Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
O2 Xda Zinc
- Full QWERTY keyboard, Sleek and stylish but with an aura of sophistication in design, good voice quality, feature packed, O2 applications are useful
- Below average battery life, keyboard slider, some slowdown when switching between applications, 2.5mm headphone jack
The Zinc isn't faultless but is an option worth considering for anyone looking for a smart phone for plenty of emails. A good keyboard and plenty of features make this a solid, if not outstanding option.
Price$ 1,149.00 (AUD)
Sporting a full, slide-out QWERTY keyboard combined with a sleek and stylish design, the Xda Zinc is O2's latest smart phone. The feature packed Xda Zinc runs the Windows Mobile 5 operating system, has a 2 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi connectivity and full 3G support.
The Xda Zinc is a tri-band GSM 900/1800/1900, GPRS and WCDMA2100 phone. It performs quite well, with reasonable in-call quality and volume levels. We did note a slight echo at full volume, although this was a minor issue. The Xda Zinc offers standard phone functions seen on many smart phones, including a hands-free speakerphone, speed dialling, call history, and a 1000 entry phone book. Being a 3G handset, the Zinc is also capable of video calling.
Running the popular Windows Mobile 5 operating system, the Xda Zinc has mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 10 and Pocket MSN. Both the built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and the GPRS/EDGE wireless functionality make the Xda Zinc an excellent email device. 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 and infrared connectivity.
The Zinc supports a wide range of file formats, most playable through Windows Media player. These include MIDI, MP3, WMA, WAV, AMR-NB and AAC files. Users can also assign MP3 and MIDI 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 with the Zinc.
O2 also includes its own developed applications on the Xda Zinc; O2 AutoConfig, O2 AutoInstall, O2 Connect, O2 MessagePlus, O2 Phone Plus, and O2 SMS Plus. The best of these is undoubtedly O2 MessagePlus, which allows users to conveniently check any incoming messages on one screen. This application will display any new SMS, MMS, email and RSS feeds, allowing you to reply, forward, delete and backup any messages from one location.
The Zinc's speed is about average for a smart phone, and is helped along by an Intel XScale PXA 270 520MHz processor, 128MB of flash ROM, as well as 64MB of RAM. For the most part, the processor does a decent job, but we did experience some slow down when switching between applications and playing video. For extra storage, O2 has included a miniSD card slot on the left hand side of the unit.
Photos taken with the 2 megapixel camera were decent, but far from sharp or vibrant. There is no flash, but rather a light, which is ineffective during night time photography. A self portrait mirror sits just above the lens on the rear. Being a 3G handset, the Zinc also includes a front mounted VGA camera for video calling, but this can't be used for photos.
Capable of capturing photos at resolutions from 80x60 up to 1600x1200, the camera has a range of options with night and sports scene modes, 2.5x digital zoom, a five or 10 second self-timer, four and nine picture burst modes and a range of effects. There is also a video camera, which captures clips at resolutions up to 176x144, but the quality is below average and isn't recommended.
The Zinc may retain the same design features as most smart phones with a QWERTY keyboard, but we were impressed with its looks. The unit is finished in a metallic grey plastic, with chrome and silver highlights. The Zinc doesn't attract any unwanted fingerprints and is very easy to keep clean. It measures 109mm x 58mm x 22.6mm and weighs a reasonable 175g.
The slide out QWERTY keyboard is excellent for the most part, with good tactile feedback and comfortably sized keys. The keyboard is a little flat, but adequate spacing between each keys means users shouldn't have many problems typing SMS messages or emails. Unfortunately, sliding the keyboard in and out isn't a smooth experience, requiring a rather firm grip. It isn't spring operated, instead sliding on a plastic rail on each side of the keyboard.
The 2.8in LCD touch screen is fairly standard, with a 320x240 resolution and 65K colour. It isn't the brightest and clearest smart phone display we've reviewed, but it's more than adequate for the job.
The Zinc has standard controls comprising of a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer and end call keys, as well as dedicated buttons for the Start menu and messages. There is also a dedicated camera button on the right hand side and volume controls on the left. The Zinc also includes a convenient hold slider, to guard against accidental key presses. Unfortunately, the slider is flat and requires a firm press to activate.
Battery life is a little below average according to O2 figures of up to five hours of talk time and 220 hours of standby time. Users will most likely be forced to recharge the Zinc every two days - even more if the phone is being used heavily for multimedia features like music playback and photos. The Zinc is conveniently charged via either a standard mini-USB cable or the included AC adapter.
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