Thursday, July 21, 2011
Posted by Don Tolson in "Dell Windows Phones" @ 08:00 AM
Windows Phone 7
As far as the new O/S is concerned, what can I say? We've had a steady stream of articles on the look-and-feel as they became available, and Doug did a pretty good job in his review of the HTC HD7 of the essential elements of the new Windows Phone 7 operating system. The unit I got did come with the NoDo update already installed, and when I connected it up to my desktop for the first time, it notified me that I had another update waiting. This was the 'Certificates' update (7392), which updated with no problems.
T-Mobile includes their normal suite of applications on the phone (Family Centre, Account Info, etc.) but all require a T-Mobile account to access and use them. They were quickly 'uninstalled'.
For any who have read any of my other phone reviews, for me the radios are really the heart of the beast. This is where the 'rubber meets the road'. If the radios in the phone don't perform, it doesn't really matter how pretty or flashy the operating system and apps are -- it just won't work. Let's see how the Venue Pro compares with my other WP7 phones.
As noted above, while the unit supports all the major bands, the one I got was for T-Mobile and hence, didn't support 3G/H modes for voice or data connections here in Canada. Rogers, Bell and Telus use the same band which is the same as the one AT&T uses, but it is different from the one T-Mobile is set up for. I believe there is an AT&T version of the Venue Pro available as well.
So, I spent most of the week running on Edge signals. Generally, I was expecting that the experience would mainly affect data downloads, etc. since there are still a huge quantity of phones out here in my neck of the woods that are not 'data' connected. (Yes, I know people who have just cell phones :-))
As expected, data transfers, web browsing, etc. was noticeably slower but not terribly so. Yes, it took a bit longer to get the page rendered but it wasn't unusable. There were a couple of times I navigated away because I couldn't be bothered waiting any more, but for most mobile sites, the download times were quite tolerable.
However, I was surprised by two things. a) I'd always been taught that running 3G normally chews battery up more than running E, so I was expecting to get noticeably longer battery life. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I'll talk more about the battery later, but I was only getting about a day's worth of phone use under what I consider 'light' use during the week. And b) Because of the proliferation of '2G' phones still running around, I thought my connections to the system would be better all 'round than running 3G. Maybe this is another one of those early cellular systems myths, but it was very strange (and unsettling) to find many places inside office buildings where I could get very poor or no signals/service at all. With my LG in the same places, I normally get 2 to 3 bars and no service problems at all. It could also be due to the Venue Pro's radio being not quite as sensitive as the LG's.
The BT radio on the Surround is also the fairly standard BT 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate we see on most devices now with A2DP for stereo headsets. There's no mention on the spec sheet regarding support for AVRCP, HFP (hands free), HSP (head set), and PBAP (phone book access) profiles, but most of the stuff I tried seemed to work the same as on the LG. The radio range was the usual 10m (30 feet).
There were no problems pairing the unit with any of the BT devices I normally use (headset, stereo headphones, car hands free) but it wouldn't re-connect automatically with the Garmin GPS, even though the LG does this automatically everytime I enter the van. For the Venue Pro, I'd have to go to Settings/Bluetooth and select 'Connect' for the Garmin unit each time.
Unfortunately, the Venue Pro only provides 802.11 b and g support. Connection to the home WiFi went well, but it was not quite as speedy as the 'n-capable' phones I've had in the past. Range and sensitivity of the WiFi radio seem on par with the LG and the Surround. There was no problem connecting to the home network from anywhere in the house.
Sorry guys, I couldn't find any information on the specific GPS chipset included in the Venue Pro, but I think it's probably the same for all the WP7 models out there right now.
I haven't found any applications (yet) which let you see the status of the satellite signals and lock, but it seems to be about as sensitive as the LG -- achieving location locks in Bing Maps and other navigation apps (Marathon, Silver GPS Navigator) within seconds. I know though, that the phone is also using cell-tower triangulation to assist in getting initial location information, so it's most likely that AGPS (Assisted GPS) is activated by default.
Usual FM radio and application using the headset wire as an antenna. Nothing to see here, moving on....