Motorola's MPx220

This implementation of Microsoft's smartphone platform is svelte, works worldwide and provides excellent connectivity to Microsoft Outlook.

January 5, 2005

4 Min Read
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It's All About the Apps

Microsoft's built-in applications include the basics from Microsoft Outlook: Contacts, Calendar, Inbox and Tasks. The device's versions of the Contacts and Calendar function nearly identically to their Outlook counterparts. The Contacts application, for example, even lets you add or edit items such as spouse, anniversaries and birthdays. The Calendar application includes Outlook fields like location and busy status.

The only real letdown is the Tasks application, which works as if someone forgot to finish writing the code for it. Every task is listed, with no options to filter or hide completed tasks. The only available options are to complete a task or to delete it. Furthermore, while new tasks can be entered, current tasks cannot be edited. As someone who categorizes and retains completed tasks, I was disappointed with the lack of attention given to this function.

The messaging application supports multiple mailboxes, including Exchange, POP3 and IMAP. During testing, I configured the device to send and receive mail using Gmail's secure POP and SMTP connections.

Home ScreenClick to Enlarge

Not surprisingly, receiving and reading e-mail worked flawlessly while composing messages was a challenge. To maintain the form factor of a phone, the MPx220 is equipped with a standard 10-digit keypad. As such, text entry consists of typing a given key until the correct letter appears, severely limiting the speed of composing a message. Unfortunately, no Bluetooth keyboards are available with Windows Smartphone drivers at this time.

Beyond Microsoft's core applications, Motorola included a few applications of its own, the best of which provides speech recognition. Activated by holding the Volume Up key on the side of the device, this app enables dialing, name lookup and opening an application with voice commands. I found this a great improvement over other phones I have worked with that required training or a prerecorded voice tag. Unfortunately, voice dialing does not work through a Bluetooth headset, so you must have the phone in hand to use it.

Also included with the device are utilities for taking and handling images from the built-in camera, a viewer that supports many standard Office file types as well as Java applets.

There Is Always a Backup

Agenda ViewClick to Enlarge

Data synchronization is handled with the same ActiveSync application used by the MPx's Pocket PC big brothers. I tested syncing to my PC with the included USB cable as well as over a Bluetooth connection, and all worked normally.

More impressively, the MPx220 also supports Server ActiveSync, a feature included in Exchange 2003. Inbox messages, contacts and calendar can be synchronized between the phone and the server directly, without a PC in between. In the case of the MPx220, that connection can be made over a wireless GPRS network or the pass-through connection available from ActiveSync. I tested it with my work Exchange Server, and it worked flawlessly.Conclusion

The MPx220 blends the best features of a wireless phone with the core functions of a PDA in a small package. It fits a nice niche for those who need access to data and a view of incoming e-mail, but who don't want the bulk of a full-function device. It's not ideal for heavy e-mail users, but it is perfect for those who want to take their personal data with them with a minimum of bulk.

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