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MINI REVIEW: The Dopod 838 strikes a good balance
Posted by Carlo Guerrero - on Monday, 23.01.06 - 22:10:06 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 42186x
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We've witnessed the evolution of Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform from the old Windows CE of yore to the latest Windows Mobile 5 and the greatest changes are not just in the software. Hardware designs and additional functions clearly add to the improvements incorporated into the newest devices powered by Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile software.

We've seen the jump from the Handheld PC to the Pen-input device type devices and back to a hybrid design which is surely the best thing since sliced bread. Some of the latest Pocket PC Phone Edition designs incorporate a sliding QWERTY thumboard. One of them is the Dopod 838 (HTC Wizard). We've seen other renditions of a Pocket PC with a QWERTY thumboard namely the old iPAQ 43xx models, the HTC Blue Angel, and the Motorola MPX which uses a unique twist up/side screen to expose the thumboard.

Most of them are in fact a pain to use with minute buttons that do not really offer good tactile response. The Dopod 838's thumboard in contrast to the previous releases is much larger with easy to press buttons and at the same time housed in a small package which makes it a very ideal device to have.

It's your typical HTC product to start off with having the basic camera apps HTC-style extended ROM for pre-installed applications (auto-install after a hard reset). Of course with Windows Mobile 5, things have been cleaned up extensively and most if not all interfaces are now Windows Mobile 5 standard or consistent.

Performance-wise, the Dopod 838 can get along pretty well if you don't forget to manage your memory well. Yes, it runs on an OMAP 850 processor which may seem a little underpowered at 195MHz. But upon startup or initialization things seems to settle well and the speed isn't at all that bad. I'm so far happy with the battery life I'm getting which seems to get me about 2 days of usability even with BT on. The 1250mAh Li-ion battery seems to hold up well and with Wi-Fi on, a day's work should be an easy chore for the 838.

The Dopod 838 seems to have so many buttons which I think is a welcome improvement since the previous HTC models somehow felt like they lacked so much. It now feels more like a real Pocket PC where you can now launch more apps via hardware buttons.

The size is another thing which is worth talking about. So it's much thicker than the HTC Magician or its derivatives, the mere fact that it is smaller than the HTC Blue Angel but incorporates a larger thumboard in landscape mode is just pure heaven to use. It's more natural to enter data in Word Mobile, Excel Mobile or in a new message with this setup. A simple slider which feels robustly built is simply magical.

The camera may not be the latest 2.0MP camera from HTC's stable but at 1.3MP it works pretty well. It can interpolate images up to 2.0MP natively and is neatly linked to several applications already such as the Contacts, or MMS. Nothing really that new but it's nice to know that the enhancements included in WM5 definitely makes things more efficient.

It's stereo! I just had to play with it and load up my test audio (left channel/right channel) and literally place the 838 right in front of my face. It's very evident that it does produce stereo sound. Too bad it only works right in portrait mode.

It's simply a lovely device. I know most of you have seen tons of photos of this device all over the Internet by now. It's just that it's a device that I thought I'd never fall in love with until I held it and played with it. Too bad I'll have to send the review unit back soon. I'll have to enjoy every minute of being with this baby.

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo


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