Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
O2 Xda Atom Exec
- Compact design, Push email, Speed and performance improvements, Media application
- Not 3G, Not many improvements over the original, Below average camera
The Atom Exec on its own is an excellent and compact smart phone packed full of features. If you already own the original, it's not worth an upgrade, but otherwise, this comes highly recommended.
Price$ 1,229.00 (AUD)
The O2 Xda Atom Exec is an upgrade to the original XDA Atom. The improvements may be minor, but the Atom Exec addresses the biggest failings of its predecessor - speed and performance - ensuring this is an impressive and compact smart phone.
The Atom Exec updates are on the whole fairly minor, but nonetheless very important. The Exec, just like the original XDA Atom, runs on the Windows Mobile 5 operating system with the added benefit of the messaging and security feature pack - this includes a feature called 'push email' which adds to an already robust features list. Push email delivers any new email messages to the phone just like a normal SMS message, without the need for repeatedly logging on. This means you are able to receive emails wherever you are. The push email system is identical to that previously seen on the HP iPAQ rw6828.
Owners of the original XDA Atom can download and install the messaging and security feature pack, so we don't feel there's a need to upgrade for this particular reason alone. What might entice you to update however are the internal improvements - the Atom Exec is powered by a 520MHz Intel Xscale processor and 192MB of ROM, a far cry from the previous 416MHz processor and 128MB ROM. Where the previous Atom was slow, sluggish and struggled with switching between multiple applications, the Exec is much quicker. It still isn't the speediest smart phone on the market, but it's not slow by any means.
The other main addition to the Atom is O2's Media Plus application. This is a music player, FM radio, picture viewer and video player all in one. It's almost identical to Windows Media Player, and is very easy to use. A status bar at the bottom contains all the playback buttons, as well as quick access to the impressive 10-band equaliser - one of the most comprehensive we've seen on a smart phone. Also packaged with the Exec are Jeyo Mobile Extender and SMS Backup, CodeWallet Pro 5 and WorldMate 2005 applications.
The only difference in the exterior is the casing - the original XDA Atom used a glossy covering which attracted unwanted fingerprints and smudges, but the Exec uses a more subtle approach with a matte black finish. The rest of the exterior is basically the same, with the front housing a 5-way navigational pad, answer and end call keys, and two dedicated shortcut keys for start and mail. Above this is a high quality 2.7-inch LCD touch screen that works well for general use, but is very difficult to read in any sort of sunlight. Even on an overcast day, we had problems viewing the screen.
At the bottom of the unit is a standard USB connection used for synchronising and charging, as well as a headphone jack. Unfortunately the headphone jack is a 2.5mm and not the standard 3.5mm, so you'll need to purchase an adapter should you wish to use a regular set of headphones. There's also volume controls on the left hand side, and dedicated buttons for the camera and voice recording on the right.
The Exec is well equipped with connectivity options and these include native Wi-Fi (802.11b), Bluetooth and infrared. As with all Windows Mobile 5 devices, these options can be easily managed using the wireless manager, which displays the status of each function - phone, GPRS, Bluetooth and Wireless LAN - and enables you to turn each of them on and off to preserve battery life. We were a little disappointed that the Exec doesn't offer 3G support though, as this would have been an ideal upgrade.
The rest of the Exec's features are identical to the original XDA Atom, including a 2 megapixel camera with self-portrait mirror and flash. The quality of pictures it produces is fairly standard for a two megapixel phone camera - good enough for happy snaps, but not enough detail for regular photography. The Exec also includes the standard array of software with Pocket Word, Excel, Outlook and Internet Explorer all included.
As a standard mobile phone, we had no major complaints about the call quality although there is still a slight echo during voice calls. The Exec also includes a number of call specific features such as accept/ignore, voicemail, a hands-free speakerphone, hold, conference call and mute. According to O2, battery life is rated at up to 150 hours of standby time and 5.5 hours of talk time. These figures are fairly respectable and we found they weren't far off the mark, having to charge the handset every two nights or so with moderate usage.
If you already own the XDA Atom there's not enough reason to consider an upgrade, but as it stands the Xda Atom Exec combines a compact and lightweight form, elegant styling and a great features list to produce an excellent all-round smart phone.
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