HTC P3300 review: Compact navigator

Jiří Kuruc, 31 October 2006. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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OS

HTC P3300 is equipped with the Windows Mobile 5 OS in its PocketPC Phone Edition. The manufacturer has not forgotten to integrate the latest updating package AKU2, which is comparable to Service Packs of Windows XP. Windows Mobile 5 brings along numerous interesting improvements, some of which will be mentioned a bit later. Let’s now start with a brief description of the operational system for absolute beginners. Those experienced could skip the following several paragraphs.

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OS interface, the main display with a slightly modified look

The Windows Mobile 5 OS has inherited the address and file structures of its bigger „brother“. It offers a registry and multitasking. Against common Windows, however, here there is no bar with running applications that one could add with the help of third parties’ applications. Of course, should you need to or want to, you can enrich the OS with plenty additional applications. Along the progress history of Windows Mobile (earlier called Pocket PC) there could rarely be found crucial changes breaking the compatibility with older applications. That is why nowadays Internet offers several thousands of applications for this OS. They are so numerous that whenever you need a particular service, be sure you will run across an application that will not only be suitable, but will also be free of charge. Of course, Windows Mobile suffers from drawbacks too. For example, it tends to overload the system as every second installed application drags in its own library, registers and other lumber, which do not get eliminated once their application has been uninstalled.

As we already mentioned several times the changes between Windows Mobile 2003SE and Window Mobile 5, let’s now sum them up briefly: the memory organization has undergone the most crucial modifications; in the older version RAM was used for both running programs and for storing of user data. ROM served the OS. The result was an automatic hard reset after battery discharge. In the new version this drawback has been eliminated in a simple and logical way: ROM is shared by the OS and the user data, while RAM only serves running applications. The principal is identical to the one applied in common computers. The only disadvantage of this change is that ROM is notably slower than RAM. In a result, it takes longer for applications to start running or for files to get copied. If you are used to installing your applications on the memory card, however, you may not even notice the difference.

Let’s now have a closer look at the novelties of the upgrading package AKU2. The first one is that Bluetooth works with the profile A2DP, which transfers stereo music files into wireless earphones. The second one – but not the last – is called Direct Push. This is a new system of mail delivering from the communicator to other mobile devices. The email box can be checked either manually, or automatically, in preset time intervals. Direct Push delivers messages immediately, but its smooth run requires that several conditions are met: your company server should be running on Microsoft Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 and Mobile ActiveSync should be available. When using Direct Push you should expect higher data costs and decreased battery life.

Slow-paced processor

HTC has again used the processor Texas Instruments OMAP 850 of the scant 200 MHz. It is clear that the processor clock speed is not always an indication of performance, but in the case of HTC P3300 it is so. Why HTC repeatedly uses such a weak processor since in other devices it applies far more powerful processors like Intel or Samsung remains a mystery and at the same time provokes many speculations. We believe price is the crucial factor. Unlike above mentioned competitors the processor Texas Instruments has all critical elements (voice/data communication module, input/output driving units, wireless technologies etc.) integrated on one chip, which naturally reduces the final price significantly.

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Basic hardware information

No matter what Vario owners say, the TI OMAP 850 processor is slow. Do not blame us of being pedant in power units published in synthetic tests though. When compared directly with Eten M600+ (Intel XScale 416 MHz) HTC did lag in all tested operations. Actually, there is no need to compare the two devices. Simply try to run the calendar or the client for text messaging or open the settings and you will see what we are talking about. HTC could drive you mad. On the other hand, the processor deserves a compliment for its seamless work with the famous VoIP in Skype. There were no functional difficulties as to communication via Wi-Fi, no matter the fact that Skype developers recommend the use of a processor of at least 400 MHz.

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The processor is fast enough to run Skype via Wi-Fi

The RAM is 64 MB according to the specification. Its real capacity, however, is 48 MB. Nonetheless, only 25 MB remain available once the OS has been loaded (without installing neither popular resident applications for better task-management nor extras for Today screen. I guess our fear of using up all available memory if we had ran a navigational application was well reasoned. This unease could have been overcome for good by doubling the RAM.

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Available ROM and RAM

ROM is no big success, either. The total capacity is 128 MB, but users are only left 51 MB, the rest is used by the OS. Fortunately, HTC P3300 is equipped with a memory card slot. Bad news for the owners of older communicators though: the purchase of a new memory card is inevitable. The good old SD/MMC (MDA Compact I & II, Qtek S200), even miniSD (MDA Vario) have been substituted by microSD (TransFlash). The problem is not the price of the memory card; it consists in the fact that the biggest offered capacity does not currently exceed 1 GB, which may not be enough for users in favor of navigation and multimedia.

Calls

HTC P3300 has a quad-band GSM module, that is, working in the following frequencies: 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz. 3G UMTS networks support is missing. The phonebook offers an infinite capacity due to shared memory. Each contact can be assigned tons of fields. Common calls are made in the following way: switch on the communicator, press the green key to open the interface with virtual keypad, and from here search the desired contact using the special T9 search. Then select the contact and press the green key once again to start calling. The T9 search means that there is no need to press keys with letters repeatedly. A single press is enough for the communicator to start filtering the entries. Whether you search by first or last name is absolutely irrelevant. Of course, dialing just a number is possible too.

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Phonebook • creating a new contact • contacts‘ menu

The earphones enclosed in the retail package perform well! Their high volume capacity is perfect for the noisy city environment, but the highest two levels are accompanied by unpleasant noise. The application Voice Speed Dial for instant dialing and pocket computer control is available as well. HTC also mastered our audio test with a wireless Bluetooth earphone. What we notably missed were ringing profiles and call filters.

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Interface for call dialing; T9 instant filtration

Let us now go back to the VoIP communication via Skype mentioned in the previous chapter. As we said, HTC P3300 is powerful enough to support this application. At the same time, however, HTC sends the sound coming from the opposite part to the loud speaker on its rear side (just like most communicators do). Fortunately, the speaker is located in the upper part of the rear panel allowing for a relatively good-quality conversation. The only exception to the rule is the communicator E-Ten M600+, which features a smart utility that redirects sound to the speaker on the front.

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