Smartphone Thoughts: My Experience with the HTC s710 Smartphone

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Monday, December 17, 2007

My Experience with the HTC s710 Smartphone

Posted by Mike Temporale in "Smartphone Talk" @ 07:30 AM

A couple of our readers expressed some concern about my comments about the Vox (HTC s710) and their recent purchase of this phone. So before I start talking about my new device, I thought I should cover off some of my experiences with the Vox and why I just couldn't use it any longer.

The keyboard is one of the things that I felt would grow on me the more I used the device. However that just never happened. In fact the more I used it, the more I grew to hate the layout and feel of the keyboard. If you look at the keyboard layout you'll see that the Q, A, and Z keys are not lined up. The Q is one column to the left of the A and Z keys. Time after time I found myself hitting the shift key instead of the letter A and then all the letters from the middle row would be wrong until I actually stopped to read over what I had typed. Another problem with this keyboard is the blue backlight. For some reason, I find it hard to use in a dark place. My eyes have a hard time trying to adjust and see the keys.

The slide out keyboard is a great idea, and the rotating screen is pretty cool. The problem is the time it takes to adjust when you open or close the keyboard. I had to learn to take a pause after opening the keyboard or else I would lose whatever keystrokes I made during the screen rotate process. With the keyboard open, you can still use the number pad and the direction pad. That's a neat design and makes the keyboard layout more functional. However, the direction pad and numbers are on the left hand side of the phone. For some, that might not be a problem, but I'm right handed and found it really awkward to navigate the menus with just my right hand. Plus, the left and right softkeys located on the keyboard panel are right up against the top of the phone making it hard to press. They need a little more space between the keys and the top of the phone to make them usable.

The issues I've mentioned so far, are all design related and I'm sure that everyone will have a different view on those issues. Unfortunately, my problems with this phone don't stop with the hardware design. When I first unpacked this device and took it out on the road with me, I noticed that I was missing the notifications for all my calls and emails. I played with the volume settings, but they all looked fine. I played with profiles, but again there was nothing wrong with that either. The problem turned out to be the actual sound files. The phone was setup to use audio files that were not on the device! Once I got all that fixed up I was finally able to catch phone calls as they came in. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t hear the person on the other end of the phone. After much investigation, I found that they could hear me just fine, but I couldn’t hear them. Again, I checked all the usual things without any luck. In the end, the problem appears to be that the phone was stuck in Headset mode. There was no icon in the title bar of the phone to indicate this. Also, plugging in and removing the headset didn’t fix the problem. I had to actually pair a Bluetooth headset and then reboot the phone to make everything right. This problem would show up a couple times during my use of the phone. Each time, the only way to fix things was to pair a Bluetooth headset with the phone and then reboot. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, turning on and off Bluetooth had no effect on the device. It got to the point where I was using speaker phone in public because I didn’t have a headset handy to run through the whole process.

So, is it wrong for you to buy a Vox? No, I wouldn’t say so. It depends on your needs and wants from a Windows Mobile Smartphone. I know this phone is extremely popular with a lot of our readers, and I haven’t seen anyone mention having these problems with their devices. So I have to think that my problems may be related to an early revision of the ROM or pre-production issues. However, I didn’t think the phone I had was a pre-production unit. If you’re looking for a Smartphone that’s more phone that messenger device and something that’s can easily fit in your pocket or purse, this is a great fit. Just be sure to put it through its paces before the return period ends.

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