Switch it on however, and it quickly becomes apparent that Orange simply could not resist dabbling. The most obvious of the changes made is that it has removed the HTC TouchFlo home screen from the first HTC TyTN II I looked at, with its handy shortcut panel displaying a weather forecast, favourites, contacts and so on, and replaced it with its own menu. This makes a welcome visual change to the usual Windows Mobile fare, with its minimalist menus that pop out from the left hand side of the screen, but it’s not as configurable as the standard Windows Mobile Today screen and doesn’t really add anything in terms of functionality.
Orange has, fortunately, preserved the most useful aspect of HTC’s TouchFlo interface enhancement – finger panning and scrolling. This gives you the option of sweeping your finger up and down lists of email and contacts in order to navigate through them rather than having to reach around to the scroll wheel on the left of the device or use the d-pad that sits in the centre of the control panel beneath the screen. And it’s a fairly simple matter to remove the customised home screen if you wish.
Delving deeper into the bundled software reveals a whole range of further Orange additions, but this time ones that are actually worth having. In addition to the usual stuff you get with Windows Mobile 6 Professional, you get Audio Manager – an improvement over the mobile version of Windows Media Player – and a separate Video Player application. More usefully there’s a zip file application for creating compressed files on the go or simply decompressing zip files sent as attachments, plus World Card Mobile which, coupled with the 3.0 megapixel camera on the rear enables you to snap business cards and read them directly into your contacts database. Very handy if you’re the sort of person who isn’t very organised about keeping your business cards on file.
There’s a free one month trial of TrafficTV on the device, an intriguing application that allows you to tap into CCTV images of traffic cameras across the country. It’s a bit weird sitting on the sofa at home in London, and being able to look at webcams of traffic jams on my phone. Alas, the ongoing appeal of this will be limited as the subscription costs £4 per month once the free trial period has expired.
And last but by no means least, on the software front at least, you’ll also find BlackBerry Connect and BlackBerry Connect Desktop setup files on a disc in the box, perfect for those whose want push email on their TyTN II, but whose IT departments prefer BlackBerry Enterprise Server to Microsoft Exchange Server.