What treasures are hidden in the HTC Vox?

What treasures are hidden in the HTC Vox?

Summary: I started using the T-Mobile Dash late last year and have to say it is probably the BEST Windows Mobile device I have EVER used. It has been made even better with the free T-Mobile Windows Mobile 6 upgrade and it is the new standard I use to judge Windows Mobile devices. I sold my Samsung Q1 UMPC and have the mobile addict itch to pick up a new device so I contacted one of my favorite importers, David Weiniger from Mad Monkey Boy's Gadgets, and he promptly sent me a new HTC S710/Vox Windows Mobile Standard device. This is the first Windows Mobile smartphone that is available now in Europe running Windows Mobile 6 Standard. I was particularly interested in this model due to the standard looking candy bar format with a hidden surprise. There are a few other treasures in the Vox, but after a few days of using the device I decided to stick with the T-Mobile Dash/HTC Excalibur and it remains number 1 in my book for Windows Mobile devices. Check out all the photos in my image gallery and read about why the Vox isn't replacing the Dash.

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I started using the T-Mobile Dash late last year and have to say it is probably the BEST Windows Mobile device I have EVER used. It has been made even better with the free T-Mobile Windows Mobile 6 upgrade and it is the new standard I use to judge Windows Mobile devices. I sold my Samsung Q1 UMPC and have the mobile addict itch to pick up a new device so I contacted one of my favorite importers, David Weiniger from Mad Monkey Boy's Gadgets, and he promptly sent me a new HTC S710/Vox Windows Mobile Standard device. This is the first Windows Mobile smartphone that is available now in Europe running Windows Mobile 6 Standard. I was particularly interested in this model due to the standard looking candy bar format with a hidden surprise. After a few days of using the HTC Vox, I decided why the T-Mobile Dash/HTC Excalibur remains number 1 in my book so check out all the photos in my image gallery and read more below to see why the Vox isn't replacing the Dash.


 Image Gallery: Check out lots of photos of the HTC S710/Vox.  Image Gallery: Vox and Excalibur Image Gallery: HTC Vox in the Box 

The HTC Vox has almost exactly the same specifications as the HTC Excalibur/Dash with a TI OMAP 850 201 MHz processor, 128 MB ROM, 64 MB RAM, GSM/GPRS/EDGE Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz) wireless radio, 2.4 inch color display, integrated Bluetooth 2.0, integrated 802.11 b/g WiFi radio, 2 megapixel camera, microSD expansion card slot, 1050 mAh battery, and 8-way (yes diagonal directions are supported) navigational pad. The HTC Vox does not have a 3G radio so you won't see the super fast wireless data speeds available throughout Europe and with AT&T in the U.S. It has that same great rubberized coating feel as the Dash and professional business look. The Vox is 10 grams heavier than the Dash, but feels heavier in your hand since it is not as wide and feels more dense. As you can see in the image gallery, the HTC Vox has a surprise that is revealed when you slide the face to the left. The surprise feature is a full QWERTY keyboard similar in appearance to the HTC Apache Phone Edition device. So unlike the small, tight keyboard on the Dash, the Vox keyboard is spread out over the full length of the device. The auto sliding mechanism makes it very easy to access and hide the keyboard, but on the unit I received to test there was way too much wiggling going on in the closed mode. This may have been a faulty device, but the long term implications of this new type of slider do concern me a bit.

The keyboard is well spaced and there is a bit of feedback when the keys are pressed. Due to the keys being arranged 3 high, there is a bit of offset in the keyboard that is different than on other mobile devices and what you see on a standard QWERTY keyboard. For example there is a Shift and Fn key below the Q, rather than having the A and Z directly below the Q. I hit the wrong keys a few times so it does take a bit of practice to get it right. There is no Home button on the keyboard so you have to reach up and hit the Home button on the front standard keypad to get back to the Home screen. There are directional buttons on the keyboard, which are helpful for moving around documents. A very cool feature on the keyboard is the Cap and Fn lights that appear on the upper left side of the keyboard and glow bright orange when you activate them. The display switches automatically into landscape mode when the display is moved to the left and the keyboard revealed and I found the switching to be virtually instantaneous as you can see in my YouTube video shown below.

After revealing the keyboard and switching into landscape mode, the two soft keys in Windows Mobile 6 are activated with the keys found at the top of the keyboard. The left soft key is above the number 2 and is tough to hit since the key is so small and the clearance between the display and the keyboard is quite small. The numbers on the keyboard are accessed by pressing the Fn button first, but unlike the Dash there is no clear button color to differentiate these keys. I did discover that pressing and holding each key serves the same purpose as pressing the Fn button. This helps speed up text entry and is a convenient short cut. I also discovered that this same functionality works on my Windows Mobile 6 upgraded T-Mobile Dash. The keyboard has a bright blue backlight and is evenly lit. There is an automatic light sensor below the 0 on the keypad and this can be turned off in the settings.

The HTC Vox appears to be a standard candy bar mobile phone when the keyboard is slid back under the display. The phone keypad is small, but the buttons are fairly easy to press since they have angled keys and are wide enough to be pressed accurately. The two soft keys appear below the display and on either side of the navigational button that I found also works in the diagonal direction. This can be helpful if you are a mobile gamer and I haven't seen this on too many devices. The Home and back buttons are placed on either side of the keypad with the send and end keys below them. The directional pad is easy to use and the center action button is easy to press.

The HTC Vox has the same size and resolution (240x320) as the T-Mobile Dash, but is oriented in a different direction. At first I thought the Dash display was larger, but after close measuring they are exactly the same. The display is bright and very clear and in my opinion is one of best features of the Vox.

Continuing on a tour around the device, you will find the indicator lights around the speaker centered above the display (in portrait, normal mode). The power button is recessed slightly on the top, which helps prevent accidental pressing of the power button. Along the right side of the bottom half you will find the camera button that launches the camera application for the 2 megapixel camera. I found this to be the best camera on a HTC device to date and it was quite responsive. There is no flash or optical zoom and Windows Mobile cameras continue to lag way behind Nokia in terms of capability. On the right side of the top half you will find the externally accessible microSD card slot. On the left side of the bottom half are the volume control buttons that are recessed and made of rubber. They give you little feedback and are not easy to press during a call. Just below these buttons is the voice command button. Unfortunately, Microsoft Voice Command 1.6 is not included on the Vox, but instead a standard voice tag dialing program is included. Along the bottom is the mini USB power and headphone connector and the small hole for the phone microphone. The battery cover, mono speaker, and 2 megapixel camera are found on the back of the device.

One unique opening that I didn't cover above is the SIM card slot. In every other device I have this is located under the battery. On the HTC Vox the SIM card slot is actually under the display and can be opened when you slide the keyboard down. Taking out the SIM card will turn off the device, but it is still much easier accessing it here than having to remove the battery and operate a tricky door.

The HTC Vox runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard and includes Office Mobile, a Java client (key for Gmail), Sudoku game, and a Bluetooth audio manager utility.

Phone call quality was good on both ends. The speaker is found in the back, like the Excalibur/Dash, so you may have to set it down on the face to hear speakerphone calls.

You can pick up a HTC S710/Vox for US$465 from David if you are interested in the device. He provides excellent customer service and I highly recommend him for your Windows Mobile import needs.

UPDATE: As one commenter noted, I never summarized the reasons why I am skipping the Vox and keeping the Dash/Excalibur. The Dash is lighter, much cheaper (less than half the cost), I prefer the always in landscape orientation of the Dash and the device feels more solid (the Vox wiggle concerns me).

Topics: Hardware, HTC, Mobile OS, Mobility, Windows

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