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HTC Touch HD
HTC’s Touch HD has taken mobile display to the next level. For the vidiots like me a display this large sporting the kind of resolution it does is a godsend. I have to admit I was anxiously awaiting its arrival to the Indian market place and was proactively trying to get a handset to test even before it got here. Though that didn’t work out and disappointment was an understatement, I got it! The big question I was asking when I un-boxed it was - does it manage to deliver on all fronts and actually make the high price tag of Rs. 43, 000 seem like money worth spending? That’s what I’m here to help you decide.
The only word that comes to mind is ‘Sexy’. The slim black design that houses this ‘powerhouse’ of features is all snugly fit into a 115 x 62.8 x 12 mm dimension casing. The large 3.8-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display sports a 480 x 800 pixel, 65K color resolution which is the highest to be found on a mobile handset on the market. This is also the first truly totally touchscreen mobile there is with touch sensitive controls for answering and ending calls and also returning to the Home page.
It’s a very simple and yet stylish design. The only external controls that are actual physical buttons are the volume controls on the side and the power/screen off button on the top. The HD also has a standard 3.5mm earphone socket on the top. The bundled handsfree is all you’ll need though, but it’s good to have the open option. The 5MP camera is located at the rear of course with a secondary camera placed above the display. The two disappointments in design are – No flash for the camera and the rear panel HAS to be opened for a memory card to be accessed. An odd shaped USB 2.0 port is located at the bottom, but it still manages to easily accommodate a standard miniUSB connector.
The drawback of having a screen this large is of course the space it takes up in your pocket as the handset, slim as it is, is still a bit big and weighty at 146g. But that’s expected of course, so we’ll just have to live with it. Like some of the other HTC handsets the HD tends to get unusually hot after charging and while on long calls. The HD also tends to get a little warm when applications that you may be unaware of are running in the background. It was on more than one occasion that I was quite worried why my thigh was freakishly warm on a cold night.
Features and Performance
While I was mesmerized by the large display, let me just begin by saying that what comes after this note is quite depressing, but I’d just like to add that I’m willing to concede that some of the issues could be singularly with this particular test handset I received, then again, like I always say, why would they give a reviewer a handset that’s not running at it’s optimum capacity? Forward at your own risk.
If you’ve used or seen the HTC Touch Diamond with its TouchFlo 3D interface, the HD has nothing different to offer except a better laid out view considering the display. I do like the TouchFLO interface as it gives quick and easy access to all relevant functions and features with simple finger control. It can also be customized to user requirements which is perfect. The down side is that the sensitivity couldn’t be adjusted and that could sometimes be a bit of an issue. Other than that the regular Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS and UI remain very standard.
What really ticked me off was the fact that the accelerometer is absolutely useless for screen rotation when it comes to any of the screens expect the browsers. I had to install a third party application to rotate the display. The QWERTY keyboard could not be used in landscape mode when trying to send messages or emails. While the handset offers multiple options for data entry including a regular WinMob QWERTY keyboard, Transcriber, Block and Letter recognizer, alphanumeric and half QWERTY, the large screen is not always very effective. Except for the Half QWERTY and alphanumeric keypad the others will take some getting used to more so than these.
Another annoying instance was when I tried copying all the images taken by the camera that were saved on the main drive to the memory card and I noticed I could not slide my finger over the files to select like in most other WinMob handsets. I got by that, so I decided to simply – edit, select multiple files, copy and paste. Imagine my surprise when the only option I got was to either select ALL files or copy one at a time.
The bottom touch-sensitive keys under the display do not light up so you’re going to have to memorize them, but the screen does provide ample light to keep them a little visible.
AT least the 288 MB RAM and Qualcomm MSM7201A 528 Mhz processor, allowed the handset full speed capacity. There was virtually no lag or hiccups when it came to navigation.
Like I said before, being the vidiot I am, I was overanxious to review the handset’s media capabilities, and I’m obviously talking about its video capabilities. I had already converted various videos to the appropriate screen size and resolution for the device even before I got it in anticipation. I had to choose video files with resolutions higher than 800 x 480 and I used WinAvi, AnyVideo Converter and Super to convert the files. I use either of these converters for all my tests.
The files played ok on the PC but I was appalled at the ridiculous framing and pixelation of the same files on the HD’s display. The player itself was drastically slow. It took over 6-7 seconds just to bring up the scroll and menu bar while the video was running. Just to be sure and for your benefit, I re-encoded other videos to make sure and the same result prevailed. In some cases there was no pixeling but the framing was still very evident. Needless to say I had another disappointing experience with the handset.
For some strange reason after copying video files onto the drive and updating the Windows Media Player library, the Video folder was empty but the music folder had the .Mpeg4 files I converted for video and even played from there.
This is where the handset’s processor seemed to be inadequate.
At least I managed to quite enjoy the audio experience the HTC HD delivered. Volume was loud and quality was clear. I preferred to use the TouchFLO player as it didn’t have any issues. Album art was clearly visible and I could also easily access the Audio Booster from that screen. The audio booster enhances the experience with plenty of presets and a 10 channel graphic EQ that can be fully customized. This player also automatically picked up all valid music files from the drive without having to update anything.
The integrated Stereo FM radio with RDS took just a few seconds to store and save radio channels and reception was quite good even while on my commute.
Some of the other media features include an MP3 trimmer for cutting down music files to create ringtones, a voice recorder and a YouTube client. You can also connect to other Streaming Media via the designated player.
Games include the usual – Bubble Breaker, Solitaire and Teeter. Teeter has got to be one of the best games designed for a mobile handset’s gyroscopic sensor. The feel and look of the games design is as realistic as it comes and quite entertaining as the levels move up.
The HTC HD is 3G ready with HSDPA. For us, the ones lacking in that technology, the handset offers EDGE and GPRS as well as Wi-Fi. You can configure all your email accounts with an extreme sense of ease and that’s one of the things I do appreciate about a WinMob handset.
With Push Mail support, ActiveSync and other connectivity options including Internet Sharing, Windows Live connectivity, MSN Messenger and two separate browsers – Opera and Explorer, an RSS Hub to receive feeds is available.
Other options include Bluetooth with an A2DP profile and USB 2.0. There’s nothing new you’ll find here if you’re an existing Windows Mobile user.
Here’s one more thing I was upset about – the HTC HD has an internal GPS antenna but doesn’t come bundled with any navigation software either pre-installed or on a CD. I had to suffice with Google Maps which worked quite well though. QuickGPS is present to help download GPS data a little faster to help with positioning. I’m sure though, had the HD come with a better GPS solution and by that I mean a bundled application; the large screen would have made navigation a real thrill.
The HD’s 5 megapixel AF camera was not too bad. Images looked crisp and quite clear on the handset’s display. On the PC, I was quite happy with the reproductions as well. In native resolution however, you’ll notice slight issues which are quite negligible.
Without a dedicated camera key, the HD uses an onscreen button for a shutter release. There are a few settings like – Widescreen, White balance and flicker adjustment available. The settings layout is simple and easy to access. However, on the whole, although the images looked pretty good, in normal conditions, low light images really required an extremely steady hand as the sensor was very very slow.
It has no macro mode setting but you can still get pretty close to subjects.
The same issue also prevailed in video mode so videos also ended up looking quite sluggish.
The HTC HD’s battery will provide about two days with normal usage. This would include – a few calls and messages, emails, music and net time. Add videos and camera to the mix and having your mails automatically downloaded instead of manually, with a little GPS usage and the time will crash down to just a little short of a day and a half. It wasn’t impressive, just adequate.
The Bottom Line
The large display is the only feature that actually makes the handset’s interface look and feel a little better, but even that had its quirks. None of the handset's other relevant features except for the radio and music player are worth talking about and neither is the utter disappointment in its video viewing capability. With neither GPS software provided nor a bundled microSD memory card, not enough internal memory (512MB) and the lack of proper screen rotation, the answer to the initial question is – NO. The HTC touch HD is definitely not worth its Rs. 42,990 pricing. Not by a long shot.
HTC Touch HD
GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G, EDGE
|Physical||115 x 62.8 x 15 mm, 146g|
|Display||480 x 800, 65k, TFT Touchscreen, 3.8-inches|
|Memory||512MB internal, microSD external |
|Media||MP3, AAC, WMA, 3GP, MPEG4, Voice Recorder|
|Camera||5 megapixel AF |
|Connectivity||USB v2.0, Bluetooth with A2DP, GPS with A-GPS |
|Battery||340 hrs standby, 2 hrs 50 mins talktime |