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HANDS-ON: HTC Hermes UMTS and HSDPA Pocket PC Phone Edition
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 31.03.06 - 16:17:07 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 95825x
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Okay guys, this week I had the chance to spend my 30 minutes with a preproduction HTC Hermes which surfaced first time, unofficially, during the 3GSM Congress in Barcelona as i-mate JasJam and which was officially announced later during the CeBIT in Hannover by T-Mobile Germany as MDA Vario II.

The HTC Hermes is a Windows Mobile 5.0 based Pocket PC Phone Edition and similar to the HTC Wizard since both are featuring a slide-out keyboard and are similar sized. However, the Hermes will be a UMTS device with HSDPA support and therefore it's also the follower of the HTC Universal, the first UMTS Pocket PC Phone Edition device.
It's way too early for a review since the unit I got my hands on was a preproduction but I had it long enough for some interesting photos:











All I can say so far is, that the Hermes is really small, close to the HTC Wizard, a little bit longer and thicker than the HTC Magician/Prophet but it features a slide-out keyboard, which is way better than the Wizard keyboard (pretty similar to the Universal keyboard) and not to forget it features UMTS and HSDPA. Also the 300 MHz Samsung CPU is pretty good in terms of speed (hadn't had the chance to test the standby time yet) and it features a 2.1 megapixel camera with macro option.

Please note that again I got the word, that the keypad layout around the navigation pad isn't the final one but the one I caught at T-Mobile during the CeBIT is the to be released one (two buttons more).

Cheers ~ Arne


 

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Comments
Posted by MDA Lover on 31.03.06 - 17:23:03

Wow, impressive comparison and always the best photos in the net! Well done Arne! When will you get a review unit, can hardly await to read more details about the features and performance.

BTW: Have you heard anything about a confirmed ETA and price? I expect it will be the same (or even higher) like the Exec?

Posted by Edmund Sackbauer on 02.04.06 - 12:28:52

I hope the proprietary Mini-USB connector will not be in the released version.
I hate to run around with a bag of cables and adapters, still also this device needs to be charged.

Posted by Arne Hess on 02.04.06 - 19:28:25

Edmund Sackbauer wrote:

I hope the proprietary Mini-USB connector will not be in the released version.
I hate to run around with a bag of cables and adapters, still also this device needs to be charged.

Edmund, you are right and the good news are that the mini USB plug of the Hermes is just the standard mini USB even if it looks different from the normal mini USB plug.
However, I've used just my O2 Xda neo mini USB sync cable to connect it with my Notebook and it synced and charged through this cable without problem! smile

Posted by K Potter on 09.04.06 - 12:51:20

Why HERMES doesn't has dual sterio speakers like in wizard?? oh! I really want it! Oh! Please .. If someone in HTC , or someone who can contact HTC are reading this reply. Please request my comment! eiei.




(Sorry for those lack of gramma sentences)

Posted by Arne Hess on 09.04.06 - 15:04:28

Don't expect any further design changes for the Hermes (except the two additional Start on OK keys). The overall design is done.
But anyway, why do you need stereo speakers? I neither hear a real difference on the Wizard nor on the Universal which both have "stereo" speakers.

Posted by K Potter on 11.04.06 - 06:17:42

First of all. I think the speaker in the side of device will not be hide when you lay it on the table. and my though is if speaker is on the device's side .. I hope it to has  stereo speakers on left and right side Just like Wizard's! Wasn't it better?

but anyway, If Hermes is finally come out with this same mono speaker. It's still interesting.


Thankyou for your comment and sorry for some lack of gramma sentences! :-)

Posted by bernie on 19.05.06 - 05:10:44

Hi,

  That's a great review. but looking at all the photos of the phone, from every angle, I could not see a plug for stereo headphones!

  Which is strange, because how would a person listen to their MP3 or radio? Forget the stereo speakers, headphones are more important.

  If the reviewer can shed some light on this matter would be much appreciated.

Bernie

Posted by Paquette on 26.05.06 - 12:58:50

Hi,

I like that device, too. Still for me there are some big ??? which remain to be answered.

Apart from the lack of a headphone jack (which I regard as a serious design flaw as I don't intend to buy a costly BT stereo headset which again has a limited battery life and will need a separate power adapter to carry with me) I am concerned about the fact that the scroll wheel is on the left-hand side rather than (like with blackberry devices) on the right-hand side of the device.

Any comments on how this does or does not make it more difficult to use?

I also wonder if the scroll wheel is active in landscape mode, too, i.e. while using the keyboard.

From a T-Mobile sales person, I got the information that the release is expected for the second half of July. Disappointingly late, isn't it, especially considering that O2 has already announced it?

Paquette

Posted by Arne Hess on 26.05.06 - 13:19:20

Paquette wrote:

I like that device, too. Still for me there are some big ??? which remain to be answered.

Apart from the lack of a headphone jack (which I regard as a serious design flaw as I don't intend to buy a costly BT stereo headset which again has a limited battery life and will need a separate power adapter to carry with me)

No, no. smile It has a headset plug which is the USB plug! Please see here for more information: [selfurl=http://www.theunwired.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=5441]http://www.theunwired.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=5441[/selfurl] and [selfurl=http://www.theunwired.net/photo/index.php?gallery=./Gadgets/Pocket%20PCs/HTC%20Hermes&image=DSCN0044.jpg]http://www.theunwired.net/photo/index.php?gallery=./Gadgets/Pocket%20PCs/HTC%20Hermes&image=DSCN0044.jpg[/selfurl]

I am concerned about the fact that the scroll wheel is on the left-hand side rather than (like with blackberry devices) on the right-hand side of the device.
Any comments on how this does or does not make it more difficult to use?

It's on the left side because you might hold the stylus in your right hand. Since the BlackBerry isn't using a stylus, they put it right. Because the Hermes is using a stylus, they had to put it left, which is bad for lefties (like me) but works fine for right handed people!

I also wonder if the scroll wheel is active in landscape mode, too, i.e. while using the keyboard.

Yes, it does fine in landscape!

From a T-Mobile sales person, I got the information that the release is expected for the second half of July. Disappointingly late, isn't it, especially considering that O2 has already announced it?

I have also heard that T-Mobile needs longer than O2 needs. well, at least it seams to be confirmed that it will be released (from both) during this summer.

Posted by Paquette on 26.05.06 - 17:44:09

Thanks for the picture with the "USB" headphone jack. That is good news.
Still proprietary but at least no hassle with additional equipment.

Regarding the scroll wheel position...

Arne Hess wrote:

It's on the left side because you might hold the stylus in your right hand. Since the BlackBerry isn't using a stylus, they put it right.

...I now get the idea but I still don't think that it was a clever decision because a scroll wheel should facilitate one-handed operation.

PDA phones are being criticized for requiring both hands even for simple tasks like looking up contacts. So, at least for my part (being a right handed person), a scroll wheel at the "right" place would have given the Hermes a competitive edge against Motorola Q and also to Blackberry devices.

At least my wife (leftie, too) will benefit from that...
One more argument to convince her getting one. wink

Posted by Bernie on 28.05.06 - 07:28:05

Hi,

  Thanks for the answer regarding the stereo headphone.
  What a relieve!

  Now i'm ready to break open my piggy bank to buy this little beauty.

Thanks again,
Bernie

Posted by James Turnbull on 22.06.06 - 06:54:59

Hi Arne,

Love your website and reviews! I have been searching the net for more details on the Hermes, and photos, and of course you have it all!

My first question is your impression of the size of the HTC Hermes vs larger devices such as the Universal?

The reason I ask is that I am trying to select a device for Sales Reps, and so if the screen is too small it is difficult for them, especially the ones with less than perfect vision.

So I have drawn up the dimensions of the JasJar (5.2" x 3.1", with a 3.6" screen) and compared it to the Hermes (4.4" x 2.2", with a 2.8" screen) and it looks that the Hermes is much smaller - too small for my objectives.

However when I look at the photos you have posted, the size difference does not look as dramatic!  Perhaps the Hermes is the right device after all!!

My 2nd question is regarding other devices: my criteria are a decent sized screen, 3G phone, and WindowsMobile5.0
What else would you have on your shortlist for these criteria?

I have been trialing the imate JasJar (aka Universal) with some Sales Reps but they feel the swivel screen is likely to be broken often.

Cheers,
James.

Posted by Arne Hess on 22.06.06 - 19:01:10

James Turnbull wrote:

Hi Arne,

Love your website and reviews! I have been searching the net for more details on the Hermes, and photos, and of course you have it all!

Hi James, thanks for your kind words!

My first question is your impression of the size of the HTC Hermes vs larger devices such as the Universal?

The reason I ask is that I am trying to select a device for Sales Reps, and so if the screen is too small it is difficult for them, especially the ones with less than perfect vision.

So I have drawn up the dimensions of the JasJar (5.2" x 3.1", with a 3.6" screen) and compared it to the Hermes (4.4" x 2.2", with a 2.8" screen) and it looks that the Hermes is much smaller - too small for my objectives.

Well, it depends a little bit about which application you are talking. Overall, the Hermes comes closer to the HTC Wizard while it it way better to use. The keyboard is nicer and also the general button-layout is better.
However, if you have the screen in mind, yes - it is smaller but also keep in mind that it is a QVGA screen only, while the Universal is a VGA screen. Therefore, everything looks bigger and more crispy on the Universal than on the Hermes.
While the Hermes is great to carry day in/day out, the Universal is way better for web surfing and E-Mail (also because the keyboard is nicer). Overall the Universal is the better data device while the Hermes is the nicer phone.

However when I look at the photos you have posted, the size difference does not look as dramatic!  Perhaps the Hermes is the right device after all!!

As I said, the Hermes is better to carry and better to be used as a phone.

My 2nd question is regarding other devices: my criteria are a decent sized screen, 3G phone, and WindowsMobile5.0
What else would you have on your shortlist for these criteria?

Uhhh... There is nothing else announced yet. I'm sure we will see further devices until end of this year but so far, the only UMTS devices comes from HTC and are the two devices you have in mind already.

I have been trialing the imate JasJar (aka Universal) with some Sales Reps but they feel the swivel screen is likely to be broken often.

I wouldn't fear this at all. I have an Universal for roughly one year now and mostly in use every day. It still works and looks as good as on the first day. smile

Hope to help with my answers above. If you have further questions, please let me know!

Posted by James Turnbull on 25.06.06 - 16:27:43

Arne Hess wrote:

I have an Universal for roughly one year now and mostly in use every day. It still works and looks as good as on the first day. smile

Thanks for your feedback - particularly this info.

I am thinking of getting our Sales app re-formatted to a landscape screen layout so that there is no need to twist the screen - they can always use it in clamshell mode that way.

Keep up the great work :-)

Posted by Paquette on 06.07.06 - 13:40:38

Hi Arne

Just saw that you got hold of a release model of the O2 trion.
Do you have a chance to compare the screen size and design to the Wizard?

Once the trion (or mda vario ii) is released I am going to get one and I wanted to order a screen protector well in advance. Up to now, screen protector companies only seem to offer wizard-style ones. No problem if it's the same size but I did not get that info yet.

Any help is appreciated.

Best

Paquette

P.S. I am very curious about your trion review

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