Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rumors of Microsoft Cellphone - To be announced early next year

Rumors are circulating that Microsoft might release its own branded version of a cellphone manufactured by Nvidia. It is likely to be announced in February! For more details, check out this, this and this.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Video - Walt Mossberg reviews BlackBerry Storm

Here is WSJ's Walt Mossberg's video review of BlackBerry Storm:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CNET Video review of BlackBerry Storm

Here is the CNET first look video review of BlackBerry Storm:

And here is the USA Today video of BlackBerry Storm vs. iPhone:

Gmail themes are coming

Gmail themes are coming. Check out this blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sprint Instinct MR4 firmware update available now

Sprint Instinct Firmware Update MR4 is available now. Many users have successfully downloaded it and a few of them have reported success with Opera Mini Beta 4.2 browser as well. Opera Mini 4.1 still seems to lock up on the loading screen.

Here are the release notes for Sprint Instinct Firmware Update MR4 .

Apps: You can find a compilation of apps that now work with Instinct here.

Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student for (almost) FREE?

Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student (Word 2007, Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007, and OneNote 2007) version comes with a $69.99 subscription to Microsoft Equipt (PC security/protection service) available for purchase from CircuitCity.

According to various news sources, Microsoft plans to discontinue this service and will offer the users a pro-rated refund and will let them keep the Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student for free! It seems that Microsoft Equipt is still for sale in CircuitCity. I don't know what happens if someone walks into CircuitCity today and buys this for $69.99. Will they get most of their money refunded if they call to cancel subscription and still get to keep the Office software?
I guess it depends on when they decide to turn it off...

According to ZDNet:

"Microsoft’s Equipt — which Microsoft launched in July of this year — is dead and Microsoft is having to go back and pull copies of Equipt from the channel (Circuit City in the U.S. and DSGI in the U.K.). Microsoft is offering customers a pro-rated refund for the service and allowing purchasers to keep Office Home & Student edition for free forever, Microsoft officials said. "

According to ars technica:

"Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley is reporting that Microsoft Equipt, which Microsoft announced just a few months ago, is also going the way of the dodo. The company will be offering refunds and will allow customers to keep the included Office Home & Student edition for free. "

According to this on CNET news:

"The copies will be headed out of retail stores in the coming weeks, although the subscription will run through some time next year. But since Microsoft plans to offer free licenses of Office to Equipt customers when their subscriptions end, those existing copies look like a pretty good deal for those who need Office Home and Student--the version of Office included in Equipt.
As for existing Equipt subscribers, they not only will get a free license to Office Home and Student, they can also call and cancel their subscription, get a pro-rated refund and still get the copy of Office. Gordon said that Equipt buyers tended to be Microsoft's early adopters and said that "We really want to make sure they are taken care of."

P.S. This does not relate to mobile gadgets but I thought some readers might find it interesting. Also, I am not liable if you go and buy it and don't get a refund.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Video comparison of Sprint vs. AT&T HTC Touch Pro models

ZDNet has a video comparison of the Sprint and AT&T HTC Touch Pro models. Full review here.

Sprint HTC Touch Pro vs. AT&T HTC Fuze:

Adobe Flash available for Android but not for iPhone

Adobe Flash player for mobile is now available for more smart phones including Windows Mobile phones and Google Android based phones. However, there is no Flash version for iPhone because Steve Jobs has said in the past that it wasn't optimized for iPhone. There could be another reason for Apple not allowing Flash. Apple maintains tight control of its iPhone/iPod Touch app store and takes a 30% cut from every app sale! With Flash, developers could create games and apps as websites and bypass Apple's lucrative money making machine completely. That makes Android a better platform with Flash support but it needs to evolve some more and needs better devices before it can outdo the iPhone.

Did Oprah give out Sprint Instincts on her show?

There seem to be a number of posts on the web purporting to be from people who went to a taping of Opera Winfrey show and were given Sprint Instinct phones with free 90 day plan. Here is a post from someone selling their Oprah Winfrey show Sprint Instinct phone on eBay. Here is another one selling it on a forum. Here is one from someone who is trying to figure out how to unlock it to use with AT&T (poor soul). There were some posts of Oprah show Instincts for sale on Craigslist too.

President-elect Obama to stop using Blackberry and email?

According to a news article on BBC News website, president-elect Obama will likely stop using his Blackberry and email because the transparency laws could require some of his communications to be open to public view. According to the BBC article:

"He took mobile e-mail everywhere on the campaign trail.

In the summer, cameras filmed him checking his BlackBerry while watching one of his daughters playing football. His wife Michelle slapped at his hands, to get him to put it away.

"I think Obama is the first president who is addicted to the BlackBerry like the rest of us, and there's a lot of presidential records and archive rules on what gets stored and what doesn't," former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart told the Associated Press.
During the campaign, the New York Times reports, his advisers rarely printed out memos, e-mailing them to his BlackBerry instead. "

I bet it will be tough parting with his Blackberry due to Presidential Records Act but there are just too many risks involved including the risk of hackers. Also, most email communication travels plain-text unless encrypted end-to-end with digital certificates or some advanced feature which then limits the ease of email use.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X1 available for pre-order $799.99

Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X1 will soon be available for pre-order from Sony website for $799.99. It will most likely be sold unsubsidized by a carrier in the US and should work with a SIM card from AT&T (as an unlocked phone that could potentially be used with other supported SIM cards as well).

Here is a CNET first look video of Xperia X1:

Citrix working on iPhone version

A few months ago, Citrix had provided a sneak peek (see video below) of their XenDesktop version for iPhone. For those that have never heard of Citrix, it is a company that provides remote access and other information technology software to 100% of Fortune 100 companies and thousands of other organizations.

According to a recent article by PCWorld:

"By the first half of 2009, Citrix will make its XenDesktop and XenApp client and server software for remote access to Windows applications available for the iPhone.
Fleck said the company is addressing an "unbelievable market demand" for such a product. Requests have become the number-one topic of discussion on its blog site.
Your entire XP or Vista desktop and all your apps are available in that virtual desktop with all the inherent security and manageability that is currently available on remote desktops now," said Fleck
According to Fleck it will make available the entire world of a half-million Windows applications.

Citrix developers worked with Apple to design the iPhone version of the Xen App and Desktop in order to preserve as much of iPhone's unique capabilities as possible."

The blog that this article refers to is probably here or here.

Check out this video:

And here is the video from a few months ago that provided a quick sneak peek (iPhone has other remote Desktop apps that work extremely well):

BlackBerry Storm vs. Apple iPhone

Check out the quick comparison of BlackBerry Storm vs. Apple iPhone here.

This is the first mobile device that could offer serious competition to the iPhone but with over 8,000 apps covering almost everything imaginable, iPhone is still a tough contender!

Verizon Touch-screen Blackberry Storm for $199 starting Nov 21

Blackberry Storm will be available for $199.99 ($249.99 - $50 mail-in-rebate) from Verizon wireless on Nov 21. If it does indeed turn out to be as good a Blackberry as promised, expect more defections from Sprint which has no great device at the moment to compete with AT&T's iPhone, Verizon's Blackberry Storm and T-Mobile's G1 Google phone. Sprint Instinct is a poorly performing device and HTC Touch Diamond and Pro have signature Windows mobile issues despite a decent UI skin created by HTC.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Google Voice search coming to iPhone

(Image Source: New York Times)

Check out this video:

According to New York Times:

"Pushing ahead in the decades-long effort to get computers to understand human speech, Google researchers have added sophisticated voice recognition technology to the company’s search software for the Apple iPhone.

Users of the free application, which Apple is expected to make available as soon as Friday through its iTunes store, can place the phone to their ear and ask virtually any question, like “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” or “How tall is Mount Everest?” The sound is converted to a digital file and sent to Google’s servers, which try to determine the words spoken and pass them along to the Google search engine.

The search results, which may be displayed in just seconds on a fast wireless network, will at times include local information, taking advantage of iPhone features that let it determine its location."
This adds to a number of already available voice apps for iPhone like Say Who (voice dialing) and Say Where (voice search). With the addition of voice search by Google, iPhone will likely provide similar or better voice search compared to Sprint Instinct that uses Windows Live Search.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ocarnia - A true musical instrument for iPhone

While I have tried a number of musical instrument apps on iPhone and they all are very good (especially MooCow Music's piano and band apps), there is a new player in town called Ocarina. Check out the videos:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Access your PC from iPhone - LogMeIn coming to iPhone

If you have used the LogMeIn (excellent free version available) software to access your computer remotely from another computer, you know how useful it can be sometimes. It seems that the company now has a preview version available for iPhone called "Ignition for iPhone and iPod touch preview". Check out the CNET review here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ETF class-action lawsuit against Sprint for $1.2 billion

Attorney Scott Bursor filed another class-action lawsuit against Sprint for $1.2 billion for early termination fees (ETF) charged since 1999. The lawsuit claims that the early termination fees violate the Federal Communications Act as well as the statutory law in all 50 states.

The same attorney recently won a preliminary ruling on a similar lawsuit in California in which Sprint was ordered to pay $18.2 million in ETFs and to stop pursuing another $54.7 million that customers hadn't paid yet. However, the preliminary ruling could be overturned in the upcoming hearings.

I recently paid $400 (200x2) to Sprint in Early Termination Fees to get out of Sprint Instinct contract based on my poor experience with the phone. I would certainly like to get some of my ETF paid back because both my Sprint Instinct phones performed much poorly compared to what they were advertised as and had numerous problems that weren't fixed even in the first 90-days since release while ETF applied after 30-days of purchase.

Sprint Instinct FAQ's and Tips

Here is a copy and paste of Sprint Instinct's FAQ's from their baw forum:

How can I improve the battery life on my Instinct?

Change the Dimming option from 15 to 8 and off from 30 to 15.
Make sure email isn't auto checking.
Set your applications such as news reader and weather to not automatically update (only refresh manually)
To do this, go to the Web screen, push the "Tap to Add" button. On the SelectServices screen, push the little "gears" icon. Set the "Auto UpdateData" option to "Off"
Turn off Bluetooth unless you need it.
Turn off sound feedback when touching buttons.
(optional) Turn off Haptic feedback when touching buttons.

Poorcoverage area may also affect your battery life, if your phone isconstantly going in and out of roaming, you may try setting yournetwork options to "Sprint Network Only"

What is the current phone firmware?
BH29 was released with MR-3; BJ20 will be released with

When will standard Java apps that need a keyboard be supported (Like Opera, Google Maps, etc)?
Java keyboard and input controls are part of the LCDUI update releasing in

Is there a way to lock the screen during a phone call?
No, the phone currently cannot be locked either manually or automatically during a phone call.

Why does my phone sometimes beep 3 times?
The 3 beeps indicate that a text message has been received while thescreen is locked. The only way to prevent the beeping is to set theringer volume to Silence All or Vibrate.

What are the current version numbers for all the software/firmware on the phone?
PRL: 60613
SW:ES.M800 BH29
MCL: 5.5.28
OBIGO: Q7.0-1.6 B

Voicemail: VN.
Music: 2.2.39
SprintTV: 3.0.49
Live Search: 1.70.1
Pocket Express: 1.1.5

How can I view attachments on the Instinct - does it support PDF, PPT, etc?
The Instinct can read some word documents using the Notes application; other attachments can be saved to the SD Card and copied to your computer later for viewing by desktop software. In November 2008 we plan to update the viewers on the phone to handle PDF, PPT, XLS and other file types.

How are the software updates being pushed?
Sprint will push updates to the base software of the phone (the ROM) on occasion. We will post a notice to this forum when it is ready. After a period of time, we will turn on automatic updates to the phones, sending a notice to update your software directly to the phone. The updates will take place over the air and should not require you to visit a store. Application updates are controlled by the vendors of the applications and will be pushed out in a similar fashion - as you launch each app, you will get a notice that an update is available. You can always check for system updates by going to Main, Settings ,General, Update Software.

Does the Calendar synchronize with Outlook or other calendars?
No. The calendar on the Instinct has only basic functionality. However, a new version of Sprint Mobile Email Work is due out in November that will add Outlook synch capability.

How do I get birthdays to repeat every year on the Calendar?
When setting up the Birthday Event or any repeating event, the End datehas to be set to however many years in the future you want the Birthdayor event to be repeated. Next, set the Repeat to "EveryYear". For example, if you want someone's birthday to show up everyyear on the calendar until May 1, 2011, enter that date as the Endtime.

How do I set up outbound email (SMTP)
Follow the information
in this post to set up Sprint Mobile Email when you are blocked from sending mail through your ISP on the Instinct

Can you send text messages to a group?
No. You can add multiple numbers to a text message, but there is no way to create a group of addresses.

Is there a way to run Flash on the phone?
There currently is no flash player for the Instinct. Adobe has not developed one that runs natively on the hardware, and the Java-based flash player is in early alpha; no word from the developers on that project when orif it will be ready.

What is the largest MicroSD card the Instinct can support?
According to
GallifreyRebel's tests in this thread, the Instinct supports the latest 16gb MicroSDHC cards

Where can I find free streaming radio stations for the phone?
Sprint TV and Radio offers many free radio stations; for those looking for additional stations, see
this thread; also the Buzz team has a phone friendly list of URLS at http://www.buzzaboutwireless.com/cms/rtsp.html

Where can I get software / games / apps for my Instinct?
Sprint offers many games and some applications through the Digital Lounge - Click Home - Fun - Shopping on your handset to browser and buy! Third party applications not offered through Sprint, including free apps, are being discussed on the
Instinct-Samsung.com forum. (Registration may be required; this forum is not affiliated with Sprint.)
Forum users have also started a free and fee-based app store at
http://instinct-software.com/ (not endorsed by or affiliated with Sprint.)

How can I put my own music on my phone as a Ringtone?
This process is not supported by or endorsed by Sprint. Use at your own risk. Go to
http://rumkin.com/tools/sprint/index.php(on your computer) and click the first Browse button and find theringtone. You don't have to enter your phone number. Give it a name(second box) and click Upload. Wait for it and it will give you anumber. Now go to http://rumkin.com/tools/sprint/jump.php on your phone and enter the number. it will download and you have the ringtone in your ringtone folder.

How can I create my own ringtones?
Forum user smotrs has created a good writeup using free software in this forum post:

Visual Voicemail - why do I have to dial in to delete messages
Visual Voicemail - why do people get a fast-busy or ring-no-answer when they get my voicemail?
Visual Voicemail - why don't I get notification of new messages?
These issues are related to a new product having some growing pains. We have exceeded our capacity on the current Visual Voicemail platform. We are installing new servers, switches and upgrading the entire system. Improvements should be seen going forward; we anticipate a resolution of the problems before the holiday season. Until these issues are resolved, if you receive a lot of voicemail,you should call your voicemail (dial 1) on occasion to empty a possiblyfull inbox, which would prevent you from receiving new voicemail.

How do you send a voicemail & messages to an email address?
MarkBugs post
here details the process:
A. Select Voicemail from Main screen
B. Push + sign at top of screen.C. Select either Recent List or Manual Entry (bottom of screen):
1. Recent List: Click on an email in the list presented. or 2) . Manual Entry: Select "Enter Email Address". Enter email address on keyboard.
D. The voice recording screen is then displayed and will immediately be recording your voice.E. Push the stop button when done recording.F. Review the message if desired.G. Add extra addressees if desired by hitting the + sign next to the adressee name.H. Select Send to send the voice Email.

Can I listen to my Instinct music on my car stereo and still receive phone calls?
Yes, if you have an auxiliary input jack on your car stereo, you can use an ordinary male-male 3.5mm audio extension cable to connect he Instinct to it. Make sure to get at least 6 ft. of cable so you can freely move the phone around as necessary. Music should pipe into your car stereo through the cable perfectly. Turn the Instinct volume all the way up and use the car stereo volume controls instead. If the music doesn't sound good or is staticky, you probably have a cheap or faulty cable. Consider getting a gold-plated one... they are inexpensive online. Make sure to use a cable with only 2 contact rings on each tip (rather than 3), because this will allow you to use the microphone on the handset when a phone call comes in. When you answer an incoming call, you will begin a handsfree conversation with the other party's voice on the stereo speakers. Your voice should be picked up by the Instinct's microphone, even if it's on your lap.

Is there a way to charge the Instinct from my PC with the USB cable, but also continue to receive phone calls?
Yes, just press the Voice Command button one second before plugging the USB cable into the phone. This will keep the Instinct from turning off the phone capability.

How to Add Album Artwork to Your Songs
Forum user Rennat created a video. To read more about it and to get the link to YouTube go to:

Sprint Instinct next software release MR-4 scheduled for 11/19

According to this, the next software update for Sprint Instinct is scheduled to be available on 11/19:

"This just in from the Instinct team:

"MR-4 will be available 11/19 and can be downloaded via the device (Main Tab -> Settings -> General -> Update Software) or you can wait for our automatic updates."

This is the only information I have. Please see
MR-4 Firmware Release Notes and Dates for more details about MR-4.

Buzz About Wireless Admin
Sprint "

The previous projected release date was 11/12.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Details of Sprint's new Early Termination Fee (ETF) Policy

Here are the details of Sprint's new Early Termination Fee (ETF) policy for contracts signed after Nov. 2, 2008:

After Nov. 2, 2008, the early termination fee will be prorated for all NEW contracts, starting at $200 and progressively reducing to $50 depending on the number of months remaining in your contract. To find your contract expiration date, log on to My Sprint, and click plan details to the right of your phone.
Note: If your contract began before Nov. 2, 2008, terminating or canceling service before your contract ends costs $200 per line.

Prorated early termination fee

Use the chart below to calculate your exact early termination fee. If you are cancelling multiple lines on your account, calculate the remaining number of months on each line, locate the corresponding amounts and add them together to reach your total.

Months in contract Months remaining Early Termination Fee
024$0 (If you are not eligible under the 30-day guarantee period, fee is $200.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Opera Mini for iPhone but not for Samsung Instinct (yet?)

According to New York Times:

"Mr. von Tetzchner said that Opera’s engineers have developed a version of Opera Mini that can run on an Apple iPhone, but Apple won’t let the company release it because it competes with Apple’s own Safari browser.

Opera Mini is free, and can be downloaded onto many phones. The company earns money, as it does for its computer service, from search engines. In addition, some carriers pay Opera to develop custom versions of Opera Mini for their systems. "

It is not clear if Opera has submitted this to Apple for inclusion in the App store but it is interesting to note that recently Opera had refused to create a custom version of Opera Mini browser for Samsung Instinct phone despite hundreds of requests!

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