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3GSM - 04 - All the Keyboards in Hand

I've been wanting to do a roundup of all available smartphones with a keyboard for some time now and given that they're all on display at 3GSM I've finally managed to get my hands on all of them (to my knowledge).

The Motorola MPX running Windows Mobile.  Its keyboard might be 'interesting' but there's no way that you could use this effectively to write emails on a regular basis.

An LG concept phone branded for Cingular.  A sliding side keyboard provides basic input facilities but again you will not want to spend a lot of time using it. 

The Nokia 9500 communicator - aka 'the large brick'.  One would imagine that with the largest keyboard in this lineup that data input would be significantly improved.  However, since you will be using your thumbs it is often a stretch to reach the right keys.

The Nokia 9300 Communicator - aka 'the medium brick'.  About 25% smaller than the 9500, this model's keyboard suffers from flat and 'hard' input keys where again you quickly realise that you will not want to use it on a regular basis.

The Nokia 6822 - aka 'the baby keyboard'.  A very interesting design that flips the keyboard open from a standard Nokia phone which not unlike the Siemens SK65 has a half keyboard on either side.  The screen size naturally won't allow you to do much though.

The Sierra VOQ smartphone.  Certainly an original idea to have this 'flip' half keyboard but the pratical data input capabilities are definitely not good.  Among others the assymetry created feels odd and I also found the build quality of this phone to be very poor.

The i-mate XDA.  Not much different to the many other XDA designs out there and one that had actually grabbed my attention when it was first released.  Upon first looks I had few expectations that my data entry experience would be any good as the keys are truly tiny but overall it did not quite fall to the bottom of the pack.  It does feel like you're holding a paddle when you put this to your ear but I also have to say that i-mate's build quality on all their models was excellent.  I left impressed wondering what future models they might bring out.

            

The long delayed BenQ P50 smartphone.  Again a model that I had high expectations for but that fell flat in a real life environment.  I was disappointed not only by the keyboard which proved extremely awkward to use but also by the overall build quality which I found surprisingly poor.

            

The Siemens SK65 smartphone.  A dedicated business tool whose keyboard is surprisingly good and as it is balanced in the middle of the screen provides a good overall feel.  As I mentioned previously the build quality and design are excellent but the screen unfortunately is only 140x160 which seriously limits its appeal.

Aside from our Treo, the two other keyboard phones not shown here are the Danger HipTop and also the BlackBerry.  You don't have to take my word for it but I can tell you that one would be hard pressed to find a better keyboard than the one on out Treo and so in this space we're still very much on top of the pack.

Treonauts will divide and conquer...


Posted by Andrew on February 17, 2005 at 09:36 AM

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Comments

1
by ojleblanc | Feb 17, 2005 10:10:06 AM

A nice read! I really appreciate the effort you make to provide photos.

2
by IcemanMN | Feb 17, 2005 12:56:54 PM

Thanks for your photos and brief reviews! I agree, the Treo 650 has the best keyboard and screen on a PDA/phone.

3
by John | Feb 18, 2005 7:33:53 AM

I have to say I used to think the MPX was pretty cool. Key being "used."
My 650 is being delivered this morning, and I think that it is def the way to go.
Good article.

4
by GD | Feb 18, 2005 8:28:41 AM

Why didn't you mentin the Sony Ericsson P910? I was anguishing over buying the Treo 650 vs. the P910. The screen is much bigger with the P910 and hte operating system more advanced and sophisticated. Both are good phones offering users an interesting choice.

5
by Andrew | Feb 18, 2005 12:06:43 PM

GD,

I am sorry but the keyboard on the P910 is a joke as it is so small and uncomfortable that for all practical purposes it is completely unusable.

I would recommend to follow John's comment and stop your anguish - the Treo 650 is the right choice if you want the best smartphone.

Cheers, A.

6
by Sam | Feb 19, 2005 12:46:32 AM

What about the HP hw6500? That appears to be the most direct competition to the Treo 650 because of its similar form factor.

7
by Asher | Feb 19, 2005 8:10:22 PM

I urge you not to write of the p900/p910. While the p910 doesn't have a great keyboard, it matches or beats most other smartphones in every other way.

1. It is smaller than most smartphones, and can actually fit in your pocket!
2. It can play MP3s, and various video files.
3. It can sync with both Macs and PCs.
4. It can view (and in some cases, edit) Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files.
5. It has tons of software available. (Go to my-symbian.com)
6. It has voice recognition built in (unlike the Treo).
7. One handed operation is really easy--I can get to everything very quickly using the jog-dial.

I bought a Treo 650 based on all the positive reviews I've read, but the proof is really in the usage, not in a short test. So far, while the Treo has some nice features, it doesn't beat my p900 overall, and it will probably find its way to ebay soon.

8
by Asher | Feb 19, 2005 8:11:12 PM

Whoops, I meant 'write off' not 'write of'...sorry for the typo!

9
by Rafe | Apr 2, 2005 2:30:02 PM

Just traded in my Good G100 for a Treo 650. Hate to say it, but the G100 (a corporate-only handheld, and out of production now) has a much better KB than the Treo. Keys are about the same size but the unit is wider so they are farther apart and easier to press without slopping over onto others. Also the device feels much more solid compared to the Treo.

10
by Stevelink | Jul 14, 2005 11:24:29 PM

Greetings! As a former Treo 600 user, I now have a S/E P910a. However, I've had several connection (call quality) issues with it and Cingular in Texas, and a Cingular rep told me that the upgraded Treo 650 would be better than my P910a (reception/sound quality). I am now contemplating going back to Palm and the T650. Any comments from Cingular users and the Trep 650 would be appreciated! Thanks,
Stevelink
steve@totalqualityphoto.com

11
by Ian | Dec 30, 2005 7:03:56 PM

Having used both, I'd say the p910 beats the Treo 650, I use the on screen keyboard more, or a bluetooth keyboard if I want to do lots, both are better than the treo 650 inbuilt one.

12
by Anon | Feb 8, 2006 12:18:21 PM

You write off a lot of the devices keyboards without creating the impression that you used them for extended periods of time. I've used both the Treo 650 and the Nokia 9300 extensively over the last year, and the Nokia keyboard is - in my experience - much better for composing long emails. The only benefit provided by the Treo's smaller keys is that it can be used one-handed.

13
by Stevelink | Mar 30, 2006 10:13:10 PM

Greetings again! For the record, I didn't post the second comment above (dated July 15th), attributed to "Stevelink". And to update you Treonauts, I am happy to say I recently went back to the Palm-based Treo 650, and can say that the screen quality is hands-down better (sharper, brighter, and generally more "photo-realistic") than the P910. My images on this device display photographic quality, with sufficient detail and richness to please any photo-enthusiast! As a PDA it is excellent, and has sufficient memory (with SD expansion card) to hold hundreds of the tiny Palm apps. Call quality is not bad, but that is also dependent on your network, local conditions, etc. FYI, a third-party app called "VolumeCare" is great for increasing the volume of all speaker-related functions. Hopefully, the Palm OS retains the stability and reliability I remember from past Treos. Have fun!

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