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Car Boot Bargain - O2 XDA Mini S Windows Pocket PC Phone - For £18!

Just In Time To Replace My Original XDA....

A couple of weeks ago I managed to drop my old XDA on its aerial, snapping it off and losing the little spring. I glued it all back together, but ever since the mobile reception has been rubbish, so I've been on the look-out for replacement phone ever since, a cheap second hand one that could take over my XDA's cell phone capabilities while still using the Pocket PC for data, agenda, spreadsheets, etc.

I wasn't holding out much hope for finding anything at the local car boot sale, there hasn't been anything decent there for months, no psions, software or anything, so I was resigned to having to save up and buy one from eBay or Amazon.

However this Sunday was different, I really didn't want to go, but my darling wife dragged me out of bed at 630am and we were off.

After browsing the stalls for an hour I came across a guy with very little to sell apart from a rather battered looking XDA mini s, with no charger and it wouldn't even turn on. No sim or memory card either, there were lots of scratches on the case, and a couple of big scratches on the screen, meaning that the touch screen may be broken.

'How much do you want for it?' Thinking that this chap would ask a ridiculous price.

'£20' He replied. Hmmm... This could be a piece of scrap I thought. But worth the risk. I offered £15, he took £18, so we were both happy.

Having just bought what might be a non starter, what else did I find but a Windows smart phone, the Orange SPV C500! So now I had two potential replacements for my XDA, I was well chuffed.

Getting home I plugged the XDA Mini S straight into the mini usb charger that came with the SPV C 500, and it turned on straight away! Result. Opening up the notes programme, I traced the stylus all over the screen to find there was only one dead spot, under a particularly nasty ding, but it was small and didn't affect the use of the phone at all. My worries overcome, it was time to explore the capabilities of this little beauty.

The XDA Mini S took my orange sim card with no complaints and found the network no problems. I tried to use activesync to update all my contacts, but my desktop refused to recognize the Pocket PC, saying that it was not installed properly. A quick visit to Microsoft to download the latest version of active sync and my XDA had all my contacts, agenda, etc in about a minute and a half.

Now it was time to play. Popping the qwerty keyboard out and I found that it was very easy to use, not up to the standard of a Psion, but a lot faster than hunting and pecking on the on-screen keyboard or handwriting recognition.

The first time you do slide out keyboard you'll love the way the screen flicks into landscape mode, then back again when you close it up.

The XDA Mini S has all the usual applications found on Windows based Pocket PC's; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Calendar, Task, Contacts, etc. Let's just say that the only programme missing is Adobe Reader, which can be easily downloaded.

More interesting to me are the extra features offered by the Mini S over my old XDA.

First up the camera, which can take stills or video to an acceptable quality, good for display on a computer screen or on a web site, no better, but hey, buy a 5 megapixel camera if you want great shots!

Next up, Bluetooth. I paired the XDA with a TomTom 710 for hands free, which worked fine, and also with a Parrot Minikit hands free speaker, which again was fine.

Wi-Fi really excited me, I've recently installed a wireless network in my house, and I thought it would be great to use this little Pocket PC to surf the web round the house and at wireless hotspots all over town. What I actually found was that the small screen of the XDA spoils the viewing of most web-sites, there are plenty of mobile sites, but I was a little disappointed. It wasn't that fastest connection either. Oh well.

Anything else? I've only been using the XDA Mini S for a couple of days, but I'm very impressed. The specification is amazing, and I'm sure any reservations I have are mainly due to the way things are done slightly different on this version of Windows. Build quality is not up to the standard of the original XDA, but I guess no one will ever make a metal cased Pocket PC like that again.

I'm really looking forward to getting to know the XDA Mini S better over the next few months; I've little doubt that it will be prove to be among the best £18 I've spent.

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