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Asus M530W Smartphone
To be a success, a business handset has to tick a lot of boxes. It has to look good without being gaudy. It has to do a good job of delivering email, managing contacts and browsing the web. But most importantly it has to hang together as a workable product.
That's where Toshiba's Portégé G710 fell short: it tried desperately to squeeze as much as possible in for a low price, but because it failed in a couple of key areas, it failed to make the grade. That's where recent products from lesser-known phone manufacturer Asus have impressed.
Its P320 and M930 smartphones weren't perfect, but one thing you couldn't level at them was that they didn't make sense. Each filled a niche; each was unique in its own particular way. The M530W - a Windows Mobile 6 Standard phone - is next in line, but with its ubiquitous BlackBerry-style QWERTY candy bar styling, it has a harder job to impress.
And it doesn't make a great first impression. It looks business-like enough in matte black with silver highlights, but there's nothing that marks it out from the crowd. It's neither as slim or light as the Toshiba Portégé G710 (it's 0.5mm thicker at 13.8mm and 5g heavier) nor as striking to look at as the BlackBerry 8820 or the Motorola Q 9h - the bog-standard up, down, left, right and okay navigational control sees to that.
But for all that, it seems to have got the ergonomics largely right. The directional control isn't too fiddly to use and the keyboard - probably the toughest thing to get right - is usable too. Again, the latter isn't as good as the BlackBerry 8820's, the G710's or the Motorola Q 9h's - I'd have liked a slightly more rounded profile left to right and a little more distance between the keys - but it's by no means terrible, and with a little concentration and practise you'll soon be typing out emails reasonably swiftly.
The buttons surrounding the directional pad are sensibly-sized and well-engineered. You get the usual Windows Mobile 6 Standard collection of pick-up and hang-up, home, back and soft keys just below the 320 x 240 resolution TFT screen. And around the edges is a decent complement of controls as well. On the right edge you'll find a button to launch the camera application, the power button is on the top, while on the left is a volume rocker switch and a clickable jog-wheel - handy for one-handed navigation of contacts and emails. The connections are found ranged along the bottom: a standard mini-USB for charging and syncing, plus a 2.5mm audio socket for headset connection.