My HTC TyTN: Two Months In and Back in the Box

In the week-one review of my HTC TyTN I wrote of my concern about the device’s short battery life, particularly when its advanced features like WiFi and Push Email were turned on. Now I’m happy to report that these issues have been solved.

How’d I do it? Simple, I turned it off, took out the SIM chip and put it back in the box.

The HTC TyTN is one of if not the most advanced handsets that money can buy. It works anywhere in the world with a super-quick data connection, has an amazing on-board camera that takes high-resolution stills & video, and as a Pocket PC brings the power of Microsoft Windows to the palm of your hand.

But brother, it ain’t no hiptop…

That’s right, my lowly hiptop 2 with its mere VGA stills-only camera, plodding GPRS data speed and mere 32 MB of built-in memory has come out of retirement and taken centre stage as my sidearm of choice.

The handset itself is only half the story — the other half is the Desktop Interface, or as Fido calls their version, the Jump Page. All of my appointments, contacts, email and to-do’s are at my beck and call on any internet-connected computer anywhere in the world. This beats BlackBerry’s Internet Service hands-down — in fact, the only product that can rival it is a hosted Microsoft Exchange server, exactly what I’ve been using for the past month with my TyTN.

And it sucks.

First off, like your typical Windows product it’s not the prettiest thing to look at. More importantly, it only has 100% functionality in the Windows version of Internet Explorer, and even that’s debatable. The online address book, for example, is almost unusable — whatever underlying technology used to present a person’s contact info on screen doesn’t even let me copy their email address or phone number into another program like Skype or Thunderbird.

But with my hiptop Desktop Interface I can copy and paste to my heart’s desire. And with the Skype Web Toolbar for Firefox I can merely click on a phone number and have Skype do the dialing it for me. I did this a lot during my recent vacation to Seoul, and was grateful that I hadn’t cancelled my hiptop service before I got there.

Back to the devices (and still on the subject of phone numbers) the hiptop benefits from lots of little touches that make using it a pleasure. For example, even when I enter phone numbers for new friends in faraway places like Korea or Africa my hiptop auto-magically formats them with proper dashes between the country code, area code and number without me having to worry about it.

Such attention to detail is everywhere on the hiptop, whereas the TyTN — or to be fair, Windows Mobile — stinks of being designed by engineers with little, if any, regard for usability.

Instrustive virtual keypad on the HTC TyTN

For instance, I’ve often found myself tapping out an email or text using the stylus and on-screen keyboard, but usually when the virtual keyboard pops up it covers the very area of text that I want to edit. Sure, I only have to scroll down a bit to continue, but I shouldn’t have to. A smart phone should be smart enough to know what I’m trying to do and help me do it, rather than get in my way.

The other big reason I’m going back to my hiptop is the unlimited data service that comes with it. With a little work I set up my TyTN to maximize my connectivity while minimizing data charges, but constantly worrying about going over my monthly allotment of bytes ultimately got in the way of enjoying this high-level communicator.

With my hiptop I can Google to my heart’s content, send email while on the toilet (though I never, ever do that!) and even chat with strangers on AOL, and as long as I’m in Canada, I’ll never have to worry about paying more than $20/month for the power of the internet in my coat pocket.

Beyond the Canadian border is an entirely different story, of course. Because my hiptop is persistently connected to the Internet I can rack up hundreds of dollars in roaming charges just by leaving the data connection on. So I’ll be keeping my TyTN for travel, but the hiptop’s desktop companion, usability tweaks and unlimited local data have made me come crawling back.

And if Fido will just come to their senses and offer the hiptop 3 to Canadians you’ll be able to get one for yourself!

By Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?


  1. Awesome review. I forsee myself using a Danger powered device as long as I have fingers. cheers

  2. You’re on T-Mobile in the States, right? Here in Canada we’re on pins and needles waiting to see if our GSM carrier will offer the ht3 up here…

    BTW, if anyone’s interested there’s a nice little discussion on this post happening over at Howard Chui’s Mobile Phone Forum:

  3. Oh C’Mon, we all know that once you have constant mobile connectivity, utilizing it while on the toilet is the natural progression of productivity.


    (Yeah, I deny doing it too….)

  4. Oh C’Mon, we all know that once you have constant mobile connectivity, utilizing it while on the toilet is the natural progression of productivity.

    And I thought I was the only one! Sniff… So this is what it sounds like… when doves cry.

  5. Nice review, I echo your sediments. I am a long time Hiptop user, I had the HT1, and upgraded to the HT2. My old Hiptop went to my mother who absolutely loves it. My girlfriend wanted a phone device with email capability and a camera and after seeing mine and looking at all the candidates got one and now she loves it. We all rave about how great it is.

    Once in a while I surf the Canadian telecommunications providers web sites to see what phones are available that could replace my trusty Hiptop only to find no suitable candidates. I just love this little device, it does everything I want. I use it for email, im, surfing, contacts, calendar, tasks, tracking my mileage (thanks sidesheet), even to keep bits of information and to keep a grocery list (a la notes.)

    I keep hanging on hoping this device will somehow appear in Fido’s line up. How much longer can I wait? I was in Seattle not too long ago and swung by a T-Mobo store to drool over a Hiptop3. They had it activated and running and I could try out all the features. It’s a lot nicer than the current device. Maybe if I wait one more month it’ll burst onto the scene, maybe I’ll wait until June. Just hang on a bit more…

    The fact it is this little thing does everything I want, and does it exceptionally well. The operating system and applications all share the same consistent user experience. One key combination in one application (jump+back) deletes a message in the email applet, will also delete a task or photo. It multitasks, sure the web browser is slow but after I click on a car related link sent to me by my wrench headed friend I’ll just flip back to my email and keep reading until my device dings to let me know my page is loaded. I tried to do that on the latest Crackberry and it still doesn’t do it. At least not blazingly fast at flipping between apps like my HT.

    I’ll even pay more for the data plan. Make it $50 a month and I’ll still pay. As long as I can continue to bash away those little keys to my hearts content without worrying about what my next bill is going to be. (And yes, sometimes even on the can …)

  6. Gotta post one comment about the web interface. I don’t use it due to security concerns. The site is not SSL encrypted (it is a HTTP not HTTPS site) and therefore you username and password are transmitted in clear text when you log into the site. This is definately a security problem. Take for example if you decide to use the site with a laptop via an unencrypted wireless network. If a someone knowledgeable person wanted to they could sniff your packets out of the air and grab your password, no real hacking required. It’ll all be there in clear text.

    I have informed Fido about the problem, and received back a form response about them continually working to upgrade their service.

  7. Interesting… I too have recently switched to the HTC TyTN. I have one of those unlimited data plans. So, unlike you, I am not concerned about data useage. However, I can tell you, I do miss the flip open screen. The TyTN uses a slider qwerty keyboard. The reaction you get from people when you flipped open the sidekick. For a little deivce the hiptop was awesome. The only reason I am sticking with my HTC is that it can open all windows files, ie media player files, pps etc. Not to mention the streaming radio. I listen to NHL games on my TyTN or watch horse racing on it. Otherwise I would be back to the hiptop in a heartbeat.

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