MANILA, December 31, 2003 (BULLETIN)  Handset makers are finally finding ways of combining the flexibility of handhelds with the mass-market appeal of mobile phones.

Take the case of Mitacís new Mio 8380 DigiWalker Smartphone which brings together a wealth of powerful advantages in a single device.

Utilizing the Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 software platform and an Intel XScale-200MHz CPU, this mobile phone-cum-PDA brings together all the important functionality needed for a full-fledged digital lifestyle. The Mio 8380 smartphone integrates the Internet, entertainment, audiovisual media playback, digital photography, audio recording, personal information management, and e-mail into a mobile phone with a large high-resolution color screen.

Users can take advantage of the familiar Windows interface in performing such tasks as mobile voice communications, e-mail and document management and exchange, and downloads of digital AV entertainment such as music videos and films-vastly improving on the only partial digitalization that is available on current phones. With the Mio 8380, the mobile phone has embarked on a totally new era, marking a paradigm shift from being a portable device for transmitting and receiving voice to a platform that ties together all strands of the digital universe.

First and foremost, aside from being a tri-band phone GSM phone, the clamshell-type Mitac handset has an integrated digital camera located in the front of its flip cover. Its built-in camera has an aperture of 1:2.8 and a 2.0mm focal length which it makes it possible for the lens to cover a wider angle compared to other digital camera that is available in the market today. To take JPEG pictures and AVI video clips from the Mio 8380 at either 320 x 240 or 176 x 144 pixels resolution images, which you can configured and stored in the phoneís internal SD/MMC flash memory card, you need to release the shutter button down after pressing the capture button. This procedure I think is rather unusual compared to the way how pictures are being taken by the current built-in handphone cameras available in the market today. In addition, its capture-image capabilities also lets you configure a delay of one second or more to avoid camera shake.

Moreover, Mitacís Mio 8380 camera provides a 110K pixel optical sensor and advanced functionality such as auto-focus and auto-brightness controls. Brightness and contrast settings can be configured through the cameraís setup options. Brightness can also be adjusted when taking pictures by pressing up or down on the four-way scroll button at both resolutions, but digital zooming by pressing left or right on the scroll button only works when image resolution has been set at 176 x 144pixels. Its high-resolution 65,000-color 2.2Ē TFT-LCD screen has been made large enough to allow browsing of photographs or watching videos. Also, even in bright sunlight, the LCD provides clear, realistic image quality for the best possible viewing experience. And like most digital cameras with small lenses, the 8380ís camera doesnít have an on-board or external flash, which makes taking good pictures difficult unless shot in bright environments.

The MMS phone Mio 8380 can efficiently handle AV media, such as video in the MPEG-4 compression format. It also has a ring tone generator and editor with 40 pre-set polyphonic ringtones that will allow users to personalize their Mio 8380 while enjoying amazingly clear, bright sound quality. In addition, the Mio 8380 supports color graphics, ringtones, screen wallpapers, and even downloadable Java games to satisfy a diverse range of individual user needs. The phone also has two built-in games that has been bundled into the system ó Metalstrike and Solitaire that you can play with to while away your time or to be entertained if ever you get caught in the traffic or while you wait for your next appointment. Metalstrike is a cool game where as a gunfighter one has to battle against infantry as well as a tank, accompanied by sound and vibration effects.

As a PDA, Mio DigiWalker 8380 has the usual to-dos, address book, daily planner, data exchange and synchronization, audio recording and playback features. Moreover, it is also bundled with accessories such as a program to access its infrared port and a modem link feature that lets users configure the phone as an infrared wireless modem for a notebook PC or PDA.

Youíre wondering by now why, after having bragged earlier of the phonesí innovative capabilities and its power-packed functionalities which one would need in order to achieve a full-fledged digital lifestyle, I did not touch on the Internet browsing, email and MMS features of the phone. Unfortunately the Mio 8380 phone is not yet being supported by the cellular operators Smart, Globe and Sun Cellular, so therefore I wasnít able to test these all important features of the phone to see if it can pass the mark with flying colors.

On the downside, the Mio 8380ís chunky form factor and its short battery life (its lithium-polymer battery only lasted less than a day after a full charge during normal use) tops the list. But other than this, and with all the proliferation of other cellphone models and the forthcoming launch of new and upcoming models, Mitacís Mio DigiWalker 8380 Smartphone is one cool gadget to have for the new year, that is if you donít mind splurging some R30,000.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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