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Sun 19 Apr 2009 04:00 AM

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Inspecting gadgets

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from rock-solid tough handsets to the latest in green touchscreen handsets.

Inspecting gadgets
Inspecting gadgets
Inspecting gadgets
Inspecting gadgets

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from rock-solid tough handsets to the latest in green touchscreen handsets.

Sonim XP3 Enduro

If there's a tougher handset line out there than Sonim's XP series, we'd really like to see it. The latest version, the suitably-hard sounding XP3 Enduro is meant for people who need to make calls in the harshest working environments possible, such as a construction site or a fashion shoot.

To that end, Sonim has now upped the ante, taking the phone up to an IP57 level of certification. That doesn't mean much to most people, but the seriously-geeky will recognise that it means the XP3 can fall two metres onto concrete without incident or survive being dunked into a metre of water.

But it's not just a tough exterior, the Sonim also boasts a strong - sorry, we can't continue deluding ourselves. The XP3 doesn't really have any advanced features to speak of except the very basics of mobile telephony and a few outdoorsy options like an external antenna for places with terrible reception.

After all, when's the last time you saw a phone that touted ‘WAP browsing' as an actual feature? Oh yes, that's right - back in 1998. That's probably the same year Sonim purchased the batch of 128x160 pixel panels which the phone ‘sports' - be thankful that it's even in colour.

Phones like the XP3 do have their place, but the enterprise working environment isn't one of them. And if you see a CIO sporting one of these, you can be sure that he hasn't seen the sun in a good while. Samsung Omnia HD

Here's a bit of a surprise from Samsung - a slider phone running Windows Mobile.

Probably a bit early in the review for sarcasm, but then, Samsung does make it rather easy with its legion of identical grey sliders running various flavours of Microsoft's mobile OS.

Oddly enough, however, this isn't one of them. For some reason, Samsung has decided to use Symbian instead, although you would never guess just by looking at it, as the Omnia still runs Samsung's TouchWiz interface on top. It's usable but not really in the iPhone league of responsiveness. so prepare to be seen frequently stabbing at the Omnia, rather than effortlessly sliding around the UI like a seasoned pro.

Features-wise, the Omnia packs the proverbial kitchen sink - GPS, 8-megapixel, podcast support - the list seems endless.

If you think, that the feature list is too consumer-focused, the Omnia can open a wide range of document formats and access e-mail from Exchange servers. Working isn't a chore either with the Omnia's large 3.7" inch screen which auto-rotates just like - we'll stop now. Samsung Blue Earth

Another month, another ‘eco' phone. Yawn.

But we think the Blue Earth is brilliant because it marries the two great obsessions of the past year - eco-friendliness and touchscreens - in one attractive package.

Like the Motorola W233 Renew from February's Inspecting Gadgets, the Blue Earth features a casing made from recycled water bottles, which even we will (grudgingly) admit is a good idea. Another nifty feature is the solar panel built into its back panel. Theoretically, it will not need mains charging as long as there is available sunlight - which there is certainly no paucity of in the Middle East.

Even the charger sports some clever thinking: when it's plugged in but not charging, it drops power consumption down to just 0.03W.

If there's any drawbacks, it's that Samsung has failed to resist the temptation to indulge in a spot of smugness. The phone's ‘Eco Walk' application informs you how much CO2 you've saved by walking, represented by trees. If you mention that factoid at meetings, prepare to be shunned. Nokia E75

If it wasn't obvious already, Mobile World Congress was held last month, so there's been a plethora of new phone releases.

Unlike the other devices you see on these two pages, Nokia's ‘E' series is designed from the ground up for enterprises, and it certainly shows with a lack of flashy gee-gaws to tickle the fancy. Horror of horrors, it doesn't even have that necessity of the modern mobile, the touchscreen interface.

What it does have, though, is a proper QWERTY slideout keyboard that symbolises real productivity for e-mail addicted execs who are looking for alternatives to the CrackBerry. The phone supports all the usual protocols, including Microsoft Exchange, POP3 and IMAP and can also play nice with most corporate networks, so there's little fear of connection difficulties.

In light of the excellent keyboard and software, it's somewhat surprising to find that the E75 sports a relatively small screen compared to its competitors - at 2.4 inches, it's average at best and could really use something like the Samsung Omnia's 3.7 inch monster.

These days, it is increasingly rare to find handsets packing full-size keyboards, which seem to have gone out of vogue in favour of faddish virtual keypads or Blackberry-style thumb-boards. It may not be the biggest market, but for the exec with the digits that are - ahem - larger than average, it's good to still have a choice.

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