Dopod D810

Mobile broadband provider Three continues the charge to popularise handheld broadband, and the Dopod D810 smartphone is among the best units to facilitate the change.

It’s not the technology but rather the culture blocking the uptake of mobile broadband in Australia. Whereas in many Asian countries they’re used to doing anything and everything on their phones, Australians still use a phone for speaking and a computer for the Internet. Coupled with the complicated and pricey plans for data access, so far handheld data hasn’t set the market on fire.

The Dopod D810 might overcome the hurdle with its two-pronged approach. First, it gives a large portion of the front to the screen. On the 10.5 x 5.5cm unit, the screen takes up about 6 x 4cm. It does away with phone keys, which are now virtual, activated by the stylus or your finger if you’re nimble enough, so it not only feels more like a web device but it gives you a more engaging experience than you’ll find on most mobiles with data communication.

It’s enabled with 3.5G HSDPA, and the 3 service we tested — called X Series — was very hit and miss despite having one of the most attractive pricing structures of any mobile voice/data service so far. The unit was tested on both coasts, and calls dropped out in the hilly confines of the Sydney metropolitan area with disturbing regularity. Perth fared much better both in download speed and signal strength — perhaps because our flatter geography. In fact, it was in the Perth suburbs we experienced the fastest download speed — 907 kbps, still far short of the 3.5Mbps the Dopod’s wired to receive.

The phone has a host of features hidden around the body and in the software. As the phone isn’t front and centre, one promising feature is the voice-activated mode, an application that allows you speak a command to call, message or open an application. Sadly, it’s almost useless, ignoring the most clearly spoken commands.

The phone has a 400Mhz processor and 128Mb of RAM on board, which sounds good, but there’s a lot of features they need to manage and the Dopod is slow to respond to some commands. The camera is 2 megapixel and not only has no flash, but produces low quality images even at the highest resolution.

Connecting the device to the web and to receive email is deceptively easy, in fact it’ll bring all the settings to your phone automatically if you’re with a common Australian provider. If you’ve never checked your email on the road you’re in for an addictive new toy, and the Dopod D810 is one of the best so far to do so.

The network’s in place but still patchy according to our testing, the hardware looks and behaves well but needs a little more grunt to capitalise on the possibilities, but we’re on the way to being a nation of PDA/smartphone broadband users if other manufacturers use the Dopod D810 as a benchmark.

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