- Review Price: £99.00
In some ways the Orange SPV M500 is the worst phone I’ve ever used – but as strange as it sounds I still really like it. You see if you want a regular phone the SPV M500 is not for you. On the other hand, if you’re want a great little smartphone, you can’t go wrong with the SPV M500. It’s the little brother to the SPV M2000 – not only in size but also in functionality.
Measuring 58 x 108 x 18mm (W x H x D) and weighing 150 grams with battery, it’s larger than your average mobile phone but it fits much more comfortably in the hand than the larger PDA phones such as the M2000 and you certainly won’t look quite as daft talking in it. With a 320 x 240 resolution screen you get the same desktop real estate as you do with the SPV M2000, although on a smaller 2.8in TFT display. The colour depth is still 65,536 colours, not quite up there with the best phones, but good enough for its intended tasks.
The SPV M500 is tri-band and works in GSM 900/1800/1900 networks and supports GPRS class 10, but not 3G. So if you need high-speed Internet access, you’ll have to wait for the next generation of devices. Bluetooth and IrDA is also part of the specs, but not Wi-Fi. However, you can use something like a Sandisk Wi-Fi card with the SPV M500 to get wireless network access as the top mounted SD card slot supports SDIO.
At the core of the SPV M500 is a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor backed with 64MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM. There’s also 7.6MB of flash memory to which you can back up your contacts, appointments, tasks and connection settings. Any information stored to the flash memory won’t be erased in the case of a flat battery.
A 1.3Mpixel camera is also part of the package and takes pictures at a maximum resolution of 1,280 x 960 pixels and it can also be used for recording video at a maximum of 320 x 240. There is no photo light, but you get a self portrait mirror.
Above the screen, is the earpiece with a small flashing LED. Below the screen is a four way navigation pad with an action button in the middle, surrounded by a dial and disconnect button as well as a short cut button for the calendar and your contacts. On the right hand side is the power button – which is also used for switching off the backlight. In the corner is the slot for the stylus while towards the bottom right is the IrDA port.
On the left hand side are three buttons – going from the top town there is a camera button, a volume slider and a combined voice dial/voice recorder button. The voice dial function is pretty hit and miss, mostly dependant on how similar contact names are and the amount of background noise that is present. I presume some of it also has to do with my non-English back ground, but occasionally it seems to decide to pick a completely random contact that doesn’t even sound remotely similar to the name I thought I’d said. You can’t set up your own voice profiles either, nor could I get it to work over a Bluetooth headset – something of a major limitation.
The bottom of the SPV M500 is covered by a rubber flap that protects the mini-USB port, the headset connector and the reset button. I’m not that fond of flaps like this, as it gets in the way when you plug in the headset and it’s just something else that can break, but it does a good job of keeping dust out of the connectors. The supplied wired handfree headphones are identical to that of the SPV C500 – not the best around, but they do the job and can be used to listen to MP3s.
Apart from the handfree you get a charger, a USB to mini-USB cable, an extra stylus and a carrying pouch with a belt clip in the box. Two very thick manuals are also supplied as well as a CD with Outlook 2002 and ActiveSync.
In use the SPV M500 works much like a PDA with phone functionality strapped on to it. This is really the only flaw of the SPV M500, although no fault of Orange’s but rather an issue that Microsoft needs to improve upon. Orange has added Spb GPRS monitor on top of the software that comes with the Microsoft operating system which allows you to keep track of your GPRS spend. It also adds quick access to screen brightness, battery life information, GPRS access, Internet Explorer and Pocket Outlook to the home screen. Orange also supplies ClearVue PDF and PPT – the former for viewing PDF files and the latter for PowerPoint presentations. The resolution on the SPV M500 is not ideal for either of these file types, but it’s a handy ability when nonetheless.
I’m not too fond of the phone application, as it’s too fiddly to use – especially when it comes to choosing a name from the contacts list without the stylus. Essentially I did miss not having a real keyboard as it’s simply much more tactile. Apart from this I have no real gripes with the SPV M500 and as long as you’re happy to share phone functionality with a PDA type device then the SPV M500 has a lot to offer. Besides the pre-installed applications the SPV M500 works with most Pocket PC 2003 software and I had it working nicely with TomTom Navigator 5 using an external Bluetooth GPS receiver. Considering that the SPV M500 is available from £99 with any contract for over £25 a month from Orange it’s something of a bargain.
The Orange SPV M500 is a pocket friendly PDA with phone functionality. As a business tool it’s a winner but it’s also great for entertainment and Internet access on the move. At the price it’s a bargain.
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