E-TEN M600

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • Runs Windows Mobile 5.0
  • quad-band GSM/GPRS
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • plenty of useful additional software
  • small and pocket-friendly

Cons

  • No infrared

The M600 from E-TEN builds on an earlier series of Windows Mobile handhelds, the most recent of which, the M500, we looked at back in June of this year. Like its predecessor, the M600 is a connected Pocket PC, available SIM-free. Also like the M500, it is small and bulging with clever software. The M600 also rectifies one of the most annoying issues with the M500 by adding Wi-Fi support. And of course, it runs Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system.

Design

The E-TEN M600's small format is immediately appealing. At 6.1cm by 11.2cm by 2.2cm, it's close enough to the size of an standard mobile phone to feel like a device that can be legitimately carried around in a pocket. It weighs 165g, which is rather more than your average Windows Mobile smartphone, but many users will feel that the M600's excellent software bundle and general capability justifies the extra size and weight.

Physically, the M600 stands out thanks to its black livery. The under-screen buttons are characteristically small, with a tiny navigation circle and centre select button flanked to the left and right by two buttons. The lower pair are dedicated to Call and End features, while the upper two act as shortcuts to the Today screen and the Windows Mobile 5.0 Contacts database.

There are no buttons dedicated to the softmenus, which are one of the defining features of Windows Mobile 5.0, but this is no real hardship as it's easy enough to tap at the screen to use these menus.

The right edge of the device is clear, while the left edge houses various buttons and connectors: a 2.5mm headset jack protected by a well-fitted rubber cover; a startup and shutter button for the built-in 1.3 megapixel camera; a rocker for controlling device and call volume (which doubles as a zoom button when you are using the camera); a voice button (which on a short press activates the built-in Voice Commander software, and on a long press starts the Windows Mobile 5.0 voice notes recorder); and the system reset button.

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On the top edge is a slot for an SD card, and the main power button. The back houses the removable battery and the camera's lens, self-portrait mirror and LED flash unit. You'll need to remove the battery to put your SIM card into the device.

The stylus is one of the best we’ve seen on a Pocket PC. It's awkwardly situated in a slot on the bottom right edge, but when removed it extends to a full 120mm, which feels good in the hand.

Unusually these days, the M600 comes with a docking cradle as well as a USB synchronisation cable. The cradle is a handsome piece of kit with rubber pads on its underside that do an excellent job of preventing it from sliding around on a desk. It has a slot for charging a spare battery as well as a holder for the stylus (which you can’t remove from the M600 when sitting in its cradle, as its slot is obscured). The box also contains a mains power adapter, a stereo headset and a belt-clip-style soft carry case.

Features

The M600 uses the same 400MHz Samsung S3C 2440 processor that powered its predecessor. As far as memory is concerned, you get 64MB of RAM and 128MB of non-volatile Flash ROM (now supported by Windows Mobile 5.0). After a hard reset, our review device had 84.16MB of storage available to the user.

The screen is a clear, crisp, and very readable 320-by-240-pixel TFT supporting 65,536 colours (16-bit colour). It measures 2.8 inches across the diagonal.

The phone module is a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) unit with GPRS support. Bluetooth and 802.11b Wi-Fi are both integrated, and all of the wireless features can be controlled by tapping an icon on the Today screen. Interestingly, E-TEN has decided not to include infrared, so you won't be able to 'beam' files to or from the device using this method (you can still use Bluetooth though).

E-TEN provides a good range of additional software with the M600, designed to augment the standard Windows Mobile 5.0 bundle. It's a pity that there's no Today screen icon for quickly flipping the screen between landscape and portrait orientations, though: in its absence, you need to go through several screen taps to change the orientation.

On the telephony side, there's a Call Filter application that allows you to add numbers to Block and Allow lists, and an enhanced Speed Dial system that uses a grid arrangement to provide access to 10 speed dials at once. Voice Commander can be used to run applications, read SMS messages find contacts, make voice calls and more by voice control without training.

An application called QuickLink sits on the Today screen and provides icon-based access to software and services on the M600. There's also an icon-driven alternative to the Today screen itself, in the shape of M-Desk. A number of applications are provided for editing images taken with the digital camera.

The camera itself shoots stills at four resolutions -- 1,280 by 960, 640 by 480, 320 by 240 and 176 by 144. There are various lighting settings (incandescent, fluorescent, sunshine, shadow, cloudy and night) as well as an auto mode, a flash, self timer, several frames that can be applied to images, and three special effects (negative, grey and sepia -- which the system calls ‘retrospective’). You can also apply a mirror filter that presents a mirror image of the shot being taken. The filters and lighting settings are also available for video, which can be shot at 320 by 240, 176 by 144 and 128 by 96.

As usual, the whole of the screen turns into a viewfinder for the camera. Unusually, tapping an on-screen icon calls up a layer offering what's effectively a frame comprised of large icons that provide quick access to the various settings and options. You can still frame your image through this, or hide it as required.

Performance

The small size of the E-TEN M600 makes it very desirable as far as portability is concerned. We found it no bother to carry around. The screen is small, and some people might consider it just too small. However, we found it fine to work with, and its brightness and clarity are superb.

Battery life is pretty good: our rundown test that plays music constantly with the screen forced to stay on delivered a total of 7.5 hours of battery life. We were very impressed that the low battery warning occurred after 4 hours 15 minutes, which would give plenty of time to find a power source in the field, and that we got a second low power warning half an hour later. You can set the backlight to automatically adjust depending on battery capacity -- a possible way to eke out a few extra minutes from the device.

Specifications

Phone Features
Voice Dialing Yes
Phone Functions Voice dialing
Details
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Cellular
Technology GSM
Application Software ActiveSync, Bluetooth Manager, Calculator, Calendar, Contacts, Games, MSN Messenger, Microsoft Excel Mobile, Microsoft Internet Explorer Mobile, Microsoft PowerPoint Mobile, Microsoft Transcriber, Microsoft Word Mobile, Notes, Pictures, QuickLink, SIM Manager, Solitaire, Tasks, Voice Recorder, Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Wireless Manager
Phone Navigation Buttons navigation button
Type smartphone
Integrated Components rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (Quadband)
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Windows Mobile
Operating System Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0
Input Device Touch screen
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Messaging Services MMS, SMS, Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger)
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3
Miscellaneous
Features LCD display, 5-way navigation button
Communications
Data Transmission GPRS
Wireless Interface Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, Infrared (IrDA)
Processor
Clock Speed 400 MHz
Type Samsung S3C2440
Manufacturer Samsung
Display
Technology TFT
Display Resolution 240 x 320 pixels
Color Depth 16-bit (65000 colors)
Diagonal Size 2.8 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 7.1 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 2.8 in
Diagonal Size 2.8 in
Native Resolution 320 x 240
Audio
Type Headset, Speaker(s)
Camera
Digital Zoom 4
Camera Light Source flash
Still Image Resolutions 1280 x 960
Media Player
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, WMA, AAC, AMR, MP3, MIDI
Memory
RAM 64 MB - SDRAM
Supported Flash Memory Cards MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card
Multimedia
Digital Audio Formats MIDI, WAV, MP3, WMA, AMR, AWB, MMF, RMI, AAC
Input Device
Type Keyboard, 5-way keypad, Camera, Stylus, Touch-screen
Battery
Run Time Details Talk: up to 240 min
Standby: up to 200 hrs
Digital Camera
Digital Video Formats 3gp
Digital Zoom 4
Camera Light Source flash
Still Image Resolutions 1280 x 960
Header
Brand E-TEN
Product Line E-TEN
Model M600
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen
Features
Phone Functions voice dialing
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, AMR, MIDI, MP3, WAV, WMA
Power Adapter
Type power adapter
RAM
Installed Size 64 MB
Technology SDRAM
Flash Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 1.3 megapixels

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