PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 12:00am

Last week Earful reviewed the 3G services of SmarTone Telecommunications, and we are mindful not to leave out the city's third operator, CSL.

Adopting a more cautious approach compared with its rivals, CSL has launched just a single handset for now: the Nokia 6630. And it's not a great handset, either. The bulky phone (shaped like a soap bar) has just one lens on its back to handle all video and photo-taking tasks.

The phone's bigger size does not mean better features. The screen is not much larger than that of the LG 8130 offered by Hutchison Telecommunications, yet the clamshell LG 8130 is slimmer and easier to handle.

It is possible to make video calls to other CSL 3G subscribers, but you must buy an additional 'video-phone call stand' that has a camera lens facing the user to compensate for the single rear lens.

This means users of the Nokia 6630 are less likely spontaneously to place a video call as that would require carrying around the bulky phone stand.

Video calls between the Hutchison, SmarTone and CSL networks are something that have yet to be achieved as the operators have not hammered out interconnection agreements.

What CSL lacks in handset variety it makes up for in content. The operator, always at the forefront of local trends, has a unique mobile bookstore offering up to eight 'e-books'.

Titles range from All You Need to Know about Dating to The Manual for Surviving Office Politics. Users are charged a one-off $10 and receive chapters daily until the book is completed.

CSL's 3G user interface is clean, tidy and easy to navigate - with little scrolling required.

The 3G content - available through the 'video world' menu - offers news and traffic, football, adult content and cartoons. It is accessed by touching an icon at the bottom right corner of the screen.

The video streaming, however, needs improvement. Earful watched a movie trailer but was disappointed with the buffering delays. One trailer was dropped altogether because of a server problem.

CSL also offers a few attractive online games such as treasure mining, sports games such as pool, as well as gambling titles. Some of the games are free to download or cost just $1 each.