Microsoft's WM5 (Windows Mobile 5.0) is a powerful operating system for handheld devices, combining email, WAP, calendar and task reminders with web browsing and cut-down versions of familiar Office applications.
Most PDAs now run on WM5, as do many larger (in some cases PSP-sized) devices, but few of us would want to use something so clunky for conversations. Luckily there's also a version of WM5 for smartphones.
We first tried it out on Orange's SPV C600, a product we were happy to recommend. Like the Orange, the HTC has a bright, clear screen – an important consideration when you're going to use a cut-down version of Windows applications on a modestly sized device.
HTC betters Orange's handset in a couple of ways. First, there’s a four-way navipad instead of a fiddly thumbstick; second, the keys on the phone itself are large and well-labelled, and can be selected using a thumbpad rather than a fingernail.
We're not so keen on the vibrating buzz that signals the S310 turning off or on; neither did we appreciate the fact it takes ages to reassure us the handset isn't actually out of power – when it first boots into Windows Mobile you get a worried exclamation sign by the battery icon that eventually disappears. No need to worry. The standby time for the HTC is about three days, and it can be used for around five hours before needing a recharge.
If you've not yet tried a Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphones device, we thoroughly recommend it. The familiarity of Microsoft’s icons is helpful – you know where you're at, and how things tend to be structured from desktop Windows use. And if you're not sure which device to try, you could do far worse than choose this network-agnostic one.