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WHOOPS - MY CURMUDGEONLY QUOTIENT JUST TOOK A HIT
What a bloody hypocrite I am. For years I've been begrudgingly using a pay-as-you-go cell-phone, and an obsolete one at that, boasting that I don't put any more money it than say, £10 every six months; probably a lie of artistic licence proportions anyway.
Then a sequence of events occurred, when we found how 'jolly useful' being able to e-mail from our laptop would have been, whilst cloistered away in a rented cottage in Wales.
There are a few ways you could do this without access to a phone socket, but they all involve cellular technology (unless your cottage just happens to be a wi-fi hotspot - none too likely methinks).
One way is to get a cellular card for the laptop, the pros being that it's a neat solution, but it involves setting up yet another account on yet another telephone number, just for a few occasions when you might need to use it, no doubt paying a stiff monthly tariff whether it's used or not.
The other way, hence my brand spanking new cell-phone, is to get one that's useable either as a modem for your laptop so you can dial-up the 'roaming' number for your ISP, or better still, use its ability to surf at 'almost broadband' speeds via a service called GPRS. In view of the fact that my network charges an extra £3/month for 2mbytes worth of GPRS downloads, and I've no idea how much that is in terms of reading your e-mail, I'll try using the dial-up 0845 number and only access web-mail, choosing to read text only without downloading any humungous file attachments. At least it's a cost I can quantify, although, no doubt, 0845 numbers aren't included in the basic package since they're "non-geographical". Only the monthly phone bills will tell.
For no other reason than the fact that I've got shares in them (until Telefonica S.A. buy them from me), I decided to 'go' with O². Anyway, they're the one with a mast nearest to my house, and I've never had any trouble using my PAYG phones through them at home.
The Motorola v3 (RAZR) is one of the phones being offered for 'free', if you sign up to an 18-month contract with O² (and all the other networks it would seem). Not knowing how much use I'd yet be making, I signed up for the £19/month tariff called Talker 50; so called because it allows you 50 texts per month (about 49 too many in my case), but more importantly, 100 minutes of 'anytime' calls to all cell-phone networks and real land line numbers within the UK. The 'anytime' factor was the clincher - most of the calls I've ever made have been during the day, so offers of 500 minutes of off-peak time left me cold.
(UPDATE: Incidentally, I'm pleased to see, having checked my bill on the O² website, that calls to 0845 count within the allowance, as many so-called 'any number' deals exclude what are known as 'non-geographics' like 0845. This means that any surfing/e-mail checking done through my Blueyonder dial-in number will be included, albeit at snail's pace 9Kbits/sec.)
Opening the packaging reveals the RAZR to be a little gem, design-wise.
Presumably, the 'RAZR' bit refers to how slim and 'sharp' it looks, being the first mobile I've handled to be made of considerable chunks of actual metal, thereby enhancing its status as a 'gem'. In fact, only one section of the back of the phone is the more usual plastic - the rest is black anodized aluminium. You can opt for a matt-silver or even a shocking pink version, but these weren't on offer to the same extent.
It has two colour LCD screens, one still visible when the phone is folded, which is useful as it tells you who is calling before bothering to unfold it. Yes, it's a reversion to the flip-phone, which in my view is a welcome retrograde step making phones that are 'face-sized' with a microphone that comes somewhere near your mouth, not just below your ear-lobe. The folding aspect also allows for another impressive feature; the size of the key pad and main LCD screen - and what a key pad! To look at, it seems a shame to mess it up with finger prints, being all satin etched and nickel-plated, but you have to take the plunge some time, and waddya know, the finger print 'problem' isn't one.
My package also included a free 'Bluetooth' headset, supposedly a £49 extra if bought separately. Is it me, or do you look a complete dipstick using one of these? - "I'm hailing on all frequencies, Jim".
I'll reserve it for the car - after all, if I'm the sort who doesn't care if anyone sees me picking my nose at traffic lights, looking like a member of a USS Enterprise away-team should be a piece of cake.
LEARNING CURVES, AN' ALL THAT
Please bear in mind that I'm coming from a trusty Nokia 3310, so I'm new to camera phones, colour screens, polyphonic ring tones, the lot. Therefore, I'll try to stick to the uses to which I put it, in case those of you already with a modern phone call feel your finger nails growing whilst I reel off a load of non-exclusive factoids (maybe even 'spheroids', as balls are technically known).
JUSTIFYING IT TO MYSELF
OK, I claim that I hardly use the phone, but I expect my PAYG usage was nearer to £10/month if I'm honest. Buying a RAZR for PAYG use would cost me £120 plus 18 months at £10 = £300.
18 months on the new tariff, assuming I don't max-out my limits will cost me 18 x 19 = £342, so not a hill o' beans of difference really, plus the fact that I don't have to part with £120 now. Assuming I actually WANTED the Bluetooth headset, I'm £7 up on the deal.
Other clinchers include the fact that even PAYG numbers can be transferred over to the new tariff, and that we've already got a new use for the old phone.
One final clincher - I get a VERY smart new phone out of it!
STUFF I CAN NOW DO THAT I COULDN'T BEFORE
This is the real reason for buying it - after all, when it comes to making calls, any mobile that's not too heavy it lift AND works is fit for purpose.
Once I'd established that it worked after the initial charging up, I got my old PAYG number transferred onto it by something called the PAC process - i.e. you get your old supplier (also O² in my case) to give you a PAC code which you supply to your new network. This transports the number to the new phone. I was initially told that can also designate to which other PAYG phone you'd like the spare credit from the old one sent. However, this proved not to be true, so Scrooge here spent the preceding week using up call credit like it was being banned soon.
First up on my to-do list was get Mr. Moto working in conjunction with my laptop using a Bluetooth dongle plugged into the latter's USB ports - is it me or is 'dongle' rude?
This involves getting both bits of kit to look for each other, and having found themselves, applying a pass-phrase to both to prevent eavesdropping. It's a process a bit like the encryption on wi-fi home networks.
OK, so they talk to each other - so what?
This link opens up all sorts of possibilities like transferring the digital photos from the camera to hard disk, but the one I was most interested in was my new found ability to set up a dial-up network setting to access my Blueyonder account when away from home. Effectively, this creates a 'virtual COM port 5' within the PC that's really the radio link to the phone, and from here it's free to dial out whatever you tell it to. Mind you, using a mobile as a modem is painstakingly slow; as I said before, something like a 9.6kbyte connection, so it's only around 20% of a normal telephone line speed - clearly 'real' surfing is out, but accessing the text bits from my web-mail account is in - just.
My next step, once I've seen if my calls to the 0845 number are costing me anything at all, is to compare costs with GPRS, the so-called 'mobile broadband'. The tariff includes 1 mbyte of downloading via GPRS or WAP, so since the texty bits of e-mails are pretty low on file size, maybe I'll get away with no further expense other than the basic monthly tariff - one thing's for certain; I won't be haunting the likes of Ciao or Dooyoo whilst away!
The phone comes equipped with a CD-ROM, USB cable, wired hands-free kit (when I've got Bluetooth and can look like Lieutenant Ohura? Do me a favour!).
Not so much 'stuff I couldn't do before' but couldn't be bothered with, comes voice actuation. Each Phonebook entry carries a spare space to record a command. I've only tinkered with recording those E.T.-esque words 'phone home' on my home number setting, but it works fine, and makes sense now that I've got a proper hands-free kit, as you can enter the command just by pressing one key on the earpiece.
USING THE SOFTWARE
Set up of the PC software went smoothly, and when it's running, it depicts itself as an on-screen image of the phone. This then gives a control panel for internet access, the ability to transfer photos or back up your address book to Outlook Express. It's designed primarily for use with the USB lead, which also charges the phone at your laptop battery's expense, but the Bluetooth link works too. Having thought about it, the USB link is preferable, since it eliminates one more radio link that could be hacked into.
After dabbling with the tiresome process of typing in a few phone numbers on the phone itself, it dawned on me that it's easier to type up some new contacts to the Outlook Express address book, only making a better job of filling them this time, rather than the usual name and e-mail address that tends to be the case on a PC. If you add such details as home and business telephone numbers, mobile number AND e-mail address, it's an easy step to drag'n'drop them to the phone using the software suite. This allows use of a big boy's keyboard, instead of 'one-thumb' typing. It also means that you've effectively backed up your SIM card's contents. Once on the phone, they present themselves as separate entries. E.g Harry - e-mail, Harry - Mobile, Harry - Home and so on.
My first logging onto the web to try out GPRS gave me a line speed of 115kbytes, which I think you'll agree is a 'bit' faster than 9.6kbytes, and almost the speed of the slowest entry-level broadband.
The phone works seamlessly with the laptop, acting as a go-between only. I've not tried using it through its own screen to access the web, partly because I don't intend making a magnifying glass part of my portable kit!
I'm particularly pleased that you don't seem to have to know much other than how to get Bluetooth working before the whole shebang, laptop and all works too.
The O² web-site allows access to your billing information, so you can see how much more than the minimum £23.99 the next bill will be.
Whoopee - I can now switch it to Speakerphone, giving me yet another reason to collide with people, holding it out at arm's length, almost offering it to potential muggers! Seriously, it does make a passable substitute for a hands-free kit in a car, just lying next to you on the passenger seat. You do have to talk a bit louder, but it's better than getting nicked!
As the Bluetooth headset and the phone use the same kind of charger, and you get one each, I've effectively got 2 chargers. One to leave at home, one to travel with.
Set up was a lot less complicated than I thought, bearing in mind what I said earlier about having cut my teeth on 'steam-powered' cell-phones. The 108-page instruction book is neither dauntingly large nor in several languages.
Being a keen photographer with a Nikon digital SLR, the built-in camera is, by comparison, total crap. Anything that's only 640x480 pixels (about 0.3 megapixel) with no means of focusing is a joke, but it's built-in so what the heck. I suppose it could come in handy for documenting a car accident or whatever. To be fair, I can't make phone calls from the Nikon either. The action of folding the phone up invariably leads to finger prints all over the lens area, so if you were after maximum quality, you'd have to remember to keep this clean. When you see the tiny bead of a lens, the miracle is that it takes photos at all.
Having read around the subject, including reviews here and elsewhere, it doesn't worry me a jot that it can only play snippets of movies, and can't shoot them. Neither do I care that it's not a full-blown mp3 player. Of course, if these matter to you in your 'i-podcentric' world, then look elsewhere.
Having thrown in all the goodies, you'd have thought with a 'prestigious' design and finish like this that a small velvet wallet to put it in wouldn't have broken the bank, especially since the smaller of its two screens faces outwards - if I actually owned the thing, I'd be even more mad. A friend signed up through T-Mobile got a nice leather holster, but then they didn't get a free Bluetooth headset. In the end, I searched e-bay for 'moto v3 case' and bought a leather pouch priced at 99p (but with £3.99 postage - a familar e-bayer's trick to avoid paying commission!)
I'm already quite attached to 'My Mr. Moto'. It's a grand piece of design, almost techno-jewelry, alongside the Canon Ixus, and Space Pens. The illusion is perpetuated by a high build quality, and ease of use. If I owned it, I'd be proud of it - who knows, in 18-months when the contract is up, maybe I will, having decided that I should never have strayed from PAYG.
Don't show it to mattygroves, though - you might not get it back!
MILDLY TECHY STUFF
It's a 4-band phone, meaning that it can 'roam' almost anywhere in the world.
The camera is a 640x480 pixel job giving the equivalent of VGA screen results when viewed on a PC.
It weighs 95gms (just above 4 ounces).
Folded, it stands 98 mm tall by 53 wide, and it's only 13.9 mm deep even when folded.
The main colour display shows 9 lines of text, which is about 4 more than I'm used to.
It has 5mbytes of internal memory, but until I start loading it up with stored pictures, it's difficult to assess whether that's good or bad. You could tell me it's got a Pentium IV processor, and I'd still have no idea of the impact of that statement.
The standard battery can last anywhere up to 290 hours on standby, but for two strong reasons, you need to turn Bluetooth off as soon as you don't need it .
(Reason 1). Even if you make a good job of secreting your phone when away from the car, anyone with a laptop and a Bluetooth dongle (there's that word again) can ascertain that you've got a phone worth nicking somewhere in your car. Turn off Bluetooth
(Reason no. 2). Running an extra radio transmitter when you don't need to depletes the batteries at an alarming rate
Also, actually talking takes the battery life back down to a maximum of 430 minutes.
Oh yes: it's FULLY Bluetooth-enabled, allowing both speech and data to pass over a radio link to compatible kit. I stress 'fully', because I kicked off my Bluetooth career with an O2 X1b from Tesco's for only 60 quid, just because it said it was 'Bluetooth', only to find that it's just about the only mobile around that ONLY speaks to headsets, not PCs. Of course, the 'tick-list' at Tescos doesn't mention this.
Oh well, that's the wife's Crimble present sorted (the X1B, not the V3 - you think I'm soft?), although she'll still insist on something else to open; there's no pleasing some people these days.
POST EUPHORIC GRUMBLES
Five weeks into ownership, or should that be rentership, I noticed that my Christmas Day text messages weren't being sent, ending up languishing in the out-box. This was at first put down to an overload of the network, but when three days later, I couldn't resend them, I had occasion to phone the O² helpdesk.
After a bit of primitive diagnostic work, eliminating the SIM card from the problem by trying it in another phone, suspicion turned towards the V3.
After removing and replacing the battery to no avail, I had to take the bull by the horns and restore 'factory resets' by inputting the security code (which O² told me wrong; it's 000000 guys, not 123456). Apparently, the telephone number dialled to send texts can get corrupted, leaving you able to receive texts but not send them. Resetting it does the trick, but it also 'does' for anything personalised like your choice of ring tone.
Oh well, at least I'll know next time, although how the number gets corrupted is anyone's guess.
Are you talking about the old Razr phone or the modern touchscreen one????
jesi 24.04.2006 23:53
that sounds very interesting ~ but I got sidetracked (OK, I'm behind with my alerts or I'd have read and rated this already!) ~ I wanted to ask you for advice about a LITEon external DVD writer re-writer . . . ! ~ ~ .................................................................................................... ~ ♥ ~ jes ~ ♥♥
Elainebaba 04.12.2005 22:50
How interesting with these additonal features such as accident use...Excellent review.