Tag: "windows mobile"

Windows Phone 7 beta emulator tour

Microsoft released the new Beta of the developer tools for Windows Phone 7.

Probably the most interesting bit for end-users is the Windows Phone 7 emulator, which lets us have a little play with the device. However in the original only Internet Explorer is available but like always the guys at XDA Developers cracked that emulator image to unlock full functionality like they did with the last 2 CTP releases. So if you're curious what Windows Phone 7 will look like check out the video Long Zheng put together earlier.

What I'm excited about is OneNote integration with SkyDrive - something we don't have with OneNote 2010 on Windows Mobile at the moment, it'll only sync with SharePoint. But it looks like with Windows Phone 7, we can sync directly with SkyDrive, which means Gamercast's shownotes can be done out and about now, sweet.

iPhone 4 can't keep up, looks dated compared to WP7

So Apple announced the iPhone 4 earlier this week. Jobs proclaimed it was the biggest upgrade since the iPhone came out. To which the Apple fanboys cheered. Perhaps somewhat exposing how disappointed they had been by the iPhone 3G, which added 3G support bringing the iPhone up to the same level as smartphones that had been shipping for years prior. And showing how lacklustre the iPhone 3GS was which was the same thing, only a bit faster.

Essentially the form factor is the same. The huge ugly bezel is still present, and with the design of the sides being a bit more chunky it is only going to feel more like a brick. They've finally added a front facing camera - again a feature that shipped on original 3G phones back 5 or so years.

Most importantly they have increased the screen resolution. Anyone who had used any Windows Mobile phone back when the iPhone first came out saw instantly how low resolution the screen on the iPhone was. They've finally caught up with the old Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 in having a display over 300 DPI. So that at least puts them up with 2008-era screens.

However the screen is the same size, 3.5 inches is pretty average nowadays. Most high-end smartphones today offer larger screens without making the handset larger by having a smaller bezel and having more of the phone taken up with screen. Also disappointingly it is the same old 4:3 aspect ratio, when other smartphones have been shipping with widescreen displays for a couple of years now as the standard.

Here's the iPhone next to the HD2. The HD2's screen is almost an inch bigger, yet the device is only slightly larger. You can really see how much space is wasted on the iPhone. Look at all that black empty nothingness top and bottom of the screen.

iPhone vs HD2

The HD2, or the Nexus One or the Desire etc show how a smartphone should be done. The front surface of the phone should be as much screen as possible.

The other much touted new feature is video calling. Yes, apparently the old iPhone didn't support that along with dozens of other features that other phones support. Worse yet it only does video calling with other iPhone 4s and you need a Wi-Fi connection. Apple blame this on mobile providers. Despite the fact the first generation of 3G phones supported video calling. Apple of course in their attempt to get mindshare give this feature a hip name FaceTime. Amazing. Once again Apple are attempting to re-write history, and too many people are letting it pass.

More importantly as Microsoft showed some newer builds of Windows Phone 7 at TechEd this week and announced that some developers (on a case by case basis) would be getting their hands on Windows Phone 7 devices next month for free. It is becoming painfully obvious just how out of date the iPhone is looking compared with WP7.

Here's the AP application running on an iPhone, and underneath an AP application running on WP7.

AP Mobile on iPhone
AP Mobile on Windows Phone 7

The screens really don't do it justice so here's the video:

In my opinion the iPhone definitely looks dated in comparison. Steve Jobs' little features here and there aren't going to make up for it. iPhone applications just look stale.

Installing the Windows Phone Dev Tools April CTP

As I've got a few hours to kill I'd thought I'll install the new Windows Phone Development Tools that were released in April and play about with them a bit. Let's just say it is going to take a wee bit longer than I thought.

Windows Phone Developer Tools April CTP setup

Urgh.

My HTC HD2 game recommendations

I'm going to be posting about some of the software I use on my HTC HD2, there are a lot of Windows Mobile games out there, but what really works well on the HD2? Hopefully this will give you some ideas.

Out are games like Wolf3D and Doom, games I've been playing on Windows Mobile phones for 6 or 7 years, they're just not fun trying to control with the on-screen controls. The good old days when people would just take the source code for a game and port it to Windows Mobile seem to be a fading memory. You didn't have official versions, people just made their own. Nowadays of course with so many phones using a single marketplace as a source for all software, where any software listed must be pre-approved before being sold has stunted such creativity, an application that made farting noises, or changed the colour of the screen would be someone's first applications while getting to grips with developing on the platform, nowadays such applications are products to be sold, with Apple taking a 30% cut. Anyway, on with the topic at hand.

Electopia screenshotElectopia

To showcase the HTC HD2's graphics ability, there's no better game than Electopia. Developed at Southend, you take control of some weird robot thingy and wheel him around the world exploring and shooting stuff. Best of all it is free and can be downloaded from Southend's website. When we'll ever get a full commercial version of the game is unknown. But either way, its a little fun game and it shows off the power of the HD2.

Experiment13 screenshotExperiment13

Experiment13 is a puzzle game, you can almost say it's similar to portal in that you have to make your weird character guy go through portals (without making them yourself), the cool thing is you have to rotate the world to achieve this making it somewhat unique when upfront it looks like it could just be a platformer. It's rendered in 3D and the graphics aren't too bad. It can be downloaded from XDA-Developers.

Hunting screenshotHunting

Hunting is a tower defence game, I don't know about you but I love tower defence games. It's set in a stone-age sort of time so out are the funky missile launchers and cannons, in are weird guys with clubs and bows. The only bad point is it doesn't run in widescreen, and there isn't much variation in the maps. That said, its cheap at £1.19. It can be downloaded from the Marketplace, or there's the demo Hunting Lite.

Meon screenshotMeon

Next up is Meon, this is actually probably the game I've played the most on my HD2. It's another puzzle game where you have to send beams of light to their destination. Sound boring? It's not and is highly addictive. The graphics aren't great, it doesn't make use of the WVGA screen very well, but either way the gameplay is good enough to overcome this. The game itself will set you back £1.69 from the Marketplace, but there is a demo available to called Meon Lite.

Picanrium screenshotPicranium

Picranium is next. Another puzzle game, vaguely similar to minesweeper in that you have to work out what blocks are the actual blocks you need to identify to build the picture, hence the name I assume. But unlike minesweeper you get told the number of blocks in a row or column, you then have to mark them out. Got a little tricky on some levels. Graphics are alright, but would be cool to get a 3D version like on the Nintendo DS. It does make use of multi-touch on the HD2 which is a cool addition. It'll set you back £2.19 from the Marketplace, or there's a demo version called Picranium Lite.

Pocket Lemmings screenshotPocket Lemmings

Need I say more? It's Lemmings. Don't get conned into buying the official versions like Lemmings Tribes, which are slow and rubbish. Go with the original versions. This is a clone resembling the original PC/Amiga/Acorn etc versions made by Johannes Zeppenfeld. Best of all the actual application is free. Like Wolf3D and Doom you do need to provide your own content files, in this case the Lemmings main.dat file which you can find on your old DOS copy. :-) The only problem really is it doesn't support widescreen, but at least it stretches to fill the screen, it's not that noticeable but something that could be improved. You can download the application itself from Johannes' website.

Brain Games 2009 screenshotResco Brain Games 2009

The interface in this game is fantastic, probably one of the best I've come across, makes a change from people using the bog standard and ugly forms found in many Windows Mobile applications. It's got pages and pages of different games, from mathematics, to sorting colour patterns and shooting things, it'll will keep you busy for more than a while and records all your stats, which annoyingly makes you want to complete more and more of it. If you're going to buy it, it isn't cheap at $19.99, but you may be able to find it cheaper from other sources. Here's the official Resco page for it.

Snake screenshotResco Snake

Another Snake game, you control the snake using the accelerometer in the HD2, eat fruit, other snakes, and don't get hurt by the bad guys. Loads of levels, all with different themes with a gradual increase in difficulty making the game quite challenging later on, great user interface, but kinda pricey at $9.99. Official website here.

Xtrakt

One of the better games out there, basically a rail-shooter, although you do have control over the characters location either left or right. Race through a fancy futuristic city on a motorbike type thing and shoot these weird robot thingies. Graphics are pretty good, audio is pretty good. Originally bundled with the Xperia phone but can be found over on XDA Developers.

Time permitting I'll share the handful of other applications I use, which aren't games at a later date.

HTC HD2 now vs Windows Phone 7 Series later

More than a few people seem to be struggling with this problem. I didn't have much difficulty deciding however, back in February I awaited the Mobile World Conference, a few hours after Microsoft's keynote I ordered the HD2.

Don't get me wrong, the WP7S is nice. It does have some killer features, such as Xbox Live integration and Zune integration which hopefully will mean Zune Social and Zune Pass (fairly priced) will become available in the UK later this year as I've been whinging about lately. It'll also help application developers raise the quality of their applications by not having to write for the lowest common denominator as Microsoft have set pretty high minimum guidelines for the device specifications they'll be more willing to take advantage of the improved performance that WP7S will offer.

But the HD2 is here now, well has been here for 6 months in Europe, with Windows Mobile 6.5, perfectly respectable and with the HTC TouchFLO 3D, now called Sense interface highly usable with a finger. And with some pretty nice specifications.

The good:

  • Fast, that 1Ghz Snapdragon is nice.
  • Nice screen 800x480 pretty standard for WM devices over the last 18 months or so, but puts iPhone users in their place.
  • Flash support in Internet Explorer (although not Opera the default browser).
  • The ability to install applications from any source. :-) The Marketplace is good, but only lists a tiny fraction of the software available for WM.
  • Ability to tweak the hell out of the phone to get it exactly the way you want it.
  • And of course always the potential for juicy ROM updates in the future, including to WP7S *fingers crossed*.

It's got some bad bits as well. Performance is pretty poor in the SMS client. And doesn't have a hardware keyboard (I do sometimes miss my Touch Pro).

WP7S on the other hand:

  • Won't have copy and paste on release, I don't use it much but I know when I happen to need it, I'll be swearing.
  • Doesn't have full multi-tasking, although the limited multi-tasking it does have is superior to the iPhone.
  • Application performance is up in the air considering its Silverlight based, developers might want to write natively for the hardware but don't currently have that option.
  • Uncertainties over application distribution, will the Marketplace be an absolute monopoly, or can I still dump a .cab on their and install it?

Of course it's got the good stuff, Xbox Live, Zune, Super-swish UI that isn't trying to be an iPhone clone, like Android seems to be, no offence but surely there's something a bit better than a boring grid full of icons? Oh yeah WP7S' interface.

So that's why I went for the HD2 back in February, I did actually wait until February so I could check out the WP7S announcement and weigh things up instead of just ordering one in November like Catherine did. Plus Windows Mobile being Windows Mobile, there's always a good chance of WP7S being made available unofficially for the HD2. :-)

HTC's product roadmap for 1H 2010 urgh

Since Catherine got the HTC HD2 I've been hoping that HTC would release a keyboard equipped phone in the Touch Pro series that sported the 1Ghz processor, and the capacitive screen would be a nice too, and of course Touch Flo/Sense that supported landscape mode.

The good news is HTC's product roadmap for the first half of next year has leaked. The bad news is, there's no sign of any such phone. There are three phones under their productivity category all of which are powered by Windows Mobile 6.5.

The Photon, which seems to be keyboard-less, but still under productivity?

This seems to be a mini version of the HD2, it sports a 600Mhz processor, 3.2 inch HVGA capacitive screen with 256MB RAM.

Ouch, HVGA?

There's also the Trophy, which has a similar form factor to most BlackBerrys, it has a 3 inch VGA screen also capacitive, with another 600Mhz processor and 256MB of RAM.

Then there's the Tera which seems to have the same form factor as the Touch Pro 2, only it sports a disappointing 3 inch WQVGA screen and the same 600Mhz processor and 256MB of RAM.

Looks like I'll be waiting until at least the second half of 2010. At least it shows how future-proof the HD2 is, only one other phone will be using the 1Ghz Snapdragon processor in the next six months and that will be the Bravo, whose main feature seems to be 720p video recording, but even that doesn't come close to the massive 4.3 inch screen on the HD2.

1 3 4