Monday, December 29, 2008

Kicking up a stINQ

So, as you might've read in a previous post, I've been playing around with the INQ1 phone I've been asked to trial for nearly two weeks now. Well, kinda…

Everything started swimmingly at first. The phone was up and running in seconds, and as per my usual rule of not bothering to read the instructions at first (I'm a keen believer that technology should be intuitive to use, and I shouldn't have to read and memorise reams and reams of some dry manual in order to use it properly) I began fiddling around with little clue as to what I was actually doing. Fortunately, the INQ1 turned out to be pretty easy to use, thanks mostly to a handy little button located about halfway down on the right-hand side that scrolls through the onscreen widgets, such as Facebook, Skype, Messenger, and so on.

On the downside, as I noted in my earlier post, for a phone that runs on a 3G network, I was damned if I could get a 3G signal on that first day. I ended up assuming all manner of weirdly-contorted shapes (half thinking that at some point I might hear Dale Winton shout "BRING ON THE WALL!") in an effort to get the little 3G icon to appear, but to no avail. This is, of course, not the phone's fault, and is instead more to do with 3 Mobile's network coverage. Fortunately, someone somewhere must've heard my curses and realligned a satellite or something because the next day it was fine.

And after that everything was pretty groovy. After accessing Facebook for the first time, the INQ1 quickly and effortlessly imported all of my Facebook contacts, and, inexplicably, all of my Messenger ones too; where the hell it plucked them from I don't know, but it was nevertheless very cool. And from that moment I became Timmy Two-phones. Comparing the INQ1 with my iPhone showed that the little-phone-that-could can, in fact, do a lot of the things the mighty Jeebus phone can … just a little clunkier. And I don't mean that in a disrespectful way, it's just that the iPhone's web interface, for example, is so incredibly slick that it becomes second nature to just poke your finger against the screen to access links and other pages. The INQ1, however, requires you to use a series of four navigation buttons to move around a webpage - just like all other web-enabled, non-touchscreen mobiles. And in all honesty, it does this pretty well; I've quite happily played around on the internet on it for quite a substantial period of time. 

On the downside, like the iPhone the INQ1 screen does flip to a horizontal perspective if you tilt the phone to the side. This took me a bit by surprise at first because it initially seemed like something of a temperamental feature with little rhyme or reason as to when it would actually work. I got used to it, though.

What I really like, though, is the fact that the phone is permanently logged on to Facebook, and I pretty quickly found myself instinctively reaching for the INQ1, rather than my iPhone, when checking my profile and those of my mates. Not because it did anything particularly better than the iPhone, just that it saved me from having to put in my username and password all the time. Handy, eh? I should really check out the Facebook app for the iPhone to see if that offers similar functionality when I give the INQ1 back…


I met up with a couple of friends over the weekend before Christmas, and decided to take the opportunity to see what they thought of the INQ1. On Saturday afternoon I caught up with my long-lost running pal Sweatband for coffee. Sweatband is an existing 3 Mobile customer, and uses Skype for work. She was pretty taken with the INQ1, particularly the built-in Skype, because it would be very handy for her to use while working, and the Facebook functionality, because she's addicted to Facebook. She also thought it was a pretty cool little phone and was impressed with the price, but she did mention that she's had similar problems with 3's network coverage; apparently, when she calls her mum she has to stand with her back to her front door, because that's the only way she can get a signal at home. And it's become a standing joke with her colleagues that if anyone calls her, her phone will cut out at least once during the call due to a dropped signal. Hmmm…

The next day I hooked up with Best Mate Jo for our pre-Christmas pancake brunch-fest. While waiting for our pancakes to arrive I showed her the INQ1 and she was similarly impressed with it, particularly the whole Facebook thing (I'm seeing a pattern here).

An aside:

Which makes me think - at what point did we stop using our phones to actually make calls? Seriously, I very rarely call anyone, and I barely scratch the surface of my monthly minutes. I tend to text more often than not - and since I got my iPhone I find myself emailing a whole lot more. 

Of course, since I got my iPhone, I've also found myself using lightsabres and Zippo Lighters a hell of a lot more too…

So, Best Mate Jo rather liked the phone, and we subsequently wasted a bit of time playing around with the camera and the INQ1's ability to upload photos straight to Facebook, which is a cool and very easy to use little feature; she took a picture of me salivating in anticipation of pancakes, and I took one of her wearing panda earmuffs which I won't post a link to for fear that she might punch me (but if you're my friend on Facebook - and I didn't tell you this – it's in my photo album: shhhh!).

Unfortunately, things started to go a little pear-shaped a few days after that. Basically, I think it was on Christmas Eve, I was round Sparky Ma and Pa's, and was checking Facebook just before heading home. When I was done I pushed the upper part of the INQ1 shut - and the phone promptly turned itself off. Thinking it was just a little bug I turned it back on, and thought nothing more of it. On Christmas Day, though, it did the same thing again - and then wouldn't turn on for a few minutes. Eventually I got it to start up again, but then when I slid the phone open it turned off again. In frustration I left it off and went back to playing with my new toys watching the Queen's speech.

On Boxing Day it continued going absolutely mentalist on me, and any attempt to either open or close the phone had to be done as gently as possible - i.e. using two-hands and looking like I was stuck in some kind of weird slow-motion time warp. Over the weekend I fired it up again, and for a while everything seemed to be groovy again - until this morning. As regular readers will know, I'm damned awful at getting up in the morning and regularly use two alarms (an alarm clock and the alarm on my iPhone). Not wanting to sleep my entire Christmas break away, I've also been adding the INQ1 to the alarm clock mix, a duty it has been performing very well. This morning, however, having already been woken by my iPhone, I was witness to the most, well, alarming sight: the INQ1's screen flashing away like it was off its tits at an illegal rave - and not one jot of sound coming out of it. As you might imagine, this was a rubbish alarm, but in all fairness it was a rather beguiling light show.

To be honest, it actually looked like it was trying to turn on, but seeing as I'd actually left it on all night I don't know how that problem might arise. Anyway, to sum up, there's clearly something wrong with it. Seeing as my impression of the INQ1 had been pretty favourable up to the point it started going wrong, I can only hope that my one is an exception to the rule, and that everyone else who's got one is having fun with it.


Inexplicable DeVice said...

At last: Yay! First!!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Mmmmm... Pancakes!

Bleeeuch... Technology that allows one to talk to other people. I only use my phone to text (or to see what time it is - I don't wear a watch), if it's switched on. And I can remember where I put it. And it's charged up. And has credit...

CyberPete said...

Poor Inqy! I hope it's a holiday bug. The iPhone is awesomeness though. It's hard to compete with that.

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - I'm the same; today was the first time in ages that I actually used my phone to make a call. It felt weird!

Cyberpete - I know, I was really enjoying getting to grips with it too!

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to a forum for the INQ

Some useful info in here

Anonymous said...

There's a new version of the Windows Live Messenger appliaction. This runs in the background and apparently solves some of the reset problems & battery life issues.

if you reboot the phone and wait for a bit, it should let you update it