Orange SPV M3100 smartphone

"A black cat went past us, and then another that looked just like it … How much like it? Was it the same cat? ... It might have been. I'm not sure … What is it? ... A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something."

Why the quote from the Matrix? Well, if you think that you've seen the Orange SPV M3100 before that is because, for all intents and purposes, you have.

The T-Mobile Vario II, the HTC TyTn, the Vodafone Qtek HTC v1605 and the Orange SPV M3100 are all, under the slightly different looking cases, the same phone. In fact the only difference is the customised interface. T-Mobile with its pink theme, Orange with its ... well ... Orange theme and HTC with its no theme.

So what are the specs? Well you get a tri-band Windows Mobile Pocket PC PDA that features Windows Mobile 5.0, Wi-Fi connectivity, 3G and Bluetooth alongside a QWERTY keyboard and 2.8-inch touchscreen display.

The model includes two digital cameras for video calling with one of them being a 2 megapixel camera with macro mode for snapping shots while you're out.

Styling wise Orange has opted for a matt black finish and slightly more rounded buttons on the front than the HTC TyTn offering and for the more business savvy we can see that the black finish will be more pleasing to the eye.

If you're only ever going to be typing long emails or checking the odd spreadsheet the inclusion of the QWERTY keyboard is great and certainly saves having to drag the laptop with your on your journey.

In practice and the SPV is not only very easy to use, but also comes with a number of nifty features. Examples include automatic rotation of the screen when you change from portrait to landscape to use the keyboard, and dedicated buttons for virtually everything from using the phone's web browser (Internet Explorer) to making a video call or checking your connectivity status.

Slide the unit open and it reveals that QWERTY keyboard. Although not the entire width of the unit (the sliding runners have to go somewhere) the keyboard is easy to use with plenty of shortcuts available via extra function keys. Keys are rounded enough to be separate from each other, but certainly bigger than those found on the Treo or the BlackBerry. In short, as long as you can type with your thumbs you should be fine.

Inside and the speed of the unit is fairly zippy (it runs a 400Mhz processor) and certainly better than the company's previous outings.

The M3100 specs are the same as the TyTn and that includes 128MB ROM and 64MB RAM and you can expand it further via a Micro SD card. It's a shame a standard SD Card slot wasn't available - for viewing images straight out of a camera for example, but then the TyTN packs so much into such a small unit (112.5mm (L) x 58mm (W) x 21.95mm (T)) that this omission can be forgiven.

Verdict

So should it be the HTC TyTn over the Orange SPV M3100? When it comes to specs there is no difference, bar the black exterior and some rounded buttons over a silver one with squarer buttons.

Inside and it's all about the customisation of the interface and if you like Orange and what they do then you'll feel right at home. Of course some readers don't like the Orange interface and if you feel that could be you then is best to opt for the unfussed with TyTn.

Where the M3100 like the TyTn succeeds is in its connectivity options. The inclusion of Wireless, 3G, Edge and even the new HSPDA standard means there is bound to be some connection on offer wherever you are in the world.

Combine this with an easy to use keyboard, a large screen and Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 (it’s the OS that now features push email) and we struggle to find faults with the device.

If you are a road warrior and fed up of lugging your laptop with you wherever you go, this might just be the solution.