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3GSM Congress. BenQ Mobile and new products
After taking over the mobile division of Siemens with 300 mln Euro into the bargain, BenQ has begun creation of a new product line, some representing models had already been introduced a while ago, and the other part materialized only at the congress. Let's cast a glance at them and look if they are of a certain interest to us.
BenQ-Siemens EF91. The highlight of the program is EF91, which is be the first handset with HSDPA support available for purchasing. At the same time Samsung is promoting its own solution and going to become a pioneer in this field as well – Samsung Z560 hasn't been released yet, but is widely advertised in Barcelona . Both devices should hit the shelves in the beginning of this summer.
EF91 is unusually big and can be felt in one's hands – this comes into conflict with the manufacturers' aspiration to introduce “slim” handsets. The device has the dimensions of 92 õ 46.5 õ 23.5 mm, and weighs 100 grammas. Following the rule, the phone supports all three GSM bands and can operate within UMTS-networks. The device has an external 65K OLED display with the resolution of 96 õ 64 pixels. The internal QVGA display (240x320 pixels) is capable of reflecting up to 262k of colors. Those who are keen on high-tech will be pleased to know that the model is equipped with a built in 3.2 mpx camera and a “flash gun”. The second VGA camera won't help you much unless you're having a video call. The product's memory is limited to 32 Mb, nevertheless you always can extend this value by plugging in a microSD flashcard, and that makes it possible for the device to perform as an mp3-player, besides mp3 format, AAC and eAAC+ are also supported here. The standard headphones let you feel the 3D Sound system, and while listening to music, a smooth player's interface will be feasting your eyes. Though you're also at liberty to use wireless stereophones with the help of Bluetooth 1.2 and A2DP profile. What is less pleasant to hear is that the device doesn't have an integrated IrDA port and won't let you upload applications via Bluetooth (only using PC or WAP), also there is no EGDE support – the developers decided to arm the handset only with GPRS class 10 system. As a matter of fact, the model which had to test the new technology turned out to be rather good. One can't say that it will a mass product, though it wasn't the main goal of launching this product. To be precise, the Samsung's solution looks more preferable .
BenQ-Siemens S81. The product line of the third generation monoblock devices has a new arrival – S 81 offers good combination of size and weight. The handset has metallic parts which nicely cool hands. The dimensions are 109 õ 48 õ 13 mm, weight - 99 grammas. The handset differs from the analogues of the other manufacturers exactly in balanced thickness of the shell – it doesn't look too slim or even flattened (sending regards to Samsung Z150).
There not many technical innovations in this model – a TFT-screen, displaying up to 262K colors, a 1.3 mpx camera and a frontal VGA-camera. All three GSM bands are supported - 900/1800/1900, support of GPRS class 10 is available, though the same can not be said about EDGE. 30 Mb of the built in memory are extended with the help of microSD cards. Even though S81 is positioned as a musical solution, these functions are not stresssed. The device has the following codecs supported: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, WMA. The profile of A2DP is available on Bluetooth 1.1. Unfortunately USB connection isn't very fast – what else one could expect from version 1.1? All other functions are standard with no differences from the phones of other companies. At the same time the handset has some adjustments, but mostly cosmetic ones: new icons in the main menu, changed appearance of some sections, e.g. of the phonebook. On the whole the device has become friendlier towards its users.
The product is going to be positioned as a mass solution, and of course not a high-end one. From one point of view, it finds its place above the last years' solution, Sony Ericsson K600i (no memory extension cards there), though on the other hand it is inferior to Sony Ericsson K610i (a worse camera, less storage capacities of the supported flashcards). So in the end the handset takes its place below Nokia 6233, because it has less functionality. The sales are starting in May, the initial price will be about 300 Euro. However following price reduction will be impetuous, which will make the device of the most popular representatives of the third generation. This is a good offer that maybe can't impress with its functionality, but is one of the best at price/quality factor.
BenQ-Siemens EF51. Since musical devices are in vogue nowadays, BenQ couldn't leave out the idea of creating the similar solution, but in this case the developers demonstrated certain sharpness in making up a new handset. The manufacturer didn't make an attempt to change appearance of an already existing model and then rename it – as a matter of fact BenQ-Siemens developed a whole new device with the looks similar to an mp3-player in many ways. A great idea with great future on paper. But in the real life all these innovations are made null and void due to the quality of plastic – this spoils the impression of the handset as it doesn't appear to be expensive, furthermore, it reminds of some devices made by unknown Asian manufacturers (even shutting eyes to the fact it is only a prototype, they are not likely to change the overall impression of cheapness).
Maybe the laid on keyboard's design makes this impression – I don't know, really. The entire bottom part of the device, keys for music playback in particular, is laid on - just the same solution is applied to the modern mp3-players. Having thrown off this part you will see a common alphanumeric keyboard, the upper part of which is some kind of flip. The shell is available either in black or white color solution; in both cases the plastic is glossy.
The model features dimensions of 89 õ 49 õ 18 mm and weight of 95 grammas, a TFT display with low resolution of 128 õ 128 pixels, but capable of showing up to 262K of colors (at least according to the manufacturer), there is also a built in camera with 1.3 mpx resolution and digital zoom, similar to the other handsets. The phone has only 20 Mb of memory bank available to users at first, though it can be extended by plugging in miniSD flashcards. The player supports MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA formats. Wireless headphones can be connected via A2DP profile (Bluetooth 1.2), connection to PC is realized here as simple as it could be – through USB 1.1.
The device is to appear in retail stores in the end of May at the price of 220-240 Euro. The model is aimed mostly at the fans of the company, since it is lacking ergonomics and player's functionality. In other words it won't fit neither those who seek for a quality musical phone, nor the people looking for just a stylish device with music playback function.
BenQ-Siemens EF81. The model was introduced slight prior to the congress – as a matter of fact this is the leading device of the manufacturer. Having been created under the impression of RAZR, it operates in the third generation networks, has microSD extension slot and features 64 Mb of built in memory. The solution is interesting firstly because the developers integrated mp3-player buttons into the exterior part of the body. The external display offers 128 õ 160 pixels resolution, and the internal QVGA one is capable to show up to 262k of colors. The featured 2 mpx camera uses CMOS matrix. The release is scheduled for the end of March, and when it hits the shelves, the model will have similar solutions of Samsung as the major rivals.
Among interesting features, we can note a Bluetooth stereo-headset and a variation of C75 Ronaldo. The other models have already been reviewed by our site numerous times and are not of interest anymore.
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (email@example.com)
Published 14 February 2006
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