Dopod P800W

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Dopod P800W
  • Dopod P800W
  • Dopod P800W
  • Dopod P800W

Pros

  • Integrated GPS chip, cool control mechanisms, compact design

Cons

  • GPS software not included, microSD not hot-swappable, slow processor, no 3G support

Bottom Line

It's amazing that Dopod has managed to fit so many features into such a compact smartphone. You need to pay extra for mapping software, so the P800W is far from a cheap investment, but for some, the all-in-one convenience makes it worthwhile.

Would you buy this?

Leading the charge as one of the first smartphones to offer GPS, the Dopod P800W still remains rather slim and is actually one of the sleekest PDA phones we've seen all year with a 108mm x 58mm x 16.8mm footprint and a pocket-friendly 128g weight. Clad in a dark grey chassis with a pleasant rubberised coating, it's also one of the better-looking smart phones on the market.

As with other smart phones we've seen from Dopod, the P800W feels well-constructed and robust. Of particular interest are the two control mechanisms below the screen: a 360-degree scroll wheel and a touch pad. The scroll wheel is reminiscent of the earlier iPods, using a mechanical clockwise motion to scroll through menu items and options. It's a nice change from the usual four-way navigation pad, but in lieu of a long list of items, it doesn't make a huge difference to usability.

The trackball, which glows neon blue when active, provides similar functionality to the scroll wheel but with the added function of being able to select items when highlighted. Turning 'Mouse Mode' on in the settings makes the trackball work just like a desktop mouse, but using this mode actually takes longer than using the conventional controls and touchscreen.

Our only complaint with the P800W's hardware design is the location of the microSD slot. Not only is it underneath the battery, making it impossible to swap cards in and out without powering down the device, but it's also located underneath the SIM card holder, using a flimsy plastic pull tab.

Despite the built-in SiRF III GPS chip, the P800W doesn't come with mapping software pre-installed. In order to use the GPS, you'll need to buy seperate software. We tested the popular PaPaGo 7 application, which retails for $529. Considering you can get a dedicated GPS unit for less than the price of this software (such as the iCN 330), the extra outlay, in combination with the cost of the MicroSD card you will need to store the maps, is a lot to spend, especially when the P800W is pricey to begin with. That being said, while Dopod does not package any software, many distributors have realised this deficiency and are packaging GPS software as part of a bundle deal. If you are looking to pick up the P800W, make sure you shop around, you may find a good deal.

Apart from the lack of maps or memory card, the P800W has all the other accoutrement typical for a GPS, namely a car charger and dashboard mounting kit. The 2.8in screen, which has a standard 240x320 resolution, is on the small side for viewing maps, but it does a decent job at deflecting glare in direct sunlight.

If GPS isn't your thing, the P800W has many other appealing features. Running on the Windows Mobile 5 operating system, it has scaled-down versions Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and MSN Messenger.

Both the built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and the GPRS/EDGE wireless functionality make the P800W a decent mobile email device. The messaging application supports push email from an exchange mail server, as well as POP3 and IMAP email accounts.

In addition to Windows Media Player and the picture and video applications, Dopod throws in an audio manager program that mimics the popular iPod interface. We found this to be more intuitive than using Windows Media Player Mobile, however it doesn't support album art or song ratings. When you get tired of your own music, you can switch to the P800W's stereo FM radio, which uses the included wired headset as an antenna.

The audio jack uses a proprietary connector, limiting your headphone options to the ones in the box. If you have Bluetooth headphones, however, the P800W supports the A2DP and AVRDP profiles, letting you wirelessly stream music with stereo audio.

For the most part, the P800W's relatively slow 200MHz TI OMAP processor does a decent job, but it shows its age when it comes to playing video. Our test WMV movie exhibited frequent stutters and dropped frames, although re-encoding the video to 20 frames per second achieved better results.

Photos taken with the 2 megapixel camera were decent, but not as sharp or vibrant as you'd get if you were to use a seperate dedicated digital camera. However, one cool feature of the camera mode is the integration with GPS. When in GPS photo mode, the camera embeds GPS coordinates into each picture. The only downside of this is that you can't actually navigate to that place using the picture. Once again, this shortcoming can be blamed on the lack of native mapping software on the device.

Reception and call quality on the P800W is better than average for a smart phone, but the lack of 3G support is disappointing. Instead, it has quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE connectivity. Battery life is a decent five hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time, a figure that's reduced when using the WLAN and GPS.

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