Sunday, February 05, 2006

O2 Adventures

Not having blogged for a long time does make you lazy. This blog started as a journal of the interesting problems that I came across, and as a reference in case I need to work upon the problem again. Yesterday I was doing all the research again to upgrade the firmware of my O2 XDA II Mini which I did some months before, so I decided to be more diligent this time.

O2 XDA II Mini has been one of the most popular smartphones, mostly because it is a full blown Pocket PC Phone with almost the size of a regular mobile. In fact, this was one of the main reasons that made me decide in its favor instead of its smaller cousin, the Windows Mobile for smartphones. It boasts of a 416 MHz processor with a lot of applications including the Midlet manager for J2ME applications.

However, the support for this phone leaves a lot to be desired. One of the reasons could be that this phone is manufactured by a lesser known company called HTC from Taiwan and resold as O2 XDA, iMate JAM and many other names. HTC also has many other models which are sold by different names and this is the key for being able to find useful links. Fortunately, there is a forum of excellent people have who reverse engineered the XDA devices down to the ROM upgrades and other software. Here is how to improve the camera settings , which was very irritating because 1.3 MP camera is supposed to be good !

Few months back I took the plunge of ROM upgrade, mostly because I was blinded with the desire for Windows Mobile 5.0. My device runs Windows Mobile 2003 and the new version offers much more usability without sorting to the stylus and more advanced office applications. It also has a large number of managed APIs for Graphics, GPS, Telephony which would be useful for certain personal productivity applications I wanted to work upon.

I tried to upgrade my Mini without noticing that the ROM was meant for Himalaya or the XDA II. Not having even the ROM backup, I ended up losing all data but fortunately got the original ROM for O2 after registering with the IMEI number of the device. For some of the XDA devices, the official ROM upgrades are available. The iMATE also has a site on which o2 users cannot register, but if you know the precise link, it may be possible to get hold of the downloads. In fact, I managed to download the manual for setting up wireless modem from here.

The end result has been disappointing, it seems there is an announcement from O2 that there will be no update released to Windows Mobile 5.0 for existing devices. Mike calligaro tries to explain the reasons for this. Of course the existing device owners are bound to feel cheated, firstly because some devices have released updates and so the xda developers would be the place to watch :)

Some other useful applications for the Pocket PC, free of course :)

Pocket Media Player
Agile Messenger (Free version)
Networking Utilities
Powertoys from Microsoft


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