Review : SMT 5600 Smart Phone

This product has been out for quite some time. Some of you may know it by other names such as the Orange SPV. I finally decided to break down and buy one of these guys. I managed to wrangle one from Cingular for about $219 bucks by extending my service contract with them. I was a bit apprehensive about buying this a Smart Phone as opposed to a Pocket PC Phone because of the size of the screen — I really enjoy having a large screen to look at. However, I really didn’t want to hold that large screen up to my ear or rush for my bluetooth headset every time the phone rang. Since my current phone service is through Cingular and I haven’t had a large complaint with them, my only option made abundantly clear to me was the SMT 5600.

First Impressions
After my first day with the device, I wasn’t very pleased. I pulled out my data cable and configured ActiveSync how I wanted it. I synched up some tasks I and appointments I had and was shocked at how hard it was to read this data on the screen. For instance, I am scheduled to fly out to Microsoft on the 17th-21st, and one of my calendar items had my flight information in a fairly simple, fixed-width format with my flight number, gate number, departure time and arrival time. I figured it would be very convenient to be able to look at my schedule quickly while switching flights in Ohio. However, when I looked at this data in the smart phone, I could barely make heads or tails of when one flight’s data ended and another started. I found this same problem with formatted email, tasks, and other outlook artifacts I have. I’m completely new to mobile devices, and don’t feel like reading a ton of how-tos to figure out how to use features of my phone — If its not intuitive, I dont want to use it. I was going to return the phone.

Day Two with the device
I found a WMA file of “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” and though I just had to have it on my smart phone for a ring tone. I noticed a “mobile devices” icon sitting in the “My Computer” display. I clicked on it while my data cable was attached. “Wow, that’s pretty cool”, I can access my phone’s file system — almost like my USB pen-drive. I dropped the WMA file into the “My Sounds” folder and searched for a way to add it as my ring tone. No luck. After digging around in the phone’s file system, I found the folder where ring-tones are stored and I added the WMA file there. I changed my ring tone and called myself from another phone — it worked. Obviously, I wouldn’t keep a phone simply because I could add a media file to my phone and use it as a ring tone, but I was somewhat amused.

Day Three
As I stated, I left my job so I needed a laptop. While I had a new laptop on order from HP, I needed something right away since my order wasn’t scheduled until October 15th. I went out and bought a pretty nice Lance Armstrong L2000 Special Edition laptop (review will be forthcoming). The laptop had bluetooth and I thought “oh, cool, I don’t need to use my datacable all the time now.”. After unpacking the laptop and charging the battery appropriately, I booted up the computer and immediately installed ActiveSync on it. I clicked the spiffy little “wireless enable” button on the laptop and noticed that bluetooth was now running as I expected. Excited about the prospect, I immediately tried enabling bluetooth on the phone and connecting. After an hour of searching the web for help and impatiently fumbling around with the phone itself, I managed to get the ActiveSync to work. This phone’s street cred is picking up pace quickly — now I can drop ring-tones onto my phone without a data cable. Ok, so maybe I can do a bit more, but for now, the idea that my laptop can access my phone from across the room (and vice versa) is pretty cool. Just for fun, I used the phone’s camcorder feature to record a short clip of my cat playing around on the floor with, well, nothing (go figure). I immediately sent it to my laptop with bluetooth and had it playing on my 15″ widescreen LCD with decent sound quality. Had I opted for a media center PC, that would have allowed me to record the video and put it on the television immediately — that’s cool!

Day Four
I’m at Sam’s club looking for a new case for thislaptop. The one I had ordered for my other laptop was too big for this smaller laptop. But as I came into Sams, I saw “it” blinking at me. It was one of those dreaded blue-tooth headsets. Since I wanted to geek out a bit more with this bluetooth stuff, I decided to go ahead and buy one (product review forthcoming). I do drive around a lot, and with my schedule for the next couple months being hectic, having a hands-free device to talk on would come in handy. I followed the instructions and immediately got the device working. I paired the device with both my laptop and my SmartPhone. It seemed to work and it has this ultra-geeky blue LED that turns on and off when I’m talking on it.

Day Last+n
I’m sitting in my hotel room. The wireless internet connection the hotel purports to have is down and doesn’t have much hope in coming back up, so I take a chance to try using my phone as a means to connect. I did some easy configuration with the bluetooth modem in my computer and dialed *99#. I watched in amazement as the network icon showed up on my phone. “Dialing *99#…” , “Connecting…”, “Verifying Username and Password”, “Registering computer on the network” — HOLY COW! My laptop just connected to the internet through my bluetooth modem. I know this is trivial stuff for a lot of people, but I am truely amazed. The connection is somewhat glitchy. I got disconnected a few times and finally got disconnected for good just before posting my last blog post. But I was still very much impressed — something to fall back on in a pinch. As I write this blog now, I’m sitting in my bed and I have no idea where I set my phone. I know its here somewhere because my bluetooth modem connection is working just fine.

Summary
I’m able to watch video and listen to music on my phone. Its not the greatest quality in the world — but its a phone so I don’t expect it to. What I don’t like is the digitized voices I hear now and again on this phone. For some reason, I hear clicks in the phone and digitizing of both my voice and the voice of the person I am talking to. The interface and action items aren’t always completely intuitive. I hate the action and directional control button – its very hard to control at first. Despite all of my complaints, I really am starting to warm to the device as I learn how to be more effective and efficient with it. All in all, this device is a thumbs up for me. I definitely have a laundry list of wishes and wants for the next generation phone, but this phone will suffice for my needs for now.

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