Down the Docks

September 19, 2006

New Toy: HTC Wizard

Filed under: Technology — ealing @ 6:24 pm

After I washed my old K750i, I needed a new phone fairly quickly. O2 sent me an HTC Wizard, which they call an XDA mini S.

I’ve had it for about a week and a half now. So far, I rather like it, and I think I’m going to like it a lot more once I’ve learned more about it.

The WiFi connectivity is rather handy. This weekend I was back up North, lying on the sofa and surfing Wikipedia. While Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was on, I was consistently getting answers out of Wikipedia faster than contestants were answering the questions. I can read in bed, or while watching a pan in the kitchen.

The pocket version of Internet Explorer is functional, and that will do for now. I’m just finishing reading the excellent Accelerando as a Creative Commons-licenced download from the author’s website. For all its bulk, the Wizard is much smaller than a book, and of course will hold many books worth of information. The lack of tabbed browsing and a search feature makes the whole thing rather painful though – every time I navigate away from the book to something else, I have to scroll through it to find my place again. It’s not as easy to use the web on a small and underpowered interface as it is to use it on a desktop, but it can still be done. The low resolution screens, lack of tabs, and slow page layouts are reminiscent of the web ten years ago.

As I’m sure all the Blackberry owners already know, it’s much easier to write SMS messages with a QWERTY keyboard of any size than with a telephone keypad. Surprisingly, the “Transcriber” function, which recognises handwriting anywhere on the screen, is very good. I thought my messy scrawl, which hasn’t improved since I was seven, would defeat it, but it really can tell what I’m writing.

I stopped using Outlook outside of work a long time ago. I still haven’t used the pocket version much, but I’m looking forward to getting mobile email access once I’ve sorted out my IMAP server, which is a whole different kettle of fish. Internet access can be had by GPRS, WiFi or dial-up, and I haven’t yet worked out which will be most cost-effective.

I haven’t surveyed the full range of applications available for it yet, but one that I tried straight away was Pocket PuTTY. Apart from having trouble with the size of some of the message windows, this worked fine. I can log in to my Linux boxes and get complete control of them from a tiny hand-held, which is quite impressive.

On the down side, there’s no escaping the size of it. It’s often in my hand rather than in my pocket, just because it doesn’t fit comfortably. File navigation is also a pain after using a desktop, and the integration of the storage card with the rest of the file system is not particularly neat. The machine also locks up every few days, requiring an external hard reset.



  1. Hey J, I’ve been looking at new PDA’s and have considered one of the many Phone/PDA combos… I’m reluctant because of the size and I imagine for example going out drinking and only wanting to take a little phone. I’m also fairly sure I’ll use Wifi+Bluetooth way more than GPRS (or other phone tech.)

    So I’m trying to justify either:
    1. Neat phone + top spec PDA
    2. A PDA phone
    3. A PDA phone + a little handset that I can swap my sim into when I go out.

    You’re living with one of these PDA phone beasts… Any opinions?

    Comment by tOnY — October 10, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  2. Hey Tony, how’s it going?

    Personally I’d go for option three, a PDA phone and another handset. It might work out a bit fiddly, but it avoids you ever having to take two bits of kit out at the same time.

    The HTC Wizard is bulky, but I got used to it after a couple of weeks. When all you need to do is make a phone call, though, it’s overkill, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it if I was going out and might have to put it down.

    The GPRS is slow and annoying anyway. Wifi is much better when it’s available. My only caveat is that I don’t know how much more functionality you’d get out of a top-spec PDA than you would out of a PDA-phone combo.

    How’s the PhD coming? Are you going to be job-hunting down here when you’re done?

    Comment by ealing — October 11, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  3. I don’t much like the designs of the PDA-phones available right now and don’t think I could bear putting one up tot my face to make a call! I suppose a headset would solve that, but they I may aswell have just got a seperate phone:

    And enjoyed the longer battery life of my PDA with one less transmitter. 🙂

    The QWERTY issue bugs me. I hate tiny buttons and worry that a mini keyboard would drive me nuts. The newer faster PDAs seem to have gotten better at handwriting recognition, most importantly they don’t suddenly decide to stop recognising just because Windows Mobile decided to task switch 🙂

    I think this decision could drag on many more months if I’m not careful!

    Comment by tOnY — October 12, 2006 @ 6:40 pm

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