Leon's Weblog

December 23, 2009

T-Mobile’s Touch Pro 2

Filed under: Gadgets — Leon @ 10:50 am

Touch Pro 2It’s been several years since I got a new phone. My old Eten M700 was starting to look a bit dated and the battery would only last for several minutes of talk time. T-Mobile’s Touch Pro 2 looked like the perfect replacement since I was already a customer. The TP2 immediately felt like a huge upgrade with a large bright screen, a battery that lasted several days with casual usage, and a 3G Internet connection. Also, unlike with earlier Windows Mobile phones, not much tweaking was required to get started.

Trouble With Time
For me, the biggest annoyance on the phone is that the time constantly got reset (see forum thread). This happened occasionally when the phone would automatically connect to the Internet to check mail or weather etc… This problem appears to be local specific and is caused by the T-Mobile network. Turning the phone’s data connection off/on would reset the time properly but this wasn’t a good solution for me (if you are checking the phone to get the time, how do you know if it is wrong). What worked for me was disabling all automatic clock updates by going to phone settings–>time zones.

Google Sync
Around this time Google had just released Sync which simulated a Microsoft Exchange server and enabled push e-mail and synchronization of contacts between Gmail and Windows Mobile devices. I found that this service worked well for e-mail but was not usable to synchronization of contacts. Every time a changed contact entry was synchronized, the system incremented the contact’s birthday by one day. It appears that this issue has very recently been resolved.

Screen Protector
The screen protector that came with the phone got scratched up pretty quickly. I also didn’t install it carefully enough so I ended up with a few air pockets that did go away after several months. I got the ClearProtector as a replacement. At first, I didn’t like the replacement. This protector was much softer that the one that came with the phone so I wasn’t sure if it would last. Also, applying the protector required wetting the clear plastic to activate the adhesive (I thought that was a bit unorthodox since we are putting moisture on a electronic device). The worst part about it was the amount of bubbles (several large spots and many tiny dots) that resulted when I first applied the protector. However, after a few days of use, I started to appreciate this design. Because the protector was softer it gave the phone a better tactile feel. Also, the material was permeable, so after a few days, all the bubbles disappeared and the screen became crystal clear. The best part is that, after a month of use, there are no visible scratches on the protector either.

Car Navigation
There is some concern on web forums that the latest versions of TomTom don’t work on the TP2. All I can say is that it works for me just fine (and it would have been a deal breaker if it didn’t).

Useful Links
You may find the following links useful for setting up the phone:

Update 1/25/2010: I just updated the phone to Windows Mobile 6.5. The update is available free from T-mobile.

  • The biggest improvement for me was that the phone no longer forces locking the screen based on MS Exchange Server policy. The new eye-candy is nice but I appreciate WinMo 6.5’s added configuration options and back-end features for working with MS Exchange etc… much more.
  • I did notice the same memory-leak/performance issue as a number of other users (memory usage jumps to over 80% after a few hours of usage. Setting the registry key HKLM/Software/HTC/ResProxy/ShareMemSize to 0 as discussed in this thread seems to have addressed the problem.
  • I’m indifferent about WinMo 6.5’s honeycomb start menu; however, I don’t like the amount of junk application that T-mobile put there with this ROM. I deleted the extra application shortcuts from /Windows/StartMenu/Programs using Resco File Explorer. Note that most of these shortcuts were marked as system files and hidden by default so you have to enable viewing system files in the File Browser’s options to be able to do this.
  • GPS still works (Google Maps, TomTom but not Bing) but the phone seems to have a weaker GPS reception than before the update.

December 22, 2009

Designing a Bare-Bones Media Center

Filed under: Gadgets,Personal — Leon @ 12:35 am

Media CenterDesigning an entertainment center from scratch can be a daunting tasks, especially if you care about quality and aren’t looking to spend more than 5K. Here are some of the considerations that I’ve made when designing the media center in my new home.

Display
The TV is the heart of the entertainment center. There are many specifications that you can consider when choosing the display but the most important one is whether you like the image quality. At this point, most LCD’s look very similar on paper (1080p HDTV, HDMI, 120Hz etc…) and posted specifications such as contrast ratios can be questionable at best (especially when comparing different manufacturers). New technologies such as OLED displays exist but I don’t think they have matured yet for mass market consumption. Besides, being on the cutting edge can quickly put you over budget. I went with a Sharp Aquos LCD TV. Getting a projector was another consideration but the image quality just isn’t the same.

Mounting a flat screen on the wall is nice convenience. When choosing a wall mount, make sure that it can support the size/weight of your TV and that it has a solid construction (especially if it pivots). The mounts with dual-arm constructions tend to feel much more rigid so I think they are worth the extra price.
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