o2 xda ignito
I got the chance to spend a couple of weeks using the o2 xda ignito as my primary phone. If you are familiar with the design but not the name, it’s because this is the o2 re-branded HTC Touch Diamond.
This is one of HTC’s flagship Smartphone models and the best-in-class Windows Mobile device available in the UK today with Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6.1 and HTC’s revolutionary TouchFlo 3D interface.
Processor: 528MHz Qualcomm
OS: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
RAM: 192MB DDR SDRAM
Flash storage: 4GB
Display: 2.8-inch VGA 640 x 480 resolution
Network: HSDPA up to 7.2 Mbps
Camera: 3.2 megapixel and VGA
Wireless: Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
Battery: 900 mAh battery
The o2 xda ignito features a compact and lightweight design that is actually a shade thinner than the new iPhone 3G and weighs 23 grams less as well. Definitely a good start considering what its up against.
Build quality is solid and stable, there’s no creaking or flexing of the chassis and the 2.8-inch screen is crystal clear. Whilst the screen is smaller than the iPhone’s 3.5-inches, the o2 xda ignito has an unprecedented VGA resolution giving you a 640 x 480 display. This is the highest I’ve ever seen crammed in to such a small space. The high pixel density of this display means that your videos and photos come out looking super sharp.
With a touch-sensitive screen, you can operate the device using finger gestures or the included stylus. Cleverly hidden away in the bottom right corner is a magnetically secured stylus. Nice touches like this make the device that much more compelling to use. When you push the stylus back in to its home, it pulls itself back in thanks to the clever design.
The materials that have been used to construct this device has resulted in a quality product. From both the front, back and sides, you don’t see anything out of place in the simple design. As with any touch-screen device, keeping it clean and smudge free can be difficult. However, what appears to be a glass screen wipes clean very easily. The rest of the device is made of a rubbery plastic material that doesn’t show fingerprints or smudges.
Windows Mobile has often featured in the o2 xda range of smartphones and has evolved from being a simple device back in the SPV days, to becoming a fully fledged multimedia and communications device, packing pretty much every type of connectivity you can think of without the excessive package.
Windows Mobile 6.1 is Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system and features full Exchange connectivity and browser capability. On top of the rather archaic looking Windows Mobile is HTC’s ‘re-skinned’ interface called TouchFlo 3D. This made its debut in the HTC Touch device and was the companies first interactive touch device catered towards the consumer market based on Windows Mobile.
To many technical experts that know a thing or two about software development, re-skinning anything can cause irksome problems. However, in the time I spent with the o2 xda ignito, I didn’t experience any technical issues with the TouchFlo interface.
Using gesture based swiping and tapping, the TouchFlo interface responds fairly promptly with smooth eye-candy animation delivering a rich user interface. This is demonstrated by the swiping of photos left and right to browse through your pictures. Or how about flicking through your music collection? This can all be achieved through the home-screen which is now tightly integrated with the TouchFlo interface.
A number of applications come pre-installed with the device, including Google Maps, Opera Browser and Windows Live apps. These give you access to a range of services including GPS navigation using Google Maps, Windows Live Messenger and Mail and full Internet browsing using Opera. Internet Explorer is included, however it doesn’t come close to be as powerful as the mobile variant of Opera.
Office document compatibility is naturally included so you can’t just view your Word, Excel and PowerPoint docs, you can also edit them before attaching to an e-mail and sending. It’s not going to solve your mobile working solution, but for small adjustments and edits, this might be a lifesaver for when you’re not able to get to your laptop.
The o2 xda ignito also has a built-in accelerometer. Although I don’t think this has been implemented as well as it could have been, there are a few applications that take advantage of it. One of them is a fun ball maze game that lets you pivot the phone to make the ball move around a maze without dropping in to the holes. Vibrating feedback gives you the sense that the ball is inside the handset and is moving around, a nice touch and a good demonstration of what the phone is capable of. You’ll also be able to use the accelerometer for when you view the contents of your gallery. Rotating the handset will give you portrait and landscape images/video. It’s nothing new, but it works well.
The touch-screen interface does make it tricky to type quickly, and with no tactile feedback in the form of buttons or vibration, it does take some getting used to. This device does include the ability to switch from a QWERTY keyboard to a number pad format so if you prefer to use predictive text, then this might be the solution. To type using the full keyboard ideally requires the stylus for precision tapping, because unless you got child-like fingers then you’ll spend more time correcting the mistakes.
The TouchFlo interface makes access to the consumer-oriented features very quick and pleasant to use. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air for Windows Mobile, which hasn’t really moved its design on from the days of PDA’s. Lets hope Mobile 7 will be a drastic change.
E-mail lovers on the go will love this device because it offers full Exchange, POP3, IMAP and Live integration and you can access it all right from the home screen. The synchronisation ability with Windows Vista or XP makes it a snap to get your data across to the device very quickly. This is perhaps the ‘killer-feature’ of Windows Mobile devices that you’re to get on other platforms.
Despite the speedy processor and generous amounts of RAM, there are instances where the device will just slow to a crawl that you end up having to power the whole device down. During my tests, I wasn’t able to isolate the problem to one particular application or functionality but it appears to happen after you’ve been running several applications at once. Even after closing these applications using the Task Manager to kill them, the device still struggles without a reboot. Whilst my extreme tests may not reflect real world usage, by loading up everything from web browser to music player, it doesn’t excuse the fact that Windows Mobile still suffers from poor memory management.
Battery life is fairly consistent, giving me about two/three days worth of daily usage that includes Bluetooth, 3G and Wi-Fi access. These features on any phone typically suck the life out of the battery like anything so I was pleased to find I could achieve at least a couple days charge. Included in the packaging is the mains adapter and 12v car adapter for charging on the go.
The o2 xda ignito is currently available from free up to £250 depending on the tariff you choose. Despite the best efforts by HTC to cover up the ugliness that is Windows Mobile, there are still some glaring interface issues that need to be addressed before Windows Mobile is a true touch device – proven by the inclusion of the neatly integrated stylus. At a price similar to the iPhone with the £35 monthly deal, the handset can be had for £99.99 on an 18-month contract. And for that you get a decent package with 600 minutes, 1000 texts and unlimited o2 to o2 calls but one thing that is missing is the unlimited data add-on which makes this an ideal mobile browsing device.
As a consumer, you’ve got some good choices available on the market today if you want a touch-screen multi-purpose device. What makes the o2 xda ignito special is that it’s running the latest mobile OS from Microsoft combined with the funkiness of the TouchFlo 3D interface. But there’s also one more compelling reason why you should take a closer look at this handset. Microsoft is on the verge of deploying some really cool innovations that work in the cloud and over the air. I’m talking about services like Live Mesh with live push synchronisation and the next wave of Windows Live services and of course Windows 7.
If you’re a business looking for a device that will let you access your data and your communications through technologies such as Exchange Server, and Windows synchronisation, then the o2 xda ignito is the best option available on the market today.