HTC P3300 Review

January 18th, 2007

Here’s my review of the HTC P3300 (click read more to see it).

Make sure you check out additional pictures which can be found at the gallery here.

Pocket PC’s hardware is very interesting to track. Back in 03 (or was it 02), Pocket PC phone edition came out. Basically the devices were Pocket PC with a phone slapped onto them. Since then, they’ve gotten incremental upgrades like faster processors, more memory, different types of memory, smaller memory cards, brighter screens that can display more colour, etc. They’ve also gotten added features like a built-in camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, QWERTY keyboards.

Anyways, the newest feature is a built-in GPS. Kind of like the one you’ll find in HTC’s P3300 (aka the Artemis). But GPS isn’t the only trick up the P3300′s sleeve. It has a new navigation pad which HTC calls.

New features are nice provided they work well. Read on to find out if this is the case with the P3300!

The P3300 I’m reviewing has been supplied by Superior Gadgets.

Physical Impressions:

The P3300 feels pretty solid and is surprisingly light. This is probably due to the fact that the P3300 lacks a built-in sliding QWERTY keyboard. Despite the lightness, the P3300 easily passes my squeeze test.

It’s covered with a rubberized paint job. It doesn’t feel cheap but it’s not as ‘grippy’ as the one on the Nokia 6126 but it is nicer than the Glofiish x500′s.

While there is no QWERTY keyboard, there are enough buttons scattered around the front to allow for easy one handed operation.

The front button layout works well. Notice the Windows, OK, GPS and browser buttons. There are power and camera buttons on the right side, a voice button plus a volume switch on the left.

One of the P3300′s special features is it’s navigation pad or should I say lack of a navigation pad. Instead you get what HTC calls the ROLLR. It’s basically a dial plus a trackball. There are two modes of operation. One uses the dial to scroll mostly while the other lets you use the trackball.

When you use the trackball mode there’s an on-screen pointer. It’s neat but from my experience it’s not very useful unless you’re using the included TomTom navigator (more on that later). Anyways you get an on screen pointer but I found it was easier to just use the corner of my thumb rather than the trackball. You can press in on the trackball to select something. Using the dial in this mode is pretty pointless since rotating it will scroll through menu items but pressing in on the trackball will select whatever the pointer is pointing at (scrolling doesn’t move the pointer). For example, if the pointer is on the top right of the screen but you use the dial to choose a menu item you can’t select the item by pressing in on the dial since the pointer is in the top right of the screen.

When you’re in dial mode, rotating the dial scrolls between menu items and pressing in on the trackball will select whatever you were pointing it at. It’s just like a regular navigation pad in this mode.

The P3300 passes my squeeze test with flying colours. While it’s light it’s also very solid feeling.

There is a stylus holder located on the bottom right. The stylus is skinny and doesn’t telescope. An extra stylus is included in the box.

The display is 2.8″ measured diagonally with a resolution of 240×320 and can display up to 65,000 colours. There are 4 levels of brightness. The screen is easy to read in all lighting situations and looks great.

Hands-free usage:

As far as hands-free usage goes, the P3300 has a built-in speakerphone (it’s pretty loud), a mini USB headset connector plus it supports Bluetooth headsets.

Miscellaneous:

There is 128MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM built-in. The P3300 is powered by a 201Mhz OMAP processor. Performance is about average though it feels really slow when you’re using Tom Tom (more on that later).

There’s a MicroSD behind the SIM card so you can’t change it without first removing the battery cover, battery and SIM card first. If you change your memory card frequently you’ll find this to be really irritating (make sure you get the highest capacity memory card you can afford).

The mini USB connector at the bottom is used for syncing, charging and headset duties.

The battery has a capacity of 1200mAh which is kind of small for a Pocket PC phone. Still, I found I got a few days of standby with light use.

You get a black horizontal holster with the P3300. It clips to your belt and works well.

Navigation:

Included with the P3300 is the Quick GPS program which downloads satellite location information so that you can get a GPS fix quicker.

Navigation duties are handled by Tom Tom. You get one free map with the P3300 but I could not seem to find a map for my city (Toronto) from the list of free maps.

Tom Tom is pretty easy to use. When you’re searching for an address, it seems to juggle the order of things around which sort of makes it easier to use.

See, when people give you an address it usually goes, street number, street name, city, province, postal code/zip code. With Tom Tom, you enter the city, then the street name and then the number. As you’re entering in the address, Tom Tom will present you with a list of possible choices (kind of like how Pocket PC/Smartphone’s smart dial works). As you keep typing, the list keeps narrowing. It’s kind of neat but the on screen keyboard could be a bit bigger.

When you’re searching for a point of interest, it follows a similar paradigm; you start with the city and go from there.

Tom Tom is somewhat easy to use. The big problem with it is that the spoken navigation tends to tell you about upcoming turns at the most unexpected times. It gets really irritating.

Another problem (that’s not necessarily confined to the P3300) is that the device feels kind of sluggish when you’re using Tom Tom. The nav roller kind of exasperates this problem.

Tom Tom likes to keep running even when you turn the screen off so if you forget to exit the program when you’re done, it has a nasty habit of draining your battery completely.

Menus:

HTC doesn’t include a special launcher program with the P3300 (like all their Pocket PC phones). Anyways, the P3300 has a windows key in front so you don’t really need a launcher.

Like all HTC PPC phones, there’s a communications applet which you can use to turn off the GSM radio, WiFi, Bluetooth, push email, volume, etc. You can access it from the today screen.

You don’t get a battery status icon that appears on every screen – just the today screen (and the power app). Since I rarely look at my today screen I find this to be really annoying.

Phone Related Features:

Not much has been changed from previous HTC Pocket PC phones with regards to the phone features.

You can bring up the dial pad and switch to the phone app by pressing the ‘send’ button. After you dial, the virtual keypad disappears. I found that kind of irritating although you can always bring it back by pressing the left soft key.
When browsing the phonebook, you can quickly jump to an entry by typing part of their name. The P3300 will automatically search the first and last name fields.

Phonebook information (including Caller ID picture) synchronizes with Outlook.

There is a voice dialing feature but no digit dialing feature.

There are two separate volume controls on the P3300. One for system sounds and one for the phone.

One thing you don’t get with the P3300 is a profiles feature to let you quickly how the phone behaves when it makes a sound. Still, you can quickly change the volume by pressing the volume icon that’s found at the top of each screen.

Connected Features:

Like I mentioned earlier, you can turn off the P3300′s connected feature (i.e. WiFi) using the included Comm manager program. If you move around a lot and need to turn features on or off a lot I suggest you remap one of the keys to start this program. It would be nice if you could access this program by tapping something at the top of the screen. There is A2DP Bluetooth support so you can use the P3300 with your stereo Bluetooth headphones.

The messaging client supports SMS, email (imap and pop3), MMS and Hotmail. If you want to configure Hotmail, you’ll have to do it from the Pocket MSN menu, then you can check it using the messaging app. If you want to start a new message and take a new picture for it, you’ll have to take the picture first.

The P3300 supports push email if you have access to Microsoft Exchange 2006 (I don’t so I didn’t get a chance to test this).

Internet browsing is handled by Pocket Internet Explorer. PIE hasn’t changed much in the past couple of years and its beginning to show its age (for example it doesn’t support frames). You can rotate the screen 90 degrees so that it’s wider which should make pages a little easier to read though you’ll have to do this via the system menus so it takes a few steps. This is actually a feature of the operating system. It would be nice if PIE had a menu option which let you rotate the screen instead of having to go to your settings to do this.

PIE renders pages somewhat quickly, has multiple viewing options, plus the bookmarks can sync with your Windows desktop. There are three viewing options: One Column, Default and Desktop. With ‘Desktop’, web pages are rendered like they would appear on a desktop computer (you’ll have to do lots of horizontal scrolling). ‘Default’ draws pages so that columns are usually one screen wide so you can read text more easily. ‘One column’ renders everything in line so you don’t have to do any horizontal scrolling at all. Also included is a Terminal services (aka Remote Desktop Protocol) client.

Multimedia Features:

There is a built-in 2 megapixel camera. While images are somewhat noise free (for a camera phone) there isn’t that much resolution. Using the camera is really slow; I’m talking about accessing the menus, using the zoom, that sort of thing.

There is no built-in flash. You’ll really notice this when it’s dark since the P3300 won’t boost the signal to the sensor enough to compensate.

You get an FM radio. To use it you’ll need to plug the headphones in since they act as an antenna.

Music is handled by Windows Media Player. There is no equalizer so you can’t customize the music to your taste. You get A2DP (bluetooth headphone support) but watch out because music sounds really really thin when you use that.

Organizer Features:

Like all other Pocket PC’s, the p3300 comes with Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Powerpoint Viewer, Calculator, Calendar, Notes and an alarm program (it’s in the settings menu under ‘Clock & Alarms’. You also get a PDF viewer and a zip file manager.You can view and edit word documents with Pocket Word. Pocket Excel handles Excel spreadsheets. The Calendar and Notes programs can synchronize with Outlook on your computer.

The calculator is a very basic one and doesn’t do unit conversions.

You don’t get basic stuff

Impressions:

RF performance is very good. It’s not quite as good as a Sony Ericsson phone but it’s better than the ETEN x500′s.

Incoming sound quality is okay. People’s voices are slightly boxy sounding. It’s not terrible but I’ve heard better. Maximum earpiece volume is adequate.

One thing that stuck out when I was testing the incoming was that the P3300 doesn’t feel that nice when you’re pressing it against your ear.

Outgoing sound quality isn’t terrible but it isn’t that great. People kinda sound like they’re on a speakerphone.

Conclusion:

While the ROLLR is a really neat feature I didn’t find it was any better than a navigation pad. Still I am pretty amazed by the size of the P3300. It has pretty much every feature with the exception of a slide out keyboard and HSDPA support.

The P3300 is a really nice phone but at the same time I just wasn’t that into it. Sure it has Quad band GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth, built-in GPS, 2 megapixel camera and all these other nice features but I didn’t really enjoy using it.

I think it has something to do with ROLLR. It was kind of neat at first but after a while, it started to get to me. Sure, it can function just like a navigation pad but I just didn’t find it as efficient to use as a nav pad.

Ratings (out of 5)
Build Quality 4.5
Battery Life 3.5
Phone Related Features 4.5
Ease of Use 3.5
RF Performance 3.5
Degree of Customizability 3.5
Overall (not an average) 4
*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.

Pros:

  • Pretty good RF
  • Very compact
  • Built-in GPS
  • Pretty good sound quality
  • Easy one handed operation

Cons:

  • Navigation roller isn’t that great
  • Sound quality
  • Phone is uncomfortable to use
  • Memory card is inconveniently placed

Discuss this review at HowardForums.com
Written by Howard Chui 01.18.2007
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.

Entry Filed under: Reviews,Site News

5 Comments Add your own

    Matti Nysten  |  February 11th, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Hello!
    I have problems to save Excel -files on memory card. When I open the Excel -file, make some changes and try to save it with the same name, the fuction is prohibited or the saving takes about 3 minutes. I have changed the memory card (KIngston 1 Gb microSD) and format the card without any improvement.
    If I use the main memory, all things go fine.
    I am a teacher and I use at my work quite much Excel in different fuctions. It is quite annoying that I cannot use the memory card at all with Excel -files.

    Enrique Marquez  |  February 22nd, 2007 at 8:01 am

    I love the phone but I have two problems with it. These may be related to MS Windows Mobile 5.0 but I have not seen any comments about them in Microsoft sites or any where else so I don’t know if it is only I who has these problems:

    1) There seems to be a bug in handling the “visiting” time zone. I recently traveled to another time zone and I selected this option to have all my appointments move to the new time zone (I have been a user of Windows CE devices for year and I never had problems with this function before). Then, when I synchronized with my Outlook (I had also changed the time zone in my laptop) the device ended with local correct time but it said it was in EST (my home time zone), and every time I tried to change it would go back. I ended up having to change the home time zone.

    2) The alarm/notification got stuck (the light and the sound) and I don’t get the option to cancel it. There seems to be a bug that under some circumstances makes the options that are usually presented when a notification or alarms sounds (like snooze, ok, cancel) not to show ever again. I had to do a hard reset and reload my applications painstakingly again. This resolved the problem but a few weeks later the problem reappeared. HELP!

    john  |  November 12th, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Do Not

    Steve  |  February 25th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Love the phone, great easy GPS, slim and easy to handle. A couple of things I wish were better, screen in daylite is hard to see, phone dial pad is very small and almost need a stylus to punch in numbers.

    ehsan  |  April 19th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    hi
    please send me softwer of gps
    tank you

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