TyTN: Smartphone of your dreams?

HTC is known for manufacturing many of the Windows Mobile and a couple Palm devices and is now branding and selling their own devices, starting with the superb HTC TyTN Pocket PC Phone Edition. Check out the full review for all the details on this fine piece of hardware.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Two years ago I started using Pocket PC Phone Edition devices with the T-Mobile MDA II device and since that time I have owned or tried the MDA III, i-mate JasJar, TORQ P100, TORQ P120, and HTC Wizard (the QTEK 9000, i-mate K-JAM, and T-Mobile MDA versions). I was pleased with all of the devices since I am such a data-centric mobile user and my personal favorite was the HTC Wizard.

The one aspect of the HTC Wizard that kept me from still using it as my primary device was the processor speed. It ran a TI OMAP 850 200 MHz processor, which is fine for most users, but as a power user, I found it to lag a bit at times when I had my 30+ applications loaded on the device. HTC recently released the update to the HTC Wizard, code-named the HTC Hermes. With this new device, they also decided to sell their own brand rather than just letting other companies (like i-mate, QTEK, etc.) rebrand their devices.

David Weiniger from Mad Monkey Boys Gadgets has always been great about sending me evaluation units and just sent me the HTC TyTN (pronounced Titan) to check out for a week and have to say it is a very nice improvement over the HTC Wizard model and actually had me seriously considering dropping my Nokia E61. Check out my 18 page gallery for photos of the device.


New features

The TyTN sports a couple of cool new features, one is unique to all Windows Mobile Phone Edition devices, and is a very professional looking device. The unique new feature is the integrated jog dial located on the upper left side. This helps to make browsing the internet and reading ebooks a bit easier with a single hand and is a very welcome feature on the device. Another new feature is a second camera on the front for video calling, however since T-Mobile USA doesn't yet have 3G I was unable to test this feature. The TyTN supports GSM/GPRS/EDGE quad band and HSDPA/UMTS (2100 MHz for Europe and 850/1900 MHz for the U.S.). Other amazing specifications include a very fast Samsung 400 MHz stacked CPU, 128 MB ROM, 64MB RAM, 2.8 inch 240x320 LCD, 2 megapixel camera with macro mode and light, integrated Bluetooth 2.0, integrated 802.11g WiFi, and 1350 mAh Lithium-ion polymer battery.


The TyTN has a slide out keyboard similar to the HTC Wizard models, but this keyboard is not as wide and sports the larger buttons like the HTC Apache devices (PPC-6700). The backlight is blue and is very strong so you can see all the punctuation and characters accessed with an alt key press. There is a light sensor on the top right of the keyboard that works well in figuring out if the backlight should turn on or not.

To help make the device more usable, HTC includes several hardware buttons. On the left side you will find the jog dial on the top of the left side with a small OK button just below the jog dial. You can press in on the jog dial to perform the selected action and the OK button helps with navigation as well. Below the OK button is the voice command button that allows you to make a call with you voice. On the bottom of the left side you will find the externally accessible microSD card slot. I knew the device used a microSD format, but I was still quite surprised by how extremely small this new storage card format is. It is about the size of my fingernail and while I think it is great to see memory cards getting more compact I would be a bit worried about losing one this small and would have been happy with a miniSD card.

On the right side you will find the power button that turns off the display with a single press. If you press and hold it then a dialog box will appear asking if you really want to completely shut down the device, which is a new feature in Windows Mobile Phone Edition devices. Below this is the Communications Manager button that launches the utility to manage all your various connections on a single display. At the bottom of the right side is the camera button that actually works out to be up on the top right when you rotate the device into landscape camera mode.

On the bottom you will find lots of items. In my photo starting from the right and moving to the left is the infrared port, reset button, battery release switch, microphone hole, mini USB connector, and stylus silo. The mini USB connector is a bit different than a standard mini USB connector because the left side is square rather than angled like the right side. A mini USB cable still fits into the device and can be used to sync or charge it, but the headphones connect in this port too and have the unique design. While your regular headphones won't plug in anywhere, there is A2DP Bluetooth support on the device so you can use wireless Bluetooth headphones. There is nothing on the top of the device and I think it may be a reason why the RF signal strength is so strong since there are no connectors or other ports interfering with the radio. There are still a few more buttons on the device and on the bottom front you will find a send and end green and red button, two keys for the display soft keys, a Start key and an OK button. There is also a small video camera button, but as I mentioned earlier I was unable to test this functionality.

At the top of the front is a cool new rocker button that launches Messaging and Internet Explorer by default (these can be reassigned by you for other applications too). The small VGA video camera is off to the right of the rocker button. In the center is the cool new HTC logo with the indicator light panel and speaker above this. The back of the TyTN is completely removable with the 1350 mAh battery and SIM card slot under the battery. There is a self-portrait mirror, camera light, speaker, external antenna connector and macro/normal mode switch around the 2 megapixel camera lens.


User experiences

I happened to depart on a business trip the day the TyTN arrived so I decided to take it and use it on the trip. I popped in my SIM card after fully charging the device, setup my T-Mobile data account, and made a couple of phone calls. The RF reception was outstanding and beat almost every other device I have ever tried. Everyone I called said that it sounded like I was on a landline and on my end the volume and clarity was very good. Speakerphone quality was also very good and I almost jumped on the device just because the phone quality was so outstanding. I took a few photos of the area I was working in and of the damaged barge and was very impressed with the quality. I was pleased to see HTC release a device with a camera that is actually usable for on-the-go snapshots. I ran SlingPlayer Mobile and Skype on the device in my hotel in the evening and both applications flew on the 400 MHz processor. I also loaded up OneNote Mobile and a few other applications and was delighted with the zippiness of the device. The TyTN also switches between landscape and portrait much faster than the HTC Wizard models. Battery life was quite impressive and I never saw it go down below 50% even with quite heavy data and phone usage over the weekend.



I was seriously considering the TyTN as my next purchase, but I can't afford the US$700+ at this time and without the certainty that the TyTN will work on T-Mobile's 3G data network later this year or early in 2007 I didn't want to sell my Nokia E61 to offset about half the cost. The only improvement I would like is a second shift key on the right side of the keyboard and the use of a standard 2.5 or 3.5mm headset jack. The TyTN is very well constructed, has a professional looking gray and silver finish, has a very usable keyboard that I was able to type very quickly on and just feels great in your hand. If you are looking for the latest and greatest Windows Mobile Phone Edition then you can pick up a SIM-unlocked HTC TyTN from David for US$739.

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