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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Costly XDA handheld promises much
The XDA on show
The XDA is touted as an all-in-one device.

The XDA from phone company mmO2 is billed as a combination of a mobile telephone and a powerful handheld computer

With an impressive array of features, it fits into a gap in the market where several mobile phone and computer manufacturers are already operating.

Similar devices include the Treo series from Handspring, which run on the Palm operating system, the Nokia Communicator 9210, the Trium Mondo from Mitsubishi and the Kyocera QCP 6035.

All these devices are aimed at getting users to throw away their old personal digital assistants (PDA) and clunky mobile phone and instead buy a new all-in-one device.

But will the XDA tempt me to do that and still allow me to work effectively when I'm away from my desk?


First things first, the XDA looks good, with a sleek, shiny, silver body. It is not too large or heavy. It has a bright, clear screen, and it is pretty easy to use once you get accustomed to using a stylus and tapping on the touch-sensitive screen.

The XDA from o2
The XDA has a touch-sensitive screen
It is fairly standard for PDAs to allow you to store your contacts and diary and synchronise them all with your computer at home or in the office.

But the XDA takes that a step further by linking the two together. For example, you can go into your address book, select one of your contacts, and make a call to them just by clicking on their number on your address book. Previously I've had to look up the number on my PDA and then key it separately into my mobile phone.

The e-mail inbox function that comes with the XDA means you can also carry copies of your office e-mail with you. Any answers you type when you are away from the office, however, will not be sent until you get back to the office and synchronise again.

This is not to be confused with the XDA's dial-up function that allows you to send and receive e-mail when you are on the move.

Easy to get going

On the communications side, O2 has put a lot of effort into making the XDA very simple to set up.

XDA specifications
Microsoft Pocket PC operating system
240x320 pixel screen
Battery life: 150 hours standby, 15 hours Pocket PC usage and 3.5 hours talktime
Once you insert the SIM card, a configuration wizard sets up the phone.

A few further clicks and you can make a connection and start browsing the web.

It is best to look at sites that have a version specifically for mobile devices, although you can try downloading normal websites as well.

The XDA also has a Wap browser called ezWap and Wap sites really fly over the GPRS connection. Wap pages are very small because they are mainly text, so will save time and could also save you money.

In terms of messaging, the XDA offers a host of options. These include standard SMS messages, e-mail and instant messaging.

SMS works straight out of the box. You go to your Outlook Inbox, select SMS, click New and type your message. The interface makes it look like you are typing an e-mail, which may be slightly confusing, but you just put in the recipient's phone number, then hit Send, and off it goes.

Send and crash

Setting up for dial-up e-mail is slightly trickier. You have to add an e-mail account, which involves running through a wizard. You need to enter details of your e-mail account, such as server name, username and password. Then you can connect to download.

Close up of contacts screen on the XDA
Keep all your contacts in one place
Of all the applications on the XDA, this was the one I had most problems with. It would not initially make a connection when I asked it to connect.

Then I did manage to get it to work by making a connection, then opening the inbox and clicking Send/Receive.

However, I've only managed that twice. It now seems to get stuck or crash when I ask it to Send/Receive. Even resetting the device does not help.

The instant messaging feature really falls into what I would call the frills area of the device. Messaging is via MSN Messenger, which comes pre-installed. This might be useful if you have friends abroad who you could chat online with, rather than calling directly.

Mind-boggling options

The XDA also offers the ability to play audio and video clips, games, and a host of different ringtones. If you are really into having a distinctive ringtone, you can basically select any audio file as your ringtone. Or even compose your own.

Cost is a big issue with these kinds of devices and I would expect the current price tag of 500 to put it out of reach for many.

You also have to consider that the GPRS service starts at about 5 per megabyte per month, and that is on top of your monthly bill.

In terms of value for money, however, it is definitely worth it. I would pay the extra money for the added functionality of having my phone and PDA in one device, and no headache trying to set up a connection to a mobile phone by Bluetooth or infrared.

The XDA is available in the countries that O2 operates in - UK, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.
See also:

20 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
04 Feb 02 | Business
02 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
03 Sep 01 | dot life
25 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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