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One of these little beauties arrived in my mailbox the other day.  It’s the Motorola MPX-200, the next generation of Microsoft Smartphone powered devices after the Orange SPVs came out.  It’s not available from any of our cellular providers here in Canada (is that lame, or what?), but it can easily be ordered from many other places including eBay, and unlocked via the numerous services that are out there.  It’s GSM, so it’s compatible with Rogers or Fido.  Just pop your SIM in and you’re ready to go.

The unit I got came with Microsoft’s Smartphone 2002 software.  It’s nice, but I was expecting 2003.  Another quick trip to Ebay, and expenditures of $5 and $2.50 respectively with two gentleman named Tony and Kenny, and presto, I had the firmware for the upgrade on my hard disk.

There are a number of firmware upgrades floating around.  You can find a version of the 2002 software that unlocks all three bands to give you a real tri-band phone.  That’s useful if you travel in Europe, as well as Canada.

You can also find a version of the 2003 software, illicitly cracked by someone called @nonymous.  To install it, you have to first install a german version of the software, and then update it with an english “language kit”. There’s also a GSM fix floating around for the 2003 software which solves a problem where GPRS sessions were being dropped that aparently existed in earlier versions of the phone. 

I backed up my data and flashed them all in.  Unfortunately, the tri-band unlock disappears once you add the Smartphone 2003 software.  That’s life I guess.  If I travel to Europe I’ll think about flashing back to the old software perhaps.

Aside from the fact that the phone has more memory, and a faster processor, which makes it a much better product than the SPV, the software hasn’t changed dramatically.  One of the most noticeable things about the 2003 software, however, is that this is the first time that Microsoft has employed it’s breathtaking cleartype software on a cellphone.  The difference is dramatic, especially if you skin the phone with some of the skins that employ small type.  What was just pretty is rendered dramatically readable with cleartype.

A very nice upgrade from my Orange SPV.

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