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Friday December 9, 2005 3:35 pm

HTC Wizard Windows Mobile 5.0 Device Review


Recently we were able to acquire a Qtek 9100, a European version of the soon to be released Cingular 8125. The HTC Wizard is a Windows Mobile 5.0 cellular phone with a sliding QWERTY keyboard and a great little form factor. For more information on the Wizard, and our full review, read on.



The HTC Wizard immediately impresses any user right out of the box. It’s much smaller than you would think for a device packing the functionality it does and easily fits into a pocket. It’s slightly smaller than the highly popular Treo 650, and due to its internal antenna feels much smaller in a pocket or bag. The easy access form factor and well placed hardware buttons make the device easy to use as a phone single handed, and with both hands as a road warriors dream mobile communications device. The screen is bright and crisp, and the speakers provide very clear audio.


As far as the form factor and hardware goes, we couldn’t be more impressed with the HTC Wizard. The sliding form factor, roomy keyboard, and strategically placed buttons make for a slick device. The screen slides up to reveal the keyboard, and then the operating system automatically rotates the on screen UI to match the orientation of the device. The Wizard is a solidly built device. Initially there was some concern that a slider form factor might lead to a weak hinge that was easily breakable, however, after a weeks use those fears were put to rest. The hard plastic used on the Wizard feels tough and able to resist scratches and dents.

The built in antenna is well designed and gets a good signal strength for both GSM communications as well as Bluetooth and WiFi. The antenna is actually on the underside of the screen so the Wizard gets the best reception when opened for use.

The QWERTY keyboard on the HTC Wizard is really the shining crown of the device. It’s roomy, easy to use, and after a weeks adjustment I was able to type an easy 30 words per minute. They individual keys have good feedback and a decent backlighting. On the Qtek 9100 the symbols are difficult to see in the dark because they have weak backlighting compared to the normal letters - this is a minor flaw that the Cingular 8125 promises to fix.


The 200 megahertz OMAP 850 processor in the Wizard is more impressive than we were expecting. It has a number of on-chip features to help process audio, networking, and other commonly used processes which helps speed things up. Unfortunately even with the added speed bonus of the on chip processors the Wizard is a little slow. When using multiple applications the device can seem sluggish or unresponsive.



Windows Mobile 5.0 has made some significant improvements to previous Pocket PC operating systems from Microsoft. WiFi and Bluetooth are much better integrated, and the operating system has been made much more keyboard accessible. Significant improvements have been made to the Messaging and Pocket IE applications. Pocket IE has a new full screen mode, and more options for how to display normal web pages on a small screened device. The browser still lacks Javascript, but is both easier to use and more functional that it’s competitors on the market (such as the Blazer browser on the Treo 650.)

The Messaging application really shines for business users wanting to connect it to a corporate Exchange server. The new Activesync over-the-air functionality means that you can synchronize your calendar, contacts, and exchange email either on a set schedule, or at the push of a button.  The IMAP support unfortunately has not been improved since previous versions of the Windows Mobile operating system, but does provide adequate functionality for most users to keep up on their mail, and keep in contact with their friends.

For some strange reason, as improved as the keyboard support in Windows Mobile 5.0 is, there are still some things that require the use of a stylus or fingertip. The Messaging application requires the stylus to change the active folder being viewed within a mail account, and Pocket IE requires a stylus to put the focus on the address bar to input a new website to view.



HTC Wizard Review ScoreThe HTC Wizard is a great, well-designed device. There are some minor flaws with the operating system, but for the most part it has been a fun and powerful device to review. Although the HTC Wizard is aimed at the enterprise market some of the more tech-savvy power users out there are going to love this device. We hope that Microsoft continues to improve the usability of their operating systems to help make their devices more consumer friendly. We proudly give the HTC Wizard an 8/10 rating and are enthusiastic to see it’s US launch. Hopefully devices like this will become more prevalent and continue to improve the mobile communications paradigm that has begun and make push-email, IM, SMS, and video conferencing technologies within the reach of the entire world.

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