The Perfect Pocket PC?

Bill Loguidice's picture

After returning from our "last hurrah before baby number 2 cruise", my wife and I went to see if we could get new cell phones, since our Nokia 6820's just weren't cutting it anymore. Luckily, even though we were originally AT&T Wireless customers, they were bought out by Cingular, so we were in reality Cingular customers now, and they finally had a mechanism in place to transfer customers to new phones and plans without penalty (and of course keeping the same phone number). Also, now was a good time since the company I work for, Volt, has a corporate deal with them for minor discounts.
Pocket PC - Cingular 8125: It's a bit thick and wide, but it really does have a nice slide-out keyboard and stereo speakersPocket PC - Cingular 8125: It's a bit thick and wide, but it really does have a nice slide-out keyboard and stereo speakers
Long story short, I finally found what for me is the ideal PDA/handheld PC. After going through a GPS-enabled Pocket PC and a Tapwave Zodiac 2 (Palm) in the past year (among other acquisitions like the Nokia N-Gage and Tiger Telematics Gizmondo to add to my collection, which does feature a high ratio of portable devices), I finally got a Cingular 8125 Pocket PC/Cell Phone/Modem (Christina got a nice pink Razr that will meet her more basic needs). I also got a data plan that gives me unlimited Internet access and the ability to use the phone as a modem for when my laptop doesn't have a wireless signal (for instance, at my parents' house, where they have NO Internet at all). It's not terribly speedy access, but I can have peace of mind by checking and repsonding to e-mails and doing light Web browsing (the new Website looks pretty good on this little device, by the way).

I have several relatively simple needs in a portable device, including being able to take notes, write e-mails, record audio, and play media and games. This does all that and then some. The only real improvements I could see are a built-in GPS and even speedier Internet access. Now all I have to do is load a good emulator or two and make it a good game machine. Of course, despite having a nice thumb keyboard, it has a poor directional pad, typical of a device of this type.

From the marketing slick:

With worldphone capabilities, Windows Mobile 5.0 support, and access to various mail and messaging solutions, the Cingular 8100/8125 will keep you connected while on the go.
Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz for enhanced global use
Windows Mobile 5.0
128MB ROM / 64MB SDRAM
TI OMAP 200MHz Processor
Integrated, sliding QWERTY keyboard
2.8" QVGA 320x240 64K Color LCD Touch Screen
Integrated Bluetooth Class II
Integrated 802.11b support
Integrated Mini-SD slot for greater storage and expansion
(I put a 1GB Mini-SD card in)
1.3 mega-pixel camera
* supports upgrade to Microsoft's Messaging and Security Feature Pack

Comments

Matt Barton
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Pocket PC

Great post, Bill!

I've been wanting a device like this for some time, and thought long and hard about buying an N-Gage. The world of cell phones is very forbidding to folks like me who are just now getting into them--so many models and incompatible plans and features. I'm also always afraid I'll get a surprise bill for $50,000 because I left the darn thing on somehow.

My cell phone (a basic Samsung SCH-a670 camera phone) supposedly has world wide web capabalities, but it's text-only and, quite frankly, a sad joke. I was stunned at how difficult it is to "surf" with this device and do even basic internet chores. I have a few games for it, but one of them (Might and Magic) has a nasty bug that won't let you get very far into the game. I tried contacting customer service to no avail. Bahhh...

Still, it seems to me that cell phones have one major advantage when it comes to portable gaming: You would be carrying them anyway. I don't like to carry stuff in my pockets (I almost didn't buy my Volkswagen Passat just because it comes with those giant electronic keys). If I'm going to have a giant bulge in my pocket--well, I won't go there. Anyway, for the same reason I haven't ever really considered buying a portable gaming device. I can just hear myself in the morning--"Oh, okay, keys, wallet, cell phone, PSP..." Yeah, that's not going to happen. On the other hand, I have to bring my cell phone with me, so it'd be nice if it could do double-duty. Indeed, I wish it could somehow be used as a key so I could get rid of that darn Volkswagen brick!

Do you find it awkward using this thing to talk? It's hard to tell from the photo how you'd put this thing to your ear. Or do you have to use a bud? Also: How easy is it to use the keyboard?

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Bill Loguidice
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When I eBay'd for the second

When I eBay'd for the second version of the N-Gage, it was new and the type of phone that has the pre-paid minutes. I obviously needed it for the book, not the phone part, since I already had one. It has some amazing and a large number of games for it (among several disasters), but the device itself is a bit too underpowered and weird to work as a game machine. I like though how Nokia has continued to release games for it and is committed to the N-Gage platform, but integrating it into their regular phones going forward (as it should have been in the first place). I obviously can't recommend it over a PSP or Nintendo DS, but it is the most recent decent competitor. Anyway, it's an average cell phone and an average game machine, so unless you get the one where you add your own pre-paid minutes, I wouldn't bother (though software is dirt cheap for it these days, especially on eBay, save for the new stuff, like Civilization; the downside is that support in the game stores is now dropped).

As for the Cingular 8125, you talk like any other cell phone. At the top is the ear speaker and the mouth piece is a tiny hole at the bottom. Typical. The one thing I don't like is you press your face to the touch screen side, so you can get a bit of cheek grease (hey, I'm Italian) on it. Maybe your "t zones" are not quite as bad as mine. ;-) It comes with stereo ear buds as a hands free talking and music listening thing, or, you can do what I do and just use a decent wireless bluetooth ear piece (I use a cheap, but reliable Plantronics model). As a phone, it actually works and has a good speakerphone too.

As for the keyboard, it's the same as any other thumb keyboard, like on the Blackberry or other portable device. The advantage with this one though is that the keys are fuller sized, so you can type quicker than is typical on those things (figure around 30 WPM or so). It's not touch typing, but you can't do that in portable situations anyway. Of course you can always have a full-sized or portable wireless bluetooth keyboard if you were inclined to write a book on the thing (it has all the standard Pocket PC stuff, like Pocket Word and Excel).

It's not cheap, but it is worth it as a true all-in-one. I think I ended up paying around $300 after rebates and 2 year service agreement.

As for mistake dialing or leaving it on, most phones - even this one - has a "lock" button or link - which stops accidental key presses.

I bought a few cell games for my Nokia 6820, like "Sexy Poker" and "Chessmaster", and downloaded a few mini-Java applets and games. This particular phone has access to the world of Pocket PC games, emulators and I believe even many cell phone games (it fully supports Java, which is big for cell phone games). You're right though, with cell phone games, once you download to the phone, you're pretty much stuck.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Sony Ericsson 750i

sony ericsson 750i: my current cellphonesony ericsson 750i: my current cellphoneGreat new system Bill, I just got a Sony Ericsson 750i cellphone. It includes a 2.0 Megepixel camera which is quite good, and I was able to check my email on it whilst vacationing in Luxor, Egypt may 2006.

I might be able to use it as a modem for the laptop when I go to Vichy France in a day or so.

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Bill Loguidice
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Looks nice. While the

Looks nice. While the camera on mine is 1.3 megapixels and it has a spotlight (sort of an always-on flash), you have to hold the device VERY still to take decent photos. It definitely is not a digital camera replacement by any stretch, but it is better than the typical cell phone camera, which is usually at best VGA resolution. I'd be curious what you report on the quality of the images from your camera is. Mine is sluggish, so it doesn't capture anything moving well...
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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[My collection - www.billandchristina.com/vgamecomp/vgamecomp.htm]
[www.MythCore.com]

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Bill Loguidice
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MobileTechReview of the Cingular 8125 Pocket PC

Here's a great review of the Cingular 8125 from MobileTechReview. It was also helpful in figuring out what the issue was with Wi-Fi...

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[My collection - www.billandchristina.com/vgamecomp/vgamecomp.htm]
[www.MythCore.com]

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Bill Loguidice
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Replaced this sucker...

Well, almost at the full two year mark, my wife and I each got the Samsung Blackjack II Smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.0: http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Blackjack-II-Wine-Smartphone/dp/B000YT96G6...

This replaces my Windows Mobile 5.0 Cingular 8125 and Christina's Motorola Razr. The big change for me is to go from a full screen to a more standard smaller screen, have the keypad always out and have access to the much higher speed 3G network for Web and e-mail stuff. On the downside is the fact that I'm going ffrom a touch screen to no touch screen. However, it was a good deal and I believe should provide me with every function that I actually used on the other phone, with a nicer form factor and higher speed network (sometimes being able to top out at around 900kbps versus around 100kpbs)...

It should arrive and be fully operational sometime next week...



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Mark Vergeer
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Looks very similar to my htc s620

My windows mobile 5 phone looks pretty similar, the no-touch screen is no biggy except that quite a lot of software requires a functioning touch screen. Make sure you only use windows mobile software on this device. Windows mobile 6.0 sure looks a lot nicer than the 5.0 I got on mine.

HTC S620



Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc.
www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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Phones
Mark Vergeer wrote:

My windows mobile 5 phone looks pretty similar, the no-touch screen is no biggy except that quite a lot of software requires a functioning touch screen. Make sure you only use windows mobile software on this device. Windows mobile 6.0 sure looks a lot nicer than the 5.0 I got on mine.

Yeah, I'll be interested in seeing what's different between 5.0 and 6.0 myself. I actually use the touch screen quite a bit (often with my finger) and have overall liked the Cingular 8125 from HTC, but it's had some annoying issues over the years via a combination of the hardware and the software. I've had to do some incredible troubleshooting on the thing with lots of Internet legwork to find unusual repairs. Two of the most annoying were having to resurrect the battery by applying voltage from two wires from a stripped USB cable, and a persistent alarm bug (I use the device to wake me up every morning), that I finally resolved through a combination of third party (paid) software and proper timing (flushing data right after the stuck alarm hits). Hopefully my experiences with 6.0 and the Samsung device will not be quite so eventful.

Ironically, software-wise, there's may be more software that takes advantage of the devices that don't have touch-screens than the ones that do. We'll see. Certainly some software that I've bought will work fine with the new devices, and others won't. Free stuff too. At the very least, having a JVM with this device should open up more typical cell phone software, particularly games, to me. I actually wouldn't mind finally getting Civilization for my cell phone - something that wasn't possible before but might be now if I can find it (I'm also bidding on the N-Gage-specific version). At the very least, a casual search does reveal lots of game options outside of the standard WM 5.0/6.0 realm...



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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