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Feb 2, 2009

HTC Touch HD Thoughts - Part #1

"Today, for a few hours, I held perfection in my hands... "

G. Bouhnick, Feb 02, 2009

(OK, that's actually me quoting myself...)

It happened when a colleague of mine was kind enough to let me play with his bran new toy: the HTC Touch HD! (Thanks again Dean!)

HD_Wolverine

HTC Touch HD. Even the name sounds impressive...

(I think HD Stands for: “Huge Device!”, or “Ho my god I must have this Device!” or maybe: "Hey Dean! Can I borrow your phone for a year?")

I will start my review by saying:

This is the best Windows Mobile device I have ever tried.

True, I didn’t had a chance to check battery life or GPS, so I’m not sure I can even call it a “review”, but I did manage to learn a few things about the quality of the manliest gadget for 2008, and I have some thoughts about it (I will split them into 2 parts)

hd_transformers

Design:

When they invented the term “cutting edge” – Touch HD was in front of their eyes, I'm sure!

Black colored, slim, elegant, the edges are a bit cut (I told you this is cutting edge), huge display – perfection.

The device feels great in the hand too. It's not so rounded and thin as the slippery iPhone – so it actually feels much better in the hand.

The back cover of it is nice, and feels classy. High end.

It is without a doubt, the best looking device I’ve ever seen. (well, maybe second best after the Palm Pre…)

 

Hardware Buttons:

Finally, HTC got rid of the catastrophic Diamond/Pro D-Pad in favor of much better hardware buttons:

The on/off button (top/right), and the volume buttons (left) are located exactly like the iPhone buttons (nothing unusual there).

But unlike the iPhone, that has just one ‘Home’ button, the HD has 4 hardware buttons: Send, End, Home and Back.

I’m mentioning this because in my previous iPhone thoughts, I wrote about the lack of ‘Send’ button that makes it hard to easily launch calls.

The HD has the answer for that. When you click on the ‘Send’ button, your calls log is presented with a nice dial pad beneath it.

Untitled-4

Of course, HTC wanted to spice things up a little so those hardware buttons are actually inside a touch surface with a haptic feedback that feels pretty nice.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the Back button acts also as an ‘OK’ button for dialogs which has OK button on the top.

There’s no physical D-Pad (instead, there’s 4 arrows buttons in the virtual keyboard), but as one of my friends mentioned: when you own a Diamond you get used to not using the D-Pad at all, and with the finger gestures scrolling capabilities – it’s easy to navigate without a D-Pad.

 

Screen Display:

WVGA. (That’s wide, really wide VGA).

It’s actually longer than the iPhone or any other device I know.

HD

There has been a lot of complains about the low sensitivity of the Diamond / Pro / Fuze devices (there are some tweaks that slightly improve this problem).

HD has a completely different screen which feels very soft and sensitive exactly as a Windows Mobile device should. This is yet another great improvement over the earlier HTC Touch devices.

 

Finger Friendliness

It’s common to complain about the lack of finger friendly UI in Windows Mobile.

HTC made a lot of enhancements to the standard OS with the TouchFlo 3D, finger scrollable lists, bigger menus, etc.

The nice thing about the Touch HD is that the screen display is so big, that it effects the sizes of the buttons, tabs, and menus - they are all much bigger, which makes the device more finger friendly.

(still, there are those old settings windows which requires a stylus or a fingernail, or... claws???...)

claws

Virtual Keyboard:

When I just tested the Diamond, I just couldn’t use the virtual keyboard – the small keys size and the screen sensitivity made it really hard for me to type.

The size of the HD’s screen plus the great sensitivity turns the keyboard into something that actually works fine.

 

Performance:

Another problematic area in previous HTC devices was the performance. Here, as well, there has been some tweaks to improve the speed of the TouchFlo 3D, but guess what: there’s no need for that in the Touch HD. This thing simply rocks!

No more lags while switching between TouchFlo tabs, no more waiting for windows to open up. This thing flies!

 

TouchFlo 3D

Once the TouchFlo works quickly (as it should), it’s really fun!

hdstocks

The HD version of the TouchFlo is working extremely smooth. It also has few additions to the version of the Touch Diamond/Pro/Fuze such as an additional tab for stocks, some extra buttons in the People tab and some new configuration capabilities.

 

 

What's Wrong?

I think I just wrote too many good things to say about the Touch HD: Amazing design, huge VGA screen with great sensitivity, good performance, and more.

You all know I complain a lot; I got bored quickly by the BlackBerry, I didn't like the Diamond from the first moment, I found some issues with the Pro (managed to solve many of them), and I still find it hard to get used to the iPhone’s missing features

So... what about the HD?

Well, that’s a tough question…

I guess I can throw the obvious weak points:

- Lack of physical keyboard

- WinMo historical diseases

- Missing TouchFlo features (e.g. adding Today plug-ins etc.)

I can also complain about the image zoom feature which works extremely slow.

But the truth is that at this point, I cannot put my finger on a serious weakness in the Touch HD.

As I said at the beginning of my post, I suspect that the Touch HD is the best Windows Mobile handset out there.

(Treo Pro/Sony Ericsson XPeria/Samsung Omnia owners – I invite you to argue with the above statement…)

 

To be continued...

 

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