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ASUS P750

  • Editors' rating
    8.3 Excellent

Pros

  • 3G/HSDPA connectivity
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS
  • Front-facing camera for video calls
  • Good battery life
  • Business card scanner
  • Lots of useful extra applications

Cons

  • Relatively bulky and heavy
  • MicroSD card slot is on an outside edge and unprotected

With 3G/HSDPA connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a GPS receiver, the ASUS P750 is a well-connected device. Expected to cost around £400 (ex. VAT; £470 inc. VAT), the P750 combines the handheld-oriented Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating system with a mobile-phone-style form factor, and comes with a generous bundle of additional software.

Design
The P750's dimensions — 113mm tall by 58mm wide by 17.4mm thick — are not exactly svelte. And at 130g, it's of above-average weight, although by no means uncomfortably heavy. On the plus side, this device is packed with features and also admirably easy to use.

The touch-screen measures 2.6in. from corner to corner and has the standard-issue 240-by-320 pixel resolution. The number pad is relatively large, as are the Call and End buttons to its left and right respectively. Beneath the End button is a Cancel key, while the Call button sits above a button that accesses the Mode Switcher utility. You can assign four items (applications or settings) to this key, each press taking you to the next one in the list.

Immediately above the number pad are the four standard Windows Mobile shortcut buttons: the Start menu button, an OK button and a pair of softmenu buttons. In the centre of this quartet is the navigation key — in this case, a mini-joystick. We find mini-joysticks rather fiddly to use, and the example used in the P750 seems especially irritating because of the device's otherwise exemplary ergonomics.

This handheld's mostly black livery is set off with some silver highlights that include a bar running all around the four edges. This bar houses a range of buttons, sliders and slots.

On the left edge is a scroll wheel with a push-to-select function. This we found very responsive and almost always preferable to using the mini-joystick. Above the wheel is a button that activates the voice notes feature. You hold down this button for as long as you want to record; on releasing it, your recording is automatically saved.

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On the bottom edge is a mini-USB connector for charging the battery, plus and a 2.5mm headset jack. The upper edge is clear, while the right edge houses a slider that both turns the device on and off and provides a Hold function: slide this button into the Hold position, and all of the device's buttons are deactivated and the touch screen rendered inactive.

Beneath the slider is a button that activates the camera, which we will discuss later, and beneath this is a slot for a microSD card. At the very bottom of the right edge is the stylus slot, which is home to a rather short and very lightweight pointer.

The ASUS P750 comes with an AC adapter, a USB PC cable, a stereo headset, a printed quick-start guide, a printed user manual, software CDs and a lightweight slipcase. You also get a vehicle mount and a vehicle charger, so once you've bought the appropriate software, you can use the P750 as a navigation system.

Features
The ASUS P750 is powered by a 520MHz Marvell PXA270M processor and runs Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional. It's a tri-band GSM handset with GPRS/EDGE and 3G/HSDPA connectivity supporting download speeds of up to 3.6Mbps with suitable network coverage.

The device has 256MB of flash ROM and 64MB of SDRAM. After a hard reset, our review sample reported 147MB of free storage memory. This can be augmented with microSD cards; the ASUS P750 supports SDHC, which means it can handle high-capacity (>2GB) cards.

Both Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth (2.0+EDR) are integrated, and a SiRFStar III GPS receiver completes a full suite of wireless connectivity options for the P750 — WAN, LAN, PAN and satellite.

ASUS provides two GPS-aware applications. Location Courier allows you to send an SMS containing your latitude and longitude to up to five recipients at once. You can send messages manually or set the software up to automatically send positioning information at regular time intervals. The second application, called Travelog, captures your GPS footprint as you travel. This can be exported in a format appropriate for use with Google Earth.

The ASUS P750 has two cameras. The front-mounted VGA-resolution camera above the screen is designed primarily for video calling, while the the main camera is on the back of the device. This is a 3-megapixel unit that lacks both a self-portrait mirror and a flash, but offers a good range of settings (for a handheld) and an auto-focus mode.

The auto-focus mode comes in handy when using the WorldCard application, which converts a photo of a business card into an entry in the Contacts database. This works surprisingly well.

Another business-focused application is the rather obliquely titled Ur Time, which can put up to five world clocks on the Windows Mobile Today screen. In a similar vein, Meeting Time Planner can juxtapose a set time in up to three world cities on-screen, allowing you to find suitable times for meetings or phone calls. Simple, but potentially useful for international travellers.

Other bundled applications include Remote Presenter, which lets you control PowerPoint presentations via Bluetooth; an RSS reader; a backup and restore utility; MySecrets for keeping documents, pictures and video in a password-protected area; and a graphical icon-driven alternative to the Windows Mobile Today screen.

Performance & battery life
Although we've not seen the 520MHz Marvell PXA270M before, it performed well during our tests. Applications launched quickly, and we could keep several programs open at once without noticing any significant performance degradation.

As far as the P750's battery life is concerned, ASUS claims 6 hours of 2G talk, and 240 hours of 3G standby. You can alter the processor speed to conserve power, with four settings available: Turbo Mode, Standard Mode and Power Saving Mode are supplemented by an Automatic Mode that adjusts the processor speed according to its loading.

We used Automatic Mode in our battery test, which involved setting the P750 to play music non-stop from a microSD card with the screen forced to remain on. Under these conditions, the device managed just over 12 hours.

This is impressive battery life for a Windows Mobile 6 Professional device, although realistic usage patterns involving a mixture of GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G mean that you'll be lucky to achieve it in practice.

Conclusion
The ASUS P750 may be chunky, but it packs in a huge array of features. Combined with an equally impressive software bundle, the result is an excellent multifunction handheld that should appeal to a wide range of mobile professionals.

 

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