March 23, 2006
 

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Posted 10.22.04

Now Hereís an Idea

These days, people expect phones to do more than make calls. People want one tiny device that can organize schedules, contacts, to-do lists, can take photos, send e-mails and remind me to call my mother. Luckily, these super devices will appear in the very near future, and a few good ones already exist. As Eric Zeman, MEís editor-in-chief, just illustrated in his review of Sierra Wirelessís Voq phone.
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By Teresa von Fuchs




The Samsung i600 is another worthy specimen. A clamshell style phone, it’s a little bulkier than the standard flip phone, but considering the features it packs (and that it still fits in the pocket of my jeans), I’m not complaining.

As I’ve already confessed to being a Mac user, I won’t go into my upset routine about the fact that almost no handheld devices are Apple-compatible (especially not Windows Mobile OS ones.) But, for people like me, there is a third-party application provider whose mission is to make Macs compatible with all the devices you might be carrying around in your pocket. It’s cleverly called PocketMac and I thought the i600 would be a perfect place to test-drive its new smartphone edition.

Only I’m not sure where to start in terms of describing my frustration with trying to set it up. I’ve spent the last two days on and off the phone with PocketMac tech support; it began with the program running in a loop, installing and reinstalling itself on the Samsung. After installing the fix for that (apparently a glitch that was already fixed, just not on my download) I synced and jumped for joy; it worked! My smartphone and my Mac actually talked to each other. I opened the contacts program on the phone and yup, there were all my business contacts, IN TRIPLICATE! My desktop, now had triples too. The calendars only had double appointments, and that was most likely from my entering them separately in each program. This problem was cleaned up relatively quickly by just resetting the phone, reverting back to a saved database on my address book and deleting my duplicate appointments.

Time for a clean start. Reconnect and re-sync. Now most of the appointments on my calendar are missing from both the phone and the desktop and all of my contacts were erased off my desktop. At least my photos and MP3s are synchronized. But instead of screaming, I just thanked the little back up gods and called tech support again.

In PocketMac’s defense, I have to say that this current irritation is still quantitatively less than my constant frustration with incompatible devices. And that despite two wasted afternoons, I am positive that with a little more tech support help, I can get the two devices to speak the same language. But like all mobile conveniences of today, it’s never that easy.

As for the Samsung on its own, it’s a lovely tool. If you don’t mind number keying in shorthand calendar and contact info, it can pretty much manage your day for you. You can program different sounds for different functions and calls, set alarms for calendar and task items. Surfing is really easy with the large screen and different viewing options, plus it’s only about two buttons to launch your favorite sites.

There isn’t a scroll wheel or a stylus, but there are different home screen options, and the Windows default gives easy access to your five most frequently used icons, as well as displaying time, date, upcoming appointments and any new messages. The windows mobile media player is great, 20 MB of storage isn’t much for photos and MP3s, but the SD I/O slot is great for expansion. And Sprint PCS’s great service meant I was never out of range. The phone also comes with extended battery life for over five hours talk time (combined) and 10 days standby.

My favorite feature was notes, which makes a voice recording and then it plays it back over the earphone or the speaker. I found this most handy when I wanted to quickly record a reminder for myself for an idea I had but didn’t want to lug out my notebook or stop what I was doing and type it out.

For a phone that pretty much does everything but iron my clothes (even without syncing it to my desktop) I can only imagine the added perks for someone who can sync up.
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