Monday, December 11, 2006

Fun and light, yet practical: the W300i.

About a year ago I took the plunge and got a new phone and new contract with Cingular. I loved my new phone and the plan I got was about the same as my old one, so I was pretty happy. Then, after just a few months, my phone started having an issue where it wouldn't ring anymore. It turned out that this was a common issue with all phones like mine, and it just required a firmware update. However, Cingular's method of updating the firmware is to send you a replacement phone and take the old one back. OK, fine.

Except, the replacement phone they sent me wouldn't even turn on reliably. I called them up, and they said, ok, fine, here's another phone. Luckily the 3rd phone worked, and I sent back my 1st and 2nd phones.

Fast-forward to November (phone worked great until then). All of a sudden my phone freezes up occasionally. Pushing the buttons has no effect. Sometimes I had to take the battery out to reboot, sometimes it resolved itself. I called up Cingular and they say it's a phone problem. Lucky for me, my phone is STILL under warranty. So they'll send me a new one.

A 4th phone of the same model? I ask them - Doesn't that seem like I'm asking for it again? No problem they tell me, you can pick a new one of these 4 models (LG CG300, Motorola V557, Nokia 6103, or Sony Ericsson W300i). So, in a miraculous bout of decisiveness on my part, I manage to pick a new phone - the Sony Ericsson W300i, one of Sony's "Walkman" phones (we've come a long way from portable tape players...). I decided to stick with Sony Ericsson because I have their chargers and I like their interface. As an added bonus for my troubles, I also got a car charger.

The W300 arrived a few days later and I have to say I like it quite a bit. It's nearly identical to my old phone (the Sony Ericsson Z520a) in many ways - the menu system, the crappy camera, the button layout, the infrared port for file transfer - but also has some improvements. For example, it doesn't have the take-a-picture-of-the-inside-of-my-pocket button. Instead it has the Walkman button and volume controls there. It also has an FM radio if you plug in the headphones that come with the phone (they act as the antenna). The reception so far has been pretty decent! Furthermore, you can load mp3s onto the phone's internal memory or a Micro Memory Stick (up to 1 GB so far) and listen to those too. It's like my own iPod Shuffle! The battery life is long (9 hours of talk time), so using the music features shouldn't drain the battery instantly (and thus far hasn't been an issue). And despite its slightly larger size (see photos below), the W300 is actually a bit lighter than the Z520a.

A few things I liked better about my old phone: the keypad buttons were easier to push, and the center button of the 4-way controller went to the menu instead of the Web (and thus charges everytime you accidentally push it), and the earpiece was actually more functional because it coveres a larger surface area instead of being 3 small holes. And sadly, the speakerphone function on the W300 is fairly hard to hear - ironic, since it's supposed to be a phone with good sound quality for music listening.

Here's a review (from whence the title of my post came), and here are some photos I took comparing the two phones before I returned the Z520a. The W300i is on the left, Z520a on the right. Happy calling!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

New Whole Foods

After nearly two years of waiting (since we moved into our building), the Whole Foods on Westlake and Denny finally opened. I went there with pl on the first weekend it was open, and damn, produce never looked so good. We whipped out the cameras and were having a heyday - till an employee informed us that Whole Foods does not allow photography on the premises and that we should go over to customer services (presumably to erase the memory cards?). The latter part was thankfully not enforced. After a delightful sandwich from the deli counter (a bit more emphasis on the pre-made sandwiches than at the Roosevelt location), consumed at a table hard-won in the puny eating area, we ventured back out into the rain (it was November, after all), stopped by the new Starbucks on the upper level of the same complex (we are Seattleites, after all), and then went back to work (we are graduate students, after all).