Qtek S200 review: A genuine tool box
Qtek S100 (HTC Magician) has finally found its appropriate successor. Qtek S200 (HTC Prophet) offers a new OS, EDGE and Wi-Fi support, and a top-class display. Are you dreaming of a versatile communicator no bigger than a common smart phone?
- Extended OS Windows Mobile 5
- Plenty of easy-to-access software
- Comfortable size
- Bright display
- Improved one-hand control
- EDGE, Wi-Fi
- Seamless synchronization
- Brilliant 2 megapixel camera
- Slower processor
- 2.5 mm earphones jack
- Plastic body
- Higher price than Qtek 9100
- Text input is possible through display only
Let me just say a few explanatory words about the HTC platform that all these communicators are based on. HTC is the company that actually manufactures all the devices and brands them according to the client. Each series of devices is based on one and the same platform but then gets sold under different brand, for example- Qtek (which is owned by HTC itself), i-mate, Dopod, O2, T-Mobile, Orange. The differences among devices of the same platform are minimal. In this review we will take a look at Qtek S200, which is based on the HTC Prophet platform. The review stands true for all other devices based on the same platform such as i-mate JAMin, O2 XDA Neo, Dopod 818 Pro, etc.
The presentation of Qtek S100 in the autumn of 2004 made everybody, having anything to do with the Windows Mobile platform, rejoice. The device is exceptionally small, even though it does not have any special or new technological functions. Among Qtek 2020 (HTC Himalaya) and Qtek 9090 (HTC Blue Angel), S100 looks like David among Goliaths.
Eventually, it became clear that it was not only size that had undergone modifications. There had also been made several minor changes with a view to make navigation more pleasant in general. Thanks to the DialPad and the phone's virtual keypad one can finally dial numbers or write text messages without having to pull out a touchscreen pointer. In any case, it is important to point out that Compact was designed to be used with the Windows Mobile 2003 OS, which was the reason for the somewhat awkward controls.
And here it is: the new Qtek S200, the real successor of the compact line of PocketPC models, running on Windows Mobile 5.0 and having Wi-Fi connectivity and a 2 megapixel camera.
Qtek S100 has been on the market for a little while. There is no doubt that the number of the original S100 owners is still significantly higher. I personally own a HTC Magician device, which I have been using for more than a year now, so I cannot restrain myself from making direct comparison between both models. As you will see, there are plenty of differences worth mentioning.
Black suits it perfectly
Following a silver version, a dark blue one and even a pink one, now comes a refined, elegant black model. Size has only been modified slightly. Qtek S200 is wider by a millimeter, while the other two dimensions have been changed to an extent even less recognizable, that is, by a fragment of the millimeter. Weight has been kept the same despite the different construction materials.
Unlike the S100 model with a body covered with a thin metal alloy, Qtek is entirely made of plastic only, which is, to my modest opinion, a step backwards. Let me give you an example: I saw the old model fall onto concrete after having been inaccurately inserted into its case and it continued working seamlessly after the accident. In case of a fall of a purely plastic construction on such a hard surface I would definitely expect an impact with more severe consequences. Yet, I should point out that in no way do the Qtek S200's plastic covers look cheap or fragile; just on the contrary, they look perfectly solid and well-elaborated.
Some photos show Qtek S200 with a silver tucker around its control buttons. The tucker around the five-way control key of the test model, however, is black. I myself like our version better. The phone's body is entirely black, except for three silver buttons and the speaker grill. The black overall design is additionally brightened up by a few silver elements on the rear side of the device: a mirror for self-portraits, a frame around the camera lens, and the background of the 2 megapixel camera sign.
Qtek's body is literally covered with control buttons. Their distribution however does not differ much from the way the controls were located in Compact. Most significant modifications are to be found in the set of buttons beneath the display. The five-way control button has been rounded, while the separated central button has been left unchanged. The main navigation D-pad is elaborated superbly. Here you will also find the two obligatory receiver keys, red and green, slightly elevated and thus providing for easier touch orientation in case of incoming calls. To my opinion, however, the unobtrusive buttons located between the main controller and the two receivers are far more interesting than their surroundings.
Above the main navigation D-pad there are two buttons marked with dashes, which serve as soft-keys for the new OS. Nothing new under the sun... Far more interesting are the keys beneath the main control button. For the first time here you will find a key with a flag pictogram (the Windows key which opens the Start menu) and an OK key, which either confirms the respective selected option, or minimizes currently opened application. We will say more about what impact these keys have onto the overall user-friendliness of Qtek S200 further on.
The rest of the elements on the body are distributed in a more or less standard way, that is, just like in the original Compact model. Let's start from the right side. In its bottom part is situated the infrared port, which remains the simplest method (compared to Bluetooth, for example) for small-file transfers, even if already considered somewhat out-of-date. In the top part you will see both the switch-on button and the pointer aperture.
Here is another interesting detail: the stylus does not stand pretty firmly in its bed; to pull it out simply run your thumb along the upper part of the right edge of the phone. It will not take you long before you also become used to switch on the communicator simultaneously with the pull-out of the stylus. It is simple, fast, and elegant; a solution far better than the one used in the Qtek 9100 model, where one has to use their nail in order to pull out the attached telescopic stylus, while the switch-on button is situated on the opposite side of the device.
A slot here, an earphone there
The top edge of Qtek S200 is rather plain. The only element to be found here is the SD/MMC card slot. On the front, above the display you will see the speaker, marked with two LEDs. The upper one of the two blinks in green when the device has signal reception.
As a resident of a small remote village with unreliable signal reception I strongly appreciate the presence of the above mentioned LED (just like in the old good Ericsson models). It blinks in orange when a new SMS has been received, a call has been missed, or a reminder has been activated. The same color is applied when the device is being charged. The bottom LED becomes active when Bluetooth (blue) or Wi-Fi (green) is activated. If you run both wireless technologies, the LED blinks consecutively in blue and green.
On the left side there are two buttons and a two-positional switch. The latter modifies the volume levels of either the earphones (during conversation), or the speaker. If moved to the very bottom end, the button either switches the communicator to vibration mode, or hushes it completely. Beneath the switch there is a button that activates the interface for wireless data transfers. The button located above starts the camera application, an option I eventually deactivated as I happened to press the button by mistake far too often. The location of the camera button on the body of the original S100 model, it did not disturb me at all, probably due to its smaller size and deeper bed.
On the rear side of Qtek S200 you will find the lens of its 2MP digital camera. I'll say more about the camera application later on in the review. Both a mirror for self-portraits and an external antenna connector are available, too. Under the plastic cover of the rear side you will find a large Li-Ion Polymer battery with a capacity of 1200 mAh. Contrary to previous models, the Qtek S200 battery does not get reset automatically when the rear cover of the phone is removed. SIM card is inserted under the batter, just like in the old Qtek S100. Putting it in is relatively easy, while taking it out requires the use of a sharp object. You need to first lift the card and then draw it out.
The synchronizing miniUSB connector is located in the bottom part of the device. It can be used not only for synchronization, but also for charging Qtek S200, for example through USB HUB 2.0, using a charging adapter of one's own. During the tests of Qtek S200 I did not come to need the charging adapter, but it would surely come in handy during a holiday, for example.
Next to the synchronizing connector you will find an earphone 2.5mm jack for attaching the stereo headset available in Qtek S200's original box. If you are a serious music fan, you may want to connect a pair of your own earphones using an adapter. In the bottom part there is also a slot for soft-reset and the microphone.