Alfredo Padillas Indepth Review of the Cingular 2125
Some of you may have read my Cingular 8125 review from a couple of months back on HowardForums. I am sorry to say that the phone was stolen, and thus for the past couple of weeks I have been without a converged device. I must say this has been an excruciating experience for me as I had come to depend on my 8125 for both work and play. The silver lining in this story is that I had the excuse to look into a new converged device and as the title of this review suggests I chose the Cingular 2125.
In my review of the Cingular 8125 I had mentioned that I used the 2125 for a couple of weeks and loved the phone, although at the time I felt I needed the office applications and the QWERTY keyboard. Having now moved back to the Cingular 2125 I find that I do miss a QWERTY keyboard, however I don’t really miss the office applications and the reduced size really makes up for the lack of a QWERTY keyboard.
As I did with my Cingular 8125 review I’d like to walk you through the device and then explain exactly how I configured it for my needs.
The size of the 2125 is one of its most impressive features. The amount of power that is packed into this small device is just incredible. I’m very happy to be carrying a device that looks like a real phone and doesn’t weigh down my pockets. It sits easily in my hand and all controls are in easy reach. The screen on the 2125 is beautiful, I don’t miss the larger screen from the 8125 at all video, pictures and just regular use all look great.
As far as the controls go, the soft keys are well placed and easy to use, as are the home, back and call control buttons. The joystick is usable but as others have noted you will occasionally have trouble pushing in to select. I must say that my preference would have been for a directional pad, and I think there is more than enough room on the device for one.
The keypad is also another place where I think HTC (the phone’s manufacturer) could have improved the experience. The keys are responsive, and easy to touch by feel, but they are so small that even a person like me who has smaller hands occasionally has trouble with it. You will definitely get a cramp if you do any major texting. I think that HTC could have made overall better use of the space on the phone to include a directional pad and larger number keys.
In addition to the front controls and keypad you have a ‘rocker’ switch on the left hand side that controls device volume. A long press on the bottom part of the rocker will start the voice tag application. Above the rocker switch is the comm. manager button that allows you to easily turn Bluetooth on and off, initiate a sync and turn the phone’s sound on/off. A press and hold of this button will initiate the voice note application. On the right side of the device you have a single button for the camera.
The Cingular 2125 is a variant of the HTC Tornado line of phones. For those who don’t know, HTC is a Taiwanese company that makes almost every Windows Mobile smartphone and pocket pc that you see (with some notable exceptions such as the Motorola Q). This particular style of phone is called the HTC Faraday design, and Cingular’s version is actually slightly different from other versions of the Faraday in that a ‘hump’ has been added to the top of the phone to improve GSM 850 band reception. This addition leads to a couple of quirky ergonomic issues:
1) The power button is slightly recessed into the antenna and in order to activate it you need to push down towards the screen rather towards the back of the phone. Many have had problems with this and newer models of the 2125 actually have a larger button that protrudes more clearly. 2) The IR port that is normally found on the top of the Faraday/Tornado models is obscured by the ‘hump’. This means that many people may not realize that their phone has an IR port, it does and it works just fine, but you have to experiment a little to find out how to align your phone so it works well. The port is located on the top right of the phone.
The bottom of the phone contains a mini usb port for synching and charging along with a 2.5mm headphone port. You will also find a small loop for a lanyard. The back of the phone has the camera lens and a mirror for self portraits. You will also find the cover for the battery compartment. Under the battery you will find slots for your sim and Mini SD card. Some have complained about the placement of the Mini SD card, but I just throw in a 2gb card and forget about it.
Overall the device is very well put together with some small quirks that I believe you have to expect when packing everything into a device this small.
As with my Cingular 8125 I had a long list of software and hacks that I had prepared for my 2125 before I got it. These customizations make the device extremely usable for me, your mileage may vary, but I hope you find this section helpful.
Activesync 4.1 As with any Windows Mobile device you need to have Activesync 4.1 installed to sync with your computer. For those who have firewalls on their computers, I recommend you check out this page to address those: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmob…nc/default.mspx
Clearvue Suite This software comes on the CD included on the phone and allows you to view Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF documents. It does a passable job, although I wish that the word and pdf viewers would reflow the text to make it more readable on a small screen. It’s better than nothing, and until a full office suite comes out for windows smartphone programs like clearvue are all we’ve got. (It’s times like these that I am jealous of Symbian users and their QuickOffice applications.)
PTab Spreadsheet This is a spreadsheet viewer and editor for smartphone! I love this application and frankly it’s made the move to a smartphone platform much easier for me since I use Excel spreadsheets to manage my checkbook and keep track of my workouts. Highly recommended, check it out at: http://www.smartphone.net/software_detail.asp?id=1434
AvantGo This is a great application that allows you to download news from the web and view it offline. In addition it is a great RSS Reader. When I first tried out the 2125 in January this application was not available for smartphone and that was one of the reasons I went with a pocket pc device. Now that I am using a smartphone again, I am very happy to have my AvantGo with me. This is a free service, sign up at: http://www.avantgo.com/frontdoor/index.html
Vieka Wordpad A handy little editor for .txt documents comes in useful for formatting xml code. This is donateware and is available at: http://www.vieka.com/wordpad.htm
WM5Storage This is a great utility for Windows Mobile 5 devices that allows you to turn your smartphone into a mass storage USB device. This allows you to quickly transfer files to and from your memory card without dealing with Activesync. This is available online at: http://www.modaco.com/WM5torage-t238545.html (registration required)
True Connect A handy utility that allows you to control your smartphone with your computer’s keyboard and mouse. It will allow you to move your mouse pointer over onto the smartphone screen. This is great when entering lots of data during initial setup, such as email addresses, signatures, etc. Available at: http://www.raspberrysoftware.com/trueconnect.htm
TCPMP Probably the best media player out there for smartphone, it plays a plethora of standards that Media Player doesn’t and also supports playlists. Available at: http://tcpmp.corecodec.org/about
Smart Phone Notes Windows Mobile Smartphone doesn’t natively support use or synching of notes to Outlook. This application fills that gap, allowing you to view, edit and create notes on your device and synching them with Outlook on your computer through Activesync. Available at: http://www.smartphone.net/software_detail.asp?id=185
Rubber Stamped Data Sync Another item that Activesync doesn’t support is synchronization of files between your computer and smartphone. This program is hosted on your computer and fills this gap. It can be set to sync every time you connect your phone and one great feature that Activesync doesn’t provide on Pocket PC devices is that it allows you to choose any folder on your phone to sync, even on the memory card. Available at: http://www.smartphone.net/software_detail.asp?id=361
Oxios Memory This freeware utility simply allows you to stop all running programs if your smartphone ever freezes up. Not used very often because Windows Mobile 5 is a stable platform, but you’ll be happy to have it when you need it. Available at: http://www.oxios.com/memory/
One of the best things about Windows Mobile software is that it is extremely customizable. The home screen is your main interface with your smartphone and customizing it your specifications is one of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy your experience. There are a lot of programs out there that will add functionality to your home screen and you can make your own edits to a home screen by just editing the xml in notepad. This is how I put together my home screen.