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first take ASUS enters the local smartphone arena with a bang -- the P525 quad-band PDA looks to be a great companion for the mobile professional.


ASUS is a brand we'd typically associate with svelte leather notebooks, funky GPS units and Lamborghinis, not smartphones. But the company continues to expand its horizons, and is now targeting mobile professionals with its P525 quad-band PDA phone.

The P525 runs the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, and is thus packed with office productivity features such as push e-mail, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the ability to synchronise calendars, phone books and e-mail with a desktop PC and/or corporate Exchange server. Skype-in and Skype-out are also present, helping you to avoid eating into your regular phone credit while you're in range of a wireless hotspot.

Speaking of wireless, the P525 is an extremely well-connected device, albeit no better than what we've come to expect from a modern day smartphone. Wi-Fi (802.11b), GPRS, Bluetooth, Infrared and quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) are all supported. Synchronisation with a PC is accomplished using either Bluetooth or USB 1.1 connections.

A staple of any self-respecting company is a business card, and anyone that's been to their share of meetings and conferences undoubtedly knows how fast these can pile up in your wallet. As such you'll be pleased to hear that the P525 offers a solution which enables you to throw out a card within seconds of it being thrust into your hand. Thanks to the integrated 2-megapixel camera (with autofocus and flash light) coupled with smart software, users can take a photo of a business card and have the information converted and automatically entered into Microsoft Outlook's contact list. We're yet to receive our test sample so can't yet see how effective the feature is in practice, but it certainly sounds promising.

The form factor of the P525 is similar to that of the BlackBerry 7130e -- it's more of a phone-centric than a data-centric handheld. As opposed to a full QWERTY keyboard like that seen on the BlackBerry 8700, the P525 uses a more traditional phone keyboard with a joystick for menu navigation. Unlike the 7130e, however, the P525 offers a stylus and touch screen as an alternative method for inputting data.

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Internally, the device packs a 416MHz Intel XScale processor, 128MB flash ROM and 64MB SDRAM. Those that plan to install loads of third-party applications or multimedia files will definitely want to purchase a miniSD card to populate the provided expansion slot.

As mentioned, the P525 offers a regular phone-style keypad rather than a full-size QWERTY offering. This will make extensive data entry tedious, but bashing out shorter messages shouldn't be an issue.

Despite boasting similar dimensions to the BlackBerry 7130e (the P525's measurements are 116.8x59mm by 19mm; the 7130e's are 116.4mm by 55.9mm by 22.9mm), the P525 is 20 grams heavier at 159.5 grams. It's not bulky by smartphone standards, but users of regular mobile phone devices will no doubt take some time to get used to the increased heft.

No GPS receiver is included, so if you get lost you'll have to revert to the trusty (and dusty) street directory in the glove compartment.

ASUS enters the local smartphone arena with a bang -- the P525 quad-band PDA looks to be a great companion for the mobile professional.

The P525 will be available by the end of August for AU$999.

ASUS P525 front + back shot

Company: ASUS
Price: AU$999