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Starhub's i-mode trial
I-mode 9 Nov 2005

i-mode

Singapore Starhub's trial of i-mode began last week. Many were chosen to participate in the trial. From online discussions, it can be seen that there are two offers, the first being the first 500 having free phone and plan for 4 months and after which they have to return the phone. The 2nd, for those who responded slightly later, would be to choose 1 out of the 3 phones at a discounted price. There is also trade in available but nothing much mentioned about which phones can be traded-in for this trial.

For those who have gotten the phones, it will be an interest experience. You get free subscription, usage, caller-id, roaming for 4 mths till end of Feb 2006. Data is free till June 2006. Among the 3 models, the Samsung SGH-S410i seems to be the best among price/feature at S$388 (trade in S$200, will be S$188). As the price is rather steep for the NEC N600 (3G cum i-mode phone), a lot of subscribers are backing out from the deal. Some even complain that it is a bad deal claiming that why should they pay to BETA TEST. (how bad can it be if you are given 4 mths of usage, but you need to sign 2 yrs usage plan at S$28?)
 



Being someone who goes for technology, i jumped onto the bandwagon. Last week, I went to the i-experience expo at Suntec and got hold of the Samsung S410i i-mode phone from Starhub. It is a fun experience going through the various contents provided on the i-mode portal. Some of the more useful ones are the News from various providers like Straits Times, Zaobao, BBC. Set an alert and you will be notified of breaking news. With i-mode mail, I can now receive emails pretty quick. I did a test, asking a friend in Taipei to send me a mail, I got it within a minute or so. The mail is "pushed" to me as I didn't configure it to poll the mail server. All i-mode email addresses ends with [email protected] On my trip back, I did a test on the bus and everything seems to be working well. I downloaded (not streaming in 3G) some clips from Mediacorp portal and it can playback pretty well. From what I understand, my Samsung S410i will not work with OCBC bank as it requires Doja 2.5. That puzzles me why Starhub introduces a phone that does not support Doja 2.5 and never really tell us it won't be supported?

Contents wise, I see pretty regular news updates. To read the news, you have to subscribe to it before you can view the contents. At this moment, subscriptions are free. There are many categories of information. When you first log into the i-mode menu, you can find sections on News, Sports, Banking and Trading, Entertainment, Chinese Universe, Shopping, Info & Directories,Fun Downloads, Games, Chat, Lifestyle and i-EXperience Zone. It definitely seemed to have more than what the 3G portal has. The Barclay video streams can be viewed by downloading the video clip of 236KB to your phone and viewing it off-line. The audio and video quality is excellent i would say. There is a Street Directory too which you can view the maps by supplying road names or postcode. Something which I didn't like is the price guide which is not up to date.

The Samsung S410i is a pretty good phone I would say. With 1.3mpixel camera for still image and video recording. ~90MB of storage space is good enough for me to store all my ringtones and pictures. The Bluetooth transfers the file types automatically and drop them into the respective directories.The phone supports MP3, MMF, M4A as ringtones. Play it back in 3D Surround or change it with 3 preset Equaliser modes. The front panel also has quick access buttons to playback your updated playlist of MP3, M4A. I tried some MP3, and I was surprised that I couldn't set it as ringtone. The M4A files and MMF/MIDI files are OK.  Something is a bit weird during my trial. Some of WAP sites like the Gee! won't completely load up.

All the data transfer is FREE until June 2006 and I got a few months free subscription to my usual $28 plan. Starhub also threw in caller-id and international roaming for free till Feb 2006. Not a bad deal considering I trade in a S$200 Samsung phone (E810C) for this featured packed MP3,Bluetooth,I-MODE,Camera phone :)

While most people are not familiar with i-mode, most people would say that you can do the same using a normal WAP site. In fact, the i-mode thing seems to be able to do a bit more than that from a central portal.

At the mean time, the opera browser (java based) has been available for downloading. I have tried the browser on my K700i and surprisingly, it works very well. It loads fast and reduces the images sizes to save on amount of data transferred. So, will you go for I-mode or will you just install a java based opera browser on your existing java enabled phone and continue viewing WAP sites?

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