Archive for the ‘Bluetooth’ Category

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BlackBerry 8800 (Codename: Indigo) User Review

March 2, 2007

I had the chance to try the BlackBerry 8800 for about 4 or 5 days since last week. The BlackBerry 8800 is pretty similar in spec to the 8700, except that a few additional features were added such as built in GPS, MicroSD card support, and 64 MB RAM, packaged in a much sleeker form factor.

Prior to using the 8800, I was using the BlackBerry Pearl, my favorite BlackBerry right now. The 8800 is about the same length as the Pearl, but about 4 or 5 mm longer than the 8700 and 8707. Thickness about the same as the Pearl, but significantly thinner than the 8700 and 8707. Of course, the 8800 is wider than the Pearl, and about the same width as the 8700 and 8707. In real world use, though, the thinness of the 8800 is quite apparent particularly when comparing to the older 8700 and 8707. The 8800 does feel solid and a bit more hefty than the older models, which is generally ok, but just that bit too hefty for me. The unit is not heavy, but for me is just that little bit too heavy for me to really like. Note, though, that my preference is for smartphone type form factor devices, so my point of reference is always the Pearl, which is extremely light.

The finish of the 8800 is a mixture of basic black and silver. The back of the unit is painted in a matte black finish, while the front of the unit has got the glossy, Pearl like finish. the 8707 style chromed earpiece accent, while the back of the unit has another chrome accent with the BlackBerry logo. The memory card is beneath this chrome piece, but is not accessible without removing the battery.There are two plastic chrome pieces covering the edges of the units. Unlike the Pearl, though, which had a very tight and secure fit to the body of the handset, the 8800’s moved a little bit, which was a turnoff for me.

The 8800 uses the new trackball interface, which is not bad once you get used to it. The trackball is flanked with the call, menu, back, and end buttons, similar to the Pearl.

Usability is, as expected, typical BlackBerry. application reponse was not bad in terms of speed and navigation is typical of a BlackBerry. Because the icons were made smaller, more could fit the screen. Otherwise, using the unit is typical BlackBerry fare. a few minor enhancements along the way, such as animated new message notication asterisk. The biggest difference is usability, though, is the keyboard. The thumboard of the 8800 consists of keys that are connected, as opposed to the thumboard of the 8700 and 8707, which have space in between. Typing was not as easy on the 8800 because I would frequently end up pressing the wrong key because of the key spacing. Generally, I got better abut a day or two, but would still make quite a few typos even after a few days.

I was not able to try the GPS becaue most of my time was spent indoors. My colleague who did try it was able to get a position fix, but maps did not show up. Maps will be progressively added for other countries in Asia, but it is not quite clear when, though.

Speakerphone was loud and clear, much better than the 8700, and 7130, which had a tendency to drown out your voice while you were speaking, rendering those speakerphones unusable. Other minor changes were the shift from the old “Turn Wireles On/Off” icon to “Manage Connections” which provides options to turn on or off the mobile and bluetooth radios. I suppose that when the WIFI enabled 8820 (Crimson) comes out later in the year then the Manage Connections icon will be used to turn WIFI on or off as well.

The device I tested did not come with a holster. At the end of the day, though, the holster is not really needed because the device is thin enough, and light enough, to put your front pants pocket. Related to storage, the only real gripe I had with the 8800 is that I couldnt figure out how to activate the key lock. On the Pearl, the keylock is activated by pressing and holding the * key. However, this is not the case on the 8800. To unlock, the * SEND key combination does the trick, but I couldnt figure out locking. So I had to manually go to the lock keypad icon and select it, which was pretty slow.

In general, the 8800 is a pretty good BlackBerry. If form factor is high in your priority list, then the 8800 would be a good upgrade from your old 8700 or 8707, or even older BlackBerries. GPS mapping support for the Philippines is not yet clear, so I am not placing high hopes on the GPS working. If such is the case, perhaps the option is to wait for the 8820 as WIFI will probably be used a bit more than GPS. In any case, the slim form factor of the 8800 series devices just makes using BlackBerries a joy again.

As for myself, I still prefer the smartphone form factor devices, so nothing beats the Pearl for me. The Pearl is just so much lighter and smaller than the 8800 (or even 7130), that it is just a joy to carry around and use.

BlackBerry 8800 Recommendation: 4 out of 5

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Bluespoon AX

January 25, 2005

Bluespoon AX

This is a picture of my Bluespoon AX. Arguably one of the the best Bluetooth headsets in the world.

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Bluespoon AX Review

January 23, 2005

I have been using a Nextlink Bluespoon AX (http://www.blue-spoon.com)
for almost two weeks now. The AX is arguably the smallest Bluetooth
headset available today, and in my book is the lowest priced quality
headset available.

Setup

The AX supports pairing with about seven simultaneous devices but is
currently paired with three of mine– a BlackBerry 7290 Handheld, a
Sony Ericsson K700i, and an Apple PowerBook G4. Pairing the headset was
no issue at all on any of the devices and proved to be a quick and
painless experience which consists of holding the power of the headset
on for a few seconds until the blue and red LEDs flash intermittently.
The other device is then set to pairing mode and quickly discovers the
unit. After the passcode is entered, the process is complete.

Battery Life

In my experience, the headset lasts less then 48 hours after a full
charge. While the documentation states that the unit should have 300
hours of standby time, I suspect the reason for my below spec battery
life is due to the BlackBerry device, which maintains connectivity to
the headset all the time, instead of when a call is triggered or
received. The constant connectivity between the two devices will
definitely shorten battery life on the headset. Effect of the
continuous connection to the battery life of the BlackBerry seems to me
to be negligible.

Fit and Usability

The fit of the headset in my ear is excellent. Unlike the older
Bluespoon Chameleon, the actual earpiece is made up of rubber this time
and is selectable between two included “soft springs”. I opted for the
deeper but narrower softspring as it was more comfortable in my ear.
One of the main complaints about the Chameleon was that the hard
plastic piece that goes into the actual ear canal was too hard and
actually hurt the ear after a while. I had no issues at all with the
AX. The longest I actually used the AX in a call was a conference call
that lasted 1.5 hours. The ear was not fatigued at all and the headset
was very comfortable to wear.

The headset was likewise very usable. The unit has three buttons, two
for volume control and one “command” button. The volume buttons were
pretty good, not that loud, but perfect on the second to loudest
setting on the headset and loudest setting on the phone. The command
button is used for all other functions such as answering and dropping a
call, voice commands, etc. I have only used this for receiving and
dropping a call, and it works fine. I have never used and dont really
see a major need for voice commands at this time.

Voice quality back and forth is fine in general. Voices sound pretty
natural, but not exactly as it would sound using the earpiece of the
phone itself. Wind noise is not that good on the AX, and I did run into
a couple of issues with the other party not hearing me due to wind
noise. The other potential issue with the headset is that you need to
speak in a “normal” volume when using it. I have had to take a call in
a meeting using the AX, and the person I was talking to could not hear
me if I was speaking in a hushed tone.

The other issue I found when using the headset with multiple devices,
particularly my BlackBerry, is that the continuous connection between
the BlackBerry and the AX pretty much blocks out all other connections.
This makes using the headset for multiple devices seamlessly not quite
what I was hoping for. I am still experimenting with the best way to
make this work but it is a minor annoyance considering the benefits I
get from using the AX.

Price

Pricing is truly the device’s strong point. At a retail price of about
USD80, it just blows the competition away! I was seriously considering
the Motorola headsets prior to purchasing the AX. Both Motorola
headsets received pretty good reviews. However when it all came down to
it, the AX was a way better deal since I was getting a more compact
headset with a much better form factor and similar performance at a
lower price.

Conclusion

I highly recommend this headset to anyone that is even remotely
considering to buy one. It is small, easy to use, has great sound
quality, and wont break the bank account. For me, it is definitely the
best.