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The first note here comes from a left-handed user. I publish it first on this page because I got surprised by this mail (I am anyways a big fan of the P900's handwriting recognition, which is simply excellent when compared to any other palmtop/PDA/tabletPC ones). Anyways, his argument is indeed good.
I bought a P900 recently and found your site while looking for Linux connectivity. Thanks for all the efforts you put in these pages, this is very useful.
I have a little comment about handwriting. Despite it is quite easy to get used to it, some signs are really weird to enter... if you are left-handed! The worst example is the simple "+" sign because you have to draw the two bars in a quick movement with an intervening pen-up. My first which would be to have two sets of handwriting recognition tools, one for right-haded people one for left-handed people (the best would even be to have a learning feature in the device, in order to have it adapt to your style rather than the other way round).
Well, I think I ask too much, handwriting IS a tremendous task and I am sure the hardcoded gesture were selected after hours of trial and error. Such a development effort is costly and left-handed people are a minority... like Linux users ;-)
First of all, some notes of beginning of September 2004: my P900 had to be "serviced"... Below, some angry notes of those days.
I was extremely disappointed by the TOTAL FAILURE of my P900
When I switched it on, I got a "Wrong SIM card - insert correct SIM" error (the display showed the classic numeric keyboard, I only could try to call some emergency numbers, no other function available). Trying with another SIM of a different network gave out the same error. The phone was thus unusable, even if you switched it on while choosing flight mode when booting.
How did it happen? I DON'T KNOW
I enabled a GPRS data traffic option on my operator (I already did it a number of times in the last months). After getting the information SMS "your data traffic option enabled", I switched off, then switched on again, and found the "Wrong SIM" error. I tried to clean the SIM, inserting it in thousands of different modes, trying other SIMs, etc: no results!
I also tried with the hard reset (better than the famous "master reset"): in flip-closed mode I opened the service menus to format the internal disk (jog up, *, jog down, jog down, *, jog down, *, then choose "service functions": read here for more information): it formatted the internal disk (I had the last backup just one day before, and I lost only the latest -precious- voicenotes), I rebooted the P900, and it gave out again the same error.
In the service menus I also asked for "software information" and got a "Not found!" error. The SIM-locks submenu showed no locks (network=0 subset=0 provider=0 corporate=0). The "Bluetooth software version" was "unavailable" (huh?!?)... but before the failure I had the bluetooth always set up in "discoverable" mode! This surely means that some firmware area was overwritten.
SHAME ON YOU, SONY ERICSSON!!! In only TEN MONTHS this phone showed a rather large number of problems, and it now required ASSISTANCE because of a FIRMWARE FAILURE triggered by an UNKNOWN thing (as MOST of its firmware BUGS!!) GRRR!!!!
Oh, well... anyone working in some computer department surely knows that the probability of finding bugs in any software gets higher with the factorial of the number of source code lines... :-)
My P900 firmware release was:
Well, in only five days I got my P900 "serviced". For free (warranty was applied; I only had to show the original dealer ticket). It was clear that only the firmware had to be updated, but when they asked to me the problem description, I just said "doesn't accept any SIM-card".
The service guys replaced the firmware with some latest releases (I wonder why they needed five days to do it):
Whoa! a big jump for organizer/CDA firmware (from R1 to R5). I will verify in next weeks all bugs described in this page (hoping to find lots of them corrected!).
But... WEIRD THING: the service guys wrote on the final document that they "soldered the SIM connector" (yes, "soldered"!!!).
I inspected it, but found no trace of soldering. Please remember that:
Well, I guess those service guys, when writing "warranty covered - cost of repair is due to Sony Ericsson", deliberately chose "SIM connector soldering" instead of "firmware update" because the latter meant "earning less bucks from Sony Ericsson servicing refund".
This hurts me a little. But there is something that does actually scare me: if all service guys will do something like that, then Sony Ericsson will get a fake final statistic about P900 weaknesses. I imagine their tech-people working hard to enhance the SIM-connector structure (which is indeed simple and rugged: perfect!), when the original problem was in the firmware...!
Now, let's go to the list of bugs and inconsistencies...
My personal BUG-list of the P900:
First of all, the indecent "memory allocation bug"; this seems a memory leak bug (allocated - but never freed - memory chunks). This is not due to massive usage of messaging (email, SMS, etc) because it was reported also in "very few messaging" situations. (I am currently unable to tell you if it was at least partly solved in new firmware releases).
The operating system gently closes applications when in urgent need of memory, but it seems that not every chunk gets freed. Some task-switcher programs allow the user to terminate unused applications in background, freeing their memory; but, even after "freeing" everything, there is still a lot of unfreed memory; switching off and on again is the only solution to get the P900 sane again.
This bug appears after some intensive P900 use (photo, audio, video, organizer functions) in some different modes: the common "out of memory" error, some missing features (i.e.: a text field is selected but the handwriting recognition does not start; the "Image" application silently ignores full-screen requests), some "impossible" errors (i.e.: there is sufficient space on the "C:" disk but if you shot a photo you get a "no free space for saving" error), some weird errors (i.e.: "incorrect email address error" on an already proven and used valid email address), etc.
Remember that lots of P900 standard programs will run even with very little memory left (the Jotter seems to require less than 100k, for example), and remember that applications almost always don't exit when you switch to another application (even the Applications menu is actually an application program).
I guess that the Symbian does not free all the memory used by some programs - for example, it seems that CMsvStore objects don't get freed if the allocating task crashes! Thus, some memory areas remain "dead" until the next P900 reboot. I am still unable to show an exact sequence of operations to show the bug.
IMPORTANT WARNING: it seems that the memory leak bug appeared more often with using Italian language than with using English language. Also, it seems that the memory leak effect is very reduced at least since the R5 releases of organizer and CDA.
So far, only in one case I had to press for 10 seconds the on/off button to get it cleanly switched off.
The other P900 bugs, listed in chronological order (from most recent update to oldest updates); remember that some of them are probably a side-effect of the "memory leak bug" described above, and most of them aren't unchecked since ages because I don't use anymore the infrared port (Bluetooth is better and faster):
I was sending an MP3 file via infrared, while playing other MP3 files on the P900 (I've done dozens of times this kind of operation, and even in more complex situations). In this case the P900 stopped the transfer (without aborting) and slowed down without any reason. Shutting down the phone and powering on again made me panic: the reboot process lasted for more than two minutes! The memorystickduo files and programs disappeared (I couldn't even access it from the "file manager" menu).
I tried to reboot without the memorystickduo and this time everything was normal. Well, the P900 couldn't access anymore the memorystickduo! The slowdown was due to the corruption of the memorystickduo filesystem. I had to re-format it again. Fortunately I had a FULL BACKUP of my files, so I didn't loose anything (hey, and you? did you backup all your data?) and was able to reinstall on the memorystickduo all software, images, videos, MP3's and documents.
I am quite disappointed with these bugs. Yes, they are "bugs" and not just "problems", because they appeared without any reason. The first makes me think about executable (or library) file corruption. The second makes me think about some .AIF file disappearing (deleted). But in the last two days I did not use third party programs (I already told you I happen to be very glad of the P900 internal software, and this means that I do not use too much third party software), neither I used the "Attività" ("Todo" application); maybe I have started it by erroneous tapping on the touchscreen, but I did not use it. In the last two days there was only one "strange" event (quite far from finding out "Todo" and "Internet" problems): the P900 went off because of discharged battery (but it was common: it beeps, shows a message and the animation, and then the shutdown happens). Well, I do not know the exact reason, but I just found the P900 with these two problems (who appear even after shutdown and restart). To clear out them I did a Master Reset (OUCH!!!) and this already made me quite unhappy. But, SOON AFTER THE MASTER RESET, the "CONE error 15" and the "Todo" were STILL THERE!!! (tests were done also without memorystickduo inserted!)
I tried again a Master Reset, but the problems were still there. Then I tried to "master reset" selecting English language, and the "Internet" application got alive again (but the "Todo" still shows the common "diamond icon", making me think that something of the current firmware was overwritten)! Trying again a Master Reset, I found that the Italian language disappeared (AAARGH!).
Also, I found that in the C:\system\apps directory, after A NUMBER of "Master resets", I still have data subdirectories of programs which I tested (uninstalled five minutes after installation) MONTHS AGO!!! (this is creating a lot of problems while reinstalling other programs).Well, while I am happy for technical characteristics of this machine, I begin to feel very annoyed because of these suddenly arising BUGS and PROBLEMS! And this happens after only FOUR MONTHS I bought this product. Shame on you, Sony Ericsson & Symbian guys! These damned bugs remind me the Old, Old, Old days, when I was compelled to use Win3.1 and Win95 and their nightmare bugs and problems, which appeared without any reason, giving continuous demonstration of their instability!!!
Yes, my next phone can be only a Linux-based phone.Hmmm... I wrote the above notes almost one year ago. Yes, I still think "my next smartphone/PDA will be a Linux-based one", but I have to admit that the current firmware releases (like the one that I described above) didn't show that problem anymore. Please remember that I'm not a "install/uninstall freak" (I don't like having bunch of software installed on my P900 only to show to friends "duh, look at my large applications list!"); third-party software may lowerize the overall stability of the phone operating system (except if it was... Linux!)
This is probably an infrared driver bug of the P900. I finally am writing a note about it because this thing happened a few minutes after a full P900 reboot, without using any application (even the control panel: the infrared was already enabled).
Well, just add the score in the final "Congratulations" dialog box. Also, its design makes quite hard to understand current scoring.
I loaded it into the memorystickduo using p3nfs, then I started the Image application: it showed thumbnails correctly for all images including the above animation GIF, but clicking on it I was not able to see it (just a blank screen, even in full screen mode; sometimes after some seconds of flashing "Busy" the P900 rebooted). Starting image viewing from another image (a little JPEG) and rolling the jog-dial up to the animation GIF, I still got "First image!" message but not the animation GIF.
This seems to be a problem of the memory buffer of the image viewer, and it does not happen on every P900.
How to reproduce it: select an MP3 and start playing; then close the flip; then select again the audio application, and sometimes use the jog-dial up and down to change the volume: you will happen to see that in some cases, a few seconds after moving the jog-dial, the automatic key-lock starts. This seems a missing reset of the timeout counter when a jog-dial event happens in flip-closed mode. Having set in "control panel / display / screen / automatic key-lock" a timeout of "1 minute", I expect that automatic key-lock starts after one entire minute of touchscreen/keys/jogdial inactivity.
Look at the weird "no sound" icon on the P900 screenshot (it's the third icon from the right in the bottom line). Everything was normal, but I saw this strange icon and I couldn't change it (even switching sound active/inactive again). I had to reboot the P900 to see sound icons normal again.
NOTE: it seems that recent firmware releases corrected this mysterious appearing icon and it now appears only to mean "problems in the handsfree plug" or "microphone was explicitly disabled" conditions. If you plug in a 2.5mm three-pins handsfree earset (instead of SonyEricsson four-pins standard handsfree ear+mic set) you will get it on the screen and, when you don't play music, if you get high the volume setting, you will hear a continuous click-click.
(reported from Craig). Think that either one has to go through all the emails on the P900 (which would take some time and bandwidth), or he has to put up with the new mail sign showing on my P900 the whole time and don't notice when new mail/SMS/etc arrive.
Hmm... this is a font encoding problem or just a different handling of ISO8859-1 strings. If you set up a different font using theSMan utility (say, the verabd.ttf truetype font, which has standard iso8859 encodings) the file name will be correctly displayed. This means that the bug is a "Swiss-font" (the internal bitmapped font) small inconsistency.
If I was a SE Developer, in the email client application I would stop vibrating after the first three or four email messages. Well, 137 vibrations were very nice: the P900 danced around for some minutes :-)
Note: this was corrected in one of the latest firmware releases.
That is, today's calls are not sorted from latest to oldest (from "now" back to "midnight"); they are in the correct order (example: the first shown call was the one of 00:04am, followed by a call of 11:32am).
This bug seems to be in the Uninstall section; every file was related to a third-party .SIS application. They were from 10 to 100k each; I had to erase manually six of these files and got back again 463k of C: disk space. Also, except one case, their timestamp was incorrect. I cannot guarantee this bug is replicable on a new P900 (where no other programs were installed/uninstalled), but I don't want to fully reinitialize the P900 only to verify it...!
You may see the screen light on for a second (but without disabling the screensaver clock or image), and suddenly no data flow on the infrared port: the P900 is self-resetting! Then you will get a generic "a reset happened because of an error / to improve performance" warning, without other information. This has happened in some cases, always after 60+ minutes of GPRS connection.
Sometimes it also happens a weird thing: the display was drawn only in a single bad-colored stripe (like in the shot on the right) on which I don't see even the clock and network indication (even switching to other applications! it seems that the graphics libraries work always on that clipped area): also in this case a P900 reboot was needed.
This seems an inconsistency of the P900 infrared driver and/or libraries, but it's a bit hard to replicate (I can only say that it seems to happen when data channel is full in both directions and -maybe- the signal strength gets quickly up and down): more frequently, I was connected for more than a dozen hours and didn't experience any problem.
The "space available" indicator was not incremented after placing a bitmap object. I am not definitely sure, but it seems that only the very first time I tried to add a locally drawn bitmap to an SMS, it actually ran OK...
Note: this was corrected in one of the latest firmware releases.
Some usage example notes - in a single EMS message you can place:
- 160 characters without bitmaps ("pure SMS")
- 144 characters with an 8×8 bitmap
- 118 characters with a 16×16 bitmap
- 78 characters with two 16×16 bitmaps
- 38 characters with three 16×16 bitmaps
- 24 characters with three 16×16 bitmaps and one 8×8 bitmap
- 9 characters with five bitmaps (three 16×16 and two 8×8)
Sometimes it also gives out an "E32USER-CBase error 21" message.
Try to forward an email message: the editor will prepend text lines "Object", "Author", "Date", etc, but without adding CR/LF sequences, placing all stuff in one line.
- playing a probably damaged MIDI file led to a "Kernel exec error 3" which hang the P900 (I had to press 10 seconds the shutoff button to switch off); this "Kernel error 3" already appeared sometimes because of other problems, but always without pain;
- playing a damaged MPEG4/AAC file will hang the PacketVideo player and (cascade effect) some other applications (I once had to reboot by "pressing 10 seconds" the on/off switch);
The HWR is made of (at least) two concurrent threads, one for handwriting and another for accents and other stuff: I found a "P90à" soon after quickly writing "P900." because the jotter interpreted an accent (even if tapped in the lower part of the screen) and erased the "0" before the "a"...! (this happened because the first task was -in that moment- slower than the second task).
The GPRS data traffic accounting is not updated when a "battery low" condition happens: the P900 simply disconnects the call, then shows the on/off animation, and then switches off. This is due to an extreme condition (system shutdown in case of "immediate battery down" condition, has to be as clean and fast as possible).
- In the Italian control panel application there is a French item, "Jetons de sècuritè" instead of "Protezione e sicurezza";
- In the Word-viewer there is "Aperture del file" instead of "Apertura del file".
- Vibration setup: the English "ON" became an ugly Italian (?) abbreviation "Att." instead of the correct "Attivare" (but we Italians think that "ON" it's nicer than "Attivare" or "Att.").
- "GPRS: Disconnesso" (meaning "got a GPRS hang-up") instead of the correct "GPRS: nessun segnale" (meaning: "GPRS not available"), and "GPRS: Connesso" (meaning: "GPRS connected and transferring data") instead of the correct "GPRS: disponibile" (meaning "GPRS available to transfer data").
- "Durata" (meaning: "duration") in the Applications menu should be named "Orologio" (clock) or "Ora".
Note: this has actually been corrected on the P910
- "Trasmesso" (meaning: "something transmitted") in the main Mail menu should be named "Dati locali" (meaning "locally transmitted messages and data").
The bug is triggered by entering quickly five dots after a word and a space, i.e. entering the "test ....." string; this should hang the P900 because of a bug in the "insert smiles" section.
Missing features in order of publication (from recent to oldest). This is my wish-list. Please note: only some of these features are marked as "urgent"; most of them are only little enhancements.
Yes, this is one of the most annoying issues... it's a bit sad having such a machine, and have to wait almost 30 seconds to complete its "bootstrap". Thirty seconds to switch on a phone?!
These third-party software programs seem to be used by almost any P900 user... this means that they are greatly needed, and then should be added in the P900 standard firmware (I suggest to do, I don't know if Sony Ericsson people will ever remotely consider):
Main P900 system project issues (at least in my humble opinion!):
We all know there is a huge Linux community out there. Most of them are also Windows users, and they cannot abandon Windows because lots of hardware (including phones, including P900) have drivers only for Windows!
Adding Linux support (for example, add a Linux "PC Suite" on the standard cdrom discs) will make Sony Ericsson sell more units and raise even bigger hype (the biggest part of the Linux community would write lots of software applications for it!). Commercial guys often think that Linux means only "stand-alone server machines", ignoring the big added value. I admit that a business case is hard to define because it's not that easy to estimate (in an Elegant Commercial Manner) the number of Linux customers... but, why not? Experiment, at least once, in supporting Linux, and see how much feedback and hype it will raise! This investment should be qualified as "research", or "trying to gain extra customers".Little extra note. Lots of Linux-based cellular phones and smartphones are coming in the market. My next smartphone will surely be a Linux-based one. To me, interoperability with Linux is the highest-precedence rule when buying new hardware of any kind.I've been told "First of all, great site, really great to find so much information regarding the P900 in one place. When I stumbled upon your website, I bought a P900 the very next day". And these pages are just named "Sony Ericsson P900 and Linux"...!
For example, at least Xvid, libavcodec and OGG/Vorbis should be supported. Remember that xvid and libavcodec are better than mp4 and 3gpp, while ogg is better than mp3: "better" means more audio and video quality in less space, and means also stable and highly tested. Documentation and source code for those standards is royalty-free! Why Sony Ericsson and Symbian people ignored lots of open-source standards?
Example: what if I want to place in the P900 a Jotter page that was a text output of a PC program? a cut&pasted PC bitmap? What if I want to convert a PC text to a "P900 email" file or to a "P900 activity/agenda" file? The intensive use of undocumented binary formats simply "locks" the P900 on its own software...!
(I can say this because after ten years in using only Linux I have almost always managed text-based files, documents, configurations, templates, etc: plain text-files are easy to be read, interpreted, corrected, recovered...).
The on-screen font and a number of windows drawing/handling issues makes me think of a "mini-Windows" interface. This may lead to a "microsoftization" of the world. I don't like Windoze. And I would prefer a machine with its own "personality", who doesn't have to be too similar to Windows to sell more units around. I think that if at least the on-screen font was themeable (the current one is identical to lots of old Windoze on-screen dialogs), then the P900 would gain very much in aestethics...!Er... my Symbian-based programs use an antialiased font which is much nicer than the ugly bitmapped system font of the P900!
Hardware problems? I didn't experience anything, I just got a perfect unit.
I had a number of reports about P900 "hardware" defects and problems that almost made me think that I am very lucky... :-)
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