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Eten M500 PocketPC Phone Edition 27th June 2005

Review by Darren Griffin

Eten M500The PocketPC Phone Edition market has been dominated for a long time by O2's XDA range which are available from many providers in various guises such as Orange's m1000 and m2000 as well as Qtek, MDA and many more and the recently released O2 XDA Mini.

 

Well the XDA range now has a serious competitor in the form of Eten's M500 handset. It's a PocketPC Phone Edition running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition with all the standard features of that platform plus a few more that Eten have supplied in a remarkably small form factor. The display although smaller than we are used to is superbly crisp and a model of clarity.

 

What's In The Box?

Eten M500 Box ContentsOpen the box and you will find everything you need:

 

  • The M500
  • Docking cradle
  • Mains power adapter
  • Handsfree headset (stereo)
  • USB cable
  • Case
  • CD-Rom
  • Quickstart guide

 

Look and Feel

It is difficult to convey in photographs just how nice this unit 'feels' in the hand. It is the perfect size with just enough depth to ensure you can hold it securely without fear of letting go. I use an XDAII extensively because it has all the functions I need but have always found it a little too big and too shallow to hold comfortably. The Eten M500 is small enough to be pocketable and has a little more depth which makes holding it more comfortable and allows your hand to grip it securely.

 

XDAII, Eten M500, C500
XDAII, Eten M500 and C500 Comparison

 

In the image above you can see how much smaller it is than the XDAII. It is only a few millimetre's taller than the C500 Smartphone. The M500 has physical dimensions of 112mm x 61mm x 22mm and weighs roughly 172 grams. The screen itself has a diagonal of 2.8inches or 72mm in real money.

 

The GSM Radio is quad band and the camera has a 1.3 Megapixel sensor with an LED flash. The processor is from Samsung and runs at 400 MHz and the battery gives it a running time of approximately 20hrs. As it runs WM2003SE you can rotate the screen to view applications in Landscape mode. Storage is provided courtesy of an SD Slot located at the top adjacent to the iR Port and On/OFF Switch.

 

SysInfo Screen Rotate

 

On the front is the 4-way cursor and select button flanked by contacts, home and call and hang up buttons. On the left side is the volume up/down button, camera and reset.

 

It lacks Wireless LAN which is disappointing but unsurprising given its small size.

 

Battery Compartment

 

In Use

When you switch on the phone for the first time you are presented with Eten's Configuration Wizard which allows you to customise the handset. Because the M500 is supplied SIM Free it also usefully has a wizard to set all the Modem and GPRS settings to match that of your provider. There are four sections to the wizard shown below:

 

Configuration Wizard Screen 1 Configuration Wizard Screen 2

 

In the first screen you have options to configure your ring tone, although there is a vast selection , in common with other devices most are pretty poor! You can also configure the ring volume and PDA Sound volume independently.

 

In the second screen you can configure the hardware buttons, here you can choose to change the default assignments if you wish.

 

Configuration Wizard Screen 1 Configuration Wizard Screen 2

 

In the third screen you can change the default size of text on the Today Screen and choose how bright the default back light settings are. Finally on screen 4 you can see the network configuration wizard. This allows you to choose your region and service provider together with call plan i.e. O2 Europe, PAYG and the phone will automatically configure the correct connection settings.

 

Eten have bundled some useful additional applications with this handset, unusually they are almost all useful and add or improve on the functionality of a standard PocketPC Phone Edition device. I'll cover them as best I can here.

 

MDesk

Mdesk is a an application manager plug-in that gives you quick access to commonly used applications, games and settings. All are user configurable and you can easily add or remove entries.

 

MDesk1 MDesk2

 

 

MDesk3 MDesk4

 

Speed Dial & Call Filter

Speed Dial is a really superb application. Using your contacts list it allows you to quickly select a number to call. You start by tapping the first letter of the contact name and with each subsequent letter it reduces the list of available contact entries that matches your selection. It is much faster and quicker than scrolling through a long list of contacts.

 

Call Filter is a simple application that allows you to add contacts to an 'Allow' or 'Block' list. Contacts in the block list will be diverted automatically to voicemail without your phone ever ringing.

 

Speed Dial Call Filter

 

Scenarios

Mobile phone users may be more familiar with term 'Profiles' which allows you to quickly switch your phone to a silent mode or vibrate only mode for meetings etc. Surprisingly PocketPC Phone edition does not provide such support as standard in the OS but once again Eten have seen fit to correct this by adding this utility. Scenarios enables you to switch your phone profile with just a few clicks.

 

Scenarios

 

Supplied Accessories

The supplied docking cradle allows you to sync and charge the E500 using the supplied USB cable. In addition you can charge a spare battery (not supplied as standard).

 

E500 Cradle
M500 Cradle showing additional battery charge slot and stylus holder.

 

On the rear of the cradle is the connector for the supplied USB cable, to the right of this you will notice a standard USB connector. This is supposedly to allow connection of standard USB peripherals.

 

USB Connector

 

Bluetooth

Bluetooth implementation on the M500 is another area where Eten have seen fit to improve the options and control available.

 

Bluetooth Settings 1 Bluetooth Settings 2

 

For GPS Use in particular, the ability to create virtual COM Ports as you wish is a useful feature.

 

Bluetooth Settings 3Bluetooth Settings 4

 

General Screen shots

Programs Settings
The above are two photshop'ed images showing the complete list of apps available

 

Phone Apps Voice Commander

 

Multimedia Utilities

 

IE Landscape Phoen Landscape

 

Today Portrait Today Landscape

 

 

Comparison Top

 

Comparison Rear

 

Comparison Bottom

 

 

 

Conclusions

This is a lovely device. Form factor is perfect, the screen clarity and quality is excellent and the additional applications bundled with it add to the user experience and improve the standard functionality.

 

The camera is better than those I have used on similar devices although how useful the flash will prove to be in practical day to day use is doubtful. However, few potential purchasers will have this feature as a high priority anyway.

 

For GPS users, the Bluetooth Manager is the best I have used with the ability to create virtual COM Ports a welcome feature.

 

The decision to stow the stylus in the bottom irritated me but this would probably become more natural over time. It does mean that you cannot remove or insert the stylus when in a cradle though. Although plastic in construction, the unit feels solid and well built.

 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed using the device. When passing it around friends and colleagues it almost universally received an 'Ooooh' response because of it's small size and features. If it had Wireless LAN then it would be as near to perfect as possible but even without it is the best combination of size and features available today.

 

 

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Screen
  • Bluetooth Manager
  • Speed Dial Utility
  • Size
  • 130MB memory

Cons

  • Stowing the stylus in the bottom
  • Camera Flash
  • Omission of Wireless LAN

 

Resources

Manufacturers Website Eten Corporation
Available from M-Technology
  MoDaCo Shop
  Smart Devices Direct
  Total PDA
   
Pocket GPS Contributor

Darren Griffin

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

http://www.griffinnet.co.uk

   

Rating

 

Construction

Installation

Usability

Robustness

Overall Rating 95%

How did we achieve these ratings ?

Review Ratings

 

 

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