- Large screen accommodates data-rich tasks
- 3G/HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS
- Keyboard works well with haptic response enabled
- 16GB of internal storage
- VGA-out and TV-out capability
- Large and heavy for a handheld
- Private voice calling is only possible with a headset
- Magnet system for joining screen and keyboard is fallible
HTC’s original Advantage, which launched back in 2007, was reviewed by ZDNet UK in T-Mobile livery as the Ameo. Last year, we were undecided about the usefulness of this 5in.-screen, keyboard-equipped Windows Mobile 5.0 device. Since then, HTC has tried its hand at a larger 7in.-screen Windows Vista device, the Shift, which we found underpowered and expensive.
The HTC Advantage X7510 has a very similar look and feel to the original model. It comes in two sections — the main system unit and a separate keyboard section. Even if you leave the keyboard behind, you won't get the Advantage X7510 into a pocket. It measures 133mm wide by 98mm tall by 16mm thick. With the keyboard attached, the total thickness is 20mm. It weighs 375g, which is hefty for a handheld.
The two-piece kit comes with a protective case that allows you to tote both sections and to use them without removing them from the case. The downside is that this adds even more bulk and weight to your travel kit.
The good news is that the Advantage X7510 has a large touch-screen, measuring 5in. across the diagonal and displaying 640 by 480 pixels. This is welcome, although we'd prefer a higher resolution, which would allow the screen to display even more data.
The standard Windows Mobile on-screen keyboard is present and the screen's size makes it relatively easy to prod at the letters with your fingertips. The same goes for the user interface in general, with familiar icons and menus all somewhat larger than usual and therefore easier to hit accurately.
The screen looks superb in portrait format, which makes it ideal for reading e-books, PDF documents and suchlike. But we couldn’t see a way to put a shortcut to screen orientation settings on the Today screen, and there's no accelerometer to automatically change from portrait to landscape mode (but see later).
The keyboard uses a magnet to attach to the system unit, with the screen section held at an angle for easy viewing. This is fine unless you prod at the screen with too heavy a hand, as this can dislodge it. Perhaps the designers should have used a more conventional clasp mechanism rather than a magnet.
The keyboard itself is very different from those on earlier versions of the Advantage. It's a flat arrangement with slightly raised lips separating the keys. There's a number row above the QWERTY layout, with individual keys measuring about 10mm wide by 9mm tall. You get an inverted-T arrangement of cursor control keys in the bottom right corner, while the number row offers an array of secondary characters via Fn key combinations.
The keyboard is large for a Windows Mobile device, but it's nowhere near large enough for touch typing. Most people are likely to use a couple of fingers from each hand to prod at the keyboard. Because the two sections are only held together by a magnet, there's no way you can hold the Advantage X7510 in both hands and prod the keyboard with your thumbs — the screen section is far too prone to toppling off.
Typing with the Advantage X7510 on a hard surface is reasonably efficient with both haptic and aural feedback switched on. Turn these features off, however, and the lack of audible and tactile response slows typing right down, as you have to check the screen to make sure taps have been registered. In a location where quiet is necessary, this could be a significant drawback.
The stylus is a disappointingly short and lightweight affair. It's mostly made of clear plastic, so it doesn't stand out well on a desk and is likely to get lost fairly quickly.
In addition to the protective case already mentioned the Advantage X7510 ships with a screen protector, printed user manual, printed quickstart guide, two application CDs and a large zippable pouch capable of holding the keyboard section, a provided spare stylus and headphones along with various provided cables (VGA out, USB PC connectivity, mains charger). The pouch won’t also hold the main section of the Advantage X7510, though you can get this in if you omit the mains charger.
The HTC Advantage X7510 is powered by a 624MHz Marvell PXA270 processor and runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. Unusually for a handheld, it also has a discrete ATi W2284 graphics chip. There is 16GB of flash memory supplemented by another 256MB of ROM and 128MB of RAM. After a hard reset, our review sample reported 101MB of free storage from conventional memory, plus the 16GB of flash. If this isn't enough, you can add storage via a miniSD card slot.
The Advantage X7510 is a quad-band GSM device with 3G/HSDPA and GPRS/EDGE support (note that HSDPA download speed only goes up to 1.8Mbps). Although this is clearly a well-connected device, it's not ideal for making voice calls.
There are no physical buttons for starting and ending voice or video calls. Instead, calls must be initiated from the Phone Dialer screen, which you call up from the Start menu. There's a 3.5mm headset jack, and you’ll need to use headphones if you want a private conversation.
The Advantage X7510 has a front-facing VGA-resolution camera for video calling and a rear-mounted 3-megapixel camera for shooting stills. The latter has an LED flash.
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth (2.0) are both integrated, as is GPS. One of the supplied CDs contains a copy of TomTom Navigator, and you can download one free City Map from TomTom.
The Advantage X7510 incorporates a version of HTC’s TouchFLO interface, which lets you swipe the display to move between several screens: a Today screen showing the date and time, plus shortcuts to messages, missed calls, calendar appointments and other elements you choose to display; a set of your favourite contacts; the weather; a set of application and system setting shortcuts (you can flip the screen into landscape and portrait mode from here); and a screen with keyboard vibration and sound settings.
The Advantage X7510 has VGA-out and TV-out capability. The VGA connection comes with the supplied multi-purpose cable, which also includes S-Video, composite video and USB Host connectors. You'll need to buy additional cables to link up to a TV.
HTC has provided some additional applications to boost the Windows Mobile 6.1 bundle: ClearVue's Presenter 5 for editing and displaying PowerPoint presentations; JETCET PRINT 5 for printing via Bluetooth; an RSS reader; a Zip manager; WorldCard Mobile for converting business cards to contact entries via the camera; and Opera, which is a welcome replacement for Internet Explorer. The screen size and the ability to drag web pages around with a finger makes web browsing a particularly pleasing experience.
Performance & battery life
The Advantage 7510's large 5in. screen is a real boon, and should appeal to anyone interested in data-rich mobile working who doesn't want to step up to a netbook or an ultraportable system.
However, we found it difficult to keep the screen and keyboard sections together when tapping the screen. Also, the keyboard isn’t large enough for touch typing, and it's not possible to make private voice calls without using earphones.
HTC rates the Advantage 7510's 2,100mAh lithium polymer battery at 6 hours of GSM talk, 2 hours of video calling and 300 hours on standby. Our usual music playback test with the screen forced to stay on delivered 6.5 hours of music from a full charge. Interestingly, this is an hour short of what we got from the original HTC Advantage. Of course, heavy use of 3G data communications, Wi-Fi and GPS will deplete the battery quicker.
HTC's Advantage X7510 is a fabulous device for web browsing, text reading, calendar viewing and mobile email thanks to its large 5in. screen. It's considerably bulkier than the average handheld, and an inconvenient for making voice calls.
The keyboard is responsive enough with haptic response turned on, but much less so with this feature disabled. The screen's magnetic connection to the keyboard is prone to being dislodged if the screen section is tapped with significant force.
Despite its plus points, we can't recommend the Advantage X7510 a replacement for either a notebook computer or a smartphone. It's also expensive if viewed as an adjunct to either device.