HTC TyTN

  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • Excellent keyboard
  • good 3G performance
  • relatively compact design
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and infrared

Cons

  • Internal memory may need expanding
  • small, hard to grip stylus

HTC is a well-established manufacturer of Windows Mobile devices, its products being sold by mobile network operators under their own branding and by the likes of i-mate and Qtek. The latter is actually the brand name used by HTC itself, but recently the company decided to drop the Qtek brand and use its own name for directly sold hardware. Two devices were launched when this branding strategy was announced: the HTC TyTN (pronounced ‘titan’) and the HTC MTeoR (pronounced ‘meteor’). The MTeoR is a Windows Mobile Smartphone, while the TyTN, reviewed here, is a Windows Mobile Pocket PC.

HTC has not abandoned its relationships with network operators. Orange has announced its own version of the TyTN as the SPV M3100, while T-Mobile has announced the MDA Vario II. The three devices are all slightly different in appearance but all of them support 3G at 384Kbps, while T-Mobile’s MDA Vario II also supports the company’s live HSDPA network with download speeds of up to 1.8Mbps.

Design
The HTC TyTN is a small-format Windows Mobile Pocket PC. Measuring 112mm by 58 mm by 22 mm, it shares the same footprint as Orange's SPV M600. However, it’s relatively thick because the device has two sections, the top and bottom halves sliding apart along the long edge to reveal a QWERTY keyboard.

This hardware design is not new (it's used in the T-Mobile MDA Vario, Orange SPV M3000, i-mate K-JAM, and O2 XDA mini S, for example), but this is easily the best integration of a keyboard into a Windows Mobile device that we've seen. The only other 3G-supporting Windows Mobile 5.0 device with a keyboard is Orange’s SPV M5000 (see also O2’s XDA Exec, Vodafone’s v1640 and variants).

That device (also made by HTC, as it happens) opens up, clamshell style, and has a twisting lid section that can be laid flat onto the keyboard (similar to a convertible Tablet PC). It is relatively large and unwieldy for a Pocket PC, whereas the TyTN feels much more pocket friendly while retaining both a usable keyboard and reasonably large screen.

The 2.8in. TFT screen has a resolution of 240 by 320 pixels. When you slide the keyboard out for use it automatically puts itself into landscape format. Sliding the keyboard away again causes the screen to revert to portrait orientation.

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The keyboard lacks a number row: above the QWERTY row, two small keys map onto the Windows Mobile softmenus. The QWERTY keys themselves are relatively large -- around 8mm wide and 6mm tall, except for the curved ones at each corner, which are slightly smaller. There's an embedded number pad, to which the device automatically defaults when you enter the TyTN’s phone dialler. At other times, you press a function key to access the number pad.

As well as the QWERTY keys, the keypad offers cursor, OK, Tab and Start Menu keys with Shift lock and Caps shared on a single key. You can also access the Windows Mobile File Explorer, turn the built-in Wi-Fi on and off, and access a range of symbols from an on-screen picker -- this is handy as there are no currency symbols readily available, and the range of symbols in general is small.

The keyboard is quite fast to use when holding the HTC TyTN in two hands and tapping with thumbs. We also found it feasible to prod at with two fingers with the device laid on a table, although the weight of the top section means the TyTN doesn’t lay completely flat.

The TyTN’s front and edges are liberally peppered with buttons. On the front, shortcuts to Pocket Internet Explorer and the Windows Mobile Messaging software sit above the screen. Beneath the screen are Call and End buttons, a small round button with which you can launch video calls, a navigation button and two rocker switches that access the Windows Mobile softmenus, OK and the Start menu.

The top edge is clear, while the right edge houses the power switch, a shortcut to Windows Mobile's Comm Manager software and a camera shortcut button. On the left edge is a microSD card slot for memory expansion and a button that launches the voice speed-dial software on a short press and the voice notes software on a long press. HTC has also reinstated the scroll wheel -- once a mainstay of Pocket PCs; this sits on the upper left edge where it falls nicely under the thumb. It's accompanied by an offset OK button. You can also depress the wheel to make selections, but this needs to be pressed quite a long way and so isn't particularly comfortable to use.

The bottom edge is where you'll find the infrared port, a mini USB slot for power and PC connectivity, and a release button for the battery cover. The stylus lives on the bottom right back corner of the device, and is a big disappointment: it's an extending type, about 85mm long, and difficult to hold comfortably. It's also smooth sided, which doesn't help your grip, and very lightweight.

Features
The HTC TyTN is a quad-band GSM handset with GPRS, EDGE and 3G support. It will support HSDPA (as noted above, T-Mobile has launched its version of this device, with support for its recently launched HSDPA network). The processor is Samsung’s SC32442A running at 400MHz.

As far as memory is concerned, there is 64MB of SDRAM and 128MB of ROM; immediately after a hard reset, our review unit had 52MB of free storage. You can add more capacity via microSD cards if necessary.

Infrared, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are all built in. There are two cameras: on the front, above the screen, is a small camera for 3G video calling, while the lens for the main 2 megapixel camera is on the back. The latter is accompanied by a flash unit and a self portrait mirror. A manual switch takes the main camera into macro mode. It shoots stills at resolutions up to 1600 by 1200 pixels.

When you go into camera mode by pressing the shortcut button on the bottom right edge of the device, the screen becomes a viewfinder and three of its four edges are populated with icons. These offer tap-based access to settings, enabling you to alter these quickly and easily.

During a 3G call you can switch between the front and back cameras by tapping the screen -- this is handy if you need to show your caller what you are looking at rather than your own face.

Software provision does not extend much beyond the standard Windows Mobile 5.0 bundle. You do get the ClearVue PDF reader, though, along with a Zip file manager.

Performance & battery life
We tested battery life by setting the TyTN to play MP3 music in a continuous loop with the screen forced to stay on. It delivered an impressive 9 hours 55 minutes of music. In everyday use the TyTN typically lasted for two or three days between recharges; it should be possible to keep it going for longer if necessary by using stringent power management settings.

The keyboard is just as good as that on the much larger SPV M5000 (and its siblings), despite its lack of a dedicated number row. Coupled with excellent 3G performance and HSPDA support, the HTC TyTN and its variants from network operators could be the ideal compromise between size and functionality.

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