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Dec 22, 2008

HTC Touch Pro Thoughts - Week #1

TOUCH_PRO copy

Home sweat home!!!

After wandering around with some BlackBerry and iPhone devices - I am finally back home - to the good old Windows Mobile!

And not just an average one - the BEST of them all - the best smartphone in the world (according to the readers votes).

So, as BlackBerry failed to excite me and iPhone failed as a... well... a phone - let's see how the Touch Pro will do!

But before I start, here's a question:

What is the difference between an iPhone and a WinMo phone?

Yes, I know: iPhone is for kids and WinMo is for men, but why?

They are both running a mobile platform, they should both improve the phone quality , and they both have other pros and cons.

But:

While the iPhone is some kind of a limited entertainment console - Windows Mobile brings the richness of windows into your pocket.

Hear that?

Windows.

PC!

A Pocket PC!

[Gee, what a great name, I should propose it to Microsoft...]

Outlook, Tasks, Notes, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote - All in one phone! That's what I'm looking for!

Gimme Some Lovin'! That's productivity!

And how many settings! the joy of configuration!

Windows Mobile is so tweakable it's addictive!

Ha ha ha ha! (evil laugh).

IMG_0298

OK people, enough with the excitement, let's get back to the Pro:


Hardware:

Although a bit stocky (at least 2 times thicker than the Diamond) - this phone is still beautiful.

IMG_0263 IMG_0264

(Thick as it is, the Treo 750 is still thicker).

 IMG_0315

No doubt, the Touch Pro is Thick As A Brick, (Jethro Tull said it 35 years ago!).

thick

Does it mean that it feels bad in the hand? absolutely not. The Pro feels great, especially when it is expanded, the sliding keyboard sits well in the hand and feels very comfortable. Impressive stuff HTC!

My only comment about the keyboard is about the size of the space bar key - I think it's a bit too small.

Screen:

The screen rocks, with a beautiful 640×480 VGA display. (The size is not big though, so if you are looking for a big impressive screen- Touch HD might be a better option). Also, I've noticed that all the latest HTC device tend to have a tough touch screens which require stronger finger pressure than other devices, it can be improved a bit by some registry tweaks but still... worth mentioning.

D-Pad:

Skipping some of the good things (and there's a lot of them), I may have found the Pro's Achilles' heel, and it's disturbing:

The front of the phone includes a 5-way D-Pad and 4 buttons: Home, Back, Send and End. All of them are covered with 1 wide surface that also reacts to finger touch (like the iPod).

Few problems with it:

1. Since all the buttons are made out of one piece - pressing left or right sometimes ends up pressing the 'End' or 'Send' buttons. It's so inconvenient that it's sometimes easier to slide out the keyboard and navigate using the arrows...

2. With this combination of buttons, there's no easy way to click on the 'OK' button - I'm really missing the Treo's OK hardware button. It doesn't exist in the full keyboard as well, which is a shame.

Considering the screen sensitivity and the fact that WinMo's 'OK' button is located somewhere at the top right corner - it makes it really hard to reach it with the thumb.

Besides, the device currently has 3 buttons that act almost the same: Back, Home, and End. Why do I need the 3 of them? I would have replaced the 'Back' with an 'OK' but it seems like HTC blocked the option to re-map the hardware buttons. I'm still looking for a way to tweak it all around (if you know how - please tell me!).

3. Scroll wheel: this is a great addition to the D-Pad - it gives you a way to circle the pad with your finger to scroll things. Cool.

Unfortunately HTC only implemented it on 2-3 applications  - but luckily for us there's an application that can configure more applications to use it - which is great.

Other than those points - I really think the Touch Pro is a... Pro.

IMG_0307


Software:

The Touch Pro is also loaded with extensions and additions to Windows Mobile:

TouchFlo 3D - a very impressive shell application, probably the most comprehensive one of all UI wrappers for Windows Mobile. A lot of animations, great boost for fun and show off. Most people tend to love it.

But I have some issues with it:

First - it is not customizable, as it is not yet mature enough. I bet HTC are currently working on their second version which will include more features as well as more configuration points. In this respect it still feels like version 1.0. (HTC did include ways to tweak it around, so it adds some flexibility to the shell).

Second:I actually like my today plug-ins. I worked hard to find the perfect set of plug-ins and it's hard for me to let them go... I wish there was a way to combine the standard Today screen as one of the tabs.

Third, it's sooooo heavy! Not only it's working too slow (even after the performance tweaks) - it makes the entire device heavy and slow, getting back to the home screen is slow, moving from portrait to landscape is slow, in fact, if you run some serious applications on the device - you better shut it down first.

So I did, and now my Touch Pro works like an animal, a cannibal!

The only problem is - that I kinda' miss it now that it's gone, I sure hope HTC will release some updates to the TouchFlo 3D soon, updates which will solve those problems.

RSS Hub - what a great application for reading feeds. I love it.

Scrollable lists - this one is actually a tweak HTC added to Windows Mobile, bringing finger gestures and scrollable lists. It feels good, and along with the bigger menu items, it really makes it possible to use most of the applications without a stylus.

You see? What did I tell you about Windows Mobile? It's the best, Jerry. The BEST!

You see a feature that doesn't exists out of the box - and boom! You can count on HTC, XDA-Developers or any other developer to simply add it to this great platform.

That's it for this week's review. More to come in the next reviews of the Touch Pro. I'm off to play around with the best smartphone in the world.

More TouchFlo tweaks in here.



4 comments:

Stewart said...

Good review.
A friend of mine has Touch PRO and he is saying the same thing bout the dpad.

Bubby said...

D-Pad: Agreed. Even though somebody figured out the sweet spots for left and right navigation, I still often press the back or home buttons while navigating.

OK Button: AT&T added an OK button to the Fuze where HTC put a Ctrl button on the lower-left of the keyboard. The flush screen, however, makes it easier to hit the screen button.

RSS Hub must be one of those HTC applications that AT&T removed. Either that or I missed it completely. I'm using pRSSreader.

J Rob said...

Gil,

Have you tried using HButton to assign "OK/Close" to one of your hardware buttons? Or does HButton not see any hardware buttons to reassign on the Touch Pro?

Since you shared HButton with us, I've been loving it on my xv6700!

Thanks,

Rob

Gil Bouhnick said...

Yep, couldn't make HButton tweak my Touch Pro buttons...

Still looking...

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