Monthly Archives: January 2023

Dell Venue Pro

The first and last Dell Windows Phone

Dell was one of the launch manufacturers for Windows Phone, back when it launched in 2010. The Venue 7 stood out compared to the other models thanks to its slide form factor which is reminiscent of the old Samsung slide phones of the era. A gentle push will reveal the phone’s keyboard, which looks similar to a standard PC keyboard in terms of layout.

Aside from that, it’s pretty much the same compared to other Windows Phone 7 handsets with its 5-megapixel camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor with an Adreno 200 graphics core, and 16GB onboard storage. No micro-SD support so storage cannot be expanded.

This would be Dell’s last foray into the mobile market, Dell also had a few Android handsets like the Dell Streak and would produce a few tablet devices like the Dell Venue.

This handset originally ran the launch builds of Windows Phone 7 and was later upgraded to 7.8 which backported various Windows Phone 8 features.

Microsoft has slowly phased support for Windows Phone 7, with various services ceasing support. Bing no longer works, the app store has since been discontinued meaning you can no longer download and install applications for the device, limiting its capabilities as a smartphone. You’re pretty much limited to what comes with the device, which is very little in this case. The handset has pretty much become a basic feature phone with web browsing functionality but with Internet Explorer 9 the browsing is very limited with certain sites refusing to load due to how old the browser is and the lack of support for modern security protocols.

As someone who use Windows Phone from 2011 – 2017, it’s a sad state to see how this once fantastic but flawed mobile OS has been abandoned, kind of like seeing how deteriorated the Titanic wreck is.
Some things still work as of October 2022, like the search suggestions that appear when you type into the Internet Explorer search bar, and the Bing background wallpaper.

The games will certainly be missed as Microsoft actually put some effort into porting popular titles like Doodle Jump and Fruit Ninja, and also embraced new titles like Beards n Beaks and Wordament. All of these feature Xbox Live achievements and leaderboards which synced with your main Xbox profile.

There are very few applications that are preinstalled, which Windows OEMs could do so. Considering this is a Dell, I’m surprised there no McAfree security preinstalled. The only one I can see is a network operation settings app, that lets you set the correct internet and MMS configuration for your network provider.

Music & Video

The Zune software is used to transfer media from and to the phone and is required for this purpose. You cannot use MTP to transfer content as the phones file system is not exposed to the host in any form. Its a very similar approach to what Apple took with the iPhone, where iTunes was the only way to exchange media to the phone. (Although later ios released supported PTP for easier photo transfers)

The problem here is Zune is partially broken on later Windows 10 releases since the conversion function is nonfunctional. This was useful for when you had high quality MP3 files that you wanted to transfer to the phone Zune could transcode them to a lower quality, say 128Kbps, and copy them to the phone. The result is a smaller file size in a more efficient WMA format whilst maintaining some form of quality.

Using Windows 8, 7 or Vista is recommended if you wish to transcode your music through Zune.

This does make the phone a kickass music player, and back when if was functional Zune pass was revolutionary for the time as it allowed you to subscribe to stream music from their library, similar to Spotify or Deezer today.

Lastly the Zune software could also sync podcasts and applications/games downloaded from the Zune store. This functionality has since been removed and has not been replicated, making it impossibly to load apps from your PC onto the phone itself.

You at least get access to an FM radio, which lets you change the frequency by sliding your finger in the direction you want to scan. It can pick up station name indicators along with any supplementary information if broadcast by the station. You can also pin stations individually onto the start screen for quick access.

Conclusion

Well, it’s a shame to see that was once a smartphone has now been relegated to a feature phone, or even a dumb phone as compared to your typical Nokia or Sony Ericsson feature phone that has the ability to run third party Java programs, Windows Phone 7 now lacks this ability. Only merit it has is its Internet Explorer browser which is losing support by the day.

Nokia 6230

The 6230 was one of the major milestones when it came to multimedia handsets of 2004, whilst it lacked 3G network support, it made up for it with its 2G EDGE and Bluetooth support which allows for file transfers with other handsets that support it. A TFT colour display is offered which supports up to 65536 colours, but is stuck with the low resolution of 128×128. Marketed and sold as a business-class phone, which meant it included an email client and a calendar that could sync with an external server. A VGA resolution camera is included which is capable of capturing video.

The 6230 was another example of Nokia’s flagship handsets of the time and incorporated all of the common characteristics of Nokia, including exchangeable covers, a lanyard, and a hands-free port.

There are three soft keys, left, middle and right which can be used to activate certain functions depending on what’s displayed on the screen. The middle soft key is typically the select button, which is commonly used to confirm and enter menus. The left/right buttons are commonly used to go back or display an option/list menu.
Lastly, you have the common Send/End keys, also known as green/red phone keys.

Nokia would later continue to enhance the 6230 with the 6230i, which adds a larger screen, better camera and more storage, whilst sticking with the popular form factor.

Homescreen

This will look familiar to anyone who has used Nokia S40 phones in the past, with the signal and battery power meters on the left and right respectively, along with the network operator in the middle, which can be replaced with an operator logo if one is provided (very few actually did this).

The directional keys can be used as shortcuts to common menu items, like pressing the up button opens the camera, left will open the SMS message composer.

Speed dialing can be activated by pressing and holding down a key, which will dial out the contact number assigned to it. 1 will always dial out the voicemail number.

Menu Navigation

The 6230 uses the Series 40 platform, but with an updated icon set, still the menu layout remains the same as previous models.

Messages

Here you can create and send SMS text messages, or compose one using the built-in templates offered. Received messages can be entered into custom folders for long-term keeping.
There is also a distribution list for when you want to spam multiple contacts with the same message, you simply enter the numbers to send the message to or select from your phonebook, and your message will be set to multiple recipients. Useful for making an announcement or sending the same message to multiple contacts frequently.

Nokia smart messaging is supported, which allows sending and receiving of ringtones and black/white static images to other supported handsets (commonly Nokia) but also with some Samsung/LG/Motorola. There are 10 templates that have been included with the handset that can be sent.
EMS is not supported. Instead MMS is supported, which allows for photos and small audio clips to be sent using the phones data connection. Up to 100kb can be attached to a single MMS file.

There is an option or instant messaging, where it requires connecting to an instant messaging client. Possibly you could use this for AIM or MSN Messenger, but I believe these services required you to use their own mobile clients. Possibly this was intended to be used by the network provided instead, although it may only function for users on the same mobile network.
I don’t think any network providers in the Uk made use of the feature.

Lastly, there is also a built-in email client which supports POP3 and SMTP protocols which were commonly used in that time. However, it is very limited, which no support for attachments

Contacts

The Phonebook, up to 1000 entries can be saved to the internal memory, with a little more being saved to the SIM card. Contacts stored in the phone memory can have additional information assigned to it, such as the email address, home/landline number, fax number, office/work, and a photo of the contact assigned, which will appear onscreen when the contact shows. If a contact has multiple numbers assigned to it, the first number entered will be the default contact used.

A presence service is supported, which lets you know if any contacts are available directly for chat, im not sure how this works exactly, if it uses some obscure GSM protocol to achieve this, but it was not widely used.
As mentioned earlier, the contact’s photo can be st to appear when the contact calls, although you are limited to using a portrait version of the contact, and its still hard to make out due to the low size and resolution of the display. Plus you are limited to 100 contacts that can have a photo assigned to them,
Contacts can slo be assigned to groups, upto 5 in total are supported. Each group can have its own custom ringtones.

Call Register

Three lists are stored here, each for received, dialed and missed calls. Each list can save up to 20 entries and will show the date/time of the call. You can also press the green call button from the idle screen to show the recently dialed numbers.

Settings

This section remains largely unchanged from the previous models, but there are some new options to take advantage of the added functionality

Profiles: Phone profiles can be set and configured from there, you can also access this by pressing the power button, located at the top of the handset.

Communication: lets you access the Bluetooth, IrDA (Infra-Red) and GPRS sync settings. For Bluetooth you can set the device to be discoverable, view any previously paired devices and set devices to connect without any confirmation required.
The support of both Bluetooth and Irda is useful, as many laptops lacked Bluetooth support, but included Infrared support for data exchange. With additional software like Nokia PC Suite, you could use the GPRS connection to connect to the internet.

Gallery

The file manager, here you can view any photos captured by the camera, or any of the ringtones and default wallpapers.
The memory card can also be accessed and managed here, and files can be copied over from phone memory to the memory card. Upto 128MB is officially supported, using the MultiMedia Card standard (MMC). The added storage makes the device useful for an MP3 player.
As a layer of security, you can set a passcode for the memory card, which must interfered when the card is inserted into another device.

One poor design decision is the Send soft key when you are viewing a photo, pressing it directly inserts it into an MMS message, however you assume it would give you a menu to choose from if you want to send via MMS, Bluetooth or Infrared.

Media

This is where you can access most of the phone’s multimedia functions,
The Camera can capture phones in regular and portrait modes, and an added night mode lets you try to take photos in low-light conditions. The files are saved in the JPEG format, and three types of compression can be used.

Media Player – Plays multimedia files like MP3 files. You can adjust the audio using the equalizer to adjust the sound output.

Music Player – Searches for and plays back Mp3 files, and supports the use of playlists.

Voice Recorder – lets you record upto 3 minutes of speech, which can function during a phone call when the handset is on loudspeaker mode.

Radio – FM radio player, this requires the handsfree or the headphones to be connected, since it functions as the radio’s antenna.

Organizer

Alarm Clock: A single alarm can be set, and can be on set days of the week. A unique ringtone can be set for the alarm to distinguish it from the regular ringtones, or it can be set to play the radio, which requires the headset to be connected for it to play.

Calendar: A monthly calendar can be displayed, and up to around 200 entered can be set into the handset memory. You can view the calendar weekly or monthly, depending on which is preferred, and you can jump directly to a date, which seems to max out at the year 2080 of which the phone wraps around to 1980.

I’d be surprised if this phone will even be in use by then

Types of calendar events that can be added are meeting, call reminders, birthday, normal reminders and memo)

To Do List: Create occasions with three proitory rates, being High, Normal and Low, with the deadline date being set. The text editing interface is almost the same as the SMS composer.

Wallet: Information here can be protected by a passcode which makes it useful to store sensitive information like payment info.

Lastly there is a sync utility that lets you synchronise the data on your phone with an external server, which can then sync with a desktop PC or a PDA.

Applications

J2ME, which is the mobile implementation of Java is supported here, and Nokia have included a few games with the handset. Applications can only be saved onto the phone’s internal memory and is limited to 1.5MB which is shared across all applications.

Nokia also offered free downloadable games that could be downloaded through the internal browser.

Games that come included are Golf, Chess and a Beach Rally II. Additional games can be installed using the Nokia PC Suite, or through the WAP browser, but they have a chance of being installed under the Collection folder, rather than games.

For applications, a unit converter and a world time app are preinstalled.

Web

The XHTML browser, mobile websites could be browsed, and up to 20 bookmarks can be saved for easy access. There is also a service inbox that saved any web links your network operator may send. WAP sites can also be accessed, but these were quickly falling out of favor with the rise of proper mobile internet.

Photo Captures

Images have a VGA resolution of 640 x 480

ReplayTV

An alternative Tivo-like DVR that was introduced in 1999. Hardware was typically made by Panasonic although a few other brands existed also.

ReplayTV had a few defining features, one of which was the ability to share shows between two compatible DVR units, providing both had ethernet sockets. Another feature was the ability to skip adverts completely with the touch of a button. Naturally the TV industry hated the idea and ReplayTV (SonicBlue) was sued because copyright matters more than human rights.

Like Tivo a separate subscription was required for your DVR to receive EPG data

Main Menu

To begin using ReplayTV the best place to start is the Main Menu.  To access the Main Menu, simply hit the menu button at the bottom of the ReplayTV Remote Control.  The main menu screen is available without leaving the current channel.  It pops up as a small section at the bottom of TV screen and presents the following options, most of which are also available directly on the remote control.

  • ReplayTV Guide – This shows the ReplayTV Channels you have created.
  • ReplayTV Zones – ReplayTV Zones are common themes of shows organized together.
  • Channel Guide – Shows a grid-style TV guide for selecting something to watch.
  • Messages – Shows any messages you have received.
  • Find Shows – Search tool to help you find something to watch or record.
  • Setup  – Configuration of the ReplayTV TV Reciever.

ReplayTV’s channel guide is pretty conventional.  It is a Grid style Guide that shows 6 channels down and 1 1/2 hours across.  It also shows the currently selected channel, title, time, and description of the show. One very cool feature is the way it shows your position in the selected show. Rather than showing how much time is remaining, which is pretty useless information,  it tells you how far into the show you are.  For example, on a thirty-minute show that has 10 minutes left, the ReplayTV will say 20 minutes in progress. This is great if what you want to know is how much you have missed.

Rather than organizing the recorded shows into a simple list, ReplayTV decided to use a concept similar to a grid-style guide to organizing the recorded shows. When you select shows to record, whether they are setup to record based on a theme or setup to record a specific show, they appear as a channel in the ReplayTV Guide.

ReplayZones are logical groupings of shows.  For instance, there is a ReplayTV zone for NBC and Cartoon Network, which lets you explore some of the best shows on the channel.  There are also zones for Movies, Comedies and ReplayTV Picks.  The ReplayTV Movies zone shows various movies that are coming to a channel near you organized by category  ReplayTV Sitcoms, shows you comedies organized by audience, such as 17 and over.  Finally, ReplayPicks lists a random show in various categories that you might want to watch.

Also in the ReplayZones screen are two other options, Search and Create a Theme.  Search allows you to search for shows based on a large number of pre-created groupings, such as ratings, or genres.  The Create a Theme option allows you to specify your own keyword searches to use for looking up shows that will be recorded.  You can also specify if the keyword will be compared against actors, directors, titles or part of the description. These themes show up in your ReplayGuide as channels and are great for creating themes for related shows when the title isn’t the same. 

As with all PTV Receivers, there are certain features that separate these boxes from VCR’s   And ReplayTV is no exception. For instance you can pause, rewind and fast forward Live TV.   When you hit pause the box will begin recording to the hard drive.  This happens regardless of whether you are watching Satellite or Cable programs.  Also, whenever you change the channel,  ReplayTV immediately starts recording the new channel.  This means that you can rewind at anytime to the point where you switched to the current channel.  You can also jump backward or forward to live television at the touch of a button. 

Further Information

The Replay Zones menu was redesigned to a more flat and simple appearance

A slideshow composed of various photos can be played back

The Setup menu

Video output settings, The RF output channel can be changed, along with the VGA output standard

Many early HDTV TV’s used either VGA or DVI to display the HD signal, as HDMI was not standardized at this point

Configuring slideshow settings for displaying photos

Multiple ReplayTV units can exist on a network, and a unique name can be used to identify an individual box

Quality settings can be changed, as the DVR captures analog video from its composite input

Parental control settings

Settings can be applied depending on the age rating

Manually setting an IP address

Another view of the network settings

A controversial feature allowing you to skip advert breaks entirely. Other DVRs like Tivo require you to manually fast forward.

Playing back a show, which gives the option to archive to a VCR

Transferring shows to another DVR over the network, I bet the networks would have loved that.

Icon that is displayed when you skip forward in a recorded show

Looks like a hidden test/setting menu

Samsung E800

The Samsung E800 was one of the first generation of Samsung’s slide form factor which is semi-automatic. A gentle push will make the slide mechanism open and close automatically, spec wise it was in line with their other models of the time, with a VGA camera and a 128×160 resolution screen. It’s very similar to the Samsung E600 in terms of specifications, but has a different screen aspect ratio and uses the slide form factor. Memory capacity has been increased, with 19Mb for user storage, and 3Mb reserved for Java apps.

The screen of the device is 128x 160 resolution, and can display up to 5 text lines. The font is standard for Samsung’s phones of the era and is nice and readable, even outside.

Missing however seems to be Bluetooth functionality, with only IrDA being offered for wireless connectivity, alongside 2G GPRS. On the side there is a handsfree connector, intended for use with the optional handfree accessory, you can also connect the D500 external speaker to this connector.

Home screen

The menu system uses a grid-like layout interface, and the numeric keys can be used as shortcuts to access different menu items.

Being one of the first Samsung models to come with a slide form factor, ergonomically the phone is designed to be pushed up withyour on directional buttons, a gentle push is all thats needed for the phone to slide up. The phone is capable of functioning even with the slide down, although you cannot access the camera or numeric functions. The phone automatically locks the front visable buttons when the slide is closed, which prevents accidental operations when the phone is in your pocket, you can still unlock the phone if you need to quickly access or show photos.

Phonebook

Contacts are saved to either the phone memory or the SIM card, the storage capacity of up to 1000 on the device, and 250 on the SIM card (depending on the SIM card itself, could be less for older SIM’s. Contacts can also be shared via infrared.

When contacts are saved to the phone memory, you can set picture for individual contacts and can store and manage them into groups (Home, work, friends), of which a specific ringtone can be set for that contact. Up to 10 groups can be set.

Call Records

Call records can be accessed here, and by pressing the green phone button from the home screen. The handset can show the total time spent on the last call, and for all calls made in total.

Network

Call diverts can be managed here, and you can manually select the network to connect to if your SIM card has permission to access it.

Sound Settings

Alert and ringtones can be set here, along with any alert and menu sound the phone is capable of making

Incoming Calls

There are 30 default ringtones, plus 15 additional pre-downloaded ringtones. More can be added using the PC Suite software, which comes with up to 100 ringtone samples that can be transferred over. These are saved to the My Sounds folder.

Messages

SMS message alerts can be repeated until they are read, useful if you are away from the phone for a period of time.

Other Sounds

The handset will make a sound when a key is pressed, or if the slider is moved up or down. The minute minder sounds a beep every minute, allowing you to keep track of how long the call is, useful for pre-paid and customers on a limited call plan.

Messages

Short Messages

SMS messages can be created and sent from here, you also have access to MMS multimedia messages, where ringtones and pictures can be sent. Predictive text is supported for faster texting and the text size can be adjusted for easier readability. EMS is also supported and the phone comes with preloaded graphics that can be sent, ringtones can also be sent but as they are mmf files, they may not be compatible with other handsets, unlike general midi files.

Multimedia messages

MSS Multimedia messages have their own menu item, and pictures and sound files can be attached to a single message. The limit for outgoing messages was 100Kb and incoming messages were limited to 45Kb and up to 150 MMS messages can be saved.

Push Messages

WAP push messages are received here, these messages were typically links to online services and promotions, such as discount ringtones or Java games. Blyk, a short-lived mobile operator used this to push advertising to users as part of its business model.

Preset Messages

You can create and save message templates to be sent later. none have already been created by Samsung, you have to create them yourself.

Voice Mail

Configure the voicemail contact number for your network provider, you can then access voicemail by pressing and holding the 1 key

Broadcast

This is similar to regular SMS messages, but whereas SMS is traditionally used for user-to-user messaging, Cell broadcast is intended to send a single message to a large group of users based on their geographic location. This can be used to alert users to local emergencies or planned outages. These messages would be received and displayed here, but I can’t remember any UK providers taking advantage of this.

Fun Box

WWW Services

The phone’s internet browser supports both WAP and GPRS. Up to 15 bookmarks can be set and a custom URL can be set to load a website.

Media Box

Acts as the phone’s media player, a photo viewer shows pictures that were captured to be viewed and sent. Photos can also be stored in two separate albums.

The images folder is where the phone’s wallpapers are saved, 8 wallpapers are shipped with the phone, and more can be added, either downloaded through the browser or received over MMS or IrDA.

Sounds is where the voice recordings and any downloaded ringtones are saved. 15 sounds come with the phone, and more can be added by downloading via the internet browser, received from MMS or using the PC suite software. The files here can also be set as a ringtone. Ringtones are in the Yamaha MMF format, and use the internal MA-5 sound processor, which is capable of decoding 64 voice polyphonic, MMF files can store MIDI and PCM audio which is evident in some of the ringtones. Some tones can also vibrate the phone in rhythm.

Samsung also offered a multimedia pack, where polyphonic ringtones can wallpapers could be downloaded to the users PC and then transferred to the phone.

JAVA World

Java games can be downloaded and installed from here, two games are preinstalled, SnowBallFight and BubbleSmile. Up to 3Mb can be allocated for Java applications. The PC suite software does not allow for Java applications to be installed to the phone, unless specific software is used, and the phone must be put into a serial download mode.

Organiser

Memo

Notes can be taken and saved to the phone’s memory, text entry is similar to the SMS editor, but you are limited to 100 characters. Notes can be classified as either Scheduler, To Do list, call, or an anniversary. Up to 25 notes can be saved.

Calendar

A calendar that can be used to set reminders and appointments, memos, as described above can be added to each day. A nice touch is a graphic that appears at the top of each month that reflects the month or season, kind of reminds me of the PSP XMB that would change its colour on the month.

To-Do List

Similar to the Memo, lists can be created and saved, with the option to set a date and time for an alert. This is normally intertwined with the calendar.

Clock

Time and date can be set here, along with the time format and the time zone.

Alarm

Up to 3 alarms can be set here with different times, you can set the re-occurrence and the ability for the phone to automatically power on.

Calculator

Conversion

A numeric converter that supports converting currency, Length, Weight, Volume, area or temperature.

Timer

Stopwatch

Camera

The phone has a VGA camera built in with flash and 8x digital zoom. The resolution can be changed to CIF 320×240. Built-in functions include a timer, frames, and effects (sepia, greyscale, negative). There is also a multishot function, when you press the capture key, 6,9 or 15 pictures are taken, and you can select the best picture.

Compression levels can be set from Economy, Normal, Fine and Super Fine)

Phone Settings

Display

Greeting Message

A message can be displayed when the handset is switched on with the default message is shown on the right.

Language

Setting the language and the type of input. As this software was intended for Europe, only common European languages are shown.

Security

A passcode can be set for when you try to access any photos or sounds on the device. PINs can also be modified here.

Other

Infrared IrDA is supported however you can only use this with a Windows PC with the Samsung PC studio software, or the Samsung PIM & File Manager. You cannot exchange files with another handset, nor can you send and receive files using the default windows IrDA file transfer, you must use the Samsung software. Also, the camera and IrDA cannot be active at the same time, you cannot enter the camera without disabling the IrDA.

Camera Photo’s

A few sample images captured on a sunny day, the image sensor seems to struggle in bright conditions

The camera can also apply different effects, but this can only be done when capturing the image. The effects are in order: Grey, Negative, Sepia, Emboss & Sketch.

Conclusion

Overall it’s a very nice functional phone with a lot of compelling features for the time. It’s slide form factor would become standard for Samsung’s high and mid-range handsets until the release of the Android-based Galaxy series.

Only downside is the lack of Bluetooth, with was beginning to become more common on handsets in this price range, and the Infra-red is limited to PC use only, although the manual mentions the ability to share contact with another Samsung handset. You can’t transfer files with another handset and for PC use, the Samsung PIM software is needed (Version 1 only, V2 has issues initiating transfers)

To Do – Possibly we can try to get GPRS working whilst 2G is still a thing in the UK, and to see if we can upload Java games over Irda, or using a data cable