Windows Phone Thoughts: Raising the Ante - the Pharos GPS Phone 600 Reviewed

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Raising the Ante - the Pharos GPS Phone 600 Reviewed

Posted by Doug Raeburn in "HARDWARE" @ 08:00 AM


Is This the New Ultimate Device?
Just a few weeks ago, I published a review of the Samsung Blackjack, with an eye on how well a Smartphone served as a convergence device. At that time, I didn't address the other type of Windows Mobile convergence device, the Pocket PC Phone, largely because of the fact that I didn't have one to compare.

Well, since my throngs of loyal fans (how ya doin', Mom?) have been dying to hear my take on a Pocket PC Phone, I'm happy to report that I now have a Pocket PC Phone in my hot little hands. I'm about to take a look at the Pharos GPS Phone 600. Since it comes from Pharos and has the term GPS in its name, you may have assumed that there's more to this unit than just a Pocket PC and a phone. And you'd be right. The 600 has a built-in SiRF Star III GPS and bundled Pharos Ostia software. So this unit carries the concept of the convergence device one step further than most of its competitors.

For the record, I don't plan to make this review a full comparison between the 600 and the devices it's designed to replace, as I did with the Blackjack. Just reporting on the plethora of features included with this device will be a huge article in itself. I will make a few comments about such comparisons to try to satisfy those of you who might be interested.

Looking at the 600 as a Pocket PC


Figure 1: The Pharos GPS Phone 600 - is it nirvana for the convergence device fan? Click on any image with the magnifying glass to see a larger version.

Regular readers of PPCT may feel a sense of déjà vu when looking at the 600. This is because the 600 is based on the same unit as the E-TEN Glofiish X500, which was reviewed recently in typical fine fashion by Darius Wey. Pharos has distribution rights for this design within the US, while E-TEN has the rights for Europe. Aside from the badging, the units are identical in appearance. The 600 reviewed here is the version that includes the bundled Pharos Ostia software. There is also a 600e that lists for $100 less and comes with no bundled navigation software, for those of you who have a different preference.


Figure 2: Pretty svelte for a Pocket PC...


Figure 3: Fits nicely between a Blackjack and an N560, sizewise...

First, let's look at the Pocket PC characteristics. The 600 is based on Windows Mobile 5, and has the 128MB ROM and 64MB RAM common to these devices. Its Samsung SC32442 400 MHz processor provides snappy performance. The 600 is certainly one of the most compact Pocket PCs that I've seen, at least in width. As you can see in the chart above, the 600's width is nearly ½ in (or nearly 12 mm) narrower than the reference Loox N560, which is one of the more compact "traditional" Pocket PCs. The tradeoff for a narrow design is a smaller screen. Although all 3 units are comparable in length, the 600's QVGA screen (320 x 240) measures 2.8 in as compared to 3.5 in for the VGA screen on the N560.


Figure 4: It needs to drop a few before being as thin and light as the Blackjack, however.

In other dimensions, the 600 is more like other Pocket PCs. While length is quite comparable, it's actually thicker than the N560 by .06 in. or 1.5 mm. As for weight, the 600 is only slightly lighter than the N560, by .5 oz. or 13 g. I guess that the added functionality of a phone and a camera (the N560 has a built-in GPS like the 600) has its costs.

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