Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forMarch 14th, 2008 | back to home

14 March 2008
Filed under:Gadgets,Mobile phone and PDA at3:11 pm

I gave our household a technological upgrade and it has been a rather frustrating experience. First I bought a three Skypephone then an iPod Touch. A number of the weaknesses of the Touch I was aware of – at least on the hardware side. No Bluetooth, no built-in ability to edit rich text documents, no microphone (though one has been hacked onto it). I knew less about the weaknesses of the Skypephone prior to purchase. Indeed, both from a hardware and a network proposition perspective it seemed a very attractive proposition. But in both cases I have run into what seems to me an extraordinarily long list of what seem to me to be entirely un-necessary and irritating problems.

In no particular order:

3 Skypephone

  • 3 Customer service is lousy – it takes 20 minutes to half an hour on the phone to sort anything out, things that are sorted out don’t stay sorted etc. Of course that may just be the normal things-not-working that one can expect from any company these days…
  • If you are a pay as you go customer and go abroad to Austria, Hong Kong, Ireland or Italy then it’s as if you were at home – cool! But on pay as you go their international roaming is very patchy. I could understand their not covering most of Eastern Europe but they don’t cover Canada or Scandinavia or even Switzerland! And it appears you can’t use their Internet services like MSN Messenger or Skype except in the 5 “home” countries – even at £3/Mb MSN messaging would probably be cheaper than texting between two Skypephones I am guessing
  • The Skypephone has a button on the side to activate the camera, but it doesn’t seem to over-ride whatever application you are in at the moment. So to take a picture you first have to use the task switcher to switch to the “idle” start screen then push the button.
  • You can email a picture from the phone but you can’t skype it to someone.
  • The PC ‘syncing’ software doesn’t sync with Outlook – you have to import and export. As far as I can tell you even have to import/export Outlook events individually!
  • At least there is PC sync software – the Skypephone is not supported by Apple’s iSync at all.

As for the iPod Touch I thought originally “OK its functionality is limited at the moment but what it does do it will do well with Apple’s customary attention to UI detail.” Er… not really. Particularly note the first two inexcusable oddities:

  • You can’t copy and paste?!
  • The touch’s version of iCal doesn’t support todos so you can’t sync todos from your Mac’s calendar
  • There’s no way to create, edit and sync rich text documents. In the January software update Apple added a “notes” application but a) it isn’t rich text and b) it doesn’t create a file you can read (or paste into) on the Mac – the only way to get it onto your Mac is to email it to yourself
  • The only way to read PDFs is to email them to your Touch.
  • The Touch has no bluetooth

I had rather hoped that for a fairly modest expenditure these new gadgets would help ease the transition into my 43rd year but all these hassles have rather ruined the fun! At least the Apple iPhone/Touch’s fanbase among early adopters encourages me to think some of these flaws might be addressed in the coming months…