Subscribe to the::unwired's RSS Feedthe::unwired at Twitterthe::unwired on Facebookthe::unwired on Google Plus
the::unwired Article
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 17863x
Not Tagged

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]