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Smartphone Reviews

Orange SPV E200 GSM Phone running Microsoft Smartphone 2003 OS

Posted May 10, 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief
Discontinued and replaced by the Orange C500 and Audiovox SMT5600

In the US, we have two MS Smartphones to choose from, the Samsung i600 and Motorola MPx200 both of which are clamshell devices running the older MS Smartphone 2002 operating system (OS upgrades for these models are expected sometime this year). The Orange SPV E200 has a candy bar design, runs Smartphone 2003 and adds two popular features: Bluetooth and a VGA camera. The E200 was designed by HTC, the same folks who designed several iPAQs, the T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition (XDA) and XDA II. It's also sold as the Xphone and iMate Smartphone2. Though not offered by US carriers, you can purchase this world phone from importers such as Expansys and Dynamism. The E200 is a triband GSM phone that runs on 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz bands and will work anywhere in the world where GSM service is available.

Orange SPV E200 MS Smartphone
Orange SPV E200 cell phone

 

For phone-centric users who need a phone first and a PDA second, Microsoft Smartphones make a great deal of sense. The SPV E200 is about the same size as basic candy bar mobile phones, and is smaller than other manufacturer's smartphones. It features one-handed operation, has standard phone creature comforts yet can sync easily with your desktop and offers slimmed-down versions of standard Pocket PC built-in applications. MS Smartphones do not have touch screens, nor can they run Pocket PC software. Instead you'll use buttons on the keypad to navigate the phone's apps and controls, and you'll need to get MS Smartphone versions of 3rd party apps if you wish to add software to the phone. Both Pocket PCs and MS Smartphones are part of the Windows Mobile OS family, and you will likely feel at home with an MS Smartphone if you're comfy with Pocket PCs.

Design and Ergonomics

The SPV E200 looks and feels solid and well made. Weighing in at 4.58 ounces, this phone will easily fit in your pocket and not feel overly heavy. If you're familiar with the SPV E100, this model is just a tad larger. The front face has a slick-looking silver metallic finish and the buttons are chrome colored. The sides and back of the E200 are matte black and the entire unit casing is made of plastic. The large, exceptionally vivid display dominates the front face, and a joystick navigator and two action buttons are located directly below it. The back of the phone is flat and the sides have a gentle contour. The phone has a very clean design with only the stereo headset jack on the right side, a large IR window on the top edge and a sync connector on the bottom. The SD slot and all controls are located on the left side: power, camera launcher button and the volume up and down rocker. The VGA digital camera lens is located on the back, just above a small mirror for self-portraits. Like most phones, the battery is located at the back of the phone and the SIM card sits in a holder under the battery. Above the camera lens is a port for an external antenna, which is covered by a rubber plug. As you'd expect, the speaker is at the top, just above the display, and the mic is at the bottom.

 

 

 

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In terms of ergonomics and usability, the Orange has a good keypad. The mid-sized backlit keys are easy to see and reasonably easy to press. The Send and End buttons are located on top of the number pad area, just as with standard cell phones. Below the Send and End keys you'll find the two MS Smartphone action buttons: the Home and Back button. The navigation and control pad lives above the keypad, and when you press a key, the bright blue backlighting turns on, making it easy to dial in dim locations. The keys do take some effort to press, and are a bit slippery thanks to the chrome finish. While your phone likely won't dial from accidental key presses, you do have to make a modest effort to press each key.

Smartphone 2

Above, back of the phone with the battery out. The SIM card lives under the battery (see the red arrow on the SIM holder)

comparison

Above: comparing the E200, Motorola V120C, Nokia 3650 and Sony Ericsson P800.

What comes in the box?

The package includes the phone, a Lithium Ion battery, SIM (for Orange's service), a cradle, USB cable, world travel charger, inline adapter for charging the phone directly from the charger rather than the cradle, 2.5mm stereo headset, a thick printed manual, CDROM with ActiveSync 3.7 and MS Outlook 2002, and an 8 meg SD memory card (with bundled apps).

Wireless Voice and Data

The SPV E200 is a GSM world phone that works on 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz bands and supports GPRS for data. We tested it in the US using both an AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile SIM cards and accounts. The phone worked fine for both voice and GPRS data, and should be compatible with most all US GSM providers. Voice quality and clarity were excellent with the E200, and it has good RF. We found that it did very well in strong signal areas, but wasn't quite as good as the Nokia 3650 and Nokia 6820 in fair to poor signal areas. GPRS was easy to set up and we used the phone to surf the web with the MS Smartphone version of Pocket IE, and we used it as a modem for the Tungsten T3 over Bluetooth as well (using the generic GSM driver). Web pages optimized for phones and PDAs load very quickly on the SPV E200, and non-optimized pages take between 50 and 70 seconds to load, since GPRS averages about 35 - 40K in our area.

You can power off the wireless radio to use the phone in flight mode.

Standard cell phone creature comforts abound, and you'll be able to speed dial, use Caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding and use one of eight profiles for the phone. If you enter the first few digits of a phone number, the phone will display all matches, and filter the matches as you enter further digits. Simply use the d-pad to select one of the matches to dial. You can assign up to 98 speed dial numbers from your contacts list (2-99 are supported, and 1 is reserved for calling voicemail). Using Profiles you can customize the ringer volume, ring type, alarm type, alarm volume and notification method. The phone comes with eight profiles and you can customize a profile to suit your needs. Phone security features include keypad lock, phone lock, password protection and call restrictions.

Horsepower and Expansion

The E200 has a TI OMAP 132 MHz processor and 32 megs of RAM. That's a middle of the road processor for an MS Smartphone, and fast for a phone-centric device, though MS Smartphones don't feel faster than regular feature phones running on slower processors. Why? The Windows Mobile OS has more overhead than a regular phone, but you do get a great many features in the deal. The phone feels plenty fast, and the new OS is faster as well.

Like all MS Smartphones, the unit has an SD slot that accepts SD and MMC memory cards for expansion. The Orange supports SDIO, which means you'll be able to use SD WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS SD cards when MS Smartphone drivers become available.

What's New in MS Smartphone 2003?

Doubtless, you may be considering this phone because US models still come with the older MS Smartphone 2002 operating system. Just as with Pocket PCs, the 2002 version is based on Windows CE 3.0 and the 2003 is based on Windows CE 4.2. Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone offers the following improvements: Support for NAND, Bluetooth support (MS provides an API), .NET Compact Framework, IPv6, better IE (supports HTML 4.0, CSS and WAP 2.0) and always on connection support.

Camera

The Orange has a VGA camera capable of taking still images in JPG format up to 640 x 480 in size. It can also shoot at 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 resolutions and supports four quality settings: Basic, Normal, Fine and SuperFine. You can save images and videos to internal memory or a storage card, use digital zoom and several light compensation settings. The camera can also shoot videos with audio at 352 x 288 and 176 x 144 resolutions and you can record audio with video if you wish. Video files are saved in AVI format. Picture quality is comparable to other VGA phone cameras, and videos are decent, though a bit blurry if you pan the handset around while shooting.

Bluetooth

The SPV E200 has Bluetooth wireless PAN (personal area networking), so you can use Bluetooth headsets and use the phone as a wireless modem for your PDA or notebook. We found pairing with headsets a bit trying until we applied Orange's March 2004 ROM update which offers several improvements, including better Bluetooth. Likely new phones are shipping with the updated ROM version. Note that the Orange supports headset profile.

Does this phone work as a wireless modem over Bluetooth? Yes. I paired the E200 with a Palm Tungsten T3 over Bluetooth and used the phone as a modem for the T3 on both AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile GPRS. I used the Motorola GSM driver to do this.

Display, Multimedia and Battery

The Orange has a wonderfully vibrant and bright color display that's a real crowd pleaser. It's a 65k color 176 x 220 transflective display, and that resolution is standard for MS Smartphones. The display is viewable outdoors, though like all transflectives, it washes out a bit.

MS Smartphones don't offer runtimes that are comparable to standard feature phones and basic mobile phones since they're running fast processors and power-hungry software. That said, even with the SPV's camera and Bluetooth features, both of which consume additional power when used, it manages to get runtimes similar to the Samsung i600 running on the standard battery. If you're a heavy phone user, make use of Bluetooth, shoot a lot of videos or images and watch movies, the SPV should last you through an eight hour day on a charge. If you're an average phone user and don't use Bluetooth frequently or the PDA features, it should last you two days on a charge. The standard 1,000 mAh battery is user swappable and is a good capacity for an MS Smartphone with these features.

You can charge the battery by placing the phone in the included sync/charge cradle, or you can plug it into the AC charger using the adapter dongle. The unit comes with a world charger with interchangeable prongs and runs on 100 to 240V AC at 50-60 HZ.

Zire sample photo

Indoors, illuminated by a sliding glass window

Zire sample photo

Outdoors, sunny day

 

Like all MS Smartphones, the SPV E200 can play MP3s and videos using the included Windows Media Player for Smartphone. It has a 2.5'' three ring stereo headset jack and comes with a set of stereo earbud headphones with a call send/end button. The headset and phone sound quite good for MP3 playback, but you'll want to get a good sized SD card to store a decent collection of tunes. You can also play windows media files stored on the phone or located on a web site.

Bundled 3rd Party Software

The included 8 meg SD card contains several popular 3rd party applications which you can install on the phone. Titles include CodeWallet, eWallet and ListPro from Ilium Software, Dockware, PocketSlideShow (for viewing PowerPoint presentations), Power Tasks (a list manager), Rebound (a game).

PDA Functions: PIM and Multimedia Applications

Microsoft Windows Mobile for Smartphone OS has a set of applications that provide features for both power users who crave multimedia and gaming abilities and business users who need to share and sync their existing data with the handset seamlessly. All MS Smartphones come with apps that are equivalent to Outlook on the desktop, along with MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player for Smartphone. For PIMs, the phone can sync both to Outlook and MS Exchange servers for email, Tasks, Contacts and Calendar.

Inbox- This email client supports POP3, IMAP and SMTP servers and offers authentication. It plays nicely with Exchange server and you can sync emails to and from the desktop as well as send and receive them directly from the phone.

Pocket Internet Explorer- This browser supports WAP, HTML, and cHTML (compact HTML). It also supports web pages with images and sounds, SSL and cookies but it does not support frames. The navigation is made easy via lists of favorite links, most recently-visited web pages and pages in History. The Options in the browser allows you to modify various settings, such as allowing cookies, playing sounds, showing pictures, selecting networks, etc. It may not be a desktop or full-fledged PDA browser, but it's very handy for getting info from the Web when you're on the go.

Contacts- The handset can store a very large number of records. The Contacts app on your phone provides many convenient ways for you to send messages, dial numbers and access web sites directly from the Contact records. While the Contacts is well integrated with the phone features, it can't sort or search. Contacts displays your records sorted alphabetically by last name. While you can't search by company for example, you can filter by category.

Calendar- There are three views in the Calendar application: Agenda view, Week view and Month view. You can enter a new event in any of these three views. Other than basic schedule information (date, time, place), the Calendar app provides you with more fields for additional info. These fields allow you to specify a reminder time, re-occurrence, status (tentative, busy, free, mark as private) and notes. In addition to entering a calendar event on the phone, you can synchronize the events from your Outlook Calendar, import from iCal (a web calendar server for Windows) or vCal, and even import items from attachments in your email messages, SMS messages and more.

Tasks- You can use the Tasks list for keeping track of your to-do items. You can create these items on the phone or sync them with your desktop Tasks in Outlook. You can mark any of the items on the list as complete or incomplete, and you can delete the items. You can also set reminders for these to-dos.

ActiveSync- If you use Outlook on your desktop, you will love ActiveSync, which is the same syncing software that comes with Pocket PCs. In fact, if you have both an MS Smartphone and a Pocket PC, you can sync each of them using the same Outlook and ActiveSync installation. ActiveSync for the desktop is included on the companion CD, and is built into the SPV E200. Install the syncing software on your desktop, connect the cradle's USB cable to your PC, place your phone in the cradle, and you are ready to go. ActiveSync is a flexible program that allows you to specify which types of PIM info you wish to sync and how often you wish to sync it. Your Outlook email message can be synchronized to your phone via either your desktop Outlook Inbox or a Microsoft Exchange Server. Both email messages and calendar items will only be synchronized within certain parameters (for example, messages from last 3 days or calendar items for two weeks, etc.) while all contacts can be synchronized to your SPV E200.

Windows Media Player- Yes, MS Smartphones can play stereo MP3 and streaming video. Using the included three-ring stereo headset, you can enjoy pretty high quality sound in Windows Media Player. The SD/MMC card slot comes in handy for you to load up a card full of multimedia content—insert the card and you're ready to listen to music or view videos through WMP. Of course, this will enable you to take full advantage of rich media web sites that serve WMP format movies. This pocket version of WMP supports most of the Windows Media video formats and MP3 playback. If you are making your own video and MP3 files, make sure that you check the manual and use the codec versions that are supported in Smartphone's WMP.

T9 Mode- MS Smartphones support 3 input modes for entering text and numbers: Multipress, T9 and Numeric. The first two are used to enter text while the last one is used to enter numbers. You can switch modes by holding down the T9/ Asterisk (*) key while inputting data. We've all used the Mulitpress and Numeric methods on other phones, and some users will be familiar with T9. When you enter text in T9 mode by pressing a numeric key, T9 will analyze your key presses and attempt to complete the word for you. If the T9 database doesn't have certain words, you can go back to Multipress mode and enter the word. Once the word is entered, it will be stored in T9 database as well.

MSN Messenger- Yes, you can message on the go using MS Smartphones!

Conclusion

A compact, well made, powerful phone. Worth a look for those who are phone users first and PDA users second. Pro: Excellent Outlook syncing: no more wearing out your thumbs entering contacts and calendar items into your phone. Attractive, clean design. Has Bluetooth and a VGA camera. Gorgeous screen and the latest OS. Con: Since it's an import, prices are high compared to carrier subsidized US phones. Bluetooth isn't smooth compared to Nokia phones.

Price: Approximately US $600 (may also be sold as the iMate Smartphone2 and Xphone)

web.orange.co.uk

Importers: Expansys.com, Dynamism.com

 

Specs:

Display: Transflective color LCD, 16 bit, 65K colors. Screen resolution: 176 pixels wide x 220 pixels high.

Battery Battery : 1,000 mA Lithium Ion rechargeable. World AC Adaptor: 100 ~ 240 VAC / 50 ~ 60 Hz.

Performance: 132 MHz Ti OMAP 710 processor. 32MB Flash ROM, 32 MB SDRAM. Can be expanded using SD and MMC cards.

size: 48.7 x 116.7 x 23.3 mm (1.92" x 4.6" x .92"). Weight: 130 grams, 4.58 oz.

In the Box: CDs, manual, phone, cradle, battery, world charger, stereo headset mic with call send/end button and 8 meg SD card with bundled apps.

Phone: GSM 900/1800/1900MHz bands and GPRS for data.

Audio: Built in speaker and integrated mic. Supports alarm sounds, LED alert and vibrating alerts. Stereo output through 3 ring 2.5mm headset jack, MP3 playback. Voice recorder functionality.

Software: Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphones operating system. PIM applications include Contacts, Calendar and Tasks. Calculator and file manager are included. Internet Explorer for surfing web sites, email client that works with Outlook. MSN Messenger is included. Windows Media Player included for playing MP3 and streaming video. Voice recorder included for recording voice memo and more. 3rd party software on SD card includes eWallet, ListPro, CodeWallet, Rebound, Dockware, PocketSlideShow and Power Tasks.

Expansion: 1 MMC/SD slot. Supports SDIO. Bluetooth, IR.

 

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