Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Here's the weekly summary of a mix of Windows Mobile and general mobile tech related items from my personal blog.

Tips for using Windows Mobile QWERTY Keyboards
A year ago (2005), the category of Windows Mobile devices with QWERTY keyboards was restricted to Pocket PC Phone Edition devices like the ones pictured below.

Various Windows Mobile Pocket PCs with keyboards

Now, however, we have Windows Mobile Smartphones like the Motorola Q and T-Mobile Dash that have QWERTY thumb keyboards too. If you'd like to get more use from your Windows Mobile QWERTY thumb keyboard, take a look at the article I wrote for Microsoft.com earlier this year:
Mobile Typing: Two Thumbs Up!

Spb Mobile DVD
Spb Mobile DVD (US$24.95) doesn't actually run on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone. It is a Windows desktop application that creates video files (WMV or XVID) optimized for the small Windows Mobile devices' screens.

Spb Mobile DVD

Although there are a lot of commercial and freeware/Open Source applications that can migrate DVD video to a computer, Spb's entry into this crowded market focuses on simplicity. And, it definitely wins in that category. The only gotcha is that its wizard waits until the DVD menu appears before turning over control to the end-user. This means a long wait if the DVD has a series of previews (commercials) before the DVD menu appears. The wait (which might be 10 minutes in some cases) is worth it though. Because, once there, a few clicks completes the migration process instructions. And, the actual process seems much faster than other video converters I've seen.

The resulting video looked clear and smooth on my relatively slow i-Mate K-JAM Pocket PC Phone Edition (195MHz CPU). A definite thumbs up for this product from me.

Citizen Photojournalism: Yahoo You Witness News (Beta)
Yahoo! finally found another use for the great Flickr site they purchased a while back. Their recently launched...

You Witness News

...site allows anyone to submit newsworthy digital photos and video clips for possible use by Yahoo! News. Photos are submitted through a Flickr account. Video is submitted through an unnamed mechanism (Yahoo! Video one would assume).

We've already seen news services use cameraphone photos and videos. With the image quality improving in gradual steps (just adding megapixels doesn't mean much), we should see some interesting citizen photojournalism used by legacy corporate news sources more in the future.

Ilium Software eWallet 5.0 Public Beta
Ilium Software's eWallet is a secure information storage application for Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and Windows XP. It is much more than a simple password storage application. It is basically a small secure nearly freeform database application.

I've been using a Windows Mobile device since the 1.0 days in 1997 when it was still referred to by the kernel name: Windows CE. From those Handheld PC days to the current Pocket PC/Smartphone days, there has only been one 3rd party (non-Microsoft) application that has been resident on my daily working device: Ilium Software's eWallet. So, I was very pleased to learn that after all these years, Ilium continues to develop, refine, and enhance this truly must-have Windows Mobile product. You can find information about the open beta of this new version linked below.

eWallet 5.0 Public Beta

Office Mobile for a Smartphone?
Reader Meg asks: I am thinking of buying a HTC Dash but would like to be able to edit word & excel docs on the road. Is there a free software you would recommend? Even one I have to pay for?

Although there are Word and Excel viewers for Windows Mobile Smartphones and one third party spreadsheet for Smartphones...
Westtek ClearVue Office

Repligo for Microsoft Smartphone

Z4Soft PTab

...I don't know of any actual Office Mobile alternative for the Smartphone that provides editing features. The real question here is whether or not a Smartphone is the appropriate tool for your requirements.

If editing Word and Excel documents on the road is a key requirement, you should really looking at a Pocket PC Phone Edition instead of a Smartphone. T-Mobile has a single PPCPE available: The T-Mobile MDA.

There is one other alternative. However, it requires buying two or three separate devices. You could purchase a T-Mobile Dash Smartphone and a Pocket PC with integrated thumb keyboard or a Pocket PC and a Bluetooth keyboard. This combination would allow you the convenience of a Smartphone with the application richness of a Pocket PC.

Finally, be aware that Office Mobile components are subsets of the full Microsoft Office components. You will not be able to do everything you can do on the desktop. And, formatting can be lost in a roundtrip from your desktop to the Windows Mobile device and then back to the desktop.

Is Your Child a Blackberry Orphan?
If your child texts you to get your attention, you probably have a Blackberry Orphan according to the Wall Street Journal article...

Blackberry Orphans

Blackberry-ies, PDAs, and Smartphones' ability to keep you connected 24×7 can produce addictive behavior that keeps you staring and typing at it all day (and night) long. Like most maladaptive addictive behavior, this can lead to personal relationship problems (though the people at the other end of your mobile device is probably equally addicted and feeds on your stream of email, IMs, and SMS messages). The WSJ article focuses on the impact Blackberry addiction has on the children of addicted adults.

I don't think I'm that kind of parent myself, but, umm, 'scuse me, incoming message, gotta attend to that :-( Seriously though. It is a good idea for gadget-prone parents to take a step back once in a while for a little self-assessment. And, yes, I include myself in that group.