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Summary:

Yesterday I met up with Mike Whalen at the local coffee shop where he had a chance to spend a good half hour with the HTC Advantage.  Mike has been using mobile devices for a long time.  He’s quite a bit younger than me so maybe […]

Coffee_manYesterday I met up with Mike Whalen at the local coffee shop where he had a chance to spend a good half hour with the HTC Advantage.  Mike has been using mobile devices for a long time.  He’s quite a bit younger than me so maybe since they weighed about 15 lbs.  I asked Mike for his honest impression and opinions of the Advantage after playing with it and he graciously agreed to send them along.  Thanks for doing that Mike and here is what he thinks about the HTC Advantage (after the jump):

Brief impressions of the HTC Advantage

Sleek. That adequately describes the entire experience. From theexterior (the lines, the curves, the weight) to the interior (thespeed, the responsiveness, the screen colors), it all molds very well.The magnets that hold the screen in place in either in the case orupright are a marvel to behold, though certainly had the old tech in mecringing. (MAGNETS?!) Nevertheless, their strength and the deviceweight leaves me little room to worry that it’s going to topple over,even when I’m holding the darn thing by the keyboard.

The keyboard is responsive and fairly comfortable, yet it feelsmerely acceptable. I think it’s much easier to use than the splitkeyboards found on a UMPC like the Ultra Q1 or the Pepperpad 3.Certainly the Advantage’s keyboard is usable, but, like most of thesedevices, novels are probably out of the question except for those folkswho can write them on any keyboard. The FloVUE, while interesting, istoo gimmicky for me. I think I would grow irritated with it afterawhile and either use the keyboard, my finger or the joystick to scrollaround.

The screen is gorgeous — bright colors, high resolution, and, atleast with Opera, a decent web browsing experience. One barely needs totouch the screen for anything as the keyboard suffices. You could usethe stylus but why would you want to! (Besides it looks like it fellout of a Lite Brite, the thing is so cheaply made.) Although I didn’tget to try it as such, I imagine it would make a nice device forlistening to Mobile Tech Roundup.

The speed of the device is nothing I’ve seen on a WM device. It’sstill a little poky, to be sure, when compared to, oh, a laptop. Still,it is light speed compared to my earlier WM device, a Samsung phone. Isaw the most lag when I attempted to view full web pages in Opera.Change the view mode to Desktop, then decrease or increase the zoom andyou’re in for a small wait. Leave it alone and and it’s quite speedyfor a mobile browser attempting to pull and display full-size graphicsover the Internet and display them on such a small screen.

I am more skeptical about it’s abilities as a phone. I’m sure it canmake and receive calls fine, but using it as a phone? I’m not puttingmy sweaty mug on that screen. I like that it can hook up to a mobilecarrier like ATT, but I see this thing as a data device, not a phone.Indeed, I wish there were a version that offered Wifi-only. Perhaps wecan knock a few hundred off of the $1000+ price.

And about that price: Wow. Some stores are carrying it for the priceof a Q1 Ultra. I’d have to think very hard if having a smaller, perhapsless-capable device, at that price point is worth it. The mobilitywould have to matter to me. The ability to buy a data plan would haveto matter to me. The inability to run standard Windows apps couldn’tbother me. I think it’s an $800 device. Perhaps it will be someday.

With all this, initially I felt very skeptical. Why? Windows F——Mobile. I am not a fan. Still, with the speed of the device, stellarthird party apps like Opera’s Browser, and Pocket Informant, WindowsMobile really doesn’t get in the way of the experience.

It occurs to me that the Advantage could have been a better Foleo.Consider having a machine a little bigger than a standard cellphone.It’s strictly a data device that can hook up to a wireless carrier, butnot one for talking. You can pair with any phone on the same networkvia Bluetooth for data connections, and develop small apps for phonesthat can interface with the device for very minor event editing, emailreading, etc. If you need to do more, you can pull out the Advantage.This negates the need for the Advantage to be a phone, which decreasesits price. It also allows you to keep a small phone when you simplydon’t need or want something the size of a Treo. It wouldn’t be as bigas the Foleo. Heck, the phone could even wake up the Advantageon-the-fly, allowing it to power save.

A stellar device, engineered well, a looker to be sure, theAdvantage excites. I would consider it easily a webtop, a betteralternative to the PepperPad 3 and such. Indeed, I wish I had seen thisbefore I picked up my PepperPad 3. The ability to hook up to a wirelesscarrier? A plus, but not for all. And oh so much sweeter if it reaches$800.00.

  1. Great comments.
    It is interesting to see that this device, that got maligned as “just a big *&s pocket pc” is getting such a better response from people who are actually using it.

    Mike– at Amazon it is in the $800 range … so… get out your credit card… :)

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  2. That’s right Dan. $900 at CompUSA and $850 at Amazon. I imagine it will drop to $800 or less from places like Buy.com once it starts to roll out over the next month or so.

    I didn’t give it too much thought before actually trying it, but have to admit the GPS is fantastic, the 3G HSDPA is awesome and I am trying SlingPlayer on it now for a wonderful mobile video experience, and I just used it as my only PIM, note taking, and web device the last two days at Gnomedex.

    It actually has very good quality voice features using a Bluetooth headset and calls without a headset only come in as speakerphone calls so you don’t knock yourself out trying to put it to your head.

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  3. Oh noes! $800?! I searched Google for prices and saw it around $1150 DROOL! It’s a very neat device, and at $800 it is gotta-have!

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  4. Matt–
    After you got the iphone (twice… :) ) I gave it another look and a second thought. But the closed system of it is just a “no go” for me. I had a Q1 and then tried and returned a Q1U. Fun to use but they are such “tweener” devices that they just didn’t do it for me. If you are going to carry something that size you might as well carry a P1610 which is so much more powerful.

    I have had my eye on this since it was first announced and now at $850 instead of $1100+ with so many excellent initial responses from people who have been using it… it just seems like it is getting close to the “go everywhere do almost everything” handheld computer.

    As I wrote earlier- It is kinda neat to see the momentum this is getting- at least in this small community. It is totally different than what happened with the iphone and its overwhelming immediate “WOW” when announced.

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  5. How is it for note-taking?

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  6. Small note taking I’d say quite fine as such a thing relates to the keyboard. Beyond that, two clicks on the screen or on the keyboard would get you into a new note, as I recall.

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  7. I haven’t taken many ink notes other than to test it out. I’ve used the note feature in PocketInformant and it works as advertised and isn’t too bad. I do like how WM6 lets you take notes that are attached to phone calls which you can invoke while in a call. The note is thus tagged properly with the contact and the time and date of the call.

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  8. Ach. I posted the wrong link! Sorry! Can delete the prior post, jk/kev?

    http://tinyurl.com/2mq6fl

    No instant on (yet), smaller, but killer!!

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  9. I’ve got a couple of questions for you James. What do you do with the OEM keyboard when you’re not using it? Does it attach to the back of the device somehow? I’m thinking of using this as a data terminal with a bluetooth link to a VZW phone. Does it work without a sim card?

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  10. Don’t Panic- I always carry the case with me and the keyboard sticks to it magnetically so even if the device is removed from the case the KB stays where it is. It does not attach to the back of the device but it does stick to the front for protection.

    I haven’t used it without a SIM but no reason that shouldn’t work. It would be a shame to not use that quad-band radio though.

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