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Palm247/WindowsMobile247/MoreMobile247
Product Name:  Mugen Extended and Standard Batteries

Supplied by: Eten Workshop  http://shop.eten.hu

Price: Various, dependant on size and phone

Reviewer: Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Packaging– The battery. New phone back for extended battery.   Charging instructions. Clear Packaging.

First Impressions– Well designed and solid feel.
 
Hardware Highlights– A range of longer life standard size replacement batteries and extended batteries offering superior run time.

Firstly, I would like to thank Eten Workshops for sending 2 Mugen batteries; a Mugen Standard Battery for the HP 214 and the extended battery for the Samsung i780. Eten Workshop sells a wide range of batteries for most popular devices.

I have now had the chance to test both these batteries for over one month and I first tried the Mugen extended battery for the Samsung i780. The picture above is the extended battery with larger battery cover and this battery is nearly 3 times more powerful than the standard Samsung battery. Whilst the rear cover is larger, it actually makes gripping and using the i780 a lot easier. Also, the run time of the phone is enhanced by nearly 3 times that of the standard battery which makes the added size a small price to pay.

I am a very heavy use; wifi, gaming, calls, Bluetooth, internet, push email etc. and using my i780 constantly, it still managed to last for 3 days (one week, in a 2G area). The only downside is that none of my custom cases fit the phone now, so I am using a universal case instead.

I also had the option of testing the Mugen standard fit battery for the HP 214 which is 10% more powerful than the standard HP battery. Consequently, I was able to achieve that little extra run time which equated to an extra 30 mins on average (1 hour over the stock HP battery).

Conclusion– I have been more than impressed by the Mugen batteries. The extended battery really has proven its weight in gold and actually made my Samsung i780 more useable in terms of on-time and the better grip. HIGHLY recommended.

Build Quality-  10/10
Ease of use-     10/10
Value for money- 9/10
Total score- 92%

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Date of Review – 25th June 2008

Available from – http://4ustuff.com

Prices – $25-28

4ustuff manufacture cases and accessories for a range of devices. They kindly sent me a selection of their cases for the Samsung i780.

Leather Hang Case with Cover and Belt Clip

First up is the Leather Hang case with screen cover. The design is different to any case I have reviewed but actually is a wonderful and simple idea. The leather cover has room for one micro sd card and an sd memory card. It has a magnetic enclosure built into the end of the cover so it simply attaches with ease to the side of the case and doesn’t bounce off either.

The leather is of good quality and the overall leather depth of the case adds minimal profile to the overall size compared to other i780 cases reviewed previously. Also the camera side button is protected inside the case. There is a marking on the side of the case so you know where to press. The case also comes with a belt clip which attaches to the rear of the case if required.

   

All cutouts for all the bespoke functions of the i780 are included. An unusual design, but one which I like a lot.

Horizontal Leather Case

Another well designed, good quality case. Room for memory cards, credit cards and a spare stylus, this is another excellent case from 4ustuff.

The bottom of the case includes cutouts for the mic and allows you to easily remove the phone from the case if desired. The top of the case is open.

The other sides of the case are equally as impressive.

This is another excellent case design, with the ability to hold credit and memory cards and a stylus.

Vertical Leather Case with Belt Clip

Similar to the horizontal case, this has storage for memory and credit cards, but not for a spare stylus. The case has a cutout for the front camera, and once again the side camera button is under the case with a marking on the outer side of the case to show you where to press.  This case also comes with a belt clip if required.

All in all, another well designed case.

Summary

I liked all the cases by 4ustuff, but my personal favourite is the Vertical case.

Review by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

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A few months ago I spent a few days with a Blackberry Curve, but got sidetracked by all of the hassle setting it up with my current mobile service provider and dispensed with it. Following a few blissful weeks with the Samsung i780 I decided to try a Curve again with my new provider to see if the experience had improved. The two factors that let the i780 down are battery life and screen clarity when outdoors, and with summer starting to take hold the later can be a major problem. Owning a sophisticated smartphone gives you the freedom to send and receive emails wherever there is coverage, but that is somewhat negated when you use a device that has issues with the sun. There are few ways to avoid the sun because it is rather big, rather bright and by all accounts helps us to live…

This article will inevitably compare the Curve to the i780 and I will attempt to look at each particular feature with an open mind, and it is fair to say that I have spent a ‘long’ time making sure the Blackberry experience is one I understand. I have not just picked up the phone and found problems- I have found problems and researched each one until a fix has been found. Please also remember that this article is not aimed at the corporate user, but more at the power smartphone user who has a relatively high degree of knowledge in the platform they use.

Price

My current contract costs £15 per month for voice and texts and an additional £7.50 per month for unlimited web browsing. It is not exactly a contract because it was purchased as a SIM only option with a 30 day notice period. On a Windows Mobile, Symbian or Palm device I can surf and deal with emails as often as I like and not be penalised for over usage. After many discussions with my service provider I found, to my horror, that it would cost me a further £15 per month to receive emails using the Blackberry Internet Service, thus taking the contract up to £37.50 per month. I understand that push email is great for people who have a standard email account from the likes of Yahoo or Google, but that is a very high amount to pay. All of the other providers I researched also charged extra for the Blackberry email service, and I do have that 30 day contract which limit’s the offers available to me. Also, I have a personal MS Exchange Server which means that I can have ActiveSync exchange without usage limits for the aforementioned £22.50 per month, and I can synchronise contacts, calendar and tasks at the same time as email.

Interface

Anyway, I signed up as a test and added my email accounts to the BIS. This all worked well and emails started to appear in my inbox. When I say ‘Inbox’ I really mean a list of messages that is so confusing as to almost completely disregard all that we have learned about presentation on a mobile device. The included fonts are quite frankly appalling and make the whole system look like a backward version of Palm OS, and that is not easy to do. There are many keyboard shortcuts available, but these still require too many key presses for my liking and after many days I still struggled to grasp the amount of manual intervention the user had to apply to do routine tasks. Some Blackberry users will say that it is just a case of getting used to it, but not everyone has the time, or inclination, to do that. There are third party solutions that present new emails in a much more readable fashion, but again I do not feel that should be necessary. I had a look around and it does appear that the built in fonts are not easy to change, but may be there is a solution out there that I am not aware of.

For all of the included applications from the calendar and address book through to the tasks and memo pad I found the interface to be very basic. This is not always a bad thing and indeed it is advantageous in many circumstances. I don’t need my calendar to have lots of colours and a memo pad should be clean and simple to let the data shine through. I like the ‘Zen of Blackberry’ look for most PIM applications, but not in messaging. I also found the included launcher to be reminiscent of Symbian- you get a icon driven grid of applications that you can move around and add to new folders, but this is not particularly useful if you have a lot of applications installed. There are many themes out there, but few appear to change the way the interface works; you either get a very basic today screen or a launcher pad, but no mix of the two. Windows Mobile wins hands down in this area.

In use

I mentioned having lots of applications installed, but this is not easy to do. Within two days of using the Curve I received the dreaded egg timer alert again and again as the free memory dropped below 10MB. All I had installed was Ascendo Money and MobiReader, but this is apparently a known issue with the Curve itself. To own a device that takes away the worry of battery life or screen resolution if fantastic, but it seems to replace those problems with a new one- lack of memory. Some of the solutions offered include uninstalling applications, soft resetting and even hard resets alongside many other tweaks you should do to get things running well. It was also apparent that the browser struggled to display a number of web pages and often froze when I used it. The browser itself also felt very Palm OS like and reminded me of Blazer which is not a good thing.

I liked the general speed of the Curve, when the egg timer was absent, but never quite managed to quite trust it to be able to handle what I need from day to day. I want good messaging, PIM, eBooks, GPS and a not taking applications and that it is. The GPS solutions available include Garmin Mobile (which is probably the best, but not comparable to the likes of TomTom and CoPilot), Blackberry Maps (bundled, but not a true GPS solution) and finally I tried Vodafone Sat Nav. It is hard to explain my experience with Vodafone Sat Nav, but needless to say NEVER AGAIN!

Having a device that is built so well is a joy and the keyboard soon became super quick for me, but not quite as good as the i780, and the screen works brilliantly in all conditions. The Curve felt like a case of super hardware mixed with some low specifications and uncomfortable operating system to produce a bizarre smartphone that should be a lot better than it is.

Conclusion

I make no apologies for my lack of Blackberry knowledge. I am no expert in this area having previous owned over 50 Psion, Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices but wanted to experience the operating system from the perspective of a new user. In the first few days, I found the entire experience to be difficult to understand and had to overcome a variety of problems. It is without doubt great if your company sets it all up for you, but a personal user not only has to pay more to attain the Blackberry experience, but has to undertake a learning curve to make the most out of this platform.

Strangely, I kept going back to the Curve to use it because it is indeed an enjoyable phone to use and the call quality and speakerphone are superb, but I could not achieve as much as I can on my i780 in the same time. There is something special about the Blackberry interface, but also something deeply irritating that I struggle to find the words for. I cannot quite understand why it is so popular and why this popularity appears to be growing as each month passes by. After many hours of use, I found the OS to be basic, poor value and ultimately lacked flexibility. In defence of the often criticised Windows Mobile, my Samsung i780 has proved to be more stable, much quicker and more powerful that the Curve and that is true of most other WM devices I have used.

I know people who have moved from another OS and who love the way Blackberry’s work and a friend said to me that “It lets me get on with the important things and not concentrate on the rubbish.” I can understand this view, but I could not manage to do much beyond the standard stuff and I had to pay a premium for a service that is less featured than MS Exchange.

Despite all of my grumbles, it has certainly been an interesting experience using the Blackberry platform. Sadly, it is not one I will be returning to anytime soon. It is being updated and this is great news so I may return one day to see what has changed. Finally, I would like to recommend www.crackberry.com. I asked one basic question and was inundated with helpful replies and welcome messages. The site looks great and the people on the forums are extremely helpful- something inside me tells me that I have missed the whole meaning of the Blackberry experience because these people love it to bits!

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Astraware has continued to release many games over the past year, and it is pleasing to see so many releases still appearing for Palm OS month after month. Bubble Babble is initially available for Palm OS and Windows Mobile, with more platforms expected in the future.

Seeing the screenshots of Bubble Babble gave an impression of a classic Astraware puzzle style title and I was not disappointed when I first played it. Firstly, it runs perfectly on my 320×320 screened Samsung i780 and the tutorial is not only cute, but very useful. After a few minutes I was linking letters, splitting words and desperately moving letters around the screen with my stylus. Think of this as upside down Tetris with words and you will get a rough idea of what I am talking about.

The idea is to make as many words as possible and once you have made a word you need to drag it to the top of the screen to make it count. Dragging a word you have made in error to the bottom will split it and you can start the word again. While doing this, you have to try to stop the letters floating to the top and being lost. It is an interesting mix of word skill and frantic playability that is surprisingly addictive. On my first test play I was sat there for over 45 minutes which is a first for me.

There are four styles of play which are Challenge, Target, Mystery and Freeplay. Each offers a good variety of play and the Freeplay mode somewhat reminds me of Bejeweled in that you can in theory play the game forever. I like the variety, but personally I favoured Challenge over the others.

The graphics are very cute and you can even collect shells of varying types to add to your collection. This made seem a bit too cute for some, but I have always liked games that offer an extra target and this adds to the overall immersive environment.

It is hard to write a lot about Bubble Babble because the rules are very simple, but consider this a positive. Just like Bejeweled, it is simple to learn but quite taxing on the brain as you progress through each level. I’m not saying that this is a classic, but it is indeed an addictive puzzler of the highest order. Everything about it screams ‘Astraware’ and who knows; it could become a classic to sit alongside Bejeweled and Text Twist.

Bubble Babble is well worth the asking price and it has already become a hit in my family. My wife loves it, my 8 year old son has also been playing it (I can see it helping his spelling) and my 4 year old daughter just giggles at the cute colours and graphics. What more could you want from one game?

Bubble Babble will be available from www.astraware.com within the next 48 hours. Try it!

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The Jabra BT3030 is a curious mix of high fashion, low price and high specifications which is not something you see every day. It retails for between £35-£40 so is no way near the high-end Bluetooth headsets, yet it comes with A2DP stereo, AVRCP remote control and is compatible with Bluetooth 1.1 and Bluetooth 2.0 devices. All in all the amount of ‘stuff’ you get offers a positive initial experience-

In the box

The BT3030 itself
Stereo headphones (in-ear style)
Lanyard
Clothing clip
AC adaptor and charger
Quick start guide
User manual on mini CD

The packaging is typical Jabra and is very yellow. Not a great start, but I can forgive that if everything else works OK. The BT3030 and related accessories all give an air of consistency and make up a package that is neither over the top or too restrained. For people who have an aversion to wearing dog tag style headsets, this one may change their minds.

In use

To date, I have been using the BT3030 with my Samsung i780 and the initial set up was a complete breeze. Within a minute I had both devices paired and I was up and running. Once set up the Jabra will automatically connect to the smartphone when a call is received or initiated and I found the sound quality to be of a higher standard than most of the Bluetooth headsets I have used in the past. The illuminated main part of the unit is not the smallest in the world, but has elegance to it that most do not. The matt silver finish mixes well with the blue icons and if you cannot bear the thought of hanging it around your neck a plastic pocket clip in included for more obscure usage.

Over the past three days I have used the Jabra on more than 50 calls which have lasted more than 3 hours and I have not had to recharge it. This should be expected I guess, but it is nice to know that charging will not be a daily occurrence.

Now, let’s move onto the A2DP side which proved just as impressive as the voice side. Music quality is excellent through the i780 and the included headphones, but does get better with a decent pair of Sennheisers or even the standard iPod / iPhone earphones. The inclusion of a standard 3.5mm jack offers a great deal of flexibility to the package and so you can use any headphones you wish with this set up. Curiously, the music volume was very low when using the new Pocket Tunes for Windows Mobile, but more than loud enough using the built in media player on the i780. This is obviously software related, but is a warning not to be put off if your own software struggles.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Jabra BT3030 is the best Bluetooth headset I have used to date and the ability to play music wirelessly is an added bonus. It looks great, sounds great and is as reliable as the working day is long. It is also excellent value for money. I desperately wanted to find a fault worth mentioning, but came up short.

Available from most mobile phone stockists and from Jabra direct.

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Screen protectors are boring and just about impossible to write about, but a screen protector is the very first accessory I add to any new smartphone or PDA. It need to reduce glare, protector the screen and allow finger taps and stylus taps to be recognised as precisely as if it were not installed. Ideally, it also needs to be easy to install and come with the correct extras to make the installation process as painless as possible.

I have just received the Advanced Screen Protector from Proporta for my Samsung i780 and decided to install it as soon as I received it. My previous protector had one small speck of dust under it and it is strange how much it annoyed me when reading eBooks. When you stare at a smartphone screen as much as I do, you need to make a perfect job of the installation. Fortunately the Proporta protector comes with a cloth and card to ease the installation process- you may still need some moisture to clean the screen fully before you install it, but I found the process to be remarkably easy. Within a couple of minutes, I had a perfectly installed screen protector that was not even noticeable once on.

The crucial test for me is driving and on a very sunny day, which we have occasionally in the UK, and this protector really did help with GPS on my i780. The i780 is not great in the sun and so an anti-glare protector is a must have item for an owner.

Another attraction of this particular protector is the way it is designed to not only cover the screen, but the surrounding area on the i780. It makes way for the navigation keys, top speaker and front camera perfectly and if you take the time to install it properly you will be rewarded with screen protection that is almost impossible to see.

Conclusion

Hard wearing, anti-reflective, easy to install, good value.

Available from www.proporta.com for £5.95.

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Multi Case Review for Samsung i780 by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

Date of Review – 30th May 2008

Today, I have 4 cases for review from the following companies ; Beyzcases, Noreve, Pdair and Proporta. Each case is totally different in its design and solution.

Beyzacases Slim Tan case

 

Available from – www.beyzacases.com

Price – $33.50

Weight – 23g

The Beyzacase is made from high quality leather. It is the simplest of designs in that you simply slide your phone into the case and to use, grab from the partially open top sides or push from the bottom. This case adds the smallest increase to the overall size and weight of the Samsung i780. It fits inside pockets with ease, and even my shirt pockets. Beyzacases have just added a new leather case for the Samsung i780 (available for  other devices too).

Some additional shots below :-

 
And a side view with the phone inside.

 

A simple case, but very effective.

Pdair Black Leather Sleeve Case

 

Available from – www.pdair.com

Price – $28.00

Weight – 28g

Pdair have a large range of cases for the Samsung i780, with different colours, designs and materials. I decided to look at the Sleeve Black Leather. This case is slightly heavier than the Beyzacases Slim case but it does include the ability to attach the belt clip if needed. And it is still light. It is only slightly deeper in profile than the Beyzacase. In use I found the leather bar going across the screen occasionally interfering with the 4 way nav. Other than that it has all the cutouts.

 

The Pdair case is reinforced at the bottom. 
 

On the rear of the case, you can see the cutout for the camera and screw belt attachment hole. Another good quality case.

 

Proporta Black Alu-Leather Case

Available from – www.proporta.com

Price – £22.94 + VAT

Weight – 59g

Once again another design solution. The Proporta Alu Leather case is made from high quality leather, with neat white stitching. Proporta insert a piece of aircraft grade aluminium to provide increased protection for the front of the device. Also, all of their Alu Leather cases work in conjunction with their GPS mounting system. The Samsung i780 is held in place with two support bars. This design means the keyboard is not restricted by any case edges and works very well in use.

 

It also means the sides are open. See photos below.
 

And the other side.

 

As you can see the support bars do not interfere with any of the buttons or slots on the i780. The only minor gripe is the closing clasp. This does stick out a bit, but in time as the leather softens this will adjust downwards a little.

Last up.

Noreve Tradition Case – Sandy Vintage Leather Finish

 

Available from – www.noreve.com

Price – 39.99 euros

Weight – 61g

Noreve provide a multitude of different finishes and colours for this case. The Sandy Vintage finish is IMO is their best finish although it will mark but that is how it is meant to work. Over time, it provides a aged look. The Noreve case is finished to the highest standards. It is a precision fit. It also is the heaviest case. In terms of profile it is identical to the Proporta, which are both slightly deeper than the Pdair. The belt clip is attached using a metal screw system that is excellent. Noreve even include a screwdriver.

 

If you look at the leather bar under the screen, you will see if curves around the 4 way nav of the i780. This allows for easier use of this device’s 4 way nav and is excellent attention to detail. Also, 2 microsd slots are include of the inside of the flip.

 

With the case closed as shown above, the camera is protected. To use the camera, you open the case and fold back the flap, as shown below.

 
Another excellent case, finish and design.

Summary

Each case reviewed offers something different. A different design and finish. My recommendation is difficult as I like them all. Noreve just pips the post as my favourite for offering the most tailored case. If you have any additional questions, please ask.

Review by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

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