the past days, I had the pleasure to use O2 Germany's latest Windows Mobile
device, the soon to be released O2 Xda comet. While O2 Germany decided not to
launch the HTC TyTN II (HTC Kaiser), it decided to release another follower of
last year's released Xda trion (aka HTC Hermes) and unlike the HTC Hermes and
and HTC Kaiser, the O2 Xda comet is a quite "traditional" Pocket PC Phone
Edition, without sporting a thumb-keyboard but touch-screen focused only. As you
might have read already, the O2 Xda comet isn't a brand new device anymore,
since sprig it's available in Asia as the O2 Xda Atom Life already and O2
Germany decided to pick-up O2 Asia's top product to sell it in Germany now as well.
While, from the form factor, the Xda comet is quite traditional, the inner
values far away from being traditional. By sporting an ultra fast Marvell XScale
PXA 270 CPU which is clocked at 624 MHz, this Windows Mobile 6 Professional
devices also features triband GSM/GPRS/EDGE at 900/1800/1900 MHz and dualband
UMTS/HSDPA at 1900/2100 MHz which supports HSDPA phase 2 with download speeds of
up to 3.6 Mbps (even if O2 Germany is currently supporting 1.8 Mbps only).
Furthermore, WiFi b/g, Bluetooth 1.2 and even IrDA are inbuilt which allows to
connect the device under virtually all circumstances.
But the CPU and HSDPA aren't the only highlights, another one is the massive
storage capacity of 1 GB of ROM and 64 MB of RAM which provides a good amount of
space for storing MP3 files, movies and even whole country maps for navigation
systems (and if this isn't enough, the memory can be extended with miniSD
cards). And the memory can also be used to record radio shows because the device
also includes an FM RDS radio.
The 2.7 " touch-screen display 65k and the main camera, which includes a photo
light as well, supports 2 megapixel and also features a macro mode. A second
camera on the front can be used for UMTS video telephony as well as
self-portrait photos and videos (even if it is VGA only).
So except the somewhat outdated Bluetooth 1.2 module, the device is pretty well
equipped, even if it misses GPS but even with all the features above, the O2 Xda
comet measures 106 x 58 x 19 mm only at a weight of 148 g.
The sales box includes the typical items for today's Windows Mobile 6
Professional devices including the O2 Xda comet, a 1530 mAh Lithium Polymer
battery, a wired stereo headset, a USB to mini USB sync cable, a software CD-ROM
incl. Outlook 2007 (trial version) and ActiveSync 4.x and the manual. Not
included is a case!
As I said before, the Xda comet follows the typical look and feel of a (what
I call it) "half-sized" PDA phone and beside the two illuminated call keys and
the D-Pad, the Xda comet also features two soft-keys below the screen (also
illuminated) as well as a Windows Start key and a O2 MediaPlus key.
Above the screen, the device features the speaker (which also holds the red,
orange, green and blue LEDs) and the mentioned UMTS video telephony camera:
Quite interesting is the location of the speakers. First of all the Xda comet
features stereo speakers and the speakers are not located on the backside but on
the front, left and right from the keys bellow the screen. For a media centric
device, which the Xda comet is, it makes perfectly sense to have the speakers on
the front since the sound comes clearer then having the speakers on the back
(which is quite typical for today's Pocket PCs).
On the back, the device is sporting the 2 megapixel camera (including a
mirror for self portraits) only which also features a photo LED:
On the right side, you will find the camera key which is also used as the
camera shutter and the key which starts Notes to record voice notes. On the left
you have the volume keys and the IrDA port:
While the side keys with its embossed symbols looks somewhat nice, it's hard
to feel the volume keys since they sit almost flushed with the surface.
Unlike most HTC devices (and the O2 Xda comet isn't manufactured by HTC but
by Quanta), the Xda comet features a regular 2.5 mm port for the stereo headset.
While you still need an adapter for most stereo headsets (which are 3.5 mm in
most cases), such an adapter can be found easier and it's mostly cheaper. Left
to the 2.5 mm stereo port, the device features a typical mini USB port which is
used for sync and charging the device:
Unlike O2 Asia, which uses a glossy black finishing for its O2 Xda Atom Life
(similar to the glossy surface of the Xda nova), O2 Germany decided to change
the housing to a black matt finishing which keeps fingerprints away from the
All together, the O2 Xda comet is a nice looking, well balanced device. It's
not a design-highlight but size-wise it fits perfectly into pockets and the
focus is on the inner values, not on the design since the Xda comet is
definitely addressing heavy users.
The real difference, to other Windows Mobile Professional phones, can be
found under the hood - namely at the software extensions.
The Home screen is decently branded (it features the Microsoft's original
Home screen plug-ins only, except the addition of the Genion "Home and City"
indicator) and doesn't include any fancy additions. Also the dial-pad looks
quite original, without any additions except the Video telephony key:
The software version, I got for this review, was running Windows Mobile 6
Professional with AKU 0.4:
Beside all the typical Windows Mobile 6 Professional goodies, the O2 Xda
comet provides a little bit more - including the recently missed Remote Display
application, some dedicated O2 MediaPlus applications as well as Java ME and Spb
For sure, the Xda comet also includes Office Mobile, including Word Mobile,
Excel Mobile and PowerPoint Mobile in its latest version which allows opening,
reading and editing Microsoft's new Office 2007 file format.
Since the Xda comet is one of the few Windows Mobile 6 Professional devices
which include the Remote Desktop client, which is now optional, it might be the
perfect device for system administrators which need this functionality. And
thanks to HSDPA, Remote Terminal Desktop works perfect:
But anyway, besides being a great productivity tool, the Xda comet also
offers outstanding entertainment functionalities, including the inbuilt FM RDS
radio, support for DivX and 3GP streaming. All this is part of O2's own
MediaPlus application which gives a fast and easy to use access to your photos,
videos, music and the radio:
All the media above can be easily accessed from one unified user interface
and plays either in Microsoft's original Windows Media Player Mobile (including
DivX videos since Quanta/O2 linked the required DivX codec into the Windows
Media Player Mobile) or pictures are showed in Microsoft's Pictures and Video
The only exception is the radio which works with its own radio application.
An automatic channel search makes it easy to find available radio channels and
if the received station supports the RDS signal, you even the station name as
well as the station type:
While the radio application needs the connected headset, which is used as the
external antenna, it's possible to switch between the stereo headset and the
internal stereo speakers to listen the music.
Another interesting and somewhat unique radio feature is the possibility to
record radio (straight to the internal 1 GB memory) as well as using the radio
as the alarm:
Furthermore the radio can switch off automatically with its sleep timer
(pretty handy and I've tested it a couple of nights).
But the Xda comet isn't a great working radio only but it also works
perfectly with videos, doesn't matter if played localy or streamed. Thanks to
the integration of the DivX codec, the device can play WMV and AVI files in the
Windows Media Player.
And the additional 3GP compliant Streaming Player (which is unfortunately not
embedded into the Windows Media Player Mobile but a stand-alone application) can
also stream UMTS typical 3GP files as well as YouTube Mobile streams:
And, for a better sound the Xda comet comes with an Equalizer and features
SRS WOW HD including the SRS TrueBass:
Thanks to the strong processor, even CPU-intensive tasks like Slingbox
streaming works fine, up to 25 Fps:
However, even for such a task, the Xda comet doesn't pay its tribute to the battery runtime.
The device was able to stream 2:50 hours via UMTS/HSDPA before it turned off
automatically and required a recharge. Compared to other Windows Mobile 6
Professional devices, not a bad value at all (not to say it's a pretty good
The Xda comet features two cameras, the 2 megapixel main camera on the back,
which makes photos up to 1600 x 1200 pixel or records H.263 and MPEG4 videos up
to 320 x240 pixels and the front camera which is also capable to snap photos (up
to 640 x 480 pixels) and record videos (up to 320 x 240 pixels).
The display acts (for both cameras) as a monitor and provides all necessary
Bellow some unedited 2 megapixel sample shots (click to enlarge):
As you can see above, the quality isn't too bad for a Windows Mobile camera,
even if the colors are somehow a little bit washed-out, for a Windows Mobile
cam, it's more than acceptable.
Last but not least the communication capabilities. As said before, the O2 Xda
comet is a triband GSM and dualband UMTS devices featuring GPRS, Edge and HSDPA.
While triband GSM is good enough for outbound roaming to North America, UMTS and
HSDPA might be supported as well. While neither the US nor Canada supports UMTS
at 2100 MHz, UMTS 1900 MHz is supported in some parts of the country, mainly by
AT&T (formerly Cingular).
Thanks to the previously mentioned front camera, the device supports both -
2G voice calls and 3G video calls:
The devices HSDPA capability supports a theoretical download speed of up to 3.6
Mbps (which isn't supported by O2's HSDPA network yet but 1.8 Mbps is the
maximum) which makes the device a great modem for the Notebook (if connected via
USB) as well as it
provides enough bandwidth for sending and receiving E-Mails.
Unfortunately, the QVGA screen is a little bit too small to call this device a
"surf-pad". VGA or WVGA is the standard today and therefore, O2 is only offering
the original Internet Explorer Mobile but not Opera Mobile (which shows its real
advantage on VGA and WVGA devices). But for some web surfing on optimized
websites, the Internet Explorer Mobile, in combination with the QVGA screen, is
doing good enough anyway:
Thanks to the 624 MHz CPU, the page rendering is conveniently fast and it's a
pleasure to surf on even bigger, non optimized websites.
As skeptical I was when I got the device, as impressed I'm now - after I've
used the Xda comet for three weeks. Since it is available in Asia for a fairly
long time already, it doesn't have any teething problems anymore. The hardware
is rocking solid which is no wonder since it's not Quanta's first Pocket PC and
the company has a long history in manufacturing Notebooks as well and also the
software integration is done solid.
However, I'm not too satisfied with the screen due to its narrow viewing
angle. If you watch it from the top, it's too dark and it becomes better from
the middle only while it gets somewhat too light if you watch it from the
bottom. So you have to find your position to make it working which could annoy
if you are watching a video, especially if used in landscape.
Furthermore I'm somewhat disappointed about the used Bluetooth 1.2 module. While
it provides wireless stereo and remote control (A2DP and AVRC), the bandwidth
Bluetooth 1.2 provides is too limited to use it as a wireless (HSDPA) modem for
Notebooks (even if it is sufficient for UMTS use). Also filling up the gigantic
1 GB memory via Bluetooth takes forever and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR would be the
better choice. Well, for some reasons 1.2 was decided and you either have to
accept it or not (thankfully you can also use USB to connect the device to the
But that's the only remarks I have about the hardware, all the rest - including
the quality and look and feel is perfect.
But why I was skeptical then? Well, maybe it's because the Xda comet, with
its different form factor and feature set, came at a time where everybody was
awaiting the HTC TyTN II - the new Kaiser (emperor) under the PDA phones. Sure,
due to its more limited (triband GSM/dualband UMTS) WWAN connectivity, the Xda
comet isn't the best in class world traveler but for Europeans and Asians it's
quite sufficient (and how many times does we leave our continents) as well as it
roams well if it has to. While, in my humble opinion, GPS would be a nice
add-on, I'm not addicted to inbuilt GPS (since I can use external GPS Bluetooth
receivers anyway) and features like the inbuilt FM radio provides way more value
for me (while traveling or commuting). All together you can even say that O2
(and Quanta) did a great job in fine tuning the device's media capabilities. The
O2 MediaPlus interface combines media tasks in a pretty nice and easy to access
user interface and the front facing stereo speakers makes the device an even
more useful media device. Furthermore you have inbuilt DivX support and 3GP
streaming support. While 3GP streaming is supported by some competing devices as
well, DivX (for the video junkies here) is quite unique.
Last but not least I was pretty impressed by the battery runtime. You might
think that a 600 MHz CPU drains your battery in the wink of an eye but far from
it. The Xda comet performed best in my Slingbox streaming test scenario where a
device, with turned on Bluetooth, has to stream continuously and the Xda comet
streamed 2:50 h before it switched off automatically (which is enough to watch a
full movie including commercial breaks). If you compare this to a Toshiba G900,
which came to 2:30 only, you can see that the 624MHz CPU/1530 mAh Lithium
Polymer battery combination cooperates quite well.
So overall I can say, that I'm pretty happy with O2 Xda comet and I can
definitely recommend it to everybody who doesn't needs a thumb-keyboard as well
as isn't in need for inbuilt GPS. If your focus is a different, like using your
device for media entertainment, the Xda comet is simply great. Not to mention
that the Xda comet is the only currently available Windows Mobile 6 device which
includes Microsoft's Remote Desktop client for Windows Mobile; which makes the
Xda comet the best choice for system administrators!
For me, O2 released a pretty sufficient combination of speed, memory and
stand-by time altogether packed in a nice small form factor which is a pleasure
to carry. The Xda comet is definitely my current Windows Mobile Pocket PC phone
With a 24 months contract, the O2 Xda comet is available for 149.99 Euro from
end of this month (without a contract, you can get it for 549,99 Euro). The O2
Xda comet is an O2 exclusive device, no other carrier will offer.
Cheers ~ Arne