Saturday, 2 April 2011

INQ Cloud aka Facebook phone.

The initial worry with any borderline 'droid phone is whether the screen is resistive or capacitive. Capacitive screens tend to be pretty responsive, where as resistive, require resistance, IE, they need to be pushed. The good news with this one, is, it's capacitative. After opening the very funky box, a simple user guide falls out. Seriously easy instructions to follow, one may assume this is a smartphone for beginners. Appropriately ignoring the guide, I put my sim in and ran through the initial setup. Simple, within about 6 simple setup screens, I was connected to both my network and wifi. I followed the 'learn more about your phone route' and found myself looking at the same simple instructions that fell out of the box earlier! Gmail details entered and a short while later, my screen is full of facebook (I didn't ask for this, it just appeared!) I duly enter my facebook details and surprise, surprise I'm logged into Facebook. Then, I allow INQ mobile to access my facebook profile, and post to my wall, access my profile etc. Once done, I'm presented with an alternative view of an Android homescreen, but, again, I'm being asked if I want to login to facebook! Uh. Moments later and it's logged in. The middle section of my phone has changed to a video, that was uploaded to facebook earlier. I click and the video opens in youtube. Our restrictive wifi, sternly warns me you tube isn't allowed, and I'm loathe to hunt through the settings. The square squares seems logical and this looks much more familiar, I'm in a typical android menu, now. Settings, Wifi, off and home again. I try again. This time HSDPA and Edge have fisticuffs and GPRS kicks in to split them up, and I see the video, just. Sound seems ok (better than most HTC devices) I hunt around in the background and see under the Facebook front, the handset is simply another android phone. The facebook main screen however offers a couple of interesting features.
1) There is a friends button. This takes you to your most important friends feeds. You can add or remove friends from here with ease. Swiping left/right moves you from friend to friend.
2) on the home screen, you can click back and forth through the latest posts from your stream. Visiting the web page though, I'm not convinced this stream is comprehensive. It's a bit like the 'most recent', 'top news' dilemma, I'm not quite sure which one I'm looking at, but the 'most recent' on the web, is different to what's being presented here. Clicking back and forth is also a little cumbersome, the buttons are too small and my fat fingers occasionally open up the link. Which I didn't want to do.
3) A calendar shows you upcoming facebook events and birthdays, AS WELL as your gmail calendar, which is handy.
4) Places takes you to the usual facebook check in screen, as seen on other facebook smartphone apps.
5) There is a notification icon, for, well, notifications.

I dabble around with the other features and am underwhelmed by the camera. Perhaps not surprisingly, it also has a share button in the photo browser, allowing you to upload to facebook, amongst other social networks. The other screens can be customised and (to my delight), the 'in yer face-book' apps can be dragged away from the INQ homescreen. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate facebook. But I'm sure there are more important things that you'd want as your homescreen instead of just this? I'm pretty certain even Mark Zuckerberg would agree with me on this one. When you strip way the facebook specialness, you're left with a pretty ordinary android handset. That's no bad thing, as most ordinary android handsets nowadays are of excellent quality, and terrific starter smartphones. But this is seriously a handset for facebook addicts only. The fact it has pinch to zoom on both the internet and maps and that both run reasonably well don't do enough to elevate this beyond the realms of normalcy. Some of the icons are a bit fisher price, the interface is sometimes a little clunky. It fits into a price bracket alongside Samsung Galaxy S. In this company, it comes second. Unless you're the biggest die hard facebook fan.

Not a bad phone at all, but is doesn't feel very adult, it's certainly not a class leader.

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