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Thumbs Up!

posted in Guides on August 4th, 2007

Pocket PC are becoming more and more of a replacement for small time computing. They may not yet be able to replace your office PC for a 100% but typing a long email, doing some mobile blogging or other input sensitive tasks is no uncommon thing anymore.

In recent years, a number of devices have been released with integrated keyboards and you can of course always attach an external keyboard to your device, but there is still a huge amount of Pocket PCs that have to rely on Software Input Panels (SIP) to get the job done. With such a big (potential) customer base, it is only natural that companies will try to come up with solutions that make your life easier.

One of these solutions is TenGo Thumb, a SIP that is big enough to be used with your thumbs (yet, it still works very well with a stylus). The application is aimed at people that want to input data quickly and easily on the go, without going through the additional hassle of pulling a stylus out of its silo.

Rules of thumb

After installing TenGO Thumb and starting any application that requires text input, you will be presented with a choice to either skip or follow the TenGO Thumb tutorial. While you could use the SIP without any training, I would recommend you to go through the included tutorial, for the simple reason that more advanced things like spelling words that are not yet in your dictionary, are hard to do if you have no clue as to how you can activate such a feature.

TenGO Thumb’s biggest advantage over many other large-button SIPs is that it includes a predictive text input feature called the TenGO core engine. With it, you can easily type words and just as easily go back and correct the word(s) you typed. Another useful feature of TenGO is that it stores your most used words at the most left part of the list, which can help if you type the same words a lot. You can see, in part, how the engine works, by looking at the characters that are displayed in the small box on the right hand side.

Thumbing a ride

Now, all of this is certainly very interesting, but we all know that a picture speaks a thousand words, so I decided to create a short video clip of someone typing an email, because, if a picture is able to speak a thousand words, this clip will speak volumes.

The clip is available in a variety of flavors, you can watch it right now in your browser, by going to the Flash version (4.7 mb), or you can download a smaller WMV version here (2.4 mb).

It should be noted that the typing is a lot faster than the screen recorder is capable of recording and as such, you only see one third of the keys actually being hit.

Another thing that you are not seeing is that I am actually using my thumbs to type the email. Based on the visual setup of TenGO Thumb, which basically comes down to six large keys for the various characters, typing long texts becomes a lot easier.

Thumb Problem

When I first came across TenGO Thumb, I installed it on a Windows Mobile 2003 device where it worked without a hitch. Then came my new Pocket PC and I installed the SIP there too but I had trouble activating it. In two out of five cases, the keyboard would not open and the only way to get it working again was a soft-reset.

Soft-resetting your device all the time, while harmless, gets annoying really quick and so I contacted the TenGO support team. I have to admit that I have not met support guys that walk the extra marathon (yes, marathon, not just mile) for a future customer like TenGO did. A dozen possible ways to solve the problem later, I ended up removing some of the (preinstalled) O2 applications from my Pocket PC and voilĂ  the keyboard opens whenever I need it and I have not had a problem with it since.

Thumbs up or down?

All in all, TenGO Thumb is a great piece of software and makes typing on Pocket PCs without a keyboard a lot easier and a lot more efficient. Even with big thumbs, you will not face any problems and with predictive text input, you will be typing away at your first mobile novel in no time. At a mere $12.95, this application is a steal and will pay for itself in no time.

As far as I am concerned, TenGO Thumb gets a definite thumbs up from me. The only downside I can see with this application is that you might be able to damage your screen if you are using your device without a good screen protector.

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Urban Armor for your Personal Assistant (invisibleSHIELD Screenprotector for XDA Flame)

posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2007

In today’s high-speed world, time seems to be one of the things we only have available in short supply. As the old saying goes, haste does indeed make waste. Applied to mobile technology, the kind of waste you do not want to make is scratches, because for one, it lowers the market value of your device but more importantly, it looks horrible and has the potential to make you unhappy.

Devices with a semi-large screen, such as iPods, digital cameras and especially, Pocket PCs, mostly because of their touchscreens, are prone to scratches, so you need to find a solution that will allow you to keep your display in pristine condition.

While researching screen protectors, I came across a company called ZAGG, makers of the semi-famous invisibleSHIELD. The product is made from a material that was originally designed to protect helicopter blades at high velocities and supposedly is able to withstand the toughest of challenges.

Ch-ch-choices

ZAGG offers about 1000 different versions of their screen protector, but sadly, they did not have a version for my brand-new O2 XDA Flame right away. What they do have though, is a custom order service where you can get a custom-built screen protector for your device. This premium service, however, will cost you an additional $4.95, which is not really that much, if you consider the merits of a screen protector.

After a couple of emails and submitting some hi-res pictures of my device’s screen, I was told that the team at ZAGG created a set of screen protectors for me (and my device) and that they were shipped my way.

Application Form

A couple of days later, I received a shipment from ZAGG with my new screen protectors and immediately went to install them. I have used quite a few screen protectors in the past and have come across many different ways of applying these plastic sheets, but, to date, I have not come across a company that immersed themselves as much into the installation process as the guys from ZAGG do.

For example, to combat stains and fingerprints on the inside of the screen protector, the manual recommends that you cover your fingertips with the included application spray. A simple solution, yes, but one that I have not come across until now. Gotta give them a thumbs up for their thoughtfulness in this case.

In case you are not interested in reading the manual, just head on over to the Shieldzone and watch the installation video. The video was actually made for iPods, but the general steps are the same for any device you use.

Applying the shield, with or without the manual, in my case, was pretty easy. What I liked best was the lack of any bubbles but one, that, thankfully, aligned itself to the right side of the screen. Using the included squeegee, I was able to get rid of it mostly during my first try and the remaining part seemed to disappear by itself after a couple of hours.

One hint from me here: The manual recommends that you give the invisibleSHIELD a full 24 hours to set. To be honest, I know that many people will find it hard to be without their devices for that long, but in the end, believe me when I say that it is worth it. If you have bubbles, there is a good chance that some of them

Quality Assurance

After applying the invisibleSHIELD and giving it some time to get comfy on my device’s screen, I decided to run some color-testing to see how the screen protector would affect the color display. Since I already had covered the whole display on my new Pocket PC, I decided to use my trusty Qtek 9090 as a guinea pig for this one.

Take a second and then, take a real good look good at this image right here: one side is covered with a piece of invisibleSHIELD, the other is not. I will let you be the judge on which one is what…

While I believe the above image to speak volumes, let me assure you that it is, indeed, safe to call the invisibleSHIELD next-to-invisible. Once the plastic has “merged” with your device (FYI: it does not really merge, you can still safely remove it) the screen protector is very hard to spot, unless you look at the corners, of course.

Using the stylus on the invisibleSHIELD is not unlike using it with other screen protectors. The stylus does not stick to the cover and the invisibleSHIELD is thin enough to not off-set your stylus aim and, but you can still somehow tell that something is there.

The Lowdown

In conclusion, I can tell you that the invisibleSHIELD is, indeed, a shield. Once applied, it protects your device’s screen from scratches and nasty fingerprints and yet does not influence the display quality in any way, if at all, the display actually gets a little more readable outside.

If you ask me, the invisibleSHIELD is like the guys from 300. Whereas the invisibleSHIELD is like Ancient Sparta and scratches are like the Ancient Persians. You can figure the rest out for yourself…

Thumbs Up! (TenGO Thumb for Pocket PC)

posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2007

Pocket PC are becoming more and more of a replacement for small time computing. They may not yet be able to replace your office PC for a 100% but typing a long email, doing some mobile blogging or other input sensitive tasks is no uncommon thing anymore.

In recent years, a number of devices have been released with integrated keyboards and you can of course always attach an external keyboard to your device, but there is still a huge amount of Pocket PCs that have to rely on Software Input Panels (SIP) to get the job done. With such a big (potential) customer base, it is only natural that companies will try to come up with solutions that make your life easier.

One of these solutions is TenGo Thumb, a SIP that is big enough to be used with your thumbs (yet, it still works very well with a stylus). The application is aimed at people that want to input data quickly and easily on the go, without going through the additional hassle of pulling a stylus out of its silo.

Rules of thumb

After installing TenGO Thumb and starting any application that requires text input, you will be presented with a choice to either skip or follow the TenGO Thumb tutorial. While you could use the SIP without any training, I would recommend you to go through the included tutorial, for the simple reason that more advanced things like spelling words that are not yet in your dictionary, are hard to do if you have no clue as to how you can activate such a feature.

TenGO Thumb’s biggest advantage over many other large-button SIPs is that it includes a predictive text input feature called the TenGO core engine. With it, you can easily type words and just as easily go back and correct the word(s) you typed. Another useful feature of TenGO is that it stores your most used words at the most left part of the list, which can help if you type the same words a lot. You can see, in part, how the engine works, by looking at the characters that are displayed in the small box on the right hand side.

Thumbing a ride

Now, all of this is certainly very interesting, but we all know that a picture speaks a thousand words, so I decided to create a short video clip of someone typing an email, because, if a picture is able to speak a thousand words, this clip will speak volumes.

The clip is available in a variety of flavors, you can watch it right now in your browser, by going to the Flash version (4.7 mb), or you can download a smaller WMV version here (2.4 mb).

It should be noted that the typing is a lot faster than the screen recorder is capable of recording and as such, you only see one third of the keys actually being hit.

Another thing that you are not seeing is that I am actually using my thumbs to type the email. Based on the visual setup of TenGO Thumb, which basically comes down to six large keys for the various characters, typing long texts becomes a lot easier.

Thumb Problem

When I first came across TenGO Thumb, I installed it on a Windows Mobile 2003 device where it worked without a hitch. Then came my new Pocket PC and I installed the SIP there too but I had trouble activating it. In two out of five cases, the keyboard would not open and the only way to get it working again was a soft-reset.

Soft-resetting your device all the time, while harmless, gets annoying really quick and so I contacted the TenGO support team. I have to admit that I have not met support guys that walk the extra marathon (yes, marathon, not just mile) for a future customer like TenGO did. A dozen possible ways to solve the problem later, I ended up removing some of the (preinstalled) O2 applications from my Pocket PC and voilĂ  the keyboard opens whenever I need it and I have not had a problem with it since.

Thumbs up or down?

All in all, TenGO Thumb is a great piece of software and makes typing on Pocket PCs without a keyboard a lot easier and a lot more efficient. Even with big thumbs, you will not face any problems and with predictive text input, you will be typing away at your first mobile novel in no time. At a mere $12.95, this application is a steal and will pay for itself in no time.

As far as I am concerned, TenGO Thumb gets a definite thumbs up from me. The only downside I can see with this application is that you might be able to damage your screen if you are using your device without a good screen protector.