Wieso ich meine gebrauchten Dell Latitude Notebooks mag

Dell Latitude E7440 und E7240

Wer in 2019 ein gutes Notebook* für zu Hause, für die Kinder oder als privates Zweitgerät sucht, schaut sicherlich bei den großen Händlern online und bekommt dann interessante, moderne Geräte mit relativ langer Akkulaufzeit, einfachem Prozessor, schönem IPS-Display und ein paar Anschlüssen angeboten. Meistens starten die Angebote für solche neuen Notebooks bei 400 EUR, und die Auswahl (und die Verwirrung) ist online sicherlich noch größer als bei den großen Elektromärkten in der Innenstadt und den Einkaufszentren. Mich regt das immer etwas auf, weil ich bei dem Thema “Laptopkauf” etwas leidenschaftlich unterwegs bin und hier daher endlich mal einiges von dem aufschreiben möchte, was mir bei dem Thema so in den Sinn kommt.

tl;dr, die Kurzversion: Statt neuer Laptops/Notebooks* mit geringer Ausstattung empfehle ich für den Privatgebrauch gebrauchte Business-Notebooks wie die Modelle Dell Latitude E7440, E5450, E5470 und HP EliteBook 8470p.

Continue reading “Wieso ich meine gebrauchten Dell Latitude Notebooks mag”

s/HP/Dell

I have recently upgraded my main computer from an HP EliteBook 6930p to a Dell Latitude E6430. After 7 years of using HP business laptops, the transition to the Dell range is a welcome change. Here’s why:

1. LED screen
Both machines are 14.1″ laptops with a slightly higher screen resolution than the usual (and rather horrible) 1366x768px. While the HP is from 2009 and still came with a 1440x900px screen, this new Dell laptop has 1600×900. A lot of programmers / web workers actually prefer higher screen resolutions, and I meanwhile also, but in the beginning the tiny font was a problem. Since I usually only go for business laptops with docking stations, my main screen is an external 22″ monitor at 1680×1050 – so this screen issue is secondary to me.

What matters though is the illumination technology – which is based on cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) on my old HP. As mentioned in my 2009 review of the HP 6930p vs. the Dell E6400, even the E6400 already had a nice LED screen, just as about half of all Lenovo T400 laptops sold. Of the 6930p sold since 2008/2009, most models only came with the CCFL version – and the few available LEDs only had a WXGA / 12800×800 resolution. It is only recently that someone came up with a hack to install a WXGA+ (1440×900) LED screen from a Lenovo T410 into an HP 6930p. I once thought about doing this hack and already bought the cables, but such 14.1″ LED screens usually sell for ~ 140 EUR alone. These days, second hand 6930p laptops sell for around 200 EUR, so any such investment would be rather stupid.

New laptop, new screen, issue solved.

The bitter truth may be that I should have picked a 14.1″ laptop with a WXGA+ LED screen in 2009 (e.g. the E6400 or the T400). The WXGA++ LED screen on the E6430 is an instant LIKE (even though the CCFL version had better colours).

It seems there are no 14.1″ laptops with really good screens. It’s either 12.5″ (Lenovo), 13.3″ (Apple) or 15.x”/17.x” if you’re interested in something like IPS panels.

Continue reading “s/HP/Dell”

Five reasons why the Motorola Defy sucks (not really)

Yes, I know – five blog posts about a phone within two weeks may be too much for most readers, but some people have asked me how I like my new mobile phone – the Motorola DEFY – so I went on and compiled a review on it. In German, for Amazon.de.

jke defy

Don’t speak German? Then read on….

The part where you’ll lose your readers is probably where you start talking about how good product xyz is. There are 163 reviews on Amazon.de about this particular phone at the moment, and almost all reviews describe how great this phone is. So I went on and tried to focus on the disadvantages of the Motorola Defy – which I think are important facts when you’re about to invest some money in a new phone.

It’s an incomplete list, things (especially some software issues) are subject to change, we’re talking about a Motorola Defy in mid February 2011. Also, I started as an Android n00b (when I got this phone a week ago).

1. The micro-USB port is at the side of the devices, so you’ll have troubles finding a suitable docking station. I’ve built my own, but the device still acts up when inserted into the docking station, even with the latest (unofficial) software. Plus the port is covered by a piece of plastics which needs to be removed (and is fixed to the body of the phone) – thus: a docking station will always have to provide enough room for this flap. It’s still better than the flaps on the Nokia phones I’ve reviewed in the past and of course helps protect the phone from water and dust.

defy port

2. There’s no specialised accessory available as of yet except for the usual suspects such as car chargers, (passive) car mounts, display and body covers. No docking station, no headphones, no spare parts. And this although the phone has sold quite well over the last few months. Where are all these Chinese manufacturers when you need them? Or could this be related to the nasty docking station issue I’ve experienced on my Defy (phone switches into flight mode, starts media player)? Or is that just a “media dock”-mode? Hmm.

defy car mount
Moto DEFY car mount menu (very nice!)

defy media dock
Moto DEFY media dock menu (before it started acting up…?!).

defy headset
opened Motorola DEFY headset (hint: iPhone headsets do work)
tip = L // 2nd ring = R // 3rd ring = M- // sleeve = M+

3. The ear speaker problem a lot of (not all, but many) Moto Defys came with is due to low quality speakers and should have been avoided by quality management. Especially since the rest of the phone is top-notch Motorola quality. The Sony K770 (mobile phone) is said to be a resource for alternative speakers….

4. The camera. I believe that the camera module inside the phone is capable of doing much more than what we see as end results. The picture quality is far away from the likes of Nokia N95, N82 or even N8 (it’s just a simple 5mpx module after all) and when I installed new firmware on the phone, I realized how much better this camera can be. Really, an upgrade of the camera software should be recommended to Motorola.

2011-02-17 04-18-41 353

2011-02-17 17-12-23 586
How about these two totally unrelated macro sample shots? (taken with the phone on Android 2.2)

5. Motorola currently ships this phone with Android 2.1. I am using a retail version which means any upgrade of the internal firmware isn’t possible over-the-air (OTA), but instead only via a Motorola software on my computer. So I upgraded it from version 2.2.1 to 2.5.1 (both within Android 2.1) and still had some nasty bugs on it like folder names that disappeared after rebooting the phone, or missing lock screens after pressing the main button. Also, I wasn’t using Motorola’s own Android skin “Motoblur”, so I can’t remark on that one. Anyways, after experiencing all these bugs, I decided to flash it with a leaked BLURless ROM from Orange Poland (!) to Android 2.2. What you actually do is a full wipe of all user data on the phone, install the new ROM, do another full wipe and remove some Orange default settings. It’s an automated process that will certainly kill any warranty on the phone, so you should only do it if you know what to do. I didn’t, but I tried it nevertheless and was really surprised:

Motorola Defy + Android 2.2 – Motoblur = AWESOME!

Don’t get me wrong, this preliminary BETA via Orange Poland still has some bugs, but Motorola would be well advised to change their policy on this Motoblur thing and have it removed, or only make it available upon request. Or keep it for business customers who need a closed environment. Not because Motoblur is bad – it isn’t – but because the development and adjustment of Motoblur slows down the entire process for future Android releases on the phone. Seriously, you can not ship a brand new phone (released to the market in Nov. 2010) with Android 2.1 while the competition already has 2.3 and while I can get 2.2 on any cheaper 100€ Android device (ZTE, Huawei, etc.).

Else, I think the Motorola Defy is a great phone and is unique enough to remain on the market (even with Android 2.1!) for a very long time.

Another detail I eventually also realized: you’ll need to register a credit card with Google to buy software on their Android market. On Apple iTunes, there are vouchers available for purchase in our local supermarket. So it’s not only the great UI, simplicity of the iPhone or good apps that made the Apple iPhone dominate the market, but also this ecosystem called iTunes (compared to other like Android market) that contributed to the success of the iPhone. You’ll read about such things and think: “yeah, of course…”, but then when you are charged extra fees on your CC because it was used on Google checkout (US <=> Germany), you’ll quickly understand that some things are smarter with iTunes for a very good reason. This, however, isn’t related to the phone, but to all Android devices.

So…. does the Motorola Defy suck? – NO, of course not.

The Unfolding of yellow-orange books

P1020807

Bought this book (2nd hand) about (some of the) Writing systems of Africa (by Saki Mafundikwa) because of Emeka’s tweet, EY’s post on Sokari’s blog and Jepchumba’s review.

Another book I’d like to mention is “The Unfolding of Language – The Evolution of Mankind’s Greatest Invention”, by Guy Deutscher (he’s a British guy, btw :-).

P1020808

I could go on and give you a review on these books, tell you how the issue of ancient writing systems in Africa actually matters, how languages change(d) with time and that I suddendly felt a need to use this wonderful costruct “The Unfolding of..” for the headline, but I am actually busy procrastinating a very important task and also got hold of a kit (that) I’ll *need* to reassemble today, so stay tuned for another blog post from me today.

(“being busy procrastinating” – oh my, I love this oxymoron…)

Nokia 2700 Classic

It’s about time for another blog post, and since I do seem to have a slight affection for mobile phones, I thought about blogging on my latest acquisition: a Nokia 2700 Classic mobile phone I managed to buy in mint condition as a used device from eBay for a very small amount.

P1020041

I’ve used quite a few phones lately and have gotten used to enhanced services like Dropbox, Evernote, ReadItLater, E-Mail, Browsing on the iPhone, and also thought that I wouldn’t want to buy another Nokia phone since my disappointment with the restrictions set by a Nokia N95 and E72 (= great hardware but not that much software support), but for this price and for my use (as a 2nd line just for calling & music), this Nokia 2700 Classic is a fantastic phone.

Sure, the plastic cover isn’t great, the keypad is a bit narrow, there’s no UMTS/3G, no WLAN, a very grainy 2Mpx cmos cam on board, no flashlight and flash for the cam (which is a real pity) and the internal RAM is also only limited to about 10 MB.

P1020043

This phone, however, is the first Nokia since maybe the 6230 or even the 6310i where everything important works out-of-the-box . It just works and does what it’s supposed to do. Also, anything that isn’t on board can’t break. I think I like (Nokia’s operating system) S40 much more than S60. For instance, one of the things I hated with my N95 and the E72 is when you terminate a call the display/operating system would still take about 1-2 seconds to respond. That’s pretty annoying, actually. There’s no such thing on my S40 devices (6230, 6230i and this 2700 Classic). I like!

Another interesting software detail is that users are directly forwarded to the Opera Mini browser which is just so much better than Nokia’s own crippled browser solutions.

P1020047

The best part about this phone is the 3.5mm headphone socket that works well with my Sony MDR-818 headphones (headset, actually). This, along with the removable 1GB microSD card, promises a really good music pleasure. I don’t know about you, but syncing my iPhone via iTunes just sucks big times (could this also be done via SSH, btw?), and here I just connect the phone via a data cable or directly load multimedia files onto the microSD card. Yes, I also already had this on the N95 and the E72, but to be honest: this is more fun to me with a relatively simple phone like the 2700. I prefer this phone to both the N95 and the E72, albeit their other capabilities.

Also, it has the right size (long enough, slim) and a good weight (~ 85gr), SAR-value is also ok with about 0.84 W/kg (iPhone 1.3; E72 1.4; N95 0,59 W/kg). I think the product engineers who created the pcb and the external phone design did a very good job on this phone. As mentioned, the keypad isn’t top notch, but it is ok and does what it’s supposed to do. I somehow also like that it is a closed keypad with no gaps in between the keys (even though I still like the keypad on the 6230/i best). You know, when you open up phones and look inside at how they are designed and what kind of materials are used and where water/moisture could enter (water damage!), there are worlds between Nokia + SonyEriccson phones and the likes of an iPhone or the HTC Desire. The latter are indeed much more fragile, with complicated thin & flexible pcbs, not designed for rough use and African Asian road side repairs.

P1020042

You’ll notice the old-fashioned BL-5C battery we’re already familiar with since the 6230 (from 2003?), the antenna positioned in the bottom, the thin but sufficient plastic back cover (I’ve added some layers of transparent adhesive tape to limit play) and the overall simple “a few components only” design by Nokia. This, ladies and gentleman, is what I consider a good design!

Verdict: the Nokia 2700 Classic may be an average phone with some flaws like the grainy camera or the limitations set by the operating system and its resources, but it does quite well what it was designed for and is the perfect device for anyone who just wants to use it for telephoning, sms and music. The internal speaker is very loud and the music player responds quicker than any player on S60. Going by the installed ringtones on this phone, the target market seems to be the youth / 13-30yr olds.

Despite all the mistakes Nokia did lately (too many phones on the market, no emphasis on software, sticking to the wrong OS, horrible app store etc.), this phone is a good buy – which is also evident by the good sales stats this 2700 Classic already had (this phone was recently offered at ALDI Germany, btw) and the adaption of the design for other popular phones like the Nokia 6700 range. Contrary to the otherwise much more interesting 6700 with it’s metal cover, 5mpx cam and UMTS/3G support, the 2700 has this 3.5mm headphone socket. The 6700 is like the 6500 in this regard – everything is done via a micro (or mini?) USB port, which may be ok for political reasons but isn’t my first choice.

I think the overall truth is that a) Nokia’s S40 phones are less frustrating than their S60 phones (with the given competition in form of high-end touch phones based on iOS and Android) and b) these modular phones with their sandwich design (front cover – keypad – pcb – middleframe – battery – back cover) are the way to go for the future when it comes to sustainable product design.


Oh, and one more thing:

I am tired of repeating myself, really tired, but! – Nokia – seriously, I mean, SERIOUSLY!!!! we’re in 2010 now and you still haven’t managed to provide a reliable service that updates all phone address books via one click. The many, many users of S40 devices in the dev world and elsewhere – the ones with webmail accounts provided by Yahoo!, MSN, Gmail – how are they supposed to sync their address books via their online accounts? Not everyone has an instance of Outlook installed on his computer, and – this may be news to you – but: Ovi.com xux so much in so many different ways, like deleting all contacts in one go, or that it doesn’t sync itself with an external service like Gmail, Yahoo! or MSN or the app itself installed on the phones (for downloading apps and Ovi contacts).

There’s only a few things you’ll have to do: build good phones (done), sell them (done), give ppl a way to sync their data with online accounts other than this Ovi failure (not yet done).

And there you go wondering, dear Nokia, why we felt free enough to give you a lecture on what it takes to succeed in Africa?

Hej Nokia engineers, just imagine the following scenario: you’re somewhere in Kenya, have an account with Yahoo! with about 100 e-mail addresses, two SIM cards from two different operators, a simple Nokia phone (ok, let’s say an S40 device to make things a bit better, so we’re not talking about the 1xxx range here) and would like to have all these contacts from your Yahoo! e-mail account inside your phone. How will you go about that? With a limited inet connection? Yes?

That’s the issue here. Make it simple. Make it work. Not just for geeks like me who can easily google for the solution via their broadband connection.