Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry device might be a fantastic innovation that allows you to keep in touch with email on the move but its not the most sexy looking unit on the block. Siemens however believes it might just be able to help RIM out.



Its answer is the SK65, a stylish mobile that hides a qwerty keyboard beneath its display. Larger than perhaps most current mobiles (120 x 47 x 22 mm) the SK65 is a difficult kettle of fish to place, you'll either love it or hate it and for us our mind is still to be made up.

Styled on the same ideology as Sony Ericssons S700 series, rather than swivelling from the top the phone swivels from the middle Siemens marketing boys call it the x2type (cross-to-type), and the phone, fully open makes a “x” shape (ideal for fighting back vampires we're sure) to reveal a large qwerty keyboard the length of the phone.

On the plus side you've got a Bluetooth, a large bright 2in 65k screen and keypad that makes the unit look and feel like a standard phone and Push to Talk technology so you can talk to a group of friends as if you were using a walkie-talkie. The device is geared towards the business worker in every way whether its the lack of digital camera or the ability to collect and check your emails via the Blackberry client.

The Sk65 has 64MB internal memory for managing large amounts of data, and up to 30MB free for storing personal information such as e-mails and java applications.. Siemens clearly going after the business market had geared the applications to you business worker abroad. App that give you emergency numbers around the world, currency converters, dictionaries of useful words and of course that executive past time Golf 3D are all here. The interface is unobtrusive and the menus fairly easy to navigate.

The cons are the quality of the screen, and the fact that once you zip out the keyboard you've got a phone in the middle of it.

The 64K screen is good, but with all that text you are expected to read, it would have been nice if Siemens opted for a 262k one. We can't believe that it would have added much to the overall cost of the unit especially as this a business corporate buy rather than you average joy looking for a cheap phone to take down the pub.

As for the keyboard, the only thing we can compare it to is the Microsoft Natural keyboard. Not because the keys are arranged in a strange manner, but because they are spilt in the middle. What this means is that you find yourself really having to concentrate where the keys are and for those that touch type but occasional veer from side to side you'll have to pay attention. The other annoyance is simply the size of the unit, and that's the problem that phones of this ilk suffer from is the ability to crunch everything in a small package.

Siemens has done its best, but that still won't escape the fact that this phone is still larger than most. Still the red backlit keys option is nice for typing in the dark.

Verdict

With a promise of 250 hours standby and 300 minutes talk time this phone should last you through a good day on the phone. The phone also has Quad-band support making this live up to its business worker approach and mean that you aside from Japan you can pretty much take it anywhere in the world.



So what's our opinion? Overall I think I like it for what it does and for how it beats the competition, but I'm not sure I want to own one. The Blackberry 7230 or 7290 may be boring but they work and are easy to use.

Style wise it beats anything present or past from Research In Motion and for email messages and the odd document this could easily replace your laptop when your on the move. So why aren't we jumping for joy? I think its because we are still undecided about that break in the keyboard. Like the MS Natural Keyboard it requires a new school of thought for for some that will be too bigger barrier to get past. It's probably a barrier worth breaking because if you haven't bought into the cult of Blackberry yet, here's another temptation for you.