MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
- 3G capable, Wi-Fi, ASUS applications, fast processor, good build quality
- 2.5mm headphone jack, no keyboard, USB 1.1
The 3G capable P735 is well worth considering provided you can do without a built in keyboard. ASUS bundles some excellent applications, combined with a fast processor and good build quality.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Sporting a brushed steel face and running the popular Windows Mobile 5 operating system, the 3G-capable ASUS P735 offers a number of worthy features in a distinct package. A 2 megapixel camera with auto focus, business card recognition, native Wi-Fi and memory expansion thanks to a mini-SD card slot are just some of what it has to offer.
The ASUS P735 is a tri-band GSM 900/1800/1900, GPRS and 3G phone. It performs reasonably well for voice calls, and no issues with in-call quality arose during testing. Volume is adequate at its highest level, and the quality of the hands-free speakerphone is above average. There is a slight echo at full volume, and conversations held in areas with background noise aren't always clear, but this is a common issue of smart phones. The P735 has basic phone features such as speed dialling, the ability make conference calls, call history, and a 1000 entry phone book, and ASUS has also includes a front-mounted VGA camera for video calling.
The P735 runs the familiar Windows Mobile 5 operating system, so it naturally has mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 10 and Pocket MSN. 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities make the P735 a solid email device, and the standard Windows Mobile messaging application supports push email from a Microsoft Exchange mail server, as well as standard POP3 and IMAP email accounts such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. Also standard is Bluetooth 2.0 and USB connectivity, although the latter is only the older and slower 1.1 interface, which is disappointing.
A unique feature of the P735 is the ability to recognise business cards, and the application is called 'WorldCard Mobile'. This is a simple process performed by taking a photo of a business card with the P735's digital camera. Provided the photo is clear enough, the application then takes the information and automatically creates a new contact in the phones address book. Although it sounds like a great feature, we did have some trouble with accuracy, as the photo needs to be very clear for the camera to recognise text. It's promising, but it could definitely be improved.
It also allows users to control Microsoft PowerPoint presentations on a notebook using a Bluetooth connection. Using the pre-installed 'Remote Presenter' software, users simply install the program on their notebook and connect to it via Bluetooth. This is an excellent application and even allows user to read footnotes on the P735 as they are controlling their PowerPoint. ASUS also includes some meeting planner software and frequent business travellers will find this very handy. When making an entry (a meeting in Sydney at 9am, for example) the software will let you know what time that meeting is on in other pre-selected time zones. This is ideal for tracking your schedule in local time, as well as in other time zones, so there's no chance of missing any international calendar entries.
The rest of the P735's features are much the same as any Windows Mobile 5 device. For multimedia, the ASUS P735 supports a wide range of file formats, most playable through Windows Media player. These include MP3, WMA, AAC and AAC+ files. Users can also assign most files for use as ring tones. Unfortunately, the media support is let down by a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of the standard 3.5mm. This means users will need an adapter before they can use their own set of headphones. The sound quality is a bit average, and the speaker on the rear of the unit isn't good enough for those who intend to use the unit for multimedia playback. Music and video can be stored on the 256MB of internal memory, or via a mini-SD card slot on top of the unit.
For photography the P735 includes a 2 megapixel camera with flash and auto focus. However, despite the flash, night time photography is poor. Photos are far from sharp or vibrant, exhibit poor colour reproduction and produce high amounts of image noise, although to be fair, these issues are prominent with all camera phones, not just this model. ASUS also includes a self-portrait mirror. The camera also doubles as a video recorder, but, like the still shots, also suffers from below average quality.
At its heart the P735 is powered by a speedy 520 MHz Intel Xscale processor. We found that general use was quite quick during testing, and switching between multiple applications is fast for a Windows Mobile 5 device. ASUS has also included 64MB of RAM and 256MB of Flash ROM. For connectivity, the P735 has Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and USB 1.1; unfortunately the latter is not the newer and faster 2.0 interface.
For a touch of class the P735 sports a brushed steel look, with silver sides and a grey back. It's obvious that its looks will divide opinion; some won't like the chunky, flat style, while others will appreciate the solid build quality and rugged looking surface. We quite like the design as it differs from the many other smart phones on the market. Build quality is excellent and weighing 143g, the P735 definitely feels like an expensive device.
Heavy email users won't like the fact that there is no QWERTY keyboard on this model, but the controls are responsive. They consist of a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, large answer/end call keys, and dedicated buttons for video calling and application switching. The keys do require a firm press to activate, but should serve most users well. A convenient hold switch (to prevent accidental keypad and screen presses) and dedicated voice recording button are on the left side, while the dedicated camera button and volume controls are housed on the other side. A power switch is at the top of the unit, with the 2.5mm headphone jack and standard mini-USB port for charging and synchronising on the bottom. The P735 display measures 2.8in and has a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. It works well for watching videos and performing general tasks, but it is difficult to see in sunlight and has a below average viewing angle.
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