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Topic # 4634 12-Aug-2005 18:15
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Just a note re 3g coverage in NZ with Voda & TNZ

From other threads & world wide experience WCDMA is not a Nationwide option & doesn't really compare where as Telecom could effectively spend another $60 - $100mill and put EVDO nationwide on all sites, true 3g experience everywhere.

Voda have some cool new devices and services but from the word on the street from new customers and the Herald article below it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Look out Voda, expect similar teething problems that Telecom had on launch of 027

Vodafone's 3G service disappointing

- NZ Herald


By Peter Nowak

The "revolution" in mobiles is here, with Vodafone's 3G video-calling phones boasting a supposed change in how we're going to communicate.

But at this stage in the game, this isn't a revolution in the violent, world-changing, 18th-century French sense of the word. It's more of a revolution in the bloodless, early-90s, Czechoslovak sense of the word.

Put another way, it's very ho-hum. Vodafone's 3G promises the world, but its delivery is less than inspiring. It is, in fact, fraught with problems.

The Sony Ericsson V800 is the mid-range 3G handset of the five initially launched this week by Vodafone. It's loaded with features, with the most interesting - and hyped - of course being the video calling.

While there's no question of its novelty - who isn't keen to try out technology we've been seeing in science-fiction movies for decades? - the experience is a little underwhelming. Rather than the smooth video transmission we've seen on Star Trek, Vodafone's offering is more reminiscent of the news coverage that came out of the US invasion of Afghanistan: shaky, pixelated and delayed.

It is nicely designed - the rotating 1.3-megapixel camera can be positioned away from the user, as most camera phones do, or it can be swivelled to face you for video calls. Also cool are the vanity lights on either side of the lens, which can be turned on with the touch of a button - useful for when you're in a dark room.

A video call divides the screen into two. In the lower lefthand corner is an inset video of whatever your camera is pointed at - yourself, most likely. The rest of the screen is devoted to whoever you're calling. The phone's directional pad allows for zoom by pressing up or down, or brightness control by pressing sideways.

What's problematic here is that if you move around too much, you'll get picture distortion in the form of pixelation. There's also a rather unacceptable level of lag (or latency as the techies say), which leads to rather jilted conversations as both parties unintentionally interrupt each other.

The end effect is that the calls look somewhat rough and jittery - during one conversation, I half-expected to see scenes of crazed Taleban fighters in the background.

One of the other big 3G features is music downloading. Mobile providers are salivating at the success of online music download stores such as iTunes, and they're obviously salivating for a piece of that pie. As such, Vodafone has launched a 300,000-track music store where users can download full songs onto their phones.

Sounds good so far, right?

Sure, but wow, is the implementation ever poor. First off, the music store is a horrible mess, with no discernible logical organisation to it. There is a handy search function, but you're going to have to essentially guess at what tracks are on offer.

The other problem has to do with digital rights management. When you download a song onto the V800, you also get an invisible text message, which essentially contains a licence to play the track. You can move the track onto your computer, but not the licence, so you can't play it on your PC. That means any songs you download will play only on the phone.

Further exacerbating the issue is that the V800, like the iPod, won't play Windows Media Audio files (see Webwalk for more on this topic), which means the only way to get music onto this phone right now is to either buy it from Vodafone, or download it illegally.

Storage is another issue. The V800 comes with a 32-megabyte memory stick, which is enough to store ... well ... virtually nothing. You can upgrade, but at the price this phone is selling for, a two-gigabyte stick should come standard.

Other hyped 3G features included mobile television and video clips. Despite numerous tries, I couldn't get a single clip to play without serious lag and interruption. This problem was further compounded by inexplicable network lapses - despite testing it in central Auckland, where signal strength should be at its strongest, the phone seemed to pop in and out of 3G coverage.

Another problem: the V800 is a power-sucking beast. My phone was half charged when I started a 10-minute video call, and not only was it hot to the touch afterwards, it was also sucked dry. You'll be lucky to make it through a day of moderate use without recharging.

What's most upsetting about these new phones is the pricing. Never mind that the handsets themselves are costly, it's the services - most of which are free until the end of October - that are atrociously priced. Song downloads are a whopping $3.50 each, whereas existing music stores charge around half that.

Vodafone also expects users to pay for downloading video, including television and movie clips. As if going to see a film wasn't expensive enough, now we're expected to pay an extra dollar to watch an advertisement for it? That's just plain insulting.

Video calls within New Zealand will cost the same as regular calls - 49c a minute under the Motormouth plan, which is fair. But international video calls are $1.99 a minute, which is borderline obscene considering you can do the same thing over the internet for virtually nothing.

Vodafone will argue you're paying for the convenience to do these things while on the move. But really, unless you're made of money, can you really not wait till you get home to download a song?

Granted, it's still early days for Vodafone's new network, and there will be some bugs to iron out - especially in pricing. Perhaps a few months from now, Vodafone's 3G will really deliver the goods, but at this point there's no real reason to rush out and plop a small fortune down on a barely-functioning product.

Sony Ericsson V800

3G video phone Pros: Nicely designed camera.
Cons: Network lag; download store is a nightmare.
Herald Rating: 3/10
Price: $849 
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Reply # 18241 12-Aug-2005 18:47
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The writer of this article is a prize idiot and this is already in another thread its old news. YAWN. Is the 3/10 rating for the network or the handset and its sonyericsson that provides a 32 meg stick in the box not vodafone. The guy should not be writing articles!! The DRM protects the music writer the most and of course the network provider. How do we know this guys office even has good good GSM coverage it could be under ground (I doubt it) I have said my peice lets move on.


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Reply # 18249 12-Aug-2005 21:01
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It's not as bad as it sounds.

Yes flicking the phone jerkedly from left to right madly WILL pixelate but who does that?

It lags a wee bit but not much more than a normal phonecall.

Video Streaming works fine for me (are you in 3g coverage Herald?)

Windows media audio? Who dannn cares! WMA is a horrible tinny hollow sounding format that no one should use.

Paying for content? Well you ARE sucking quite a bit of data through the network so a small charge is O.K, would you rather pay DATA rates at $10 a megabyte?

Think about what you download on your $70 jetstream connection a month in the form of useful stuff. I doubt it comes to 30 mp3's etc. Now divide the montlhy Jetstream price by actual items downloaded. You'll probably come out with a figure far more than $1.

Song download at $3.50 each a problem? Again count your music legally downloaded at $1,75 and Jetstream fee by the amount of songs.

20 songs at 1.75 = 35 + 69.95 = 104.95 / 20 songs =

$5.24. much more than $3.50
(think what useful stuff you really need Jetstream over dial-up for?)

"barley functioning" ????? The product is Excellent!!!!!! maybe vodafone's initial sorting of the VLIVE portal might not be the best but don't bag the poor phone!!!

I agree DRM sucks but it's only avoidable by using the illegal downloading as ALL online stores use it.

Vodafones 3g Does not "promise the world".
It promises a video calling service coupled with high speed downloading and high specced phones. and does a resonable job. Yes there might be teething issues but ALL new networks have them.

(I have this excellent model of phone from the 3 network in Australia which is locked to it sadly. and had the opportunity to use the same locally sold model yesterday)

Stupid herald, Ever since "APN" took over, the useless rag has been AD riddled, styled drivvel that really is not worth reading. Oh did we mention all the ADS ADS ADS and the price going up and up and up?.


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Reply # 18252 12-Aug-2005 21:20
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PARADOXSM well written

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  Reply # 18454 16-Aug-2005 12:42
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Think about it, this article was in the Herald on 12/8. As far as I can tell Vodafone only started selling 3G phones on 13/8, so I guess this reporter was testing prior to launch and under who-knows-what conditions. I am using a V800 (same phone) and enjoying streaming, a couple of free music downloads (you get 5 free).

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  Reply # 18465 16-Aug-2005 13:25
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Recife: Think about it, this article was in the Herald on 12/8. As far as I can tell Vodafone only started selling 3G phones on 13/8, so I guess this reporter was testing prior to launch and under who-knows-what conditions. I am using a V800 (same phone) and enjoying streaming, a couple of free music downloads (you get 5 free).

Welcome to Geekzone.

Good point, this was discussed on the weekend at our get together, and my opinion is that if i had a really bad experience whilst reviewing something (especially something so new), I would call the company concerned and ask if perhaps there was anything wrong, or god forbid, some user error involved.

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