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Review GSM-phone Sagem myX-8
The model indexed X8 was already known several years ago, but then the project described it as a clamshell with the unique for the time opening angle of 180 degrees. At that time the developers did failed in solving the problem of the fold's reliability and the model was unreliable in mechanics. The device has never lived till its commerce realisation and the company has never shown it, except the press conference in Russia when it was shown as a sample of the series development. Some time has elapsed and the company of Philips has had a similar product. So Sagem has remembered the model forgotten for a while.
Rumours about the preparing products depicted everything else but the model to enter the market. The presence of an expansion slot for memory cards played a practical joke on many journalists as they arrogated a superfluous functionality to the handset and began call it a smartphone on the analogy of S7. It is here that some users' views result from, for they have read out-dated information and applied to the real device.
As evident from its index, X8 is a top model in the series by Sagem. The distinctions from other handsets consist of a large screen with QVGA resolution, an expansion slot for memory cards, a 1.3 megapixel CCD-camera. The set of functions is rather impressive and uncharacteristic for a manufacture of the second order. For the first time the company has ordered a design elsewhere and rejected its opinion on the product. The first experience is successful to a certain extent: though the succession with handsets of the previous series remains, the device has its own face. X8 was designed by the studio of Ora-Ito that is written on the body, headbands on start up, and pre-installed pictures. By the way, many pictures are sketches of works by the studio.
The handset is of white glossy plastic nice t the touch. The back cover overlays an accumulator compartment and has a thin metal clothing. There is a camera button on the left and an IrDA gap on the right side surfaces. The bottom has an interface connector. On the side there is a strap hole. When the dimensions (115х47х21 mm) and weight (125 g) are considered, we cannot say the handset suits for wearing on the neck. The strap fastening is good for a hand strap at the most. The device is more likely a masculine one and it will hardly fit a woman owing to its size.
The handset's advantage is its screen with QVGA resolution that gives 240х320 points. With regard to a big font size which makes text most readable we have up to 9 text lines and 2 service lines. The most of those who see the screen of X8 for the first time admire it: the picture is bright, clear and, to some extent, three-dimensional (the screen is recessed a little and that gives this impression). Subjectively without a direct comparison with screens of other manufacturers the screen of X8 seems to be the best in the market. It shows 262K colours.
But we could not set aside a real compare to other handsets and so we have chosen such models as Samsung D500, Motorola V535, Sharp GX30, GX25 (200 - the model in Russia). As a matter of fact, Motorola uses the matrix by Sharp for its production and that makes them analogous to a big extent. Still settings of colour profiles differ and this implies different visual perception of an image.
A set of several pictures was uploaded to all the devices and then a comparison of their quality was made. The dimensions of the screen differed as well as their resolutions, only products by Sharp had QVGA. It was the devices by Sharp and Sagem X8 that had the highest quality of a picture showing. Detailed examining displayed that X8 having a slight moire pattern and a deterioration of fine details. Nevertheless the screen of Sagem X8 is one of the best in the market and inferior merely to Sharp products.
Many people think a picture on X8 look better. This mistake follows from that the interface of X8 is rather brighter and diversified by numerous icons. Meanwhile Sharp handsets lag behind quite enough. The interface brightness gives the impression of a better screen and yet affects TFT screen working in the sun, for it fades much and a picture is hardly seen.
The number keys are small in size, though well distributed. The previous products of the X series, especially X6 and X7, were incomplete on account of the number keypad. There is an evident improvement in ergonomics of the keypad, but they are still imperfect. They tend to usual keypads, though not as handy when operating for a long time, for instance, dialling a number. The backlighting of the keys is white and characters are well distinguished under various conditions. The key square has stipulated a moderate font size. A joystick handles pressures and is rather handy.
The back panel has an objective as well as a flash, this is a bright LED. If you look for an expansion slot for miniSD cards on the outside, you will fail. You should take a cover away; it is held up by a latch and has no backlash. You will see a gap for memory cards. This is a peculiar hot changing, but it is better than nothing.
The handset has a Li-Ion accumulator of the capacity of 760 mAh. According to the manufacturer, it may provide up to 200 hours in standby mode and up to 3 hours in talk mode. In the conditions of Moscow MTS network the device has been working for about 2 days with 45 minutes of talks and 20 minutes of using other functions. In general with a less amount of talks the handset may be working for 3 days.
A number navigation goes quite quickly and this permits a rapid switch between items. The main menu is represented as a set of four icon rows and you should switch between them with the help of joystick. A submenu, in its part, is represented in the corporate identity, an item title and a large icon. There is a vertical row of icons concerning a selected item. Some people will experience some difficulty in memorisation a type of an icon, for there are too many of them. The lack of usual vertical lists is unwonted and tells on ergonomics a little. On the other hand, such solution is a traditional one for Sagem and moreover such look seems more colourful.
Phone book. The general list represents either names from the internal memory or names from the SIM memory. Copying names from one medium to another is supplied. Contacts are also typical for the company of Sagem.
All actions of entries can be taken by choosing a necessary icon or selecting the menu of the phone book - this is the first item and placed over the first backlighted entry. The handset supports Groups, there are 6 of them being preinstalled and you can create new ones as well (the limit is 15). Each group can be awarded with an icon, a custom ring tone and an alarm type (a vibra mode). The settings are nice and easy to get used to.
Each entry can feature a big amount of information: Name, Surname, and Notes (this is not a common thing for modern devices). You are free to add three more phone numbers, Company's name, e-mail, photo and the Group.
It is important to follow the correct input of phone numbers, because if you insert a work or home phone number in the cellular phone's slot, you will not be able to send an SMS. When you are viewing an entry - the first number is that you have entered the first, it becomes a default one. The menu with numbers scrolling is possible by pressing the Call button and so you can select a necessary one. On the whole, the phone book is rather unusual, but not hard to get used to it and feel comfortably.
Messages. You may create personal templates in the main memory and a necessary number of them. The device supports MMS, besides usual SMS and EMS standard. The function was tested in several networks and showed its working capability. A possibility to create MMS containing several pages (slides) is a real advantage; similar organisation is to be found in the Sony Ericsson devices. Predictive text input T9 may be used as well.
Organizer. Various events, a reminder for them may be entered and also you may set date and time. Calendar view is possible for a month, a week with a time scale and for a day.
Settings. Sound. This menu holds melodies for a call, an incoming SMS message, MMS, a fax, and an alarm clock. You select items from the general list including uploaded MP3 files. The phone allows setting not just a mixed signal type (vibra and a melody at the same time) but also put the order of vibra working first and then after a melody is played. A dictaphone recording may serve as a call alert (duration up to 30 seconds). It is significant that such recording starting from the settings menu, but not from the dictaphone.
Screen. The choice of colours is limited with grey and blue. For the first sight, there is no difference between Blue and Aqua - the colours coincide. Any graphic file can serve as a wallpaper and a screensaver. The energy saving mode permits to indicate whether a backlighting of the screen and the keypad needs at the same time.
The camera settings are accessible here merely - they are unable to call when recording. The manufacturer supposes the user to make setting before recording, so there is a reason in it. There are three accessible types of quality - MMS, normal, and high. The resolutions of photos - 320х240, 640х480, 800х600, 1280х960 pixels. It is rather strange that a timer is placed in this menu, for the function usually needs on the fly.
To record a video you should select a video record. The limitation in file size is on demand, for MMS, absent.
Calls. Here you will find settings of redirection, a black list of numbers, timers.
Security. You may select an automatic keypad locking; secure such functions as call list, messages, organizer with a password. The security is adjusted separately for a single item.
Tags. A function of a quick call is adjusted for the left and fight softkeys.
Type of file repewsentation. A file can be shown as a matrix or a list. In the former case, when you are viewing photos or videos, you see small images, in the latter case, you see only titles in a vertical list.
WAP settings. Everything is traditional and there is a possibility of using GPRS. If you are not about using it at all, I advise to take it off the menu.
Connectivity. The device supports data communications with the help of an IrDA, a Bluetooth. There is a separate setting for the car kit and that is nice (volume level, answer mode). Standard SyncML is also supported.
The handset completely supports both an IrDA and a Bluetooth and so you can transmit photos, pictures, music both from and to the device. Uploading new Java applications is supported only using wap, for uploading them from a PC is fundamentally lacking.
The handset supports the following Bluetooth profiles:
The lack of a possibility of direct working with the device's memory from another handset or a PC as it is done in Sony Ericsson phones looks not so good. The next drawback of the device without specialised software is an impossibility of sending several files at once.
A service with headsets makes no troubles and the device is reliable. The phone was tested with the headsets Sony Ericsson and Jabra. There are several little shortcomings worth mentioning: while sending files to a PC it does not always works stably, the device lose the connection for several times and could not re-establish and it had to be reset (turning off and on). All in all, Bluetooth service is rather correct and has no obvious problems.
Multimedia. Here you can view the amount of spare memory and its distribution between various applications. There is also an access to videos, pictures and sounds. An automatic playing a selected record in a small window is a nice advantage when viewing the video folder. A video is played in a large window with some widgets and not fullscreen.
There is an item for an access to miniSD card content and you may create your own folder in it. As for the rest there is no possibility of working with a card. You can copy your files of any type to the card memory and this possibility is accessible only in the latest versions. Archiving data of the phone book is not supplied. On the whole, it leaves an impression that the card was added at the last moment and no applications for it were not prepared. There is no way to address the card memory from a PC: you should put off a card and work with an exterior adapter.
The kit of the handset does not have a memory card and you will have to purchase it extra. It is important that the device working with not any miniSD card, but we have failed in founding the regularity. Cards by one manufacturer could work and could not work and this did not depend on their capacity. We can advise to check a card's service before buying it. Inserting the card and creating a directory suffice.
A card hot changing is done in Nokia style: you should take a back panel away and extract the panel. A card is put into up to a click.
Applications. Alarm clock is single, there is Snooze function.
Countdown timer is customary.
To-do list permits to enter notes in several categories and view them in the general list. Besides typed tasks, you can insert voice notes.
Calculator, currency converter is rather simple.
Applets is the menu where you save your uploaded applications.
WAP. The handset has OpenWave preinstalled and the settings are quite flexible. Working with browser goes with no problems.
Camera. The screen serves as a viewfinder. When you are recording, movements of the joystick activate a digital 8x zoom. Various values of the zoom changes very smoothly. Left deviations of the joystick change the settings of illumination, including modes of flash activation. The device stores the latest selected value. There is about a dozen of settings and so a switch is not quickly done. Right deviation of the joystick engages one of three effects - negative, sepia, a black-and-white photo.
Video. In contrast to the camera, there are no settings to adjust, the zoom is not availed. The only thing you ca do is activating a flash, rather a backlighting.
Camera quality, sample photos. The handset has 1.3 megapixel CCD-matrix installed and so it is a copy of Sony Ericsson S700. Now the most products in the market have less expensive CMOS-matrixes which give a less quality. The fist pictures taken by the camera displayed that it is of high quality. At any rate, they look very good on the screen. After copying a photo to a PC, we finally realized the camera to be very nice in quality and one of best for today.
Photo sample outdoors - a church, max quality and resolution,
486 KB, JPG
In the evening the quality of pictures is also high, but some noise of the matrix obviously arise. By the way, photos looks fine on the screen and worse a little on the computer.
Photo sample outdoors Ц Arbat, lights, max quality and resolution,
479 KB, JPG
An automation takes photos very well indoors and the quality of them is good.
Photo sample indoors, Voxtel poster, max quality and resolution,
364 KB, JPG
Increasing of the quality occurs by changing the parameters. We offer to get aware of them by the example of pens laid on the table. All 5 modes are activated by turns. Archive - 2.13 Mb, zip. Pictures of the maximum resolution and quality.
The installed flash has shown its worth at long distances. For instance, in the darkness of a cafe the flash drastically improve the quality of a photo.
The quality of the digital zoom is rather good. When working you see smooth changing of picture on the screen. The quality of taken pictures does not differ from the maximum quality for customary photos.
There are a few effects, namely three, - sepia, negative and a black-and-white photo.
Taking a series of pictures at once is worth mentioning. The average size of a file from the camera is 400 Kb. A possible drawback of the high quality of pictures is a time of saving a single photo. It takes about 7-10 seconds for a photo. Meanwhile on the screen you can see an inscription that analysis and saving the photo is processing.
The direct comparison to Sony Ericsson S700 gives interesting results.
The quality of pictures from both devices is comparable and we cannot say about their large distinctions. Refinements of Sagem X8 are higher a little and at the same time the colour spectrum are coarser. Although the differences between picture are seen only when closely examining and the cameras compare at all.
To our surprise, indoor photos by X8 excel in more clarity and a higher quality. It could be arrogated to a better realisation of the automatic mode, but changing manual adjustments did not result in a fundamental improvement of photo quality. In any cases X8 evidently exceeded in quality.
It was really interesting to pictures taken by both handsets. Having put one next to other we chose the pictures taken outdoors. Sony Ericsson S700 had showing especially small details of a higher quality, the brightness was artificially decreased - this is the device's setting. This test confirms the conclusion made above.
The quality of films is average and characteristic for the generation of handsets. There is nothing special. You may see records yourself.
The inference about the camera's quality is rather simple. This is one of the best devices in the market and looks effective owing to the automatic mode and broad recourses in settings (not the best realisation, still everything works). The potential disadvantage consists in a time of saving pictures.
Productivity. JBenchmark. In spite of the declared support of MIDP 2.0, we failed in starting a text application and operating ended with an error. A test was given for MIDP 1.0.
For reference the results let us see those of Sony Ericsson S700 (screens, memory and other parameters are close). The result is 1836 points, it is higher that that of X8. If taking into account the model series by other companies in this segment, we see the results to fall within the rage of 1000-1300 points. It turns out that the productivity of Java Virtual Machine is typical for the devices of this class.
Games. The handset has the only preinstalled game - Alive&Fearless. You have to fly and destroy enemy ships.
Audio player. It has few abilities. There is a possibility of creating playlists and switching between compositions. Still an equalizer and a repeat function are lacking. The handset's memory or a memory card can serve as a source. MP3 files are supported as well as ACC ones.
The quality of connection provided by the handset compares to the modern devices. The loudspeaker volume during talking and its pure sound are to be considered as an advantage. The 64-tones polyphony, a set of preinstalled melodies sound very greatly and modernly. Moreover there is a possibility of using various sounds of animal, MP3 and AAC files as a ring tones. Vibracall is average with little tinkling. It is either felt, or not at all. In many respects sensitivity to a vibra depends much on a person.
Call list possible by a pressure the Call button consists of 20 entries. Call type and time are shown. A type icon (incoming or outgoing) does not really look clear as an arrow is placed either at the left or at the right from a receiver and that rather messes up the general monotone of the list. The equal numbers is not summed up, but shown one by one.
A function of auto dialling is quite nice. In standby mode the screen shows an inscription about reaching and a number the handset is dialling. At a successful reach the device alerts with a ring and you should press the Receive key. A period of time is know to exist when the interlocutor does not hear you, but already speaks.
By the highest standard there is no need in auto keypad locking and it is rather a fine detail. The sleep mode with the screen blackout is only exited by pressing the Cancel key and pressing other key causes nothing. It is a very nice and simple solution and I have not used a keypad locking at all, for it proved unneeded.
Many will appreciate the way how showing a photo at an incoming call is done. The picture is shown fullscreen with the maximum resolution of 240x320 points and there is the caller's name in the bottom line and a phone type as an icon. If a caller is lacking in your phone book, you will surely see a number merely.
An achievement of speakerphone and a dictaphone work during talks (still only fragment under a minute are possible) do not rouse censure at all. The only thing is left to point to: the loudspeaker is a single one and serves all the purposes. So if you are accustomed to put a device the screen down, the volume decrease approximately twice.
When examining all the possibilities offered by the handset in telegraphic and marketing styles, you gain an impression of a quite saturated device in its price segment. The model is of a real interest, for the screen realization stands at a level of the best models. There is a sufficient memory capacity and good call achievement. The presence of a Bluetooth and an IrDA makes the model an up-to-date one. A memory card is optional: an MP3 player does not go without it and still abilities of working with it are poor.
The worst drawback of the handset's software is a rather unreasoned realization of some functions and communications between them. To a bigger extent, this censure is related to a memory card slot. While considering an offer of X8, we have heard many a time references that RS-MMC cards fit the model. Virtually it is not true: these cards cannot be set up on account of their physical dimensions.
The software for computer synchronization is not quite of an interest. You may execute basic operations at the most. Settings adjustment is rather intended for using a cable and theoretically possible for an IrDA and a Bluetooth - we failed in it. For instance, the software by MobileAction unveils the handset's potential and the kit has a cable in addition.
The advantages consist in the fact you can update the software your self and so you do not have to apply to the service centre. Such updating is possible only using a cable. An evident shortcoming lies in that the company is not quick to release new version of software for production crews. Sometimes the devices have come to the retail market and they are even sold, yet an update is not available (although there is an update for a junior crews and it lies in the site). In the site of Sagem a choice of a software version is bound to a number of the model's batch. For the company such updating is a start and will soon become better.
The handset's dimensions will scare a part of potential purchaser as it is anything but a small one. Besides, the device is not optimal for women and few will have it. Sagem myX-8 is likely to serve as a masculine model. Taking into consideration all the functions and the cost, we can say the model to get a successful since it enters the market. A poor popularity of the trade mark will not make X8 selling compare to the products by more well-known manufacturers. The cost of 320-330 USD gives odds over Sony Ericsson S700 which costs 100 dollars more. The advantage of S700 is a better card service, a hot change of them, some more possibilities in synchronization and Bluetooth working, and a better bundling as well. X8 has no other direct rivals and the model keeps aloof in the mobile market now. It is a very interesting solution. None has been expecting it from Sagem. Even a slight price-cutting will increase its popularity and lifetime. Those who like the design should examine the device closely. The model, though quite good and durable in its characteristics, is not to be called a unique one.
Now let us point a fly in the ointment. The handset's software is incomplete. The first versions do not permits copy data from the device memory to a card, but now such function is present. For several weeks of using handsets with different software versions (total 6 ones, many thanks to all the possessors) we was suffering from various problems. In particular once the device turned off the sound, but an icon of the silent mode was lacking. We had to reset the device and the settings got back. A Bluetooth working with a PC is sometimes imperfect, for at times the handset looses the connection and does not restore henceforth. Spontaneous restarts of the handset were observed while worked with a memory card. This is rather typical for the first versions (those which lack copying files). The fact a next version is stabler than a preceding one gives confidence. Let us hope that the company's programmers will shortly bring the model to perfection. When comparing to S700, we can rather say about the similarity of children diseases. The most problems of S700 were solved within 3 months and we expect the same for X8.
Published 17 March 2005
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