whole lot of legal precedent for this sort of thing yet, so there likely will be some bumps in the road.

Look, we certainly don't endorse transporting anything illegal over U.S. (or anyone else's) borders. And we're all for catching terrorists before they strike. So please don't view this as a way to circumvent policies and procedures meant to safeguard all of us.

But your data, your privacy and your Fourth Amendment rights are priceless, too.

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Samsung Omnia - Hardware Hands-On

Samsung Omnia: HERE. Sure, sure, we've mocked the 'me-too' nature of the form factor, the somewhat strange 240x400 screen resolution, and the fact that we don't actually know when it's going to hit AT&T (we're still holding out hope for September). Here's what we haven't put enough emphasis on: the sucker is armed to the teeth with features:

  • 3G, WiFi, FM Radio, GPS
  • 5 Megapixel camera with Flash
  • 16gig of onboard storage
  • Accelerometer
  • Speedy 624 MHz processor
  • Respectable 1440 mAH battery
  • DIVX video supprt
  • Yes, that higher screen resolution
  • Opera 9.5 on-board
  • Surprising good software enhancements

We'll get to those 'surprisingly good software enhancements' in our next piece. For now, just know that our mantra of “don't throw features at a phone and assume it will be good” still holds and it looks like the Omnia has a decent chance of passing that test.

So check out the video above, check out the photo gallery after the break for more images and head-to-head comparisons with other Windows Mobile devices, and check back again very soon for a more in-depth look at the Omnia.

Samsung Omnia

Omnia and Sprint Touch

Omnia and HTC Diamond

Omnia and AT&T Tilt

Omnia and Samsung BlackJack II

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Microsoft Shake Up to Lead to Zune Phone?

Apparently we weren't the only ones who found Microsoft's services strategy utterly confusing and slapdash -- Microsoft did too. To that end, as reported by All About Microsoft, they're splitting up their Platforms and Services unit into two different units as well as giving the previous president of that division a retirement to go work for Juniper networks.

The two new divisions will be “Windows/Windows Live” and “Online Services Business.” The W/WL will have three folks in charge and the OSB will get a new guy. Steve Ballmer sent out a letter to the company about the changes with some interesting tidbits about their feelings on Google, Apple, and Yahoo. Short version: We're working on search and Apple's done better with the “end-to-end” experience.

There's plenty to parse here, including the possibility of a Zune phone, so read on!

Zune Phone?

When Ballmer writes “We'll do the same with phones--providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences,” it's likely to start up the rumor mill again with regard to that Zune phone he's repeatedly denied being interested in. Well, that and the fact that JKOnTheRun has it from an inside source that we'll see it based on Windows Mobile 7 (oh, btw, congrats guys!).

I'll stay neutral on the Zune Phone -- ok no I won't: I'm not opposed, but I'd prefer to see Zune features included in all Windows Mobile Phones, okay? I still like Microsoft's strategy of working with hardware partners to make Windows Mobile quite a bit, I just wish there'd be some more consistency (and hotness) across the different handsets. If Microsoft were to throw their own hat into the hardware market, I hope they can find a way to do it that doesn't undercut the entire ecosystem by introducing yet another non-standard Windows Mobile interface into the mix. So Microsoft: go ahead and make your Zune Phone, but offer the innovations therein to your partners, ok?

Services

Back to the Windows Live branding debacle. I'd like to think that this new split is going to help things along. I'd like to think that, but I don't. Windows Mobile is precisely the sort of platform that needs to straddle the gap between traditional business space services that will fall under the “Online Services Business” and consumer-focused services that are part of “Windows Live.”

It's all very frustrating, because the truth of the matter is that Microsoft's offering is much better than anything anybody else has put out there except for RIM. There are some quirks and bugs with Windows Live on Windows Mobile, sure, but they're nothing compared to the Mobile Me mess right now. Toss in Live Mesh and Live Search and you have yourself an excellent suite of great online, cloud-based apps. That's not even counting what we see coming, consumer-wise, after the Danger acquisition.

In poker terms, Microsoft has a straight right now, they just haven't noticed yet because they can't seem to put the cards in the right order. With any luck, they'll be smart enough to keep betting, stay in the game, and take a shot at the big money.

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Review: Motorola H12 Bluetooth Headset

CrystalTalk is Motorola’s latest audio technology that is reported to deliver maximum audio performance in even the noisiest of environments.  The Motorola H12 Bluetooth Headset ($89.95) is Moto’s first headset to incorporate this technology.  According to Motorola, CrystalTalk uses dual microphones to cancel out background noise, enhance your voice and channel pure, clear audio directly into your ear.  On paper, it would seem the H12 is leading the pack of mini-headsets on the market today.

To see if CrystalTalk and the Motorola H12 deliver the maximum audio performance, read on!

Out of the Box

The Motorola H12 is a lightweight headset, weighing only .4 ounces, and is very similar to the Motorola BH680.  Measuring 1.65 inches long and .7 inches wide, the H12 is a smidgen larger than the H680.  The best way to describe the headset’s diamond cut metal surface is sleek.

The H12 comes packaged with two charging cradles, the AC adapter, a few ear buds of assorted sizes, a Quick Start Guide and a clip that allows you to snap the headset to a shirt button.  The headset also has a clear plastic ear hook that can be reversed for left ear use.

I don’t understand Motorola’s thinking on providing two chargers.  One is a charging case (just like you get with the BH680) that the headset sits down into that the other is a stylish cradle that the headset leans on.  Both charge through magnetic contacts and with only one AC adapter, having one in the office and the other at home doesn’t make sense. I would have preferred a single charging cradle and a means to charge the H12 in the car instead of the two cradles.  As is, the cradle is the only way to charge the H12 and probably the H12’s greatest limitation.

The H12 has a dedicated power button which is nice because there is no doubt as to whether the device is on or not.  Volume keys are found on the top side of the headset and a main button rests on the top surface of the H12.  The buttons are large and easy to manipulate while the headset is worn as well as when it’s not.  A small LED light is just below the main button to alert/confirm functions through various blinks and colors.

Performance

The H12, after fully charged, goes into pairing mode when first turned on.  Pairing the H12 with my Samsung BlackJack II was uneventful and in a matter of seconds, I was connected.  The Bluetooth connection between the phone and headset was strong.  No static was present when carrying the phone on the opposite hip in a case.

The H12 was extremely comfortable to wear.  While you can wear the headset without the ear hook, the hook was not uncomfortable and added a level of security to the wear.  The shirt clip is an interesting accessory which allows you to clip the H12 to a shirt button.  It’s essentially a “U” clip that goes around a button and the H12 snaps in between the thongs.  Using the shirt clip is a little awkward and takes some time to get used to.  While it adds a level of convenience, I prefer a lanyard carry option better.

I was interested to see if CrystalTalk was as good as Motorola claimed.  Earpiece volume was good but a little muffled.  Increasing the volume helps but you still have a slight muffle to the volume.  In looking at the ear bud design a good portion of the earpiece is covered with the rubber ear bud.  At first I thought the cut out was dependant on the ear bud size but the other ear buds had small cut outs for the speaker as well.  Taking the ear bud off noticeably improved the volume but made the H12 noticeably uncomfortable to wear.

Microphone performance and volume was good, maybe a touch better than any other headset on the market.  In using a normal tone and volume, my voice came in clear.  Background noises such as traffic and the air conditioner were almost eliminated.  Louder noises such as the car stereo were filtered out nicely.

The H12 has a nice feature set including last number redial, call reject, voice dialing (phone dependant), call mute and call hold.  The H12 also has the ability to answer a second call or reject a second call.  The LED confirms these actions as well as alerting owners to low batteries through a series of colored flashes.  Battery life is rated by Motorola to be approximately 8 days of stand by time and 5.5 hours of talk time.  With the limited charging options, battery power should last you the day or in between destinations when traveling. 

Overall Impression

So is the Motorola H12 Bluetooth Headset ($89.95) with CrystalTalk technology leading the pack of Bluetooth Headsets on the market today?  The H12 is a solid performer that is comfortable to wear, has good microphone performance, a good feature set, and decent battery life.  But with the volume muffled by the ear bud design and limited charging options, if it’s leading the pack it’s not by much.

I have to recognize the dedicated power button one more time.  This feature of the H12 is something that other headset engineers should strongly consider.  I’ve tested several Bluetooth headsets that power on through the call/main button and it is difficult at times to tell if the headset is on or off.  I’ve caught myself staring at headsets waiting for the blinking blue light and turned the headset off when I thought I was turning it on too many times.  It’s refreshing to look at the headset and know for certain the thing is on or off.  It may be a minor feature to some but I think Motorola hit the nail on the head by having a dedicated power button.

Compared to the Motorola BH680 Bluetooth Headset ($59.95) the H12 is more comfortable, has slightly better microphone performance but the BH680 has slightly better speaker volume and battery life.  Otherwise these two headsets are almost equal. 

I really think if Motorola redesigned the ear buds the H12 would be very hard to beat even with the limited charging options.  As is, the H12 simply makes choosing a mini-headset a little harder to make.  It should be on everyone’s short list.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Build: 4/5 (those darn ear buds)
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Battery Life: 4/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Pros

  • Really comfortable to wear
  • Strong Microphone performance
  • Dedicated Power Button

Cons

  • Ear Buds seem to muffle headset volume
  • Limited Charging Options
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Weekly Software Wrangle - Week 4

Hitch up the software wagon and let's head out on the range. It's time once again to Wrangle this week's new, updated and free software for WM Professional and WM Standard.

This week we are featuring new software for WM Standard, PBA Bowling and Flyder US and UK. Updated software includes SmartReg and USB Modem. Freeware includes All Mobile Mines SE and Maufait InstaFind.

WM Professional new software includes a look at mDesktop and Touch Commander Suite. Updated software includes PhatPad 4.5 and Fizz Traveller. In Freeware, we'll take a look at the apps available from www.spoontools.com.

Let's get started with the Weekly Software Wrangle Week 4 now!

WM Standard: New

First up is PBA Bowling v1.0 by Concrete Software, Inc. Special recognition goes out to Lightning Toads Productions, LLC who provided their Toadlet mobile game engine to Concrete Software. Concrete Software licensed the Toadlet Engine from Lightning Toads to incorporate many features, including life-like physics, into PBA Bowling. You can learn more about Lightning Toads Productions and their products here.

Now, more about the game:

The biggest name in bowling, Professional Bowlers Association is now available for your mobile device.

Choose from the most realistic bowling balls and lane conditions. Enjoy full 3D environments and motion enabled throwing technology (device must have a camera).

Test your skills against a long list of the internationally recognized professional bowlers. Unlock special ball abilities and patterns. After working on your game versus the professional bowlers it

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(Join us this week as George reviews 4 Weather Apps for Windows Mobile Standard and then gives them all a big smackdown on Friday. Today's entrant: Elecont Weather)

Weather applications are increasing in popularity and Paragon Software Group has tossed Handy Weather ($17.95) into the growing selection of applications.  I’ve reviewed several weather applications lately and find them very useful to help plan your day on the go as well as planning for the days ahead.  There are a lot of good weather applications available and I was curious how Handy Weather would stack up.

Read on to see how it shapes up!

Installation was straightforward and easy but set up threw me a major curve ball.  Handy Weather claims to have over 40,000 preset cities in its database.  You first select you country, then State/Province/etc., then city.  I selected United States which prompted a listing of States.  I saw Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, and then it went on to California.  Alabama was missing!  I could pull up weather information for every State in the Union but Alabama.  I could pull up cities from the Federated States of Micronesia but not Alabama.  I could see the current conditions for Yap but not Birmingham!

Seeing that I couldn’t use any city in my home State, I choose Destin, Florida.  If I couldn’t be in Birmingham, I might as well be on the beach.

Handy Weather is a weather application and Home Screen Plug-in.  The application will place a weather forecast bar on your Home Screen that will show you the current conditions and the next four day forecast.  A series of weather icons are used and the temperature is displayed.

Clicking on the banner will send you to the application itself.  The main screen of Handy Weather is a seven day forecast and by clicking on the individual date, you pull up forecasted conditions including forecasted weather plus projected temperature, wind speed and direction, UV index, and humidity.

The application also includes three forecast maps; satellite, surface and temperature.  The maps are graphically pleasing but lacked detailed information.  Only eleven North American cities are shown on the Current Temperature Map, fourteen on the Satellite Map, and none are indicated on the Surface Analysis Map.  It would have been nice to have seen the selected Cities shown.

Handy Weather does not have animated maps, radar images or notifications of severe weather alerts.  It will allow you to see a graph of forecasted temperatures and conditions over a five day period.

The Options Menu for Handy Weather is limited.  You can change the language, units of measurement and update frequency.  Not much more.  I would have preferred to see the ability to modify the information bar content (current conditions or three day forecast as opposed to just the seven day) as well as graphical appearances.

Overall Impression

On the surface, I liked Handy Weather($17.95).  It gave you a snapshot of the seven day forecast along with a little more detailed information if you needed it.  Compared to other weather applications, Handy Weather would be a basic model giving you just enough information on the weather but not too much.  Unfortunately, it seems to be a work in progress.

Because Handy Weather does not include a single city in Alabama, it doesn’t do me or anyone traveling to Alabama any good.  In contacting Paragon Software, the omission of Alabama was an oversight on their part and steps are being taken to include Alabama in future releases, the first expected at the end of the month.

Based on the limited options, the oversight of including any city in Alabama, and basic features I’m almost of the impression that Paragon Software slapped this application together hastily in order to get a weather application on the market.

How do you forget a State?  When developers saw 49 States listed under the United States of America, shouldn’t that have been a sign?

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Installation: 4/5
  • Functionality: 3/5 (where’s Alabama?)
  • Graphics: 4/5 (more detail on maps)
  • Ease of Use: 4/5 (navigation is easy)

Overall:

Pros

  • Easy to navigate through

Cons

  • City Database missing an entire State
  • Lack of Detail in Maps
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Ah...and here I thought I was going to get by this week without posting any Treo 800w info.

Guess not what with a certain something on the down-low wrapping up this week. So good morning to everyone as we have a slathering of rumortastic info for you, including two more traditional blurry shots (see above and below) of the very long awaited Treo 700wx successor, the 800w.

(Fret not Verizon fans...read our earlier post on the Verizon 800w, if you're jonesing)

Keep reading for price, specs and a ton of other info info after the jump...

First up: we're hearing that the 800w will finally drop on Sprint on Sunday, July 13th. That puts it ahead by 9 days our date of July 22nd--curse you Sprint! Well, it still remains to be seen what the final release day will be, but we're getting close. (What, YOU know the date? Well throw her up in our contest thread already! And yes, July 13th is now also off limits for future guessing. So complicated)

The price is $249.99 (of course with "instant savings" and a mail-in-rebate)--if true, that's actually a very sweet price and should enable the 800w to go up RIM quite nicely.

What else can we dig up?

How about the battery is now confirmed at being a not-too-shabby (but hardly hulked out) 1150mah. If that sounds familiar it is because the Palm Centro uses that same size battery and in fact is the exact same battery. Yikes. So similar we are hearing that new Centros have a battery that even says "STD battery for 690/800w". That sure seems convenient for someone.

Oh and those new leaked pictures above? That is still a tester unit (see the blurred out serial). We're still expecting a few more shiny additions to the finalized version, so while the Black Charcoal which we 1st reported is accurate, expect a wee bit more pizazz in a few more weeks ;-)

And last but not least, if you need a re-count of what we know for device specs, here ya go:

  • MSM-6800 chipset
  • ~100mb of Program / ~170mb of Storage Memory (both after OS)
  • WM 6.1 (5.2.1944)
  • ARM1136 processor
  • WiFi
  • Soft touch paint
  • Dedicated Wifi button + Ringer switch on top
  • Micro-USB connector
  • 2.1mp camera
  • No headphone jack (uses microUSB to 3.5mm adapter)
  • 1150mah battery

Plus the usual:

  • 320x320
  • RevA (on release?)
  • GPS (network independent)
  • Palm Threaded SMS

So whaddya think? Palm has a winner or a snoozer here? Sound off!

Thanks to BigChris for the heads up!

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