HTC MTeoR Windows Mobile Smartphone Review

by Reads (16,497)

One of the fastest growing segments within mobile technology is the smartphone. On the top end you have QWERTY-based models such as the Treo series, T-Mobile Dash, RIM’s Blackberry series, and many HTC models.

HTC MTeoR
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On the other end — usually the lower-priced end — are those smartphones that look like other cellphones but have a more advanced operating system and richer applications.

The HTC MTeoR is one such model, and it aims to capture the minds of those who want a Windows Mobile smartphone, but not compromise on phone size and usability.

Mobile Planet was kind enough to loan me a MTeoR for this review.

As a Phone

In looking at the MTeoR as a phone, I was primarily concerned with call quality, battery life, and pre/post call tasks.

Call quality was suitable for most environments. Callers could not tell the difference between the MTeoR and my Treo 680. However, those who were put onto speaker phone did notice some feedback on their end. Overall, the MTeoR performed just as one would expect a phone to perform.

Battery is one area where the MTeoR can be a shining star or an annoying pothole. When on standby, the MTeoR could just sit for days and there not be much of an issue. Light to medium calling also netted a good 2 or 3 days of use before a low battery warning. However, as soon as I started doing heavy calling or data access and using Bluetooth for long periods, the battery life can be measured in hours. After a day of light use the battery meter would be in the 90-95% range. As soon as my nightly calls would begin (3 to 5 hrs), that would drop. Granted, in all cases I was using my wireless headset, so that could be mitigated some.

HTC MTeoR
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Pre-call tasks such as looking up a phone number to dial is easily done from the Today screen. You can begin dialing the number and the shown digits are checked against the numbers stored in the phone book. If the number is stored in your address book as a mobile number, you can choose to send a text message by tapping the menu button. This aspect was normal for most any phone, and aside from the Today screen implementation there was nothing new.

Post-call tasks include adding a new number into your phone book, checking voice and text messages, and any other contact-related features. It was in this area where I expected the MTeoR to be better than it was. Despite its intention of being smart, there was nothing smart about the process for adding a contact into your phone book after a call has ended.

Taking that a bit further, there was almost nothing that could be done with a contact without going through two levels of menus to select the option. As much as I liked the joystick, I expected a similar intent towards usability as found on the Treo-series of phones.

Once you have gotten a number into your address book, there were the familiar Outlook-like options. In addition to being able to assign up to twelve numbers for each user, you can set a custom ringtone, picture, address and a slew of other options. The only real negative on that screen is that you do not get commonly used fields at the top, so you have to scroll down for things such as emails, mobile number, and so on.

Checking voice and text messages was a simple case of looking at the Today screen to see the indicator at the top of the screen, or the message notification below. There were no visual voicemail or other fancy controls, and so that was more of the normal phone experience than extending.

Also not present was a threaded chat interface. I was personally quite miffed about this feature not being here. As one who has used a Treo for the better part of a year plus, its one simple thing that you really do like and get used to.

Overall, the MTeoR performed just as any mobile should. I saw nothing that separated it from other devices, though. The jog dial to adjust the volume was fine, but twitchy. And it was easy to make accidental calls if you did not lock the keys.

It’s a phone in look, but usability has a ways to go.

As a PDA

The other end of the MTeoR’s functionality is the fact that it runs Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition. This is different than the version for handhelds in that there is no support for using a touchscreen. And while Microsoft and HTC did a good job of making navigating throughout the system easier, it still has its points that make you just want to tap on the screen and go.

HTC MTeoR
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Despite the lack of a touchscreen, the MTeoR performs as any Windows Mobile PDA would. Contacts and Calendar applications are great.

Internet Explorer is not even half bad in terms of the way the screen looks. It has a 320-by240-pixel resolution, but this is packed into a small area making for great picture viewing. Technically the MTeoR has 3G, but its UMTS service uses a frequency only used in Europe (2100 MHz) so it did me no good when Web surfing in the U.S.

There is no ability to edit Microsoft Office Office documents unless you purchase a third party program, though it comes with the ClearVue Suite so that you can at least look at Office attachments easily.

Email is a bit difficult to set up as you tend to spend more time clicking around the screen than inputting account information, but once you do you are met with a usable email experience. Pocket Outlook supports Exchange ActiveSync and its Direct Push, meaning that you can at least stay in the know about what is going on, even if you cannot handle T9 enough to type a reply.

The camera is another OK but not awe-striking application. Pictures do look fine on the screen if you are taking them in good indoor or outdoor light. But a bright color or dark area will skew the light settings. There are multiple capture and video settings for the 1.3 megapixel unit, and all work great for a "fun" photo, but the shutter speed will make you set your pictures up a bit early.

Comments and Conclusion

Despite the learning curve that it took for me to be able to use the HTC MTeoR on a daily basis, I do think that it is a solid choice for a smartphone for many people. The ability to have a small and usable device that is as powerful as it is clearly sets the tone for an abbreviated type of productivity.

No, you will not be using the MTeoR to replace a laptop, or even some PDA and phone combos. But, if you are looking for a device that does have a hand in being a suitable phone, and another hand in being an OK PDA, other than price ($475 at MobilePlanet, unlocked, not currently sold through a carrier), the HTC MTeoR is a solid device.

Specifications

Operating System: Windows Mobile 5.0
Processor: 300 MHz Samsung
Display: 2.2 inch, 320 by 240 pixel LCD
Memory: 64 MB RAM; 128 MB flash storage
Size 4.4 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.6 inches thick
Expansion: microSD slot
Docking: extUSB
Communication: Unlocked quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE; 2100 MHz UMTS, Bluetooth 2.0 (minus EDR)
Audio: 11-pin mini USB/audio jack in one; speakerphone; microphone; earpiece
Battery: 1190 mAh removable and rechargeable
Camera: 1.3 megapixel; Camera/Video Recorder
Input: 12-button numeric keypad; WM Smartphone standard keys
Other: MMS and Java applications
Voice Speed Dial
ClearVue document viewing suite

Photo Gallery

 
HTC MTeoR Packaging
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  i-Mate PDA2k, Palm Treo, HTC MTeoR, Sony Ericsson K710i
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Palm Treo and HTC MTeoR
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  Palm Treo and HTC MTeoR
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