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HTC P4350

Step 3: HTC P4350
  • Dual form factor with slide out keyboard, clear screen, easily synchronises to Outlook and Exchange
  • Only synchronises to Microsoft products, Windows interface can be overwhelming, poor camera

The HTC P4350 can be traced back to the very first Windows Pocket PC devices (such as the early Compaq iPaqs).

Picking up the device, it feels familiar to a generation of Windows PDA users, but even someone coming to this smartphone as a virgin will be put at ease. The home screen echoes the Microsoft Outlook Today screen and tapping the Windows icon either on the screen or the buttons at the base of the unit bring up a Start Menu listing recently opened applications, favourite applications, and icons for help, more programs and settings. It's all very straightforward to use, with a shallow learning curve.

There is power in the software, and specifically with the incredibly tight integration with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. Being a Microsoft powered device, there's no options for other PIM software, which means that the software can focus on dealing with Outlook and nothing else. Put simply, the ability to carry all your Outlook data with you, edit it on the device or PC and know those changes will be copied over with no problems, means that you don't have to think about the device, or your information, you just know it's going to be there. And if your office uses MS Exchange you'll be able to synchronise over the internet, and also receive direct push email, similar in methodology to the BlackBerry devices.

The other strength in the P4350 is in the communication options present. Being a quad band phone, it's going to run on any GSM networks, including those in the US. It naturally has Bluetooth for synchronising to the PC, although I found that the enclosed USB connectivity cable was much easier, less hassle, and had the bonus of charging the smartphone while connected (in fact the mains adaptor ends in the standard mini-USB plug, so it all goes through this one port). Finally, the device has Wi-Fi for internet connectivity, and with both MSN Messenger and Internet Explorer coming as standard, you'll be able to surf easily and quickly.

What makes this latest generation of Windows Smartphones a success is that they can effectively be used to create content. Starting a word document or a spreadsheet on the P4350, and then having it sync back to your PC at the next connection, ready to edit on your PC means that sketching out notes, documents or letters on the device for later polishing is not the exercise in futility it once was. You can also be confident that sending new (or edited) documents back to your Office through the email client won't lead to any embarrassing "I can't open this" replies.

While the P4350 can do a lot of computing on its own, it is still a companion device to your PC. But the sheer flexibility now present in Windows Mobile means I'd have no hesitation in relying on this smartphone for all my computing needs on a week long business trip.

Verdict

While the P4350 can do a lot of computing on its own, it is still a companion device to your PC. But the sheer flexibility now present in Windows Mobile means I'd have no hesitation in relying on this smartphone for all my computing needs on a week long business trip.

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