The All About Symbian Challenge: Ewan around America, 2010

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Some say he has a pet polar bear. Some say his beard glows gently on the darkest night. All we know is, he's called Ewan Spence. Part 1 of a series of short videos from Ewan is embedded below, along with some of his 'diary' commentary, as part of his gaming and blogging spring trip to San Francisco (GDC) and Austin (SXSW). Rafe set him a series of challenges, Top Gear style. There's even a cameo by The Stig.

Ewan writes:

"A month or two before the Nokia 9500 was launched, with the help of Nokia, I took it on the road for a trip around America while I visited a number of conferences and cities. That annual tradition, of taking new hardware into the real world to review has continued, and this year is no different. Read on for this year's assignment and a video intro.

I'll be taking in both the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, California, and the triple header of South by Southwest (Music, Film and Interactive) in Austin, Texas for the next two weeks.

Last year many of you enjoyed the video diaries of my journey, which coincided with my first use of the Nokia 5800 – and as you commented, watched as I slowly fell in love with Nokia's first mainstream touch based smartphone. While the video diaries are set for a return, there's less new hardware on show right now.

Rafe and Steve have cooked up something to keep me on my toes (and out of trouble); I was expecting something like a Vivaz Pro, but what arrived in the mail was... a bit more surprising.

As we've said many times here on All About Symbian, while the high end devices get the press and column inches, it's the lower end of themarket, with high volume sales at low unit prices, that will provide the lion's share of a company's income. With the recent announcement of lower priced Symbian units, that reality is here. Hence the challenge for March 2010 in taking a very restrictive budget and seeing just how far it can go. To recap, I needed to buy myself a new Symbian smartphone for use in March. As well as the phone itself, the budget must also cover the purchase of a SIM card; airtime and data bandwidth; any peripherals required; third party software; and anything else that you would reasonably be expected to buy. And the final cost must be less than $250, with no outstanding debt, contract or commitments at the end of the month.

The handset I chose is the Nokia 5230, a S60 5th Edition handset aimed directly at the low end of the market. Buying an unlocked handset comes in at $180 (see the recently announced (USA) T-Mobile badged version of the 5230 called the Nuron), and the only concession we've made in the challenge is that this was purchased online beforehand, rather than on the streets of San Francisco, on account of my busy schedule.

What happens now is that I make my way from Edinburgh to the Bay, via London Heathrow and Los Angeles International. The first order of business will be finding a SIM card, loading up the 5230 with some applications, and hoping that the challenges from Rafe and Steve, to be delivered by The Stig, won't get me arrested."