Digital Life: A phone that's greener than Gormley
Published 09/03/2010 | 05:00
It isn't easy being green, as Kermit the Frog used to sing. If you're a gadget fiend, you may worry which hideously toxic chemicals went into the making of your shiny new mobile.
Greenpeace has been pressuring the tech industry for years to eliminate nasties with ominous names such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFR).
Thankfully, the tide is turning and companies are now paying more than just lip service.
Samsung is pushing its new Blue Earth touchscreen phone as the epitome of green and it has the credentials to back it up -- no PVCs or BFRs.
With a casing made from recycled plastic bottles and sporting a solar panel on its back, the Blue Earth should make even John Gormley rest easy at night.
The solar panel works even in artificial light, albeit slowly. But it won't charge the Blue Earth when the battery's completely flat, which is a bit dim.
Sure, it's got some corny notions -- the cardboard packaging can be recycled as a picture frame and unlocking the screen requires you to mimic turning off a tap.
But full marks to Samsung for environmental effort.
The phone itself is capable but won't set pulses racing.
The three-inch touchscreen feels too cramped for the widget interface and the onscreen keyboard would drive texters insane.
But it's got a well-rounded feature set, including WiFi and FM radio.
Samsung Blue Earth, €260 on pre-pay or €110 on cheapest contract with Vodafone.
Hardcore emailers know you can't beat a BlackBerry for messages on the go.
But it doesn't stop rivals trying to emulate the formula.
Samsung's Omnia Pro B7330 makes a bid for the space ruled by the excellent BlackBerry Bold and Nokia's E71, touting a full QWERTY keyboard and plenty of business-friendly functions.
It runs on the clunky Windows Mobile 6.5 system, which is less of a problem because the B7330 is not a touchscreen device, but is annoying for anything other than email.
Forget web browsing, for instance. The keyboard isn't in the same league as the competition, though comfortable enough.
But the badly placed home key had me howling in anger several times when a mis-hit cancelled a message while typing.
It's not that the B7330 is particularly weak, but it has a hard time keeping up with the BlackBerry or Nokia, particularly due to sub-par battery life.
Samsung Omnia Pro B7330, €250 on O2 cheapest contract