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HTC 7 Trophy Test Drive

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been using the Windows Phone 7 based HTC Trophy for some time now and would like to share my experiences and recommendations. This post describes my experience with the device and the OS from a professional point of view and are only my personal views.

The basics

Windows Phone 7 is a brand new operating system and should not be compared to previous versions of Windows Mobile. However, in most cases the users have used Windows Mobile devices before and it’s logical to compare the old OS with the new. This is not too easy since the new OS is completely different from any previous version.

The user experience is brand new and the need for additional shells such as HTC’s shell for Windows Mobile 6.5 is no longer needed. It’s very user friendly but the ability to reach beneath the UI is no longer possible. Access to the file structure and the ability to tweak the device is more or less not possible. Not even with the synchronization software.

The business usage

Phone 7 has a new release of Office Mobile with support for SharePoint sites and SharePoint Desktop (only SharePoint 2010). This enables the use of real collaboration features and seems quite easy to use. However, this requires access to the corporate SharePoint servers which in most cases is not possible over the Internet, at least not without a VPN connection. Even if the idea is great I think it’s more or less useless since my phone cannot connect to the corporate backbone where the SharePoint servers are located.

The OneNote Mobile is quite nice. It’s easy to take notes and some basic formatting features is also available. But since the only way to synchronize documents is to use SharePoint 2010 or local PC connection, it no easy way to export notes to your computer.

All in all I don’t think the phone is as good a business tool as the previous Windows Mobile releases.

The social usage

As a social device it’s more or less like any other new smart phone. Facebook and Windows Live are integrated and there are applications available for Twitter and similar social networks. But it’s nothing new. With Windows Mobile 6.5 you had all the same features and functionality and the only new thing is how the information is presented to the user. Anyway, the iPhone beats the hell out of Phone 7 when it comes to social computing.

Synchronization and PC connection

Microsoft has based the synchronization and PC connectivity on the Zune application framework. The Microsoft Mobile Device software is no longer required, but you’ll have to install the Zune application on your PC. This is more in the same direction as Apple has done with the Apple store. The Zune network is the distribution point for all software and media to the phone, but it’s possible to synchronize media files from your laptop with the PC application.

A very nice feature is the ability to synchronize to and from Live SkyDrive, but as far as I’ve been able to see it’s not possible to synchronize documents, text messages and other non-media content. This is quite bad since Microsoft has removed the support for the “MyPhone” service. The phone may also be connected to the MyDevices feature of Live, and it’s possible to lock, wipe and locate the device from Live Devices.

Security

I’ve not been able to test the security completely, but Microsoft states that security has been a focus area. So far it seems like they’ve managed to make it secure. When connecting to Exchange ActiveSync all security policies are applied and there is no obvious way to bypass global security settings. How easy it is to hack the phone I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure a good hacker will be able to get around the security features.

Device encryption, backup software and antivirus is not included with the OS or the device, which I find somewhat disappointing. One of the great features of Windows Mobile 6 was the ability to use market standard device encryption, antivirus applications and backup software. I expect that these issues will be resolved when third party vendors have completed and released their applications for Phone 7.

I don’t think Microsoft’s management tool for mobile devices (System Center Mobile Device Manager) has support for Phone 7 yet, but I expect it to be a question of time before they do. Until then, you will have to manage your device by yourself. The ting is that non-technical users seldom do and data loss is very likely to happen.

Stability

The phone is fairly stable, but in some cases the phone stops responding for a few seconds. Sometimes it’s enough to just wait it out, but in some cases I have to turn on and off the lock screen. I’ve had similar problems with HTC HD2, which is a Windows Mobile 6.5 based device. Therefore this might be a device issue and not an OS issue.

Besides that, I find the phone very stable and since it’s much faster than Windows Mobile the user experience is a lot better!

The device

Since I’ve used the HD2 for some time I can’t help but comparing the two devices. One of the issues I had with the HD2 was the sensitivity of the touch display. It seems like HTC have fixed this and the Trophy has a very nice feel to the touch display. It’s sensitive but not too sensitive and the responsiveness is very good. The dual-touch is very nice as well, but it requires that the applications you use supports dual-touch. The only embedded applications which support this are Office and Internet Explorer.

The phone is a bit smaller than HD2, which I find very nice. The HD2 was a bit too big and in some cases it was hard to use with only one hand. Since the Trophy is just a bit smaller it’s a lot easier to use with one hand. My thumb reaches the entire display without shifting the hand grip.

The device has a 5 mega pixel camera with the capability of recording 720 HD video. It has a built in flash and should be able to take good pictures. In my opinion this is not the case. I think the pictures is blurry even after retouching and optimization.

The embedded speakers are poor, but if you connect a high quality headset (not the ones that are included with the phone) or speaker system the sound is great. One fascinating thing is the placement of the embedded speakers. It’s located on the back of the phone which means that if you put the device on a table with the back side facing down, the sound and volume is radically reduced. I almost overslept since I didn’t hear the alarm when it went of.

The battery capacity is quite good. I may use the device, even with Wi-Fi and HSPDA enabled, for about three to four days without having to recharge it. With the standard micro USB interface it’s possible to use any charger and standard USB cables to both charge the phone and connect it to a computer.

Issues by experience

Besides what’s mentioned above, I have some issues which I would like to emphasis. These are, from my point of view, critical issues and has to be resolved if I’m going to use and recommend Windows Phone 7.

  • Microsoft’s synchronization service “MyPhone” is not supported on Windows Phone 7. Microsoft has not developed a Phone 7 based similar service. I think the MyPhone service was great and I was very disappointed when I found that the Phone 7 doesn’t support the service.
  • Unfortunately there is no backward compatibility with Windows Mobile based applications, which in my case is not that good. I have a selection of 5-6 purchased applications I use a lot, and too find out I can’t use them any more was horrifying.
  • The pre-installed applications were too few. Basic tools as a note taker and Messenger client are not included, and since the Phone 7 marketplace so far only is available in 5 countries it’s not possible to download and install applications. Even if I live in Norway, I primarily use English software but this doesn’t matter since it’s the GSM carrier identification which defines my region.
  • The auto-complete feature in the address book and phone dialing in Windows Mobile has been removed. This feature is one of the best features with Windows Mobile, but for some mysterious reason Microsoft has removed this marvelous feature.
  • The support for online media is poor. In many cases it’s not possible to play streaming audio and video, and the only message I get from the phone is “Unsupported format”.

Summary

I’m missing a lot of features which I’ve been using for several years on Windows Mobile. Since the OS is quite new I will have some patience but not for too long. When it comes to commercial and professional phones I believe that Windows Mobile was far ahead compared to competitors. For me Phone 7 is a step back and the focus on personal services such as Facebook is far to high.

As a smart phone without professional or business needs Phone 7 very good, but I believe that both iPhone and the next generation Android phones are just as good. Microsoft had a lead in the commercial and professional market, but with Phone 7 this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Hopefully third party vendors will put Windows based phones back on the top as a professional phone.

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Pads and Tabs

November 18, 2010 4 comments

The new market hype seems to be tabs and tabs, or tablets if you like. But for some mysterious reason it seems to me like the different devices are evaluated based on complete different perspectives and in most cases the wrong ones.

Because of this I want to tell you my story and what I concluded on.

Requirements

First of all lets take a look at what I need and how I would like to use my device. In general I want a business tool which is easier to use and take along compared to the traditional laptop, which means support for features and functionality like:

  • I want to have an intelligent synchronized copy of documents I need to take with me. Manual copy is not an option.
  • I want to comment on documents I read or review directly in the document in a reasonably easy fashion.
  • I want to connect to my corporate network to interact and collaborate with people I work with and use web based application and services in an adequate secure fashion.
  • I want to surf the web and use intelligent and advanced features such as Silverlight, Flash and Java based applications.
  • I want to take notes when I’m in a meeting or get one of my fantastic ideas, but I don’t need to be able to write huge documents and reports.
  • I want to use e-mail and IM from my corporate network in an easy and efficient manor. Maybe even communicate with my personal contacts through public IM and social services.
  • I want a small and handy device which is quick and responsive and has enough power to last an entire workday without recharging.
  • I want to be able to use my device as a media player and be able to watch streaming video from my partners, TV and corporate internal streams.
  • I want my device to be online 24×7 without much interaction from me. Support for wireless LAN and high speed mobile internet access is a minimum requirement.

Research & Review

Based on the requirements I’ve done lots of research and tried out different devices. In general it seems like all the major vendors are focused on creating the most hip device and not the most useful device. I’ve checked out Apples iPad, the Samsung Galaxy tab (which use Android as OS), Amazon’s e-book reader and HPs brand new tablet PC running Windows 7.

The Amazon Kindle is more or less a pure e-book reader and is very good at that, but you can’t use it for anything else. Therefore it excluded it self. The next generation Kindle will be based on Android and have more or less the same features as any other Android based device.

The iPad and Android based devices are neat, but don’t have the business features I would expect from a device like this. None of them are very good as an input device. Apple states that hand writing recognition is something they will never support, and a stylus will never be included with the iPad. Android will on the other hand support hand writing in the next major release of the OS, but they can’t or won’t say when the next release will be available. Since Microsoft have had this since the first Windows tablet edition, they are miles ahead compared to the other two.

As a media device and surf-board all devices are fairly good. There are some limitation, but most web based applications work fine. Well, except for Silverlight apps, which only Windows 7 supports. Since the Windows based tablets are the only “fully qualified” PCs, it’s possible to install any browser, add-on or application you want to use.

Synchronization is yet another feature only Windows based devices support. With both iPads and Android based devices you will have to manually copy content, either from an offline media or from the corporate or open network. Since Apple has decided not to support standard I/O interfaces such as USB and different Flash memory cards, it may be quite complicated to add content to the iPad. However, Apple states that the iPad 2.0 will support standard interfaces.

Centralized management of things like apps deployment, antivirus, security, backup, inventory and so forth is probably something your IT staff and security officer will require if you want to use your device with business content and as a business tool. The ability to remote wipe the device in case you loose it is probably an absolute requirement for a business with some security restrictions. Apple will support some kind of centralized management in their next major release but Android has not stated anything with regards to future support for centralized management. Since a Windows based tablet PC is just like any other Windows based computer, it’s possible to use any mobile device management software to administer and control the device.

Conclusion

All in all, the only device which is even close to meet my requirements is a Windows 7 based tablet PC. Yes, it’s slower, heavier and doesn’t have the best battery capacity, but I can use it as the tool I need. I can even leave my laptop at my desk when I go to meetings.

If you are looking for a “surf-board” kind of device and only want to surf the web and READ documents, choose the iPad or an Android based device. But if you’re looking for a useful tool and not just a hipped up gadget, you have to choose a Windows based device. At least for now.

Until “the rest of the world” realize the importance of synchronized content, integrated services and centralized management it seems to me like Microsoft don’t have any actual competition, at least not in the business market.

God kommunikasjon – Egentlig

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Det er ikke til å legge skjul på at mange av de moderne konfliktene oppstår på bakgrunn av manglende eller dårlig kommunikasjon. Dette resulterer ofte i misforståelser og spekulasjoner som på sin side skaper konflikter som ikke er relevante og som kunne vært unngått. Min erfaring tilsier at god kommunikasjon er vesentlig, men hva innebærer egentlig dette?

For min del dreier god kommunikasjon seg om noen grunnleggende prinsipper som verken er nytenkende eller revolusjonerende, men allikevel nødvendig å fokusere på.

Vær konsis

Jeg opplever ofte at personer er for vage i sitt budskap. I stedet for å si direkte hva de mener og ønsker, pakkes budskapet inn i velformulerte setninger der budskapet blir borte. Det er dermed opp til mottakeren av budskapet å forsøke å tolke hva som egentlig menes.

Mitt råd er dermed; Vær kortfattet og konkret, unngå åpenbare misforståelser og vær bevisst på og lojal til ditt eget budskap.

Vær direkte

Dessverre er det langt lettere å snakke om en person enn til en person. Man vil ikke si hva man egentlig mener til den eller de det gjelder i frykt for en konfrontasjon. Men, så lenge mennesker snakker sammen så sprer dette seg og et rykte har startet. Rykter blir imidlertid omformulert og tilpasset for hver person som forteller det videre, og når det kommer frem til den det gjelder er det lite substans igjen.

Mitt råd er dermed; Kommuniser med den det gjelder på en måte som mottakeren forstår.

Vær ærlig

Et gammelt uttrykk sier at: “Du kan ikke mene hva du sier om du ikke sier hva du mener”. Min erfaring er dessverre at det moderne mennesket ofte er konfliktsky og ønsker å tilpasse den egentlige sannheten. Ved å unnlate å fortelle alt eller ved å pakke inn upopulære uttalelser på en måte som gjør det uforståelig for mottakeren har man jo ikke løyet, men etter min mening har man heller ikke vært ærlig.

Mitt råd er dermed; Fortell hele sannheten, vær klar og tydelig og behold din personlige (og profesjonelle) integritet.

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