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Get Smart

I should have known it wouldn’t be easy, changing my mobile phone that is. The more advanced the gadget the more difficult the challenge and writing as one who has tested Ipaqs, Palm Pilots, Blackberries and much more, I’m a little jaded.

It all started with a decision to replace my collection of PDAs, mostly IPAQs, with a single smartphone or ‘converged device’, to use the latest jargon. When it first arrived, I’d tried GPRS messaging with reasonable success on my older phone and after an afternoon spent at Microsoft, even managed to crack the problem that made messaging with the first Pocket PCs a hit and miss affair. After all, I thought, it must be easier to configure the latest generation of devices and by this I mean the one’s we have in Europe, and not the 3G digital miracle gadgets that you can find in Japan.

The Sony Ericsson P800 looked as if it would do the job. The Blackberry, which I had road-tested for two years I rejected as too expensive when it actually came down to paying the monthly bill from my own pocket and the P800 has much of the functionality of a Palm Pilot crammed into a phone-sized space, as you might expect from its Symbian pedigree.

My new gadget arrived on Friday morning and it’s now Sunday night and I haven’t finished the manual yet. This may take months. Problem one was synchronisation with my PC. With an IPAQ, through the USB port, replicating Outlook’s address book takes a minute or so. With the P800 this took two hours before Windows XP hung, forcing a reboot.

I swapped PCs and watched the synchronisation run for another hour before finally calling the Sony Ericsson support line. “It can take rather a long time” I was told. “Hours or days” I asked? "Hours was the reply and if you happen to be using any anti-virus software you could be in for problems. How many address records are you replicating”? “About five thousand”, I said. “We’ve never know anyone try an address book of that size”, said the helpline. “It’s not my fault” I said. “Every time I try one of these devices, such as the Blackberry, my address book ends up with duplicate records, which then take months and sometimes years to eliminate”.

After two hours I had my diary and contacts database comfortably resident on the P800 and had downloaded the GPRS Internet scripts for Vodafone and my own ISP from the Sony Ericsson support page. “It could take a while before GPRS is enabled”, I was told and two days later, I still can’t work out whether I’m switched on or whether my Internet mail and browser settings are incorrect because, I can’t access the Web

On reflection, it’s taken me longer to set-up my phone than the equivalent setting-up of a Personal Computer and email, the mission critical heart of the exercise may or may not be working but there’s no easy way of finding out. Other problems include a refusal on the part of Windows to transfer any digital video or music content to the phone, “This action is forbidden”, (by who Microsoft or Sony?) it tells me and all the tunes and phone sounds are clips from popular Middle Eastern hits; so if you happen to hear Khaled Ali on the 7:34 to Victoria, it’s probably my phone.

In the end I’ll have to admit at least a temporary defeat. The age of the smart phone may finally have arrived but sadly, in my case, the smart user can’t quite keep up with the technology it offers.


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