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Review|HTC S730 [Online Version]

Review|HTC S730

By: Vincent Benedict P. Castro

http://bnycastro.blogspot.com

I was in Hong Kong a few weeks back and decided to buy an HTC S730 aka HTC Wings not to be confused with the T-mobile Wing which is also made by HTC. This is a Windows Mobile Standard device which in layman's terms simply means non-touch screen.

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Specifications:

Windows Mobile® 6 Standard

Qualcomm MSM 7200 400Mhz

64Mb RAM / 256Mb ROM

2.4in 240x320 non touch screen

802.11b/g WiFi

GSM/GPRS/EDGE [850/900/1800/1900] UMTS [2100]

Bluetooth 2.0 EDR [A2DP/AVRCP]

12 Key Keypad / QWERTY Sliding Keyboard

0.3MP [front] + 2MP [rear] Camera

HTC ExtUSB

microSDHC expansion

1050 mAH battery

Weight: 150g with battery

Dimensions: 105.8mm x 51 mm 19.4 mm

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Package Contents:

HTC S730

1050 mAH battery

USB Sync Cable

Autovolt AC Adapter [HKG/UK plug]

Wired Headset

Carry Pouch

Documentation

Getting Started CD

Spritebackup CD

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Foreword:

I bought the HKG WWE version so I got a device with CHN read/write built in aside from the ENGLISH. I tried to write a few words in pinyin and it worked well. Included was a Chinese Manual which I couldn't read and Sprite backup [also in Chinese]. The keypad and keyboard also has markings for Chinese input I don’t mind these because I got the unit cheap. All in all YMMV depending on where and from who you get the device. Versatile Telecom the official distributor of HTC is not selling WM Standard devices here so I had to get this on my own. I have 1 year HKG warranty.

The included carrying pouch is very nice as it can double as a wipe for your device however it doesn't fit the S730 well because it’s too small or the device is too fat [it can go both ways here]. I have bought a cheapo belt case for the S730 and it will do for now. I’ve also attached a hand strap to my device: better be safe than sorry.

Also I have hard spl’d and flashed my device to Windows Mobile® 6.1 Standard. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The jump from WM6.0 to 6.1 benefited the Standard devices more than the Classic/Professional devices. HARD SPL and ROM flashing voids your warranty and may result in a brick please please please please read before you do it and follow the instructions to the letter.

Screen:

The first thing of note is the gorgeous screen that is framed with brush metal. It is very crisp and bright and makes good use of the 240x320 resolution.

IMG_0236

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Input:

The large softkeys + home / back keys and dpad follow and a somewhat cramped 12 key keypad which is in between the send and end key. Although the keys are a bit cramped I had no problems using them with xT9 or with multi-tap.

IMG_0254

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The next thing of note is the slide out QWERTY keyboard. Like the TyTN 2 it slides out to the right of the device and the screen switches it’s orientation automatically. The slider is assisted and it’s effortless to open or close the slide. There is a bit of a delay in orientation change but it is not too slow. The keyboard is quite comfortable for thumb typing SMS, Emails and short documents; I doubt you’ll be writing your memoirs on it. HTC has added CAP and FN indicators as well as a light sensor to the keyboard. It definitely added bulk to the device but it also adds the convenience of QWERTY and keypad entry. I like having the option to use either input method. I usually use the keypad for SMS and the keyboard for Email, IM and browsing.

IMG_0262IMG_0261

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Size and Build Quality:

It is a bit smaller than my primary device which is an HTC TyTN, II but it has the same thickness. It feels solid in hand even though if the components are made of plastic. Still it is comfortable to carry both in hand and in your pocket. This is not one of those tiny mobiles.

IMG_0266IMG_0267

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Cameras and Mutlimedia:

There are 2 cameras a front facing for video telephony and a rear facing for photos and videos. Standard HTC Camera options. For the main camera there is no photo assist light but you do get the self portrait mirror. Again the CMOS sensor seem to be of low quality and so pictures are not magnificent like Nokia’s Carl Zeiss optics mobiles or Sony Ericsson’s CyberShot mobiles. Still it will do for quick snaps again do not leave your DSC or dSLR at home if you want to keep those memories alive.

IMG_0265IMG_0264

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Test Shots:

Smallest Size [Small setting: 120x160]

IMAG0009

Biggest Size [2MP setting: 1200x1600]

IMAG0010

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As for multimedia, it comes with Windows Media Player 10 for mobile and HTC’s Audio Booster and Manager software. It can also watch youtube videos over 3G or WiFi with no problems.

windowsmedia

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youtube

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WiFi:

WiFi works well although I have seen better range with some Nokias. It connects to both WEP and WPA secured networks and of course un-secured ones with ease.

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Bluetooth:

Bluetooth performance was average. I was able to pair and use it with no issues with the following:

Motorola HT820 [stereo headset]

iTech Arrow Lite [headset]

Jabra BT3030 [stereo headset]

Sending and receiving files to and from my TyTN II also worked well.

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Reception, Call Quality and Data:

I used the device for about a week in Hong Kong with a 3 Telecom pre-paid SIM and I must say performance was great. Here in Manila I am using it with my SUN Cellular SIM, call quality is so so. I also tested the 3G on the device and got average results with my SMART Telecom SIM. Again YMMV as this aspect is as much carrier as it is device dependant.

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Operating System and Applications:

Windows Mobile 6 Standard is the non touch screen OS from Microsoft. I’ve had experience with it before via Motorola MPx220 running Windows Mobile 2003SE and HTC S310 running Windows Mobile 5.0. The HTC S730 comes with Windows Mobile 6 but as I said I have updated it to 6.1 thus I got some pretty neat features. Of note are:

Pocket Internet Explorer Zoom function which makes browsing a bit bearable.

pocketie

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Threaded SMS Messaging.

sms

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Sliding Panels Homescreen [I will cover this in a separate post].

slidingpanel

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Aside from the default Microsoft applications we all know and love HTC has included the following to the S730:

HTC Comm Manager

HTC Task Manager

HTC Audio Booster

HTC Audio Manager

HTC Quicknotes

Adobe Reader

Esmertec JAVA

Flash Lite Player

RSS Hub [Ilium Software Newsbreak]

Connection Setup

Sprite Backup [on CD]

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Memory, Storage and Expansion:

64Mb of RAM seems a bit small for 2008 but the device can and does work well with it. 256Mb ROM is adequate for normal use. If you intend to use it as a media player though you may add extra storage via a hot swappable microSDHC expansion slot. The push in/out slot is located behind a rubber door which prevents premature ejection.

IMG_0259

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Sound, Sync, Charge, Uptime:

The mono loud speaker located on the rear of the device is quite loud for a Windows Mobile device which is a good thing.

IMG_0268

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Syncing is easy with Activesync [Windows Mobile Device Center on Vista] on my Office Desktop running XP. I had all my contacts, appointments, tasks, and notes synchronized in minutes. I like the fact that the Messaging system is robust enough [for my use] to be able to sync Outlook Email and a myriad of IMAP accounts, as you can see I have 3 Gmail, 1 Windows Live and 1 Yahoo account synchronizing to my device. This is great for me because I get my personal emails via IMAP and my work email via Activesync when in the office. I get to keep my work email separate and available only at work which I’m sure you know is essential for sanity. In case of emergencies though work email may also be accessed via the web so everything is within reach.

email

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If we look at the bottom of the device we will see the mic, a lanyard loop and of course HTC’s ExtUSB port. The S730 like most current generation HTC devices uses HTC’s ExtUSB connector which is essentially a miniUSB port that does data, audio, and charging. While it’s convenient on the sync and charge part it will definitely turn off some users who prefer to jack in with their own earphones. Of course a converter may be purchased for this or do what I do which is stream music over Bluetooth: look Ma, no wires!

IMG_0244

I get an average of 2 days per charge much less if I do a lot of WiFi. YMMV.

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Conclusion:

64Mb is at the minimum amount of RAM for devices nowadays. The device sometimes chokes on RAM intensive processes. The device heats up [battery part] when connected to WiFi for extended periods of times while it is not scalding it is noticeable. It makes up for these with very versatile input methods which are a boon for both the casual and power user. Having 4 flavors of GSM is a plus for the business traveler the single band of UMTS will not do for our North American friends but will do for most of Asia and Europe. Having Windows Mobile for its OS it has access to familiar applications and a library of freeware and commercial apps to improve usage and productivity. Though it is not the smallest device to date it packs a whole lot of features so the HTC S730 is a very capable smart phone. I would recommend this device to someone looking for a feature rich smart phone.

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Comparison Shots:

Here are some comparison shots with my HTC TyTN II:

IMG_0232

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IMG_0253

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IMG_0235

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IMG_0247

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http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=51245&l=db965&id=520321850

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©bnycastro 2008

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