First week with Punkt.’s MP 01

Unboxing, charging, first impressions

The parcel arrived securely packed. Inside, brown paper padding nestles around another box. There are also shipping documents and a return label. The inner box has a slipcover that depicts the MP 01. Inside of that is the genuine article. And beneath, some other stuff.

Some of this other stuff turned out to be important. The little book, in particular, is pretty indispensable. It explains how to use the phone.

Granted, once the phone is up and running, it is pretty intuitive. The “USB Connector” for charging is the first and only obstacle: one must use a fingernail to open a small, delicate, door on the left side of the phone. Installing a SIM card using the drawer on the other side feels smoother. Punkt. supplies a “SIM tray opener pin”. All in all this reminded me of the paperclip manoeuvre that one could use to eject a stuck floppy disk on early Macs. I happily reused the SIM card I had purchased with my Nokia 105.

Side by side, these two phones look very different. The MP 01 is bigger by about 1cm in each direction. The screen is much bigger. It reminds me a bit of my old HP 48G graphing calculator, although the calculator had a lot more buttons. Also, even though the MP 01’s screen is usually displaying monochrome text, it is actually a colour display. Red pixels are used to highlight the cursor when typing messages, and the current date when viewing the calendar, numbers inside of SMS messages, and a charging battery. Oh, and the phone does some cool predictive text stuff when typing messages. Red highlighting is used for that, too.

The only thing that doesn’t seem to be documented in the little book is how to turn on the loudspeaker while in the middle of a call. As it happens, like many other functions, this is done with the “Punkt.” button. So, that made sense after using the phone a bit.

Apart from that minor issue, and some slight nervousness on my part about the slightly fiddly door for the USB Connector, almost everything else was entirely intuitive. I am not sure I agree with Punkt.’s design decision to make Reminders and the Calendar entirely separate. It would have been somewhat more intuitive to be able to enter dates for Reminders using the calendar interface; and, similarly, I think it would be nice to be able to browse through Reminders on the calendar (similar to the way Emacs displays upcoming agenda items). But I get it: the MP 01 is a phone, not a PDA. Still, this is one decision I think I would change.

Indeed, I wonder if Punkt. might consider making the phone’s operating system open source and providing some instructions around modding the software. Perhaps only a slim hope there, since the potential end-user programmer community for the device is probably pretty small; but it could be interesting to play around with this device! BoingBoing describes the phone as “flawless,” but also says that “The MP01’s functions should be deeper than they are.” Anyway, I’m not throwing away my Moleskine planner just yet...

As for actually using the phone: the MP 01 seems great for that. As a long-time non-phone-user, I think I can start to see why people feel they can’t live without their phones. I find the MP 01 a much more aesthetically interesting object than the Nokia 105 and more fun to use. It’s simultaneously more serious (it doesn’t look like a child’s toy).

My calling plan isn’t set up for international calling, so I’ve been using Google Hangouts as usual for that, but I can easily imagine a future “Punkt. Challenge” in which I stop using Hangouts. For now, it’s enough to catch up with late 20th/early 21st century, in terms of having and using a mobile phone.