ASU.S. P527 Unlocked Phone GPS, WiFi, 2 MP, Windows Mobile--U.S. Version with Warranty
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- Processor: TI OMAP 850
- Memory: 128 Mb NAND Flash ROM / 64 MB SDRAM
- Display: 2.6 inch, 420X240 TFT Touchscreen LCD with 64,536 colors and LED Backlight
- Frequency: Quad-Band (850/900/1800/1900 MhZ) Integrated GSM/GPRS/EDGE and GPS with internal antenna
- GPS: Built-in SiRF star III chipset
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|Sold By||Available from these sellers||Amazon.com||Observeye||Amazon.com|
|Screen Size||2.6 in||5.5 in||5.2 in||5.5 in|
|Item Dimensions||2.28 x 0.61 x 4.5 in||6.1 x 3 x 0.3 in||5.78 x 2.91 x 0.3 in||6.1 x 3 x 0.3 in|
|Item Weight||4.5 ounces||4.8 ounces||5.08 ounces||6.4 ounces|
Catering to users who require convenient GPS navigation and full support for business and multimedia functions, ASUS, the leading producer of top-notch handhelds, has released the new ASUS P527. This powerful PDA phone comes with a complete suite of business functions for comprehensive business support, and the built-in GPS navigation feature provides timely navigational directions. Furthermore, the slim and professional-looking PDA Phone is even able to capture key events during the user`s journeys as they travel and then upload them to be shared. Note: The color of the product is Dark Gray, this image is for reference only.
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In the box:
Storage case (NOT a belt pouch).
Wired headset (also used as the FM antenna).
2 Gb MicroSD card that contains the Igo navigation software. It is pre-loaded with maps of all North America. The software is IGo 2006+.
Map CD for the navigation software, including a small "quick start" guide for the IGo software.
Manuals and CDs.
Windshield car mount.
Mains electric charger.
Mini USB cable to connect to the computer.
The screen is a bit small at 2.6 inches, but it is 65K colors and 320 X 240, which is QVA resolution. It has good clarity and is very bright.
A small mesh grill hides the speaker and the multi-function light that indicates Charging, GSM, Wi-Fi, GPS, and BT activity.
The SIM card is mounted behind the 1300 ma battery.
The camera lens is on the rear of the phone, behind a clear cover.
Control buttons: The phone has built in buttons that perform the following tasks:
- A jog wheel on the left side that moves up/down, and can select with a push.
- A "back" button below the jog wheel, which backs out of the current application.
- A slider switch that locks the device and dims the screen. I really prefer this to the standard PDA phone method of having a single button bring the phone out of standby. The slider switch is a great idea.
- A small hole to perform a soft reset.
- A button to activate the 2 Mega pixel camera.
- The slot for the microSD storage card, which is spring mounted and has no cover.
- A power button.
- A 2.5mm wired headset jack.
- A mini-USB port on the bottom.
- The stylus pulls out from the bottom right of the unit, which is a bit non standard.
- The microphone.
- Two mysterious holes. I have no idea what they are for, and the user manual has no mention of them.
Buttons on the front (surrounding the keypad)
- A button that runs the ASUS Location Courier.
- A button that brings up the ASUS Travelog.
- A button that activates the FM radio.
- A button that activates an ASUS button which either switches between running tasks, or has a list of 4 programs that you can run.
- A "C" button that clears the last entry when you are putting information into a dialog.
- A Bluetooth Off/On toggle button.
- A button that activates windows Messaging.
- A button that activates Voice Commander.
Over the keypad:
- The normal buttons for a WM 6 phone: Phone answer and End.
- Two rocker-style buttons that have dual functions: one has the left soft key and the WINDOWS button; the other has the right soft key and the "OK" button.
- A nifty joystick that has left, right, up, down, and enter functions.
- Size and weight. The phone is very small for a device that has a GSM phone, GPS, WiFi, BT, and Windows Mobile 2006 built in.
- Power is supplied by standard mini-USB plug, which means that it will be easy to find a car charger or spare wall charger.
- Design: The phone is VERY attractive. It is made of plastic, but looks like aluminum. It is reasonably sturdy, though the battery cover does "creak" sometimes.
- Keypad: It is very nice to have the hardware keys as opposed to having to use the soft keys when the phone is active. For those used to text messaging from a standard cell phone, the keypad will be very useful. Personally I use the software keyboard built into WM6.
- The joystick is an interesting feature in a PDA phone. I find that I don't actually use this a lot, maybe because I'm more used to a jog wheel and the stylus.
- The dedicated function keys are very nice, especially the button to turn on/off the Bluetooth radio.
- Reasonable battery life, due to minimum RAM and ROM for WM 6. I have found that there are freeware utilities that will put the phone in standby, which has resulted in longer battery life. From what I can tell the phone will work for about 2 - 3 days with occasional GPRS and WiFi usage. If you have heavy WiFi and BT, expect it to require recharging every night.
- Excellent voice quality for phone conversations. BT hands free quality is good.
- Built in support for EDGE over GPRS.
- Quad band, so it can be used in the US or worldwide.
- Built in software for Voice Commander. This can be used either over wired or BT headsets, or from the phone microphone. It can control both dialing and many other programs, though I have only used it with BT to dial hands free. The voice recognition software is very good.
- Having a dedicated hardware key for backspace is actually quite useful when using the "soft" keyboard, since if the SHIFT key is pressed there is no back arrow on the keyboard.
- Built in software that allows one to use the "X" key to actually close programs, to minimize programs, or to have a "long tap" to close, normal tap to minimize. The WM 6 default behavior is to minimize programs, which means that one can have a whole bunch of programs running at once. The WM standard way to manage memory is to bring up the memory application and manually close each program; the ASUS built-in capability is very nice, though one can find this enhancement in after-market utilities.
- Built in software to show the system status. This is an icon that stays in the icon tray; when clicked it shows USB status, screen status, memory status, storage card status, and battery status, all in a nice bar chart format. Clicking a status brings up either the application or the file commander for that function.
- The USB can be set to either Turbo activesync, normal activesync, or "Mass Storage Device" (which is supposed to make the phone act like a standard USB card reader). I had to update my Windows Vista drivers to get this "card reader" to work, but XP recognized the drive immediately. I have no idea what "turbo activesync" is; either activesync setting appear to work fine with my desktop computer and MS Outlook.
- Built in "Location Courier" software to automatically send an SMS to people based on your GPS location. I haven't tried this one yet. I'm not sure I see the point. I don't know why one would want to SMS people to let them know your Lat/Long, unless you were trekking in the wilderness - but then where would you get GSM phone reception in the wilderness? Anyway, it is an interesting application.
- Built in "Travel Log" software that allows you to annotate a route you have taken. You can set routes and points of interest. This data can then be exported and displayed on a Google map. I have not tried out this software other than to see that it loaded and connects to the GPS.
- Included navigation software for the GPS. Maps for all North America are included. The software has voice prompts and seems to work well.
- Built in "GPS Catcher" software. This goes out to the Internet every three days and updates the position files so that the GPS acquires the satellites faster. In practice the satellites acquire within 30 seconds or so here in Los Angeles.
- Built in application launcher software. This is started when the system is booted, and has icons on the screen that divide the software into categories like "GPS", "OFFICE", "FILES", "GAMES", etc. You can add programs to the various folders, and re-arrange the order of the programs. Closing this application brings up the normal WM6 "Today" screen.
- Built in application to backup data to the storage card.
- Support for synchronization with Exchange Server.
- Built in custom software to block incoming callers by phone number. I haven't used this one either.
- Built in news reader software (I haven't used this one yet).
- Built in "ASUS Switcher" program. This program will either switch between active programs, or bring up a small dialog listing four programs to run. You can put up to four of your favorite applications on this button; the available programs are apparently tied to the Asus Launcher "Applications" folder. Thus if you setup the Launcher to have your custom programs in "Applications", you will be able to select them on the "Switcher" program. This is apparently not documented at all. You can also select from various pre-configured programs to assign.
- Special "Today" screen plug-in modules for Wireless settings, Windows Live, and profiles.
- Microsoft Compact Net Framework is pre-loaded into the memory. So the user should be aware that there is no need to install the CF NET - applications that require this support software will run. This saves a couple of Mb of room on the storage drive. I'm not sure if this is a WM 6 norm or specific to the P527, but it is a good feature.
- The device has profiles built in; these will change the volume and ring levels based on "normal", "meeting", "silent", and "automatic". The automatic setting reads the outlook calendar and sets the "silent" profile based on the appointments. However, one cannot add profiles, and the profiles cannot be cusomized other than to set the volume levels to be used with each built-in profile.
- Built in software to automatically setup either T-Mobile, AT&T, or Rogers (Canada) GPRS settings. This worked like a charm for T-Mobile.
- 2 Mega pixel camera with autofocus. It takes pretty good quality pictures with good light, and cycles fairly quickly (about 1 second to store to an SD card). I can store about 4000 pictures per Gb of MicroSD card. Taking a picture is a two stage affair; press once to focus and then press again to take the picture.
- Built in FM. I have not used this one yet. The radio will not work unless the wired headset in plugged in (it functions as an antenna).
- Built in icon on the "Today" lower status bar to change toggle landscape mode. Note that this only goes clockwise (and back), so the screen cannot be rotated in all directions unless after market software is loaded.
- The device has the minimum CPU requirement for WM6, which is a 200 MHz processor. This helps with battery life, but the screens sometimes take a half second to a second to appear, and occasionally longer. The device takes a long time to boot up as well. While everything works fine, it is not a speed demon. Videos will display fine, however (I have only tested video from the storage card, not streaming video from the Internet).
- The device also has the minimum WM6 ROM/RAM: 128 Mb / 64 Mb. All of that nice "pre-installed" software I listed above is residing in that ROM memory. The bottom line for the user is that a completely clean factory default will give approximately 28 Mb of ROM storage and 26 Mb of RAM available. I was forced to place as many programs as possible on my MicroSD card instead of internal memory. Once I had installed all the programs I usually want, plus a few ring tones & etc., I was left with 11 Mb of internal ROM and about 21 Mb of RAM. So basically this device can run only a couple of applications at one time. I recommend using the built in utility that changes the "X" button to actually close programs; otherwise the user will run out of RAM very quickly. The IGO software takes 12 Mb of RAM to run, and generally needed to be run by itself (though I don't have any idea why one would run other software at the same time). To keep ROM memory available, I changed the system registry to load the temporary internet files on the SD card, but the Outlook data files and messaging files are stored in main ROM. I don't use the built in messaging, having a freeware email program which resides and stores files on the MicroSD card, but be aware that the default WM6 applications will need ROM to store the ".vol" files for the calendar and messaging. If you are into downloading, I recommend that you get a utility that will allow you to change the download location; Pocket Internet Explorer downloads to main ROM. The small amount of RAM helps with battery life, but it is a pretty severe limitation.
- No "3G" support. In my case T-Mobile does not have third generation (3G) data capabilities, so the EDGE function is all I would have used anyway. The phone supports GPRS (about 40 bps, equivalent to dial-up speeds), or EDGE (140 bps). Web browsing is slow unless you are visiting mobile sites, which is about all I do on my phone anyway. If you are looking for fast 3G connections, this is not the phone for you!
- It is POSSIBLE, not confirmed, that there MAY be an issue with high density microSD (HDSD) cards. I bought a Kingston 4 Gb card for use with the device, but within a day the phone was having problems recognizing the card unless it was pulled and re-inserted. Eventually the card was simply not recognized, and I had to format it. The Asus support website has a small software update file to help support high capacity HDSD cards. I installed this software the moment I got my phone, but it did not appear to help. I subsequently did a factory reset on the device, and the same issue happened with or without the software patch. In the end I got a 2 Gb MicroSD Sandisk card, which has functioned fine. I got this card because it is the brand and size used by the IGO GPS navigation software, which comes on a separate MicroSD card. I cannot confirm that it wasn't just the brand of card; 2 Gb is plenty of storage for me (I don't use the phone to listen to music), so I didn't pursue the topic. Maybe other brands or sizes of cards would work.
- The GPS software will only run on the supplied 2Gb MicroSD card, and the software is tied to that card. Since the maps are also on the card, one is left with about 300Mb of storage, which isn't much. Since there is so little internal ROM storage, I am forced to use a separate MicroSD card to store my programs, and then when I want to do GPS navigation I have to swap cards. This is a hassle - the GPS software should be either transferable or come on a larger card.
- I don't know if it is the battery or the phone, but the device is supposed to present a green LED when the phone is charged. It doesn't work; the LED will stay red until the cows come home. The battery will charge to 100%, but no light. I have ordered a new battery and will report back on this issue.
UPDATE: I purchased a 1600 Ma Battery and this one does show the green light when fully charged. I don't know if this means the original battery is a bit defective, or if the phone is somehow calibrated to the larger battery!
- I am having trouble with the WiFi connection to the internet on my home wireless router. I don't subscribe to the T-Mobile Hotspots, so I don't know if this issue is with my router, WM6, or the phone itself. Basically, the phone will connect to the router, but after a minute Internet Explorer will no longer be able to get to web pages. I have seen this issue on many blogs as relating to WM6, but the solutions they suggest do not appear to work on the P527 (evidently many WM6 phones have a "connection manager" that includes power settings for the WiFi - this phone has a "Wireless Manager" instead). I have reported this to Asus tech support, and we'll see what happens. However, the GPRS EDGE connection is very stable and rock solid.
- Some people might prefer a higher resolution camera. 2 mega pixels is a bit low these days. Also, there is no flash capability, so low light pictures are not of exceptional quality.
- The Jog wheel is not actually a wheel; it is wheel shaped, but actually is more of a slider that also has a press to activate function. I found that it was somewhat difficult to use the "up/down" without also pressing the button. I suppose the spring is a bit lighter than the jog wheels I have used in the past.
Summary: With all the compromises listed above, I still like the phone.
I think it represents a good balance of battery life and performance. I do not generally keep a lot of applications open at once in any case, so the lack of RAM is not as big an issue as it might be for some. Still, I think that 256 Mb ROM / 128 Mb RAM might have been a superior design, even at the cost of lower battery life.
UPDATE: There is a firmware upgrade for this phone on the Asus website support section. Be sure to go there, register your phone, and install the update. They have supposedly fixed the issues with HDSD microSD cards. They also modified the automatic setup for GPRS; the T-Mobile now has options for either WAP (T-Zones, included with all T-Mobile phones) or Internet (which requires a data plan). The version number is a lot higher than the version that came with my phone; the new version is V4.1.23-WWE, dated 30 Jan 2008.
UPDATE: The new firmware does not appear to fix the issue with my 4Gb Kingston microSD card.
One Month Later:
There are a couple of things I REALLY like about this device:
1. The sliding phone lock is GREAT. I can be in an application and simply lock the phone, then come back to the same screen by sliding the button to unlock. This is much better than simple buttons or software switches.
2. The Bluetooth ON/OFF hardware switch is invaluable. It makes it simple to activate the BT for my vehicle handsfree, then shut it off when I leave the car.
1. The NAV software turns out to be very good in practical use. I have had an issue where I have to tell the software to search for the GPS device, but it works after that.
2. Plan on charging the battery every day if you use any Wi-Fi or extensive GPRS at all.
3. The phone is slow to initially bring up a program, but then it functions well.