By June 10, 2009

O2 XDA Guide review

To start this review I would just like to say, the XDA Guide is like revisiting an old long lost friend, being a long time XDA Orbit user and being more than happy with it, I was interested to see if the new revitalised version can prove itself in this competitive market.

The O2 XDA Guide aka HTC Touch Cruise 09

The O2 XDA Guide aka HTC Touch Cruise 09

 

As Matt mentioned this device appears at the moment to be released as an exclusive to O2, so is there enough reasons to warrant switching over to them? Edit: I notice they are starting to appear on the web now as well.

Following on from the likes of the HTC Touch Cruise, TC2, 09 etc and Orbit 2. This device unofficially is being touted as the Orbit 3, or is that Iolite, call it what you will, here are my thoughts on the device.

Firstly, the Orbit 3, sorry, Guide box, it has to be said the box is huge! And comes in as a 15+cm cube. Fortunately this is to allow for the array of accessories that are included as standard. There are 2 separate boxes included in an outer wrapper, details and views of which can be found on Matt unboxing video.

 

What’s in the box?

In the 1st Box, can be found:

  • The Xda Guide
  • A spare rather small and thin non telescopic stylus
  • A mesh type slide in case
  • MiniUSB connecting headset with inline controls for phone and player
  • AC adaptor that connects via the USB charge cable, and includes a UK adaptor
  • There is of course a MiniUSB to USB cable.
  • CoPilot Live 7 installed on a 1gb microSD card and a registration card
  • Quick start guides for the XDA and CoPilot Live
  • CD ROM for ActiveSync, Outlook 2007 trial etc.

The 2nd box contains:

  • In Car charger for the cigarette lighter
  • A windscreen suction holder complete with
  • An XDA cradle for attaching to the suction holder

A very nice touch again from O2 to include the accessories as standard, I think someone must have nicked the screen protector though?!

Have a look at Matt’s O2 XDA Guide unboxing video for more.

O2 XDA Guide (HTC Touch Cruise 09) Specification:

  • Processor – Qualcomm® MSM7225™, 528 MHz
  • Operating System – Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
  • Memory – ROM: 512 MB/RAM: 256 MB
  • Dimensions – 102 X 53.5 X 14.5 mm (4.02 X 2.11 X 0.57 inches)
  • Weight – 103 grams (3.63 ounces) with battery
  • Display – 2.8-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with QVGA resolution
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE – 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • HTC TouchFLO™
  • 4-Way Navigation Wheel with Enter button
  • HTC Footprints™ button
  • Internal GPS antenna
  • A-GPS capable (service provided by Google)
  • Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for stereo wireless headsets
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB and audio jack in one), full-speed USB 2.0
  • 3.2 megapixel colour camera with fixed focus
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1100 mAh
  • Talk time – Up to 400 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time – Up to 330 hours for GSM
  • microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • Includes proprietary in-car holder
  • Photo geotagging

 

General

On the top there is the power on button and you can also see the stylus holder.

O2 XDA Guide top view

O2 XDA Guide top view

 

The left hand side is just the single button up/down volume rocker.

O2 XDA Guide left side

O2 XDA Guide left side

 

The bottom of the Guide is the miniUSB housing underneath which you can just make out the back cover release recess, and a mic.

O2 XDA Guide bottom view

O2 XDA Guide bottom view

 

The right hand side has…nothing….no dedicated camera button…just the rest of the stylus holder mentioned in the top.

O2 XDA Guide right side

O2 XDA Guide right side

 

The rear of the unit again kept really simple has a small lanyard hold at the bottom, a speaker slot and the 3.2 MP camera, again missing any kind of flash or self-portrait mirror.

O2 XDA Guide back view

O2 XDA Guide back view

 

On the front of the flush screen, is the 2.8” QVGA 320 x 240 (Yes QVGA, please in this day and age?) screen. Under which from left to right is a Navigation button to launch CoPilot and call button, when long pressed activates voice dialling, next to which is the 4 way navigation wheel and enter button, and finally on the right is a dedicated ‘Footprint’ button above the call end key, which when long pressed locks the screen.

guide_front

O2 XDA Guide front view

 

Highlights:

  • Great shape and design
  • Included extras
  • NaviPanel

Lowlights:

  • Only a QVGA screen
  • No screen rotation

Software

The Guide utilises the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, which has the normal programs including a few extras such as Opera, Google maps, QuickGPS, Office Mobile, Windows Live and Messenger, Adobe, Footprints, Remote Desktop, RSS Hub, and You Tube, and of course TouchFLO.

The 2 main ones that make the XDA Guide standout more than most are the nifty NaviPanel and the Footprints, included in the TouchFLO application.

NaviPanel cleverly kicks in when you cradle the device into the supplied holder and presents you with 6 large button for quick and easy access to the handy functions needed while cradled. Straight away it asked if I wanted to connect with my Bluetooth car kit,

clip_image002clip_image004

Once done it then presents a Footprints shortcut icon, covered next, a Phone launcher, and the other 4 buttons launch the CoPilot Live 7 in each area as indicated. Quite clever really and I wish I was clever enough to figure out how it does it, can someone enlighten me? Surely this has a multitude for other uses, like auto shut off and so on?

Secondly as Matt mentioned, ‘the new HTC Touch Cruise is the first mobile phone to offer HTC Footprints, an application experience that enables people to permanently chronicle their special moments by capturing a digital postcard on their phone. Once captured, Footprints provides the ability to take notes and an audio clip of that favourite restaurant or special place while identifying its specific geographical location. In addition to identifying each postcard with its specific GPS co-ordinates, Footprints also auto-names each postcard with its general location or area.’

In reality it is a nice little app for being able to add more details to your ordinary snaps such as Phone numbers, notes, voice note or to navigate to, this will probably work really well for the snap happy but for me I found relatively little use for it, and for me it seems strange to have a dedicated ‘Footprint’ button the front of the device, and not others more commonly used. However it does launch Footprints which at least launches the camera function.

clip_image006

Small note here about CoPilot which I have reviewed in more dept in the past, don’t forget to run QuickGPS and keep it up to date, I found that on the test device, without running QuickGPS at all the Sat Nav never did pick up any satellites and I had arrived at my destination unaided, following the update it lock on very quick and was really accurate too boot.

Review

As I mentioned my previous device of choice as the XDA Orbit, before that one last alteration which completely destroyed it, (Lesson: Don’t take these things apart if you don’t know what you are doing.) and eventually sold as scrap.

I wanted an all in Sat Nav, PDA, and phone etc.etc. which was why I had plumped for the Orbit. On removing the XDA Guide from the box straight away the improvements are immediately visible. At 102 x 54 x 15 mm it is a great size, smaller than the Orbit which was 108 x 58 x 17 mm. It fits well in the hand and the rounded, smooth, flat sides feel nice to hold and comfortable in the hand, big enough to be functional but not so big to be cumbersome.

The detail on the device make it look very smart and stylish, it is solid, polished and very positive in all aspects for me. One of the big failings or the previous model was the lack of memory, and that it only had a 200 MHz processor. Really good to see the major improvements on this device with its Qualcomm® MSM7225™, 528 MHz and ROM – 512 MB, RAM – 256 MB upgrade.

A pet hate for both Matt and myself is the position of the reset button, why is it underneath the casing? I might as well take the battery out to reset, one day maybe…

guide_memory

O2 XDA Guide microSD card slot and reset button

 

On opening the XDA I found the SIM housing a bit fiddly to deal with as it is pretty much flush with the casing and difficult to slide the SIM out once inserted, however there is a small slot next to the camera which can be used to poke out the SIM with the stylus. Replacing the cover gives a good reassuring click as you snap it back on.

The microSD card although not hot swappable from the outside is easily accessed once the back is off, without the added burden of removing the battery.

For me also being an XDA Ignito user the screen is OK but I do prefer the VGA version that I have lived with for some time now, having said that it is completely useable and can be brightened by unchecking the ‘auto adjust backlight’. I had no complaints about the responsiveness of the unit in day to day use.

The next and biggest gripes with the screen are the missing accelerometer preventing landscape screen rotation, probably due to the NaviPanel mentioned earlier, and the shininess. I found that using the CoPilot in the position where I always cradle my Sat Nav was completely useless in bright sunlight, whilst recently on holiday I had to stick a business card in the holder to shade the screen so that I could see it. I also tried had to revert to the supplied holder which means due to the position of my cigarette lighter meant I couldn’t charge it!

The call quality was very good, except in particularly bad conditions, it was not the best in this area as I find other devices such as my Ignito manage slightly better, but the calls are loud and clear with the right conditions.

The cameras are quite well know as not a major strength on these types of HTC devices, it is functional and useable, but not the best, the pictures wouldn’t impress Matt and it certainly doesn’t replace a normal digital camera, I found that in low light there is a definite lack of quality and no flash to compensate, either.

For those who what to use this as an actual phone and texting machine, the phone functions are fairly Windows/HTC standard, the texting abilities are also the same, and one of the reasons I personally, prefer to use TouchPal as my input method of choice.

guide_angled_left

Conclusion

I have enjoyed having my old friend back, this has been one of the first devices that I have tested in a while, where a few of my colleagues have commented at how neat and tidy it looks, one of my technophobe friends even commented how easy it was to use! The beefed up spec and a few little quirks make this reliable device very easy to live with on a day to day basis, and the small form factor is an added bonus.

It seems that of the ones that are slowly becoming available on certain auction sites, the price is about right as well. If you can’t afford £500 for the Touch Pro2 then have a look at the XDA Guide.

 

Final personal point – A little off-topic but I would like to thank Tracy and Matt publicly for their generosity in sponsoring me on my upcoming London to Paris cycle ride. (9-13th September)

I was really disappointed with the results of my recent appeal for cash on www.tracyandmatt.co.uk as I am riding for a great cause in ‘Make-A-Wish’ and could really do with some extra support from the rest of you, to date I have not had one other donation.

You can donate on my web page www.justgiving.com/steve-wilson, so come on guys, ANY amount will make a difference so please don’t be shy. (Sorry about the photo, it was a bad day, and I am getting better.)

 

Review by: Steve

[ Post Tags: O2 XDA Guide, HTC Touch Cruise 09, Footprints, Windows Mobile, tracyandmatt.co.uk ]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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