When O2 started its Atom series of mobile devices in Singapore, it was met with substantial success and popularity amongst Windows Mobile enthusiasts. However, when the decision was made to pull the O2 branding away from the Asia Pacific market, the Mobile Wireless Group (MWg) was formed and they took over the mandate to continue with the Atom line. Following through, the first device under the MWg label has been born, the Atom V.
Although still under the Atom branding, MWg has decided to differentiate the fifth generation Atom device from its Atom Life predecessor with a slimmer chassis at 14.95mm, but at the expense width (59mm) and height (116mm). Predominantly black with a silver border running along its edges - a similar design to many Windows Mobile devices on the market - the Atom V sports a five-way directional keypad with four shortcut soft keys above and below the Call and End buttons respectively. Though generously spaced out thanks to its stretched dimensions, the buttons are thinner than normal, making it less comfortable for input. The camera and jog dial buttons, plus a microSD slot are located on the left side of its bodice, while you have a 2.5mm audio jack on the right, followed by the stylus slot at the bottom right.
MWg reveals its trump card within the Atom V's interface, which enhances the basic Windows Mobile 6 interface with their propriety Quick Menu. Similar to the shortcut menus you see on the LG Viewty or the more recent LG KS20, the Atom V's Quick Menu is a shortcut through the score of applications found within the device. It also has the added flexibility of adding or removing applications within the Quick Menu, something that was lacking on the LG devices. These features are further enhanced with a flushed LCD screen akin to the HTC Touch series or the iPhone, making the Atom V's navigational experience sweepingly easy to use.
Placing a strong emphasis on its GPS functionality, the Atom V utilizes a SiRF Star III chipset, which does a decent job of location tagging, though varying factors such as weather and the availability of a clear surrounding will affect GPS performance. Other connectivity options on the Atom V include WiFi 802.11b/g, and Bluetooth 2.0.
The Atom namesake has a hint of power hidden within, and that certainly holds true with its Intel XScale PXA270 520MHz processor. Oddly enough, with such a high processing speed, the Atom V gets the short stick with a downgrade of its ROM from the Atom Life's 1GB to its current paltry 256MB. Its RAM capacity stays at 64MB though. You're up to guess whether this was a technical decision on MWg's part, though battery life seems to be better, which managed to run on a full charge for up to two days with intermittent messaging, call, WiFi and GPS usage.
Though we have scrutinized MWg's Atom V and revealed certain flaws such as low RAM capacity and its slightly over-sized design, MWg is still a fledging company that has taken on a huge portfolio from O2's days. With an improved Quick Menu interface and its propensity for better touch screen navigation, we believe there's more to expect from MWg in the near future, especially so when its Zinc II Windows Mobile 6.1 ready device hits our shores in the 2nd half of 2008. For now, the Atom V retails at S$998 with a 12-month local warranty.