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REVIEW: ETEN P300 Pocket PC Phone Edition
Posted by Carlo Guerrero - on Saturday, 13.12.03 - 18:39:33 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 18144x
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The Eten P300 is probably the most affordable Pocket PC Phone Edition right now running on the latest Windows Mobile 2003 Software for Pocket PC. Did Eten cut any corners to get the price down or is the very attractive price tag too good to be true? Read on and find out.

I must admit, I am a sucker for new stuff and it was very hard to resist getting my hands on an Eten P300 when I got the news that it was locally available (here in the Philippines). The price was at first quite surprising, being priced at nearly half that of the XDA II and about 2/3 of the original XDA, I started wondering if there was anything suspect about this device.

I received the device nicely packaged, in the same caliber as any other popular Pocket PC. Well, that was a nice start. In the box was the P300, its collapsible cradle, charger, cables, belt holster, stero hands-free kit, and the companion CD. The manual was of no use really as it doesn't really explain much. So I had to really give it a thorough run through to find out what this device can do.

So I pulled out the device with it's remaining charge and slipped in my SIM card. Fired it up and voila! It was vibrating and a warning bubble popped up saying "Lock Battery Door". Well that was a nice touch and after locking the battery in place, everything went fine.

The first thing you notice is the size. It may not be that small really, but it is indeed narrower than most Pocket PCs. It's a bit thick though but it is quite easy to hold in one hand. The screen probably is one that will receive the most complaints as it is of the CSTN variety but has the qualities of a reflective screen. It is even stated on the P300's box that it is of the Transfelctive type, which if you come to think about it is actually true. With the backlight off, it is still possible to read what's on the screen, but the warm up is a bit annoying as it doesn't really fire up instantly. But surprisingly, after several weeks of using it, I actuall didn't pay attention to its pale screen. I actually got used to it and felt as if I was back using my Casio E-200 with reflective screen. The size of the screen is much smaller than the standard fare of Pocket PCs being of the 2.8inch variety.

The screen is a bit recessed which means you get less skin oil on it. Eten even has its soft keyboard set to use large keys by default to compensate for the small screen size. Styling was quite spartan with no real frills but a simple painted housing with a bare black front face with a black band to give the device a bit of dimension. And as I said before, it may look really simple but it was so nice to hold in the hand. It actually felt like a mobile phone or a smartphone for that matter.

It even sports a camera on the front face just opposite the warning light and ear piece. At first it may seem irrational to have it on the front face and one might wonder how this helps taking snap shots, but I was told that the real purpose of this camera is not to take photos, but for video phone use. Well, if the software for this makes it out, then this may well be the most affordable Windows Powered video phone available.

Most controls are found on the front face of the device which makes it much easier to use. The nicely chromed Call and End Call keys flank the Contacts and Home buttons. The P300 doesn't use a D-Pad but a Joystick which is so easy to use.

The only controls found on the side of the P300 are actually the power button, the reset switch and the rocker wheel with action button which controls the volume and launches the Notes application by default. On the top end of the device is nothing more than the antenna which also houses the thin plastic stylus which felt like it would snap in two in my hands, the IR port, and the typical mobile phone 2.5mm stereo hands-free kit jack.

The bottom part of the device is the USB port for synching and the SDIO/MMC slot which can be covered with a rubber plug.

The back side of the device is quite simple too, with nothing more than the battery latch and battery lock, the external antenna port and the familiar MicrosoftWindows Powered logo.

The SIM card is located under the battery and is easily accessed. No fancy hinges here, just slip it in and it works. There is also a small switch to power up the backup battery, quite similar to the practice used by Compaq for the first iPAQ series.

Handling was pretty easy and very comfortable. This will work well with people with small hands or those who find holding a regular sized Pocket PC or Pocket PC Phone Edition up against their faces a bit too awkward.

Lacking with this model is built in Bluetooth as well as speakerphone functionality. But Eten compensates for adding several Eten-made applications like a very clean and functional photo caller id which allows a ring tone and a photo to be asigned to each phoe number of a specific contact. it comes with a graphics editor and a camera capture utility, although there is much more to be desired with the quality of the photos from this camera, I'm sticking by the statement that it is indeed intended for use as a video phone than for snap shots. You can see a sample of the photo I took when I was in Boracay a month ago. I was told that Eten can also offer MMS support for this device, although the unit I tested lacked this feature.

The Eten P300 is powered by a Samsung 200 MHz processor and comes with 64 MB or RAM, and of course since it uses NAND Flash memory, only about 54MB is left for user accessible RAM.

The cradle is of the collapsible variety with a simple slip on bracket to support the P300 when docked onto the cradle. It may seem flimsy at first but its ability to be packed in such a small area makes it ideal for travelling. The nice thing about this is that the cradle also comes with a host USB port which the manual says can be used for USB keyboards, mice and flash drives. There is also a second slot for a second battery which means charging an extra battery is as simple as dropping it into the cradle.

Bottom line is that this Pocket PC Phone Edition is definitely a good upgrade from a regular mobile phone or smartphone user. For those on a budget, this device will go a long way. Priced at the same range as most of the mid-line Pocket PCs, the added phone functionality will defintiely be attractive.

The Eten P300 is available for about $500 (not subsidized by a Telco) and is still the most affordable Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC Phone Edition available.

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