Known previously as the HTC Polaris this is now known as the HTC Touch Cruise. It’s the replacement for the
HTC Artemis – y’know, that phone we here
as the T-Mobile Compact III. The Tom Cruise… sorry, I keep doing that. The Touch Cruise now boasts a
Qualcomm CPU running at 400Mhz, 3G with HSPDA, Quad-band connectivity plus WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0.
There’s a microSD card slow and two cameras too – a VGA one up front for video calls and a 3 megapixel (yes, three
megapixel) one round the back for snapping “proper” piccies. Windows Mobile 6 Pro (i.e. Touch-screen) gets
256Mb ROM and 128Mb RAM to play with plus you get that HTC TouchFLO technology, a swirly spinning
navigation wheel … oh yes, and GPS of course too.. :)
If you’re looking for a device to navigate with then look no further. In the HTC Artemis we were impressed with the easy
wheel navigation on how quickly you could fire off applications and programs when you’re driving (which, of
course, you wouldn’t whilst driving, because it’s not safe … yada yada yada). The wheel doesn’t just spin either – you can push the top, botton, right or left side of it to select or move around. It’s great to see this same
interface back again for round two, but they’ve now ditched the infamous scroll-wheel in favour of a simple
These comparison shots show you the difference. Gone are the angled buttons and, in their place, comes a
shiny plate with just four buttons – answer, release, GPS and t’interweb explorer. Bye bye Windows Key, say
“turra” to the OK button and wave goodbye to those softkeys – it’s mostly screen-driven now and gives the
device clean lines with a space-age quality.
Tom Cruise .. sorry.. I give up. If I say “Tom Cruise” anywhere else in this review just assume that I mean
the HTC Touch Cruise, ok ? Right. Tom Cruise is a little taller than his big brother – the HTC Advantage –
and he’s got a slightly different wheel which almost feels like it’s not moving when you push it round, it’s
so fluid. The wheel controls various aspects of the Tom Cruise experience, such as being able to zoom in on
pictures in the new HTC Gallery (which beats the standard Pictures and Videos application by miles). Here’s
a quick video showing me using this to zoom in, along with the HTC TouchFLO interface..
On the front of the phone is the VGA camera for your 3G video calls. At the base are those keys on a
mirror-like surface. They’re large, flat keys which are easy to find whilst driving around. The wheel sites
proud of the device by a couple of millimetres with the action button at its’ centre. Above the wheel is the
HTC logo in an equally shiny silver. Right up top you’ve got the earpiece and a
face-pointing camera for 3G Video calls.
To the right is a camera button (and by the way, it’s a 3 megapixel shooter) in the place you need it plus a
microSD card slot capable of taking those new SDHC cards for lots of storage space. Many
of your will probably be using this for one of those “special” versions of TomTom you’ve found on the net.
At the top of the Tom Cruise is a nice power button for waking the device from its’ slumber..
Meanwhile on the left there’s the volume up/down and a voice-dial activation button which you can alter to
perform other tasks or launch seperate programs.
Down at the bottom is the standard USB connector, a lanyard loop and reset button. Look – there’s the
microphone on the top right too. You can see again on this shot how the wheel sticks proud of the device. It
makes the whole thing very simple, clean cut and fashionable. Heck, even the box it comes in is swish – I
wanted to keep it and make sure it didn’t get dented.
Yes, there is an FM Radio (there’s always a lot of gossip about FM radios in Windows Mobile phones) – plug in the supplied headphones / headset and you’re away. The 400Mhz CPU pumps away and Windows Mobile Pro flies along, as does the HTC additions such as the HTC Gallery and HTC TouchFLO technology – very fluid indeed.
There is, of course, the usual dollop of Microsoft applications – Word, Excel and Messaging help you edit and create documents on the go, plus the push-email or POP email will ensure that you’re connected with the office – an essential for the ultra-mobile workers that this device
will be targeting.
We’ve noticed across other handsets (like the HTC Touch Dual) that HTC have started to make the icons bigger – this is to air the finger-poking crowd who refuse to be seen with a stylus in their hand. It works well, and you can happily use the TouchFLO “cube” and the bigger icons to achieve most of your day-to-day tasks. If you’re not a big fan of.. err.. big icons .. you can always turn them off with one click. Nice.
HTC have also included their new on-screen keyboard which will speed up your data entry and make messaging or emailing less of a chore.
There’s a Touch Keypad or Touch Keyboard to choose from plus all the other input
methods you’ve probably seen on other Windows Mobile (Pro) phones.
The sat-nav location is quick and found me within seconds. I didn’t get chance to use this with satnav software such as TomTom
but I did install Google maps and used the HTC testing tools. I managed to get a lock within a few seconds so I wouldn’t have any worries about turning this on in the middle of a traffic-jam to find me a quick escape.
The gallery is, to be fair, shockingly good. I only wish someone at Microsoft had coded this themselves – it just shows how bad the in-build Microsoft product was (Pictures and Videos). The HTC Album / Gallery software is smooth and quick, loading pictures up in the background while you’re browsing. It zooms, it pans, it’ll do a slideshow and you can control the everything with your big fat finger – no stylus required.
Whoever did this, whoever it is that’s sitting in HTC designing all this, well-bloody-done you. This is fantastic and, along with the TouchFLO, on-screen keyboard and HTC Home screen (which brings you the weather where you are, a quick-launch system for your apps and more), it has helped to push Windows Mobile forward further and faster than Microsoft have in several years.
Above you can see the quick dial (right) screen for adding your
most-used contacts. As this syncs with Microsoft Outlook (via the cable or
over-the-air to your Exchange server), you can easily add pictures to your
contact details and this will pop up in the square you place that person in.
Adding and removing people is extremely easy and painless.
We visited West Midlands Safari Park. The HTC Touch Cruise took us there with the satnav, entertained my nephew with music and even played him some kids TV shows for the journey! Here’s some shots from the device from our trip. That extra megapixel (usually we’re used to seeing 2 megapixel cameras here) really does make a difference and I was impressed with the photos, especially considering the dull, wet day.. As usual you can click on these photos to get the actual shots direct from the device…
I took this device on a day out. We decided to go to the local safari park and, I’ll be honest, I had no way of knowing how to get there.
I turned on the Tom Cruise (now that sounds weird) and punched in the postcode. It located me, directed me all the way and I received some emails during the journey. The combination of the wheel plus the HTC TouchFLO system makes one-handed or even one-finger operation so simple and easy – it really is the wheel reinvented. An email pops up, I click the action button, scroll the wheel around to select a mail from the list, click again and then I use the TouchFLO system to quickly hop into Internet Explorer to see what time the safari park is open until. Even better, when I get there I can take fairly brilliant photos with the 3 megapixel camera and then I can make a video call to a member of my family and say, “Look at this elephant! Woow!”
The device we tested is network free, so you can pick whatever SIM card or network you fancy and get going without any problems. Yes, obviously there’s no keyboard, but there is WiFi, 3G, quad-band connectivity, video calling, GPS, microSD storage and you get a smooth experience thanks to the 400Mhz CPU. This isn’t just a navigation tool, this is a capable, well designed and well thought-out device which takes the success of the HTC Artemis to the next level.
Link – HTC Touch Cruise @ devicewire.co.uk (Currently £374.99)