HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

When HTC first asked me if I’d like a Tattoo I was a little confused.
“Well, not really, I mean on women it can be kinda sexy but…”, “No”,
they said, “The HTC Tattoo phone. Y’know, the new Android handset for
the masses?”

An interesting name it has, but this puppy is different to the utterly
fantastic HTC Hero. HTC are shooting at a different crowd with this
one. The price tag is lower, as are the specs, but if this handset ends
up in more pockets then it’s all good.



Specs




Inside the Tattoo is the Android 1.6 OS with the ultra-stylish HTC
Sense interface on top. The Sense interface is simply amazing, but
we’ll go into that later. Powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225 CPU running at
528Mhz it’s smooth as silk. Connectivity ? Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and
dual-band HSDPA / WCDMA, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR and A2DP. There’s
512MB of ROM, 256MB of RAM and internal GPS for sat-nav and those funky
Google maps.


Videos



Sometimes a huge page of text can be a little time-consuming to digest, so we always like to add videos to our reviews so that you can get a good overview of the device. Double-click on the videos to get the larger / HD version if you want.


First we wanted a comparison with the Tattoo’s “bigger brother” – the Hero.





Next up, a demo of the HTC Sense interface itself and a play with that FM radio. We also take a snap on the camera and do some browsing.



Finally a look at Google Maps, Street View and more HTC Sense technology..




Outside


HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

Up top is a 3.5mm audio port (yay for standard audio
ports) and inside there’s a digital compass and a tilt sensor so the
screen will rotate when you move the phone round.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

Take the back off and, by the side of the battery there’s a microSD
card slot. We had a 2GB microSD included in this review unit.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

To the left of this curvy pebble-esque phone is the volume up / down
controls.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

On top there’s that 3.5mm audio port (gotta love that) and a little
loop hole should you wish to hang the phone round your neck.

Now, down the bottom, under that 2.8″ screen are your controls. To the
left is the home and menu key with a slight indent in between – it may
seem the same key but each half is different. The Home key will take
you back to the central “page” on the oh-my-God-it’s-good HTC Sense
interface. Next to it is the “Menu” button which will pop-up the handy
menu which lets you change settings, switch wallpaper, enter programs
and switch to a different “Scene”. HTC Have included several “Scenes”
to choose from. Each is a mix of panels or “widgets” which will let you
check your email, watch the weather, update Twitter and more. It’s all
so fluid and you can simply drag-and-drop stuff around. It’s a really
fantastic interface.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

On the right side of the control system there’s a similar button but
this time it’s the back key (for returning to what you saw before or
the webpage you were on previously) and the magifying glass. This takes
you into different search systems depending on the app or screen you’re
on – for example in Google Maps it’ll let you find a place, whereas in
thee web browser it’ll do a Google search. The keys are a cool silver
colour and there’s a solid but soft click when you press them. The
build quality is spot on.

Below you’ve got the call / reject keys. These are back-lit in green
and red with the other keys in white. Press the call drop key when
you’re just using the phone and it’ll send it’ll lock the screen.
Unlocking it is just a matter of pressing any key and then swiping your
finger down the screen. Easy and simple. Tap the green “call” key to
make a call and an on-screen keypad will appear to let you dial
numbers. You can spell out names using this and it’ll automatically
find that person using speed-dial. For example if you’re after “Joe”
then you’d press 563.

The main control system comes in the forum of a rounded outer rim and a
large central button for selecting items. It’s a simple and effective
system – press the outer rim to move in theat direction.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink

Down at the base there’s the usual miniUSB port for charging
and syncing. It’s great to see the same port continually used on HTC
devices and it means a nice smooth transition for previous HTC owners.

Here’s a close-up on that camera – 3.2 megapixel. No flash. We’ve
included some example shots below.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


You can click on each
preview shot to get the direct-from-camera picture. There’s no
auto-focus (like we had on the Hero) but we can do the geo-tagging
magic with the in-built GPS and you’ll get ISO adjustment, white
balance, brightness and resolution. The max resolution on the camera is
2048×1536 (3 megapixel).

Just flip the phone to one side and get
the widescreen mode. The in-built G-sensor will switch the orientation
automatically and there’s two on-screen buttons to let you switch to
video mode (352×288 is the max resolution on the video). HTC cams
usually struggle in low-light and, if I’m honest, it’s the same here.
Holding the camera still will help and the central picture was actually
taken in our lounge with just one 40 watt bulb on.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


Just as a quick comparison we’ve plonked the Tattoo next to the HTC
Hero – this is kinda the “bigger brother” of the Tattoo.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


Inside

The HTC Tattoo has the exact same swooshy HTC Sense interface that we
saw on the Hero. You don’t just get the pretty “slide side-to-side”
functionality that you’ve seen on TV, this is full drag and drop
action. Simply press and hold on an icon or widgets, then move them
around as you please. The widgets are really cool – you can move them,
add or remove them and there’s a range to choose from.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


Let’s say you want to add a clock. Just click on the “+” button on the
bottom, choose “HTC Widgets”, then choose “Clocks” – you get a range to
choose from. Choose one, then add it to your page or “Scene”. Each
“Scene” is interchangeable and you can save any amendments you make.
Each Scene is basically one large piece of paper. Imagine a really
stretched-out TV picture that’s so wide it won’t even fit on your
widescreen TV. The only way to see the bits off the edge are to push to
one side – this is what you do with HTC Sense. It’s like having your
world on your phone, but organised and easy to reach.

Below
you can see me doing the same again, but choosing an album widget. I
can then get to see my chocolate cake plus all the other images I’ve
snapped, on-screen. Just slide your finger up and down to go through
each image. Click on the image and, merely by rotating the phone, you
can switch the picture around to take advantage of the screen. You can
then click the picture to send the image to Flickr, Twitter, email,
Facebook, Google Mail, Picasa or via MMS. You can also upload videos
directly to your YouTube account. The integration with online
networking sites is simply amazing.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink
HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


The Tattoo is designed to be attacked to the internet, so
make sure you have a fairly good data plan. If you get this on a Pay As
You Go tariff you’ll need to watch that data. A WiFi connection is
available of course, but it’s all too easy to forget how useful the
Tattoo is and how much you use it. The Twitter app, for example, grabs
data off the internet and offers a speedy way to check timelines plus
you can update, reply and retweet others. When you first power on the
device from taking it out the box you’ll need to go through the mail
setup, Twitter, Flickr and other online account details, but once done
it’s a dream to use and your all-important data flows in and out of the
device with ease.

Typing on the Tattoo is easy
enough, although I did find that the widescreen QWERTY was easier to
use than the Portrait one. Some apps, such as the Messaging (Text)
interface, will
auto-correct your typing, so you can merrily mis-key (to some degree)
and it’ll auto-correct the text for you. This auto-correct
functionality isn’t carried across all apps – I found it lacking in the
Flickr upload system for example – but the haptic feedback helps to let
you know what’s going on. I found the screen to be quite accurate, even
after all the doubts that a resistive screen might bring.

Below
you can see the lock screen. This kicks in automatically when the
screen goes off and you can simply unlock it by sliding your finger
down. It’ll let you know if you’ve received a text / email / Tweet (in
the information bar at the top) plus you can find out what time it is,
even before you unlock.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


Even
with the brilliant Google / GMail connection and the automatic sync’ing
of contacts through that system it’s still great to see the HTC Sync PC
software keeping your Outlook contacts, appointments and other
information in check. Everything is sync’d across and you simply click
“People” to scroll through the list of contacts on your phone. To make
a call you simply whack that “Call” key and start typing out a name, or
you can add yourself a “Starred” widget to include just the important
people in your life on the HTC Sense interface. There’s other
contact-related widgets too – these will show pictures of your contacts
and you’ll soon find yourself swooshing and gliding around the phone
like a pro, even after moving stuff around several times.

When
connecting the HTC Tattoo to the computer we did noticed that it still
showed up as “My HTC Click”, which was the HTC name before it became
the Tattoo. We presume it was altered so it didn’t clash with the new
Motorola Cliq.

Web browsing is speedy and there’s tonnes of options available to you,
however there’s no multi-touch. It’s the same across the board
unfortunately and, if you’ve used the Hero (even briefly) you instantly
miss it. Aghh.. damn, I was trying not to draw parallels!

Below I’ve entered a web address in the bar at the top – you can a
range of options including back, forward or you can add a bookmark.
Once the page has started loading it’ll go full-screen, letting you see
the page in all it’s glory. An on-screen zoom in / out system replaces
the pinch-to-zoom feature we saw on the multi-touch capable phones.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


If you click on that “More” link you’ll get a range of extra options
including the ability to find text on a page, share a link (via
Twitter, mail or other) and a whole load more. The image on the
right shows the green selection system, so either push the
screen around with your finger and tap on a link or use the navigation
controls at the base of the screen to highlight the link you’d
like. 

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


The main HTC Sense interface, as we’ve shown already, includes a
variety of widgets. You can save your widget layout as a “Scene” and
there’s a choice of pre-built scenes to choose from. Here you can see
the HTC Twitter client, which is called “Peep”. It’ll let you post
images from your phone (this is integrated into the album and camera
system) and you can Tweet updates, retweet, DM and look at user
profiles. The auto-correct feature ensures that you enter “proper”
language and you can add your location thanks to the on-board GPS.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


Other widgets include a calendar app and a messaging widget. Here you
can see all the latest texts and MMS’s – just flick through them or tap
in to reply, delete, forward and create new texts. Again, there’s
auto-correct feature and all texts are grouped by sender so you can see
the message thread. There’s also the screen-rotate feature so you can
use the landscape-style keyboard too. Again this integrates with the
Albums app so you can send MMS pictures directly after snapping them.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink
HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


There’s also a similar system for email. POP / Exchange and (of course)
Gmail can be added here along with automated send / receive scheduling.
A similar style and functionality is maintained here and let’s not
forget that all of these “data streams” (text / email / Twitter /
flickr etc etc) are fed into the contact involved. Thus you can go into
a contact and see all activities – every conversation, call, text,
email and more. This makes it so easy to keep track of things.

The information bar, which I mentioned earlier, will let you know when
something needs attention but, at the same time, it won’t get in the
way unless you want it too. Just drag down the screen to get the
information in front of you. Here it shows me what needs addressing,
whilst on the right you can see me hooking up to a WiFi access point.
It’s a painless and finger-friendly process, even with sometimes
complex WPA / WEP keys etc..

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo InkHTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink


If there’s any extra programs that you haven’t created shortcuts to
then you’ll find then in the “All Programs” section – it’s accessed by
clicking the small “up” arrow on the lower left of the main screens and
shows you all of the apps you can access. You can grab more through the
Android Market as we showed you on the videos.

HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink HTC Tattoo / Tattoo Ink 


Overall

This is a very slick device. The HTC Sense interface on Android is
smooth, flexible and totally customizable. The drag-and-drop
functionality is like a breath of fresh air every time you use it and
the integration of each app is seamless. I’m going to have to point out
the two bad points though. First is the screen resolution, which does
make things look cluttered at 240×320 QVGA. The Hero (and yes, I’m
comparing again) has a 320×480 HVGA screen and believe me, you can tell
the difference. It’s not just the reduced amount of text and widgets
you can fit in, it’s the Android Market that suffers too. In our tests
we found that a large amount of apps weren’t “flagged up” to appear in
different screen resolutions, so there was a collosal amount of apps
for the 320×480 Hero (and other Androids) but hardly any for the Tattoo
at 240×320. Hopefully developers are now correcting this as we speak
and I really hope that this is sorted soon.

Out second critical point is the lack of multi-touch, which does mean a
little more care has to be taken when typing and you can’t do that
“cool pinch-to-zoom” stuff on pictures, Google Maps and whilst
browsing. Everything else is top-drawer though, and it’s the small
things that impress us. Android 1.6 (which the Tattoo uses) asks you
whether you’d like to “share your mobile network”, sync with your
computer or just mount the microSD as storage. Cool. I like little
stuff like that.

Overall, if you have the money, I’d still go for the HTC Hero,
but the Tattoo definitely fulfills it’s remit to be a stonking Android
handset for the masses.

Link – HTC Tattoo – Buy / More Info

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