- ✓128MB RAM and 14MB flash storage
- ✓replaceable battery (with spare supplied)
- ✓built-in Bluetooth and VGA-resolution camera
- ✕bulky for making voice calls
To date, Orange’s SPV line has been limited to Windows-based smartphones such as the E200. Now the company joins O2 in offering a connected Pocket PC running Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Phone Edition, which it calls the SPV M1000. As the time of writing, the SPV M1000 is an offering for business customers only.
Put an SPV M1000 and an O2 xda II side by side, hide the company logos, and you'd struggle to differentiate the two units. This is not surprising, since both devices are based on the same reference design from Taiwanese manufacturer HTC. Corporate buyers may therefore find themselves making purchasing decisions on the basis of price – the SPV M1000 costs £375 (inc. VAT) with a contract -- as much as anything else. None of this is intended to imply that the SPV M1000 is not a desirable Pocket PC/phone combo. The metal casing with its rounded edges is visually appealing as well as tough, and the positioning of the microphone and speaker make it possible to hold the device to the ear for voice calls; you can also use a handsfree kit (wired or Bluetooth) if you prefer. The back of the device houses the lens for the built-in VGA-resolution camera, along with a mirrored area that makes it easy to take self-portraits. The back is somewhat roughened to prevent the unit slipping around on a shiny table. The left-hand side is home to a volume control slider and activators for the camera and the voice notes tool. The stylus, which is nice and long, is housed in the right-hand side. An SD/MMC card slot sits on the top, flanked by the power switch and the infrared port. The shortcut buttons on the fascia are spread around: those accessing the Calendar and Contacts applications lie above the screen, while the Talk and End buttons flank the navigation pad at the bottom. All in all, the SPV M1000 is a neatly designed, if conventional, Pocket PC/phone combo. Its dimensions and weight are identical to the O2 xda II: 7cm wide by 13cm deep by 1.8cm high, and 190g.
Powered by Intel’s PXA263 processor running at 400MHz, the SPV M1000 comes with a generous 128MB of RAM. On our review unit, 126.03MB of this was available for use out of the box. There is a further 14.57MB of Flash memory available, and of course you can augment the storage capacity using SD cards. Bluetooth is built into this device, and Orange provides an applet that allows you to set up Bluetooth serial ports and Bluetooth ActiveSync, and require passkey authentication for beaming via Bluetooth. An icon on the Today screen tells you when Bluetooth is active, and there is a further Today screen icon that lets you set up and change Bluetooth headset settings. The built-in phone is tri-band GSM with GPRS. Orange provides a reasonable software bundled designed to help business users be productive out of the box with the SPV M1000. The ROM includes two Orange-branded applets -- Backup and Update. The former provides over-the-air data backup, while the latter allows you to download software, images and themes direct to the SPV M1000 over the air. You can also use this device as a modem in conjunction with a notebook PC. The software bundle also includes the ClearVue PDF reader and ClearVue PPT. The latter allows you to both view PowerPoint presentations, and -- with the appropriate output hardware -- send them to an external monitor. Photo Contacts lets you attach images to contact book entries, while Album supplements Microsoft's bundled image viewer, Pictures. An additional application for using the built-in camera rounds off the suite. With this you can flick between capturing images (120 by 120, 240 by 320, 480 by 640), and video (96 by 128, 144 by 176, 240 by 320), and choose between a range of lighting filters (auto, daylight, fluorescent, incandescent, dim) and effects (greyscale, sepia, negative, blue-tinted). As well as the SPV M1000 itself and its docking cradle, Orange provides a reasonably good protective case, a handsfree kit, a spare stylus, a second battery and even a screen protector. The cradle includes a slot for charging the spare battery.
The SPV M1000's performance is comparable to other Pocket PC/phone combos we've tested. Holding hardware this size to your ear to make voice calls feels a little strange, but unless you're prepared to have a Bluetooth headset or wired handsfree earbud permanently in your ear -- which we generally like even less -- then you're going to have to put up with this. Battery life matters hugely in a device that has to double as handheld and a phone. We ran our usual handheld test of looping MP3s to evaluate the general life of the battery, doing so with telephony features turned off and the backlight permanently on. We got a reasonable but not startling 4 hours and 14 minutes of life under these conditions. Orange suggests you should get 3.5 hours of talktime, 12 hours of handheld operation and 160 hours on standby under optimum conditions. Our experience suggested that most serious business users will need to recharge their devices every day. Fortunately, the SPV M1000 comes with an adapter that allows cradle-free recharging; also, as we’ve already noted, Orange provides a second battery. Overall, the SPV M1000 is a solid and reliable Pocket PC/phone combo that's very similar to its main rival, O2’s xda II. Operator loyalty and tariffs will come into play when purchasing decisions are being made, we suspect.