Sunday, November 25, 2007

The all singing, all dancing ETEN X800 Smartphone

I am the proud but also somewhat frustrated owner of an Eten X800 Windows Mobile PDA. For over 12 months I've struggled with a Nokia 7380 phone and Fujitsu N560 PDA combo because my previous integrated device (an O2 XDA Exe i.e (the one with the clever swivelling keyboard) was such a terrible phone I just had to stop using it.

Before receiving the unit I had downloaded the FCC qualifying ETEN manual. I put it here

I ordered the unit from the excellent
Clove Technology who have been selling PDAs since and including the fabulous Psion. ETEN duly arrived and I proceed to connect the Battery, put on the back cover, do an initial Mains battery charge, then Power ON.

Like Many PDAs the installation .CAB files are stored in a ROM and the first time startup process reads these .CAB files and installs the applications on the filesystem. The first time around I did set the optional 4 digit PIN password on installation. Then a lot later as part of the install a reboot was required. Guess what - on reboot my chosen PIN was not accepted. The only way to recover is to COLD boot the device and then answer the WIPE OUT question YES. So an hour later and re-install of all apps again the machine was installed a second time sans PIN. Then I went into the standard security menu and set the PIN as usual – this worked fine.

This PDA has 64MB RAM (programs) and 172MB of disk space. 64MB is mean, 128MB would have been a lot more comfortable. I installed the essential list of applications. They will easily fit onto the external 172MB disk.

I bought a 2GB and 4GB micro SD and SDHC cards respectively. Shockingly the 4GB did not work so I am back to just 2GB of card storage.

Pocket Informant – de-facto replacement for Supplied contacts and calendar.
Total Commander - file manager just like the PC version
metro - tube maps
Egress - RSS reader ( I download over 2000 items daily)
TCPMP video player and some sample films in .AVI format (PC style unconverted e.g. 200MB 30 minute films)
Skype - so I can make free skype calls with the wifi

MTUX - Display PocketPC screen on your PC (now freeware)

Day2: In a rush to get to a meeting via my 1 hour morning run I grabbed the phone and tried to check the time. ETEN was dead as a dodo. It had been charging all night so unfortunately it wasn't going to be the battery. Tried reset, extended reset, power exclusively via mains or battery - no better. Decided to leave it battery out for 8 hours. On return still no good. So asked Agata to have a look. She picked it up, pressed the power button and it started! So the previous behaviour was inexplicable but rather worrying.

Got thru to Clove to report the matter and confirmed they have a 7 day no quibble return policy, so in the next 5 days we will see how mr Eten shapes up.

Day3: No complaints today and got the GPS working using the supplied utility

So here is the current summary

+ It is currently the ONLY Windows mobile 6 PDA Phone shipping with a VGA screen, GPS, Bluetooth, Wifi
- The Construction is a little cheap
- Inside the Unit there are some spaces, are you kidding me!
- The SIM holder is very fragile. I would not fancy swapping SIMs weekly if I was doing a weekly commute to another country etc. Something would break
-- Unit is sluggish, however it is faster than an HTC touch or other super slow PDA: The 500 MHz Samsung SC32442 Processor feels about 50% the speed of my outgoing Fujitsu N560 (624 Mhz Xscale)
- The small telescopic stylus is awkardly close to the mini USB power adapter and sticks when trying to get it out (the spare stylus too) so presumably it is a design issue
+ min USB charger means charge using a standard mini USB cable and also in a car via a standard 12V adapter
+ VGA screen is so much better than the lazy standard 240x320 screen of most other PDAs. Although I'd prefer a larger screen like the XDA Exec for all those VGA pixels
+ Comes with a 2.5 mm headphone jack means your standard headphone cable will not work. A 3.5mm standard sized hole would have been preferred. I can confirm that with an adapter plug standard headphones work fine
+ Has a radio. I dont believe it! But works only with headphones i.e. it uses the wires as an aerial.
+ The phone has 3G and Edge. My SwissCom SIM worked with 3G straight away and was able to receive a video call from my Boss. Outstanding.
+ GPS works fine! Comes with a GPS viewer to shows satellites and position. Will try to install TomTom when I can
+ very lightweight at about 150 grams
+ Wonderfully petite. Fits easily into pocket.
= Functional but cheapish looking leatherette case with enormous belt clip has me looking elsewhere for a quality replacement. HTC devices had a much more elegant case for example.
+ Comes with 1 screen protector. Mine was a little smaller than the screen and not very adhesive. Still keeps the screen in top condition until a better one is found
-- my 4GB micro SDHC card did not work, the 1GB and 2GB ones did.

+ WiFi (I'm using G) is very fast
+ Has a torch function! I had this on the XDA Exec and its suprisingly useful to me
- 6 buttons on the front of the phone, 2 used for the phone. Would be good to be able to program the other 4 to my needs but the docs dont tell me which button is which so its going to be trial and error.
+ TCPMP player is able to play un modified PC sized .AVI movies from the micro SD card
+ Backup utility to save all your data onto the micro SD card
+ Bundled with Spb Mobile shell to add to front Today screen with Weather and Dial Tabs
+ Synchronised fine both with ActiveSync 4.5.0 and WMDC (Windows Mobile Device Centre)
= underneath would be better if it had a more rubberised outer casing for reasons of tactile feel and not sliding around a car dashboard

Day 5: Well the device seems to be trundling along fine now. We have got used to each other. The current limitations that really hurt are the small screen (i.e. no bigger than the standard QVGA screens of most PDAs) and running out of memory when more than a few apps are loaded (meaning constantly having to close apps from task manager).

Best thing so far .. The ability to send SMS's directly from Pocket Informant using a keypad and having a single Outlook Based and replicated phonebook for my PDA and Phone and office and home PC.

And here are some pictures ...

It really does have a 500 MHz CPU

A nice simple wireless manager

Watching a standard PC sized 180MB, 20 min .avi file without modification using TCPMP

Browsing one of my RSS feeds using Egress reader

Listening to the internal radio

The camera screen with the greatest PDA of all time in the background.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


In one weekend Swiss DSL catches up with the 20th century and even overtakes a few other countries

I am off for some power surfing

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Winter Tyres Conflabulation

Perhaps more suprising that the denial by most of a Silicon heaven is the lack of understanding about Winter Tyres

In fact the majority of the British population would deny the existance of Winter Tyres precisely because in England one set of tyres is used throughout the year.

Of course here in sensible and sophisticated mainland Europe we all know the huge difference it makes to have Winter Tyres. A great introduction is here . Normally we take particular pleasure in hearing about stranded Britsh motorists, who clearly; if they knew of, bought and used the correct tyres would be in much better shape.

This year of 2007 however our smugness needs to be withdrawn. In fact complacency and over work [insert excuse here] and the recent early snow has left us hoisted by our own petard. Summer tyres and snow. Doh!

We phoned the local garage for an appointment to swap the wheels over. "Ah yes sir, we have a slot in 15 days time"! So tonight I'm going to try and use that flimsy, use once in an emergency, never get back in the boot compartment scissor jack to change all 4 wheels. Oh joy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bah .. Christmas (insert festival) humbug .. what would jesus buy?

It was Diwali here in Switzerland the other day. I say in Switzerland but in these outsourced, multi cultural and multi ethnicity bearing times religious festivals are no longer limited to a defined set of country boundaries.

In fact according to Wikipedia, Diwali in india is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.

I therefore wondered whether I should also be celebrating and / or giving and receiving presents too.

And then my mind focused on the much larger festival, yes good olde Christmas. Of course the date of December 25th is a questionable one but most would agree with the meaning, that is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus .

I suppose one could reason that the greedy, retail overloaded, consume more, eat more, party more timezone that most people would admit to slipping into would be yet a further reason to keep the greatest distance from your rational self (and reason) from Christianity, if such behaviour could be regarded as Christian.

Perhaps as more orthodox devotees would argue, such behaviour is not in the spirit of Christmas.

At last there is some common ground that I would agree on with such religious folk and make a small plea that for our Christmas we take it easy, treat it as a festival of goodwill, and give and receive presents that we'd be proud of on the day after.

Otherwise you can imagine the scene playing out on that awkward morning after. You wake up in an alcoholic daze, stomach stretched and head pounding. The Queens speech is a distant memory and your last conscious moment was the horror of another Eastenders tradgey unflolding on your BBC World Service or BBC1 television screen. As your regain consciousness you find you are wearing an ill fitting and large sweater, new gaudy socks with santa claus decals and you survey the lounge awash with a mass of shredded wrapping paper covering a sea of useless presents that not only did you not need but which have ensured your chances for a carbon neutral footprint in 2008 are now zero.

So on my list of inappropriate Christmas presents for 2007 I could include:

  • Any jumper, sweater, underwear or socks not explicity requested
  • Any high calorie (especially chocolate) food

  • Any Apple phone or MP3 player

  • Any convential form of lighting

  • Any phone unless it also has a PDA, GPS attached

  • Any paper related item that I could not substitute for an electronic item (e.g. Books, Calendars, Diaries)

  • Any Perfume or aftershave

  • Any chav like crap

  • Anything that we don't actually need!
I am going to try and post my wanted Christmas presents on facebook, I am sure there must be some kind of application thingy that lets me do that? In fact to sum it all up What Would Jesus Buy