Today, T-Mobile finally announced that Android 2.1 (Eclair) was available for G2 Touch (AKA HTC Hero) owners.
If you’ve not received your “pre-upgrade” update already, you’ll need to do this – it makes various small changes in readiness for the Eclair update.
To get this, wind your clock on by a month and switch off wi-fi (it needs the data connection for the upgrade to be detected). It only takes a couple of minutes and doesn’t cause any data loss.
Once you have that, you can either wait for Eclair to be pushed out to your phone or go and get it manually. To do the latter, go into Menu -> Settings -> About Phone and you should now have an option to check for software updates. Go into this and follow all prompts.
Now, the Android update can cause data lose, although I found it to be minimal. I’d recommend backing up all your data – I used MyBackup Pro to backup all data and applications to my SD card, which I then copied into my Netbook.
The update takes a few minutes and, even when it appears to have rebooted, you might find that behind your lock screen is an HTC update running. Once this is done I found my date and time was incorrect and that my home screens had been reset – if you saved your layout as a “Theme” (which I hadn’t done) then I’m guessing you can easily restore it.
And that’s it.
From what I can tell the visible changes are minimal (even more so – animations are turned off by default, so you’ll need to switch them on for the full impact) – the main change is the improvement in speed. And, boy, is it noticeable.
Other than that, the biggest change to users will be the apps in the Marketplace that will now be available – Google Earth, IMDB, Google Goggles, Talk To Me, amongst many others.
Smaller changes include an improved Gmail App, a new pinch feature for viewing all the home screens and a Desk Clock app.
Apple offers free iPhone case to tackle reception problem
The iPhone 4, evolutionary rather than revolutionary, has had users reporting signal strength problems since its launch. It continues to sell well, despite what appears a big flaw and Apple refusing to be helpful.
Let’s have a quick run down of what’s happened since the iPhone 4 launch on the 24th June.
June 24th The same day as the phone launches, CNET report that users are having signal issues when holding the phone a certain way – in particular having your hand over the left hand corner of the phone (left handed users are more likely to do this whilst holding it).
June 25thApple tell the press that losing signal whilst holding a phone is “normal” and that they should “avoid gripping it in the lower left corner”. Alternatively, “Simply use one of many available cases”.
June 26thEngadget report that a Danish Professor warned Apple about their antenna design back in early June.
June 30thIn an internal memo, Apple tells staff not to offer customers free accessories that could resolve poor reception problems if they complain about low signal strength.
July 2ndApple decides to blame software rather than hardware for the signal problems, stating that the algorithms for displaying the signal strength were wrong.
Engaget reports that Apple is deleting posts from its forum that make mention of the Consumer Reports article. It also tests the signal issue and reports that they have “confirmed and clarified that the antenna issue affects every iPhone 4″.
So… I don’t really know where to begin with stating just how wrong this whole debacle has been handled. Apple’s ability to not accept any responsibilty for something that is blatantly a fault, goes beyond shoddy. The signal strength “bug” is simply the equivalent of sweeping rubbish under the rug – the problem is still there, just will now be reported differently.
Therefore, in the middle of all this, would you expect a well respected PC magazine to not only give the phone their top award BUT state “We have managed to replicate the problem, but to do so we had to grip it so hard, and in such an awkward manner, that it wasn’t a problem for us”. Which is odd, as all suggestions are that the signal strength problem occurs when simply holding it in the hand, with your palm gripping the lower left-hand corner. When I hold my phone I hold it like this, but on the right hand corner – if I was left handed, I’m sure I’d recreate the fault. Not only, that but the above tests by various other sites have shown conclusively that this is happening. If, indeed, it only happened when gripping it in “an awkward manner”, would there have been such a flood of users experiencing the problem?
A review, where although the iPhone gets a lesser score that than the HTC Desire, they are now recommending it over the Desire. A review which leaves the signal issue to the end and quickly moves past it after a half-arsed attempt to test it. A review where they admit it’s stupidly expensive (and only give it 3 out of 6 for value for money). I expected better of PC Pro. Even if you ignore the signal issue itself for a moment, the way that Apple are treating their customers (who have, after all, spent rather a lot of money on this product) is shocking. How can you recommend a faulty product, supported by a company that shows nothing but contempt for its customers?
Except, PC Pro is not alone.
Engadget, who are quoted above as stating that thet have “confirmed and clarified that the antenna issue affects every iPhone 4″, says in its review that “the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market right now”.
Consumer Reports - you know, the people who can’t recommend buying an iPhone 4 – has it as their highest rated smartphone. So, they recommend it, but don’t.
What’s going on here? I’m not going to suggest anything dodgy (which many do), but are they getting caught up in the Apple hype, like so many other people? Why don’t they, once they know the extent of the issues, go back and change their review? Or, as is the case of Consumer Reports, you appear happy to have completely opposing views.
In these reviews I don’t notice the other problems with the iPhone being mentioned – for example, the sealed non-replaceable battery (well, unless you send it to Apple with a big fat cheque), the lack of Flash, the iTunes lock-in, etc. It’s as if these venerable, and respected, sites just accept this now as the norm and ignore it rather than keep bringing it up (which, let’s be honest, is the only way this is likely to change).
So, PC Pro, Engadget and Consumer Reports – do you still stand by your review? Will you look further into the signal issue, in light of thedamning evidence that it’s a lot more serious?
Update on 14th July:
Tim Danton, editor of PC Pro, replied…
We do still stand by the review, but I’ll leave it up to our reviews editor whether or not to comment any further…
I’ve not yet had a comment from their reviews editor. Or, indeed, Engadget or Consumer Reports.
Earlier in the year I purchased a years worth of HD Traffic service from TomTom. More recently they’ve made the decision to half the price of this service.
Now, paying up front, most people would accept that this is the cost of buying up-front and wouldn’t expect that existing customers would feel the benefit until they purchase more in a years time. Except, TomTom, haven’t forgotten the customer and have added a free months extra HD Traffic to their subscription for every month remaining on their existing one – essentially a 50% reduction (without them having to give refunds).
Over the weekend I took the opportunity to upgrade my PC to make it a bit more energy efficient and quieter. The rubbish generic PSU was replaced by a higher spec branded model and the graphics card was removed, so the on-board GPU would take over instead.
Now, what then went wrong I don’t know. But after this the ethernet refused to work (sadly its built into the motherboard) and, a few reboots later, I was getting reports of corrupt system files. And what else might now be failing?
Which has given me the excuse to replace my PC after all these years – it was getting a bit long-in-the-tooth and for a dedicated geek, my insistence of hanging onto Windows XP was looking a bit suspect.
It’s now been ordered, and I’ve ordered some extra goodies as well (I need an HDMI to DVI converter to be able to connect the new PC to my monitor and I’ve also ordered a SATA dock for easily copying my old drive). To keep with the quiet, efficient theme, I’ve order a Dell Zino HD.
Initially, I was looking at the basic model but with an HD and memory upgrade (1TB and 4GB respectively). However, after finding some benchmarks for the 2 available processors, I decided to upgrade this – the basic processor is an AMD 3250e, with a passmark score of 824, compared to the AMD 6850e with a score of 1911.
But, I was curious – they also let you “spec up” a more advanced model, which already many of the upgrades that I was after. As it turned out, £70 more will get you a Blu-Ray drive, 6GB memory, a separate graphics card (rather than the on-board model) and wireless. I can see how Dell manage to get more money out of the customer, as I plumped for this!
It also runs Windows 7 64-bit, so I can now look forward to finding out which hardware doesn’t work with it
For some time at home now I’ve been using a rather nice looking Hiper aluminium keyboard. It’s also very compact. Unfortunately, it’s also badly laid out and keys are never where you expect them to be.
It annoys me that high street PC magazines rarely cover essential items such as keyboards and mice, giving them only a fleeting comment when bundled with a PC.
So, after a recommendation on Twitter I bought a Microsoft Keyboard 600 – a wired affair (can’t see the point in wireless keyboards) – for a rather cheap £9.99. It’s spill resistant. It’s got a few extra keys. It’s quiet. Most importantly, it uses a standard keyboard layout. Hurrah!
Anyway, it turned up yesterday. The keys have an excellent feel and it is quiet in use. I couldn’t tell from the specification but it has little feet on the rear, for those (like me) who don’t like having their keyboards flat on the desk.
It has a very handy calculator button next to the “lock” lights and across the top there are 4 media buttons (volume up, down, mute and play/pause). The keyboard is USB only and I’m running Windows XP – the keyboard (and media buttons) work immediately without any need for drivers (not that any come with it). However, the volume doesn’t appear on screen – this can be corrected by installing Microsoft’s free IntelliType software, which adds extra functionality (e.g. remapping the keys).
The top row of keys (mainly Function keys) are half height but, as they’re hardly used, this isn’t a great issue. It’s just a shame that they shrunk the “Esc” key as well – there’s nothing above it, so it could have been full height without a problem.
Summary of Microsoft Keyboard 600
It looks looks, it feels good and is under a tenner. The only downer is the half height function and Esc keys (I think it could also have done with back and forward track media buttons as well), but for the money it’s not worth losing a rating star over.
If you’re after a new keyboard, aren’t bothered about it being wireless and don’t want to pay any ridiculous prices then this is excellent value for money.