A Refreshed Element
By Seow Tein Hee
June has seen a flood of Windows Mobile devices and whether that's a boon to consumers who wish for more choices or a bane for those who are now agonizing over their choices, we aren't able to answer that. What we can answer, is how the second device under the Mobile Wireless Group (MWg) branding has fared. That would be the MWg Zinc II, the company's first Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional device to hit the market.
While we've seen many devices going back to basics with squarish designs, the Zinc II sports rounded edges and curves. When it comes to basic handling, the Zinc II has the build and weight that gives it solid feel, but we were rather apprehensive with its thick profile measuring 18mm, which is so to accommodate the integrated QWERTY keyboard underneath.
Interestingly, on the right profile, we have the Power button, which is usually found on at the top for most devices. Ergonomically speaking, the placement at the side provides a smoother and faster access to bring you phone in and out of standby, but will take some getting used to for frequent Windows Mobile users.
Slide the screen to the right, and you'll find yourself looking at a QWERTY keyboard that got us slightly confused. With only three rows of keys, we found the function keys on the same row as the bottom row letters, and most glaringly, the Space Bar, or what we call the Space Button, since it's now reduced to just a tiny little button. Typos were common on the keyboard as each individual letter was too close to one another, not to mention that they were not sufficiently raised to give one a better tactile feel.
Innovation in Need
Moving on, we dive deep into the Zinc II's functionality and performance, with a quick look at its various features. The Quick Menu, seen on MWg's first device, the MWg Atom V makes another appearance on the Zinc II, albeit it now looks very much like a certain interface that popped up almost a year back, that being a cube-like interface that allows you to access various functions through the preset shortcuts, or customize according to your whims.
Touted as a high-end model, the Zinc II also comes with a slew of connectivity options that should keep users happy. These include the now standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, HSDPA and a SiRF III GPS chipset. Bundled within the 1GB microSD is the AGIS Navfone PPC GPS navigation program and we did find ourselves pleasantly surprised to get a satellite lock in slightly less than a minute.
Oddly enough, the Zinc II is similar to its Atom V cousin and delivers only 64MB RAM. Granted, it does utilize a Samsung 500MHz processor and comes with 256MB ROM and we did not experience any sluggishness as we loaded a full suite of Office programs, Messaging, Contacts and Internet Explorer, but the question of why only 64MB RAM on a flagship model gave us some food for thought. The Zinc II runs on a 1530mAh lithium-polymer battery and with an average amount of cellular and wireless connectivity used, it ran for almost 2 days.
The Zinc II may not be as light and petite as devices such as the HTC Touch Diamond, nor as jam-packed with features such as the Samsung Omnia, but it did perform pretty decently during our run with it. Of course, if one were looking for a device that's not too small to be misplaced, the Zinc II is your best bet. What could get people riled up though is the starting price of this device, which is a whooping S$1118.
- Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz; WCDMA 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
- Operating system: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
- Processor: Samsung 500MHz
- Memory: 64MB RAM, 256MB ROM, microSD expandability
- Display: 2.8" TFT QVGA, 240 x 320 pixel, 65K effective resolution
- Connectivity: WLAN 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, USB 1.1, SiRF III GPS, HSDPA
- Camera: 2-megapixel with LED flash
- Battery: Lithium-polymer 1530mAh
- Standby time: Up to 260 hours
- Talk time: Up to 6 hours
- Dimensions: 109.5 x 59 x 18mm
- Weight: 185g
- Price: S$1118