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SoloPalmari review – Fujitsu-Siemens T830.

Postato 3 Marzo 2006 da Gti in English Contents

During the last 3Gsm World Congress the T830, the Pda phone manufactured by Fujitsu-Siemens, was officially introduced. It is considered one of the most advanced pocket devices among the ones which already exist and the ones that are about to be launched onto the market. This remark stems from the fact that it features all of the stand-out technologies now spread: the telephone module Umts, WiFi, Bluetooth, the Qwerty keyboard, the built-in Gps and the Usb Host protocol.

Being present at the event in Barcelona, SoloPalmari has had the opportunity to examine the T830 in depth, far from the crowd of curious people and of experts. Thanks to this opportunity we have been able to shoot a series of pictures of the handheld, in addition to some observations about its features, which, for a number of reasons, have deserved to be published only now, two weeks after the event.
This introduction mainly aims at underlining that we did not have much time to test the device, and that the T830 is still not much more than a prototype. Many of the features, like the Gps, have not been implemented yet, and many others are still waiting for the delicate final tuning by the Fujitsu-Siemens engineers. It goes without saying that the following ratings should be considered “temporary”, also the ones linked to the hardware and software features, apparently definite. An example may concern both the colour and some minor details referring to the body and the keyboard, which could be slightly modified in the final version of the device.
Therefore this review intends to draw a brief outline in which we try to describe a subject still in the half-light as precisely as possible. However, despite the introduction, we can undoubtedly entrust this subject with a future main role.

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Therefore this review intends to draw a brief outline in which we try to describe a subject still in the half-light as precisely as possible. However, despite the introduction, we can undoubtedly entrust this subject with a future main role.

Specifications

  • Windows Mobile 5.0
  • Intel’s PXA270 processor running at 416MHz
  • Gsm/Umts triband
  • 128MB of ROM
  • 64MB of RAM
  • Gps SiRF Star III
  • 2.4” Display, 240-by-240-pixel resolution, 65.000 colours, transflective TFT
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Usb Client/Host
  • Slot SD I/O MMC
  • External 2 megapixel camera, internal Vga camera (only T830)
  • 1.500 mAh Lithium Ion replaceable Battery
  • Weight: 190 grams
  • Size: 126 x 64 x 21 millimeters


Form factor

The T830 clearly reintroduces many of the stylistic features which characterized previous ranges of Fujitsu-Siemens Pdas, and above all the ones that characterized the successful LOOX 720.
In particular, we are referring to the lateral edges, which are slightly curved inwards and two-coloured: grey and satin-finished silver. Also the main keyboard, which is just below the display, evidently recalls the one featured in the handheld which is still the main model of the Fsc range, even though the shape and the size are slightly different.

The choice not to break with the past probably derives from the need to maintain strong continuity with a model which has been regarded as an example of  high-quality construction and fully-balanced software architecture. However, some details are enough to show how, also from an aesthetic point of view, the T830 has its own independence and maturity. For instance, we can talk about the cover that hides the internal camera, which is on the front, over the screen. However small it may be, the visible grid which is embedded in it, aims at giving a deliberate technological tone to the global design, softened by the rounded shades of both the casing and the edges, as well as of the structure of the Qwerty keyboard.
High-quality materials have clearly been used, though the use of small metal frames, in place of those made of hard plastic, would have surely guaranteed a much better aesthetic result.
If you hold it, the device appears compact, solid and tough.

Dimensions

If we consider its contents in relation to its physical dimensions, the T830 can be reckoned to be a device of well-balanced proportions. We have already reported data concerning the specifications: now let’s compare the T830 directly with other Pocket PC handhelds.

In this image the device is between two very recent Pdas, both put onto the market by Hp and well-known enough to be used to make a comparison; on the left the rx1950, on the right the hx2490.

Being its distant ancestor, also the LOOX 720 has to be included in the group.

The four handhelds are sideways: the T830 evidently stands out both for its height and for its thickness. On the other hand, it is the narrowest device among the ones in the picture.

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{mospagebreak heading=- Specifications, design, dimensions&title=- Hardware functions}

Hardware functions

We have already hinted at the small cover which hides the device’s Vga internal camera, which is supposed to back videocalls. Unfortunately, in the model presented at the 3Gsm, it cannot be used yet, contrary to the 2 Megapixel camera; indeed, the software destined to its functioning.
This has prevented us from checking what we suspect: the mere shifting of the cover which hides the camera should allow both its starting and the starting of the speakerphone, and probably even the answering the videocall itself.
We have also mentioned the grid, which covers the telephone speaker, and also a loudspeaker dedicated to the VoIp protocol, according to what the specifications let us suppose.

The display has a 240-by-240-pixel resolution. It seems that the so-called “square screen” is to be considered an obvious choice for the Pda phones with visible Qwerty keyboards. The same chioice has been made by Hp for its hw6515 and for the hw6915, which will be launched onto the international market in April.
A larger screen would have facilitated video and photo reproduction, the consultation of Web contents or Excel documents, but at the same time it would necessarily have caused an excessive increase in the dimensions of the Pda.
The font is clear to read, and the so-called “pixeling” is hardly perceptible, thanks to the small dimensions of the usable panel of the display, whose official size is 2.4” diagonally.
The rendering of colours is fine, and so is the contrast between dark and light shades.

Now let’s take a closer look at the Qwerty keyboard. It is composed of 39 keys, and nearly each of them has a double function.
The keyboard has a large layout, and ergonomics carefully conceived in order to make keys easier to hit. However, those who have large hands will have to train for a  long time to become familiar with the system. As an alternative, the always efficient virtual on-screen keyboard or other input methods which use the stylus pen.

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Just above we find the group of  the main buttons; they have two functions, which can be modified through the relative tool in the system settings. In the middle we find the five-way directional pad, on the sides the buttons linked to the traditional telephone functions. Through a short press, the red handset button has also the function to put in the background the open applications and to deactivate the display. Through a long press, instead, it links us to the Fsc Speed Menu, which contains a list of operations and applications immediately accessible.
At the top there are the soft keys, which refer to the menus on the inferior bar of the display; below, on the left, we have the calendar shortcut button, and, on the right, the email.
Right below the keyboard there is the microphone, which can hardly be seen.

On the right-hand side of the device we find the slot for SD I/O-MMC, the notes shortcut button and the voice record button.  

The similarity between the left-hand profile of the T830 and the LOOX 720’s is so evident that one device could easily be mistaken for the other one, but for the different thickness.
This characteristic turns out to be useful, since it allows us to retrieve a passage from the review SoloPalmari dedicated to the LOOX, one year and a half ago now:
“The left-hand side offers the jog dial (this is another detail not to be neglected: it is extremely convenient to use to scroll up or down lists, appointments in the calendar, text or web pages) which, if pressed, substitutes the “select” button.
Nearby, on the right, we have the button which launches the external camera (present in the T830, but not in the cheaper T810) and can be set with two functions.

Now let’s have a look at the bottom side of the device. This gives us the chance to underline a welcome novelty if compared with the other models in the Fujitsu-Siemens range: the standard miniUSB slot. It allows to power and to recharge the Pda, to synchronize it with computers featuring ActiveSync, and to use the Usb Host function (thanks to an adapter, which was not available at the 3Gsm World Congress).
This is a detail not to underestimate: indeed any cable supporting the same protocol can be used.
On the left we find the slot for an external GPS antenna, clearly highlighted by an icon featuring a satellite.

On the top of the device we have the audio stereo jack for headphones.
Two LEDs which indicate the wireless protocol (telephony, WiFi, Bluetooth) activity and charge status are embedded in the lateral edges. At the top, on the right, there is the stylus pen slot.

The lower portion of the back of the device is entirely occupied by the battery compartment.
The dark panel slightly raised, which partially covers the higher part, protects the Gps module.
Here, on the left, a compartment destined to the attachment of a wrist strap.
On the left, the grid covering the speakerphone loudspeaker is evident: the audio volume is loud enough to be heard even in average noisy surroundings; on the contrary, it is impossible for us to evaluate the quality of music reproduction, since in the prototype we are examining the software related to it is still rough.
Below, on the left, there is the input for an external telephone antenna. Next to it, the focus of the 2 Megapixel camera.

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{mospagebreak title=- Software}

Software.

The following is a brief recap of the functions that are implemented in the device by the software bundle, originally provided with Windows Mobile 5.0, and by the ones directly tuned by Fujitsu-Siemens.
Once again we have to repeat that the T830 we are examining in this review is a prototype, tested during a short period of time on the occasion of the last 3Gsm World Congress.
Many of the features had not been implemented yet, and some others still needed adapting to the hardware patch. Among the most prestigious absent features, we can undoubtedly mention videophony.

   

On the left, a screenshot of  the “Today” screen. On the right, we can notice the scroll bar, which expands functionality vertically where the “home” of the display is implemented with a large number of “shortcuts” to system applications. The plug-in, thanks to which tools for the management and settings of wireless connection, such as videophony, Bluetooth, WiFi can be invoked, is even more evident.

   

This is the complete list of the applications directly implemented by Fujitsu-Siemens:

  • -SpeedMenu: menu used to manage functions and programs.
  • -Keylock: used to lock the keys and the display.
  • -CONNECTMOBILITY – E2C: wireless connectivity management
  • -Voice Recorder
  • -Audio Path: advanced audio settings
  • -Computers Panning: panning allows to shift the objects seen on the display through the stylus pen.
  • -Computers Password.


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Among the most interesting programs we find Voice Commander, which allows to set up voice commands to invoke functions, programs, and to manage the telephone module.
In the screenshot on the right, above, the applet of the parameters of audio recording and reproducing.

   

One of the T830’s strong points is connectivity: wireless protocols can be managed from a single screen, both for the settings and for the use.

   

The images above show the successful internet connection via Gsm/Umts. In a very short time, we have come home from Barcelona for a short time.

   

Another peculiarity of the Pda phone Fsc is Usb Host connectivity. It can be activated by an appropriate applet. In order to use it the handheld must be provided with a suitable cable.
In the image on the right the Fsc Speed Menu is shown; it contains a list of functions and programs that can be modified by the user. The menu can be invoked by a long press of the hang-up button (the red handset key).

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{mospagebreak title=- Benchmarks}

Benchmarks.

Thanks to the collaboration of a kind German correspondent, and to the presence of SoloPalmari at the 2006 CeBIT in Hannover we have been able to do benchmarks on the Fujitsu-Siemens T830. Tests turn out to be reliable; once again, we underline that we are talking about a prototype, therefore performances of the final version of the Pda phone might decidedly vary.

The placing of the T830 in the processor test reflects its stated power: 416 MHz. The good speed skills of data elaboration of the Cpu undoubtedly promote the management of the telephone module and of other applications open in the background contemporaneously.

The date referring to the file system performance, that is the time required to open files and folders is far less exciting: indeed the T830 is ranked last, with a big difference between it and the next-to-last I-mate K-Jam. However, the result does not reflect the impressions that we get when we actually use the device.

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As for the graphics test, the T830 achieves good results, surely attributable, to a great extent, to the small dimensions of the display. The graphical system can be compared with higher-range Pdas , and it is much better than the I-Mate JasJar (which struggles a lot due to the Vga screen) and the K-Jam, whose Omap processor is clearly not conceived for this particular kind of applications.
We need to say that this test has shown some signs of incompatibility, probably owing to the 240 x 240 resolution of the display.

“Index”: this is the global performance test, according to the method used by the software adopted for the measurements, Spb Benchmark. The fact that Fujitsu-Siemens T830 is ranked last is evidently affected by the negative results achieved in the file system test. However, we repeat that the device used is still a pre-release, and that also in daily use it seems like the prototype lacks the necessary final tuning.

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{mospagebreak title=- Conclusion}

Conclusion

We wish we had been able to include at least one more chapter in our review, the one referring to multimedia. And we would sooner have examined the final version of the device, in order to rate its actual performances. However, having the opportunity to use it, our rough impression is that the Pda phone is fast, and its performances appear better when compared with other handhelds belonging to the same category.
For instance, we can talk about the Htc Universal, which, however, has to deal with extra work required by the Vga display.
Anyway, the time needed to open system applications is short, and so is the multitasking among a limited number of programs simultaneously open.

The further chapter, about multimedia, could not have been written. As we have already said, the software dedicated to the audio management was only partially ready, and the jack for stereo headphones was indeed not working. However, we have been able to test a short Wma video (320 x 240, 480Kbps) that had been put on a Secure Digital. Its widescreen reproduction was clear, but the lateral edges were necessarily cut ( the display has a 240 x 240 pixel resolution).
SoloPalmari will by all means meet the T830 again, and not because of the features we were not able to test, but so as to put the device to the test in more demanding uses.
In he first place, satellite navigation, which could not be tested owing to the absence of the Gps module. What we can say, right now, referring both to the global look of the device and to the features we actually tested is that the T830 deserves a thumbs up rating.

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The T830 will be included in a particular market segment which mainly concerns business users, thanks to its great portability and to the strong presence of technological contents.
Among these, firstly, the complete range of communication protocols which turned out to be efficient during the tests, despite the prototype nature of the device (WiFi and Bluetooth).
The telephone module UMTS will be the standard platform for the use of remote communication technologies Windows will implement shortly. The implicit reference is to the AKU 2.0 and its “Direct Push” technology. Therefore ours is a valuable tool, an extremely versatile device: the T830 can be used both as an ordinary mobile phone, a quality which is not frequent among competing products, and as an advanced “all in one” partner.
Gps capabilities, linked to the embedded satellite system, will do the rest.
We will have to wait for the moment when multimedia can actually be rated to assess the interest the Pda phone will arouse in the consumer market.

However, it goes without saying that this portion of the market may be strongly attracted by the T830: this fact is proved by the attention users of pocket devices are showing towards it even now.
If the T830’s global technological capabilities will be able to make up for its shortcomings, due to the fact that the handheld is not clearly conceived for entertaining, then the last product by Fujitsu-Siemens will surely assert itself on the market as an absolute reference point.

Pros

  • -Design
  • -Dimensions
  • -High-quality materials
  • -Umts, WiFi (802.11 b/g), Bluetooth
  • -Gps SiRF Star III
  • -Standard miniUSB slot

Cons

  • -Qwerty keyboard, suitable for small fingers

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The device will be launched onto the market in July, 2006.

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Autore

Gti



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