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Device History:   HTC Kaiser | HTC Wizard | HTC Blue Angel | HP iPAQ 3970 | Sony Clie T615C | Philips Nino 320

Last updated 11/8/2005 - This page has been permanently archived and will never be updated again.

Jump to:   Hardware | Software | Websites

Mobile Computing Page: HTC Blue Angel

HTC Blue Angel (SX 66) I have decided to devote this little section of my website to mobile technology because of the importance I place on "extensions" of the human persona. Just as the home, moving beyond its role as shelter, is an extension of the body and soul, and the automobile is an extension of our mobility, the computer (or the sketchbook, or the blank canvas, etc.) is an extension of the mind. The telephone is an extension of our ability to communicate. The hand-held computer and the mobile phone, because of their small form and portability, are extraordinarily appropriate human-scaled manifestations of these two "extensions".

Before getting into how I use my mobile device, it's important to step back and look at the big picture for a moment: I've found that PDAs, mobile phones and other organizational tools don't substantively help you accomplish long-term goals. (I believe that achieving well-chosen long-term goals is one of the most important things a person does with their life.) These tools are better for short-term organization and tasks. No system/device/etc. can make you stop putting things off and get to the substance of any matter. No device will help you do the "important, but not urgent" things, if you don't have the desire within you to do those things already. In fact, these "organizational tools" can actually impede a person's effectiveness, by encouraging a focus on putting out fires or conveying a sense of urgency, rather than concentrating on the quieter, step by step approach to accomplishing great things.

Mobile Device Hot Fighting History:

PDA Philips Nino 320 (12/98-3/01) Sony Clie T615C (3/01-1/03) HP iPAQ 3970 (1/03-1/05) Converged: HTC Blue Angel (Siemens SX66) - Cingular (1/05-current)
Mobile Phone None Kyocera 2235 - Verizon (2001) Sony Ericsson T610 - AT&T (2003)

Motorola HS-810 Bluetooth Headset Pictured above is my current cellular phone/handheld computer, a Siemens SX66. The SX66 is just one of many "flavors" of this device, which is designed and manufactured by HTC of Taiwan, and then rebranded for various OEMs. The device is offered in both a GSM with WiFi model (Cingular), and a CDMA model with no WiFi (Verizon, Sprint). It goes by many names: XDA III / MDA3 / PDA2K / SX66 / Qtek9090 (GSM); PPC-6600 / PPC-6601 / XV6600 (CDMA); the HTC working name for this device is "Blue Angel".

I've been using a PDA to keep track of my life since 1998--even before I started using a mobile phone. The SX66 is of some significance to me because it's my first "convergent device"--integrating PDA and mobile phone functionality. I've watched this genre of devices for some time, beginning with the Kyocera 6035 all the way through the Treo 650. Until now, convergent devices have required too many compromises in functionality to make them appealing to me. Once the Treo 650 and the Blue Angel lines came out, I felt that the genre had matured enough for me to take the plunge.

I first trialed the Treo 650 to see if it was 'the one'. I really liked the 650--at first. It has two key advantages over the Blue Angel line: Better form factor (smaller), and better interface (it really is possible to do almost everything with the 650 using one hand). Ultimately, however, I found it lacking in power and diversity of use (and the screen was too small for me). With a good Pocket PC phone, you really can get away with carrying only one device (leave the laptop at home). The Treo 650 is for people who want a good phone with PDA features. The Blue Angel is for people who want a no-compromise PDA that's also a good phone.


That said, I use this device to organize my life, keep track of nearly everything, browse the internet, check email, read ebooks and other documents, write, edit spreadsheets, read the news, keep reference materials handy, view meaningful photographs and video clips, play games, play music and more. I use it instead of a laptop. I use it as a replacement for paper--most of the time.

Device Use
Approx. Share of Use Time
Web/RSS browsing
Multimedia (podcasts, video, music, photo)
Word processing, spreadsheeting

On this page I describe some of the applications, system extensions, configurations and hardware that I find useful, with the hope that this information can be of some help to others. I love to optimize (i.e., tweak) the tools I use heavily in my life. So I figure that as long as I've put that effort into it, I might as well share my experiences.

My Hardware

HTC Blue Angel (Siemens SX66) (link) - This is the closest thing to my 'dream device' on the market right now. It's the best execution of a fully converged mobile device. On the plus side: Powerful, does almost everything, built-in Bluetooth AND WiFi, lots of memory, fast processor, big screen, built-in keyboard, lots of programmable buttons, and not too big considering its screen size. On the down side: Harder to use with one hand than the Treo 650; lacks a good keyguard utility (it's easy to accidentally hit buttons or the screen when the device in in your pocket...unless you use a third party app...see MortSaver below); more moving parts means it's more fragile than devices with no moving parts, no camera (although some Blue Angel models do have a camera).

A few more comments on usability: One of the reasons I like this device is that it, in a sense, does everything. It's practically a computer in your pocket, as well as a full-featured communications device to boot. That said, convergent devices still need more 'attention' / 'TLC' / 'fiddling' than other types of phones or PDAs. If you want a phone that you can use and never spend time 'optimizing', this device is not for you. This thing will do what you want it to and more, but it's probably a bit more high-maintenance than most people would prefer. Not me though...the trade-off is more than worth it to me.

I give the device a 91/100 rating.

I always like to show how my hardware buttons are mapped, so here goes:

Button Label
Button 1: Calendar
Pocket Informant Calendar
Button 2: Contacts
GoodLink Contacts
Button 3: Start
Start Menu (default setting)
Button 4: Messaging
GoodLink Email
Button 5: Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer (default setting)
Button 6: OK
OK (default setting)
Button 7: Windows Media Player
Button 8: Record
Voice Recorder/Notes (default setting)
Button 9: Assignable Keyboard Key
Rotate Screen (toggle portrait/landscape)

Motorola HS 810 Bluetooth Headset (link) - See picture above. I've used this wireless Bluetooth headset since my Sony Ericsson T610. Overall it's a great headset. I must say, it worked slightly better with the T610 than it does with the SX66, but it still works well. The flip-boom makes it possible to answer calls without touching the SX66, which is nice. I love using a wireless headset--I'll never go back to holding a cell phone in my hand all the time. The two criticisms of this headset (as it functions with the SX66) are: 1) It takes just a bit too long for the SX66 to recognize that the boom has been opened. Thus, if you don't open the headset after about the second ring, you'll miss the call. 2) If your body moves between the headset and the phone, there is some static. With the phone in my pocket and the headset on my ear, everything is great, but if I put my hand in my pocket over the phone, I get a little static. Not the end of the world, but not ideal either. I guess I'm still looking for the ideal Bluetooth headset--this one is getting a little old after all...

512 MB Secure Digital Card - A must have for any Pocket much data, so little memory...

Brando Screen Protector (link) - This is the best screen protector ever made. It's a thick, sturdy, non-disposable screen protector that reduces glare and has a nice, semi-rough writing surface. I've been using the same screen protector (literally the same piece of plastic) for over two years now. That's how durable the Brandos are.


These are the programs that make my SX66 work well for me:

Pocket Informant (link) - The best replacement for the built-in PIM software.

GoodLink (link) - Enables over-the-air push email and Exchange Server synchronization. Generally a good software package, but it 'hijacks' your PPC in several ways, forcing to use Good software when you'd rather use a different program. This software could be perfect if they'd just make it a little more friendly to the PPC operating system. Blackberry-like push email is very nice, though--that's where the real value is for me. In fact, the email program is very good. The contacts program is OK. The rest of the apps (Notes, Calendar, etc.) are junk.

NewsBreak (link) - This is an absolutely wonderful RSS reader for the PPC. A nice simple interface, and very easy to add feeds.

FlexWallet (link) - Secure digital wallet. Keep all your personal information *securely* in one place. Syncs with a desktop computer interface. I used "SplashID" on the PalmOS.

AudioNote (link) - This little Today Screen add-in lets you know when you have audio notes! It helps you get the most use out of your voice recorder by not letting you forget about your voice notes. For example, I record voice notes on the run, then transcribe them at the first available opportunity. Then, I delete the old audio notes and start over. It's a great system.

PHM PPC Power Toys (link) - This is a great set of FREE tools that increases the functionality of the PPC. In addition to the power/memory meter (which you shouldn't pay for!), I love the "External Keyboard" input panel that keeps the SIP from popping up when using my foldable keyboard! Many other tools & shortcuts as well.

Pocket 12C (link) - Everyone's favorite Reverse Polish Notation financial calculator. I use this one a lot--love the horizontal format!

TCPMP (link) - The best media player for the Pocket PC.

XnView Pocket (link) - A very full-featured free picture viewer.

uBook (link) - That's "MICRO-book" to you! I use this program for my free Project Gutenberg downloads. The most current version is no longer free.

eReader (link) - Not as good as uBook.

Double Launcher (link) - This little "system extension" greatly increases the speed with which I can access frequently-used programs and data.

MortSaver (link) - Because the SX66 doesn't have a good keyguard, I use this 'hack' made by Mort. It does a good job preventing 'ass-calls' (i.e., calls made because a button was accidentally pressed while the phone was in your pocket), although it locks up the system sometimes.

cLaunch (link) - Again, don't pay for this plug-in...several pay versions of it exist, and they function no better. A great, highly-customizable Today-screen launcher. Courtesy of Cai Systems.

Magic Button (link) - A task switcher, small, simple, quick, free. It does the trick, and it does it well! I love the little battery meter next to the taskbar clock.

Hitchhiker (link) - Helps you find & connect to WiFi networks. Much better than the built-in windows software.

Handmark Express Maps (link) - As a package, this software is pretty unimpressive. However, they offer what appears to me to be the best on-demand wireless (non-GPS) mapping program far.

NfPencil (link) - Here's a handy little sketch program (free!) that let's you create drawings that really look like they were drawn on a sketchpad in pencil. Along with the Brando Screen Protector, you've got a "close-to-pencil" experience! I must say, this is the best drawing program I've seen so far for a mobile device.

FTP View - A simple, free FTP client and file explorer for PPC. Drag and drop functionality.

IGT Editor (link) - A basic, free HTML editor for PPC.

iNoah & iPedia (link) - Simple, functional dictionary and Wikipedia client for PPC.

Team One Unzip (link) - A free program that handles .ZIP files on your PPC.

UltraG (link) - A surprisingly full-featured free graphic editor for PPC.

Other useful utilities: Uptime, Calendar+

Useful Websites   [TOP]

HTC Blue Angel Page at - Start here.

Blue Angel Page at PDA Phone Home - An excellent forum.

Chris' Blue Angel Standardization Project - Thank you Chris!

Howard Forums - The grand-daddy of all mobile phone forum sites.

Pocket PC Thoughts - My favorite PPC news site. I'm user "onesix18".

Writing On Your Palm - Good discussions of handheld computer usability.

Keen PDA - David Keener has put together a concise and excellent site that discusses effective time-management using PDAs. His comments were very useful to me--I encourage you to read the whole thing!

The Brando Workshop, Hong Kong - Their screen protectors are the best, and they offer a number of other great accessories for several PDA models.


Email me with corrections, or to let me know that I'm full of hot air...


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