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Thread: Extensive Cingular 2125 Review

  1. #1
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    Extensive Cingular 2125 Review

    Some of you may have read my Cingular 8125 review from a couple of months back. I am sorry to say that the phone was stolen, and thus for the past couple of weeks I have been without a converged device. I must say this has been an excruciating experience for me as I had come to depend on my 8125 for both work and play. The silver lining in this story is that I had the excuse to look into a new converged device and as the title of this review suggests I chose the Cingular 2125.

    In my review of the Cingular 8125 I had mentioned that I used the 2125 for a couple of weeks and loved the phone, although at the time I felt I needed the office applications and the QWERTY keyboard. Having now moved back to the Cingular 2125 I find that I do miss a QWERTY keyboard, however I don’t really miss the office applications and the reduced size really makes up for the lack of a QWERTY keyboard.

    As I did with my Cingular 8125 review I’d like to walk you through the device and then explain exactly how I configured it for my needs.

    Ergonomics and Build


    The size of the 2125 is one of its most impressive features. The amount of power that is packed into this small device is just incredible. I’m very happy to be carrying a device that looks like a real phone and doesn’t weigh down my pockets. It sits easily in my hand and all controls are in easy reach. The screen on the 2125 is beautiful, I don’t miss the larger screen from the 8125 at all video, pictures and just regular use all look great.

    As far as the controls go, the soft keys are well placed and easy to use, as are the home, back and call control buttons. The joystick is usable but as others have noted you will occasionally have trouble pushing in to select. I must say that my preference would have been for a directional pad, and I think there is more than enough room on the device for one.

    The keypad is also another place where I think HTC (the phone’s manufacturer) could have improved the experience. The keys are responsive, and easy to touch by feel, but they are so small that even a person like me who has smaller hands occasionally has trouble with it. You will definitely get a cramp if you do any major texting. I think that HTC could have made overall better use of the space on the phone to include a directional pad and larger number keys.

    In addition to the front controls and keypad you have a “rocker” switch on the left hand side that controls device volume. A long press on the bottom part of the rocker will start the voice tag application. Above the rocker switch is the comm. manager button that allows you to easily turn Bluetooth on and off, initiate a sync and turn the phone’s sound on/off. A press and hold of this button will initiate the voice note application. On the right side of the device you have a single button for the camera.

    The Cingular 2125 is a variant of the HTC Tornado line of phones. For those who don’t know, HTC is a Taiwanese company that makes almost every Windows Mobile smartphone and pocket pc that you see (with some notable exceptions such as the Motorola Q). This particular style of phone is called the HTC Faraday design, and Cingular’s version is actually slightly different from other versions of the Faraday in that a “hump” has been added to the top of the phone to improve GSM 850 band reception. This addition leads to a couple of quirky ergonomic issues:

    1) The power button is slightly recessed into the antenna and in order to activate it you need to push down towards the screen rather towards the back of the phone. Many have had problems with this and newer models of the 2125 actually have a larger button that protrudes more clearly.
    2) The IR port that is normally found on the top of the Faraday/Tornado models is obscured by the “hump”. This means that many people may not realize that their phone has an IR port, it does and it works just fine, but you have to experiment a little to find out how to align your phone so it works well. The port is located on the top right of the phone.

    The bottom of the phone contains a mini usb port for synching and charging along with a 2.5mm headphone port. You will also find a small loop for a lanyard. The back of the phone has the camera lens and a mirror for self portraits. You will also find the cover for the battery compartment. Under the battery you will find slots for your sim and Mini SD card. Some have complained about the placement of the Mini SD card, but I just throw in a 2gb card and forget about it.

    Overall the device is very well put together with some small quirks that I believe you have to expect when packing everything into a device this small.

    Setup


    As with my Cingular 8125 I had a long list of software and hacks that I had prepared for my 2125 before I got it. These customizations make the device extremely usable for me, your mileage may vary, but I hope you find this section helpful.

    Software

    Activesync 4.1
    As with any Windows Mobile device you need to have Activesync 4.1 installed to sync with your computer. For those who have firewalls on their computers, I recommend you check out this page to address those:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobi...c/default.mspx

    Clearvue Suite
    This software comes on the CD included on the phone and allows you to view Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF documents. It does a passable job, although I wish that the word and pdf viewers would reflow the text to make it more readable on a small screen. It’s better than nothing, and until a full office suite comes out for windows smartphone programs like clearvue are all we’ve got. (It’s times like these that I am jealous of Symbian users and their QuickOffice applications.)

    PTab Spreadsheet
    This is a spreadsheet viewer and editor for smartphone! I love this application and frankly it’s made the move to a smartphone platform much easier for me since I use Excel spreadsheets to manage my checkbook and keep track of my workouts. Highly recommended, check it out at:
    http://www.smartphone.net/software_detail.asp?id=1434

    AvantGo
    This is a great application that allows you to download news from the web and view it offline. In addition it is a great RSS Reader. When I first tried out the 2125 in January this application was not available for smartphone and that was one of the reasons I went with a pocket pc device. Now that I am using a smartphone again, I am very happy to have my AvantGo with me. This is a free service, sign up at:
    http://www.avantgo.com/frontdoor/index.html

    Vieka Wordpad
    A handy little editor for .txt documents comes in useful for formatting xml code. This is donateware and is available at:
    http://www.vieka.com/wordpad.htm

    WM5Storage
    This is a great utility for Windows Mobile 5 devices that allows you to turn your smartphone into a mass storage USB device. This allows you to quickly transfer files to and from your memory card without dealing with Activesync. This is available online at:
    http://www.modaco.com/WM5torage-t238545.html
    (registration required)

    True Connect
    A handy utility that allows you to control your smartphone with your computer’s keyboard and mouse. It will allow you to move your mouse pointer over onto the smartphone screen. This is great when entering lots of data during initial setup, such as email addresses, signatures, etc. Available at:
    http://www.raspberrysoftware.com/trueconnect.htm

    TCPMP
    Probably the best media player out there for smartphone, it plays a plethora of standards that Media Player doesn’t and also supports playlists. Available at:
    http://tcpmp.corecodec.org/about

    Smart Phone Notes
    Windows Mobile Smartphone doesn’t natively support use or synching of notes to Outlook. This application fills that gap, allowing you to view, edit and create notes on your device and synching them with Outlook on your computer through Activesync. Available at:
    http://www.smartphone.net/software_detail.asp?id=185

    Rubber Stamped Data Sync
    Another item that Activesync doesn’t support is synchronization of files between your computer and smartphone. This program is hosted on your computer and fills this gap. It can be set to sync every time you connect your phone and one great feature that Activesync doesn’t provide on Pocket PC devices is that it allows you to choose any folder on your phone to sync, even on the memory card. Available at:
    http://www.smartphone.net/software_detail.asp?id=361

    Oxios Memory
    This freeware utility simply allows you to stop all running programs if your smartphone ever freezes up. Not used very often because Windows Mobile 5 is a stable platform, but you’ll be happy to have it when you need it. Available at:
    http://www.oxios.com/memory/

    Mobile Registry Editor
    This program allows you to edit the phone registry from your computer, very handy when dealing with the cramped input on a smartphone. Available at:
    http://www.breaksoft.com/Blog/Utilit...ry_Editor.aspx

    SBSH Papyrus
    This replaces the inbuilt Calendar and Tasks and is much more functional and powerful than the native programs. Available online at:
    http://www.sbsh.net/products/papyrus/

    Home Screen Software

    One of the best things about Windows Mobile software is that it is extremely customizable. The home screen is your main interface with your smartphone and customizing it your specifications is one of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy your experience. There are a lot of programs out there that will add functionality to your home screen and you can make your own edits to a home screen by just editing the xml in notepad. This is how I put together my home screen.

    SBSH Façade
    This is a great program that adds tabs to your home screen for your calendar, tasks and programs. It is fully integrated with Papyrus (listed above) and is extremely customizable through an easy to use interface. Available at:
    http://www.sbsh.net/products/facade/

    Smart Monitor
    This handy little plugin shows gives you information about your battery, RAM, storage card and temperature.
    http://www.ferrandez.plus.com/SmartMonitor/

    Fizz Weather
    This is actually a full program that allows you to download weather information for your locale, but it also comes with a plugin that provides you with that information right on your home screen. You can choose which city/cities to check, schedule updates and choose how many days you would like displayed. Available at:
    http://www.fizzsoftware.com/smartpho...ther/index.htm

    Many of these programs/plugins come with home screens, or you can download or create your own. I use a slightly modified version of the home screen found here:
    http://www.kolumbus.fi/anders.ruohio/sp/clarity.html

    Many of these programs have trial versions, and I recommend that you try them out before using. The cost for these programs runs from free to as much as $30.

    Hacks/Tweaks

    These are some useful items that have improved the usability of my device, along with links that you may find useful.

    Scrolling in Internet Explorer
    Internet Explorer Mobile is actually a pretty nice mobile browser, but it does have one major failing that drives me nuts, specifically you have to scroll pages one link at a time using the joystick. This hack allows you to map some of your keys to page up/down and other useful functions. Find this hack here:
    http://www.gpcarreon.com/?p=221#more-221

    Change the order of your Start Menu Icons
    You may not find the order of the Start Menu Icons to be very useful; you can change the order of these items by going to the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Shell\StartMe nu\Order

    Simply change the order of the items in this list and then restart your device. Please note that I have not had success adding new shortcuts to this list so as far as I know you’re limited to the apps that are already listed.

    Easy access to Task Manager
    HTC includes an incredibly useful Task Manager application on its smartphone. Unfortunately it is buried in the start menu. You could of course move the item to the top of the menu using the hack above, or even add a speed dial to the program, but I prefer to have even more convenient access by having a long press of the Home key open the task manager. To do this, create an Activesync connection with your smartphone and then use the explore function in Activesync to go to the Windows folder. Once there find a file called “Long_Home”. This file is a shortcut that points to the program that a long press on the home key opens. Drag the file from your smartphone to your desktop and then open the file properties and remove the read only option. You can then use Notepad to open it and change the program string to point to anything you wish, in this case we will have it point at:
    23#"\Windows\IA_Task_Manager.exe"

    Save the changes, then drop the updated file into the smartphone’s Windows folder. You can also use this method to change other shortcuts in the Windows folder if you wish.

    Howard Forums also has a handy faq for the 2125 that has a bunch of tweaks listed, including:

    Application Unlock – allows you to install unsigned programs on your smartphone

    Install Clearvue on storage card – Clearvue takes up a lot of space and being able to install it on your storage card is very helpful

    Move IE files to storage card – Again, this is important to save precious memory on your smartphone.

    You can find the thread with these and other tips at:
    http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=907554

    I also recommend these sites for tweaks/hacks:
    http://www.modaco.com/Cingular-2125-...w-t235408.html

    http://www.modaco.com/Useful-Tweaks-...o-t230056.html

    Use/Performance

    Using the Cingular 2125 has been a pleasure, despite some small issues with ergonomics and the lack of a touch screen (coming from a pocket pc device) I can generally get to what I need within a few button presses and HTC’s Task Manager program allows me to quickly close and switch between programs. I have found that it does seem to have some issues when using multiple applications that are memory intensive. For example, when using AvantGo and TCPMP at the same time the music/video in TCPMP lags when I switch between screens on AvantGo. I never had this problem with my Cingular 8125 that has the same RAM and processor, so it must be an issue with the operating system.

    RF quality is excellent and is generally on par with the 8125’s excellent reception. I get reception in the elevator where I work, which I never got with my old Motorola V551. Sound quality on my end is fairly good, both with the phone and the included headset. I have received some complaints about my voice sounding hollow from callers on the other end, but these have been few and far between.

    Conclusion

    Overall, I am very happy with the Cingular 2125, especially now that I have configured it for my needs. I don’t miss the bulk of the 8125 at all, and I am sure that the longer I use the device the better my experience will be. I can heartily recommend the Cingular 2125 to those who want a powerful converged device and are willing to sacrifice some things like a QWERTY keyboard, touchscreen and office applications.

    Acknowledgements

    I would like to acknowledge everyone who has contributed to the knowledge contained here. In particular I found the following websites to be incredibly helpful:

    www.howardforums.com
    www.modaco.com
    www.smartphone.net

  2. #2
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    A well done is due. Good job, as a 2125 owner, you hit the Pros Cons squarely on the head.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    We need pictures!!!
    Connect with me on Facebook
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    "People may forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Pictures will add so much to this review!

  5. #5
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    great review- I just bought this phone and am awaiting shipment- I can't wait to try it out.. your review definately educated me more about the phone. -Sachin

  6. #6
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    does anyone know which 2 miniSD card this phone will take- I've heard it being quirky with makers other than SanDisk- true?

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    I'm currently using a generic miniSD card (I believe it might be a ritek, but I'm not sure).

  8. #8
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    I currently have an Audiovox SMT5600 but due to complications I have been having with it Cingular shipped out a 2125 yesterday to me (free of charge).

    This review has excited me so much about this phone, I never knew there was so many things you could do to customize it to that extent. Thank you so much for all of this information!

  9. #9
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    how to use the smart moniter??????

  10. #10
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    Question long home hack

    I have tried and tried to do this. I just got a message on desktop saying invalid shortcut. Can you be more specific on how to manage this hack?

  11. #11
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    STart menu is alphabetical now!! help this newbie...

    Well...I answered my own question, sort of. I kept trying to open the link by right clicking, and that did not work. But, I opened notepad, then used notepad to open the long_home...and I was able to make it to the task stop listed above. I actually wanted to direct it to open my "time wasting" game...but, i could not figure that one out. BUT

    somehow in the process my start menu is now all alphabetized! I rearranged the items as listed above in the registry.... and I changed to list view. The list view is working fine, but the start menu itself is now alphabetized! Any suggestions for turning that so it lists it in the order I want them?

  12. #12
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    Thanks for that review I've been wanting to get a smartphone for a while now but I've never made the jump... Maybe this time!

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