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The hard-surface touchscreen works brilliantly too, so the rest of Windows Mobile is almost as easy to operate. You still need to be careful, but it's sensitive enough that even small links on web pages seem comfortably clickable with the end of an index finger. In fact, after downloading the latest version of the superlative Opera Mini 4.1, browsing the web on this phone, with its quick performance and excellent touchscreen is the most pleasant experience I've had on a Windows Mobile device.
The touchscreen and speed aren't the only strengths of the MWg Zinc II; it's a good looker too. That screen sits flush with the rest of the front fascia and its minimalist frontage continues the slick looks. Instead of the usual crowded button cluster below the 2.8in 320 x 240 screen, all you get is a five-way d-pad with pick-up and hang-up buttons to the left and right of it. The edges are similarly free of clutter, with volume controls and the quick-launch key on the left next to the phone's microSD slot, and an on/off and camera shutter key on the right. The phone is fairly slim at 18mm for one with a sliding keyboard, and it has an extremely solid feel to it.
When you need to enter text, you don't need to resort to Windows Mobile's tiny on-screen effort either - just slide out the Zinc II's built-in keyboard and off you go. Again the engineering is superb: the keyboard glides out with a positive thunk and there's hardly any flex or give once it's fully extended. And, thanks to the Zinc II's excellent performance, the screen switches from portrait to landscape mode very quickly, allowing you to pop into and out of keyboard mode in an instant. I have to say I'm not convinced by the keyboard's membrane-style keys, however. Though you can get up to a reasonable speed with some practice, those without high-precision thumbs will find it all too easy to press more than one key at once. The layout isn't that wonderful either: the lack of a dedicated button for the full stop is irritating as is the omission of dedicated up/down/left/right keys - you have to use the Fn shift button to activate both.