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HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review : overcoming the crowd

Postato 20 Luglio 2006 da Gti in English Contents

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 1)

"Overcoming the crowd".

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– Introduction

Almost one year has passed since we had in our front page the first review of i-mate JasJar, alias HTC Universal. The reason of the title of that article, "The new path ", was based on the understanding that this device would have been the first of a new category, featuring a full keyboard and complete connectivity. During the last months, several models with similar features have appeared on the market, some of them with a nice design, some others with a complete set of functions and features. Evolution has been linear, following two different directions: PDA phones have completely overcome traditional non convergent PDAs, and processors have become less powerful, to take into account reduced power consumption and to improve cellular phone features.

Here is the TyTN. Compared to HTC Universal, there were less expectations, because the "King" of last season had no competitors and was a unique and innovative products. However the newborn, although it has no VGA dispalyand has a less outstanding name, seems to have so packed with features to be another winner in the market.

Practically identical in shape to  i-mate K-Jam and Qtek 9100, although TyTN is a little higher, one could believe that it is the same hardware. But itr only external appearance, and differences are not only in minimum changes in size and weight. News are inside, in the heart of the PDA. The processor  is a 400 MHz Samsung.

The choice by HTC of adopting a CPU more "power-hungry" in contrast with a reduced nominal speed, and to leave behind TI OMAP procesor, much less performing, is a clear sign of chenge. SoloPalmari readers know this: we have been very severe with models like Qtek S200, l’i-mate K-Jam and 9100, that have to express their qualities in both the traditional PDA and the new cellular phone functions. We were not the only ones believing this, and HTC has been able to listen to complaints and suggestions coming from a wide numbe of users.

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It is not just a fast PDA, this TyTN. This device is the mature outcome of a whole generation. Not small (but still fits in your pocket), robust, nice, capable of accessing at best UMTS and WiFi networks, in order to allow, in association with Windows Mobile 5.0, the utilization of the web as an efficient tool for communication and synchronization of personal and business data, this device has some features that reveal a correct equilibrium between the requirements of users and phone carriers

Package
Like his older brothers, sold in Italy with the brands Qtek and i-mate, TyTN come with with a good set of accessories: power plug, mini-USB cable for recharge ans synchronization, stereo eraphones, a second styles, manuals, cover (in black leather, with a magnetic locking and a belt hook).

Specifications
Let’s see in detail hardware features . TyTN implements state of the art consumer technology, including the HSDPA protocol. It does not integrate a high-resolution display or a GPS receiver, and for these reason we cannot define it as a true "all in one".

  • System: Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 with Messaging and Security Feature Pack
  • Processor: 400MHz Samsung
  • Radio module: HSDPA/UMTS – GSM/GPRS/EDGE quad band
  • ROM: 128MB
  • RAM: 64MB SDRAM
  • Display: 2.8" transflective TFT-LCD, 240 x 320 pixel, 64K colors
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi 802.11b/g, IrDA
  • Micro SD slot
  • External camera: 2 megapixel CMOS with macro function
  • Internal camera: CMOS CIF for videocalls
  • Audio: audio eeaphones via mini USB, vivavoce
  • Battery: Lithium-ion polymer 1350 mAh (standby 200/250 hours; conversation: 4 ~ 5 hours; media playback: 8 hours video,12 hours audio.
  • Size: 112.5 mm x 58 mm x 21.95 mm
  • Weight: 176 g

{mospagebreak heading=- Introduction, package, specification &title=- Hardware: features and functions}

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 2)

Title

Design, ergonomics, construction quality

TyTN design is not particularly innovative: it is clearly based on the previous series we mentioned in our introduction. It is as effective as in the K-Jam/9100, although its size is lightened by rounded corners and by the dual-colour case. It clearly appears that they wanted to make an elegant device; however the need of including a large number of keys (one specific for videocalls has been added) did not allow to have a minimalist design, like in Qtek S200 oe Magician (Qtek S100).

On the other hand, a great attention has been given to usability, probably taking into account users’ request. The synergy between the jog-dial and the OK button (both of them are located on the left) , allows using the device with a single hand. The stylus is probably too short and light: though it is comfortable, we would have preferred a longer one, to reach the corners of the display.

The case of the display is totally covered by plastics, with the exception of a small aluminium border framing the display. The sensation you get is of a robust and compact device. Only the back cover, for the battery, is not clearly in line with the rest of the case: the locking system seems to be weak and imprecise. On the other hand, the opening of the keyboard is very solid and precise. The layout is wide, although it lacks the upper row for numeric keys (which can be input by simultaneously pressing 2 keys).

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– Hardware functions

This is not going to be a list and a description of the keys of the device: it is going to be a summary, that will not substitute the user manual, but will try to give an exhaustive view of the capabilities of this PDA phone.

In the top part of the device you find two keys that give access to email and web browser; immediately below, two LEDs, that indicate activity of wi-fi and Bluetooth (green and blue) and connection to power or to the cellular network (green and red). On the right you find the lens for videocalls. The HTC logo (first time it appears on a device) is just on top of the display.

In the lower part we find the usual keys: to interact with the phone component (red and green phone), "OK" (for confirmation and to close applications), "Start" menu, soft keys, videocalls.

Let’s go now to the right side. We find the slot for the stylus, the key to activate the camera, the key to activate the applet "Comm Manager" (we’ll describe it later in detail), and the “Power” key.

In the loft side there is the jog dial and another confirmation key ("OK"). The icon refers to the "Voice Speed Dial" application (the twill also be described later on); on the lower right hand side we find the Micro SD slot. This is not, in our opinion, an optimal solution, although this standard is being widely adopted. We would have preferred support of Secure Digital, but in this case it was probably necessary to minimize room occupation.

The whole back side is occupied by the battery cover. From the top left we find a jack for an external phone antenna, the metal self-portrait mirror, the lens for the 2 megapixel camera with macro-function and the flash. The small slide-shaped opening is for the loudspeaker for free-hands use.

We are now at the lower part of the device. From left: the infrared port, the reset key, the opening the battery cover, the microphone, the miniUSB slot that integrates audio out for earphones.

To close this description, the display. It has a QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixel), and can be rotated in landscape as in all last generation Windows Mobile devices, and is certainly of excellent quality. Images and text have perfect contrast, and can be read also with full external light. Although the digitizer seems to be very hard (it is closet to crystal than to a plastic transparent material), the touchscreen is very sensitive to pressure by fingers or with the stylus.

{mospagebreak title=- Comparisons, multimedia, benchmark}

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 3)

Title

Size comparisons

In this charter we’ll try to get a more concrete idea of the TyTN size. To make a comparison with other devices, we have included a traditional PDA (Fujitsu Siemens N560, (here is the review), and the "TV phone" sold by the carrier Tre (LG U9000).

On the left a mobile phone, on the right a PDA. In the middle, something in between the two.

In this perspective we can appreciate the reduced TyTN. This feature improves handling and interaction with one hand only.

The picture on the top clarifies the difference in thickness between the N560 and the PDA phone analyzed in this review.

Multimedia: audio

The audio component of the TyTN is of good quality, and can be used to listen to music files. Earphones, that include a key for voice command, can be used for stereo recording, with a good quality and no apparent audio distortion.

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Audio features of the in-built speaker are not so good: audio is mono, with a predominance of higher tones. This is justified by its use during VIVAVOCE phone calls.

Multimedia: camera

With reference to cameras installed in models from competitors, the integrated camera has good features. With its resolution of 2 megapixels it is possible to take good quality pictures in a situation of good lighting.

Most of the settings can be reached by the main screen..

Outside, as it can be seen by this picture (with a click you can open the full image), automatic options create problems with light contrasts; in this case it is necessary to work on manual settings.

Click on the image to get access to the original file.

Although focus is not perfect on the side of the image (a problem common to all digital cameras of this category) close-up pictures keep objects, colours and texts relatively legible. "Macro" can give even better results.

Click on the image to get access to the original file.

Multimedia: video andx TCPMP
Although focus is not perfect on the side of the image (a problem common to all digital cameras of this category) close-up pictures keep objects, colours and texts relatively legible. "Macro" can give even better results.

Unfortunately, although we have worked on several settings (ad suggested by the application itself during the installation phase) and deactivating bitmap caching, The Core Pocket Media Player could not play with adequate quality some of the videos that we normally use for benchmarks (here is a list of examples and of movies used for playback). This can be either due to a need for update of the multimedia Open Source player (to optimize video drivers used by the TyTN), or the ROM we in our unit, reserved to press, has not undergone final fine tuning by HTC engineers. As soon as we can test again TCPMP on another unit, we shall report results and update this part of the review.

{mospagebreak title=- Software, wirelessphone}

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 4)

Title

– Preinstalled software

Let us now have a look at the TyTN applications, preinstalled in ROM with the operating system or self installed at the first powering of the device. But first let’s go back to hardware specifications: they will be useful to understand the results of this device.

Good is the content of ROM, normal the RAM. The Samsung SC3 2442 processor can provide good performances: we have seen it before several times, and in a specific occasion for the HP rx1950 review (300 MHz), we had already underlined its excellent features.
The CPU, with a good equilibrium on the hardware components, provides good performance also in the hardest tasks. This is evident in rapid switching from one application to the other, in the fast opening of applications and documents  and in a general feeling of stability and robustness of the system, that only occasionally shows delays.

The number of preinstalled applications is good, although not exceptional. In addition to native Windows Mobile 5.0 applications we find MIDlet and SIM Manager, whose functions can be easily explained by the name.

A particularly interesting application is "Voice Speed Dial": it can activate functions, phone numbers and programs using the voice. The command must be recorded in a silent environment. Using a voice command is very useful in situations in which you cannot use hands to interact with the PDA phone (i.e. in the car).
A nice tool is the "Wireless Modem", by which you can use the device as a modem for other termoinals, by which you connect to the web.

Let’s now have a look at system applets. "Clear Storage", performs a hard reset, restoring the situation of the device as it came from the factory. By using "Key Lock" you can set any type of key locking, after a given period of inactivity. In the screenshot at the right is presented a wide range of settings for wireless and cable connections. "Comm Manager" is among these ones: it is not a new application, but it deserves some attention, because it represents a necessary solution in a device like this one that has many different connectivity options.

All connectivity interfaces are summarized in a single screen, and can be activated or not with  a single tap on their respective icon.
Nothing can be more useful than this application, in circumstances where you need to set such a diversified range of communication protocols.

Phone
In a PDA phone that is also an excellent PDA, we would expect also to have an excellent phone component: we are clearly happy with the results. Calls are not disturbed in any way, audio is clear and with no metal sound, and hooking to the network is practically immediate.

Also in videocalls we did not find any problem. We found an audio disconnection function, for hamds-free conversations, to avoid overlapping of conversations and the negative echo effect. Some users that have already been using this device have reported of long interruptions in the sound: this may happen, but is in fact a minimum problem, that can be empirically solved by finding a compromise with the loudness of the voice and the distance from the microphone. A bttter tuning could of course improve this function.

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A special remark on data connectivity: exceedingly fast. Twenty seconds, on the average, to open the home of SoloPalmari with Explorer Mobile: a true record, given the complexity of the code and the weight of over 1 Mbyte of the web page. Excellent results with a test using a data connection from the mobile carrier Tre, under a UMTST/HSDPA network. We could not check what portion of the results can be given to this last protocol, but this is certainly a plus in favour of the TyTN.

Here is a portion of the home page of SolopPalmari. Incidentally, two of the small frames link to the main competitors of this device: Fujitsu Siemens T830 and i-mate JasJar.

WiFi and Bluetooth
The list of the main wireless connection interfaces continues with WiFi and Bluetooth. They both conform to the last available standards (802.11b/g and BT 2.0), and have performed very well under our various tests.
 WiFi means Skype: we wanted to test the VoIP client. In 2 different occasions we have been able to make perfect calls, with no interruptions, even while opening other applications during the conversation.
Bluetooth also is remarkable, not only for the faster communication speed given by the adoption of protocol 2.0. What has really been exceptional is the distance achieved in communication: ten metres with 3 walls in the middle. Similar performances were available only in the oldest generation of HP iPaq.

{mospagebreak title=- Performance, benchmark I}

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 5)

Performance

After having examined hardware ans software features, it is now the moment for a particularly interesting section of our review: benchmarks. As usual we use a tool that has now become an international standard: SPB Benchmark. Thanks to our past experiences, we could compare the test with a total of 15 devices. Not in the competition is iPaq 3600, adopted as a base reference by SPB Softwarehouse.

Even in the first test, reserved to CPU, the otential of the newborn HTC clearly appears: 1331 points. Better tha Univeral (Qtek 9000), that has a processor nominally faster (520 MHz), and much better than the cousins Qtek 9100 and S200.

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We are now at the "File System" test, which measures the time at which a device is able to manage files, documents, and applications. In this case the result is simply excellent. Note how the only competitor directly comparable (the PDA phone i-mate JasJar, with CPU at 520 MHz) is 4 positions below.

{mospagebreak title=- Benchmark II, autonomia}

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 6)

Performance

Previous tests refer to specific aspects of the PDA: CPU and file system. But these data alone have a limited meaning. They must be analyzed with all the others, during our test phase. First, however, some data on graphic tests.

In the "Graphics index" we have a negative surprise for the protagonist of this review, which performs only a little better than its VGA competitors, known to be slower than the QVGA accordino to the parameters adopted by SPB Software. However, problems that appeared previously with TCPMP are an indication of the fact that poor performance is influenced by video drivers that might need some improvement and revision by HTC.

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Now, here are the final results: even with the poor outcome of the “Graphic Index”, HTC TyTN gets the fifth position out of the 16 competitors (iPaq 3600, based on Pocket PC 2000, is clearly out of the competition). It’s an excellent result for a PDA phone: with previous models, having several active precesses (as it normally happens in a device with integrated cellular radio component) have significantly influenced performance with respect to a traditional PDA. MIO A701, the closest competitor, is 70 units below: 347.6 points for TyTN, 273.8 for MIO A701.

Autonomy
The equation is very often as this: a good performance correspond to a low battery autonomy. This is not the case for HTC TyTN. As shown in the graph below, this is also a strong point for this device.


TyTN has undergone the typical "Standard" by SPB Benchmark. This test simulates a standard operational mode on the device, mainly by using images and Office documents. All wireless, with the onl exception of the phone module, are set to off. Backlight is set to the maximum. Esults are very good: 9 hours and 11 minutes of continuous working, with no interruption.
So far, the record in this test in a comparison  with several other devices , was K-Jam: 7 hours and 37 minutes.

{mospagebreak title=- Conclusioni, pro e contro}

HTC TyTN – SoloPalmari review (page 7)

Conclusions

Those who have read the review so far already have an idea of the HTC TyTN. In our views, this device achieves a good result: it fills the gap that traditionally makes difficult comparisons betweeb a normal PDA and one with phone features. As seen in the previous section on benchmarks, but also after the real use of the device, we can say that the PDA component is excellent and is not affected by the presence of the cellular component..
The real benefit is in the most frequent operations: low latency in switching from the portrait to the landscape modem, incoming and outgoing calls without any problem, quick response of the operating sytem, of menus, and in opening of files, folders and applications. We frequently forgot that we had in our ands a PDA phone.

Hardware performance in not the only positive aspect of this TyTN. We have mentioned ergonomics, and we must come back to this. Size and weight are absolutely standard, and comparable to most PDAs. Although video drivers have some problem, connectivity is outstanding. Don’t forget that this is the very first PDA adopting the most recent technology on the market, HSDPA.

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In summary, durino our test we realized that we are now in front of a device that is really achiving the perfect merge of a PDA and a mobile phone. A year ago, closing the review dedicated to HTC Universal, a real precursor in this category, we wrote: "JasJar, however, must be considered as a pioneer. From his successors we would request a higher speed in multitasking, particularly in interaction with the phone module. At the same time, we would like to have  a faster switch to the landscape mode, and vice-versa, no boring operational delays; in phone functions a greater flexibility; a wider compatibility with third party applications. Now, to the top of the line from i-mate, we are not requesting anything of the above, fully understanding that JasJar is a good occasione. For the maximum ".
To be honest, we did not believe that we can bear such a great responsibility after a few days of test, but we have enough clues to say that the first successor of Universal, as we wanted it, is already here.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Functionality
  • Processor
  • Performance (for the PDA phone cathegory)
  • Battery autonomy
  • Display
  • Connectivity
  • Protocol HSDPA/UMTS

    Cons

    • Performance of the graphic part requires improvements
    • Size
    • Design not original
    • ìProprietary audio out jack

    SoloPalmari visitors s can find the user manual , in Italian, of HTC TyTN (PDF, 4,5 MB).  

    We thank HTC Italy, personnel in chanrge of press relationship and Dangaard, for the availability.

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