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PREVIEW: HTC Prophet Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 16.12.05 - 14:33:10 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 101267x
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Last week, Dopod officially released the Dopod 818 Pro which is based on the brand new HTC Prophet (manufactured by Taiwanese HTC) and during last weeks Möbius conference in Seattle, I had my first contact with the Prophet.
The HTC Prophet is the true follower of the HTC Magician (better known as T-Mobile MDA compact, O2 Xda mini, i-mate Jam) and unlike the HTC Charmer (which is on sale exclusively by T-Mobile as MDA compact II) the Prophet not got Windows Mobile 5.0 only but also a new case, a new camera, built-in W-LAN and more.

Based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU 2 the Prophet comes in a sleek metallic finish and supports quad-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE. In addition it supports Bluetooth 2.0 and since it will be released with Windows Mobile AKU 2, it will also supports the Bluetooth Stereo Headset Profile (A2DP). Unlike the forerunners Magician and Charmer, the Prophet has built-in WiFi capabilities with dual support of 802.11b and 802.11g aka WiFi b and WiFi g. Last but not least it still has an infrared-support.

Similar to the Magician, also the Prophet still has a 2.8" QVGA touch screen (only), supporting 65,536 colors but now featuring a 2 megapixel camera with an extra "macro-mode". Unfortunately, also the Prophet doesn't has - unlike the Universal (which is the only HTC device so far) - a photo light. So indoor shots with weak light conditions isn't the strength of the Prophet.

Following the latest trend, HTC continues to use the TI OMAP 850 CPU which provides - on one hand better stand-by times, on the other hand the OMAP 850 is working with 200 MHz only. While these 200 MHz are not comparable with Intel's Bulverde 200 MHz CPUs but way more powerful, it's still weaker than an Intel Bulverde CPU with 400 MHz.

The Prophet reminds pretty much on the current Magician ID but as I said, it's a complete new design, even if it is still as small as the Magician:

Also, HTC modified the navigation pad, the hardware buttons and added two hardware buttons for better controlling Windows Mobile 5.0. Gone are the Contacts and Calendar buttons but these buttons were replaced with a Start and ok buttons. Together with the two soft-buttons, the Prophet supports way better one hand navigation.
On the backside you have the camera above the battery cover but around the camera, you have a ring now which you can switch from normal to macro mode.
Still there is the mirror for self-portraits but no photo light.

On the left side of the device, you have on top the camera button, in the middle the volume slider and bellow a new button which gives you a fast access to a new application called Communication Manager (but already known from the HTC Universal and Wizard) which let's you control your wireless features like GSM, Bluetooth and W-LAN. On the left side you still have the power switch as well as the infrared eye.

As all of the latest HTC devices, also the Prophet has a mini USB plug for charging and synchronization. Unfortunately also the Prophet only has 2.5 plug for the headset which means you still need an adapter if you want to use your high-quality stereo headset to listen your music.
On the top of the device, the SD/MMC (SDIO-enabled) card slot is back. No more miniSD as used with the HTC Wizard.

The current prototypes features (like the HTC Magician) a 1200 mAh battery but thanks to the TI OMAP CPU, the standby should increase significant (if it isn't taken from heavy W-LAN use on the other hand).

The following photos clearly shows that the Prophet and the Magician shares the same size in terms of length, width and height. Also, the design is quite similar and all connectors (antenna, mini USB, headset jack) as well as the camera, infrared port and side-keys are on the same places. However, even if the stylus has the same length and overall design, it's slightly redesigned but not a telescope stylus as used for the HTC Wizard:

Compared to the Eten M600, the HTC Prophet still stays smaller in terms of length and height while both devices are similar width.

While the M600 - unfortunately - misses the hardware buttons to support Windows Mobile 5.0's soft-buttons, it has a photo light for the camera (which is nevertheless 1.3 megapixel only).

On the left side, both devices have the camera button and the volume slider and the (originally) Notes button of the M600 can be re-assigned to be used for something different (like the Communication Manager since Eten put something equal on the M600). Additionally, the M600 has the headset jack, protected by a flap, on the left side as well:

Both devices features a SDIO slot on top while the Eten unfortunately has a propriety sync and charge plug on the bottom:

The Prophet I've used for this review had a newer ROM already, than the ROM I've used first time last week. The latest ROM already includes Microsoft's AKU 2 for Windows Mobile 5.0 which means the Prophet will be definitely released with Bluetooth headset (see my full review here) support also (not sure if the Dopod 818 Pro already supports it but there will be a ROM update available for sure):

The 2 megapixel camera support photos up to 1600x1200 pixels and bellow you can find two sample shots I made with 1280x1024 pixels resolution (click to open the unmodified photos):

Not bad at all - for a Windows Mobile device.

Final Conclusion

During the past 2 weeks, I had the chance to test two different versions of the HTC Prophet and what I've seen looks more than promising. It doesn't makes me wonder, that the Prophet is already on sale by Dopod since both, the hardware as well as the software is rocking solid already. While I doubt that the Dopod 818 Pro is already released with AKU 2 for Windows Mobile 5.0, I can confirm from several talks, that the Prophet will be released world wide early next year and then it will has AKU 2 included for sure.

Beside the Bluetooth Stereo feature, I was also impressed by the W-LAN functionalities which basically works as good as you might have used with other HTC devices already. Nevertheless, the Prophet is the first Windows Mobile device by HTC which also supports WiFi g (which should provides you gross speed up to 54 Mbps). While I don't see the need for this speed (most or our DSL connections as well as public hotspots backbones are way slower) it helps in terms of compatibility or streaming within local networks. For pure Internet access, WiFi b is already good enough.
Unfortunately the Prophet isn't a UMTS device but features GSM, GPRS and EDGE only. Nevertheless, EDGE is already good enough for wide area network access and supports an average download speeds of 70 - 135 Kbps with burst speeds up to 200 Kbps. This is more than three times the speed of GPRS and nearly twice the speed of CDMA 1xRTT! Unfortunately not too many carriers supports EDGE, many skipped it and upgraded from GPRS to UMTS and left EDGE.
However, in Europe as well as Asia and even North America some carriers supports it and since the Prophet is a quad-band device, it will fully work in North American GSM networks (like T-Mobile and Cingular).

In terms of general device speed, I'm positive surprised, especially because it's running a TI OMAP 850 CPU with 200 MHz only. But it reacts fast and snappy, even snappier than the Universal which is running with 520 MHz so it looks HTC made some major improvements. From my point of view, it shouldn't be a major disappointment, especially because it provides improved battery lifetime.

So yes, if you still have an HTC Magician, you don't need a keyboard or UMTS and you can wait with an update, the Prophet is worth to wait for! However, I'm not sure yet if it is better, equal or worse than the O2 Xda Atom or M600. I haven't tested the Atom yet and as far as I can say, the Prophet is equal to the M600. Both devices have their strengths.

Last but not least I don't know (yet) which carriers or OEMs might plan to introduce the device, but I'm sure some of the typical operators will pick it up for sure as well as the typical OEMs (beside Dopod).

Cheers ~ Arne


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