O2 XDA Orbit Review

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alvinlwh's review of O2 XDA Orbit


“Got this O2 Orbit as an upgrade to my O2 Mini IIs...”

Written on: 03/03/2007 by alvinlwh (31 reviews written)

Good Points
FM radio

Bad Points
Stability problems
Unable to use phone and GPS at the same time
How many modes of navigation keys do I need???
Why not 3G?
Bad camera

General Comments
Got this O2 Orbit as an upgrade to my O2 Mini IIs (reviewed here too). The moment it was released I had wanted it because of the GPS feature on it. I do not really need the FM radio since my car MP3 player can do a better job.

Now on to the review.

The biggest selling point of the Orbit is it has built in GPS hardware. This does not need to be used with the CoPilot software although I did. I also used it with GPSwalk, a hiking software, while other owners reported that they use it with TomTom and Route 66 and said it works fine with them. CoPilot comes free if you are on a tariff of £40/month or more. Personally I do not find CoPilot the easiest software to use, but this is a review for the phone, not the software so lets get on. The GPS seem to get a fix very quickly, I think this is because it update via the internet every 3 days. Good thing about it being built in is that there is no need for a bluetooth GPS hardware separately.

What I had said about the XDA Mini IIs still is true for the Orbit, the huge screen is great for playing movies on. However it does not have stereo speakers now and it seem that the sound of the Orbit is a touch softer than the Mini IIs. This is strange as spoken directions should be as loud as possible. One problem with the headphone connection is it uses the same port (mini USB) as the charger, so you cannot charge the phone and use it with the headset at the same time. I think Motorola headsets should work on this unit if you so prefer.

There are some changes to the button and controls from the so familiar one of the Mini IIs. I could decide if I like it yet or not. Gone is the 4 way D-pad of the Mini IIs, replaced with a trackball. It is also the select button, and it could be set to work like a mouse, with an on-screen pointer. A little pointless on a PDA device, but it is up to you. Around it is a scroll wheel, like, say, an iPod. The scroll wheel scrolls up and down, but so does the trackball. What is the point? Not too sure. Also missing (and missed by me) is the button for the message centre. It is replaced by the GPS button. It is again a little pointless as the shortcut to CoPilot is right on the Today screen. There is more than a few repeats on this unit. For example on the Today screen, the bottom soft button is for calendar and contacts. Contacts is fine, but calendar is displayed by default as part of the Today screen anyway. Another button missing is the connection button to turn on bluetooth and Wifi, but not missed too much by me.

It is just about as unstable as the Mini IIs. I even managed to corrupt the installed O2 software within 4 days and have to uninstall it completely from the system. While this may not be a problem with the unit itself, it comes preloaded with the unit straight from O2.

While the finishing of this unit is more stylish in black and silver, the plastic parts seem to scratch easily. The lack of an included case seem to make this worse. The old simple silver plastic of the Mini IIs seems to be better. The trim around the screen is in black metal, which makes it feels cold when held against the face.

You can connect by GPRS, EDGE, Wifi, or by ActiveSync to the internet. Sadly O2 does not provide EDGE on their network. And I couldn't understand why there is no 3G.

It had slimmed down a lot from the Mini IIs, but it does not come with a built in keyboard. Also missing is the simulated phone pad for input. It is impossible to input data with your fingers now.

Now for the biggest complaint of the unit, it uses a MicroSD card expansion slot. Here are the problems with it.

a) It is hidden under the sim card, under the battery. So there is no quick swap to it. It fact it is a right pain to get to.

b) Why use a MicroSD? They are so easy to lose. The reason for using smaller storage card is to make smaller devices, but this is a huge device, I bet a full size SD card could fit in it!

c) Because there is no standard SD or CF (well a bit big I know) slots, you cannot use SD device that will fit on other PDA devices.

d) Need to spend money for another new memory card, again! (and see below)

Only the bare minimal comes in the box; the phone, earphone, CDs, charger and cable. There is no case to protect it, and the finishing for this phone does not seem to wear that well. As I said earlier, you can get the CoPilot Live 6 software if you get it with a tariff of £40 or more. If you take that, you will get a car holder, car charger, the software both on CDs and on a 256mb MicroSD card. The software itself takes up 200mb on the card, so it is not very useful. In fact Europe mapping is on the card, but you can't use it unless you pay more for it.

Now would I recommend the device? Yes, but do not get the included software. The phone comes free on tariffs of £35. You cannot switch to a lower tariff in 9 months, so the software effectively costs £45. Pay more and get a better software, and don't worry, it will run on the device. Also do get a case for it!

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