Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

Sony Ericsson T610 Review [Updated]

The Sony Ericsson T610 is an outstanding phone. Especially if you are a Mac user.

I picked up a new T610 this week at Vodafone in Spain (more details on Vodafone’s pathetic Live! service later), and I have been impressed time and again by this little wonder.

What’s Great About the T610

First, as a counter point to MobileBurn, you CAN read the screen in broad daylight. I’ve tested it at 12:00 in sunny Spain, and trust me, if I can see it in on a sunny day in Barcelona, you can see it where you live. (It appears they have updated the article saying you can read the screen. Be sure to use a high contrast theme. I think an iPod UI theme would be ideal, if anyone knows where I could get one, drop me a line).

The phone has predictive text EVERYWHERE, not like the Nokia 7650. Also, you can switch between input languages mid-sentence (very handy for my Spanglish messages).

iSync works like a charm. Both to and from the T610. All new entries on the phone are placed in the calendar of your choice, but if you modify an entry on the phone, it is modified in its “calendar” in iCal. All new entries created on the phone are placed into to one “calendar” defined in iSync preferences. Ideal.

Alarms transfer over from iCal perfectly.

You can even set the phone to go into “meeting mode” automatically whenever you have an appointment in your calendar. No more embarrassing phone calls during an important meeting.

The audio quality is much better than my old Ericsson T29. Many sites have stated that the reception is poor, however I can hear (and be heard) better with the T610 than before (on the Vodafone Spain GSM network).

What’s Not So Great About the T610

- The first day Bluetooth file transfer didn’t work. (I’m using a Conceptronic dongle, and this seems to work fine now).

- SMS sent aren’t saved to “Sent” items when sent using the bluetooth link-up between Address Book and the T610 (where you select the person you want to send an SMS to in the Address Book, type it on your Mac, then hit “send” to send the SMS through your phone)

- Cannot get .mac mail to send correctly (this is because Vodafone appears to be blocking port 25)

- Only one user definable “hot key”- there are THREE buttons to get me on the internet. I wish I could make one Internet, one Mail, and one Calendar.

- As stated elsewhere the screen gets lots of fingerprints on it. Not such a big deal.

- Day View is great. Unfortunately you see ALL of your To-Do list, not just To-Do’s for that day.

- “All day” events are not copied from iCal to the phone. Hopefully this will be fixed in the next iCal revision.

- Physical addresses are not copied over from Address Book, only phone numbers and emails.

-The internal camera picture quality is quite poor at night as you can see from the photo below.

almu

Overall, it’s a great phone. It packs a lot of punch for it’s size and hopefully there will be updates to address some of the software shortcomings, but overall this phone is highly recommended.

[Update]

I’ve been using the phone for over a month now and have noticed a few new things:

1. Email. I can send and receive correctly, but cannot configure the client to show me WHO is sending the mail- you can only see the message Subject, not the Sender (you have to retrieve the message to get that info).

2. Addresses. There are none. I was very disturbed to find that physical address information is not transferred over with a contact’s details. I was luckily enough to discover this one day on my way to a meeting. I could remember what floor I was going to, so I didn’t show up late for my meeting…but be warned (Work around- put the address in the “Notes” section of an iCal appointment or in the appointment itself. This should not have to be done though.)

3. Ringtones/Alarms. You simply CANNOT hear them. Polyphonic ring-tones may sound great- but they simply do not cut through loud environment noise i.e. bars, buses and metro stations. Unless you feel the vibrating ring, many times you will miss calls.

4. Size/weight. Continues to impress me. I actually thought I had lost the phone the other day (it was still in my pocket, but I couldn’t feel it)

5. Battery Life. Seems to be pretty good 3-4 days of standby. 1-2 of medium use.

6. Alarms. Recurring alarm feature is great. Set the alarm for 6:00AM check off M-F and then turn it off for Sat. and Sun. Great time saver and life saver- never sleep in again (the alarm IS quite loud…especially in a silent bedroom.)

Filed under: Technology

Apple Venture Partners

Never heard of them? That’s because there’s no official corporate venture capital division at Apple Computer. But there should be.

Apple has a history of making strategic acquisitions to improve their line of products and software. Shake, for example. Supposedly Apple is currently in talks to buy Roxio, as well as negotiating fuel cell development.

These are all big picture, complex, strategic purchases for Apple. But what about the little guys? Apple builds rather than buys, choking off developer incentives. The first developer to get squashed was Karelia when Apple introduced it’s “innovative” Sherlock 3- a blatant copy (and a poor copy at that) of Karelia’s highly acclaimed Watson. With the latest build of Apple’s Mac OS X they’ve done it again: the new Application Switcher is identical to Proteron’s LiteSwitch X.

With every start-up, there is the risk that an established player will be able to copy your product and take your clients away because of their superior distribution channels, marketing, etc. This is a very real risk for many fledgeling companies.

Apple, in sharp contrast to many technological companies, has chosen to copy start-ups products and introduce them to the market themselves- sending a powerful negative message to developers. Intel, T-Mobile, Siemens and Nokia all have corporate venture divisions that make investments designed to stimulate innovation and and grow market share.

Intel has dedicated around 500 million to wireless investments alone. Apple is sitting on $5 billion in cash. Even $50 million for “small” purchases like Watson and LiteSwitch would change the entire mood of OS X development. With the golden prize, being bought by Apple, developers would have even more reason to innovate- instead of reason to be afraid.

And, I seriously doubt that Apple’s “Build vs. Buy” position is even more economical. Even if Apple ended up paying a bit more for a few applications, in the long run I believe they would end up winning- by giving developers more incentives to design great software for the Macintosh platform- and winning more customers along the way, which would more than compensate for any initial cash outlay. And more customers and innovative products is the whole idea behind corporate venture capital.

Filed under: Apple Computer

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