- ✓The best integration of a Pocket PC handheld and a mobile phone we've seen so far.
- ✕Bulky and expensive
- ✕mediocre screen
- ✕moderate build quality.
Sagem is the second manufacturer to launch a combined Pocket PC handheld and mobile phone in the last few weeks. As with the Trium Mondo, with which it directly competes, the Sagem WA3050's build quality suffers in comparison with Pocket PCs from Compaq and HP. However, it's an impressive display of convergence -- albeit sold at a handsome price (£527.65 ex. VAT, or £619.99 ex. VAT).
The large monochrome LCD screen dominates the front of the WA3050, and is one of its most disappointing features. On such an expensive device it's a surprise that the display resembles the turquoise backlit screen on the ageing Palm III series. No matter how you adjust the contrast, you cannot see the screen clearly in daylight; similarly, the backlight is of little help in dark conditions. On the plus side, the WA3050's display consumes much less power than the colour TFTs used on the Compaq iPAQ and HP Jornada.
Users of Pocket PCs will testify to the ease with which you can synchronise with your desktop or laptop. Stick the ActiveSync (the WA3050 ships with version 3.1) CD-ROM in your PC, plug in the supplied USB cradle (a nice touch is that a serial cable is also included for owners of older systems) and follow the simple on-screen instructions to create a partnership and you're away. In no time, you can have all your Outlook calendar, tasks and contacts sync'd up with your handheld.
The WA3050 integrates its mobile phone and Pocket PC functions particularly well using WinPhone. Currently, its direct competitor is the Trium Mondo, and the biggest difference between the two products is the ease with which the WA3050 handles SMS. Even though the WA3050 interfaces with Outlook email and has full POP3 support, many users will spend more time compiling and reading text messages, for which the WA3050's large 3.9in.-diagonal screen comes in very handy.
If you dial in a telephone number using the virtual keypad on the touchscreen, the device recognises if this is one of your Pocket Outlook contacts and brings up the name, as you would expect if it were in your SIM contacts. Not only do you get a list of recent calls, but the WA3050 also shows all the details of that call, and one button allows you to link directly to the relevant entry in Pocket Outlook.
The WA3050 ships with a WAP browser from EZOS called EzWAP. You can see at least 20 lines of text, which is great for looking at news sites on WAP. Out of the box, the built-in phone is a GSM 900/1800 unit, but Sagem plans to offer a software upgrade to enable GPRS in September.
From the front, the WA3050 has an attractive look with its cool brushed-steel buttons, two of which are neatly illuminated. There are two buttons for making and ending calls, as well as dedicated buttons to take you straight to the SMS application and launch the WAP browser. Two further buttons are Pocket PC-related.
Go around the back, however, and you are confronted by an expanse of cheap black plastic. This houses an array of fiendish sliding locks and slots that are accessible only using the stylus concealed in the back of the device. The battery on our test device was of such poor manufacture that it did not lock in its removable housing.
The Sagem WA3050 works very well as a phone -- albeit a bulky one -- and integrates well with standard Pocket PC functionality. It's superficially attractive, but the build quality doesn't stand up to closer examination. And although you get a faster StrongArm processor than the Trium Mondo (206MHz versus 166MHz) plus the ability to upgrade memory, it still seems rather expensive. However, if your pockets are physically large and financially deep, it makes a versatile all-in-one device.