Exit Review: Nokia 6585

img_0760This post is inspired by Bunnie’s Exit Review of his Blackberry, he also did one for his Thinkpad T60.  The concept is a good one, often our new gadget purchases are based on our personal past experiences as much as they are influenced by our friends and “the latest new thing”.

From the picture above, you can see that its had a hard life.  The paint is rubbing off on the corners, the keypad is starting to show black plastic under the chipped keys and the screen is held on with some scotch tape.  This phone has survived countless high impact falls to the floor, a few to pavement- and a handful that resulted in a yard sale style disassembly upon impact.

This was my 3rd Nokia phone.  When I purchased the 6585 in late 2004 I was switching from a GSM based carrier onto a CDMA carrier, my reasoning here was for improved coverage.  At the time, GSM coverage at my home was spotty (it has improved since).   I was attracted to the form factor (4.17” x 1.77” x 0.80”), and battery life (standby time 6 days).

Via eBay I did pick up the headset (with integrated radio antenna) which served me well.  Both the speaker phone and headset voice quality were such that I could be on a business conference call and people couldn’t tell that I wasn’t on my office phone.  As for extras, there wasn’t much to rave about.  The web browser would quickly drain your battery.  The screen 128×128 resolution and 4096 colours was poor.  The embedded java was only MIDP1.0.  The radio was a neat addition, but I never used it.

This phone does have an IRDA port on it.  This let me synchronize my contacts with a PC with the Nokia PC Suite.  I could also store pictures (low quality due to the display) on the phone to customize it.  This was also the first phone which I did any amount of text messaging with, and found the predictive T9 input to be fairly usable.  I also found the alarm clock to be invaluable when traveling – hotel alarm clocks can be challenging when you’re jet lagged.

I probably would still be using this phone had the battery life not degraded to the point where it needed charging daily to be reliable at all.  It was far too common to hear the sad ‘dee doop’ Nokia low battery sound from my pocket.

While the 6585 didn’t offer a lot of whiz bang features, it did work well as a phone.  The PC connectivity is something I can’t imagine not having now.   My new phone is another Nokia, more on that in a future post.

IR4PS3 Review

Until recently, the PS3 was one of the cheaper options for Blu-ray playback and it has high quality playback.  Today there are stand alone players which will match the quality of playback, but not the boot / menu speed the PS3.  Still, the PS3 goes beyond movies by providing game play and media center duties.

One of the drawbacks to the PS3 is integration with standard universal remote controls, not having an IR control story.  The official Sony PS3 remote uses the same bluetooth connectivity as the wireless game controllers.  To work around this there are several 3rd party solutions exist such as IR2BT, ps3toothfairy, Schmart and IR4PS3, I chose to go with the latter.

I first found out about the IR4PS3 option via remotecentral.com, a site I’ve often referenced ever since I invested in a Phillips Pronto TSU2000.  Having a complex audio/video setup is one thing, but it becomes a much bigger problem if my wife can’t make use of it – a fully programmable remote such as the Pronto makes the whole setup easy to use.  After reading the AVSForum thread on IR4PS3, I felt confident that it would be a good match for my setup.

The short version of the review is that ordering it was easy, it was shipped quickly, and works exactly as I would expect.  You do need to provide your own power supply, but the manual lists several low cost and easy to find options.  As it uses the bluetooth module from the Sony remote, compatibility with the PS3 firmware upgrades should be a non-issue.  I now can use my IR based universal remote control with the PS3.  Response time feel good, exactly as if the PS3 actually had IR support built in.  I would not hesitate to recommend it to others.

Read on for a full review with pictures..

Continue reading “IR4PS3 Review”

CoolMax 3.5″ IDE Enclosure Review

A year or two ago, it was cheaper to pair together a USB enclosure and a drive than to buy a pre-built external drive.  Now with 1TB external drives around the $200 price point – if you want external storage, just buy a pre-built unit.

Of course, you might be like myself and have a stack of hard drives sitting on your desk.  I had a 60G drive looking for a home, and a 40G just sitting here gathering dust along with a handful of sub 10G drives pulled from older machines.  The 60G came out of an old server and it was a pretty loud drive, thus the reason I don’t have it sitting in my desktop machine which has a nice quiet drive in it.

In order to tinker with the NSLU2, I needed an external USB drive.  Instead of laying out a few hundred bucks, I figured the $21 CoolMax from ShopRBC would work until I needed more than 60G of storage.

I didn’t expect very much for the price, but the box was pretty sturdy.  Reviews on the net seemed to be pretty mixed, with a number of people having real problems with it.  I had no intention of using the one touch backup facility, or installing any of the supplied windows software – so that wasn’t a factor in the purchase.  Even for normal users, there is no reason to use the supplied software if you just want to use it as a drive – the USB enclosure should be detected and work without any problems without drivers on most modern (XP, Vista, Mac or Linux) systems.

Included in the box (working top to bottom, left to right): Power adapter, screw driver, usb cable, power cord (I got 2!), a CD with drivers, plastic stand, drive rails, manual, and the enclosure itself.

The screwdriver deserves special mention, its actually not junk.  The black plastic rails are designed to fit into the screw holes in your drive and slide into the enclosure.  Hooking things up is pretty obvious, but things are a bit of a tight fit.  Generally it feels fairly well designed.

Of course – it turns out my 1st unit was DOA which sent me back to the store for a new unit, this took a few days but the folks at ShopRBC made it pretty much hassle free.  The 2nd unit was another brand new unit, the only difference was this box didn’t have a bonus 2nd power cord – oh, and it works flawlessly.

The enclosure doesn’t provide any ventilation, and it does warm up to the touch – but no more so than the drive would running in a PC.  The power cord is a bit short, but again this isn’t the end of the world.  There are power and drive activity lights on the box.  Overall it does exactly what I’m looking for, at a very reasonable price.

If you’ve got an old drive around consider picking up an enclosure, just be aware there are IDE and Sata enclosures and you need to get the right type.