You are probably most familiar with the Series 60 platform on Nokia handsets, or heard it mentioned in reference to the Finnish brand. However, the Series 60 platform extends much further than just one manufacturer Ė with currently seven major mobile phone manufactures licensed to Series 60, itís one of the leading smart phone platforms in the world.
Panasonic is, of course, one of these licensees. The Panasonic X700 model is the first handset with the Series 60 Symbian interface, with the new X800 due out in the future which also runs the same platform.
With a large high quality display (and external display!), easy to use interface, and an application suite to keep you both occupied and organised the X700 still failed to really leave a lasting impression on me.
The Panasonic doesnít bring much that we havenít seen before to the market, but there are some new features when it comes to what Panasonic have released before. The main outstanding feature from Panasonic is the Symbian Series 60 interface. There are also features like VGA quality camera, 65k colour display internally, and 4k colour display externally, tri-band GSM support, polyphonic ring tones and also miniSD memory card compatibility. A range of office features on the X700 enable you to work while out and about.
The Series 60 interface is most common in Nokia handsets, but itís always nice when another manufacturer put their own spin on things. The general feel and useability of the X700ís interface isnít changed from other Series 60 devices, but there is definitely a Panasonic swing of things. The Series 60 platform runs on the Symbian 7.0 interface which is also used in many different handsets. Youíll have no trouble getting used to the interface if youíre a new user, and the transition from other Series 60 devices is instantaneous; there is barely any learning curve.
The two displays n the X700 are a main 65,536 colour STN display internally. This display acts as the main viewfinder, but is what you work most with when operating the handset. The quality of the display is quite good, although I would have expected a 262,144 colour display. This display measures 176 x 208 pixels, a very common size for Series 60 models. The other display is a sub-LCD @ 64 x 96 pixels, and can be used as the viewfinder, or display an analogue clock, caller ID of an incoming call, and also the handsetís vital statistics.
External memory support comes in the form of a hot swappable miniSD memory card. 16mB is supplied to start off with, but other memory cards can be purchased. The memory card slot is located on the top of the display, near the hinge of the clamshell. Flick open the little slot and push in, the memory card pops out. The X700 also has 8mB of internal memory shared between various features Ė so youíll definitely be using the miniSD memory card for storage.
The traveller among us will certainly benefit from the tri-band network compatibility of the X700. Supporting GSM 900/1800/1900MHz networks youíll be connected wherever you go. The handset has GPRS Class 10 capabilities for wireless connectivity for WAP, MMS, and other functions.
Panasonic always impress when it comes to the form factor of their new models, theyíve tried everything from sliders, clam-shells, standard, and even standard with swivel displays. Keeping the consumer surprised is certainly a benefit to Panasonic. This time around the X700 is a class clam shell type handset, with a stub antenna and colour display on the front flip.
When in the closed state the X700ís sub-LCD display shows the analogue clock. This can be changed to the vital statistics of the handset by pushing the chrome button on the left hand side of the handset, and vice versa. Above the sub-LCD, which is located directly in the centre of the top flip, is the speakerphone. Above this you will find the VGA camera lens, in a chrome circle. On the left side of the camera lens is the infrared window. In the same place but on the right side is the photo light. This light shines white when activated for photos, but also shines orange when the handset is being charged.
The bottom of the X700 houses the interface connection, behind a rubber flap. This keeps all dirt and other matter out. It doesnít completely come off which means you wonít lose it. The charging adapter takes up about ľ of the interface connector, but when you have the USB data-cable the entire port is used.
Open the X700 up and youíll find all of the keys and also the main display (shock, huh!). The navigational key of the X700 is a chrome circle, with four keys around it. These four keys, clockwise starting from top left are left soft key, right soft key, cancel key and input method key. The input method key is used when inputting text in messages or text boxes, changing from numerical to alphanumerical to T9 predictive text. Below this is the hang up and pick up key on the right and left respectively, and the main menu key in between the two.
The numerical keys of the X700 were a little hard to get used to, as they are thin and also very flat. They seem a little too responsive at times also, pushing a single key down while messaging will result in three or four of the same letter being picked up. The keypad has a blue backlight which is great for dark situations, all keys are brightly illuminated.
User Interface & display
The X700 runs on a Symbian 7.0s interface with Series 60 Version 2.0. This is a common interface with many handsets including older ones like the 6600, released almost a year ago. That said, even if you havenít had a chance to use a Series 60 or Symbian device before, itís very easy to get used to and extremely functional. The main interface consists of icons and text labels, with sub menus mainly text. The tabbed user interface is also a great way to keep all things in a single location, not spread out everywhere making it difficult to find the function or option youíre looking for.
With two soft keys and a 5-way directional key, navigating around the menu is very easy. For most functions you can get away with just using the 5-way key, but for other times youíll need to use the two soft keys. This said, the X700 can mainly be operated using a single hand. The navigational key has an edge around the side which makes it very easy to slide your finger around when moving from, say, left select to down select.
The main menu (or any sub menu with icons) can be rearranged to suite your own tastes, one feature which made me really feel like the handset was my own! I didnít like the default icon arrangement so made some changes and had it feeling just the way I wanted with a few button presses. Access this feature by pushing the soft key corresponding to ďoptionsĒ on the menu item, and then select move.
The display of the X700 is a 65,536 colour TFT LCD @ 208 x 176 pixels. This has not been upgraded in terms of Series 60 devices Ė much older Series 60 devices have the same quality display. Never the less the quality is great for the user interface especially when you apply customized themes and wallpapers to make the handset your own! Pity the external 4,096 colour display canít have wallpaper, just that analogue clock!
Making and receiving calls
The X700 comes with a Bluetooth headset in the sales package, so as soon as youíve charged it up and make the pair between the headset and the phone you can start your wireless communication life of freedom! :D Thatís one thing many manufacturers donít include with their handsets, some donít even have USB data-cables which is a joke!
The X700 also has an integrated loudspeaker for hands free conversations. You can activate the hands free speakerphone during a call by pressing the options key and then the appropriate option. You can turn it off at any time by doing the same.
Of course there is always the earpiece to use for calls! The volume can be adjusted at any time using the navigational key, left and right will do the trick. There is not an external volume up or down key on the X700, which may be a change for some users.
When a call comes through, the caller ID (phone number, or name if the number is in your phonebook) will appear on the sub-LCD if you have the handset closed. If open, the picture (if appropriate) will be shown alongside the name, or number if a contact isnít in your phone book. The X700 has the ability to answer calls by opening the handset, or you can turn this function off and use the pick up and hang up keys once you open the handset. When youíre ready to hang up push the hang up button or close the handset.
The X700 supports the standard set of messaging tools Ė SMS/EMS, MMS and e-mail messaging. T9 predictive text comes ready to go on the handset, although with the handset lag itís probably quicker to multi-tap your messages!
The main messaging menu can be opened via the main menu, or you can change a soft key to go to the messaging window, or like I did, to a new message. From the main messaging window you can select a folder to view messages, or create a new message. You can also use the tabs at the top of the display to jump from folder to folder, and the soft keys can be used to access options and settings.
Overall the messaging capabilities of the X700 are alike any other handset on the market today, with enough to keep every user happy.
The X700 offers many connectivity options Ė Bluetooth, Infrared, USB Data-cable, and GPRS Class 10. A USB data-cable is even included in the sales package as well as software used to transfer files to and from the handset. Bluetooth can be used for PC/laptop connections also, if you have a Bluetooth adapter or if youíre lucky to have a new laptop with Bluetooth integrated! If you have Infrared donít despair, the X700 has an infrared on the top flip (donít ask why, it still baffles me!) which can be used to transfer files to and from the handset.
Synchronizations can occur with either three of the connectivity methods using the software from the bundled CD-ROM.
GPRS Class 10 can connect at up to 48kbit/s in optimum conditions, which is perfect for downloading data from WAP websites and sending/receiving MMS or e-mail messages. Upload your high score from your favourite Java game with GPRS too!
The build quality of the X700 left quite a bit to be desired, as mentioned in the Problems and Issues section on the second last page of this review. The main problem with the X700 and build quality was that you could push down on the top flip when the handset was closed and be able to get response from the keys. The top flip is not strong enough and therefore was able to bend slightly in the centre.
Other than this problem, things like removing the back cover of the X700 were perfectly fine. Removal and re-insertion of the miniSD memory card was also easily done. The actual flip of the X700 was strong, holding down the display when closed and keeping it stuck open when required.
The battery life of the X700 wasnít as good as I expected from a device like this, and the specifications werenít met by the handset. The X700 uses a 780mAh lithium ion battery pack, which should last the handset for around 135 Ė 200 hours standby time, and from 1.5 - 5 hours talk time. I could get about 2 or 3 days standby time, and only about 2 hours talk time out of a full charge of the handset.