Beneath this button is a rocker which, when pushed up, displays a monthly calendar. You can cycle through the months backwards and forwards using the rocker and any days with appointments are highlighted. But to see the appointments you have to open the handset and go to the calendar application. The rocker can’t be used to cycle through music tracks.
On the bottom of the clam is the mains power port, a mini USB type and a covered slot for a microSD card. You can use cards to augment the built in 1.5MB of storage, and clearly if you are going to make any kind of use of the phone as a camera or music player you are going to need a card.
Bluetooth is built in, but there is no infra red.
So, to the camera. On the plus side, there isn’t a huge shutter lag. You get a self timer, three white balance settings, a fair few pre-set scene modes such as landscape, sunny, sunset, snow and even text, effects such as sketch, negative, sepia and embossed and a nine shot multi shot mode. When viewing a picture you can record voice clips, which are then associated with them.
These features lift the camera from the realms of the truly mediocre into something you might want to use. However, the camera lacks a flash and so it’s not what it could be when it comes to indoor shots.
Also, I found it difficult to avoid camera shake and the lens doesn’t produce the clearest or sharpest of images or the brightest colours. The sample shots, taken indoors at the highest resolution and quality available with the camera on auto settings, shows the kind of thing you might get from shooting typical indoor ‘snaps’.
The music player supports MP3, AAC and WMA files. Played through the handset quality is reasonable but the maximum setting isn’t loud enough.
The white in-ear headphones supplied delivered fairly good quality and volume. The headset connects through the same mini USB port as is used for mains power, so if you want to change it you could be in trouble. The connector was quite tight on my review unit, but I did not have a final boxed version of the handset and your experience may differ. I also didn’t get the BenQSyncer software which apparently lets you exchange data with a PC.
The software complement is reasonable but definitely on the basic side. SMS and MMS are supported but there is no email client on board. There is a WAP browser and Java, a voice recorder, clock, five alarms, to do list manager, notes taker, calculator, currency converter, stopwatch and countdown timer.
Battery life for continuous MP3 playback from a microSD card clocked in at just over six hours.
Despite my misgivings, clearly enough people bought the Poppy for BenQ-Siemens to consider a follow-up. There are many small, light, brightly coloured handsets brimming with features, but I feel that the EF61’s screen-mirror trick will help it stands out from the crowd.
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