Coffee break- Whalen looks at the HTC Advantage

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.

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