I got word from our IT department last week that Dell is going to replace the motherboard in my E4300 sometime in the next couple weeks. The rumored BIOS update that was supposed to be out on January 19th still hasn’t appeared. The only thing that is making life with my E4300 palatable is that the connections problems seem to under control now that I reinstalled the Dell Connection manager software. It still behaves oddly from time to time but at least it is mostly usable.
The one behavior which still drives me crazy is the unwillingness to turn off or go into Stand-By. I can press the function key or use the Start Menu option but the computer simply remains powered on. Sometimes it will go into Stand By only to turn itself right back on a minute to two later. Very annoying when it happens while it is in my computer bag.
I really like my new Dell E4300 laptop but it has an odd behavior which is driving me nuts. When connected with either WiFi or BroadBand (I have the AT&T card) it will lose network connectivity after some period of time. Sometime is takes an hour or more, sometimes it happens very quickly. Once it happens, I am usually hosed and need to reboot. But not always. It only affects WiFi and BroadBand. It has no affect on the wired Ethernet connection. As long as I am in the office or at home I am ok.
I have been round and round with our internal IT people as well as Dell on this issue and haven’t found any resolution yet. A new BIOS update (A05) actually made the problem worse. With the A03 BIOS when it happened I could still ping other computers and eventually full connectivity would come back. But not now.
Reportedly Dell has a production stop on the E4300 to resolve a bunch of issues and a BIOS update is supposed to be available on January 19th. I hope so – I am about to spend a bunch of time on the road for work and having an unreliable network connection is not ok.
If you are considering an E4300 I’d hold off for now and see if reports improve over the next couple weeks. That is of course assuming that Dell actually delivers a new BIOS update and doesn’t delay it again!
This morning I received a package and in it was new repaired Pantech Duo. I popped my SIMM card in and the battery and it powered up and seems to work just fine. Unfortunately I left the USB cable at home, at least I think I did because it isn’t here at work, so I can’t sync it with my laptop which means it doesn’t have all of my contacts and calendar on it but I am happy to have it back.
After almost two weeks of use, I am sending the AT&T Tilt back to our AT&T Account Rep who I had borrowed it from. Much to my surprise, I really didn’t like the phone. While I really like the slide out keyboard and even though the phone is on the heavy side, ultimately it was Windows Mobile Pro that turned me off. I also could not get my Jawbone headset to pair with it, not sure why that was an issue since I haven’t had a problem with it pairing with two or three other phones.
IMNSHO Window Mobile Pro really is a PDA first, mobile phone second usage model. It is simply too hard to use with one hand to make it a viable solution for me. I actually have reverted back to my old standby AudioVox SMT5600 which, while an ancient phone, simply works. It is showing it’s age though, some of the buttons are getting a little stickly. I hope the Touch Flow interface which HTC has on their newer phones addresses this problem.
One of the features which I really like about Windows Mobile Standard is the ability to quickly find a contact simply by starting to enter a name or phone number. The possible choices are quickly narrowed down and it is easy to dial the default contact number or show all of the numbers and select one. This same usage model is a PITA with Windows Mobile Pro and with the Tilt, really requires using the stylus unless you have a long fingernail to use instead.
It seems like most of the new Windows Mobile phones are based on the Pro version instead of the Standard version. I’d love a phone like the HTC S740 but it doesn’t appear that AT&T will offer it. I am trying to keep my options open by getting my Pantech Duo repaired but it has been several weeks since I sent it to RMS Logistics and I haven’t heard a peep out of the repair center. Guess I ought to check into that.
For the past 4-5 days I have been playing with an AT&T 8925 Tilt (AT&T’s version of the HTC’s TyYN II). I am a big fan of Windows Mobile phones, I have been using one for years and I love the way Windows Mobile simply syncs to Outlook. My life is in Outlook so getting a phone to sync with Outlook is very important to me. Windows Mobile does it very well.
There are two versions of Windows Mobile right now – Standard and Pro which are also known as the Touchscreen and non-Touchscreen versions. This Tilt has WinMoPro 6 on it – I haven’t upgraded it to 6.1 because it isn’t mine, I need to return it. It belongs to the AT&T rep who calls on my employer. I had asked her if it was ok if I updated it to 6.1 and yesterday she sent me an e-mail telling me to go ahead so I will probably do that later today.
The Touchscreen version is much different than the non-Touchscreen version and I don’t think it is better. Years ago I had an iPAQ and the Tilt feels much more like an PDA first, phone second where as devices running the non-Touchscreen version feel like phones first, PDAs second. While it is much easier to work with the calendar and contacts, it is much harder to use as a phone. In fact, it is clunky. It would be nice to try the TouchFlo interface HTC is known for but it isn’t included on the AT&T version of the phone so no luck there.
I have actually sent my Pantech Duo in for repair after using this phone – the Pantech Duo runs WinMoStd (non-Touchscreen) and it just much easier to use. AT&T’s WindowsMobile roadmap doesn’t seem to have much on it although a guy at the local store told me they were getting a new HTC device in November.
I could get an iPhone through work but after playing with a co-workers, I am not sold on it. The iPhone has the same issue I have with the Tilt – I don’t like using the touchscreen. On an I phone I probably hit the delete key once for every two letters I type. If an iPhone had a slide out keyboard like the Tilt has, I’d be all over that.
I am taking the Tilt to Europe with me next week – using it for a few days while traveling will be a real test. After that it goes back to our AT&T rep and hopefully my Pantech Duo will be back by then. I am kicking myself for not sending it in earlier. Not sure why it didn’t occur to me to look into a repair. I was hoping new phones, in particular the Sony-Ericsson Xperia X1, would be out by now but there isn’t anything, at least from AT&T, on the near horizon I am excited about.
I was listening to the TWIT podcast the other day and they mentioned something called Cradlepoint. Apparently Cradlepoint is a new gadget which will allow you to turn your cellular broadand device into a WiFi access point which a bunch of people can share. This is a very interesting concept. I have an AT&T Laptop Connect Card for work and it is really handy, I use it all of the time. At least, I used to. I have a problem now when I insert the card into my PC slot, my computer blue screens.
I am now using a Sony-Ericsson Z750i which was given to me by one of my contacts at SEMC before I went to Japan (the Z750i is a GSM phone which supports the 200 MHz band which is available in Japan) to connect to the Internet. I took the SIMM card out of my PC card and put it in the phone- everything works as it should. Need to do a little more testing with it for I claim victory nit so far, so good.
I can see using something like Cradlepoint when we arte somewhere WiFi isn’t available but it seems like a “nice to have” versus a “must have”.