This evening was the first time I was able to sit down with the E61 and fool around with it. I’ve pretty much just gone through some of the basics in terms of getting the applications I like installed on there, and trying out one or two new function. For a general overview of the device I recommend checking out the review at MobileBurn. I’m gonna cover more of the geek end of things. What do I mean by the geek end? My first app install on the E61 was an SSH client. Not exactly the tool most people would put first in their required mobile services. Lets start off with the software I’ve put on so far:
- Putty – an SSH client for Symbian devices. I used this on my other S60 phones, but generally it’s been a pretty bad experience. Better than nothing when you’re in a pinch, but only just better. One of the things I really liked about the Treo 650 was that the SSH client for that kicked ass in comparison. However Putty for S60 now rivals that implementation.
- Python – Python for S60 is running on 3rd edition devices, and it’s definitely working on the E61. However it seems like the feature I used the most before, being able to take script files from online and quickly send them over to your phone to run, is no longer supported. The Readme files for the release are written by someone intimately familiar with the internal workings of the new Series60 security model, and explaining why installed scripts need to be signed. At least that’s what I think it’s saying. That really blows, cause I’m not familiar with the security model and I really don’t give a shit about it. I want to do things with my phone. My guess is that most people using Python on S60 don’t really care about the security model as well. That’s what made the port interesting, it allowed folks to hack without having to deal with the painful ordeal that is Symbian development. Step in the wrong direction on this one, hopefully someone finds a way to clear it up. You can install your own scripts, you just have to do a little dance to get them transferred over.
- AgileMessenger – works on the E61, and the app itself rocks when combined with the full keyboard. However be aware that there is a bug with the labeling of the softkeys within the app. The label for the left key shows up over the right key instead, and the label for the right key shows up in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Very confusing, and it can make the app appear to fail if you don’t know that the bug is there. It does work however, besides the obvious usability problem, the bug doesn’t seen to affect anything else.
- Podcasting – the free application provided by Nokia. The Wifi makes downloading audio directly from the device much more realistic. I think this is a new app that I’m going to start getting a lot of use out of. The coolest bit? It seems to have scheduling and preferences config that I can use to tell it to download automatically overnight if it sees my home access point. Very cool! The second coolest bit? The service endpoint for the built in search seems to be configurable.
- Mobile Google Maps – not the (although I do also have that installed), this version has support for GPS. It works with my Delorme BlueLogger bluetooth GPS unit, but the setup is a bit odd. Check out the FAQ at the Mobile Google Maps site. You have to pair your bluetooth GPS with your phone, and then tell the app to use ‘internal’ GPS intead. This did work for me, and led me to play with some of the built in location tools that the E61 apparently ships with.
- Y-Browser – normally I use FExplorer, but that doesn’t have a 3rd edition port yet. Y-Browser gets the job done though. It’s what I used while poking around in the Python stuff.
- EEMame – because games are a universal language, and no one is impressed with any bit of technology normally until they see a game being played on it. Nothing screams geek like emulating classic arcade machinies and playing the original ROMs, so I figured my phone should be able to do it. I should also download Lumines mobile and give that a try.
The device certainly isn’t perfect yet. What’s some of the rough edges?
- The responsiveness is a bit poor. Sometimes I find myself wondering if the device has hung as it spins away doing something. It actually seems to be more UI update issues than base operating system slowness. I’ve done a few downloads in the browser where apparently the request had hung at 50%, but it had really downloaded the rest of the file without updating the UI.
- The Wifi support seems to be great. I like the way the network handling has integrated the new interface type. However support for WPA seems to be a bit off. I run WPA on my home network and I’ve had to request a connection a few times more than once. I’ll get the “select an access point dialog”, I choose my home network and the device kicks back with a WPA authentication error almost immediately. Try to connect again and it goes through.
- Access point groups aren’t consistently used. The device includes support for access point groups, which are a series of access points to be tried in some predetermined order. The purpose is to allow you to define a hunt order for the different access types. “Use this wifi network if you can find it, and then this wifi network if you can find it, and finally call back on cellular if you can’t find either. Fantastic! However it seems like the access point groups only appear in the default access point selection list for some apps. Others simply don’t display them to choose from. For some reason the web browser is one of them, so I have to choose my access point explicitly every time I start up the browser.
- Browser crashes. Generally the browser seems to be quick and slick. The minimap I could either take or leave, doesn’t really do all that much for me. However, the history function includes a small snapshot of the pages to flip through as you choose where to go in your history list. That I think really rocks and helps me a lot. However, on the other hand, I’ve gotten the browser to crash on me a few times. Seemingly more likely to happen when downloading something using the browser than while browsing with it. But still very very annoying.
I would definitely recommend getting a memory card to go along with this. The wifi makes that storage much easier to fill. I live over by a Fry’s, so I just ran out and got a miniSD card this afternoon. But if you aren’t in the middle of tech central and you’re picking up an E61, might as well add the memory card right off the bat if you don’t have one. I was amazed to see that 2 gig minisd cards are under $90. Yet still another memory format I have to get damnit! At least this one is cheap in the higher capacities. I think I paid $90 for my 1 gig dual voltage rsmmc just a few months ago.
I still have a few more apps to test out and play around with. And I haven’t even really experimented too much with the built in functions. There’s a spreadsheet and some kind of presentation software on this this by default! I also picked up the trial of Wayfinder to give that a try. $99 is a lot to spend on maps though, and I might be able to get what I need out of Mobile Google Maps for now. Anyone else with an E61 out there find some particularly interesting stuff?