I found the keyboard surprisingly usable, but then I had no problem typing on the Vario and M5000 either. Just like the Vario, you need to press a function key to access many symbols, while getting at the £ symbol requires a trip to the separate Symbol menu. Although this sounds annoying, it really isn’t and you soon find that it doesn’t slow you down too much. If I have one criticism of the keyboard it’s that some of the keys felt a bit sticky – on occasion I was sure that I had pressed a key, but it hadn’t registered. I managed to address this issue by adopting a slightly more aggressive typing style, but I would prefer to be able to type naturally. To be fair to Orange though, this is a pre-production version of the M3100 and Sandra has told me that she has encountered no such issues with her retail version.
The 2.8in screen is a pretty good example – it’s bright and vibrant and ideal for showing off your photography handy work to your friends. That said, I think that 240 x 320 is getting a bit old in screens this size, especially since the Samsung D600 (which launched over a year ago) sports the same resolution in a far smaller physical screen. I’d like to see Windows Mobile devices like this move up to a 640 x 480 resolution screen, although the screen resolution isn’t enough to put me off the M3100.
Connectivity wise, the M3100 really does have everything you could want. Not only is this a 3G device, but it also supports HSDPA for download speeds up to 1.8Mbit/sec. Unfortunately Orange doesn’t have an HSDPA network in place in the UK yet, but it shouldn’t be long before you can take advantage of these lightning fast download speeds. If you can’t find 3G coverage the M3100 will drop down to the EDGE standard, which still produces pretty good results, as seen in the SPV M600. If all else fails you’ll get GPRS speeds, but I have to say that I managed to find 3G coverage pretty much everywhere I went with this device. You’ve also got integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth thrown in for good measure, along with infrared.
With integrated Wi-Fi you’ll be able to use VoIP services as well – although the 400MHz Samsung processor is only just fast enough for the Windows Mobile version of Skype. As far as memory goes, you get 64MB of RAM and 128MB of flash storage, although only 55MB is free for use after the Orange application install. The limited memory isn’t really an issue since it only costs around £10 for a 512MB MicroSD card these days.