- ✓Tri-band GSM/GPRS phone built in
- ✓Bluetooth built in
- ✓CompactFlash and SD card expansion
- ✕Rather large and heavy
- ✕screen could be brighter
If you are looking for a handheld running Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Phone Edition, the range of choices is wider than you might at first think. Taiwanese manufacturer Eten has two handheld/phone products available: the fully featured £461.78 (inc. VAT) P700 reviewed here, and the smaller P300.
The P700 is a chunky beast weighing 200g and measuring 7.8cm wide by 13.1cm deep by 2.1cm high, augmented by about 10mm of antenna on the top left-hand side. Nestled within the casing is a 16-bit transflective TFT screen measuring 3.5in. across the diagonal. Beneath the screen lies a navigation button with the usual four directions of movement and ‘press to select’ features. To its left and right, within a dark boundary, are buttons that take you to the Contacts application and to the Today screen. Further away from this trio and outside their black boundary are, on the left, a Start Call button that brings up the dialler screen and, on the right, an End call button. Beneath these on left and right are the microphone and speaker respectively. There's a separate speaker under the Eten logo at the top of the device, which allows you to hold the hardware to your ear for voice calls. The left-hand side houses a headset jack, infrared port, reset button, scroll/select/volume adjust wheel, and a small button that activates voice recording. The latter is difficult to press by accident, overcoming a common problem with Windows Mobile hardware. The battery is removable, and your SIM sits beneath it in a well-protected location. For all the P700's bulk, Eten has not been able to slot the stylus inside it. Instead it's camouflaged as part of a band of black plastic that envelops the casing. It's a somewhat odd shape because of this, but feels OK in the hand, if a little light. If you lose the stylus, your P700 will have a long ugly gap in its outer casing down the right-hand side. You can’t charge the P700 without its cradle, which houses a USB host port as well as the usual power connector and desktop USB cable for ActiveSync connections. The cradle has a slot for charging a second battery.
The P700 runs Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC Phone Edition, and therefore comes with that OS's bundled phone dialler. Tri-band GSM and GPRS handle wide area communications, while Bluetooth takes care of local wireless connectivity. There's no built-in Wi-Fi. The 400MHz Intel PXA255 processor is perfectly adequate for its job, and there's an applet in the Settings area called the System Console that allows you to tweak various system settings, including fixing the CPU at a battery-conserving 200MHz. You get 64MB of NAND Flash memory and 64MB of SDRAM. Of the latter, 57MB is available for user access, while of the former 30MB is available as what's called on the device ‘DiskOnChip’ memory. You can use this to store data that needs to survive a power failure, and Eten provides a backup utility that can access it as well as external media. There is a type I CompactFlash card slot at the top of the device, which is protected when not in use by a sliding cover. Cards protrude about 5mm when inserted, which is unusual, but it does make them easy to remove. There is also an SD card slot, although you’d never know it at first as it's located underneath the stylus housing. This position means you could leave a backup disk or regularly used data in place pretty much permanently and securely, although it could prove annoying if you want to use SDIO peripherals. Additional software is minimal: aside from the backup and System Console already mentioned, you simply get various utilities and tools rather than productivity software.
We found the P700 to be an adequate performer, although it lacked outstanding features. It did all we asked of it, but never with panache. The screen lacks the brightness of some of its competition, and even on its highest setting we found it difficult to view ‘at a glance’ in our natural light working environment. Eten has missed a trick in not providing a hardware indication that Bluetooth is switched on. Without this it may be easy to forget Bluetooth is live, causing unnecessary battery drainage and possibly inviting unwelcome access to your device. Our test device did not have a Today screen shortcut to the Bluetooth manager, either, although we understand that this will soon be provided. Check before you buy as without it you need to go into the Settings area to start and shut down Bluetooth activity. Battery life was quite impressive. We set the processor to run at 200MHz, turned the phone and Bluetooth off, and set the screen at half its brightness, and then looped MP3s. We got playback for 4 hours 15 minutes, and about twenty seconds after playback stopped the machine switched off completely. On the whole the Eten P700 is a fair performer, if a little large for the pocket and lacking in any outstanding features. It is supplied with a protective case, which is nice, but lacks an adapter to allow charging without the cradle.