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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 40295x
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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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Comments
Posted by Reggie on 27.01.06 - 18:04:24

I, too, wouldn't have thought that I'll fell in love with the 838. I may begin to like its relatives like the I-mate K-Jam but I find the hardware design of the 838 the best. If ever I get tired of using my I-mate Jasjar (which is unlikely to happen) the Dopod 838 will surely be the successor since it has most of the Jasjar's features in one small package.

Very nice pictures & review! Good to see you back here in The Unwired.

Mabuhay!

Reggie

Posted by thom on 27.01.06 - 21:38:21

how does this compare to the k-jam in terms of size? is it smaller? Were can you get one?

Posted by Arne Hess on 28.01.06 - 12:47:19

It's the same device in a different case and the size is more or less the same.

Posted by Kiteless on 14.02.06 - 00:17:57

Here in the U.S. Cingular has this on sale as the "Cingular 8125". I already have a 512Mb Mini-SD card on the way, and plan on ordering one of thses puppies some time this week. Also, like in the UK, T-Mobile will be selling it here as the T-Mobile MDA.

- Kiteless
CA, Unites States

Posted by Mike on 18.02.06 - 07:22:59

Lovely machine......bought it totally without planning...and just on face value appeared a very practical device. Well it turns out to be fantastic apart from the slow processor which at times can be a pain.

Nevertheless there are plenty of positives - good battery life, sturdy design, good keyboard, stereo sound, not too heavy, compatibility w windows.

Much better to use than i thought and so has turned out to be a real useful device - without taking over my work, it has just streamlined it...

Posted by rainbow on 18.02.06 - 09:46:10

Hi,
I would love to buy a dopod 838 to bring it back to the States. I don't know if it will
work. I am very ignorant about all these phones stuff. So, any advise or how I can even used it in the US will greatly help. I am currently with Sprint.

thanks!

Posted by Fair on 23.02.06 - 03:42:07

The clone to this model, the Cingular 8125, is now available in the States and I just picked one up. Wow, this thing is amazing! Your review nailed it - the feel of the QWERTY keyboard is perfect and the slider works easily yet feels durable. The screen is beautiful and the still/video images are great.

We have found a 2 GB miniSD cards for as little as $97 US (1 GB for $57) and 8125 users have tested cards up to 2 GB with success. Sound quality for phone calls is great, a nice change from other phones. The Cingular EDGE/3G networks are the biggest in this country and growing rapidly; internet speeds are impressive. Tethering it to my laptop next - which works well, via USB or Bluetooth, according to other users.  For $300 US I cannot think of another converged Pocket PC solution that can do what this HTC Wizard can.

Cheers!

Posted by marissa on 24.02.06 - 06:18:46

can anyone comment on changing from a palm os to the windows pocket pc os?  i have an old sony clie which i use for everything, and was thinking of upgrading to a treo, but cingular has the 8125 available, too, and it seems like a better overal machine than a treo but i'm worried about how different the os will be and if it has problems crashing/etc like other windows products.  anyone worked with a treo who can compare it to the 8125?

Posted by Hendrix on 28.02.06 - 23:45:47

Hello. I currently do not have an unlimited data package thru my Cingular Account. I was told this phone has automatic updates with Microsoft that will cause my phone bill to skyrocket due to the data transmission costs. Is this a true statement? And if so, can the automatic update function be shut-off? Please let me know. Thanks.

Posted by Arne Hess on 01.03.06 - 12:49:09

Don't worry, Windows Mobile devices doesn't have a kind of auto-update function, Windows XP has for instance so your device shouldn't download anything in the background.
However, maybe Cingular has added a software in addition which does so but if so, you can easily disable it by deleting it from the auto start.
Nevertheless, I haven't heard about such a software on Cingular devices yet and therefore this risk should be minimal also.
But again, Windows Mobile itself isn't doing anything in the background, everything else could be deleted/uninstalled - if any 3rd party apps are downloading anything you don't want.

Posted by Terry on 31.03.06 - 05:38:55

For everyones information.

Mobis (Just Mobil) now has a desktop docking crade for this device (UC-25)
http://www.mobis.com.tw/uc-01.htm

Now all I have to do if find out where to buy one!

Terry

Posted by Fergus on 25.04.06 - 16:49:30

I just bought a Dopod 838 while I was in Malaysia. It's working fine except I seem to be facing a hiccup with the speakerphone when I use the phone. The speakerphone seems pretty weak and the person I'm taking to can hear echo and their own voice. Was wondering if anyone has experienced such an issue. Was told that upgrading the ROM to the latest release might work but I have my reserviations.

Manchester, UK

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