Category Archives: Historical Reviews

Review Catalogue updates plus new section – updates on Gavin’s Gadgets

Every day  several articles or review go live. The back catalogue of reviews and information is extensive. If you want to find if there is information on a particular topic use the search option (magnifying glass icon) near the top right. 

Now if you’re browsing on your PC, Mac, iPad or tablet you should see the above screen layout. Tapping on Menu, Reviews will open up the review menu structure. 

Now if you’re using a mobile device like an iPhone , the mobile version is as below. 


 As you will see there are now 8 review sections. These have been updated to include all the latest published reviews. A new category has been started called “Photography”. 

In the Photography section will be reviews covering mobile photography accessories and or related camera attachments. There are several reviews in this section already. 

The Audio section covers Bluetooth headphones and systems, headphones of all types, amps, DACs and other cool audio gear. As there are over 30 plus reviews I have reorganised this page to make it easier to find exactly what you need. 

The Phones section covering mobile phone reviews across every operating systems , tablets, laptops and more now has over 80 reviews. 

Smart wearables section is expanding and again there are reviews across a number of different platforms. So far there are over 15 reviews. 

Internet of Things is an expanding review section too. 

Accessories is self explanatory. 

The HTC One M7 and M8 section is a dedicated section which is for all the fans who keep reading this content. 

And if you fancy some nostalgic reviews from the post, take a look at the historical reviews. Some real gems in there. 

Going forward in 2016 there will be plenty more reviews too. 

Thank you all for visiting Gavin’s Gadgets. 

Blast from the Past – i-mate 9502 review

Below is the review of the i-mate 9502 that I wrote in 2008.


Review of i-mate 9502  by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Date of Review – 24th April 2008

Available from –

Price – £355.00 + VAT

Pros – Slide out keyboard, Excellent Touchscreen, Endless buttons, GPS integrated, TV out, Excellent ring volume, loud speakers, quick responding, compact, 3mp autofocus camera with flash

Cons – Weighs 200g, SDHC compatible, so 2gb microsd cards max

Recently, I  reviewed the i-mate 8502 which has a qwerty thumboard on the front of the device. The 8502 also comes with a 2mp camera and only a qvga screen. Well I now have the 9502, and this includes all the features and specifications of the 8502, but adds a 2.8 inch vga screen, a 3mp autofocus with flash camera, and a slide out keyboard, similar in concept to a Sidekick. There are also more buttons on this device.


I have shown the 9502 with the new Samsung i780, HTC Touch & Vox for comparison. Ironically, the Samsung i780 even though it is about one third of the depth of the 9502, its nearly the size height and actually a few millimetres wider.


When you open the 9502 box, it is full of extras. These include i-mate Ultimate 9502 Pouch Case, TV Audio-out Cable, USB Sync Cable, Stereo Headset with microphone, AC Adapter with UK/US/EU, 2 x Stylus Pens, Battery, Getting Started CD, Getting Started Guide, User Manual.

The included bundle is excellent value. Also worth noting is that the 9502 uses mini usb so readily connectable with standard connectors.

Some shots of the sides of the 9502.




Below is the specifications of the device. Worth noting that the 9502 has a large capacity battery, a magical VGA screen, integrated GPS, Bluetooth profiles includes printing and the HID profile for keyboards and TV out.

Technical of i-mate Ultimate 9502

Operating System –
Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional

Processor/ Chipset –
400 MHz Qualcomm MSM 7200

Memory –
256 MB ROM
128 MB RAM

Display –
2.8” VGA (640×480) Touch-screen
262k color TFT with backlight

Operating Frequency –

Keyboard/ Buttons –
Slider LCD exposes 39-key Qwerty keypad
Power button
Send and End buttons
Messaging and Internet buttons
Camera button
Volume up and down
Three (3) software programmable buttons
Two (2) soft-keys
Start and OK buttons
5-way navigation
360° Jog wheel and OK / Back
Soft reset

Camera –
3.0 Megapixel auto-focus camera – LED Compensation light
VGA camera for Video Calls

Connectivity –
WiFi 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth 2.0, A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution profile)

NMEA 0183

Interface –
Combo port for USB, TV Audio output, Charging
MicroSD card slot
Audio jack (2.5mm)
SIM card slot

Power –
Removable 1620mAH, Lithium ion-Polymer battery
Standby up to 180 hours (UMTS)
Talk Time up to 260 minutes (UMTS)

Dimensions –
116mm(L) x 60mm(W) x 17.8mm(T)

Weight –
200g with battery pack

If only the micro sd slot supported sdhc cards, this would make this device truly unbelievable. I-mate are rumoured to be working on an update to Windows Mobile 6.1 which might include support for sdhc cards.

You must charge the device for 8 hours. It is extremely tempting to turn the phone on, but I just about resisted. While you charge the device it is a good idea to register the device at and login and use the Custom iq service. This allows you to create a custom installation. You can setup all your email and activesync settings, and save up to 16mb of cab files for automatic installation. When you turn the device on for the first time it notes what mobile operator you have and configures the device for use. All the data, voicemail, sms and mms settings were installed automatically. The next options included registering the device as an enterprise one and whether I wanted to use the i-mate device customization. I entered my user name and password and next I get a message asking if I want to install over the air 10mb of files. Best use wifi if you don’t have a unlimited data plan. Wonderful touch. I-mate also offer a 2 year guarantee.

Memory. The 9502 has available after its first boot 98.92 mb and 36.12 mb of program memory. The program memory could be more, especially for a VGA device. I found I had to use a good task manager like Magic Button to close the programs. However, I did not run out of memory.

Using the keyboard. The screen slides up very quickly to reveal a lovely qwerty keyboard. The soft reset hole is top right of the keyboard. I found it simple to type using two fingers, one each side. The grip is great and having the VGA screen is lovely. The screen rotates from portrait to landscape instantly.

Camera. The 3mp camera was quick to fire up. It had a quick shutter speed for a pda phone, with auto focus and led flash. The quality of the camera was impressive.


Software. The 9502 comes with all the standard windows mobile software, including windows live. It also has all the i-mate device customisation and support options. In Pocket Internet Explorer there is an option to view web page in high definition. Lovely touch again.


GPS. There is no included GPS software. I installed Tom Tom 6 which worked beautifully and looked great on the VGA screen.

TV Out. Like the 8502, the 9502 has a TV out feature. The TV feature shows exactly what is on the 9502 screen in real time with no lags. As the 9502 is vga the resolution on the TV screen is excellent and idea for powerpoint presentations of picture shows.

The memory card slot is under the battery cover on the side of the device.

Camera shot. Notice how sharp all the objects are despite varying distances.


I would recommend the i-mate 9502 as the ultimate power horse. Available and with thanks to for dispatching it so fast.

Blast from the Past – O2 XDA Exec – Review – Warning Strong Language

The O2 XDA Exec was a cracking phone in its day, and I simply loved it. I wrote a huge editorial covering 16 days continuous usage of the phone without using a PC. It was written as a daily blog. This is a long post, probably the longest ever on Gavin’s Gadgets, so I hope you enjoy it. It does have some quirky bits and humour too. Apologies upfront for some of the language. And make a quick guess as to what I did after 16 days with this phone now before you read the article

Living with a PDA – My New Daily Blog – December 2005

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Good day, evening or morning to you all. Some of you will be off to bed, others off to work and some unlucky souls at work.


24 hours ago I started the change of something major in my life. It was also very frustrating at the time, but now ,I am still smiling.

So what happened, my laptop was invaded by a string of viruses whilst visiting a site for my eldest son, Antony, about the legendary ship, The Mary Rose. Well the Mary Rose not only was very interesting from an educational point of view, it also activated Mcafee into alerting me of trojans. Anyway a few hours later my hard drive had failed, and at 4.00am in the morning I decided, f**k it, I am fed up with wasting so much time on my laptop, I am not going to fix it, I am going to abandon it in favour of my pda phone, the XDA Exec. So here I am 24 hours later, and my laptop looks like a distant memory. My laptop also had other problems.

So here I am, ranting or raving to you. Has anything changed? Well, yes. More time to myself. Instead of switching on my laptop, waiting for it to boot up, enter 101 passwords, waiting for Mcafee to kick and ask for more passwords, I pressed the power on button on my Exec. I entered my password, switched wifi on, and while eating breakfast checked my email, several forums where I check if anyone has posted any questions for me to answer on the XDA range, updated the weather and TV guide and retrieved all 90 news feeds. So 3 minutes later, I plug my Exec into the charger and got ready for work. Its a bit chilly in the UK, -3 degrees, so its a brisk walk down to the station, with headphones plugged into my Exec and listening to Madonna’s new album. Its a very good album.

So I am on the train, and decided to use my journey to first read the news feeds, reply to any new email , turn shuffle mode on with Wmp10 and start typing this.

Its really fascinating as I see curious onlookers trying to see what I am doing. The biggest shock, is the Exec rings, and I pull the headphones out, close the device and talk to a client. So now other passengers look a bit confused. So what happens next?

Well tune in tomorrow !

Part 2

So its been a long weekend. Still no laptop and purely using my Exec.

And flipping back to my first article, when I was on a train commuting to work, and my Exec rings, I take a calł and even more stares as I hold a brick to my ear. This phone is so big and heavy. So what happened next. The woman next to me started chatting away, asking tons of questions about my pda phone. Naturally, I obliged and nearly 20 minutes later the final question was ‘where can I buy one and would you help me set it up’? So I thought that would be the last I would ever hear from the lady on the train. 11.00am I received a phone call, and to my surprise the lady on the train had bought one and now wanted some guidance. The strangest part of this, was she was youngish and this now became the 5th lady that bought an XDA after I showed off its wares.

So what else happened on Friday? Xmas came early! When I got home there was a huge package from Brando Shopping. I was taken aback by the contents. Inside were 2 cases, a leather and an aluminium , 2 types of screen protectors, a travel mains kit and a sync/charge retractable usb cable. I had a huge smile on my face testing all the bits. Everything from Brando Shopping is fantastic and the range of Exec goodies was of even higher standard. The cases are so customised, I just love them. Anyway, a review will be finished soon on these items.

So as Friday had been and gone, I had managed to use the Exec for everything. However, I need to look into printing directly from the Exec, connecting directly to a projector for presentations and inserting images into a word document. I am not sure if Textmaker works on Windows Mobile 5. If anyone has any ideas then please leave in comments section.

Over the weekend, I was able to keep up to date with the help sections on the forums and use my email with ease. It seems TomTom Navigator 5 is the choice at the moment judging by all the recent questions. It is worth noting that TomTom have updated v5.0 , so I would recommend everyone to get the new updated application from TomTom.

I also had fun beta testing some stunning new games from Astraware. But mums the word on these!

The one part of the Exec keyboard that really annoyed me is the omission of the ctrl and alt keys. Well, now I have them thanks to any amazing developer. If anyone is interested, the link is .

In my first blogs I had some really interesting feedback and some great insight in how to fix my laptop. Its still a super sized paperweight, but I will have ago this week in trying to fix it and not for me to use, but for my 4 kids. Educational reasons means a working pc at home is essential.

I was never a big text fan, but since having the Exec, I appear to be on a mission. So I wonder how many more Exec’s I will sell on the train this morning?

Living with a PDA – part 3

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

So it’s another day with my Exec.

I mentioned in part 2 of a wonderful application that allows ctrl and alt keys to work on the keyboard. This little application has proven a real winner. I gather it only works on windows mobile 5 devices, so if you have a K-Jam give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

I have been road testing the new cases and accessories by Brando and so far its really grooving. Its quite amazing that such a range of cases exist for a device from various sources and every case is slightly different. For me this makes choosing one nearly impossible.

I noticed 2 updates to my current software, Resco File Explorer 2005 and Tweaks2k2. Resco File Explorer adds new meter skins and a recycle bin, although I am still trying to find the recycle bin option. Maybe it got left out in the trash! The XDA forums are proving more and more popular, with the XDA thread I started “Help form Expert User” now flying past 10,000 views and the XDA Exec Help and Questions rapidly catching up with over 3,000 hits. I must confess that when I started the thread XDA Help etc I never expected it to take off like it has. I find it really interesting when asked questions, because it shows more and more people are moving into converged devices and expect these devices to be more capable than their previous devices. Compromise was the order of the day a year ago when moving to a converged device, but now I believe its the opposite or nearly there. I reckon in 12 months converged devices will wipe the floor with standalone pda’s. Time will tell, but the future bright, the future is….

In case anyone was wondering, this blog has been completely typed on my Exec. I normally type it while commuting to work whilst listening to headphones, amidst a lot of staring from fellow passengers, especially the bloke to my left who is desperately trying to read what I am writing.

As part of my trials on living without my pc, I carried a clinical trial to establish my typing speeds on my Exec versus my work pc. To ensure the test was carried out in a professional manner, I asked one of the secretaries to provide a piece of text and time how much I could type on my work pc and my Exec. And the results were staggering. In one minute of copy typing after 3 attempts, I was each time only 2 words per minute slower on my Exec.

In my next part I will talk about some of the tweaks and applications I use, and why my Exec doesn’t fail to deliver day in day out.

Living with a PDA – Part 4

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

So what’s been happening in the last 24 hours?

Well judging by what’s on our TV screens not too much unless you’re hooked on ‘I’m a Celebritiy, Get me out of here’ . The only highlight was seeing Carol Thatcher, the ex Prime Ministers daughter, drop her knickers and pee next to her bed in the jungle. Thank goodness the night cameras weren’t clearer! Or maybe some quick editing occurred. Either way, there are 101 better things to do than watch TV. Where’s my Exec?

Yesterday, I mentioned Resco File Explorer 2005 had been updated, and the Recycle Bin was nowhere to be seen. Well after some investigation I found it. Rather disappointingly it is simple virtual folder, which has an allocated amount of space allocated which can be adjusted. I hadn’t installed the today plugin, so within the options of the application there is an option to download it. After jumping from one web page to another, I was still unable to download this. I cannot understand why has a specially formatted mobile site, but has the inability to allow downloads direct to the device! So I will have to use a pc to download and extract file. Ahhhh!

If you recall, my laptop was seriously f**ked. Luckily, after the help of a very good friend and wonderful customer service at Micro Anvika in Tottenham Court Road, London, I was able to establish that my laptop’s hard drive had failed. It was only 18 months old, but in a space of 15 minutes the old 40gb drive was out and a new whopping 500gb drive inserted. This is a prototype hard drive by Seagate, but no problems so far. I have since reinstalled all my old software 90% of my docs and discovered some rather interesting photos on my backup cd.

So back to Resco Photo Explorer 2005. After installing the latest update I received a message stating that the registration process had changed. After visiting the site it appears that updates are only free for one year, thereafter you get 50% if you re-purchase. Is that fair? Problem is, its one of the best file explorer , with FTP support, today plugin, encryption , zipping, send to options from pc and quick and easy file editing. And whilst there are good freeware alternatives like Totalcommander nothing really comes near to Resco File Explorer. If only I didn’t keep upgrading to the newest devices, I wouldn’t need to upgrade my software. But then, I would not have any fun exploring the latest and newest software.

Just think, next year, I will be watching the latest ‘i’m a celebrity, get me out of here’ – on my XDA Exec Extreme Mk 2 🙂

Living with a PDA – Part 5

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Today has been a really long day. I have travelled from the far corners of outer London starting with a meeting at 9.00am at Heathrow Airport. Later, I travelled all the way to Excel Exhibition Centre, in Docklands, London. And finally attended a posh dinner.

Despite this my journey was made easier by the marvellous freeware, Metro. Even back in July following the London bombs, there was an update to the London database to allow for the changes/alterations that occurred. Today, it has proven awesome. For those that haven’t come across Metro, it is a free transport route planner, covering over 360 locations in the world. The beauty of this program is for London it includes not only the Underground, but trains, trams , river buses, places of interest and more. So simply, all I had to do was tap London Heathrow Terminals 1-3 and Excel Exhibition Centre. In under a second, it displayed the route (text only). From the airport, I had to take the Heathrow Express Train, which took 15 minutes into London Paddington. Connect onto the Metropolitan Line, 2 stops to Baker street. Change Jubilee Line to Canning Town. Change Docklands Light Railway to Customs House, and then a 5 minute walk into the exhibition centre. Even as an experienced traveller I would not have thought of using that route which took 74 minutes. According to Tube 2 London by, which is for route planning on the Underground only but does include map and moving visuals, the journey time would have been 83 minutes.

Anyway, I was just off to bed, when I decided to update my rss news feeds. I took a big gasp, Pocketgear and Handango had listings for updates on all games. This was really exciting, as whilst no comment had been entered as to what the update was, I knew it could be only one thing. Windows mobile 5 support. And I was right. The only draw back was I had to use my now fixed laptop to install several of their games. Before you shriek in horror, I got my son Antony to install them for me. (he was supposed to be in bed asleep, but I heard him playing on his gameboy) I was really happy. I am amazed at how fast software is being updated to WM5. And Pdamill didn’t charge for any of updates! Plus I now have some of my top games like Flux Challenge, Gamebox Classics and Solitaire and Arvale all rocking on my Exec.

So could my day get any better. Well yes, Textmaker had just been updated to work properly on wm5. When microsoft updated wm200se to wm5 they moved the sip keyboard icon and hid 3 icons on the menus within Textmaker. Textmaker is written by And is the only true comprehensive word processor. Word Mobile is basic and will suit most people, but if you require the full range of editing, then this is the only option. Softmaker also have an Excel alternative called Planmaker. Once I install both these on my Exec I will only have to resolve the printing part. Sadly, you still need a pc to install Textmaker and Planmaker.

I believe that direct over the air downloads needs to be the standard norm, that way removing the need for a pc. What do you think about this?

Living with a PDA – Part 6

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Major panic has set in!

My 2 gb Sandisk card is showing zero free space. It makes no difference whether I go to the memory applet and check or resco file explorer. All read zero free space. This is impossible. I have just deleted 2 music albums. But still no free space. Then I deleted 300 pics. Still zero free space. I started to panic, I surely wasn’t going to have to reformat my sd card. That would be a nightmare. So I did the obvious soft reset. No change. I removed/inserted card and still no change. I then removed the sd card and did a soft reset without the card, and then re-inserted. Still no change. So maybe time to reformat? That would be heartbreaking to have to reformat the card. I wondered if there were any hidden directories, but resco was set to show hidden files. As a last resort, I connected my Exec to my laptop, set the windows explorer to show all files and voila, I saw sight of a very hidden folder, called, guess now, ‘recycle bin’. I could have cried – resco explorer’s new recycle bin option caused me all this grief. Well at least my sd card is still ok.

Yesterday, I installed both textmaker and planmaker. I had a problem installing planmaker whereby the installation process aborted by saying I was installing to a handheld pc, please refer to For correct version. After checking softmaker’s forums I discovered that it is necessary to have the Exec in portrait mode when installing planmaker. Update – softmaker has just updated this app to provide windows mobile 5 support.

I met up tonight with an old friend , Colin, who was ready to do gadget battle. Colin knew (so he thought) that I had an XDA IIs, so after organising the pints of beer, Colin quickly removed the latest Nokia Communicator. I had to laugh. I said to you can’t be serious, that’s not hi-tech. I removed my Exec from my re-enforced coat pocket. Opened it up, lifted the keyboard, swivelled the screen, did a quick 30 sec demo. Colin next remark – you bast**d, that’s much better than my Nokia. Colin did confess the Nokia was really slow. However, based on my knowledge of new devices from all major platforms, the future is really rosy.

So 8-9 pints of beer later, what better use of my new Exec than to play ‘google fight’. This is where you type in 2 names and the name which has the highest number of hits wins. So we had great fun, using people like Pamela Anderson and so on. And then in our last tipsy state, tried our own names. All I can say is that the vga screen of the Exec in full screen mode really is wonderful!!

Remember, this is a daily blog, so more tomorrow. I intend to talk more about some of the really useful applications and how to get more out of your pda/Exec using the included programs.

So from whichever part of the world you’re from its goodbye from me, until tomorrow.

Living with a PDA – part 7

by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

This is my second attempt at writing todays blog.

I had just finished all bar the last paragraph and I by accident hit a key, lost all the text by two letters and stupidly I exited the document.

This was a real disaster since I had created a word document which contained all the daily blogs. Anyway, I opened resco file explorer to see whether a duplicate file had been created and alas, none. But I did see a file with the same name, but with a bak extension. Suddenly, I knew I was in partial luck. I had recently installed Textmaker by and this WONDERFUL program creates backups automatically. What had happened was that I had decided to use Word Mobile as it did a few things a lot simpler than Textmaker, like capitalise the first letter of each new sentence. That makes typing on my Exec faster. However, after my scare, I am now typing in Textmaker with auto backup every 2 minutes. Textmaker has tons of extra extras which I am now using. So if you want full word editing abilities, use Textmaker. It’s amazing!

So back to what I had written, that now I have to re-write. I guess that in an ideal world, my wife would love technology but alas she hates it. So we often have debates (that’s the polite word) with me often been told to put my Exec away. To be honest, I hardly use it to the extent it takes over my life, but she never see’s it like that.

Anyway, I had thought that I could have some time with my Exec to play around with the registry and alter some of my program configurations. Sadly no such chance as I am re-decorating the house inside and out and ie replastering where needed etc..So far since mid September I have installed and fully decorated a new kitchen (extended as well), added a downstairs toilet with shower, decorated the hall up and downstairs with ceramic tiles which run from the kitchen right through to the front door, and are also laid on the 2 halls floor upstairs. The stairs themselves have carpet. 2 of the 4 bedrooms have been completely re-done. I need a holiday to recover. So today after 5 hours of working in the dining room, I was only able to use my Exec for streaming internet radio.

Its the end of the day, and now I am off to the gym to pump the muscles up and then relax in the steam room and jacuzzi.

Living with a PDA – Part 8

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Back on track, or am I?

I had one of those days where everything on my today screen looked ugly.

So what could I do? Well, I could start by jazzing up the i-launcher settings or maybe change the today plugins. I have previously experimented with Wisbar Advance 2 by This piece of software really changes the look and feel of your PDA, but alas with my Exec it seems to eat too much system resource. Wa2 also has a plugin called Wisbar Desktop which allows total customisation of the today page. For me, when tweaking the today screen it is vital that I don’t slow down the phone aspect of the device. A lot of the fancy plugins do tend to alter speed. And too many plugins as well. On my Exec I had to decide between Spb Pocket Plus or I-Launcher.

I chose I-Launcher at it seemed to use less system resource and didn’t cause any crashes. But I wondered if I could achieve a similar effect using the plugin that came with Resco Explorer 2005 Often when you own or demo as much software as I do, you end up having several pieces of software that can do the same things. It is important that you don’t operate these at the same time otherwise disaster might strike. So whilst Resco’s plugin is basic and doesn’t allow tabs or many other nifty extras like shortcut icons in the shell tray (bottom part of today screen) or a battery meter in the top bar, I can achieve some of these using other software already installed. For example, it is possible to place an icon on the top bar using Gprs Monitor, and customise the icon to display battery level and 2 other items. So slowly but surely I added additional icons into Resco’s plugin until I got to the point whereby I had achieved a similar look to i-launcher. For some unknown reason, I got a frozen white screen when I powered the Exec on. Was this resco or just a lock up? Strange as I never normally get any freezes.

So what else could I easily change. I checked out Unithemes by Spbsoftwarehouse. These are wonderful looking skins for a full suite of software packages. And they are free. Each theme includes a number of programs by Spbsoftwarehouse and other standard apps. I was able to add funky skins for Windows Media player some of which displayed the album art and others that didn’t. I also changed the skin for Gprs Monitor but I forgot to save the original skin.gif file, and the vga skin didnt work on my Exec. I would be grateful if someone could email me the original skin on the Exec for this program to gavin @ pda247 dot com. Must be from the Exec. Sadly, some of the great looking today themes didn’t work on the Exec. This is due to the way wm5 handles themes.

I have also bought Pocketbreeze 5 by This is a stunning piece of software but it seems to swallow tons of memory until I have none left and then freezes the device. The developers at are working on a fix, and no doubt once this has been done, I will be able to re-install and alter the look and functionality of my device.

So after several hours of changing things on my today screen, it looks different, but does exactly the same as before. What an achievement! Or was it a huge waste of time.

And no doubt it will change again. I-launcher is about to be updated with new features , so I can see another change in the pipeline.

Living with a PDA – Part 9

by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Good morning to everyone.

Once again, I am on the train tapping away on my Exec keyboard. I really love typing on this device and viewing the magnificent screen.

I am really excited, as I read that an update to Pocketbreeze 5 is only a week away. I am hoping it will fix the memory problems and allow me to use fully.

Over the weekend I had discussed Textmaker and Unithemes amongst other items, so if you missed these, do look back over the archives.

I was debating how I manage memory usage on my sd card. Why? Well, with all the various software packages installed, there are normally bundles of skinning options. I have now set up a folder called skins, with sub folders for the various programs. The difference is I am keeping the skins either as zip or rar files. If I need to change a skin, I simply copy the skin out of the compressed file and place it in the correct place. For those that use rar files, a freeware program to uncompress and compress these files is pocketrar, available at On the subject of skins, I really hope microsoft release the skinning guide/program for wm5 devices.

Shaun McGill mentioned using mydigiguide in conjunction with Avantgo. Sadly Avantgo is not wm5 compatible. I even tried installing Avantgo but had major problems with the font sizes and the latest version for wm5 is only in alpha stages, not beta. If you have isilo, I believe you can retrieve listings with this program. As another alternative, I have been using Radio Times guide for Pocket PC. It is a standalone application, which also needs updating to work properly on wm5 devices. Goto The work around is to run desktop installer which once installed isnt able to retrieve settings or update the program. This is a similar issue to Avantgo. So I had to copy the cab file across onto my device, and then install directly. After installation, I had to open file explorer and located the directory where the program had been installed. With the Radio Times folder there is another exe file called Radio Times Sync.exe. Tap on this, set up account settings and sync from this bit to update the program. Now you can open up the main Radio Times application and use the sync option from within the main program. The infra red remote control bit doesn’t work and some of the settings freeze when amending them on the device. These can be altered from by logging onto the internet and adjusting your settings. Despite this not being a VGA application, it does work and provide very useful information. Also, the layout is great with a choice of list view or grid view. Plus you can view by Radio Times choices, your favourites and films.

How many of you like the weather displayed on the today screen? Well, I seem to be fascinated by it. I own Weatherpanel ( and Pocketweather ( , so I decided to give SPB Weather ( a whirl. I hadn’t realized that the weather was not updating, so after a quick email to SPB Softwarehouse, and a reply within a couple of hours, I was furnished to a link to a beta version of this program which now updates correctly. Now that’s what I call good customer service!! ☺

Living with a PDA – Part 10

by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

So I have lasted nearly two weeks using my Exec as the sole device, and despite a few wobbly moments it’s going much better than anticipated.

I have been travelling all day on the London Underground, off on foot to a meeting and then on to my next meeting. I had 5 meetings today, starting at 8.00am and finishing by 10.00pm. Thankfully, I have Tube 2 London Streets by This has an interactive London Underground tube map. I was able to plot the start and end points and watch the map move along the train lines until the destination was reached. In addition it calculates the journey time. With the London streets version you get a rail map and an A-Z Street Map. This integrates into the tube map with amazing ease. Simply tap on the destination station and info regarding that station appears along with a green arrow. Tapping on this brings up the A-Z exactly at your destination station. I was then able to search for the road. This is a very nifty program.

One of my destination was near Trafalgar square. I thought it would be interesting to try the panaromic option on the camera. Using this option allows you to join up to 6 photos together to create one huge one, and in my case I created a wonderful span of Trafalgar Square.

Does your XDA ring long enough for you to pick up the call? Well based on my experience so far with my Exec, I wished it would ring longer. There is a simple workaround (thanks to Neil). Call O2 Support and ask for technical support. Ask them to increase th duration of rings before the call transfers to voicemail etc. What a difference this makes.

The other interesting thing I have noticed is the 3g speed. Believe it or not I discovered that O2 operate 3g at either 128 or 384. 384 is the speed we all should have but most I have found that a large percentage will be running at the lower option. Once again a call to technical support solved this problem.

Tomorrow, I will promise to start discussing about vital business applications eg. Space Invaders and the similar 🙂

Living with a PDA – Part 11

by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

So apart from emails, internet surfing reading rss news feeds and checking the weather, whatever are the other vital applications?

3 guesses. Games of course. I previously had a XDA IIs which I sold to Shaun who by return sold it to Neil. We tend to keep things in the family at Windowsmobile247!!!! :-). This had a qvga screen. Prior to this I had a HP 4700, which is vga. So I already have had experience of games on a ppc phone and a vga device. The problem arises having vga and a ppc phone, and then wm5, so enter the Exec.

The number of games that work well on the Exec are no where as many that I could play on my XDA IIs. But it’s definitely not all doom and gloom. In fact get it right and the vga experience is stunning. Move over psp.

Damm it. Textmaker froze and again I have lost half my blog.

Anyway, some of my vga games include Ancient Evil , Super Slyder, Ultimate Bowling Fighter and Gamehouse Solitaire. (links are,, x2 and

Ancient Evil is a role playing game and requires some skill to install as it has not been updated to wm5. To install it I doubled clicked on the exe file and accepted the license agreement etc and then the installation started. Suddenly, I was faced with an error message saying active sync failed to install. Ignore this. Then, the add/remove programs start and you must change location from main memory to sd card. Next it appears as if the game is being installed on the card. Then myExec said installation was unsuccessful. In fact, what has happened is the cab file has simply been copied to the sd card. Now tap on the file using file explorer and the installation will start. After installation go to file explorer again and delete the cab file. It is important to noted that you will need 105mb free to install since the cab file is just over 50mb and the game is a similar size.

Now I off to do battle in the dungeons.

Living with a PDA – Part 12

Warning. Don’t drop the Exec stylus. The end tip always breaks off. I have broken 3 since I have had the device. Well actually, 1 fell out and 2 broke. The included stylus simply gets too lose and then it just simply falls out. This is most bizarre as I have not had these kind of problems with earlier devices. Why can’t we have the palm push in/push out stylus? The only solution to stop my stylus from falling out, was using a 3-1 stylus by Brando Shopping. It was a bit tighter fit and never fell out or worked its way lose.

The XDA foums are very active, so please keep asking questions, no matter if the seem trivial or complex.

And I get to type more on the Exec’s keyboard:-)

I had a really long session playing Ancient Evil vga. I had the qvga version on my old device, but its no comparison to the graphics etc on a vga device. I found the game so engrossing that I put my phone in flight mode. No more annoying calls!

I had some good news regarding a replacement battery for the Exec. Lion Battery ( sell Mugen Battieries and I have capacity one should be available around xmas. I am finding that in daily use I running my battery really low, and I could do with a second. The other problem is how do I charge my device and 2nd battery at the same time. Even if I bought a replacement battery, in would have to charge each battery in the Exec.

It’s going to be a quiet weekend in terms of computer use, due to various commitments.

Living with a PDA – Part 13

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Its been a busy weekend, with my mum’s surprise 60th and DIY.

I was lucky enough to have Saturday night to myself and my wife was on a xmas party, so I had quality time with my Exec.

I spent most of this beta testing a few new games from Astraware whilst watching X-Factor. Then I tried Ancient Evil which seemed a little sluggish. So I switched to Arvale and I was in Grand Prix mode moving very spritely across the screen. I ended up playing this for several hours – too addictive in my opinion.

Talking of games, I had the pleasure of playing the X-BOX 360 and all I can say is ‘holy s**t’ it really smokes like a demon. Awesome piece of kit.

So for the remainder of Saturday, I played a few more games, but I did leave my Exec at home when out at lunch. I really felt naked without it, and if it had been any more than 3 hours I would have needed to see a doctor.

Sunday was more mundane with tons of decorating. Luckily for me , I ended up listening to internet radio via the Exec. This works really well and even better with the phone in flight mode. I have been also trying a new weather program called fizztraveller. I know Shaun McGill had written a review, but in my opinion this is clearly one of the best weather programs and the only program that doesn’t like the stylus. It really uses the soft keys properly in wm5.

So onto the sound quality of the Exec versus and iPod. Well I had finished my workout and one of the guys asked what my device was ; I happily obliged. When it came to the sound quality, I was asked if I had any Iron Maiden, which I did. I cranked the volume up in wmp10, passed across my sennheiser headphones, and I was told it played and sounded better than an iPod. It also didn’t skip tunes when playing and multitasking.

Living with a PDA – Part 14

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Hi again. Its been a long weekend and I have been very busy. Naturally, the Exec has been part of my routine.

On yesterday’s news, Sunnysoft Backup Manager was mentioned as the only Windows Mobile 5 compatible backup solution. Whilst, from reading other peoples views on this software, it is definitely not 100% perfect. This has made me nervous, since Activesync 4 onwards has removed the option to backup to pc. I am still waiting on Sprite Software to update their products. I am hoping it is as good as previous offerings, since Sprite Backup Premium Edition performed perfectly. I know because I used it at least 20 times. So I am using my Exec without any backup. So if something happens, I have to wait until I get home any resync my pim information. Well, here’s a great bit of news, it is possible to backup pim information on a WM5 device without any third party software, to SD card or wherever.

How? Using the built in file explorer, look for pim.vol or just pim in the root folder. If you can’t see it, go to the options in File Explorer and select show all/or unhide hidden files. Now copy pim.vol to SD card. You know have a backup of your pim information on you SD card. After a hard reset. Rename pim.vol. Copy using file explorer again, the pim.vol on SD card to root directory. Using a third party software, eg psshutXP, soft reset device. Now delete renamed pim file. Old pim data back on device. Time to sleep again.

My favourite plugin has been updated. Pocketbreeze nows works really well on my Exec. And with the custom tabs makes a superb addition to my today screen. I actually have Egress (rss newsreader) built into Pocketbreeze as a custom tab.

I was thinking about selling my Exec. Not that I am unhappy with it, simply I have done everything possible and need a new challenge. Sadly, there are no contenders out there, so I will just have to see what goodies the new rom will provide; hopefully high quality Bluetooth stereo and push email.

Living with a PDA – Part 15

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Good day, evening or morning.

A new store has opened up next to where I work, and all the sell is iPods and accessories. It is amazing to see what you can add to your device.

My key consideration was sound quality versus my Exec. I was allowed to test a Nano using my sennheiser headphones. It was a very close call. I would say that the Nano was marginally better with some music , but the Exec excelled with others. However, as soon did the comparison with Pocketmusic Pro, the Exec in my opinion was superior. I know your views may differ. The test was carried out using Joss Stone, G4, and Madonna.

In my previous blogs I had raved about the today plugins by . These include Pocketbreeze 5, i-Launcher, Pocketweather and Contactbreeze. These are all stunning applications and offer brilliant support. I cannot live without these applications on my Exec. More amazing was their key developer Amit Regev, (based in Israel) had followed a link on my signature to my sister’s website ( and left a lovely message of support. Just shows that a great person creates a great company!

Tweaks2k2 got updated yesterday and added a tweak to improve the cache on Windows Mobile 5 devices. The net result is a machine that works 20% faster. And it really does make a difference. Ever switch or close of an application is quicker.

Living with a PDA – part 16

By Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

The End. Now this may seem like a strange beginning, but more will be revealed later.

Confused, try not to be. My XDA Exec has been loyal but with some failings which were really highlighted when I got a chance to play with a Palm Tungsten TX.

Now I know you are all thinking, the Exec is far more powerful, has 101 better specs, its a phone, its 3g, vga and the list is just endless. Even the keyboard which I am using to type this review is rock solid. So what happened.

As I have been providing daily blogs of my Exec usage , this has really focused my mind on how long things took, the inherent problems which I worked around where possible. My friend Shaun moved from his Pocket PC phone a Treo 650. That got me thinking. And then the final straw. I was in Micro Anvika in Tottenham Court Road and asked to play with the Tungsten TX.

As a brief potted history my last palm was a Tungsten T3. I hated the slider. Then I moved to a hp4700, xda Iis and then an xda exec.

So I spent nearly an hour with the TX. What was wrong. The TX was so fast it was scary fast. None of the previous or current devices were able to react as quick. The music quality was brilliant through my sennheiser headphones. In fact I just had to have it. Technically it not on par with the Exec but it just is superior in use. The best way I can describe the difference. The Exec can multi task. The TX has completed the tasks without the need for multitasking.

Also, I loaded Agendus by For my pim controls and it simply works far more effectively and with amazing simplicity than any other third party offering from pocket pc. (pocketbreeze 5 got close). Also, I have started to load other palm software and everything seems so much more fun. Tons of graphic customization . And no soft resets!!

So I have upgraded my XDA Exec for a Tungsten TX and a Sony Ericsson K750i. So now its time to remember all my palm os tricks. Its a fun road ahead.

Well a few more days with the TX has proven I was very right in my move. This paragraph has been written using graffitti 2. Its taken about 10 minutes to master. Its not as sluggish as pocket pc. In fact its a dream to use. Also with the TX I dont have to soft reset 3 times a day. In fact I dont reset at all. No PDA is perfect but the TX is nearly there. TCPMP also seems to work better on palm os. Now any useful tips would be handy as its been a long time since I have used a palm. Mind you I have installed over 63 apps.

Ps. I was thinking about providing a heat and height test on the XDA Exec. And interested parties? Eg blow torch , drop from a roof top.

And there you have it. 16 days documented on how I used the XDA Exec exclusively back in 2005. And in true Gavin style, upgraded it

Blast from the Past – Mwg Zinc II review

Below is the review of the Mwg Zinc II that I wrote in 2008.

Review of Mwg Zinc II  by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond.


Date of Review – 18th July 2008

Available from –

Price – £399.95 with currently a £50 cash back offer

Pros – Zinc II menu useful
            Retractable Stylus
            Loud Speaker (never miss a tone)

Cons – No flash on camera

Expansys recently sent me the Zinc II to review. I have had this a week now, and have actually enjoyed this handset. It is a fairly straight forward affair. The specifications are :-

Operating System: Microsoft® Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional, World Wide English
• Processor: Samsung 520MHz
• Memory:
– 256MB Flash ROM
– 64MB RAM
– MicroSD expandable memory
• Display: 2.8” TFT QVGA, Flat Panel (Touch Screen)
• Keyboard: QWERTY keypad with semi-automatic sliding mechanism
• Network Frequency:
– Quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
– Tri-band UMTS 2100/1900/850 MHz
– HSDPA 3.6Mbps
• Connectivity:
– Wireless LAN 802.11b/g
– Bluetooth® version 2.0
• Audio:
– Speakerphone
• GPS: Integrated highly sensitive SiFRstarIII GPS chip, reliable in urban and densely covered outdoor environments.
• Camera:
– 2 Megapixels CMOS camera
– Supports still image and video capture
• Operating Time:
– Standby up to 260 hours (GSM)
– Talktime up to 6 hours
• Dimensions: 109.5 x 59 x 18 mm; 185g

The key point to note is the 64mb of ram. Whilst this did not cause me any problems, most WM6 devices now have 128mb of ram. I am sure if the device was loaded and running several intensive applications, there is a possibility to overload it.  The keyboard is very sensitive, and at first I held the key to long and duplicated letters. However, with a bit of practise I started to get used to the keyboard and actually started to like not having to press the keys so hard as I do on my Samsung i780.

Mwg have followed HTC’s today plugin concept and provided a today plugin called Zinc II menu. Unlike the HTC option, it allows multiple contact shortcuts and application shortcuts. See screenshots below.



In use the call quality was as good as most WM6 devices I have used, but the loudspeaker volume was loud, so no chance missing any alarms!

As the device uses mini-usb, it is compatible with a wide range of accessories. The stylus is a retractable one, and a bit lightweight for my liking.

Mwg have also tweaked some of the settings – see screenshots –



All the features of the device as described and the only one concern I have is with the 64mb of program memory, and the lack of buttons on the front of the device. A start menu and ok button would have been helpful, but Mwg have gone for the cleaner look.

After using the phone for the last week, it has been a pleasant experience. Thanks to again for sending the unit for review.

Blast from the Past – The Virtual Keyboard – Seeing is Believing

Now this review is a sure classic gadget. And one from 10 years ago!

Welcome to my next Gavin’s Gadget Review – the Virtual Keyboard


Now before anyone asks, is this fantasy or fiction I will state this is fiction and following my use of the keyboard it is no gimmick.

In fact before I continue, I have been left stunned at how well its works. Not to mention the “wow” factor. All my colleagues, friends in the pub, new friends I have made showing the Virtual Keyboard cannot believe what they are seeing. However, they are equally amused by the fact it work.

So what do you get in the box.


The Virtual Keyboard, a lovely small case for it, some instructions, the installation CD, and a whole host of adapters which connect to Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphones and even a PC (serial).

The Virtual Keyboard uses the latest infrared and laser technology to project a full size qwerty keyboard onto any flat surface.

The current version is compatible with:

O2 XDA I and II – O/S Pocket PC2002/3

Orange SPV e200 – O/S Smartphone 2003

Palm Tungsten T3 – O/S Palm OS 5.x

Palm M505 – O/S Palm OS 4.x

HP2210 – O/S Pocket PC2003

HP5550 – O/S Pocket PC2003

Laptops/Desktops – O/S WinXP, 2000, NT & 98

The actual device is quite compact. In fact it was a lot smaller than I had anticipated.
Loading the installation CD revealed all the different operating systems. I chose Palm OS5 and installed the driver.

Plug the charging into the wall and give the unit a 2 hours charge. This should last for 2 hours continuous typing. So in reality you should get a whole days worth of typing if you do a bit here and there.

Next it is important to configure the driver to your own typing style and the various options as shown below.



The size of projection is reasonable and easy to use.

It is worth noting that the Virtual Keyboard cannot be used in direct sunlight and must be used on a flat surface. Also, the keyboard driver settings appear to be lost following a soft reset.

So where in the world can you purchase this? I bought mine from Simple Solutions ( ). This is the first time I used this company and I was very impressed at how efficient and helpful everyone was in answering all my questions. Also, my Virtual Keyboard arrived the very next day!

Definitely recommended and a very cool piece of kit.    

Blast from the Past – HTC HD2 – Review


Below is my review written in December 2009 covering the legendary HTC HD2.

HTC HD2 First Impressions by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

I received the HD2 yesterday afternoon.  I must thank Clove Technology for their great friendly service.
The box was identical in size to my HTC Hero which surprised me, but opening the box and taking the HD2 out felt really good.  I left it to charge for all of 10 minutes and then had to switch it on. One word.  The screen is fabulous. 
Setting up. HTC have tried to make setup simple, with initial logins of facebook, twitter, youtube, email and a few other items. I struggled to get my gmail to work. I could only get my gmail using the activesync settings. Anyway, problem appeared to be related to some email settings in Google itself, so finally today I have Gmail working as it should. I am using the activesync app to sync my google calendars and contacts, and microsoft my phone to sync photos, text messages, tasks, browser fav etc.  I have copied some videos and photos across (1000’s) and music. Music sync’s perfectly via Windows Media player. It is quicker to put the HD2 into disk drive.
The HD2 comes with a lot of great software, so I have only added Resco File Explorer, and Ereader. Reading books on the HD2 is miles better IMO than any book reader. I was able to transfer my Copilot 8 license across from my Hero to HD2. I did this by deactivating my license on the Hero and reactivating it on the HD2. Copilot 8 on the Hero is stunning. Crystal clear quality maps.  HTC has designed a bespoke gps mount system, that also enables a new homescreen called Navipanel. I have for the time being copied the shortcut so I can launch this.  Games. The HD2 only comes with Teeter, but I did notice in the file directory that the games for Solitaire and Bubble do exist.  I have installed successfully the following games:- Astraware Sudoku, Astraware Casino, Astraware Solitaire, Astraware Boardgames, Bejeweled 2, Asphalt 4, Bookworm, Brain Challenge 3, Resco Bubbles, Prince of Persia, Jewel Quest II and Text Twist.
I have played a number of videos, and the all look great. Scrolling through my endless photos is a joy. Music quality is brilliant, web browsing in landscape superb. In fact the screen just makes everything look amazing. And then there is the speed. It’s fast, it’s snappy and I couldn’t believe how many apps I had open and still no slow downs.
HTC Sense – what I have found is that HTC have taken away the need to leave the today screen. Nearly everything can be done from the home screen tabs and I am finding this a joy.
Is there a negative. Yes. A lot of older apps using the Owner Information applet in settings to look for your name when registering software. It doesn’t exist on the HD2. However, a few registry tweaks (or if you search on XDA Dev there is a cab file that does it for you) it can be brought back.
Is there millions of positives. Yes. Loads. But mainly I love it and now have to say goodbye to my lovely Hero.  

2 Weeks Later – HTC HD2 by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

I have now had the HTC HD2 a whole 2 weeks, and this has enabled me to get to really appreciate the real HD2.
Naturally, I have been able to tweak it a little, courtesy of the some smart people at XDA Developers. However, I strongly believe the HD2 is greater than most people realise. It is real life experience that matters. So here goes my view.
The secret HD2. Beneath the surface are specifications not printed. We all know it has got a massive 4.3 inch screen and a 1ghz snapdragon processor, and other to die for specs.  These specs do create a monster of a device, but in real life there are other aspects that make the HD2 even better. Firstly, the radio strength is incredible. I live in a very rural location. The HD2 is the first phone to hold a permanent signal throughout the house. Even better in nearby Tavistock, renowned for zero signal in places, I had a full 3g signal whilst waiting for my Chinese Takeaway. Impressive. I have found the call quality to be very good too.  So what is the next secret. The GPS signal strength. Once again, using Copilot 8 it has been faultless, without losing the signal, no matter where I have been in Devon and Cornwall. And some places are really remote!  To put in persective, the HTC Hero with Copilot 8 would lose GPS signal in places. The HD2 locks blistering quickly too. The next secret. Audio quality. As I am typing this I have my Sennheiser HD 415’s plugged into the HD2 enjoying Leon Lewis “Echo”. The audio quality is very good.  I have not used my iPod Touch 2g since I have had the HD2! The last advantage I find is the keyboard. In portrait mode, I can use two fingers, just like having a thumbkeyboard. I find typing speeds just a nimble as I physical  keyboard.
HTC Sense. Having used a number of Windows Mobile devices, the first thing I had to start getting used to was not to use it like any previous WM phones because it is different, very different. The rule is “don’t” leave the today screen. Use HTC Sense to operate everything and once you start doing this everything just happens.  I use every tab in HTC Sense with no problems. I use MS MyPhone to sync everything now (bookmarks, texts, calendar, tasks, contacts, photos, videos etc).
Apps. I have added Coreplayer, so now I can watch any file type, Resco File Explorer, Wunderradio, Shazam, eReader, PocketClock Pro, and MyPlayer.  For everything else I use the default apps. Opera, YouTube, Peep, etc.
Games. I have used Marketplace to buy apps on my HD2 and it works well. I do wish the UK catalogue was not as restricted as the US version and that we could change the default storage location to the card. Apart from Teeter, I have added Asphalt 4, Panoramic Blackjack, Bejeweled 2, Resco Sudoku Touch, Resco Brain Games 2009, Prince of Persia, Bookworm, Resco Bubbles, Astraware Casino, Experiment 13, Astraware Solitaire, Jackpot Casino, Yacht, Sherlock Holmes, Xtrakt, Sonic Unleashed,  Pac-Man, Jewel Quest HD, The Sims 3, Meon and Uno. All these games look great on the HD2.
Tweaks. Me being me, I always like to tweak any new phone. I must admit I have added a few courtesy of XDA Devs, but not that many. I have a dedicated WiFi Toggle app, 9 opera tabs instead of 3,  Camera as the left soft key on Home Tab instead of phone and a few minor tweaks.
Issues. The HD2 is new and there are a few niggles. On a white wall, the 5mp camera creates a pinkish blob. HTC will have a hotfix out over the next few weeks to correct this. What has been bizarre, is that in tests nearly all 5mp camera phones have “pink” effects.  HTC’s Twitter app Peep doesn’t always update according to the user update frequency.  Some apps don’t auto rotate and would benefit from being viewed in landscape eg excel. There is a registry setting to get around this, but it would be great if there was another settings option for this.
The Experience in use is so satisfying. Cover flow on music with album art retrieval option. Albums show photos effortlessly. Animated weather.  HTC settings get rid of the old windows stuff. Speed, no slowdowns, and a happy user.
Without fail, every person who has seen this, wants one, including the Apple employees in the Apple store.  Would I recommend it. You bet.  In a shortwhile all the niggles will be gone, and the device will just go from strength to strength. I joked I would keep this device 2 years, that 1 year 9 months longer than my normal duration, but in all honesty, I probably will!

Blast from the Past – HP 914c review

Below is my review of the HP 914c written in October 2008.

Product Name:  HP 914c


Supplied by:
Price:                 £344.99
Reviewer:        Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

In The Box-       Phone, Manuals, CD’s, USB sync/charge lead, mains adapter with UK and EC, Stereo Headset, Battery

First Impressions of hardware – Looks like a business machine, blue lettering on keys difficult to read, reasonable build quality, dreadful battery on 3g, poor phone reception, low phone volume, excellent stylus.



Hardware Highlights- 3mp camera, landscape screen superb for text entry and web browsing, large stylus, top on/off button, gps external aerial, left side volume up/down, voice commander button, memory slot, mini usb, right side jog wheel, ok and camera button, nothing on bottom of device.

The HP 914c has been a bit of a mixed bag. Its screen resolution of 320 x 240 is superb for text entry tasks and web browsing.


The 914c does not support screen rotation so a number of older games will not work.  I found a majority of applications all worked fine . Games that ran fine included several by Astraware (Boardgames, Casino, Solitaire, Suduko, Bejeweled 2, GTS World Racing and more), Concrete PDA Bowling, Wordpop and Invasion. Applications I installed included CoPilot 7, ClearTemp, Wisbar Lite, Homescreen Plus, Coreplayer, Easy Expenses, Ereader, isilo, Metro, sktools, sinPocketwatch, Resco File Explorer, vSnap and Newsbreak.

CoPilot 7 looked excellent on the 914c (see below) and in test the GPS locked into position within 20 seconds.  I found the GPS chip to be consistent and reliable.


HP have also installed a number of HP bespoke applications, including HP Voice Commander , Voice Reply and Printing. The voice options on the device are impressive. You can ask the machine to read your entire emails and sms, unread ones, and then it will ask you if you want to send a voice reply. You record your voice reply and it then emails it or sends it by mms. HP Printing, Google Maps and Search are also pre-installed. In addition, within the messaging options, you can reply to any sms, mms or email with HP Voice reply.


The rubber flap for the mini usb and micro sdhc card is an odd affair, but once I had got used to using it it actually is perfect for quick access to the memory card or mini usb slot. The stylus is worth a mention. It is nearly as long as the 914c and is superb. The keyboard and all the buttons all worked fine, as did the camera which took reasonable shots with its 3 MP lens.

However, the phone radio is below par. The 914 struggled to gain reception where other phones had reception. The in call volume was too low and the caller’s voice sounded muffled a bit. On 3g the whopping 1940 mah battery was useless. With hardly any usage (push email on, 6 emails, 2 texts, 5 newsfeed and 2 short calls) it was totally flat in 12 hours. On 2g it was able to manage a day and a half.

Operating system Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
• Processor Marvell PXA270 Processor 520 MHz
• Memory 128, 256 MB flash ROM
• Software – Microsoft® Office Outlook® Mobile, Microsoft® Office Mobile (Word Mobile, Excel® Mobile, PowerPoint® Mobile), Internet Explorer® Mobile, Windows Media® Player, Microsoft ActiveSync, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Voice Recorder, Notes. HP exclusive applications: HP Photosmart Mobile, iPAQ Wireless Manager, Bluetooth Manager, HP Help and Support, HP QuickStart Tour, HP Voice Reply, Voice Commander, HP Enterprise Mobility Agent
• Dimensions (w x d x h) 6.4 x 1.6 x 11.3 cm , • Weight 146 g
• Display 2.46″ transmissive TFT, 65K colours, 320 x 240 pixel touch panel display with LED backlight
• Mobile phone Integrated Quad-band GSM/SPGRS/EDGE phone and Tri band UMTS, HSDPA 3.6/7.2 Mpbs
• Integrated wireless Integrated WLAN 802.11b/g, Bluetooth® 2.0 with EDR
• Messaging Phone Dialer application, SMS support, MMS composer, Microsoft Outlook Push eMail, Pull eMail via ActiveSync, HP Voice Reply, Microsoft Live Messenger
• GPS receiver Integrated GPS navigation (Assisted GPS) Google Maps mobile 
• Expansion slots 64-bit Micro SDHC card slot – for memory expansion
• Multimedia HP Photosmart Mobile Software with Snapfish Upload, Windows Media® Player
• Camera Integrated 3.0 mega-pixel auto focus camera, 4X digital zoom, 640 x 480 VGA resolution, 1280 x 1024 SXGA resolution – for some models only
• Power Battery: removable/rechargeable 1940 mAh Lithium-Ion (user changeable), Talk time: up to 4 hours, Standby time: up to 10 days (250 hours)
• Audio Integrated microphone, receiver, speaker and one 2.5 mm stereo headphone jack
• Design features Alphanumeric keyboard, scroll wheel, 5-way navigation pad, 2 soft keys, send/end buttons, reset button, volume control, voice command
• Security HP Enterprise Mobility Agent


This could have been a great device, but it is let down by poor phone quality and battery. If HP release a rom update this might resolve the 2 issues.

Build Quality-   7/10
Ease of use-      7/10
Battery-            4/10
Screen clarity-  8/10
Value for money- 6/10
Total score-       63%

Blast from the Past – Samsung i600 – review

Below are all the sections I wrote covering the Samsung i600. This was at a time was qwerty keyboards were still popular. That was about to change in a few months time when Apple launched the iPhone

Samsung i600 – First Thoughts


Review Date: 18th June 2007 Review by: Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Price: £285 + VAT

Available from:

Pros: Easy to use and setup, light and small

Cons: Lack of games in landscape mode

On Sunday, it was my birthday, which revealed a Samsung i600 all neatly wrapped up. This is the first Windows Mobile Smartphone that is “non touchscreen” phone I have had running windows. So far I am really enjoying this device.

I am not going to show you videos or pictures unboxing the phone, as there are plenty of these to watch elsewhere. Instead, here are my intial views:-

The first thing I did was take my sim card out of my Sony Ericsson K800i and put in in the i600. I then had a choice of the extended battery of normal battery. Dependent on which battery you choose, each has a separate back piece. Obviously, the normal battery is slightly heavier but not by much. I used the extended battery. I then connected the AC charger and commenced charging. In the box was a separate battery charging unit, so with the second charger (this was bought separately) I independently charged the normal battery. After a few hours, I powered on the i600.

I went to add the T-Mobile settings for MMS, SMS, Web and Voicemail. The i600 had already retrieved these from the network. That was brilliant and so much easier than my last unlocked Pocket PC Phones which needed loads of fields completed. I actually knew that I was going to be getting this as a present, so in preparation I bought a 2gb micro sd card, a screen protector, 2 leather cases from and a advanced screen protector and silicone case from Sadly, the 2gb sd card didn’t work, but I was able to buy one later that day from a mobile phone shop with a £10 premium ☹ . On the subject of cases, I got an extended and non extended leather case from . Both are brilliant, but do not include the cut-out for the 3g camera at the front. The Proporta Silicone case also didn’t have a cut-out for the front camera, but other than that was well made and even came with a belt clip and carry cord. The screen protectors were a different matter. I got one off ebay and one from Proporta. The ebay protector was awful and looked terrible on my i600. The Proporta Advanced Screen protector was lovely, and even had a slight curve to match the i600 screen.

After fiddling with the cases, I moved on and added my server details within the Activesync application on the i600. I use a service by called “live mail2web” which provides free of charge push server email and syncing of pim info. Because my i600 has HSPDA all my pim data and email was on my phone in record time. I then went to sync to my pc with Activesync. And here was my first problem. Activesync was naming my i600 “WM_Gavin_FL” and I wanted my i600 to be called simply “Gavin”. In PPC Phones you can easily change your user id. But in a smartphone you cannot. I downloaded Resco File Explorer for Smartphones and the Registry Editing module. I then went into the registry.


Within this key, you will see several strings and values. One string is titled “Name” and its value is the current name assigned to your Windows Mobile Phone. I simply changed this name to Gavin and rebooted my i600.

Now I was back in business. I next transferred my music and pictures to the memory card. I also tried several games, but found problems with the games not sizing correctly to the screen. On the application front, I have not had the same issues. Luckily for me, Egress and Bejeweled all work very well. Over the next week I will report back on which applications work well on the i600. I have tried the new Opera 8.65 beta. It is much more powerful than the standard browser, but it has crashed when downloading files.

The today screen. Samsung have provided some really effective and great looking home plugins. The card wheel is the coolest home screen, out of the ones available. I have found no issues with call quality or freezing of the phone with email etc. Samsung have added some really interesting touches to the phone. Additional software includes podcast and rss applications. Also, when I tried using Windows Media player, Samsung have added a skin which is a graphic equaliser. Very cool. The absence of word, excel and powerpoint viewers is disappointing, although I have found an alternative way of reading/editing these files, although not to the same level of sophistication.

The keyboard is a superb. I have mastered entering emails and text at high speed. In fact, I do not miss the touchscreen at all, except for games and the notes application. No more scribbles ☹ .

Battery life has been mentioned by many as the weakness of this phone. I so far have only used the extended battery, and manage to get through a day with email retrieval every 30 minutes, 1 hours web browsing, and several hours messing around. I imagine in full use the i600 will need charging daily.

Other little touches. Within the email application, one of the options is to automatically retrieve email daily. I like this option for email accounts which have low usage.

I have used the 1.3mp camera and it is not too bad. A picture taken with it is shown below.

i600 5

So at the moment it is all smiles. Over the next few days I will be experimenting with software to create the perfect setup. Any questions or thoughts please ask.

And then 8 days later, I added the following review post.

Following on from my first impression review, I have used the Samsung i600 for 8 days. In that 4 days I have learnt an awful lot about the smartphone version or Windows Standard.

There are definitely some odd differences between a touchscreen and non-touchscreen. Overall I am convinced non-touchscreen is surprisingly versatile and is an easier phone to use.

I have made the following tweaks to ensure my i600 functions the way I like. Within the registry I changed:-


I altered the string value to Gavin. This registry hack is the only way to alter the smartphone’s name to a name you prefer.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AboutURLs\home

I altered the home string from the wapsamsungmobile to my preferred website. In fact, I created my own homepage bookmarks. If you go into Internet Explorer on your PC, under the menu, file, there is an option to “import and export” bookmarks. I exported the favourites. Before I did this I created a new folder with 5 of my favourite bookmarks. I named the file “Gavin’s Bookmarks”. You can edit the htm file using notepad if you wish. I then copied this across to the main memory of the i600, within “My Documents”. I changed the string value to “file://\My%Documents\Gavin’s%Bookmarks.htm”.

Next on my list involved adding the clock on the top bar. The time is only visible in the today screen in smartphones. I installed “Clockontop” which is a freeware application and available from The other frustration I found was that Pocket Internet Explorer would not allow many files to be downloaded, included some zip files. However, another free application called PIEPlugin from solves this problem and allows for the following file types to be downloaded:- aac, doc, exe, nes, mp4, mpg, mov, ogg, pdf, pdb, pps, ppt, rar, xls, and zip.

I also found a free registry tweaks program called MobileConfig by but as of yet I have not needed to use this.

Apart from adjusting the settings of the i600, the above are the only special tweaks that I found were needed. The other useful item I did was read the manual. I wonder how many of you never bother to read the manual. The manual is informative and I learnt about some hidden features of the i600. For example:-

1. Push and hold scroll wheel reveals quicklauncher app. This is highly customisable and can have applications, file, favourites and docs
2. Quick press on power off button reveals useful options, like power off, connection manager, profiles, keylock
3. Button next to space bar on right. Push and hold for symbols.
4. Key Shortcuts – can be assigned to web pages, contacts, programs and email addresses
5. So many other shortcuts in all the programs eg camera application.

Onto the software side. I have added the following applications which work very well:-

Agenda One, SK Tools, Egress, Ereader Pro, Ewallet, Live Search, Metro, Coreplayer, Pocket Player 3.2, MobileConfig, Clockontop, Opera v8.65b (a bit buggy) , Resco File Explorer, Resco Radio and Tube 2 London.

On the gaming front, this has proved a little more difficult as there are not many games that work on this device. However the following play fine :-

Astraware Solitaire, Bejeweled, Glyph – all by
Meteor – by
Virtual Pool Mobile – by
ISS Blackjack, Blocks, Logic, Video Poker –
SPB Brainevolution –

And that I am afraid is the total list. I have tried loads of games so if any developers believe there games work on the Samsung i600 please let me know.

The other strange thing which affects all smartphones is when you install software, it doesn’t list it alphabetically in the start menu. It is not an issue, as this can be altered using a registry tweak, but it is peculiar. Apart from that the Samsung i600 is a revelation. I must comment on a mistake in my first impression review, in that to view documents like word etc Piscel Viewer is used for this task. Piscel Viewer is also a reasonable picture viewer too. The Samsung i600 includes applications for Alarms, D-Day (important days), Notepad with syncing to Outlook, Voice Notes, World Clock, Pocket MSN, Piscel Viewer, Obex FTP, Smart Search, Task Manager, Smart Converter, Voice Assist, Stopwatch, Podcast, RSS Reader, and a few others and not forgetting the basic Microsoft applications. Remember Word Mobile etc isn’t installed.

I am amazed at the amount of included software and how well the i600 functions. Even the alarms work !!! In fact the alarm is so bloody loud there is no way you could ever stay asleep.

I will now experiment more with battery life to see how this works with push email active.

The other issue I have is the lack of editing options. I often need to copy and paste text from one program to another. Suggestions I have seen include, Xbar 3.2 and Vito Copy. Does anyone have any other thoughts.

More soon. Any questions or comments please ask.

And then on the 16th July 2007 I wrote my final part.

I have now had the Samsung i600 exactly one month. So how am I managing 1 month later?

It is a brilliant phone and I love it. I have only one gripe and that is not with the Samsung i600 but with Microsoft. There is no editing functionality built in. I am experimenting with several pieces of third party software, but nothing is perfect.

One item that I am having great fun with is the today screen. Samsung added some really superb today screen plugins as shown below in addition to the standard ones provided by Microsoft. First up is the Card Wheel which is terms of coolness is right up at the top. I have shown a few screens from this, Basically, as you scroll down the options flip round in a wheel motion:-

i600 2

Whilst using WMP10, you can see what tracks you have listened to last, and go and play them from the front screen.

i600 3

Another useful card is the profile tab, enabling quick switching of profiles.

i600 4

However, other today options by Samsung include the clock, calendar, large text and a 6 option panel at the botton which scrolls through options similar to the card wheel. There is the pop up option, which has most items visible. I quite like this one.

i600 5

i600 6

i600 7

i600 8

However, I use a free third party today plugin which shows everything I want to know including the home screen of Fizz Weather. This was available from a very talented individual Kooldezine. .

i600 9

By scrolling down one can change the profile and launch the applications as shown etc. Of course, a more traditional screen using just Fizz Weather and the standard Microsoft options looks like this –

i600 10

Another very cool option is an animated home screen, whereby the earth rotates around. Pressing the centre action button activates the text slowly on the left corner.

i600 11

Again, this is freeware and available from .
Now, Samsung have also added some neat little touches. This is the standard skin for the WMP10. Yes it is a fully functional graphic equaliser.

i600 12

I have also discovered a load of free games that work reasonably well on the i600. SPVMan (a pacman clone), CincoSP (a hangman and mastermind cross) and S-Tris 2. Available via .

From the same website, but under the application freeware section, I found Keylock. A simple application that locks the phone keys after a preset time. The default is 30 secs.

Also don’t forget there was some useful software mentioned in my first two articles on the Samsung i600. Links at beginning of article.

I mentioned before, I am struggling with the lack of editing abilities. I am trying VitoCopy and Orneta Scissors. I will let you know my findings.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the high speed internet access, the thin profile and design and as Shaun would say, everything just works.

I am also managing fine with the standard battery, instead of using the extended version. I found that there are many Samsung Blackjack cases but few i600 cases. As a tip, I bought some leather Blackjack cases, went along to the shoe repairers and asked to have a large hole punched through the leather to reveal the front video camera.

Any questions, please ask. Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

So there you have it. Have we advanced that much in 8 years? 🙂

Blast from the Past – Samsung i780 – the BlackBerry Classic copied – my review

The Year was 2009, 5 years ago, and I bought a Samsung i780. Amazing piece of kit for its time. And this was the review from 5 years ago that I wrote –

samsung i780

Date of Review – 13th April 2008

Price – £290.00 + VAT

Pros – Everything about it. Light, fast, good software, reliable, Excellent value for money. Great design. Looks expensive.

Cons – If you have an old piece of software, the 320 x 320 resolution may cause you a problem.

There have been a multitude of new devices recently released. I reviewed last month the i-mate 8502 and 9502 and really liked both of these devices. I had intended to change my MDA Touch 256mb to one of the new i-mates and nearly ended up with the 9502. However, Clove posted the Samsung i780 at the same time as the 9502 and even then the 9502 was the winner until the last few minutes. That was until I realised there was something special about the Samsung i780, but I wasn’t sure what but I knew I was going to buy this over the i-mate. But at the time I wasn’t sure why!

So was this a mad decision or is it the best decision I have made to date in my pda/smartphone history. More later. First the key specifications:-

Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 with Direct Push email, Memory – Rom 256MB, RAM 128MB
Display – 2.6″ Touch Screen with 320×320 pixels
Network- Tri-Band GSM 900/1800/1900MHz, GPRS, EDGE, 3G/UMTS 2.1GHz HSDPA
Input – QWERTY Keypad, 4 Way Black Navigation Pad
GPS- A-GPS Receiver , Connectivity – Bluetooth 2.0 WiFi 802.11b/g
MiniUSB 2.0 , Camera – 2 megapixel digital camera on the back and VGA camera for video calling on the front with 2 x digital zoom
Expansion – MicroSDHC
Dimensions – 61.3 x 115.9 x 12.9 mm
Weight – 120g

Opening the Samsung i780 box reveals the handset, 2 batteries, a separate charging module for the battery, AC charger, usb lead, a CD with the manual, software which included a podcast retriever for the PC to sync across to the podcast application on the i780 and another application called MITS Wizard. This is a photo/video editing software, but also allows photo contacts/contacts, sms/mms inbox/sent items, ringtones, voice notes and other data to be backup from the i780 to your PC. This is a superb piece of software. It backs up all pictures from the i780 My Pictures directory from the main memory and memory card. It does the same for videos too. It allows you to create wallpapers for the i780 and installs and transfers them automatically.

I am sure a lot of you are thinking that the optical mouse feature and the screen resolution are a concern. I did considerably, and this nearly stopped me even considering the device. In short the mouse IMO is a bonus, a brilliant feature and the screen resolution wonderful on the eyes. I use the 4 way nav mode mainly. The one drawback is the lack of games for this screen resolution. This will change as the number of new devices being released will have this resolution causing more developers to update their titles. The way to view the i780 is do you want a device which is offering new technology within a refined package. It is definitely not doom and gloom at all. For example I have installed the following applications – 1-calc, psshutxp, resco file explorer (the today plugin works too), Coreplayer, CTLottopick, CurrencyConvertor, Ereader, Google Maps, GPSProxy, Keyswop, Memmaid, MSS Converter, Pocketxpdf, Samsung Mobile Navigator (Garmin XT), TomTom 6 and vsnap. Games installed are Astraware Casino, Astraware Solitaire, Astraware Suduko, Bejeweled 2, Mobile Stream Casino, Meteor, Invasion by Amiga, Platypus, Text Twist, Virtual Pool Mobile and Westward. Suduko and Text Twist get resized but work and look ok. All the other games work perfectly and look great on the screen. If however, you do require some older apps/games there is a free piece of software available at XDA Developers called realvga which changes the screen dpi from 128 to 96. This allows a lot more titles to work fine. To be honest, I don’t see the need. It is also possible to use Styletap and use any old Palm OS titles which fit perfectly on the screen.

When I first started using the i780, I installed a lot of my favourite apps. I soon realised that the i780 includes a number of extra apps which meant I now have uninstalled numerous applications. The Samsung i780 includes the following software: Alarms (samsung’s alarm app offering a lot more options and sounds), Java, Media Album (for viewing pics, videos, ringtones etc), Mini Player, Opera 8.65, Photo Slides (a brilliant photo app, so good I removed Resco Photo Viewer), Podcasts, RSS Reader, Smart Converter and Video Player. The 2mp camera is quite good and takes reasonable shots. You can easily switch from the front vga to rear camera.

Whilst the software package is excellent, what is even better is how well Samsung have integrated it into the hardware. Menu names have been changed to be more user friendly and easier to understand. Samsung have even created a lovely today screen. Other menu options in the settings have had additional fields added to help customise the device even more. Apart from changing the Today screen, there is also a theme app for further tweaks.







Tapping on the blue today screen icon, reveals contacts, and the other way switches to shortcuts. Tapping on the settings buttons reveals system options.



The system tap has options for switching from finger mouse to 4 way nav mode, vibrate on/off, backlight changing from 3 ways, flight mode, Bluetooth and wifi on/off. The screenshot next to it shows the mini player which is activated by pressing the camera button. This appears and allows you to change songs etc.. and disappears a few seconds later. A neat touch.

If you tap on a contact in the contact tab, you get the following screen.

Throughout the whole device, Samsung have tweaked the options. Instead of a few lousy ringtones, Samsung have included a number of different tones.

The front keyboard is superb to use. There are buttons on the front for the windows start menu, OK, phone red/green, messaging and gps. The beauty of a keyboard is the shortcuts. For example, press the start menu reveals a host of programs. One letter from the name is underlined. Press this key on the keyboard, and the app opens. Also, pressing the start menu, “P” for Programs and “G” goes to the Games Folder icon. But if I wanted Google Maps, I press “G” again and Google Maps is selected. If I had several apps beginning with a g, all you have to do is keep pressing the letter g and it scrolls through. Also in most application menus, a shortcut is available to use with the keyboard.

Battery. Now Samsung do include a second battery and a separate charging pod, so that must mean poor battery life. Actually, the battery life is excellent. The best 3g phone so far. I do have my backlight on power save, but I do manage a day and a half with one battery using it constantly.

Screen. Having 128 dpi provides a very clear readable screen. It is not possible at present to reduce the screen size so at first emails/sms look a little large. After a while I realised this was a bonus as it was easy to read everything, and this benefit stopped me trying realvga. The screen is difficult to see in bright sunlight.

Phone. Multimedia. PDA. All of these functions are performed effortlessly and reliably apart from one bug. The notification leds only work when the device screen is on and turn off once device goes into sleep mode. Hopefully Samsung will release a fix soon. This may be released with the new firmware for wm 6.1 which is rumoured to be in testing by Samsung at the moment. A workaround for the led problem is using a piece of software called dontforget.

GPS. The i780 has the option of enhanced gps. Samsung designed the i780 to integrate with Garmin XT. TomTom6 works too (COM8) but for a near instant fix, I use GPSProxy with TT6. After installing the special version of Garmin, the today plugin changes to Samsung Mobile Navigator. See screen shots above.

I have fitted a Brando Ultra Clear screen protector on my i780. It is impossible to notice it is fitted. I also will be reviewing 3 cases for the i780 soon; the slim Beyzacase, Pdair Sleeve and the Noreve Classic.

This is the first device that has not had any registry changes. It is that good out of the box. And it is the best device I have ever owned so far. I had the Samsung i600, which was ultra reliable too but boring. The i780 is reliable but exciting. I can see I will be keeping this device for a long time.

In summary, I would “demand” that you all try one. You might find you buy it. The Samsung i780 is a marvel. I love it.

Available and with thanks to

Review by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

One thing that sticks out in my mind is the lack of Touchwiz 🙂

Gav & Dave’s Tech Podcast – reminder

From last Sunday.

As you know, I co-host a monthly podcast with David from UKMobileTech called Gav & Dave’s Tech Podcast. It is a light hearted tech podcast broadcast.

To subscribe click here for iTunes or copy and paste this link into your favourite podcast app.

Episode 30, Hot Gadgets is now live for your listening pleasure.

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It’s a free trial so give it a go if you haven’t already.