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HTC Universal

 HTC Universal Discontinued
11th May 2005

The HTC Universal first came to our attention back in February with the announcement of the T-Mobile MDA IV. Finally, HTC have given some more information about this handset, which they are calling the "Universal".

It sounds like a bit of a pompous name, but in fact the HTC Universal does pretty much everything you can imagine. The headline features are obvious - there's a large 640x480 pixel display that can be used in landscape mode with the QWERTY keyboard, or it can be rotated around and used like a "traditional" touch sensitive PDA device.

Crucially, this is a 3G phone with WiFi on top of GSM and GPRS, meaning that the HTC Universal is very flexible indeed in connectivity terms. Of course, it has Bluetooth and cable connections to a PC too.

The operating system, and indeed the Universal's only real weak point, is Windows Mobile 5.0. Yes, you can expect it to have all the latest bells and whistles when the OS comes out.. but Microsoft have recently renamed it to Windows Mobile 5.0 from Windows Mobile 2005 which is perhaps an indicator that the OS won't be ready until sometime in 2006. And of course, Microsoft's incredibly inconsistent naming conventions are lamentable. A close look at the Universal's screen  HTC Universal Screenshot (below left) shows that this certainly isn't the way it's meant to look, with poorly rendered fonts showing that this is either photoshopped or a very early pre-production OS.

When it does come out, you can expect Windows Mobile 5.0 to have "Pocket" versions of Word, Outlook, Excel and Internet Explorer plus a PowerPoint and PDF viewer. The HTC Universal's display lends itself well to working with office documents, emailing or browsing the web, and of course the QWERTY keyboard is a great help here.

HTC haven't specified, but the Universal is bound to come with Bluetooth and expandable memory. Recent HTC products have had cameras in the 1 megapixel range or above, so we guess that the primary camera on the Universal will be 1.3 megapixels, or perhaps 2 megapixels. Size and weight are unspecified too, but we understand that the Universal is around the same size as the other large-format PDA style phones from HTC, perhaps a little thicker though.

Right at the moment there is no competition for the HTC Universal. Nokia's 9500, 9300 and 7710 handsets are good but lack 3G, and no other manufacturer has such a large screen device. However, despite HTC claiming that the Universal will ship sometime in the second half of 2005, they are reliant on Microsoft coming up with the goods as far as the operating system is concerned. That's a long, long time for the likes of Nokia to come up with a 3G version of the 7710 or 9500 device, and given that Nokia are running at about three or four product launches per month then it's certainly possible that we might see a similar Symbian powered device hitting the streets before the HTC Universal.

We have already seen that T-Mobile are going to rebadge the HTC Universal, followed by Vodafone and Orange, plus we expect other major carriers and independents such as Carrier Devices / i-Mate. But with handsets as capable as this, we do wonder if HTC aren't missing out on a trick of selling them under their own brand name.

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HTC Universal Provisional Specifications

Available:

Very late 2005

Network:

GSM 900/1800/900 / UMTS (3G) / WiFi

Data:

GPRS + UMTS (3G) + WiFi

Screen:

640x480 pixels
Colour depth not specified

Camera:

Twin cameras
Resolution not specified

Size:

Not specified

Bluetooth:

Yes

Infra-red:

Not specified

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Limited

Battery life:

Not specified

OS:

Windows Mobile 5.0

 

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