HTC will earn a lot of accolades for the T-Mobile Dash we covered last week, but this company has other new models that are impressive in their own right.
One of these is the HTC P3300, which is a more PDA-centric device, but it does offer an integrated phone (GSM) and data access (GPRS, Wi-Fi).
The design is more along the lines of your traditional PDA, which makes sense, as the P3300 is more about applications than data and phone use. In fact, the P3300 will be the first device from HTC to have a strong emphasis on GPS navigation. Tom Tom’s Navigator 6 software will come bundled with the unit.
It’s All About Design
HTC offers a new way to move about with its navigation wheel. Yes, the metal ring at the bottom isn’t just a functional D-pad, but it’s a wheel that spins left or right. This makes working around in maps pretty fluid, though it would have been a nice if there was an alternate function that would make the wheel scroll up and down the map as well. Instead you have to use the track ball (HTC RollR) for that, the little white nub in the center, or blue when it’s lit up as pictured below.
The track ball is surprisingly effective; though in the pre-production unit we tested, it was too sensitive. HTC assures me that’s something that can easily be remedied as they close in on production. I like the fact that it lights up with the backlight, making it easy to spot in the dark and offering a certain Terminator or HAL feel to the device.
You can use the ball for more than just navigation,though. HTC includes an application so you can use a mouse pointer on the P3300, just like your computer. Now, if only the light color were customizable, but I digress.
The rest of the navigation buttons are fairly standard for a design like this, though again I’d like to see the two menu selectors be closer to the display, though having a touch screen and the full version of Windows Mobile mitigates much of the need for those buttons anyway.
The build of the unit is very strong, I wasn’t able to get any flex when I tried to twist it. Because the case is so rigid I expected more weight. While I don’t have an official number, the weight is reasonable, largely due to the fact that the body is generally pretty trim.
The HTC P3300 isn’t just a one-trick GPS pony. It offers plenty of entertainment and multimedia options as well. The included 2.0 megapixel camera could help PDAs approach the respectability level when it comes to embedded camera picture quality. The P3300 also comes with an FM radio antenna and an included headset for taking advantage of this feature.
The only down side is the use of microSD memory. I get the need to use less space with the memory card readers, but I’m digging in my heals on miniSD, for the moment at least.
The HTC P3300 comes with the assortment of Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi, and GPRS, in addition to the GPS radio already mentioned.
The current rumors point to T-Mobile carrying this unit, in Europe at least, as the MDA Compact III. At CTIA at least there wasn’t a whole lot of buzz about the unit coming to the U.S., so I suspect we’re looking at the beginning of 2007 for the soonest possible release, though hopefully I’m wrong. I’d like to see more of HTC’s innovative designs on U.S. carriers; the sooner, the better.