Review: Have Phone, Will Travel

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted March 01, 2000
by Kevin Hogan

Ericsson I888 World Phone
Rating 94

Among the hundreds of products that pass through our collective hands each year, few make us gush. We can't remember whether it was while checking voicemail from a Prague café or Web surfing from a night train through Poland, but the Ericsson I888 world phone turned out to be one of those devices that tapped into our inner geek.

The phone delivers on its promise of seamless voice and data global communication. Using both the 900MHz and 1900MHz GSM bands, it operates in 120 countries. We tried it in six and it worked like a charm. While roaming across borders, the phone automatically retained the myriad of country codes for each region, which made for easy local dialing. Plus, U.S.-based callers had to just dial a 917-area code number when trying to reach us, no matter our coordinates.

The real killer tools of the I888 are its built-in PC card and infrared modem that make it possible to check e-mails, send and receive faxes and instant text messages, and browse the Web using a notebook computer or handheld PC, all without plugging in a single cable. Anyone who has juggled the adapters and converters needed during international travel can appreciate this watershed in headache elimination. We set the phone next to the infrared port on our Compaq notebook, configured Ericsson's Mobile Office Suite software with Microsoft Outlook e-mail and a local ISP, and away we surfed. The data rate was a bit sluggish at 9600Kbps and the voice connection, while consistently clear, did drop occasionally. But these hindrances did nothing to quell our enthusiasm when blasting e-mail or shouting messages asking, "Guess where I am now!"

The phone itself is a somewhat hefty 6.26 ounces and isn't the most compact we've held. The number of advanced calling features more than compensate for the bulk, however. The slick flip-front protects a clearly marked and well-spaced touch pad. Dialing functions include fast redial and frequent call shortcuts, a call log, and a 99-entry phone book.

While the price is more business class than coach, we still say this is one of the most powerful and sophisticated phones on the market. It's a communication device that no world traveler should be without.

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