Posts Tagged ‘cell phone accessibility’

E71x review

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

There’s been a lot of interest in the E71X by ATT since you can get it for $99 with a two year contract, and get mobilespeak for an additional $89. I’ve had one for about two weeks so figured I would write an in depth review.

The first thing to mention is the price. In order to get the phone for $99 you need to buy a phone plan and an unlimited data plan. The basic 450 anytime minutes, 5000 night and weekend minutes, and unlimited mobile to mobile costs $39.99 a month. Because the E71X is considered a PDA the basic unlimited data plan costs $30 a month. This doesn’t include text messaging, I pay $5 a month for 200 text messages so my total cost is $75 not including tax.

The second thing to mention is the fact that the E71X is a watered down version of the Nokia E71. It doesn’t offer features such an FM radio or podcast client. For a comparison between the E71 and E71X Google should give you plenty of info. Although ATT has limited the feature set I still think the phones worth buying since it costs $99 verses $319 for an E71 and you get Mobilespeak for $89 instead of having to pay $295.

I initially bought the phone with out paying for mobilespeak so I could test the phone out and return it if I wasn’t happy. You will need sited help installing mobilespeak if you don’t have ATT do it for you. I downloaded mobilespeak onto a micro sd card using my computer, put that card in the phone, and had someone with site use the file manager to find and install the necessary sisx files. I then was able to register for a 30 day trial on code factory’s website.

Making calls on the phone is fairly easy. The keyboard has a dot on the key that acts as both a 5 and g key which you can use to orient your self. To make a call you start typing while in the main menu and mobilespeak will announce the numbers as you enter them. After your done typing the number you hit the send key and the phone dials the number like all other phones. The keypad normally acts as a qwerty keyboard so the 5 will act as a g, the 4 will act as a f, etc. If you are typing text and want to type a number you need to hit the bottom left key on the phone followed by the number you want to type. Unlike normal keypads the * key is directly to the right of the three, the # key is to the right of the six, and the 0 is directly to the right of the 9. The address book is completely accessible, and you can use it to make calls or send text messages. Hitting the right soft key works as you would expect and announces the callers name.

Text messaging on the phone is not completely accessible with mobilespeak. Composing text messages is accessible. Viewing them how ever does not work with mobilespeak. When in the inbox moving up and down through the list of messages will read the first part of the text message. When you open the message you are unable to read it in mobilespeak. To work around this I select listen from the menu when I have selected the message I want to hear. This uses the phone software to read the message aloud.

Email on the phone didn’t work for me initially. The phone comes installed with an email client that connects to exchange server. I’m a college student, not a corporate executive so don’t use exchange mail. ATT offers a mail client called xpress mail to check your personal mail. I downloaded the xpress mail client, installed it, couldn’t get it to connect to my email server, and uninstalled it. I then tried the Nokia email client that can be found at http://email.nokia.com This works well but has one major limitation. It only works with major email service providers such as yahoo, gmail, and hotmail. I use gmail as my main email account, and have it check my other accounts through pop so this isn’t an issue for me. If you don’t use one of the major email service providers you may have problems.

Internet browsing works but is fairly slow. This isn’t surprising since your using a phone instead of a laptop but it’s worth mentioning. Sites like weather.com and Slashdot.com are usable although you may have to wait 20 or 30 seconds for them to finish loading. Other sites such as thestreet.com are so slow that they are unusable. The site I use the most is NFB news line’s web access. I find I get good performance by reading an entire section of a paper at a time and navigating by heading. For example I will select the view entire world section link while reading the wall Street journal, and skip from article to article using the navigate by headings feature of mobilespeak. The built in RSS reader is also accessible and I use it to subscribe to several feeds. There isn’t a built in podcasting client, but I was able to write one in Python that’s accessible. It isn’t what I’d call easily usable but if you have this phone and would like me to help you set it up I will. In summary internet browsing on the E71X is usable for most pages if slow. You would not want to use this as your primary device to access the internet.

Although the phone comes with quickoffice installed, quickoffice is not accessible with Mobilespeak. If editing word documents is a must have for you then you should continue looking because the E71X can’t do this with Mobilespeak. I’ve been looking for an accessible text editor and found one called LightNotepad. It can be found at http://www.petnetti.net/lightnotepad/indexE.shtml The calendar is completely accessible. The one issue I have with the calendar is I am unable to create recurring appointments on the phone. To get around this I use outlook to create a recurring appointment and synchronize it with my phone using PC Sweet. The clock, calculator, converter, and all the options under the settings menu are also accessible.

There’s really nothing to say about the ATT music player that comes installed on the phone other then it works. I put four gigs of music on my memory card, and the music player was able to find it and organize it by artist and album. Mobilespeak works fine with the music player, I haven’t found any feature that was inaccessible.

The keyboard is small but usable. This is my first experience with a smart phone so I don’t have anything to compare it to. About the best I can say is the longer I use it the more comfortable I get, but I will never type 50 words a minute on it. The dot on the g key is very useful, and allows you to quickly orient your self while typing a text message or email. I would not use the built in keyboard to type out anything longer then three or four sentences unless I had to. I may look at getting a wireless keyboard but am not sure if the E71X will support this.

The phone has a built in GPS. ATT bundles the phone with there own map software that will give you directions for $10 a month. This software isn’t accessible and I don’t want to add more charges to my bill anyway. I’ve installed Loadstone GPS on the phone. This is a free open source GPS program designed to work with cell phone screen readers and can be found at http://loadstone-gps.comIt runs and is able to use the phones built in GPS receiver with an accuracy between 10 and 20 meters. I haven’t used Loadstone very much so all I can really say is that it works. When I use it some more I’ll post a review of it.

Third party applications are hit or miss as far as accessibility goes. Below are links to several applications I’ve found accessible with descriptions.

http://code.google.com/p/mobbler/

This is a client that allows you to listen to last.fm and is completely accessible.

http://mundu.com/products/mundu-radio/features

This is a client that allows you to listen to online radio stations with your phone. I normally use Mobbler to listen to music instead of this since most of the stations offered on Mundu are 32 or 24 kbps while Mobbler streams at 128k.

http://amorg.aut.bme.hu/projects/symtorrent

This is a bit torrent client for your phone, I don’t actually use this for anything I just wanted to see if it was accessible. I downloaded version 1.3 and it was, there up to 1.41 but I haven’t tried the latest version out yet.

http://www.drjukka.com/ProfScheduler.html

This is an application that lets you schedule the times certain profiles are active. This is useful for things like making sure your phone is silent before you go to class or turning off text message alerts when you go to sleep. This is completely accessible, but requires you go to symbiansigned.com and sign the .sisx file so it will install.

Since the E71X is basically a rebranded somewhat limited version of the E71 I figured I should show the cost of getting an E71X verses an E71. If you buy an unlocked Nokia E71 instead of an E71X you can get unlimited data for $15 a month since it is not considered a PDA. Looking at the costs of the phones and mobilespeak it’s still cheaper to go with ATT. Assuming you buy an unlocked E71 for $319, Mobilespeak for $295 and an unlimited data plan for $15 your total cost over two years will be $974. If you buy the E71X for $99, mobilespeak for $89 and the unlimited data plan for $30 your cost over two years will be $908. I tried both Talks and Mobilespeak and like Mobilespeak better. For me going with the E71X through ATT and getting the Mobilespeak discount was worth the extra $15 a month in data plan charges since it meant I had to pay less then $200 for the phone and mobilespeak instead of having to pay over $600 for an E71 and Mobilespeak. I think the E71X is a better deal then an unlocked E71 unless you prefer Talks to Mobilespeak, or really want an unlocked phone that doesn’t come preinstalled with ATT software.

Hopefully this review has been useful, if you have any questions leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them.