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Orange SPV M500 smart phone

'Magician' restyled

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First UK review The SPV M500 is Orange's take on HTC's 'Magician' compact PocketPC phone, which began appearing earlier this year in a number of guises, such as the i-Mate Jam.

Orange SPV M500Since then, the handset has been remodelled. The internal specifications are almost identical, so the changes are purely cosmetic, as you can see from my earlier review of the Magician. However, they certainly make the M500 - and the identical Krome Spy handset, just launched in Australia - much more attractive than the casing used by earlier Magician suppliers.

The M500's dimensions remain a palm-friendly and iPod-like 10.6 x 5.7 x 1.8cm, give or take a millimetre here and there. The weight's 150g. Gone is the pale plastic casing, replaced by a dark, metal shell with straight lines in place of the older models' gentle curves.

The front is still dominated by the 2.8in, 240 x 320, 65,000-colour LCD and the control cluster. A central button is surrounded first by a circular four-way navigation key and then by two panels, one above, one below each incorporating two buttons. The lower pair activate the Contacts and Calendar apps, the upper two are the familiar green and red call-make and -break buttons. Again, the design is crisper, more angular and more business-like. The navigator is smaller than before, but I found it no less easy to use for that, though I did find myself catching the other buttons more frequently than I did with the previous incarnation of Magician.

The left-hand side of the device sports separate camera, volume and voice-record buttons. On the right-hand side is a tiny circular power switch and the stylus. They're positioned toward the top of the device; toward the bottom is the infra-red port. On the base you'll find a mini USB connector and the 2.5mm earphones socket both recessed slightly and hidden behind a new rubber panel that makes the casing neater but is hard to open. Similarly recessed, but without the cover, is the SD IO slot on the top of the device, now marked with the SD logo. Alas, HTC has failed to make the removal and insertion of cards easier - there are no niches to give your fingers room to work.

The rear of the M500 hosts the 1.3 megapixel camera, now mounted above a self-portrait mirror and surrounded by a shiny, engraved circular panel for a more camera-like look. As before, the lower two-thirds of the back-panel slides off to reveal the tightly held 1200mAh removable battery and, beneath it, the SIM slot.

Orange SPV M500

Inside sits a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA272 processor running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. There's 64MB of RAM, spilt between storage and run-time memory, and 8MB of Flash for backing up important information. The memory is ample, and the processor fast enough. Some apps are perfectly responsive, others less so, but then I've yet to see a smart phone that felt as responsive as an ordinary handset running a truly real-time operating system.

Next page: Verdict

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