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PREVIEW: How the HTC Excalibur JOGGR works
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 08.09.06 - 18:10:36 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 31061x
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One of the technical highlights of HTC's recently announced HTC Excalibur Windows Mobile Smartphone might be HTC's JOGGR concept; basically a virtual wheel/rocker which replaces the mechanical wheel and rocker type navigation by keeping its functionalities and even adding new functionalities.
However, while the HTC JOGGR concept is new for HTC, the overall idea isn't that new anymore since it is based on the touchpad idea, which is used in most Notebooks today which also replaced the trackball some years ago.
Even Apple switched from a mechanical wheel of it's first iPod  to a touch sensitive wheel for following iPod generations.
Therefore you can say, that the JOGGR is working pretty similar to these concepts and HTC hasn't invented anything new here but has reinvented the use.

The JOGGR is located on the right side of the device, right to the screen and even if it looks on this photos like physical buttons, I can tell you it's not:

Part of the whole JOGGR-pack is also an admin utility, which allows to define how the JOGGR should work, e.g. if it should work to scroll through pages or if it should be used for volume adjustment only:

If it is used as a scroll JOGGR, it offers three functionalities, best explained in the animated tutorial which is part of the JOGGR admin utility as well and which opens automatically, if you tap the JOGGR 3 times within 10 seconds.

First the double click functionality to go back (same functionality as the back key on every Windows Mobile Smartphone), select (same functionality as using the action key on Smartphones) or open the Pocket Outlook Inbox (same as having a dedicated Pocket Outlook Inbox key on Smartphones):

Second the standard scroll functionality to scroll through pages and menu items up and down by sliding the thumb up and down:

Third the continuously up or down scrolling by quickly sliding the thumb twice and holding the thumb on the JOGGER after. Releasing the thumb stops the scrolling:

As you can see from the three examples above, the JOGGR works similar to jog wheels and rocker, basically it has the same functionalities but everything is non-mechanical but touch sensitive.

Final Conclusion

At the end it comes to the question, if the JOGGR is just another gimmick or if it adds real value to the device and here I'm not sure at all, especially after more than one week of use. First of all it works - way better than it was working with the first prototypes I saw and generally it does what it is designed to do. Maybe you can compare it a littlebit with touchpads on Notebooks: Not everybody enjoys or use touchpads, I still know many users which either prefer the joysticks or even trackballs. I for myself love touchpads - today but the switch from the trackball to my first touchpad wasn't that easy at all.
Similar is the JOGGR working for me - today. If I compare it to the jog wheel of my HTC MTeoR or the navigation wheel of my Xda trion, today I definitely prefer both wheel version over the JOGGR. I'm not used to use the JOGGR yet but I'm sure it can change over the time. Nevertheless, as good as the JOGGR might works already, it has some problems with the navigation concept of the Windows Mobile Smartphone which was pretty much designed for 4 way D-Pads but neither for wheels nor for JOGGRs. While you recognize this limitation with the wheel at the first moment you have used it, you will try way more to use the JOGGR only and I have found many situations, where I had to release my thumb from the JOGGR to use the D-Pad of the Excalibur instead. The overall Smartphone design isn't designed for a up/down navigation only, as you have it with BlackBerrys but Microsoft had the D-Pads an joysticks in mind, when the user interface was designed. The JOGGR (as well as the wheels) might be good for 70 - 80 % of the navigation scenarios but for the other 20 - 30 % you definitely need a D-Pad.

So yes - I can say the JOGGR is working well, if you get used to it. If not (similar to T9 which you have to train as well) you will dislike it and might use it for adjusting the volume only.

Cheers ~ Arne


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