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Recommendations for a new geek-friendly phone?

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#1
MatthewBloch

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Hi there, my first post here is a cry for help! I'm a network administrator bitterly disappointed with his O2 XDA Exec / HTC Universal and would like some advice on what the next best compromise would be.

A year ago I bought a Nokia 9500 because it seemed like the only option out there for a phone which could act as a fully portable VT100 terminal & SSH client. The keyboard was handy and it got me out of a few scrapes when having to (e.g.) fix a remote server in the passenger seat of a car. It worked for that. But it sucked at pretty much everything else:
  • it crashed often enough to be annoying, has no reset button (hopeful, Nokia, very hopeful) and takes longer than any of my PCs to boot;
  • its network connection dialogue got into a twist and could stop you connecting to the right connection for 10 minutes at a time if you accidentally picked the wrong one from the enormous list
  • the phone application "last call log" regularly took 20-30 seconds to come up after you'd just missed a call (Reading log... Reading log... Reading log...)
  • lack of 3G/UMTS made terminal sessions to Linux a pretty slow affair (not really the phone's fault, was just a wishlist item I couldn't fulfil at the time I bought it);
  • bulky, poor battery life though neither really caused any inconvenience if I charged it every 2-3 days.
6 weeks ago I took delivery of an O2 XDA Exec / HTC Universal which was intended as a big upgrade from the 9500 -- UMTS/3G, luxury! A 640x480 screen, hurrah! A phone that couldn't possibly suck any more than the 9500's! Boy was that short-lived. I tried hard to like it but:
  • the phone application -- so bad. So very bad. Sometimes it crashes and wouldn't even start (at least it has a reset button I could press :-) );
  • ergonomics as a phone -- hopeless, I fumble and drop nearly every call in trying to get the thing out of its woolly sheath and hit the right button;
  • voice activated dialling -- a necessary evil to make up for the poor ergonomics, it's completely infuriating, dialling everybody but the person you asked for;
  • text messages -- it misses some. I sometimes get 20 sent at a time during a network problem, the Nokia never missed a beat (even if it would lock up and beep continually while it processed them). Windows Mobile seems to get a few, then tells the network to shove off for a few minutes / hours, then I'll get a few more, then another pause... it could take up to 24hrs before I'd received 50 at a time. This is the real deal-breaker as I rely on SMS to tell me when something is broken at the time;
  • keyboard: bigger, lovelier, NO CONTROL KEY. That makes terminal sessions hard work.
  • battery: even worse than the 9500, has failed on me several times when I really needed it.
In short it's more of an interesting laptop than a usable phone. So I'm reluctantly going to eBay one or both of these because for all the 5-6 times a year I really need an SSH terminal on the move, it's not worth the hassle for when they screw up quite so often as a phone. I'm now looking around for these criteria:
  • something with a screen width of at least 480 pixels (80 characters) and supporting a bluetooth keyboard?
  • something with a full-ish keyboard and any old screen?
  • sod the lot of em, just get something with 3G and solid Bluetooth, and carry my little laptop when I might need a terminal in an emergency?
So... can anyone with a similar job / responsibilities recommend what I should do? I am tempted to go with the easily available Nokia N70, give up my childish portable terminal ambitions, carry a damned laptop and be happy with a decent phone :-) However I'm a sucker for punishment and my partner pointed out the Nokia E61 ... any experiences to share? Otherwise, I'd appreciate any guidance.

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#2
galtish

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Hi there, my first post here is a cry for help! I'm a network administrator bitterly disappointed with his O2 XDA Exec / HTC Universal and would like some advice on what the next best compromise would be.

A year ago I bought a Nokia 9500 because it seemed like the only option out there for a phone which could act as a fully portable VT100 terminal & SSH client. The keyboard was handy and it got me out of a few scrapes when having to (e.g.) fix a remote server in the passenger seat of a car. It worked for that. But it sucked at pretty much everything else:

  • it crashed often enough to be annoying, has no reset button (hopeful, Nokia, very hopeful) and takes longer than any of my PCs to boot;
  • its network connection dialogue got into a twist and could stop you connecting to the right connection for 10 minutes at a time if you accidentally picked the wrong one from the enormous list
  • the phone application "last call log" regularly took 20-30 seconds to come up after you'd just missed a call (Reading log... Reading log... Reading log...)
  • lack of 3G/UMTS made terminal sessions to Linux a pretty slow affair (not really the phone's fault, was just a wishlist item I couldn't fulfil at the time I bought it);
  • bulky, poor battery life though neither really caused any inconvenience if I charged it every 2-3 days.
6 weeks ago I took delivery of an O2 XDA Exec / HTC Universal which was intended as a big upgrade from the 9500 -- UMTS/3G, luxury! A 640x480 screen, hurrah! A phone that couldn't possibly suck any more than the 9500's! Boy was that short-lived. I tried hard to like it but:
  • the phone application -- so bad. So very bad. Sometimes it crashes and wouldn't even start (at least it has a reset button I could press :-) );
  • ergonomics as a phone -- hopeless, I fumble and drop nearly every call in trying to get the thing out of its woolly sheath and hit the right button;
  • voice activated dialling -- a necessary evil to make up for the poor ergonomics, it's completely infuriating, dialling everybody but the person you asked for;
  • text messages -- it misses some. I sometimes get 20 sent at a time during a network problem, the Nokia never missed a beat (even if it would lock up and beep continually while it processed them). Windows Mobile seems to get a few, then tells the network to shove off for a few minutes / hours, then I'll get a few more, then another pause... it could take up to 24hrs before I'd received 50 at a time. This is the real deal-breaker as I rely on SMS to tell me when something is broken at the time;
  • keyboard: bigger, lovelier, NO CONTROL KEY. That makes terminal sessions hard work.
  • battery: even worse than the 9500, has failed on me several times when I really needed it.
In short it's more of an interesting laptop than a usable phone. So I'm reluctantly going to eBay one or both of these because for all the 5-6 times a year I really need an SSH terminal on the move, it's not worth the hassle for when they screw up quite so often as a phone. I'm now looking around for these criteria:
  • something with a screen width of at least 480 pixels (80 characters) and supporting a bluetooth keyboard?
  • something with a full-ish keyboard and any old screen?
  • sod the lot of em, just get something with 3G and solid Bluetooth, and carry my little laptop when I might need a terminal in an emergency?
So... can anyone with a similar job / responsibilities recommend what I should do? I am tempted to go with the easily available Nokia N70, give up my childish portable terminal ambitions, carry a damned laptop and be happy with a decent phone :-) However I'm a sucker for punishment and my partner pointed out the Nokia E61 ... any experiences to share? Otherwise, I'd appreciate any guidance.

Not quite what you're asking for, but if you're not running a recent ROM on your Universal (one with the AKU2 update with push email) I'd suggest an update before you give up on the device - it speeds it up quite a bit, fixes some bugs, and makes it more stable. Not sure if it will resolve the SMS issue, but it did resolve a bug related to the device freezing on new message receipt, so there's at least a chance it might. I'd also suggest you try the awesome, lightweight freeware app "PQZ" (new version = PQZII), it not only allows you to map hardware keys as CTRL or ALT, but adds a keyboard based task manager, app/document launcher, app closer, symbol entry app, more speed dial options, etc. It really sets the device free of the stylus...

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