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.
O2 Xda Stealth
- Good display, Connectivity options, Answer Machine
- Design, Clunky slider, Stylus location, Keypad, Sunlight glare makes display difficult to read, USB 1.2, Issues with text input
A solid offering purely as a phone and a handy answering machine application aren’t enough to make the Stealth appealing. Ultimately let down by a poor design, issues with text input and a rather moderate battery life.
Price$ 940.00 (AUD)
Looking like a regular, if slightly large and chunky slider phone, the O2 Xda Stealth is actually a fully fledged smart phone running Windows Mobile 5. Also offering Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2 megapixel camera and expandable memory thanks to a mini-SD card slot, the Stealth is ultimately let down by a poor slider design and dull finish.
O2 has obviously tried to design the Stealth to match its name, but they haven't done a very good job. Measuring 110mm x 53mm x 22.5 mm and weighing 140g, the Stealth is a fairly standard shape for a smart phone running Windows Mobile 5 and is finished entirely in a matte black plastic. The handset feels flimsy and in particular the sliding mechanism is very clunky. Instead of smoothly sliding up and gliding into place, the Stealth rocks slightly from side to side when slid open or closed. We also weren't fans of the minimalist look O2 has gone for; it gives the phone an unfinished look that isn't particularly appealing.
The Stealth uses regular smart phone controls; there is a five-way navigational pad, answer and end call keys, as well as a Start button and OK key. These buttons are fairly flat and blend into the unit's design, but despite this they are fairly comfortable to press and are large enough to ensure even those with big fingers are catered for. Unfortunately, the included keypad is a let down; the keys are very spongy and do require a firmer than usual press to activate. They aren't distinctly separated with gaps in between the keys either, so it is easy to press the wrong key when typing an email or message.
The display however is quite impressive. The 2.4in QVGA TFT-LCD touch screen is bright and clear and has an excellent horizontal and vertical viewing angle. Our only complaint is that it's virtually impossible to read in direct sunlight, due to excessive reflection. The rest of the phone is quite standard; a dedicated camera button and three-way volume control wheel adorn the left side of the Stealth, while a mini-SD slot for extra storage and a proprietary O2 headphone jack are on the right side. The Stealth uses a standard mini-USB connection for charging and synchronising with a PC and this is located on the bottom of the phone, hidden by a plastic flap. The Stealth also includes a stylus, but this is puzzlingly located at the bottom left hand corner of the handset. It's quite fiddly to quickly remove and when you finally do, it's very small and difficult to grasp.
The Stealth is packed full of connectivity options, including Bluetooth, infrared and native 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. We connected to a wireless network in our office and experienced no problems. The connectivity options of the Stealth can easily be managed using the wireless manager application, which by default is accessible from the standby screen. This displays the status of each connection (Phone, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and enables you to turn each of them on and off to preserve battery life. The Stealth also includes USB connectivity, but unfortunately this is USB 1.2 rather than 2.0, so transfer speeds are slower than they could be. Overall, we were satisfied with the connectivity of this device, but perhaps it is a little disappointing that the Stealth doesn't offer 3G support.
The Stealth runs the Windows Mobile 5 OS and uses an Intel XScale PXA 272 416MHz processor, with 64 MB RAM and 192 MB ROM standard. Although it isn't the fastest smart phone on the market, its speed and loading times didn't pose any serious problems. Do note though that we experienced a drop in speed when running multiple applications and the OS did seem to suffer from a few freezes and bugs.
Being a Windows Mobile 5 device, the Stealth comes with a range of applications including Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile. It also includes push email and we tested this with a standard POP3 Yahoo! account. The Stealth allows you to retrieve just new emails or your entire inbox and users can view, save and even edit their attachments. These can be then saved to the phone's internal memory or the mini-SD card. Unfortunately, O2 does not include a mini-SD card in the sales package.
The other main addition to the Stealth is O2's Media Plus application, first seen in the previous Xda Atom Exec. This is a music player, FM radio, picture viewer and video player all in one. It's almost identical to Windows Media Player, and is very easy to use. A status bar at the bottom contains all the playback buttons, as well as quick access to the impressive 10-band equaliser; one of the most comprehensive we've seen on a smart phone.
Purely as a phone, the Stealth does an admirable job; calls are clear and volume is loud enough, even in noisy environments. Perhaps the best feature of the Stealth is an application called Answer Machine. When in use, it automatically diverts all incoming calls, playing a user-recorded message and then saving the calls as an audio file. This means that instead of paying voicemail charges to your service provider (such as Optus, Telstra or Vodafone etc.) you can do this for free using this application. User-recorded messages can be unlimited in length and you can also choose how long you want the phone to ring before being intercepted, as well as saving them either on the internal memory, or a mini-SD card.
The Stealth features a 2 megapixel camera with flash but unlike the Xda Atom Exec, there is no self-portrait mirror. The quality of pictures that the Stealth produces is fairly standard for a 2 megapixel phone camera - good enough for happy snaps.
According to O2, battery life is rated at up to 150 hours of standby time and 4.5 hours of talk time. We found they weren't far off the mark, having to charge the handset every two nights with moderate usage. Keep in mind, these figures decrease if you constantly use the Bluetooth or wireless features of the device.
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