Velocity: 103, 111, 83, 301, VOTA, Odyssey. Hands-on Extravaganza

Above, an unboxing and first look at the Velocity 103, the Windows Mobile smartphone we just told you will be available in an unlocked from in the very near future. We took a slightly closer look at the Odyssey interface than we did with the Velocity 83. More importantly, though, that interface will likely see some improvements -- heck, the entire device will -- based on the Velocity over the Air (VOTA) service they've drummed up. Expect a full review of the 103 in the coming weeks, but so far we're digging the 640x480 screen, find the overall form factor a bit brick-y, and are rushing to install a 3rd party soft-keyboard.

For now, though, we're going to get into the VOTA stuff a bit more after the break, plus take a gander at the QWERTY Velocity 111 and an upcoming device from the upstart startup. Read on!

Velocity Over the Air (VOTA)

So here's the short version of VOTA: It's what Windows Update ought to be. Your device and the VOTA server speak to each other on a regular basis (which you can customize) and find out whether or not your device has the latest and greatest software updates for various pieces of the OS. If there are updates, Velocity sends them out to you, they get installed, and that's that.

Now, if you do a hard reset and lose all your data (and updates), what happens is VOTA talks to the server, the server notices that you're missing a whole lot of software updates it thought you had, and then it packages them all up in a single download and sends them out to you.

At first we assumed this referred only to the Odyssey interface, but in truth it pretty much can apply to whatever Velocity wants to track on your device -- from a (painful) lack of a custom software keyboard to 3rd party companies they decide to partner with. You will eventually be able to go into the app and decide which custom software updates you're interested in (keyboard) and which you're not.

In all, it's a very elegant solution and one that we'd love to see expanded a bit to include support for all sorts of 3rd party programs. Velocity -- sell this to Microsoft, kay?

Velocity 111

When we first saw the Velocity 111 back in April we were impressed and said as much:

We know that people throw the term “Treo Killer” around a lot, but the Velocity 111 just might do the trick. It's a Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro device with a flush touchscreen at 240x320 screen resolution and all the other trimmings of the 103.

Well, folks, that was then and this is now. The Velocity 111 is solid enough with a flush 240x320 screen, WiFi, GPS, and so on, but the form factor feels awfully boxy and stale next to the Treo Pro. On the other hand, the Velocity 111's keyboard approaches Q9h levels of usability -- it's capacious.

Velocity 83 (redux)

We already showed you a hands-on and a video of the Velocity 83, but there's a bit more to the story here. First up: it rocks two (count 'em) microSD card slots primarily because it's looking to be positioned as a good consumer-level GPS smartphone. It'll ship with GPS software (cross your fingers for CoPilot!) included on the SD card that's located underneath the battery. Clever, that.

Velocity 301

One more Velocity handset, the 301. Well, actually it's just a mock-up of what they're working on, a replacement for the 103 that will sport a higher resolution screen and a slightly thinner form factor. Since the “device” below is just a mockup, we thought it appropriate to leave you with slightly blurry images. Fitting, no?

WC Staff