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REVIEW: ETEN P700 Bluetooth Pocket PC Phone Edition
Posted by Carlo Guerrero - on Friday, 30.01.04 - 21:25:01 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 11703x
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I recently had the opportunity to test the ETEN P700 BT and what great timing it was since I was on my way to a four day photography assignment in Cebu to cover the Sinulog Festival. This meant that I would be able to get to maximize the P700's communication capabilities on the field. I'm sure a lot of people have been waiting for this review.

First thing's first. When I received the unit I obviously got it up and running, charged the battery, photographed it, and then put it to the basic tests first. It seemed to be stable and quick. While the benchmark tests showed that it was considerably slower than the O2 XDA II, its responsiveness showed otherwise. My assumption here is that the ETEN P700 doesn't have to load up the camera software or the huge Caller ID software of the XDA II, although it does include a small Photo ID Utility buried into the Contacts Options.

Whoah! This thing is huge. That was my first reaction when I opened the box. But after inspecting it all, it seemed to sink in and sort of reminded me of the ASUS A620 and my old Cassiopeia E-200 Pocket PC. It isn't really that huge as it is thinner than my old Cassiopeia. The squarish design though is something that you will have to learn how to love.

The screen is acceptable and while it is a Transflective Screen, it seems that the viewing angle plays a big factor in view quality. I felt that my other Pocket PCs performed slightly better when viewed at an angle. The screen was contrasty and bright and when viewed straight on, (which is how you're supposed to view it anyway), it is as clear as the most popular Pocket PC available.

The P700's styling has some good points and some bad points. Good points first: the P700 has most of the controls within reach of your right thumb, with the D-Pad flanked with the Contacts button and the Home button, followed by the Call and End buttons. The volume rocker wheel + action button and record/notes button on the left side of the unit just at the right place for the left thumb to reach. Also found in the same cluster of controls is the IR port and the reset button. What I found to lack tactile feedback and also a bit difficult to access was the power button switch found at the top right part of the unit. The plastic (read flimsy and light) stylus was nicely hidden but was very difficult to access (I'm a pen/stylus combo user so I really didn't mind this). The SD/MMC slot is also hidden behind the stylus which means that the stylus will have to be removed first before you can gain access to the SD/MMC slot. This also means that the SD/MMC slot may not be designed for I/O use at all. The CF slot though was given a nice touch with a sliding door which means that the innards of the P700 are kept safe when there is no CF card in the slot.

I benchmarked the unit and it seemed to perform at par with most of the Pocket PCs available. It did shine in the ActiveSync test though beating most by about 50% better. Although the benchmark results were not what I expected, it seemed to be more responsive than the other Pocket PC Phone Editions I have tested. This is actually a good thing. My only gripe with this unit though is the weak speaker which, with the unit kept in its flip case, is simply inaudible.

While I have seen better implementations of the BT utility in other Pocket PCs, I still have to see one that performs as well on a Pocket PC Phone Edition. The P700 comes with some useful features though such as BT file transfer and BT vCard sending and receiving.

The P700 doesn't come with a built-in MMS application, and has to be installed by the user. Good enough though is the availability of EzWAP as a bundled application. It's nice to know too that the MSN Messenger that comes with the unit is already of the updated one and does not require any upgrading.

The P700 has some nice touches such as the battery lock switch which prevents the battery from falling off and exposing the more or less losely inserted SIM card. Just like the P300 the P700 has a small switch for powering up the backup battery. The backup battery isn't really meant to run the device without the main battery, so beware of this feature. It's there to aid keep data intact only for changing spent batteries also, this must never be switched off unless you want to erase all data in the P700. The P700's batteries still retain enough charge to keep valuable data intact even though you may not be able to power on the device anymore (a characteristic of Pocket PCs with removable main batteries).

The SIM card is inserted in a slot just under the battery lock. It may be an odd place to put it and it felt a bit too lose in its slot when the battery was removed. But shouldn't really be a problem as you should always have a main battery on the P700 at all times anyway.

As with the ETEN P300, the cradle comes with an extra slot for a second battery. There is also a USB host port for use with devices such as flash drives, USB mice, and USB keyboards.

I mentioned that I battle tested the P700 BT, well, in a recent photo assignment, I used it as my main communications device. Charging it in the hotel and packing it along with my SMART Amazing Phone (Tanager) for backup. Each charge seems to last pretty long and whenever I'd get back to the hotel after a days work, the battery remained in the 60% mark. This was even more surprising as I was making several 10 minute and 30 minute calls during the day.

I've set it to vibrate and ring as I really wouldn't be able to hear it that well when kept in my pocket, and under the heat, and being in the streets of Cebu during the Sinulog festival, it has kept me in touch with the people I was working with. The voice quality was actually quite clear. The leather flip cover though somehow impedes access to the microphone which means that at times the person on the other line would complain of not being able to hear me. Slipping it out of the case solved the problem. I guess a better case design is in order.

During my last day in Cebu, I deliberately kept the unit off the charger even though I was at the hotel. This meant that it was running from the previous day's charge and was actually good enough to keep it active for the rest of the day. For those who are power users who may find the supplied battery to be insufficient to last them the whole day, spare batteries are available.

It may not have a camera and it may not look so flashy. But one thing I'm sure of is that it works well as a PDA and as a phone. Just as with other Pocket PC Phone Edition devices, the P700 comes with a stereo hands-free kit which has its own volume control and call/end button.

The ETEN P700 BT is available for $680.00 (PhP38,000.00).

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Comments
Posted by vwbeetle on 01.02.04 - 15:03:59

Carlo,

Does the P700 have a BT headset profile? Also, have you tested it with an SDIO card, such as the wifi card. Coulkd it be that you also cannot use sdio cards with it like the P300? Thanks.

vwb

Posted by jmbneaf on 01.02.04 - 19:30:58

The P700 isn't all that it is cracked up to be - please read me thoughts in the PPCW forum here before buying...

http://www.theunwired.net/forum/v...

-JB

Posted by Arne Hess on 01.02.04 - 22:42:28

@jmbneaf:The P700 comes at $200 less than the XDA II.  Bear in mind that not all people can spend $900 for a PPC Phone Edition (without carrier plan).

While the P700 may not be all that pretty when compared with an XDA II, it worked fine for me.  I've been using the P700 for more than 408 hrs... and while initially I felt that the device was huge and bulky, I also noticed that it was easier to slip into my back pocket as compared to my Cassiopeia E-200.  It worked well as a communication device and it didn't let me down. 

Here are some things people might want to consider.

The P700 can last at an average of 2days on a single charge.  Extra batteries can be purchased at about half the price as that of the XDA II.  The XDA I on the other hand has an internal battery which cannot be swapped... so I guess the older XDA I gets a big minus here... 

It comes with a CF slot on top... add a 1.3 MP CF Camera and you still have $$$ for an extra battery.  Now you will have a PPC Phone Edition with a 1.3MP camera which can rotate and be used with Microsoft Portrait for video phone (VOIP with video) use.

The inclusion of a CF slot  and the good battery life may be the deciding factor here for some people.  I did not care too much about the brightness of the screen of the PPC... I keep my 2210's screen brightness about 2 notches from the bottom... and the P700 on it's default setting... (somewhere in the middle).

The P700 is a mixed bag of good features, performance, and some quirkiness to it.

Overall, I'd say you the P700 is full of potential.  The question is will the user realise this potential?

BTW, I never really used the stylus of the P700... it's just impossible... I'd rather use my combo pen/stylus.

Mabuhay!!!

Carlo

Posted by Chris Paulin on 02.02.04 - 00:41:46

So Carlo you are recommending to use another stylus that than to use the bundled stylus in P700.

Posted by jmbneaf on 02.02.04 - 01:12:09

@Carlo - I can't afford an XDA-II either - thats why I got a P700!!  I knew it wasn't all that pretty when I ordered it.  I found things like the CF slot and SD slot and case to be very problematic with in less than one day of use.   I don't know how many CF or SD cards you have, but I have a couple of each.  The fact that the case would not close with a standard 256 Mb CF card really turned me off & changing the SD card was cumbersome too (although livable, just a pain to use the stylus to push on the card to remove it as my fingers couldn't touch it).

Agreed, the P700 has potential - but having used quality made PPC's in the past - these problem details to me are not worth $700 US.  ETEN needs a better mechanical design using the guts of the P700 then they'll have a PPC worth the price IMHO.

-JB

Posted by Arne Hess on 02.02.04 - 04:17:02

@jmbneaf: " (although livable, just a pain to use the stylus to push on the card to remove it as my fingers couldn't touch it). "

You hit the nail squarely on the head with this one... I agree here... but there is a slight advantage to this... In my 2210, without the CF cover, I always accidentally eject my SD Card... and it's not a good thing when you have a 256MB card in there.

I guess the P700 is actually best suited for a 512MB SD card that you don't have to remove at all. :-)

I agree with that ETEN could have done better...  If ETEN could have placed a better screen in their P300 even and a louder speaker... I'm sure it would even eat up into the high end PPC Phone Edition devices...

I think things will still improve and all our feedback might stir up some activity in their R&D.

BUt I guess for those who don't mind the size and need the CF slot, this thing is the best PPC PE $700 can buy.

Mabuhay!!!

Carlo

Posted by Arne Hess on 02.02.04 - 05:08:56

@Chris Paulin: I recommend using another stylus... If you have a stylus/pen combo, so much the better.

Carlo

Posted by leojacinto on 02.02.04 - 14:58:42

im a sophomore college student and with all the academic demands, i thought having a phone like the xda ii would be great, but it occured to me that buying it at 48k pesos is not a very wise idea since xda releases a phone at a very high price then would adjust that price to something very low, well, my loss (take the case of xda (the first one)). so i got the eten p700, and, and im glad i did! haven't encountered any of the problems.

Posted by Chris Paulin on 03.02.04 - 07:18:50

hi carlo, may i know what is the brand of the 1.3MP CF Camera you are using?

thanks

Posted by Matt Montoya on 10.02.04 - 12:12:16

@chris:

I think Carlo was referring to the Eagletec 1.3 MP CF cam, http://www.eagletec.net/log...

Posted by Chris Paulin on 10.02.04 - 14:29:35

@matt:

ur right matt, i check it out with the eten distributor here in Phil, they said that it is from mobile1 but when I ask them they said that it is out of stock, and it cost around P6,000+.

I talked to my friend in China he said that an Eagletec 1.3MP CF cam is around P10,000 (converted from RMB). This is because such device is considered as luxury in China (taxes!), cellphones is not cheap in china either... better in hongkong smile

no choice but to to wait for mobile1 to have it on stock.

Posted by Bobby Yu on 12.02.04 - 09:51:19

I read with interest your article on the Eten P300 while I was contemplating to buy the P700. I was glad when I saw that you have already tested the P700 while you were here in Cebu, where I am residing. I am intrigued by your test report. The only thing I want to know more from you is the brand of the !.3 M camera you are using. I read about an HP brand. But I don't know what you can recommend. Thanks.

Posted by Arne Hess on 12.02.04 - 16:53:55

@Bobby Yu: As far as CF Cameras are concerned, try getting one that is supported by the different applications available.

My preference is normally for one which comes with a good software for taking photos or video and can also be used for Microsoft Portrait for VideoPhone use.

You can check out more on the supported CF cameras in http://research.microsoft.c...

Carlo

Posted by Chris Paulin on 13.02.04 - 07:01:30

@carlo: I don't see (or maybe I missed it) any link for compatible cf camera on that microsoft page, can you name one.

Btw I went to Mobile1 and ordered my P700 (with a sandisk 256 SD), I will have it next week.

I also bought a CF LAN from China with the help of my friend who went there (cost 350rmb, 8rmb=$).

Will share you my insights about it.

Posted by Samantha Williams on 16.02.04 - 11:01:24

I am having a few problems with my new P700. 1) Syncing with ActiveSync (Win2k) and my P700. It keeps reverting to Guest instead of the PPC although the connection is working (can browse the net from the cradle). I've looked on loads of forums and MS website, but nothing makes any difference apart from hard reset, which is timeconsuming and tedious. 2) I can't get my bluetooth headset to work with it, even though it recognises and pairs with it (have tried two different headsets and the same thing happens - nothing!). Any help would be appreciated. Sam

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