Configuring ActiveSync on Windows Mobile for Exchange Push

I’m not certain how many of you will find this useful, but I had a question about configuring the Touch Diamond to talk to Exchange which I regrettably failed to notice.

It’s an interesting point of debate, now I come to think of it. When I got my Diamond the first thing I did was confgigure ActiveSync directly on the device. Whilst I do connect to my laptop from time to time, I don’t actually have any real sync going on between the two, other than possible for OneNote and Notes. How many people out there still use Outlook to sync their phone information if Exchange Push is available?

Anyway, back to the plot. To get this all going without using Windows Mobile Device Center or ActiveSync, grab your phone and go to Programs via the Start menu.

  1. In Programs, find ActiveSync.
  2. In ActiveSync, select Menu and then choose Configure Server
  3. In Server address, enter the name of your Exchange server. This is the same as the hostname you use for OWA (e.g. mail.mycompany.com)
  4. If your server needs https rather than http, tick the option monikered ‘this server requires an encrypted (SSL) connection)’
  5. Tap Next and you will be asked to provide login information – username, password and the name of your Active Directory domain. Make sure ‘Save password’ is ticked or the automatic sync won’t work and you’ll have to enter your password each time you trigger a manual sync.
  6. Tap Next once more and you will be able to select what gets synchronised. I have an unlimited data plan and I hate losing stuff, so I tick every box – Contacts, Calendar, E-mail and Tasks.
  7. If you’re being clever at this point, tapping Menu will allow you to get to the advanced options, where you can configure how conflicts are handled and what connection to use (normally this should be ‘Internet’)
  8. Tap Finish and the phone should sync.

To make sure Push is enabled, where new items get sent to your device as they arrive you need to alter the Schedule,  which is an option on the main Menu in ActiveSync. Pick your options to suit your preferences. I would stongly suggest that you make sure ‘use the above settings when roaming’ is NOT ticked unless you have deep pockets!

As ever, I hope this helps somebody out there.

Life with a Diamond: nearly two weeks on

I said I’d post again once I’d had the Diamond a little while. It’s now been two weeks and I can honestly say I’m completely happy with it. Battery life for me is fine – I charge it about every three days and it chugs along with exchange push pretty much constantly. I am quite comfortable with the soft keyboard and I can honestly say I haven’t noticed any issues with the speed of the device either.

I don’t usually go for silly little apps on my phone, but I couldn’t resist this one. It shows just what you can do with the accelerometer. The force is strong in this one!

Touch Diamond Battery Life

In my last post about the Diamond I said I would let you know what the battery life is. I therefore carefully refrained from giving it any charge over the weekend, even when connected to my PC.

That means that it received no power from 5.30pm on Friday until it died (which it did, eventually).

After that time, exchange push carried on notifying me of email immediately on arrival until 8pm, after which it downshifted to checking every hour and continued like that for the rest of the weekend.

Weather updates are whatever the phone does as default. I think that’s every four hours or so.

Over the weekend I received a few calls and made a few. None were particularly long – a few minutes each. I also played a few games of teeter, and spent a good hour or so ‘playing’ with Live Search and Diarist, writing a blog post whilst I was at it. I also spent a good thirty minutes with GPS enabled whilst I showed off Google Maps and Live Search, and browsed the web for maybe ten minutes in total.

All in all, it was more or less my usual pattern of use for the weekend. To give you a frame of reference, my TYTN would go on charge every night. It would make it through the weekend, just about, but only if I charged it on Friday night.

The Diamond died sometime overnight Sunday/Monday. When I picked it up this morning the battery was flat. It was alive at 11pm on Sunday, and I checked it at 8am this morning. Whilst that kind of life isn’t great, it’s not bad. It’s certainly on a par with my TYTN, which I have used happily for the past eighteen months. I’ve not yet spent a day away from the office, but I have two such days this week and I will let you know how I get on.

blogging on the move: redux

Richard’s little mobile blogging app is nice, but he isn’t that responsive to user requests (ie, mine!) so I thought I would see if anything else was out there.
Sadly, the answer appears to be ‘not really’
However, I did come across Diarist, from Kevin Daly. Perhaps not surprisingly I am using it now. I must say that two thumb typing on the diamond keyboard is not bad, although nowhere near as fast as the real keyboard on the tytn.
So is diarist better than blogwriter? Well, it’s easier to add links and images… Still no real formatting support though, which is a shame.
Try it for yourself.

My Orange Diamond is… err… black

That might sound like a strange thing to say, but when my shiny new Touch Diamond, which I picked up from Orange this week, has no Orange branding or customisation of the UI. I hadn’t really noticed that until I went into the manual, where the screenshots are totally different from my phone. I was beginning to wonder if something had gone wrong with the setup process, when I saw this thread at XDA-Developers.

Given that the phone shipped the day before the iPhone, I suspect the comments in that thread are close to the money – not enough time to test the customisations.

Personally, I’m much happier with a generic HTC phone. For one thing, I always turn off the Orange stuff anyway if I can, and for another, it should mean that I can apply HTC updates to my device without having to wait for Orange to release them (if ever!)

In related news, I was as surprised as Pocket PC Thoughts when I read the PCPro review of the Diamond. I’m not experiencing the speed issues of which they speak, and if you look around you will see a number of articles where they say that HTC acknowledged the speed problem in early devices and had made software updates to the retail devices to address them. My diamond spent yesterday connected to my PC and charging, but I will keep it away from the charger until it dies from this point forward to see how long I get. Remember that I hav exchange push chugging along all the time, so it’s never simply idle.

 Even if you are worried about battery life (which I must admit, I was), then Expansys will shortly have the answer in the form of the extended battery!

In short then, still impressed with my new gadget!

HTC Touch Diamond on Orange

Thanks to the advanced notice from Tracy and Matt’s blog, I picked up my HTC Touch Diamond yesterday from the Orange Store and it’s great!

‘But wait!’ I hear you cry, ‘didn’t he go on about the experia x1 and how he wanted one?’

Well, yes, I did. I admit it – I am fickle in my affections.Since I wrote that post, I have spent time considering what I want in a phone and size has become a significant factor. The Diamond is tiny, it really is. It’s not far from the size of my old Nokia 8910 and it’s lighter than that old warhorse.

I also did a fair amount of homework. My TYTN had a keyboard. Could I live without it? Almost as soon as the Diamond appeared, the soft keyboard turned up on the web, so I tried it. I found that I was happy with the turn of speed I could manage with the new soft keyboard and I was happy that I could live without the physical one.

I’m not going to write a review – there are plenty out there that go into more than enough detail. I will give you my opinions, though. I am a business user and the Diamond has to meet my needs as a connected business traveller. Does it do that?

Well, I’ve never had a phone that was so easy to get started with. Turn it on, run through the Windows Mobile setup and then configure my exchange server. In less than five minutes I had all my contacts, emails, calendar and tasks on the new phone. Smooth, easy, no issues whatsoever. Brilliant!

The new UI makes it easy to preview new mails and the design is so slick it’s a pleasurable experience. A few swipes of my thumb and I can spin through new mails before I tap on the one I want to read. So much faster and easier than the old Touch home screen which took me a good few taps just to get into my inbox.

The same is true for SMS messages – it’s so quick to view the new message. If I want to reply it drops me into the old-style Windows Mobile UI, but many of the messages I get don’t need a reply.

The screen is fabulous. The extra resolution is so nice to have – text is much smoother and more readable. Then you open Opera (which is fantastic) and browse to a web page. When pages open, Opera zooms the view out so you see the whole page. The experience is really good, but then you look again and realise that you can actually read the text!

I don’t have TomTom on the Diamond – I have a standalone TomTom and I don’t see the need to duplicate. However, the Diamond arrived with Google Maps installed so I did have a play. To be honest, the functionality offered will do what I need on my phone – where in the big city am I in relation to where I need to be.

One thing I find extremely useful – when I receive a call that’s not in my phone book, the Diamond asks me if I want to add the number to my contacts when I end the call. For somebody who gets regular calls from colleagues and customers whose numbers I want to quickly grab, that’s great!

Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending this phone to anybody. The only area I would urge you to think about is the keyboard. If you absolutely, positively need a real keyboard, wait until September and pick up the Touch Pro. If you don’t, you really won’t regret picking up a Diamond.

The XPERIA X1 – A Windows Mobile device that I could really get excited over

Before I joined Black Marble I had a succession of Sony Ericsson smartphones – the P800, P900 and finally a P910i. They were great – the size was good, the UI was good, the handwriting recognition was excellent (with a grafitti-style interface that meant I could really get a good turn of speed) and I could work most functions one handed with the fabulous Jog Dial. Please note that the jog dial was sadly emasculated with phones after the P910i when Sony Ericsson foolishly reduced it’s degrees of freedom to simply rolling back and forth and clicking.

I currently have a Windows Mobile-powered Orange M3100 (the HTC TYTN). Don’t get me wrong – it’s good, but it’s no P910i. WIndows Mobile 5 can be uncooperative at times and Orange have not yet seen fit to release a mobile 6 upgrade. I like the keyboard a lot, but I haven’t taken to WinMob’s handwriting recognition like I did the Sony’s

There are good looking phones on the way, to be sure – Richard has his Touch Cruise on order and I must say I was tempted by one myself. Then today I saw two things which piqued my interest…

The first was a snippet which suggested that Microsoft are in discussions with Nokia about the latter running Windows Mobile on future devices (I wish I could remember where I saw that to link). Interesting, I thought, but I can’t see that happening. Certainly, the iPhone has set the cat amongst the mobile-manufacturing pigeons but Nokia own a huge slice of Symbian and I just can’t see it myself.

The second thing, however, made me sit up and take notice. No rumour or gossip here – cold, hard facts and a device that people have touched. Sony Ericsson announced the XPERIA X1 and it looks lovely. There is more about it on Engadget and Engadget Mobile if you haven’t seen it. It looks nice. All the features I need in a polished offering with a VGA scree, decent camera, 3G et al. Sadly, no jog dial but there is a keyboard and the whole thing doesn’t seem too huge either – marginally smaller than the P800 in every axis.

The reason this is interesting (apart from the fact it’s so sexy) is that Sony Ericsson as a brand occupy a space that current WinMob devices don’t. Think of Sony Ericsson and you think of the Walkman phones and their bretheren – gadget phones that most certainly are not targetted at the business end of the market.

There are big numbers being thrown around by the marketing droids for this phone, but it’s clear that it will be going head to head with the iPhone. Perhaps in the US market the Sony Ericsson brand lacks the cachet of Apple, but in the European arean they are well-established and the X1 is a much better specified device in terms of matching the demands of the European market.

Skipping back to something I said earlier, I would suggest that this announcement is evidence against Nokia releasing a WinMob device. Whilst Microsoft are very open about the fact that WinMob is a platform and anybody can build devices that run it, if I were Sony Ericsson I would want a clear run at the marketplace for my device and most certainly not want Nokia to come out with one very similar.

I also think the interface is interesting. WinMob 7 it isn’t. Nor is it TouchFlo – the HTC UI layer that graces their latest devices. There’s good and bad to this, I think. On the one hand it shows how flexible a platform WinMob is that it can support two radically different (and undeniably sexy) top-level interfaces. On the other hand, once you push beneath the oh-so shiny surface, we’re still left with the standard WInMob interface. Whilst that’s not bad, it’s not the greatest UI for a device you want to operate with one hand at best and one hand plus a finger at worst. Does the flowering of many different eye-candy strewn UIs dilute the benefit of having a single OS underneath? Does it hinder usability by forcing users to learn each new UI? When Apple released the iPhone the one thing everybody agreed on was that they had a great UI. Just because you can put an elephant in a shiny suit and call it an astronaut does not make it so, and WinMob+UI-of-the-month feels a bit like that, to me.

Ultimately it depends where you sit. One man’s ‘great for manufacturers because it allows them to differentiate their offerings and tailor the their customers’ is another man’s ‘why do you have to be different just for the sake of it – it makes it hard to use’.

One thing I will say – if anybody from Sony Ericsson is reading this, and they want an enthusiastic tester for the X1, sign me up!