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Sharp at 3GSM – a pinch of exotics
I just can’t help visiting Sharp’s booth at various exhibitions, for this company doesn’t come up with great many of models, but those available always present you with some kind of “flavor” unseen before. This year saw a handful of Sharp’s European models, with Sharp 770SH for Vodafone being the highlight of the show – a fold phone designed after the latest trends, specifically boasting mirror-like fascia coating. The already run-of-the-mill cars theme is also there with McLaren Mercedes edition of this model that has exclusive wallpapers, sounds onboard, as well as a label above the display. The GX29 comes in a “motor” edition – generally these offerings look really out of the ordinary.
But everyone’s eyes were naturally caught by the solutions for the Japanese market: for example Foma SH903i makes a statement with its offbeat design – patterned plastic with nicely fitted LED indicators (dot-indicators on the sides). Imagining a Symbian-smartphone housed in this casing is next to impossible, all menus are styled in operator’s trademark colors, but there are some aspects that make everybody’s eyes round.
It is not a secret that for Sharp displays are its major trump, and this model is no exception, having a 2,6-inch 240x320 pixels wide-screen display. The European market will see such displays not earlier than 2008. On top of that the 16 mln-color matrixes available in Europe today just get humiliated by the 262000-capable Sharp’s offering – that display is simply brilliant or even better.
The handset is armed with a 3.2 Mpix CCD-matrix, presenting you with excellent picture quality, especially if snaps are viewed on a big screen, like they were at the exhibition. Video recording capabilities are fine at a resolution of 400x240 pixels (tailored for watching on TV again), and 15 FPS. The video clips looked fairly good on the big screen.
For transferring photos to TV they used IrSimple connectivity, which is an enhanced version of Infrared, allowing for up to 4 Mb/s speeds. Basically, development of “dated” services and features is another, if I may say so, a national trait in Japan. Really, they don’t go for technologies just for the sake of it, don’t forgo solutions that might be improved and combined with already existing offerings on the market of household appliances. Beaming a file, a full-size photo taken with the handset, over this protocol takes about 1 second, which was the main highlight at the company’s booth.
On the Japanese market this handset comes enabled with GPS maps and other navigation services. Also there is a number of fetching utilities for protecting you information, specifically face recognition with the help of the forward-facing camera (what fingerprints are you talking about – it is time to get the handset to know you by sight).Among things I thought were very promising, I shall mention Vivid UI, allowing you to set an animation as a background for the handset’s menu.
We could spend a long time harping on Symbian 8.1 found in the handset, its being morally “dated”, but when you see what can talented arms of programmers do with the device’s interface and its capabilities, well, it does boggle the mind. The model is extraordinary and extremely interesting, thus deserves special attention, particularly in 3G-enabled countries, where it will work without any problems.
We only have to add that this is a music-heavy offerings (WMA support is onboard), featuring a revamped, compared to the default, player. Overall, it a fine example of how to turn a standard product into a marvel, where you would barely find traces of the standard code it bases off. To cut a long story short, this handset is mind-blowing.
As for the prototypes, lacking hardware implementation, there was a music phone that might even make it to the European market.
At the booth one could also spend some quality time with the SideKick 3 from T-Mobile, housed in an unconventional form-factor, making it a good piece of exotics.
The Windows Mobile 5 range of the company offers a couple of Willcom-branded offerings, arriving in the Japanese market this summer. These models are interesting owing to the concept they employ – Sharp didn’t set out to go into minimalism and aimed at coming with powerhouses in the first place. The W-Zero3 – a VGA display model equipped with a thumbboard (horizontal slider) and miniSD memory expansion slot. I didn’t particularly like the handset because of its brick-like looks, and who’ll buy it, even with its touchscreen – I really can’t say.
Its close sibling, W-Zero3 Premium Version is indeed another pair of shoes – styled in conventional candy-bar form-factor, if big, it sports quality plastic (either white or black). Having a top-notch wide-screen touch sensitive display onboard, it also plays host to a QWERTY-keyboard. Weighing in at 175 grams, it is beyond what we call “normal”, but generally speaking for a tad more feature-packed offerings that are to come in future, these dimensions and weight will be not something out of the ordinary. This device appeals mostly due to having its own, unique face.
Wrapping up the brief story on the Sharp-branded exotic gadgets, I hope I have evoked at least a slightest desire to take a closer look at the company’s products in you. If you happen to be in Japan, don’t miss the chance to play around with similar models, they are really interesting.
Published 01 March 2007
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