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O2 Atom Review – will I stick with this phone long enough?

Xdaatom_info_pic
I rarely use a mobile phone more than 6 months. In the past
18 months, I have used Sony Ericsson s700i, v802se, Nokia 6680, Sharp v703sh,
and the latest one is the O2 Atom… um… PDA Smart Phone. Since I have been doing
Mobile design for the past 7-8 months, I can
claim to people (or to the IRS) these shinny new phones are part of the work I
do. Gotta have it.

I was at Hong Kong for a
week
, and I had no plan to pick up a new phone; although I did spend some time in
the Smartone/Vodefone store and play with the Sharp 903sh. It’s a nice phone/3
mega pixel camera, but it’s a bit big when you actually hold it in your hand.

I met up with a co-worker of mine at Hong
Kong one night during my trip, and he’s currently using the O2 Atom. I took his phone/PDA
and played with it a bit. It felt so small in my hand, and the screen is great. In fact O2 Atom is currently the smallest Windows Mobile 5.0 device out there. It’s defiantly
not your corporate Treo – it has style. Style itself is not enough to
convince me to purchase the device (contrary to popular believe). I’ve
finally decided to purchase the device since my friend told me it has built-in 802.11 support as well.
Yes, it’s a GSM phone and also a broadband IP based device.

O2 Atom is ultra popular in Hong Kong and it’s pretty much out of stock even in the Shopping Paradise Hong Kong. I have
checked various Fortress, Broadway, and Thai Lin, and I’ve finally picked one
up at Thai Lin in Mong Kok. I picked up the English version so I can use CE-Star on it to read Chinese and Japanese Web site – instead of getting
the full Chinese version operating system.

The industrial design is sweet – shinny piano black just like
the new iPods. The camera is super slow before the firmware update. Since the
latest firmware update, the device has been treating me good.

To get the most out of O2 Atom, you really have to be a pretty
serious geek. Getting Opera, Real, and Skype installed are the first steps.
Firing up the 802.11 connection and use it like a Nokia 770 is also a must try. Here’s the thing
about the O2 atom – it’s better than the Nokia 770 since it’s smaller and it
has a phone built it – which the 770 lacks.

Windows Mobile 5.0 is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Yes it’s darn powerful especially if you want to browse real Web sites and deal with media files, but it also has crappy UI just like regular Windows. XP is pretty good these days, but Windows Mobile 5.0 UI is like Window 95/ME.

I do have a few issues with the device. ActiveSync sucks and
I have yet to figure out how to synch it to my work laptop via Bluetooth. Sync
via USB cable works, but I need to do some fancy configuration since ActiveSync
is not friendly to most security applications (think firewall, com port problem
blah blah). Also, O2 Atom is not a “smart device” in terms of the network – it can’t
switch between 802.11 and GPRS automatically. In fact, in an area with weak
802.11 signal, it will use your GPRS profile to connect to the Net instead.

Over all, O2 Atom is pretty impressive. It has a camera,
it’s a PIM that sync to Outlook, you can run a lot of mini Microsoft apps
(think Word, PowerPoint, Excel), it’s a smart phone, it has wireless broadband. It handles internet streaming like a dream on both GPRS and 802.11.
What’s missing? I guess it would be a front/secondary camera, and the support
of HSDPA/WCDMA type 3G network… but I do believe cutting those features out is a
conscious decision. We’ll see a full 3G version of Atom sooner rather than
later.

Side story here: Christian was in the office yesterday, and of
course, I have to show off the new toy. Even he is impressed
with the small size and the fact it has 802.11 built in. He asked me if I have
Skype installed. I said "Yes, but I have no one to talk to on
Skype." -_-;

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Designer. Xooglers. Photography, iPhone, and Outdoor / EDC Tactical Gears enthusiast.