Mio 8390 smart phone

Windows Mobile 2003 in a clamshell

On the left-hand side of the phone, a second rubber bung covers the 8390's SD card slot, which is almost impossible to remove if you don't have any fingernails worth speaking of. Inserting and removing memory cards is easier, with just enough space for your finger to push the card in to lock or release it.

The 8390's 860mAh battery is integrated into the hatch cover but is very slim and light. Mio very nicely bundles a second, 750mAh battery with the 8390, so you can always have one charged and ready as a back up, not that the handset's battery life is poorer than any other smart phone's. Mio also includes a charging cradle, which can power both the phone and the second battery.

Mio quotes 2-4 hours talk time with 100 hours on standby, and I'd broadly concur. I found myself charging the phone every 12-24 hours, depending on call volume.

Mio DigiWalker 8390 smart phoneThe 8390 is based on a 200MHz Intel XScale PXA262 processor, with 28MB of memory made available to the user out of 32MB. The CPU isn't one of Intel's newest chips, but the handset was responsive, not sluggish when running the usual Windows Mobile 2003 applications. In addition to these, Mio has included camera, photo and video viewers, an MMS client, a caller photo ID tool, a Java 2 Mobile Edition virtual machine, a processor task manager, and a handful of other utilities. It also ships with Mio Assistant, a nice PC-based app for copying over photos, other files, Internet Explorer Favourites and the like. The 8390's UK distributor, AGB Global, bundles a further 17 other titles.

What's missing from the list, of course, are document viewers. Setting up an email account and receiving messages are reasonably straightforward on Windows Mobile 2003, but there's no way you can view attachments if they're in .DOC or .XLS format, as so many are these days. Nor is there a PDF reader. To ship a business-oriented smart phone without such a viewer is a mistake. Yes, you can download them, but most phone customers do not expect to have to find and grab extra software, particularly smaller companies without dedicated technology staff.

The 8390 naturally comes with Microsoft's Windows-only ActiveSync software to tie the handset into a user's Outlook databases. Mac users need not feel left out - sync software specialist Mark/Space is working on a new version of its Missing Sync for PocketPC product with support for Windows Mobile-based smart phones. It's due in the new year.

The 8390's second major omission is Bluetooth. It's not an essential feature, but still an important one, whether you plan to hook up your handset to your notebook, or you just want to use a wireless headset. And with most if not all of the 8390's rivals offering the facility, Mio may find leaving Bluetooth out will cost it more than putting it in. For me, no Bluetooth is a deal-breaker.

In the UK, the 8390 retails for around £331. For a SIM-free smart phone, that's by no means unreasonable, given the 8390's build quality and specification. There are cheaper handsets: Nokia's 6600 and the i-mate SP3 - the same phone as the Orange SPV c500 - can be had for well under £300, and offer more features, including Bluetooth. Buying one of these handsets with an airtime contract will invariably cost you rather less than that - possibly even nothing at all. Whether you're comparing SIM-less or under-contract prices, the 8390 is at a disadvantage.

Verdict

Good things don't always come in small packages, as the Mio 8390 demonstrates. It's a well-designed, well-made handset that looks good and feels more expensive than it is. The battery life is decent, and the screen excellent. Yes, it's software bundle lacks some essential mobile office tools, and there's no Bluetooth connectivity on offer, but it's still a very fine product for buyers seeking solid PDA functionality in a mobile phone form-factor. ®

Mio 8390
 
Rating 75%
 
Pros — Nice-looking; well-made; excellent screen; good price.
 
Cons — No Bluetooth; no bundled Office document viewers.
 
Price £331 SIM-free
 
More info The Mio Europe website
The AGB Global website

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