Archive for January 2010

Motorola Milestone spotted in Singapore

Interesting. 1 day after the launch of Motorola Dext (which is exclusive to Singtel), the Motorola Milestone shows up at a Starhub media event. The event is about Starhub’s new mobile TV service. The Motorola Milestone (the GSM version of Droid) is one of the phones that will support the new mobile TV service by Starhub. It wasn’t an event specially for the Milestone although I guess that the media were crowding round the Milestone as it is an unannounced phone.

I wasn’t invited to the event. So I didn’t get to try it out myself.

So what does this means? Is the Motorola Milestone coming to Singapore soon? When we asked the Motorola executives about the Milestone during the Dext event, they all said that they have no plans for it. Even rumors says that Motorola has no plans for launching Milestone in Singapore yet. Which is why I was kinda surprised when I saw blog entries about the Milestone spotted in Singapore.

So is the Milestone coming to Singapore soon? Will it be exclusive to Starhub? Did Motorola screwed Singtel by giving them exclusive to the mid range Dext and show off the higher end Milestone the very next day?

I asked Singtel for their comment and this is the official answer from Singtel/Motorola.

The MOTOBLUR service platform is exclusive to SingTel. Both companies are committed to market the MOTOBLUR service platform and the launch of its first device, the Motorola DEXT, a success in Singapore.

At this point in time, Motorola has no firm plans to launch the Milestone in Singapore. As strategic partners, SingTel has the opportunity to bring the Milestone to customers when Motorola is ready to bring in the device.

Interesting. We all thought that the exclusivity deal between Singtel and Motorola is just on the Motorola Dext. But it seems like the exclusivity is more than we thought. I understand that 70% to 80% of Motorola’s portfolio of devices in 2010 will be on the MOTOBLUR platform. Besides Motorola Dext, Motorola Backflip is also on the MOTOBLUR platform.

MOTOBLUR is a widget based system which combines various social networking portals such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter all in one place without the need of logging into each service separately. Feeds and data are regularly pushed to the phone from these web portals which are integrated within the home screen. MOTOBLUR also includes services like locating your phone and remote wipe.

So when will the Motorola’s MOTOBLUR and Singtel exclusivity end? I didn’t bother asking them because such information will definitely be confidential. But from past experience, such exclusivity usually last quite some time. And judging from the amount of money and effort that Singtel pump in to promote the Motorola Dext, I guess they will demand for a long exclusivity deal.

But here is the trick. Motorola Milestone is not part of the MOTOBLUR platform. Which means it will not be exclusive to Singtel if it comes to Singapore. But if the Milestone come to Singapore, it will most likely not be exclusive to any telco.

So how come Motorola Milestone appeared in Singapore? My guess is that it is a developer set for Starhub to test out their new mobile TV service. Will Milestone be launched in March? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Update 3 Apr 2010: The Motorola Milestone is now exclusive to Starhub.

McDonalds Singapore is listening, Doraemon in pig costume coming in April

It seems like all the complaints about McDonalds Singapore not releasing the Doraemon in pig costume didn’t go unheard. McDonalds has apologized for excluding the pig in the Zodiac series.

The Doraemon in pig costume will be coming out sometime in Mid-April because they need time for production. Like the rest of the Doraemon in the series, it will be sold for $2. But this time round, all nett proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity. Good move, McDonalds Singapore!

Credits to McDonalds Singapore for listening to the feedback from Singaporeans and apologising for their mistake. Sorry is often the hardest word to say and I’m glad they managed to find the courage to say it.

Free turn by turn navigation from Nokia

Nokia announced yesterday evening that they are going to offer free turn by turn navigation on their newly improved Ovi Maps application. Yeap, you heard me correctly, turn by turn navigation for FREE.

The new Ovi Maps application has maps for over 180 countries. Drive and walk turn by turn navigation is currently available in 74 countries and 46 languages. Singapore is one of the 74 countries to get the free turn by turn navigation. On top of that, Singapore is also 1 of the 10 countries to get live traffic information. The traffic information is from LTA. And the turn by turn navigation does take traffic status into consideration and offer a reroute when there is a traffic jam.

The maps can be preloaded onto your Nokia devices so that it can be access when device is offline. This feature is extremely useful when you travel oversea or when you are at places where there isn’t a reliable 3G data connection. The maps are provided by NAVTEQ which was acquired by Nokia back in 2008. There are also over 6000 3D landmarks in over 200 cities to help users find where they are. Over 100 Singapore landmarks are in 3D.

On top of all these, the new Ovi Map also has premium content like Loney Planets, Timeout, WCities and Expedia integrated into the maps, free. For Singapore, users will also get Hungry Go Where food guide on the new Ovi Map which has over 4000 restaurant listing in Singapore. Expect to see more premium content being added to Ovi Maps in the near future. There is also facebook integration which allows you to update your current location onto your facebook status.

I managed to try the turn by turn navigation for a while. The instructions were pretty clear and on comparable quality as a normal GPS you find in your car. They managed to pronounce local street names like Bukit Batok and Jurong East pretty well. Personally, I think the turn by turn navigation will be more useful for driving. Not quite sure if there is really a demand for turn by turn navigation while walking.

This is indeed a game changing announcement from Nokia. The closest we get now is from Android where the Droid offers free turn by turn navigation in USA. Not only is it just one device in one country, you also need constant data connection to get the maps. The maps on Google maps cannot be preloaded onto the phone. And turn by turn navigation apps on iPhone cost at least US$50.

This announcement is indeed good news for the consumer. Currently, only 10 models are supported. The 10 models are: Nokia N97 mini, 5800 XpressMusic, 5800 Navigation Edition, E52, E55, E72, 5230, 6710 Navigator, 6730 classic and X6. Existing users can download the new Ovi Maps from nokia.com/maps or the Ovi Store. Support for more phones are on the way. Surprisingly, the flagship phone, Nokia N97, isn’t in the initial list. Understand from Nokia that support for N97 will be available soon. By soon, we are referring to a matter of few weeks. I can’t wait to get the new Ovi Map on my N97.

Lenovo announced Thinkpad X100e and Thinkpad Edge

Lenovo recently announced the Thinkpad X100e and Thinkpad Edge at CES. I was invited to the Singapore launch last week.

The Thinkpad X100e is a professional-grade ultraportable laptop. It has a 11.6 inch HD LED blacklight screen (1366×768). It runs on a AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 chip. This is the first Thinkpad that is running on a AMD chip. 4GB RAM, 160GB/250GB/320GB Harddisk, Wireless N, Ethernet port, 3 USB port, VGA port and SD card reader. 2 hours battery life with 3 cell battery and up to 5 hr with 6 cell battery.

Weighs 1.36 kg with 3 cell battery and 1.5kg with 6 cell. Users can have a choice of Windows XP or Windows 7. Price starts at SGD$1019 and will be hitting the Singapore shelf within this few weeks.

The Thinkpad Edge is a laptop designed specifically for the Small to Medium Sized Business (SMB). It has a 13.3 inch HD LED backlight widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio, 1366×768). There is a choice of either AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-core, AMD Athlon Neo X2 Dual Core or Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor. 4GB RAM, 250GB/320GB/500GB Harddisk, Wireless N, Ethernet port, 3 USB port, VGA port, HDMI and SD/MS card reader.

For AMD processor, you get 3.7hr with 4 cell battery and 5.9hr with 6 cell battery. For Intel processor, you get 5.9hr on 4 cell battery and 8.9hr on 6 cell battery. Comes in Windows 7. Price starts at SGD$1189 and will be hitting the Singapore stores within this few weeks. 14 inch and 15 inch models will be available from 2nd quarter of 2010.

I’ll do a full review when I get my hands on the review units.

Both model comes a chiclet/island-style keyboard. This is different from the traditional Thinkpad keyboard that is well known for it’s quality. Initially, I was a little skeptical about the chiclet keyboard. But I was relief when I tried the keyboard myself at the launch event. In my opinion, the new chiclet keyboard is just as good as the traditional Thinkpad keyboard. Both model also come with the iconic Red Trackpoint that is found on all Thinkpad. Those who don’t like the Trackpoint (or can’t figure out how to use it) can still use the Trackpad.

I must say that the Thinkpad X100e and Thinkpad Edge is slightly different from the classic Thinkpad. In the past, when someone mention the sub-brand Thinkpad, you know that it is a professional laptop with high performance processor. But this time round, Lenovo decides to give the Thinkpad X100e and Thinkpad Edge a slightly not so high performance processor to reduce the cost. I can understand that Lenovo needs to address the crowd that complaint that Thinkpad is too expensive, although I always tell people that the Thinkpad is worth every cent. I bought my T43 almost 4 1/2 years ago at $3.5k and it is still working perfectly now. Which is why I’m a little concerned when I saw the specs of the Thinkpad X100e and Thinkpad Edge. It is just not the kind of thing you would expect from a Thinkpad. But Lenovo is quick to point out that the Thinkpad X100e and Thinkpad Edge is a new category targeted at SMB. It is different from the classic Thinkpad series. Lenovo will still be making the classic Thinkpad.

And perhaps from a marketing point of view, this might be a good move. The biggest show stopper for someone to buy a Thinkpad is the cost. If Lenovo release a cheaper Thinkpad, they would be able to get more users onboard the Thinkpad club. And after trying out the Thinkpad X100e or Thinkpad Edge, they might fall in love with the Thinkpad and go for the classic Thinkpad on their next laptop purchase. But it is important for Lenovo to make sure that these lower end Thinkpads will not tarnish the reputation of the classic Thinkpad.

Another thing about this 2 model that is unlike the classic Thinkpad is the colours. The Thinkpad X100e comes in Black, Red and White (matt) while Thinkpad Edge comes in Black (Matt or glossy)and Red (glossy). Yes, you heard me correctly. Non-black coloured Thinkpad. Now, this is something of personal preference. To most hardcore Thinkpad fans, a Thinkpad is supposed to be black as it is professional looking. But because of this, the 2nd biggest complaint about Thinkpad I usually hear is that the Thinkpad comes in either dull black or boring black colour. I can see that Lenovo is trying to capture a bigger market by releasing Non-black coloured Thinkpad. This is a very very risky move. They will need to do it carefully so as not to piss off the hardcore Thinkpad fans. For me, I’ll just need some time to get used to seeing a non-black coloured Thinkpad.

And the debate about the Thinkpad colour goes on. I guess we will never come to a conclusion to this debate. The hardcore Thinkpad fans wants the Thinkpad to be professional black colour while the rest wants it to be more than dull and boring black colour. But let all of us be glad and thankful that Lenovo didn’t release a pink colour Thinkpad (YET).

Lenovo: If you are reading this, PLEASE don’t ever release a pink colour Thinkpad. Red and white are fine. In fact, if you want to do blue, yellow, orange, green, purple, brown or grey also can. Anything but pink. OK?

Disclaimer: I’m a huge Thinkpad fan. I fell in love with the Thinkpad since 1997 when I was working as a part time technician at a company distributing IBM Thinkpad to schools and government agencies.

Singtel brings the Motorola Dext to Singapore

Singtel is bringing the Motorola Dext to Singapore. The Motorola Dext is the GSM version of the Motorola CLIQ. Don’t confuse this with the Motorola Droid/Milestone. They are 2 different phone. I would say the Dext is more like a mid-range Android phone. Like the CLIQ, the Dext is running Android 1.5. The Motorola Dext will be exclusive to Singtel in Singapore.

I got the review unit since last week from Singtel but was on embargo until now. Managed to try the social media widgets by Motorola which they call the MOTOBLUR. The social media widgets are pretty nifty, although personally I wish they could add more functions so that I don’t need to download another Twitter/Facebook apps from the Android marketplace. Been updating some of my twitter/facebook status using the widgets. There are other interesting services on the MOTOBLUR platform, I’ll talk more about them on my full review.

I think @GrowlyBear is the only person who notice that some of my tweet updates are from MOTOBLUR.

The keyboard is quite comfortable to type with, although I wish the SPACEBAR could be bigger. There aren’t many Android phones with physical keyboard out there, so this is a good addition to the Android eco-system.

The Motorola Dext is available from 23 Jan 2010 (Saturday) at S$0 – S$248 (on any 3G Flexi Plans) or S$0 – S$348 (on SingTelā€™s free incoming call plans). SingTel will offer a newly created value-added service, mSocial, priced at S$5.35 per month for consumers to enjoy unlimited local mobile data using the MOTOBLUR platform. These include photo uploads, postings received and status updates on popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter within the MOTOBLUR service platform. mSocial includes 100MB of local data for all other internet surfing and email access. Personally, I think the 100mb is not enough. I can finish it within a day. Excess usage beyond 100MB is capped at S$30 per month.