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The model we had for review, the MC5574 - PZCDKRRA7WR (rolls off the tongue doesn't it?), has a standard numerical keypad, but the device is also available with a full QWERTY keyboard instead. As well as the numerical keypad there's also a wealth of programmable buttons plus a handy button for turning on and off the screen's backlight to help preserve battery life.
The 3.5in screen is much larger than the displays you usually find on smartphone, but unfortunately its resolution at 320 x 240 pixels is relatively low so text and graphics look quite blocky. Nevertheless, it is bright and responsive to stylus or finger presses which is what really matters on a device like this.
The MC55 is built around a Marvell XScale PXA270 520MHz processor and in use feels relatively nippy. However, it's not exactly laden down in the memory department as it has just 128MB of flash memory and 256MB of RAM, which might be a problem if you need to run really memory hungry apps. At least storage space can be increased using MicroSD cards which slot into a holder found under the device's clip on battery pack.
But the MC55 is not just about performance, it's also about features and in this department it scores pretty highly. At the top of the handset there's a 1D/2D laser barcode scanner with a decent 60cm range and this is matched on the rear by a 2-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash. The image quality from the camera isn't brilliant, but it's certainly good enough for the type of signature collection and other data grabbing purposes it's likely to be put to on a daily basis.
There's also onboard GPS thanks to the built in SiRFstarIII chip. This works brilliantly as not only is it fast to lock on to satellites from a cold start, but it's also very good at hanging on to weak satellite signals to the extent that often it can even keep a lock on your position indoors.
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