28 Jun

Feature vs. Smartphone

Feature vs. the Smart-phone. That is the question. There is no straight answer; the lines are blurring too fast. At the end, your definition might be different from mine:

Both Feature and Smartphones support voice and data capabilities, including multimedia audio and video, camera, gaming, high-speed networks, GPS and advanced user interfaces. Both are programmable. And both are updatable on the field. While the line that separates Feature vs. Smartphones is become thinner over time, Smartphones are considered more advanced and are more like a portable Internet computer with voice capabilities, as opposed to the Feature phone which is seen as a programmable cell-phone device with data capabilities. Compared against Smartphones, the Feature phone is typically Java or BREW-based, while the Smartphone has an advanced operating system and corresponding development environments.


06 Jul

The C. Enrique Ortiz Phenomenon

CEO for President

What began as a colorful Internet fluke has blossomed into a full-fledged political movement – one that Republicans and Democrats alike are reluctantly having to acknowledge.

See The C. Enrique Ortiz Phenomenon:


(P.S. Thanks to my brother Carlos)

03 Jul

Reverse Engineering the iPhone

I read at Mika's blog about a video from Semiconductor insights, which is a company that reverse engineers electronic products, that shows the iPhone being dismantled to learn about the electronic components being used — see below:

–Disclaimer: Bill, you may not want to watch this video — might make you want to cry!–

Towards the end of the video, the guy (the engineer) says something along the following lines “there is nothing here that makes the iPhone special”…

…but of course there is! …it is the   S o f t w a r e!


[Via Mika's blog]

01 Jul

iPhone Cost of Ownership

AT&T phone plans for the iPhone include unlimited data, which is great. The cost of ownership for the iPhone isn't cheap, especially when including unlimited texting. See below, and do the math…

Click to enlarge


26 Apr

Nokia 6131 NFC

I (finally) got my hands on a Nokia 6131 NFC handset with which I have been playing with. This handset is to be released later this year (summer) here in the U.S.

The 6131 NFC is a Series 40 3rd Edition (FP1) handset with support for the following Java APIs:

  • MIDP 2.0 / CLDC 1.1
  • Advanced Multimedia Supplements
  • Bluetooth API
  • File Connection and PIM API
  • JTWI clarifications
  • Mobile 3D Graphics API
  • Mobile Internationalization API
  • Scalable 2D Vector Graphics API
  • WMA 2.0, 1.0
  • Web Services Specification
  • Contactless Communication API

…a pretty good list of supported APIs, and support for WAP 2.0

It's primary display has a resolution of 240 x 320 with a color depth of 24 bits, and a secondary display with a resolution of 128 x 160 with a color depth of 18 bits. The handset's display is crisp; very clear.

Memory storage holds 11 MB, with JAR files up to 1MB. It has a Micro SD slot.

Connectivity-wise the handset supports EGPRS, GPRS, HSCSD, CSD (GSM 850 900, 1800, 1900), Bluetooth, Infrared, USB, and well as NFC.

The handset supports the following video formats: 3GPP formats (H.263), H.264/AVC, MPEG-4. The following audio formats are supported: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, MP4, WMA, Mobile XMF, SP-MIDI, AMR (NB-AMR), MIDI Tones (poly 64), True tones (WB-AMR), and it comes with an AAC/MP3 player and FM radio.

But the real treat for me is its support for NFC, or Near Field Communication, which I believe will totally take off, and will be pervasive on all handsets, as pervasive as Bluetooth is today; but we are a couple of years away from the “NFC sweet spot”. But to get there, we must start today. The Nokia 6131 NFC SDK 1.0 is available from Forum Nokia. The Forum Nokia Wiki has a Nokia 6131 NFC FAQ and other very good information.

Of interest is the handset's support for the Contactless Communication API (JSR-257), which is the enabler for NFC “smartcard” I/O from Java; exciting – more on this later on…

The 6131 NFC SDK
6131 NFC SDK

Overall, I like the handset; its form factor, weight, its crisp display, and its overall features, oh and of course, its support for NFC… And Nokia has done a good job with documentation, resources and tools.


15 Dec

Betting on the All-in-One Handset

Gaming, on-line gaming, seamless voice, push-to-talk, VoIP, video sharing and streaming, entertainment, access to work, email, music, IM, payments, SMS, mobile web, etc, etc, etc. The All-in-One handset.

BussinessWeek reports that DoCoMo is betting on the All-in-One Gizmo. Mike Elgan from The Raw Feed writes Why the BlackBerry Pearl Is the Future of Phones.

While handset convergence is the way of the future, I still feel that power-users, such as power-gamers, or power-music-listeners, and so on will rely on specialized handsets for such. Functionality convergence I see it to be more about “casual usage convenience”, meaning that successful converged handsets is about being “good enough” on many aspects, but not terribly good on a given one, well, except for voice, and data. The other factor is that not everyone (if you are reading this blog, you probably are the “exception”) cares about a heavily converged device; this of course varies with the region/country. That said, it would be awesome to have an All-in-One handset; I want one…

What do you think?


21 Sep

Sony's Mylo Gadget

Sony's specialized messaging handset, the Mylo gadget, is a small, Wi-Fi enabled handset that provides a Web browser, messaging, phone and digital music player.

See more at Sony's Mylo site. Also see Engadget's review, and Gizmodo's video at YouTube.

Seems like a pretty neat device – all it needs is 3G connectivity.


19 Sep

Joel on Sprint's LG Fusic cellphone

OMG, you guys have to read Joel's review of Sprint's LG Fusic handset. Joel cracks me up!
A good, honest review. The following is just one of the examples of the handset's poor UI design/experience that he brings up:

“The first thing you see when you click on the Menu button is that you missed some alerts… Although, it turns out, you didn’t, that's just the name of the menu item that comes up first.

Not all Sprint phones are as bad as the one that Joel reviewed. I participated on Sprint's last round of the Ambassador program, and the phone that they sent me, the Samsung A920 was pretty neat…


14 Sep

Nokia Phone Software (Firmware) Updater

Keeping your handset firmware (the software embedded in hardware) up-to-date is an important thing to do. Why? Because software is constantly being updated with enhancements and/or bug fixes. If you have one of the more recent S60 Nokia handsets, go checkout the Nokia UK phone software update page. There are two methods to update your phone's firmware: over-the-air, and PC/cable. Over-the-air support is not there for all phones, and more phones will be added to the update list later in the year. For PC/cable installation, after selecting your model, a Windows-only executable file (NokiaSoftwareUpdaterSetup.exe) is downloaded to your PC. Follow the instructions. You should check for updates often, perhaps every three months (Nokia recommends every month). 

I updated the firmware for my (new unlocked) 6680. The process was painless and took like 10-15 minutes. I have noticed though that the handset behaves slower after the update, something that I'm trying to figure out why…


22 Aug

The Sony Ericsson P990i PDA phone

The Sony Ericsson P990i PDA phone – what a neat handset:
UMTS, Symbian OS 9.1 underneath, MIDP 2.0, double camera for video calls, touchscreen, and a keyboard, Bluetooth, 802.11b, and many other features.

I really would like to own one.

But there is a problem with the SE 990i — it's price! With a price tag around $1,000, it is just too expensive – it is hard to justify such expense. Granted the P990i is a fine, advanced piece of hardware and software, but for that price I can buy a Nokia 6680 and an E61, both high-end handsets…

So from my perspective, the P990i will remain as it is, “there”, like a monolith, untouchable…


05 Jun

Motion Sensors in Mobile Phones

Samsung S310

Click to see video clip (YouTube).

Samsung has released it's S310 handset, which was announced last January. The S310 uses a six-axis sensor that allows for the detection of spatial movement in 3 dimensions, including
movement speed.

As I wrote on my previous post Gyros on Mobile Handsets – A Very Powerful Tool, “with gyros embedded into handsets we are a step closer to the programmatic use of movement in space over time as a trigger, literally resulting in using new dimensions in our mobile applications – some uses include gestures, orientation-dependent UI, and presence…”

This is very cool – using the dimension of space, and movement for mobile applications – this is literally a new dimension of sensory input for mobile applications… Click on the link above and watch the video clip, then extrapolate from that… Pretty awesome…


21 Dec

About Communicators: From Science Fiction to Reality, and Convergence

Most of us were introduced to communications via science fiction TV programs and movies. Today communicators are part of our daily life. Still, the Sci-Fi definition for communicators tops web searches — if we do a web search for the word “communicator” we get:

  • “Communicators are devices in the Star Trek fictional universe which are used for voice communication between two people.”
  • “A portable device allowing individuals to communicate with others and nearby ships and facilities. Starfleet communicators include rudimentary universal
    translators. (“Broken Bow”). The communicators used in Enterprise closely resemble those from the original series, and even have the same chirp when opened.”

  • That is the communicator that I remember when growing up — I love that show. The same web search also returns the following definitions:

  • “A generic name for information centric mobile phones. In effect a fully featured personal digital assistant and mobile phone in one unit.”
  • “Generic name for smart-phones – essentially a combined PDA and phone.”
  • The concept of communicator is so powerful that some companies even use the term on their products.

    But their primary function, for both the Sci-Fi and today's communicators, remain the same – a tool that enables two (or more) parties to communicate over distances. One thing can be said though, that today's communicators have evolved in functionality to match and even surpass those imaginative communicators of Star Trek's year 2024.

    Not only today's communicators enable parties to communicate over distances, but also over different “mediums” or multi-media — using voice, typography, static and dynamic visuals, and even (virtual) presence. Future communicators may cater our other senses through virtual touch (in some ways already here through the use of presence and even SMS) and even smell. Future communicators will be very good at translating other languages for us as well.

    Let's enumerate some of the characteristics of today's communicators. As we can see, a lot of the functionality overlap across the categories defined below:

    As a Communication Device:

    • Voice in real-time or via voicemail
    • Messaging – SMS (text), MMS (multi-media), instant messaging, email
    • Static visuals or photos sharing
    • Real-time 2-way video conversations
    • Virtual Presence
    • Positioning information that can be used (or not) to enhance communication
    • Communication over various networks types or network convergence
      (over Bluetooth, Infrared, VOIP, 3G, Wi-Fi, Mesh networks, WiMax etc.)
    • Access to the web
    • Use of positioning information to enhance social awareness

    As Personal Organizer:

    • Messaging – SMS (text), MMS (multi-media), instant messaging, email
    • Voicemail
    • Appointments reminders, to do lists
    • Secure access to business resources, portals and data anytime, anywhere
    • Data synchronization
    • Use of positioning information to enhance business applications
    • Asynchronous

      push of relevant data
      (my weather, my news, my stocks, etc)

    As a Social Device:

    • This category is very similar to the “As a Communication Device”, above.
    • This similarity is because communication and social behavior are intertwined.

    As an Entertainment or Media Device:

    • Games (online and standalone)
    • Movies/TV (real-time streaming, or locally stored)
    • Music (real-time streaming, or locally stored)
    • Access to the web

    As previously mentioned, communicators have also evolved into a multi-function apparatus that in addition to its main role as a communication device, have also become an artifact for personal entertainment and information organizer. Will device convergence rule? I believe it will but there will be levels of convergence – there will be vertical functionality convergence, where handsets will be very good at a specific function, such as communication, or gaming, or as a domain-specific data terminal. These vertical devices will cater specific demographics. Cross-functional convergence will still exist, for example my communicator will play simple games and music, but won't be as good at it as the specialized gaming and media-specific devices. Cross-convergence more likely occur at communication (and social), and entertainment, but not everyone will care about such convergence, which is why the
    separation is important, and levels of convergence be offered. On a similar perspective, read Christian Lindholm's New Mobility – My remote contribution to Les Blogs 2.0.

    Example of handsets, communicators that today offer most of the features enumerated above are the two handsets pictured above, the Nokia 6680, and the Motorola RAZR V3x.
    We should expect such features on most future handsets.


    This piece was originally posted on June 6, 2005, but was lost when my previous weblog crashed… This is a modified version of the original post.

    09 Nov

    The Nokia N92 – So Sweet…

    The Nokia N92

    The N92, wow, what a sweet handset… While I don't care much for the TV-specific features, the rest of its features are great! (Source S60.com, and the N92 website):

    • 2.8″ screen supporting 16 million colors
    • High Quality stereo sound
    • 2 mega-pixel main camera with LED flash, up to 4x digital zoom
    • A second integrated VGA camera for video calls!
    • 90 MB internal memory and supports up to 2 GB memory card
    • Tri-band GSM/WCDMA phone with 3G and video call functionalities
    • Bluetooth, Infrared, WLAN and USB 2.0 enabled
    • Build in-built MP3 music player and FM radio

    Plus the TV-specific features:

    • Mobile TV smartphone with integrated Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld DVB-H antenna
    • Dedicated media keys for easy navigation and control of the TV: optimized Mobile TV experience

    You can see video of the N92 in action at I4U.

    Slated for mid-2006, please release this one here in the U.S. This is exactly what I am looking for!!!!


    17 Oct

    3G/UMTS Coming to a (U.S.) City Near You.

    Earlier today I learned via Daily Wireless that Cingular will be deploying their 3G (UMTS) network on a number of U.S. cities by Q4 2005 and early 2006! That is just around the corner… Cool! Cingular had announced back in 2004 their plans to deploy UMTS. I am excited because Austin is in the list of initial cities to get UMTS.

    	"They don’t specifically differentiate between UMTS and HSDPA zones,
    	but residents of Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore,
    	Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, SLC, San Diego,
    	San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Tacoma can expect a November 1st launch.
    	Expect at least average download data speeds of 220-320 kbps".

    Time to upgrade! Maybe.

    For a long time I have been patiently waiting for a true killer handset/network combination for personal use, and it seems the time has come. It is time to upgrade my old but dependable Treo 300 phone+PDA, and I like the new Sony Ericsson P990 which seems like a very, very cool multi-functional handset.

    Cingular's UMTS webpage talks about their network's ease of use:

    	Laptops can be connected to the Cingular UMTS network with a UMTS-compatible
    	PC Card modem or handset. UMTS-compatible handsets allow mobile professionals
    	to talk and respond to email at the same time, from the same device. Handsets
    	can be connected to a laptop using USB cable, Infrared or Bluetooth.

    So far so good. Looking at this a bit closer, I wonder about how accessible all this will really be? At “$79.99 Unlimited Mobile Internet Data Plan”, the service is not cheap. And the cool handsets such as the Sony Ericsson P990 are not available in the U.S. that I know of, and I don't know when they will.

    As a new technology, there will be interoperability issues. The Cingular's UMTS webpage mentions UMTS service vs. EDGE and GSM/GPRS interoperability disclaimers:

    	UMTS phones do not support EDGE, but work on the GPRS network at
    	GPRS speeds. When moving between UMTS and GSM/GPRS coverage areas,
    	your voice calls may drop and you will need to restart your data
    	session. To place a call (including a call to 911) while web
    	browsing on a UMTS handset, you must first leave your data session.

    Dropped calls and sessions must be terminated and restarted? No always-on? Oh well, I guess that is the price we pay for early adoption. Bring it on, it is time to upgrade and move on to the next generation networks…


    12 Oct

    The new Sony Ericsson P990 – I want one!

    I've been patiently waiting for a killer handset for personal use – one with dual cameras, keyboard, touch-screen, with the latest set of JSRs, true 3G network, Wi-Fi enabled, large screen real-state, and many other killer features. And the SE P990 is such a handset… But, will it be available here in the U.S.? That is the question… Carriers here are so (darn) slow to adopt and deploy!