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Thursday, February 01, 2007

First thoughts - 3 X-series

I finally got my hands on a Nokia N73 demonstrator from 3's new X-Series service the other day.

Verdict so far? 6 out of 10, I'd say. Good ideas, so-so execution, and still a tendency for 3's walled garden heritage to show its roots.

The good stuff:
- The concept, the box it comes in & the instruction manuals
- Skype works pretty well, although it seems to periodically need me to re-key my login ID. Also, there's no IM chat function - annoying as I often find myself IM'ng someone to double-check their presence status ("You there?"), as well as using Skype as my #1 or #2 IM client more generally.

The bad stuff
- Yahoo Go! is terrible. A pain to set up, then it ran OK downloading my Y! mail for about 24 hours, and now it's just stopped syncing. Last email was one I received 2 days ago and there seems to be no way to "refresh" the page. I've also got a Nokia E60 I use with T-Mobile Web'n'Walk, and the user experience of getting Y! mail (and the other Y! services) through the proper full-page HTTP web browser is much, much better.
- There's no "X-series" hotkey to get to either all the apps on the phone, or a dedicated starting page on the web.
- Where's Google? At the launch, quite a lot was made of the big G's involvement. No sign of it so far. The search defaults to Yahoo - and it starts with the UK search rather than global, which annoys me considerably, and then forces you to pick between Images, Products (trying to bloody sell me stuff again!!!!) and only then finally "Web".
- It's a right pain to get on the "real web". Various attempts have seen me diverted to WAP sites rather than the web, 3's own gateway keeps randomly asking me to sign up for an extra data subscription (!), and it needed quite a bit of configuration to stop me being diverted via 3's Planet 3 portal and have various ads for things I don't want to buy stealing my screen space.
- the N73's not the fastest device on the planet, especially for scrolling down a web page. E60 is far better.
- The process for "adapting pages for mobile browsing" is incredibly slow. Dunno if this is the browser trying to be clever, or a proxy server, and I don't care. Latency to load up this blog page? 10 seconds. There's no immediately-apparent way to configure it to stop adapting pages, either, if I decide I want the full unexpurgated web rather than its sanctimoniously-sanitised version.

So for example I fire up the browser (I think the phone has both Opera & the S60 one for some bizarre reason) and get a screen which reads "You will need the Wireless Web Add-on to access the Internet. Use the Red Key (eh?) and select Planet 3 add-ons". Or doing it another way, going via Y! search, I get a screen with "entering a chargeable content browsing area, check your tariff to see if data is included". I'm sorry, but 3's billing system should damn well check my tariff itself.

(Edit - I reckon it's Opera which is the problem. When I finally managed to force it to the S60 browser, I got a much better experience.)

Overall - not a bad start, I suppose, but a lot of work still to do. I haven't got a SlingBox, but I might try out Orb when I get a chance.

1 comment:

Tim said...

if it's using Opera, then that's probably why Google's disappeared - they replaced it with Yahoo as the default search client the other week. no option to change it back, which is a pity as it's pretty clear why google own 70% of the search market...