Dummies of the Asus M930i smartphone has been demoed at various Asus press events. OK – we know the specs…but did you ever see the box in action? We recently managed to get our claws on such a box for approximately 10 minutes(a “dummy”…but a bit of charging revived it…until it was snatched out of our hands) – here are loads of pictures:

Before we get started, here’s a look at the official specs. The device is said to ship in Q2/2008, and will cost between 500 and 600€(depending on the amount of bundled hardware, e.g. if a memory card is included):
0a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

Essentially, the M930 is a knock-off of Nokia’s E90 and an old Psion Series 5 – you basically have a smartphone with two screens:
1a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

The device is about as big as a Treo 680:
2a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 2b The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

Nokia’s N71 is significantly smaller:
3a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 3b The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

For comparison reasons, here are images next to a hp ipaq rx4240 and an iPod Touch:
4a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 4b The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 4c The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 4d The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

Here is an image of the back of the box and its battery:
5a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

First of all, here’s a shot of the home screen being displayed on the internal and the external displays:
6a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 6b The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

Applications are rescaled as needed – this example shows the Preferences apps running on the internal screen:
7a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

The device’s 2MP camera can be used only when the device is closed – if it is open, the camera application displays a warning message:
8a The Asus M930   exclusive action shots 8b The Asus M930   exclusive action shots

After these images, Asus folks managed to coax the device out of my hands…and it was nowhere to be seen afterwards. However, I can confirm that the device is alive and well – Asus could IMHO release it whenever they feel like it.

From an usability standpoint, I dare to question the tradeoffs made in the M930i’s design. The internal QVGA screen is too small(and – according to their press release – has a smaller resolution than the 240×400 outer one) for my taste. The hinge – while flexible – lacks a “fixed point” where the device stays in an upright position…once the hinge loosens, the device can IMHO no longer be used “in laptop mode”.

Don’t get me wrong – the M930i is a great idea…but it still has a long way to the Zen of Windows Mobile Smartphone boxen….


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