We've looked at a couple of devices from HTC before, most recently the TyTN, which has made an appearance through network-subsidised devices from T-Mobile (the MDA Vario II) and Orange (the SPV M3100).
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the HTC P3600 will experience this fate, but for the moment it is only available SIM-free -- for £450 at eXpansys, for example.
The HTC P3600 looks fantastic thanks to its white casing. We're used to seeing combinations of black, grey and silver in Pocket PC handhelds, so the white is a stroke of genius as far as making the HTC P3600 stand out from the crowd is concerned.
The overall size helps here too. The HTC P3600 belongs to a new breed of small-format Pocket PC handhelds. While this means its screen is not vast -- just 71mm (2.8 inches) diagonal and 240x320 pixels -- it is still larger than ordinary phone screens, and the device is small enough not to greatly trouble a pocket.
The general design of the front of the casing is familiar, with the lower section taken up with Call and End keys, a navigation button, a pair of softmenu keys, an OK key and one which calls up the Windows Mobile Start menu. All these keys are encased in a frame of silver -- another rather stylish design feature.
Unless you are particularly petite in the finger department, it is possible to use the keys and tap at the touch screen one-handed -- though you'll need to develop a system for cradling the P3600 securely to hit the Call and End buttons without dropping the thing.
As well as using the touch screen and these keys, you can opt for a scroll wheel on the left side of the casing. Stroking this with your thumb and pressing it to make selections is a neat way of getting around within applications. There's also a button marked OK that acts as a back button and can activate the Start menu if you are on the Today screen, so that a simple click-scroll-click is all you need to get to many applications. In short, one-handed use is well catered for.
On the right side of the casing there's a button that with a long press starts voice recording and with a short press starts the built-in voice speed-dial software. On the bottom of this same edge is the button that activates the main camera, and halfway down is a covered slot for miniSD cards.
The HTC P3600 has quad-band GSM with 3G and HSDPA support. It therefore has the potential to be one of the fastest Pocket PCs around for data use such as Internet access and downloading over the air. Wi-Fi (both 802.11b and g), Bluetooth and infrared are also here, so you can hop onto your own wireless network and use Bluetooth devices if you want to.
The front-facing VGA camera sits above the screen to the right and is primarily intended for video calling, though you can use it to take pictures of yourself and your mates pulling funny faces, if that takes your fancy.
On the back is the lens for the 2-megapixel main camera. It's disappointing that this doesn't have a self-portrait mirror or flash, and we'd have liked a macro mode built in -- this is not uncommon in Pocket PCs these days, and it can be handy. Still, the camera software is easy to use.
When you hit the camera button on the right edge of the casing the screen turns into a viewfinder in landscape format. On its top and bottom edges, and down the left side, are icons that can be tapped to access all the settings.
These include flicking between shooting modes (such as taking photos for your contacts file, shooting sports-mode and burst-mode stills, video and MMS video and taking ordinary photos). You can also tap an icon to switch between sending pictures to the main memory or to a storage card, and you are told how many images or minutes of video the memory can store at your current choice of resolution and quality. It is similarly easy to use the self timer and various other effects.
The usual Windows Mobile 5.0 software suite is augmented by the Adobe PDF reader and a zip file manager -- the former potentially coming in handy if you want to use the HTC P3600 for mobile email.
Video calls held well during testing and voice calls were fine too.
We got 8 hours 15 minutes of continuous music out of the HTC P3600 with the screen forced to stay on constantly. In general use, we found that we could get through a couple of days between battery charges if we were not hungry users of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G or music playback. All of these singly can be battery drains, so using them in combination may mean that you need to charge the battery daily.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Elizabeth Griffin