At one point, Asus marketed what was arguably the most powerful Pocket PC in the smallest form factor around—the A730. Since then, however, Asus has placed little focus on the U.S. market. That changes with the P527, the first Asus Windows Mobile touch screen phone to grace our shores. It features a quad band GSM phone with GPRS and EDGE data capability. Although 3G data is missing, it does included integrated GPS capability and an FM radio.
With an elegant blend of clean cut lines and a silver-gray suit of brushed aluminum, the P527 has undeniable style. It also happens to be one of the first WM Professional devices with a standard number keyboard to hit the U.S. Just under the display in between the Start/OK keys is a small joystick. Unfortunately, it’s too small for my fingers, causing constant “mispresses” during navigation. Along the right side of the device is an OK button and a jog dial. The advantage of a jog dial over the more ubiquitous scroll wheel is that you can simply hold it down to scroll through e-mails or a long Web page. The back of the device has a black grille for a speaker and a 2 MP camera; pictures were decent, although the camera application is non-intuitive and cumbersome.
Personally, I prefer a QWERTY keyboard for text entry, but the obvious advantage of the keypad is that it makes dialing phone numbers much easier. The buttons provide just the right amount of feedback, and dialing is a true pleasure. You can also use the pad to text via xT9, although I couldn’t figure out how to change to standard ABC mode. TIP: In order to use the number pad to type words, you’ll need to switch the Soft Input Panel to xT9, and then minimize the soft xT9 keyboard that pops up.
Power and processors
The Asus P527 is under-powered by a 200 MHz TI OMAP processor. Aside from the expected lagging and the ever-present clock/waiting indicator, the device occasionally had trouble starting and exiting applications like Messaging, Internet Explorer Mobile, and the GPS navigation application (more on that in a bit). In addition, the P527’s 1300 mAh battery never quite made it through a full day of use. Asus needs to work on their battery consumption technology and use a faster processor on future devices.
GPS and more
One of the main targets of the P527 is the GPS market. The device includes a SIRF Star III chipset with an integrated A-GPS option, which allows the receiver to “know” where the GPS satellites are, in order to start up quicker. The P527 is one of only three Windows Mobile phones sold in the U.S. that come with navigation software. (The others are the iPaq RX5900 and the Pharos GPS Phone 600.) Pre-loaded on a 2 GB microSD card that ships with the P527 is Asu...