Microsoft introduced its first mobile phone, running the Smartphone 2002 operating system, to Hong Kong last week. Called the QTek 7070 and developed with Chinese add-on features by local wireless firm Synergy Technologies Asia, the 126.5 gram triband device is not petite like most GPRS phones on the market. The QTek 7070, however, cannot be compared to most GPRS phones because it is one of an emerging class of handset with data capabilities, allowing users to reply to e-mails, send ultimedia and text messages and chat on an instant messaging program. Its technical specifications are identical to the Orange SPV introduced in Britain last October. However, instead of a bright orange cover, the QTek 7070 comes in a silver and navy blue chassis. Fitted with a Texas Instrument StrongARM 120-megahertz chip, it has 32 megabytes of flash Rom and 16 megabytes of synchronous dynamic random access memory, though you should store most of your applications to the bundled 64-megabyte SD card. Microsoft Smartphone 2002 is an operating system and collection of applications designed for mobile phones and is often confused with the software giant's other portable OS offering, Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition, due to their overlapping features. The Smartphone, unlike the Pocket PC 2002 OS, does not allow for pen input. Based on Microsoft's familiar Windows user interface, it is designed for one-handed mobile phone usage with some data functionality, unlike the Pocket PC 2002 OS, which is tailored for personal digital assistants. Microsoft is attempting to bring its style of compatibility and openness to the mobile phone industry which, unlike the PC industry, is dictated by hardware vendors. The QTek 7070 can play MP3s audio files, send and receive pictures with the included clip-on digital camera, and play and record short videos using the same included camera. When you buy the HK$4,388 QTek mobile phone from CSL, the operator will configure it for you. Otherwise, the configuration process, though simple, is time-consuming. The 2.5-inch colour thin film transistor (TFT) display has elevated the viewing experience on a mobile phone to that of a Pocket PC. Core applications include Pocket Outlook for e-mail, contact, calendars, and task management that can be synchronised with a desktop PC and MSN messenger, Microsoft's instant-messaging client, using ActiveSync software. Installing ActiveSync involved more hassle than expected. The QTek 7070 is locked to CSL's 1010 or One2Free network, and seemed to be unhappy with the idea of reading my Orange SIM card so I could not access the numbers in my SIM. To circumvent this, I copied all my contacts to a colleague's Pocket PC and, using ActiveSync, transferred them to my desktop PC's Outlook program, then did another ActiveSync from Outlook to the QTek 7070. If your work e-mail program is on Microsoft Exchange and you are on CSL's network, you will not need to jump through the same hoops I did. The included Web browser is Pocket Explorer, which lets you browse the Internet in full colour, but it is a feature you probably would not use because Web pages are not optimised for viewing on the small screen. However, Hong Kong developers Synergy and Magically have initiated a '9-Doors' concept, whereby the 'doors' are actually links to Web pages whose content has been optimised for the Smartphone's screen. It can be accessed at www.smartphone.com.hk . Synergy is in the process of signing up more content and service partners but at present it has Yellow Pages and Apple Daily in its stable. A future version will allow users to configure their own 'doors'. I found the Yellow Pages service particularly useful and much easier to navigate than CSL's WAP-based service. My main complaint with the phone, which features the familiar Windows interface, is that it is slow to power up and down, and slow when opening applications. Installing new applications, depending on file size, is also slow. I have handled nearly all the converged products available in Hong Kong - the Nokia 9210, Sony Ericsson P800, Palm Tungsten W, xDA and Handspring Treo 270 - and so far I do not have a favourite. The Microsoft Smartphone, however, does not compete in the smart handheld category. It competes mainly with the high-end handsets such as the Symbian-powered Nokia 7650 and Sony Ericsson P800. It is easy to operate because it has the same recognisable Windows icons, so users feel like they know the phone already. To dial someone's number, you start entering the number or name of the person you want to call on the keypad. As you type the numbers, the phone shows a list of matching numbers, but it also knows that you might be typing a name. This is great because it was the fastest contact searching function I have reviewed on a portable device. The main beauty of the QTek 7070 is that it can be operated one-handed. While I dislike Tegic or T9, which uses predictive texting, most people under 30 love it and can use it a lot faster than using the handwriting input function with a stylus. For HK$4,388, the phone comes bundled with a car charger, USB cradle, camera and keyboard. Synergy will also sell soon a new cloth-based keyboard from ElecTek. While it is useful to have my contact information, calendar, e-mail and task manager all on the same device, I would not trade my PDA for the QTek 7070. It has features - such as e-mail and real Web browsing - that I do not think are well-suited for a mobile phone. The handset's display and keypad make it suitable for a limited set of features. This is exactly the same problem I found with the Sony-Ericsson P800, which has a larger display than the QTek 7070 and the same functions but is not locked into the Microsoft world. Got a gadget idea? Drop Carolyn a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .