Odyssey Mobile Phone

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About

I bought a "Odyssey - WiFi Quadband Dual-SIM Touchscreen Cellphone" on the 1/5/10 on ebay here for $139 AUD (including $18 postage). I was very happy with the delivery and sender, but had a couple of issues with the phone itself. Most "reviews" of this phone I found were simply copied from the chinavision.com website and the specs are impressive, but I found the Odyssey's critical downfall is lack of software. Having being spoil with a Nokia I simply assumed my Odyssey would have drivers online and good software to connect with the PC and upload/synchronize my address book and calendar (especially considering it has Bluetooth and WiFi) - I was wrong.

The "Odyssey" is a mobile phone which seems to be know as many different names - the actual model number of mine is "consun M516" - but all the same thing. It's supposedly from the same factory as the iPhone and claimed by many to be "better than the iPhone", but in reality it's a breed of "China phone" and though wonderfully cheap the downfall is a terrible user manual and lack of software and support. Yes it has analog TV, and that's pretty cool - but I'd definitely the prefer a GPS or the better interface, quality, synchronization and user support offered by an iPhone, Android or any other smart phone!


Phone Specs

The full specs are on the chinavision.com website. You can also watch these youtube videos recorded in Australia:


The Odyssey features are indeed impressive; I've commented on the features here:

  • Dual SIM with Dual Standby - probably the BEST feature. Unlike some "dual SIM", both SIMS are active at once, meaning you will receive calls/messages to either number, and can chose with SIM to use every time you call or message someone.
  • Unlocked - yep, any SIM card should work in it.
  • Touch Screen - not nearly as sensitive/accurate as a iPhone, but I assumed that from the cheaper price. Sometimes I find myself pressing the button twice and often have to use the little stylus pen. The little qwerty keyboard used to composes SMS's isn't too bad to use, but not "predictive" or "intelligent" like the iPhone. An interesting feature is you can write words, but can be hit and miss with this too.
  • TV - very cool, but sadly only has analog tuner (and they're phasing out analog everywhere) and variable reception with the little antenna.
  • Radio - Works well.
  • Accelerometer - pretty cool, but novelty of shaking screen to change TV channel wears off.
  • Camera and Video - Don't let "8 mega pixel" fool you - it doesn't go higher than 1600x1200 (<2MP) and the quality of photos taken are REALLY crap compared to other phones I've used.
  • Quad Band - will work on just about any network in the world.
  • Wifi and Bluetooth - haven't tested, although I will have to to soon so I can test all the applications which require network connection.

The phone comes with:

  • Two batteries - this is a big plus. Remember to charge (in phone) 12 hrs before use.
  • Headset
  • 2GB microSD card
  • USB charger cable - the plug is actually Europlug standard, but comes with the appropriate adapter for your country if you order correctly.
  • English User Manual - tiny 47 page paper booklet full of spelling mistakes and largely useless.


Connecting the Odyssey to your Computer to Copy Files

When you plug your phone into your PC, you can select "Mass Storage" on the phone and you should see the phone and SD card appear as two separate removable Flash drives. There are several folders:

Removable Disk (H:\) (2GB SD card):

  • Hidden folder: "@@Playlist"
  • Answering machine
  • Ebook
  • My music - came with 6 mp3s - add your music here
  • mythroad
  • Recieved
  • Video

Removable Disk (I:\) (80MB Phone Flash memory):

  • Hidden folders: "@@email", "@@mms", "Download", "Phbimage", "sat", "Settings" - best to leave all these alone
  • Answer machine
  • Audio
  • Ebook
  • Images
  • Photos - contains the photos you took (copy them out here)
  • Received

I've also tried this on a Mac, but it only seems to show up the phone, not the SD card.


Problem: Transferring Contact to your Odyssey

The Odyssey only supports the following fields for contacts:

  1. Name
  2. Mobile
  3. Home
  4. Company name
  5. Email address
  6. Office number
  7. Fax number
  8. Ringtone ... (several to chose from)'
  9. Category ... (none,friend,family,VIP,business,others)

... so if you've experienced any phone where you can attach a picture or add extra feilds for birthdays, notes or addressess, you'll be very disappointed. What's even more disappointing however is there's no easy/obvious way to copy all your addresses from your PC to your Odyssey. I found three possible methods, but honestly none are ideal.


Copying from the SIM Card?

Supposedly you can click Contacts icon > Copy all > From SIM 1 to phone but for me it said there were 0/0 contacts on my SIM, even though I'd copied 300 contacts to the SIM using my previous phone (a Nokia). This could be a compatibility issue and only some SIM cards will suffer this problem, but this option was unavailable to me... and if you've just bought a new SIM it won't be an option for you either.


A Software Option?

Probably biggest problem with this phone is lack of decent software. How am I supposed to get all my contact in from my PC? The only drivers and software I could find was here:

It's a pretty complex installation process too. When you plug your phone into your Windows PC it will probably recognize it as "MT6235" - which represents the chip-set model number. From the site above you must register then download the appropriate driver - as I discovered however, this hasn't been updated since 2008 and DOESN'T work on Windows 7 (you'll never recognize the phone). Luckily I have a second computer running XP.

You'll also need to install "PhoneSuite V6.0.10" - a very slow buggy PC program, not updated in a long while and you have to install in Chinese and then change the language to see English after installation! Plug the phone in again and select "COM port". The phone should now recognize (if you are using XP), then I clicked the "Export Wizard" and followed the prompts to syncronise with Outlook, but guess what?! I got the error "could not read advanced fields" and only the "Name" and "Mobile" fields copied across... and even then there were issues: while Nokia PC Suite (with any Nokia phone) can recognize simple things like spaces and brackets (which I'd used to space out my mobile numbers), PhoneSuite did not. Like I said, very buggy and unsatisfying. Your only other option is to type all your contacts into your phone manually or try the next solution.


Using .vcf vCard Files to Upload Contacts

One way to upload phone contacts a bit faster than typing them in is to use vCard file format (.vcf). Connect the phone to your PC and in any folder (lets say: <PhoneDriveLetter>/Recieved) create a text file called "John Doe.vcf" and enter the following text:

BEGIN:VCARD
VERSION:3.0
N;CHARSET=UTF-8:John Doe
TEL;TYPE=cell:+61 4 051495555
TEL;TYPE=home:4055 3055
TEL;TYPE=work:4055 1111
TEL;TYPE=fax:4055 1112
EMAIL;TYPE=internet:john_doe@yahoo.com
ORG;CHARSET=UTF-8:John's brick company
END:VCARD

After saving, disconnect the phone and on the phone open the "File" application (you'll need to flick to the second page) and open the file (Phone > Open > Revived > Open > John Doe) and go: Use as > Contact > Save to phone > Okay and now the contact is on your list. I've made a little Macro to help convert ALL your contacts in MS Outlook to vCards, however be warned you'll have to manually add each in the manner above manner! It takes ~10 second to add each vCard (sadly you can't just mark them all and add on the phone) so if you have 300 contacts (as I did) it will take you an hour of button pressing (*sigh*). The Macro (modified from here) is:


Sub ExportAllContactsAsVCF()
 dirPath = InputBox(prompt, "Directory to save in:", "H:\Received\")
 Set ofolder = Application.ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder
 Set oitems = ofolder.Items
 ncount = oitems.Count
 MsgBox "About to save all " & oitems.Count & " contacts ... (may take several seconds)"
 For i = 1 To oitems.Count
   Set oitem = oitems.Item(i)
   'oitem.CompanyName = Replace(oitem.Body, vbCrLf, " ")  'UNCOMMENT TO SET COMPANY AS SOMETHING DIFFERENT
   oitem.SaveAs dirPath & oitem.fullname & ".vcf", olVCard
 Next
 MsgBox "Done"
End Sub


To get it working, open Outlook, go: Tools > Macros > Macros (alt+F8) enter "ExportAllContactsAsVCF" and click "Create". Now copy and paste the the text above, and click RUN. Change the "H:\Received\" to the correct drive letter and directory you want to use.

TIP: if you want to use/set the "company" filed to something more useful: uncomment the commented line. Currently it will use the "Notes" section (oitem.Body), but you could set to = oitem.Birthday or = oitem.HomeAddress or almost any other ContactItem parameter here (and no it doesn't change the contact details in Outlook)... although this particular field is sadly truncated to only 20 chars.


Adding Games

To add Games, try what I did: plug your Odyssey in to the USB (on your computer) and select "Mass Storage". Create a new folder called "GAMES_HERE" on the phone then copied in your java executables (.jar files). I got a bunch of games from here:

  • LG KS20 games pack (found this via this forum - 64 games, almost all work fine and most quite good fun/good quality)

In the phone, open the "File" application, then navigate to the directory and follow the prompts to install each game (individually). Most games you'll find you need the stylus, so don't lose it! After installing, you can actually delete the .jar file, and you'll find the game again by opening the "Game" application (just below "File") then click "Java" and scroll to the bottom.

Go to "Java", "Java Settings", and change "3 Java virtual keypad" to "prompt always". Now you can play any .jar game that requires the up/down left/right select keys.

NOTE: Although ANY .jar file should work on the Odyssey, keep in mind the games must be designed specifically for a touch phone. It so happens the LG KS20 phone fits the bill, but I'm sure there are other appropriate games/game packs out there, please click "edit" if you know of any more!

Summary - Odyssey Phone Review

Despite it's downfalls, it's cheap price and dual SIM means this might be a great phone for travel. Leave in the same SIM you use at home, but buy a local SIM card to make any local calls. On a two week visit to the US with a locked Nokia 6280 I had to make far more local calls than anticipated (each much >$1 per minute) and it cost me >$200.... meaning if I'd bought this phone before my trip (and a local SIM on arrival) it would have paid for itself!

As a business phone the Odyssey doesn't cut it by a long shot (automation just doesn't work).... but if your interested in having a spare (ready unlocked) phone which has a few free games, good novelty features and is cheap then go for it. Just don't get your hopes up too far - it's definitely not 'better than an iPhone' (as claimed) - and be prepared to type in all your contacts manually!!


Contribution by "R":

I have had an Odyssey phone for about 9 months now and am preparing to send it back again under warranty for repair. The problems I've had were firstly, after about 3 months, the battery refused to charge and shortly afterwards, it could not be switched on. So, useless >> back to Chinavasion.

Got it back a month later, fixed. Have used it since then for about 4 months and it's failed again. This time, it won't charge - my hunch is that the special connector for the charger is at fault.

This time, I've asked for a credit or a new phone. Note that every time you send it back, it costs a good deal in shipping - they insist on "Registered Mail" .

Also, the users manual is useless. It only talks about features and menus, doesn't tell you how to do anything, such as for the answering machine. Probably not an issue for seasoned smart phone users, but for novices like me, well, useless.

Lesson: You get what you pay for. Shame that I have to keep 2 spare phones on standby for when the Odyssey fails. Great phone in theory, shocking execution.

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