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Using a Kindle 3 for web browsing and blogging

 

Kindle 3 web browser screen sunlight

The Kindle's E Ink screen is great for use in sunlight

 

I’m always on the lookout for new mobile writing platforms, so when the new Kindle 3 was launched a couple of months ago I thought I’d give it a whirl.

The eBook capabilities of the Kindle are well known, but its web browsing and blogging abilities are less established. In fact, even in the menus on the Kindle 3 the web browser is listed under ‘Experimental’. Plus, for writers/bloggers there’s no dedicated text editor. So at first glance it’s unclear whether buying a Kindle 3 primarily for web browsing or blogging is a good idea.

Some people have commented that it’s possible to add annotations to books and turn these into ad-hoc notes. Although this can be done, I’m going to concentrate here on blogging in a more direct way.

The web browser on the Kindle 3 is a Webkit affair and far superior to the browser on previous Kindles. The Kindle 3 is actually able to render plenty of pages correctly, although there’s no Flash or any of the fancy plug-ins that we take for granted on even a basic netbook. Pages can also take a bit of time to load, especially over 3G if you have the 3G Kindle 3.

The secret to enjoying web content on the Kindle 3 is to use mobile versions of sites wherever possible. The desktop site of the New York Times for example will render on the Kindle 3’s browser, but the newspaper’s mobile site will render far quicker and offers access to full articles in a way that’s much easier to navigate with the Kindle 3’s cursor keys.

The same principle applies to email sites. I have been able to successfully use Yahoo Mail’s mobile site, while GMail’s mobile site has been hit-and-miss and Hotmail has never worked for me on the Kindle 3.

That leads us to blogging. I’ve been able to use the Kindle 3 to access the mobile WordPress.com site, but there are limitations. The mobile WordPress.com site only seems to allow post creation and does not seem to allow access to saved drafts. This means that if you want to partially write a post to complete later on the Kindle 3 or save as you write, you’ll be out of luck. Plus if you’ve just finished writing your greatest post ever and the WiFi connection to the Kindle 3 drops, I assume your masterpiece might be lost. I haven’t experienced this myself, it’s just a risk I envisage when you’re creating a document online and are unable to save it along the way.

Fear not, there’s a way to blog more safely from the Kindle 3. Yahoo Mail’s mobile site does allow access to your Drafts folder, which means you can write an email and save as you go along. Then when you’re done, use the post from email feature that many blogging sites offer (such as WordPress.com) to publish your post.

Of course you could also leave your post as a saved email draft and then polish it up when you get back to a laptop. If you don’t have a Yahoo Mail account, it’s easy to set one up. As I mentioned I’ve had mixed success with GMail and no luck using Hotmail on the Kindle 3.

Writing with the Kindle 3 is a so-so experience. It gets the job done, but number and symbol input requires a lot of button pressing. The keyboard is also a little wider than ideal and the keys have poor tactile response compared to, say, a BlackBerry. However it does work acceptably and after a short stint of writing I started to warm to the experience. I also find that due to the refresh time of the E Ink screen, I sometimes write quicker than the screen can display the text. However the Kindle 3 always catches up.

Why all this effort when smartphones and iPads are becoming so ubiquitous? Well the Kindle 3 has some unique advantages. Firstly the screen is easily readable in sunlight, in fact it’s better in sunlight than in the shade. Secondly the Kindle 3’s battery lasts for ages and the device is extremely portable; it’s difficult to put a figure on the real-world battery life but I’ve enjoyed a full week of sporadic use from the Kindle 3 with WiFi browsing. Thirdly, for just $189 the Kindle 3 3G version allows you to read web content on a decent size screen in more places than a typical laptop that just has WiFi connectivity.

So the Kindle 3 can be a useful device for web browsing and blogging. Just go into the experience with your eyes open; it’s not an ideal platform for these use-cases but it provides functionality to get many of the basics done, and is one of the only viable options for use outdoors in sunnier climates.

Neil Berman

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Oct 22, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Guides, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Windows Phone 7 heading for bigger launch in Europe than US?

Today’s announcement that Windows Phone 7 will launch on all five major UK carriers indicates that the platform is likely to enjoy success sooner in Europe than on home territory.  So far it looks like AT&T may be the only major US carrier to have a big Windows Phone 7 laumch, and with Verizon heavily invested in the Droid brand I wouldn’t expect them to rush in when CDMA handsets become available.  That leaves Sprint, who also have to hang on for a CDMA version and T-Mobile, who have traditionally offered one or two Windows based hamdsets at any given time.

So on home territory it could be a difficult holiday season for Microsoft’s new hope in the smartphone market.  They’ll be up against the iPhone 4 for upgrading customers on AT&T, and the whole gamut of established brands across the market for new subscribers.  To my mind, this holiday season will be about two dynamics in the top end smartphone space: 4G (Sprint WiMAX and possibly Verizon LTE) vs 3.5G (AT&T and T-Mobile both with HSPA+rollouts) and iPhone 4 vs Android.  Unfortunately I don’t see Windows Phone 7 factoring significantly in that mix in the US, which is a shame because it looks frickin’ awesome.

Neil Berman

Sep 22, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Mobile | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 Review

Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 mainIt used to be that the internet connections for our computers were fed into homes, colleges and more recently coffee shops.  In today’s mobile era we want data everywhere, like parks, beaches and for funky stuff such as live-streaming outdoor weddings to family members around the world.  But there’s never a WiFi hotspot when you really need one.  Enter the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200, a 3G mobile broadband WiFi hotspot able to serve data to five devices simultaneaously.

Now you may well say, “Hold on, MiFis have been around for ages!” and you’d be right…but not at this price. The Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 asks for only $40 a month, with no contract, to feed unlimited data to your hungry devices. That, my friends, sounds like a slam dunk of a deal to me. We have one right here for review thanks to those wonderful folks at Virgin Mobile, so let’s see what it can do.

First impressions of the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200

Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 charging portThe Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 ships in similar packaging to the carrier’s cellphones, encased in a sealed clear plastic box.  It’s attractive but would benefit from some kind of tear off strip to make it easier to open.  The MiFi 2200 is viewable from the outside of the box, so its small size and shiny silver exterior are immediately visible.

Cutting open the box reveals a charger, USB cable, cloth pouch, activation guide and the MiFi 2200 itself.  While the MiFi 2200 looked tiny in the box, its silver topside gave the impression that it might be a little weighty.  The reality is quite the opposite; the MiFi 2200 is amazingly light at just 58 grams (2.05 ounces).  The silver fascia is actually colored plastic with an attractive brushed metal look, while the underside is matte black.  The power button sits on the top, while the micro-USB charging

slot and status indicator are on the side.  There is a removable battery cover on the underside, so if you’re planning a long journey away from power sources then carrying spare batteries is an option.

Setting up the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200

The MiFi 2200 needs to be charged before first use, which takes around 2.5 hours.  The power light illuminates yellow during charging and then turns green when the device is fully charged.  After that, setting up the MiFi 2200 was a simple process as the activation guide in the box is easy to follow.  After switching on the MiFi 2200, it showed up in the list of available WiFi connections in the devices I was using and from there it’s just a case of following the activation steps.

Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 batteryThis is the point where you need to buy a no-contract plan to get data flowing to the MiFi 2200.  Virgin Mobile has made the choices pretty simple; it’s either $10 for 100MB or $40 for a month of unlimited data.  In my mind that translates to $10 if you have a short trip to make or occasionally need to go online when away from home for light data usage, or $40 if you’re a frequent user.  That pricing compares extremely favorably with the main carriers who typically ask for around $60 per month on a two year contract for mobile broadband.

Once the MiFi 2200 is fully activated, it’s worth setting up some security before you start using the device.  Options include WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption as well as a MAC address filter to ensure only trusted devices can connect to the MiFi 2200.

Using the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200

The Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 uses the Sprint cell network for data connectivity, so performance largely depends upon coverage in your area.  I tested the MiFi 2200 is downtown New York City, using an Apple iPad and a Dell Latitude laptop.  The MiFi 2200 can act as a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices simultaneously.

Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 iPadI saw download speeds of around 400-500kbps and upload speeds of 500-600kbps, which I found to be perfectly usable for web surfing, making Skype voice calls and even watching Netflix on the iPad’s Netflix app.  Since I have the 3G iPad, I clocked some comparisons between using AT&T’s 3G radio on the iPad and using the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 to provide data.  The results were pretty interesting.

The iPad consistently loaded web pages faster using the MiFi 2200 compared to using the built-in AT&T 3G radio, and by a good margin.  For example CNET’s Crave page consistently loaded fully in 16-18 seconds on the iPad through the MiFi 2200, compared to 31-33 seconds through the built-in AT&T 3G radio.  Netflix started streaming quicker using the MiFi and playback was faultless, whereas there were occasional freezes using the AT&T 3G radio.  However the benchmark speed tests showed that the AT&T connection was capable of faster data bursts than the MiFi 2200, sometimes bursting as high as 1,300kbps.

Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 Speedtest

Speedtest results from the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 in downtown New York City

This seems to indicate that the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 gets more consistent signal quality in my specific area of New York City, given that video streaming was smooth throughout my usage and pages loaded consistently quickly.  Whereas AT&T can provide faster one-time bursts in my area, although these are of lesser value to the quality of the overall web experience.

Looking to the MiFi 2200’s weaknesses, there’s very little to not like about using the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200.  Sure, we would love it to offer 4G rather than 3G and in our dreams that product might be born one day as a descendant of the Sprint Overdrive.  But given that Virgin Mobile is a newcomer to the mobile broadband sector, I wouldn’t expect to see a 4G Virgin Mobile MiFi until that market has sufficient saturation to warrant aggressive price competition.

It would also be great if the MiFi 2200 had a day-long battery rather than the 3-4 hours I experienced.  On the plus side as I mentioned earlier, the battery is swappable and you could of course plug the MiFi 2200 into a power outlet while using it if necessary.  The MiFi 2200 will also go into standby if not used for a while to save battery power.

Is the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 really a bargain?

In a word: Yes. Offering similar performance and mobility as its competitors but at a significantly lower monthly cost, the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 is an excellent deal.  It makes a great partner to any WiFi enabled mobile device and even makes me wish I’d bought the regular iPad instead of the 3G version!

Neil Berman

Sep 16, 2010 Posted by | Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kindle 3 arrives looking mature and sophisticated

Kindle 3 in boxIf one thing jumps out about the new Kindle 3, it’s that it looks super-cool.  Kindle 3 has gone on diet, slimmed down and its new size-zero form factor now oozes sophistication.  The graphite coloring is smart and the whole package screams of a product that has matured. I don’t read many books, I think I’ve said that before, but this is the one site that will tell you just how good that ‘experimental’ new Webkit browser is.  And let’s be honest, we already know the Kindle is killer for books, so the Webkit browser is what we really care about on Kindle 3.  Stay tuned, the review is coming…

Neil Berman

Kindle 3

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Aug 31, 2010 Posted by | Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why I’ve pre-ordered the next generation 3G Kindle

kindle beachI’ve never had a strong desire to own a Kindle. I don’t read books, I’m not excited about reading electronic books and I spend more time ‘curling’ the page corners of Winnie-the-pooh in iBooks than actually reading the marvelous work. So why did I buy the new Kindle that was announced yesterday?

Simple: It has a sunlight readable Webkit browser with free 3G. As regular readers may have picked up, I enjoy my time in the sun and I sometimes choose my gadgets based on their sun-tolerant capabilities. My Dell Latitude ATG is a case in point. The iPad unfortunately doesn’t fare quite as well. While being great for indoor use, it’s just okay outdoors. The screen is viewable as long as you have a sun shade but contact with direct summer sunlight sends it into a heated frenzy.

Kindle NewspaperThe Kindle is an entirely different proposition. Designed to be used for hours in the sun, it’s e-ink screen has no glare and its battery life is measured in days. On the downside e-ink has notoriously slow refresh rates and the Kindle’s display is grayscale rather than color. That’s fine by me since most of my web surfing when I’m lazing outdoors is text based, so I can live without video-capable refresh rates and vibrant technicolor.

Now that the new Kindle 3 will have a Webkit browser, which is the foundation of Chrome and Safari, it should render web pages pretty well. I’m not expecting pages to be works of art, like I said I just want to read the text content. Having that browser available on 3G without a subscription in such a lightweight and daylight readable package was too compelling for me to refuse. If the browser is good enough I may even cancel my monthly data subscription for my iPad 3G.

I’ll let you know if that’s really a viable option on August 27th, when the Kindle is released and delivered into the ‘wild’ a.k.a. My Messy Apartment.

Neil Berman

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Jul 29, 2010 Posted by | Hardware, Mobile | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch review

Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch 8

Sitting all over America today are people who yearn to upgrade to a smartphone without paying through the nose on a monthly basis for the privilege. Meanwhile sitting in various Virgin Mobile warehouses is the LG Rumor Touch smartphone. Tying these two things together are Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk unlimited data and text plans, which start at a very reasonable $25 per month with 300 voice minutes. So is this the disruptive force that will make smartphone adoption ubiquitous?

First impressions of the Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch

The LG Rumor Touch is a new addition to Virgin Mobile, offering a 3 inch touchscreen with slide out keyboard, email/web/social-networking integration and downloadable Java apps. It runs a proprietary LG Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch 9operating system that supports touch throughout. Other notable features include a regular 3.5mm headphone socket, Bluetooth, a micro SD card slot and a 2 megapixel camera with video recording capability.  There’s no fancy OS here or App Store, but the specs are a good match for social-networking-cash-maximizing-wanna-get-something-that-works-and-doesn’t-break-the-back people.

Speaking of dosh, the LG Rumor Touch costs $149.99 and you then have a choice of no-contract pay monthly unlimited data, web, text and plans that have different voice minute allowances. The $25 plan buys you 300 mins, $40 gets you 1,200 mins and $60 buys unlimited talk time. Even better, while there is sales tax applied to the monthly cost, there are none of those pesky hidden charges that can take a $70 monthly contract cost up to around $80-90 when the bill arrives. The Beyond Talk sales tax, at least in New York, takes the $40 plan to just under $44 at the time of writing. And since there’s no contract you can cancel at any time or go up/down plan levels. So when compared to typical voice+data contracts over two years these Virgin Mobile plans can deliver significant savings.

While that all sounds great it’s clearly only useful if the LG Rumor Touch is any good, so is it?

Using the Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch

The LG Rumor Touch feels good in the hand. It appears to be well made and the slide out keyboard feels like it has a solid locking mechanism. The whole device is reasonably light at 4.59 ounces and is compact enough to hide in a pocket with ease.

Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch 11The social networking and email integration works well enough, although I had difficulty getting new email notifications to come through willingly from online email services.  I found that generally had to load up the email app each time I wanted to access my email, even though I had told the Rumor Touch to run the app to the background when not in use.  This would probably not be an issue for a light user who might only check their email once or twice a day, but I found it annoying to have to wait the few seconds for the email app to load each time I wanted to check my mail.   There’s Facebook integration out of the box and apps like Google Maps and Opera Mini can be easily downloaded.  I was impressed with how quickly the Rumor Touch downloaded and rendered Google Maps data, including satellite images.

On the subject of web content, Opera Mini is definitely a worthy download for the LG Rumor Touch as the built-in web browser is fairly weak. It tends to display information in more of a WAP format compared to how a state of the art smartphone would fully render a page. The Rumor Touch does download information fairly quickly though, as Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint 3G network to provide its service. However one online issue I encountered frequently was that the LG Rumor Touch often failed to play YouTube videos. I have to assume the issues were due to network congestion because while on some occasions YouTube video streaming worked fine, trying to stream the same videos on other days failed. Even when YouTube playback was successful the LG Rumor Touch often thought about the task for upwards of 30 seconds before starting to play the video clip, which is too long in my opinion.

The music player and camera can both make use of the LG Rumor Touch’s micro SD card slot, so with a high capacity card installed it’s possible to carry a large amount of media. The music player works well enough but unfortunately does not play in the background when other apps are in use. That was surprising, especially since most other apps on the LG Rumor Touch can be sent to run in the background.

Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch 5The camera is decent for general use, although its 2 megapixel resolution lags behind some of the competition. It’s fine for occasional snaps though. There’s also video camera functionality offering QVGA resolution, which is only 320×240.  It records video, but not to a high standard and is no rival for the HD-capable cameras on high-end smartphones.  Nevertheless the feature is useful as long you keep its limitations in mind.  It will play back at acceptable detail on a screen the size of the one on the LG Rumor Touch, but larger computer screens will not flatter the output of the video recorder.

The touchscreen does its job, but it’s resistive rather than the capacitive technology found on the likes of the iPhone and some other touchscreen smartphones. This means it’s more responsive to fingernails or stylus input than broad finger flings. Once you get the hang of it though it’s perfectly passable but don’t expect pinch-to-zoom or any of that funky stuff. The screen colors are vivid and the display is bright.

If touchscreens aren’t your thing, the LG Rumor Touch has a fully featured slide-out keyboard. The keyboard includes a dedicated row of number keys, which is a welcome feature, as well as button for instant access to emoticons. The keys themselves are easy to press and offer good feedback. I found it was easy to type with the LG Rumor Touch with good accuracy.

Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch 14Battery life was good on the LG Rumor Touch. I managed to get almost two days of general usage between charges, which I consider to be perfectly acceptable for a data phone. I find that current smartphones need a daily charge (some even need an intra-day fill-up) so it’s always nice to know that a phone has some leftover juice if I forget to charge it overnight.  Kudos also to LG for adopting the standard mini USB charging port for the Rumor Touch.

Call quality on the LG Rumor Touch was good, and these days we expect nothing less from a modern phone. Callers heard me fine and I heard them fine in New York City. I did not experience any dropped calls during my time with the LG Rumor Touch.

Is the Virgin Mobile LG Rumor Touch a good buy?

For a smartphone newbie or light data user, the LG Rumor Touch is a good choice at an excellent price point. It provides enough functionality to enjoy social networking, email and basic web browsing on the move in a compact user-friendly package. While it trails the better featured smartphone market leaders by some margin in many areas, its price point is also stratospherically lower than most competitors over a two year period.  If you’re considering buying the LG Rumor Touch as a genuine iPhone contender though, you will be disappointed.  More demanding users who want better smartphone functionality on a budget might prefer to consider Virgin Mobile’s BlackBerry Curve 8530 which sits at a slightly higher price point.  Stay tuned, our review of the 8530 is coming soon…and as promised here is our Virgin Mobile BlackBerry 8530 review.

All details, including monthly plan features and costs are accurate as at the time of writing and may change in the future.  Consult Virgin Mobile for the most up to date information.

Neil Berman

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Jul 17, 2010 Posted by | Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 54 Comments

Is Sprint suffering from 4G perception issues in New York?

Sprint has been vocal this year in marketing its deployment of the first 4G network in the US. The release of its newest flagship smartphone, named the Evo 4G, reinforces this message upon consumers.

What doesn’t seem to be so well known outside of enthusiast circles is the fact that 4G is only available in limited areas. Sprint has certainly publicized this limitation and has said which US cities currently enjoy, or will enjoy 4G coverage during 2010.

However the anecdotal conversations I have had suggest that, at least in New York City, some people trying out the Evo 4G make the logical assumption that they are experiencing 4G speeds. Of course in reality they are not because Sprint is still only at 3G in NYC. Unfortunately this shows when using the Evo 4G.

I’m concerned this is a potential perception issue in the making for Sprint. Most of the people I have spoken with in NYC who have tried out the Evo 4G have come away disappointed with what they perceive to be Sprint’s 4G network. They’re surprised to see slower than expected page and Youtube loading speeds. Of course they’re actually experiencing a 3G network on a phone that has 4G in its name.

They walk away perceiving 4G to be no different to 3G and question why they are being asked to pay $10 extra when AT&T just very publicly lowered their data plan costs (albeit with a 2GB cap).

The question is, when Sprint’s 4G really does come to New York City will the Evo 4G pick up steam or will local inhabitants already have formed a false impression of Sprint’s 4G speeds?

Neil Berman

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Jun 18, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Mobile | , , , , , | Leave a comment

4G WiMAX: It’s nice on the outside

Clearwire is apparently installing 4G repeaters into Radio Shack stores ahead of the launch of the Evo 4G. While this sounds like a nice idea, allowing potential customers to experience the best of WiMAX, it is also troubling.

I’m really looking forward to WiMAX arriving in New York, but the idea that a repeater is required to deliver good service within a retail store sets off alarm bells in my mind about quality of service. Many early adopters have noted that WiMAX works great outside near to a repeater and rapidly deteriorates compared to 3G when the receiving device moves indoors. This is due to WiMAX operating at a higher frequency than 3G, making it harder for the signal to penetrate buildings.

With New York being the city full of skyscrapers that it is, I’m starting to fear for the success of WiMAX here unless there repeaters all over the place. We’ll just have to wait and see what the quality of service is like when it goes live. I really hope it works out though, as it would be a shame if 3G ends up being faster than 4G in many real-life usage scenarios.

Neil Berman

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May 22, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Mobile, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

ABC iPad app now does 3G streaming

As of today the ABC iPad app was updated to support streaming over 3G. Netflix already supports 3G streaming on the iPad, and we have our fingers crossed for a Hulu app to come soon. With AT&T’s unlimited data service coming in at $29.99 per month on the iPad 3G, this really is looking like a great solution for travelers or commuters who don’t need a full mobile broadband data service on a laptop. Even though the Ferrari in me says I need the speed of a Sprint 4G Overdrive, my hidden Prius tells me it would run out of gas after a few hours. The question however is whether AT&T’s 3G network can cope with this imminent influx of media traffic. Sitting here writing this on an iPad 3G, I sure hope so.

Neil Berman

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May 3, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Mobile | , , , , | 1 Comment

iPad 3G retail launch day – Update: now with unboxing photos

If you now own an iPad 3G, it either either arrived in a UPS truck or you enjoyed/endured the traditional Apple store line experience.  I chose the latter and here’s what I saw at the 14th St Manhattan Apple Store…

Neil Berman

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Apr 30, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Hardware | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help for iPad WiFi connection issues

While the iPad has enjoyed a successful launch, the end user experience for many has been spoiled by its poor WiFi implementation.  I’m undecided on whether the iPad’s WiFi problems are making me glad that I’m getting the 3G version, or just just plain scared that I’m spending a stack of Benjamins on a device which may be more reliable on AT&T than on my 300MBps router.  After everything that’s happened with AT&T’s network and the iPhone, that would be the ultimate irony.

So for those of you with iPad in hand along with the lock of hair you just yanked out from sheer frustration, don’t smash that pretty glass screen just yet.  There is still hope for your iPad to magically hold onto a WiFi connection.  Unfortunately nobody seems to know the exact reason for the iPad’s WiFi problem but there are a gazillion creative ideas and hacks out there.   So move your hand away from your head and check out these links, they might just save you from an impromptu haricut.

Apple 2.0

Discussion thread on official Apple forum

Support article from Apple

PC Magazine

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll return to praying that Apple fitted a different and better WiFi chip into the iPad 3G.

Neil Berman

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Apr 17, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Guides | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

iPad 3G firmware unlock by design would benefit both AT&T and Apple

iPadWhile other cellphone carriers have been encouraging customers towards smartphones with data intensive use-cases, such as ski-lift surfing, AT&T has been under fire over its data network.  The carrier, which recently caused waves by saying it would focus on educating some customers to reduce their data usage, has now said it does not expect widespread 3G adoption of Apple’s forthcoming iPad …continue reading

Mar 3, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Apple, Mobile | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opera 9.5 Beta for Windows Mobile Review

The best mobile surfing experience out there?
Back in Feb Opera demo’d their latest Windows Mobile browser to oohs & ahhs from all corners championing it over the iPhone. Sporting a slick fullscreen mode, copy & paste, downloads and image saving, WM users couldn’t wait to get their mitts on it. It’s been a long wait but the beta recently went public. So is it really that much better than the iPhone? Let’s see…

After a straightforward installation and launch Opera 9.5 was happily loading pages over both WiFi and T-Mobile’s EDGE service. The browser fitted rendered pages to fill the whole screen perfectly and from there the finger pointing begins. Swipe up, down, left or right to scroll, double tap any area to zoom and again to zoom back out. The motion as the page moves is beautifully fluid and the zoom renders quickly.

Page loading was slower than my Nokia N810, which also runs Opera, but this is a pre-production version so it’s unfair to make a performance judgement just yet. As a guide over WiFi the NY Times website was half rendered in about 8 seconds and I was able to start swiping/zooming after 25 seconds while the pictures finished loading in the background. When I went to the site a second time, I could start swiping/zooming after about 15 seconds due to caching. Times were about twice as long with EDGE.

There are various display options, including full vs mobile view and screen font size. Images can be blocked to speed up page delivery.
Multiple tabs are also available, although your device’s capabilities will determine how many you can open before running low on memory. Opera 9.5 Mobile is a 8.9MB install which needs to go into main memory for this beta release. However the cache can be put onto a storage card, I allocated 50MB which speeds things up if you visit the same sites regularly.

So from this fully rendered CNet home page, you can zoom into something like this in a second or two…

…and then jump into a story…
…turn on text selection like this…
…and copy the text you want into an email or document just like a normal computer web browser. You can send it directly to someone via SMS as well as the page link, which is even better. You can also send links and images directly via MMS or email. Images and files can be downloaded to main memory or to the storage card for easy portability. Whole pages can be downloaded for offline viewing, for example when in the subway. Hmm, this is sounding like the daddy of convergent mobile internet…
Various other config optionsare included, including the ability to set a cache size. Here’s my 50MB cache in action, if you’re a heavy user you may want to go for more. I’m unaware of any cache limit, my TyTN has a 2GB memory card in it…that kind of cache size might be overkill but you get the idea!
Security options include proper password management.

With the current beta version there are a couple of missing bits, such as ActiveX and Flash so if you want these you might prefer to wait until the full production release. Also bear in mind that this is a beta version so if you do install it on your phone there may be compatibility issues or other freaky things happening – best to backup beforehand just in case!
.
Overall there’s no smartphone browser I’m aware of which offers such a sweet all round browsing experience. The initial impressions in February were right: where the iPhone’s Safari once led the pack, it’s now in second place. Can’t wait to try the production version…

Neil Berman
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Aug 3, 2008 Posted by | Mobile, Reviews, Software | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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