Now that I’ve had the PN-820 for almost a month now, what do I think of it as a phone? Well, it works. I haven’t had any real issues with the reception or quality. Of course, I didn’t expect any on Verizon Wireless, either. The problems I have are with the software.
By far the biggest problem is with Microsoft Voice Command. As I mentioned in the Software blog article, it doesn’t allow voice dialing over a Bluetooth headset. Worse, the voice dial button doesn’t work with the phone closed, so you won’t be able to dial by pressing the button if you can’t open the phone (like in a pocket or most cases).
Microsoft’s Voice Command troubleshooting Web page says Voice Command Bluetooth dialing should work on devices with the Microsoft Bluetooth stack (which I believe the PN-820 does have), so I’m at a loss to understand why it doesn’t work. This is a big deal, especially with more and more states making it illegal use to cell phones without hands-free devices.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the registry hack I’d read about only works for some Pocket PC Phone models; the place to hack doesn’t even exist on the PN-820. So, as far as I can tell, there’s no workaround to get voice dialing over Bluetooth.
Voice dialing itself works great, even better than on the Q. Voice Command even has Redial (to call the last number you dialed) and Call Back (to call the last person who called you). These are very useful, but without Bluetooth dialing, I can’t see making this my phone.
The other big problem that I noticed was that I thought my Call History had stopped showing new calls. A missed call would show up on the phone’s icon bar, but when I went to the Call History, it didn’t show who had called at the top of the list. After I cleared the Call History list, it started displaying new calls again.
However, I don’t think this is really a Call History bug. It turns out that turning the phone off and back on resets the time you had set (to January 1, 2006)! So the calls were probably still being shown in the Call History, but the Call History sorted them to the bottom because it thought they were over a year old.
This is a pretty big bug. My Motorola Q doesn’t lose the time after powering down, so why does the PN-820? If you rely on your phone for appointment reminders, you can’t have the clock resetting every time you power down.
Fortunately, there does seem to be a workaround in the Clock & Alarms setting applet, there’s a Network Time option. If you activate that, the PN-820 sets the clock based on the time from your carrier, and that seems to stay set.
In fact, that’s a feature many people wanted on the Q. However, I’m not sure how well it will work switching time zones and if you have appointments entered the “correct” way in the Calendar (with respect to time zone). But that’s another issue that I won’t go into here (because it always leads to arguments about how Calendar should work).
Finally, there’s the front LCD display. While the PN-820 does have a Front LCD settings applet, it only allows setting the background image; you can’t set how long the display stays lit. The display dims after one or two seconds and turns off after two or three more seconds. That’s far too short to be useful.
The same problem affects the backlit keypad, which turns off after a second or two. If you’re trying to type in the dark, and pause briefly, you’ll have to press another button to get the keypad to light up again. (To be fair, my Q also has this same problem.)
When are phone OEMs going to wake up and let the user decide how long to keep these things lit? They allow setting the time for the main LCD, but not for the other ones. I don’t mind a default that’s short to conserve battery life, but I want to be able to set it longer.
Would any of these problems keep you from buying the PN-820? Share your thoughts in the discussion.