Above the navigation pad is a row of four small buttons. From left to right these are defaulted to call up the Start menu, Email client, Internet Explorer and to “OK” any configurations you’ve setup. These, along with the two buttons either side of the earpiece (Calendar and Contacts), the voice record button, camera button, and IE hotkey on the keyboard, can all be assigned new applications or actions. One of the most useful is to assign one to your file browser and another to rotate the display to a landscape orientation. I should add that the sliding volume control button can be reassigned (without third party software) which is a shame especially as many users may want to use it to scroll down pages.
After familiarising myself with the M2000 over the last few weeks, I have to say I’ve got used to its size and handling. Only a couple of issues exist, and these concerned the keyboard. First, the slide down action is somewhat awkward requiring both hands to do it smoothly. A spring loaded, button operated mechanism would undoubtedly have appealed to the image conscious. As for the other issue, that’s all about using it. While the keyboard includes directional arrows and a number pad, typing on it wasn’t that easy, especially if your thumbs are a little on the chunky side. The small pimples that cover each key are just that – small. That, plus the fact that each individual key is spaced very closely to the next meant that I regularly pressed the wrong key.
That said, I can’t criticise the M2000’s keyboard too much. For a start, at least there is one, and it’s backlit with an attractively blue light. Most PDAs don’t even come with one, so straight away the M2000 gives the user an alternative input method to the Block and Letter Recognisers, display keyboard and Transcriber handwriting recognition tool that all feature in Pocket PC. However, once you’ve mastered the keyboard, it’s a great way of replying quickly to text and email messages.
Of course, I’m sure you’re wondering about performance and connectivity too. Well in use I I didn’t experience any lock-ups and found it to be reasonably slick thanks to the Intel PXA263 400MHz CPU. This is backed up by 128MB of RAM and, despite conflicting specifications floating around the Internet, 32MB of ROM.
Connectivity is comprehensive. You get a mobile phone that has an internal quad band antenna that covers 850/900/1800/1900MHz frequencies for world-wide use. In addition there’s Wi-Fi (802.11b) and Bluetooth functionality. Using the M2000’s embedded Wi-Fi I was able to successfully connect to my wireless network at home and here at our offices. Chatting on MSN messenger was a breeze despite the fact I was some 40 metres outside our building, plus you can always download your emails to the M2000 once you’ve correctly set it up with your email settings.
With a phone this size some users may also want to keep it from view, and that’s where the short range Bluetooth connection can come in handy, coupled to a Bluetooth headset. When Bluetooth is activated the left LED on the top will flash blue, but if you want to confirm your connections the Wireless Manager application will show which connections (GPRS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) are in operation, while also offering you the option to select your preferred ones.
Connectivity, like most PDAs continues in the form of a USB cradle, which is supplied as part of the package from Orange. This is finished in the same champagne colour as the M2000 and can accommodate a spare battery (also supplied) that is simultaneously charged. The USB cable is hard-wired into the cradle, whereas the power adapter is plugged in separately. The M2000 will trickle charge over USB but full charge will be reached more quickly with the adapter connected. Orange has also supplied a connector that can be hooked up to the power adapter and the M2000, so that you can charge the device without the cradle – ideal if you don’t want to leave it at home or in the office.
As is common with Pocket PC devices the M2000 ships with a copy of ActiveSync so that you can synchronise your data with your PC or use AvantGo to download various websites and channels for your perusal at a later date.