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REVIEW: O2 xda II - Part 1 - The Device
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 16.10.03 - 20:04:43 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 17702x
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After Carlo had some hours with an O2 xda II, I had it now for two weeks - thanks to O2 Germany - where I've tested it intensive enough now and it's time for the long promised review. Because the xda II includes so many facets, I've decided to split it into the parts.
Let me begin with part 1 - which will covers the hardware. Part 2 will covers the features and additional software while part 3 will covers the O2 Active User Interface.

Let us start with the hardware, something everybody loves to see and to hold in the hands. As before, the xda II is comes along in this silver finish and while the xda II is triple band, includes Bluetooth and a camera; HTC was able to remove the antenna and put it into the device-body as well without extending the overall size of the xda II, compared to the xda.

This means, that if you are already a xda user you will already know the size of the xda II - which is also similar to the HP iPAQ H3900/5000 series.

As you can see on the left photo below, the xda II also includes the two phone buttons on the bottom and the Calendar and Contacts bottom on top. Between the phone buttons we have the D-Pad which is a little bit smaller now - also similar to the HP iPAQ H500 series which makes proper navigation a little bit harder now. If you scroll up/down it might happens that you also move left/right because your push wasn't exact enough. All these small D-Pads are a development I don't like at all but we have to live with.

The backside of the xda II completely changed - compared with to the xda. While the xda hadn't a removable cover, with the xda II you can remove the silver plate. Under that plate, the battery is hidden as well as it will gives you the option later to add extension packs to the xda II. The upper black area includes the camera and an external antenna connector. Because of these design changes, you are not able to use your xda extended battery anymore with the xda II.

On the top side of the xda II you will find the SD card slot now which will also support I/O cards like Wi-Fi or GPS accessories as well as the power button and the IrDA port (which isn't - unfortunately - consumer IR compatible which means you can't use the xda II as a remote control for your TV).

On the bottom you have on the left side the soft reset button, in the middle the serial/USB port which is the same as with the xda and on the right the protected earphone plug.

On the left side of the xda II you have the Voice Notes record button on top, the volume slider in the middle and the camera button as the last one.
While I personally don't use voice notes the camera button is pretty handy. Pushing it once starts IA Camera, pushing it again makes the photo. Making pictures with a Pocket PC (maybe even cell phone) was never easier before. The slider in the middle is for the device (phone and PDA) volume only and can't be used for any other applications like for scrolling up and down. Definitely something I'm missing and I hoped to see with the xda II.

The right side doesn't include any buttons or slots since the SIM is under the battery now.

Amazed I was by the fact that the xda II is lighter then the xda because it feels similar, if not even a little bit heavier. Also it is a little bit thicker and longer while its width is less.
  xda II xda
Size mm (T x W x L) 19 x 69.9 x 130 17.8 x 72.7 x 129.0
Weight 190g 200.5g

An amazing improvement to the xda is the screen. While both screens are 3.5 inches, the xda II screen is a TFT transflective screen at 65,536 colors (that kind of screens HP also uses for the iPAQ H3900/5000 series) which is a real improvement to the previous 4096 color TFT reflective screen.
The result is a sharper and stronger image in all conditions like sun light or dark environment. Below you can compare the xda II screen (right) to the xda screen (left).

Final Conclusion

The xda II is hardware wise a masterpiece! It's not larger or heavier then Pocket PCs without that feature set but includes also Bluetooth, a VGA camera and a triple band GSM/GPRS module! But the xda II doesn't looks that geeky but truly serious. Holding it in the palm of your hand and using it is a real pleasure and I'm amazed about the screen. Like before with the iPAQ screens, that kind of screen is the top of the art today and makes using it in a bright environment a pleasure too.
Because this xda II was is development sample (but with the final hardware features) I don't know how the case and headset looks like but even without that stuff I enjoy to use it and well, it mostly replaces my Smartphone (daytimes).
That kind of Pocket PC is the device I was dreaming about since my first Windows CE handheld in 1998 and I can't find enough words to say how much I enjoyed to use it so far.

O2 and HTC did a great job with the further development of the xda. While that device was unique too, when it was released and a top of the art Pocket PC, the second edition will also includes everything now other - non Phone Edition - Pocket PCs already include: Bluetooth and SDIO. I'm pretty sure that these two features, as well as the announced CF/VGA pack will make this Pocket PC also an interesting device for users who hadn't used a Phone Edition so far.

Cheers ~ Arne

Related Links : [REVIEW: O2 xda II - Part 2] [REVIEW: O2 xda II - Part 3]


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Posted by Rob Cornelssen on 16.10.03 - 22:01:17

Arne, great start to the series, thanks!  I for one can't wait for this to be released in the USA; I'm currently using an IPAQ 38xx for my mobile device instead of my laptop and a Handspring Treo for my cellphone/email.  Sure would like to go back to one platform with the xda II!

Posted by on 16.10.03 - 22:23:54

it would be nice if you could write IN A VERY BIG DETAIL how Wi-Fi is working with Xda II? I understand that it works either over SDIO or over CF with backpack! My dream device has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in one. Without Wi-Fi no happiness, no completeness...

Posted by Yudhi on 17.10.03 - 08:12:43

Is it possible for PPCW to have its own version of XDA II and sell it to PPCW members ?

Just like i-Mate.



Posted by Charlie on 17.10.03 - 09:44:00

Great review.. I'm waiting for my pre prod. sample, will hopefully get it early next week big_smile  Arne, do you have any more info about the backpack? Didn't get it until I read the review, that the mysterious VGA cable (

must (duuh) be connected to the backpack. Suggested retail price or so?

Best regards, Charlie

Posted by Arne Hess on 17.10.03 - 11:18:00

@Yudhi: Sure it is possible, everything is possible... ;-) Stay tuned some more days and check out PPCW.Net from time to time for some exciting news for everybody outside O2 and maybe Orange countries... But I can't say more today... ;-)

@Charlie: The VGA cable must be connected to the backpack only if you want to use it with a video projector. You don't need it if you only want to use the CF card functionalities!

I have no price information so far; only have heard that the availability is before X-Mas!

Posted by Filip on 17.10.03 - 12:25:46

Sure the XDA II it's a dream device but i think the new LG-SC8000 is maybey better, 1,1 camera, key pad, ... (see, what's your opinion ?

Do you know its a GSM or CDMA device ?

Posted by Kostas on 17.10.03 - 14:06:15

I love this phone. XDA was really the best phone and pocket pc... I hope XDA II will have great gprs and can have external keyboard...

Posted by Arne Hess on 17.10.03 - 14:13:35

@Filip: Yes, it's a great concept I really like too! However, I'm not sure how useful that keyboard is - have to see it in real life but more important for me is if it is a Pocket PC Phone Edition device or not. If you check out the screen of the LG phone you will notice 1st it is currently running Pocket PC 2002 (not 2003) and 2nd there is no antenna symbol in the upper task line like we have with the Pocket PC Phone Edition OS.

I hope LG is using here the original Phone Edition and they aren't going their own way of implementation like Audiovox did with the Thera.

I only know that the O2 xda/HTC Himalaya complies to Windows Mobile 2003!

Posted by Rick Hauser on 17.10.03 - 15:11:02

The XDA II has certainly piqued my interest. It will be too long a wait whenever it becomes available stateside.

I have not seen any mention of a vibrate mode for the phone.

Is there such an option built-in or would an optional battery pack be required?

I am a novice to SIM cards. Am I correct in presuming I need only to remove my SIM card from my current phone

and insert it into the XDA II and it will function? If I were to purchase an XDA II would there be any "registering" of

equipment change with my present carrier? (My present carrier happens to be Cingular Wireless).

Thank you so much for all your postings about the XDA II.

Posted by Alex on 17.10.03 - 15:14:25

Arne, do you really mean that people from non O2-Orange countries , like mine -Spain, will be able to get an XDA II through PPCW? That would be the most important new for me since years ago. Of course, I will get one and also a backpack as soon as available. Please, confirm it as soon as you have some news.


Posted by Arne Hess on 17.10.03 - 15:17:22

@Rick Hauser: Sure the xda II includes vibration alarm like the xda before. I will cover this with the second part of the review.

Regarding your SIM card question: Cingular is fine. Just take the SIM out of your "old" phone and put it into the xda II. That's the benefit of the SIM card concept. The phone is just the phone but the SIM is your phone number as well as your billing account and the operator doesn't care which phone you are using.

It's like changing a fixed line phone at home. The line is equal to the SIM and is you number, doesn't matter which phone you have plugged in. :-)

There are days I'm switching my SIM cards 5 - 10 times a day to use it with different devices.

Posted by Sam Lee on 17.10.03 - 18:01:04

Hi Arne,

  O2 XDA2 support bluetooth?

Posted by jayman on 17.10.03 - 18:06:56

You did not mention if the usb port has host abilities such as the toshiba PPC??

Posted by Arne Hess on 17.10.03 - 18:13:52

@Sam Lee: Yes, it supports Bluetooth (see also this story here: "WIRELESS: The O2 xda II supports the Bluetooth headset profile". But you can use the Bluetooth for sync, PAN and as a modem connection between your Notebook and the xda II also.

jayman: Because it doesn't. Mostly no Pocket PCs supports it and Casio and Toshiba was the only one who supported it...

Posted by Julie on 17.10.03 - 18:18:02

Excellent Part 1 review, thank you thank you.  Does the xda or xda II come with wildcard or alphanumeric character string search on the contacts data? Can you send/read email attachments?

Looking forward to Parts 2 & 3.


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