PLDT Landline Plus goes prepaid: Turn any GSM phone into a portable “landline”

PLDT will launch this weekend prepaid plans for its Landline Plus service. The service, previously available only on monthly postpaid plans, gives consumers “fixed-wireless telephone lines.”

Calls to these wireless handsets, within a provincial area, are considered local connections and aren’t charged by the minute. The Landline Plus user is only charged by the minute for outgoing calls, not incoming ones. These handsets can also send and receive SMS messages.

PLDT Landline Plus PORTABLE LANDLINE. The PLDT Landline Plus Prepaid SIM running on the Sony Ericsson K8001. With the SIM, calls to this phone from a landline, whether Globe or PLDT, are considered local connections and are not charged by the minute. You know the SIM is active by the operator logo: it says PLDT instead of Smart. Click on photo to enlarge.

But the availability of prepaid plans is just an undercard (in boxing parlance) to what will be launched through TV ads during Manny Pacquiao’s fight this Sunday: Landline Plus is going GSM SIM-based.

It can now be used with any GSM mobile handset.

With the prepaid plan, not only are you free from being locked into the service for a year, you also no longer need to pay for the handset or activation fee. You also no longer need to submit applications and other required documents. You just buy the P100 SIM and insert it into a GSM handset that’s open line or locked to Smart and Talk and Text and you have a portable “landline.”

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Sony Ericsson K850i test: Google Maps for Mobile with My Location works

Google Maps for Mobile‘s My Location feature works in the Sony Ericsson K850i, the latest in the Cyber-shot line to hit the market. My Location is a cool feature that places your approximate location on the map using GPS (Global Positioning System) or mobile towers.

If you have one of the recent phones that report cell sites, Google Maps will draw a blue circle on the map to represent your approximate location, as determined through the use of cell sites.

Sony Ericsson k850i running Google Maps for mobile WHERE AM I? Anywhere from Fuente Osmneña to the middle of the Cebu harbor, according to this location data provided by Google Maps for Mobile running in the Sony Ericsson K850i. I was inside the Sun.Star Cebu office on P de. Rosario St. when I ran the application. Click on photo to enlarge image.

I previously tried the service with the K750i and K800i but both units don’t report cell sites they are using to connect to the network My Location won’t work with them. Last week, I tried it with a K850i demo unit lent to me by Sony Ericsson Philippines for testing and got it working in no time.

I used my Smart account in testing the K850i so its cell towers were the ones being used to plot the phone’s location.

It isn’t GPS, which is accurate up to a few meters, and the blue circle that indicates my general location covers an area that seems more than a kilometer wide.

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New Google Maps for Mobile tracks your position using cell phone towers

Google released last week a new version of its Google Maps for Mobile application. The release, as with many of Google’s products, is designated “beta,” a label used for software that is still being actively tested and not yet released to the public.

I’ve read about mobile maps applications before, including the earlier Google versions, but I never bothered trying it out because I don’t travel much. In fact my daily travel is such a routine I can tell you what size of potholes are located in which part of the highways in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu Cities.

Google Maps for Mobile GOOGLE MAPS FOR MOBILE. A satellite photo of Fuente Osmena rotunda as seen through the Google Maps for mobile application running in my Sony Ericsson K750i. Click on photo to enlarge.

But what caught my interest in last week’s announcement is a new feature in Google Maps: it can now plot your location using the cellphone towers of your mobile network. The application then displays a blue dot showing a bigger light blue circle to display your approximate location. That feature is called My Location.

Previously, you can plot your locations in mapping applications if you have a GPS (global position system) device or module. With the new Google application, the software can plot your location via triangulation of your position using the cellphone towers that connect your phone to your mobile network.

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Sony Ericsson unveils the K660: ‘engineered for mobile Internet’

Sony Ericsson has unveiled a phone that I’m sure will give second thoughts to those already set on upgrading units this Christmas. The company announced earlier this month the coming availability of the Sony Ericsson K660, a phone that the company said was engineered for the mobile Internet.

The phone will only be available early next year so you might want to postpone your Christmas phone upgrade by a month or two.

k660i FUNKY COLOR FOR A COOL PHONE. The lime on white version of the Sony Ericsson K660i, an HSDPA-enable phone that has been engineered for the mobile Internet. Click on photo to enlarge.

The K660, which will be marketed as the K660i in the Asia-Pacific region, is an HSDPA-enabled phone. The phone can access so-called “mobile broadband” networks that offer higher connection speeds. This not only makes browsing on the phone faster, it also makes it a good laptop accessory—as mobile modem.

I don’t know how wide HSDPA coverage is in Cebu but in my previous experience with PLDT WeRoam, I got strong and consistent HSDPA signals within downtown and mid-town Cebu City areas. I got a consistent GPRS speed at home in Lapu-Lapu City but this was a few months back. I suspect things have improved since then, based on my wife’s experience with using her Sony Ericsson K800i as modem.

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Upgrading to Sony Ericsson K800i

When my wife needed to upgrade her phone several weeks back, there was no question on which brand she’ll be getting. The question was which Sony Ericsson model best fits her needs and our budget.

I am a Sony Ericsson fan boy and my fanaticism must have rubbed off on my wife because she decided to dump Nokia. Not even a recent marketing fiasco by Sony Ericsson Philippines can dampen my Sony Ericsson fanaticism.

Sony Ericsson K800i A PHONE ANY BLOGGER WOULD LOVE. The Sony Ericsson K800i comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera, which makes it great for taking photos for websites and blogs. The 3G phone can also display RSS feeds. Click on photo to enlarge.

My wife chose the Sony Ericsson K800 or, as it is being marketed here in the Asia-Pacific region, K800i. The phone is part of the company’s Cyber-shot line, phone products with image taking qualities good enough to carry the Sony brand for standalone digital cameras.

The K800i is no longer the latest in its line. Sony Ericsson has already upgraded the line by launching the K810i and announcing the coming availability of the K850i.

What stands out in the K800 line is the ability to upgrade the firmware over the air. In previous Sony Ericsson versions, you need to attach your phone to your PC via a USB cable to upgrade your unit’s firmware. With the K800, you can upgrade your firmware from the phone itself.

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Turn your mobile phone into a document scanner with Scanr app

I would give anything to have had this Scanr tool a decade ago when, as a beat reporter, I had to frequently photocopy documents for news stories. When I was still covering the Cebu City Hall beat, I did a series of news reports that exposed illegal collection of fees and various other transactions disallowed by government auditors. These stories were from documents officials never intended to be released to the media.

Scanr mobile application STEP 1. Scan the document using your phone camera. Fill as much of the phone screen with the document you want processed. Click on photo to view larger image.

I had a City Hall source whom I befriended after weeks of offering free cigarettes (there, smoking can do something good) at the hallway. We became such good cigarette break friends that I started asking him for documents officials did not want released.

How to use scanr STEP 2. Start the application. It will open with an image gallery. Browse the photos and look for the images you want processed. Click on photo for larger image.

The source would alert me during our cigarette breaks whenever a document I requested was already available. I’d then go to the press room, get a brown envelope, go to the comfort room and get the documents from him. I’d then rush to the photocopier and, while chewing on my nails, wait for her to finish copying the papers. I’d then go back to the City Hall comfort room and then return the papers.

Using scanr to scan documents STEP 3. Click on a photo and mark whether it is a document, business card, or a whiteboard snapshot. Click on photo to view larger image.

In one of these exchanges, I panicked because the source said I should return the papers immediately but I wasn’t able to find a vacant copier near City Hall. I had to cross several blocks.

Looking back while playing with Scanr these past days made me think how easier things might have been for me using the service and its mobile application.

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