Big Review of HTC HD Mini

Introduction:

I received the device in a box featuring a cute graphic depicting an outline of top-class HD2 around a detailed image of HTC HD mini with arrows emphasizing the diminutive size of this new device. The change in size naturally required some changes in the configuration, such as a new HVGA screen resolution and the latest Qualcomm series 7 processor ticking at 600 MHz. Although the installed version of the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 operating system is much better adapted for finger control its predecessors, HTC did not forget to bundle its own applications package including the ever better HTC Sense user environment. If you wish to learn more about the HTC HD Mini, read on.

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This review features more videos than earlier articles. The videos are available on this YouTube channel (including 1280 x 720 HD format, no English however) together with all other (older) videos.

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The reviewed device had an English ROM version 1.07.479.1 WWE and radio version 0.63.05.05. Other versions and configurations may show different performance results.

Basic Information

HTC’s HD2 is one of the most popular and best-selling Windows Mobile devices ever, yet not everyone likes it for various reasons. That is why HTC came up with its lighter version and called it aptly HTC HD mini.

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The main three differences include the size and resolution of the screen, processor type and clock speed, and a smaller size and weight. The screen is more than an inch smaller, at 3.2 inch, and boasts a smaller HVGA resolution of 320×480 pixels. This is why it is a little coarser. The bigger device’s extremely powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon processor ticking at 1 GHz was replaced by a lower-class 600-MHz chip, which did not affect the overall performance very much, fortunately. The significantly smaller size will be seen as an advantage by those who find the HD2 too large to hold.

Currently, HTC HD mini is available in the Czech Republic only from independent vendors and one operator, O2, which means you can save substantially if you become their customer.

Unboxing

The traditionally small box with colour print includes only a very basic set of accessories, which is hardly surprising at this price point.

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The package contains the following items:

  • HTC HD mini
  • Battery
  • Earbud-type earphones with a clip and foam padding
  • AC adapter
  • microUSB cable
  • CD-ROM with a user manual
  • Some brochures and leaflets

The most noteworthy item in the box is an elegant, minuscule AC adapter (weighing just 36 grams) which plugs into the mains outlet and connects to the device by the bundled microUSB cable. An ideal travel solution.

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The earphones with a one-button control and microphone are mediocre, in line with the standard. If you are serious about listening to music, you will quickly replace them with something better. The enclosed CD carries user manuals in various languages. And the pile of brochures and leaflets includes a brief beginners’ guide, among other things.

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There is no protective case or memory card included in the package.

OpenMobileMaps, alternative online maps for your WM device

Although there is an application called Google Maps Mobile preinstalled on almost every new Windows Mobile device, not every user is happy using services from such an “evil, privacy spying” companies like Google. Fortunatelly, there is an alternative mobile client called OpenMobileMaps used to access maps and other data on the online map server named OpenStreetMap. Sure, it is not as good as GMM but it is sufficient for all basic actions like viewing maps in many zoom levels, locking position using GPS or GSM triangulation, searching addresses, calculating routes and a few others. An internet connection is required to get the maps, however you can still download the map tiles with your PC and transfer it to your smartphone using JTileDownloader or get them directly on your mobile device using PDA TileManager so you can save your money and mobile bandwidth. You can get OpenMobileMaps for free in out freeware section now.

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Third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon offering dual-core running up to 1,2 GHz

Qualcomm Incorporated today announced the Company has sampled its first dual-CPU Snapdragon™ chipsets. The Mobile Station Modem™ (MSM™) MSM8260™ and MSM8660™ solutions integrate two of the Company’s enhanced cores running at up to 1.2GHz. Targeted at enabling high-end smartphones, the MSM8×60 solutions are third-generation chipsets from the Company’s expanded Snapdragon platform, which has been powering smartphones, tablets and smartbook devices in markets around the world.The MSM8260 for HSPA+ and MSM8660 for multi-mode HSPA+/CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO Rev. B feature two enhanced CPU cores running at up to 1.2GHz for high levels of Web application and multimedia performance, including a powerful GPU with 3D/2D acceleration engines for Open GLES 2.0 and Open VG 1.1 accelration, 1080p video encode/decode, dedicated low power audio engine, integrated low power GPS, and support for 24-bit WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution displays.

Unknown Samsung prototype running Windows Phone 7 caught on video!

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Although it seemed that Samsung fell in love with Android and its own Platform called Samsung Bada, fortunately it doesn’t mean that there will be no Samsung Windows Phone devices anymore. As you can see yourself on those two YouTube videos, there is work in progress on at least one Samsung WP7 device. Besides a very nice demo of system speed and responsiveness an that fully functional Samsung prototype, there is also a short demo of an Xbox Live Arcade / iPhone game port called Twin Blades by Press Star Studio. It was done in a week by one programmer using 90 percent of the Xbox Live code which is quite impressive.

And now the promised YouTube videos.

HTC Mondrian for the second time, now in colors and different specs

Since there is quite a little of interesting topics in the Windows Phone 7 area these weeks, number of rumors and unofficial information grows rapidly. Yesterday we told you about the new HTC Mondrian where all rumors including image renders were based on info found in the leaked ROM and now there is another HTC Mondrian with different specs and render in colors. According to PocketNow.com, this version of HTC Mondrian supposed to be powered by Qualcomm QSD8672 chipset running at 1.5 GHz, 16GB of internal memory and 512 MB RAM, 3.7″ WVGA AMOLED capacitive touch screen and 8MP with auto focus with camera flash with High definition 720p video capture. Dimensions of the new device could be 116.7 x 58.7 x 11.9 milimeters. So, take your pick

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A Short Review Of Orneta Checkers 1.5

A Short Review Of Orneta Checkers 1.5

I am not usually a board game type person my self, I haven’t really played many and not one on my Pocket PC. That all changed when Orneta Checkers 1.5 was released and Orneta offered it free to the first 1000 orders on Handango. I took advantage of the offer right away and ordered it. It was easy enough to install and registration was easy. In minutes I was looking at a checkered blue screen with two sets of different coloured tokens sitting on opposite sides.

First Try…

Was on novice, playing as the black pieces. You can choose the colour pieces you want to play as, what difficulty and if you want there to be sounds. The board interface is elusive at first, not knowing whether to tap or double tap a piece to select it. A single tap selects a piece and a second tap on a diagonally connect square moves the piece. However it isn’t apparent to someone picking up the game for the first time that that is how it works.

Difficulty Thinking…

Novice was easy four times out of three, the third time was a bit more challenging but it was probably because of a accidental move made by me. Medium was a more of a challenge and the message “Thinking” appears somewhat briefly before each turn of the CPU. After not loosing any of the five matches in a row it was time to move on to expert difficulty. “Thinking” became the game for the CPU’s turns. It would spend almost a minute or more “Thinking” of it’s next move, even when the only move available was take a piece. It appeared that that was the only thing to change in this difficulty as I was once again able to win five matches in a row.

Winning five in a row on difficult was not as difficult as you would think. It was almost like playing the Medium skill setting again, but taking longer to play each move.

Aware

Orneta claim that this game is Orientation Aware (Resizes for the orientation of your screen and screen size) and Theme Aware (The game matches the colour of the theme active on your device). The Orientation Aware side of the game works very well, it adjust as quick as I adjust from portrait to landscape on my iPAQ. The theme aware on the other hand I couldn’t find how to access, until I read on a forum that it is only for Windows Mobile 5.0. Yet it is apart of the product information for the Windows Mobile 2003 version.

Basic Facts

  • Application name: Orneta Checkers 1.5
  • Tested version: 1.5
  • Author: Orneta
  • Download: Trial
  • Registration: US$ 9.95, purchase at our store or at handango.com. Users of Windows Mobile 5.0 click here. Users of Windows Mobile 2003SE click here.

Conclusion

In conclusion this is a great concept that needs a little more revision before they ask people to pay for it. The game is basic and the difficulty lies mostly in having the patience to wait out the “Thinking” message. The Theme Aware feature could have been reconfigured in the Windows Mobile 2003 version to allow the user to choose the colour of the board to at least give users of that platform a chance to change the look of the game. The interface is almost there, but something needs to be done about informing the user of what is going on. I give this a 70%

The New Qtek Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphones

Translator’s Note

I’m not anywhere near a perfect translator and as such this translation was done way too late in the night. I’ve tried correcting all major spelling and grammer mistakes, so the main message should be still there in the translated text. In case you are wondering why the text appears longer than the Finnish text, it is only because the Finnish language is wonderous in the ways one can “compress” so much information in so little words. It might be that the wording sounds out of contexts at times, but that is mainly due to me not being able to find a better word at the time that I translated this.

Enough about that, over to the phones: basically, the Qtek 8300 and 8310 have gotten the exact same “marketing speech” and technical details (someone seems to like copy-and-pasting over at Qtek), with the only difference between the two models being the outer case design. That, my dear readers, is the reason for why I have a longer story for the Qtek 8310 than the 8300. In case something feels unclear, don’t hesitate to ask in the PDAgold forums by clicking the comments link at the bottom of this page. Now, enjoy…


Qtek 8310

The Qtek 8310

Qtek 8310 is the second fall update to the Smartphone line. 8310 offers, in cojunction with it’s sistermodel 8300, EDGE, Wi-Fi, Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition operating system in Finnish, 1.3 megapixel camera and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. This new model also includes 240×320 pixels QVGA screen and wide variety of [multi]media features. Despite the huge amount of features in this phone, it only measures 107,5 mm x 46,2 mm x 17,5 mm and weighs only 106 grams!

Qtek 8310 offers access to speedy EDGE-connections whose largest transfer speed is even 236,8 kbit/s. The fast speed connection offers new dimensions to using the Internet and being mobile. Furthermore the 8310 includes for the first time in such a small device an integrated Wi-Fi-chip for WLAN use. The data transfer options are completed with integrated Bluetooth.

The media player in this device is Windows Media Player 10, which can play videos and music, so, the device can operate as an mp3-player. Additionally, the Qtek 8310 can use mp3s as ring tones. The phone’s MiniSD-slot supports sizes up to 8 gigabytes.

With the phone you get Pocket Outlook-software, which includes email, contacts and calendar. The email software supports POP3- and IMAP-servers, so that you will not need any thing else to receive and send email. Contacts and calendar are synchronizable with the PC’s Outlook software either using an USB cable, infrared or Bluetooth. The accompanying ActiveSync software makes it possible, in addition to the previously mentioned methods, to synchronize over GPRS or EDGE with an Exchange server.

Furthermore, the phone comes preloaded with MSN Messenger, Pocket Internet Explorer, games and a Wireless Modem software, which makes it possible to use the phone as a modem for e.g. a notebook computer. It is furthermore possible to download from the internet hundreds of useful and entertaining softwares for the Smartphone.

In addition to those feature, the device can also be fitted with accessories that can make the phone to be used e.g. as a GPS navigator.

The package contains: (the M-Technology Ltd. imported [into Finland] devices, estimated delivery Q4/2005)

Qtek 8310 Smartphone device

  • Rechargable battery (Li-ion 1050 mAh)
  • Charger
  • USB-sync cable
  • User’s guide (Finnish / English)
  • Stereo handsfree
  • The right to support in Finnish e.g.:
    • 2 year guarantee
    • Official softwareupdates
    • Automatic GPRS/MMS settings (see carrier list from support webpages)

Technical details:

Processor: TI OMAP 200MHZ + TI E-Syren
OS: Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition
Telephone properties: Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (automatic frequency change), speakerphone, MIDI/mp3/WAV-ringtones, vibration alert
Battery: Li-ion 1050 mAh, standby 250h, talktime 5h
Memory: Flash ROM 64MB, 32MB SDRAM
Screen: 2,2″ TFT LCD QVGA -screen, 64k colors, resolution 240 x 320 pixels
Camera: integrated 1.3 megapixels Video/Still camera, digital zoom
Expansion slots: Integrated MiniSD-slot
Audio: Integrated microphone, speaker, handsfree either via cable or Bluetooth
Data: USB, Irda, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Software: Pocket Outlook, Pocket Internet Explorer, Media Player 10 (wma, wmv, mp3), Video Player (MPEG4), MSN Messenger, MMS, WAP, Java Midlet (MIDP-2.0), Wireless Modem, games
Dimensions: 107.5 mm x 46,2 mm x 17,5 mm
Weight: 106 g
Optional accessories: Docking station, MiniSD cards, Bluetooth handsfree, GPS locator, etc.


Qtek 8300 -Technical details:

The Qtek 8300

Processor: TI OMAP 200MHZ + TI E-Syren
OS: Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition
Telephone properties: Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (automatic frequency change), speakerphone, MIDI/mp3/WAV-ringtones, vibration alert
Battery: Li-ion 1050 mAh, standby 250h, talktime 5h
Memory: Flash ROM 64MB, 32MB SDRAM
Screen: 2,2″ TFT LCD QVGA -screen, 64k colors, resolution 240 x 320 pixels
Camera: integrated 1.3 megapixels Video/Still camera, digital zoom
Expansion slots: Integrated MiniSD-slot
Audio: Integrated microphone, speaker, handsfree either via cable or Bluetooth
Data: USB, Irda, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Software: Pocket Outlook, Pocket Internet Explorer, Media Player 10 (wma, wmv, mp3), Video Player (MPEG4), MSN Messenger, MMS, WAP, Java Midlet (MIDP-2.0), Wireless Modem, games
Dimensions: 107.5 mm x 46,2 mm x 17,5 mm
Weight: 106 g
Optional accessories: Docking station, MiniSD cards, Bluetooth handsfree, GPS locator, etc.

First 60 minutes with HP iPAQ hw6500

With a certain degree of simplification, it would be easier to write what is ordinary about this device rather than to give an account of all the innovations and special features. Please note that the device I had was a pre-production unit, as is the case with all models featured in the “First 60 minutes with…” series. That means that the final product’s hardware and software features may differ. It is still a few weeks (or months) before its launch, so please do not rely on the information herein contained absolutely.

HP iPAQ hw6500
HP iPAQ hw6500

The average-size device features an unbelievable concentration of innovation per cubic centimetre. Its weight matches that of similarly equipped devices. The device holds pretty well thanks to rounded edges at the bottom.

Comparison with iPAQ hx2750

I bet my ancient 16-MB CompactFlash card:) that four out of five Pocket PC fans will notice an unusual display at first sight. As far as I can remember, this is the first Pocket PC device in history to feature a square display. The display sports the same parameters e.g. as that in iPAQ hx2750 (TFT, 65 thousand colours) but different size: 240 x 240 pixels, 79-millimetre diagonal. I will discuss its advantages and disadvantages in more detail in a big review, for now I have just a few remarks.

The main problem is games that are designed for the 240 x 320 resolution and therefore part of the game screen is not displayed. Nevertheless, the hw6500 is not intended as a gaming machine and most other applications work fine with the square display. It is hard to judge how convenient it will be in real life – it may matter in some situations whereas the integrated keyboard may compensate for the smaller display area in others. For me, it was a shock initially but I grew used to it over the time, I must admit. Naturally, there is no screen rotation option;)

HP iPAQ hw6500
HP iPAQ hw6500
HP iPAQ hw6500
HP iPAQ hw6500

The iPAQ hw6500, AKA Mobile Messenger, is a pioneer also in communication. It is not the first Pocket PC with an integrated GSM/GPRS module but certainly the first EDGE-enabled Pocket PC. In a few tests data appeared to flow faster than over GPRS but considered characteristics of the EDGE technology and an absence of any indication that would tell you “you are now downloading data over EDGE”, this was just my impression.

In addition, the iPAQ offers also Bluetooth and, as a cherry on the cake, an integrated GPS receiver. It seemed very sensitive – I drove the device on the front passenger seat and it was able to catch the signal from 5-6 satellites without any problems, which was not the case for BT GPS Altina that I used for comparison.

Another conspicuous feature is an integrated keyboard. The keyboard is virtually the same as those implemented in iPAQ h4350, iPAQ h6340 etc. It has blue backlight and is ideal for typing medium-length texts. It remains to be seen though if the final version will support national characters. Other controls include a joystick and a few user-definable and function buttons.

Keyboard

It is likely that strongly negative reactions to the performance of iPAQ h6340 made HP look for a more powerful CPU. This time, it is not a top performer, either, yet the Intel PXA272 running at 314 MHz offers much greater computing power than the 168-MHz OMAP. The memory includes 64 MB of RAM and 48 MB of FlashROM and is one of the areas where we may see some improvement in the final version. Now, a question for investigative readers: take a look at the screenshot below this paragraph and guess what is unusual… Yes, you are right:) This iPAQ, like new XDAs, offers part of the memory as Extended ROM (12 MB), i.e. a hidden place where the manufacturer preloads bonus apps that automatically start after a HW reset. Popular “cooking” may in the future become interesting not only for XDA users.

Extended ROM now in HP iPAQ:)

Expansion slots are not the same as usual, either. The new iPAQ does not feature the usual combination of an SDIO and a CF slot but an SDIO and a Mini-SD slot. Mini-SD is not new to the pocket computer sector but until now has been used in smartphones. It is a good solution for memory cards, although Mini-SD cards are more expensive than the standard SD ones. The user can store programmes on the Mini-SD card and use the SD slot for SDIO cards (WiFi etc.) and memory cards with documents, music and videos. The only minor drawback is the location of the slots on the side of the device, because SDIO cards stick out a little.

Two expansion slots

Digital photography fans will appreciate an integrated 1.3-MPix camera which offers resolution of up to 1280 x 1024 pixels. The quality is not striking (lags behind iPAQ rx3700); I would call it “satisfactory”, but sufficient for illustrative snaps. It supports still images as well as video and sports similar features as most other integrated pseudo-cameras. To get the idea, here are some photos (reduced in size).

Camera lens
Nemo in the bed (er, this is not my side of the bed:)
A cottage in Hornbach hobby centre
A still-life with a parking lot

It is too early to evaluate the software suite because it is the last thing the designers fine-tune. As in most iPAQs, we can expect a generous selection of bonus software. Besides common applications, such as Backup and Camera, I discovered e.g. a utility called Jeyo Mobile Extender in the Windows folder, which makes it possible to synchronise SMS messages with desktop Outlook. The Extended ROM contained a navigation utility from TomTom but this is not even remotely useful for people in the Czech Republic (no maps for this part of the world).

Today Screen
Camera application
SmartMaps Navigator

My first impressions? Superb on the technical side, good-looking, I appreciate a come-back of silver colour. I have described the technical parameters above, so I won’t repeat myself but I can say that almost all of them are unique. I guess the HP iPAQ hw6500 is targeted at a limited group of corporate users, not the general public. The most likely users are those who require mobile collection of data, sales people etc. for whom this device may serve as an all-in-one laptop replacement. Let’s take it from the beginning – a mobile employee downloads a list of places to visit during the day into his PDA. He will have no problems getting there thanks to integrated GPS and navigation SW (why not SmartMaps Navigator:) Once reaching the client or partner, he can take even large-scale orders, typing on the integrated keyboard, which, with some training, will offer much better services than the virtual one.

In addition, if the SIP panel remains hidden, the display area is comparable to a common PDA. He then can send the orders to the company, the EDGE technology enabling fast transmission of large volumes of data (e.g. updates of parts and price lists may take many MB of data). The Mobile Printing utility makes it possible to print the order on the spot and hand it over to the client. And so on…

I am not saying an ordinary user would not find the new iPAQs features cool. Yet I believe HP’s other models are better suited for common users, albeit without an integrated GPS, EDGE and other specials to be found in this device. It is also possible that I will change my opinion after some time of testing the device:) Of course, the price – still being kept secret – will be one of the important factors. Anyway, we shall see when the final version hits the shelves.

First 60 minutes with ETEN M500

Customers in our geography have a fairly limited choice of Pocket PC Phone Edition devices. The phone-enabled PDA market has been dominated by HTC, which sells its products under the brands of our two largest mobile operators: HTC Blue Angel (as T-Mobile MDA III and Eurotel DataPhone III, respectively) and HTC Magician (as T-Mobile MDA Compact). These are followed by HP iPAQ h6340 which has a significantly smaller market share, and we should mention also Yakumo Omikron, which I think has been already retired.

ETEN M500
ETEN M500

I have had several chances to meet devices from E-TEN Information Systems. It has been quite a long time, though, and as far as I can remember, they failed to impress me. The more surprised I was to unpack a box with an inscription ETEN M500 and see a device which had nothing to do with the pathetic PDA attempts of the past. This article summarizes my several-hour experience and impressions. I would like to thank Sunnysoft for lending me the device for this purpose.

The ETEN M500 appears to be a standard device commonly available on foreign markets (I believe). Apart from the device itself, the package contains a few accessories, such as a synchronisation cradle that could successfully feature in any sci-fi film. This silver dish offers an extra slot for charging a spare battery as well as a USB connector. The synchronisation cable can be plugged directly to the device, which is an ideal solution for travelling. Another accessory worth attention is a protective case. However, its qualities appeared questionable to me. The box contains also an AC adapter, earplug-type headset with microphone and remote volume control, a strap, two CD-ROMs, and a slim manual with basic information for beginners.

ETEN in the cradle
ETEN in my hand

The device does look interesting. It has a more “classic” look than MDA Compact, undoubtedly its closest and most important competitor. However, the ETEN is a little larger and heavier than the HTC product. The difference is not very big, though, and some may prefer a bulkier piece of hardware. For me, it held quite comfortably. The GSM module antenna is fully integrated, so it does not stick out. Take a look at the images around, I shall keep a detailed description for a big review:) Apart from two system buttons for answering a call and hanging up, there are four user-definable buttons, a volume slider, and a round joypad with a separate button in middle. Unusual (yet not unique) is the location of a telescopic stylus at the bottom. One can get used to it, still I find rather inconvenient.

Comparison with MDA Compact
Comparison with MDA Compact (rear side)

As for performance, the ETEN is doing quite well even though the parameters are not the very best. Unlike the Compact, this device runs a Samsung S3C2440A processor at 400 MHz, which provides good computing power for everyday tasks. Memory is plentiful, combining a 64-MB SDRAM and 128-MB NAND type FlashROM. This calls for an upgrade to Windows Mobile 5 (according to unofficial information, it is really in the pipeline) but the default WM2003 SE is quite good, too. After a HW reset, the user can access 39 MB of RAM and 84 MB of FlashROM in the form of a safe storage, which can be easily formatted if necessary using a utility present in the ROM.

Close-up
Close-up

The device sports a colour TFT display with a common resolution of 240×320 pixels and supporting 65 thousand colours. As in the MDA Compact, the display is unusually small, with a 2.8″ diagonal (some 71 millimetres). However, it is significantly brighter and whiter and offers two handy features: it is possible to have the device seamlessly dim the backlight depending on remaining battery power (the less power left, the darker the display) and to have the backlight dim automatically over a certain period of time. On the other hand, it is not possible to adjust backlight separately for battery operation and charging… The display is sufficiently readable in full sunlight; sensitivity to the stylus is fine, too.

Close-up
Close-up

I have not tested the device’s audio features extensively. It has two loudspeakers (one for phone calls, the other as a standard audio output), a microphone (whose sensitivity can be set separately for GSM, audio recording and BT Headset!) and a four-pin 2.5-mm connector for the headset. Talking about audio, I should note that the ROM contains a special utility for voice control of the mobile phone and dialling.

Communication options are plentiful. The device’s GSM/GPRS module is more or less the same as that implemented in the MDA Compact. The GSM module is quad-band (you can switch between 850/1900 and 900/1800 MHz), supporting GPRS Class B, Multi-slot Class 10, but there is no EDGE. The user can choose between 4+1 slot and 3+2 slots for GPRS transmissions. I made a few phone calls and found no problems whatsoever. I was surprised by good quality of the loudspeaker – even though my Compact does not suffer from the notorious chattering sound, the sound produced by the ETEN seemed substantially better and clearer.

Another important communication module is Bluetooth. It is controlled neither by a Widcomm utility nor Microsoft driver but ETEN opted for its own solution and it was not a bad decision at all, I must admit. At first sight, the Bluetooth control may appear unsophisticated, resembling the one from Microsoft (ETEN may have extended the Microsoft driver) but after a few minutes, you will find that it is well organised with everything accessible from one place. I could easily connect the device to my BT-enabled GPS, a Jabra BT Headset as well as the MDA Compact. You can even choose between COM and BTS when creating a serial port. In addition, the ETEN has an IrDA port and can communicate over a USB cable. The documentation suggests that it supports USB Host via the cradle but whatever USB device I plugged in, nothing worked…

Bluetooth Manager
Bluetooth Manager
Bluetooth Manager

The device integrates a comfortably controlled digital camera that can capture still images (BMP, JPEG) as well as short videos (BT1, 3GP). The maximum resolution of still images is 1280×960 pixels and 320×240 pixels for video. The camera responds surprisingly quickly, reacting immediately to a press of the shutter release button (when I write, immediately, I mean immediately:), it only takes a little while for a photo to be taken and saved, depending on how large it is and where you are saving it.

It offers all the usual features; take a look at the images below to get a picture about its quality. You can use a flash in dark places but you know, you cannot expect miracles of a miniature LED diode:) The publishing system here automatically downsizes and sharpens images, if you are interested in the originals, you can download a ZIP archive, as usual :: .

Hotel Don Giovanni
Glass-and steel building of Czech Savings Bank
A small tank...:)
The Stimbuilding
A billboard...
Colourful drinks on a shelf in the supermarket
Close-up of a bus timetable
Road sign

I am not going to speculate about time on battery. The fact is that a Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 1440 mAh looks promising. Charging over USB has almost become a standard, so I won’t elaborate.

Finally, I should mention software. As I wrote above, the default operating system is Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, planned is an upgrade to Windows Mobile 5, according to unofficial reports. Besides the system and a suite of basic applications, the ROM contains an unbelievable number of bonus applications. I’ll leave detailed information for a big review, now just a brief account. Let’s start with applets. The main applet called Scenarios offers functionality common to various devices – switching between profiles, which are complete sets of phone settings. System Information applet provides basic information about the system and the applet CSD Type sets parameters of data transmission over GSM.

Let’s move onto applications. Camera (who would guess that) controls the digital camera and seems a little more sophisticated that its equivalent in the MDA Compact. All parameters display in the “finder”, which eliminates the lengthy initiation and closing of the camera subsystem in the Compact. ImageMaker is a simple yet handy drawing and image manipulation utility. Image Wizard is an image editing aid of some sort but I did not work out what exactly it does. Multimedia Manager is a simple image manager. There are many utilities that have to do with the phone. Perhaps the most interesting one is Call Filter – it works with two lists of contacts and makes it possible to choose which people will be able to get through to you or, on the other hand, block e.g. one annoying person. The other applications are more or less common – MMS Composer for creating MMS messages, SIM Manager for managing contacts on the SIM card, SIM Tool Kit e.g. for GSM banking, Speed Dial for dialling the most frequent numbers quickly, and Wireless Modem for connecting another computer to the internet (supports only IrDA and Bluetooth, not the USB). It is also interesting that an incoming SMS message will not appear in the usual balloon but will display in a special window with highlighted font. Finally, there are some practical utilities, such a backup application, which is a must. Beginners may appreciate a wizard that helps to quickly adapt the device to the user’s preference (ring tone, theme etc.). Format FlashDisk will help solve trouble with the memory – it does exactly what you would expect to do, i.e. to format damaged safe storage. M-Desk is a central panel for easy launching of applications and device configuration. SelfTest is a first aid in the case of hardware trouble. Every screen displays battery status below the time. Plus there is a plug-in on the Today screen for launching applications.

Image properties settings
Incoming SMS message
Backup utility

That’s all. A brief summary of bonus applications is longer than a detailed description of the same in some other devices. I should note that most of the bonus applications sport the same graphical user interface, which makes it appear as a compact package.

To sum up, I was very positively surprised by the ETEN M500. However, it lacks a few things for me to declare it a suitable replacement of MDA Compact after a few hours of testing. In general, it appears that its designers took its features a step further than in the Compact. However, this impressions may stem from the fact that it is just a different device (devices in the MDA series resemble each other to a great degree). I am keeping major conclusions for a big review, after I will have used the device for a substantial period of time. Nevertheless, except for the design (Compact is a Compact) and rather lower quality of materials used, I cannot be dissatisfied. The device has a very good display, sufficiently large memory to contain an upgrade to WM5, good sound, sophisticated Bluetooth, strong battery, great camera, and tons of useful bonus applications. Some may miss EDGE; an official promise to release an upgrade to WM5 would make it yet more attractive. All in all, if you are planning to buy MDA Compact, give ETEN M500 a thought – it is definitely worth it.