PC than Mobile Phone!
By Daniel Cheung
Over the past several years, the term 'smartphone'
has circulated and has taken on different meanings. What exactly does it
take for a mobile phone to be smart?
In the early days of mobile phones, if the phone
did anything more than make a receive calls, it was considered a 'smartphone'.
However, this definition is no longer meaningful when considering the class of
products that are being introduced into the market by some leading cell phone
manufacturers this year. Perhaps a more accurate description would be 'computerphones'.
The potential for true voice-data convergence is being realized in 2001 - and
this means more than merely connecting a voice module on the back of a Palm or
Visor. In this issue, we shall take a look at some new product offerings
from the leading manufacturers of smartphones.
Ericsson's R380 is a dual band phone that has PDA
functionality. It weighs 163g and has a talk time of 4 hours and 30
minutes. Looking at the decice, it seems like any other large screened
mobile phone. However, once the keyboard is flipped open, you will be
faced with a large, user-friendly touch-sensitive screen. It is in
grayscale and the dimensions are 360x120 pixels. Based on Symbian's EPOC
operating system, it makes you wonder why you need a Palm at all.
In terms of functionality, on the screen you
notice a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that is based on tabs. It allows
you to use all the primary functions of the device with ease. Navigation
is done through a stylus or a specially designed pen. The first tab is
'Phone', which allows the user to make and receive calls whether if the keypad
is opened or closed. There is also voice-activation function that allows
you to select contacts in the address book and a call log that lists a history
of your previous calls. The following tabs, in order of appearance, are
'Contacts', and 'Messaging' (for email functions like Inbox and SMS), 'Calendar'
(with to-do functionality).
The R380 is
an excellent example of a properly integrated PDA with mobile phone / WAP
The next tab is ''WAP Services'. It is
R380's in built WAP browser. The browser has bookmarks and history
capabilities. It is also totally integrated with other applications on the
phone like SMS and email. The last tab is an 'Extras' tab which has icons
such as Notepad, Clock, Calculator, Games, and System. For text input, there is
an on-screen keyboard as well as handwriting recognition with the stylus. Other
niceties include an infra-red point and serial port for connection to your PC.
The R380 is an excellent example of a properly
integrated PDA with mobile phone / WAP capabilities. One drawback, though,
is that it does not have the ability to install third party programs, even
though the device uses the Symbian EPOC OS.
Much time has passed since our original megapixel camera phone comparison article of late 2004, and manufacturers have had the opportunity to improve the...