With three new SIM card readers this year, Royal Consumer Information Products is on a roll with such devices. We've seen the Royal SCR1 and the Royal SCR2 already, so we now turn our attention to the Royal SCR3. Unlike its predecessors, the SCR3 does more than just tell you what's on your SIM card, it's also a basic organizer with a memo pad, a calculator, and an alarm clock. And, thanks to the QWERTY keyboard, you can edit your contacts as well. The SCR3 is an extremely useful little gadget, and at $29.99, it's cheap, too.
Don't let the SCR3's design scare you off. It may look like the 1980s calculator you received after subscribing to a magazine, but it has a decidedly modern function. Using the SCR3, you can back up the contacts from your cell phone's SIM card for safekeeping. It's a simple but nifty idea that still hasn't been mass-produced. At 4.5 inches long (it's used horizontally) by 3.0 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing in at 3.2 ounces, it's much bigger than the SCR1 and the SCR2 (due to the QWERTY keyboard), but it's still small and light enough to take on the go. The gray-and-blue color scheme isn't terribly attractive--simple black would have been nice--but the see-through bottom cover lets you view the SCR3's inner workings.
The SCR3 is protected by a clear plastic cover. Lift it up and you'll notice the two-inch monochrome display and a range of buttons. The display uses simple block text, so it's not very pretty; but the text is large and easy to see in all lighting conditions. Also, you can change the screen's brightness. On either side are control buttons for scrolling through lists and for moving the cursor around the display. They're sufficiently big and they have a slightly rubberized feel that makes them very tactile.
Below the display are nine round blue buttons that give you one-touch access to various features while the keyboard sits below them. The raised keyboard buttons are relatively large and also have a tactile feel that makes them comfortable to use. We were able to type quickly while avoiding mistakes, even if the keys could use a darker color to give them more definition. It's important to note that there are no dedicated numeric or symbol keys. Rather, a few of the letter keys do double duty for numbers and symbols when used with the Shift button. It's not the most ideal arrangement (as it cuts down your typing speed), but we get that adding more dedicated buttons would have increased the SCR3's size. That being the case, we're willing to let it pass.
The SCR3's other controls consist of a recessed power button in bright orange, dedicated Escape and Delete keys, the aforementioned Shift control, and a Backup button for saving SIM contacts to the SCR3. We like that the large spacebar and Enter key are located conveniently in the center of the bottom row of buttons. Also, their blue color makes them easy to see.
After inserting a SIM card into the convenient slot on the rear face of the SCR3 you'll be asked if you want to copy your contacts to the SCR3's flash memory. The transfer involves a few key taps, but it's fast and trouble-free. You can save up to three SIM cards at once with 250 contacts per card.
Once your contacts are saved to the SCR3, you can remove the SIM card and put it back in your phone. You'll then be able to access your contacts on the SIM at will and edit them using the keyboard. Also, you can create new contacts and add them to one of the SIM card's records or to one of two SCR3 internal phone books (business or personal). You can save up to nine fields per contact including five phone numbers, an e-mail address, an address, and notes. Text entry via the keyboard is easy and quick.
Once you've made all your changes, you can transfer the contacts back to your SIM card. Keep in mind that, like with the previous Royal products, each transfer back and forth, whether it's from the SIM card to the reader or vice versa, will overwrite any contacts already stored to the location. Also, you can't transfer contacts one at a time; it's either everything or nothing. We're hoping Royal changes these limitations in future SIM card readers.
Still, the SCR3 does correct a serious flaw in both the SCR1 and SCR2. While on the previous readers you couldn't clear contacts directly from the reader's memory, the SCR3 gives you that option. It's a big plus in our book, so we give Royal points for making the SCR3 more user-friendly.
For organizer features, the SCR3 offers a calculator, an alarm clock with eight alarms, a memo pad, and a scheduler. All four have an extremely basic interface, but they're useful nonetheless. The clock offers several options. You can flip between a 12- and a 24-hour clock and set the mode for how the date and month will be displayed. There's also a world clock, although many cities are displayed with an airport code instead of the city name. (By the way, YYZ is Toronto.) The SCR3 supports five languages--German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch--and you can lock the SCR3 with a code should it go missing.