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Innovation

HTC Advantage first impressions: GPS and HSDPA rock!

HTC is the premier Windows Mobile manufacturer and as I blogged about yesterday they just started selling the HTC Advantage X7501 at U.S. retail locations. I was sent a review unit to evaluate for a while and spent several hours last night playing with the device to see a bit of what it was all about. The HTC Advantage is the most powerful Windows Mobile Professional (aka Pocket PC Phone Edition) device on the market and has features that actually rival that of UMPC devices. Some features are actually even better than UMPCs, like the integrated 3G wireless radio and integrated GPS receiver. In the few hours that I played with it so far, I found a couple disappointments and a couple of features and functions that have me thinking I may need to save up some money for one of these devices. I took a few unboxing and product photos that you can check out in the image gallery.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

HTC is the premier Windows Mobile manufacturer and as I blogged about yesterday they just started selling the HTC Advantage X7501 at U.S. retail locations. I was sent a review unit to evaluate for a while and spent several hours last night playing with the device to see a bit of what it was all about. The HTC Advantage is the most powerful Windows Mobile Professional (aka Pocket PC Phone Edition) device on the market and has features that actually rival that of UMPC devices. Some features are actually even better than UMPCs, like the integrated 3G wireless radio and integrated GPS receiver. In the few hours that I played with it so far, I found a couple disappointments and a couple of features and functions that have me thinking I may need to save up some money for one of these devices. I took a few unboxing and product photos that you can check out in the image gallery.


 Image Gallery: Check out product photos of the HTC Advantage being unboxed and setup.  
Image Gallery: HTC Advantage retail box
 
Image Gallery: HTC Advantage keyboard
 

The first disappointment was the lame clear plastic stylus. It is a bit short, but the extremely light weight is what really turned me off on the stylus. When you have a device that already weighs a decent amount (359 grams) it wouldn't hurt to add a stylus with a couple grams of weight. The other disappointment I found was the lack of Microsoft Voice Command 1.6. There is a Voice Speed Dial application, but you have to setup voice tags for each function and it doesn't come close to the functionality of Voice Command. You can always add it later, but it would have been nice to have it built into the ROM.

There were a LOT more positives that I discovered in the short time I played with it so far, including the beautiful and bright high resolution display, snappy response, high quality build, functional leather case, absolutely amazing GPS receiver sensitivity and functionality, 3G HSDPA radio integration, and cool VueFLO technology. I had to turn the display down to about 25% so it wouldn't blind me and like the high resolution fonts and text. I do wish I could make icons and things smaller though to see more on the display and maybe there will be a third party hack like there was with older VGA devices. The HTC Advantage runs with a 624 MHz processor and I haven't found any lag in it so far and plan to test out some large Office documents to see if the 8GB microdrive as an impact on the speed. The device feels rock solid and while it is quite wide it doesn't feel too heavy in your hand. I think it will make a good ebook reader in portrait mode and using the joystick. This is the first case I have ever seen shipped with a device that actually means you won't have to look for a 3rd party solution. The leather is soft and the case does a good job of protecting the device and letting you access all ports and buttons.

The GPS receiver blew me away and is something I talk a bit about in my video below. I was just goofing around and downloaded the Google Maps Windows Mobile application when I decided to see if I could get the GPS to work, while sitting in the lower level of my 2-story house about 6 to 8 feet away from the nearest window. I was amazed when 6 to 8 satellites were tracked and my exact position was plotted on Google Maps. It also found me within about 1 minutes, compared to the 4 minutes or so that it takes the Nokia N95 with a clear sky all around me. I am really going to test out the GPS functionality now with the TeleNav software. I was ready to buy a Garmin GPS for US$500 a couple months ago and if I can get a device that does GPS well and so much more for only US$350 more then the Advantage may be a great alternative.

I also popped out my iPhone AT&T SIM and away I went surfing with 3G and HSDPA connectivity. The Advantage is really geared towards mobile data, but can also make and receive telephone calls. As a person who focuses more on data, this may again be a perfect mobile companion. HTC is good at coming up with innovations in its devices and this latest one that I haven't heard anything about before is called VueFLO. By pressing an activation button in Opera VueFLO is activated and you can browse the web and scroll pages be simply tilting the display back and forth and left and right. Accelerometers in the unit allow this functionality, but unfortunately I haven't been able to get it to work in an e-book reader or any other program. A mobile labyrinth game would be very cool and hopefully we'll see more use of this technology.

Check out my YouTube video below where I take a quick look at the device and some of the cool features.

I haven't had time to form an opinion of the keyboard yet, but do find the keys lack of feedback a little unusual. I plan to try setting aside my iPhone and using the Advantage as my primary device for a couple of weeks and will then post a more thorough review at that time. If you have any features and functionality you wish me to test out, please post a comment to this blog entry.

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