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HTC Typhoon by the example of GSM-smartphone I-mate SP3
Change the idea of smartphones
Like other devices by the Taiwanese company HTC (the hardware platform development partner of Microsoft corporation) the Typhoon platform is known in different regions under different trademarks, mainly by mobile service providers: Orange, T-mobile, O2, I-mate, Audiovox, Qtek.
Running ahead we'd say that HTC Typhoon means a lot to HTC as a 3G device and also to the smartphone market on the whole. We are accustomed to the fact that smartphones are bigger than ordinary business phones, work less and have a higher price. HTC Typhoon changes this idea, its dimensions and battery life come closer to ordinary phones. The price goes down, however not that dramatically, and the high functionality is kept. Well, a couple of years ago many didn't believe the success of Windows OS for smartphones, now it's obvious that Windows-powered devices effectively compete with Symbian-smartphones and business phones. There are no longer such deterrent factors as large dimensions, short battery life and high prices, as for the functionality, it wasn't affected.
As we've already said, the new smartphone is available under different trademarks. For the first time we see so many variations in design and control elements in a single platform. Naturally there are several shell colors available. Well, on the market you can come across HTC Typhoon under the following names: I-mate SP3, Qtek 8010, Orange SPV C500/C500S, Audiovox SMT 5600, Dopod 565. There is the modification in other design (more rectangular, with other joystick and buttons), but with the same filling, it's called HTC Feeler (we might tell you about it in future articles) and can be met as I-mate SP3i, Qtek 8020, O2 Xphone II. The version of HTC Feeler for T-Mobile operator experienced changes in the form and the color of buttons (T-Mobile SDA), there is also the version with extra buttons to control music (T-mobile SDA Music). I'd highlight the fact once again, all the models are the same inside, there can be slight variations in the interface, the set of extra programs and the standard kit. We tested the model I-mate SP3, which is officially shipped to Russia.
Design, control elements
Without any stipulation the I-mate SP3 is the smallest smartphone, it's substantially smaller than Series 60 solutions and slightly larger than Sony Ericsson t 630
Such dimensions do amaze, when we compare with the previous generation of HTC smartphones, we may call it a jerk. Due to the small size you feel its 106 g weight, the device seems to be solid. Besides you can carry the I-mate SP3 anywhere, it won't trouble you.
The device is pleasant to hold in hands, all details fit each other, the top surface feels metallic (metal on top and high quality plastic in other places), the weight adds solidity to the device. In all, the assembly quality is traditionally high for HTC. Design seems to be a little bit free, the handset gets narrower to the bottom, the navigation pad and the big screen stand out against the overall background (here you can rotate the 3D model of the phone). There is also the modification with an ordinary joystick and without a narrow bottom especially for those who prefer strict design.
Above the screen there is a LED indicator and a dynamic, below the screen - two small application buttons, despite of their size they are comfortable. A little bit lower you find "Home" and "Backspace" buttons. Below them there is a 5D-pad, it deserves some attention. It's big enough and moves tightly, however it's very comfortable to work with the menu, Web-pages and e-books. It's only difficult to play arcade games with this joystick. Almost everyone who got familiar with the device marked the joystick for its comfort.
The digital keyboard was russified at the plant, the keyboard backlight is seen well even in daylight, and all the letters look distinctive. The keys feature a shallow press and a distinct response. In all, ergonomics of the keyboard and the joystick are close to the optimum (subjectively it's the best I've ever faced with).
At the top we see IrDA port and Power button, nothing special. At the left side there are two small volume buttons. At the right side - a camera button (to say, it's not that comfortable) and an extra loudspeaker, which reproduces a melody at the incoming call. I didn't like built-in melodies, they are too monotonous and silent, it's better to set your own WMA melody. It'll take you some 5 minutes to edit and prepare it from any track using Windows XP application Movie Maker. The volume and quality of the sound is high enough, though not the maximum like in some phones supporting MP3.
The bottom end carries a miniUSB connector (for synchronization and charging) and a standard 2.5 mm audio jack for the headset, so you can use the I-mate SP3 as an MP3-player.
The back panel hides a camera lens, a mirror for the self-portrait and a battery cover.
Under the battery you find holders for a SIM-card and miniSD flash-cards. They are quite traditional.
Currently Motorola uses miniSD cards in smartphones, but next year the company will switch to T-flash cards. The T-flash standard is compatible with miniSD by means of the adapter; in its turn miniSD with the adapter can be used in ordinary SD/MMC slots.
Considering the maximum memory size and record/write speed miniSD cards don't lose to SD cards, and the price is slightly higher. At the moment in Russia you can buy miniSD cards capacious of 128 MB ($21), 256 MB ($34), 512 MB ($56). In brackets we put the lowest retail prices. Very soon 1GB cards will be available for purchase for $120-130. In the course of the next the trend will be kept, under which memory size grows and prices in terms of MB fall. Thus this card standard can't be treated as a shortcoming, the only thing we draw your attention to is the lack of the hot change of cards.
The removable battery of the SP3 is capacious of 1050 mAh. The manufacturer claims 140 hours standby, 3.5-4 hours of talks, 2 hours of continuous data transfer via GPRS. In real conditions we've got surprising results. The smartphone functioned in the phone mode for 3-4 days in average (just about an hour of talks, several hours reading forums and news via GPRS, sometimes organizer involved). In a similar situation the previous HTC smartphone lasted for 2 days, thus improvements are obvious. At the higher load the battery life shortens to 2 days.
In features and picture quality the screen of the SP3 is typical for smartphones without the touch-screen - it's a transflective TFT 176x220x65K matrix with the standard diagonal of 2.2". If we consider picture quality and color rendering, they are like in the I-mate SP2.
Bluetooth functionality almost hasn't been changed. The software for Bluetooth is integrated into Windows Mobile operating system. That means we have the minimum of settings and only essential profiles at hand. It enables Internet access from the notebook or PDA and synchronization with PC. You can also use Bluetooth-headset (without voice dialing).
New HTC model represents one of the last with VGA-resolution, the next generation devices will be equipped with 1.3-megapixel cameras or higher. However among VGA-cameras the camera of the SP3 is one of the best, taking into account also the shooting under the poor light. There are three resolution modes available for photos:
Other manual settings are rich and are like in the rest HTC smartphones, so we won't go into details here. Have a look at the examples below:
Video is recorded in MP4 format (you can play the clips made using QuickTime) with possible resolution of 176x144, 128x96. The quality is average. It's possible to restrict the file size. There is a support of recording video clips for MMS (H.263 format) and Motion-JPEG AVI.
The smartphone is powered by TI OMAP 730 200 MHz processor. It carries 32 MB of RAM onboard (23.08 MB nominally available) and 64 MB of flash-memory (27.98 MB nominally available). The processor performs well with all applications including games and the playback of converted MPEG4 movies.
It's a tri-band handset (GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz) supporting GPRS Class 10.
The I-mate SP3 runs Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone Second Edition. Read about its standard opportunities in the respective review).
Note that the second edition of WM2003 for smartphones has visual distinctions in the revised version of Internet Explorer, which now can stretch out in a column almost any Internet-page, it copes with it quickly. Time goes by, and the number of standard applications grows. For example, there has appeared the mobile version of Opera browser for this operating system. Here we'll tell you about some non-standard applications, the set of them can slightly vary depending on the modification of the smartphone:
Album. The utility views the material taken by the camera (photo, video).
Caller ID. The application displays the photo assigned to the contact at the incoming call.
STK Service to access SIM-menu
Modem Link. The mode of the external modem via Bluetooth, USB, IrDA.
SIM Manager operates contacts from the SIM-card - edit, view, copy.
Clear Storage implies hard reset and erasing of all the data.
File Manager. . It's a fairly good file browser, it can replace, copy and send files (however it cannot send files via Bluetooth).
Space Maker. This application is meant for cleaning memory space.
Task Manager. It operates launched applications and closes idle programs.
MMS Composer. This application is used to create MMS messages - composing, editing, sending of MMS messages.
System Info provides info on the model, the state of memory, battery and the OS version.
The network reception quality of the SP3 is good. The volume of the loudspeaker is high enough, it's heard in a noisy street, the vibro alert is average.
HTC Typhoon is an important step in the smartphone market development. Taking into account big expensive devices that by the way work not for long, these devices (smartphones) little by little become mass products due to lower price and good specs. The I-mate SP3 can be recommended to smartphone users and to those who look for a functional business-phone.
The lowest retail price for the I-mate SP3 makes up some $480-490. This is an adequate price for such device. Gradually it'll fall to $420-430, when the new generation of HTC smartphones appears.
We are grateful to Portalux.ru for the provided devices.
Published - 16 December 2004
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