Trium Mondo

trium-mondo-lead.gif
  • Editors' rating
    6.9 Good

Pros

  • GSM/GPRS mobile phone functionality, added to a straightforward Pocket PC-based handheld.

Cons

  • Monochrome display
  • difficult to use for beginners.

The Mondo is a new 'convergence' device produced by Trium, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric. It's a handheld computer with a built-in GSM cell phone -- with a software upgrade, it can also use a GPRS network. The Trium Mondo uses Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system, but features a monochrome display, unlike rivals such as Siemens' forthcoming SX45.

The Mondo's form factor is more handheld than cell phone, the device delivering all of the usual Pocket PC functions. It's a suitable choice for businessmen on the road who need a convenient portable platform for personal information management, email and Web browsing. The Mondo is not designed to be held close to the ear during voice calls -- the LCD display would suffer if you did this. Therefore, it comes with a hands-free headset that enables you to make and take calls conveniently.

Processing power is provided by a 166MHz Intel StrongArm processor backed up by 16MB of RAM, and the operating system is Microsoft's Pocket PC. This features a number of applications including pocket versions of Outlook, Word, Internet Explorer and Excel. You also get Windows Media Player for listening to MP3 music, and Microsoft Reader for reading eBooks. The Trium Mondo is currently only available with a monochrome touchscreen display, which is slightly disappointing. However, its GPRS capabilities will allow users to take advantage of current and future services, such as mobile commerce, delivered over a permanent Internet connection.

The operating system includes a handy electronic guide to the Trium Mondo's many features. This shows, in a straightforward way, how to set up commands and to exploit all its capabilities. You can customise some keys to give direct access to the most commonly used functions, or you can open programs from the Start menu.

Out of the box, the Trium Mondo's cell phone is a dual band 900/1800MHz GSM unit with WAP 1.1 support. This allows data exchange at up to 14.4Kbit/s. Up to 256 phone numbers can be stored on the SIM card, but the Trium Mondo manages both SIM and phone memories with ease. The phone's virtual keypad on the 16 grey-scale display features large keys that you can press either with the bundled stylus or simply with your fingertips.

The phone supports hands-free and conference call modes. You can also make emergency calls, put a conversation on hold, allow outgoing calls only to selected numbers, identify incoming calls (CLIP/CLIR), identify the connection line on demand (COLP/COLR) and divert incoming calls to a selected number -- a useful feature in case of low battery power.

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The flipside of all this functionality is power consumption: the Li-ion powered Trium Mondo's talk time is only three hours maximum (or up to 100 hours on standby). The large LCD is the main culprit, of course: despite an overnight recharge, after a few hours testing (without making phone calls), the phone began beeping to warn that the device was running out of power.

Nevertheless, the Trium Mondo has a lot of benefits. We enjoyed using Windows Media Player, which allows you to download audio files from the Internet and listen to stereo music, either via the built-in speaker or using the supplied headset. Microsoft Reader, which allows you to read downloaded eBooks, is another useful bundled feature.

The Trium Mondo is a great WAP phone, with no reception problem. Soon, you'll be able to upgrade the phone's software to give it GPRS support. All you'll have to do is call Trium's customer service, which will suggest a retailer where you'll be able to upgrade your phone.

As it stands, the Trium Mondo is a well-featured handheld/mobile phone that's especially suitable for mobile professionals who need a 'portable office' on the road. The price of £495 (ex. VAT) is not unreasonable for a convergence device -- a colour screen would be nice, but there's an inevitable trade-off with battery life.

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