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* Posts by Al Taylor

315 posts • joined 30 Mar 2007

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DeskSMS

Al Taylor
Alert

from the author

@ N15L3

The fees will be the same as if you had sent an sms from your handset - the app simply pushes information back and forth to your Android phone over its data link, it doesn't sent messages directly from Gmail or your browser.

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Al Taylor
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From the author...

Studley, sadly a demonstration of my lamentable habit of going over word count!

Once you have synced your contacts with DeskSMS you can trigger your phone to call a number from the browser. I couldn't convince myself this was a key feature so I dropped the paragraph. If you have your phone rigged to some sort of hands free device on your desk it could be of use.

@ AC - it's free at the moment. It moves from a free beta to a paid app at the weekend. There may be a yearly or an all-time fee offered. As I understand it the developer hasn't decided on that yet but as you say $4.99pa seems most likely.

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Magellan Explorist 710 hiking GPS

Al Taylor
Alert

Batteries

My review unit came with two flat Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries. I replaced them with two of the same but fresh for my test.

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Exogear Exomount universal gadget mount

Al Taylor
Alert

From the author

@ FanMan

I've been using the review unit as a screen mount for three weeks now in several cars - including a trip down the M6 in a Ford Transit - and there has been no sign wobble, shake, rattle or indeed roll - it's every bit as solid as any satnav unit I've had on test. Also there is a cuff around the ball/socket joint to tighten it up if needs be.

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Volvo S60 DRIVe

Al Taylor
Alert

Start/Stop and lights

I should point out I'm not defending keeping my foot on the clutch at lights, but I do a lot of urban driving and without a footrest to slide my left foot onto - something my manual S80 had - it's something I ended doing a lot in the S60 unless I knew I was in for a long wait.

Granted it's not safe and it's not clever but a lot of people do it and it takes the wind out of the start/stop system's sails.

As for the lights, I managed to leave them on twice in the space of a week, the first time a neighbour let me know, the second time I noticed before I turned in for the night. My point is, it is possible to leave the lights on, lock up and walk away. That wasn't the case in the S80 (keys out = lights off) and if you try that same trick with my current car a buzzer sounds that could wake the dead.

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Formula 1

Al Taylor
Alert

@ Flugal

If you tap the top of the Lap Time column it shows the gap between ech car and the leader on the last completed lap. Tap it a second time and it shows the gap between each car and the one immediately ahead of it.

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TomTom Start 20 satnav

Al Taylor
Holmes

@ Anon V

I'd defy any light fingered urban youth walking by to spot a black mounting disc stuck to a black dash. And once seen it may not be recognized for what it is.

I'd also take issue with the claim that satnav users polish their suction marks away - I don't know any who do that on a regular basis.

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Boffins brew up formula for consummate cuppa

Al Taylor
Unhappy

Even the writers...

...don't get Reg mugs.

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Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI micro-hybrid

Al Taylor
Alert

Temperature

Below -5 the start/stop system leaves things alone until the engine compartment temperature has risen to above that.

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Al Taylor
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A pillar

Indeed it is, and in the 508 it's so thick it obscures visibility quite badly between the 90 and 120 degree mark (give or take a 1960s female singing trio) looking left of right.

It makes changing lanes and pulling out of junctions that curve back away from you - like the one I have to navigate daily - more of a challenge then it should be.

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Dolphin Browser HD

Al Taylor
Alert

Text

does indeed reflow - or jiggle - in Dolphin HD.

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Ten... Core i5 laptops

Al Taylor
Happy

For the record.

If any of the machines had given me a metrosexual wank-spasm I'd have automatically awarded them 100%.

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Archos 70 Android 7in tablet

Al Taylor
Alert

@ Danny14 re. CPU

Quadrant Standard lists the "current" and "maximum" clocks speeds as 1024MHz.

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My Tracks travel tracker

Al Taylor
Alert

@ Eponymous Cowherd

Fair comment but most of the reader requests we get are to feature apps that have been around for a while.

Agreed My Tracks is no spring chicken, but I've been using Android since the G1 came out and managed to completely overlook it until this March. I suspect I'm not alone. It's the downside of their now being a quarter of a million odd apps available in the Market.

The idea of the column is both to evaluate new apps and look at apps that Android users will find useful even if they have been knocking about for a bit.

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Google Docs

Al Taylor
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@ Jim 15

Well spotted that man! That will teach me to update my apps more frequently.

Steve - must say that I have no problem with selecting/copying/pasting text within the app or between apps. Yes you have to go into edit mode to copy but that's hardly the end of the world.

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Honda Jazz Hybrid

Al Taylor
Alert

CVT / 7-speed override

If you put the gear selector in 'D' the system works like a regular automatic gearbox but if you move the lever to 'S' you can use the steering column paddles to manually select seven fixed drive ratios.

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Go SMS Pro

Al Taylor
Alert

@ Bassey

No you can't.

While looking though I did come across an option to set up a blacklist of people / numbers you don't want to get texts from.

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Al Taylor
Alert

@ batfastad

You can get a simple by-date view of your incoming and outgoing messages by swiping to the folder view and opening your in- and out- box.

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Communicate

Al Taylor
Alert

@ AC 11.03 etc

Well spotted, though oddly it does work the other way, merde to sh1t.

@ jonathanb - I just tried 42 and it said "quarante-deux" as expected though 42 appeared on the screen as 42 not forty-two.

@ Martijn Otto - fair point but Communicate is a lot more finger friendly and easier to use - esp. in 'conversation' mode - on the spur of the moment. You also don't need to tap the screen a second time to hear your translations read-out.

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Touch Calendar

Al Taylor
Alert

Calenders

Richard. Re-reading my copy I don't believe I have come close to suggesting you have to use Android to access a Google Calender on the go. I was reviewing an Android app, not the respective calender support options and capabilities of Android or iOS. I'm sure most Reg readers are fully aware that Google calenders can be accessed from iOS, WP7, WebOS etc.

nichomach. The app works with any calender account that your Android phone is "signed into" including multiple Google accounts, Exchange, Facebook etc. I should have made that more clear in the review.

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So, what's the best sci-fi film never made?

Al Taylor
Thumb Up

Ringworld

would have to be first choice. Second would be Robert R McCammon's Swan Song.

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Sonim XP3300 Force rugged mobile phone

Al Taylor
Alert

@ Whitter

If you watch the video the phone works perfectly well when it comes out of the drink, it's the slamming of the handset against the corner of the fish tank that seems to crack the screen.

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Al Taylor
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GPS etc

Erik, the handset is A-GPS equipped but I tested it in a local zero-GSM-reception black spot in the Pennines and still got a position lock in 15 seconds.

dave46 - reception was good everywhere I tried it - not better than my Nokia C1-01 but invariably I had an extra bar compared to my Motorola Defy so the radio stack is good if not exceptional.

As for the BBC's bash-it-against- a-fish-tank test, well, as I said, I'm pretty sure you could break it if you hit it with something hard and sharp enough but you would really need to try. Running it over with a two-tonne people carrier on a gravel drive seemed a more realistic test to me!

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My Taptu

Al Taylor
Alert

@ Mark

"tis a shame - mark all as read and hide once read are a deal breaker for me - other than that it looks very polished"

We got an e-mail from the developers today telling us that some sort of "hide once read" feature is on their to-do list. Apparently you and I aren't the first to bemoan it's absence.

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Thrutu

Al Taylor
Go

@ Spence

According to Google over 90% of Android handsets connected to the Market now run v2.1 of higher and a fair percentage of the UK population live within a 3G reception area.

http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html

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Asus Eee Pad Slider

Al Taylor
Alert

Price

I was working on $400 = £250 (at today's exchange rate) plus 20% VAT = £300. I asked the Asus PR if $400 was the likely to be the local US price or the equivalent Euro / Sterling, and he said the latter. How true that will turn out to be, well, your guess is as good as mine.

Be that as it may, I was expecting to be told the price would be more in the region of 500 Euro so it still sounds like a good deal.

As for the fingerprints, sorry about that - it was a scrum at the stand and trying to get any shots was hard work. Giving one of the devices a polish and getting all Lord Lichfield on it was a non-starter.

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Launcher Pro

Al Taylor
Alert

Clock widget

@ Jim48 - it's Fancy Widget Pro

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.anddoes.fancywidget.pro&feature=search_result

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Cowon D3 Plenue Android media player

Al Taylor
Alert

Media transfer

Robert - yes, you can drag'n'drop content from Windows, Linux or Mac or synch files via any MTP media player.

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Dell Venue Pro WinPho 7 smartphone

Al Taylor
Unhappy

Weight

It's not weak arms that are the issue, it's that when you put it in your inside suit jacket pocket it makes it look like you can't dress yourself or stand up straight!

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Nokia C5-03 budget touchscreen smartphone

Al Taylor
Alert

Prices

Vodafone is offering the X10 Mini on PAYG for £130 and the Orange San Francisco is available for £100 PAYG which makes them both realistic alternatives to the C5-03 for any potential smartphone buyer on a budget.

http://shop.vodafone.co.uk/shop/mobile-phone/sony-ericsson-x10-mini-payg

http://shop.orange.co.uk/mobile-phones/San-Francisco-from-Orange-in-grey

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Motorola Defy Android smartphone

Al Taylor
Alert

Torx / Allen

I've just noticed the screws in the press images don't actually look like the screws on my handset. Even under a magnifier the handset screws look like small Allens but as commented the ones in the side-on picture look more like Torx. Oh well, as long as they keep the two parts of the handset together...

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Archos 101 8GB Android tablet

Al Taylor
Alert

Power and tethering etc

I'm assuming the HDD issue is one of power but I didn't have an externally powered HDD to hand to test.

Hook up a mobile via USB and the phone charges a treat and the USB tethering worked fine with a Motorola Defy and a T-Mobile SIM.

No GPS.

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Samsung Galaxy Player 50 Android PMP

Al Taylor
Alert

WinAmp

The problem with using WinAmp is that you loose access to Samsung's built-in sound modification tech. At the end of the day I will mark down any media player that doesn't allow for simple MTP playlist synch via WMP even if there is a workaround. Using another media app should be a choice not a forced compromise.

Re. Google Maps, the new version didn't arrive until after I had filed this review. Of course you could always buy CoPilot Live from the Market, worth every penny of its £22.98 asking price.

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HTC Desire HD

Al Taylor
Alert

Trackball

@ David Holden. No, the only way to move the cursor is by touching the screen. It actually wasn't an issue after a day or so, and that is despite me having used a G1, a Hero and a Desire over the last two years.

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Al Taylor
Alert

This'n'that

Fair comment about the way I worded the 3GP/.H.264 part of the review. My point was that I would have been much happier if the HD encoded video as .mp4. 3GP is really not an ideal container, at least not in my book.

As for the software on the HD, I could have rambled on for weeks about it but with so much quality software in the Market I work on the principle that as long as the bundled stuff works as advertised, why get bogged down in the undergrowth? Most of us have favourite third party apps that we use anyway. I started using K-9 as my Android e-mail client about a year ago, and haven't used a Google or HTC mail app since, a lack of widgets notwithstanding. Same goes for Handcent for texts and Folder Organizer to keep everything neat and tidy.

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Nokia X3 Touch and Type

Al Taylor
Alert

Camera button

That button you can see at lower left is the release for the battery cover. There's one on the left too.

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Roman 'Leatherman' spied on web

Al Taylor
Headmaster

All you needed

was one of these and a couple of pairs of clean subligaria and the (Roman) world was your oyster.

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Navigon 70 Plus satnav

Al Taylor
Alert

@ AC / Tom

GPS fix we amongst the quickest I have come across, so no problems on that front. The postcode search doesn't require town names, just type in the code and select a house number etc and you are done. The TMC service is free for life.

In regard to updates, this from the Navigon site...

FreshMaps at a special price

For a one-off payment, we will regularly provide updated maps for you to download for a period of 24 months. Activate FreshMaps 30 days after purchase, and pay only £15.99 instead of £79.00

.

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Nokia E5 Qwertyphone

Al Taylor
Alert

VoIP

VoIP worked just fine over my WPA2 home network.

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No one needs Blu-ray, says Microsoft exec

Al Taylor
Big Brother

Artwork

"but seriously who really ever sat staring at a gatefold pondering the depths of [insert artist]'s lyrics?"

I did!

Still do in fact,

And you can't beat a proper LP sized libretto if you are an opera fan. In the early days of CD some opera sets came in the same packaging as LP sets. Led to some confusion if you didn't read the box before purchase, but it had its advantages. Seem to recall that the Springsteen Live 75-85 box set did too.

Agree that the same isn't really true of DVD/BR packaging though.

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Acer Stream Android smartphone

Al Taylor
Alert

Volume

folks, just to confirm the volume rocker on the side of the Stream works as per most Android phones - use it in standby and it alters the ringer volume, use it with the media player running and it changes the media playback volume etc. I should have said something about that seeing as media playback is the Stream's main USP.

@ AC 23.33 - thanks for the heads up re. Meridian. Nice little app.

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Al Taylor
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@ Wonko

Having the MicroUSB port under the same rubber cover as the MiniHDMI is what prevents the use of a desk stand/charger. It's one thing I really like about my faithful old HTC Hero - the exposed MiniUSB port at the bottom means it can be used with any number of no-name desk stands.

Al

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Group Test: smartphone satnav apps

Al Taylor
Alert

Garmin

Folks, unless I am very much mistaken Garmin only currently sell a mobile navigation app for Blackberry along with its Garmin-Asus satnav phones. The general idea behind this roundup was to look at satnav apps that are available for a selection of platforms (yes I know TomTom is currently iPhone only).

If Garmin's Mobile XT software for Windows had still been available to buy at the time of writing I would have included it.

http://www.garmin.com/sites/uk/products/mobile-phones/

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Al Taylor
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@Fred 5

The apps that require an active data link to download map data on the hoof are Google Maps, Wisepilot and Skobbler.

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Archos 7 Android tablet

Al Taylor
Alert

@ LawLessLessLaw

The Archos 7 HT doesn't have a YouTube client and I couldn't find a myPlayer APK from a reliable download source, so that ruled out YouTube and iPlayer. I'd be surprised if myPlayer supports the 7's screen size.

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Sony Walkman NWZ-A845 media player

Al Taylor
Alert

@ chris143

Chris, the TV-out cable is a £20+ optional extra so that wasn't a function I could test. iPlayer downloads aside I'm not sure I see the point of outputting 400x240 video to a 38" telly.

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Al Taylor
Alert

Volume

I tested the A845 for maximum volume against a Sansa Fuze and Cowon A3 using a pair of Sennheiser HD25's and there wasn't a huge amount of difference. Yes the Fuze was louder than the Walkman, but the Walkman in turn was louder than the Cowon. But once I fired up the noise cancellation function - using the bundled 'phones - the Sony wiped the floor with both of them in terms of what you could hear over any background racket.

As for successful ID3 tag distinction between CD1/CD2 etc I've never come across an MP3 player - my iPod aside - that has ever got that right so I long since took the simple route and put all my separate CD tracks into separate folders. Less elegant, but a sod of a lot more reliable. It's not a function I have actually tested on any of the Walkman players I have reviewed.

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Cowon iAudio J3 personal media player

Al Taylor
Thumb Up

Gapless

gents, I certainly couldn't find anything in the settings menu to define an album as "gapless" so either I missed something or there has been a firmware change since my review unit shipped. Nothing in the user manual either. If anyone could shed any more light on this I'd be grateful.

Dibbles - sod's law, those are the only two recent Cowon devices I've not used!

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