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Sunday, September 20 Front Page >> Random Rants >> PPC Crowd is at it again...

May 10, 2003, 7:40pm

One thing I don't like about PocketPC (PPC) zealots (well, there's a few of them) is that sometimes, whenever a new feature *finally* makes it to the PPC, they triumph it as if it's the second coming, conveniently ignoring the fact that other competiting technologies did it first. It's not just Microsoft PPC either - it's MS Windows too.

One case I remember vividly is when Compaq/HP decided to add a 'consumer IR' to one particular iPaq. Along with it came some slick remote control software for TVs. See, before this, every PPC device had a short range infrared thing that could at best send out its signal maybe 5 feet. The 'consumer" infrared could send out its blips as far as 20 or 30 feet.

It was treated as "wow, the PPC can now do this - everyone will now love this device, they are amazing, those who deemed to invent this stuff..." yada yada. Problem is, Sony's been doing this for almost a year with many of their PALM-based Clie lineup. But the PPC crowd conveniently ignored that, thinking the PPC iPaq was the second coming now that they 'brought this technology to PDAs'.

I'm not a Windows freak or a Mac freak, or for that matter, a Palm OS supporter or PPC supporter - I just want technology that works. That's my ultimate goal. It's one reason why I opted for the Sony Ericsson P800 (based on yet another competing operating system, the Symbian OS) - it mainly works, and works well.

So today, I read about yet another PPC / Phone hybrid that has the PPC folks all agog - the new Samsung SCH-i700. It's a big brick, but has some nice features.

But it when I read this very early review of the phone that I was shaking my head in yet another case of "wow, I've never heard of this technology before" kinda stuff from the PPC crowd. To wit:

"Where the i700 really shines is in the voice dialing application; Voice Signal. It does not come pre-installed and will need to installed preferably in main memory for speed reasons. It is worth sacrificing precious main memory (the amount I don't yet know) because it is an app that you will use everyday. You can voice dial ANY contact in your address book simply by tapping the Voice Signal icon (or mapping it to a hardware button) saying "Name Dial" and then the contact name when prompted. The voice recognision is very quick, with only about a 1.5 second delay between speaking a name and recognision. If a contact has more than one phone number Voice Signal will ask you which one you wish to call (home, work, mobile, etc.). All in all, it is a very slick and useful application. For those more difficult to pronounce names there is the ability to train the system on a case by case basis."

Boring. Most cell phones these days have voice dialing options (mind you, it isn't voice recognition per se, but more like audio wave comparisons, as you have to record the voice dial name once).

My SE P800 goes several levels better. For instance, it has a "magic word" feature that, once enabled, will constantly monitor the ambient sounds looking to hear the "magic word" (which you program - make it unique, or you can trigger the phone inadvertently). Once it hears the magic word, the phone will beep and then give you five seconds to say a contact name - once you say it, it dials. The phone also uses magic word to automatically answer the phone (if the phone rings, you say your magic word or phrase and answer, and the phone will do so), hang up, or send to voice mail. You don't have to go through several button presses or options for full voice dialing either - you can associate name tags for any number of contacts, and you can associate a voice tag for each contacts' mutliple numbers, so for instance "jeanette chan, cell phone" and 'jeanette chan, studio" work just fine.

And it does this all completely hands free. It even does it via my bluetooth wireless headset, with the phone firmly in my jacket pocket.

What would be truly innovative is using voice character recognition to 100% accurately dial a number. The Samsung PPC phone don't do this, no phone on the general market that I know of does. I'd like the ability to say "phone, dial 1, 8 0 0, 5 5 5, 1 3 3 2" and have the phone nail it 100% accurate, reading the number back to me before dialing.

When a PPC device can do that, then call me :) But until then, ppc crowd, please, stop claiming features better than sliced bread that other products already do, and do pretty well as well (much better, in fact, than this PPC solution that the reviewer wrote about).

BTW, I checked out Phonescoop (excellent site, btw) for more details on this Samsung, and it ain't much to write home about - some corners were cut.

For instance, no Bluetooth, so no wireless headset options. Also the GPRS is Class 8, which is SLOOOOOO. (P800's Class 10). It is relatively thin at 3/4 an inch, but still a big brick in height and width.

But there are some cool things too - the SD slot is SDIO which is awesome, and the fact that two batteries come in the box (normal and extended life) is awesome.

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