Tools Of The Trade: Samsung's D600 mobile phone

Samsung has set out to design a compact but fully featured handset, with a decent-sized screen. It does this by giving the phone a sliding mechanism: the keypad tucks away behind the screen when it is not in use. When the phone slides shut, there are still menu and option buttons on the front, as well as buttons to make and end calls.

The D600 is thicker but shorter than some other phones, but the sliding mechanism is a pleasure to use. Key functions, such as the music player and the camera, work with the slider both open and closed. This is just as well as, with the slider open, the phone sits rather less easily in the hand.

The sliding mechanism feels as if it could stand up to quite heavy use, and the handset's dark grey and black, partly rubber, finish is also business-like and durable. It should suit the D600's stated purpose as a business phone.

Samsung has upgraded the features of the D600 to include a two-megapixel camera, complete with a flash for low-light photography. The phone comes with a good-quality set of headphones for making calls and also for use with the built-in music player.

Business users will also like the clear layout of the calendar and email programs, which are easy to access and easy to use. Bluetooth makes it easy to synchronise data with a suitably equipped PC, though Samsung also provides the option of a cable connection.

However, unlike some high-end Windows-powered phones from Nokia, there is no support for Microsoft's Active- Sync technology - though it is possible to set up multiple email accounts using Samsung's own messaging software. This works well enough, but is not really a substitute for BlackBerry or other "push" email technology.

The large amount of memory built into the D600 - around 80MB - gives plenty of room to store email and other documents. Here, Samsung has built a few other interesting features into the D600.

As well as a decent battery life and Bluetooth connections, a function that will interest business users is the ability to view Word and PowerPoint files. You can also do this on a TV set or projector via a cable that connects to the D600.

A small cable comes in the box with the D600. It is mainly intended for consumers to view pictures or movie clips, but it can also be used to display PowerPoint files in the office.

The idea of being able to play a business presentation from nothing more complicated than a mobile phone is intriguing, though whether many people would actually want to depend on the phone alone for working with PowerPoint is open to question.

But overall, the D600 offers a strong package for business users seeking a basic handset, rather than a phone-handheld computer hybrid.

RATING: 4 out of 5.

PROS: durable; businesslike design; Bluetooth and GPRS; good battery life.

CONS: basic email functions.

PRICE: from free with a contract.