HTC has been producing Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and Smartphones for a long time, but it is only with the Pocket PC TyTN (and a new Windows Mobile Smartphone the MTeoR) that the company has come out into the open and made products available under its own name. It had previously used the Qtek brand name for selling its own products, but that brand has been shelved.
Where you will have seen HTC’s wares before is in Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PCs branded by network operators. The advantage of buying in this way is that you get a generous operator subsidy on the hardware. The advantage of buying SIM free is that you can chop and change operator as you see fit.
Also, in this case the TyTN (pronounced ‘titan’) simply isn’t available directly from any operators yet, though you can find it bundled with some operator deals by third parties such as Expansys right now.
3G is a rarity for Windows Mobile Pocket PCs. It’s only been seen in one other device, a large format, Tablet PC style swivel screened Pocket PC known, among other things, as the Orange SPV M5000 [link to review]. That is a good device, and this reviewer uses one regularly, but it is large for the average pocket.
The TyTN deals with that by reducing the overall size of the hardware and still including a very good keyboard. The trick is one we’ve seen before in (non 3G) predecessors to this device. The keyboard slides out from the left edge of the casing. As you slide it out to use it, the screen reorients itself from the portrait (tall) format it uses in standard mode to landscape (wide) mode, ready for you to start typing.
The TyTN has a touch sensitive screen, and when you don’t want to pull out the keyboard you can use an on-screen tappable one, or two types of handwriting recognition – one by writing into a recogniser window the other by writing direct to anywhere on the screen. A stylus lives in a slot on the bottom back right edge of the TyTN for this and other screen-prodding duties.
The need to accommodate the keyboard means the TyTN is rather thicker than the average Pocket PC – just a whisker under 22mm thick, in fact, which feels totally out of proportion to its other measurements of 112.5 mm tall and 58 mm wide.
But on the plus side, the TyTN is an ideal mobile email system. Holding it in two hands and tapping at the keyboard with thumbs allows for fast typing – faster, this reviewer found, than that possible with the likes of a BlackBerry or other device with a smaller front facing keyboard – and as yet there is no 3G BlackBerry anyway.
As well as using the TyTN to tap out emails, it comes with Word Mobile and Excel Mobile, which produce documents compatible with their Microsoft Office counterparts. For those who like their email on the move both POP3 and Microsoft Exchange based push systems are supported.
There is a small front facing camera for video calling, and a larger one on the back for shooting stills and video at resolutions up to 2 megapixels. Unusually this has a macro mode, which you get to simply by swivelling a small lever on the lens. There is a flash and self portrait mirror, and a fairly good array of settings and features including burst and sports shooting modes and a panorama stitch mode, for example.
A neat system of
on screen tappable menus provides access to all these options. The TyTN screen
turns into a viewfinder when you are in camera mode and shifts into landscape
orientation, the shutter button for the camera resting under your right forefinger.
While on the topic of buttons, HTC has done well with the array it provides for accessing system functions. Sitting above the screen a pair of buttons take you to the built in messaging centre (for email, SMS, MMS management), and to Pocket Internet Explorer for using the Web. Under the screen there are no less than seven button functions plus a navigation key and central select button, but these are nicely designed in a neat panel so that they don’t look too plentiful or messy.
Call and End buttons are at the far left and right of this panel, with vertical rockers inside them whose top end maps to the Windows Mobile soft menus (you can also tap these menus, of course), and whose bottom end take you to the applications menu and act as an OK function.
Inside these is the navigation button, while to the very far left a small round button is dedicated to video calling.
On the right side is the camera activation and shutter button already noted, the main power button and one which opens the standard Windows Mobile Comm Manager – a set of menus you can use to turn on and off the various wireless communications features. As well a 3G the TyTN accommodates Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and infra red. Wi-Fi means it can be used for using the Internet via any Wi-Fi network you have access to, and potentially for Voice over IP too.
On the left side there is a button that on a short press calls up the built in voice control software, and on a long press starts the built in voice recorder. Above this is a scroll wheel which sits neatly under the thumb and small OK button.
All this might sound like overload, especially if you remember there is a touch screen here as well, but in fact the result is a system that is very easy to use in the way you like best – some like to tap the screen, some prefer buttons.
With 128MB of built in memory the TyTN should cope with your diary, address and general information needs and leave space to install some of the mountain of add-on software available. But if you want to play music through the Windows Media Player, or store lots of additional information, then you’ll want more memory. This comes in the shape of microSD cards and the slot is on the left edge of the casing. It isn’t covered, which is a little annoying, but at least this location means you can swap cards easily.
Over and above the software already noted as provided comes a PDF viewer, picture and video viewer, PowerPoint Mobile for viewing (not editing) presentations, and a zip file manager. HTC really should have thrown a backup utility in for good measure, but at least you know that, because the TyTN has ‘persistent’ memory, your data and software won’t be lost if the battery runs completely down. You also get the software needed to synchronise Outlook with your PC, and a cable to connect.
The TyTN isn’t for everyone. It can be used to do a huge amount and is best suited to professional users or those who simply need a lot of ‘stuff’ in their pocket at all times. It is going to be overkill if all you do with a 3G handset is the odd bit of browsing and video calling.
But if you are looking for the Swiss army knife of smartphones, then the TyTN could be it.
This review covers the above mobile phone only and does not address the performance of any 3G Network. The score is based on a 3G mobile phone checklist.
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