HTC TyTN

30th Jun 2006 | 23:00

HTC TyTN

A Windows Mobile phone that has literally everything

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

It doesn't have the best camera around but has superb power and flexibility

Like:

<p>Good range of business software</p>

Dislike:

<p>Camera not the best around</p>

Taking the big step to go it alone takes guts - but getting the timing right is crucial. HTC is probably the most successful mobile phone company that most people have never heard of.

The initials stand for High Tech Computer Corp, and over the last few years the Taiwanese company has quietly cornered a whole sector of the mobile market. Compaq, Toshiba, Orange, T-Mobile, O2, Vodafone, i-mate, and many others, have all taken have taken advantage of HTC's electronic wizardry and have commissioned devices to sell under their own name.

Now HTC is to start selling its phones under its own name. The badged versions will carry on, but having tested the water with its wholly-owned Qtek brand, HTC hopes get more of the limelight. It has chosen the moment to come out into the open well.

The first of its phones to bear the HTC logo is also its most pocketable 3G Pocket PC device to date.

Heavy

The TyTN is not the first HTC-produced 3G Windows Mobile device - that honour went to the O2 XDA Exec/T-Mobile MDA Pro (and their clones).

But weighing in at 285g, this was quite a hefty number. The name of the new device, pronounced Titan, may make it sound big - but tipping the scales at 180g it is a hugely significant improvement.

What's more, the TyTN is essentially a much-improved update of the T-Mobile MDA Vario/O2 Xda Mini S (and their counterparts). Impressively, the addition of 3G broadband connectivity, as well as a superior camera and other additions, has only made a marginal difference to the size and weight.

As phones go, the TyTN is still in the heavyweight category. But given what it packs onboard, its vital statistics are no disgrace. A huge 2.8-inch touch sensitive screen is found on the front of the device, providing Wi-Fi hotspot control and stylus operation.

But although this interface is perfectly satisfactory for menu navigation and for text input, there is also the option of a full Qwerty keyboard.

As with the Vario, this is revealed by pushing the screen sideways. You get a conventional Qwerty arrangement, plus a numberpad which can prove useful if you do not want to use the touchscreen to input digits. It is well arranged, and you do not struggle to find special characters.

Furthermore, a predictive text system is offered, which guesses the word you might be trying to input (often saving you keystrokes). A virtual onscreen keyboard is easily engaged should you prefer, although there is no character recognition software provided.

The screen's touch of genius is that the orientation of the menu or browser changes as you open the typewriter - from 240x320 to 320x240 pixels - maximising the usable area and making the most of different interfaces.

Extended features

With these two options, and a healthy splattering of fast access keys over the body, you might think this was enough controls for any phone. However, HTC has added another that proves particularly useful when the keyboard is shut away.

A jog-dial control (similar to that found on the Sony Ericsson M600i and the BlackBerry range) helps you speed through text or options, and allows you to make many of the selections required without the need to unsheathe the stylus.

The stylus, as ever with a Pocket PC, is essential for getting the most out of the operating system. The depth of the menu hierarchy means that tapping at an option is often the quickest route. Furthermore, many of the phone's features remain hidden unless you explore with the plastic prodder.

Touch the battery icon, for example, and you get a more detailed breakdown of the power situation. Hold the stylus down on a web image, and you get presented with the chance to save it to memory.

3G might be the main appeal of this handset, but unlike on some other super-smart handsets it takes full advantage of the new technology as it provides you with a pair of camera lenses. The low-res camera provides the feed for video calling, and HTC has incorporated a cute little conference call option to expedite its use.

The other camera is a vast improvement on that found on the Vario. The increase in resolution is modest - a 50 per cent increase up to 2 megapixels. However, it is the inclusion of a macro lever that really makes this a corker.

Switch it on and you can get sharp pictures down to within two or three inches of your subject - superb for close up snaps or for copying sections of text.

The lever is rather badly labelled, and there is a danger of leaving it turned on for normal pictures. But if you check the image between shots this should not be a great problem. The other problem with the camera is that there is a distinct delay between pressing either of the shutter release buttons and the image being recorded.

However; this camera gives first class results, significantly better in exposure, colour balance and contrast range than most other cameraphones. And you can shoot movies too. You don't need to worry about storage either.

Storage space

The handset comes with 128MB of RAM, and although much of this is taken up by onboard apps, there is still a reasonable allotment for personal use. Following the trend set by others, HTC has switched to microSD memory card expandability, and although you have to buy your own memory card, at least it means you can choose exactly how much storage you need.

Music and video playback are well covered by the familiar Windows Media Player. The sound from the speakerphone is respectable, and although the hi-fi quality of the supplied headset is less than superb, it gives a pleasant enough rendition of your music.

Support for stereo Bluetooth means that you can update to a richer acoustic experience, although there is no 3.5mm connector for using your own wired headset.

Video playback is greatly improved by the option to blow the image up to full screen - although you have to access a drop-down menu to make this happen.

The secret weapon of this model however is that in addition to 3G, it also offers high-speed data transfer over Wi-Fi. As we have said before, this is a superb feature for a handset of this type. It saves you money on browsing and downloading emails, and means your TyTN can hook into any available Wireless LAN - at home, at work or even in a bar.

Internet Explorer needs little introduction as a browser, and this mobile version is surprisingly powerful, correctly and quickly rendering complex image-rich pages, and dealing with pop-up screens in an efficient manner.

Email has the advantage that the handset comes with practically all the software to deal with virtually any attachment that you might receive. Web and email addresses are suitably hyperlinked within the text to ease their use, and there is an online settings wizard to help input your settings.

For the power user the good news is that the TyTN provides support for push email out of the box. The device uses the new Messaging and Security Feature Pack upgrade that has been added to the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. Email and other outlook updates can be sent directly from companies using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.

A full suite of MS software is onboard, providing everything that you need to write documents, spreadsheets and presentations - as well as being able to read and edit ones that you have been sent. You can also exchange documents using infrared as well as Bluetooth (or using the supplied USB cable).

Performance

Not surprisingly with substantial Wi-Fi and 3G use during our tests, the battery did not last for days and days. In fact, in our high-drain field test we managed to keep the device running for some 70 hours, during 113mm 24mm which we made extensive use of the video, music and browsing functions of the TyTN.

One feature that concerned us was that the phone found it hard to lock onto 3G networks in some areas where other 3G handsets were able to. Using a 3 SIM, for instance, we failed to pick up a UMTS signal - even though a Nokia 6680, switched on periodically throughout the test period had no problem locking on.

In the end, we tested the phone's 3G browsing and video calling using Vodafone's 3G network, which was fi ne.

Provision of Wi-Fi, of course, means that there is always another option if you haven't got 3G coverage in your vicinity.

And the beauty of this unit is that it is so very well connected. It allows you to handle such a huge variety of documents, and download further programs to access more. And it provides many different ways to access its range of features.

This is a giant of a phone, and you can expect to see it soon as the Orange M3100, the T-Mobile MDA Vario II, iMate JAS JAM as well as in other disguises. But whether you buy it as the TyTN or not, it is a device that does HTC proud. Chris George

Qwerty keyboard: The slide out keyboard has small but perfectly formed buttons, making tapping in text a joy

Camera: The high quality 2- megapixel camera on the back is enhanced by a macro mode and some useful software

Memory cards: HTC has opted for microSD memory card support for its latest 3G Windows Mobile handsets

Video calling: A secondary video camera on the front of the device gives you face-to-face video conferencing capabilities

ComputingInternetMicrosoftMobile computingMobile phonesNetworkingWi-FiHTC
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