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Sagem myX-8

Sagem myX-8
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BY CHEE YIH YANG

Triband phone
Camera: 1.3-megapixels with flash
Display: 256,000 colours, 240 x 320pixels
Messaging: MMS (multimedia messaging service), SMS (short message service), e-mail
Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), infrared
Phone memory: 40MB
Expansion slot: mini SD (Secure Digital)
Battery type: 760 mAh lithium-ion
Standby/talk time: 350/5 hours
Other features: MP3 player, video player
Weight: 125g
Dimensions: 115 x 47 x 20.8mm
Price: RM1,799
Website: www.sagem.com
Review unit courtesy of Phone Star Communication Sdn Bhd, (03) 5638-6618

IT’S fair to say that Sagem is not as well-known as the big boys, namely Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola and Siemens. However, I was quite impressed with the French company’s latest brick-styled myX-8.

From the moment I switched it on, the 256,000-colour screen left me dazzled. However, the screen is not the only nice thing about the myX-8 – the ample size and plethora of features make the phone a decent high-end gadget.

Try this for size
The myX-8 is a pretty large phone – my fingers just nicely wrapped around it.

Overall, the phone looks quite “blocky” although it does have some smooth curves at the top and bottom.

By the way, this Sagem is designed by a “self-taught” French designer who calls himself “Ora-ito.” He has come up with designs for various products for big companies such as Heineken, Adidas, Nike and Honda.

The 45 x 34mm LCD (liquid-crystal display) screen is arguably the best thing about this phone. Images displayed on it look simply awesome. I have to admit that the high brightness does help a fair bit, but the colour contrast and image detail are also gorgeous.

Okay, enough about the screen – the buttons are essentially raised rectangular lines. I didn’t find it hard to press, but I did “miss” the keys while typing my first few text messages. It took me several days to get used to the keypad.

There is a toggle between the soft keys and the call and power/exit buttons. IMHO the toggle is one of the myX-8’s weaker points – it’s not very responsive and requires pretty strong thumbs to move. But after less than a day of using it, I forgot how unwieldy it was.

I found I needed to use the keypad lock all the time, lest I accidentally pressed any of the buttons. This seemed to happen all the time while I had the Sagem in my pants pocket.

It’s not like I wear fitting pants. I seemed to keep pressing the elevated buttons, which were good for typing but apparently too sensitive.

Stacked to the max
The myX-8 can be described as a complete and feature-laden cellphone. You can send SMS and MMS messages, take pictures and videoclips via the 1.3-megapixel camera, and plug your own miniSD Flash memory card into it.

The camera is quite easy to handle, and takes decent shots. I dare say that if you ever need a digital camera in a pinch, the myX-8 might fill in as an adequate replacement – I managed to snap some very nice pictures during one of my working trips overseas. And no one could tell from the pictures that I used a camera phone!

The flash on the myX-8 is surprisingly bright, and useful. But just like other built-in cameras, poor lighting results in noisy and blurred pictures, regardless of whether you use the flash.

Videoclips are saved in the “.3gp” format, meaning they can only be played back in the QuickTime program. It’s impossible to benchmark video quality on a camera phone, so I’ll just say that you can take half-passable video (with audio).

The Sagem cellphone has 40MB of memory, and if you find that lacking, you can slot in your miniSD card. However, the card slot is not visible during regular use – you will only see it if you open the myX-8’s back cover.

The good news is, since the phone’s battery is not tacked on to the back cover, you won’t have to worry about switching off the phone once you do that (several phones by other companies have this annoying drawback).

The phone has the full complement of accessories and tools such as alarm clock, organiser, games and even possibly doubles as an MP3 player. As far as features go, the myX-8 is just several features short of a smartphone (you can’t synchronise it with a notebook for the usual apps like calendar, contacts, to-do list etc).

Perhaps the full lineup of tools was a little too much for the myX-8’s processor to handle, as the phone tended to lag a little when I took pictures and performed rudimentary tasks such as accessing and editing archived SMS messages.

To be fair to Sagem, plenty of high-end phones are not exactly known for speedy responses – if you need a phone that has no lag whatsoever, then you might want to check out entry-level cellphones.

The review unit had its quirks, which could only be solved by a firmware update. The strangest one was the inability of the phone to transfer data to a miniSD card. However, you could transfer data from the card to the phone. This problem went away once the firmware update was installed.

I didn’t have time to test the Bluetooth capabilities, but the infrared connection was a hit-and-miss affair. While I could transfer files from one myX-8 to another (yes, we found someone who had another unit), it just wouldn’t transfer files to my IBM Thinkpad X40 subnotebook. As my girlfriend could transfer pictures from her Sony Ericsson T68 to my notebook using infrared, I know it’s not a problem with the notebook.

The two quirks were also reported in several reviews in foreign publications.

While the first glitch went away with the update, the second was easily solved with a USB data cable. The optional add-on comes with a driver and software CD. Transferring data this way worked like a charm – but the caveat here is that the accessory is optional, and therefore not bundled together with the original package.

The cable costs RM198, which is not terribly pricey, but it adds to the final price of the phone.

I wish Sagem would just bundle the data cable with the phone.

Battery life was okay, with a full charge lasting easily 48 to 72 hours, with minimal or almost no use of the onboard camera. The battery life dropped markedly when the camera was used.

The verdict

It does seem that the Sagem myX-8 has quite a few quirks, but I still found the phone likeable. It’s a very sturdy design (there was nary a scratch despite the heaps of abuse the review unit endured) and it is fitted with every feature any demanding user will need.

The durable design made quite an impression on me, since I did not expect a phone designed for the so-called “in” crowd to be so tough. It even seems sturdier than some of the “ruggedised” phones by rival companies.

If you can get over the slight bouts of phone lag, and design oversight with the keypad, then the Sagem myX-8 might be the phone for you. The nice screen and good onboard camera will definitely have your friends and family extremely impressed.

Pros: Sturdy design beautiful screen oodles of features good camera with flash.

Cons: First versions need firmware update certain issues with infrared connectivity buttons can be accidentally pressed data cable not bundled with the package.

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