HTC Touch2

HTC Touch2




The Touch2 is one of the very latest Windows Mobile 6.5 devices.
Scheduled to launch on October 6th this has a 528Mhz Qualcomm
processor, 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM. The screen is a 2.8″ TFT-LCD with
QVGA resolution, which isn’t quite as high as the higher-end HTC kit,
but there’s the very latest TouchFLO interface and the all-new Windows
Mobile behind the scenes. Other specs include GPS, Bluetooth 2.1 with
EDR / A2DP, a 3.5mm audio jack, 3.2 megapixel camera, microSD expansion
and a zoom-bar at the bottom of the main screen for zooming into web
pages and albums.

To begin, we always like a bit of video action. Here’s the unboxing
with a little demo of the OS and the zoom-bar…


HTC Touch2

The front and back of the phone has a dull metallic rubberised feel and
there’s a grill at the top of the screen hiding the earpiece. This
looks a little like those speaker covers you see on stereo systems but
is a lot tougher.
The LED is just to the left of the earpiece in the shot above.

HTC Touch2

The zoom bar takes up around centimeter of the panel at the bottom of
the screen and works in Opera (the default browser) and the HTC Album
application. Below is a slightly shinier panel which houses the call
answer / drop keys. In the middle of this panel there’s two sections,
one which has the Windows and Back key and the other with the Home key.
I’m not totally sure why this is but it does at least stop you pressing
the home key when you wanted the Windows key and vice-versa.

HTC Touch2

At the very bottom of the phont is the standard miniUSB port that we’ve
grown to love on HTC phones – you can use the same charger as your
existing HTC kit and you can connect to your computer easily using this
port.

HTC Touch2

The right spine of the handset is completely un-used, other than the
stylus which is tucked away on the lower right. It’s a full-length
stylus and, for the majority of the time, isn’t really needed. Some
elements of Windows Mobile still need it though, so it’s a still an
unfortunate necessity.

HTC Touch2

On the top you’ve got that much-requested item, a 3.5mm audio port.
It’s finely crafted into the top of the phone at an angle and you can
use the inclusive headphones to bop along to your favourite tunes or
have a hands-free conversation. You can also see here the small indent
where your finger-nail goes in order to pop off the battery cover.

HTC Touch2

Beneath the battery cover you’ll find the SIM and microSD card,
although the microSD card itself is actually inserted in the side of
the phone, which you’ll see below.

HTC Touch2

The left-side has a large volume control button and the microSD card
access. Just flip down the flap and insert your microSD. This is quite
innovative – the back panel needs to be removed, then you can flip the
flap off and insert your card. This method makes the infamous “flap
cover” a lot more reliable and robust.

HTC Touch2

At the back the camera has a grooved silver panel and a small panel to
the left for the external speaker. Although there’s no flash it appears
to cope well in lower-light conditions if you hold it still enough.


Inside

HTC Touch2

HTC have yet again added their TouchFLO system onto Windows Mobile and,
despite this being “the all new” Windows Mobile 6.5, they have still
gone to great lengths to hide the actual OS. The screen seems a little
crowded due to the lower resolution, but the colours and image is
bright and crisp and the LCD panel is close to the front of the device.

The TouchFLO system itself has been updated once more and now weaves
itself even deeper into the operating system. Large pop-up menus are
now finger-friendly meaning that the stylus remains tucked away more
often. the main interface has become more colourful too, with clear and
vivid icons on each tab. The TouchFLO system will let you see
information such as weather, email, texts, albums and control your
phone using a touch-and-slide method of navigation.

There’s a “Home” tab, where you can see the time and weather (the
weather is configurable with celcius / fahrenheit settings and whether
to download data whilst roaming). The clock itself is large with fluid
transitions.

HTC Touch2 

Touch and hold on the active tab at the bottom to choose a new tab or
simply tap the tab you require – it’s easy enough to master. We’ll go
through each tab in turn. The “People” tab will let you add your
favourite people. These people are sync’d with your Outlook contacts
and their pictures are shown for quick recognition – you can add
pictures on the fly by associating contacts with pictures in your album
or take a picture if your contact / friend / family member is with you
“in the flesh”. Doing this and adding a contact is relatively easy and
there’s new “Email” and “Messaging” Groups so you can add in multiple
people and text them all at once. It’s a neat feature but you’re
all-too-quickly dumped into the old-style contact-entry screens which
were designed by Microsoft years ago when the stylus was king. Choosing
“Add picture” also activates the “Pictures and Videos” app – an app
made by Microsoft some years back. It’s a shame that these sections
weren’t reinvigorated. They feel a little out-of-step with the GUI
improvements that Microsoft have added to the back-end.

If you can’t find the person you want on this “People” tab, just choose
“All People” and you can swish through everyone you’ve added.

HTC Touch2
 HTC Touch2

Next, the Messages tab. this is where your texts and MMS (picture
messages) arrive. They’ll appear within this window and you can click
them to get the full message if it doesn’t fit. The messages will
appear in a threaded format and you can create texts here too. HTC have
done a bang-up job with this interface although the Microsoft texting
system (the one we saw in 6.1) is still at the heart of your SMS fun.
It’s functional and works well enough, it just feels like the gloss
that Microsoft have added to the interface is missing a little here.
The soft-keys, which are on the bottom of the screen, do at least
pop-up those finger-friendly menu lists and is a saving grace. It
really does help to keep that stylus tucked away for the most part.

HTC Touch2
 HTC Touch2
 HTC Touch2

Emails are accessed on the next tab, with a new “Choose Email Provider”
quick-setup system available. You can easily add Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo,
Hotmail and other accounts through a much better set of screens. Add
your email address and password in for some accounts, or add additional
information if you require it.

HTC Touch2
  HTC Touch2

Opera has been chosen as the main browser here and, once you select the
Internet tab, all links are accessed via Opera 9.5 (build 17753 on here
to be precise). It has natty tricks like how it automatically formats
the text to fit into your screen – a great help when reading sites and
zooming into pages. Pages render quickly and you can adjust the font
size to cram more on the screen if you wish.

HTC Touch2
 HTC Touch2

Stop. Let’s stop the review right here. Let’s take a break. I need to
reveal two things. Two important improvements have arrived in Windows
Mobile 6.5. Microsoft has delivered an improved GUI and an updated
version of Internet Explorer with zooming and rendering enhancements.
What have we seen of the Windows Mobile GUI so far? Not much. It’s
tucked away underneath the HTC-made TouchFLO. What have we seen then,
of the new browser? Again, not much. It’s available in the “normal”
Windows Menu but it’s not shown on the TouchFLO system and it’s not the
default browser. Microsoft still have a way to go to compete, although
it is their own OS which is allowing this flexibility.

HTC Touch2

The Opera browser will let you zoom in and out of pages easily with the
zoom-bar. It’s very fluid and the device responds without lag to pretty
much everything we threw at it.

HTC Touch2
 HTC Touch2
 

Another app which uses the zoom-bar is the Album. This is accessed
through the next tab, a “Photos and Videos” tab to view your snaps and
home movies. The camera has no flash but produces pretty decent shots.
Below you can see a shot I took in out lounge with just one 40 watt
bulb on. Not bad going at all. Apart from this screen the only other
way to access the camera or video camera is via the “Programs” tab
(more on that later). I kinda miss the dedicated camera hardware
button.

HTC Touch2HTC Touch2HTC Touch2
HTC Touch2HTC Touch2HTC Touch2

HTC Touch2

The music tab is great and shows you what tunes you’re listening to
with album art. You can choose new tracks, add more, shuffle, repeat,
create playlists and select a ringtone from one in your library. To be
honest it’s probably a lot easier to change the ringtone using this
system rather than the “official” way.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

You can choose music by Genre, Artists, Album, Composer or look at all
of them. Stick your normal headphones in via the standard 3.5mm audio
port and off you go.

HTC Touch2

Although this isn’t the “graphic processor enhanced” TouchFLO 3D, the
weather tab still has that wow factor. A windscreen wiper wil glide
across your screen when rain is forecast and you’ll see puffy clouds
floating around when it’s overcast. You can adjust the settings here in
a similar way to the main clock screen and update on the fly. There’s a
load of cities to choose from and you can remove or add them to suit
your needs.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

The map search tab will let you find the local pizza place or locate a
nearby hotel. It’s a great way to utilise the internal GPS, WiFi and
HSPA connectivity. Results will be shown in Google Maps and you can
then hop into directions or see the Google Street View.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

The Settings tab will let you swap the backdrop to a picture of your
choice, plus you can switch profiles, tweak communications (WiFi /
Bluetooth etc) and adjust the location service.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

The last tab shows some of your programs. You can add or remove these
simply by pressing the plus or remove key. YouTube and Google Maps are
already here plus you can use the RSS Hub application to keep on top of
the latest news and gossip sites. You’ll probably have noticed the
camera app too.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

Other applications include Adobe Reader, an audio booster, Facebook, FM
Radio, MSN Money and Windows Live. The FM Radio is pretty damned cool.
Presets, outputs through the headset or on-board speaker and a scan
function. The Facebook app is from Microsoft and was released for other
handsets too. It’s a great way to keep in touch with your mates. The
app itself is slick and does a good job. Likewise the Adobe Reader app
is worth it’s weight in gold when you get those all-important
attachments.
For a bit of fun the YouTube player is a great addition and shows
videos without fault direct from YouTube. We watched all our existing
coolsmartphone YouTube videos just for an ego-boost. There’s a search
function and you can filter them by popularity too.

HTC Touch2

There’s some other interesting apps ..

Firstly let’s not forget that Mobile Office is built-in. That’s Word,
Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint. The on-screen keyboard may not lead
itself to full document writing, but you can at least edit documents on
the move. It’s a brilliant tool which many may not take notice of when
they first see this handset sitting in a shop.

HTC Touch2 

A File Explorer is something we kinda expect now and this is also in
the device. It’ll let you copy, move and rename files on the handset
and create folders.

We’ve got the unlocked device here and I can’t say for definite that
apps like Messenger and CoPilot (which are both installed here) will
come on the Touch2 when you buy it. It’s worth checking out before you
buy, however both apps – escpecially CoPilot. It’s the sat-nav software
we’ve recently given away and will help you get around without problem.
It features full lane-by-lane and turn-by-turn navigation.




Windows Mobile 6.5
Additions

A lot of what you’ve seen so far is coded by HTC. Behind it all is
Windows Mobile 6.5 – the OS.  It’s Windows Mobile 6.5. It’s
the big fanfare. This is the update many
have been waiting for. For quite some time now we’ve seen Windows
Mobile 6.1. It appeared at the start of 2008 but, if we’re honest, it
only really had a new browser and threaded text messaging. So what do I
think of 6.5? After using it for some time I’d have to decide whether
to be kind or not…

If I wanted to be kind I’d say, “Hey, it’s only an update – it’s not a
complete overhaul, you can’t expect too much.” However, in reality this
doesn’t go far enough. The HTC TouchFLO interface is on-board and is
brilliant as usual. The HTC menus integrate into more and more apps and
the experience is much better. Indeed, the Windows Mobile GUI is better
with smoother scrolling and bigger, easier-to-press icons… but.. it’s
sometimes superficial.

Take, for example, the menu. Click the Windows key on the front of the
Touch2 and you’ll get the Windows menu below. Great. Check out all the
lovely
new icons. Ohhh.. lookie. A new text icon. Surely the text messaging
interface is new and improved? Nope, still the same.. that’s.. a shame..

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2


Microsoft My Phone is an online backup system which has popped up on
this new OS. It’ll let you backup your Contacts, Calendar, Tasks,
Texts, Photos, Videos, Music and Documents to a secure online storage
“pod”. If you ever swap phones (to another WinMo) or lose your handset
then you can rest safe in the knowledge that everything is backed up.
Usually those all-important snaps are the ones you took on the phone so
it’s fantastic to have this functionality and one that you can schedule
too.
An update appeared on our handset while we were reviewing it which
brough extra functionality including the ability to find a missing
phone with a map showing where your last location was recorded. It’ll
also now let you share photos with social networking sites like
Facebook, FlickR, MySpace and more. Other features include remotely
locking the handset more. This app has actually grown on us quite a bit
and we really enjoyed it’s simple but elegant functionality.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

Wait, look at the “Games” icon. Perhaps we have some fresh new
Microsoft apps in here ? Nope. It’s good old Solitaire and Bubble
Breaker. These are the SAME APPS THAT HAVE APPEARED FOR NEARLY A DECADE.

HTC Touch2 HTC Touch2

Calendar. The same. That alarm function, which almost always leaves you
stabbing around with your stylus.. the same. Pictures and Videos… the
same.

I don’t get it. The core parts of Windows Mobile still haven’t been
improved. In 2002 I was screaming at Microsoft to improve the way that
ringtones are selected. In “Pocket PC” (as it was called then) it
involved going into Settings, Sounds & Notifications,
Notifications and then grabbing your stylus. Now, in (very) late 2009
we’ve got .. EXACTLY THE SAME. This, Microsoft, is simply not good
enough. You can’t afford to leave core parts unchanged when they’re
difficult to get to and involve using the stylus. Altering the clock,
setting the alarm and other functions are equally un-improved and it’s
simply unforgiveable.

In an effort to polish the bumps Microsoft have added their “killer
app” – a shop. At last, Microsoft get a shop. It’s called “Windows
Marketplace”…

HTC Touch2

This is good. We like this, but we’ve found that some countries tend to
get a wider range of apps than others. A lot of the apps seemed quite
pricey too and there’s less “free” apps that you kinda get used to on
other handsets. You can choose from categories or perform a search and
install directly from the shop.

Other new features include a new lock screen. You’ll need to slide the
lock to one side to access your handset now..

HTC Touch2

The “honetcomb” menu makes for finger-friendly navigation (and we’re so
glad to see Remote Desktop and Messenger on here too.

HTC Touch2HTC Touch2
HTC Touch2HTC Touch2

Internet Explorer has had a revamp but you’ll not really be using it on
this handset as Opera is the default. If you do choose it then you’l
find that yes, it does render better, however it’s not nearly as quick
as Opera is, especially on first load of a page. There’s a zoom (the
zoom bar works here too), favourites and a much better user interface
now.

HTC Touch2HTC Touch2

Conclusion

As a handset this may “seem” to be a low-end device to some. In theory it’s the updated version of the tiny HTC Touch we reviewed some time back but it packs a much bigger punch. GPS, WiFi, ultra-fast browsing over the mobile network, Bluetooth 2.1 and a nippy 528Mhz CPU. The TouchFLO interface and new notification system adds extra flair to the handset too, with the latter tucking away those annoying “pop-ups” that tell you when WiFi is in range or a message has been received. Instead it’s all under one “notifications” tab that can be slid down to reveal what’s happening. Neat. HTC have done a lot of work to develop this phone and it’s definitely paid off.


Don’t for a second ignore this phone because of Windows Mobile 6.5. Microsoft have not done enough, but HTC have. The phone performs well and has bags functionality and the addition of apps like Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, MarketPlace and My Phone give you a great out-of-the-box experience. All in all, it’s a talented and powerful WinMo handset.


Link – Buy Unlocked from Devicewire.com

 HTC Touch2                

     
             

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