My Audiovox 5600 committed suicide the other day. It was on the table, someone called, vibrate was on, so it jostled itself right off the table to a horrible death and a cracked screen. Of course, I both mourned and cheered — mourned because I’d have to set up another phone, but cheered because I would get to buy a newer phone. (It turns out that replacement screens are available on Ebay for about $50 — in hindsight, that might have been the more responsible thing to do).
Nonetheless, the Audiovox 5600 was, hands-down, the best phone that I had ever had: a good phone, a very decent PDA, and exactly the right form factor. I like the Treos, but the form factor is a bit large and the keyboard screams geek. I want to appease my inner geek while not giving out obvious geek signals, you see.
Anyway, Cingular now has the Cingular 2125 available, which is pretty much the successor to the Audiovox 5600. As of this writing (Jan 2006), with 2-year contract it’s $299; if you agree to buy a $19.99 unlimited data plan you can also get a $100 rebate.
Hardware: The Cingular 2125 has much the same form factor as the Audiovox 5600, with the addition of a “hump” on the top of the phone (you can see it in the pictures). The hump seems to throw off a lot of people, in phones as well as prospective mates, but it doesn’t bother me that much. The joystick is better than the Audiovox’s toggle-rocker-switch-thing. The screen is amazing — QVGA resolution, bright, easy to read, and you can hold an amazing amount of legible text by setting the font size to “smallest.” The power switch has been commented on in some reviews as incredibly hard to work, but at least on my phone it isn’t that bad: you just put your finger on it and kind of “squeeze” towards the screen, and it works easily.
Some have complained that their memory cards do not work correctly, but I had no problems transferring my Sandisk mini-SD card from the Audiovox to the Cingular.
There is significantly more memory available on the phone, so even though the processor is the same speed as on the Audiovox 5600, it seems faster (although, see below).
Battery Life: Always seems good at the beginning, and then after a year you end up having to charge the phone at lunch because it won’t hold out for a full 8 hours. That said, it seems about equivalent to the Audiovox when I first got it, which means that on average I have to charge every third day. I don’t talk a lot on the phone, obviously.
Software: Uses Windows Mobile 5.0 instead of 2003. A fair number of programs don’t work correctly with the new OS; many others will work but won’t use the entire QVGA screen. The phone seems faster, probably due to the extra memory, but there are long pauses every so often, substantially longer than with Windows 2003. Let’s not talk about the five-minute boot times I sometimes get on this phone, which is much slower than Windows Mobile 2003 ever was.
The other problem is that the UI in Windows Mobile is still enough to make your eyes bleed spontaneously.
The homescreens provided are awful — either too busy or too sparse. Head on over to MoDaCo to get some better ones (30% of them are scantily-clad females, if you want to get some Pavlovian association between scantily-clad females and your ringing phone), or use the old 2002 Microsoft Theme Generator, or just copy/edit the XML files yourself. I have a modified basic screen that I prefer — don’t get me ranting about the uselessness of the MRU list in the smartphone interface.
Last, but not least, download Nethack for your phone. You’ll never be bored in line again.
Using The Cingular 2125 As A Tethered USB Modem
It took me a while to find the directions for this, so I’m putting it in the hopes that someone else will find it useful. To use your Cingular 2125 as a modem over a USB cable, you will need to:
\OEM\APPS\Drivers\USB Modemdirectory on your installation CD
*99#, and you’ll want to define an additional initialization string of
HowardForums: How To Use Your MPx220 As A Modem
Comments are moderated whenever I remember that I have a blog.