(02/06/2001) – A cellular phone that plays MP3 music files-now finally there’s a convergence product that makes sense.

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s CDN$600 Uproar SPH-M100 combines a stylish cell phone with a decent MP3 player. In some respects my shipping copy felt like the first-generation product it is, but I found plenty to like, too.

Start with the small-but-mighty, dual-band (analog and digital) flip phone. Slightly bigger than a large pack of gum, the Sprint PCS phone includes extras such as voice dialing, memo recording, Web browsing, and a PIM.

The keys are tiny, and the flip door is flimsy, but overall it’s a good phone that would probably sell for about $375.

The real reason you’ll want to get this itty-bitty cell phone, though, is the tunes, baby.

The phone’s MP3 player has 64MB of built-in storage for about an hour of music compressed at 128 kbps. Aside from struggling with a too-short USB cable, I had little trouble transferring the music. I used the included MusicMatch software, but the company said the software could change by press time.

A large Play button starts the music, and small side controls handle volume. Navigating the tracks, however, requires using either the tiny keypad or a lame remote control that dangles from uncomfortable but decent-sounding ear-bud headphones; the headphones also include a microphone, so you can keep your hands phone-free.

The headset works well with the phone, but it’s somewhat silly-looking, so I preferred to use my own standard headphones to listen to the music.

I enjoyed using the MP3 player, and I squeezed almost 11 hours of play from a single charge of the phone’s standard lithium ion battery. The Uproar lacks some features, but the sound is quite good. I would expect to pay $300 or more for a comparable player.

If you need a new cell phone and want to add music to your life, the Uproar makes sense, even though it is a bit rough around the edges. At $600, it’s cheaper than buying two devices, and besides, it’s a whole lot easier to carry.

Prices listed are in Cdn currency.