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Comments on: Xplore M68 Smartphone Review

Xplore M68 ReviewPaddy Tan, a longtime Palm OS enthusiast, brings us this review of the GSPDA Xplore M68 smartphone (also known as the Hagenuk S200 in Germany). Paddy takes a look at the M68, a Palm OS Garnet smartphone, that is available in certain Asian and European markets. The M68 combines the touchscreen Palm OS interface with a GSM/GPRS radio in a candybar phone form factor. Read on for the full review.
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Screen resolution is too low

palmdoc88 @ 3/20/2006 4:33:08 PM # Q
That's the biggest negative point for me.
Otherwise an OK smartphone I think.

T3 & T5 user
RE: Screen resolution is too STRANGE
rsc1000 @ 3/20/2006 5:00:02 PM # Q
176 x 220???? I know that that is more of a standard resolution for phones - but not for POS. 160 x 200 is not that strange as there are other Palm OS phones that have added pixels vertically for phone specific icons and indicators. But what is strange is the 176 width? Notice that ALL the screens shots (includingt shots of the launcher)show the forms centered horizontally on the screen with extra white space on either side (the extra 176 pixels / 2 = 8 pixels on left and right). Yet - the marketing screenshots show the launcher covering the full screen width.
Why? Cheapre to get a more standard screen res?


RE: Screen resolution is too low
wincat @ 3/20/2006 6:06:40 PM # Q
No problem, I am using M68. It has a special Graffiti area likes TT5 and TH55. When you enter 160x160 Res apps,the Graffiti area will enable auto,and screen will become 160x160 standard Res.
In fact, M68 can use almost 160x160 apps,but some phone apps for Treo only.

RE: Screen resolution is too low
AdamaDBrown @ 3/20/2006 6:09:49 PM # Q
Probably, yes. Those 176 x 220 screens are mass-manufactured for many standard phones, so they're probably a lot more common--thus cheaper--than a square screen, for which there are very few uses. Probably even cheaper than QVGA.

RE: Screen resolution is too low
AdamaDBrown @ 3/20/2006 6:18:29 PM # Q
Should have clarified that last statement... of course 176 x 220 is cheaper than QVGA, due to the resolution difference, but I meant to say that QVGA was probably between 176 x 220 and a more expensive square screen in price.

RE: Screen resolution is too low
Tamog @ 3/21/2006 2:26:58 AM # Q
Hi,
as far as I know, nobody will really care about screen resolution as long as it is high enough(I am not talking about power users here). Symbian boxen sell well too; the only thing that GSPDA should get working is third party support for the DIA and maybe landscape mode....

If you dont beleive me, have a go at this editorial, the example really is true:

http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/03/20/the-power-of-illusions/

Best regards
Tam Hanna

Find out more about the Palm OS in my blog:
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com

RE: Screen resolution is too low
asiayeah @ 3/21/2006 6:58:08 AM # Q
Good point regarding 3rd party support. But GSPDA currently provide no open API to let developers to take advantage of his proprietary features, such as the extra pixels, its call log...etc. This is a big disadvantage comparing to Palm Treo.

--
With great power comes great responsiblity.
RE: Screen resolution is too low
lthaler @ 3/21/2006 3:46:42 PM # Q
176*220 is common size among phone manufacturers because it's the de facto standard for S60 series, etc...
vanilla PalmOS was 160*160, and graffiti area was 60 pixels, 160+60=220 so PalmSource has added support for 176*220 screen, with 8 pixels losts on each side
but the builtin camera, and TCPMP for example knows how to mak use of the full screen, even in landscape mode

RE: Screen resolution is too low
cervezas @ 3/21/2006 5:57:40 PM # Q
lthaler wrote:
the builtin camera, and TCPMP for example knows how to make use of the full screen, even in landscape mode

...as can apps written with the SuperWaba SDK, which supports both S60 and Palm OS (and WM, Win CE, UIQ, Sony PSP...). Those SuperWaba guys really deserve some props.

Still, it'd be nice if GroupSense had taken those 16 extra pixels and made a vertical status bar for the phone that ran down one side instead of using up space top and bottom. They could have kept all that stuff onscreen even while the virtual Graffiti area was open.

I'd consider one of these over a Treo if it ran with good coverage on US GSM networks. Pocketable, easier to dial numbers, good voice quality, dynamic Graffiti, it uses its pixels to show data efficiently instead of just to make a pretty "sharp" look. All in all it seems like a great choice for a business phone where a good phone is the highest priority.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

Reply to this comment

Stores?

Kesh @ 3/20/2006 4:33:41 PM # Q
So, where can I buy one of these? As much as I love the design of a Treo, I don't want a contract (especially with how expensive data plans are). And an unlocked 650 his hideously expensive. I just want a nice way to replace my (dirt cheap) pay as you go Cingular phone and my (nice but too bulky) Lifedrive into a single package.

And this looks like a great fit for my needs.

RE: Stores?
Ryan @ 3/20/2006 4:46:01 PM # Q
Doml.com was selling the xplore m98 for a while, not sure if they still are. I also think expansys offered the m68 at one point. The other place to look online would be ebay, though they don't come up too often there.

Most people I know that have an explore phone, picked one up on a biz trip to hong kong or found them in a random european phone store.

RE: Stores?
AdamaDBrown @ 3/20/2006 6:11:35 PM # Q
There are several hits for the M68 on Froogle, the cheapest being around $320. The M98 is also listed for around $240.

You should bear in mind that the XPlore phones are all tri-band GSM: 900/1800/1900. That means that they're not well suited for Cingular, which uses quite a bit of 850 MHz GSM. You would get less coverage, and there would be some areas that you would get no coverage. It is possible to do, but it might not work out well for you.

RE: xplore m68
Ryan @ 3/20/2006 6:30:49 PM # Q
The other bummer is that none of the current GSL phones support higher speed EDGE data either.
BTW
wincat @ 3/20/2006 6:55:11 PM # Q
BTW,M68 has a changable bettery design as Treo650,BUT without any NVFS problem.

RE: Stores?
Kesh @ 3/21/2006 12:31:06 AM # Q
Thanks for the info, Adama. And yes, I had forgotten that my area is primarily CDMA. My SO has a RAZR on Cingular, though, and I thought those were tri-band GSM, so I'm not sure what coverage we get out here.

RE: Stores?
AdamaDBrown @ 3/21/2006 2:04:17 AM # Q
The RAZRs are quad-band, actually. I don't think Cingular carries any tri-band phones at all, and even T-Mobile is phasing them out due to new roaming agreements that let them use 850 MHz coverage.

You might check WirelessAdvisor.com to find out what providers use what frequencies in your area. For instance, near my home, the only GSM provider is exclusively 850 MHz (sometimes called 800), so you'd get no signal. In Lincoln county, Wisconsin, though (the product of a random punching in of zip code 54435) the Cingular system is entirely 1900 MHz, so a tri-band phone would work. As a rule of thumb, the more rural an area, the less likely it is to have 1900 MHz GSM.

RE: Stores?
Simony @ 3/21/2006 6:12:33 AM # Q
AdamaDBrown, you're an absolute font of knowledge.

RE: Stores?
Kesh @ 3/21/2006 2:02:04 PM # Q
Thanks for that site, Adama! Curiously, my area has two listings for Cingular:

1900 MHz GSM / GPRS (TDMA) 3G: EDGE
800 MHz GSM / GPRS TDMA 3G: EDGE

Considering how rural we are, I was kinda surprised to see EDGE listed at all, but we did just get a brand new tower last month (which lets me actually get a signal at work).

RE: Stores?
AdamaDBrown @ 3/21/2006 2:08:13 PM # Q
AdamaDBrown, you're an absolute font of knowledge.

(Shrug) I try.

Kesh,

I'm guessing that you don't have T-Mobile coverage available? T-Mo's native coverage (excluding roaming) is entirely 1900 MHz, so you could use something like the M68 on their network without major loss. Just a thought.

EDGE has gotten really widespread these days, with recent improvements making it practical pretty much anywhere. Almost all of Cingular's network has it, ditto for T-Mobile. Even regional carriers like CellOne have it when they wouldn't have just a year or two ago. Granted, it's not true 3G (WirelessAdvisor classification aside) but a 3x boost to GPRS speed is still a good thing.

Xplore M68 and M98 @ amazon.com...
fcassia06 @ 5/16/2006 2:42:57 PM # Q
Found the Xplore M68 selling for $369 at amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&tag=showitem06-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Foffer-listing%2FB000FAJ89O%2F

Perhaps the best deal in history is the Xplore M98 (in an excellent clamshell design), going for $254, GSM unlocked

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&tag=showitem06-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Foffer-listing%2FB000FNEIKK%2F

...enjoy!...
FC
PS: seller is the U.S. office of UK mobile phone seller giant eXpansys.


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Reads a bit like an advertisement

Scott R @ 3/20/2006 8:09:16 PM # Q
For some reason this review reads a bit like an ad to me. I'm probably just being paranoid. Anyways, the reviewer states that the camera is quite good but doesn't give us any sample photos. So how about it? Pics please!

http://Tapland.com
- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -
RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
roychang @ 3/21/2006 12:28:00 AM # Q
The real ad is in the footnotes about the author. ;)
RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
Admin @ 3/21/2006 11:03:12 AM # Q
Making a claim that any of the content here is an advertisement is a very serious charge.

Under no circumstances have I or would we ever publish an article here for compensation. It goes against everything I believe in, in publishing.

Scott, I don't know what gave you that impression. I realize this is not as in-depth as some previous reviews on pic, however I do not have access to a m68 and I thought this would provide an interesting read/discussion about a smartphone many of us did not know too much about being that it is mostly only available on the other side of the planet.

I also allow all guest reviewers to include a short about the author paragraph at the end of reviews if they request it. This is a common practice.

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
hkklife @ 3/21/2006 2:16:36 PM # Q
Anyone who has spent more than a day looking at PIC (totally unbiased other than being a fan of POS), Brighthand (so deeply in the pocket of Palm that it'd be illegal in some states), 1src (heavily moderated apologists throwing tantrums amidst some good technical info) and PalmAddicts (very good for news coverage but totally devoid of any actual opinions, insider info or number crunching analysis of the PalmCONomy) would realize that Ryan runs & funds his site singlehandedly and entirely out of pocket + whatever the PIC software store generates as well as the usual ad/clickthru revenue. Unlike some, PIC is not his day job (unless something has changed recently that I don't know about).

Ryan doesn't get kickbacks from anyone...and for anyone to suggest that this review (or any other on PIC) was a thinly veiled ad needs to have their head examined. GSPDA has zero presnce stateside and, as Paddy said, has not put forth any effort into the Stateside market other than to issue a single press release. Besides, just ask Adama...the lack of 850mhz support would pretty much condemn the phone to somewhere between niche novelty and useless status, depending on where the user's primary GPS coverage area is.

We should all be commending Ryan, Paddy, and everyone else who is trying to keep fresh content coming into PIC in the face of *ZERO* new products/announcements by Palm. With the rapid consolidation of the POS software & hardware market, this void is only going to grow.

So I really don't care if it's a review of an Asia-only smartphone, a long discontinued OLED Clie review (hint, hint) or just an article summarizing overlooked gems in the Palm software scene. Fresh content makes us coming back to PIC--especially since the discussions of late have been less than rousing.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
Admin @ 3/21/2006 3:08:19 PM # Q
Thank you Kris for the kind words of support. But yes, PIC could be considered my day job and has been for a few years. It is not the only source of work in my life, but is a major portion. I routinely put in 60+ hour work weeks on this site alone. I am very proud of the fact that PIC is a independent resource. In fact, I do not even directly handle the banner advertising here all the time, most ads are served by networks such as google, tribalfusion etc.

Furthermore, as part of some of the recent improvements, you will notice that I have taken steps to reduce the amount of advertising on PIC and have replaced many of the flashy banners, with non-obtrusive more relevant text ads.

-Ryan

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
Scott R @ 3/21/2006 7:41:48 PM # Q
Oops. Sorry for the confusion brought on by my brief and poorly worded comments. The phrase "advertisement" was a poor word choice. Furthermore, it never entered my mind, and so I certainly did not wish to imply, that Ryan was doing anything illicit here.

As I said my word choice was poor. What I should have said is that the author of the review came across sounding a bit like a marketing rep for this phone company, which is to say that the negatives were glossed over or spun to sound like positives and some features were claimed as positives without supporting proof (e.g., camera picture quality).

Now let me be proactive here in saying that I was not, and am not, accusing the author of being a shill for this company. I read reviews all the time that I don't particularly agree with and find many reviewers to be overly positive about something I think is just "meh." What can I say...I'm an overly critical person. Plus, there's the factor of personal bias. I'm sure that some people (like this reviewer, apparently) want a Palm OS powered smartphone that looks just like a traditional phone with stylus-centric app activity. As for me, I decided a while back that a stylus had become a hindrance and now prefer hard (or virtual) thumbboards.

So, again...sorry for the poorly worded critique.

http://Tapland.com
- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
Simony @ 3/21/2006 8:03:54 PM # Q
> Brighthand (so deeply in the pocket of Palm that it'd be illegal in some states)

I disagree. I think most of the articles on brighthand.com are thinly disguised ads for anything which runs WinCE/PPC/WinMob/etc; they have an unhealthy bias against anything which Palm produces. They are not as unhinged as pocketpcthoughts.com, but not far short of that in terms of overall bias.

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
hkklife @ 3/21/2006 9:14:14 PM # Q
It's irrelevant what their actual editorial policy is towards POS. The simple fact that if you click (from Palm.com) the "user forums" link it takes you DIRECTLY to BH's forums without warning. Then BH requires separate registrations for the Palm-sponsored area of their site. Palm already has their own "support forums" which are hosten on-site. I suppose Palm wants to differentiate between their absolutely moribund and heavily policed tech support forums and the (admittedly 1000x better and more active) BH forums. Still, it's always given me an uneasy feeling posting to BH and knowing of their "official" symbiotic relationship with Palm.

Just look at the wrath I incurred by being one of the very first to report on the horrendous LifeDrive launch...and then again to blow the whistle on Palm's intentional crippling of the BT stack on recent devices to try and sell more CDMA Treos.

At any rate, I hope Ryan and PIC are in there for the long haul. I really like the additional efffort Ryan's bene giving the site as well as the guest reviewers. The end is nigh but that's no reason for us POS faithful not to make a final stand here on PIC!

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
Simony @ 3/21/2006 10:40:48 PM # Q
I think their editorial policy is very relevant. How can you trust one of their reviews if its written from a biased standpoint?

Maybe it's just me, but I like to see reviews for handhelds before parting with my cold cash. Also, I can't bring myself to trust a review unless it's reasonably obvious that the writer gives his/her opinions (like judges) 'without fear or favor'. What I want to see in a review is a balanced and honest assessment of device, without being subjected to the reviewer's personal prejudices.

I'll give you an example. Say there is a new device from Company X, which doesn't have WiFi. I expect the reviewer to say: (a) 'it doesn't have WiFi'; (b) what this may mean for a user in terms of pluses and minuses; and (c) perhaps a comparison with market leading devices at the same price point. I don't want to see three paragraphs on why Company X must be a bunch of trogolodyte neanderthals for daring to release a device without WiFi, that the device is a worthless piece of garbage which is of no use to anybody because it doesn't have WiFi, etc, etc.

The latter approach is the kind of thing we often see brighthand.com reviews. Some of the reviewers over seem to be of the opinion that every device must have every conceivable feature, regardless of price and engineering considerations (eg, form factor, battery life, etc). So how can I trust one of their reviews of, say, a mid-range unit which was designed not to have every possible feature?

That's why editorial bias is everthing.

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
hkklife @ 3/22/2006 2:54:01 AM # Q
Simony;

Perhaps I didn't state my previous as clearly as I could have. What I meant to say was:
" Why even take time to consider that BH might have a fair & unbiased editorial policy when they are in the pockets of Palm already?"

I find it interesting that while BH's initial review of a product may be refreshingly "less than perfect" Ed takes time a few months later to write an editorial piece saying why such and such (LifeDrive, T5, NVFS etc) isn't as bad as "we" have made it out to be"

There are three "published" sites/people I trust to do PDA reviews: AdamaDBrown, Twizza, and Ryan.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Reads a bit like an advertisement
Simony @ 3/22/2006 4:58:14 AM # Q
Maybe we don't disagree after all.

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Camera interface looks veeeeeery familiar...

freakout @ 3/21/2006 4:13:13 AM # Q
Think they "borrowed" from Palm, or Palm "borrowed" from them?

This sig is a placeholder till I come up with something good
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What about the phone.....?

heavyduty @ 3/21/2006 6:49:17 AM # Q
Given that this is a phone, it's odd that no comment was made regarding reception, sound quality, etc....

Did you even try to call with it??

Palm Vx (a classic) -> Palm 505 (*yawn*) -> Dell Axim (slooow...) -> Palm TE (great) -> Qtek 9090 (great idea, lousy platform) -> Nokia 6630 (a toy) -> iMate SP3i (not bad) -> Treo 650 (almost perfect)

RE: What about the phone.....?
lthaler @ 3/21/2006 3:25:13 PM # Q
I use it as my primary phone and pda, reception is good, sound is good and fantastic with the stereo headset


Reply to this comment

Thanks, but...

asiayeah @ 3/21/2006 7:06:34 AM # Q
Thanks for the great review.

While phone models are usually released and become obsolete quickly, it is a bit pathetic to read reviews for old Palm phones as new stuffs. :)

Don't get me wrong, I am still a Palm fans. Let's just wish GSPDA will bring us some newer Palm phones soon. Of course, I hope we could soon see Treo 700p review but not rumors.

--
With great power comes great responsiblity.

RE: Thanks, but...
lthaler @ 3/21/2006 3:33:48 PM # Q
GSPDA has announced in february 2005, just after the M68 release that they were working on a Cobalt device, of course we all know that Cobal exists only as a simulator for windows...

Reply to this comment

I have one...

lthaler @ 3/21/2006 3:09:45 PM # Q
I have one since a few months and it's a true gsm, with a gsm form factor and when you hit the magic button you have a true palm with os5, virtual graffiti, mp3 player, camera etc...

one main thing to know is that it's a palmsource powered device, not a palmone, it means that it doesn't have the treo library and that none software designed for the treo works on it, it has a few bugs and lack some features (handsfree) but it's the most amazing Palm I never had


RE: I have one...
Scott R @ 3/22/2006 8:39:33 AM # Q
If it's not compatible with the Treo D-Pad navigation standards, it would not be compelling to me. Having to tap on that little screen to select things? No thanks.

http://Tapland.com
- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -
RE: I have one...
Ryan @ 3/22/2006 10:23:54 AM # Q
The xplore m series does have some one-handed navigation, but it is not the treo implementation and is not nearly as functional across apps.
RE: I have one...
lthaler @ 3/22/2006 5:34:42 PM # Q
in fact it's functionnal among a lot of application


Reply to this comment

Germans get it first;)

Tamog @ 3/22/2006 9:31:13 AM # Q
Dear americans,
this is ridicoulous...we have it selling in germany for quite some time now, but it is called S200 and is sold by Hagenuk.

Now what??

Best regards
Tam Hanna

Find out more about the Palm OS in my blog:
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com

RE: Germans get it first;)
pjp @ 3/22/2006 11:04:28 AM # Q
I have S200. Very well designed and my overall opinion is positive (say, 75/100) but some minor problems make it uncomfortable to use as a phone - LED does not show missed calls (or received messages), no loudspeaker, to run voice recorder you have to take out the stylus, the same to switch off alarm clock (!) - try to do it when you wake up... - or maybe that's the point ;)

Does anybody know about ANY third party software? (something like Butler for Treo is really needed...)

About battery - 1350mAh is not bad, but mine can discharge completely when phone left unused for a few days - do you observe such behavior, or my S200 has to be repaired again? (once already it was - but then full discharge time was 24 hours... :( :)

M68/S200 without those problems could be a very strong competition for Treo (size matters! ;) - low resolution is not a problem here.

RE: Germans get it first;)
Tamog @ 3/23/2006 2:59:06 AM # Q
Hi,
I have heard similar reports from other people...cant really chime in though, as I dont have a S200..
Best regards
Tam Hanna

Find out more about the Palm OS in my blog:
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com
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