Ewan around America with a $250 phone budget - part 2

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Some say he plays tiddlywinks with 50p pieces. Some say he plays electric guitar secretly at 5am each morning. All we know is, he's called Ewan Spence. Part 2 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 (also known as a real world test of the Nokia 5230 / Nokia Nuron).

There's even a cameo by The Stig. (The Stig was held up in Customs - he refused to take off his helmet. We'll have him out in time for the challenges though!)*

From Ewan's Diary: (and note that some of the text mirrors the content in the video - just trying to help you find the bit you're after!)

"Sitting with a nice cup of tea, overlooking the city of San Francisco, I think the Nokia 5230 I'm toting for the challenge has done remarkably well on the flight over, given that I've not yet picked up a SIM card for it. The key to anything is “preparation dear boy, preparation.” And using any smartphone “out the box” needs you to do a few things as it comes out of the box

The first is to realise what the Nokia 5230 doesn't have, and both of them could be a bit of a problem. The first is relatively minor – there is no USB connection cable in the box. While the 5230 takes a standard microUSB cable, you are going to have to find one around the house to load up the data heavy parts of the phone, or rely on a Bluetooth connection. It's a minor saving at best on a per unit basis, and I think that Nokia might want to reconsider this, if only for the convenience of the end-users. I'm not sure the fickle market will take to being told in store that they need to buy an extra peripheral to get the most out of the machine.

The second omission is probably more telling of the targeting, but equally open to criticism. The 'clean' 5230 had just 57MB of storage left on the internal memory, and while there is space for a microSD card, you won't find one in the box. For a capable smartphone, in a world of megapixel pictures, movies, music and video playback and user generated content, this is almost crippling.

Concious of the budget I have (remember it's just $250 to buy the handset, peripherals, apps and data, with no ongoing commitments) I've decided to use Bluetooth to move data on and off the 5230 from my PC, and pick up a small microSD card in the biggest shopping centre in the UK... Heathrow Terminal 5!

$15 later (yes I even had to pay in dollars and go through a conversion... grr to whoever came up with this idea!) I've got 2GB of storage on the 5230, so let's rock and roll. What next? Time to hit the lounge for some wi-fi and PC connectivity to sort out the phone for the rest of the journey. It's been a rather boring flight to London from Edinburgh with an empty handset.

First up is Ovi Maps, and an update to the latest version of the software. I'm expecting to be frugal with 3G data, so I've also loaded the maps data for California (San Francisco) and Texas (Austin). With GPS as part of the 5230, I suspect there'll be at least one navigation-based challenge coming from Steve and Rafe.

The other must have for the 11 hour transatlantic part of the trip is some music. And here's a little hiccup that's peculiar to my set up. Using either Ovi Music or Windows Media Player on my PC to transfer music is causing a problem, thanks to Comes with Music. Anything I've downloaded as Comes with Music is locked to my X6, which isn't with me just now. Where's the filter to show me the “free” part of my music collection? Exactly.

In any case, if I want to put music on the 5230, do I have to buy the tracks out of the remaining $55 in my budget?

I think not, but I'm sure there will be sadistic comments saying I have to, so bear with me. There's not a huge amount of room on this 2GB card, so I'm restricted to around 150 tracks, so about fifteen albums (or one live version of Silver Machine, Steve). Given I'm travelling to SXSW, I've downloaded a free collection of music from bands performing (thanks Outroversion). That takes care of about half the space. The other half is filled with a mix of ripped CD's, including T'Pau, Hank Marvin, Glee, Mike Oldfield and surprise, surprise, some Eurovision.

Oh yes the headphones. Challenge or no challenge, I'm using my Ultimate Ears headphones. It is a long haul flight in economy and I need to survive it!

I was surprised by how little I wanted to load onto the 5230 before leaving the UK. Adding in the freeware (but long in the tooth) Mobipocket for eBook support and I had my reading material and relaxing music to get me through the flight. In the moments between using the 5230 for entertainment, I sat planning and preparing how best to get the 5230 onto a US network, and how to manage the dual challenge of keeping it online and under budget.

More on that in part three!

-- Ewan Spence, March 2010.

* with apologies to the BBC...