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HTC HTC Dopod 838 Pro
HTC HTC Dopod 838 Pro
HTC Dopod 838 Pro

Major features include:

PDA form factor with slide-out keyboard
Jog dial wheel with push-in for confirmation
Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 OS with MSFP
Tri-band W-CDMA/UMTS 850/1900/2100 with HSDPA Class 4
Quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 with GPRS, EDGE
802.11b/g Wi-Fi local connectivity
2.8 inch 65,536 colour TFT 240 x 320 pixel touch-screen display
2.0 megapixel digital camera, macro switch, flash, CIF video
40 tone polyphonic ringtones, MP3, AAC, WMA support
Windows Media Player for music, video and streaming
Samsung 400MHz CPU, 64MB RAM/128MB flash memory
MicroSD card slot (no card included)
USB, infra-red and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP music streaming
SMS, EMS, MMS and POP3/IMAP4 email messaging
Internet Explorer Mobile HTML browser
MIDP 2.0 Java games and applications
Office Mobile for viewing Word, Excel and PowerPoint files
PIM and organiser functions


Introduction
Dopod is a company that’s been largely active in the East and South-East Asian regions of the world, working together with parent HTC to rebrand its smartphones and PDAs for resale. The company recently expanded to Australia and introduced a number of its models here in September, not the least of which is the Dopod 838Pro, the subject of this review and a PDA killer.

Why a killer, you ask? This PDA is loaded with just about any hardware feature a mobile device could ask for. Connectivity? Try quad-band GSM, tri-band UMTS with HSDPA, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, infra-red and miniUSB. Display? A large touch-screen QVGA LCD is included. Messaging? There’s SMS, MMS and email with Exchange server-based push email. There’s even a large slide out keyboard to help you type. Multimedia? A music player supporting the main music formats is included, as are stereo earphones and the A2DP profile for Bluetooth music streaming. A two megapixel camera is also installed, while a front-mounted CIF camera allows for video calling.

So what feature doesn’t the Dopod 838Pro have? The only notable feature missing would have to be GPS, but few connected PDAs come with such hardware at present. Even so, HTC is rumoured to be working on a similar device that includes GPS, and Dopod would be likely to pick it up at some point.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. The 838 Pro is Dopod’s take on the HTC Hermes device, which HTC itself has released in selected areas as the TyTN, while i-mate sells it as the JASJAM. For our worldwide readers, multiple carriers around the globe also have their own versions, including3 the Orange SPV M3100, T-Mobile MDA Vario II, O2 XDA Trion, Cingular 8525 (without a video call camera), Softbank X01HT and DoCoMo hTc Z (with HSDPA disabled).

So while this review focuses on the Dopod variant, most of it will be relevant to the other variants as well. Now, let’s take a closer look.

New/outstanding features
HTC is usually known for throwing everything bar the kitchen sink into their mobile devices, but they’ve outdone themselves with the Dopod 838Pro. As I mentioned in the introduction, everything you’d expect to find in a PDA can be found in this one, and the number of connectivity methods, particularly wide area ones, is staggering. The inclusion of tri-band UMTS (on the 850, 1900 and 2100 bands) is particularly significant, as it means outbound travellers to the US will be able to take advantage of HSDPA data speeds on Cingular’s UMTS network. There’s still quad-band GSM for backup (with GPRS and EDGE), and 802.11b/g wireless for 54Mbps access to the internet if you’re in a hotspot. While Bluetooth 2.0 is standard, I’m pleased infra-red has been included as well, not dropped like many other handsets.

I’m particularly impressed with the slide-out keyboard. Unlike some other devices, this keyboard slides out from the side of the 838 Pro, rather than the bottom. It’s great because it means the keyboard is bigger, and the handset’s screen will rotate into landscape format to suit. The buttons are large and typing with thumbs is comfortable and practical. They’re even backlit, but only when it’s dark thanks to a light sensor mounted above the keyboard. It’s no understatement to say this is the first PDA I’ve used where typing data has been an enjoyable experience.

A large 2.8 inch QVGA touch-screen is the main input interface, but there’s a number of other physical interfaces, including several soft keys, phone keys, a jog dial and the aforementioned slide out keyboard that should please any type of user.

I also want to mention the included user manual. This manual is one of the most detailed I have ever seen. It’s 366 pages large – easily three times the size of typical phone manuals – and contains step by step instructions, with pictures, of every operation the handset is capable of. I’ve only ever seen these types of detailed manuals attached to the high-tech phones sold in Japan, so I was very impressed to find one with the 838 Pro. Your typical 100 page phone manual in Australia (or Europe, Asia or the USA, considering the same devices are sold in these places) barely touches the advanced features of today’s phones, and the manufacturers of them ought to take a leaf out of Dopod’s book (no pun intended) and follow the company’s example.

Genuine product. Manufacturers warranty.

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