Thursday, March 13, 2008

A new toy: XDA Stellar

Yesterday, Wednesday, I got a new toy: a mobile phone with built-in GPS - the XDA Stellar. It replaces the XDA Exec which I had now for more than 2 years.

Here is the story (well, not really a story...): After my move to the UK, I had tried for several weeks to get a mobile phone contract, but one has to live here for at least 3 years, to get banking references etc. What a nightmare that was, until I finally was able to convince the store clerk that I would be able to pay for a monthly contract. I could write a long story about the O2 phone hotline, when first my order had been accepted, then had been cancelled after a credit check... and nobody was there to take any responsibility... but that story os long over, and I had gotten my XDA Exec in January 2006. Very nice device, phone with a keyboard. I could not write SMS on those "normal" number-only keyboards - takes me way too long. But the Exec had a few flaws: a tiny memory of 128 MB. That was really not sufficient, and I had constantly to delete files and to close applications, as the memory was getting full, and then the memory would actually overflow. I noticed that when the "free memory" indicated a negative number! A sure sign of this was when the display suddenly became fully bright, even when on battery. And then I always knew that it was time to reset the Windows Mobile 5 device.

But overall the phone was great, and I kept it after the 18 month contract ran out (switched then of course to a cheaper contract).

A few days ago I saw the XDA Stellar: same capability, with keyboard, slightly more memory - and a built-in GPS! So I went, ordered it, and yesterday I got it.

Here a few first impressions:
- the device is smaller and lighter than the Exec - very nice. Has fast network - so I upgraded to unlimited internet. I would recommend this, because one can quickly exceed the standard allowance of 1MB per month.
- the keyboard is a bit smaller, keys are standard QUERTY, but there are no numbers on top. Still is fine with me.
- there is no software for the GPS included. This is a pity - the Copilot 7 is only included in the XDA Orbit 2, but not with the Stellar. So initially I did not have any opportunity to test if the GPS is actually there... I downloaded and installed the 3dTracking software, and when I tried it out today, it actually worked ok. But the documentation gives no clue what settings should be used, and how to interface the GPS.
- the built-in camera is quite good. BUT: it does no automatic Geo-tagging!!!! what is the point of having GPS and camera in one device, when they do not even talk to each other????

It seems that there is still some work to do for the developers at HTC. This is a nice device, but it surely needs development and integration to be really useful.


Marbod said...

if you're using GPS, how long is battery life? is there any time remaining in order to phone, too ;-) ?

Reinhold Behringer said...

with GPS on, battery life goes down significantly. I have not tested it thoroughly, but it seems that it could last about 8 hours with GPS on.

Not only the GPS is the problem, but also the continuous data connection for uploading the GPS data to a web server. I will try to write a small software app which allows to just upload once in a while, triggered by the user.