Saturday, January 19, 2008

Infobar 2 - SevenShadesofAwesome

Meet my new phone.

It's an Infobar 2, and is like trying to hold a bar of wet soap. While it is awesome in every conceivable way (and very photogenic on my kitchen work-surface), I once again have the same complaint I have had about every single mobile phone I have ever used in Japan. Why the c**ting f**k is it so damned difficult to enter an em space when you're trying to type a mail. I know, Japanese doesn't use spaces and these are Japanese phones, but it's fully bilingual, and in English mode it defaults to roman input, so you'd think there'd be some way of entering the single most common character in all Western languages. It's fine, sort of, if there's no text after the letter you're inputting - you can just cursor right twice and there's your space. If there is text after it though, like quoted text to a message you're replying to (which is there by default) then good luck trying to figure out how to do it. How did they not notice this? Did they even test it? It's not like you have to look hard. Simple testing process of mail feature.
  1. Take phone with default settings.
  2. Receive mail.
  3. Reply to mail in western language.
  4. Oooo! Found something that needs fixing there?
All is not completely lost as they did at least put an em space in the list of punctuation marks so you could enter it with 3 to 5 button pushes depending on what you've been doing recently, but this is far from convenient. For those interested, push the 記号 Z button twice, press the アプリ button twice, and then hit the enter button in the middle. In the list, it looks like an underscore.

I shall make a point this week of writing to whatever company made this phone (it isn't clearly marked, but apparently it's Sanyo) and asking how on earth this went by unnoticed. Maybe they can add it to the "0" button which currently is only used for entering zero in roman input mode, and put it out as an update.

While they're at it, perhaps they could fix the following:
  • Mail autosave: When entering a mail, if you press the hang-up button twice, it doesn't autosave the message as a draft like other AU phones do. What you entered is lost forever.
  • Photos: When you take a picture, if you choose to attach it straight to a mail, you have until the energy saver kicks in to confirm (about 10 seconds by default, and easily done if you get distracted). After then, it's gone forever. It should either autosave, or hold the photo in a cache until the next time you open the camera function like other AU phones.
  • Digital camera mode: Pictures larger than WQVGA (i.e. "digital camera" mode pictures) are automatically rotated to landscape, and then when you open them, they're fully zoomed to pixel proportion. There's no way to un/re-rotate them and to zoom out takes a very complex set of commands. If you can't immediately and easily review the pictures you've just taken, it is useless as a digital camera.
  • Translation: Some of the English interface is frankly strange. I put it on for convenience but I may soon switch it off as it's a tad confusing. "Flash lamp for unidentified alerts" would be better translated as "Flash lamp for unchecked alerts", as in, alerts that the user has yet to acknowledge. It was obvious reading the Japanese, but the English left me wondering what it was on about, and consequently I was mildly inconvenienced when the lamp stopped flashing as soon as the phone stopped ringing one time, and so I couldn't see there had been activity until I tried to use the phone an hour later. Yes, localisation is good, but this is the 21st Century. There's no excuse anymore for poor localisation.


  1. On the au phones I have had (both Casio models), I can insert a space with three keystrokes.

    1. 0 (the 記号 button)
    2. #
    3. #

    The #s take you backwards through the symbol/punctuation list and the space is two back from the end.

  2. Having experimented further, I I've got it down to four - those being 記号 記号 2 enter. That's still three too many though.