The HTC Advantage X7501 is a hybrid mobile phone and PDA device whose great display doesn't make up for an awkward phone and poor keyboard.

The HTC Advantage X7501 is a smart phone trapped inside a tiny laptop's body. It has the inner workings of a handset-with features such as 3G, Wi-Fi, and Windows Mobile 6.0 - and the shell of an ultramobile PC. In theory, it should be a good formula. But in practice, it falls short.

As a PDA alone, the HTC Advantage X7501 works well and offers an impressive list of specs: built-in GPS, 8GB hard drive, miniSD card slot, 3Mp camera, TV-out connector, and Bluetooth support. Its most attention-grabbing feature - the large 5in, 640-by-480-pixel touchscreen - made watching video clips and viewing documents easy on the eyes. Via the included Microsoft Office suite, we opened simple PowerPoint slides and PDFs, and created and edited Word files and Excel spreadsheets without a hitch.

Managing emails with the HTC Advantage X7501 is simple, too. We logged in to a Hotmail account out of the box - no complicated setup required. We also set up our personal email account (the HTC Advantage X7501 supports POP3, IMAP, and corporate email) and synced our Outlook contacts and calendar in a few steps. The device felt fast enough on most tasks.

The HTC Advantage X7501's web browsing speed was fine, thanks in part to fast data connections via Wi-Fi or 3G HSDPA or UMTS networks, but the navigational experience was far from ideal. In most cases, viewing a single web page required scrolling, which is too bad, given the X7501's large screen. The unit's mobile browsers - IE and Opera - are designed for smaller screens and are not optimised for this larger display.

The major drawback with the HTC Advantage X7501 is the keyboard. Don't expect to apply your 100-word-per-minute typing skills - or even your 50-word-per-minute BlackBerry thumb-typing skills - on this device. The thin, detachable qwerty keyboard looks impressive at first, with flat, square-shape keys. Alas, the keys are too flat.

For the HTC Advantage X7501's keys to register, we had to press hard on each key, using our index fingers. The small size of the keyboard creates tight spacing between keys and makes it easy to nudge the wrong one. If you press a key on the top row by accident, as I did (the phone Send key, say, or the shortcut key for IE), you could place a call or launch the web browser while typing a sentence.

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