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The glofiish M810 is E-TEN's attempt to take on the raft of Windows Mobile smart phones with slide-out keyboards that have appeared lately. It's got plenty of extras, including an onboard GPS chip, but at around £435 SIM-free from expansys, it's not exactly cheap. Is it worth your hard-earned dosh?
The M810 may not be the most exciting Windows Mobile phone to look at, but it certainly feels like it's built to last. The graphite-style finish on the front looks suitably professional for a phone that's likely to find its most comfortable niche among business users.
Push the phone apart and it opens with a satisfying clunk to reveal the full Qwerty keyboard that hides inside. The keys on the keyboard could be better, but they're reasonably large and much easier to use than the onscreen virtual keyboard when you're composing emails or sending text messages.
The M810 really can't be faulted when it comes to connectivity. Not only does it support HSDPA for speedy Web downloads, but you also get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. On top of this, E-TEN has added an onboard SiRF Star III GPS chip. There's a basic GPS application provided that shows your current coordinates, but if you want to really make the most of it, you'll need to invest in some navigation software.
The phone may primarily be aimed at business users, but E-TEN hasn't forgotten the fun stuff. For starters, it's added a 2-megapixel camera with autofocus and a flash for taking pictures as well as a secondary camera on the front for making 3G video calls. The main snapper isn't going to replace your digital camera, but the pictures are reasonable with natural-looking colours.
The phone also comes with a pair of decent headphones so you can listen to tunes via the Microsoft media player. If you get bored of your own selection of music, you can fire up the FM tuner to listen to Radio One.
The M810's call quality is excellent too, thanks to its loud speaker and good quality mic. The battery life isn't too bad either. You can expect to get around six hours talk time from it, which isn't bad for a Windows Mobile-based handset.
Is it just us, or do Windows Mobile handsets seem to get bigger as time goes on? The M810 follows this trend and is not only very tall, but also very thick and heavy too, tipping the scales at nearly 180g. Bizarrely, although it uses quite a speedy processor – a 500MHz Samsung chip – it actually feels quite sluggish. Screen updates are especially slow and it seems to take an age to switch between portrait and landscape view when you slide out the keyboard.
The keyboard itself isn't wonderful either. Rather than proper keys, the letters are laid out on a flat plastic surface with raised edges around them, reminding us of the bygone days of the Sinclair ZX81. In fact, the controls in general aren't great, as even the hard buttons are on the small side and the telescopic stylus feels uncomfortable to hold.
We have to say that after using the Safari browser on the 2G iPhone, going back to Pocket Internet Explorer on the M810 is like travelling back in time. It really is spectacularly poor in comparison to the intuitive touch controls and speedy page zooming abilities of Safari.
To make an impression against the likes of the HTC TyTN II, the M810 really needed to offer something special. Apart from the onboard GPS chip, however, it's a pretty pedestrian effort with the iffy keyboard, sluggish screen updates and bulky dimensions all letting the side down.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday