Htc_advantage_x7501

Unboxing the HTC Advantage the other day generated some great questions and comments that I’d like to address in a good old-fashioned Q&A session.

Note: Questions have been rephrased for consistency.

Steve Paine from UMPC Portal asks: "How is the browsing experience from a consumer angle?"

Hmm. The price of the Advantage rules it out as a consumer device, as does the "The most powerful mobile office!" tagline plastered all over the box and print materials, but its excellent connectivity options and web access certainly carry a lot of consumer appeal.

Both Internet Explorer Mobile (IEM) and Opera Browser come preinstalled. I haven’t done any intensive browsing or looked into any tips and tricks, but so far I’m not impressed. Browsing isn’t bad (not at all!), but it’s also not enjoyable enough for me to choose it over another device. That’s my first impression, anyway.

Out of the box and compared to other mobile browsers I’ve used, IEM is atrocious. If my tolerance for pain wasn’t so low, I would’ve jabbed myself in the eye. Websites are rendered slowly and in ways I’ve honestly never seen before. Opera, as usual, is much better, though scrolling in general is a bit choppy and VueFLO (horizontal and vertical scrolling based on physically tilting the device) is a novelty feature that I’ve already disabled.

How the browsing experience is perceived by consumers depends heavily on what sort of device they’re coming from: a smartphone or a UMPC. I can imagine smartphone folk with Treo or BlackBerry backgrounds really enjoying the Advantage’s comparatively large screen and high resolution (640 x 480), which translates to much less horizontal scrolling and possibly even the first time they can use the "Desktop" view mode. Great fun, I’m sure.

UMPC folk, on the other hand, typically expect at least a 5-inch screen on their mobile devices and therefore won’t be pleased with what then becomes a very low resolution and a lot of horizontal scrolling. I don’t know exactly where Nokia N800 and iPhone users would fit between smartphone and UMPC people, but they wouldn’t be thrilled either.

Opus asks: "Will the Advantage fit into a front shirt pocket?"

The device is 3.86 inches wide and fits very nicely without the included case into a front shirt pocket. Here it is sitting in my husband’s pocket:

Htc_x7501_shirt

I don’t know if there’s a standard pocket width from men’s shirts, but his are all at least 4 inches.

Dominus asks: "Will the magnets destroy all your credit and bank cards?"

This worries me, too. There’s a warning section in the user manual that suggests that credit cards, bank cards, audio/video tapes, and magnetic memory devices be kept at least 5 centimeters (about 2 inches!) away from the device and keyboard. Otherwise, "information . . . could be destroyed." The warning goes on to say that magnetic-sensitive devices such as mechanical watches or measuring instruments be kept at "an adequate distance."

I’m assuming that the magnets aren’t a problem if the Advantage is in a case, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyone know?

Bruce Wilson has been a happy Advantage user for 2 months and loves the big screen, convenience of the keyboard, and excellent battery life.

You mentioned that you don’t use the leather case; do you use a different case or nothing at all? How do the device’s casing and screen hold up unprotected?

I applied the included screen protector last night, and I’m not happy. It isn’t a perfect fit, first of all, and it’s not as clear as other products. I want to remove it and use nothing but am concerned about how scratchable the screen is. Fingerprints are also a bit of a nightmare on the casing. Wiping them off completely seems to require a bit of effort.

Orbitalcomp suggests the LG HBM-700 Style-i Bluetooth remote and a different case.

The accessory currently at the top of my list is the HTC docking station, but I’ll definitely look into the Style-i. It looks like a nice way to use the Advantage as a phone while on the go. I really like that it has an OLED screen. Very handy!

The included case does add a bit of bulk to the device, and I was wondering about the long-term effects of the clips that hold the unit in place. Bruno (who mentioned that the case for his Ameo has two loops on it that I can’t envision) suggested a Piel Frama case that I like, and I saw a Proporta one that wasn’t too bad.

Is the Designio Leather Case the one you got from Boxwave? It looks nice and the price can’t be beat!

Bob Russell from MobileRead asks: "Will it fit onto a belt clip holder or into something like Dockers front pants pockets?"

It may be a bit awkward, but I think a belt clip could work. It easily fits into a front pants pocket, even with its leather case. Here it is, uncased, slipping into my husband’s pocket.

Htc_x7501_pants

Men’s pants pockets are so deep (compensation for women’s purses, I suppose) that a few more Advantages could have probably slipped in, too.

Bob also asked about touch typing. I haven’t been using the device long enough to make a fair assessment, but so far, based on about two days of use, I would say no. Too many keys are in the wrong place, and retraining your brain to learn the layout of the punctuation and function keys is way too labor-intensive.

Thumb typing would be quite good if the keyboard could be positioned like those on sliding-display UMPCs, but it’s a bit awkward as is. I think it gets better with practice, though, so I still have hope.

Thanks for all your comments and questions!