Initial Impressions: XT Network with the HTC One X

, posted: 30-Apr-2012 11:56

I’ve changed cellphone providers quite a bit over the years. I was a Telecom XT customer when it was initially launched, but was turned off it by the amount of system-wide issues it had in the first year.   I ended up going to Vodafone, then 2Degrees, then finally TelstraClear through work.



Now, however, I’m back on XT, with the HTC One X.  I’m looking forward to Telecom’s improvements in the system.  I’m already impressed by the data speeds, and overall coverage round my work/home areas are vastly superior to the other networks I was on.

The usual Telecom apps are on the phone:
  • - Yahoo Tworld – Shortcut to Yahoo search/News
  • - YourTelecom – Shortcut to your Telecom account/data caps


However, unlike previous XT phones, the base image is mostly stock.  This should mean Telecom can provide fast, efficient updates, based on official HTC updates.  It comes bearing a combination of HTC Sense 4.0, and Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich.



Compared to Sense 3, the new Sense 4 is dumbed down.  It doesn’t take over too much of the ICS features which so many want.  Yet it has a lot of useful apps, including the camera app, which seem to be much better than the standard ICS offerings.



I look forward to giving Telecom XT and Sense 4/ICS a good run in the next few weeks.  I’ll be reporting back on the pros/cons of each.  But, for now, I think the One is calling me - telling me that I need to play more games on it.

About the author

I am Vincent Garcia: an ICT Specialist by day; technology geek and DIY handyman by night. I enjoy playing with gadgets, old and new.  Taking most of them through the paces, and to within an inch of their lives! I also enjoy tinkering with things; spending most of my weekends repairing my motorcycles, or renovating my house.  I live in the windy city of Wellington, with my lovely wife Nicola, and my cat Morange. When I was offered the opportunity to review the new HTC One X series, I jumped at the chance.  The short aeroplane trip to Auckland was all part of the fun!  If you want to ask any questions, please add a comment below, or email [email protected]



First thoughts about the HTC One X

, posted: 27-Apr-2012 08:00

I’ve owned many phones over the past few years, possibly too many.  I tend to upgrade every 6-12 months. Geekzone and Telecom offered me the chance to review the new HTC One X, I couldn’t give up that chance. So, up on the next flight to Auckland it was, and took the opportunity to sample the coffee, beer, and food while I waited for the phone’s launch.



I met up with the HTC and Telecom representatives, who gave  a brief run-down of the device, and we had a quick chat about its features.  Then, it was off into the real world.

Opening the box, there were the usual HTC headphones (non-beats), white USB charger/combined charger, and the phone.  The retail box will - of course - be bigger, with a manual, and a screen cleaner.  But it was a developers’ box, so it was what I was expecting at that stage.



The first feature that caught my eye was the colour.  It was white.  I’d had a white phone before, which ended up getting dirty rather quickly.  In the HTC One X’s case, it hasn’t been so, at least not yet.  It has polycarbonate shell, with a gorilla glass screen.  Polycarbonate is the same material from which many high-quality cellphone cases, eyewear, car headlights, and bulletproof shields are made.



Fortunately, due to its matte finish, it is easily cleanable, and has so far proved resistant to scratches.  Compared to the older gloss black cellphone coatings, this one seems very resistant to knocks and grinds.

The design is great: it’s light, and very well constructed.  The accidental drop should be survivable.

Its weight doesn’t please everyone though, as a few have noted that it feels like a fake display phone.  However, I prefer it because it doesn’t weigh down my pocket much compared with other phones I’ve had.

The camera, however, sticks out like a sore thumb.  It is the most likely part to be damaged in a fall, or by keys in a pocket.  It would be preferable to have it set further back into the frame.  But if the protruding lens means it takes better pictures, then I’m ok with it.



The charging port is on the side, which is fine for playing portrait games while charging.  But it does get in the way while holding the phone in landscape mode.



Overall, first impressions are good.  I look forward to delving into the phone and finding out all its pros and cons, which will be revealed in my later posts.

About the author

I am Vincent Garcia: an ICT Specialist by day; technology geek and DIY handyman by night. I enjoy playing with gadgets, old and new.  Taking most of them through the paces, and to within an inch of their lives! I also enjoy tinkering with things; spending most of my weekends repairing my motorcycles, or renovating my house.  I live in the windy city of Wellington, with my lovely wife Nicola, and my cat Morange. When I was offered the opportunity to review the new HTC One X series, I jumped at the chance.  The short aeroplane trip to Auckland was all part of the fun!  If you want to ask any questions, please add a comment below, or email [email protected]




HTC One X First Impressions

, posted: 26-Apr-2012 14:20

I am lucky enough to have been selected to take part in the Telecom sponsored initiative for fellow Geekzoners to share their experiences with Telecom’s new flagship Android phone, the HTC One X. Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about my time with this phone, as I use it as my primary handset. My first post won’t be digging too deeply, but instead will center around my first impressions of the HTC One X.

I have little experience with Android, and none whatsoever with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android v4.0), which is the operating system version that the HTC One X runs. My primary phone prior to this was an iPhone 4, so you’ll have to excuse me if a few comparisons to that and iOS creep into my posts.

After removing the HTC One X from the box, I was immediately taken with the build quality the handset. The screen is made from the extremely tough Gorilla Glass 2. This is the next generation of Corning’s incredibly strong glass display, and is meant to enable up to a 20 percent reduction in glass thickness without sacrificing any of its robustness. It certainly looks like a screen that should handle a bit of rough and tumble, and the HTC reps I met with today assured me that I shouldn’t need a screen protector at all.

The phone casing is made from a single piece of durable polycarbonate, and the overall build quality of the handset seems to be very good indeed, with none of the plasticky, cheap feel I’ve experienced when examining other Android phones. While I’ve not seen the Nokia N9 or Lumia 800 in person, the way the screen seamlessly integrates into this casing is reminiscent of all the glowing descriptions I’ve read in reviews of those two handsets.



When I first powered on the HTC One, I was immediately taken with the quality of the screen output. The display is vibrant with vivid colours. I’m a big fan of Apple’s Retina Display technology, but I have to say that the display resolution and clarity on the HTC One definitely gives it a run for its money. The large 4.7” screen has a 1280x720 resolution, and reading even the smallest of text on it is a pleasure.



The phone setup is relatively painless, with a wizard walking you through setting up the numerous services that the HTC One supports. These included the expected services such as Google accounts, Twitter, and Facebook, but also extended to a few unexpected services such as Dropbox and Evernote.

The setup wizard also allowed me to sync the contacts from my iPhone 4 over Bluetooth. This initially failed, but I suspect this was an issue with the iPhone, as rebooting that fixed the problem, and my subsequent synchronization attempt finished without any issues.

As I used the various features of the HTC One for the first time, I was often presented with an overlay containing instructions and hints to ensure I understood the functionality that was at my fingertips. As a relative Android novice, I really appreciate this level of handholding. We’re not in iKansas anymore, Toto!



Stay tuned for more in-depth digging as I get to know the HTC One X more intimately, and attempt to discover if it will be a worthy successor to my iPhone 4. I’ve not had a lot of time to spend with it yet, but I can already see that the prospects in this regard are bright indeed. Watch this space...

About the author

Hi I'm David, a self employed software developer on the wrong side of 40, residing in Auckland with my wife and two children. I am a passionate All Blacks and Blues fan, gadget junkie, mature aged gamer, and connoisseur of fine heavy metal (and music in general). I currently own an iPhone 4, but am very open to trying new technologies, and can't wait to see what the best of Android can bring to the smartphone table. I enjoy keeping up to date with the latest technological advances in general, and am encouraged to see that the smartphone market is no longer an iOneHorseRace. I’m very interested to see how the HTC One and Ice Cream Sandwich fares in this regard.



Kids and the Nokia Lumia 800

, posted: 18-Apr-2012 15:43

The digital tools that avail themselves today are no match for the blackboards of years gone by. If you have pre-teens, your Nokia Lumia 800 will add great value to childhood memories, yours and your kids. This very small, lightweight device is full of multimedia capabilities and with some very basic skills and little editing, great videos and pictures can be taken at very short notice. I have found, when away from home or a toy box, much fun can be had browsing nursery rhymes on Youtube, for example and the Telecom XT network delivers very well, here.

The handsets video quality is of a very high standard and the colours, sounds and happy moments are appreciated by the olds as well as the kids themselves. My kids immediately cheer up when they are shown 30 second clips of themselves laughing or playing. They find navigation of the clips to be very intuitive and are very capable at swiping across the screen or pressing ‘play’ to view the content.

With all the social media connectivity built into the handset, uploading or sharing content is a breeze.

Specifications, formats and techniques
The camera is activated by a dedicated button, no need to unlock the handset. An on screen button is used to change between motion and still functionality. The maximum resolution of the video camera is 1280x720 at 30fps and the format is MPEG-4. The video camera has a stabilisation and focus feature to help get the most from trying to hold a small camera, often on the move. The still camera is an 8 Megapixel 4:3 format picture in JPG format. I have set this to 7 Megapixel in 16:9 format because I want the pictures to closely fit the handsets 3.7” 16:9-ish screen.

As with both i-devices and Android, there is a great deal of picture and video software available for free or minimal cost download. I used only the built in camera and utilities to make a short video of happy kids and saved this automatically to my desktop using Zune and the wireless network in my house (using wireless sync).

The photos and video I took are presented as taken, no editing. Zune however, can only play the video format, not export or recode. Windows Live Movie Maker can’t work with this format either. Using the built-in browser I Googled this dilemma and found a video, watched it on the handset and realised the handset is actually powerful enough to do the basic editing I need.

I am no photographer and find the rule of 9 to be best for taking pictures – divide the screen into nine blocks (3x3) and ensure the subject is on one of the four cross-sections that result. This usually results in good composition and I am one of those photographers that puts everything else down to luck. Fortunately, this is a great camera.

My fist home made move, unedited:



The panorama photo below was made at a conference at Wintec. When taking panoramas with Nokia Creative Suite, the software automatically fills in the missing pictures as the camera moves around, no need to mentally line up the shots:



If you’re worried about losing the camera on the move or would prefer not to share the photo to Facebook and sundry, a free plug-in is available for the Nokia handset that allows you to upload to a free Skydrive account, an online storage facility much like Dropbox.

Best Use Hints:
• Check the userguide of any new electronic device to see if there are special functions or features that could enhance your experience.
• Youtube offers many videos that are presented in a how-to format.
• Before going on vacation or to a special function, always test and try out different styles and techniques, this ensures you are ready to take a great shot at a moments notice.
• Get a Skydrive account to keep memories safe when on the move and use the Skydrive account from your desktop to keep them available to you when at your desk.

Pros:
• Dedicated camera button which is responsive and purposeful.
• Nokia Creative Suite is great and the auto-stich, guided panorama function is just awesome.
• Great high resolution video with good sound (okay, I sound like a cheeseburger when I talk on video, that is me, not the camera ;-)

Cons:
• MP4 editing tools are third party if you want to convert, customise or add to the movies you make.
• MP4 file size can be really big, somehow – 1min is about 100MB

About the author:

Hi, my name is Gund Wehsling (gundar on Geekzone). I am a freelance ICT contractor in Hamilton. I also share the care of my two year old twins out of work hours and support local community groups with the little spare time I can find. I have had several smart phones over the years and find them to be very helpful when used as a business tool. My expectations of the Nokia Lumia 800 are high given the hype and fanfare that was the launch. In my blog posts I will share experiences using this mobile phone as a tool in a busy and demanding lifestyle. Meanwhile, if you need some experienced long or short term ICT help, my contact details are here: www.arcainsula.co.nz



Nokia Lumia 800 Battery Issue

, posted: 17-Apr-2012 12:39

In previous blog entries, I have shared my experiences using the Nokia Lumia 800 to gain an advantage over a busy day or schedule. As had been previously mentioned, I found the battery life to be remarkably less than the advertised expectation. In this blog entry, I have decided to deal with what is actual fact regarding this battery “issue” and how to work around this, if at all possible, if it at all exists – I haven’t ruled out my tinkering yet.
 
Sticking to Facts
When calling any support line, remember some of the questioning routines are designed to correlate with a flowchart that leads to a specific solution. For this reason, presenting subjective information usually results in incorrect fixes or wasted time. When I called the Care Centre, they had a lot of questions and tasks I needed to follow on the handset. As I found myself scrambling to get the information from the handset while on a call as much as struggling to remember when events occurred, I decided to retreat, hard reset the handset and start the battery investigation from fresh.
 
So you know: As a worst case scenario, as with any purchase, if returning the item is the last option, it won’t be a supported move without proof and fact, so starting again, but logging the errors and events over a few days means I will have a specific record of facts to either help work the problem out or present for comment from any parties involved.

Diagnostics and Battery Cycling
Using the Nokia Diagnostics application (dial ##634# from the phone application), I have ascertained the battery uses between 200 and 300mA during the course of the day, while 'awake'. A quick survey between mates and other Geekzoners showed that their Nokia Lumia 800s were using between 70 and 90mA at this time. I recall the battery seemed to get better with each recharge and decided to work in this direction. As the battery is built in and there is no way to test the battery myself without buying some fancy screwdrivers and voiding a warranty, I decided to cycle the battery and try again with more conservative settings.
 
This next step wipes the Nokia Lumia 800 out, all data, all settings. Be sure you have taken your data off the handset before proceeding.

I hard reset the handset from the Settings, About and Reset menu options. Then, ignoring all prompts to setup or install anything I downloaded “WP Bench”, a free application from the marketplace. I only had to sign in to the marketplace, all other prompts are optional. WP Bench sports a battery timer utility which I drained the battery with. The half or so battery that was left took 2 hours to run out completely and I put the handset directly on the supplied charger for 7 straight hours. I used the Telecom XT network to get the WP Bench software as I had not setup any other connection or setting, just the bare factory defaults. for the record, my software levels are:
 
OS 7.10.8107.79
Firmware 1600.2487.8107.12070
Radio 1.6.00.24
 
The charger disconnected, I started the WP Bench utility up again and drained out the battery from full, this took about 4 hours. I then repeat the discharge, recharge cycle until the Diagnostics application showed no new charge being taken. I then made a note that the battery draw had settled to about 80mA after a few minutes, ruling out a hardware alone problem. Then, one by one, I re-enabled each service and installed each application as the handset was before, checking the battery drain between each step. This process identifies the application or service that tips the battery usage up significantly.

In Summary
After adding all the features and accounts to the handset I had before, I was amazed to see that the power drain fell to about 85mA after a few minutes of ‘settling down’. I watched the screen for some time and noted that the battery drain would climb and fall occasionally as email was checked, for example, but after a few minutes, would fall back to 85 or 90mA.

So it seems this is how the problem is solved? Possibly? Certainly, in my case. Unfortunately, this is not a very scientific test, but none of these steps would void the warranty and apart from a day or so of cycling the battery, there is nothing to lose. It may have been the case that cycling the battery has made a difference, it may have been the case that adding my applications and customisations, under scrutiny has lead to a better installation than before, no way to tell for sure, but this process may help you identify if you have an actual problem or not.
 
Best Use Hints:
  • Check the userguide of any new electronic device to see if there are special charging procedures (camera’s, mobile devices, even remotes, anything that takes batteries).
  • Check the manufacturers website for newer firmware or release notes that highlight your problem if you are having one.
  • Always use the supplied charger and accessories if in doubt.
  • Always use the recommended battery type if your device has replaceable batteries.

Pros:
  • Apart from the time taken to prove this test, the result exceeded expectation.
  • Nokia came to the party, did a follow up call and sent me a courier bag to have the phone sent to Auckland at their cost to be tested.

  • Cons:
  • Losing two days of use to test the battery was better than sending the phone away for a few days, but still takes a lot of time to prove a point.
  • Nokia Care Centre operators in other parts of the world are still struggling with technical terms and issues, try to call the Auckland Care Centre directly in office hours.

About the author:

Hi, my name is Gund Wehsling (gundar on Geekzone). I am a freelance ICT contractor in Hamilton. I also share the care of my two year old twins out of work hours and support local community groups with the little spare time I can find. I have had several smart phones over the years and find them to be very helpful when used as a business tool. My expectations of the Nokia Lumia 800 are high given the hype and fanfare that was the launch. In my blog posts I will share experiences using this mobile phone as a tool in a busy and demanding lifestyle. Meanwhile, if you need some experienced long or short term ICT help, my contact details are here: www.arcainsula.co.nz



TelecomTech's profile

Telecom New Zealand
Auckland
New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

We choose tech savvy Geekzone users to "test drive" the new handsets from Telecom New Zealand.

The team will post firsthand reports on using these smartphones on New Zealand's smartphonenetwork. Make sure to keep an eye on this blog. Who knows who might be our next "test drivers"?

   

Catch up on previous Telecom Tech reviews - read about the Nokia Lumia 1020Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia Lumia 710 and HTC Sensation.





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