Tag: Orange

By March 19, 2008 Read More →

Samsung i780 review

I was asked to review this phone and thought great, another Samsung, how wrong can someone be? Do I like this phone? Read on…

To be honest I knew very little of this phone as I am not a Blackberry type or QWERTY fan at all. So this type of unit I tend to give a wide berth and not so much as a second look.

Due to be released very shortly and at present exclusive to Orange, this unit sits at the upper end of the market and offers a full function PPC with all the attributes that we now take for granted and more besides.

Samsung i780

Samsung SGH-i780

What’s in the box?

Matt’s Samsung i780 unboxing video will show you just what you get with the i780 but in summary:

  • The Samsung SGH-i780
  • Getting started disc
  • Quick reference guide
  • USB sync and charge cable
  • Mains adaptor
  • Headphones
  • 2 standard batteries
  • Battery charging caddy

Samsung i780 specification:

  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • 624 MHz Marvell CPU
  • 256 MB ROM / 128MB RAM
  • 2.5 ” 320×320 TFT Touchscreen
  • GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS2100
  • CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
  • Built-in QWERTY-type keyboard, 37 keys
  • microSD card slot
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g
  • Built in NMEA 0183 GPS
  • 2.0mp camera
  • 61.3 x 115.9 x 13.3 millimetres
  • 120 Grams

GENERAL

The top of the i780 finds the front-facing VGA camera and earpiece also the status light indicator. Below these is the square 320×320 touchscreen, which sits flush with the casing and has slightly mirrored finish. Not ideal in bright sunlight but still useable.

Below the screen there is the normal softkeys, default set to contacts and calendar. The phone pick up and end keys that also double up as loud speaker key and device lock key respectively. Positioned between these there is the Windows Start and an OK button. And between those there is the innovative optical joystick-cum-Dpad. Below is the full 37 key QWERTY key pad with white highlighted number keys, reasonably standard now on this type of device. The keypad has a white coloured backlight when pressed.

Samsung i780

Samsung SGH-i780 controls

On the left side there is a lanyard hole and nothing more than a up and down volume rocker and a reset hole.

Samsung i780 left side

Samsung SGH-i780 left side

The right side from top to bottom are a flap covering the connecting socket for the USB lead or headset. The next housing also covered is for the microSD card and finally the camera key.

Samsung SGH-i780 right side

Samsung SGH-i780 right side

There is nothing on the base of the phone apart from the microphone hole.

Samsung SGH-i780 bottom

Samsung SGH-i780 bottom

The top is home to the power button and the telescopic stylus housing.

Samsung SGH-i780 top

Samsung SGH-i780 top

The back of the unit is pretty bare apart from the battery housing and the 2 Mega pixel camera and a small speaker grill. This has a pleasant rubberised feel and comfortable to hold.

Samsung SGH-i780 main camera

Samsung SGH-i780 main camera

Highlights

  • The 2 mega pixel camera
  • Fast 624 MHz Marvell processor
  • Connectivity speeds
  • Comfortable and easy to use

Lowlights

  • 320×320 screen creating issues with some 3rd party applications
  • Unresponsive touchscreen
  • Propriety connections for USB and headset.

REVIEW

My first impression of the i780 was one of pleasant surprise, the unit feels comfortable in the hand and it feels a lot smaller than it is, in fact it is the near enough the same height and width as the iPaq 614c, that I have just reviewed, but a approximately 4.3mm slimmer, and this for me made a world of difference. I had to check the dimensions again, as the difference in appearance was dramatic.

Also on first impression the keyboard appears to be too busy and small for me to be able to use, but after a short play and without reading the manual it proved to be easy to use and one handed texting was a breeze and this from an anti QWERTY man. Pretty much all of the buttons are dual function, offering an alternative symbol or number at the touch of the fn button. For example as mentioned the Phone keys double up, as does the camera key which is used to call up a mini windows media player, the OK button when held brings up the Task Manager, the left of centre keys act as number keys etc..I also like dedicated Message and GPS buttons found on the bottom row, a long side the space/vibrate button and the caps lock amongst others.

I even quickly got to grips with the optical Dpad/joystick, with the lightest of touches and a small sweep of the pad with your thumb, proved to be very responsive and accurate when needed, I did find myself using it quite a lot. There is also the option to use mouse mode in the same manner, but this I agree with Matt is not ideal on a WM device, and prefer not to use it.

I am really impressed with the speed of the thing for example downloading a video podcast from the built in extras menu, saw a 12mb clip downloaded on wifi in around a minute. And nipping around the applications is a superb, the only gripe here mentioned by Matt in the Unboxing is the touchscreen which although flush with the casing on the top appears to be quite badly recessed in the device, occasionally it takes a couple of taps to get a response, not by any means a major problem but an irritation.

Software

The WM menu seems pretty unremarkable, apart from being a little Orange, there is the option of ‘Themes’ which is a smart way to customise the overall colour of the screen and the text colour, lots of options here, in both areas, from one end of the rainbow to the other. Also the option in ‘wake up’, to choose which button or buttons brings the device back to life after standby. Settings offers a Data Call Manager, HSDPA enable/ disable.

The programs menu offers, out of the ordinary, Alarms which offers Wake up and 4 others besides, Orange Plus which shortcuts to various topics such as sports latest, financial markets, lifestyle, all of which requests a text message with the info to be sent back to you. Photo slides gives access to ‘My Pictures’ with options to browse or zoom and see as a slide show with very pleasant lift music running in the background, is that customisable anyone?

It was nice to see software bundled in the device as well; a mini player meaning you can access your WM player without have to take up the whole screen to adjust volume or skip a track. Also included in ‘extras’ is Opera 8.65 for WM great for the tabbed browsing. The aforementioned Podcast application, RSS reader, smart converter and Java. Task manager also works well allowing you to see and the applications that are open and the soft keys default to close and close all.

Google maps was downloaded and set up in moments and also works very well, seamlessly zooming and scrolling around the desired positions and routes, with the assistance of the capable onboard GPS and A-GPS.

The GPS signal is acquired pretty quickly, probably thanks in no small part to the Assisted part of the AGPS. Once the ephemeris data is downloaded using any available internet connection (even through activesync) you do not need any network connectivity as, once again, most of my testing here was done without a sim card in the device.

My biggest surprise, which was also commented by many friends and colleagues, was the 2 mega pixel camera, the clarity and ease of use were for me a real highlight, the menus are clear and understandable and although there is no autofocus or flash the quality for an amateur like me was more than adequate. Taking photos around the house in both daylight and at night with side lights appeared no different. Looking at the ever increasing mega pixels that are around these days, I thought this was going to be another disappointment but it really wasn’t!

Samsung i780 sample photograph

Samsung i780 sample photograph

Telephone functionality was absolutely fine and nice to see that even with the 3g connection the phone worked and also when losing the 3g connection reversion to GPRS caused no issues either. The spoken word was clear, both on speaker and also on the earpiece/ Headset. I would class this as one of the better phones I have used for this purpose.

Battery life was a little better than most, although it is 1000mAh according to the device, however there is 2 supplied and the charge caddy mentioned already. Not a real issue for me. The only gripe here is the proprietary connector which means you will need a Samsung specific car charger if you are using Sat Nav.

It wasn’t all good as it might appear, there are gripes such a having to use propriety connectors that Samsung deem fit for purpose but limit the option of connection to chargers, headphones etc. Although the headphones supplied are excellent and the Sync/charge cables work perfectly fine, why can’t they be mini USB style like many of their competitors? Standard connectors for all please.

And then there is two points about the 320×320 2.5” screen the first already mentioned above with the responsiveness, the 2nd is the ability to use 3rd party applications which is the one of the main reasons we love using Windows Mobile. As a self confessed Phone fiddler I am not convinced that there is that much available in the way of Plug-ins and add-ons that will support this screen format. My personal favourite input programme leaves a gaping hole at the bottom half of the screen, I also use thread SMS software which works fine, I am told that Tomtom supports 320×320 but have not been able to test this, if someone could let us know? So it appears some programmes will work and others won’t but there is not necessarily an easy way of tell which is which. A real shame.

Finally another niggle, hearing now that there is no way to hard reset the phone, that anyone has found to date, not even Techies at Samsung can advise at this time.

Conclusion

OK, I’m converted. This is, in my opinion a very nice device, I realise it will not please everyone, as it might appear overcomplicated, but for an all in competent and capable phone that fits as well in the pocket as it does in the hand, includes all of today’s must haves such as GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS2100, CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA to 3.6 Mbps,as well as Bluetooth with A2DP, wifi, built in GPS and A-GPS.
I will definitely be recommending this to my friends and a few have already been showing an interest, is the price tag the ultimate killer? Being slightly above the cost of Matt’s beloved TyTN II will we tempt him to swap? Will the lack of available applications and gadgets mean that you can’t live with it? Time will tell. Can I have a look at the Asus P750 now, Please….?

Review by: Steve

[Post tag(s): smartphone blog, Pocket PC blog, Tracy & Matt, Samsung, i780]

By August 11, 2006 Read More →

Orange SPV M3100 Review (Part 1)

EDIT: More photos added!

INTRO

It’s been a long time since I have seen so much interest and excitement about a new handset release. In fact I didn’t think I would see this kind of ‘mobile euphoria’ again.

Before the MoDaCo summer event I wondered what all the fuss was about. Several people said to me that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the HTC Hermes. I even joked that I was surprised that so many people were interested in a device that sounded like a sexually transmitted disease!

During the MoDaCo summer event held at Orange’s office in Paddington I finally had a chance to play with their version of the HTC Hermes, the Orange SPV M3100.

Main M3100 Photo

Just looking at the device you know it’s going to be a bit special. The dark case design works exceptionally well. The black case with silver-grey buttons is a welcome departure from the recent all silver devices. The shiny gun-metal colour strip around the top, bottom and right of the screen really set it off.

Even with the limited time I was able to use the demo device I knew that it would be the phone that would replace my ageing, and failing, HTC Wizard. I could now see what all the fuss was about!

Since then I have been regularly pestering contacts at Orange, asking (begging) for a device to review before release and asking all sorts of questions. Most of which have understandably been answered with ‘Orange are unable to comment on devices that have not been officially announced’.

Finally, after weeks of nagging I got nowhere and so borrowed an M3100 from someone else!

This review will be pretty short by my normal standards due to the time constraints placed upon me as the SPV M3100 is just a loaner but if/when Orange send me my own M3100 I’ll update and expand upon!

Packaging (What’s in the Box)

I must say that upon arrival even the box seemed impressive!

Orange SPV M3100 Box Contents

In the box you’ll find the usual accessories – The charger, case, manual, headphones, spare stylus etc. You don’t get a docking station though, just a sync/charge cable.

Orange SPV M3100 Case

Despite the Orange M3100 having a strange looking USB socket the sync cable is a regular Mini-USB. Good news that we’ll all be able to use existing cables and car chargers. This was one thing that concerned me when I first saw the device.

No supplied memory card!

The manual covers the basics of getting the phone up and running and explains how to use activesync and email but it is quite lightweight and misses out key things, such as WiFi, completely. Other than that it’s pretty much the standard Orange offering, not that most people will read it!

Orange SPV M3100 Hardware

  • Connectivity: Quad Band, UMTS, Edge, GPRS, HSDPA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi b/g
  • Processor: 400MHz Samsung stacked CPU
  • Camera: 2.1 Megapixels with Flash
  • Display: 240×320 pixel 2.8″ 65,000 Colour TFT
  • Keyboard: Slide out QWERTY keyboard, similar to HTC Universal, one Video Cam (front)
  • Form Factor: Similar size as HTC Wizard, also side Slide QWERTY
  • Memory: 64mb RAM + 128mb flash ROM
  • Power + Battery: Removable and rechargeable Lithium-ion polymer, Typical capacity: 1350 mAh, Standby time: Up to 200 hours for GSM; 180 ~ 250 hours for UMTS, Talk time (Screen off): 4 ~ 5 hours for GSM; 2 ~ 4 hours for UMTS
  • Memory Card: External MicroSD Slot

The M3100 looks similar to the HTC Wizard variants. The joypad (which is a 5 way) is similar to that found on the SPV M600 and is surrounded by 6 other keys. In addition to the Make and End Call and the 2 soft keys there is a Windows Key and an OK key. These were missing from the Wizard devices. Also included above the display are the usual Email and Internet buttons. Finally there is a button just below the screen which serves as the video call key.

There is also a camera on the front of the device. This is a low resolution camera used for video calls.

General

At 112 x 58 x 22mm the Orange M3100 is slightly bigger than the HTC Wizard that I have been using for the past 9 months. That said, the case design is squarer than the Wizard which makes the M3100 feel smaller in the hand. In terms of weight the 10g difference between the Wizard and the M3100 isn’t noticeable!

Orange SPV M3100 On its Box

Orange SPV M3100 vs M5000

On the left side of the device, in another break from the norm, the volume slider has been replaced by a scroll wheel. This is pretty similar to the wheel you find on Blackberry’s.
You’ll also find another OK button and the voice command button here. Below these buttons is the MicroSD card slot.

On the right there are buttons for power, Comm Manager and the Camera.

You wont find a 2.5 or 3.5mm headphone socket on the bottom of the SPV M3100. Instead HTC have opted to use a proprietary USB socket for the headphones. More on this later.

M3100 Bottom

The SIM card sits neatly under the battery as you would expect. The battery has a slightly higher capacity than the Wizard at 1350mah, compared to the 1200mah in the Wizard. Orange claim that the battery is good for 6 days on standby. In practice the combination of calls and data usage led to me having to charge it after about 2 days – about the same as the Wizard.

M3100 Underside

Screen

The screen on the M3100 is the same as you would find on the M600 or Wizard type devices. The resolution is 240 x 320. The backlight seems a little brighter than the M600 but still suffers from a slight yellow cast.

A lot of people have reported screen alignment problems with the HTC TyTN. I was a little worried that the M3100 would have the same problem, especially as the main reason I wanted to get rid of my Wizard was that I had to realign the screen on it about twice a day! In the few days that I’ve had the M3100 on loan I’m pleased to report that I have seen no such problems.

Keyboard

The keyboard on the M3100 is similar in design to the M5000 although it has fewer keys, there isn’t a dedicated row of number keys but numbers are accessed through a shift function on other keys.

Orange M3100 Keyboard

In practice the keyboard is much easier to use than the keyboard on the Wizard. The keys are bigger and feel much more positive in their action.

WiFi

I’ve never been a big WiFi user but was keen to see if the 802.11g connection speed made much difference or if the device itself was slower than the network.

I have been quite impressed with the speed of the WiFi and the signal strength seems very good, I can pick up the WiFi signal from a house a few doors away where the Wizard could not. Speed is also good, streaming MP3’s and videos from a desktop PC without a problem.

As I said earlier, the manual doesn’t cover the use of WiFi at all well. Perhaps Orange think that if you know what it is you should be able to set it up. Setup was pretty easy but it would be nice to see this covered in more detail in the manual, especially if you had connectivity issues.

Camera

Again I’m not a big user of phone cameras, typically they are pretty poor and the ‘flash’ leaves a lot to be desired.

The 2 mega-pixel camera on the M3100 is pretty decent for a phone based camera but certainly wont replace your digital compact camera.

The front mounted camera on the M3100 is a low resolution (0.3mp I believe) digital camera which is used exclusively for video calling, although I’m sure that some clever individual will find a way to use this in other software.

As a user of MSN Messenger it would be nice to see MSN Mobile support the front facing camera. However MSN Messenger isn’t even included with the M3100. If you want to use IM you’ll have to opt for a third party application like Agile Messenger.

Battery

The battery in the M3100 is nothing special. It has a higher capacity than that found in the Wizard but it’s only around a 10% increase. I’d say that the claimed talk and standby times really are pushing the phrase ‘Under Optimum Conditions’ to the limit though and it would seem that the days of having two batteries bundled with a device are long gone!

M3100 Battery

Performance

I really noticed the difference in performance over other devices that I have used. The 400mhz Samsung processor copes very well with most things that you throw at it. Listening to MP3’s while browsing the internet really isn’t a problem for it.

Another place where you notice the performance difference is when you are switching the screen between portrait and landscape when you open and close the keyboard. On the M5000 and the HTC Wizard for example switching could take a few seconds sometimes whereas the M3100 switches instantly every single time.

The M3100 also benefits from the larger 128mb of onboard rom. There were lots of issues with earlier devices that had only 64mb. Take the M500 for example, it really did seem a strange decision on Orange’s part to ship their version on the Jam with only 64mb as you would have thought the cost saving would be minimal. The lack or memory meant that the M500 was, and still is, plagued by call handling issues, especially when handling multiple calls. Fortunately I’ve not experienced any of these issues on the M3100.

As a phone the SPV M3100 performs very well. The in-call sound quality is very good which is probably due to the larger earpiece. People that I have spoken to have also said that the quality is good at the other end.

M3100 Open

Software

Software wise there isn’t really anything new or exciting to play with. The installed applications are the usual WM5 fare.

One thing I did notice about the M3100 is that the PhonePad input method is now missing! I think this is going to upset a fair few people!

However it does ship with the new AKU2.3 Rom installed which has some bug fixes over AKU2 and incorporates stereo audio over Bluetooth support.

Conclusion

So far the Orange M3100 really is looking like being a winner. I’m sure that it will be successful both as a business and a consumer phone.

The keyboard improvements make it a pleasure to use. It’s small enough to be a device you can carry every day yet large enough to be practical to use.

The Orange SPV M3100 is definitely the best Mobile Device that I have owned to date. I would recommend it to anyone. Now we just need some decent data tariffs, especially a sensibly priced all you can eat package and HSDPA. I can’t wait to see that in action!

See Part 2 of the review.

I’d like to say a big ‘thank you!’ to Paul Evans and Jeremy Bown for the additional Pics.

Matt

[Technorati tag(s): smartphone, Pocket PC, MoDaCo, Orange, M3100, HTC Hermes, HTC TyTN, SPV, Orange SPV M3100]

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