Dopod 595 review: Dopod 595

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The Good Elegant design looks like a classy phone. Uses high-speed 3G rather than the aging GSM network. Excellent manual.

The Bad Data input is restricted to the keypad.

The Bottom Line There may be no slimmer or more stylish Windows Mobile smartphone on the market, and certainly none that run on 3G. However, the comparatively high price tag and lack of a QWERTY keypad or touchscreen could make you look twice at larger, more conventional smartphones.

7.5 Overall

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Although you've probably never heard of Dopod we can guarantee you've seen, and maybe even owned, products designed and produced by its parent company HTC. That's because the Taiwanese-based HTC is responsible for an estimated 80% of the world's Windows Mobile smartphones and PDAs. These include models from HP, i-mate and O2 plus overseas players such as Orange, T-Mobile and Cingular. Dopod is a subsidiary of HTC, and has recently joined the company's Qtek as one of HTC's two house brands. Touted as the world's first 3G smartphone running Windows Mobile 5, the 595 joins the 838Pro as Dopod's first products in the Australian market.

The 595 sports a distinctly uncluttered European look which stands in stark contrast to its busier smartphone siblings in any of the popular 'candybar', PDA or sliding keyboard forms. It's tall, slim and stylish in an understated way.

That first impression is underscored by the gently tapered gunmetal-coloured chassis and its darker rubberised fairings and keypad. In fact, the 595 seems much more like a regular mobile than a smartphone. The alphabet overlay on the keys uses a standard ABC layout rather than QWERTY, while the 1.3-megapixel camera and large 2.2-inch (5.6cm) screen are a common sight on multimedia-enhanced 3G phones. Only a single button wearing the stylised 'e' of the Internet Explorer logo gives any hint that there's more to the 595 than just talking and texting.

The keyboard is somewhat cramped by the phone's compact shape but the keys are easy to use, although the backlighting created by blue lights at each side favours the outermost columns of keys while leaving the middle with a dim underglow. Navigating around the screen and menus is effortlessly achieved with the rubber-tipped four-way controller, the rocker switch atop the phone's left side or a combination of both.

Once you get over the initial surprise that this modest-looking mobile is a fully featured smartphone, there's not much left under the covers to give you that little 'Ooh!' of delight. At least everything is covered in an exceptional manual that's clearly written, packed with illustrations and is -- we kid you not -- some 370 pages long. If only there was an index to help find what you're looking for.

The 595 does all that you'd expect from a smartphone running Windows Mobile 5.0. Organising, emailing, basic browsing and media playback are par for the course, along with synchronisation to a desktop or laptop PC. That process is hampered by the USB interface being restricted to the slower USB 1.1 spec rather than USB 2.0 - a severe oversight for a device of this type.

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