The most optimistic people in the world write press releases. Not for them the ambiguity of “possibly” or “maybe” or “in all likelihood”. Instead, press releases talk of absolutes. And when it comes to mobile handsets, these absolutes are usually “coolest”, “lightest” and occasionally, “most expensive”.
Therefore, when I was handed the Asus P565 with the promise that it was the fastest business PDA in the world, I was a tad skeptical. “Fastest” is not the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of a mobile communication device. Mind you, when Asus say “fastest”, it doesn’t mean that in the conventional network speed sense. They mean that the P565 has an eye-popping 800 MHz processor onboard.
The Asus P565 combines pleasing design with a powerful processor and excellent display.
If you have a sluggish old Celeron desktop at home bought around, say, early 2001 or so, then the P565’s Marvell Tavor chip is about as powerful as the CPU on your machine. You might call that overkill considering that the spanking new BlackBerry Bold, which we gave a glowing review some fortnights ago on these pages, comes with a Marvell Tavor chip that clocks out at 624 MHz.
And the Bold is no slowpoke.
Which can only mean that the P565 should be able to handle its Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system with ease.
But does it?
Yes and no.
Now Windows Mobile is by no means our favourite mobile OS, largely because it’s clunky, unintuitive and… we’ve been spoiled by our BlackBerrys. A function that only takes a click, roll and click on the BlackBerry might take many moments of puzzled stylus usage and hourglass-staring on Windows Mobile.
But for a few minutes the clouds parted and the P565 gave us a whole new perspective to Windows Mobile. Except for an inordinate delay at start-up, the phone clicked through menus and in and out of functions with zippy speed. We had never used Windows Mobile with such rapidity. Clearly the “fastest PDA processor ever” was doing its thing in the background.
We could never get the onboard GPS to work. But that is better blamed on software than on hardware.
But speedy performance aside, what really endeared the P565 to us was its pleasing design. While not path-breaking, the whole package—materials, curved bottom end, decent button sizes and weight—made it very pleasing to hold in the hand.
Verdict: Yes, the P565 has brains aplenty. But we liked it better for its beauty. For business users who’ve been brought up on a steady diet of Windows Mobile, the P565 promises a snappier experience. For others, it may not be a good enough reason to switch operating systems.
Screen: 2.8 inch, VGA
Battery life: 4 hours talk time, 10 days standby
Camera: 3 megapixel
Memory: 256 MB onboard, microSD slot
You like to move it
We wouldn’t recommend Sony Ericsson’s new F305 gaming phones if you are one of those people who play on their phones while commuting to work. At some point, one of the 50-plus games on board will get you hooked, and you’re either going to fling the phone out of the train window or floor someone with an uppercut.
That’s because the F305 comes with a simple onboard motion sensor and, most importantly, games that use the sensor.
Blame the Nintendo Wii or the more recent touch-enabled Apple products. But motion sensing, along with touch screens and GPS, is quickly becoming the norm for cool new electronic products. (And honestly, no one can easily forget the first time they flipped an iPod Touch on its side and saw the screen magically fall over. The joy, the wonderment!)
The F305 slider is an awesome, mildly juvenile, bundle of fun. Take the Bass Fishing game, for instance. Playing it involves pulling the phone back and then throwing your arm forward—not letting go of the phone is recommended—which casts a line. You then need to flick the phone backwards while pressing a button to hook a fish and reel it in.
The F305 comes loaded with 50 games many of which use the onboard motion sensor
Not only does one look ridiculous ‘fishing’ with a phone in the office but, curses, the game is rather addictive once you ‘get it’. There is also the compulsory bowling game and my favourite: Johnny Cash Stuntman Does Texas. You must launch sadomasochist Johnny Cash from a cannon, glide him through the air with the motion sensor hitting targets and getting hit by lightning before bringing him back to earth with a crash, often on top of healthy cactii. Office deadlines vanish in front of such mindless fun.
And when the fun of the games wears off, as it eventually will, you are still left with a solid phone. The F305 is very well put together—the slider works smoothly, the buttons don’t wobble at all and the phone has good audio quality.
If you can forgive the iffy Sony Ericsson user interface, a few minor usability bugs and the sub-par camera, the F305 is good fun indeed. And if you are in the market for a creak-free slider phone with no interest in games or motion sensing whatsoever, we would still ask you to give the F305 a passing glance.
Verdict: Solid slider phone with just enough hardware and software to keep you distracted on the train. Watch out for sore elbows though.
Sony Ericsson F305
Screen: 2 inch
Battery life: 8 hours talk time, 17 days standby
Camera: 2 megapixel
Memory: 10 MB onboard, comes with 512 MB M2 memory stick with 50 games