When Riyad and I first saw HTC's S710 we were both blown away. Riyad even gave it a coveted Editor's Choice award when he reviewed it in its guise as the Orange SPV E650.
The reason for our fandom was simple. HTC had taken a Windows Mobile Smartphone and made it functional for text creation.
Windows Mobile ‘Smartphones' don't have touch-screens, so there was no option for an on-screen tappable keyboard or handwriting recognition such as you find in Windows Mobile Pocket PCs, or, as we are obliged to differentiate them these days, Windows Mobile 6 Standard (smartphone) and Windows Mobile 6 Professional (Pocket PC) devices. All rather confusing especially when the term smartphone is commonly used to describe a phone with advanced, PC-like functionality.
Anyway, the upshot is that mobile email fans were somewhat locked out of being able to carry small Windows Mobile smartphones and still do email. The S710 changed that with its mini QWERTY keyboard which slides out of a long edge as required. The screen's display rotated into wide format as you slid the keyboard out, ready for you to type away.
The idea has been resurrected in the new S730, the successor to the S710 (as its name suggests). Essentially an updated and revamped version of that device, it should be just as alluring as its predecessor.
But I am not so sure it is. The keyboard is still there, and the screen wiggles into and out of wide format as you slide it in and out of its hiding place behind the fascia. However, I found the S730 just didn't meet expectations in several respects. At 101mm tall and 50mm wide it is comparable to many mobile phones, but it is 17.7mm thick and I weighed it at 150g.
Now, basically, there are a lot more sliding keyboards around today than there were when the S710 appeared, if I am going to carry something with these dimensions I might be tempted to go for a device like E-TEN's M800, a fully-fledged, touch-screened Windows Mobile Professional handheld with a sliding keyboard and extras like GPS. Yes it is more expensive, but it offers a lot more potential in my view.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what this device has to offer.