This is a typical example of why wireless data may not be such a smash hit. The Timeport P280 is a light and small phone that will appeal to any regular phone user - as long as they only use the device for voice calls.
However, once you need to use the keypad and the built-in software and browser for writing text messages or reading WAP pages, the phone suddenly becomes a less attractive.
Ease of use: 3/6 stars
The four-way navigating button is difficult to use, requiring pressure on the direction you want it to go. The problem is it's so small, that it's very easy to go in the wrong direction. You can, of course, just press down the button, but that will then take you on a pre-set course you may not want.
When reading a news item, for example, you only see four lines. To continue reading the item, you need to press the navigation button. In a relatively short time, my right hand was hurting pretty bad (whether I placed the phone on the desk or held it in my hand while using the buttons).
Design/style: 3/6 stars
The design is typical of the Timeport series, i.e. boring and ugly. The navigation button is a good idea, except that it just doesn't work as it should. However, it's smaller and weighs less than most of the other Timeports, which is a big plus in our book.
The weighted average of the ugly design (2) and the size/weight (5 stars) is thus three stars.
Vital statistics: 5/6 stars
Network: Tri-band GSM 900/1800/1900 GPRS
Weight: 113.3g (4 ounces)
Dimensions: 124.4 x 48.3 x 22.8 mm. (4.9 x 1.9 x 0.9 inches)
Talk time: Up to 6.9 hours
Standby time: Up to 220 hours
Mobile Internet access: Openwave browser
Voice activated dialing
500 phone book entries
500 calendar entries
iTAP text entry
32 preset and 32 customizable alert tones
WAP browsing: 3/6 stars
Access to WAP is made quick by a "Browser" option appearing at the bottom of the "homepage" of the phone's screen. Like other Motorola phones, the P280 uses a WAP browser from Phone.com (now Openwave). The first page of the WAP section features three options (the operator's wireless portal, an e-mail section and AOL's Instant Messenger). The phone we tested came from VoiceStream, the first U.S. operator to use GSM, and we therefore accessed the carrier's WAP portal, MyiStream. This portal came with a relatively large selection of content.
However, the P280 turned out to be quite cumbersome when we needed to fill out online forms. We actually had to abandon several attempts at writing, due to the way-too unfriendly set-up and keypad.
While the P280 is GPRS-enabled and the operator we used - VoiceStream - offers the service, it did not work properly on the model when we tested it in the Miami area.
WAP-related features: 4/6 stars
The P280 features text messaging capability, but we were unable to test this properly due to the restrictions on the US market between different operators. The set-up, however, seemed easy to use.
You can access e-mail - both corporate (Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes) and personal (AOL, Yahoo) through the P280. The former requires some downloading (which can be done through the operator's web site) while the latter requires filling out some forms on the carrier's web site (relatively fast and easy process).
Overall: 4/6 stars
While the ease of use, design/style and WAP browsing all scored relatively low, the fact that the phone offered so many other options (including GPRS and FM radio) helped it achieve a weighted average of 4 stars (3.6 to be exact).
Compared with the rave reviews Motorola has received for its Accompli 008, it appears the P280 isn't necessarily the ideal device for heavy data users. If, however, you're looking for a device that offers all the latest technology, but don't plan to use data extensively, then this phone may be the right choice.