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The INQ1 from 3 – first impressions as a social networking device

14-12-2008-15-04-291

When you take the INQ1 out of the box it feels like a quality device with its solid metal and plastic construction. However that illusion was shattered when I switched it on, as the display looks like a low end device and the icons and menus have a basic appearance. Instead of a user guide in the box there are a series of ‘flash’ cards which explain the principle applications. Although I thought the info was a bit thin it probably reflects the fact that non geeks rarely read user guides and just dive straight in! The full user guide is on the CD along with the PC Suite software for copying contacts, photos etc to your PC. Overall the handset’s performance is sluggish and the software seems fairly buggy as the it rebooted several times when I was trying out applications. Not a good start and may mean it has to go back.

Now to move on to the INQ1 as a social networking device.

The Facebook application looks good when you load it and has icons at the top for the key Facebook features – Profile, Inbox, Friends, Photos. The rest of the screen shows your News Feed. Reading and updating Facebook from the application is very easy, although you have to wait a while when you refresh to get your latest Facebook info or select an item to read. Not surprisingly, this is much slower than on a PC. I’ve also noticed that even when refreshed, the News Feed lags behind my PC. So, Facebook on the INQ1 versus Facebook via my E51 browser? I definitely prefer the browser version – it’s more responsive, up to date and I think easier to read. However, from a usability perspective, as an application that is easily available from the home screen, then Facebook on the INQ1 probably works better for Normobs.

The Skype application is very simple to use and incorporates Skype Out for calling ‘real’ phone numbers. Several times when I tried to use Skype, the handset rebooted. Live Messenger works well, with the long and frequently bizarre user names that some people use fully displayed!

In theory the browser provides web access but more often than not it returns an ‘unable to contact the website’ message! When it does work it’s horribly slow to load pages. I wouldn’t have the patience to use it on a regular basis.

Unfortunately there’s no Twitter application. For me that’s a big miss but as Twitter is still niche compared to Facebook I guess that forgivable!

Next I’ll be letting some Normobs in the family have a play with the INQ1 to see whether easy access to Facebook, Skype and Live Messenger holds appeal or whether they’d prefer to stick with their PC.

One very neat feature is the way Facebook, Live Messenger and Skype contacts are imported into the Contacts application on the handset so you can contact people directly from their and view their status. Effectively the INQ1 has presence enabled the Contacts application – something every handset should have.

13 replies on “The INQ1 from 3 – first impressions as a social networking device”

My 98% technology illiterate wife is now loving her INQ1 and has seen not a single bug, reboot or crash of any kind.

It seems that the INQ1 features lend themselves to viral marketing very well, she is busy telling all her friends to get one. Unfortunately she can now Skype me with errands whilst I am still at work, and I don't have the excuse of claiming the SMS never arrived…

She might be interested in writing up her experience if you are interested, Ewan

I have (and already love) an INQ1.

I would class it as probably the most innovative and exciting handset of 2008 – sure it does not have all of the functionality and sexiness of the iPhone or a high end Nokia – but at around a seventh of the price one would not expect it to be so.

Physically it is an attractive, well engineered piece of hardware with a good display and carefully thought out ergonomics (unlike its predecessor the S2 – which was considerably less useable).

The real value lies in the way that INQ and H3G have managed to bundle together a killer package of all the most common IP-based applications: Skype, Facebook, MSN Live! Messenger, GMail, GoogleMaps, Google Search, Yahoo! search, Bebo, YouTube, Myspace, BBC, EBay and a half decent web browser all appear as default apps. In addition to this, it is possible to download additional apps (Java/BREW based) – such as the 'Far Cry 2' shooter game (appreciated by my 9-year old son).

Operation in 'tethered mode' as a wireless modem providing internet access has proved to be a dream – I have tested on both PC and Mac – drivers mount and load automatically – wonderful!

Bugs – the Skype/iSkoot feed appears a little unreliable – but this may have something to do with the very large size of my Skype contact list. I think that the answer here is to set up an INQ1 specific Skype account with a much reduced size contact list. In fact, another problem that I encountered early on was with the auto-syncing of the INQ1 address book with my online Skype/Facebook and MSN Live! contacts – the initial sync took some time, and then failed to complete – having exhausted the available memory in the handset. I see no way of moving the on-phone address book onto the SD-Flash card (1 GB supplied as standard).

Things that I would like to see on the INQ2: Wifi. Bluetooth that works with the handsfree kit in my Freelander2. A flash for the camera.

“I see no way of moving the on-phone address book onto the SD-Flash card”

ahem. After some mucking about…..

From Contact list view:

Options > Manage contacts > Mark > Mark all > Options > Move > Export to your memory card

300-odd contacts (11MB worth) takes a few minutes. Contacts include the 2.0 gubbins like Skype, FB, WLM etc.

You can format your card first by going:

Menu > Settings > Advanced > Memory Details > Format

Once they are on the card, you can then reload them onto any INQ phone (e.g. if you want to share contacts with a friend / colleague / partner, or if you have a replacement INQ phone) by going

From Contact list view:

Options > Manage contacts > Move > Import from your memory card > Mark all (or just some) > Done

Note: if you don't format the card or erase the phone's contacts first before up/downloading all contacts, you will end up with duplicates. Not a biggie, just annoying if you forget and end up infecting card AND phone with doubleups.

Given a 1GB MicroSD card is a few quid these days, I'd suggest buying several, backing up all your contacts, then storing somewhere safe. In the event of handset loss/theft, £80 gets you a new INQ1, replacement USIM, bang in the card, import and you're off again.

/m

Can anyone shed some light on the how well the phone works plugged into a laptop and used as a mobile broadband device? Does it work as well as a normal 'plug n play' mobile modem? Also can you still make and receive calls when it is plugged into a laptop as a modem?

Can anyone shed some additional light on the modem aspect of the INQ1? Does it work as well as a normal ‘plug n play’ mobile broadband modem? Also can you still make and receive calls when the phone is plugged into a computer and online? I’m thinking of buying one but only if it works well plugged into a laptop as mobile broadband device.

Works just fine.

PnP on both Windows XP and Mac (Leopard anyway). Can set it to only connect to 3G, and to auto-reconnect. Can make calls / SMS, but can't use the internet on the phone at the same time (but seeing as you plugged it into a laptop, you probably don't need to)

/m

Works just fine.

PnP on both Windows XP and Mac (Leopard anyway). Can set it to only connect to 3G, and to auto-reconnect. Can make calls / SMS, but can't use the internet on the phone at the same time (but seeing as you plugged it into a laptop, you probably don't need to)

/m

The price is great – If you purchase this same laptop stand through manufactures under a different brand, you’re going to pay 2 or even 3 times the amount. This one is extremely affordable, only costing you around $25 of so. You’re going to compare this price to other stores and you will find that you may have to spend $75+ to get the same thing.

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