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Bucking the trend for smaller mobiles, Ericsson’s R380s is a bit of a fat boy. Styled in a deep blue, it weighs in at rather portly 164 grams- exactly double that of Sony’s CMD-Z5 WAP phone. But what you get for the extra weight is worth the added bulk because the R380s is a self-styled smart phone. With its flip closed it’s little more than a mobile, yet with flip open it’s a digital organiser capable of browsing WAP sites and managing your email. In the future perhaps all phones will be like this. From the front the R380s looks like a fairly normal phone. In this stand-by mode you can make and receive calls plus access a few basic messaging a diary functions. It has a simple keypad and for cursor keys to help you navigate the on-screen menus, however, you can’t actively use the handsets WAP, SMS or organiser-related talents in this mode. The PDA-style features become available when you open the phone to revel the 120 times 360 pixels, touch-sensitive LCD beneath. You can then operate the R380s with a stylus in the same point ‘n’ click manner as you would use a keyboard-less PDA. Once the flip is open, you need to hold the phone lengthways. Running the Symbian OS (similar to that found in Psion’s PDAs), the R380s features six main options- phone, contacts, messaging, calendar, WAP Services and Extras. The first of these gives you access to the core dialling functions so you can continue a call while checking a diary entry or looking up a phone number There’s a basic speakerphone function, but its not as effective (i.e. load) as using a plug-in hands free set. To access the address book you go to the contacts option, then making a call is simple case of tap ‘n’ dial. Here you can also store extra information such as e-mail addresses and postal details – this can then be used when you send an SMS or e-mail. Like palm and pocket PC-based machines, there are two modes of
text entry on the R380s: a pop-up, on-screen keyboard and handwriting recognition – which is superb ad ideal for scribbling name, memos, e-mails and text messages. The biggest advantage the R380s has over most of its WAP rivals is its built-in TCPIP messaging and e-mail client. Ericsson’s handset not only lets you compose messages of-line, but also to download and store them in the phone. Like a Psion PDA, once you’ve onto your mail server, the r380s retrieves a list of ‘headers’ and gives you the option to move or copy the summarised messages to the phone’s inbox. This is possible due to a 1.2MB chunk of on-board memory, which is available to all of the phone’s internal applications. If the R380 has all the messaging muscle of a PDA, it also also features some of the e-organised features. In the calendar mode, you can enter and store items or To-do items. Dates can then be viewed either via monthly, weekly or daily displays, while appointments can be tagged with an alarm to act as a reminder. There’s also an Extras menu with Note pad, Calculator, Clock features and a game called ‘Reversi’ It’s easy to forget that the R380s is also a WAP phone, but it’s damn fine one too. Site surfing on a screen as large as this one is simply a joy as text is not only clearer but you can see more of it. Featuring book marking and site-history functions, the WAP browser also benefits from the on-board memory, allowing it to cache pages for offline viewing later. Unlike Nokia’s 7110 and Sony’s CMD-Z5, the R380s browser doesn’t quit as soon as the connection to the net is dropped. As a dual-band phone, the R380s stakes its case as the best WAP-capable mobile currently on the market. I’ve not even had time to mention the voice-dialling and voice-memo features. Or its ability to connect to a laptop PDA via the built-in IR port. Like a PDA, the R380s also co
mes with its own docking cradle, and has the ability to synchronise its calendar with PIM software on a PC. A copy of lotus organiser is even included on an supplied CD-ROM. Easy to use, with features that match a handheld organiser, the R380s takes phone design to a brand new level. Why carry a PDA and a mobile phone when you can have one device that does everything?
Since I own my Nokia 9110 for one year now I was looking into the possibility of exchanging it against the new Flagship from Ericson, the R380. Like the 9110 the R380 is more a personal digital assistent than a phone. It is far less buky and looks more like a phone than the 9110 does. However it has some serious disadvantages against the nokia phone. The current model comes with 2 MB of memory, whereas the Nokia only features 1,6 MB. But unlike the Nokia thia memory is neither upgradeable, nor can new applications be installed to the phone. The Nokia features one memory slot which will take up to 16 MB exchangable memory modules. Ericson operates their phone with a touchsensitive LCD-Display. It has to be used with the little "pen-stick-thingy" stored at the side of the phone (very easy to loose !) But this feature allowes the phone to be used without a keyboard, since it "reads" your handwriting. It takes some efford to write letters exactly the way the phone expects them, but all in all it works fine. Since there are no applications, which you could upgrade, what is included ? Well for most people the address database, SMS, the schenule module and e-mail will be the most important features. There are some others like a notepad, but I think you are verry unlikely to write more than a short mail or SMS on the phone, writing it letter by letter, always watching, if the software interprets the characters correctly,... The Nokia keypad however is easy to use and even a longer mail is easily manageable. When it come to the price: The comunicator sells at the moment for 249 with connection to BT or Voda, the R380 is expected to be at arround 279, which is acceptable for aclever pice of technology like it. The R380 definetly has advantages when it comes to style and size. You don't need to hide it in a bag, so, it is perfect for anyone looking for a really good phone for everyday use and a little
more. However, if you want your office in a palm and don't want to have a palm top, a psion and a phone, go for the Nokia, it's ceaper and has more features, but will do no good for your looks if you carry it in your pocket,...