The HTC P3300 and XDA Orbit are the first devices manufactured by HTC to include both a mobile phone and GPS receiver. Manufactured under the name of the HTC Artemis, these devices have quad wireless (GPS, GPRS, WiFi and Bluetooth), an FM radio, 128mb of ROM, and an innovative rollerball-type navigation pad, and all of this is fitted into a package that is definitely pocketable. These two variations on the HTC Artemis theme are Windows Mobile Pocket PC PDAs as well.
In the Box
The O2's box slides in opposite directions on opening, revealing the XDA Orbit on the lower part and the USB sync-charge cable, headphones, spare stylus, and documentation in the upper compartment, along with the AC charger. A separate CoPilot box includes a car charger.
Included in the premium HTC package are the P3300, spare stylus, headset, AC adapter, car charger, car mount, external GPS antenna, USB sync-charge cable, 512mb micro-SD card, documentation, a TomTom Navigator 6 DVD, and a leather belt case.
Design and Ergonomics
The Orbit and P3300 differ in both software and physical size. The XDA is 108x58x16.3mm, and weighs 127 grams. It looks reminiscent of the I-mate JAM, except for the rollerball-type navigation device. The Orbit is a good, solid weight, and is small enough to fit nicely in the hand. If it were slightly less wide, it would be roughly the same size as a candy bar feature phone. The same good construction quality goes for the P3300 as well, but it has a different case shape. The HTC’s case is the same size as the O2’s, but is more angularly shaped. Both cases feel very good in your hand; they both give an impression of expensiveness.
On the right side of both the PDA’s is a power button towards the top, and there is a camera application/shutter button lower down, next to the stylus silo on the bottom right corner. The volume slider and voice record button live on the left side at the top, and the soft-reset button is at the bottom left. The top of the HTC houses the speaker, while the XDA’s top edge is empty. The bottom of the XDA hosts the lanyard strap eyelet, microphone hole, Mini-USB port and the battery lock. The P3300’s lower edge also features all of the above, except the battery lock. On the back of both devices are a 2.0 Megapixel camera, self-portrait mirror, and external GPS antenna socket. The application buttons on the front are of good quality. They are not too easy to press, yet do not require a huge amount of effort. Unfortunately, the Micro-SD card slot is in a very inaccessible place. Nope, not under the battery. Its under the battery, and underneath the SIM card. So you take off the battery cover, remove the battery, remove the SIM card, and insert/remove the Micro-SD card, dropping one or even all three other items balancing on your lap. It’s quite clear that HTC intended the Micro-SD slot to be more of a hard drive - stick a reasonable sized card in and forget about it.
One of the most interesting aspects of the HTC Artemis models is that they have the new HTC RollR navigation device. This is a combination of a scroll wheel, like the Samsung i300’s, and a rollerball, like the BlackBerry Pearl’s. The rollerball is easy to move with your finger or thumb, and can be set to either scroll in 4 ways like an ordinary directional pad, or move a cursor around the screen, like a desktop computer. When in “Mouse Mode”, as HTC calls it, pressing the ball inwards triggers a tap where the cursor was. Pressing and holding triggers a tap-and-hold. I found myself clicking the cursor over a scroll bar using the ball, then rolling the ball downwards to scroll down; this does not work. It takes a bit of getting used to clicking on the little arrows again, but after a few hours you’ll get the hang of it. When in D-pad mode, pressing the ball inward acts like the center button on a normal D-pad. In my opinion, using the rollerball in this way is not great, I had to concentrate on not moving the ball too far and overshooting the item I wished to select. The scroll wheel around the outside of the ball is much more suited to scrolling than the ball itself.
The quality of the RollR is overall quite good. The rollerball works well in Mouse Mode, and is good for one-handed navigation, but the D-pad mode isn’t as good for scrolling. This is countered by the scroll wheel, which is a nice touch that makes it possible to scroll etc, whilst in Mouse Mode.
The HTC and XDA are both powered by a TI OMAP850 processor running at 201Mhz. This is a low clock speed compared to other PDAs, but frankly unless you’re going to pile applications into the device and play graphics-intensive games, you probably won’t feel the difference to a 312Mhz or maybe even 416Mhz XScale. Both PDA’s have 64mb of RAM, and 128mb of RAM, and a Micro-SD slot to expand your storage space. Playing videos on the phone works reasonably well, but don’t expect your 1200kbps high-quality videos to play well at all. Using the Office Mobile apps and PIM aren’t bad; checking my emails and scrolling a list of over a hundred contacts left me with an impression of speediness. I experienced no lagging or slow-downs. For such a slow clock speed, this PDA doesn’t do badly at all.
Screen and Multimedia
Being a compact device, the Orbit and P3300 have 2.8” screens. There was once a time when this would be considered small, but with the recent onslaught of smaller phones and equally small screens, it seems that 3.5” screens are a thing of the past for phones. That said, the screen on the XDA is beautiful. It’s sharp, vibrant, and is a pleasure to use. The screen’s resolution is 240 x 320, and supports 65 thousand colours; these figures have become very common in PDAs.
The XDA Orbit and MDA Pro (HTC Universal)
Side view of the Orbit
Music on the device is hampered by the lack of a normal headphones jack. Instead of a 2.5mm or 3.5mm socket, you must use the mini-USB socket recently favored by HTC and the included headset to listen to music. That aside, Windows Media 10 is included, as always. An FM radio is built into the device, but you can only use it when the included mini-USB headset is plugged in (it includes an aerial).
Of course, the Orbit and P3300 are also mobile phones, too. They have a quad-band phone radio, with GPRS and EDGE. Reception is good; I could get 4 bars of signal on the device, whereas on my Sony Ericsson T630 I could only get 2-3 bars typically. Unfortunately, there are no 3G capabilities. However, you still have EDGE, so you won’t have to face 56k GPRS speeds when out of reach of WiFi.
The XDA and P3300 both have internal SiRFstarIII GPS receivers, and come with software. However, the XDA comes with CoPilot 6 software pre-installed, and the P3300 comes with TomTom. Only the premium model of the P3300 comes with TomTom and full maps, and the map bundle varies by selling region, the most common being Europe. The P3300 "Taster" comes with TomTom pre-installed, 1 voice and 1 free city map download. The GPS is decent, in the way that it isn’t better than a dedicated GPS (of course). Owing to the mediocre clock speed of the processor, the GPS is sometimes a little slow. This isn’t usually a problem, but when going fast on the motorway, it sometimes tells you to turn off at the junction you’ve just passed a second ago. However, most of the time, the GPS works well, but don’t expect it to replace a dedicated GPS.
It’s hard to think of the time when 2-megapixel cameras were a rare find, but nowadays most devices have at least 1.3-megapixels. The Orbit and P3300 have a 2.0 Megapixel camera that can take 1600x1200 photos. The camera quality is much better than HTC’s typical 1.3-megapixel cameras, but is still beaten by most of Nokia’s high-end models.
The camera application offers the ability to choose the save location (Storage card or main memory), change the resolution (160x120, 320x240, 640x480, 1280x960, 1600x1200), change quality of the images, white balance, lay effects on the image, toggle time stamp, change capture mode (Photo, Video, MMS Video, Contacts Picture, Picture Theme, Sports, Burst), capture format (although only JPEG is available), toggle shutter sound, toggle grid, toggle backlight keep alive, and the review duration. Shutter lag on this camera is not bad at all. From pressing the button to the image being taken is about half a second at the most, and from pressing the button to seeing the photo on screen is about a second. Not bad for a 2.0 megapixel camera on a 200mhz processor. The sample photo on the right was taken at 1600x1200 resolution on SuperFine quality. Note the strong color cast.
The XDA and HTC differ in software, as well as case design. They both run Windows Mobile 5.0, but O2 has put their own add-ons on the XDA Orbit. Included is a task manager, which appears on both the today screen and by tapping and holding on the close button, O2 Operator Settings application (to automatically enter connection settings to connect to O2’s network), and various Today Screen plugins.
Included on both devices is an FM Radio application, which controls the FM radio. It can store radio station frequencies, and also lists currently available stations in order of strength. This is useful, as it allows you to choose a radio station based on how strong the signal is.
As per normal, you’ll find Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and PowerPoint Mobile, as well as the usual Calculator, Internet Explorer Mobile, Terminal Services client, Pocket MSN, File Explorer, Bubble Breaker, Solitaire, Pictures and Videos, Outlook Mobile, Calendar, Tasks, Contacts, Phone, and Notes on the device.
Wireless and Networking
The XDA Orbit and HTC P3300 both have WiFi and Bluetooth, as well. Unfortunately, still no Bluetooth 2.0, and we still have the Microsoft software stack. WiFi is good on the device, with strong signal and 802.11G support. Battery life using WiFi wasn’t bad either, more on this below.
This is where the device shines. The battery powering all of this is a 1200mAh Lithium-ion battery, which isn’t bad for a Pocket PC this size. Browsing the internet through WiFi for half an hour with the phone turned on in the background took down the battery by 20%, turning on Bluetooth reduced this by 4%. Listening to MP3’s through the included headset using Windows Media Player 10 for an hour took about 15% out of the battery. This is very good battery life, unless you have WiFi and Bluetooth on and are using the phone solidly all day, you’ll most probably get through the day easily.
This really is the age of convergence, and the O2 XDA Orbit and HTC P3300 strive to replace all of your gadgets with one device. Although the awkwardly placed Micro-SD slot and lack of a normal headphones jack are an annoyance, that is all they are, an annoyance. In contrast, the phone is small and light, it is reasonably fast, has triple wireless, FM radio, great screen and a GPS receiver.
Pros: Good screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, EDGE, HTC RollR that works well, better camera than previous HTC iterations, FM radio, fast performance for a 200Mhz processor, integrated GPS.
Cons: Mini-USB headphones jack rather than standard 2.5mm jack, MicroSD card is underneath the battery.
Price: ~ £199 or less for XDA Orbit from O2 with contract. $600US for HTC P3300 from importers and specialty shops unlocked for use with any carrier
Display:65K color transflective
TFT color LCD. Screen size diagonally: 2.8". Resolution:
240 x 320, supports both portrait and landscape modes.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance: Texas Instruments OMAP850 processor running at 201Mhz. 64 megs of RAM and 128 megs flash ROM.
Size:108 x 58 x 16.8mm. Weight: 129 grams.
Phone:GSM quad band 850/900/1800/1900MHz with GPRS and EDGE for data. The HTC P3300 is sold unlocked for use with any GSM carrier, the O2 XDA Orbit is sold with contract (tariff) by O2.
GPS:SiRFstarIII GPS receiver with internal antenna.
in speaker, mic and HTC ExtUSB connector stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10 included for your MP3 pleasure.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0.
Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system with Direct Push email.
Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Mobile versions
of Word, Excel, PowerPoint (view only), Internet
Explorer, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN
Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, Windows Media Player
10, Solitaire, Bubble Breaker (game), Voice Recorder
as well as handwriting recognition. Additional applications:
Camera, Wireless Manager,
Wireless Modem. ActiveSync 4 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.
MicroSD card slot. 512 meg card included with the HTC P3300 Premium model.