Monday, March 07, 2011

Quick Review +ves/-ves X10 Mini Pro

Just worthy of a quick mini review, my new X10 mi-pro

This is the third smart phone I have owned, having had a nice little rest from their short battery life with a bog basic Nokia which lasted often more than a week between charges!

Previous phones have included the really very good Nokia N70e, and the SE P1. The latter was a pain to use for just ordinary calls with the off button being only soft and tucked away in the corner of the otherwise interesting screen. The p1 was very good come to think of it otherwise as a scribe phone but it kind of taught you to write, not really the other way around!


X 10 Mini Pro

Firstly the phone has the usual SE build quality: that is it is about a 90% total quality feel and just falls down a little in feel ( weight maybe) and execution of the slide-out QWERTY keyboard: this is a little inprecise suggesting it will be the fatal failure in the long term for the phone. There is quite a lot of leverage in using it or mis-using it, so the joint-looseness can only become weaker. But the screen and keyboard are very nice. The hard keys are a little thin and vague: triumph of style over functionality.

Don't get me wrong though! This is a great little phone!

Where the p1 felt a little too big in pre HD2 / Desire / Galaxy days, the X10 mini pro will suit those who like "tout bejous". If it were any smaller at all it would render it unusable for my manly big spades-with-fingers. But the screen is spacious enough for good presentation of data, the touch keys are sensible sized and located and the hard QWERTY is very nice to use, even if it is small. I guess the white version has been a big hit with the ladies and their non navvy-like fingers.

Bug bears are the thin hard keys as mentioned, the slider inprecision and the ring / call volume which is a little too easy to unwittingly turn down while holding the phone. The vibrate is rather gentle and the ring volume / speaker seems to get relatively muffled in pockets compared to any other phone I have had. Also on hard keys again, there is no call pick up on hard, and sometimes the back key is torturous to use: there is no get fast out of an app or web site without dropping the menu screen down over what you are doing, which can leave the app running in the background . Resizing web pages is also a bug bear, with no pinch zoom and often a delay to the plus/minus zoom appearing: double click to enlarge can be risky in hitting a link instead, and often zooms in too way too small content on non mobile version web sites. Still it seems to run 95% of them, if that being with microscopic text at first sight and painful sliding aorund to make sense of the page.

In all the above so far, in comparison to other phones then the HTC Touch Pro II is the one which leaps to you: it is better built and just a bit bigger, but has a slower touch interface.

Touch Interface

The touch screen is plastic and unlike some phones it does not need the galvanaic voltage set up of real skin: it works okay through my plastic waterproof watersports case: Great!

The interchangeable corners are really ideal: stick facebook on there if you are having a SM connection frenzy or keep it to what phones actually do: call, contacts, sms! Also being android, there are different dialers and "core system" UI apps which may suit those who just must get into a new "skin".

The android app' menu scheme is very iPhone and nice to use and re-arrange: the only thing being there is not a circular scroll through ie you come to the last page of icon apps and then you have to scroll all the way back ( it has a ghost memory for the last page you were on!)

Operating System

The android OS and the underlying or parallel phone OS are seamlessly integrated and personalising, adding new apps or altering some core functions with downloaded widgets/apps are all a joy.

The phone comes with a capacious 2 gig ( 1.8 effective) mini SD with it's own USB stick convertor and the phone charges on the USB; with a nice USB plug-transformer which tops up the iPod Touch very much better than from a PC!!!

I mention memory because the on board phone memory is used of course as working RAM, so it is worth installing an APP KILLER : how good this is remains to be seen, but several apps running in the back ground make the entire phone user interface slow: this is one dissadvantage in so closely integrated call-android systems are: keep it above 60mb and the phone will run quickly.

Android apps lack some of the branded trustworthyness and range of the iPhone iStore market, but really they seem pretty much as good : the pay-for-apps are maybe a bit cheaper on average, but some of the preview free ware apps are more limited than those for iPhone.

Incidentally, WiFi is about 90% as good as the iPod Touch and probably only slowed down by my own home line -in! Worth avoiding using on hot spots due to the lack of security and so far I am not sure about the functionality of anti malware programmes in what is a multitasking OS.

Web Browsing

A few web apps are included which run in their own screen UI rather than the standard browser: FB eventually boots you over to the browser. The reasons for this are twofold:

1) one touch, pre-registered log in
2) a screen-size optimised first interface

This is noteworthy because the screen is small and not all content has a mobile browser version: FB's "www.m."is also too oriented around larger screen sizes, so resizing is a bug bear. With no pinch zoom and often a delay to the plus/minus zoom appearing: double click to enlarge can be risky in hitting a link instead, and often zooms in too way too small content on non mobile version web sites. Still it seems to run 95% of them, but lacks Flash Player TM.

YouTube however, has its own X10 optimised player-app' which boots out from web pages and allows for a nice, streamlined user interface to the web site when searching in the app itself.

Mobile content which is oriented around WAP type simple one column table cells, works super good and some versions of this content are actually better than the full web site: eg weather.

Normal web content is presented with with microscopic text at first sight and painful sliding aorund to make sense of the page. However, the browser does include an auto column re-size to screen width when you are lucky and get a table cell roughly aligned to the centre. This is a boon! If the text is still small in "portrait" then a quick flick over to landscape makes things readable.

Android Market is nearer to the actual browser by the way, and thus has pretty small text just on the edge of being annoyingly so!!

GPS is a weakness

Some apps are a little annoying: like GPS, of which the installed version freebies all seem to want to trade you up to either the pay-for or the on line map service. It does come with an okay google maps integrated GPS nav package, and a preview free trial of an in car NatSav ( which is okay!) but these are torturous to add simple way points and save them.

The phone takes ages to aquire five satellites first time, and some of the freeware GPSs force a location recapture between functionality screens.

Camera Lacks Zoom, Images are Dark and Video Is Pixely. In good sunlight the still shots are actually very good, and can be cropped down to 20% of the area with no loss in a resulting 700 pixel wide final image. The LED flash-light is good enough, but I am yet to find an app which will switch it on as a "torch" ( mag light app does not work unfortunetly)

But: Will it Call Your Mother on Sundays?

The all important: connectivity and call qaulity!

Like most smart phones it drops calls once in a while, and generally has a fairly low signal connectivity relative to the bars actually showing and other simple phones. Quality is good though in call, and the hands free speaker-mic seem to be better than anything I have ever been in the room with! ( the stooopid on the Touch Pro II; it has to be flat on the desk and the mic is shit)

It does take a while to connect calls and has a dumb swipe to accept call, which I would rather have as a hard button option for in holster to quick draw pick up!

Conclusion: Is this the Phone for You?

The X10 mini pro version with the qwerty keyboard is probably the most compact in its class in terms of actually being useable and offering both a big enough screen and keyboard for practicality and enjoyment.

The small size means it has a mugger-advantage: it can be hidden in the palm. Nice also for surreptitious FB ing at boring conferences not to mention up-skirting for the pervs. In fact, let's not mention that at all.

If you already own an iPod touch or a tablet then this makes a nice addition to your familiarity in a more discreet package, and a good alternative to booting up your netbook or laptop for social media in particular: SE have their own integrated contact total surround set up, which I can't be bothered with to be honest despite being an FB fan.

Personalisation is generally pretty good, with corners, ring tones, apps etc

If you use the web as a serious tool and want to read a lot of text heavy sites or pdfs etc, then this is resolutely NOT the phone for you: web is best for mobile content version when provided and auto-'sniffed'. If you want to check the weather, the odd share price, and catch up on FB / Twitter and G mail , then this is a truly quick and fun tool, erm, toy for you.

With a 2.5mm stereo jack (with data appendage flange!), the phone is a bit of an all rounder for music, social media, web browsing, android apps/games while some functions which would be nice to have 100% operational, eg GPS, zoomless camera , poor video quality, don't quite get there.

If you are looking to downsize from your slab of a desire or iPhone you just broke without insurance, then this is an ideal phone for those with nimble fingers and a lust for social media.

Sorry it's a handset my teenage colleage reminds me.

Off to put on the gramaphone then me.

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