Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
HTC TyTN II
- Slide out keyboard, tilt display, HSDPA-capable, built-in GPS, included CoPilot software, Wi-Fi, three-way scroll wheel, shift and function keyboard lights
- A little chunky, battery life, poor camera, inferior headphones
HTC's TyTN II is one of the most outstanding smartphones we've ever reviewed. A few minor improvements and this could well have been a five-star product.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
HTC's latest smartphone can only be described as a beast of a machine. The TyTN II boasts HSDPA capabilities, a built-in GPS with included CoPilot Live software, Wi-Fi, HTC's TouchFlo interface, a 3-megapixel camera and best of all -- a slide out QWERTY keyboard and tilting display.
Undoubtedly one of the most compelling features of the TyTN II is the QWERTY keyboard and slide-out display. Sliding the screen out to the left reveals a well spaced out and comfortable keyboard. The buttons have a soft, rubber feel and typing only took us a few hours to master. Two orange indicator lights for the shift and function keys are a fantastic inclusion.
The appeal of the slide display lies in the fact that when opened, it can be tilted at a 45-degree angle, making it ideal for watching videos when sitting on a desk. A slight disadvantage to this design is the TyTN II's bulky casing, but with so many features packed in, it's an issue easily overlooked. The display, while solid, isn't outstanding and can suffer from sunlight glare on a bright day.
Using the TyTN II is effortless. Although a stylus is included, most operations can be performed using your finger. A great addition is the three-way scroll wheel on the left side, making it easy to operate and browse most menus. HTC's TouchFlo interface, first seen on the Touch, allows quick access to functions like favourite contacts, weather, an application launcher and sound profiles. Unfortunately, the finger panning and scrolling feature, used to scroll through long lists and documents by sliding your finger up and down the screen, is a mixed bag and does take a while to grasp.
The TyTN II includes a built-in GPS receiver and ships with the latest CoPilot Live 7 software, containing Australian maps. The application is included on the microSD card and installation is quick and easy. CoPilot Live is intuitive and easy to use, but the great aspect of a mobile device is flexibility -- as it runs Windows Mobile 6, you can purchase and install any number of mobile GPS applications on the unit should you wish. We found the included software excellent though, and although the TyTN II takes a little longer than a dedicated in-car unit to find a GPS signal, it was fairly responsive once up and running. The user interface of CoPilot Live 7 in particular is a highlight; menus are clearly labelled with bright colours and large selection boxes.
All the standard applications with Windows Mobile 6 are present on the TyTN II including Office Mobile, consisting of Excel, PowerPoint and Word Mobile applications, Windows Media Player for audio and video playback, Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader. For e-mail, it's easy to configure mail servers that run Microsoft Exchange 2003, while you can also use standard POP3 e-mail accounts such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. A suite of Windows Live applications includes Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, Spaces and Live Search.
Connectivity is strong with HSDPA, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and USB 2.0. Unfortunately, the included headphones are poor and use a mini-USB connection rather than a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The TyTN II has 150MB of available user storage, though a microSD card slot is present for extra storage and a 1GB card is included.
A 3-megapixel camera sounds enticing, but no flash or self-portrait mirror is a real let down. There is also a video camera, which captures clips at resolutions up to 352x288, but the quality is poor.
Battery life is below average, though expected. With just a half hour GPS session, we barely managed to squeeze a single day use out of the TyTN II's battery, rated at up to three hours talk time and 200 hours standby time.
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