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A couple of weeks ago I got a new Motorola e815 to replace my LG6100 cell phone. I hated the LG. The sound quality was terrible, the shape was odd, and the features were locked down so that anything useful cost more money to use. The Motorola e815, on the other hand turns out to be the best cell phone I've ever owned.
My requirements for a cell are a little different from your average techno-geek. You see, I need one that I can jam in my pocket or toss in my shoe at the fire station as I throw on boots and gear. It needs to be small, tough, and simple. I already wear a radio-pager on my belt and a Leatherman tool. A giant PDA isn't going to cut it. That's why I dumped my old Kyocera PALM phone for the simple clamshell of the LG. Unfortunately, the LG simply failed to be a good phone.
Any demi-geek can get PDA functionality on a big clunky Windows CE or PALM phone. ALPHA-GEEKS like me need to get the most out of hardware without surrendering so much cash and belt space to carry around one of those things. If I could have my dream phone, it would be small enough to fit COMFORTABLY in a pants pocket, have excellent reception and high quality audio, have an MP3 player and a useable camera, synchronize my calendar and contacts with my Lotus Notes client, be able to create, download, and reply to my email, and be able to use AIM when I need to hit someone online with a quick question.
Its an MP3 player. The phone has built in speakers in stereo (though not very loud) and the headset jack is a four lead jack so it can be used with a stereo headset that's also got a mic on it, so you don't have to shut off the mp3 player to answer the phone. It handles that for you.
It has a 512mb "Transflash" slot (transflash is bit of plastic smaller than the nail on my pinky, which fits in an SD Card adapter and can be read in any multi-function card reader). I can put a few hours of music, a bunch of pictures, or other cool things on it. Like my Notes ID or a password file. I can also make graphical "wallpaper" and mp3 ringtones and just copy them on the card. Also, because the memory is on these little cards, I can keep several of them with different kinds of music or files. The only trouble I have is that they're so small I can barely handle them with my fingers. Fortunately, each transflash you buy comes with an sdram sized adapter card and plastic case which holds both. That makes them manageable.
Its got Bluetooth. I can wear a wireless ear piece and just by tapping it and using the voice dial make and answer calls without even reaching for the phone when I'm on the road. If I get the addon thing Chrysler makes for my car, the car can "take over" the call from the phone when I get in.
The camera is actually pretty good. Its not great, but its workable -- and when you combine it with the transflash card, I can easily take the pictures and copy them to the laptop.
I use POP3 to check my mail on the road. At least for now, I'm doing that with Email Executive through the "get it now" service Verizon has, but I doubt I'll use that for long. Thanks to the work I've been doing with ASSP and a few creative agents to process what leaks through, POP3 checks yield almost no spam. Just pure messaging goodness.
Logging in to AIM, Yahoo, or ICQ is also built in.
Apply a little geek-mojo and the payoff is huge! With a little research online, some creative downloading, a hack here and a hack there, and I've gone way beyond what comes in the box. I'm getting close to my perfect device now.
Connect it to the PC. For $16.00 on eBay I was able to get the cable and CD Verizon sells for $59 for most phones, and doesn't even have yet for this one. More creating searching found updated software online, drivers for XP, and a few other nifty toys. Now I can use it as a high speed modem. And I mean high speed. In a lot of places as much as 1mbps of download speed.
Synchronize with LOTUS NOTES! Yep, the software includes LOTUS NOTES as a choice for the source of both Calendar and Contacts data. It does a GOOD job of it too. Absolutely as good as my old PALM used to do. Multiple numbers for contacts are supported, selective and mapped synchronization are also supported. All this is tied in with the Bluetooth headset and voice recognition. That means with the phone in my briefcase and a small earpiece on, I can tap my ear and say "Call Rocky Oliver" and my phone will ask me "Call Rocky Oliver?" and I say, "Yes!" and it says "Home, Office, or Mobile?" -- how sweet is that?
Now unlock the Bluetooth. A bit more searching and I found instructions on hacking the Bluetooth to unlock file transfer, data synch, and the other things Verizon locks down when they sell the phone. Now I don't even need the $16 cable any more. I can use my Laptop with a Bluetooth connection to the phone in my briefcase to hot synch, send or recieve a fax, make a phone call, or get online.
With just a bit more hacking, I've been able to crack the unabridged Audio books I pay for on Audible and turn them into comparable quality MP3. Since these are voice quality monaural recordings, I can fit a 14 hour book on a transflash card and still have room for several hours of my favorite music. Oh, and before get all wierded out over that -- they're my books. I pay for them. I just use them on whatever damn device I want instead of just those who support the Audible format.
Another eBay purchase -- this time $1.65 plus $5.00 shipping (yeah, I know) and I have an adapter cable for the headset jack that has a microphone and answer button, and a regular three pole stereo headset jack. Now I can use my favorite Sony Noise Cancelling headphones or my Belkin FM transmitter to listen to my audio books or MP3's. Glad I opted not to purchase the custom rig from Verizon for 30 TIMES THAT PRICE. LOL.
Now to write my own software -- BREW is the way you write those little "Get it Now" applications. Again, thanks to creative searching and a few hackers leading the way, I have the means to take BREW applications (which are Java or C applications compiled with a freely available SDK) and load them directly onto the phone myself. How cool is that?
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