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Microsoft's Smartphone

Tue Jan 6, 2004 - 12:44 AM EST - By Michael Ducker

Microsoft Smartphones, and Motorola’s MPx200

After the general talk about what a smartphone is, Jason demoed two Microsoft powered smartphones. The first was a large Samsung model that ran on VerizonÂ’s network, the other was MotorolaÂ’s little black MPx200 running on AT&T. For this article I will use the MPx200 as my reference device. For those of you (probably most of you) that donÂ’t keep track of EVERY PDA and phone on the market, here are some brief specs on the MPx200.

Size: 3.5 x 1.88 x 1.06 inches
Weight: 4.16 oz.
Screen: 65k 176 x 220 pixel internal color display, 96 x 32 pixel two line external display for caller ID.
5 way navigator
Number pad
SDIO slot
32 MB RAM
TI OMAP710 ARM processor (TI documents state a max. speed of 132 Mhz.)
Tri-band GSM
4 hours talk time (says Jason)

It is an incredibly small device, even putting my Treo 600 to shame. However the functionality cannot compare to a Treo. The hardware is not that special - it really looks like a modern color flip phone, and itÂ’s only when you turn on the screen and see a Microsoft interface that you wonder whatÂ’s up.

The software has some cool features to it that the Treo lacks. For example, depending on your calendar it can automatically change the volume of your device. So if you were in a meeting it would know to turn the sound off, but at times that you are not scheduled it can turn volume back on. That is a pretty cool idea for integrating the PDA and the phone functions if you ask me. It can also do voice recording, and even reply to email with just a recording. (The email is sent with a .wav attachment to it).

Another big difference between a Treo and a Microsoft smartphone is that smartphones are insanely customizable. The entire home, or Today screen of a smartphone is an xml document, and the interface can therefore be dramatically changed. Not just color, but the actual layout and features of the opening screen are customizable. This is one of the features that Microsoft claims makes this device a smartphone. Again, I was impressed, and after the conference I called Handspring to ask why they didnÂ’t have such cool customizability built in. I do not remember my exact conversation, but the wallpaper feature of the Treo 600 was brought up for comparison. The wallpaper feature of the Treo 600 is a joke compared to Microsoft SmartphoneÂ’s customizability.

Wallpapers, and xml interfaces are all glitz and glamour compared to how the device actually works as a phone, for wireless features, and as a PDA. As a phone, I thought that it worked ok; it has almost the exact same keypad as a phone, so any person can use it. Looking up phone numbers is not as easy as in the Treo, but it is fairly close. Once you found the person you want, you can switch which number you want to call by going right or left.

Next Page: Wireless Data, Smartphone Problems >>



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