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Motorola MPx200 Review

DT Recommended Product

Highs

  • Very fast navigation
  • beautiful screen
  • memory card expandable

Rating

Our Score 8
User Score 6

Lows

  • No Bluetooth or built in digital camera
  • aftermarket headphones will cause dropped calls
The MPx200 is very stylish, powerful and offers the basic functions business users

Summary

If you are looking for a phone with complete PDA capabilities, the MPx200 would not be your first choice. Microsoft’s Smartphone OS is a compromise that appeals to those that do not care for full blown PDA features. If you just want to stay connected to your friends and co-workers and manage your contacts and meetings, the MPx200 may be perfect for you.

The Motorola MPx200 is a fantastic phone for business users. It is very stylish, powerful and offers the basic functions business users’ desire. We love that you can upgrade the memory on the MPx200 using the memory slot as well as the fact that you get a basic MP3 player and PDA functionality.

In the case of the MPx200, the physical design saves it from dropping down to a 7 rating since the headset problems we encountered could be serious to some users. Overall, although the MPx200 does not offer Bluetooth or a integrated camera, considering its $99 price tag it could quite possibly be the best Smartphone value currently on the market. 

Introduction

Motorola’s MPx200 Smart Phone is probably one of the most affordable phones on the market featuring Microsoft Smartphone OS, but that does not necessarily means it skimps on features.

The MPx200 comes in a very stylish piano black finish, has a gorgeous display, expansion capabilities in the form of a SD memory card slot, and enough power to be a very useful voice and data communication device. The Motorola MPx200 retails for around $300 but can be found for less than $100 with a two-year service plan from AT&T wireless.

Design and Features

When it comes to PDA/cell phone hybrids, product size and ultimate usability is often sacrificed for features. There are several phones on the market that feature full-blown versions of Microsoft’s Pocket PC OS or Palm’s personal information manager OS. Packing all of these options into a device that is supposed to be comfortably held up against your face for a call can be a daunting task. The small size constraints normally associated with a cell phone means something has to be sacrificed.

We have seen phones with touch screen stylus pens or fold-out keyboards all in an effort to give you regular PDA usability on your cell phone. But what if you do not want everything a normal PDA offers? Enter Microsoft’s Smartphone operating system. Basically it’s a trimmed down version of Microsoft’s Pocket PC OS, minus Pocket Word, Excel and some other Pocket PC programs. The Smartphone OS gives you the necessities for contact management and adds a few fun programs which help to round out the offering.

Motorola was able to take Microsoft’s Smartphone OS and put it into an elegantly designed wireless phone that is not much larger than other flip phones currently on the market. The outer case is a very attractive glossy black finish with stylish silver and blue accents.

There are actually two LCD screens on this phone. When the unit is closed, a 96 x 32 pixel display shows caller ID, date & time, and phone status. The outside screen, although not in color, lights up with a very soft blue backlight which stays consistent with the overall design elements.

Located on the left hand side of the phone are the volume controls, the power button and the infrared receiver/transmitter. The right hand side of the phone is the location for the SD/MMC card expansion slot and a headset jack. While the outside is well laid out and clean, it gets even better on the inside.

Once the MPx200 is opened, you are greeted by a vibrant and colorful 176 x 220 pixel “Vivid” 65K Color TFT display and Microsoft’s Smartphone operating system. With built-in MSN Messenger and Microsoft Pocket Outlook you never have to be disconnected from your co-workers and friends.

If that is not enough, you can surf the internet and check your daily news in color with a full Internet Explorer Web browser. Motorola packages two headsets with the MPx200 phone, a stereo headset which you can use to listen to MP3’s or WMA files on your phone, or a regular single bud headset for easy use in the car. A USB cable and phone cradle is included for synchronization between the MPx200 and a computer.

Setup and Use

We found the navigation and overall phone speed of the MPx200 to be very fast despite its limited 32MB of internal memory. This is due to the powerful Texas Instruments ARM OMAP710 130Mhz processor. We think that 32MB is passable but with today’s programs and file sizes, more internal memory would be ideal. Luckily the MPx200 comes with a SD memory card expansion slot capable of holding up to a 1GB SD memory card.

Setting up the MPx200 for the first time is relatively easy, but will require some time and patience. You will want to follow the instructions to the letter. This means installing Microsoft’s Active Sync software which will allow you to transfer files and synchronize your phone with your desktop computer and MS Outlook programs. We recommend heading over to Microsoft’s website to download the latest version of ActiveSync to make sure you have the newest version.

You can setup your MPx200 phone to use either IMAP or POP3 e-mail support. Downloading e-mail over AT&T’s GSM network was surprisingly fast. If you choose to setup your e-mail account using the POP3 protocol you will be able to synchronize the e-mail from your desktop computer to your MPx200 without downloading your e-mails over the GSM service.

However, should you choose to setup your e-mail account using the IMAP protocol, you cannot synchronize your e-mail with AcitveSync on your desktop computer. This means that if you want to take your e-mail on the road, you will have to download them over your phone service, and this can get very expensive.

It would be great if Microsoft’s ActiveSync software could somehow download your IMAP e-mail and send it to your cell phone, but the IMAP protocol probably presents a problem to this. In any case it is an issue with the OS and not the MPx200 phone itself. When downloading e-mail you have the option to download the first 5000 bytes, 1000 bytes, 500 bytes or simply the headers. But overall, the MPx200 managed our e-mails just fine without any hardware failures or lock-ups; a huge improvement over PDA phones we have seen in the past year.

The phone cannot receive calls while in GPRS mode (browsing the Internet or e-mail mode), so calls that are received at this time go directly to voice mail. You can receive attachments in your e-mail and can set up what type of attachments you receive or how much you want to receive. But since you don’t have Word or Excel on the Smartphone OS, you won’t be able to view many attachments anyway. The system does allow you to keep the whole e-mail on the server for download from your computer later.

We liked the ability to add more storage to the MPx200 via the SD memory slot. This means that you can save e-mail attachments, or load your MPx200 memory card up with MP3s and movie files for use on the road.

Motorola was nice enough to include two headsets with the MPx200; a stereo headset for listening to your music and a single earpiece/microphone for hands-free calling. The stereo headset works perfectly with the integrated Media Player program. The only downside is the limited capabilities of the Windows Media Player. You can play movie or music files, but you cannot fast forward through them. You can only skip to the beginning of the next or previous tracks. Again this is a limitation of the Smartphone OS and not anything on Motorola’s part. The included Motorola stereo headset does the job, but will not win any awards for sound quality. While playing back music, the overall tone is very flat lacking almost any bass at all. Those looking for audiophile MP3 player properties will most likely be disappointed. When listening to any music file, the volume will quickly fade out allowing you to take any incoming call.

Another good feature of the MPx200 is speech recognition. This allows you to use your voice to dial numbers instead of having to use your hands. This feature works very well and the device had no problem recognizing our voice to dial. Once the call is made, you can easily switch over to the on-board speakerphone or use the included headset for true hands-free operation.

The integrated speaker on the MPx200 can get very loud and is very clear without noticeable distortion. Like other services, this phone has the ability to conference in a 3rd person while you are already on a call. The call waiting tag will show up letting you know another person is on the other line, then you can decide to conference them into your current call or swap calls so you can talk to them individually. This was very easy to use and can be very valuable for those trying to participate in meetings while on the road.

Lastly we thought it was a great feature to be able to show your calendar and call contact information while you are in the middle of a call. This will allow you to coordinate or look up events using the Outlook calendar while you are on the phone.

Head Case

The MPx200 was not without its flaws and there are a few issues we think Motorola needs to address. First of all, while using any sort of 3rd party headset with this phone and occasionally with the included headsets, the MPx200 would drop our calls in the middle of a conversation; as if the phone turned off completely. This happened with the phone both closed and open during use.

When the headset was working, we had to really speak up so the other person could hear us, and it was hard hearing them the other end as well. A quick call to tech support ended up lasting more than 45 minutes as our tech support representative in India had no idea how to address the issue.

We were able to find some other people over at http://www.howardforums.com/ who were experiencing the same issues with this phone, so we know ours was not an isolated case and hope Motorola can fix the headset problems in a future firmware or software update. We’d also like to see Motorola add volume controls and a call accept button to the headset cable; in our opinion, these are necessities for talking while on the go.

Reception and Battery Life

Reception and clarity on the MPx200 is above average when compared to other GSM phones, at least in the Portland, Oregon area where this phone was tested. Since the antenna is integrated into the phone and does not protrude, that this is a very good thing. In normal operation (without the headset) we did not experience any dropped calls and very few break-ups during our conversations.

Motorola claims the MPx200 has 112 hours of standby time, but with normal settings on we experienced around 90 hours, not bad considering this phones features. There is a power saving mode which should help you squeeze more battery juice out of the phone. If you experience reception or battery performance different than what we have, please post your own mini-review in the user review section of the Motorola MPx200 review.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a phone with complete PDA capabilities, the MPx200 would not be your first choice. Microsoft’s Smartphone OS is a compromise that appeals to those that do not care for full blown PDA features. If you just want to stay connected to your friends and co-workers and manage your contacts and meetings, the MPx200 may be perfect for you.

The Motorola MPx200 is a fantastic phone for business users. It is very stylish, powerful and offers the basic functions business users’ desire. We love that you can upgrade the memory on the MPx200 using the memory slot as well as the fact that you get a basic MP3 player and PDA functionality.

In the case of the MPx200, the physical design saves it from dropping down to a 7 rating since the headset problems we encountered could be serious to some users. Overall, although the MPx200 does not offer Bluetooth or a integrated camera, considering its $99 price tag it could quite possibly be the best Smartphone value currently on the market.