* Posts by Robert Caldecott

35 posts • joined 28 Sep 2007

Little big phone: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, a toothsome hand-fulla Android

Robert Caldecott

Serious mobile data bug with some Three users

I had one of these, bought from Clove the day it was released. Loved it: the best Android device I've used. But after two weeks I had to send it back due to a nasty issue where the mobile data connection would often disappear and only a reboot would bring it back. On my device it seemed to be related to using Bluetooth. Tried all the usual Sony advice, like repairing it (i.e. flashing a factory image, which deletes all your data), but the problem persisted. There are plenty of people complaining about this on the official Sony forum and all the UK users have one thing in common: we're all on the Three network. Hopefully Sony will fix this in a future firmware update but as it stands today I would be very careful about getting one of these if you're on Three and you use Bluetooth for anything. Sob. What a damn shame.

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The best smartphones for Christmas

Robert Caldecott
WTF?

Where's the Acer S500?

"Handset of the year? No, really."

El Reg recently reviewed the Acer S500 CloudMobile and showered it with praise yet it doesn't even get a mention here. Don't you even bother to read each others reviews?

http://www.reghardware.com/2012/11/19/review_acer_cloud_mobile_android_handset/

I *love* the handset reviews on this site but a) you don't do it often enough, b) you omit devices in round-ups like this and c) the scoring you use is totally inconsistent. Please sort it out.

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Acer CloudMobile S500 Android phone review

Robert Caldecott
Thumb Up

Impressive

This looks like an excellent device and the design reminds me a little of the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc. Yes, a Nexus 4 is a better device but this phone will at least give you expandable storage and a replaceable battery which Google are moving away from.

I've seen a few videos of this phone in action and it looks very smooth and is pretty much running stock ICS which is another plus. They have made a few tweaks around the edges and bundle a few Acer apps but other than that it should be about as close to a pure Google experience as any non-Nexus device is likely to get short of installing a custom ROM.

If I couldn't get my hands on a Nexus (and by all accounts there is now at least a 6 week delay, perhaps longer) then I'd buy one of these like a shot. It ticks all the boxes and that screen is superb.

Shame your Amazon link doesn't show up any of these for sale. As far as I can tell only Expansys are selling these for less than £300 in the UK.

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Google's Drive + Gmail: A 10GB Dropbox killer

Robert Caldecott

Sweet

I have one of those new Samsung Chromebooks which comes with 100GB of Google Drive space free for 2 years, so this additional GMail integration means I won't be using my Box account any more. The Google Drive Chromebook integration is completely seamless.

However, the Google Drive Android app still needs some work - you can't easily download a file to your SD card for example which seems like a glaring omission to me.

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Sony confesses: we can't beat iPhone... yet

Robert Caldecott

Just replaced my arc S with a Nexus 4

I loved the design of my SE arc S but Sony crippled the device by not including enough RAM (only 380MB available out of an advertised 512MB), not including enough internal storage (420MB, WTF?) and then they released a pretty crappy ICS port that rendered some games useless. The ICS port hit performance so hard that O2 UK refused to release it.

It was a shame as otherwise it was a lovely phone - great screen, fantastic camera, SD slot, removable battery, HDMI out. Even the headphones that came with it are excellent. But when you spend much of your time wanting to smash your phone into little pieces because it's always running out of RAM then it's time for a change.

My Nexus 4 came on Thursday and the arc S is on eBay. I've gone from Sony fanboy to swearing off Sony phones for life in less than 12 months. :(

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Sony Xperia T Android smartphone review

Robert Caldecott

Disappointed

I currently have an arc S and was looking forward to Sony copying the design again after the frankly horrible design of the Xperia S and earlier 2012 phones. I love the look of this device but this is not the first lacklustre review I've read. What's really putting me though is that Sony aren't putting out a JB update until early 2013 and having been bitten by their frankly crappy ICS update for the arc I'm not willing to take this chance again. Quite frankly I'm sick of waiting for these manufacturers to get their Android upgrade act together so my next phone will be a Nexus 4 - which is considerably cheaper and more powerful than this device. No SD card will be a slight annoyance but getting the latest version of Android direct from Google for at least the next 2 years is well worth it.

And the amount of crapware that Sony include is outrageous. If the crap was installed as normal user apps that you could uninstall then I'd forgive them. But installing games like "Let's Golf" in the /system/app folder which you cannot remove without rooting? No Sony, no. Let's Golf? No, let's bloody not. And rooting your device might be fine for us geeks but for the average Joe? Forget it. The only reason there isn't an arc shaped hole in my window is because I rooted my device and removed all the crud - otherwise I would of sold this device months ago.

And don't get me started on the build quality - my arc S creaks, the buttons feel loose and it has the dreaded housing crack issue, but as I've unlocked the bootloader my warranty is void. Some people on XDA have complained that Sony UK service centres have been refusing to repair damaged phones if you've unlocked the bootloader. Nice work Sony.

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Google goes ahead, unveils Nexus 4 and 10

Robert Caldecott
Unhappy

Where is the El Reg coversge?

Is this all the coverage we're going to get? Pathetic.

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O2: no Ice Cream Sandwich for some Sony Xperia owners

Robert Caldecott

I don't blame O2, Sony borked the ICS update

This might not be a popular view - but I can see O2's point. The ICS update *is* laggy, some apps are much slower (the dialler for example), video recording performance is shockingly bad and some games don't even run let alone perform like they did on GB. So if you update to ICS and aren't happy then who's going to take the flak? Who are you going to complain to? O2 of course. And because you can't officially downgrade to GB then O2 just couldn't take the risk. Why should O2 have to take the blame - and potentially lose customers - because Sony borked the ICS update? Remember that most people with these phones aren't techies and won't know about things like FlashTool, XDA, etc.

I'm an arc S owner and a fan of Xperia devices in general but Sony messed this up. The latest f/w (587) is a *little* better but it still doesn't match GB in terms of performance. When ICS was first released for the arc the official Sony support forum was stuffed full of people complaining so it's no wonder O2 decided against this sort of grief.

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Ice Cream Sandwich still a no-show for most Android users

Robert Caldecott

My next phone will be a Nexus

I'm never buying a phone that isn't a Nexus device again. There are five different Nexus phones coming in November and one of those models has my name on it.

And I've been quite lucky - my current arc S got an ICS update (not without it's issues mind) but whether this 2011 flagship will get JB is open to question. And to think I held a Nexus in my hands in the local O2 shop the day after it launched but I passed in favour of the arc S because of the price...

My wife has a new Xperia S. It came with GB installed. She didn't notice. I flashed ICS. She didn't notice. The truth is most people don't care as long as the phone works.

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Sony Xperia Go waterproof Android phone review

Robert Caldecott

Make sure it's network unlocked

If you get a Sony phone on a contract directly from any of the big UK providers then there's a good chance the bootloader will be locked which means potential rooting difficulties and no chance of installing custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, etc. Either buy one outright or via someone like Phones4U/Carphone Warehouse - these devices should be unlockable if the need arises. I got burnt with this on my O2 Xperia arc S last year so be warned.

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Brits get to fondle Google Nexus 7 slab in just a fortnight

Robert Caldecott

Re: Ordered mine already

I ordered it through the Play store. I'm in Wiltshire. :)

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Robert Caldecott

Ordered mine already

£159 for this is a great price - and Amazon will lose out seeing as their equivalent Fire tablet isn't even available in the UK. This is just what I have been waiting for.

And kudos for not simply changing the $ sign to a £ when converting the price like so many other US companies do. $199 = £130 + 20% VAT = £153. Close enough.

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Sony Xperia P mid-range Android

Robert Caldecott

Xperia Play WILL get ICS

Sony have back-tracked and have certified ICS firmware for the Play so expect it soon.

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Robert Caldecott

Tempted

This ticks a lot of boxes for me, but a lack of a microSD slot is a real shame. But a metal chassis, great camera, bright screen, double the RAM of their 2011 phones, etc. for £300? Not too shabby. I'd like to point out that other reviews claim this is one of the best displays out there, especially in sunlight.

Regarding ICS - Sony have been pretty good with updates for 2011 phones, and have even put out two ICS updates for the arc S (4.0.3 and 4.0.4). Other manufacturers should take note. I reckon the delay in ICS for their 2012 phones is because they wanted to the 2011 ones updated first - quite an admirable stance. Of course, ICS isn't without it's own set of problems but that's another story.

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iPhones, iPads to be FULL OF FACEBOOK and NOT GOOGLE

Robert Caldecott

iOS6 map compared to a Google Map...

...of Kings Cross, London. The Google one is in a different league IMHO.

https://twitter.com/corxo/status/212314131590692864/photo/1/large

(thanks to @corxo)

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HTC locked out of Windows 8 tablet party

Robert Caldecott

HTC don't have experience but Nokia do?

So Nokia are going to make WP8 tablets even though they have no experience in this area but HTC are locked out? Sounds like MS are peeved that HTC aren't giving WP7 much love and are concentrating on Android.

A combination of sour grapes and the usual MS claptrap.

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Nokia Lumia 900 WinPho 7 smartphone

Robert Caldecott

No WP8 update for Nokia's flagship?

Will this phone get WP8? Because Nokia say "Ask MS" and MS say "no comment". So, in other words, no it won't. Seriously - why would anyone buy this *very* expensive phone if it cannot be upgraded? If Apple launched a new iPhone and said "we don't know if you're going to get iOS6" they would be _panned_. And rightly so. I think the fact Nokia themselves cannot answer this question is incredibly sad.

This is Nokia's flagship device but it simply cannot compete with phones of the same price from the competition. Not even close on hardware specs in some cases.

I want Nokia to succeed - really - I know good, talented people who work there. But this phone isn't going to save them which begs the question - can they hang on long enough to produce one that can?

Oh, and figures released today show that WP7 is now the _sixth_ most popular smartphone O/S after Android, iOS, Symbian, RIM and Bada. If there isn't a massive turnaround in fortunes for WP7 then MS won't have any hardware partners left to make any bloody hardware.

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Sony pops top on 13Mp Xperia

Robert Caldecott

The GX looks lush

I have an arc S - great design, but crap build quality. The GX looks a bit more solid though and as I hate the design of the Samsung S3 then I might give this a look when it gets launched in the UK (which it will, without LTE, later this year).

You've got to admit - it looks pretty sweet.

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Basic instinct: how we used to code

Robert Caldecott

No RENUMBER command for the Spectrum

Not having a RENUMBER command in ZX BASIC (until the first 128K model IIRC) was a massive PITA. I remember typing in a machine code RENUMBER command I found in some magazine but I must of got some of the DATA bytes wrong - it crashed the machine and I gave up.

Happy days!?

I will dig a copy of my only commercial Spectrum release ("File Master") out of the loft when I can - it's on a 3.5" disk but was written using an MGT Plus D drive so even if it's still readable after 24 years or so I'm not sure what I can do with it!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Robert Caldecott

Ah, happy days.

I cut my programming teeth on a Speccy when I acquired one second-hand in 1984 (I was 13). I used to stay up until the wee small hours writing BASIC programs. I eventually learned enough Z80 assembler to write a very basic windowing system which was used in my only commercial release - a basic database app called "Filemaster" which was sold by BetterBytes in the late 80s. Happy days! I still have the source code on a diskette in the loft (I eventually got one of those Mile-Gordon Technology disk drives - complete with "snapshot" button - after Microdrives failed me for the last time).

Sadly I lent my Spectrum 128K to a friend in 1990 and never saw it again.

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Sony Xperia P glows for advance orders

Robert Caldecott

Xperia ICS Update Isn't Great

If the Xperia ICS update is anything to go by then stick with GB until Sony iron out the bugs. Gaming is a frustrating experience with many users complaining of issues with touch controls and others are having WiFi problems. I myself cannot play popular games like Angry Birds, Frisbee, etc. for long before touch controls lock up forcing a reboot!

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HTC One S Android smartphone

Robert Caldecott

Internal storage is faster than SD, but...

...not having an SD slot is hopeless IMHO and more and more Android manufacturers seem to be heading down this path. I have 18GB of music on my arc S - it's my primary music player. 10GB isn't going to cut it - especially when you start filling up that space with 1080p videos! Anything less than 32GB isn't going to make my short list.

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HTC One X Android smartphone

Robert Caldecott
Happy

I charge my phone at night while I'm sleeping

As long as the battery on my phone lasts till bedtime then I'm happy!

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Ice Cream Sandwich gives Android mobes brainfreeze – Sony

Robert Caldecott
FAIL

Re: spin

I have the ICS beta running on my Arc S right now and memory usage is incredibly high even after removing all the crap. On a clean boot I have less than 50MB available - under GB I'd have over 150MB. This means I get a *lot* of launcher reloads, the music player stutters and burps (which is inexcusable) and the whole thing occasionally slows to a crawl.

El Reg are on the money too BTW - Sony did say all these things - did you read the blog post? If they had faith in the ICS update they would release it OTA. I think they know full well that it will lead to a lot of complaints so they are treading carefully.

I love my Arc S but they really should of put more RAM in the bloody thing.

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Angry Birds Space

Robert Caldecott

Much better on a tablet

Having played it on my wife's iPad it's now very hard to play it on my 4.3" phone screen. :(

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Sony Xperia S NXT series Android smartphone

Robert Caldecott

How does it sound?

Actually Sony have been really good with updates for their recent devices and have donated devices and drivers to XDA. I have an Arc S which is running the ICS beta and it's rock solid so I doubt the ICS upgrade for the S will be far away. And the Home button is still the Home button - press and hold it and bingo, a list of apps appears.

I wish these reviews would talk about music playback quality as surely many people use their phones as music players? I had an S2 for a while and couldn't believe how bad the audio quality was for a flagship phone (thanks to some crappy Yamaha chipset) and so I swapped it for an Arc S - which sounds fab in comparison.

However, no removable battery? No expandable storage? And that little USB flap? Ack. That's a shame Sony.

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Small pile of cash, dying platform: 2011 is bad news for Nokia

Robert Caldecott

It was around 650,000 devices in Q4

Elop said '1 million devices to date' - i.e. until today, 26th January. Which means in Q4 it was around 650,000 devices. Considering that includes Christmas it should be ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

http://www.intomobile.com/2012/01/26/did-nokia-really-only-sell-640000-windows-phones-q4/

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Quad-core Samsung Galaxy S III set for April launch

Robert Caldecott

Audio quality

I hope they've changed the audio DSP to a different chipset. The audio quality on the S2 is awful.

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Sony shows off NXT-generation smartphone

Robert Caldecott

No microSD card slot and no removable battery?

I have an Arc S and I *love it* (took my SGS2 back when I heard the terrible audio quality from it's crappy Yamaha chipset) but being able to stick in a microSD card and have the option to replace the battery are both features I'd come to expect from Sony. How do you reset the device if you screw something up when playing with different ROMs? Does it stay in a bootloop forever? :)

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HTC Sensation XE

Robert Caldecott

Samsung have stolen HTC's thunder

The camera is frankly appalling if your sample pictures are anything to go by and the Beats tie-in is nothing more than a gimmick. I had a HTC Desire which was a lovely device, especially once I removed all Sense - it eats up RAM and battery life for some reason. But the latest HTC phones seem a little lacking if you ask me.

Amazing to think that 12 months ago a HTC was *the* Android phone to have. Samsung are the new top dogs in this particular arena and I can't see why you'd choose this device over a Galaxy S2.

HTC are in for a rough 2012.

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Sony Ericsson: Android 4.0 updates out by March 2012

Robert Caldecott

Some confusion as tweets about 'unskinned' ICS from Jan 1st

Yesterday there were some tweets from a Sony employee claiming they would be rolling out stock, 'unskinned' ICS to Xperia devices from Jan 1st.

http://www.xperiablog.net/2011/11/28/sony-employee-claims-android-4-0-xperia-update-coming-1st-week-of-jan-2012/

Either way it's a positive move by Sony Ericsson.

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Bug silences Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Robert Caldecott

Latest update from XDA

"For a fact it is known that majority of Galaxy Nexus phones seem to suffer from a 'SAV Ghost' or 'Volume Bug', where the device volume is automatically adjusted (usually lowered, but not always) when it gets radio interference from itself or a nearby device, that is transmitting on 2G and GSM 900 (900Mhz).

It is very common for the device to lower its volume during phone calls on 2G network or when using 2G data. While it does not only happen during data connection, one can detect phone itself causing interference When the phone itself is using 2G data by the icon E (for Edge) or G (for GPRS) and volume rapidly changes while that happens.

Problem is worse when the phone is on low-signal area and thus uses the radio more frequently to find or hold on to the signal.

2G networks working on GSM 900 are majority of Europe, Africa, Australia, Middle East and large part of Asia. GSM 900 however is not existent on US and Korea networks, where the device might have gotten majority of its testing. In UK, the GSM 900 is used by O2, Vodafone, giffgaff, Tesco Mobile.

This problem happens even if the radios of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone are turned off and even when the device is not running Android 4.0 itself, so the problem is not in Google's software. Device is known to have this problem even while in bootloader, the lowest environment it has been detected in.

While the problem exists, device is often unresponsive for a short time, dealing with a lot of 'input' at the same time.

The above reasons mean that the problem exists in hardware level of Galaxy Nexus smartphone and if you suffer from this problem, then you have a faulty device.

It is still unclear if all Galaxy Nexus smartphones suffer from this issue. A lot of users do not use 2G networks or have used them so rarely, that the problem as possibly slipped by unnoticed as nothing more than a inconvenience.

Samsung UK definitely released a large number of affected phones in UK last week, these devices are the ones that users are reporting problems with. Replacements of the device so far haven't worked for most users.

Pre-release phones however did not report this issue. This may be because pre-release phones did not have this issue and Samsung released - possibly unknowingly - a faulty batch of handsets in UK. It is also possible that pre-release phones simply did not look out for the existence of the bug and did not test the 2G network, instead testing the device on WiFi or non-GSM-900 networks.

Some sellers report that Samsung has conducted additional testing on devices that were delivered to SIM-free sellers for this week. Whether this means they detected the problem in previous batch or not, is unclear. So far Clove and Handtec haven't been able to reproduce the problem on phones that were delivered to them.

Whether Galaxy Nexus is flawed by design and all devices are affected, or this was a result of a broken batch, will be clear within the next few days as SIM-free phones are being delivered to fulfil pre-orders.

If new SIM-free deliveries are not affected by the problem, then the only affected phones were the ones released in UK, and Samsung will likely simply have to replace the problematic handsets in the market.

If new SIM-free deliveries are also affected, then it is likely that all Galaxy Nexus phones manufactured so far are affected by this issue. This might lead to mass-recall of the devices and further postponement when it comes to the handsets release.

One alternative is that Samsung might release a software update that does not fix the hardware problem - as this is not possible - but will alleviate or ignore the issue so it does not affect general use of the phone. Problem will still exist, but it would be less noticable or get in the users way less.

We will see what the next few days tell us."

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Android smartphone

Robert Caldecott

Wow!

My contract is up at Christmas and it was a choice between the HTC Sensation/Samsung Galaxy II S or the shiny new Nexus.

But this ... looks amazing, decent camera, great screen - and a lot cheaper than the others. And would more cores actually matter when I spend most of my time using network apps like FB, Google+, etc.? I think not.

And there is a CM7.1 port available.

Very, very tempted.

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CyanogenMod 7.1 brings 24 Android phones into fold

Robert Caldecott
Meh

Oxygen for HTC Desire/Samsung Galaxy S II

I am currently running the excellent Oxygen ROM on my HTC Desire after trying CM7.1 for a week or two. I had issues with music playback (stuttering playback) and also noticed that memory usage is quite high. I failed to get any help for the playback issue despite posting in various CM forums. This is my only beef with CM - plenty of people post issues in the forums but very few people answer ... which is a shame.

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Dell trips up over laptop components

Robert Caldecott

Dell Precision M90

My company ordered a top of the range Precision M90 for me at the end of July. The shipping date slipped due to a shortage of 17" screens and we were told it would ship this week. The day before it was due they told us it won't be till the end of October at the earliest. Sigh. Still, nice to know I am not alone.

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