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Review GSM-smartphone MiTAC MIO 8380
MiTAC MIO 8380 is a first smartphone powered by OS Microsoft Smartphone 2002 and made in a clamshell form-factor. For example, HTC Tanager known as Orange SPV has a usual shape without moving parts and so on. As the phone is the first in its class, it is necessary to describe it in more details. Until official announcement this smartphone was named as Canary.
It has large dimensions (97 õ 51,5 õ 28,5 mm), though the weight is only 135 g. Its dimensions are larger than the size of the largest clamshells available on the market today. For example, we can compare it with Samsung V200.
Nevertheless, the phone is handy. In the open mode large size is even an advantage of the device, because loudspeaker covers an ear and isolate from the environmental noise. On the other hand, dimensions of this device are not suitable for women, they are too large for them.
The phone is produced in one silver color, which is one of the favorite ones for Asian companies. You can see a service indicator on the front cover, it operates in the charging mode or while one or another event occurs. This indicator is visible if the phone lies on the table or stays in the cradle. There are two colors of this indicator – red and green.
You can see a loudspeaker under them, which is used to play back ringtone or sound reminders. Volume of the loudspeaker is not high, often it is not heard.
The phone is equipped with a graphical display, which has a resolution of 48*64 pixels. It allows to display several text lines. It’s not very convenient that the phone number is shown on a display in two lines.
On the bottom of the phone you can notice a digital camera lens. IRDA is placed on the top of the device, a strap hole is located nearby.
MMC/SD-card slot is placed on the left-hand side of the phone. Two volume keys are also situated there. A key to call voice memo, handsfree connector and charger connector are placed on the other side of the phone. System connector is located on the bottom of the handset.
Back cover of the phone is used as a battery, an original holder is used on a battery itself. The phone has a lithium-polymer battery of 1050 mAh capacity. According to the manufacturer it could provide up to 72 hours of standby time and up to 3 hours of talking time. In reality it is not perfect. The phone could operate a little bit more than one day in case of 15 minutes of talking (Beeline, Moscow) and up to 45 minutes of using other functions. When you talk more (for example, one hour a day), the battery life lasts only half a day and you need to charge a phone to prolong it. You can directly charge a phone using a charger or use a desktop charger.
Two batteries are included in the standard kit. Developers probably knew about this problems with charging. It’s interesting that many efforts were made to save power in the phone. For example, processor Intel XScale PXA 255 has a frequency 200 MHz, though rated frequency is 400 MHz. An attempt to reduce the frequency was made to decrease power consumption. This processor is very sensitive to charging. When the battery has about 10-15% of power (15-20 minutes till the full discharging) it is almost impossible to use a phone, it reacts too slowly to all commands.
Internal display supports up to 65000 colors and has a resolution of 176õ220 pixels. It is well-seen in inside and outside. Colors become not so bright under the sun, but the picture is quite visible (TFT matrix).
Few words about the keypad. All keys have large dimensions and well-spaced. The keypad is made of plastic and very comfortable. The device has a 4-directional navigation key with OK key inside, that makes navigation through the menu easier. All keys have a blue backlighting which is well-seen in the dark.
Now few words about the memory in the phone. It has 16 Mb of RAM (32 Ìá ROM), OS and running programs occupiy about 7-8 Mb. Remaining place can be occupied by own data and programs.
You can view all folders with a help of File manager. It’s very easy and resembles usual PC. On the contrast to Motorola v700 File manager is not so convenient; it offers simpler navigation. Structure of folders is not so interesting. It’s a little bit inconvenient but almost doesn’t noticeable when you use the phone.
SD/MMC slot allows storing data (audio, video, files) and programs. The main memory is very quickly filled up, so, these cards are really necessary. Lesser memory of the phone you have, slower it works.
40-tones synthesizer is integrated into smartphone, it could play back WAV, Midi files. Unfortunately, volume of the loudspeaker is not high, the sound is heard only in a quiet rooms, outside you’ll definitely miss it. Metallic sounds are heard in the melodies too. Compared to 40-tones polyphony of usual Korean manufacturers, this smartphone loses greatly. We can say that the realization of this polyphony is middling; it’s tunefulness if driver from Microsoft is used, if a ringtone is played back by a program from MiTAC, it sounds much better.
You can see different events in the standby mode, for example, incoming messages, e-mails, reminders from the organizer. You can quickly go to any of them with a help of a navigation key and view them. In the top of the window one can see a horizontal row of icons, which consists of used applications, the icons are changed depending on the programs you are oftener use. ON the whole the navigation is thought-out and convenient.
The menu consists of lists of items, each of them has its own number (up to 9 items are contained on the one screen). You can mode between them using navigation key or pressing a relative number. To go to the upper menu level press a key with an arrow. A key with a house calls basic view of the standby mode screen.
You can use the main menu from MiTAC. It is displayed as a set of icons (3x3). All icons are beautiful and attract attention.
You can input data using all supported languages (even Russian, though Russian interface is not available). Microsoft realized T9 support. The main shortcoming is that you can’t add new words to this vocabulary.
Contacts. Traditionally there are many fields, which allow to add several phone numbers, several e-mails, post address, ICQ and other information to one entry. It is possible to assign special ringtone to each name, but you can’t select a photo. Some names can be sorted into caller groups that it is very convenient.
Taking into account that MiTAC MIO 8380 is a smartphone, you can easily substitute an integrated phonebook to the other one from other manufacturer. Then you will obtain several new functions. Unfortunately there is no voice dialing.
Full synchronization with MS Outlook is supported. The user could download his/her records from SIM-card, but you should understand that only one phone number will be added to one name.
Inbox. All types of messages are kept in Inbox folder, namely e-mails, SMS. It’s not possible to create own folder here. It’s very disappointing because you have a mixture of messages in this folder. POP3/SMTP boxes are supported. SMS templates are available. Amazing but you can select any folder of the file structure from Inbox and download any messages. On the whole functioning of mail program resembles one in PDA.
Internet Explorer. I think you know this program very well. It allows to view all web-pages. It’s better to connect via GPRS-connection, VPN is available.
Calendar. This application will help you to make a schedule of your life. The calendar has monthly, weekly and daily (by hours) views. Full synchronization with PC is supported.
Tasks. All tasks are represented by one list. You can just input text and mark whether this task is made or not. In my opinion, possibilities of this task list are scarce. It’s better to find the other program.
Active Sync. It allows to synchronize data from contacts, Inbox, calendar, tasks with PC via IrDA.
Call history. All calls are displayed in one list.
jBrowser. It is an application from MiTAC (not standard for MS Smartphone 2002). It allows to view wap-pages. It’s a convenient browser, but it is not so necessary when you have IE. It’s just an extra option, though set of supported formats is too large (WBXML, WML1.3, WML2.0, XHTML mobile profile, Chtml è vCARD / vCal).
jMMS. An additional program to work with MMS-messages allows to add different objects into messages (pictures, photos, melodies) and receive messages. It’s easy.
Windows Media Player. This player supports mp3, wav, wma formats. Control of it is standard. Pocket TV, which support mpeg files is an alternative version.
Calculator. It’s really ascetic.
Solitaire. Standard solitaire – the only game, installed in OS.
Settings. All settings concerning the phone control, audio settings, display settings, charging are collected here. We won’t describe them in details.
Most products powered by MS Smartphone 2002 have a standard set of applications, first of all – quality and quantity of extra programs. There are many of them in this device, two of them have been already mentioned - jMMS, jBrowser. Now let’s turn to the other ones.
PhoneBackup. An utility to save data (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks) in memory card.
PhoneExplorer. An application to view memory content. It’s rather simple.
TaskManager. This utility shows which programs are run in the memory of smartphone. It allows to end a task and free the memory.
VideoPlayer. It allows to play back video clips recorded by you, show mpeg3, mpeg4 files. The quality is sufficient, the interface is friendly, you can view first shots of your clips. Simultaneously up to 4 files (as thumbnails) can be dispalyed.
PhoneViewer. It’s better to name this application as a Photo Viewer because it allows to view photos from smartpone’s memory. There is a preview and zoom function; just use a navigation key. The quality of displayed pictures, including those made by integrated camera, is very high.
Voice Notes. Just usual voice memo funtion. It operates in the talking mode.
PhoneCity. World time function. There are up to 5 hours for different cities. Wallpaper and appearance of this clock can be different. The realization of this feature is not bad.
Few words about the camera integrated in the phone. It is CMOS camera with the resolution of 110000 pixels. The resolution of the images is not higher than 320õ240 pixels. There is a possibility to select memory type (internal, card) to store images, adjust contrast and brightness. There is also a timer to take shots with a delay.
Quality of photos is not bad in different conditions. The worst pictures are in the dark, they are blurred and contain noise. Taken pictures look pretty on the screen, you can recognize the objects on PC. Here are the examples of the photos.
Apart from photos you can record video (AVI), the longest duration of this clip is up to 15 seconds. Of course, these clips are not perfect but the picture looks quite good. You can easily understand what happens there.
Reception quality is wonderful, it’s much better than other smartphones have. The main shortcoming is that polyphonic ringer has a low volume. Constantly you notice missed calls when you look on the screen of the phone. Included handsfree with a volume key allows to play back musical files and turns smartphone into mp3-player. But only few users of this smartphone will use this phone as a musical player because the target group of this device is considerably different and not interested in this kind of things.
The phone automatically adds numbers and letters in the existed contact list while you dial a number. I didn't catch the sense of this feature, as in most cases you saw not those data you searched. The simplest way is to use usual Search or manually dial a number.
The main advantage of the smartphone is its OS, which resembles OS installed in PDA or PC in response to capabilities and interface. The user shouldn’t get use to the new interface, he can easily move through all menus even after several minutes of usage.
Difficulties could be noticed with additional programs. For example, it is possible to install only those applications which are certified for using with this OS. Their list is not large. But one can install OS without this restriction (namely this kind of phones are sold in Russia). Please, do not ask us about this possibility, we do not send files.
If compare MiTAC Mio 8380 with SPV which is also powered by the same OS, the first model has several advantages: improved and more convenient form-factor (clamshell), integrated camera, not external one and better quality of the taken picture. Large number of programs is included in the standard kit of Mio 8380 and it makes the smartphone more attractive. Even superficial compareness of these devices shows that Mio 8380 is better than SPV.
On the other hand, future models (for example, Motorola V700) have smaller dimensions and the same features. It’s also necessary to remember that Mio 8380 is already taken out of production and mostly it was produced for Chinese market. The successor of this model is 8390, which has improved camera and lesser size.
We should mention that standard delivery kit includes large range of accessories: 32 Mb MMC card (absent in Russian delivery kit), a special case for smartphone, cradle for synchronization, USB-cable, charger, handsfree with volume adjustment.
Taking into account that it is one of the first representative of smarphones powered by MS Smartphone 2002, this device looks not bad, but remains exotic. It is aimed to people who are very interested in technical novelties, but not business users. At the same time business users are the main target group of this device. If you have a desire to make experiments with this kind of device, select Mio 8380. It will be a right decision, especially if you are an active user of MS Outlook on PC. In this case the smartphone will continue your working place. Besides, it unites PDA and the phone. Impossibility to input data quickly cuts PDA function. The user feels a shortage of a touchscreen. But it is a weak point of all similar devices. On the whole Mio 8380 is more interesting than other smartphones powered by Smartphone 2002 and available on the market. The number of such devices is very small.
We can’t say that this device is cheap, in Russia it costs about 700 USD. But it is interesting because it is one of the first representatives of this class. Think whether this purchasing is reasonable for you. But in the future namely these phones occupy the largest part of the smartphone market and reduce share of PDA, because there will be no need in them as separate devices. The only thing smartphones need is a touchscreen.
Published 18 September 2003
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