I’m an avid early adaptor of gadgets of all sorts, a guinea pig for the blinking lights industry and therefore stupid as shit. But I love it.
So I decided to save you all from spending a lot of money by posting reviews of new product whenever I get my shaking hands on them.
Yesterday, the K700i arrived.
I will spare you the technical data that can be read much easier on SE’s pages and jump right into the dirty details, assuming you are reading this because you a) know what a mobile phone is and b) know what people usually do with it.
Handling the body
Roughly the size of the T610/T630 (the K700i is slightly shorter and just a tiny bit wider with about the same thickness), the K700i handles as good and bad as today’s other non-flip cover phones (Picture of phone in new window). Speaking of that, I hate flip phones. Why on earth do people think it looks cool to open up a phone? It’s impossible to use with one hand without suffering from serious hand muscle problems in a couple of years and it simply does look stupid. A phone is a phone, not a makeup mirror.
The size of the phone means the K700i can be easily carried around in your pant’s pockets without looking too excited. But it also means that while we’re still phone generations away from proper keypad and display layout (see my earlier post on this), typing on the K700i’s keypad is as awkward as on other small phones. It works since we’re used to it by now, but it is far from perfect user handling.
Handling the interface
If you own a T610 or a T630 (and many people I see in Berlin do), you will know how to get around using the K700i, but you’ll be delighted by some fine approvements.
First, the K700i is fast. The big disadvantage of colour screens over monochrome ones (speed) seems to be forgotten with the K700i. Menus react almost instantly to key presses and the screen itself is a delight, much brighter and sharper than my T630’s and excellent in bright sunlight as well.
Another major interface improvement is the selection of the number you want to dial from your address book. On the T630, you need find the contact, select it again, and then choose the number (mobile or office or home) you want to dial by scrolling to it.
On the K700i, you find the contact which then gets highlighted and transformed into a 2-line entry. You select the appropriate number (or email adress, if you want to send a mail from your phone) by using the right-left function of the „joystick“. One less click, very well done. (Picture of contact list in new window)
And while we’re fiddling with that tiny but pretty well designed navigational joystick: It is finally possible to assign individual apps or functions to the up, down, right and left positions of it. Thank you, SE.
Further interface improvements feature a better designed calendar view (the screen seems to have a higher resolution, but I don’t know if that’s true, it just looks like it) and very nice tab-driven menus. Now the 4-way navigation makes sense. (Picture of calendar view in new window, picture of tabbed menus in new window)
Sound and reception
The K700i sounds much, much better than my T630, which always sounded a little tin-can-ish. The K700i sounds warmer and a lot louder as well, my volume settings on the T630 was were always very high, on the K700i they’re halfway up.
Also, with the T630 I had very bad reception in our office but I have no problems at all with the K700i. But maybe they just installed a new vodafone antenna last night, I am too lazy to double check and compare reception rates. The K700i seems to be significantly better from what I can hear and see.
On the T610/630, the camera is useless. Just forget it. On the K700i, it is okay. With a resolution of 640*480 and a decent quality (example pic in new window), pics look like coming from a cheap digicam which should be enough for mobile blogging, my main intention for switching to the K700i. (Picture taken with K700i camera in new window)
Handling the numerous settings of the cam has improved a lot since they’re all accessible by simply pressing number keys and not having to go to the menu to change resolution, size, brightness or colour effects. Nice.
You can use the cam for MPEG4 videos, too, which is nothing more or less than a nice gimmick. Don’t throw away your video camera just yet. (Download .3gp movie filmed with K700i during the final minutes of the England:Portugal game in a portugese restaurant yesterday in very bad light conditions and not very exciting at all)
Of course, I didn’t touch the manual yet, so I haven’t found out if it’s possible to switch off the incredibly loud shutter sound (more like a shutter sound with an additional hand clap at the end) when taking pictures. This might be SE’s way of preventing perverts from taking pics of unaware objects, but it annoys me as hell since when I take pics of my kids, the sound will make them run to me screaming „let me, let me, let me!“ and all chances of taking a nice unposed snapshot of them will be gone.
Compared to the T630 again, pressing the camera button on the K700i’s side won’t switch on the cam immediately. Instead, you need to hold the button for about a second. If this is a technical neccessity (initializing the camera?), a usability feature (preventing accidentially switching on the cam) or another clever hurdle to prevent users with dirty minds from being able to make pictures too fast, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a combination of it all.
The best thing about the camera is probably the light, though. I was positively surprised to see that it is not simply a flash but a steady, constant-on, tiny flashlight, so it can be used when you use the camera for movies, too. And as a flashlight, of course. (Picture of K700i light on in new window)
The K700i has a built in radio. Which I will probably never use. For the sake of this article, though, I tested it and I was surprised by the good reception and sound quality, even if you don’t use the suplied headphones that act as an antenna (and must since be connected to make the radio work) but switch to the build in speaker instead. (Picture of radio player in new window)
The java games that come preinstalled look very cool, but I rarely play games on my mobile.
The installed media player (not, of course, a Microsoft Media Player, just a media player) plays MP3s and MPEG4s just fine, so the mystery remains why you can’t use MP3s as ringtones on the K700i. Well, .wav oder .mid will do for me, but I’m still asking.
Customization with themes is not a problem, as could be expected, and equally expected are the dozens of bikini babe based and Matrix wallpapers flying around on numerous sites. Why those people never make really useful themes (like cool and readable colour schemes instead of schemes that use every bright colour possible) is beyond me, but who wants to complain while not doing it better?
Mac iSync and Bluetooth
After initial problems of not being able to add the K700i to my iSync devices even though it was paired from my PowerBook, I paired again, this time initiating contact from the phone, not the computer, and everything worked fine. My contacts went to the K700i in a fly.
(Just some years ago, when switching phones, I always saw myself manually copying contacts from the phone to the SIM card on the old phone, then putting the card into the new phone, copying the contacts from the card to the phone and repeating that process over and over again because the card could only hold parts of me contacts. So iSync really changed a lot for Mac users.)
I am not an expert on this, but bluetooth feels a lot faster on the K700i than on the T630. I get 5kbit/s when sending pics from the phone to the Mac (at least that’s what the Mac tells me) and I believe it was only about 2,5kbit/s from the T630. You cannot send a pic straight after the other, though, the connection fails if you copy too fast, which is annoying. Waiting about 15 seconds until you send the next pic helps. One should think that the bluetooth connection is still active so it should be faster to send pics right after each other. This is not the case, aparently.
I said it arrived yesterday, stupid!
There is no slot for external memory, but the internal seems to be something like 42MB, SE seems to have raised memory from the 32MB that were originally announced (I read that this is why they changed the name from K700 to K700i).
When the phone goes into power saving mode after not having been used for a while, the screen is black, not even showing the time or date (I still need to find out if I can switch that off). When you start using the phone again, some keys won’t wake it up, like the joystick or the camera button, you need to press one of the „real“ keys.
This is a little irritating right now since the T630 woke up when touching the main control, the joystick. I guess I get used to it, but not seeing the time without waking up the phone and having to wait a split nano second is a drawback to me.
Pros: Fast. Great display. Okay camera for snapshot use. Some good interface improvements. You can actually make phone calls pretty easily with the K700i.
Cons: Sleep modus doesn’t show time or date. Waking up the screen won’t work with some keys/buttons.
Would I recommend the K700i? Absolutely. As usual, it depends on what you want, but for me it is the perfect mix of a decent digital camera for blogging, a bluetooth modem for my PowerBook and PocketPC and a simple, small but not too small and fast phone/SMS device.