Category Archives: Personal Tech

Alcatel OneTouch – Fixing dark video problems on the camcorder

Yesterday, I reviewed the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce smartphone that I picked up last week. As I mentioned, one of its quirks is that the videos taken through the camcorder feature are sometimes extremely dark, so dark as to be unviewable. This only seems to happen inside and I was not able to get it to happen outside, even in dim surroundings.

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Alcatel OneTouch Fierce – Budget Phone Review

About a year ago, I got tired of the high smartphone bill I was paying for my HTC EVO
and, after trying out an ultra-budget TracFone solution, I decided to switch over to MetroPCS and a $20 Huawei phone. Over the past year, that’s probably made up for at least some of the money I threw at Sprint but I missed my mobile Internet connection and all the Android utilities I’d become so used to. I also got tired of pocket-dialing people on the cheapo Huawei keypad and the phone was starting to act flaky.

610214634436So, this past week, I started looking at some of the budget offerings from MetroPCS and saw the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce. Since it’s been out for a few months, it was as low as $29 depending on the line options and that was good enough for me.

The OneTouch actually surpasses the EVO that I had in some ways, although three years later that’s not completely surprising. it’s running Android 4.2 (Jellybean) and has a hi-def 4.5 inch screen with plenty of room to work. This is a 4G phone which is already an improvement over the 3G service I was limited to with Sprint. The service from the combination of the MetroPCS and T-Mobile networks has been pretty good so far, even outside a major metropolitan area.

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Listening to MP3s on my TracFone … and a warning.

I remember my first MP3 player back in 2004. I don’t remember the brand but it was an off-brand made in Japan with an liquid crystal display, a manual that had been badly translated into English and a high price tag that did as much as the rest of the device to show how new the technology was.  It needed its own software installed on the computer to transfer music files which, in an odd copyright protection scheme, could only be transferred TO the device and it used one AAA battery. I don’t really consider myself an early adopter of technology but this new music player was something I just had to have for my workouts and it played WMA files which I was using at the time so I shelled out well over $100 and used the player well into ’05 or maybe even ’06 when it started to malfunction and I finally decided to get another one.

MP3 player on the TracFone LG500g

Loaded up and ready for the next workout …

Now it’s nine years later and I’ve watched as MP3 players have become more advanced, less expensive and then routinely integrated into other gadgets like cell phones and eReaders.  Even in cheapo players, you can pretty much count on features that I remember scrutinizing the advertisements and tech specs for when I was buying one years ago.  The MP3 player in my new LG TracFone wasn’t the deciding factor for buying it but it was certainly a nice plus.

I neglected to order a 4GB microSD card with the phone so I had to wait a few more days as a separate order arrived from California. It finally came in today, I popped it into the phone and started copying music onto it.  I haven’t worked with microSD much before and found the transfer to be a bit slow. It took me around 45 minutes to copy 1.35 GB of files onto the card. This isn’t a huge problem as these aren’t meant to be repeatedly copied to the way flash drives are but I was still a little surprised.

The TracFone MP3 player includes all the standard features:

  • Sorting the songs by artist, album and genre
  • Maintaining custom playlists
  • A choice of equalizer settings
  • Repeat and shuffle

MP3s can even be used as ringtones or startup / shutdown sounds on the phone. None of this is incredibly surprising if you consider that once the phone includes the electronics to play MP3 files, the rest of the features come down to software. The sound is pretty good with the choice of preset equalizer settings such as Jazz, Rock and Piano and, in a pinch, you might even use the phone’s built in speaker which, while not great for listening, is enough to quickly share a new song with someone else.  There is one quirk to the player that in order to play more than one song at a time, you have to have it set to Repeat All or Shuffle.  Other players I’ve used run through the album or playlist by default.

It’s even less of a battery-hog than the player on my EVO.  I’ve played a couple of albums now and have been playing around with the settings to do this write-up and the battery indicator still shows close to a full charge. The EVO is at less than half charge seven hours after being unplugged.

Nine years or so after my first player, I’m just a little amazed by a $17 phone (including the microSD card) that includes a full-featured MP3 player almost as an afterthought.

One warning I will give about the TracFone – A friend ordered one at the same time as I did and has had a great deal of trouble activating it and getting service. Her experience with customer service has been better than some of the stories I’ve seen online but she still had to go through the ordeal of punching in special codes and repeatedly trying to activate the phone.  Finally TracFone sent her a new SIM card which just came in and after one or two more tries, she finally has service. A young relative of hers went through some of the same problems so, evidently, TracFone still has some quality issues somewhere in the system.

As for mine, I’m pleased and I’m looking forward to using the phone on my workouts so I can eliminate some of the bulk and the weight of the EVO.

TracFone – Follow up …

In my previous post, I talked about how I’d decided to try the TracFone prepaid phone now that I’m nearing the end of my 2-year contract on my HTC EVO.  I just wanted to follow up with a couple of minor points:

  • When you buy a phone pay attention to whether the phone comes with double or triple minutes. I talked about getting a double minutes card but your phone might already have this feature.  Definitely read the entire description before buying.
  • I am already impressed with the battery life on this new phone. I haven’t plugged it in since the day before yesterday and the battery is still showing a full charge.  That’s a huge improvement over the EVO which is already down to half charge since yesterday. I will admit the TracFone isn’t doing as much but still …