Reviewing the O2 XDA2, part 1

by Volker Weber

o2_xda_ii_org.jpgLast night I had a hard time going to bed because I had a new toy to play with: The all new XDA2, a follow up to the successful first version, now also sporting a camera.

This is one neat hardware. Solid shell, good screen, feels heavy but not too heavy, triband GSM phone(900/1800/1900), 128 meg of RAM, 32 meg of ROM, Bluetooth, IR, VGA-sized camera. It comes with a lot of accessories out of the box, including a stereo headset. A nice touch: You don't have to carry the docking station when travelling because it has a litte adapter plug from the connector to the charging cable. It replaces the cradle when you are on the go.

While the hardware is excellent the software is so Microsoft, that it becomes almost useless if you do not subcsribe to that religion. The first thing I tried was to actually install Outlook 2002 (which required activiation) with ActiveSync 3.7. It turned out it was next to impossible to move data from the Palm desktop to Outlook. Example: You can export from Palm as VCF but Outlook only imported the first contact from the file. The device also failed to receive a 1000++ contacts via Bluetooth. It would always only pick up the same four of them. And contacts are really easy compared to appointments.

The solution to this problem was uninstalling Outlook (MS, you can scratch one activated product from your database) and install the swiss army knife a.k.a. XTNDConnect PC. This is a product that lets you sync across a multitude of devices and applications. In my case I simply hooked up the XDA2 with Palm Desktop. All the data was there anyway. There were a few glitches with old repeating calendar entries creates eons ago with Notes but other than that it worked really nice.

Next step was to dumb down the device to its core funtions. Disable all the clutter from menus and "New" popups. It turned out that you can set the input to a Graffiti lookalike that I am much more comfortable with than with the new Graffiti 2 in my Tungsten T3. I expect it is going to be kind of difficult to remove all this O2 customization that forces the user onto O2 territory. I need to do that because the device is going to be used with Vodafone instead.

One of the things I could not get to work was to connect the machine to a BT access point and from there to the internet. It only seems to support outgoing "modem" type connections. If you know how to connect to a wireless network other than GSM/GPRS, please let me know.

Would this machine earn the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award? The hardware would but definitely not the software. WinCE (or whatever MS calls it this year) is just so much worse than PalmOS that I don't know where to start. You simply need a lot more clicks to get things done.

On the other hand this machine is a perfect match to Ute's needs: Calendar and contacts, a very usable phone, an MP3 player for audio books and finally a camera. Instead of carrying multiple devices (PDA, phone, camera, MP3 player) -- which she never did -- she can now have it all in one machine.

I will keep you posted how things are going in a few weeks.


Very closely matches my experience with the original XDA. Well, one piece of advice: Whatever you do to it, never, repeat: never, ever let it fall to the floor. First of all, the casing isn't half as slid as it looks (but maybe they fixed that). So after the first hard contact with mother earth I wan't able to connect the syncing cable anymore for the casing had folded inward. Not a big problem, though, because after the second touch down, the whole thing ceased to work and couldn't be revived. Personally, I don't consider this a big loss for I at that time didn't want to go through the hassle to strip it down to core functionality.

Stefan Rubner, 2003-12-11

Well, from what I understand, this thing won't give me anything my SonyEricsson P800 won't give me, except for more troubles...
I have a camera (which I rarely use...), I have a sleek UI (which I am very comfy with, even though coming from PalmOS which I already liked a lot) and the handwriting recognition is simply well. I have some troubles with the German umlauts but oh well... nothing is perfect I guess.
One thing I'd like to know, does XTNDConnect PC support Symbian devices (i.e. in my case the P800) directly or via SyncML in the meantime? One thing I miss in the P800 sync software is the ability to match my Notes fields to handheld fields...

So long,


Ragnar Schierholz, 2003-12-11

>> Instead of carrying multiple devices (PDA, phone, camera, MP3 player) -- which she never did -- <<

If Ute is like Ruth (my wife), then it could well be, she never felt a need for the four devices - it took ages for Ruth to decide that a PDA was a GOOD IDEA and a camera and MD3-player wouldn't figure at all in her priorities today, even if bundled together with a phone + PDA, I strongly suspect!

Um... does _Ute_ think the O2XDA2 is ideal for her needs? (I have a very nice Ixus digital camera, which I thought was IDEAL for Ruth's needs... ;-)

John Keys, 2003-12-11

John, yes I think so.

Ute enjoys taking photos very much. Most of the pictures on my photo site are Ute's. She also likes to use the huge Mavica cameras we have. Nothing she would have with her on a daily basis.

So, she is already convinced that she wants a PDA and a phone, being a late adopters of both. To join them into one makes a big difference. Now that there is a camera which is extremely easy to handle and where she can import pictures right from the "Mobile Device" drive in "My computer" is a good thing.

The MP3 player is a different thing. She borrows Woodstock once in a while for her listening pleasure, usually audio books and now the device she has with her at all time can do the same.

So, overall my expectation is that this is going to be a big hit.

It would not work for me. The machine is too clunky for me to quit using a Tungsten. It has not nearly enough storage space to replace an iPod. What would work for me is a PDA-Phone-Camera powered by PalmOS. And I see that in my future.

Volker Weber, 2003-12-11

OK - I stand corrected!

John Keys, 2003-12-12

Have a look at the Treo 600.
I received mine yesterday and it is the best device I ever had.
Before I had a P800 but I missed some Software i use and so I had to carry a Tungsten as well.


Detlev Buschkamp, 2003-12-13

I am looking to evaluate the XDA2 for some of my employees, the device will be used to submit data over the web using the GPRS connection and internet explorer, we currently use version 1 of the XDA, I would like to try the tungsten w has anyone used it to browse the internet. Comments and suggestions appreciated.

Dave Sheils, 2004-01-15

There is a Windows app that exports the Palm(One) Desktop Calendar to a CSV file. I would think Outlook could import a .CSV, but, I haven't tried.

The app is at

Frank Schultze, 2005-01-04

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