Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

This is the Vodafone v1605 – a small but
feature-rich handset. Push email, 2 megapixel camera,
fantastic connectivity, video
calling, Bluetooth 2.0, 400Mhz processor and a host of
shortcut buttons. Running Windows Mobile 5.0
(Pocket PC) you’ve got stacks of software available to
download too. Just when you thought that was good
enough it comes up with a slide-out keyboard too !


Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review


The v1605 is ready for HSPDA – this is the
"3G on steroids" protocol that’s coming to
Vodafone
and other networks. There is, of course regular 3G
capability, then EDGE if you need it and even GPRS too.
If that’s not enough for you then you can always
use WiFi (802.11b/g) for hooking up to a local hotspot
or browsing the internet at home or in your local coffee
shop. Quad-band
capability also means that the v1605 can not only keep
you entertained on flights abroad but also keep you in
touch when you land. The usual IR port is also present,
as is the mini USB plug for hooking into your PC.
Bluetooth 2.0 also comes as part of the deal and will
allow your funky bluetooth headsets and car-kits to
function as they did with your previous device.

In the box is your stylus, power adaptor, mini USB
"sync" cable (for connection to your PC), carry case,
lithium ion polymer battery (1300mAh), manuals, CD’s
(containing ActiveSync software etc) and a stereo wired
headset with microphone. There’s also a leather carry
pouch to avoid those nasty scratches.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The headset doesn’t use the standard 3.5mm or the 2.5mm
plug but instead plugs directly into the mini USB port
at the base of the device. Want to listen to your tunes while charging ?
Sorry, you can’t. Want to sync your v1605 while enjoying
Fat Boy Slim ? Nope, not unless you use the on-board
speakers or bluetooth stereo headphones.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The handsfree capability operates well and it comes with
a volume slider to quickly adjust the sound.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The unit itself has a fairly flat appearance than with
the controls being nicely spaced around the device. The main
case is a dark silver with an almost pebble-like
finish. This colour is continued on and around the main control keys at
the base and on the top of the unit. This helps to accentuate
the area and guide the user toward the appropriate
buttons. Around the screen there’s a brushed silver
finish which is reflected around the central band and
buttons to the side of the v1605. It’s not a
light device, however it’s not overly heavy either – I’d
call it a "reassuring weight". Considering the power,
features and connectivity this thing has it’s a nice
package and you’ll not need to worry about putting it to
your head for a phone call.

Confused? Well, if you’ve read our review of the

T-Mobile Vario I
you’ll probably be aware that
bigger or "regular size" Pocket PC’s look a
bit mental when you put them to your ear for a phone
call. It’s almost like holding the lid of a shoebox next
to your head… Not a good look. Devices like this tend
to carry off that "phone like" appearance
whilst being hugely powerful, useful AND usable.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

At the bottom here you can see the small round button
that lets you initiate video calls. This is actually
embedded into the normal voice call button. Give either
of these and you’re into the appropriate phone pad
(voice or video). You can then dial in many different
ways – either typing out the name using the appropriate
letters on the pad, using the left soft-key to find the
contact or just simply bang in the number. The addition
of the scroll wheel on the side helps you to drill
through the contacts and locate the appropriate person
quickly. More on that scroll wheel
in a minute though. :)

There’s a rather square-looking navigation pad. This, I
think, is a little more difficult to use than the other
configurations seen on similar devices – it’s mainly due
to the "action" button being situated at the same height
as the surrounding pad. You can also find two soft-keys and
two very useful shortcut buttons – one for accessing the
"Start" button drop-down and the other for "OK". There’s
actually another "OK" button on the side too.
There’s several very useful shortcut
buttons which some Pocket PC upgraders may at first find
a bit hard to master. Believe me, they’re worth it in
the long run and you’ll soon be clicking away getting
through menus and tasks quicker than ever before.
 

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

At the top of the handset you’ll find
yet more handy buttons – one for messaging and one for
Internet Explorer. Between these are the status LED’s
such as power / charge, bluetooth and network etc. The
earpiece is tucked away in here too and the audio
quality is fine. On the right is the face-pointing
camera for 3G calls – don’t forget you can switch
between the rear-mounted camera and this one during your
3G video call. This is a great way to show people
things, "just look at this view" etc.

The Internet Explorer button is especially handy when
you want to quickly browse the internet – just tap the
power button, hit the internet explorer button, slide
the keyboard open and you’re ready to enter any web
address you fancy. Ah… now, this brings me to a minor
issue. It’s obviously got power-saving – the screen goes
off after a lack of use to stop you accidentally calling
Aunt Maud in Australia while you’re walking around.
However, I’m a little surprised that there’s no option
to allow things like "turn screen on when keyboard
extended". This simple feature would let me open the
keyboard and get onto the internet quicker.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review


While we’re on the subject let’s have a look at the
keyboard. It takes up around 80% of the width which
gives you enough space to rest your thumbs. The keys
themselves have a fantastic feel about them and show a
definite quality. I will admit being worried when I
first saw this keyboard – it looked a little condensed
and the lack of space between keys looked like a typing
nightmare. The reality? It’s not bad at all. Each key is
slightly domed and for easy location and the keyboard
construction is solid. I’ve typed out news stories,
blogs and reviews on this. It’s much faster than any
other type of data entry.

The keyboard also has a number of
shortcuts which you can see in light blue below. I found that
I used the "WiFi on/off" button quite a bit – it’s
the "OK" button next to the Windows key.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

You may also notice on the top right there’s a light
sensor which does a great job of sensing when to turn
the backlight on for the keyboard. It’s a cool blue
colour when illuminated. The numeric keypad is located
on the right-side of the keyboard and can be accessed by
holding the "." key down on the lower left whilst keying
in numbers. I found the keyboard very easy to use,
although I still have a bit of trouble typing in a
capital "A" as you have to press the shift key and the
"a" key directly above it at the same time.

On the right side of the unit is the power button.
You’ll be pressing it a lot, believe me.
Why? Well, with the power saving switching the screen
off after 2 minutes you have to tap the power button to
wake it up again. Sure you can change this, but I’m
going to concentrate on the "out of the box" experience.
Hitting this button can be a little tricky at times.
There’s no "nipple" on it for quick location and it’s
actually recessed into the device. Even stranger is the
fact that the comm manager button next to it DOES have a
"nipple" and ISN’T recessed into the unit. Look!

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Thankfully there is a way of changing
this – just go into Settings->System->Key lock. Within
this screen there’s an option to make all buttons
"pressable" even when the device is off. Of course, the
trouble with this is that you could accidentally launch
Internet Explorer, make a phone call or do something
else that’ll cost you money. Though after a short while I
almost prefer the latter option rather than having to
find that recessed power button each time I want to use
the unit.

Also on the right of the unit is the camera button – you
may also be able to see the stylus here too. It’s home
is at the bottom of the unit on the v1605 and the stylus
itself is one of those extending jobbies.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

To be honest with the plethora of
buttons and shortcuts on this device you can get away
with doing the majority of daily tasks without ever
getting this stylus out. Here you can see the entire
right side with the camera button (which is just under
your right trigger-finger when snapping), comm-manager
button (good for accessing flight mode, wifi etc) and
that power button too.
 

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The camera button above activates this
rather prominent-looking camera. The design of the lens
surround is much better than previous designs. There’s a

lot more functionality here – flash, macro switch (for
taking shots of stuff up-close), an integrated mirror
and a brushed metal surround. The review unit we had
here was a bit battle-damaged and had lost its rubber
"bung" for the aerial attachment on the top left.


Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review



On the left side we’ve got that scroll wheel I mentioned
earlier. It’ll give you rapid
access to contacts and menu items. Previous Pocket PC
owners may find this a little hard to get used to but
trust me, it’s a fantastic time-saving gadget. In fact –
if you use this for a while and then try to go back to a
device without a scroll wheel – you’ll find yourself
flapping about like a wounded pigeon.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

You can make a call to someone simply by
rotating slightly and then pushing in a couple of times.
No stylus – no messing. Simple, quick access into things
you need simply and quickly. You can use the scroll
wheel to navigate up and down the IE pages, which I
found particularly useful, or the navigation pad.

Below this wheel you’ve got another "OK"
button. Yep, there’s two "OK" buttons on here ….
actually there’s three if you count the one on the
slide-out keyboard, however the guys
have done a great job in realising that it’s the most
used button. I’ve no doubt I’ll still see people using
their thumb-nail to try and hit the "OK" or "X" button
in the top-right corner, however it’s great to see more
than one on a device.

Below the "OK" button is a
shortcut button to the Voice Speed Dial. One tap of
this, then you say a name and the v1605 will call
someone or launch an application for you.

At the bottom of the left hand side is a
MicroSD / Transflash slot. It’s another memory card type
and you’ll need to fork out some cash to get one. Have a
look on

MobyMemory
for some good deals on these cards
because there isn’t a free one in the box unfortunately
(at least, there wasn’t in the review box we had). The
price of these cards is coming down all the time and you
can get quite a big one for not much cash. The internal
memory is pretty big – you can take about 350 high
resolution pictures before you need to worry about a
seperate memory card, however they’re very useful for
adding music, pictures, videos or those important
slideshows for a meeting.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Right on the base of the unit we’ve got the IR port, a
little flappy switch for opening the battery cover and a
standard miniUSB port. Although this miniUSB port may
look
a little different I can confirm it’s the same
one that a lot of Smartphone / Pocket PC users are used
to, which is good news for your cable and charger
collection. You can also find the reset switch here too
– this is activated using the stylus to reset / reboot
the device.. I’m sure you’ll never have to use it
though. :)

Here’s the inside of the unit with the
battery removed. The battery lasts quite a bit if you
leave the power-saving features alone, however if you
dare to set the screen to "always on" you’ll soon find a
fairly flat v1605 in your pocket – especially if you’re
on the WiFi a lot.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
 

Inside

When you first power-up the v1605 it’ll apply
the Vodafone setting and tweaks. The Vodafone homescreen
is uncluttered and doesn’t really contain much. You may
argue that Vodafone have missed a trick here, however
some may like the rather minimalist approach. You can
use the scroll wheel to scroll up and down the .. err..
four options.
The great thing about Windows Mobile is that you’re able
to change this screen should you wish. Simply go into "Settings->(Personal)->Today".

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The v1605 comes with Windows
Mobile 5.0 (for Pocket PC) and has push-email for Exchange users.
The connectivity is excellent. Wireless access is on
board, 3G is there (although I’ll confess to not finding
a 3G signal whilst testing), Bluetooth, GPRS, EDGE, even HSPDA – it’s all
here so there’s very little chance of you being out of
coverage.

 
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

When you press the "Windows" shortcut
key that we showed your earlier it’ll bring up this
menu. You’ll notice the "Office" option here – this
takes you into a separate folder containing everything
you may need for working on the move. You can see some
of these tools below. We’ll cover these in a little
while.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The lightweight homescreen does, at least, help to
minimise the time it takes to rotate the screen
orientation. This occurs when you pull the keyboard out
and it goes into "widescreen" mode. Earlier devices had a definite "lag",
however the 400Mhz CPU and trimmed-down homescreen
produces a quick screen switch.

Initiating a call is easy and there’s
several ways of doing it. To start off you can use that
wheel – from the "Today" or (as I call it) homescreen
you just choose "Contacts", then use the wheel to scroll
through and select who to call. It’s just a matter of
pushing the wheel in and it’ll call the person you’ve
chosen, or text them, or email them, whatever. The wheel
really is incredibly useful and I doubt we’ll see many
Pocket PC phones being released in future without this
feature or something like it.

If you don’t fancy using the wheel to start a call then
just push the green button on the front of the device and
type the number into the dialpad on the screen. The
predictive dial guesses which number you’re trying to
dial based on the digits you entered. The same thing
happens if you slide out the keyboard at this point too.
Both the call history and contacts list is searched and
suggested numbers appear on screen. You can see here
I’ve found the one I need, so I’ve just moved down and
it’s dialled it.
 

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

3G Video calling is included on the
v1605 and you’ll use the face-pointing camera on the top
right. There’s also the ability to
choose from several different views – making both your
screen or the other person larger or smaller. Plus you
can switch from the front camera to the rear camera
mid-way through your call, or put people on hold etc.
All very flash. Unfortunately I couldn’t test this
because there didn’t seem to be a Vodafone 3G signal
anywhere – I even went driving around with my laptop
ready to grab a screenshot, but I ended up not finding
one and going to a new pub I’d never seen before
instead. ;) Check their

coverage map
for 3G in your area.

 

Programs

As this is Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket
PC you get a huge slab of programs included when you
purchase the device, plus there’s many more free and
commercial applications out on the internet too. Due to
the fact that the "Office" folder is included on the
main menu there’s only really one panel of programs,
with other tools organised into folders. The Games
folder contains those two infamous Windows games, Bubble
Breaker and Solitaire..

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

In the "Media" folder you’ve got everything you could need for chilling out and
relaxing – your pictures, MP3s and more. The "Tools" folder has those more
work-centric applications such as "Terminal Services"  which we’ll cover
next…

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Terminal Services
Client, more commonly known as RDP or Remote Desktop, is
a way to access other machines and control them across
your wireless or 3G connection. I like using this for
remote working – I can remotely connect to the PC at
work and do all the work-related stuff whilst at home.
Here’s me doing just that over the VPN.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

If we pop back up to the main "Programs"
listing we’ll get to one of the most powerful parts of
Windows Mobile – ActiveSync. This is for connecting and
synchronizing your contacts, calendar appointments,
tasks and more.  This’ll synchronize your life –
everything on your PC that you want to carry around with
you can be synchronized with the v1605.  Here’s what I’ve got on my Options list –
Contacts, Calendar appointments and Favourites. You can
choose as many or as few as you wish.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Adding a new contact, for example, is
just a matter of using your PC to enter the necessary
details in Outlook. All the details – and I do mean all
– will be fired across to your phone. Email address,
postal address, picture, fax number, the works. This is
great if you’re swapping your phone – you just need to
plug it in, start the synchronisation process and within
seconds all of your contacts will appear on the handset.

You can, of course, add the contact using the phone
itself. Just look at the range of information you can
add – I’m surprised there isn’t an option to add "shoe
size"

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

I can use the on-screen keyboard if I want, however it’s much easier to enter
the data with the help of the slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The notes section, shown in the picture above right, let’s you add anything that
you couldn’t fit anywhere else. The amount of options that are available let you
work more effectively – adding in information and detail about a contact that
can help you win a sale or easily remember someone.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review 

Let’s go back to the "Office" folder
that we touched on earlier. Here’s another look at it.
This is your one-stop-shop for anything work related.
It’s not all Microsoft software either, there’s
third-party apps like ClearVue PDF and Zip – both
incredibly useful for opening attachments. It’s great not to have to wait
until you’re at the office to see that all-important PDF
attachment and Zip lets you unpack those important
documents without having to find your nearest PC. Truely
mobile working.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Here’s ClearVue PDF in action. There’s various functions including that
all-important "Zoom" option to view a certain part of the file.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review 

As part of the Mobile Office suite we’ve
got Excel. It’s a cut-down version of the PC version
however it’s excellent for editing and creating
spreadsheets on the move. You’ve also got Microsoft
PowerPoint and Word too. Again don’t forget that using
both of these apps with the slide-out keyboard is a
dream. I’ve written entire blogs
with Microsoft Word on the keyboard and it’s a
fantastic to have it in your pocket when you feel the
urge to jot something down.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

There’s also File Explorer, something
which I use in conjunction with Zip which we mentioned
earlier.

  
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

When you want entertainment there’s cool
applications like Windows Media Player. This will play
your recorded videos, MP3’s and any funny cam-corder
moments you’ve captured. You can switch to full screen
and enjoy videos the way they were intended and there’s
stacks more options such as shuffle and a library system
to keep everything categorised.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
 

Internet Explorer has a stack of options for
resizing the text, changing the way websites are viewed
and the ability to zoom in on stuff too. You can do
almost everything you can do on your regular Internet
Explorer – add favourites (by the way, it’s still
spelt wrong as "Favorites"), view history etc.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Settings

In the settings we’ve got pretty much
everything you’ll need for changing your out-of-the-box
v1605 into your own custom device. Here’s the
"Buttons" option – this will let you
reconfigure the various buttons on the phone to do other
things. If, for example, you’ve installed an application
for your business then this could be launched by simply
pressing one button.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

On the next tab you’ve got settings
allowing you to set the backlight, alarm, device info,
clear the on-board storage, key lock and memory usage –
this option is always useful if you’re trying to "kill"
a running program. There’s also Power settings, regional
settings, screen orientation / text size / cleartype
settings and you can remove your installed programs here
too.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review 

The Connections tab is pretty
self-explanatory. It’s got everything you’ll need to
connecting your device to something else. The Comm
Manager on the top right is accessed here or you could
just press that shortcut-key we mentioned earlier which
is located next to the power button.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

This is the Comm Manager itself. You can
quickly turn various aspects of the handset on or off.
Bluetooth, WiFi, Push Email, Activesync, the Ringer or
the phone itself.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Camera

The 2 megapixel camera comes with the newer
HTC interface and includes some sneaky photographer-tricks to help you get a
better shot. Here’s a shot of the preview screen 
with the options around the edge. There’s plenty to play
with here. The -/+ control
at the bottom sets your brightness, the arrow thing on
the top-left switches between camera, video, MMS video,
contact picture, picture themes, panorama, sports mode
and much more.

You can also change where the pictures are stores
(internal memory or that MicroSD card) and the size of
each image – you’ll know how many you’ve got by the
number on the top left. Then, on the bottom left there’s
access into settings and the Pictures & Videos.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review 
Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review 

Oh, and see that little box next to the
"Auto"? Well this is quite a clever tool. If you’re
taking a snap of something with lots of light in the
centre of the image it can make the outside of the image
dark. I’ve used these two pictures before in other
reviews but it’s a great example – the first shot shows the stairs appearing
to be dark because the centre of the image has sunlight
bouncing off the wall. The camera has used the light in
the centre to judge the light balance. However, if we
change the setting (shown above right) it’ll use the
light from the whole image and balance it out
like so..


Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review
 

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

The camera is much better and the 2
megapixel quality really shows through. The flash works
well if you’re around half-a-metre from the person
you’re snapping and the macro-lens will turn you into a
close-up genius! Check out these two close-up shots –
click them to get the bigger versions. It takes a little
bit of practice to get the distance correct, but once
you do it’ll bring some great results. Notice the dust
on my dashboard on the second shot!

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Here’s some more images taken with the camera. Overall
it’s a good quality camera but won’t replace your Canon
digital camera at home. Pictures taken outside are
great, inside they’re OK and in low-light you can just
about get by with the flash but don’t expect too much if
you’re in a dark room.

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review

Vodafone v1605 / VPA Compact III Review 

 

Overall

The Vodafone v1605 is an extremely powerful
device. Sure, without the power-saving turned on you’ll
be needing to recharge it a couple of times a day.
There’s a couple of other little foibles that I found
(such as the "busy" sound coming out of the main rear
speaker), however they’re not enough to detract from the
power of the device. It’s quick, it’s flexible and it’ll
get the job done. The capability and connectivity available in this
device is astounding and the shortcut keys, keyboard and
scroll-wheel make tasks quicker and easier to achieve
tasks.

This device has appeared under various names with many
different networks – you can buy it on Vodafone, Orange,
o2 and others – it’s available widely because it’s a
successful device.  Yes, the Pocket PC has reached another level
– nothing else I’ve used combines the cool appearance
and power so well.


Link – Vodadfone v1605 @ Vodafone Business

Useful Vodafone Resources

Vodafone Homepage
Mobile Phones
Vodafone Help



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