T-Mobile MDA Vario II
This chameleon phone is branded with different names and different colour schemes on different networks. On Orange it’s the SPV M3100, on O2 it’s an XDA Trion, and on Vodafone it’s a VPA Compact III. Branding bizarreness aside, there’s a lot to like. This is an outsized, chunky, candy-bar design that’s just about pocketable – if you have very deep and wide pockets. The 240 x 320 display is bright and easy to read, and navigation is fairly simple with a combined touch screen interface – there’s a stylus at the side – and jog wheel. With a click and a slide a QWERTY keyboard appears, and the display switches automatically to landscape format. This isn’t the best keyboard ever seen on a mobile – it’s still hard to beat the Nokia Communicators for typing quality – but it’s more than good enough for note taking, short emails, and texts.
Internally, the operating system is Windows Mobile 5.0 running on a 400MHz ARM processor, which means that even though it’s Windows it’s fast and responsive. The one minor downside is that there are a lot of features, so it can take a while to find all of them. This also means that the phone functions aren’t quite as close to the surface as they are on other models – although this is unlikely to seriously bother anyone who uses this phone daily. The software includes mobile versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, and an email and messaging client with POP3 and push email support.
Finishing off the package are not just one but two cameras – a video camera on the front for video calling, and a 2-megapixel main camera at the back, with a switchable macro (close-up) mode. Connectivity is via Bluetooth and WiFi, with network connections via standard GPRS and also 3G. iSync needs a tool like Missing Sync.
The Vario II is more of a PDA with a built-in phone, than a phone with added features. But it’s fast, easy to work with, and not too bulky to be bothersome.