Tag: SPV

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

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