The five-way navigation key can be programmed with four shortcuts, but there aren't any shortcuts on the home screen, so details like upcoming calendar events have to stay hidden until you open the relevant application.
Tunes on tap
The 830 has an MP3 player that runs in the background, so you can use the phone for other tasks while listening to tunes. A mini player on the home screen shows what's playing, but it can't be controlled with any of the keys, which we would have liked. There's a function key that takes you right into the media player, though, so it's easy to get to.
Our tunes sounded pretty flat due to the 830's flimsy included earphones, and, because of the 830's proprietary headphone socket, we couldn't try it out with any decent headphones. The media player has an equaliser that significantly tweaks the sound for different genres of music. But, without good headphones, it's only worth using to admire the graphic equaliser go up and down in the media player.
Transferring music onto the handset via USB is easy, thanks
to Vodafone's basic but usable syncing software. We loved how the software installed
itself on our desktop straight from the phone, without
requiring a download or a CD. After a hideous installer straight out of 1995,
we were pleasantly surprised to find the sync software is modern-looking and easy
to use. It lacks advanced features, such as converting music and video files on
the fly, but dragging and dropping photos and MP3s on and off the handset is simple. Unfortunately, Mac users are left out in the cold yet again -- only Windows XP is supported.
The Vodafone 830 is an inexpensive phone that offers a decent 3.2-megapixel camera, a handy MP3 player, speedy HSDPA and a big screen, all wrapped up in an inoffensive design that won't embarrass anyone. But its flimsy plastic body, lack of camera flash, and occasional crash bugs are disappointing.
At the moment, for the same £15-per-month contract price with Vodafone, you can pick up a branded slider like the Sony Ericsson W595 Walkman, which also has HSDPA and a 3.2-megapixel camera, as well as a few extra bells and whistles, like quad-band support, an included 2GB memory card and an FM radio. The W595 is getting long in the tooth, so it's heavily discounted from its original SIM-free price, and we think you'll get more phone for your money.
But, if you're looking to stick with a pay-as-you go deal, the 830's £70 price tag makes it a good option for a budget phone that packs a good selection of features.
Edited by Charles Kloet