Hands On

Sagem gets a bit rugged …
It seems designers have decided your phone can’t be too thin or too feature-filled if it’s to make a splash. This is the new my301x from Sagem – not a particularly dramatic contender on the features side, but pretty competitive in the skinny stakes: just 14mm thick is pretty thin.

It’s a good-looking tri-band phone with Bluetooth, Infrared and USB (though it’s Sagem’s version of a USB connector). So it’s quite good for synchronising with a PC, so it looks like a reasonable business phone. There’s a button on the side that lets you dictate a to-do item, and you can also set voice reminders as appointment alarms.
Certainly there’s nothing like a camera or MP3 player to distract the user. And the screen technology is pretty modest: 65K colours, 128˘128 pixels.

On the plus side, you do get a decent battery: 350 hours standby, four hours talk time. The my302X has ‘OUTDOOR’ stamped into the edge moulding, which apparently translates into some use of rubber (especially on the back – very handy to stop the thing sliding around on slippery surfaces) and illuminated keys (a boon in the dark). The keys themselves are big, comfortable, and easy to use.

Will it sell? Well, it’s not beautiful: the design is a bit blocky and inelegant. It’s not specified as well as it might be, either: But it is a sound, simple phone with some decent business-user features. On Orange it also supports the Talk Now push-to-talk service for walkie-talkie style communications with another subscriber. Could be a lot worse.

SAGEM my301x

  • Dimensions    105x46x14mm, 88g
  • Main display    128×128 pixels, 65K colours
  • Battery    Talk time 4hrs, standby 288hrs
  • Connectivity    Bluetooth, IR, USB
  • Features    Speakerphone,quick access to answer phone, WAP
  • Networks    Orange
  • Make that sale with … Slimline appearance, decent battery life
  • Avoid questions about …    Moderate spec, lack of camera and music player

Sales appeal **

… and Tosh takes a metal makeover
If you want a style statement, here’s the Toshiba TS10 – exclusive to Vodafone, and a bit of a PAYG bargain at £80. Again, its spec is on the light side: VGA camera at 640×480 resolution with 4x digital zoom, disappointingly ordinary 128×160 pixel main display, small external display.

Yes, you get polyphonic ringtones and a WAP browser, but these days that’s baseline stuff. You don’t get email, MP3 playback, or Bluetooth. Battery life is pretty poor, considering how little work it has to do; the makers claim 2.5 hours talk time, 144 hours standby.

So what do you do get? Striking looks. Nothing comes close; it’s a pretty compact (97x46x17mm, which is slim) and lightish (90g) flip phone with a dramatic dimpled faux-metal cover. Open it and you get a sleek matt black interior with a panel of round and nearly flush keys. They are reasonably spaced and easy enough to discern for texting and number entry, but the five-way navigator could have been a bit larger to cope with the sausage-like thumbs of your reviewer.

The keypad looks like the result of a successful design exercise. By comparison, the screen seems a bit small and lost in the top half, and the generously sized aperture that the designers allowed for the display suggests they were anticipating that something a bit bigger and better would be put in there. In the event the TS10’s screen is modest in the extreme.

The Toshiba TS10 looks like nothing else on the market. Unfortunately, its spec is pretty basic – and these days that also distinguishes it from most of the phones it will be selling alongside.

Toshiba TS10

  • Dimensions    97x46x17mm, 90g
  • Main display    128×160 pixels, 65K colours
  • Battery    Talk time 2.5hrs, standby 144hrs
  • Connectivity    USB
  • Features    VGA camera,WAP
  • Networks    Vodafone
  • Make that sale with … Slimline looks
  • Avoid questions about …    Moderate spec, poor battery life

Sales appeal ***

RAZR goes candybar
Here’s another offering from Motorola’s RAZR-based design stable. The SLVR L6 is described (by Motorola) as “surprisingly slim and artistically designed”; well, at 11.5mm it certainly isn’t thick. On the other hand it’s not particularly small either: it is wider (49mm) and longer (113.5mm) than most.

Style-wise, it presses a few buttons with its cool metallic silver case, so much nicer to touch than some of the plasticky alternatives being offered in the superslim stakes. It has the same blue backlighting for the keypad that is found on other RAZR-based phones, and just like them the keys take some getting used to because they’re a bit small. But entering numbers and text turns out to be quite precise, and the small navigation wheel also works well. There are three soft keys below the screen and a couple more on the edge (which, depending on the current mode, will give you the camera and WAP access).

Incidentally, the keypad area has an ambient light sensor which means that the backlighting won’t come on if you are out in the sunlight – useful in saving on battery life, though it took a while to react when we tested it.

The camera’s no great shakes, with a modest VGA resolution – though there is 4x digital zoom and autotimer, and the L6 does do video capture and playback. It can’t do much in the way of video, since there’s just 10MB of on-board storage and no memory expansion slot.

Good stuff includes a bright 262k colour screen, Bluetooth, push-to-talk if the network supports it (which currently means only Orange), and the ability to send a voice message (you record your own voice and send it via MMS as an audio attachment). Perhaps best of all, we got excellent reception from our two Dodgy Signal Test Sites (a cellar below Mobile Business Towers and a hill overlooking
Hay on Wye).

Incidentally, the L6 is also known as the Motorola V280 (in the States, mostly) and the SLVRcam (because in some parts of the world there’s a variant called the L2 which doesn’t have a camera).

And will it sell? Yes, if the punter wants a candybar phone that looks good and is priced well. The flipside of an average-to-low price is a distinctly average feature set, but good looks and good reception will make this a solid performer for the retailer.

Motorola V6 SLVR

  • Dimensions    13x49x11.5mm,85g
  • Main display    176×220 pixels, 256K colours
  • Battery    Talk time 4hrs, standby 140hrs
  • Connectivity    Bluetooth, USB
  • Features    1000-entry phonebook, push to talk, VGA camera, MP3 player, WAP
  • Networks    O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone
  • Make that sale with … Look and feel, screen and keyboard
  • Avoid questions about … Camera, surprisingly large height and width

Sales appeal ***

A word in your ear

Bluetooth headsets – they’re ugly, they are awkward to wear
for long periods, the battery dies halfway through the working day, and they make you look like a prat.

That’s the perceived wisdom, anyhow. But the Plantronics Voyager 510 changed our mind, at least for the first three criticisms. It looks pretty good in a Star Trek Voyager kind of way, it gave us the six hours talk time it claims, and it was surprisingly comfortable to wear. Shipped in the box are three bud-type earpieces of varying sizes, so the user should find a good fit.

It also works pretty well. Pairing is no problem, and we used it successfully around 8-9m from the phone.

The Voyager L510 supports Bluetooth v1.2 for multipoint connectivity, so buyers can switch between different BT devices.

Sound quality is good indoors, acceptable outside (though a slight breeze defeated the noise-cancelling and produced a lot of interference at the other end of the call).
And it has a neat extra: an optional desk module that can connect the headset to your landline as well. It also charges the headset when not in use.

The only real downside is the price. The basic unit (headset plus compact charger) has an RRP of £49.99. With the desk unit it’s about £130.

Voyager 510

  • Headset    Monoaural, over-the-ear
  • Weight    17g
  • Battery    Talk time 6hrs, standby 100hrs
  • Connectivity    Bluetooth (multipoint)
  • Range    10m max
  • Features    Swivelling micboom, choice of earphone buds, optional desk kit
  • Make that sale with … Battery life, comfort
  • Avoid questions about … Outdoor performance, small buttons, price

Sales appeal ****

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