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ContaStick: Funny Name, Brilliant Idea Print E-mail
Written by SymbianOne   
Wednesday, 16 November 2005
Every mobile phone manufacturer seems to agree, regardless of other features they add to their device, voice is still the most important. Richard Bloor looks at a small, but perfectly formed, solution that makes using voice (and messaging) on a S60 devices much easier.

The technology behind ContaStick is not new, but the application of the technology is. n-e-ware has been pioneering the use of the joystick to enter text on S60 devices with KeyStick (http://www.symbianone.com/content/view/1203/) since 2003. Using this KeyStick technology, developed from the ground up for mobile phones and other small UI devices, ContaStick is specifically dedicated to helping quickly locate contact details and initiating a voice or message communication on any S60 device.

Unlike KeyStick (which is a sophisticated Symbian OS component called an FEP) ContaStick is a standard Symbian OS application, which once installed makes itself at home in the S60 applications list.

When opened the application displays a simple screen, with four letter arranged in a cross. A contact is found by selecting the letter that starts their first or family name. This is done by moving the joystick in the direction of the letter (if it is displayed) or pressing the center of the joystick to display the next four letters.

As the letters of the name are entered ContaStick displays not just letters but portions of the name that could be the next likely selection. So, having entered say R, I and C against my contact list, ContaStick presents options for various Richard, Rich, Rick and Richards contacts as the next set of selectable option. Where the option is final, and the next selection would go straight to the contact, it is indicated with a double chevron. Truncated options are indicated with an ellipse.

Once the contact has been found ContaStick displays up to five icons. The central icon (a magnifying glass) is a link to the contact details in the contact database, activated from the joystick "select". Around the cross are shortcuts to the contacts mobile (in the up position), then clockwise, email, landline and SMS. When one of these four communication options is selected ContaStick either dials the appropriate number or jumps to the appropriate messaging application, with the "to" details filled in.

Sensibly the shortcuts are in fixed positions, making it easy to quickly select the contact method. Perhaps the only deficiency here is that there is no link through to creating an MMS.

Once a call or message has been finished the next time ContaStick is activated the contact details are blank, eliminating the need to back-out to start a new search.

One thing some users may consider a deficiency is that "backing" out of one of the linked applications does not return to ContaStick. However, ContaStick can be set up to launch from the edit button (the one with the pencil on it) for quick, one-key access.

ContaStick also provides an option to select a large font size.

Simple, straightforward and efficient sums up ContaStick. This application has no airs or graces. It simply provides a fast, no nonsense way of looking up contacts on an S60 device. In addition, with ContaStick users of slider phones such as the Nokia N80 or folding phones such as the Nokia 6260 can easily find contacts with the keyboard hidden. For anyone with more than a handful of contacts ContaStick is highly recommend.

A 21-day trial is available for ContaStick which costs $7.95. It can be found in the Handango powered SymbianOne Shop. More information on ContaStick can be found on its web site: www.contastick.com.

SymbianOne reviewed KeyStick here.



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