XDA Exec

Saturday, October 14, 2006 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

I've had my XDA Exec for a month now & have been reserving judgement on it until I have given it a thorough working over. If you are unsure of what an XDA is see here , In short its a handy device developed by HTC a brilliant Malaysian based company that are delivering on promises made by film & commercial directors over the last couple of decades. HTC make the devices that are then branded up by the local mobile providers (02 - XDA, Orange - MVP, etc).

About 3 years ago - After research into a device that could do everything I wanted (see below) it came down to choosing between the Sony Ericsson Palm OS P910 or the XDA. Did I stay brand loyal or try a relatively newcomer in the field? Ultimately the Newly released XDA II
won on:

Screen size - (how could Sony expect me to watch video on a screen that size?)
even if they had a real keyboard.
External memory - fork out for a Sony Memory stick Pro after spending
so much on regular side memory cards that were not compatible. I felt
let down.
Battery life - the XDA pipped the P900 in both talk & standby time.

It would mean a learning curve moving away from graffiti. Oh the XDA supports graffiti. We have a winner.

Recently my XDA II has been looking a bit dated. I should mention it still held a certain Millennium Falcon retro appeal to me plus its still way more advanced then devices that are being released today. Anyway I decide an upgrade may be in order. After a bit of research my winnowed choices were:

HP - built in GPS
Blackberry - Love their innovative development (RIM are the new Apple)
i.e. borrow good ideas & have a loyal use base.
Xda Exec - it looks big, clunky & none of my current software will work on it.

My requirements for a handheld are an all in one device that can acts as :
- a phone
- contacts management (could be used as full CRM system)
- music player
- video player (screen size important)
- Tube journey planner
- dictionary
- encyclopedia
- Tom Tom local & international route planner
- low-res camera
- communication centre inc. VOIP over wireless networks
- wirelessly email & web browse
- sms (or UK txt)
- game console (the usual solitaire, backgammon, chess as well as more
graphic intensive Tomb Raider or Quake) OK not really a requirement but
I was impressed that after installation on my XDA - the aforementioned
games worked
- multilanguage translator
- dictaphone
- able to note/blog/document/spreadsheet on the move
- portable office (runs windows mobile - word, excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
- had a decent battery life
- decent keyboard (I did not know this at the time as I was always v.
Happy with the XDA's virtual touch screen keyboard)

Pros over my previous XDA II
1. It has an integrated webcam as well as a regular 2mb camera (when you consider that my first digital camera (Sony Mavica) was only 2.3MB its not so bad. - I should mention that I have not used either camera, the webcam is supposed to be for 3G calls, video conferencing and the
such. If only I knew someone to interface with. The other camera's rez is to low , but I suspect that there may be a time that a pic will need to be taken and I won't have my camera at hand.
2. It has a real QWERTY keyboard (which as I write this on the tube I am loving more & more). Originally I favored my XDAII as it had no clunky appendages such as a QWERTY keyboard. After all mobile device keyboards are to small to be of any real use, (despite what users may think,they need) they were just a gimmick that would never catch on. Boy, was I wrong a real keyboard is great. I have even moved to stage 2 of usage. Stage 1 being trying to use both hands to wack out docs (picture a cartoon Arnold Schwarzenegger hunched over a tiny typewriter). I have reached stage 2 - the 2 thumb type. Great for walking & typing (surprisingly more useful than you would imagine) & stabilizing the X on bumpy tube rides, say for example the entire Victoria line.
3. It transforms from a mini laptop (so cool) to a tablet (touch screen) PC like my old X
4. It has built in wireless functionality oh so useful in a wireless
network environment. Ok my old X had an SD Wireless card, not 100%
reliable and to make SD slot available I would have to remove my
storage card.
5. The real keyboard
6. The earphone jack is 3.5 rather than the previous 2.5 so I can plug in regular audio headsets without an adapter that doesn't work very well.
7.A mini usb jack to connect and sync with a desktop (or laptop).

I'm guessing the 2 main barriers to it being heralded or marketed pro actively at a grass roots level or:

The price - Don't understand this. If you were to add up the cost of all the devices that the X could replace; Blackberry, mobile phone, PVP, MP3 Player, PSP & GPS device (ok I still need a GPS receiver). Also think of the space you are saving.

Ease of use - OK! you are going to have to actually engage your brain to use this device. It seems that more focus was placed on operation and functionality than intuitivity.