Tag: Windows Mobile

By November 19, 2009 Read More →

LG GW520 Review

More and more manufactures are now offering slide out QWERTY devices and heres another one to add to the list. The LG GW520 is not a high end smartphone but I am pretty sure there is a place for it in the market. Lets check it out:

 LG GW520-angled-open LG GW520-angled-right

LG GW520 both open and closed

What’s in the box:

  • Phone
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Headphones
  • User Guide

The ten second review:

  • Device: LG GW520
  • Price: £129.00
  • Summary: A nice touch screen feature phone with a decent slide out keyboard.
  • Best of: Keyboard, 3G, Camera
  • Worst of: No Wi-Fi, Screen Unlock
  • Get it now from: Orange

 

LG GW520 Specification:

  • Size: 106.5 x 53 x 15.9 mm
  • Weight: 125.5g
  • Screen: TFT resistive touch screen, 256K colors, 240 x 400 pixels, 2.8 inches
  • Memory: 40MB Internal, MicroSD up to 16GB
  • 3G: HSDPA 7.2 Mbps
  • Bluetooth: v2.0 with A2DP
  • USB: microUSB
  • Camera: 3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels
  • Messaging: SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
  • Browser: WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML
  • Colours: Blue on Black, Red on Black, Silver, Pearl White
  • Battery: Li-Ion 950 mAh

 

General:

The top of the LG GW520 contains the USB connector for charging, and also for connecting the headset.

LG GW520-top

LG GW520 Top

The left side of the handset houses only a up/down volume rocker.

GW520-left

LG GW520 Left Side

There is plenty of action on the right side. The slot for the MicroSD card is here and also buttons for the camera and locking the device.

LG GW520-right

LG GW520 Right Side

On the rear of the handset can be found the camera lens and speaker grill.

GW520-back

LG GW520 Rear

On the front of the device is the call send/end keys as well as menu button.

GW520-front

LG GW520 Front

Highlights:

  • Keyboard
  • 3G

Lowlights:

  • Lack of Wi-Fi
  • Screen Unlock

 Review:

I’m a big fan of slide out QWERTY devices but as this one is lacking a few features I am used to I was thinking it is not going to be great. I was pleasantly surprised.

Handling the handset for the first time I was impressed with how nice it looks. The black around the screen and keys looks great sitting beside the silver satin finish that runs around the outside of the device and covers the back. It also felt great to hold. Its well built and although the battery cover feels very “plasticy” the whole thing feels like its built to last.

On the front of the device are three keys that sit below the screen. These are send and end as well as a circular menu button.

GW520-keys

LG GW520 Buttons

This menu key provides two choices when pressed. The first is a list of favorite applications which can be edited to give you quick access to the most common features. Secondly it provides you with a task manager. This enables you to see which apps are running and then the option to end them all. A nice feature which is easy to access.

The main attraction to this device has to be the keyboard and its pretty good. The sliding mechanism when you open it is smooth and feels comfortable. It even makes a noise when you open and close. I’m sure this can be edited as its driving me up the wall!

GW520-keyboard

LG GW520 Keys Close Up

As you will see above the keys are slightly raised and although not the biggest keys we have seen on a slide out keyboard they are not bad.

GW520-open-front

LG GW520 Full Keyboard

Pressing the keys gives a nice click and also another annoying beep noise! When typing this ensures you know you have defiantly pressed the key hard enough. Compared with some other similar devices you do have to use quite a firm press but its just a case of getting used to it.

On the right side of the keyboard are the direction arrows. I personally prefer these to having a D-Pad on the keyboard like on the Nokia N97 and Motorola Dext. Overall the keyboard is better than I expected. Its not the best but it works and that’s what maters.

 DSCF0077

LG GW520 with Motorola Dext and HTC Touch Pro2

Onto the user interface. Its very similar to other LG devices. This device has two home screens. The first, and main one, allows you to add widgets which really makes it your own. The second screen which, is accessed by swiping the screen left or right, is called Livesquare, which has been seen before on LG phones. The Cookie I think. Its really bad and so much of a waste of time im not talking about it!

At the bottom of the home screen are four on screen keys/tabs. Like on other devices these consist of: phone (which brings up the dialer), contacts, messages and main menu.

The menu consists of a further four tabs. This shows the phones features in categories – Communication, Entertainment, Utilities and Setting. All fairly straight forward.

The screen on the LG GW520 is very touch sensitive and supports haptic feedback. Obviously it auto rotates into landscape mode when the keyboard is opened.  One thing that did really frustrate me is the screen lock. Its all well and good locking the screen and I am all for it but what I really hate is having to hold the unlock button (either hardware or on screen) down for three seconds just to activate the screen. It I want to unlock the screen I want it to be instant.

So, what else is the GW520 good for?

Although the camera is only 3MP it produced some nice photos. Not the best quality but good enough for uploading to the web. The video camera was also ok. Slightly grainy but as good as can be expected from the hardware.

Listening to music was reasonable. The external speaker is fairly loud but as usual using the headphones is where the quality can be found. On the GW520 the quality was not amazing but okay. There were no options to change the the music settings but it was easy to use. You will most defiantly need a MicroSD card if storing music on the device due to its internal memory storage being low. You can also use Bluetooth headphones with the GW520 as it supports A2DP.

Web browsing was also okay. Its never going to compete with Internet Explorer or Opera Mobile but for simple viewing of pages its not too bad. I think the kids are going to be spending most of the time on Facebook hammering out messages on the QWERTY keyboard. Shame about the lack of Wi-Fi but at least its 3G.

Setting up email accounts on the LG GW520 was simple. I set up a hotmail account in seconds and it downloaded all my emails instantly. Its not the best email interface but it works and I don’t suppose business users are going to be buying this device anyway.

 

Conclusion:

Overall the LG GW520 is a nice feature phone. I’m not sure how many people would get this on a contract but as a PAYG phone its a real bargain if you ask me. The keyboard is not as good as on the high end smartphones but its still good.

If you are looking for a new pay as you go device and are big on messaging it may be worth adding this to your Christmas list. I will email Father Christmas the review so he knows how nice the phone is!

 

Posted by: James

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,
By August 22, 2008 Read More →

HTC Touch Pro Review

The long awaited HTC flagship is here; I have pestered, hounded and harassed Matt for a play on this device since we all heard about it last year. Now I have it, can it live up to the hype? Is it the ultimate device?

HTC Touch Pro Review

The HTC Touch Pro (click to enlarge)

Introduction

 

Following on from the release of the HTC Diamond, the HTC Touch Pro (Raphael) is as much high end as you are going to find at the moment. The price tag does match its status and to prove itself as value for money it has to be near perfect……

 

What’s in the Box?

  • The HTC Touch Pro handset
  • 1350mAh battery
  • USB Sync/charge cable
  • Mains charger (USB style)
  • Application CD and user guide CD
  • Spare stylus
  • Leather slip case
  • Wired headset
  • Printed user guide and warranty information

Have a look at Matt’s HTC Touch Pro unboxing video for a more detailed analysis.

 

HTC Touch Pro specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Qualcomm MSM 7201A @ 528MHz
  • 512MB ROM / 256MB RAM
  • 7.2MB HSDPA / HSUPA
  • 2.8″ VGA screen
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • eGPS
  • 3.1MP Camera with flash
  • Forward facing VGA camera
  • G-sensor (same as the Diamond)
  • FM Radio
  • TV-Out feature
  • microSD card slot (thank goodness!)
  • 1350mAh battery
  • 51x99x17mm
  • 165 grams

 

General

The Touch Pro has obviously been designed to keep it as uncluttered as possible, it has minimal buttons and relies on the keyboard and touchscreen to access the usual functions. For example there is no dedicated camera button and no soft keys. The Unit does feel on the heavy side but not in an unpleasant way, as it is so small, it fools you in to thinking that is not heavy at all, it is most definitely pocket friendly.

The top of the Touch Pro has the more sensitive and easier to press Power up button.

HTC touch pro top view

HTC Touch Pro top view (click to enlarge)

 

The Right hand side has only the non – telescopic stylus, being magnetised it is drawn into its housing as you insert it.

HTC touch pro right side

HTC Touch Pro right side (click to enlarge)

 

The bottom of the device is the mini USB connector, the mic and a small reset button.

HTC Touch pro bottom view

HTC Touch Pro bottom view (click to enlarge)

 

The left of the unit has the volume up and down button.

touch_pro_left

HTC Touch Pro left side

 

The back of the phone has the 3.2 megapixel camera, flash light, tiny speaker grill and also a semi hidden strap holder.

HTC Touch Pro back view

HTC Touch pro back view

 

The flat 2.8” VGA is found the front of the device, along with a tiny forward facing camera for self portrait photos and video calls found next to the earpiece.

HTC Touch Pro front view

HTC Touch Pro front view

 

There is only 4 buttons at the bottom, these being the obligatory talk and end keys, which also have a long press function as well, covered shortly. There is a ‘Home’ key and a ‘back’ key featured as well. In the middle of these is the Navigation control, which is both press sensitive and touch sensitive. This acts as a 5 way directional pad and enter button, but also as a touch sensitive dial pad, for zooming in and out, on top of that it can be used to control some camera functions as well.

Hidden behind this is the slide out hardware keyboard.

HTC Touch pro open

HTC Touch Pro open view

 

The device itself appears well made, it is solid and comfortable to use. The screen is, of course, a fingerprint hoarder and wiping it clean wasn’t that easy, personally I think a screen protector is much needed in this respect, but not on the review model. It is definitely quick and responsive, both in Windows and other applications.

One point here is that for some reason, probably form HTC have decided to hide the microSD slot underneath the back casing, so you do have to remove the back to swap or remove the card, but no biggy really.

HTC Touch Pro microSD

HTC Touch Pro microSD slot

 

Highlights

  • Keyboard
  • User Interface
  • Screen
  • Design

Lowlights

 

  • External speaker
  • In-call audio volume


Review

First off it has to be said this IS a very nice device, the screen is a pleasure at 480×640 the VGA is sharp and clear and a vast improvement to the usual 240×320. It is touch sensitive and is very responsive, I found that I had to resort to the stylus very little which is a great plus for me. Remember to tap and then drag, it works much better than drag alone.

The HTC user interface is also easy to use and covers all the practical applications that are used regularly. With quick access to menus such as People, Messages, Email, Internet etc. tap the bottom scroll bar and drag your finger sideways to access all the other application such as Photos, Music, Weather, Settings and finally a customisable Programs. For me it would be nice to be able to customise the scroll bar itself for a more personal touch.

clip_image002clip_image004clip_image006

The animated weather screen adds a nice touch, and there is also a dedicated You Tube icon as well.

The Touch Pro is Windows 6.1 professional as standard, and as such is fairly standard, programs wise there is not a great deal out of the ordinary, there is Google maps preloaded, but I could not resist downloading a Tomtom trial which worked brilliantly as was really responsive, and the screen was easier to see being clear, even in bright sunlight. Google maps of course worked equally well. By the way I am not an expert but I think it is the new pin dropping animation version, an arrow drops down anyway, maybe the clever of you can confirm this?

There is a Jetcet Print program allowing you to send and print documents, images, files etc. direct to a wireless network or Bluetooth enabled printer.

An MP3 trimmer application, which allows you to shorten songs and then save your work, as a new file or assign as a ringtone.

Opera 9.5 also installed as standard is a joy on the screen as well with added ability to automatically rotate screen from landscape to portrait, a quick double tap on the screen zooms in to the selected area in a clear and precise way.

HTC Touch Pro Review bottom_shot_open

World card mobile is also include which allows a picture to be taken of a business card and then save the information contained on the card as a contact.

Settings included as extras are G-sensor which once calibrated detects when the device is tilted and turned automatically, doing away with the need to rotate the screen manually. One small down point here is that while driving I prefer to have the screen in landscape to be able to use Tomtom and also my car holder fits better that way! Unfortunately the function to rotate the screen manually has been removed so, the only way to achieve this is to have the keyboard open, as soon as you close the keyboard it flicks back to portrait. Annoying.

Also you can assign the end key on a long key press to achieve different functions such as a quick menu, device lock, vibrate or Airplane mode at the press of a button.

I do miss a dedicated camera button, I can understand that this is done for form but maybe function would be a little better. The camera itself I found unremarkable, at 3.2 megapixel it is OK, I found the autofocus to be a bit sensitive, the idea is to touch it not press it until the autofocus has done its thing and turned green, pressing the enter button (middle d-pad button) then takes the picture. This took a bit of practice to get used to. Unlike the Diamond, the Touch Pro has a LED mobile light to illuminate subjects in the dark.

touch_pro_angled_left_closed

Another nice feature of the Touch pro that I haven’t seen before is, when a call comes in you can place the phone face down on a surface to mute the ring. Handy if you have forgotten to turn it off in a meeting etc.

The external speaker on the device I found not to be the best, whether it’s the fact that there is only a tiny slot or whether the quality is not as good as it could be, it does sound a little muffled and not all that loud, this could be off the back of reviewing the Zinc II which as really loud. Maybe this is something for HTC to look at in the future. But overall the earpiece sound quality was fine and worked well, I agree with Matt that the signal strength seems better than usual, I generally get a good signal wherever I am locally, but two known poor areas for me worked with 2 bars.

Battery life for me I found to be 2 days max, heavy use means charging daily, especially with Sat nav use.

Now the issues I have seen and heard about the TouchFLO 3D, for me it works fine, it is snappy and responsive, I have not tried the tweaks that claim to make it faster, as I did not find the need to. Scrolling and swiping the screen produced the appropriate responses to a more than satisfactory standard. I suppose it would be good to hear from anyone who has dabbled with the tweaks?

The Phone function on the HTC Touch Pro, is also an improvement on previous models, it is simple to use and very clear and professional looking. There is an issue with the fact that the screen dims during a call, supposedly to conserve power, also annoying I know Matt mentioned that a registry hack can stop this; a bit of a simpler answer would be to have it in settings, as an option?

The keyboard, as you may already know is not my strong point, I have used it and found it one of the best that I have used, the keys even though small as well defined and well laid out, the extra rows for dedicated numbers etc are much better and user friendly. This device has the same problem of the backlight as well as the previous units I have tested, why can’t they have an option to extend the light time? I did find that even a novice like me soon got some speed up and even hitting the wrong keys on purpose didn’t phase the applications either, as it is intuitive enough to correct even subtle errors. Overall I am very impressed with the design and the functionality. If I were being really picky I would have liked it to be a tad slimmer?

HTC Touch Pro keyboard

HTC Touch Pro keyboard

 

Conclusion

 

Can HTC Touch Pro live up to the hype? I think it can, it is by far the best phone I have tested; I think it is a great size, not too big or too small. It has all the functionality and speed that I need day to day.

The price tag? Well, anything worth buying is invariably not cheap, and this is no exception, it is relatively expensive in the PDA world, but it is probably the best on the market at this time.

Is it the Ultimate device? It is very close, I am sure they could get it a little thinner in time, the camera and rear speaker could do with an upgrade, in my opinion, that apart it is very impressive.

You can probably tell I like it and I don’t think there will be many people who won’t. Would I buy one? Here’s the rub, I am still not convinced that I need the keyboard that bad, can I justify paying another £200 odd for this addition over the HTC Diamond? Or would the smaller form of the Diamond prove to be more functional for me? Decisions, decisions…..perhaps I should wait and see what the Samsung and the Sony turn out like? Will it ever end?

Conclusion again – I have agreed with Matt to have a play with his Diamond, before he sells it to buy one of these Pro’s, to see which is better for me. So watch out for a Diamond and Tytn II going for sale shortly! The search continues.

 

Review by: Steve

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,
By July 15, 2008 Read More →

Samsung F480 Tocco Review

The F480 Tocco is another high-end touchscreen phone from Samsung following in the footsteps of the Armani and the F490 Nerva. It looks like every mobile phone manufacturer wants to have touchscreen devices in its arsenal and I wonder how much this has to do with the success of the iPhone and the HTC Touch.

Samsung F480 Tocco Review

Samsung F480

Samsung F480 (Tocco) Specification:

  • Size: 98.4 x 55 x 11.6 mm
  • Weight: 100 grams
  • Camera:  5 MP, 2592?1944 pixels, autofocus, video(QVGA), flash
  • Battery life: 250 hours standby & 3 hours talk time
  • Display size: 240 x 320 pixels, 2.8 inches touchscreen
  • OS: Custom flash UI on S60 OS
  • Bluetooth: 2.0 with A2DP
  • Memory: 240MB shared memory & MicroSDHC
  • Networks: GSM 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps
  • FM radio with RDS
  • MP3/AAC/AAC+ player
  • AC Charger: Output 9VDC, 2.5A

 

What’s in the box?

  • The Samsung F480 handset
  • Battery
  • Mains Charger
  • Case
  • Handsfree wired headset
  • USB Data Cable
  • CD-ROM
  • User’s Guide

 

GENERAL

The Samsung F480 Tocco is a lightweight, slim and attractive looking device. On the front we have a 2.8″ TFT display which sits flush within a metal surround. There’s a front-facing VGA camera for video conferencing and a few basic controls under the screen.

Looking to the left hand side of the unit we can see an up-down rocker button for in-call volume control as well as scroll control when browsing web pages for example. Below that a hinged plastic cover hides the MicroSDHC memory card slot.

Samsung F480 left side

Samsung F480 left side

 

On the other side of the unit there’s a similar plastic cover sitting over the proprietary connector used for charging, connecting a set of headphones (supplied) and for connecting to a PC via USB. Also on the right is a camera button used to launch the camera app. and for actually taking a photo. Directly beneath that are a couple of holes used to attach phone charms or lanyards.

Samsung F480 right side

Samsung F480 right side

 

Flipping the F480 over reveals an attractive brushed metal back and the 5 mega pixel camera complete with flash. Looking at the back of the F480 you could easily be forgiven for thinking that it was digital camera rather than a mobile phone.

Samsung F480 back & camera

Samsung F480 back & camera

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 5.0MP camera
  • FM Radio with RDS
  • Classy looks
  • Thin & light

LOWLIGHTS

  • Screen attracts dirt and fingerprints
  • No on-screen keyboard
  • No WiFi
  • Tri-band only

 

 

REVIEW

I first saw the Samsung F480 Tocco a few weeks ago when I called in at a local phone store. Initially I thought is must be a new Windows Mobile device that I hadn’t seen before (unlikely :P ) as I thought it rather unusual for a ‘non-smartphone’ to be almost completely touchscreen. Returning back to the office I decided to drop Samsung a line to see if I could review one.

First impressions of the F480 is that it’s a classy looking phone. The front is clean and understated with just a few push button controls housed in a shiny case. Turning the phone over the metal casing is obvious which makes the phone both look and feel robust.

The supplied leather case should help to maintain its good looks. However, you’ll soon discover that the F480 is a total fingerprint magnet that will have you rubbing the screen on your shirt each time you finish a call having held the glossy screen to your ear! The other drawback of having such a shiny screen is the performance in bright lighting conditions, especially direct sunlight. It’s virtually impossible to use the F480 under these conditions and it has you looking for shade each time you attempt to make a call.

The touchscreen works very well and is quite sensitive to even a soft touch, not quite as good as the iPhone but certainly better than many other touchscreen devices that I’ve used in the past.

The user interface is also a pleasure to use and the main menu is set out as a series of 12 icons. Each of the sub-menus appear in list form and the last used item in each of the lists is highlighted as the default when you open up the menu. This sounds like a reasonable thing to do but actually becomes a bit of a pain, I’d like to be able to turn this feature off but sadly that doesn’t seem to be possible.

It’s been a long time since I used a phone with a numeric pad and as a consequence I find texting and emailing with a numeric pad a bit of a chore. The F480 doesn’t have an on-screen QWERTY keyboard which would be ideal for texting and emailing. I guess T9 is something that you will either love or hate but it would be nice to have the option of both included.

The Samsung F80 Tocco

The Samsung F480 Tocco

 

The 5 mega pixel camera on the F480 Tocco is quite pleasing. It includes autofocus, digital zoom, LED flash and also a funky new feature called “Smile Shot”. This is similar to the face and smile detection being incorporated in to many mainstream digital cameras and is supposed to be able to tell when your subject smiles and snap a photo at precisely the right moment! This isn’t something that I was able to get working quite right but I suspect that it may depend on the subject and the environment as to how effective this is. That said, the F480 is able to take fairly decent pictures but as I have stated before, camera phones are no substitute for proper purpose-built digital cameras and this one is no different. It is among the best I’ve seen though.

As a music player the F480 performs quite well. There isn’t a vast amount of free memory available on the device as standard, 240MB wont go very far but it will allow you to get a few MP3 files on to start you off. Fortunately you can add up to 8GB of additional storage memory thanks to the microSDHC compatible memory card support. When you do finally run out of music there’s always a built in FM radio, with RDS support, to give you something to listen to.

The media player application is decent and easy to get to grips with.

The application offering the greatest surprise is the built in web browser. To be honest I was expecting this to be basic at best but I have to say that it puts many other mobile web browsers, even the mainstream Pocket IE in smartphone, to shame. The best of the viewing modes for web pages is the smart-fit mode where pages are rendered neatly on the screen and can be read without having to scroll left and right.

There is another disappointment here though as it is NOT possible to rotate the screen and display webpages landscape on the device. Again I would have thought this logical and easy for Samsung to achieve but this feature is sadly missing.

The F480 is quite well connected and, where you have coverage, the HSDPA connection is extremely fast. Bit of a shame that the radio is only tri-band but this wouldn’t bother me too much. Music is transferred to the device via a USB cable connected to a PC. Transfer rates are high thanks to the USB 2.0 support.

The lack of WiFi is also a bit of a shame and something that I particularly missed especially coming from a Windows Mobile background where WiFi is normally standard. With the excellent web browser I think that the F480 would really benefit from WiFi support.

 

f480_angled_right

 

CONCLUSION

The Samsung F480 Tocco really surprised me. I thought that the beauty of the device would only be skin-deep but there are plenty of other bits on the inside to get the gadget freaks excited.

Cameraphone fans will love the 5 MP camera and those just wanting a cool looking phone that fit easily in their pocket will find this phone easily fits the bill and then offers so much more besides.

If only the F480 had Exchange email support then it’s be a phone that more business types could enjoy.

The F480 is a great all rounder offering Music, Video, Email, Web browser and Camera in one neat package.

 

Posted by: Matt

[Post tag(s): , , , , ]

By June 30, 2008 Read More →

Review HTC Touch Diamond

HTC Touch Diamond We have all read a lot of hype surrounding the HTC Touch Diamond and recently a lot of negative comments on how it actually performs, well we have had some hands on experience over the last week and its definitely a phone that will split opinions right down the middle. Read on for our full review and find out our opinion on this VGA Windows Mobile Professional device.

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): , , , , ]

By December 23, 2007 Read More →

HTC S730 review

So the QWERTY candybar returns.

INTRODUCTION

This is another BIG device for HTC. Perhaps not to the same scale as the TyTN II or the Touch series – but it’s got to be number 3 in line. It sounds too good to be true really – a candybar phone, a large QWERTY keyboard and the still new Windows Mobile 6, with decent connectivity via 3G.

HTC S730

HTC S730

What’s in the Box?

HTC have really got their act together when it comes to presentation and style. I’ve got a lot of respect for HTC. Having had the very first SPV phone, it’s amazing to see how quickly they’ve almost become a household name alongside Samsung, Nokia and the rest. If I mention HTC – people actually know what I’m talking about now!

HTC’s massive expansion of their brand has been helped by good quality stylish handsets, which they now try to push into the packaging as well. It’s a very appleish box, some might say it’s even better than apple – but if you’ve seen Matt’s unboxing video – you’ll know its a very good effort from HTC.

Inside you’ll find:

  • HTC S730
  • 1050mAh battery
  • Mains Charger
  • CD-Rom with ActiveSync etc.
  • USB Sync/Charge Cable
  • Handsfree headset/headphones
  • Manual
  • Warranty Card
HTC S730 box

HTC S730 box

HTC S730 specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6 Standard (Smartphone)
  • 400Mhz ARM1136EJ-S CPU
  • ROM: 256MB ; RAM: 64MB SDRAM
  • 2.4″ TFT LCD 240 x 320
  • Quad-Band HSDPA/UMTS
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g
  • 2.0 Megapixel main camera
  • Bluetooth version 2.0
  • 1050mAh Lithium Ion battery
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 22-key fixed phone keypad
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • 50mm x 100mm x 19mm
  • 120 grams

GENERAL

At 51×105.8×19.4mm it’s not the smallest of phones on offer, and although perfectly acceptable in other areas, its “fatness” is a bit cumbersome when sat in a pocket. Of course that’s the price you have to pay for the slide out keyboard – although I’m not sure why the S730 is actually even fatter than the S710?!

On the front, the large display sits recessed slightly from the plastic shell, with a VGA forward facing camera above it to the right, and the speaker + indication lights combo common to most HTC devices.

Directly below the screen, we find the main phone keypad taking up nearly every centimetre of the remaining space. Although snug, the keypad is easy to use. The keys are close together, but large in size and texting seems to be fairly easy. The Send and End keys are in a slightly unusual place – being to the left and right of the main number pad area, but again, it doesn’t have any adverse effect on usability. The two softkeys are located immediately above the Home and Back keys, in a layout that really pays tribute to the very early HTC smartphones. Between these 4 keys is the 5 way direction pad. No rocker or jog wheel here – just a flat system which is simple to operate.

HTC S730 keypad

HTC S730 keypad

Sliding the front of the phone to the left produces the full QWERTY keyboard – and the phone switches to landscape mode. The keyboard is very similar to HTC’s other QWERTY devices, although the keys are raised slightly and feel more rubbery in texture. The very useful Caps and Fn mode lamps are above the keyboard, as well as two more soft keys (for use in landscape mode).

HTC S730 keyboard

HTC S730 keyboard

The bottom of the phone is standard HTC kit really – enhanced mini standard USB socket, and a lanyard loop for phone charms (Shudder) or to connect to a key ring or similar.

HTC S730 bottom

HTC S730 bottom

On the right hand side is the camera button – used to both activate the camera application, and take shots. There is also a microSD slot with rubber seal. The card slot mechanism is fairly well recessed away from the edge of the phone so it is quite difficult at times to remove and insert the tiny microSD cards.

HTC S730 right side

HTC S730 right side

The left hand side contains the volume control buttons, and a dedicated button for the comm. manager – almost a requirement of WiFi phones.

HTC S730 left side

HTC S730 left side

To the top of the phone, where there is a well defined power button – quick press for the quick menu, hold to turn off/on.

HTC S730 top

HTC S730 top

Finally on the back of the phone we find the 2mp camera, with mirror area and a speaker grille. There is no flash with this handset.

HTC S730 back

HTC S730 back

Just a final note about the side of the phone – because of the separation required, there is a little gap between the “front” and “back” of the phone. It’s a necessity but for the image conscious, it’s worth noting.

HTC S730 with keyboard open

HTC S730 with keyboard open

SOFTWARE

Let’s take a quick look through the start menu then – but don’t expect many surprises from the vanilla WM6 – this is HTC after all. Internet Explorer is there, so is Windows Media Player, and the usual array of productivity built in apps such as Tasks, Calendar and Contacts.

Phone tools, including Call History and Messaging are on the first page as well, which is completed with the Settings app and Office Mobile – yep Office is there too!

On the second page of the start menu – more common Microsoft stuff with Games and Accessories subfolders, Voice Notes and the built in Pictures and Videos tool. Connectivity in the form of ActiveSync and Internet sharing appears too, and the page is completed with Windows Live and Messenger, and Adobe Reader LE.

Things get interesting on the 3rd page though – HTC have gone to town, especially in the music area. An ‘Audio Booster” app provides fairly basic Graphic Equaliser style functionality for the earphones. The HTC Audio Manager seen elsewhere is there too, and “MP3 Trimmer” which cuts out silence from the beginning and end of files – useful to get the most from your storage space.

Bluetooth Explorer is also available on the device – something missing from the early HTC phones and a very welcome addition. Internet add-ons, eJava and Flash Lite are also shown here, along with more predicable links to the Camera, Comm. Manager and File Explorer.

The 4th and final page is pretty tedious stuff – links to quick notes, speed dial setup, streaming media and Task Manager. The link to the Video Recorder is also here, along with something called “HTC Debug Tools” – I suspect this will go missing before it hits stores!

Highlights:

  • QWERTY Keyboard on a candybar: Lets face it – no one else bothers with this form factor so good on HTC for making not only a success of the S710 – but on providing a worthy upgrade as well.
  • HTC Xt9: This, along with the Touch Dual (review soon!) are the first devices I’ve used with the new style T9 input on HTC phones. Weirdly there are a few differences between the devices – and the S730 comes out on top in every aspect. The T9 input is so good – for speed, its sometimes faster then the qwerty keyboard
  • WiFi: WiFi in a phone: very good thing.

Lowlights:

  • Poor slider mechanism. Bit disappointing this one really – the phone feels robust, but the slide mechanism is rather loose – both when opening and closing, and when actually closed. It’s a shame because it renders the “unlock on open” function useless really – since I’ve found the phone sometimes opens itself in the pocket. This is a demo unit though so could have been subjected to some abuse by previous reviewers.
  • Battery life: Not great in my experience here. WiFi turned off, Bluetooth off, just a few data calls, GSM calls and a lot of texts, and it was well down by the end of the day.
  • General speed of the device: Maybe I was expecting too much, but the phone certainly isn’t the quickest in the world. Even its USP – the sliding keyboard suffers, and the screen doesn’t switch to landscape as quickly as I’d have liked.

REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to clear something up (or try): To the best of my knowledge, the retail HTC S730 will NOT have GPS. However, as this is a test ROM (remember the HTC Debug Folder)… there is a little app called HTCGPSTest, which most definitely finds something on COM4. The signal is terrible (I didn’t manage to get a fix), but it does search for satellites.

Having looked into this, it seems that the final retail units will 100% NOT have GPS Enabled. Whether this means the chip will be removed – I’m not sure. Whether the clever chaps over at XDA-Developers will be able to make it work – I’m not sure. And finally – will it be any use even if they do manage to enable it? – guess what – I’m not sure. Nice and clear then!

So to the device then…

It’s pretty good. The QWERTY keys are hard to get used to at first – and also seem quite stiff at first, especially compared to my older TyTN, but if this helps them to remain working beyond six months it’ll be a welcome improvement!

The S710 is a tough act to follow I guess, having both WiFi and a QWERTY keyboard already. Luckily HTC have replaced and upgraded the CPU, added extra memory and provided a shiny new OS. Oh and 3G/HSDPA as well! A decent upgrade specification wise then but in terms of design, not much has changed. It’s a little more chunky than the S710, which I put down to the added hardware.

The S730 is not overly large – certainly not when you take into account the feature set – but phones should be getting smaller right? The QWERTY keyboard has had some minor adjustments and improvements, and despite what you might, think having seen the photos above, the full stop button location isn’t as annoying as it appears.

HTC S730 vs HTC Touch Dual

HTC S730 vs HTC Touch Dual

In general, you have to give credit to HTC for the constant software improvements and tweaks. Things like the HTC Home screen and new Xt9 input style might seem minor – but they are the only company who seem to be willing to improve the WM6 OS.

As I mentioned above, the slider feel pretty flaky in general and a bit too loose for my liking. It clicks into place well when opening, but at other times is very ‘floppy’. A shame – and I’m not sure how this compares to the S710?

There’s not much else to complain about though – bar a few random phone issues which I’ll put down to the test ROM. The size is forgotten when you realise the power you have in what is, in the smartphone world, a small form factor. Just to continue the size theme a little more – compared to the N95, its not too dissimilar.

Oddly, in my opinion, HTC have seemingly tried to turn the S730 into a music phone. I get this from the multitude of audio enhancements and applications in the ROM, but I’d say this phone would be better suited to business users. Send texts with the keypad, reply to emails with the keyboard. I’m just not sure the youth will ditch the iPod for this phone. We shall see.

CONCLUSION

It’s a good phone. There were too many niggly pre-production buglets about to do a full scale review, but it’s a great improvement over an already impressive S710.
The styling is very reminiscent of the early SPV units sold on Orange around Europe. In my view, that’s not too bad a thing – ‘old skool’ sells after all.

The keyboard size is fantastic, and for it to be in such a small chassis is great news for any market they try to sell the unit in to.

Apologies for the slightly shorter review – it’s Christmas and I need to get drunk but the HTC S730 is definitely recommended!

Don’t forget, you can win an HTC S730 in our Christmas Comptition!

Review by: Mark

[Post tag(s): , , , , ]

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,
By September 18, 2006 Read More →

HTC TyTN Review

EDIT: If you are looking for the HTC TyTN II/ Kaiser review you can find it HERE.

I know there have been a few HTC TyTN reviews over the past few weeks and many of you will have already seen my Orange SPV M3100 reviews. Obviously there are a great number of similarities between the HTC TyTN and the M3100 so I’ll focus upon a comparison.

Just before I get going I should point out that I’ve used quite a lot of images throughout the review so load times could be relatively high. Click on any of the images for a larger version. The larger version uses low compression to keep the quality high so again load times may be higher than normal.

HTC TyTN Review

Box contents for the TyTN are much the same as with the M3100. You don’t get any different toys with one that you don’t get with the other.

There is an immediate difference between the TyTN and the M3100, the colour. To begin with I wasn’t so keen on the silver finish of the TyTN preferring the black chassis of the Orange version. However, over the weeks I’ve become used to the silver TyTN and now like that better also the silver doesn’t show the finger marks as much.

HTC TyTN vs M3100

The other main difference is with the joypad and surrounding keys. The M3100, which is the HERM100 version of the HTC Hermes, has much rounder buttons that are raised and fairly close together. On the other hand the TyTN, which is the HERM200 version of the HTC Hermes has much squarer buttons that are flush with the front of the case. The buttons on the TyTN are spaced out much more which some people will find much more user friendly.

HTC TyTN Joypad

The case design of the TyTN is more angular than the rounded edges of the M3100 but they both feel the same in your hand.

HTC TyTN beside  Orange M3100

Button locations and keyboard layout are exactly the same on both devices as is the USB connector that we have all come to loathe!

There has been a large number of people reporting issues with ‘lazy’ keys on the keyboard. My own M3100 has problems with the ‘Y’ key, it requires a bit more pressure to make it work than any of the other keys which results in the ‘Y’ often being missed out from some words! I have been told that these ‘lazy’ keys do get better the more you use them. Fortunately the TyTN I have was not affected by the problem.

HTC TyTN Keyboard Open

As I mentioned in the review of the Orange SPV M3100 my previous device was an HTC Wizard variant. I really liked the Wizard but as time went on the common screen alignment issue became worse and worse. The first TyTN’s released were said to have this problem, in fact HTC have a returns policy in place for those affected. I can’t comment on the alignment issue first hand as the TyTN I have doesn’t seem to suffer.

I’m also pleased that the HTC Hermes devices continue to have the Email and Internet Explorer buttons above the screen. This is something that I find to be very useful.

HTC TyTN top buttons

On to using the TyTN. The first thing about starting up the TyTN is that is doesn’t have any annoying operator customisation like the Orange M3100 does. The first thing most people do when they get their M3100 is take off all the Orange customisation. No need to do anything like that with the TyTN.

The TyTN has the usual HTC green colour scheme that we have come to expect from HTC devices. It makes a nice change from the standard Windows blue colour.

HTC TyTN Screenshot

The other thing that the TyTN beats the M3100 on is that it comes with MSN Messenger installed. Many people were quite upset to find Orange had chosen to remove it from their build of the M3100.

In terms of the rest of the software installed on the TyTN by default there really isn’t anything much different to any other WM5 device.

There has also been a lot of talk about the stability of the M3100. Indeed my own M3100 seems to suffer from the same issue that many other owners have – it crashes and requires a soft reset once or twice per day. I haven’t been able to decide what it is causing the problem, sometimes it crashes in-call and others for no apparent reason.

I am pleased to report that the HTC TyTN does not seem to suffer the same fate. I have been using it heavily as my main device for several weeks. Despite having exactly the same software installed on the TyTN as I have on the M3100 the TyTN hasn’t crashed once!

One niggle that I have with the TyTN is the scroll wheel. In every day use I found it to be really jumpy and unpredictable. It would scroll through menus line by line then suddenly jump several places in one go. Unusable really.

I don’t know if this is a common issue with the Hermes scroll wheel, I’ve not seen any other reports, my Orange M3100 isn’t perfect but is better than the TyTN in this respect. Anyone else having this problem?

HTC TyTN Scroll wheel

The 2.0 mega pixel camera on the TyTN is naturally the same at the M3100. I must say that I have been quite impressed with the pictures from the camera, definitely the best that I have seen from a phone camera.

HTC TyTN Camera

No review would be complete without mentioning that USB connector on the bottom. Now I can understand the reason why HTC chose to add a proprietary connector, making one socket perform more than one function does save space. However, I do find it really annoying. I’m never going to use the headset that comes with the device, it’s just not good enough for music and if I want hand’s free I’ll use bluetooth. Time to hack another headset I think!

HTC TyTN Bottom

I must say that I have been very impressed with the HTC TyTN. Overall I like it much more than the Orange M3100. Sure the M3100 is the better looking of the two but the stability problems that I have been experiencing with the M3100 have finally got the better of me. I’ll be very sorry to give the HTC TyTN up, so much so that I certainly will be looking to purchase one!

HTC TyTN review end

Matt

[Technorati tag(s): , , , , , , , , ]

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,
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): , , , , , , , , ]

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: , ,
  • jordan retro 11
  • Jordan Retro 13
  • Jordan Retro 4
  • retro 11 jordans