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★★★★★

“For its low price, the Orange SPV E200 mobile phone...”

Written on: 25/06/2004 by kenr (1 review written)

Good Points
Flawless integration with Microsoft Outlook, Excellent Display & Camera, Excellent multimedia player, Large internal memory, SD card slot, Ideal alternative PDA

Bad Points
Poor battery life, Slightly larger than average, some expected features poorly catered for (e.g. alarm clock)

General Comments
For its low price, the Orange SPV E200 mobile phone has amazing functionality but requires constant integration with your PC to get the best out of it. If you organise your business or personal life using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, then this phone will cater for all your needs when out & about. If not, then you may find that it's slightly larger size, its poorer battery life and it's somewhat confusing menu structure ultimately make for a frustrating experience.

I have used this phone for a month now and it has, so far, proved a great asset. Voice calls have all been clear with no distortion or fading.

The package comes with the latest version of Microsoft Active Sync and Outlook 2002 (well worth installing) and the phone synchronises with that software flawlessly. Although Orange provides an on-air back-up service, I was disappointed that it does not appear possible to back-up via Active Sync and it is also a bit of a hassle searching folders to transfer your pictures and video to PC. The Camera and Video quality along with the phone display is, I think, excellent. Pressing the Homepage 'start' key displays a list of all the phone's functions, seemingly arranged in no particular order. You quickly learn to work this list, but adding extra functionality increases its length which can be a pain. I think the Nokia GUI approach is a better solution.

Setting-up e-mail accounts is relatively straight forward. The included CD provides a wizard to do this, but it failed to communicate with my phone. Web surfing is reasonably quick and the large display makes for comfortable viewing.

Each contact retains the same text information as stored on Outlook, which can be amazingly comprehensive. It's a shame you can't associate a photo with each contact, as you could with the Nokia 7650, for example. But never mind, using the 'caller id' function allows a photo of a contact to be displayed on an incoming call - fantastic. Both the Calendar and Tasks functions are very useful, again containing all the information that's stored on Outlook. Programming reoccurring events, such as birthdays, displays the reoccurrence number - which is great for indicating someone's age, for example. It's a pity there's no direct link to Tasks from the Homepage, as there is with Calendar.

Best of all is the inclusion of an MMC/SD card slot. Orange now provides a 32mB SD card in the package, full of sample videos. But to use one of the phones best features, the Windows media player, a 256mB SD card should be first thing on the upgrade list. A word of warning though! This phone is particular about its SD card and refuses to recognise some makes, as I found to my cost. Buy from a retailer who specifies that the card works with the E200. Cost around £45. The media player is basic but does its job well. It is economical on battery power and the sound quality through the supplied ear phones is quite acceptable. If you don't use the ear phones, the media player uses the phone's speaker which is surprisingly loud. Video (avi) files are clear and steady and I particularly like the way it recognised these files and kept the display backlit until completion of the track - great attention to detail.

You can use all this functionality with the phone's radio switched off, just press the on/off switch momentarily and select 'flight mode' from the menu. With so much personal information able to be stored in this phone, it's good to know security, through a customisable look-code, is up to scratch.

This phone has its faults - disappointing battery life, a bit brick-like, slippery joy-stick, poor alarm clock and an initially confusing menu system. But, for the money (mine was £80 on a £15pm contract), this is a great device with its PDA features and plenty of built-in memory (32mB).