Category Archives: Reviews

Ranger Bluetooth Palmtop Keyboard II.

My latest most awesome gadget is a 66g Bluetooth 3.0 Palmtop Keyboard II from Ranger. I bought it in Singapore for $55 at the Funan Digital Store. It connects to anything that has Bluetooth.

Ranger Palmtop Keyboard II Bluetooth Touchpad & laser Pointer

So far I have tested it on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and was able to fully control the phablet, and was even able to move the mouse around the screen and click into icons, folders, move forward and backwards, just like one would on a computer. Everything can be controlled with this keyboard and touch pad mouse. If it works this well on my phablet then it must work even better on a Tablet given the size of the screen.

Continue reading Ranger Bluetooth Palmtop Keyboard II.

Three great apps for the N900.

Active Desktop Statusbar Icon by Nicolai: This tiny app can be found in the Application Manager under Desktop. It sits in the status bar area near or next to your wifi signal icon and does one job brilliantly. It tells you which desktop you are looking at, so that you know which way to swipe depending on the number of desktops you have. I currently have 6 active desktops so my 1st desktop would be quickly reached if I swiped right.

Continue reading Three great apps for the N900.

Bowen’s mega Sygic Mobile Maps 10 review.

We took a drive up to Sunderland to spend Xmas with my brother Peter onboard his ship the CS Sovereign. He is currently waiting for an undersea cable project which is taking place in early January 2011.

We left from the O2 at North Greenwich Station (London) on Friday afternoon at 3pm and got to Sunderland just after 8pm. There was hardly any traffic on the roads and the roads were clear of ice and snow.  I had bought the Sygic Mobile Maps 10 earlier that morning for my Nokia N900 from the OVI store because they were offering the UK & Ireland Maps for FREE.

The software itself was only €19 discounted by €10 as part of a Christmas special (bargain). I have tested mobile maps 9 in the past as part of a trial, therefore had a lot of confidence that it would work brilliantly and I was not disappointed.

Note: The review below is quite long and therefore broken up into 4 pages.

The entire interface of Sygic mobile maps 10 is finger friendly, clear and easy to use. Setting up a route was a pleasure because all possible options have been covered by the intuitive software.

The first time one loads up mobile maps it opens the map at your last known location. The N900 is very quick at locking onto a satellite and the software quickly established our location.  Tapping on the map opens up a menu. There are 8 menu items but the first menu icon has a button called Navigate to… and is the main option when setting up a route.

Pressing Navigate to… take one to a menu with a number of options to choose from: Address or Postal Code, Contacts, Favourites, Home, History, Points on Map, Hotel, Restaurant, Point of Interest, Current GPS Position or Enter GPS Position. (so much choice it’s fantastic).

I used the Address or Postal Code option, which gave two choices (Address or Postal Code).  I knew the location and street name, but not the postal code, so started to type in the first few letters “Sund” and because it only had UK & Ireland maps loaded, the names were already indexed and it quickly found all the possible town and city names starting with ‘Sund’ and listed Sunderland at the very top. We were heading for Sunderland near Newcastle not near Cumbria.

Selecting the first option takes one to a Street screen and typing in a few characters of the street name brought up a similar list quickly.

Of course there could be multiple locations in a particular street, and again it lists the possibilities. I knew my brother was on a ship so seeing “Port of Sunderland” as an option was a clear indication of which option to choose.

The destination is displayed below along with the street and city name and then one is given a choice to:

  • See the location on a map (the map is able to be zoomed in or out).
  • See available parking in the area and it lists all the parking garages and spaces and gives directions and distance away. (One also has the choice to type in names).
  • Save the location as a favourite (very useful especially if you plan to call it up again later).
  • ROUTE ME! is the main option, which then shows you:
    • a map of the route,
    • the distance to travel from your starting point,
    • your ETA (estimated time of arrival),
    • time left for journey,
    • the type of method it used to determine all of above (fastest).

>>> Continue reading by clicking on page 2 link below:

Touch typing can be frustrating on the Nokia N8!

I have spent the past five days with the Nokia N8 and so far the video and camera capabilities have really stood out and I have been using them non-stop.  If you want the full scoop on the video / camera then please check out the link above.

Bear in mind my smartphone of choice is the Nokia N900 and I must admit these five days are the first time that I have not used the N900 since getting it in February. Quite a record for me. There is one major difference between the N900 and the N8 and that is the lack of a physical keyboard on the N8.

I was wondering how I would cope without a keyboard so decided to start the trial with a text message holding the phone horizontally. The qwerty keyboard appeared almost instantly and I was immediately frustrated with the keyboard because my thumbs kept picking out the wrong letters forcing me to tap the backspace key to correct the mis-spelling. There is a dictionary which offers a little relief as it displays some of the possible words it has guessed from the letters you have tapped in on the screen, which I guess is for quick touch access, but typing quickly as one would on a physical keyboard seems impossible.

Three buttons seem to be too close to each other and that is the period, the backspace and the enter key.  I found myself pressing the period key and hitting enter by mistake, then having to backspace to correct the problem. The left and right arrow keys are way up to the right of the keyboard and are awkwardly placed. One is also forced to look at the screen constantly while you type. Not exactly touch typing in the real sense of the word. Even though the screen keyboard is bigger than the N900’s physical keyboard I find I can type a lot quicker and without looking at the keyboard on the N900.

The qwerty keyboard screen is shared with the browser, texting and emailing applications so the problem is carried over in all applications.

I tried out Opera Mini web browser to see what the keyboard looked like and it was actually smaller and more compact and impractical even with small fingers. In vertical mode one would need a stylus and that wouldn’t be quick.

So the keyboard was my first big concern since on a daily basis I am in twitter sending tweets, facebook, I am texting and emailing my friends, I browse the internet a lot and often type in new URLS or do Google searches and I like to blog from my phone using the WordPress application or similar applications.

Say hello to swype, a very clever application that takes away the need to type on a touch screen. Instead as the name suggests one swipes across the the keyboard over the letters that make up the word you are thinking of. At first it seems unreal that you can just swipe left, right, up and down in one continuous sweep and up pops the word. I tried large and small words and it was very accurate. swype can be used in conjunction with tapping the keys on the screen. When you lift your finger and start a new word a space is automatically inserted saving time.

Two things are very noticeable. You tend to only use one finger opposed to two thumbs for typing and you need to know how to spell (ha ha ha – a real problem if you have grown up txtng yr m8s using abrv) AAMOF (As a matter of fact) it will be 2M2H (too much too handle), well not quite!

I tried to mis-spell words but to be honest it picked up most of the words and showed them on the screen spelt correctly so it does a wonderful job and takes the frustration out of the touch keyboard. There is an option in the settings screen that allows one to set the ‘speed vs. accuracy’ and it works really well.

If I didn’t know about swype I would definitely give the keyboard experience a 3/10 but with swype a 6/10, although nothing beats a physical keyboard.

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Lookatbowen’s Nokia N8 Flickr Set

Using the Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-217.

I have had the Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-217 for a week now on trial from WomWorld/Nokia and I must say I am impressed with it’s call quality, ease of use, the size and weight of the device as it is hardly noticeable when on your ear. It can be worn on either ear by turning or adjusting the plastic ear hooks.

Cons:

  • I did have a small issue with the earplugs and plastic ear loop.

  • The earplug didn’t seem to fit properly and I tried all three sizes with little success.  However once in the ear it was fine, but it was mostly hit and miss.

  • The ear loop sizes (Large & Small) both seemed too small for me. Perhaps I have big ears (hehe). It took a bit of fiddling to get it around the ear. I didn’t really care for the plastic either. It felt brittle and cheap.
  • When the headset is in the carrying clip, the clip itself is too close to the ear piece and if your fingers are slightly large, you would have difficultly squeezing it open.

Pros:

  • Once in the ear, the headset was hardly noticeable because it’s so small (dimensions: 50.5 x 17 x 6.2 mm) and light (7.6 grams).
  • When a call comes in, you can answer the call by single pressing the multi-function button on the headset  or pressing your green call button on your phone. Either way the sound is heard through the headset.
  • Ending a call can be done by pressing the multi-function button on the headset or on your phone. Very simple.
  • It switches on and connects automatically when you take it out the holder and switches off when you put it back. You can also switch the headset off by holding in the multi-function button for about 5 seconds.
  • I am not sure how long it took to charge, as I did it at night, but according to the manual a fully charged battery has up to 5 hours of talk time . If the headset is kept in the clip or car cradle it will last up to 3 months on standby time. (Impressive).
  • While I was setting up the pairing I noticed a voice guidance being played back through the speaker. The device has a female voice telling you how to pair, what code to use etc.
  • I was able to connect two devices at the same time. (below is photo showing my Nokia N900 an Blackberry Bold 9700 connected at the same time). This a great feature and I was pleasantly surprised that a £26 device could achieve this  while my £260 Nokia Bluetooth BH-905 couldn’t!

  • Volume adjustment is done from the phone.
  • Connectors: Nokia 2 mm charger connector interface.
  • According to the manual it has an operating range (maximum) of 10m although I got a little more than that, but the sound quality was breaking up a lot.
  • Power supply: 45 mAh Li-ion Polymer rechargeable battery.
  • You can use the headset while it’s charging. I tested this in the car and at home at my desk.

Additional Information taken from the manual.

  • Operating keys: Remove/replace the headset in the clip or car cradle to power on/off and answer/end calls, Multifunction key for power on/off and answer/end
  • DSP noise reduction, Adaptive volume adjustment, Voice guidance to assist in pairing the headset, and for battery and connection status indication.
  • Bluetooth version: 2.1 with enhanced data rate (EDR).
  • Bluetooth profiles: Handsfree profile (HFP) 1.5, Headset profile (HSP) 1.1, Advanced Multipoint, Automatically connects to phone when activated
  • Sales package contents: Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-217, Carrying clip and car cradle, Nokia Charger AC-3, Two earplugs (size S and L), Two ear hooks (size M and L), User Guide.

Short Video showing simultaneous connection.

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Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-217 out the box.

Gadgets are one of my small pleasures in life and if I am not buying them I am reading up on them. So when WomWorld/Nokia emailed me last Friday asking me if I would like to trial the Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-217, I jumped at the opportunity. Well the headset was delivered promptly today by DHL.

The headset and accessories were packaged in a tiny but well presented blue cardboard box with the words ‘Nokia’ and  ‘BH-217’ covering the box. The contents were encased in a plastic holder for added protection. Inside was the headset with three different sized rubber ear pads, two different sized plastic ear loops, a car cradle and a clip. There was also a two pronged charger with a 2mm charger connector. Both the clip and the car cradle can take in the 2mm connector from the bottom.

On the bottom of the headset are the 2mm charging jack and a small hole for the voice input. On either side of them are small gold connection plates, which put the headset into standby mode when placed in the clip or car cradle. At the top end on the back is the earpiece and it is covered with a thin mesh. It’s encased in a solid blue plastic sheath, which will be invisible to the eye once the rubber ear pads are fitted over the earpiece.  Engraved in the back cover is the word Nokia and there is also a model number and where it was made (China of all places).

Just above the earpiece is a tiny LED light to show Bluetooth connectivity. When one pulls the headset out of the clip or car cradle the LED quickly flashes green then turns blue and then flashes every couple of seconds. When the headset is slid back into the clip or car cradle the LED light turns orange.

On the front of the headset there is only one multifunction key. It is raised and has a nice click. Near the bottom is the word NOKIA.

I had no hassle pairing it with my Nokia N900. As mentioned above, when you pull the headset out of the clip the first time, the LED goes green then flashes fast blue. At this point I switched on my Bluetooth on the N900 and did a search for the headset. It found it immediately and connected with no password or pin number. There after the LED flashes blue every couple of seconds. If the headset is placed back into the clip the LED goes orange and the Bluetooth connection is terminated immediately. Pull it out and the connection is immediately restored automatically. (A very nice feature).

Overall the design of the Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-217 is excellent. I like it! It has clean rounded edges and is very light. So far so good!

I will be putting the headset to the test in the next couple of days by testing the audio quality, and some of the multifunction options it has to offer.  I will also be pairing it with some other phones (the Nokia N95, Nokia N97 and my Blackberry Bold 9700).

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Trial a Nokia device today at WOMWorld/Nokia.

WOMWorld/NokiaDid you know you can trial a Nokia device without even going into a mobile shop? In fact all you need to do is visit WOMWorld/Nokia and go to their Trial a Nokia page, fill in a few details and explain to them why you want to trial a Nokia device and you might be lucky enough to receive an email back offering you a two week trial of one of their devices.

That is exactly what I did a few weeks back. The trial page is very simple, just fill in all the required details, pick the Nokia device you want to trial, give them a few lines explaining why you want to trial their device and submit.

Back in December 2009 I was dead set on getting the Nokia E72 for it’s size, fast processor, latest version of Symbian software, multiple profiles and it’s all round appeal, but then along came the Nokia N900 with its large bright screen, large hard disk, large slide out qwerty keyboard and open source operating system and so the E72 was a mere twinkle in the sky. On paper the two devices are very similar if not the same in processor power, but that is where it ends. I will do a comparison of the two phons in a couple of days.

Now that I have been using the N900 since February, I want to see what it would be like to go back to a light, small mobile with a qwerty keyboard. The E72 is very similar in size to the Blackberry Curve 8900, a mobile I use at work, so another chance for a comparison.

Before the N900 I had the Nokia 5800, Nokia’s first touch screen and the original Nokia N95.

The good news is after a few weeks of waiting, I finally got  confirmation today that the E72 should be with me tomorrow. :-)

In preparation for the two week trial I have signed up with giffgaff.com – They offer a free PAYG SIM card and once you are registered you can top up and buy Goodybags, which are a mix of UK minutes, texts, and mobile Internet that lasts for a month.

I did a post on giffgaff.com not so long ago (giffgaff.com not quite a better deal and misleading), after I received my SIM card and was in the process of registering when I discovered their website didn’t quite match up, so I didn’t actually try them out because of the various issues I had with them. Having the E72 now will be a good time to give them a chance. I know they have changed a lot since then so hopefully they will be getting a good review from me.

Finally WOMWorld/Nokia wanted to send me a pair of BH-905 bluetooth headphones, but I told them “No need, as I have them already” :-), so I will definitely be putting them to the test on the Nokia E72.

Green Day Wembley Stadium 19th June 2010 Review.

We witnessed the most fantastic, incredible, awesome Green Day concert at Wembley Stadium. We’ve never seen them live until tonight, but wow! was it worth the wait? Singing along to all their songs with the crowd singing in unison was an amazing feeling. Wembley Stadium as a venue for bands such as Green Day is just brilliant!

They kicked off their show at 8pm with four songs from their latest album “21st Century Breakdown”.

The crowd went ballastic. Then a few recent awesome songs from the American Idiot album and then Billie Joe got into gear singing some of the older songs from Dookie (Basket Case, When I come around, Burnout etc).

The three main band members – lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool were brilliant and played their part well and looked like they were really enjoying themselves on stage.

Billie Joe is certainly a wonderful showman and could easily get the crowd to sing and clap at his command. Even Tré Cool is a showman in his own right and quite a funny guy.

Tré sang a song or two while Billie Joe played the drums and there was a moment where the two of them went for some record by singing and dancing to the song “shout” made famous by the Isley Brothers. It was quite funny though.

The band even dressed up in drag and sang one or two songs while lying down on the stage.

Some people in the crowd went mental especially where we were standing. That can be a good or bad thing depending on what you are expecting from the concert. I personally don’t mind people jumping around if they think of others, but when they push and kick and punch just for the fun of it, then it can become a bit unpleasant. There were definitely a few English idiots in the audience.

There was a good mix of stage videos behind the band and on the side screens.

With the various lights going on the atmosphere was electrifying.

The concert went on for well over 2 and a half  hours with two encores. The last 6 songs were just incredible, with spectacular fireworks, fireballs, ticker tape even toilet paper being thrown up into the air.

Below is the playlist for the concert.

  1. Song of the Century
  2. 21st Century Breakdown
  3. Know Your Enemy
  4. East Jesus Nowhere
  5. Holiday
  6. The Static Age
  7. Give Me Novacaine
  8. Are We The Waiting
  9. St. Jimmy
  10. Blvd. of Broken Dreams
  11. Nice Guys Finish Last
  12. Burnout
  13. Waiting
  14. Geek Stink Breath
  15. Dominated Love (Slave Tre on Guitar and Vocals, Bille Joe on Drums)
  16. Hitchin’ A Ride
  17. Welcome To Paradise
  18. When I Come Around
  19. Metal-Jam Iron Man/ Sweet Child of Mine/ Highway to Hell
  20. Brain Stew
  21. Jaded
  22. Longview
  23. Basket Case
  24. She
  25. King For A Day
  26. Shout/Hey Jude/I cant get no satisfaction/Teenage Kicks/Always look on the bright side of life
  27. 21 Guns
  28. Minority

Encore:

  1. American Idiot
  2. Jesus of Suburbia

Encore 2:

  1. When It’s Time (Acoustic)
  2. Wake Me Up When September Ends (Acoustic)
  3. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

33 songs in total made it one helleva good evening. If they were playing another night in London I would definitely go again.

All photos taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 and belong to lookatbowen.com

Mede8er MED500X unboxing.

It has only been three days since I ordered the Mede8er from Digital Era and  when I got home today, there it was on the table alongside my repaired Xbox 360.

So this post will be an “unboxing” since it seems to be “the thing to do” these days for gadgets. There will be no video, as I am not vain enough to hear my own voice, so you are only getting a few photos.

Box contents:

  • Carry bag (nice touch),
  • Full colour manual,
  • Euro Adapter plug, power plug with fuse (wow),
  • Batteries, Remote Control,
  • Screws and vibration sponges,
  • Stereo RCA cables (video, audio),
  • HDMI cable (nice),
  • Composite video cable,
  • USB cable, extender cable for USB hard disks or USB keys,
  • Mede8er with removable under cover, SATA power supply cable, SATA data cable.
  • Western Digital 2.0TB SATA II Hard Disk (not included but displayed).

The box is fairly colourful with a lot of it’s features scattered on the front, back and sides. (a lot more visual than most commercial devices would show on their boxes). There are also colour photos of various screens, the remote control and the mede8er case. There are six languages listing the features as well, so it’s aimed at quite a broad international community. With the box open I can see two sections. The media player itself is wrapped in plastic and is surrounded by a protective sponge thingy and there is a half sized box containing all the cabling, remote control and manual as described above. I would give the packaging 10/10 as it perfect.

I’ve taken a few more photos of the box contents. They can be found in my photo gallery or by clicking on the image below.

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XBOX 360 red ring of death – a FREE Fix.

This is my 2nd XBOX 360 in se7en years of owning consoles and I’ve had the misfortune or fortune (depending on how one sees it) of having the RED RING OF DEATH as pictured appear after a boot up.

It normally occurs when you are starting up your Xbox and about to play a game and it is extremely annoying as there is little one can do to fix it. If you search the Internet there are a few fixes available, which take time and effort and they will cost YOU money and most likely void your warranty completely.

DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AS THERE IS A FREE SOLUTION:

Go to the XBOX Live website and register your console, then submit a ticket to them describing the error and you will find the “red ring of death” is covered by them regardless of your warranty, as it is a known XBOX fault. :-) – Well that was my experience as my Xbox was over 3 years old and had definitely passed it’s warranty date.

After a successful fault submit, Xbox send you an email with your a UPS barcode stamp that covers the postage. All you need to do is buy a box to hold the console safely. My total expense was £5 and UPS delivered my broken Xbox to Microsoft Repair Centre in Germany within a day. I received an email from them saying they had my Xbox and it would be repaired within 2 weeks.

Well, imagine my surprise when I received my Xbox today (it took 10 days from the day I sent it off, to receiving it back in working order). That is incredible if you consider the UK had a bank holiday weekend in between.

That is fantastic support and service from Microsoft / XBOX.com and UPS.  Well done to all concerned. 😀