Alexander Gratz

You might have already read about SoftMaker, the full-featured office suite for Windows Mobile on TamsPPC several times. Tam Hanna, for example, wrote about SoftMaker Presentations in June 2010. Now I want to focus on TextMaker 2010 which promises the power of a desktop’s word processor.

softmaker2010 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile ReviewInterface

The interface is very similar to Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org. There are several views available, such as an outline or the standard page view, with different zoom levels and a ruler, of course. The toolbars are shown on the bottom of the screen, for example file and formatting options or a drawing toolbar and a toolbar for editing images. But it also allows creating and editing own toolbars. The average Microsoft Word user will recognize the organization of toolbars, menus, dialogues and tabs quickly.

Handling

Windows Mobile, an operating system which was designed for stylus use, displays smaller buttons or checkboxes in its dialogues than finger-based interfaces like HTC Sense or other smartphone operating systems like Android or iOS, which is is not a problem as long as you may use a stylus. As this also applies to TextMaker (which does not use an alternative interface), owners of a finger-based phone like the HTC HD2 might have problems to hit small buttons.

But there are also small issues beside the interface:  The “Open file” or “Inserttextmaker03 180x300 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review image” dialogues do not only show a list of files, but also dropdown lists for choosing a different folder and file type and several checkboxes / buttons. Hence there is not much space for the list of files, which – in case of inserting images – shows only the name of the images. A preview box for images does exist in this dialogue, but a thumbnail view would have been better.

Fonts and characters

On my blank Windows Mobile 6.5 phone, there are nine fonts available, including Courier New, Helvetica, Tahoma and Windings. Beside several font collections which are also being offered by SoftMaker, you can install fonts which you find in the web or on your desktop computer.  You just need to copy them to your font folder.

You can define the font size and style, but also different underlines, font and background colors or the space between characters.

textmaker04 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review textmaker05 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review textmaker06 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review

Images and drawings

As one of very few mobile word processors, TextMaker allows inserting images. Unfortunately, the insertion and even the preview of photos (3 MP) textmaker022 112x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Reviewmade my device took about a minute and it slow (HTC HD2) or even unstable (MDA Vario IV). As some expansion cards are slow, the speed could be increased by installing TextMaker directly on the device.

A small image (200 x 150 pixels) made no problems. The editing capabilities include changing the brightness, contrast, colors and the orientation. It even allows you to set a special text flow or put a frame around the image.

The drawing tool bar includes many shapes you already know from Word, including lines, free-hand, boxes and ellipses. A tap on the Auto Form tool shows a variety of another ~ 130 shapes. The shapes can have different line styles and can be rotated and filled with colors, color gradients, pattern and images. Furthermore, all fills may have a transparency from 0 – 100%. Even shade, 3D and mirror effects are available.

Supported file types

Beside the support of  printing, TextMaker also exports documents to PDF files, which can include a table of contents and even form elements from the document (PDF forms).

The list of supported file types includes several TextMaker formats, but also Microsoft Word (even the 2007 .docx format), OpenDocument, Rich Text, Pocket Word, HTML and plain text.

textmaker07 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review textmaker08 90x150 TextMaker 2010 for Windows Mobile Review

Conclusion

Indeed, it is the best word processor for Windows Mobile and indeed, it is a desktop software on a mobile phone. Nevertheless, this fact can sometimes lead to lags when you are working with many shapes, big documents or images. But this is not necessarily the fault of the programmers, it is the consequence of these high-end features on slow devices. Expensive smartphones with a fast CPU have an advantage, of course.

The handling of the software could sometimes be better, especially on finger-controlled devices. This is why I am looking forward to testing the announced SoftMaker Office for Android.

handset image 150x150 Meego going to be ported to the HTC HD2According to this thread at xda-developers.com, the developers which already ported Android to the HTC HD2 are now working on a port of Meego, a new operating system for phones, netbooks and tablets. If this port was successful, Meego would be the fourth operating system which is compatible to the HTC HD2. Beside Windows Mobile 6.5, there are Android and Ubuntu versions for the smartphone at the moment.

There are already ports of Meego for different mobile phones, including the Nexus One and the HTC Desire. Due to the lack of open source graphic drivers for the two phones, these ports do not feature a hardware acceleration and therefore have a rather bad performance. As the HTC HD2 is equipped with the same chipset, this could be a problem for the further development.

After the Android  port for the HD2, developers are working on the port of Ubuntu, a Linux operating system for desktop computers and laptops. Beside the computer version, Ubuntu is also being offered for machines with an ARM architecture for some time now. However, Ubuntu had also to be adapted to the special hardware of the smartphone.

The HTC Linux community now offers their second built of Ubuntu for the HD2. At the moment, there are drivers for the touchscreen, the Wi-Fi and the phone including 3G communication. There is, however, no audio driver and therefore no sound, even not in calls. It also includes USB host drivers, which support mass storage, audio and networking devices.

On my phone, the boot process lasts 86 seconds until the desktop and its icons appear. The build uses its own Wi-Fi software (Wicd). You can switch between portait and landscape mode and access the Micro SD card. There is also an onscreen keyboard for text inputs.

As Ubuntu has its own software center, you can install virtually any program being offered. You can, of course, also install software which comes in a .deb archive and is compatible with the ARM processor. The build comes with Firefox, Evolution, GIMP and OpenOffice.org. Below, you see the loading / reaction times of several programs / actions and some pictures:

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, GNOME 2.28.1 loading of the entire system 86 seconds
Mozilla Firefox 3.5.3 web browser 10 seconds (without loading a page)
Mozilla Fennec leight-weight web browser 8 seconds (without loading a page)
Midori 0.1.9 leight-weight web browser 7 seconds (without loading a page)
GIMP image editor 26 seconds
Scribus 1.3.3.13svn desktop publishing 20 seconds
Evolution 2.28.1 personal information manager 15 seconds
AbiWord 2.6.8 word processor 7 seconds
OpenOffice.org Writer 3.1 word processor 36 seconds
Audacity 1.3.9 sound editor 9 seconds
Ubuntu Software Center software directory 12 seconds
Switching from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa (graphical user interface must be reloaded) 40 seconds

Ubuntu on a HTC HD2 with dynamic CPU clock rate and a Class 2 16 GB Micro SD card

IMG 0001 150x150 Ubuntu on the HTC HD2 IMG 9999 150x150 Ubuntu on the HTC HD2 IMG 9998 150x150 Ubuntu on the HTC HD2 IMG 9997 150x150 Ubuntu on the HTC HD2 IMG 0003 150x150 Ubuntu on the HTC HD2 IMG 0002 150x150 Ubuntu on the HTC HD2

The speed of Ubuntu can be compared with an eight year old laptop. The further development might bring some speed increase due to better hardware support, but also by disabling unimportant services or choosing other software. Beside Ubuntu, a look at a leight-weight operating system, for example Xubuntu, might also be worth it.

But you should not expect wonders. Another big problem is the usability: Ubuntu was designed to be handled by a mouse. A smartphone with a resistive touchscreen and a stylus would also be possible. But as capacitive displays can only be handled by a finger, it is extremly difficult to hit small icons, menus  or keys on the onscreen keyboard.

Nevertheless, I am already looking forward to test the next HD2 Ubuntu build, which is going to be based on Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat).

elev profile2 Google Earth 5.2: Better support for GPS tracks

Google Earth is not just a virtual globe, but also a great tool for owners of GPS trackers or GPS equipped smartphones which want to record their hiking, cycling, sailing, skiing or other tours. These tracks (for example KML or GPX files) are being displayed on the satellite image.

The new version 5.2 enhances this support.  Now, a chart shows the altitude and distance and a playback mode can replay the whole trip. If the tracker records data like speed or heart rate, Google Earth will also show it.

There is a variety of GPS trackers for Windows Mobile. I recommend NoniGPSPlot or, especially on devices with a capacitive display, like the HTC HD2, the finger-friendly NaviComputer.

Download: Google Earth

usually

softmaker2010 SoftMaker launches public beta of their Office 2010 for Windows Mobile

The German developer SoftMaker offers an office package, consisting of TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations for a variety of desktop operating systems. Interestingly, there is also a version for Windows Mobile devices which contains the same features as the desktop version. For example, the word processor TextMaker supports multiple file formats (its own TextMaker, Microsoft Office, OpenDocument, RTF and HTML files), export of PDF files, images, tables, formulars, different views and other things you would expect from a desktop word processor right on your mobile.

The new 2010 version adds support for Word 2007+ files, the import of Excel 2007+ files, better charts, document tabs and contains an improved spell-checking. You can download the free beta vesion which expires on June 30, 2010 on the SoftMaker site.


gmaps01 Google Maps: StreetView for Windows MobileAfter the iPhone and Google Android received support for Google Street View, the recent update (Google Maps 2.3) enables it on Windows Mobile and Symbian OS (Series 60). This feature allows you to walk through the streets of cities and view 360° photos. There are many cities in the US which are covered by Street View and some in France. At the moment, Google is capturing photos of German cities.

So I opened Opera, the standard browser of my MDA Vario IV, also known as HTC Touch Pro. But instead of offering a download, the text on the Google Maps Mobile page said that I should open the site in my mobile browser – while I was in Opera! The solution of this problem is that Opera indentifies as a desktop browser, so Google thinks that you are using the browser on your computer. If you have a HTC Diamond, Touch Pro, or another smartphone with Opera, use the Internet Explorer instead.

gmaps021 Google Maps: StreetView for Windows MobileAfter you have opened the URL www.google.com/gmm and downloaded Google Maps for Windows Mobile, the installer will first remove the old version of Google Maps (if it is installed). Then it will install the new version.

When Google Maps starts for the first time, it shows an info about the Street View feature. But then, the interface looks like in older versions, too. The program displays the map, my position on the map (using my phone’s cell ID) and the two zoom buttons. The menu offers searching, favourites, satellite view, traffic and GPS. Still nothing new. So I went to a city which is availible in Street View – Paris, in my case. But still no new buttons or options in the menu. The message after the installation adivsed me to “press OK on the map and choose Street View” – but there is no “OK”.

gmaps031 Google Maps: StreetView for Windows MobileLater I discovered how to go to Street View: you just have to tap and hold onto the map. Then, a context menu appears and you can turn on Street View. Another possibility is to use the Search function.

You can turn around your position on the map. If an arrow appears, you can go to its direction. The speed when you are moving to another place is not very fast, but OK -  it takes about five seconds. As I already know Street View from my computer, I realized two missing features: you can look 360° around, but not up and down. And you cannot use the zoom.

I consider Street View nice to have on my mobile, even if many users of Google Maps might still prefer the classic maps. But now that there is Street View support on the iPhone & co., it is justified that Google goes the same way for Windows Mobile. However, it still lacks the full functionality of the desktop version. So let’s hope that Google will enhance it in the next update.

More information: http://www.google.com/mobile/gmm/index.html

Copyright: AccessAccess, the developer of the famous mobile browser NetFront has published a new product: a free widget machine for Windows Mobile (devices with and without touchscreen) and Symbian Series 60. You can imagine this as a desktop with small windows (widgets) for notes, weather forecast or whatever.

After the installation of the software, you first have to restart your PDA. Then, two widgets are availible: a world clock and a weather forecast. You can open multiple widgets at once and move them around on your “desktop”. However, they only show a preview of their full content until you maximize the windows using the rectangle button.

Over the menu, you can switch to your internet browser and download further widgets. Access offers a Google Maps widget , a calendar, a note pad and a Flickr photo viewer, for example. After the download, the widgets are received and installed by the Widget Player. The database covers 28 widgets; most of them written by Access.

Developers can create own widgets using the Widget SDK which contains help texts, examples and an emulator. For coders, it should not be too difficult as the widgets contain just some images, HTML files and JavaScript.

On the technical side, the program works correct. Both landscape and portrait mode and VGA are supported; the speed is OK. Perhaps, there could just be more widgets. But I cannot see a reason why I need a widget manager which does the same (or similar) things as Windows Mobile. Instead of a widget manager with a weather widget, you can just use a weather plugin on your Today screen. Well, if you find a reason for using this (or don’t need one), I can recommend this software as a free and stable widget manager.

More information: http://widgets.access-company.com/

This morning, I began with a full battery. After some calls and then half an hour with GPS turned on and tracking (with NoniGPS Plot) and playing music (MP3 music in MortPlayer, using speaker), the battery was at 70 percent. Then I wrote some text for about 45 minutes, and the power state fell down to 50 percent. Now, in the later afternoon, it is at 30 percent, after viewing some images (~ 15 minutes).

I had to wait some minutes for a valid GPS signal. Then, the altitude, speed, … values seemed correct, and I saw the track on the map. So the GPS problems, which were reported by several users, could not be experienced by me. But I will do more GPS testing soon.

Listening to music using the speaker is possible, but you should of course not expect too much. If you want high quality, you will need the headset. However, I would have expected more from the speaker. You hear probably no difference between 64 kbit/s and 320 kbit/s MP3s. Furthermore, the speaker is not very loud – the one of the HTC Blue Angel seems better. But as I said, probably everyone listens to music using the – included – headset, and its sound quality is quite acceptable.

My greatest annoyance in the three days is a pre-installed program that completes words automatically or proposes the right spelling. I considered it annoying as many propositions were unusable for me (especially web addresses). This can be deactivated – so I did that – nevertheless, there is still a line at the bottom which shows the word I am writing and gives propositions. In the original line, the text only appears after pressing “Enter”. And sometimes, it even changes letters. So I will keep on looking for solutions…

mda01 150x150 Touch Pro Diary   2nd dayThe testing goes on – this morning, I listened to music using YouTube and the headset. Even if this are only low-quality videos in many cases, I can already say that the headset should be good enough for hearing music – I will repeat this test with high-quality music in a few days. The YouTube application itself has problems with the landscape mode: sometimes, it went into landscape mode when I slid out the keyboard, and sometimes it stayed in / went back to portrait mode.

I also played around with the camera. Suddenly, the preview image disappeared. Restarting the camera application did not fix the issue, so I decided to launch my first soft reset. After that, I could take pictures again, which looked on the small screen like they were taken with my digital Canon camera. But later, on my laptop, I noticed once again that a mobile phone cannot be compared to a digital camera. Lighter parts (e. g. windows in rooms) of an image often appear too light, and some of the images contain much noise, others are unsharp. The autofocussing worked well, even when I photographed objects in a distance of 3 – 5 cm.

You can view some unedited photos I shot:

image 012 225x300 Touch Pro Diary   2nd day image 015 300x225 Touch Pro Diary   2nd day

According to other users or news sites, a full battery is empty after the daily usage. At the moment, I haveimg 6752 150x150 Touch Pro Diary   2nd day no clear prognosis. I started using the phone at 50% yesterday and played around with it for about one hour during the evening and watched some YouTube videos. Wireless LAN and phone (showed an HSDPA signal) were mostly turned on. After another 30 minutes of playing this morning (and standby usage during the night), the first warning appeared. I charged it for about 30 minutes – one hour, then used it again with Wireless LAN and some multimedia. The warnings came again this afternoon, but I never charged it longer than an hour.

Beside Microsoft’s standard games, Bubble Breaker and Solitaire, there is also Teeter, a game developed by HTC, which demonstrates the capabilities of the accelerometer. The accelerometer works correct here, and the game is fun – also because other games require pressing the same buttons again and again; this game requires skillfulness. There is a video on YouTube about the game.

varioiv 150x150 Touch Pro Diary   1st dayI just got my new MDA Vario IV – you may also know it as HTC’s Touch Pro. It features a keyboard, a VGA screen, Wireless LAN, GPS and more. During the next days, I want to note down my daily thoughts about and experiences with the device here.

My first thought, when I opened the box, was: it is … very small. Smaller than my former PDAs / phones, like the Palm Tungsten C or MDA III (HTC Blue Angel). I don’t see it as a real problem, but normally, I prefer bigger devices with a bigger screen – especially if they have a VGA screen. The form is a bit different to the HTC one, but also looks good. I inserted my battery and five seconds later, it showed its T-Mobile logo for the first time. The booting lasted about 30 seconds before a green Windows Mobile 6.1 appears. Then, the special T-Mobile (branding, Webnwalk, …) and HTC (YouTube, TouchFlo 3D, …) applications were being installed automatically. After another reset, it displayed a video how to use the TouchFlo 3D interface. Now it was ready.

When I saw T-Mobile’s magenta version of TouchFlo 3D, I knew what to remove first. In my opinion, the HTC design looks better. The first things I tried were the FM radio, turning on Wireless LAN for Opera, Google Maps and YouTube. And all these programs worked fine and looked nice (especially YouTube and Google Maps) on the display with VGA (480 x 640 px) resolution.

I also consider the keyboard rather small, but I can already type fast on it. However, I miss a “Start” and an “OK” button on it – like the MDA Vario III (HTC Kaiser) has them. Also, I miss the “Start” button on the frontside (see HTC Blue Angel).

The article of the second day will cover the camera, the GPS receiver and more.

After my first article in February, I have tested another version of Google’s Android emulator. There are some differences to the old version – the new version is the one you probably already know from the T-Mobile G1 photos.

Interested users can download the SDK from Google’s project site. There are versions for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (i386). The package contains the emulator and other tools you can use for developing applications for Android.

Continue reading »

For some weeks now, I am searching regularly for 16 GB microSDHC cards which I can use in my next smartphone, the MDA Vario IV (HTC Touch Pro). First without success, but since yesterday, some search engines show first results, like this one for $115, or this one for €54. Members of online forums like xda-developers.com confirm that the phone supports these big cards.

Is a smartphone owner able to use so much memory? Well, the most ones probably are not. Even 4 GB is enough for a user who has few navigation cards and some music. But the so-called power users often have a huge music collection they want to carry around (which is often even much bigger than 16 GB, so they can only take parts of it). Or they want to watch movies on their phone. As two of the new HTC phones, the Touch Diamond and the Touch Pro, have a VGA screen (640 x 480 px), they can show movies in almost TV / DVD quality, of course with stereo sound on their headsets. Another possibility is to have an offline Wikipedia on the card. However, because of the new data flatrates, high speed mobile internet connections, etc. it is not used very often.

So, if you want to have a lot of music, photos and movies on your card, perhaps an offline Wikipedia and several backup sets, etc., you should have a closer look at it and perhaps calculate if you can use 16 GB. And don’t forget to check if you mobile phone supports it – many phones only support 4 or 8 GB.

Finally, the HTC Touch Pro is availble at T-Mobile Germany as the MDA Vario IV and costs about 660 EUR without a contract. Special features of the phone are the screen with VGA resolution, Wireless LAN, GPS and the new TouchFlo 3D interface.

There are some differences to the HTC model, for example the box. Or the software, which has some modifications, but is still Windows Mobile 6.1. It might also – like other phones, e. g. the MDA Vario III (HTC Kaiser) – lack some additional software packages.

MDA Vario IV on T-Mobile.de

image01 150x150 Throttle Launcher   Diamond feeling on your Windows Mobile phoneThe HTC Diamond is availble and the new phone of many users. Other users, including me, still wait for the release of the HTC Touch Pro. Both phones have a new Touch Flo version called “Touch Flo 3D” which is also the new Home screen interface. The freeware Throttle Launcher is a clone of this interface and runs on PDAs and phones which have Windows Mobile 5 and above. So I installed the recent version 0.9.3 beta on my old MDA III. Similar to the HTC Diamond, it has several tabs on the bottom: Home, Mail, SMS, Calendar, Weather, Music, Contacts, Programs, Settings, Photos, Comm Manager and Internet.

  • The Home screen shows a clock, an alarm clock, missed calls and upcoming appointments.
  • The Mail tab shows a preview of recent mails in their envelopes. It only supports one mail account.
  • The SMS tab is similar to the mail tab.
  • In the Calendar screen you see the table of a month, upcoming appointments and the number of tasks.
  • The Weather tab shows either a picture of the sun, of clouds, etc. and the current temperature of your location. On a second page, it shows the weather for the next three days. Your location can only be set manually at this time (how to change location).
  • The Music screen shows a song with its album cover. On my device, it shows the song which is currently played in MortPlayer.
  • In the Contact screen, you can add favourite contacts to a list. Throttle Launcher shows images of these contacts.
  • In the Programs screen, you can either display a full list of installed applications or a favourite list.
  • The Settings screen allows you to set up Throttle Launcher and system settings.
  • Unfortunately, the Photos screen did not show anything on my device.
  • The Comm Manager screen is similar to HTC’s Comm Managers. On the second page, it has a keylock, a reset button and shows some stats.
  • The Internet screen shows favourite internet sites.

You can change settings for all tabs, for example which mail account to use or where your fotos or music files are.

image05 150x150 Throttle Launcher   Diamond feeling on your Windows Mobile phoneThe developer metions support for Flash, Direct 3D and TrueType. There is also a plugin which can display Flash animations on the home screen. And because of its theme support, you can even change the look from HTC to iPhone, Windows Mobile 7 and others.

The application worked so far, the only problems were that the photos screen did not work and that the whole application was rather slow. The developer also warns that the application needs more power and thus, that it may decrease your battery’s power. Some of the settings also seem difficult to me: For example, you need to type in the name of your mail account. There is no list where you could choose one or even more. Other settings just have cryptic names.

Beside this, I could not find bigger problems. The other ones may be fixed in a final version. Nevertheless, I would only recommend this application on a faster machine. If it is too slow for you, it would be better to use another HTC screen or the “old” home screen. But first, go to the homepage and give it a try!

image02 150x150 Throttle Launcher   Diamond feeling on your Windows Mobile phone image03 150x150 Throttle Launcher   Diamond feeling on your Windows Mobile phone image04 150x150 Throttle Launcher   Diamond feeling on your Windows Mobile phone

img02 150x150 HTCs manual for Touch Pro mentions interesting featuresThe manual for the new HTC Touch Pro (Raphael, Vario IV) has been published on the company’s homepage. It contains lots of new screenshots which show for example pre-installed applications or the new Touch Flo 3D. There is a quick start guide, the Touch Flo 3D as well as the complete manual on htc.com. We have a summary and some photos of the manual.

Pre-installed applications

Office Mobile (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote), Calendar, Contacts, Internet Explorer Mobile, Messaging, Phone, Help, Games (Bubble Breaker, Teeter, Solitaire), ActiveSync, Adobe Reader LE, Album, Audio Booster, Bluetooth Explorer, Calculator, Camera, Comm Manager, File Explorer, FM Radio, Getting Started, Google Maps, Internet Sharing, Java, JETCET Print, Messenger, MP3 Trimmer, Notes, Opera Mobile, Pictures & Videos, QuickGPS, RSS Hub, Search, SIM Manager, Sprite Backup, Streaming Media, Tasks, Voice Recorder, Voice Speed Dial, Windows Live, Windows Media Player Mobile, WorldCard Mobile, YouTube, ZIP, STK Service

Various features

  • Printing .txt, .jpg, .xhtml, .vcf and .vcs files via network, Bluetooth or PictBridge
  • Battery life
    • Standby: up to 367 hours for GSM, up to 462 hours for WCDMA
    • Talk time: up to 419 minutes for GSM, up to 378 minutes for WCDMA
    • Video call time: up to 189 minutes for WCDMA
  • 5 way navigator has a sensor which supports sliding clockwise / counterclockwise (see f. e. Apple iPod)
  • PC can access an inserted memory card as a USB flash drive
  • YouTube Player, Windows Live, RSS reader, Google Maps
  • GPS photo
  • 10 band equalizer
  • Java Micro VM
  • Business card reader (OCR)

Notices

  • Several news services mentioned that the connector of the Touch Pro supports Video out. Such a cable is NOT included.
  • SAR information: 0.462 w / kg @10g (head) , 1.31 w/kg @ 10g (body)

Images

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