John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

HTC Star Trek Cingular 3125 review

I read an article a while back about the bargain of the century which is a 2 year old phone. It is one of only two flip Windows Mobile smartphones. The other being a Motorola MPX 220 which I also played with a while back. I can’t quite explain it but flip phones have always had an allure for me. I think they look kewl .

Here are the phone specs:

The specs are quite light for a phone of today. OS is only Mobile 5, processor is only a 200MHZ processor and no WIFI or GPS. But with this comes reasonable battery life and good form factor. That said, these specs are similar to my HTC S710 which is my favorite Smartphone so far. Memory is good at 128MB/64MB. For those counting I have now worked with 11 Smartphones to date and counting!

I bought mine on ebay for $79. And so started the catches. I didn’t read the ad close enough. It came locked to AT&T, didn’t come with a USB cable (it’s not a standard mini USB) and didn’t come with a headset (again it’s non standard). A quick trip to ebay resolved all these for about $10 each. So all in all I have $109 invested. I’m so glad companies have started moving away from proprietary jacks like this. HTC’s use of a modified miniUSB on other devices is somewhere in between.

One of the amazing things about this device is that there are unofficial “cooked ROMs” for Windows Mobile 6.1 for this device. This brings the device right up to current on the OS. Prior to the upgrade (while I waited for a cable) I played with it on Windows Mobile 5 and was reasonably impressed. I contemplated not bothering to upgrade it. But in the end I did and was rewarded. It breathes a new life into the phone giving it a clean fresh face!

This being the smartphone OS, it is zippy even with this light processor. Navigation is quite easy using the numbers, the D PAD was a little harder to use. The lack of physical separation between the keys means you need to pay attention when using it or you hit the wrong button. The keys aren’t the most satisfying to use. They work, but not the best. The unit is a bit on the longer side, so for my hand I found I had to adjust it in my hand frequently to get at both ends of the keyboard. But then again I have a small hand. The large keys are easy to manage. I’m getting use to T9. I’ve had a full QWERTY keyboard on my TyTn and 710 so have not spent much time on T9.

The screen is good but a little hard to read in bright sunlight. This is one of the places this device shows it’s age. Call quality has been good and reliable but reception is not as good as my S710. The device support A2DP (streaming audio over Bluetooth) which amazed me. It paired with my car stereo and played fine. With Pocket Player (my favorite MP3 player) the playback was smooth and uninterrupted. With Windows Media Player there were occasional interruptions when it was busy with the network. Pocket Player ups the priority on the decoder to insure no interruptions and it works well with light processors like this. This is the kind of experience that leads me to believe the Smartphone based software is really optimized better for lighter hardware.

I quickly ran into one of the limitations of this phone. The microSD card if you can believe it is under the SIM card. WTF? At least it’s not under the batter, because every time you remove the battery it looses the date/time. Limitation number 2 is that the hardware is only compatible with microSD cards so it can only take a 2G card. Pooh. I hoped the WinMo 6.1 upgrade would fix that. No joy. I carry a lot of music and podcasts and this is a real limitation. So the easiest solution is to convert music to OGGs which doubles the amount of memory you can carry but means you have to do conversions.

As usual getting TomTom to run on these Smartphones is an absolute act of patience. I would say it took me 4 hours to get TomTom 5.2 running. Trying different releases etc. In the end it’s in and working well. Funny my daughter had a solution t the issues I have with installing TomTom on smartphones. STOP CHANGING PHONES she said loudly J Now where is the fun in that. I told her getting TomTom running is the pain to go with the joy of playing with new devices!

The camera on this phone is only 1.3Mp with fixed focus and no flash. The camera program includes some welcome improvements such as a timer and some other nice features. When you close the clam shell the exterior display acts as a view finder for making self portraits! Brilliant!

So in the end this is a good phone. I like it a lot. It feels great in the hand and in the pocket. The performance is good and the battery life is fine in spite of only being a 750mAh. Being a custom cable, carrying a spare battery might come in handy but then as usual you will need a way of charging it off the phone. And remember, every time you take the battery out you loose your date and time … I’m amazed in this time and age the phone still has not way of updating the date and time over the internet. WTF? MS have you learned anything?

So what’s the next gadget on my horizon? I am looking at two right now but I have not decided, both are brand new devices so I think I’ll wait a bit for the price to come down …

HTC S740 smartphone, the next generation of the S710. By the way I looked at the 730 which adds a faster processor to the S710, but the reviews I have read say it’s not that much better so don’t bother …


Hp Ipaq 910C

This 910C looks very interesting with all features included, a big battery and fast processor. Of course this is back to a touch screen which may have the plus of being able to run more code, but use the Dpad/roller/QWERTY keyboard for input. Might be interesting to try.


October 6, 2009 - Posted by | Electronic gadget reviews

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