Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Microsoft Kin reviews are out… too bad!

06/05/2010

You’ve probably noticed on the ‘webz today that the floodgates known as “the Kin review embargo” have opened, spewing forth impressions, opinions, analysis, and reviews for the masses to bathe in.

There is a general trend emerging, too. Something along the lines of “What have Microsoft done?”

I’ve rounded up some of the highlights thus far, for your reading pleasure:

Engadget:

…we ran into frustrating timeouts and stalls that made us want to throw the phone across the room. Overall, it’s just a deeply, deeply frustrating and inconsistent experience… If you’re going to shell out this kind of money each month, it would be foolish to even consider these devices given the much, much better options out there.

Laptop:

Unfortunately, you can’t really do much other than read your feed and post updates. For example, in the Twitter “app” you can’t see your @replies in a separate field or search. And you can’t send direct messages or retweet. Seriously.

MobileBurn:

…its user interface has bogged me down a bit; the experience is a bit too much to handle at once.

The only positive reviews I could find came from Slashgear:

First, from Michael Gartenberg:

I spent the better part of today working through the devices and I mostly like what I saw.

and then from his “Gen upload” son, Chaim:

Loop is great – making the home screen of your phone your complete social network and news feed. Spot, the ever-present dot on the bottom of your screen, allows you to share everything to anyone – through MMS, Email, or Facebook/Twitter/Myspace.

Both the Slashgear reviews seem to contradict the other reviews on most points. Diff’rent strokes, I guess.

There is one seemingly universally liked feature, however: the online syncing software dubbed “The Studio”. Sadly, the software isn’t enough to save these doomed handsets.

Some of the biggest complaints stem from the inflated price. Verizon are basically charging smartphone prices for a featurephone experience.

The reviews all seem to point to a list of common faults, including:

  • The UI – unintuitive, busy, practically useless
  • The camera – poor light metering and a flash that blows the subject out
  • The storage – 4GB on the Kin One? No SD expansion? Isn’t this 2010?
  • No chat – the social angle apparently doesn’t involve instant communication anymore
  • No apps, no games, no fun, and no calendar to see what fun your missing out on

Faults are much easier to overlook when you’re not being charged a premium, but at this price, there are much better options out there.

If you find any glowing reviews, or particularly entertaining scathing ones, please post them in the comments.

While you’re there, what are your thoughts on the devices?

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Hands-on with the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide

04/05/2010

In a perfect world, every phone would be like the T-Mobile MyTouch Slide. It’s small, it’s light, it has a keyboard, and it’s easy enough for almost everyone to use even if it’s running one of the most powerful mobile OSes out there. Built by HTC to T-Mobile’s specifications, the MyTouch Slide with full QWERTY keyboard is, in actuallity, one of the best feature phones I’ve seen in a long time.

The second in T-Mobile’s MyTouch line, the Slide adds a keyboard and a unique user interface to the mix. Instead of My Faves, the phone allows you to create “cards” for each of your favorite contacts. From these cards you can dial them, read all their messages, and text them instantly. This, in short, “pops out” your favorite contacts with a single click.

The Slide comes in three colors and runs HTC’s sense UI with a few special T-Mo tweaks. It is, in short, a T-Mobile phone and if you’re looking for something to for texting, music, and emailing, this may be the successor to the Sidekick you’ve been looking for.

Pricing and availability will be announced later.

T-Mobile USA is announcing a new addition to its exclusive line of Android-powered T-Mobile myTouch 3G smartphones – the T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide. Anticipated to be available in June, the new myTouch 3G Slide combines a roomy slide-out QWERTY keyboard with an incredibly crisp, high-performance touch screen powered by the latest Android software (Android 2.1). Designed to help families stay connected to those they care about most throughout their busy days, the myTouch 3G Slide offers several new, exclusive features, including:

Faves Gallery: Life is hectic so it’s easy to miss opportunities to connect with loved ones so Faves Gallery presents up to 20 of your favorite people and all of their communication – calls, texts, email, instant messaging, social networking updates – in a dedicated application accessible through a soft button and an easy-to-use widget complete with photos, contact information and one-touch ability to respond. All of your Faves get special status on your myTouch 3G Slide; anytime they communicate with you or update their social network you get a notification in the notification pane. Even if you’re not using your phone, a custom green light lets you know you’ve got a communication waiting from one of your Faves. And you can respond right from the Faves Gallery, without launching mail or social apps, so you connect more quickly and more often with the important people in your life.

myModes: myModes helps you draw the line between work and home by creating different themes with home screen apps, widgets and wallpapers to empower people in the different roles they play daily. You can program myModes to switch at a designated time, by location, or manually with the option to create and store up to 10 customize modes. myModes removes clutter and makes you more efficient both at work and at home. Want to forget about work on the weekend? No need to hide your “work phone” or switch to another device; just put away your work tools, like e-mail and your calendar by switching modes, and bring forward all the things you love to do on Saturday.

Genius Button: With the Genius Button, you press one button, talk, and it delivers. The Genius Button is an easy-to-access button on the front of the new T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide (powered by Nuance’s Dragon Dictation solution) allowing the use of voice commands to control the phone and it’s features including making calls, compose and send texts and emails, search the web or your surroundings. The Genius Button will also read text messages aloud.

With the Android 2.1 software, the myTouch 3G Slide offers a rich mobile Web experience and access to thousands of applications on Android Market from games to location-based social networks to on-the-go shopping and more. Like the original myTouch, the new Slide was designed to facilitate personalization. A 5-pane home screen, with the option to increase to 7-panes, offers plenty of real-estate for your favorite widgets, applications and themes.

Designed by HTC exclusively for T-Mobile, the myTouch 3G Slide features a 3.4-inch HVGA touch-screen display with virtual keyboard as well as a roomy, slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Less than 15mm thick, the elegant design slides easily into your pocket proving that Android brains don’t have to come in a sci-fi box. The myTouch 3G Slide also features a 5-megapixel camera, a music player with a pre-installed 8 GB microSD memory card, and enhanced video capabilities to make it easy for users to record and share pictures and videos, whether via e-mail, MMS or one-click upload to sites such as YouTube™ and Picasa™.

Apple iPad review!

03/04/2010

The Apple iPad. The name is a killing word — more than a product — it’s a statement, an idea, and potentially a prime mover in the world of consumer electronics. Before iPad it was called the Apple Tablet, the Slate, Canvas, and a handful of other guesses — but what was little more than rumor and speculation for nearly ten years is now very much a reality. Announced on January 27th to a middling response, Apple has been readying itself for what could be the most significant product launch in its history; the making (or breaking) of an entirely new class of computer for the company. The iPad is something in between its monumental iPhone and wildly successful MacBook line — an usurper to the netbook throne, and possibly a sign of things to come for the entire personal computer market… if Apple delivers on its promises. And those are some big promises; the company has been tossing around words like “magical” and “revolutionary” to describe what many have dismissed as nothing more than a larger version of its iPod touch. But is that all there is to this device? Is the hope that Apple promises for this new computing experience nothing more than marketing fluff and strategic hyperbole? Or is this a different beast altogether — a true sign that change has come to the world of the PC? We have the definitive answers to those questions (and many more) right here, so read on for our full review of the Apple iPad!

The first thing you notice about the iPad is, well, you don’t really notice it. In many ways, there is just not much here — design wise — to comment on. The bulk of its surface is taken up by a 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768, capacitive, multitouch LED-backlit display surrounded by a glossy black bezel that some will say is too wide but, in practice, is an important design consideration that prevents the touchscreen from being inadvertently activated when handled. There’s only Apple’s signature “home” button to interact with, and the back of the device is a dutifully simple piece of curved aluminum. Like most Apple products, it’s a beauty to behold, but it’s not exactly notable for design flourishes; simply put, it’s good looking but not terribly exciting. But if the design of the iPad is an exercise in restraint, it only serves to reinforce how formidable this technology feels once it’s in your hands. The device has some heft, weighing in at 1.5 pounds, but is still comfortable to hang onto at most angles. Considering the computing power of the tablet, a thickness that tops out at half an inch is pretty impressive, too. But how does it feel in your hands? Well, that matte aluminum on the back surprisingly communicates warmth (though we don’t recommend resting this on any bare flesh on a cold morning), and the rest of the design gets out of the way and lets you concentrate on what is really most important: that screen. And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

The iPad does house a few other components you should be aware of: a volume rocker and screen position lock (which forces the device to remain in landscape or portrait mode) on the upper right hand side, a power / sleep button and headphone jack on either side of its top edge, and Apple’s famous 30-pin dock connector alongside a single thin speaker on the bottom of the unit. There is nothing outwardly notable about the buttons or layout on the iPad — if you’ve used an iPod touch or iPhone, you’ll find yourself right at home… and that’s exactly how Apple wants it.

Read full review at engadget.com

SonyEricsson Vivaz Review

02/04/2010

Sony Ericsson is an alliance of two tech giants and with phones like the Vivaz it shows. It’s a gadget all the way, one that will galvanize geeks and charm the regular user.

A whole bunch of point-and-shoot cameras today boast 720p video recording, but are they not an endangered species feeling enormous pressure on both sides? For one, there are compact video recording DSLRs pushing down with competitive price tags, and then cameraphones are eating into compact camera territory with comparable still image resolution and video capture.

Eight megapixel still images and 720p video with continuous auto focus make the Sony Ericsson Vivaz a predator of point-and-shoot cameras. The Vivaz is not just a cameraphone though, it’s a smartphone as well – a tricked out Symbian running on a 720MHz CPU with a 3.2” nHD display to show it all off. That’s all in a package more compact than any combination of a stand-alone camera and a phone you can think of.

High-end smartphones have a long history of trading compact size for cramming in one feature more than the competition. The Sony Ericsson Vivaz strikes a perfect balance between being compact and feature-full – great news for anyone who doesn’t appreciate the recent craze of smartphones the size of a table… umm… tablet.

Key features

  • 3.2″ 16M-color resistive touchscreen of 640 x 360 pixel resolution
  • 8 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, face and smile detection, geotagging and touch focus
  • HD 720p video recording @ 24fps with continuous auto focus
  • Symbian OS 9.4 S60 5th, topped with a custom-brewed homescreen and media menu
  • 720 MHz CPU, PowerVR SGX dedicated graphics accelerator
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • 3G with HSDPA 10.2Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps support
  • Wi-Fi and GPS with A-GPS
  • microSD card slot (up to 16GB, 8GB card in the box)
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • Turn-to-mute
  • TV out
  • Stereo FM Radio
  • microUSB and stereo Bluetooth v2.0
  • Web browser has full Flash support
  • Preinstalled Wisepilot navigation software
  • Office document viewer
  • Decent audio quality

Main disadvantages

  • No camera lens protection
  • No auto mode for the flash/video light
  • LED flash not powerful enough
  • The S60 5th edition UI isn’t to the best in class standards
  • No proximity sensor sensor to lock the screen during a call
  • No DivX or XviD support out-of-the-box
  • No smart or voice dialing
  • No office document editing (without a paid upgrade)
  • No stereo speakers
  • No digital compass (magnetometer)
  • Videocalling uses only the main camera (no secondary one)

The feature list leaves very little to complain about, so is it time retire your old compact camera and make the jump the Vivaz? That’s what we’ll try to find out. As for its performance as a smartphone the list of key features suggests smooth sailing most of the way.

More at GSMarena

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 review

02/04/2010

Sony Ericsson have been working on the X10 for quite a long time, taking the utmost care to make sure its software offers the best user experience possible. They wanted their first droid to be perfect and perfection requires time. That’s right – the XPERIA X10 is the first Android to roll off the Sony Ericsson assembly line, hard as it might be to believe. But it certainly is not the kind of the phone to quietly disappear in the crowd of first-generation droids.

Androids just keep coming and a look at our front page will tell you any newcomer will need big ideas to make a splash. The popularity of Google’s mobile OS is reaching unprecedented levels and the handsets adopting Android grow in number every day. And while Microsoft will try to unify their Windows Phone 7 and limit customization, Google favor the opposite approach.

Sony Ericsson immediately took on board the possibilities offered by customization and really ran with it. Their blue-themed interpretation breathes new life into the familiar Android OS and tries to give the user a whole new experience. But they didn’t stop there. The unique Timescape and Mediascape interfaces are supposed to give the XPERIA X10 a much-needed edge in the high-end class. Trying to compete with the HTC Sense is a tough job, but Sony Ericsson have managed to offer something completely different – giving media and communications a central place in their UI.

XPERIA X10 comes with top-notch hardware to meet its software demands. Here is the impressive specs sheet along with some potential drawbacks.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
  • 10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA support
  • 4″ capacitive touchscreen of WVGA (480 x 854 pixel) resolution and scratch-resistant surface
  • 16M-color ready (65K effective colors under Android OS v1.6)
  • Android OS v1.6 with complete Sony Ericsson UI customization
  • Timescape and Mediascape UI
  • Excellent social networking integration
  • Excellent build quality
  • Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon 1 GHz CPU, OpenGL ES 2.0 support; 384 MB of RAM
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, touch focus, image stabilization, geotagging, face and smile detection
  • WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) video recording @ 30fps
  • Wi-Fi and GPS with A-GPS
  • 1GB storage, microSD slot, bundled with an 8GB card
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Document viewer
  • Li-Po 1500 mAh (BST-41) battery

Main disadvantages

  • No DivX and XviD video playback
  • No smart and voice dialing
  • No secondary video-call camera (or videocalling whatsoever)
  • No free GPS navigation solution
  • No Flash support for the web browser
  • No FM radio
  • An extra xenon flash would’ve made the very good camera perfect
  • Feeble loudspeaker
  • Poor audio quality

Read more at GSMarena

HTC Legend Review

25/03/2010

It took a little Magic and a Dream but Android eventually got a Hero to champion the OS. Now, the HTC Legend comes in an aluminum suit of armor to join the ranks of the Android army. So, is this knight in shining armor set to be the vanguard of the explosive growth of Android?

The predecessor of the HTC Legend, the Hero, pioneered Sense UI and this latest gadget follows suit, but brings some innovation of its own.

The HTC Legend borrows a page from high-end laptop design – the aluminum unibody. The unibody design was touted as a game-changing breakthrough when it hit the laptop market. A lot of that was marketing hype, but the fact is that unibody metal designs still have a distinct quality feel to them.

Before we jump into any details, we’ll go over the key aspects of the HTC Legend and what we found lacking.

Key features

  • Aluminum unibody design
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps
  • Android OS v2.1 with latest Sense UI
  • 3.2″ capacitive AMOLED touchscreen of HVGA resolution
  • Qualcomm MSM 7227 600 MHz CPU, 384 MB RAM
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash and VGA@30fps video recording
  • Web browser comes with Flash support
  • Multi-touch zooming in gallery and web browser
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and GPS receiver
  • Digital compass for automatic navigation of maps
  • Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate and turn-to-mute
  • Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP); File transfer over Bluetooth
  • Standard microUSB port for charging and data
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • FM Radio with RDS
  • microSD card slot with support for up to 32GB cards (2GB one included)
  • Tethering support right out-of-the-box
  • Social networking integration with Facebook and Twitter
  • Direct access to the official Android application repository

Main disadvantages

  • No video-call camera (or videocalling whatsoever)
  • No dedicated shutter key or lens cover
  • No TV-out port
  • No voice dialing
  • No DivX or XviD video support out of the box
  • Dodgy flash video support

The aluminum body isn’t the only hardware upgrade the Legend got over the Hero, the TFT display technology has been switched in favor of AMOLED and that’s not all. Some of the other specs have alos received a refresh.

Despite trading plastic for metal, the Legend is actually slimmer around the waist than the Hero – it’s just 11.5mm thick and it’s a pinch lighter too. Something that will evoke either a positive or negative response depending on the person is the move to an optical trackpad instead of the tried and true trackball.

More at GSMarena

Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO Review

15/03/2010

Now that we have the B7610 OmniaPRO running on the much-awaited Windows Mobile 6.5, we’re finally up to speed. Omnia smartphones have a pretty wide reach already and they are known for their WinMo customizations and feature-rich specs sheets. The B7610 OmniaPRO however was the first family member to sport a full hardware keyboard and by the looks of it, Samsung have done a great job.

Side-sliding or not, the B7610 OmniaPRO is definitely a capable device in both hardware and software equipment. The QWERTY keyboard however is a convenience tool usually reserved for the competition’s high-end offerings, so you can bet the OmniaPRO will have to tackle some really capable contenders. But you can easily tell, it a tough nut to crack as well.

Key features:

  • Quad-band GSM support and 3G with HSDPA
  • 3.5″ 16M-color (65K effective) AMOLED display of 800 x 480 pixel resolution
  • Work & Life mode switch key
  • Full side sliding QWERTY keyboard
  • 800 MHz processor with dedicated graphics accelerator
  • 5 megapixel auto-focus camera with dual-LED flash and D1 video recording at 30 fps
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 fully skinned with TouchWiz UI
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP, standard microUSB port
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • 2GB built-in storage, 256 MB RAM, microSD (up to 32GB), 8GB card included
  • Wi-Fi with DLNA
  • GPS receiver with A-GPS
  • Built-in accelerometer for UI auto-rotate and turn-to-mute
  • TV out functionality
  • Nice audio output quality
  • Large capacity Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery

Main disadvantages:

  • Bulky and heavy
  • 65K color limitation of display has color gradients banding
  • Poor sunlight legibility
  • Comes with OmniaLITE-grade HSDPA speed, and no HSUPA support
  • microSD card slot under the battery cover
  • The display and back pannel are finger print magnets
  • Performance under WinMo 6.5 not a good as it was under 6.1
  • No preinstalled SatNav software
  • No voice dialing
  • No web Flash support
  • No stereo speakers

Read more at GSMarena

Blackberry Bold 9700 Review

11/03/2010

Some handsets will work their socks off to have their fifteen minutes of fame, others are simply born into stardom. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is certainly fortunate to carry a name that stands for popularity and excellence in the RIM family of phones. But this kind of fame can be less a blessing and more of a curse if the successor fails to live up to the standards set by its illustrious namesake¨.

These high expectations have quite often turned otherwise decent handsets into a byword for failure. It’s simply not enough to provide incremental improvements when upgrading an iconic handset. The iPhone somehow gets away with that, but Apple usually does. But for regular mobile phone manufacturers it takes something new and it certainly takes something better for the successor to achieve the same kind of success.

Key features:

  • 2.44″ 65K-color TFT landscape display with a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels
  • Comfortable four-row full QWERTY keyboard
  • Quad-band GSM support and tri-band 3G with HSDPA
  • Wi-Fi and built-in GPS and BlackBerry maps preloaded
  • 3.15 autofocus megapixel camera, LED flash
  • 624 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM
  • BlackBerry OS v5
  • Responsive trackpad navigation
  • Hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 16GB)
  • DivX and XviD video support
  • Good web browser
  • Office document editor
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Decent audio quality
  • Smart dialing
  • Great battery life
  • More compact body and lighter weight compared to the Bold 9000
  • Good build quality

Main disadvantages:

  • Many features are locked without a BlackBerry Internet Service account (plan)
  • Mediocre camera performance and features
  • No FM radio
  • No video-call camera
  • No TV-out functionality
  • No built-in accelerometer
  • No built-in compass

Read more at GSMarena

Google Nexus One Review

10/03/2010

All droids are equal but some droids are more equal than others. Google it. You’ll get the Nexus One. There are around 50 smartphones and tablets running Android today. That’s right, out of all the offspring they fathered with the Open Handset Alliance, Google finally have one to proudly call their own.

What does it mean? Well, not that the ones we’ve seen so far are some poor half-blood droids but the Nexus One is supposed to be THE thing. For one, it’s the first Snapdragon-powered Android and it shows. The Nexus One is wickedly fast. The WVGA touchscreen is a treat to look at and it’s only the second AMOLED display to find on an Android handset. D1 video is sure to sweeten the deal too, and perhaps so will the Live Wallpapers.

Awash in rumors well before launch, the Google Nexus One was officially revealed in January 2010 and it became available right after the unveiling event. Of course, the first units were to sell only in a very limited number of countries (UK, Singapore and Hong Kong).

Anyway Google are to start shipping their Nexus One through various carriers across Europe, starting with Vodafone this spring. That’s about the time when Verizon subscribers will be getting a CDMA version of the device. Google have a phone to sell, so it’s a fair guess they’ll be seeing to it that everyone can have it. Now, will everyone want to? Let’s see.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G support
  • 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA support
  • 3.7″ 16M-color capacitive AMOLED touchscreen of WVGA (480x 800 pixel) resolution
  • Android OS v2.1 with kinetic scrolling and pinch zooming
  • Slim profile and some great build quality
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1 GHz processor
  • 512 MB RAM and 512 MB ROM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geo-tagging
  • D1 (720 x 480 pixels) video recording @ 24fps
  • Wi-Fi and GPS with A-GPS
  • microSD slot, bundled with a 4GB card
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Trackball navigation

Main disadvantages

  • No DivX and XviD video playback
  • No Flash support for the web browser (update is on the way)
  • No smart and voice dialing
  • Somewhat clumsy camera interface and limited camera features
  • No dedicated camera shutter key
  • Non hot-swappable memory card
  • No FM radio
  • The soft keys below the display are somewhat unresponsive

Read more at GSMarena

HTC HD2 Review

08/03/2010

Tested and written by TechTengu

HTC is on the roll. Demonstrated clearly so many times in the last few years, with models like the Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Diamond2, Touch Pro2, HD and lately the Android based Magic, and Hero. With models in both the Windows Mobile, and Android camp, it was for a long time uncertain which operating system the highly anticipated HTC HD2 would run. But now its clear that the choice for the professional user is Windows Mobile, dubbed simply Windows Phone.

Is the HD2 innovative enough to pounce on the more established smartphones out there, or is the HD2 a prey in the hunt for smartphone market shares?

We’ve had the HD2 for about 4 weeks of intensive testing and here’s what we learned:

Whats in the box?

When you first open the package you will get blown away by how enormous the HD2 is, with its sleek, black design and glossy capacitive screen, it just screams high tech.

HTC HD2 Retail Package

The package contains:

  • Charger with adapter socket
  • Adapter for the correct voltage in your country
  • Micro-USB to USB cable
  • 2GB MicroSD Memory Card (with SD-adapter)
  • Stereo headset
  • Leather pouch
  • User manuals and warranty information

Key specifications

  • 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor
  • 4,3″ 65K-color WVGA, glass covered capacitive touchscreen
  • Multi-touch input
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional with Sense UI
  • 3G HSDPA 7,2Mbps
  • Wi-Fi
  • Pre-installed GPS with software
  • 3,5mm audio connector
  • Micro-USB port
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP
  • MS Office Mobile
  • Opera 9.5 Browser
  • Social media integration (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube)
  • 5MP Camera with dual-LED flash and touch-focus
  • Stereo FM-radio with RDS
  • Quad-Band GSM support
  • VGA-video recording at 30 fps
  • microSD slot (capable of up to 16GB)

The downsides

  • Only 65K-color screen makes the colors blend
  • GPS software is only trial
  • No secondary camera
  • Mediocre picture and video quality
  • Unable to play DivX out of the box
  • No voice dialing
  • Windows Marketplace is a ghost town
  • No flash support in web browser
  • Stereo headset has horrible audio and build quality

The shape and size of things

Let me be the first to say, the HD2 is beautiful. With unrivaled build quality and exclusive components the HD2 is a masterpiece of engineering.

In terms of sheer size, its smaller than the gigantic Toshiba G1, and a bit larger than the the iPhone. The entire front has a glass covered capacitive touchscreen, measuring 4,3″ diagonally.

At the lower end you will find 5 buttons, Dial, Home, Windows, Back and End-call / Standby. The back has a two-part design with plastic / rubber top and bottom, divided by the metal battery cover. The whole thing just feels solid and exclusive. (It even smells good) The only downside is that there is no cover over the camera lens, which sticks up quite a bit, making it more vulnerable to scratches and fingermarks. On the left there is the volume rocker which provides good feedback. The top, and right side is clear with no buttons, we find it strange that there is no camera shutter key. This causes some stability issues when taking pictures.

HTC has put both connectors in the bottom, with the 3,5mm jack, and micro-USB neatly packed together, and when connected to a computer, the HD2 prompts you to select among ActiveSync, Mass Storage or Modem mode.

Worth mentioning is the leather pouch included in the retail package, it offers both protection to your phone and a classy detail to an already beautiful phone.

The only downside to the HD2’s build quality is the 5 input buttons at the lower end, they feel loose and wobbly and drags the overall impression down quite a bit.

OS and User Interface

SenseUI

Like we mentioned before the HD2 runs the brand new Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional which have been a reference OS for smartphone users. But times are changing, and is Windows Mobile modern enough to compete with the likes of Android, Symbian, or iPhone? The answer is yes. On previous models running WinMo, for example the Diamond 1 and 2, the TouchPRO and the first HD. Windows Mobile where slow, full of bugs and consumed battery like no other. But on the HD2 its a different story. With 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 448 MB of RAM and a 512MB ROM it has more than enough horsepower to easily run WinMo. Unlike other phones, multitasking is a large part of WinMo based handsets, and HD2 does that rather well. We tested up to 32 applications running simultaneously, with almost no lag at all.

A signature for the HTC models is the TouchFLO –  HTC’s pride and joy – seen before on the Diamond 1 and 2, TouchPro 1 and 2, HD – and as the SenseUI on the Android models. HD2 offers the latest version of SenseUI mixed with TouchFLO. It features customizable shortcuts at the bottom tab, and nine slots for applications on the home screen. The downside is that the layout itself is not customizable at all.

SenseUI works great with the 4,3″ capacitive screen, menus react to the slightest touch and it all feels natural, responsive, and accurate.

Home screen

The home screen will instantly look familiar to HTC owners, although the calendar, world clock and weather has been polished quite a bit. A new feature is the weather effects on the screen showing raindrops, snow, sunshine, fog and really lets the weather come alive on your handset. There are also nine slots which you can insert almost any application or settings into. The shortcuts at the bottom lets you select the home screen wallpaper, and you can choose from still pictures, animated wallpapers, or the before mentioned weather effect.

The sweeping of the bottom panel feels natural and does not take time getting used to, the transitions are fluid, fast and menu animations gives the HD2 the fastest Windows 6.5 experience available. Also new on the HD2 is the multi-touch user interface, and the HD2 easily rivals the iPhone when it comes to smoothness and transitions.

The swipe bar at the lower end is, like we looked at earlier customizable to fit your liking. But keep in mind that so far, you can only add / remove pre-installed tabs.

Contacts tab

Under the contact tab, you can add shortcuts your favourite contacts. From here you can dial / text / e-mail your contacts with one click, which is more useful than the old TouchFLO interface. If you select advanced options you will be taken to the old Windows Mobile interface, which is bad. But then again, the majority of users will never have to fiddle around in there.

The HD2 features probably the best contact manager on the market today. There is no limit to how many contacts you can add, and there is unlimited slots for adding information to each contact.

Facebook integration is also in place, which allows you to sync your contacts information from Facebook, adding profile pictures, birthdays, shortcuts to albums, and updates directly from Facebook right in your contact list. There is also a pre-installed Facebook application on the HD2. Compared to Facebook apps on other platforms, it feels unfinished and we never got comfortable using it. Hopefully there is an update coming soon.

Messages tab

The Messages tab will feel familiar to WinMo users, as the interface has changed little since the earlier HTC models. You swipe through your latest SMS / MMS with one finger, and there is a shortcut on the top right which lets you instantly start a new SMS / MMS. At the bottom there is shortcuts to the Windows Mobile SMS / MMS Inbox.

Email tab

Same story as with the Messages, the email tab instantly feels like familiar territory. You flick through your emails with one finger swipe. Tap the screen once to view the entire email in Outlook or use the shortcut to access the Outlook Inbox. This also lets you access the send / receive option, and account settings. There is support for almost any type of email, and setting them up is a walk in the park. We tested our HD2 with Exchange, Gmail, and Hotmail. Exchange is the king of the hill, with ActiveSync integration it allows you to sync contacts, calendar, and email, with full push functionality.

Internet tab

This tab opens the Opera 9.5 browser and you can add up to 10 bookmarks to your favourite websites, and access the pages with one click. Shortcut keys lets you access the settings and all your bookmarks. Opera 9.5 is the default browser and even though we prefer Opera; Internet Explorer is the only one with full flash support.

Calendar tab

The calendar is completely polished and works fantastic on the 4,3″ screen. It’s fast, easy to use and will quickly become your most valued asset on the move. You flip through the months by swiping your finger up or down and to select a specific day, simply tap the date and the appointment view pops up. The calendar also has a weather forecast for the upcoming five days integrated in the appointment view. Nice!

Month view

Windows Mobile offers several time-management features and all of them are easily syncable with Outlook. In the HD2 the standard interface is kept under wraps – the only times you catch a glimpse of it are when creating or viewing an appointment. The home screen only shows the basics – time and subject.

The Calendar offers daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly views. All of them are available in the Sense UI, so you will never go again to the white WinMo interface. The left context key allows you to switch only between the monthly and daily view. For the others you will need to go to the menu.

Adding an appointment is easy and you can do it by the dedicated button. It has plenty of fields, reminders and notes. The time settings resemble the iPhone clock wheels, which LG already adopted in their S-Class UI.

When viewing tasks, you can also see weather information for that particular day if available. The Sense UI preloads the weather forecast for up to 5 days ahead of the last update.

The To-Do list allows you to add tasks and assign them priority, the Notes also come in handy. The Voice recorder and Calculator need no explanation.

Twitter tab

The Twitter tab need no introduction, as it had been around for quite some time. HTC Peep is a sleek and fast Twitter client, that lets you do all the usual stuff, post new tweets, re-tweet, and so on. It works well with the large screen and it feels natural, and intuitive to use.

Stock tab

The Stocks tab is another familiar part of the TouchFLO interface. The stock tab is simple to use, and will no doubt be a valuable tool to those in need of it.

Photos and Video Tab

Not much have changed here. You scroll through images and video files with finger swipes and shortcuts allows you to start the camera and camcorder directly from here. Tap an image or video to view them in full size, and you can swipe through them with your finger in full screen. You can also turn your phone sideways to view media in landscape mode.

From the shortcut you can access another album layout, which displays images in thumbnail view, tap one – and the image is opened automatically in landscape mode and there is no option to rotate it to portrait view. Still that’s not a bad thing because it means the photos you take with the camera are always properly displayed full screen. Once the image is opened, you can zoom in or out using the pinch gesture or the double tab, or continue to the previous/next by finger sweeps.

Music tab

No changes here either. The Music tab displays album art and the most essential buttons. The shortcuts gives you access to the library and music player settings, where you can sort your music by artist, album, genre and so on. Yet again, it works great thanks to the large screen, and you can also flip your phone to view something that looks stunningly close to iPhones CoverFlow.

In case you want to filter tracks by other criteria beside album, the Library shortcut will take you to the player backend where you can sort music by artist, genre, composer, purchased tracks or simply create custom playlists. The visual interface of the library is fluid and eerily reminiscent of iPhone’s very own music player.

Weather tab

This is my favorite tab, with smooth graphics and amazing animation –  I never thought it would be this much fun to watch the rain. You can add up to seven locations, and you flip through them with a finger swipe. By pressing the shortcut key you can view a five day forecast of the selected location, and the other one lets you access the settings. Your default location is the one you set up when you first install the handset, so this is permanent.

Settings tab

Last but not least, the Settings tab. No surprises here, this tab lets you control various system settings – and new to the HD2 is the revamped interface. HTC has dropped the old complicated Windows Mobile layout in favour of a new sleeker, more polished interface, and again it works great with the touchscreen. Some functions has been renamed but the layout is simple and intuitive so users that are new to WinMo will feel right at home. In order to access the more advanced settings you need to press the all settings button. This takes you to a not so polished version, and its here that you clearly see that there is WinMo running in the background. Thankfully, the majority of users will find all the settings needed under the settings tab.

Some new features has been added to the HD2 settings, like the “Pocket mode”. This mode detects that the phone is being carried in a pocket, purse or the original pouch, and automatically turns the ringer volume up. Another feature is the “Quiet ring on pick up” which when your receive a call turns the ringer volume down when you pick the phone up off the table.

System status screen, and Communications Manager

By tapping the top of the screen you instantly get access to the System Status screen. Displayed here are notifications such as new emails, missed calls, new SMS etc. Also displayed is the currently active connections like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, battery life and more. Press any of the connection icons to gain access to the Communication Manager. Here you can adjust various settings, like airplane mode, activate Wi-Fi and so forth.

Call management

The biggest part of any phone is making calls, and the HD2 excels at just that. The interface for in-call tools is simple and easy to use, and shortcuts to hold, mute, speaker, and more is available at the click of a button.

HD2 also features “Turn to mute” which allows you to put the phone face down to mute incoming calls, great if you are in a meeting. But don’t worry, it’s unlikely your calls will get muted accidentally in your pocket – the feature is set up in such a way that it’s more likely to not engage at all rather than engage for no particular reason.

Writing messages and email

A large part of smartphones is messaging and email, and thanks to the gigantic capacitive screen its a dream to write on the HD2. You can choose from two types of qwerty. Either up-right or sideways. Both work great, and writing is easy and fast, allthough not as responsive as on the iPhone, or HTC Hero.

File management

Nothing new here. The filemanager on HD2 is the standard WinMo one. But keep in mind that pinch zoom works here, so small fonts is not an issue anymore.

FM Radio

The HD2 has a buildt in FM-Radio with RDS. It features a simple interface, and easy to use controls. The FM radio has a 20 station memory.

Camera and Camcorder

The HTC HD2 features a 5 megapixel auto focus camera producing photos with a maximum resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels. The camera offers an intuitive user interface and shoots in landscape mode.

Like we mentioned earlier the HD2 lacks a dedicated camera key, but autofocus is handled the iPhone way this time. It’s automatic and refocuses whenever you move the device. Once focus is locked, you can take the picture by pressing the virtual capture button. There is touch-focus too, but you need to enable it in the settings first. The HD2 also uses dual-LED flash, but as it won’t make a great difference in low-light conditions or in pitch-dark places. Still you can use it as a video light, but again it won’t be much of a help.

The picture quality is good with enough resolved detail and natural colors. Shooting at night, or in dark places the dual-LED flash makes a mess of the pictures, making them look over saturated and pale. Videorecording is also a letdown with only VGA @ 30fps, and low image quality. Given the video capabilities of other smartphones and bearing in mind the powerful 1GHz CPU, we expected HD.

Document viewing and editing

Among the other WinMo core applications is the Office Mobile package featuring support for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. With the latest version of Office Mobile, you also have the OneNote application. Once again, the WVGA display of the HD2 proves superior in fitting as much of the documents contents on the screen as possible – especially in portrait mode.

Thanks to Adobe Reader LE, there is also support for viewing PDF documents. We are pleased with the performance of the HD2 in this area, as opening and handling PDF documents is usually rather slow on handhelds.

Applications and 3rd party software

Like we talked about earlier the Windows Marketplace is a ghost town. With almost no availible applications. Its hard to tell if Microsoft has just given up the battle against Apple’s AppStore and Android Market, or if they don’t think it’s important enough to focus on. This is really a shame when you see what potential that lies within the HD2 and what beautiful applications could be made for this handset.

But there is hope, the HTC HD2 comes with plenty of preloaded applications – an RSS Reader, MP3 Trimmer, Bing, Wi-Fi Router, World Card Mobile, Jetcet Print, a YouTube application and a Streaming Media manager.

The RSS Hub app is an RSS reader for staying up-to-date with the latest news and content at your favorite web places. The Streaming Media manager allows access to custom sources of streaming audio and video.

The Wi-Fi router allows you to share your HSPA connection to other Wi-Fi enabled devices such as a mobile computer, while the Jetcet Print will let you to print documents wirelessly directly from your HD2.

WorldCard Mobile is a business card scanner. You can capture cards, and then edit or save them.

HTC HD2 also ships with the MP3 Trimmer app. It allows you to crop MP3 tracks to make your own ringtones. Another goodie is the Remote Desktop Mobile client. It allows you to connect remotely to any Windows-based computer.

Another thing that has become a part of the HTC experience is the well-known Teeter game. The game is simple – by tilting the phone, you must guide a ball through various mazes avoiding trap holes along the way. The graphics are polished and the phone vibrates each time your ball hits the walls of the maze making it quite engaging to play.

The YouTube application is here again. It offers a fluid, excellent looking interface – shinier than even the iPhone’s.

Usability Rating

The HTC HD2 stands out as one of the most userfriendly, intuitive, technologically equipped, and most visually impressive smartphones on the market. Windows Mobile has seen many changes, and updates to become what is is today, and equipped with TouchFLO and SenseUI the usability is top notch, only rivaled by the iPhone 3GS and HTC Hero.

The UI takes little time getting used to, and setting up the phone is a walk in the park.

The only negative thing is that when you start poking around the more advanced functions and menus – you’re clearly in old WinMo-country, and even the 4,3″ screen can’t make up for that.

Wi give the HTC HD2 a Usability Rating of 8 out of 10

Summary and final words

We truly enjoyed spending time with the HTC HD2, and its fun to finally see hardware that makes Windows Mobile shine. With innovative solutions to user interface, communication, and usability the HD2 is one of the most interesting smartphones on the market. But even the HD2 has major flaws. Poor camera and video recording, very limited internal storage, and the sheer size of the thing will perhaps be a deal breaker for many.

So there you have it. Even the biggest star has their flaws, but there is no doubt the HD2 still is… Quietly Brilliant!

Total rating: 8 out of 10

Tested and written by TechTengu

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