Saturday, April 08, 2006

XDA Mini S/HTC Wizard review

About 3 weeks ago I received my new mobile phone a XDA Mini-S (aka the i-mate K-Jam, HTC Wizard, QTEK 9100, MDA Vario). This is one loaded little phone/PDA. It has everything you would expect from a modern phone in voice calls, SMS, MMS, a 1.3 MP camera, bluetooth and games then adds useful PDA functions like a real operating system (allowing for 3rd party applications), Wifi networking, a full qwerty keyboard, touchscreen and stylus operation, a mobile office suite and automatic synchronization with outlook (for contacts, calenders, tasks and e-mail) and media player (for audio and video). Amazingly all of this manages to fit into a 160g device which isn't any larger than many of the early 3G phones from last year. Sure it's No RAZR but is fits in my pocket without a problem.

Overall it makes an decent phone, particularly for those who text more than talk, which sums me up perfectly. I say decent because I find the touch screen interface a little annoying for making calls, there's something nice about the tactile feedback of normal buttons. Also trying to call somebody on your contact list or send an SMS really requires use of either the stylus or keyboard which will be annoying for people accustom to operating their phone with one hand. Once you get used to the two handed operation though I find texting far quicker and love the outlook style filing system.

The real strength of this device isn't as a phone, it's all the other functions its capable of. I wrote a article about convergence a few weeks ago basically saying that I thought mobile devices should stick to doing one or two functions well rather than trying to do everything. Simply put, this device changed my mind on this. Despite their simplicity I have played far more games on it than either my DS or PSP simple because it is always in my pocket for a quick 10 minute game on the train home, or a half hour when the (very common) sudden delay strikes. The 2.8 inch screen isn't huge but it's reasonable for most viewing video, it replaced my PSP here, again because it always with me anyway and saves carrying another device every day. Not to mention it's whole interface and controls for video playback are far superior, it supports many more formats and I never miss a call this way.

My only real complaint with this phone is that is doesn't come with a built in hard drive. Bundle this with 10GB or more of storage and I think it would instantly replace my MP3 player, making it pretty much the perfect all in one portable device for me.


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