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Mobile Communicators and Smartphones

Q. Just read your article comparing the Motorola Q, Treo from Palm and Rim Blackberry mobile email devices. Does the Q actually qualify as a ‘smartphone’ comparable to what HTC are producing (viz Orange SPV smartphone range etc)? The reason I ask is that in Britain Orange now sell only one SPV product. They seem to have abandoned the other product offerings in favour of a middle-range machine, minus keyboard and wi-fi.

I upgraded to the SPV M5000 last October, from the M1000. It is more stable than the M1000 was (Orange replaced that model three times in the year that I was using it) but it still frequently acts up. Freezes, seizes, fails etc, etc. I’m keeping an error log. Pure Microsoft. It is not a surprise that Orange only offer one SPV model now.

I have been using PDAs since March 2003 when I bought an Ipaq. That never failed. Moving away from a PDA to a normal phone or a Blackberry, is probably unthinkable considering how dependent I am on it. I really wish Apple would get involved as the major obstacle in my path to buying an Apple product is the lack of compatibility with Microsoft Pocket PC software. Has this changed?

Pádraig O’Brien

A. One of the problems with writing about and comparing this category of device is that there are no fixed definitions or category boundaries. One company’s smartphone is another company’s communicator.

I definitely agree that the later HTC machines are less ‘buggy’ than the first generation devices. No signs yet that Apple plans to enter this market with or without Microsoft Pocket PC compatibility.

Q. You left out a key point - the Motorola Q for Verizon is not tri or quad band and therefore worthless in Europe. Also Blackberry email comes through automatically whereas on the Q you only access email after an alert.

Steve Meadow

A. Good points Steve, though on the first I’m sure there will be multi-band GSM/GPRS/Edge-based Motorola Q’s that will work in Europe and other GSM territories.

Q. Have you seen the Nokia E61?

If you don’t want a camera, it promises to be the best smart phone of them all. I gave up my Treo 650 because of poor phone sound. The E61 has quadband, including G3 and wi-fi connections. Waiting for them to hit the shops here (Australia).

Scott Burchill

A. Im looking forward to testing the E61 too. As you note, if you don’t want a camera phone (or your employer bans their use) the Nokia device could well be the real challenger for BlackBerry. I also like the fact that you can run a wide range of push email services on it including of course, RIM’s BlackBerry Connect service and Nokia’s own IntelliSynch offering.

Q. I want to know your opinion on HP Ipaq, the personal digital assistant which I consider as a breakthrough solution of gadget technology.

HP IPAQ’s physical keyboard is much more funtional and user-friendly than the onscreen alternative.

Do you think that HP Ipaq is the best product money can buy?

Bahar Alptekin

A. Personally, I was never a big fan of the HP Ipaq family because I preferred the Palm operating system and interface to the old Microsoft variants. That said, I know several users who still swear by their Ipaq and rave about the build quality of the early units and easy desktop sychronisation.

New models are somewhat more flimsy and HP has yet to produce a model with a built-in mobile phone capabilities that would challenge the Treo, BlackBerry or in my view, some of the Nokia smartphones.

More generally I think the boom years for the standalone PDA (personal digital assistant) are over and both HP and Dell for that matter have yet to prove that they really understand the smartphone market.

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