With decent keyboards so rare in smartphones, I'm generally quite prepared to overlook a slightly weak specification like this - and even the odd ergonomic foible. But with the SPV-E610, the weaknesses are too multifarious to ignore, and I haven't got to the biggest one yet. The biggest draw of a Windows Mobile-based device over a similar Blackberry handset is usually its Office document compatibility - the fact that you can receive documents and not only view them but edit them on the handset. But the SPV-E610, bizarrely given that version 6.1 of the mobile OS has now surfaced, remains stuck on Windows Mobile version 5 for smartphone and that means no Office Mobile. Initially, I thought I'd missed something when I first looked for it - I rarely see a smartphone without some form of document editing software, so I hunted high and low, but the search was in vain.
Not only does the SPV-E610 have no Office Mobile, but it also has no viewer, which means it's seriously hampered as a business handset. Imagine being sent a spreadsheet or important document over email that you need to look at quickly and comment on while you're out on the road, but find that you can't. The whole point of smartphones like this is that they should make such tasks easy, so that you don't have to have an HSDPA data stick and laptop with you or have to find an Internet café and open potentially sensitive documents on an unsecured public PC.
You can, of course, purchase and install the excellent DataViz Documents To Go for a mere £15 extra, but the point is you shouldn't have to when you've paid good money for a new handset. The presence of other software extras - Pocket MSN and a proprietary video player are preinstalled - fails to make up for this gaping omission.
As if to prove me wrong, the Orange SPV-E610 managed to get the keyboard right, then undermine that good work with a weak hardware offering and lacklustre software. Those clicky keys may make texts and emails easy to write, but the rest of the package is plain disappointing.
The looks are nothing special, plus there's no fast mobile data, no decent camera and certainly no luxury extras such as GPS. But the phone's Achilles' heel isn't in the hardware; it's the phone's old fashioned-looking Windows Mobile 5 OS, and its lack of office document compatibility out of the box.
As a result, what could have been a competent, budget emailer, turns out to be a bit of a damp squib. If you must have a Blackberry-style Windows Mobile device, the Motorola's Q 9h is by far the more capable device.