Friday, February 10, 2006

BenQ P50

I think it's time for a review of the BenQ P50. BenQ are a Korean manufacturer who took over Siemens mobile division in 2005, and they've made never made a Microsoft OS based handset before. The device was scheduled to launch in early 2005, but has been delayed until now. Like a lot of phones, if it had been launched on time, it would have been something exceptional, and while it's a well designed device, there are certain factors which let it down in todays marketplace.

The first issue is that it's not running Windows Mobile 5, but Pocket PC 2003 Mobile SE. The second factor is a minor issue, and that's the small amount of flash memory available (about 13 Mb). That's really not much really is it? This is a pretty damn good phone.

It has a touchscreen, and as you should have noticed, a fairly large QWERTY thumboard, comparable to a Treo 650. It's also backlit. It has Wifi (802.11b - the slow one). It has Infrared. Why do I mention this? It's "User infrared". That means it's proper infrared that works at more than 3 feet away. AND it comes pre-loaded with software so that you can control any other infrared devices - your TV, your stereo, other peoples TVs… It instantly becomes that much more useful.

It has a 1.3 Megapixel camera with a flash. Ok, that's not incredible, and I have no idea what the picture quality will be like, but are you starting to picture how this phone would have blown all others away a year ago? Even the touchscreen uses fairly recent technology to minimise the space between pixels, so you get a clearer sharper image in less space (compare an XDA II with an iMate Jam, and you'll see what I mean). Also the processor is a standard 412Mhz Intel Xscale, which will be fine for 95% of the things people use PocketPCs for, including video, Quake, and most emulation.

It is slightly heavy at about 179g, and of course the keyboard means it's taller than some devices (although, I think in quite a good ratio). There's a camera button on the side, and a rubber-covered USB port, but for some reason, the SD Card slot is at the bottom. Uncovered. Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling that you'd lose more SD cards that way. I guess the final thing to say is that there's a 2.5mm headphone jack, which means you really have to search to get decent headphones that work (although I believe Expansys has a nice converter for about £10 if you can find it).

Yeah, I'd say this was a pretty good phone!


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