We raved about the Dopod P800W
when it appeared: despite being the size of a small Windows Mobile-based PDA/smartphone it was the first device to cram in WiFi, BlueTooth and GPS. It also sported a (poor) two megapixel camera, jog dial and navigation pearl. Plus, battery life was outstanding with 5hrs talktime and over a week standby.
The HTC Cruise is its 3G successor. It’s the same size but more stylish with a glossy, bezel-less screen replacing the dull grey chassis of its predecessor. In practice we found this scratched rather easily so make use of the provided screen protector film and pouch. The operating system is now Windows Mobile 6 Professional (WM6) and it sports HTC’s TouchFLO finger-based shortcuts. While these don’t rival the iPhone‘s facile controls, they can save time, though you’ll often need to resort to the stylus.
Like the P800W a car mounting kit is included (it’s $750 without) and CoPilot 7 is bundled. However, we weren’t too impressed. On our first journey in Sydney’s lower North Shore it tried to take us straight on, through a 100-year-old building, instead of turning right at a crossroads. It also ran sluggishly on the Cruise’s 400MHz processor and could load the app multiple times at once. In northern New South Wales it treated every side street joining the main road as a junction and frequently displayed roads that didn’t exist. No GPS is perfect but using CoPilot for navigating and searching for destinations was particularly frustrating, despite its pretty graphics. If you can install TomTom, do so.
The camera is now three megapixel and good (despite some sensor artefacts), plus, a second one joins it at the front for video calls. A 1GB microSD card is included but battery life is modest and we frequently needed to recharge after a day of heavy use. Also, we occasionally picked up the phone to find it warm: it had got stuck downloading Google Maps and discharged a full battery – but this seems to be a bug with many WM6-based 3G phones.
So it’s not the runaway success of the P800W but there’s still little that can touch the attractive Cruise’s size-to-features ratio.