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I have never seen another person with this phone. I have only seen it once in any shop. There have only been two television programmes in which I have seen it appear. I had to wait for more than six weeks for one of these to come up on Ebay which I could buy. As far as 98% of the population is concerned, this model of phone does not exist. Thus the question to be addressed is whether or not this rarity is justified; should we all run out and hammer on phone shop doors until they bring out dusty boxes full of Trium Eclipses, or is this mobile phone justly shunned by all but a small, select group? Mitsubishi's 256 colour screen wonder took everyone by surprise in late 2001, when it was released. Mitsubishi had not been known for innovation in the mobile phone world until that time, so the unsuspecting public in Japan and Hong Kong, where the phone has proved most popular, were rightly a little suspicious. The Eclipse appeared at around the same time as the Ericsson T68 (as opposed to today's Sony Ericsson T68i, an upgraded version of the same phone), but it was the T68 that stole the thunder. Interestingly, an Internet review off the CNET Asia website from December 2001 contains this clause: 'In many ways, it is a better color-screen handset than the Ericsson T68'. In this country it came out before the T68. This means, incredibly, that this was the first 256-colour screen on the UK market. The Siemens S10 was the first colour screen phone, but that was only three colours, and was not really worth mentioning in the same breath as the modern colour screen phones. The Japanese certainly continue to amaze with their innovations, and the Eclipse is certainly packed with them. Mitsubishi did not maybe do anything pioneering with this handset, apart from maybe the 256-colour screen, but more important than that, almost, is the way in which all sorts of other features have been crammed into what is still a lot smaller than a Nokia 5110, whic
h a couple of years ago was the standard size for a mobile phone. These features include polyphonic ringtones, GPRS, voice activated dialling, voice memo, a calendar, an infra-red port, a decent WAP browser and switchable standby screen wallpapers. All these had been seen before, but never in the same phone. When one thinks that this was about half the price of the Ericsson T68 when they were both concurrent, the complete lack of interest in this phone is even more amazing. However, a phone can have as many features as it likes, but if these features are not practical, then there is little point. However, in the Eclipse, this is not the case. The Trium Mars I owned before this one could fit four lines of text onto an SMS text message, which was more than a Nokia or a Siemens, which had much bigger screens. However, with that huge colour screen, the Eclipse trounces all expectations, and a massive eight lines of text can be seen on the screen at once when writing a text message. Even more astounding is the fact that whenever you read a message, the ten lines on the screen ensure that the whole 160 characters is always there before you. This also makes the phone brilliant for Internet browsing, which I have done using an Orange contract SIM card, although I could not work out how to make the GPRS work! It also pleasing to see that the Trium menu system has merely been improved through the addition of the colour screen and other features. The same four-way central button remains, and the two softkeys remain programmable to whatever one wants. However, since this was never meant really to hold cheapskate Vodafone Pay As You Go SIM cards (such as the one I normally use in it), the shortcut function which I had before on my Trium Mars to check my balance from the standby screen is no longer there. Oh well, the sacrifices that must be made for advances in technology! The menu graphics are even more pleasing than before: it seems that the Eclipse has a hig
her resolution display than the Ericsson T68, which makes for lovely icons wherever they are needed without the fuzziness that sometimes occurs on that. Nokia 3310/3330 people, and some others, complain that the menu system is unnecessarily complicated, with eight buttons where four would do. This is not so. By having more buttons, it is easier to get to the features that one uses most from the standby screen, and even now the Nokia 7210, 6610 and 6100 all have eight button systems, which look strangely similar to the Trium's. This makes one wonder if Nokia really are the most innovative phone manufacturer after all, especially if this phone's pioneering feature is to be taken into account. Things such as the infra-red port, voice activated dialling, two minute voice memo and business card function all work very well, but are largely unnecessary for someone such as me who is still a student! The calendar, however, is something which I would very much miss if I had to give this phone up, as it means that I do not miss things like appointments and essay deadlines. It does require close inspection of the manual, but is well worth it once there. The polyphonic ringtones are also a work of genius, but unfortunately no site ever lists this phone as being compatible with the ones which come up. This is the price one pays for exclusivity. One of the most attractive features of the standby screen is the ability not just to have the name of the operator, but also to have the operator's logo displayed in full colour. This is a very impressive thing, and is something which I have yet to see repeated in any other colour phone, the Nokia 3510i, for instance. I happen to like Vodafone, so it does not bother me to have their red splodge, or Orange's trademark square in the background if I am using my contract SIM card, on the standby screen. The best logo I have actually seen is the old BT Cellnet one with the little man with a trumpet when used wi
th an O2 SIM card. That was truly amazing to behold, and makes me feel slightly annoyed that I do not have one all the time! Why no one else has followed this is beyond me. The games are also an improvement on the Mars (and any other phone I have owned). They both feature the French Rayman character, but thanks to the big screen, the little central button acting like a joystick and the polyphonic ringtones, they are a cut above everything else. They make up for not having Snake, and given the choice between a new Nokia 3310, and a secondhand Eclipse (it was the same price as a new 3310 when I bought it from Ebay, around £60), then this helps to clinch the argument. The battery life is rather amazing, lasting a good four or even five days under moderate use. The charging, indicated by the led on the top glowing red or green when it is switched off and plugged it, is a painless affair and takes less than 100 minutes every time. However, I must report one or two things I have been less than happy with. The first is that the phone has lost the ability to register missed calls. This is an incredibly frustrating thing if you leave it unattended at any time, since you will not know who has been trying to ring. It was working fine when I got the phone, but has since stopped. The second problem has been the fact that it sometimes will not answer or cuts out on answering a call. This is exactly the same problem as befell my second Trium Mars, and has meant that the phone will be sent back to Mitsubishi as soon as I can get a spare phone for my SIM card. I will not just get rid of it. The second is that exactly the same text messaging design fault occurs with this as with the Mars. If you are replying to a text message in an area of poor reception, and the signal fails on sending, you will lose the message, which is irritating and inconvenient, since none of us live in areas of perfect reception all the time. The external aerial is proba
bly the one concession to the age of the phone, and it was probably thought that an internal one would just increase size and weight to a handset which is already no the smallest one on the market, but is very light. This is a minor problem, but certainly of concern if you measure it up against things like the Sagem MYX-5 which is much, much smaller than the Eclipse and has many of the same features and an internal aerial. All in all, the Eclipse has brought me hours of joy, and I might have given it five stars if it did not suffer from the text message fault, the external aerial and have reliability problems, it really is that good. Dare to be different: choose a Trium.