Dec 172010
 

Well, on December 14th Rogers came out with a new policy on unlocking cellular devices…

You can now call Rogers or Fido, and for a fee, get them to unlock your device. There are however some restrictions:

1) You can unlock if you purchased your phone outright (on no-term pricing, ie. the full cost of the phone).

2) Your contract is up.

To unlock your phone, simply call customer care, and explain to them you would like to unlock it. Keep in mind as of today (December 16th, 2010) I had to call numerous times and talk to numerous departments for them to do it, since ALOT of people either don’t know of the new policy, or have no idea who they are supposed to transfer you to, to do it.

Keep in mind there IS a fee. It’s somewhere around $50.00. The person who provides you with the code SHOULD be able to provide you with instructions.

For you Samsung Focus owners out there, to unlock (once you have the code):

1) Go to phone, and dial ##634# then hit call. This opens the Diagnostic menu.

2) Enter *#7465625# to get to the Lock menu. After putting in the last character it will load. Here you can see you Lock status, etc…

3) Select “Network Lock” and then select “Disable”. Enter your code in the NCK box. Then select “Execute”.

4) Feel free to go back to “Lock Status” to make sure it is disabled. Afterwords just hit Back, Back, Back. You are now unlocked!

Dec 052010
 

A new device that I’ve been extremely excited to do a review on is the new Samsung Focus. We’ve long awaited the new release of the next generation of Microsoft’s mobile operating system platform, Windows Phone 7.

In the past, I’ve been an almost religious user of Windows Mobile Device. First the simplistic yet powerful functionality, the capabilities, and main reason being Exchange Push (Outlook Mobile).

Rogers, had a limited web release earlier this month, and due to the condition of my previous cell phone, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to upgrade. I went ahead and purchased the device. 5 days later I got my hands on it.

First Impression:

When receiving the phone, I liked the way it was boxed, the material that came along with it, and the general style of the phone itself. Simplistic, and thankfully I didn’t get the “I’m missing something” feeling I get when I usually receive new toys.

After popping in the SIM card, battery and plugging it in to charge, the phone turned on.

The initial configuration was very easy and friendly. I activated the phone with my Windows Live account, and Facebook details. I don’t like using cell phone providers proxy’d internet, so I pay for the “VPN” option which provide me a real external IP address on the internet, configuring the apn “internet.com” was simple, and I didn’t have to go fishing through the menu’s.

First configuration:

As soon as the initial configuration was done, WOW. This phone is slick. The menu’s, tiles, and all usage of the phone pretty much glided as smooth as could be. I have NO complaints when it comes to general usage.

First things first, I went into the settings menu, and tried to configure pretty much every setting I could. I did this with absolutely no problems and had the device completely configured to my liking, even with absolutely no experience with the phone.

I actually configured so much, that buy the time I was done; I felt I became an expert with the phone usage. I immediately was comfortable with the phone.

Real Usage:

After I was done configuring the phone, I went ahead and started to play. The phone interface was a pleasure, the “People” interface was a pleasure, and pretty much every single little feature that this phone shipped with was a pleasure. It even added all my Facebook contacts to the phone’s phonebook (I wasn’t so hot about this, but disabled it later).

The camera is amazing. Both picture quality and video quality is AMAZING. Camera app allows you to upload directly to Facebook, even add a caption.

One thing that makes me a little upset is the lack of ability to upload videos to the internet from the phone. You have to sync with Zune, and then upload using computer.

Marketplace:

First thing I wanted to do, was check out this “Marketplace” that everyone has been talking about. I’ve seen numerous other websites and reviews commenting on the applications that you can install, particularly the Facebook client, and Twitter client (I’m big on social media). I went ahead and installed both applications. After setting up my various accounts with them, they worked flawlessly. Both clients support ALL features of the two social media sites (except for Facebook places). The interfaces were easy to use, and I actually enjoyed using them on the phone!

One thing I’m choked about, is that Microsoft Marketplace doesn’t sell music to Canadians, we are stuck with applications, and video.

Wi-Fi:

After a few hours of continuous use, I realized I was probably eating away at my data plan (I installed 20+ applications, a game, and numerous other stuff). I decided to give Wi-Fi a try on the phone. Turning it on and connecting to my secured AP was super simple and super quick to do. I also have to add that there was a visible performance increase in applications getting information off the web faster.

Data speeds:

Both, internet access via the cell network, and Wi-Fi were extremely fast. This is very important when using applications that continuously access, or rely on information from the internet. The experience was so nice, that I had no complaints or problems with loading time of large amounts of information which I would have guessed would have taken a lot longer on the device.

Business/E-Mail Configuration:

The first and only major issue I had with this device was configuration of my Microsoft Exchange account. Since the new Windows Phone 7 operating system doesn’t really have a user-accessible file system, and also doesn’t have the capability to play with files, I had to find a way to install the certificate for my Exchange server on my phone.

There are two ways this can be done, either a) setup a different type of e-mail account (gmail, Hotmail, etc…) and e-mail yourself the certificate and run it to install, or b) upload the certificate to a website, and then navigate to it using the browser on the phone.

I don’t have any other types of e-mail accounts, so I just uploaded the certificate to my site, typed it in on Internet Explorer on the phone, and confirmed I wanted to install it.

After this, I configured my exchange account, and the configuration went very smoothly. It downloaded the messages, and it was all done.

Overall:

Overall, I love the device. I’ve been using it non-stop for the past 3 weeks and have no major complains. People have been complaining about the new way of using memory cards and their limitations, however with the amount of storage already shipping on the phone (I think 8GB); I don’t even really need a memory card.

The battery life is amazing on the device, and actually got better overtime. The general belief is to fully charge/fully discharge a cell phone to maintain the battery. In my opinion, I noticed batteries survive longer if you just charge it whenever you get the chance (whether once a day, or a few times every day). The battery with normal usage, and Exchange Push for e-mails I’ve noticed can last longer than 3 days, however I haven’t fully drained the battery yet. Without Exchange, and lighter usage, I can’t even guess how long it would last!

One thing I don’t like, is how light the device is, accompanied by the fact that the phone feels very plastic. I like heavy phones, the kind that have a metallic case, the kind that doesn’t feel like it’s going to slip out of your hand.

Another thing I would like to address is the complaints of the lack of multi-tasking and copy/paste. First off, this phone is so responsive that the lack of multi-tasking doesn’t really bug me. Applications load fast, information is always available, and even thought it would be nice to have multi-tasking, it’s not on my list of complaints. I can live without copy/paste, however it would be nice.

Overall, I’d buy this phone again if for some reason I lost or broke this one. I’d also recommend this phone to all my friends, INCLUDING clients. This is seriously the first phone I’ve owned that allows me to do both business, and social stuff!

Pros/Cons/Would be nice:

Pros:

-Very fast interface

-Battery life AMAZING

-UI is very intuitive

-Amazing speeds (over cell network, or Wi-fi)

-Supports Microsoft Exchange push

-On-screen keyboard easy to use, accurate.

-Facebook/Twitter run great!

-Applications are actually decent!

-Web browsing works great!

-Youtube works great!

Cons:

-If you type fast, chances are you’ll hit the “French” button on the on-screen keyboard, annoying

-Very light phone, plastic feeling

-Cannot upload videos to any type of site, must use your computer to sync, and then upload

-Skipping/Fast-forwarding support is horrible for music and video

Would be nice (please note these are NOT cons, and just exactly what they are, would be nice):

-File system access

-Copy/Paste

-Multi-Tasking

Aug 182010
 

So, the question I ask myself today is “What happened to Windows Mobile, and where is it going?”

Back earlier this year I got a corporate Rogers account setup for my company. Got a bunch of Xperia X1’s comped under the contract. I’ve had an old Xperia X1 for years (bought it from europe) and loved it back when it was considered one of the newer Windows Mobile phones, but hey, if you can get the same phone free again, why not right?

Anyways, to cut the story short one of the phones on my account got run over, and then mine just mysteriously died out (issues with the ribbon cable). Both were not repairable. Called Rogers, got one replaced under “Out of Warranty” (it’s been weeks since the order was placed, still no sign), then they ran out of stock (for my phone).

So here I am, this was the perfect opportunity for me to go ahead and see what’s new on the market in regards to Windows Mobile devices. I figured I’d just go ahead and buy a new device unlocked straight out (NOT from the local providers).

In my search I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1) All the new sweet phones don’t support the local HSPA frequencies in North America (high speed internet). I’m guessing there’s not enough interest in North America for WM phones.

2) Not too many companies are selling WM phones anymore in North America.

3) Turns out they released WM 7 and it sounded like it was horrible.

4) WM is still super popular in Europe.

5) People are obsessed with the iPhone, and anything that has the word “Google” or “Android” in it. (I bet they couldn’t even explain why they like the products).

Sure the iPhone is great for consumers, and for the simple professionals who don’t rely on their phone to often, but WTF??? And BlackBerry’s are not an option for me. I don’t have the time, patience, or want to setup my own BES server, maintain it, and learn the BB interface and run into limitations I wouldn’t if I was running Windows Mobile.

I’ve been a long term user of Windows Mobile devices. I love the layout, the way they work, the Exchange Push/Sync capabilities. Even the application development possibilities are sweet! But where are the stinking phones? I’m going to have a breakdown if they become extinct!

Anyways, bought an Xperia X2a since it’s one of the newer (actually not so new) phones that you can buy that work HSPA on 850Mhz. I should be receiving it tomorrow. I’ll probably be posting a review, and notes on configuration, etc…

It’s too bad I couldn’t get my hands on a HTC HD2, or a HTC Touch Pro 2.

I’m finishing this off with a question to Microsoft! What happens next? We need to put more dough in to marketing and development, we need to push this product out the ying yang! Outsource to me, I’ll be able to advise on what needs to be done to get a sweet ass device that has a potential to make some HUGE dough in both business markets and consumer markets.

Jul 082010
 

So, here’s a quick rant…

Last week my brother video calls me. My friend butts in to the conversation.

Friend: OMG dude do you have the new iPhone???

Me: No dude, this is an Xperia X1

Friend: Uhh dude, are you sure. Only the iPhone 4 has video calling, I saw it on a video from their public announcement thing.

Me: Uhh not true, I’m pretty sure what phone I have, haha. Video calling has been around for years and years.

Friend: No dude, it JUST came out.

Epic Fail!

The conversation went on and on. Why do people think video calling is a new thing? And why do people think only the iPhone 4 can do it? From what I heard the Video calling on the iPhone requires Wi-Fi and can’t do it over the cell network. All my phones I’ve had in the past 4 years supported video calling.

May 302010
 

I think Canada needs to go “Unlimited”!

Does anyone remember those days where Fido had the “Unlimited” data plan in Canada? I had that option on one of my phones way back, and I was grandfathered in even after they removed the service. It was purely awesome!

Those days were excellent! I could drive around, surf the internet on my laptop… Whenever I’m mobile I’m not a big bandwidth junky, however I do like to have freedom, and I don’t like to worry about receiving a $5,000 phone bill.

I lost this freedom some time ago when I changed accounts. Since then I’ve been stuck at 5GB. I’m not a penny pincher, but if I were to go over that allotted 5GB the extra billing charges would end up in the thousands!

I’m not too sure how many of you are aware, but in the US they actually have real “Unlimited” plans. These plans just don’t stop at data, for most services you can actually sign up for unlimited (usually doesn’t include roaming or long distance outside of the US) and really have unlimited (local calls, data, text, picture messaging, etc…) for dirt cheap pricing.

Why don’t we have anything like this in Canada? Why do we only have 1 GSM provider, 2 CDMA providers? WHY DON’T WE HAVE UNLIMITED DATA???

Apr 242010
 

Noticed quite a bit of traffic coming in from people searching for this so I thought I would post it…

Below are the settings for the Xperia and Windows Mobile phones for MMS and Internet:

Generic Internet:

APN: internet.com

User: blank

Pass: blank

VPN Connect (Settings if you pay for the VPN option):

APN: vpn.com

User: blank

Pass: blank

MMS Settings:

For MMS, create a data connection (cellular 3G) for your “Work Connection”.

APN: media.com

User: media

Pass: mda01

Then go to your text messages, hit “Menu” at the bottom right. Select “MMS Options…”. Select the servers tab at the bottom of the screen. Select New.

Server Name: Rogers MMS

Gateway: 10.128.1.69

Port: 80

Server Address: http://mms.gprs.rogers.com/

Connectvia: My Work Network (This is the connection you configured above)

Send Limit: 300K

WAP Version: WAP 2.0

And that’s it!

Apr 242010
 

For those of you that find the “SMS Succesfully Sent” notification annoying on Windows Mobile 6.X you can disable it by modifying the phone registry. Please note that I always use “CeRegEditor” available from http://ceregeditor.mdsoft.pl/

To disable the SMS Sent Notification:

Open the registry and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Inbox\Settings. If the Settings folder does not exist, create it.

Look for SMSNoSentMsg (it is a DWORD value), change it to “0” (without quotations). If it does not exist, create it.

Some users who have been using unlocked phones on local providers (including Rogers and Fido) have been having issues with the time on text messages being wrong. This is due to the incorrect time being provided on the cell network. To correct, see below.

To remove the time issues of received text messages:

Open the registry and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\OEM\PhoneSetting.

Create a new DWORD value called “TrustTimeZoneField” and set it to a value of “0” (without quotations).

Apr 242010
 

Around June of 2009 I purchased a (Silver) Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Windows Mobile phone (unlocked directly from Sony). I’ve always been a die-hard enthusiast of Windows Mobile based devices and try to keep up to date with the latest and greatest phones coming out. As of April 2010 I recently signed up on a Rogers Corporate plan and received a bunch of new black Xperia X1s for me and my employees, I decided to keep my old silver one in case of an emergency.

In the past I’ve had:

-Red-E Microsoft Developer Smartphone

-Motorola MPX220

-HP iPaq hw6955 (My Review available here)

-I Mate SP3i

-I Mate SP5

-HTC TyTN II

And it’s only fair that the Xperia X1 get’s added to the list as the latest and greatest!

Keep in mind this review is coming from a professional user, and not a media junky. I use e-mail, open word documents, call people, text, view sites, Google maps, etc… I do not use my phone to watch movies, buy pointless apps, etc… But I do send out a hundred e-mails daily.

Upon un-boxing, you’ll get all excited. This is an extremely sexy phone and as I mentioned before it is extremely small for the punch it packs! The device itself comes with a headset which sounds pretty good, also a FM radio antenna dongle which connects between the phone and the headset (it’s optional only if you want to use the FM tuner).

The device runs the standard Windows Mobile 6.1 professional operating system. Configuring Exchange push with your SSL certificates is the same as any other device. One thing I have noticed is that this phone can handle large amounts of e-mail, calendars, and contacts way faster than any of the previous devices I have had. During the first sync, the phone chews through all the information no problem, where with previous phones the phone would sort of freeze because of all the information coming in. This phone has WAY more memory then any Windows Mobile device I have used in the past, which is great considering my old phones hated me for the amounts of e-mail I wanted to ActiveSync…

The screen is beautiful and vibrant. I believe that the resolution is higher than most standard devices so you have to keep in mind that some of your media application might not function properly. However you can always use Windows Media Mobile, or use the Xperia Media panel to view content.

Panels are something new from Sony. At first I thought I was going to hate panels and never use them, but after owning the phone for some time, I have to say I love them. A panel essentially changes your Windows Mobile Today screen with a different application (if that makes sense). You can change your today screen to Face book, Twitter (currently beta), Media viewer, Google Search, Windows Live, etc…  (As of today’s date there are 21+ panels available on Sony’s site). When hitting the panel button you are showed 9 panels which you select to show up, unfortunately you can’t increase or decrease this.

Calling on this phone is very slick. Unlock other touch screens I have had no problems using my finger to dial on the big phone pad via Touch Screen (and I have big fingers). The phone volume allows you to crank the volume up pretty high. Call quality is also amazing (as long as the person you’re talking to doesn’t have a crappy phone). Video calling on this phone rocks. For the most part it’s clear, and the camera quality is great for cell phone video calling. Just make sure you don’t rack up huge costs by video calling all your friends.

One of my biggest pet peeves about this phone is the fact you cannot record 30fps video at high quality. This is because of some patent or copyright issue between one of the chip manufactures and a patent or something inside of North America. Only the North American versions of this phone have this problem.

The phone is a small little device, perfect for carrying around in your suit pocket. You can pop in and pull it out of your favorite pair of jeans as well. The keyboard is a tad bit small, but after a few months of frustration you’ll get used to typing on it and will be able to pump out messages pretty fast.

With phone’s that look as fragile as these I often get concerned that with heavy use the phone will become damaged just from general use, but this is not the case. Please note that if you purchase the Silver version, you will have to be a little bit more gentle as the case is made with crappy plastic that can crack easily, the black version of the phone feels a little better as the back portion of the case feels like it is made from a plastic/rubber mix.

I’d recommend this phone to any professional who needs to stay connected. DO NOT get this phone if you have bad eyes (you won’t be able to read the screen).

Pros:

-One of the most responsive Windows Mobile phones I have used/owned.

-Keyboard open/close screen swap (portrait/landscape) changes very quickly.

-3 words: SONY PANELS ROCK!

-Great Picture Quality

-Super high resolution (good for those of you with good eyes)

-Optic touchpad is great for scrolling

-Great call quality

-GPS works great, get’s a fix on your location very fast after your first fix.

-Skype calls actually use the earpiece and mic on the phone as if you were making a normal phone call.

Cons:

-Horrible video frame rate on high resolution videos (this is due to some copyright or patent issue a chip manufacturer had in North America). This issue only affects North American versions of the phone.

-The Silver edition cracks very easily, after receiving the black version from Rogers, the case feels slightly rubber now instead of cheap fake chrome.

-Camera button, and up button on front controls are both annoying.

-There is no “Start” hard-button on the phone, you must use the touch screen, or pop out keyboard.

Apr 222010
 

For the longest time I’ve been on Fido with a unlocked (direct from Sony) Xperia X1a. I’ve never had any problems with it at all. Everything worked flawless. It was a great setup. Exchange, connecting to my VPN, etc…

Recently I setup a corporate plan with Rogers. Ended up getting a bunch of Xperia X1s at a discounted rate since I signed a 3 year on a bunch of lines… Turns out Rogers charges you for an “external IP” that you can use to connect to your business VPN. If you don’t add this option you will not be able to connect to a VPN.

After setting up the VPN.com apn on the new rogers (rogers firmware) Xperia X1s, I noticed that everything worked except simple web page browsing (in both browsers). No errors, just loaded completely blank pages. When changing apn back to internet.com everything worked fine. I automaticly assumed this was related to a “hidden proxy” configured somewhere on the phone.

From this behavior I went ahead and checked the config on the device, no proxies were configured anywhere. Rogers denied the proxy existed, I’m not sure if they do this because they don’t want anyone knowing their internet is being filtered/monitored, or if tech’s simply do not know.

While waiting for a call back from Tier 2 support, I went ahead and started fishing through the registry. I found a bunch of very odd registry entries pertaining to proxies. There was a SOCKS proxy configured, along with what appeared to be a HTTP Proxy, a few other entries also existed which were configured.

After removing these “odd” proxy registry keys, all of a sudden everything started working. Please note that if you modify these settings, you may break your configuration. Any of your providers “online” services (such as ring tone marketplace, application marketplace, etc…) also may cease to function properly (as these services are probably being hosted on their internal network).

To Remove:

1. Open your phone’s registry using any Windows Mobile Registry editor. I use “CeRegEditor” available at: http://ceregeditor.mdsoft.pl/

2. Open “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE”, then open “Comm”, then open “ConnMgr”. Under this value, you should be able to see all the devices configured GPRS/HSPA/HSDPA data connections. Browse through the folders and look for a “Proxy” entry. The “Proxy” entry is the configured hidden proxy. I simply deleted this key. If you find anything that has a value of “inet-new” or “inet-corp” you can safely ignore these as I have found they are part of the standard Windows Mobile firmware.

3. Take a look at the other folders under “ConnMgr”, you may notice a few items called “SOCKS”, and “HTTP”. Go into these folders, and remove the proxy values. As I mentioned before if you see any keys with the values “inet-new” or “inet-corp” you can safely ignore these.

Please note that this worked in my specific case. Your results may vary. Also insure that you have made a backup of the keys you have modified in case you need to revert back. Depending on the way your provider has configured your device you may also be tampering with other services (ie. MMS, WAP).