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PREVIEW: PPCW.Net i-Mate Smartphone 2002
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 30.05.03 - 19:01:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 13374x
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Today I received the sample i-Mate Smartphone. It's the same device, which is currently available from PPCW.Net except that this sample doesn't includes the manual and CD-ROM which will be delivered with the commercial version for sure.

Overall, the PPCW.Net i-Mate - which is based on the HTC Tanager - is identically with the Orange SPV - which is based on the HTC Canary, an earlier developed device. So the PPCW.Net i-Mate uses the same StrongARM CPU as well as it includes a 32 MB Flash ROM and 16 MB RAM. The minor differences are in the general device design as well as the used screen.

Package Content
The PPCW.Net i-Mate comes with everything you can expect, except the camera which have to be ordered separately. The box includes the Smartphone, a USB cradle, the 110/220 Volt power cord with UK and Euro adapter plus the device adapter, a pouch and a headset which can be used for voice calls and listening MP3s.
Also the commercial version will include the manual and a CD-ROM with the required software like ActiveSync.


Hardware
The devices comes with Microsoft's Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 operating system, already used for the Orange SPV and Compal Smartphone (used for the Microsoft Developer Kit) but the software version is a pretty new one:

Compared to the Orange SPV, the PPCW.Net i-Mate is slightly longer but - as I said before - the overall design of the device is different from the SPV and personally I enjoy the design even more:



The most important for me is the different keyboard layout. While the SPV keys was pretty small and a pain if you are a SMS junkie (I'm), the PPCW.Net i-Mate keys are larger, plain and not copped. Also the navigation pad is different from the HTC Canary. While the Canary uses a kind of D-Pad with an action button in the middle (similar to Pocket PCs), the Tanager uses a kind of joystick instead - comparable to the Sony Ericsson T68.

However, like the Orange SPV, the PPCW.Net i-Mate is longer than a Sony Ericsson T68 but shorter than Nokia's best-selling 6210:

Software
Beside the typical Microsoft Smartphone applications like Pocket Outlook, Pocket Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, Inbox and Windows Media Player, the PPCW.Net i-Mate also includes an MMS client from EZOS, which is integrated into the Inbox (the same client as used with the Orange SPV) and a camera utility. So if you also get the camera (which isn't included by default but available as accessory only), you don't need any additinal software to snap pictures with your Smartphone and send it via MMS or E-Mail (please note, that currently Inbox doesn't handles attachments. To send a photo via E-Mail, you have to use 3rd party application like IA Styles IA File Manager).


However, another important fact is, that the PPCW.Net i-Mate doesn't requires any certificates to install software. This means, that you can install every available Smartphone 2002 software on your device, doesn't matter if it is certified or not.

Camera
The camera is available separately and has to be attached to the bottom of the phone. This makes the phone longer and it should be attached only if you want to make a picture.
However, picture quality isn't that bad, at least it's the typical cell phone quality we also get from other multimedia phones like the Sony Ericsson T68 or Siemens S55:

  • 640 x 480
  • 320 x 420
  • 160 x 128
  • 80 x 64

Honestly the picture quality is ordinary only and this combination can't replace a digital camera but it's good enough to share a moment by E-Mail or MMS as well as keeping the moment for yourself. I - for instance - snap two to three pictures per day, just as reminders or to keep the moment. Also a lot of these pictures I share with friends by MMS or E-Mail.

Final Conclusion

I'm already using the sister model of the HTC Tanager - the HTC Canary - for some months now and in general it's not that different. However, I enjoy the Tanager even more than the Canary because of several facts:

  • 1st the screen got a real enhancement. The Tanager uses a transflective screen now unlike the Canary which worked with a side (or better bottom) light. This makes the screen clearer and sharper and as Jason from Pocket PC Thoughts said: "it's a difference like the iPAQ H3600 and H3900 screen".

  • 2nd the keyboard works better for me. The keys are larger and easier to use, specially if you are a hardcore SMS junkie. Also I prefer the joystick over the navigation pad.

  • 3rd I enjoy the general design of the Tanager more than the Canary design. It looks nicer (but I also have heard observed opinions) compared to the Canary.

All the stuff I miss on the hardware-side is the missing Bluetooth support. So this is something you have to keep in mind, the PPCW.Net i-Mate Smartphone doesn't include Bluetooth and currently it's not possible to use a Bluetooth SD card with the Tanager!
On the Software-side I don't miss that much and that, what I miss, seems to become more and more released through 3rd party developers. Something we have already seen on the Pocket PC platform. Sure the Smartphone isn't complete but like the Pocket PC it offers a great framework for developers to add additional and cool stuff to the phone!

Cheers ~ Arne

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