Sunday, November 30, 2008

Using IM2 Broom Unlimited

I and my family are now in Jakarta, Indonesia for a (short?) two-week holiday. We left Singapore yesterday afternoon, taking Lion Air flight to Jakarta. It took more than 40 minutes for us to queue for checking-in at Singapore's Changi airport. The flight was full, there were so many passengers queuing for checking-in and yet, there were only 4 check-in counters available. It also caused around 20 minutes of delay of the flight since it took some time for all passengers to eventually checked in to the flight, despite an additional one (yes, only one, sigh) counter being set up.

We arrived at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at around 4pm. It turned out that we were on the same flight as Yudi (one of my friends from the Indo-Sing community, and I initially had mistaken him as Pieter, another friend from the same community, gosh!)  and Audi (one of my band-mates) with his wife Erina and son Rifa. My parents picked us up at the airport and we went straight to Plasa Semanggi for late lunch/early dinner. Lion Air is a budget airline and they don't serve any snacks or meal on board. We also didn't have the chance to have our lunch at Changi airport prior to boarding the plane due to the check-in's long queue taking up much of our "precious" time at the airport. Had a Bakmi Gang Kelinci's chicken noodle at the food court in Plasa Semanggi, which is located on the 3A floor of the shopping mall.

1000_Broom_Starter_Pack I also went to Indosat's IM2 Broadband Centre located on the first floor of Plasa Semanggi, for me to buy the starter pack of IM2 Broom, for our Internet connection during our stay in Indonesia. The starter pack costs IDR 150,000, and it provides unlimited HSDPA/3.5G-based Internet connection for a month. Subsequent months will even cost less, only IDR 100,000/month. Quite worth value for money, especially since now we have mobile phones which have HSDPA capabilities so we don't need to invest for additional HSDPA modem, which can be quite costly.

I am currently using my daughter's Nokia 6120 classic phone as a HSDPA modem using the PC Suite for me to enjoy the Internet connection using my laptop. Since I'm taking the unlimited package, the maximum bandwidth speed I should get is only up to 256 KBps for the first 2 GB of data transfer, after which the bandwidth will be capped at 64 Kbps, unlimited until it expires in one month. However, seems that I could get up to 460.8 Kbps of connection last night when I tried to connect. :) Connection is good for browsing purposes, accessing international sites sometimes can be a bit slow, but I believe this is more to infrastructure issue on the ISP's connection to the global Internet rather than issue on the HSDPA connection itself. Accessing local Indonesian sites is very fast.

Unfortunately, IM2 Broom only provides data connection without any voice capability, while I also need a local Indonesian number for normal voice calls, to save the roaming charges. I might be getting a Telkomsel's Simpati line today, so that I can also use its Telkomsel Flash feature for ad-hoc Internet connections for my phone. I won't be using my SingTel line for HSDPA connection here in Indonesia, the data roaming charges are very expensive.

Other than Jakarta, I'll also be visiting my hometown Bandung (of course) and Garut (Cipanas, to be exact) for a short holiday, before going to Tasikmalaya to celebrate Hari Raya Idul Adha (Hari Raya Haji) with my family and relatives there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1: My First Review

1000 - Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 I have been using my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 for about a week, so now I'm trying to write my review about this phone. I'm not really too good in reviewing gadgets so I will try to keep my review short. Especially, since I have been using this phone for only a week. I might write another review again after I have used the phone for quite some time.

I was considering this phone and HTC Touch Pro over other Windows Mobile-based PDA phones like Samsung Omnia or HTC Touch Diamond because of an obvious reason, the sliding keyboard. And frankly, I was quite disappointed with Xperia X1's keyboard, initially. Its flat surface makes me difficult to type on the keyboard. The good news is that I managed to get over with the difficulties over time. Once I have gotten use to it, I find the keyboard is still much more convenient to type compared to if I have to use the stylus and the on-screen keyboard. While typing, the optical joystick is also quite useful to replace the arrow keys, which are not available on Xperia X1's keyboard.

With regards to the interface, many people said that the Xperia X1's panel is not as good as HTC's TouchFlo 3D. I haven't tried the TouchFlo 3D myself, although we can actually port over TouchFlo 3D interface into the Xperia X1. However, I am personally satisfied with the Sony Ericsson panel. I can put the clock, calendar, weather, appointments and some shortcut buttons, all in one display. That said, I really appreciate the big (and somewhat long) screen that the Xperia X1 has.

1005 - Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 with sliding keyboard The GPS also works like a charm. Its built-in internal GPS receiver locks on to the satellites much faster than my Garmin GPS 10x receiver. I have installed my favourite Garmin Mobile XT software into the phone, and it can detect the built-in GPS receiver without any issues. I also do not need to activate my favourite GPS proxy software, WMMiniGPS, for the GMXT to work, although sometimes I would still turn on the WMMiniGPS if I need to do 1-second tracking for my contributions to Malsingmaps and Malfreemaps.

After getting used to only GPRS connection on my old Dopod 818 Pro, I find the high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA, or 3.5G connection) to be much rewarding. Paired with Wi-Fi capabilities, the phone makes my microblogging activitiy much more fun and definitely faster. Browsing the Internet using the pre-loaded Opera Mobile software is really fun, and thanks to a bigger display, I can see more on the screen compared to my older phone. So guys, expect to see more of my updates on Kronologger, Twitter, Plurk and Facebook. :) :)

The only downside I can think of now, is the battery. It drains very fast under heavy usage. Yes, I am a heavy user of the phone, since I use it for phone, SMS, GPS (every time I drive around), and the Internet (mainly for microblogging). And I have to charge the phone almost every night. A 100% bar of battery in the morning can drop to a 20-30% bar in the evening. Understand that this is normal for a PDA phone, however I still wish that Sony Ericsson can invent a more powerful and long-lasting battery for this phone. :)

Well, that's what I can think of right now. I might write more reviews once I explore more on the features of this phone. Stay tuned. :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Getting Myself a Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 for only S$338

I just came back from the Sony Ericsson SingTel Roadshow, located outside Plaza Singapura, near The Atrium @ Orchard, Dhoby Ghaut. I have decided to get myself the new Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 phone to replace my old Dopod 818 Pro. The normal price for the phone is S$1,298 (without contract), and from the roadshow, I can get the phone for only S$338, without any trade in. How did I get the S$960 savings?

On the roadshow which will end today, SingTel sells the phone for only S$638 with iOne Plus or Classic plan, plus a 3-month Broadband on Mobile Plus subscription. Compared to my current mobile provider M1's promotion, which sells the phone at $998 under their SunSaver Plan, that's already quite a big S$360 difference. Based on my average monthly phone usage with M1, I decided to take the iTwo Value plan from SingTel, which allows me to purchase the Xperia X1 phone for only S$538.

Furthermore, SingTel gives additional S$200 discount for me to switch over from M1 to SingTel, thanks to the full mobile number portability. Since my M1 mobile line's contract has expired, I can port over the number to SingTel so that I can still use the same mobile number under SingTel's service plan. With all the discounts, I can get myself the Xperia X1 phone for only S$338.

What's more? Exclusive to the roadshow, I also can get some additional freebies, such as a $50 The Choice vouchers (which can be used at Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets), a Sony Ericsson Bluetooth Car Handsfree kit and a DVD mobile converter software.

Unfortunately, the phone was fully sold out during the first day of the roadshow yesterday, so even when I can purchase at the same low price today, I can only collect the phone next week. Never mind, I think it's worth the wait. :)


Why Not HTC Touch Pro?

Good question. I have been comparing the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 with its closest competitor, the HTC Touch Pro. The specifications of both phones are very similar, although each has some pros and cons as well. To be frank, I decided to choose the Xperia X1 because of this promotion. Hey, where else you can get a high end high end Windows Mobile-based mobile phone with sliding keyboard for only $S338? :) Right now, if I'm getting myself a HTC Touch Pro, I will definitely be paying more than that, since none of the mobile providers in Singapore has similar promotion for HTC Touch Pro. For example, M1 is selling the HTC Touch Pro for $868 for a 2-year contract.

Furthermore, having a Dopod mobile phone for almost three years, I had some quite unpleasant experiences with HTC support in Singapore, both at SIS Technologies' Leng Kee office and the HTC Service Centre at Keppel Bay Tower, Harbourfront. Even though the Xperia X1 is actually built by HTC for Sony Ericsson, at least I can still expect the same quality of product and tap on Sony Ericsson's (hopefully) better service.

Hopefully. Let's see. :)

PS. Pictures are courtesy of Sony Ericsson website and CNET Asia website.