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Trium Mystral

GPRS mobile data phone

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Review The Trium Mystral is an odd fish: a mass-market phone with GPRS high-speed data capability. It's not alone: Motorola has the 192, Ericsson the T65 and Sagem the 989. All vie for small bucks, big byte Internet access.

These phones exist because the networks asked for them. A year ago the networks told the handset manufacturers that GPRS was going to be big this Christmas and that the technology was important. Now they have changed their minds, and GPRS is nowhere for the time being.

This is great if you're a techie who wants a cool, cheap phone. The Mystral fits into that category perfectly. It's based on the Trium Mars and will take the same removable rubber surrounds.

At 115x44x28mm, it's small. These days 115g is no longer particularly light. While it looks small, the 65x96-pixel screen means you get five lines of text on the screen, although they are pretty tiny. The graphics are well utilised by the menus with pictures for each of the entries. A leaping dolphin or the Trium butterfly animates when the phone is idle.

There is a round four-way button and a pair of two-way rockers. The two-way switches have the send and end keys as one of their functions and a soft key as another. The soft keys show the appropriate actions for the menu you are in, but you can change the initial functions to your preferred choice.

The round key works well enough when you are new to the phone and very well once you've learnt your way around. Some of the actions are not that obvious, for example you have to guess that pressing right when there is a text message on the screen shows you the rest of the message. Normally pressing right on the pad takes you to the first item in the menu, pressing right again then takes you into a sub menu rather than to the next heading. This isn't the neatest way to do things; one direction should step through the options and another should drill down. However, the first item is 'phone book', and the thing you want to do most often is look things up in the phone book. Making this easy to get at probably overrides the needs of a logical menu system.

Messaging works well, with T9 predictive text input. The Trium system of using down to toggle T9 on and off is the simplest of any phone. There are 29 ring tones. Nineteen of these are carried over from the Mars, the ten new ones being special in that they are polyphonic. While you can download Nokia compatible ring tones you will have to wait for polyphonic tones to start appearing on the internet to make the most of this. All the ringers sound good because the Mystral has a big speaker. You can have different tones for people who are in your SIM and phone memories but you cannot ascribe a tone to a particular name.
There are a couple of games, both puzzles. In one you must rotate a shape to match a shape generated by the computer. In the second you play the part of a penguin which has to slide blocks of ice to fit a pattern. This is fun and addictive.

Some of the more grown up features include a section called 'office tools', which has a phone number scratchpad, currency converter and alarm clock. There is a hands-free speaker mode and a vibrate alert.

With so much of the software so well-sorted it's surprising that this GPRS phone is WAP 1.1, although it's a good implementation. The GPRS link is one slot up, two down and can only be used for WAP as there is no infra red.

Battery life is impressive too, a quoted 2.5 hours talktime and 120 hours on standby. As ever with quoted figures these are optimistic but a sensible three days' use was possible. A great low-cost phone. ®

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