Windows Mobile Smartphone

Multiplatform(!) review: Opera Mobile 10 beta released!

I’ve thoroughly tested the brand new Opera Mobile 10 beta on all the supported mobile phone platforms (Windows Mobile Professional / Standard and Symbian S60). In general, apart from some problems, I liked what I saw – particularly on Symbian and the touchscreen version of Windows Mobile.

The browser is available for download HERE for both operating systems. For Windows Mobile, a unified download (for both subtypes) is provided.

1. Windows Mobile


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Now Available v3 of Skype for WinMobile

Skype has released the Windows Mobile v3 of its popular VOIP software. Download it  from their site - http://www.skype.com/go/downloading-winmobile - or grab the CAB file directly to your device - http://www.skype.com/go/getskype-winmobile-cab (don't forget to make the CAB file 'read-only'.


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The battle of the two Web minibrowsers: Opera Mini vs. BOLT

I’ve already mentioned BOLT (essentially, a Java-based, enhanced version of the Windows Mobile-only Thunderhawk), which, with the version released at MWC, became pretty usable.


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MWC: Web Browser News (BOLT, Opera, Fennec, Iris, Skyfire, Flash)

Just like last year (see my previous year's article HERE), I have REALLY a lot to report on Web browsing, the just-announced stuff and so on.

Opera


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Did Steve Ballmer Hint That There Is a SmartZunePhone on the Horizon?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was recently interviewed by Martin Veitch, editor for CIO.com directly after his keynote speech at Microsoft's London conference “Technologies to Change Your Business: How Customers Are Implementing Tomorrow’s Strategies Today”.

One statement made by Ballmer might be of extreme interest for Windows Mobile enthusiasts:


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Another 3D Arkanoid clone, Arkanoi3D released

You may still remember my roundup of 3D Arkanoid titles (if you haven’t read it, do it now; note that the chart has bad HTML markup, which will soon be fixed). A brand new 3D Arkanoid clone, Arkanoi3D has just been released for both touchscreen-enabled Pocket PC’s and touchscreen-less MS Smartphones (the latter even including 176*220 ones).



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Multiplatform review: new vertical scroller Dragon Bird

U Mobile Game have just released a brand new vertical scroller shooter Dragon Bird for both Windows Mobile (both Pocket PC and Smartphone) and Symbian (both S60v3 and UIQ3).

Availability


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The Multiplatform Podcasting / Podcatching Bible

Listening to or watching podcasts is great fun. If you think they are boring, meaningless or can’t entertain you during, say, a long fight, you’re wrong. For example, watching all the clips of X-Play, played back on my VGA HP iPAQ 214 (thanks to Smartphone & PPCMag / iPhone Life’s Hal Goldstein for the gift!) could entertain me for long-long hours.


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The Definitive Multiplatform Multimedia Metatag & Library Tutorial & Bible

Compared to the capabilities of desktop multimedia players (see for example the excellent WMP vs Winamp vs iTunes vs MediaMonkey for more info on their capabilities), the mobile ones certainly lack when it comes to fetching, searching for, editing, storing and, in several cases, even accessing / displaying different kinds (album art and/or other images; textual genre / composer / title etc. info; lyrics etc.) of information in audio files.


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The Multiplatform Lyrics Bible

Along with tags and cover arts, lyrics are also highly sought-for and widely used metadata, particularly with non-English folks who would like to know the lyrics of the songs they listen to.


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A true web camera app for Windows Mobile and Symbian: OctroVideo

In my last Bible of Windows Mobile, Symbian and Blackberry webcamera applications directly usable in desktop messengers like Live Messenger, I haven’t elaborated on the apps that are a bit different: they let for using your camera-equipped handset as a camera for your messaging application running on your desktop PC (connected to your handset). OctroVideo is radically different: it allows for your handset to be used as a Web camera in itself, without running any external application.


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At last: File transfer in WM 6.1 RDP client

As has been explained in the Remote Desktop Control Bible, in the pre-WM6.1 days, Windows Mobile was clearly worse than WindowsCE .NET running on clamshell devices in that the Remote Desktop Mobile client couldn’t make any file transfer in the former, while it could do in the latter (for years).


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Legendary game Another World (& Flashback) released for Windows Mobile – for free! A MUST!

Many of you may already have heard of Another World (also known as Out of this World in the US and Outer World in Japan; Wiki page HERE; Abandonia page HERE), which was one of the best vector-graphic action-adventure games back in 1991-1992.

Compatibility


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(Multiplatform) ROUNDUP & TUTORIAL: Web Camera Applications

Not all notebooks or desktop computers have a built-in web camera. With desktop PC’s, this isn’t that big an issue: as you don’t carry them around, you can just buy an inexpensive, clip-on USB camera and you’re set. Not so with notebooks, UMPC’s or Tablet PC’s – with them, purchasing (and carrying!) a cabled solution might be overly suboptimal. Then, just using your camera-equipped smartphone may turn out to be the best solution; preferably over a wireless connection like Bluetooth.


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(Multiplatform) REVIEW & STRATEGY GUIDE: Towers Trap

In my latest Misc News collection, I’ve already recommended Towers Trap, a brand new game on two mobile (Windows Mobile and Symbian S60) and desktop Windows platforms. GameZoneProject’s official page is HERE. No matter what platform you have, I really-REALLY recommend giving the trial a try and play through the (initial) tutorial. (Again, you’ll have text rendering problems on VGA Windows Mobile devices). I’m pretty sure you’ll like the game.


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The multiplatform Bible of using your handset as a modem

Now that I’ve become a proud owner of a super-mobile HP TC1100 Tablet PC, using mobile devices (smart phones) as external modems have became essential for me. Up until now, I’ve done most of my Web browsing, YouTube watching outdoors with some of my mobile devices.


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Misc news (DivX Mobile Player quick review; great Pocket Controller rebate etc)

1. Machines at War (see review of a previous version HERE), probably the best RTS (Real-Time Strategy) for Windows Mobile, has been updated to version 1.2, introducing even some new units. Well worth checking out.

2. the free and excellent (!) Doom clone, DoomGLES, has also been updated, now delivering far better GoForce performance.

3. if you still haven’t purchased Orions (the best turn-based strategy game for Windows Mobile) during the last, 40% rebate, now, you have a chance of getting it for free if you post a reply to THIS thread

4. PDAmill has released Pachinko Go!. The blurb is as follows: "What the heck is Pachinko? Gravity, Skill, and Luck! It's a unique game which is kind of a cross between a vertical pinball game and a slot machine which is extremely popular in Japan (and growing more popular worldwide every day). This simple, yet addicting game contains 3 unique Pachinko games in one package, including many unlockable extras to acquire, extending the gameplay even more!"

5. Still speaking of PDAmill, now, after a year of their completely stopping porting their games to the platform, they’ve made available all of their Palm titles for free (!). You can find them HERE.

6. SOTi’s Pocket Controller, which is without doubt the most powerful PDA remote controller solution (see THIS for more info & comparison to the alternatives), is offered for 10 euros (about $15), incl. VAT for EU residents, only till 05/11/2008. Go get it – it’s really a bargain for this price.

7. There’s a new, free platform game Greedy Penguins HERE for both Windows Mobile Pocket PC’s / Smartphones and Symbian S60 / UIQ3.

8. If you’ve read the latest updates to my iPAQ 210 review, you already know this, but it’s still worth devoting a separate bullet in here too: I’ve thoroughly benchmarked the brand new Marvell Xscale PXA310 platform and found out that, unlike even Samsung’s low-end CPU’s, it has the same (high) power consumption upon high CPU load. It’s certainly bad news. The good news is that it’s certainly faster than the PXA270, particularly at playing back AVC stuff now that CorePlayer 1.2.x has added WMMX optimizations. And, according to the CorePlayer folks, this is just the beginning – a lot more optimizations and performance enhancements will follow! (Also see my related, new chipset reports HERE and HERE)

9. The DivX folks have released a new (0.90) beta of their free (!) DivX / XviD player DivX Mobile Player for Windows Mobile and Symbian (note that while they state there’s no 0.90 for the latter, only 0.89, the internal version number does state it’s too 0.90). Note that you’ll need to register yourself in order to be able to access the app; after this, click the URL that comes in the e-mail, change your password and, then, go HERE to directly access the downloads.

Back in the pre-1.2.0 CorePlayer times, several Symbian people used to state (see for example THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS and THIS) CorePlayer was definitely inferior to this application. This is why I was extremely interested in the results of my tests. CorePlayer 1.2+ (on all the three test devices) has beaten DivX Mobile Player in every respect.

I’ve quickly tested it on several real-world (high-resolution; mostly 576- and 640-wide) DivX- and XviD-encoded videos. It delivered acceptable results on both the two Windows Mobile handsets (HP iPAQ 210 and HTC Universal running Ranyu’s 7.6 of WM6.1) and Symbian (Nokia N95 with firmware version v21) when playing back most DivX videos. There were rarely dropped frames (albeit the playback wasn’t as smooth as under CorePlayer).

Playing back my XviD-encoded test video, however, was painfully stuttering under Windows Mobile and a little stuttering under Symbian. (I REALLY recommend THIS video; pay special attention to the camera moving in the second sketch with the office dialog). The same videos played back flawlessly under the latest versions (1.2.3 for WinMo and 1.2.0 for Symbian) of CorePlayer.

It isn’t able to play back standard ASP videos created in Nero Recode (after renaming them to .AVI’s so that the player finds them); it complains about being incompatible. (The same videos, of course, play back OK under CorePlayer, as has also been explained in my H.264 Bible.) Of course it won’t play back the much more advanced AVC (H.264) videos either.

All in all, you may want to give it a try if you prefer free stuff – but don’t forget: CorePlayer is still much better, more compatible and more efficient. The only drawback of the latter is not being free.

10. New hardware-wise, there is a plethora of new information. See for example THIS (a generic overview), THIS and THIS (HTC Diamond) etc. Of course, these threads / articles will be outdated today with HTC’s official announcements, which will be reported on by many portals; see for example MoDaCo’s related thread HERE and MsMobiles’ HERE).

11. There’s a nice hands-on review of the DVB-T receiving capabilities of the Gigabyte gSmart t600 HERE at MsMobiles. Before I finally publish my Digital TV Bible, it gives you a clear picture of what you can expect of DVB-T-capable handsets, reception capabilities- and battery life-wise.

12. The Xperia X1 will be released in mid-September; see THIS and THIS. According to one of my sources, who received it for beta testing, it does have 3D hardware acceleration, which is certainly very good news. It, however, has a rather bad thumbboard – much worse than those of the HTC Universal or the HTC Kaiser / AT&T Tilt. Now, I only wish it had a digital TV (DVB-T and -H at least for us Europeans; MediaFLO / DVB-H for Americans, T-DMB for Koreans etc.) receiver.... Too bad S-E’s engineers didn’t bother including one or don’t plan to offer a version (even with slightly bigger size) with one.


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(Multiplatform) REVIEW: RDM+ by SHAPE Services: a decent remote desktop access tool

I’ve long been promising a full comparison, benchmark and (compared to alternative solutions) pros/cons list of SHAPE Services’ RDM+, a really decent, multiplatform remote desktop controlling / accessor solution. Now that they have a MASSIVE rebate, I dedicated some time for some thorough testing on no less than four different mobile platforms: Windows Mobile Pocket PC (with touch screens), Windows Mobile Smartphone (without touch screens), Symbian S60 (Nokia N95) and BlackBerry (BB 8800). Sorry for being four-platform again: a geek like me just loves toys and wants to play with all the major gadgets and major mobile operating systems available (not only Windows Mobile).

Note that SHAPE Services have another, purely Java-based (meaning there's NO native Windows Mobile client and you must use a MIDlet manager) remote access client, TSMobiles. I'll review it VERY soon.

Please note that this isn’t a full review, just a “list†of the pros and cons and my benchmark results and a complete comparison of the (in some respects, pretty different) implementations on the different platforms. You’ll want to read my previous Windows Mobile Remote Desktop Controller Bible to get more information on what for example the benchmark results stand for, what the different features really mean etc. Again, I will NOT explain anything in here already explained in the Bible. Read it to get a picture of what I’m referring to in the current article.

Note that the current, tested versions are as follows: 3.6.6 (Windows Mobile); 3.6.8 (Symbian / Java; BlackBerry). By the time you read this review (probably months or even years later), it may be heavily outdated. Of course, I’ll try to keep it up-to-date by constantly posting “UPDATE†sections at the bottom. Make sure you check them out. Also make sure you check out the links in this article: they link to a lot of screenshots.

1. Bandwidth usage benchmarks

Using exactly the same method as with the old benchmarks, with exactly the same set-up so that the bandwidth usage results can be directly compared:

(On Windows Mobile [on Blackberries, it's 24 bit], default) 8 bit color depth; measured twice

8k/970k (up/down)
6k/966k (up/down) (both quite good)

(exactly the same results with smooth scrolling – this is excellent)

1 bit color depth (that is, monochrome): 5k/556k (that is, almost half of the bandwidth required in the default, 8-bit mode)
24 bit color depth: 6k/1MB

Idling (without anything happening: no visible animations, cursor etc): 3k/10k a minute (excellent result – compare it to the very bad results of, say, GoToMyPC or, even worse, PPC Tablet)

Cursor blink test: 2k/11k a minute (again, excellent – compare this to the very bad results of I’m InTouch)

The transfer speed is excellent on Pocket PC’s via a Wi-Fi connection; I had no screen refresh problems even with 0.5s waiting between the page down events on a VGA (!) device, in Landscape mode, using 800*600 desktop resolution. The Java client running on the Nokia N95 was pretty fast, too. It’s only on (current) BlackBerries that you might encounter somewhat slower screen updates, it seems.


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