XDA EXEC (HTC Universal) Review
The XDA EXEC is certainly noticeably a bit larger than your average PDA in terms of both circumference & weight. My initial impression was that it is too big and its size would make it impractical to use as a phone. This first perception would certainly apply to first time Windows Mobile Phone Edition users more than those who are evolving from older versions. Going from a conventional type mobile phone, which in general is relatively small in size to a device like the EXEC, might be a bit of a culture shock to some. However, people who are familiar with the Window Mobile Phone Edition setup would cope easier with the size adjustment which would only be a slight difference.
The device operates in two ways. First of all it can be used in a conventional PDA style; using it in a vertical position putting the screen in portrait mode and using the stylus for text input. At the bottom of the machine you have your four way directional pad which also presses in to select. Next to this you have a VGA video camera which is used for video calls, a new inclusion to the XDA range. On the left hand side of the machine you have two phone control buttons. The green button is for answering an incoming call or activating the phone mode, whilst the red button is for rejecting or hanging up a call, as well as returning to the standby screen from any menu within the PDA. Also underneath these two buttons is the charger/sync cable slot which is a mini USB port along with the soft reset button and the 3.5mm headphone port. On the right hand side of the EXEC you have 4 more buttons one of which is a two directional slide. The first button starting from the bottom working upwards is a to activate the camera and take a photo once within that mode. The next button is to activate voice dialling or to use the voice memo function. The two different functions are differentiated by the way you press the actual button. A short press will activate voice dialling, where a longer press will bring you into the voice record menu. After this you have a big space (which is where the device's infrared port is) and then you come to your 3rd button (camera light activation). Following this is the slide switch to lower or increase the volume. Staying on this side of the device at both the beginning and end of the EXEC are two speakers for stereo sound.
The stylus is located at the top of the device which incidentally has no buttons, as the power switch and memory card slot have now been moved to the bottom, next to the microphone.
There are also many shortcuts on the keyboard some of which are: the messaging menu, start menu, internet explorer, activating wireless manager, phone mode, (including receiving, making, ending, rejecting and video calls), contacts and calendar interface. This means you can pretty much access all the device's features without the use of the stylus. Of course, the stylus can be used for your convenience if required, but the keyboard does eliminate your need to use this tool if this suits your preference.
If you close the device the screen will switch off (into stand by mode) and will be protected, just like a laptop by the top cover. The EXEC quite cleverly has a speaker embedded into this top cover so that you can still use it as a phone when receiving calls. This saves you from having to open the device when in this mode although you will not be able to see who any incoming calls are from as there is no screen visible to see the caller display.