HTC TyTN II review
Does the new HTC TyTN II live up to the hype?
I think it’s fair to say that the HTC Kaiser is the worst kept Windows Mobile secret ever! Looking back at the posts on our site it was almost a year ago that we first mentioned HTC’s new device. Since then rumour and speculation have been the order of the day with the odd ‘leak’ from HTC thrown in.
To be fair, it does look like HTC have been managing the flow of information quite well and the little bits of info have only served to further heighten the interest in the device.
This isn’t our first look at the device, we have been lucky enough to fondle a couple of demo units over the past few months, but this review will be based solely upon the TyTN II retail unit we received earlier this week.
What’s in the Box?
The TyTN II comes in the standard HTC black box and is presented in much the same way as the HTC Touch; the device sits right on top surrounded by black foam. The flap on the front of the box is secured by a magnet.
Inside you’ll find:
TyTN II Hardware Specification:
At just 110x58x18mm it’s a full 4mm thinner than the original TyTN and is only a few grams heavier, its size is comparable to the HTC Trinity (Orange M700).
On the front of the TyTN II you’ll find the usual 5-way d-pad, a couple of soft keys, 'send' and 'end' phone buttons, an IE button, Email button, Windows Button and, finally, an OK button.
Just above the screen you’ll notice a front-facing VGA camera for 3G video conferencing.
Looking to the bottom of the unit there’s a microSD card slot (just below the navigation buttons) which comes complete with a plastic dust cover. There’s also an ExtUSB connector for sync/charge and audio. Next to that a reset button and the space for the full-size stylus.
On the right hand side are power and camera buttons.
And on the left a scroll wheel along with OK and voice notes buttons.
Turning the device over reveals the loudspeaker and a 3.0 megapixel camera. Note that there is no flash or mirror however. It’s also on the back that you’ll find the biggest give away one of the TyTN II’s best features; built in GPS as indicated by the large rubber cover over the external GPS antenna socket. More on this later.
It’s not until you slide the screen open that you discover the TyTN II’s best party trick; the tilting screen. The spring loaded screen slides back to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard which has decent sized keys that are slightly raised which makes them pretty easy to use. You also get a couple of indicator LED’s that show you the Caps and Function status.
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure about that tilting screen, and didn’t think that it would be that useful or practical. However, in practice I have to say this is a great idea! The TyTN II sits neatly on my desk and with the screen tilted it’s easy to see the display and it looks like a baby laptop.
In the past, some HTC devices have been affected by problems with touchscreen alignment, but you shouldn’t have any problems with the TyTN II in this department. The 240 x 320 display is clear and bright and also seems not to suffer from yellow colour cast that has been common on earlier devices.
The keyboard has a nice positive action to it and works extremely well. It’s virtually identical to the HTC Herald, and very similar to the HTC TyTN. Holding the device in both hands it’s easy to type at a fair rate using just your thumbs.
Finally, to insert a SIM card you have to slide the keyboard open and then look on the rear of the screen. Under a flap you’ll find the SIM card slot.
This final production build of the ROM varies in a number of ways to the demo units we’ve seen so far. The most obvious addition is TouchFLO. Don’t expect the TouchFLO experience to be the same as the HTC Touch, however, as this is a somewhat cut down implementation of the technology and is limited to a home screen plug in offering a large digital style clock, favorite people speed dials, local weather, a quick launch tool and profile controls. You won’t find the 3D cube on the TyTN II and no gesture based swipes across the screen as these both require a more sensitive touchscreen technology. That said, I think that HTC have included the best features of TouchFLO anyway.
Naturally, that TyTN II runs Windows Mobile 6 professional and works fantastically well. The WM6 UI tweaks coupled with that 400mhz CPU and the additional RAM mean that the device flies along quite nicely, switching between screens and bringing up the start menu rapidly. The difference is very noticeable compared to my Samsung i600!
As this is an HTC branded device it’s a fairly standard build of WM6, there are a couple of HTC customisations, ie. TouchFLO and Task Manager but you wont find any operator specific home screens and no one has removed Windows Live Messenger or played around with the icons. Naturally as operators begin to release their own versions of the TyTN II we’ll see more customised versions of the ROM.
So to get started with the device you’ll first have to install the battery. This has proven to be rather tricky for some. The rear cover of the TyTN II slides up and off and is quite stiff initially (take a look at my how-to video).
You’ll also want to install your SIM card at this point as attempting to do so while the device is on simply turns it off, and rightly so. The SIM socket is under the back of the screen so you have to slide the screen open to access it.
The first time you turn the device on it will take a while to get going, it will ask you to align the touchscreen and ask you questions about your location etc. and finally the customised ROM settings/applications are applied/installed before a quick, automatic reboot.
First of all you’ll probably want to set up your internet/network connection. As you already installed your SIM card (you did install your SIM card right?!) a wizard pops up and asks if you want to automatically configure your device. If you say yes at this point the phone will set itself up and then reboot.
So now you can set up your email. If you are using Exchange you can do this through activesync or if you are using pop3/Imap4 you’ll have to set this all up on the device. At this point I put in the details of my account and exchange server address. A few seconds later and the TyTN II starts to synchronise with Exchange and in no time at all the process is complete and I have all of my contacts and emails across. It’s very impressive how quickly this works which has a lot to do with the fact that I have HSDPA coverage.
It’s at this point that I see that I have 4 unread emails and slide open the keyboard in order to reply. Then I realise that the jingle played each time the keyboard is opened or closed isn’t quite a fun or cool as I thought it was and decide to turn it off there and then. This is done under settings > keyboard sliding sound. That’s much better!
The keyboard itself is a real pleasure to use. I’ve been used to the raised keys on the i600 which are ‘ok’ but the TyTN II is so much better! The keys have a nice tactile feel without being ‘clicky’ and in no time at all you can start typing at a fair rate with your thumbs. I think you’d have to have pretty small fingers to touch-type here though. The keys are backlit but the backlight only turns on when the conditions are dark enough, thus saving a little more power.
Email replied to it’s now time to install the apps that I use most. Skype, Opera and CamerAware are the first to be installed. This all happens without a fuss and many of you will be pleased to know that Skype works on the TyTN II without a hiccup. Paul @ MoDaCo also tells me that, although existing versions of CamerAware will work on the TyTN II, he is working on an optimised version.
I prefer Opera to Pocket IE but both work smoothly thanks to the decent CPU and fast 3G/HSDPA coverage.
Time to have a play with the Camera. The 3.0 megapixel camera has been talked about quite a lot. 3.0 mp may seem poor by today’s standard 7mp+ digital cameras, but lets not forget that this is a mobile phone. With that in mind the quality of the photos taken with the TyTN II are pretty good and thanks to the auto focus even macro shots come out reasonably well. The camera application software has also undergone an update since the days of the TyTN and now you can use the front-facing VGA camera for taking pictures which is why you don't need the little mirror on the back.
So on to the GPS on this puppy. I think that GPS will be the biggest reason for people to upgrade to the TyTN II. I do not use Sat Nav very often but this is mainly because I don’t want to carry an external Bluetooth GPS unit, turn it on, pair it, wait for a fix etc. Obviously the idea of a GPS enabled Windows Mobile device is nothing new, HTC themselves have released several in the past such as the HTC Trinity and the HTC Artemis but neither of these devices had a keyboard and I cant sacrifice a keyboard for GPS. Luckily the TyTN II does not force that sort of a compromise offering GPS and Keyboard in one package.
Like the Orange M700 a number of people are initially confused looking for the GPS on the TyTN II. When they enter Comm Manager or look through the settings menu and programs list there is little to give away the fact that the device has built in GPS. There is no definitive GPS on/off switch, you simply enter a GPS enabled application and things should start to work.
Eager to put this to the test I installed the version of TomTom that comes with the TyTN II. This is a cut down or ‘taster’ version of TomTom 6, it is the full application but you are limited to one city map download. Of course you can always buy more maps if you need to.
After installation the first thing to do is run ‘QuickGPS’ which you’ll find in the program menu. This application uses any internet connection to download satellite lock information that is designed to improve the GPS signal acquisition time. The download is really quite small and there is no need to do this every time you want to use the GPS, the data it downloads is valid for around 7 days! The only problem I've had with quickGPS is that it wants to change the timezone. So far I'm not sure how to get round this.
So how quickly do you get a satellite signal on the TyTN II? Very quickly is the simple answer. Turning TomTom on for the first time while standing outside I get a valid GPS signal in about 40 seconds. This is very impressive compared to the time it takes my M700 to acquire a lock. The tracking seems to be accurate with very little drift, certainly accurate enough for Sat Nav needs. Overall I'm impressed with the GPS.
Finally, in order to test the horsepower of the TyTN II I installed The Core Pocket Media Player and watched a few sample videos. What amazed me here is that I was able to put a video clip on the internal storage memory of the device that was NOT optimised for pocket PC and despite the DivX video being 640 x 320 it played back without so much of a stutter! This is something that I’ve never been able to do on any other device.
At this point I feel I should mention the stability of the TyTN II. I've had this retail unit for about 4 days and I've been using quite intensely, installed a variety of applications and generally given it rather a hammering. During this time I've experienced no stability problems at all, no forced reboots, no hang ups or crashes. This current ROM build seems to be rock solid!
The HTC TyTN II is an extremely impressive device, I’m an addict after just a few minutes. This really is the device that so many people have waiting for, no compromises, it includes the much needed keyboard, fast CPU and plenty of memory. The built in GPS is starting to become the norm and works well. The TyTN II may be on the heavy side but just think about all the technology crammed into such a small package!
So would I recommend this device? You bet I would!
Review by: Matt