Choosing the right accessories for your HTC Hero

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The HTC Hero is the most highly anticipated Android handset to be released. Not only because it’s only the third handset to be released running the new operating system from Google, but because this one is available without network or Google branding. Instead, HTC have put their own interface on top of the Android operating system to make it easier to use and improve how the menu system looks.

There’s no doubt that the Hero is going to be an incredibly popular handset this summer, and if you’ve invested in one, you’re going to want to keep it looking at its best and working to it’s full potential. To do that you’re going to need a few accessories, but with so many accessories for the HTC Hero available, choosing the right ones for your phone can be a bit of a minefield.

To help you decide on the accessories that you need, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 Accessories for the HTC Hero .

1. HTC Hero C300 Leather Carry Case

The Hero is a smart looking phone that needs a smart looking case. The C300 has been designed to fit most HTC smart phones. It has cut outs for your charger and handsfree/headphones, as well as a hole in the bottom to make it easier to push your phone out. It’s made from a high quality leather with grey stitching and a soft suede lining that helps to keep your screen fingerprint free. The front of the case has been toughened to give your screen extra protection against crush and impact damage. On the back, the case has a couple of mounting options. The first is a sprung belt clip that allows you to attach it and remove it from your belt quickly and easily, the other is two stitched belt loops that allow you to keep the case on your belt permanently with no chance of it falling off.

HTC Hero C300 Case

HTC Hero C300 Case

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A guide to the best HTC Hero Cases

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The HTC Hero is a difficult one when it comes to finding cases for it. Its funny ‘chin’ – the angled section of the phone under the screen – makes finding a case that fits it well extremely difficult, especially as all the case manufacturers took their time in releasing cases that are specifically shaped for the Hero.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve managed to track down 10 cases for the HTC Hero, so with more cases available and after hearing feedback on some of the cases I’ve put this list with cases that are made specifically for the HTC Hero. I’ll still keep my eyes open for any other cases that come along, and I’ll update this post as and when they become available so you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed or bookmark this post so that you don’t miss out on any new ones that become available.

HTC Hero

HTC Hero

Now before I go on to the cases, there is one thing that I’ve noticed on the Hero that I feel I need to warn you about – particularly if you have a white one. The plastic that the housing is made from seems to discolour quite easily, the dye from clothing or some cases may transfer on to the phone, which will require quite a bit of effort to clean off and it means that if your phone isn’t protected, it might end up looking worn quite quickly on the corners and on the back cover.

Normally, I’d recommend an InvisibleSHIELD full body protector to stop this kind of discolouring of the case, but if you try to remove an InvisibleShield from the phone, it will peel the paint off too, so for that reason avoid InvisibleShield for the HTC Hero.

Noreve Tradition A Leather Case for HTC Hero

Noreve are a designer case that to be honest I’ve never heard of. They produce premium leather cases that give Piel Frama and PDair a run for their money. This case for the Hero fits the phone so well it’s surprising. When I first saw the ‘chin’ on the Hero I didn’t think that this style of case would work, but Noreve have proved me wrong. The case is the same shape as the phone and moulds around it beautifully. The whole case is hand crafted from top quality leather and leaves your camera, charging ports and volume keys accessible. The case has a detachable ratchet clip that locks eery 15 or so degrees on the back that can be removed easily to leave the back of the case perfectly flat.

Noreve Leather Flip Case for HTC Hero

Noreve Leather Flip Case for HTC Hero

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Syncing your iPhone contacts to your Car Kit

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Bluetooth Car Kits are getting smarter, and most of them now support synchronising the contacts stored on your phone to the car kit to enable faster dialling, caller display, and enabling voice control – even on phones like the iPhone 3G that doesn’t support voice dialling. As great as this is though, it’s not quite as straight forward as you’d think as there are two different ways that phones and car kits talk to each other. I’ll apologise now if this gets a little confusing, but I’ll try and keep it as simple as I can.

Although Bluetooth is a pretty generic technology, there are a number of different bluetooth profiles and each bluetooth device uses different ones. The two that are needed to synchronise your contacts between your car kit and your phone are either PBAP – Phone Book Access Profile or OPP – Object Push Profile, but in order for it to sync, both the phone and the car kit need to support the same profile.

  • OPP – Object Push Profile – This is an older Bluetooth Profile, so should be supported by most phones and car kits that support contact sync. If the car kit supports the OPP profile then it is capable of receiving information that is sent or ‘pushed’ to it. In order to send your contacts to a car kit that uses OPP you will need to initiate the transfer of your contacts from your phone, either one by one or all at once. The only downside to this is that not all phones support sending your entire phonebook in one go.
  • PBAP – Phone Book Access Profile – This profile is one of the more recent Bluetooth Profiles, so not all phones or car kits support it. The advantage of the PBAP profile is that you don’t need to send your contacts to the car kit, the car kit will retrieve them from your phone automatically every time you connect.

Bluetooth support is limited on the iPhone and although it’s improving, it still doesn’t support all Bluetooth profiles – in particular the OPP profile. There is no way of sending any information from an iPhone over Bluetooth. This means that if you have a Bluetooth Car Kit that only supports OPP, you’ll only be able to use the car kit for calls, although features such as last number redial should still work fine. The iPhone does support the PBAP profile though – in fact it supports it brilliantly, so if you want to be able to sync your contacts make sure that the car kit you buy supports the PBAP profile, it should be listed in the technical spec of the user manual.

I’ve got the Parrot MKi9000 installed in my car and every time the car is started and my iPhone 3G connects, the kit checks my phone for any changes and and updates itself. Like I said before, the iPhone supports PBAP brilliantly, and when paired with a compatible car kit it gives you control over the information that is synchronised with the kit. You can chose which groups of contacts to sync – if any, as well as recent calls and favourites.

iPhone Car Kit Sync Options

iPhone Car Kit Sync Options - iPhone OS 3.1

From personal experience I’ve found that the best car kits for syncing your contacts are those made by Parrot. As well as supporting the iPhone fully, they also feature Text to Speech technology that announces the callers name when you receive a call and some will allow you to use voice dialling – even on the iPhone. It does this by matching the wave print of what you say against the Text to Speech wave prints for the contacts stored in the car kit. Most voice dialling kits require you to train your voice to them or to record your own voice tags for the contacts, and this normally doesn’t work too well. The current Parrot car kits that do all this are listed below. If you want more information on any of the kits, just click on the image or read my post on Parrot Car Kits.

Parrot MKi9200 Fully Fitted Car Kit

Parrot MKi9200 Fully Fitted Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot MKi9100 Fully Fitted Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot MKi9100 Fully Fitted Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot MKi9000 Fully Fitted Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot MKi9000 Fully Fitted Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot CK3000 Portable Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot MK6000 Fully Fitted Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot Minikit Portable Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot Minikit Slim Portable Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot Minikit Chic Portable Bluetooth Car Kit

Parrot Minikit Chic Portable Bluetooth Car Kit

Hey – where did all the posts go?!

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Visit unofficialmobileblog.co.uk for the latest posts

Don’t worry, all 200+ posts are still here, but this weekend I’m having a bit of a spring clean to freshen things up.

Over the last 12 months the way that I’ve been writing posts has been changing quite a bit and some of the older posts are a bit hard to read so I’m taking a few days out to tidy them up and get them back on here.

I’m also getting ready to move this blog to http://www.unofficialmobileblog.co.uk where it will be running on its own server, away from wordpress.com. The installation and template is nearly ready to go and I’ll be flicking the switch on Friday 28th August, the style of the site will change slightly because this theme isn’t available on a self hosted one, but other than that it should be the same to use.

Posts will start coming back in the next few days although most will only reappear on the new site. After the change things should be updated a little more often.

If there’s something you want me to cover regarding mobile phones or accessories leave a comment and I’ll get it scheduled in.

Thanks for bearing with me!

The Best Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headsets

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I’ve been working with mobile phones for years now, and I’ve noticed that people really seem to struggle when it comes to choosing a Bluetooth Headset. To someone who isn’t that clued up on mobile technology they all look the same, they all allow you to use your phone safely in the car and can answer & end calls, so why are there so many different ones to choose from and why the big differences in price?

Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headsets

Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headsets

Up until recently my answer would have been that the main differences were size, weight and battery life and that’s still true for most headsets, but advances in headset technology have meant that there is now something else to consider when choosing a Bluetooth Headset – Noise Cancellation.

If you’ve ever looked into bluetooth headsets in the past, you might be thinking that noise cancellation is nothing new and that it’s been around for years, and your right, it has. Over the years noise cancellation has seen many different forms, from simple design changes such as foam covers over the microphone to clever software that makes your voice clearer, but newer Bluetooth headsets go one step further and have 2 microphones built into them, one that picks up your voice and another that picks up background noise. Software in the headset then analyses the sound from both microphones and any sounds picked up by both microphones are removed so that your voice comes through clearly.

Not all Bluetooth Headsets currently have this feature, and trying to find the ones that do out of the hundreds that are available will take you quite some time, so to help you along I’ve listed below what I think are some of the best noise cancelling headsets available. All of these headsets have the dual microphone technology, and a couple of them have some extra clever technology make your voice even clearer.

Most of these headsets are available from mobile fun and I’ve provided a link to the relevant page on their site if you want to find out more about any particular headset.

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iPhone 3G & 3GS Battery Problem Solved

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As a proud owner of an iPhone, it hurts me to say something negative about it, but the battery life is definitely not the best. I was caught out by this little problem recently and I had no way to charge my dying iPhone.  I realised that I needed a way of charging my phone throughout the day, but without the hassle of constantly connecting a USB cable.

I looked through all of the iPhone 3GS desk stands available, and the iPhone 3GS / 3G Desktop Dual Charging Dock + Battery Charger caught my attention. Not only is it a standard desktop charger and sync stand, it also includes a portable battery pack that you can use to charge your iPhone when you’re out and about. The Dual Charging Dock has two charging ports so that you can charge both your phone and the battery pack at the same time, and when you leave the house, you simply pop the battery pack into your bag or pocket and off you go.

If and when your iPhone needs a charge, you simple slide your phone into the battery pack and it starts charging immediately.

Charge your iPhone and battery pack together

While I agree that the battery pack is not the smallest, there are other options available like the Mophie Juice Pack.  However, the advantage of this one is that you only need to attach it when you need to charge your iPhone, where as the Mophie products double up as a case for your iPhone, which means that it’s attached to your phone permanently and that your iPhone is more bulky. This isn’t really a problem if you want a case for your phone, but I prefer not to use one.

Battery Pack attaches easily

Seidio Cases for iPhone, BlackBerry Storm & Palm Pre

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Seidio specialise in making protective cases for smart phones such as the Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS, Palm Pre, Palm Treo Pro and BlackBerry Storm and I managed to get my hands on some last week to try them out.

Seidio Innocase Surface
Innocases are the most popular type of case that Seidio make. They are made from a tough, flexible material that is just 1mm thick and has a soft touch finish for better grip. The Innocase Surface consists of a front and back cover that snap together to keep your device protected. Innocase Surface doesn’t cover the screen of your phone though, so you’ll need to get yourself a screen protector to prevent it getting scratched.

Seidio Innocase Surface

Seidio Innocase Surface

The Innocase Surface has cut outs for all parts of the phone that you’ll need to access such as the charger port, headphone socket and volume controls.

Seidio Innocase II Surface
Innocase II are almost identical to the original Innocase, the only real difference being the way that they fit on to your phone. Instead of being a front and back cover that lock together, Innocase II is made of two sleeves that slide onto the top and bottom of your phone and lock together. While this might not seem like a big change, it almost eliminates the possibility of the cover coming off your phone when you drop it. Innocase II Surface doesn’t cover the screen of your phone though, so again, you’ll need a screen protector to prevent it getting scratched.

Seidio Innocase II

Seidio Innocase II

The Innocase II Surface has cut outs for all parts of the phone that you’ll need to access such as the charger port, headphone socket and volume controls.

Seidio Innocase 360
The Innocase 360 is quite different to the other 2 in the Innocase range as it builds in protection for your screen and you keypad too. They’re made from the same tough, flexible material, but have a silicone cover to protect your keypad and a built in screen protector to stop your screen getting scratched. The Innocase 360 clips on to your phone in the same way as the Innocase Surface.

Seidio Innocase 360

Seidio Innocase 360

The Innocase 360 also has cut outs for all parts of the phone that you’ll need to access such as the charger port, headphone socket, camera and volume controls.

Seidio FlexArmor
FlexArmor cases are heavy duty rubber skins that have a tight fit to your phone and protect it against bumps, scrapes and drops. There are two different designs, one with a patterened back and one that is plainer, but has finger grooves for better grip. as with most Seidio Cases, FlexArmor cases don’t cover the screen, so you’ll need to get a screen protector if you want to prevent it getting scratched.

Seidio FlexArmor

Seidio FlexArmor

The FlexArmor is moulded specifically for each phone and has cut outs for all parts of the phone that you’ll need to access such as the charger port, headphone socket, camera and volume controls.

Seidio Premium Skin
Premium Skins are high grade silicone cases that fit your phone and unlike some silicone cases are resistant to dust, stretching and tearing. Premium Skins are moulded specifically for each phone and have cut outs for all parts of the phone that you’ll need to access such as the charger port, headphone socket, camera and volume controls.

Seidio Premium Skin Case

Seidio Premium Skin Case

Again, these cases don’t cover the screen, so you’ll need to get a screen protector if you want to prevent it getting scratched.

Seidio Cases are currently only available for Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS, Palm Pre, Palm Treo Pro and BlackBerry Storm with Mobile Fun promising to expand their range soon. Personally I prefer the Innocase II, the locking top and bottom sleeve provide a much better fir than the original Innocase and from past experience with cheap crystal cases, any cover that has a front and back that clip together doesn’t normally last that long. FlexArmor are good too, although the one with the patterned back is a bit over the top – the plain one with finger grooves is a much more subtle case that won’t draw too much extra attention to your phone.

To see the full range of cases and to see what’s available for your phone, take a look at the full range of Seidio Cases on the Mobile Fun website