The 13 most annoying things of the P800 phone

I had to buy myself the SonyEricsson smartphone P800 as I really liked what all the reviews wrote about it. And it’s cool. I really like it – much more than my former Nokia 7650 (don’ t tell me that I am buying much too many cellphones. I know that, but I’ve not found my solution yet – at least not until I bought the P800…

Anyway. During the first three days, I am using the phone, I came across the following list of annoying things, you should have in mind when buying the phone:

  • The “Select all” Option in the Messaging-Application is quite well hidden. When I deceided to write this article here, I still thought there was no such option at all and I wanted to write a big complaint about having to select each and every sms in the “Sent”-Box to empty it. If you are in the place to design a GUI: Use Menu separators wise and don’t mix toggle-options with commands. The “Select all” command is just above the display-toggle-option in the edit-menu (don’t ask me what display-options have to do in a “Edit”-Menu)
  • There is no support for SMS-delivery-reports. A pity. I really liked the handling of SMS-reports in my Nokia 7650. But then: How many times did I really *read* those reports? Learn: Not every feature is that important to be implemented…
  • The handwriting recognition works really nice – besides that one problem: In PocketPCs and of course Palms, there is a seperate area on the screen for entering text. The P800 uses the whole screen. This seems nice as it allows you to write quite large letters. But actually it is a big problem: As the recognition area overlays the GUI, the software in the phone has to guess whether the current screen-contact was for a GUI-element (like a button) or a stroke. This combined with the fact that a dot (.) is just a line from top left to bottom right and with the extreme sensitivity of the recognition engine lead me to overwrite many textfields with a dot instead of pressing a button in the GUI – I made a small line instead of just a click. I really want to either have an extra recognition area or an adjustable sensitivity for the recognition.
  • Why is the Clock-Application not avaliable with a closed lid? I hate it to open the keypad just to see when I have the alarm set to.
  • The T68i and the Nokia 7650 both had a Screensaver/Standby-Screen that was useful as it displayed the current time. The P800 does not: When inactive, it first displays a screensaver (an animated gif) and then turns the display off. Nice for battery lifetime – bad for people that do not wear clocks. Workaround: Make just one click with the Jogdial and the P800 will display the standard screen showing the time (but not the date – see below).
  • If you have cell info enabled, the cellinfo string will be shown below the provider-name where the current date would be placed instead. There is no way to see the current date with enabled cellinfo besided opening the phone and selecting the clock application. Stupid.
  • Jogdial: Veeery nice idea. This is great. Too bad it’s so hard to push it down into the phone. I always push it forward instead of down. But this may be a problem with my fingers.
  • Keyboard. I know there is no better (at least none as cheap as the current) way to create a removable keyboard than to have the keys press on virtual keys on the touchscreen…. But: The keys are very hard to press down and pressing them feels so much “rubber-ish”. Buärk. And: I had to recalibrate the display to make those two small “back” and “c” buttons work. I am not sure, a default consumer knows about this…
  • mRouter: Say what you want, but I life after the principle: Once broken – always broken. And I have never seen a more broken piece of software than the Nokia PC Suite with its mRouter-Tool (even Microsoft Word is better). The P800 uses the same thing (I think, this is Symbian related and cannot be changed that easily). Anyway: The Ericsson software looks more stable to me than the Nokia Software did. It worked flawlessly with IR and USB on my Notebook. I’ll see what it does tomorrow on my office-pc where I will try to synchronize via Bluetooth and USB.
  • Browser: Why does it open the startpage when I open the browser? OK… actually this makes sense… but then: Mobile Internet Connections are expensive. I want an option to open the bookmarks-page per default. Not the homepage. After all: To change the homepage, I have to open the browser which will automatically open a connection to the internet and display the homepage set per default by your Mobile Provider.
  • Browser-Key: I prefer Opera as my Webbrowser. SonyEricsson gives it away for free and it works much better than the internal browser for HTML. Why can’t I reconfigure the browser-key at the side of my Phone to launch opera instead of the internal browser?
  • Shortcuts: I like the shortcuts to the different applications. Why are the shortcuts for the closed operation mode configured in the control panel and the shortcuts for the mode with the keyboard open in the Preferences-Menu of the launcher-application? Or in common: Why are some settings in the control panel and others in the corresponding application?
  • Multitasking: Yes. It’s a Phone – no PC and no PDA either. I understand that multitasking may not be possible, but then please provide me with a) a list of last started applications or b) the possibility to sort the application-list after self-defined criteria or c) at least sort that list alphapethically! Let me make an example for this: Say you are playing the (greeeeeeat) Solitaire-Game, then you want to have a look at the current time. Thus you start the clock-application (why is the clock not always displayed in the status-bar?). Now to go back to your game, you have to go back to the launcher, scroll all the way down in the list and restart solitaire (after you have found it – the list is sorted by the ideas of a marketing-guy – not of one that really uses the phone (Camera before Adresses for example)…

    This list seems quite big. Didn’t I say the phone is great? Yes. I did. The phone is great. The above list is complete. There are no more problems and many of the existing ones are quite easy fixable. I will list them down in a more professional way and I will be sending them to the SonyEricsson Support. I dont’ think, I’ll get an answer, but maybe they fix one of the problems in a future release…

    Go and buy your P800 – you will like it.

P800 and Bluetooth

I’ve just arrived at my office and tried out connecting to my P800 (see earlier posting) via Bluetooth. As the software underlying the SonyEricsson PC-Suite is the same as in the new Nokia PC-Suite (mRouter strikes back…), I suspected everything to nearly-work as usual.

I am using a Acer BT500 USB Bluetooth adaptor that comes with the usual widcomm software. Connecting to the P800 requires me to check the COM-Port that is assigned to the BT-Adaptor (not to the phone!) in the mRouter-Configuration. Then I open the COM-Port on the Phone with the Bluetooth.-Software on my PC. The Phone receives this request, closes the port again (results in an error-message on the PC) and then opens the COM-Port of the PC’s BT-Adaptor.

Every now and then (about every second time), the mrouter-Software notifies this and opens the channel to the phone.

I heard that newer versions of the widcomm software can handle the way those Symbian Phones connect via Bluethooth without annoying me with error-message. I will check the Acer-Website if they have updated their driver but I don’t really think they did…

Yippieh! – New Software

I’ve just visited the acer-website and downloaded the driver for my BT500 Bluetooth USB Adaptor. There was no modification date on the website, but a short view on the FTP-Server revealed that the current release is quite new – from February 19th, actually.

Launching the setup first wanted to remove the current driver (it said, that it was already installed in the newset version and asked whether it should uninstall itself – not quite true – the new software definitly is newer…)

The new Acer-Driver-Release comes with a lot of new assistants, Audio-Profile-Support (a complete new feature for free – I can now use my PC as a headset for my P800) and of course, the way Symbian devices connect to the pc is now fully supported and no more error-messages ar being displayed. Using Bluetooth to synchronize my phone finally makes fun.

Too bad the P800 comes with a USB Base-Station which is faster than BT and is now permanently plugged to my PC ;-) But it was fun to get BT working anyway.

Fun with Linux and new Hardware

Ooops… what a delay between the last post and this one. I really should post more often or this really gets uninteresting.

However: Recently, I could not resist anymore and bought myself a new desktop PC – initially intended to use at home, but I never could get araound moving it out of the office. One of the reasons may be Richard and our common love in Unreal Tournament which ceratinly works better on a 2.5 GHz P4 with a Radeon 9700 than on my Thinkpad ;-)

Anyway: After having seen KDE 3.1rc3 using TrueType-Fonts with Font-Hinting on my Gentoo-Box at home, I finally deceided that it is time to give linux a shot on this new PC to finally use it for the daily development-work (which I did in jEdit [see below] under Windows on SAMBA-exported directories).

I mean: The time was right: ATI just released a driver for the new Radeon series and I finally wanted to give it a shot.

And I shouldn’t have.

I chose Gentoo as my distribution. One one side because I wanted to see how long the new box takes for compiling the whole stuff I need and on the other side because I really knew that every other distribution will not work as they do not let the user do enough customizing in the installation and they certainly will not recognize my new hardware.

In short: Even installing Gentoo with its always-brand-new software-packages was a time-consuming frustrating thing. Some points:

  • I used the integrated Braodcom NetXtreme Gigabit Chipset on my Asus P4PE mainboard. Unfortunatly the driver is not included in the kernel and on the gentoo-install-cd is no compiler to compile a module matching to the running kernel. My solution was using Knoppix with a /lib copied to the partition I wanted to use for Gentoo. Another one would have been trying to get the kernel-headers used to compile the gentoo-install-kernel and compile the driver on another machine.
  • 2.4.19 does not support the ICH4-integraded IDE-Controller, so I had to install 2.4.20-rc2. I was to lazy to patch in the cool Gentoo-Patches. I will not upgrade the kernel anytime soon as I will certainly forget to re-compile all the modules I had to compile in addition to the ones provided with the kernel.
  • In the first night of using emerge &lt<a lot of stuff>> without sitting in front of the monitor, emerge failed about 10 Minutes after I left when compiling PostgreSQL because of a bug in that ebuild. One night the PC run in vain.
  • The ATI-Drivers did not work for me: When Starting XFree a strange error about fglrx not containing some object-data appeared and X closed down. Possibly, the DRI-Project was of help in at least getting X to work (the current CSV-version seems to support the new Radeon-Chips) – although not very fast and without all the 3D-features I could have. As I am currently not sitting in front of the machine, I could just see X not going down but I could not check if it really works, yet.

    I’ve learned that I will *never again* install linux on anything newer than 6 months old. I really am no crack in setting up Linux and the procedure I had to go through was a pain in the ass. Many times I wanted to give up as with every problem I solved, another one arised.

    Finally, my liking for Gentoo may be another problem. Compiling everything from Source is cool, but on the other hand does not bring that much of a performance improvement and certainly takes time, even more if ebuilds marked for production use are strictly broken and do not compile. As compiling is a time consuming process, I nearly *demand* that it works without myself having to sit in front of the monitor just to fix a compile-problem here ant there as this (nearly) defeats the whole sense of using gentoo instead of LFS

    Anyway: I am looking forward to the evening when I will possibly finally be ready to start using linux productivly.