Well I promised it… I've had lots of email on the theme of 'lucky devil' as I declared I'd got an HTC universal device.  I wanted to share my initial thoughts on the device and my experiences over the last few days.  I'll focus on the Universal as a Phone/Data device initially and expand over the coming days….


Form Factor and Device Build


The Universal is a BIG device - no question.  I've referred to it with colleagues as re-assuringly big!  It is however packed with features and technology.


The Combination of the VGA Screen, Wifi and 3G make it unique in the Market for Windows Mobile devices.  I have found myself spending a lot of time browsing the web marvelling at the gorgeous screen which seems to render web pages (especially with Windows Mobile 5.0) incredibly well. 


The swivel screen like a Tablet PC allows you to close the screen and protect it when it isn't in use and also is really handy if like me you listen to music on the device as you can close the screen preserving battery life whilst also allowing the Music to play on!  The screen also switches neatly between landscape and portrait which is great for Word Documents and Spreadsheets alike. 


The device has an SD card slot (which currently holds my 1GB card full of apps and music) .  It also has a mini-usb sync/charge slot which allows me to charge the device from my laptop and also use a small usb charger cord.  The Headphone socket is at last 3.5mm which means I can use my decent headphones to listen to music! 


With the Soft keys and Windows Mobile 5.0 I've found myself pulling out the stylus much less frequently and actually driving the whole UI with my finger. 


It is a really well built device and feels very solid. 




The Keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard and has keys for commonly used items such as making calls, Internet Explorer, Email and Contacts.  The Keyboard interestingly can either be used whilst holding in your hand or placing it onto a hard surface.  It reminds me of my old Psion 5 (which I loved!)


I've been responding to emails pretty rapidly and even drafting this blog entry on the device so it's certainly good for long documents, emails or instant messenger conversations. 


Battery Life


My tests are completely unscientific and I'll leave those to other people.  My tests are simple:


1) Does it last all day for all my voice calls, email access and other activities.

2) Will it last all weekend without a charge.

3) Will I leave the power charger at home.


The Universal passes all three of my tests. I haven't yet seen the battery low warning even after a long day of customer and conference calls.  With persistent storage (in Windows Mobile 5.0) means I can run the battery and I don't event take the power charger because ultimately if it does run out…. Who cares!  I won't lose my data! [:)]




The Phone application in Windows Mobile 5.0 is much improved and I've been using the Universal device with a BT headset which paired simply - it also paired seamlessly with my BMW Bluetooth Car Kit - something which challenges many mobile devices today.   


The large size of the device means I do prefer using the Bluetooth headset much more than holding the device up - it's not a problem - just for long calls it is quite heavy.  The bundled headset is also an option but I prefer to confuse people by wandering the corridors talking to myself (with my BT headset hidden in my ear)




What is ultimately the coolest feature is simultaneous 3G and Voice capability - that is I can use my Universal as a 3G data modem whilst also talking on the telephone.


A little U for UMTS appears on the connectivity icon which tells me I have 3G data capability when it's available - browsing the Web whilst mobile with 3G is superb.  The Universal is switching between 3G and GPRS seamlessly and I've yet to experience an issue.


WiFi connectivity is also enhanced in Windows Mobile 5.0 so I can really easily connect to both corporate and my home network and synchronise email as well as browse the Internet and Intranet.



Conclusions so far…..


So that's where I am so far with my usage/testing.  When I met with Guy Kewney ( http://www.newswireless.net/ )  recently he shared with me his one rule of Mobile which is (and I paraphrase) - if a device/technology is really useful/amazing…. Then you won't leave home without it.  If it isn't in your bag or on you… it doesn't count.


So far the Universal hasn't left my side.