O2 Xda Orbit

  • Editors' rating
    7.8 Very good

Pros

  • Quad-band GSM, HSDPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • TouchFLO user interface
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Relatively bulky
  • Livery may be a little brash for some tastes
  • Lacks a keyboard

O2 launched its original Xda in 2002. At the time it was one of the few Windows Mobile devices with an integrated mobile phone. Times have changed and now it is unusual to see a Windows Mobile device without SIM support. In the intervening period O2 has successfully maintained and developed its Xda series, and the Xda Orbit 2 updates the original Xda Orbit. Its key features include a GPS receiver and navigation software.

Design
The Orbit 2 looks like a fairly standard Windows Mobile handheld. It has a normal front screen layout with four buttons and navigation key. However there are a couple of noteworthy points.

The screen measures 2.8in. across the diagonal and has a native resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. It sits flush to the device's outer casing, which may not be to everyone's taste — although we had no problem using the touch-screen. O2 had little say in the design choice in this case, anyway, as the Xda Orbit 2 is an HTC device that incorporates elements of its TouchFLO technology.

The buttons beneath the screen are the usual Call, End, Windows Mobile Start and OK ones, while the large navigation wheel has a good-sized central select button. The four buttons are integrated into a pair of large panels on either side of the navigation wheel, and people with larger fingers may find these easier to use than small individual buttons.

Another ergonomic plus is the navigation wheel's ability to be rotated under the fingertip as well as pressed in the usual up, down, left and right positions. This gives you maximum scrolling and selection control.

The Xda Orbit 2 is on the hefty side, weighing 130g and measuring 110mm tall by 58mm wide by 15.5mm thick. It feels substantial in the hand.

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Some users may find the reflective nature of much of the fascia a little too brash for their tastes. However the livery's mix of sliver, black and a sort of opaque mercury colour is certainly distinctive.

There are several slots and buttons on the sides, including a microSD card slot and a camera button on the right side and volume slider on the left. Also on the left-hand side is a button that on a short press activates voice dialling and on a longer press fires up the voice recorder.

The bottom edge houses the USB connector for mains power and PC connectivity. It also connects the headset to the device. The headset itself is two-piece unit with a 3.5mm connector just past the microphone section. This also houses Call and End buttons and a full array of music playback and volume control buttons. It's therefore a little bulky, but these features do make it a competent handsfree unit.

The stylus, which is very flimsy, sits in a housing at the bottom, on the right edge at the back.

The Xda Orbit 2 comes with an AC adapter, a USB sync cable, the two-piece headset, a somewhat tight-fitting slipcase, a spare stylus, two screen protectors and a printed getting-started guide. There's also a full manual on CD.

The excellent CoPilot Live7 navigation software is bundled with the Xda Orbit 2. It's supplied on a microSD card and comes with an accompanying CD and getting-started guide, as well as the accessories needed to use the Orbit 2 as an in-vehicle sat-nav system — namely a plastic sucker-style mount and in-vehicle charger.

Features
The Windows Mobile 6.0-based Xda Orbit 2 is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7200 processor running at 400MHz. It has 256MB of ROM memory and 128MB of RAM. Fresh out of the box, our review sample reported 88MB of storage memory free.

The preinstalled CoPilot Live7 software is supplied on a 1GB microSD card, and draws information from the card while running. The card has almost 600MB of free capacity, which you can use to store your own data.

The Xda Orbit 2 is a quad-band GSM device with GPRS/EDGE, 3G/HSDPA support, capable of download speeds up to a maximum of 3.6Mbps. There's a front facing camera for two-way video calling, while the main camera, whose lens is at the back, is a 3-megapixel unit. This camera has an autofocus feature and a self-portrait mirror, but no flash unit.

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth (2.0) are also integrated, along with a SiRFstar III GPS receiver.

We have already noted that the Xda Orbit 2 incorporates HTC's TouchFLO technology. However, HTC's trademark Home screen, with its live weather reports and other features, is not present here. Instead, O2 prefers the standard Windows Mobile Today screen, but with some additions such as gauges for battery life and main storage and links to running applications.

Other TouchFLO elements are present, though. For example, when viewing the Today screen you can sweep a finger from the foot of the display upwards to call up the HTC Touch Cube. This has a series of screens that you can flick through by dragging a finger from side to side across the display.

These screens give you access to various applications and services, including picture contacts and media stored on the device. To close the Touch Cube you simply drag a finger downwards towards the bottom of the screen. You can also use a finger to pan around within some applications, such as the web browser, and to scroll through lists.

Some applications have been added to the standard Windows Mobile bundle, including Adobe Reader, an RSS reader, a Zip file manager and an FM radio.

Performance & battery life
With quad-band GSM, HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS plus bundled sat-nav software, the Xda Orbit 2 combines strong mobile telephony and data communications with a good set of features. In short, it's a highly converged device.

Battery life is better than average. We managed a day's work, including some Wi-Fi and sat-nav use, a couple of video calls and a little music, without draining the battery. People will have different usage patterns for a multifunction device like this, but we'd expect most people to go a couple of days between charges.

Conclusion
The Xda Orbit 2 combines a strong set of features with good battery life. The HTC TouchFLO system may not be to every taste, but if you disapprove, you can simply ignore it. And obviously if you can't manage without a keyboard, then this device is not for you. But anyone using the original Orbit or an early Xda device should consider an upgrade.

 

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