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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 16908x
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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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Comments
Posted by Niels on 14.12.03 - 01:04:10

Hey, thanks for the review. Where can one buy this device in .de? Have you tested your SDIO WLAN Card with it? What about battery time?

Posted by kroblanx on 14.12.03 - 03:34:09

Hey Carlo. Thanks for the review.

If it isn't too much trouble, I'd like to know some more things about the P300. How is it as a phone (signal strength, speaker quality, SMS, etc.)? I've come across reviews saying that there's an echo heard on the phone you're communicating with. How's battery life? Is the CPU snappy enough? How's the touchscreen? Is the audio any good when listening to MP3s?

Have you tested the SD slot? Some say it isn't SDIO. I hope you've tested a WiFi SD card already.

I'd really appreciate the information since I'm considering buying one. Is it going to be the XDAII killer that we hope it to be or should we hold out for the P700?

Posted by Arne Hess on 14.12.03 - 04:16:34

@Niels. Kroblanx: Battery time is quite decent.  One whole day at least for me. I'veactually gotten it to work for more tha a day on a single charge and that's with GPRS constantly on. An extra battery is available and it sells for about US$30 only which makes it also very affordable.

Screen response is acceptable, and so is the response of the 200 MHz processor. Just as I said, this is almost a bare bones unit so it will not accept some Network SMS announcements correctly, but apparently works pretty well with most subscriber SMS.  It also comes with an STK so SIM applications are supported.

The new ROM version seems to have fixed the echo which apparently also manifestsitself on the XDA II.

The audio isn't as strong as the iPAQs and is similar to the  Cassiopeia E-200's  volume strength.  At full volume it is very tollerable.

I haven't tested the SDIO Wi-Fi card on it yet, but hopefully I get the chance to do so.

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo

Posted by Tommy de Castro on 14.12.03 - 08:23:18

I got 2 P300's one for myself and one for my girlfriend.   My girlfriend's unit is defective.  It soft resets all the time and sometimes hard resets.  I brought it back to the supplier once but they said there was no defect.  I'll bring it back in and I hope they replace it this time coz it's such a hassle to loose so much data. 

Overall, since my other unit has no problems, here are my thoughts

Pros:

1) Size is ok.

2) Nice feel when holding and on the phone.

3) It seems to be faster than the XDA I which I used to have.

4) Caller ID thing is nice.

5) MMS is ok with additional program of course. 

6) Internet and connectivity is easy since it runs on WM2003

Cons:

1) battery life.  if your a heavy phone user, i suggest you get an extra bat or a car charger.

2) No direct wall charger like the ipaqs and XDA...has to be in the cradle.

3) Very light contrast which may be adhusted but it goes back when you do a soft reset.

4) hangs sometimes.

5) echo bug, which may be upgraded.

6) no online support.

7) small screen size

8) no available accessories yet.

9) limited use of camera since it is infront.

Posted by kroblanx on 14.12.03 - 13:14:15

So will the Eten P300 be replacing your Smartphone soon?

Posted by Patrik Strömstedt on 14.12.03 - 22:18:07

Where can you by Eten products in Europe?

/Patrik

Posted by Jasin #14 on 15.12.03 - 03:21:27

where could we buy this cool product? no one (i think) has posted where we could get it here in the phils.. thanks smile

Posted by Jasin #14 on 15.12.03 - 03:21:52

and for how much

Posted by Arne Hess on 15.12.03 - 06:03:23

@jasin # 14: I went around yesterday in Cyberzone Megamall and Xsite Mobile and they have it in several shops there.  In Makati you can be sure that they have it in Mobile 1 and Complink.

I think they're still selling it for PhP27,500.00

Mabuhay!

Carlo

Posted by Jayson on 15.12.03 - 10:13:02

I also have the ETEN P300

Additional Reveiw:

MP3 playback is decent as long as you encode MP3's above 100 kbps.

Bass is kind of "thin" but I guess it can be solved by using better earphones.

Video playback is decent as well (same quality with the Sony Ericsson P800 with less lags if encoded properly).

I have this annoying dirt stuck in the camera lense. Since the camera is located deep in a narrow hole, cleaning it is difficult.  Might have to take it to the shop.  But again, the camera is just a bonus feature.  Bottomline: this handset is not recommend for shutterbugs. (Note: the higher model -- ETEN P700 -- doesn't have a camera).

Posted by msmobiles on 15.12.03 - 12:57:42

I have read somewhere that this phone has no SDIO so you can't use SDIO Wi-Fi cards in it. I hope I am wrong?

Posted by michael on 15.12.03 - 15:04:53

it's kinda scary to see the screen kinda dull in the pictures, is that low brightness or few bars above lowest? i have never seen that kind of screen at other pictures in a review, any screen comparison? (even it's unfair to compare to 65K, maybe compare to first xda o2 since it's 4096colours as well)

i hope that Carlo can test it with SDIO WiFi :-)

Posted by Paul on 15.12.03 - 18:34:22

Any idea if this phone will work with a SDIO bluetooth card (Toshiba, Sandisk or Socket).

Posted by Jayson on 16.12.03 - 06:03:44

@michael

My previous phone was the p800 so I'll compare the P300 with it (they both have 4096 colors)...

1) The Eten P300 has more crisp and sharper pictures, showing more detail, even if the color range is the same.

2) It's screen contrast and brightness is variable... unlike the Sony Ericsson P800.

3) The screen performs poorly under bright sunlight or when viewed at an angle (as shown in the pictures).

@msmobiles and paul

It's supposed to work with SDIO devices as metioned in the specs.  I use an SD card with it but haven't tested a SDIO device.  The Eten P300 is advertized along with the AirborneAccess WiFi Event...  so it's supposed to work with an SDIO WiFi attachment right?

Posted by michael on 16.12.03 - 15:12:31

i'm not sure how to say this but i think the screen Carlo posted is not too good for usage

@Jayson

does the screen you use better than the image posted? if you don't mind, can you please take pictures of the screen that you use and send me through my email @ msantoso@singnet.com.sg, i really love to see better :-) please please (^_^ )

cheers,

Michael

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