Try on a Trion for a good business smartphone

I recently went on an exhaustive, and exhausting, trawl through the combined mobile phone/PDA, or smartphone, world. And, astonishingly, arrived at a ‘no compromise’ result. The trigger for my quest was …

28th May 2007 at 8:27 am

I recently went on an exhaustive, and exhausting, trawl through the combined mobile phone/PDA, or smartphone, world. And, astonishingly, arrived at a ‘no compromise’ result. The trigger for my quest was the final collapse of my trusty Palm Tungsten T2. I’d broken a couple of Palms before and replaced them, preferring to use them with my equally trusty Nokia 6310i phone (using Bluetooth) than to buy one of the half-baked smartphones that were around at the time.

My needs are not sophisticated. Like most business people on the move, I want to get connected regardless of local communications services.

I wanted Tri-band, for connectivity anywhere (I ended up with Quadband); 3G internet access (I got 2.5G out of my existing SIM card. A free 3G SIM is on its way); wi-fi, to sidestep data charges when possible; and GSM, of course. Additionally, I needed Bluetooth for linking to my Nokia hands-free kit in the car.

Email access was vital, despite the spam. Internet access was very desirable. (I dread those “let’s have a weekend away from the computer” conversations. It’s not that I’m an addict, but it’s nice to know that I can get online if need be.)

Calendar and contact software were vital too, plus the ability to run other useful applications.

A built-in keyboard would be preferable to an on-screen one or character recognition for heavy-duty writing sessions, although I’d want both of those as well.

Finally, I thought a camera would come in handy, for occasional reference shots, but I wasn’t unduly bothered.

The machine I ended up buying exceeded all expectations. It’s about 50% heavier than my old phone but it’s definitely smaller and lighter than the phone and Palm combined. And I no longer need the camera or fold-up keyboard (neither of which I used much anyway.)

So, the winner was…

O2 Xda TrionThe O2 Xda Trion (which is really the HTC Hermes and is badged in some countries as the the TyTN):

It satisfies all of the above requirements. In fact, it exceeds them. It is a stunning piece of technology, made by Taiwanese company HTC. It runs Microsoft Windows Mobile 5, which will be good news for people who use Windows on their PCs. And, if you’re an Outlook user, then you’ll be able to synchronise your desktop/laptop with the Trion straight away.

Whinges? Well, until now, I have studiously avoided Outlook, preferring to use the Palm Desktop software and a non-Microsoft email system. This meant that getting Outlook installed on my desktop and sychronising with the Trion was a bit of a nightmare. But I got there eventually and now use Outlook as a replacement for my Palm Desktop and I still use my existing email program.

I have not, as yet, migrated all my historical calendar data across. This is because the Palm machine was broken. I understand that it’s easy enough if the machine is still alive. But I can buy software to convert from the Palm Desktop to Outlook if I decide I need it.

The bottom line? Well it’s the best combination I could find that suited my rather business-like requirements. The Trion is really easy to use. You can choose between screen tapping or mouse clicking for most actions. And you’ve even got a thumbwheel for rapid scrolling. It will even play your MP3 files.

Remember that a smartphone is much more of a computer than a phone so do set aside an hour or so to read the manual if you want to get the most out of it.


David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World.

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