HTC Universal hands-on

It took a few days, but we're finally answering your questions about the HTC Universal. We didn't have time to answer every single question that was posted, but we hit as many as we could and we'll do our damnedest to answer more of your questions over the next few days - just post them up in the comments below and we'll try and add them to the post. We'll have also have full gallery of pics going up later this afternoon, but for now, on to the Q&A:

Can you use Skype with it?

We were able to get Skype up and running with absolutely no problems, but we weren't able to use a regular headset because the Universal has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Does it have a Widcomm Bluetooth stack or a Microsoft Bluetooth stack?

Widcomm. UPDATE: Or at least our pre-production unit did. Apparently the i-mate JASJAR and T-Mobile MDA Pro have the Microsoft stack.

Will this be available from any US carriers?

No US carriers are planning to offer the Universal, at least not as far as we know.

How is data on the phone?

We weren't able to test its UMTS capabilities since there's no UMTS here in NYC, but the phone's GPRS worked just fine. No EDGE, sadly.

Quad-band GSM?

The version we have is tri-band (900/1800/1900), however other versions could go quad just like AT&T/Cingular did with the HTC Typhoon (quad-band was only available on the U.S. version of that phone).

Can the camera shoot video?

The camera can be used to shoot video. You have the option of shooting either MPEG-4 or Motion JPEG with a resolution up to 320 x 240.

Does it come with a cradle?

No cradle, but supposedly one might be available eventually.

USB 2.0?

Yup.

How solid is the swivel neck?

Seems pretty solid, but you probably wouldn't want to find out the hard way how easy it is to break.

Does the joypad change along with the landscape/portrait orientation?

Yup. It's all automatic

Milliamps of the battery? Is it swappable?

1620 mA. And the battery is swappable.

Comparison shots with the Treo 650?

Of course. We'll have a gallery of hands-on shots up later today.

Does it have Bluetooth 2.0?

Nope, just Bluetooth 1.2.

Is the keyboard backlit?

Yeah, it has very slick, almost sinister, red LED backlight.

The Blue Angel's WiFi signal sucked! Has the problem been fixed with the Universal?

WiFi is way, way better on the Universal, both in terms of signal strength and in terms of ease of use. We were able to easily get online with the Universal here at Engadget HQ, the phone auto-detected our wireless network and then prompted us to enter our passkey and that was it, we were good to go. Switching between WiFi and GPRS was a little tricky, but after a few minutes we were able to figure it out.

Ability to use WiFi and WAN at the same time?

Not as far as we can tell, though it's possible that we haven't figured it out yet.

Is it useable as a phone?

It is definitely useable as a phone, but it's not great and if you're planning on making a lot of calls you'll probably want to use a Bluetooth headset. To be honest, if you're someone who is going to be using this thing more as a phone than as a PDA, you probably won't be happy.

How is the screen for watching films?

The screen is great for watching films, really crisp and clear. We tried watching videos with both Windows Media Player and TCPMP, both worked fine, though we got plenty of stuttering when we tried to play back a full 640 x 480 res video with TCPMP.

Is the keyboard easy to use?

The keyboard is very easy to use, but it definitely requires the use both hands. The keys were also surprisingly tactile, we've played with earlier versions of the Universal where the keys weren't so hot.

USB or mini USB?

Mini USB.

Can you easily make calls without opening it up?

You can answer calls without opening it up - it has two buttons for taking and ending calls on the side - but unless you use a Bluetooth headset and voice recognition, it doesn't look like there is any way to make calls without opening it up.

Word/PDF/Excel?

It has Windows Mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and you can install a PDF reader on there.

Phone call sound quality?


Call quality was about average for a cellphone.

How are the stereo speakers?

Very small and very tinny - which is about what you'd expect for tiny little speakers. It's possible to listen to music or watch a video, but you'll probably want to use headphones if you can. Still, if you're hanging out with friends and want to play them a song or show them a video it'll get the job done.

Will there be a version without a camera?

None is planned, but it is possible that a carrier could ask for a version without a camera.

Can you use it with VNC?

Wasn't able to get Pocket VNC working, not sure if it's an incompatibility with WM5.0 or something else, but we were able to get Remote Desktop working ok.

Can you answer calls when it's closed? Is there a small external screen?

You can answer calls while it's closed, there are two buttons for answering and ending calls on the outside. There isn't another screen besides the main one.

Vibrating appointment alarms?

Yup.

Is that an SDIO slot?

Yup.

What Bluetooth profiles are included? Does it support A2DP?

It includes the Hands-Free and Headset profiles, but not A2DP. Our contact at MSFT says that A2DP support is coming.

Can you attach a hard drive to it via WM5.0's USB on the Go support?

Yup.

Streaming video over WiFi? Can you multitask while doing it?

We were able to stream video over WiFi and successfully multitask while doing it. Multitasking in general felt very good. The phone is surprisingly snappy, we didn't see much lag at all jumping between apps, well, except when we had a whole bunch of different programs open at once.

Consumer Infrared CIR or Fast Infrared FIR?

Consumer.

Easy typing with 10 fingers, index or thumb?

You'll definitely want to type with your thumbs, especially when you're on the go. You can set the phone down on a flat surface and try and touch-type, but the keyboard is just a little too small for that.

Panasonic SDR-S100 3CCD SD pocket camcorder