Edit: You can also listen to some other SPV M700 comments on our Orange SPV M700 Podcast.
It’s taken a little while but finally we have been able to get our hands on an Orange SPV M700 to review. We’ve fielded a lot of questions about the M700 over the past few months so I’ll incorporate the answers in to the review.
After a few false starts, the Orange SPV M700, which is the Orange version of the HTC Trinity/HTC P3600, was launched on the 19th February. There has been some confusion about the colour of the device but, as you can see below, the M700 is available in both black and white varieties. The black is aimed at business and the white at consumer customers. However the colour is the only difference between the devices.
The M700 is the first device on the Orange network to have built in GPS so it is a little surprising that Orange are not shouting about this feature. In fact you’ll be pushed to find the GPS mentioned anywhere within the literature or on the Orange website. Furthermore, Orange customer service staff are struggling to get to grips with supporting this device many of them being unaware that the M700 has GPS capability. However I have been assured that Orange are addressing this issue and are updating their staff training.
Upon initial inspection the M700 looks a lot like the SPV M600 being virtually the same size and having a very similar key layout. The most obvious difference between the two devices is that the M700 includes the front facing VGA Camera for video calls. Both the black and the white M700’s have a glossy finish with metallic accents on the bottom and sides of the unit. Size is where the similarity ends, the M700 is completely different on the inside!
Compared to the popular SPV M3100 the M700 is a little smaller and quite a bit thinner. It’s also quite a lot lighter than the M3100.
On the bottom of the device you’ll find the Enhanced Mini USB (EMU) connector which acts as sync/charge as well as being the place to plug in the supplied headset. This proprietary connector has been a source of frustration to many but as most new HTC devices have this connector more and more adapters are becoming available to allow you to plug in your own headphones. Also on the bottom you’ll find the infrared port and the hole where you jam your stylus to reset the device. The full-sized stylus pulls out of the bottom of the device too.
On the left side of the device you have the Scroll Wheel which provides a useful way for scrolling through menus and emails. Pushing the wheel opens or selects the chosen menu or email. Below the wheel is the ‘OK’ button which functions more like a back button.
The right hand side of the device is home to the power button, Voice Speed Dial button Camera button and the miniSD card slot complete with protective covering flap.
Below the screen you’ll find the customary D-pad for menu navigation, two soft keys, the red and green phone keys, the Windows key and finally another ‘OK’ button. The D-pad on the M700 is positive and easy to use and, although it’s smaller than the one on the M3100, it sticks out that little bit further and is a little easier to use with your thumb.
Turn the device over and you’ll see the main 2.1 Megapixel camera and slot for the loudspeaker. The rest of the back is seamless as the whole of the back removes, by popping upwards, in order to gain access to the battery and SIM card. This catches a lot of people out as they wonder where the battery goes!
The main camera is auto-focus so does not have the macro/normal switch found on many other HTC devices. This is handy as I always shot the first picture or two in the wrong mode. The picture quality is pretty decent, and is considerably better than the unit found in other devices at the moment. The M700 does not have a ‘flash’.
The Battery in the M700 is physically quite large occupying a large cavity in the back of the device and is 1500mAh in capacity. In practice the battery life is impressive, compared to the M3100 the M700 lasts much, much longer.
The screen on the M700 is 2.8″ diagonal and has a resolution of 240 x 320, pretty standard these days. However the screen is a lot brighter and more evenly lit than the M3100 and does not suffer from the yellow colour cast as on the M600. The contrast ratio seems a lot higher than on other devices we have seen in the past. This makes the M700 screen a pleasure to use.
The M700 is powered by Windows Mobile 5.0 and by default has the standard Orange homescreen. I know that the Orange homescreen puts a lot of people off so it’s worth mentioning that this can be disabled in favour of the standard Pocket PC homescreen. I wont go through the software installed in the device as there is no real difference between this and any other device you might find at the moment.
I’m sure that most people will be reading this review in order to find out more about the GPS built in to the Orange SPV M700. In some ways the built in GPS unit could be one of the best kept secrets of this device. As we mentioned in past posts, even Orange retail are largely unaware that the device is GPS capable.
In the early days we had a lot of emails from people that had just purchased their M700 and thought that their device was missing its GPS. Strangely the M700 does not have any GPS control panel or settings that would give you any indication that there is a GPS installed. Not even the Comm Manager offers any GPS information. Furthermore there are no GPS applications installed by default.
In order to try out the built in GPS you’ll have to install some third party software such as CamerAware, Orange SatNav or even Tom Tom. When you register your M700 you qualify for a trial of the Orange SatNav software, the details of which should be given to you when you register, if not you’ll find details on the Orange NAV page.
The GPS unit installed in the M700 is pretty good. It picks up a satellite signal quickly and tracks accurately, for the most part it will even work indoors. One tip with the GPS is that you do NOT need to turn on the bluetooth in order to use it, doing so will only drain your battery more quickly!
The Orange SatNav software isn’t bad. It will give you directions to a destination and provides live traffic information. You should bear in mind that the Orange SatNav software uses your internet connection to download map and traffic information so could quickly become expensive. However it will give you the chance to test the GPS in your M700 if you don’t have any other software.
It’s a lot more convenient to use the M700 with its built in GPS than to use a bluetooth GPS device.
The SPV M700 comes with a few more accessories than you might expect. On top of the normal mains charger and USB cable you get a leather effect pouch style case and, rather unusually, you get an in car charger that plugs in to the car cigarette lighter socket. You also get the standard ‘getting started’ guide and a generic manual, neither of which mention the GPS much beyond defining what GPS means.
A lot of people have been asking me of the M700 is worth the upgrade. I suppose that the answer is ‘it depends’. It depends on what device you already have, and what you use your device for. If you have an M600 at the moment and you want a faster device with 3G and Sat Nav then the M700 is definitely worth the upgrade. If you have an M3100 and can live without the keyboard and you are looking for a GPS enabled device then consider the M700. As much as a like the M700, and it really is a pleasure to use with its fast processor responsive operating system, I love having built in GPS. However I cant do without a built in sliding keyboard.
If you have decided to buy an M700 which colour do you choose? Well if you are a consumer you will only be offered the white device and if you are a business customer you will be told that you can only have the black one. If you really want the one that is not normally available to you then I would suggest that you speak to a team leader or retentions and ask for the one you want. Most people that I have spoken to have said that they have been able to get their preferred colour. Having played with both I would say that the white is the one I prefer. You may think that the black is the more practical when it comes to getting dirty, however the opposite is true. The black one attracts dirt and finger prints whereas the white one stays relatively pristine looking. It’s also worth mentioning that the black units have had some problems with the metallic paint flaking off around the keys which is something that has not been reported with the white one.
Overall the Orange SPV M700 is a good device and if you are looking for an all-in-one gps phone then you should seriously consider this.
Orange SPV M700 Specification
Dimensions (width x height x depth): 58.2 x 108 x 18.4 millimetres
Mass: 143 grams (battery included)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Phone Edition AKU 3.0
CPU: 400Mhz Samsung S3C2442
ROM capacity: 128MB, including 61.02MB user-accessible non-volatile memory
Expansion Slots: miniSD, SDIO
Display: 240 x 320, 2.8″ colour transflective TFT
Supported networks: GSM 850MHz, GSM 900MHz, GSM 1800MHz, GSM 1900MHz, UMTS 850MHz, UMTS 1900MHz, UMTS 2100MHz
Supported WAN standards: CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.0
GPS: Qualcomm gpsONE
Wireless LAN: 802.11b, 802.11g 54Mbit/s
Main Camera: CMOS sensor, 1600×1200 (1.92 million pixels)
Front Camera: 640x480pixel, 20frame/sec
Battery: Lithium-ion, removable 1500mAh
Estimated Battery Life: 12 hours
[Technorati tag(s): smartphone blog, Pocket PC blog, Tracy & Matt, Orange, M700, HTC Trinity, HTC P3600, SPV, Orange SPV M700]