So, the HTC Touch HD then. Now, before I start there’ll be many sites comparing this device with the iPhone. You’ll see many “iPhone Killer” headlines and, Whilst many may scoff at this, there are some decent reasons for it. It’s got pretty much the same size and dimensions as the iPhone. It’s got a funky touch-based GUI like the iPhone and there’s GPS, WiFi etc, but here you’ll get a 480 x 800 pixel screen and a 5 megapixel camera plus some other stuff you’d probably not expect of a Windows Mobile.
OK, second thing. You won’t see this mentioned on other Windows Mobile websites. Is it as good as the iPhone? No. The GUI isn’t quite as responsive at times, and the software (OS) update functionality isn’t as good, plus there’s no app-store integration. What struck me quickly was the fact that the thing holding this device back was Windows Mobile 6.1. The HTC TouchFLO 3D GUI is brilliant, the HTC hardware is brilliant, the HTC apps are brilliant, the HTC customization is brilliant and the extra apps are brilliant. The one and only thing that got me cursing was Windows Mobile 6.1 – it can cut in and trip things up when you least expect it, or manage apps in a way you’d not expect. For example, when I connect to the internet I get the “Connecting to GPRS / 3G” bubble, right in the way of what I’m doing.
Out of the box
The device arrives in this nice box which opens from the front and folds back. The device sits on the top with the cables and manuals tucked neatly underneath.
The specs. This is called the HTC Touch HD, but you’ll also see it called the “T8282”. It’s got a Qualcomm MSM 7201A 528Mhz CPU with 512MB ROM, 288MB RAM. It’s also got HSDPA/CDMA 900 / 2100 MHz and quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and A2DP, WiFi, 5 megapixel camera (with autofocus but no flash) and a front-mounted VGA camera for video calls. You’ll also find a G-sensor, FM radio, microSD card slot and a 1350 mAh battery. G-sensor? Wozzat? It’s also known as a tilt sensor or accelerometer. Put simply it’ll know which way you’re holding the device.
Oh, and did we mention that 3.5mm audio jack? Yes, HTC have finally given in to the thousands of requests and stuck a normal, ordinary 3.5mm adaptor. You can plug your normal headphones in, or try the funky HTC headset / handsfree kit. Heck, you can even plug in your massive bad-boy headphones for that full bass action. No adaptors needed, just plug it in. Yay!
This is all stuff that’s hit me before I’ve even taken a tour of the device, but there’s one thing on this device you just can’t ignore. The screen. It’s absolutely stunning. The resolution and colours really stand out and the screen is flush with the front of the HD to make graphics even clearer.
It can struggle a little in direct sunlight, and you might find that you’re
cupping your hand over the top to see sometimes, but it’s no worse than any
other device I’ve tested. On my first day with the Touch HD I put my microSD card in and used the phone to show my photos to family. It’s fantastically good. Rich, deep, crisp and – thanks to the G-sensor – you can give the handset to people and let them rotate the device to view photos how they want.
Time for a tour. At the base of the device is the usual miniUSB port and a microphone. Just to the right of that is the stylus, which slides out and clicks back into place with the help of a magnet.
The left side of the handset has one large thin button which rocks, allowing the volume to be turned up and down. You can also add other commands or programs to fire up when these are held down.
Up top you’ve got a power button on the right and that 3.5mm audio port to the left. The power button is a similar design to the volume controls and easy enough to locate. You’ll be pressing this to get the phone out of standby. On this power button there’s a very small LED which isn’t really noticeable unless it illuminates. It’ll give you charge status and other notifications. The 3.5mm audio port also allows the included headset to act as a hands-free device.
At the back is the 5 megapixel shooter. There’s no camera button to get this going, so you’ll need to go in via the TouchFLO 3D GUI.n It’s mounted in a brushed aluminium style unit with the external speaker slotted in to the side. It produces very decent photos, although the Touch HD still suffers from those low-light issues where you have to hold the device rock steady for a decent photo.
All the images can be stored on the internal memory or the microSD card, which I’ll show you now..
The microSD sits under the battery cover – this can be pushed off and the microSD can be swapped without powering down the device or flipping the battery out. Nice. The included 8GB microSD card (this unit is the network-free version from devicewire.com so it’s worth checking that you’ll be getting an 8GB card if you shop elsewhere). The SIM card also sits neatly next to the microSD and there’s a red reset button if things do go wrong.
On the front at the top we have the video camera for those all-important video calls to loved ones, or for your boss to try and see if you’re still in the office.
At the bottom we have four simple buttons. Call answer, call drop, home and back. There’s no navigation controls or select button and I presume this is mainly because there should be no need to scroll or steer. Everything is finger-driven and selecting is just a matter of tapping the screen.
Imagine that you’ve used a keyboard to control your computer for years, then you’re suddenly given a mouse. The screen is such as a size that moving, choosing and navigating is easy. Sure, you might think this is going back to the “old size” of Pocket PC’s from yesteryear and indeed I still remember reviewing the Orange SPV M2000 which had a similar screen size, however it does work. After the M2000 appeared Pocket PC’s generally reduced in size, so to go all “big” again may seem strange, but the flush screen and extra space is welcoming to fingers that have long been restricted to a smaller surface area.
Above you can see the device in direct daylight. There’s a lot
of reflection from the sky here and, to be fair, you’d normally point the device
towards you if you were using it outside, but you can see at least how graphics
can be dulled by the daylight. You might just be able to make out the clouds on
the screen too – I’m in the weather tab here.
I managed to grab a variety of handsets to give you an idea on
size when compared to existing phones. I keep banging on about that huge screen
but, in reality, the device is in now way "big" when you put it next to other
The HD is really quite thing. It’s shown here next to my HTC
Touch Dual (centre) and the Kaiser (aka T-Mobile MDA Vario III on the right).
If we compare just the Touch Dual with the HD it looks a little
..and with the Kaiser again…
The high resolution screen really comes alive thanks to the HTC TouchFLO 3D interface.
To show you the sort of resolution you should expect I’ve pasted in one
full-sized screenshot from the phone itself.
The swish and sexy blending, the tabbed interface and that weather application shows the screen at its full potential. Sure, graphics were clear and crisp on the Diamond, but now they’re closer and bigger – it’s like upgrading for a 15″ TFT monitor to a 40″ TFT. Videos look great in the widescreen, however you will have to download some extra software like Pocket TV or The Core Pocket Media Player to display your MPG movies.
I fired up the Teeter game – it’s that ball-balancing game you’ve seen Britney Spears enjoying on TV. You use the tilt sensor here, and by tilting the Touch HD you need to navigate the maze and drop the ball into the green goal. It was at this point I noticed a strange lag on the screen. To be fair it’s only bearly noticeable, but it’s almost as if the larger screen has a slower refresh rate or something.
The camera may be 5 megapixels but there’s still the slow screen update in low light. Turn the lights in your room down and move the camera around, you’ll notice that the refresh rate slows to try and capture as much light as possible. This has been happening in Windows Mobile handsets for years and it needs sorting, but despite saying that the 5 megapixel shooter produces some excellent photos – just make sure you’ve either got lots of light or a very steady hand if you’re inside and there’s only a few lamps on.
The tabbed browsing is now familiar to most coolsmartphone.com readers. The HTC TouchFLO 3D system has totally transformed the tired old “Today” screen, although you can (if you’re mad enough) change back to that at anytime, we’d stick with the fluid TouchFLO GUI. It’ll let you add your own programs into a quick-launch grid, plus you get several different tabs with frequently-used features to choose from. First up is the main home screen tab. HTC tell me that most customers tend to take their phone out just to check the time, so they’ve put a big clock on the main screen. You can make this smaller if you wish with a simple flick of your finger, plus you can access your alarm function or change the time. Setting the former will illuminate the alarm symbol on the main screen so you know you’ll be woken up for that all-important meeting… or pub crawl. You can also access your calendar with monthly, weekly, daily or yearly views and your call history to check who’s called you and vice versa.
The second tab is your people tab, or contacts list. You can hit “All People” here to see a list of everyone in your address book. This will be sync’d with your computer, so it’s easy to add people to your phone or amend their details. Tap a contact into your Outlook, plug the Touch HD in and it’ll push the details across to the phone ready for you to use. Once you’ve moved your contacts across you can easily take a picture with the 5 megapixel shooter and append it to your contacts. Their photo will appear when you cann them (and vice versa), plus you get a cool rollerdex setup on this screen with their faces. Just flick your finger up or down to find the person or use the smaller preview window on the right side. This will glide up and down contacts quicker.
Next up is the texting / messages tab. This shows MMS and SMS messages in a scrolling
format that you can move through with your finger. You can go into the message
to read it in full detail by simply tapping on the preview, or flick up and down
to go through your messages. You can create a new one with that little "pencil"
button on the top right. The variety of on-screen QWERTY keyboards that HTC
provide do a great job in allowing data entry to the phone
Next up is the Opera browser. This is a huge leap up from the
existing Internet Explorer that you’ve seen in other Windows Mobile phones. The
IE browser is still present, if a little tucked away, but the Opera browser is
much easier to use and renders pages quickly with fast on-the-fly zooming and
panning. There’s a host of options available too, including bookmarking, pop-up
blocking and much more. The Opera browser also has that funky auto-trimming
feature which will justify the text you’re reading to fit on one screen when
zoomed – this is especially useful and stops the left-right panning which we’ve
seen with other browsers when you zoom in too much.
Above you can see I’m attached to the WiFi and I’ve got our site
open. It’s just like viewing it on a regular desktop browser. There’s a host of
options and tabbed browsing too (maximum of three tabs). The favourites, once
stored, will be accessible from the main browser / YouTube tab you saw above.
Great for one-button access to the site of your choice. Don’t forget that the
Touch HD will connect to all the fast 3G / HSDPA networks so you don’t need to
have WiFi near.
The YouTube application was probably best shown off in the
videos above, so I’ll give you a look at the application here in image format.
You can do a search, change quality or – in this case – choose from favourites.
I was a bit unfortunate with the choice of "top videos" here, but you get the
The YouTube application shows videos in landscape and, with
YouTube themselves going for a more widescreen approach to all their videos, it
makes videos look fantastic. The high quality screen really does make everything
look good – even the sometimes wobbly YouTube videos from coolsmartphone! 🙂
Oh yes, and if you want to do a search you’ll get a result with
thumbnail previews like this..
The HD is ideal for both work and play, so if you want to
monitor that company you bought shares in you can simply add it into the stocks
tab. To get started just press the "Plus" button and enter the company name.
It’ll find the company and show the share price along with the rise or fall in
price. you can also get graphs showing how it’s performed over the last day, 5
days, month, 3 months, 6 months, year or two years!
The Photos and Videos application shows you everything you’ve
snapped with the 5 megapixel camera. Here I can just push my finger up and down
to see the images float up and down the screen like you’d push real photos. You
can also access the camera or video here with the buttons on the upper right.
Access the slideshow (with pause, forward, backward and orientation options)
with the right button or look through your album using the album view. You can
also email or MMS your pictures, save them as contact pictures and more.
As usual we’ve got some original shots direct from the camera.
Choose the appropriate preview below to see the direct-from-device image. The
camera performed well, although as I’ve said before it’s not ideal in low-light
conditions. There’s some extra features in the shape of a zoom and that focus
centre function which will let you choose which part of the image should be
focused on. Press and hold anywhere on your preview screen and it’ll focus on
that point, then it’s just a matter of firing away. It’s suitable for both
camera-buffs and the click-and-go crowd.
If you’re a music nut, which you very well might be now you’ve
finally got that 3.5mm headset adaptor, then the music tab is for you. I used
this on the plane over to America recently. The nice stewardess gave me a set of
headphones to use with the on-board entertainment, but I just plugged them
directly into my HD and flicked my finger to choose an album or song. You can
skip through tracks or add new ones – don’t forget you’ve got a massive 8GB
microSD to fill up, or you can buy an even bigger capacity card and start moving
your MP3’s across to that. You can also press the "Menu" soft-key on the lower
right and access the audio booster for better audio quality or add shuffle /
The weather tab, shown right, has the glorious graphics you saw
in the video above. It’ll show you the weather in your region or any city /
country you choose along with the next few days. You can choose Fahrenheit or
Celcius, update on the fly or schedule updates. It’s easy to add and remove
locations this way too. Watch out for those rain-drops, they’re stunning !
The settings tab lets you do lots of cool tweaks, including the
customization of tabs. You can add or remove tabs as you wish. don’t want the
Stocks tab? Take it away! Want to put the Internet tab first? No problem. It’s
easy to move, remove and add tabs thanks to the HTC TouchFLO 3D interface. You
can also quickly hop into the Sound options here and change your ringtone,
messaging tone or simply turn your device onto silent or vibrate. This is much
easier and simpler than the existing Windows Mobile Settings->Personal->Sounds
tweaking which can be a bit fiddly at times.
Wallpaper is always something people like to change. You can
choose your favourite picture and ad this as the backdrop to the first "Home"
tab. You can also turn WiFi, Bluetooth or the cellular on or off through
the Communications tab. All good and very useful tweaks which are laid out
On the last tab is the Programs list. This is the easy launcher
into your installed applications and games. It’s easy enough to add and remove
your apps here, plus you can see the extra features like FM Radio, Teeter,
Google maps and the RSS reader (right) which HTC have added in for your
pleasure. The Google maps application teams up with the GPS to help you not only
locate your position but guide you to your destination through a friendly and
intuitive interface. You get satellite or map views along with traffic news and
iPhone beater? No. However, this is one of the best HTC devices
I have seen, ever. The screen performs brilliantly with the HTC TouchFLO
interface and the HTC on-screen keyboards for their job admirably. The Windows
Mobile bits do tend to hold the device back, and it’s a shame that you’re soon
looking for your stylus or you’re cursing the fact that the screen won’t rotate
automatically in applications like Microsoft Word or Excel. To have to add extra
software in is a step that shouldn’t be necessary. It feels a little disjointed
when the Microsoft standard apps come out to play – check out the calculator..
The HTC Touch HD though is a wonderful iPhone alternative. It’ll
play your MP3 collections easily and you can watch videos with YouTube easily.
After installing video-playing software you can even watch your favourite TV
shows from the microSD card too. The internet browser and other applications
really work well with the larger screen and the included microSD card is a
fantastic benefit. The specs are brilliant too – GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth and
ultra-fast browsing over the cellular network. The battery life is also really,
really good. The build quality is fantastic and the device feels solid even with
it’s thin profile and overall I’d definitely recommend this handset to both
consumers and business professionals alike.
Buy – www.devicewire.com