HTC P4350

Last week I was comparing iMates and iPhones, and a few days later I pulled the trigger on the HTC P4350.

So far, it's awesome. The phone works (my #1 reason for a new device), the keyboard is great, the 2MP camera has a nice UI, and the P4350, or "Herald" being a WM5 device does most everything the JASJAR (aka the Qtek 9000) did. The shell is better, and the keys are more useful.

But my last device was the JASJAR, which is still the best device out there. There are inevitable sacrifices. The processor is about 200MHz on the P4350 vs. the 520MHz JASJAR. Built-in apps do run fast, but saving a Note takes a long time. I suspect a few ops will take longer than I'm used to. Most people will never care. If you're a gadget geek, you just might. If so, try the HTC TyTN instead.

The screen is smaller, 320x240 instead of 640x480. When I see a list of docs now, titles are truncated which makes it hard to tell what my notes are about when I use descriptive prefixes. There is no Infrared port, which I wouldn't miss except that it would be the easiest way to move a lot of data between devices that take different SD card formats. It came with USB headphones which I can't find a quarter-inch converter for -- I'd really like to plug this into my car stereo like I did with my old device, especially for listening back to recorded voice notes. There is no backslash (\) on the keyboard. Is this a Fench keyboard thing? It's the only frustration I can't find a workaround for.

And then there's the fact that I bought it in Paris so it has the French version of WM5. This would be no problem, if software developers only understood that applications will be used by cultures other than en-US. The built-in camera is great, it saw my 2Gb Micro-SD card right away and stores new photos there. The awesome Live Search can also use a storage card to cache maps and directions, but unfortunately it needs to be named "Storage Card." Mine is automatically named "Carte de stockage" so Live uses valuable on-board memory, and I can't configure it otherwise. Happily Live Search for Windows Mobile is still in beta so there's time for a fix. Yes, I've sent the team my findings.

I've found a number of ways to kludge the UI to display English instead of French, which I will post if time or demand prevails. But I have not sucessfully replaced the dictionary for the type-ahead, and can't find a way to force it to call my Micro SD card "Storage Card" instead of "Carte de stockage." Strangely, another developer flub worked in my favour - the on-board camera not only recognizes the French name for the card, but it found and uses "\My Documents\My Pictures" to store new photos. This is exactly why apps need user-configurable storage paths, and not hardcoded paths (if you agree, support my comment!).

Why not the HTC TyTN? It was about another $300 for the faster processor, a jog wheel and a few features I don't use, like a second camera for video calling. All that in a slightly larger, comparatively unattractive device. Otherwise, same 2 mega-pixel main camera, same memory, same connectivity (GSM/EDGE/WiFi/Bluetooth) similar keyboard, same WM5. I'm really happy with the choice.

[Update] I tried the "UME to 3.5mm" connector for Motorola Mp3 phones, and it does not work with HTC devices!

[Update 2] HTC Europe is taking pre-orders on an adapter (the snappily-named "HTC P4350 Y Cable - 11pin to 5pin +3.5mm", though I prefer "Item 145068") out of the UK for £10, or about $25CAD. Plus £23 to ship to Canada! Foiled. There's also a pretty cool (wired) remote control that has the headphone jack plus a lot more, it starts at £25 plus the £23 shipping for a grand not-worth-it price of about $75 CAD. Foiled again.

[Update 3] The web browser was submitting French as my preferred language, even after updating Regional Settings to en-US. That gets annoying on sites developed by people who know what they're doing. The IE Mobile Team helpfully let me know the real place to make the change is the registry: Look up HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\International and see if there is a value called “AcceptLanguage”.  You can either update that value or delete it and it should fix the issue. Thanks! I use the excellent Total Commander for WM5 to edit the registry. 

[Update 4] Um, I don't have the value specified in the Update above, tried adding it, the jury's out until further notice.

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