Both phones were released and quite a bit of reviews are available in the market. So as always I will provide you with links to some of the best reviews I’ve read on both devices.

This write-up is more about my experience using the two phones.

Much to Desire

The HTC Desire is billed by some as the top of the Android line for the phone maker. It resembles the Google Nexus One phone, and why not? Google commissioned HTC to build the Nexus One.

Physically the Nexus One is smoother and looks a little sleeker than the Desire. The sharp edges on the Desire are not good for your pocket if, like me, you have a tendency to slip your phone into your front pocket. Both phones have the same processor and battery rating.

As a communications device, Google got it right to include built-in noise reduction technology on the Nexus. This is very important since most mobile phone mics pick up literally everything around you, making it often hard to listen to the person speaking. So I wonder why HTC would want to drop this one technology so many other phone makers seem to ignore but is a common concern across all mobile phone users (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG, Samsung, Apple, HTC – are you guys listening?).

Anyway, let me go back to the HTC Desire. I observed that the back of the HTC Desire gets very warm very fast if the screen is on. So if you are surfing the Internet on the Desire or watching a movie, chances are you will need to buy a case to wrap the Desire in… Otherwise be prepared to get first degree burns if you hold the phone long enough. The only other phone I’ve ever handled that does this even worst is the Samsung Omnia i800 – in my view one of the worst phones I’ve ever had. I did speculate that the use of a plastic backing meant the Desire had no way to dissipate heat. You really must like what you are doing to keep holding the phone when it’s scorching your hand.

The second and only other, real gripe I have with the Desire is the lack of option to upgrade the OS. Apple may not listen to its customers when developing new products but once you’ve invested in one, Apple lets you upgrade the operating system as and when it becomes available, as long as the hardware supports it. In practical terms this means that you don’t necessarily have to upgrade to the next iteration of the same series unless you have a very compelling reason to – like you got money to burn. In contrast, with HTC to experience Android 2.2, I will have to buy a new phone. And when Android 2.3 (or whatever next iteration after Froyo), I will have to throw away my just recently bought phone to get an OS upgrade.

How stupid is that?

I understand that with the Nexus One, you can upgrade to the next OS. (more…)

In 2001 my wife and I attended a Peter, Paul and Mary concert in Hong Kong (yes, I admit that we belong to that genre – albeit we were inculcated into the American folk-singing music of the 60s without the benefit of freedom of choice). At one point Mary Travers confessed her apprehension seeing Hong Kong people walking along the streets and apparently talking to themselves. She was eventually told that Hong Kong people liked talking to their mobile phones via wireless ear pieces. Today we know these devices to be Bluetooth in-ear headsets

A Bluetooth headset lets you talk to someone from your mobile (cell) phone via a wireless device plugged to your ear. Early generations of Bluetooh headsets fell into either of two categories: utilitarian or fashion statements. Almost all failed in one category for which they were built – to let you talk to someone in a clear voice.

My first Bluetooth headset was a Sony Ericsson. Over the years I’ve collected several brands including Jabra, Samsung, LG and more recently Plantronics.

Why so many? One could argue I’ve been on a quest to find a Bluetooth headset that gives voice quality comparable to that on a landline, is comfortable to use, and lasts long enough to limit charges to maybe two times a week.

This week I was asked to try a Plantronics Discovery 975 headset. This model follows the Plantronics tradition of minimalist design. In fact, two things I didn’t like about an earlier model – the Plantronics Discovery 625 – were the rather clumsy design of the ear gel and the addition of the removable hook. The ear gel easily detaches from the main body of the headset. Because I often pocket the headset when I don’t use it, I end up detaching the ear gel from the main body. The hook can become a nuisance if you were glasses.

Thankfully, on the 975 Plantronics has done away with the hook and made the ear gel design more rugged and sturdy. Drawing from its experience with the 625 and other earlier models, Plantronics incorporated a dual-mic AudioIQ² technology to simultaneously capture your voice and also cancel background noise. AudioIQ² automatically adjusts incoming calls to comfortable levels. The addition of a 20-band equalizer delivers rich, natural voice quality further enhancing the call experience.

It is easy to tell if you are using a headset when you are out in the open. The wind often creates swooshing sound that annoys the party on the other line. You often come in choppy. Plantronics uses WindSmart technology to provide three layers of protection against wind noise.

The result is voice clarity I’ve never associated with bluetooth headsets.

One of the reasons why I want to have a headset is so I don’t have to hold the phone while talking to someone. This leaves my hands free to write down notes. So in addition to good sound quality, I’d like the device to be comfortable to use for long periods as well as unobstrusive. At 9 grams, the 975 is light on the ear. And because it snugs very neatly into my ear, I often forget I have it on. (more…)

Hands up if you carry more than a phone with you when you are out and about!

Apart from keys and wallet, my pockets hold a BlackBerry 8900 and an iPod Touch. Most executives I met have with them a phone and a BlackBerry (in this case used primarily for emails).

My wife has, would you believe it, three cell phones (no BlackBerry) everywhere she goes. These are all stuffed in her bag which if used properly can knock the wind out of you very easily (I think her bag weighs about 3 kg).

Every piece of portable electronic device requires regular battery charge depending on usage. At home we’ve got 2 sets of charges for my wife’s Nokia phones (all 3 of them) and I’ve got one charger for the 4 iPods I’ve collected. My daughter has a charger for her HP TX2 tablet PC, her mobile phone and her iPod nano. My son has a charger for his Nintendo DS Lite as well as his mobile phone. Between us, we’ve amass quite a collection of chargers. At times the collection of chargers can be very annoying as these tend to tangle every time.

I’ve always wished to have one appliance that would charge all of our devices regardless of make and model. The problem is that most devices don’t have the same power requirements and the makers also have different ideas when it comes to designing how to charge these devices.

A number of vendors like Targus, ESI and Griffin have come up with portable charges primarily designed for laptops and devices with USB connectors. But in most cases you can only charge 1 or 2 devices at a time. To do this, they also have to provide as many ‘tips’ as possible to match the various devices out in the market, including those for the Apple, Creative Technologies, Blackberry, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. For mobile phones the end to these different ports may be in sight.

The European Commission has managed to get agreement from 10 companies, including Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson, to agree to manufacture future phones based around an inter-chargeable design. But what about your MP3s, video players, portable video game consoles, laptops, and now ereaders?

 A few vendors have been working on a universal charger for as many devices as possible. One such vendor is Powermat with its Powermat Home & Office Mat and Powermat Portable Mat. Both models include a Powercube with includes 8 ‘tips’ for the most common mobile devices, including DS LIte, DS, Sony PSP, Samsung, LG and Apple. It also includes tip for a micro USB and mini USB. Optional accessories include receivers (adapter may be less confusing) for BlackBerry, iPhone and iPod (dock). (more…)

I’ve been doing marketing for many years now and I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of a brand to a business. As a consumer I never really appreciated “brand” as a business strategy at least until I started to equate quality with brand. Quality is not only about the physical aspects of a product. It also reflects upon the soft-side of a product… things like pre-sales and post-sales support. Are you lost with what I am trying to get at? Let me use a real example.

My birthday was coming and my wife asked me what I wanted for a gift. Looking around the only thing I needed was a portable USB DVD drive (reader-writer). So I went to my favorite computer mall and shopped around for what I thought were brands worth looking into. I didn’t pay attention to what I thought were OEM brands and instead opted for those with familiar brand name like Samsung, Lacie, LG, Sony, and Buffalo. There was very little to differentiate the drives – in fact if you didn’t look at the packaging and brand you’d swear they were all from the same manufacturer suggesting not much effort was put in the creative aspect of design. Anyway, I chose the Samsung Ultra Slim External DVD Writer “Super-writemaster” (US-632/633). The retailer said it came with a one-year warranty, “just make sure you got the invoice.”

My wife bought the thing, gift-wrapped it and presented it to me on my birthday. I was very happy. That same evening I unwrapped it, plugged it into my computer, and off it went to work. I burned one DVD containing my archive of photos and stowed the device away. I used it a few more times over the course of the next two months. At the beginning of the third month, the drive stopped working. The light would turn green for a few seconds as you hear the drive motor quietly whirling about. But when the light died, the drive died. I tested it on three laptops – all different brands, each with a different version of Microsoft Windows, nothing.

I tried calling the number on the box. The line was engaged for the five times I attempted to call – different days of the week, different times of the day. Knowing the PR agency for Samsung, I contacted them for help. After several emails I was told that Samsung Hong Kong did not sell this particular drive model in the Territory. So I am stuck with a US$90 brick.

Its not really the money that I care so much about (well, I can be stingy at times so yes money is still important) but its also about the trust you build with the brand. How can Samsung (or your favorite brand) betray your trust and expect you to be loyal to that brand? The excuse that the product you bought is a parallel import is nothing more than an excuse. Yes, its aimed at protecting the local distribution channel I understand that. But what protection does the customer/consumer have when the product was bought from what appears to be a legitimate store?

We are in an increasingly global world where you can buy just about anything from the Internet. Vendors like Samsung are selling on the web as well. But what does it tell you when your favorite supplier renegs on the promise of the brand citing “not bought locally” as the excuse?

I have a 5 year old Iomega external DVD writer. If not for its humongous size, I wouldn’t have asked my wife to buy me the Samsung drive. But old as it is, it still works perfectly each time I plug a blank disc to backup some of my work.

I say boycott brands that don’t honor the promise of their brand regardless of where their product was sold or bought. The obligation (not duty) is on the brand to honor their promise.

One final note about Samsung and the quality of its products. In case you think this is just me ranting my heart out, try Googling “complaints about samsung products” and you’ll be surprise at the results. Go ahead!