Dopod s301

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Dopod s301
  • Dopod s301
  • Dopod s301
  • Dopod s301

Pros

  • Size, form factor, interface and controls, display

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi, location of SD Card Slot, proprietary charger/USB connector

Bottom Line

The Dopod S301 is definitely something different, even if it doesn't include Wi-Fi. If you are looking for a compact smart phone that's stylish yet still packed with most features, then this may fit the bill.

Would you buy this?

The Dopod S301 is a Windows Mobile 5 smart phone packaged in a compact and lightweight clamshell design, almost identical to the Smartflip. The S301 includes a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, Bluetooth connectivity and excellent external and internal displays.

Features

As a phone, the S301 performed relatively well, with good volume during calls and a clear hands free speakerphone. Dopod includes voice-activated dialling, and also provides users with the option to translate text messages to speech, which is an excellent feature.

Windows Mobile smart phones are usually operated via a stylus and touch screen, sometimes accompanied by a keyboard. The S301 has neither of these. Despite this, the menus are concise and simple, with the two selection buttons and navigational pad making browsing simple and easy. On the home screen, the left selection button is the Windows Start button, while the right accesses contacts. The functions of these keys change from application to application.

Another area the S301 excels is speed - this is one of the faster Windows Mobile devices on the market. It's OMAP 850 195MHz processor works well and most applications load quickly, although the time taken start up and when switching between applications could still be a little speedier.

The S301 is fitted with 64MB of ROM and 128MB of RAM (upgraded from 64MB on the Smartflip) of which 44MB is available for storing your data. Thankfully the S301's memory can be expanded thanks to a microSD slot. It's located underneath the battery though, so you'll have to turn off the phone, slide off the back cover and remove the battery to access it.

The S301 includes a 1.3 megapixel camera, but most smart phones are currently shipping with 2.0 megapixel or better sensors. The camera does have a number of features, including grayscale, sepia and cool effects, a two and 10 second self-timer, 2x digital zoom and the ability to adjust white balance settings, but it is missing a flash. The quality of pictures isn't impressive with poor colour reproduction and image noise. The S301 also enables you to capture short (MMS) or long videos.

The biggest letdown of the S301 is the lack of Wi-Fi support. It does include Bluetooth and USB connectivity, but both are 1.1 instead of the newer and faster 2.0 protocol. It also isn't a 3G phone, only supporting the 2.5G network. Other features include polyphonic and MIDI ring tones, Java support, a microphone and media player capabilities. Of course, the S301 includes the range of applications that come standard with Windows Mobile 5, including Pocket Outlook, Calendar, Contacts, Internet Explorer Mobile Windows Media Player, ActiveSync, Pocket MSN, Calculator and Games.

Design

The S301 has bucked the trend of the large, bulky smart phone. Measuring just 98.5mm x 51.4mm x 15.8mm and weighing just 99g, it looks distinctive with thin lines and sleek curves. The unit is finished in a grooved black plastic on the front and battery cover, and plain matt black extending over to the sides and bottom.

Despite being so thin, the S301 includes dedicated MP3 player controls on the front, a camera button on the right and voice tags and volume control keys on the left. There is also a single USB and charging connector on the right hand side, but this isn't a standard mini-USB port, so you'll always have to use the included proprietary cables. The S301 also includes a handy external screen that is capable of displaying caller ID information. The screen includes battery life, reception, missed calls, new messages and alerts. It also shows time, date and wallpaper - all of which can be altered and changed through the settings menu.

Flipped open, the S301 reveals an impressive, bright and clear display. The 2.2-inch TFT LCD has a good viewing angle and is clearly visible in sunlight. Beneath this is a keypad with large flat buttons complemented by stylish silver imprints. Although the buttons require a firm press to activate, the keypad is quite intuitive to use. Our only complaint is with the size of the keys - they are fairly large and this makes your thumb a little sore when moving from key to key. The controls on the S301 are standard, with a five-way navigational pad, two selection keys, answer and end call buttons and dedicated keys for home and back.

Dopod rate the S301 at up to five hours of talk time and 150 hours of standby, an acceptable result although greater battery life would be welcome as this is not a 3G device.

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