Design / Walkaround (5 out of 5)
Like pretty much every other HTC Device of late the Touch HD offers a very strong build factor, every part of the device feels like an upper end Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional unit. Looking at the front display its easy to see that the Touch HD was aiming to be an “iPhone Alternative” the display which takes up most of the frontside reality comes in at a large 3.8 inches with several touch screen based buttons located directly below the screen, those buttons include the “Call button” the “Home Key” which brings users back to the main Touch Flo 3D home display, a “Back Key” and the “End Call” key. While directly above the screen users will find the phones earpiece speaker and the VGA Video Conferencing Camera. I really liked that the display was 100% flush with the rest of the devices front end leaving a very smooth looking interface that was easy to activate.
Keeping with the smooth lines of the frontside the left side of the unit simply features a volume rocker that actually blends very well with the units lines, only slightly sticking out to allow for easy pressing, while the bottom of the device features the USB charging / Syncing port and the right side offers clean lines. The top of the device again is simple offering the power button which also acts as a standby button.
FInally the back of the device features offers the 5.0 mega pixel camera, its a great option that’s accented by a silver lining while the rest of the back end unlike the smooth glossy finish of the device features a rubber finish which means less scratching when you place the device in any type of device belt clip.
Overall the device offers clean lines and an easy to use setup that can work great with a stylus, a finger swipe, and even via one handed navigation. Coming in at 115 x 62.8 x 12 mm its on the rather large size, but given the 3.8 display that didn’t really both me, after all you have to give up a little bit to get such a competent display.
Display (4 out of 5)
I mentioned in the walkaround section that the display comes in at 3.8 inches, what I didn’t mention is that the display also features VGA output at 480 x 800. The display also comes equipped with HTC Touch Flo 3D technology, if you’ve used an HTC Touch Diamond or any other HTC Touch Flo 3D technology based device not much has changed on the Touch HD, and I was okay with that, Touch Flo still worked as originally advertised, and thanks to the bigger and higher resolution screen the display was more crisp.
Aside from higher resolutions and Touch Flo 3D the unit also features excellent video playback, even the display video came in crisp with excellent sound. Videos play in the landscape mode and the play, rewind and fast forward buttons only display for a few seconds after which point the entire screen reality is taken up by the video, simply tap the display and the buttons reappear.
The display also moves in and out of landscape mode thanks to a competent accelerometer which changes displays quickly and works well with games on the big display.
One issue with the Touch HD I had was that the display is a resistive touchscreen which is great for using both your fingers and a stylus in unison, but it doesn’t allow for the type of responsiveness found on the iPhone or iPhone 3G devices, it also lacks multi-touch. With that being said the large display and the ability to use more than one type of touch medium was definitely a plus.
Overall a great display that’s perfect for website browsing, video playback, picture taking, and any other visual reason you can possibly think of.
Camera (4 out of 5)
The 5.0 Mega pixel camera offers 2592 x 1944 pixels of resolution which is great, and the auto focus helps take excellent pictures, however I was a little frustrated that there was no flash on the device, and even a self portrait mirror was missing. One nice advantage however is the ability to point to anywhere on the landscaped camera view and have that area auto focus on. I found this auto focus feature useful when I wanted to get a nice crisp focus on a certain area on the devices screen.
Pictures overall came out crisp when good lighting was available, however due to the lack of a flash ideal picture taking involves a good deal of lighting.
The zoom on the camera was also fairly decent, I have a pretty steady hand when taking pictures and I found even objects at medium distances were easy to capture.
Pictures had very little undertones or overtones, and were decent in their crispness, the Touch HD picture quality is definitely an improvement for HTC from past devices, but some improvements including better lense technologies and flash capabilities would be very welcomes anytime now.
Connectivity Abilities (4 out of 5)
Users will have no problems when it comes to connectivity. I started by hooking my Motorola S9 A2DP headset up to the unit, after pairing the two devices together I played some light jazz and some heavier rock on the headset, in both cases from lighter to harder music I found a good tone, very little to no background noise, and quick playback with no interruptions. If you have an A2DP bluetooth headset you should have no problem with playback via the HTC Touch HD.
Next I tested the USB port on the bottom of the device, since HTC has a good track history with data syncing it was no surprise that the device connected quickly to the Windows Mobile Device Center on my Windows Vista PC and transferred files quickly.
I also love to surf the net and with the Touch HD I was able to connect to the Edge/GPRS networks and surf at decent speeds, unfortunately the ability to use North American 3G is not available, which was my one major disappointment with the device. I was able to connect to Edge quickly and easily, but the lack of 3G was a major issue for me.
Luckily the HTC Touch Flo 3D does feature WiFi 802.11b/g data and it connected easily to both secure and non-secure networks, once connected to WiFi web pages pulled up quickly, and I was able to surf with no issues on the devices big 3.8 inch screen with the Opera Browser. The unit does also feature IE Explorer but I personally find the Opera Browser to be much easier to use, and overall a better experience.
Finally the HTC Touch HD offers superb call reception, I didn’t have a single problem hearing anyone I called, even after 20-30 calls I found the reception in all the areas I used the phone to be flawless, not surprising given HTC’s reputation for call quality standards. Between the iPhone series and the Touch HD i’d take this device in a second.
The connection capabilities on the HTC Touch HD are by far superior to many devices currently available, minus 3G which was a big headache when WiFi networks were out of range. If you want a fun device with a big screen for all your browsing and connections this is a great device, if you’re looking for high speed connections wherever you are however the lack of 3G may be a big pain. Typical email users and light internet browsing users will probably love this device, power users with heavy browsing and larger downloading needs may want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking however for a competent Windows Mobile 6.1 device that will still offer great calling abilities then the HTC Touch HD is the way to go.
Multimedia (Audio/Video) (4 out of 5)
Whether your an avid audiophile, or an aspiring film maker, the multimedia abilities on the HTC Touch HD are sure to impress. First the unit offers support for a wide range of audio files including, but not limited to MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMV. I tested each of those file types, mostly at bit rates above 128kb and I found that the audio playback was on par with other multimedia cell phones such as the Sony Walkman line of devices, as I mentioned earlier in my review the Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP meant bluetooth stereo playback was not an issue whatsoever, in fact it was quick to connect and offered great playback on files over 128kb (I didn’t test lower quality files since they tend to be degraded no matter where their played.
Another important aspect of the device also sits on top of the unit, the devices 3.5MM headphone jack which I didn’t mention in my design view, simply because it fit better in this section. The Touch HD Audio jack located next to the power/standby button will work with most modern day headphones, this is a great option, especially for HTC considering their past devices focuses mostly on using a special USB jack that made charging the device and using your headphones annoying since you needed an attached Y-Adapter in order to use both at the same time. I tested the 3.5MM headphone jack with my Bose headphones since they almost always expose faults in audio playback and I have to say the sound was great, as an added bonus even video playback sound came through crisp and clear.
The Audio player on the Touch HD is also top notch, offering the same type of audio setup found on Apple products such as searching by Album (Displays the Album cover when available - which is most cases), Artist, Genre, and by Playlist. Users can also thumb through tracks much in the same way as the iPhone devices with just a simple swipe of their finger. Overall I really like the audio player, it offers crisp clean lines, and its very user centric making it just as easy as any well thought out audio based phone.
The video playback on the Touch HD was also very fluid, if you compare it to the iPhone or iPhone 3G you’ll notice that the iPhone devices offer better dark colors, giving them more of a TV feel, while the Touch HD videos are slightly more washed out, its not a big deal in my opinion unless you’re directly comparing videos at the same time. Both the iPhone and Touch HD do however offer the same fluid playback with no pausing, chopping parts, or any other major issues. Even with Edge connectivity I found that streaming videos came through nice and crisp, although they do take longer to load then the iPhone 3G and other 3G devices that operate on that network in the U.S.
The video player as I mentioned earlier in my review is also very competent, its easy to simply pull up videos, watch them in landscape mode, and then bring up your video player options by simply touching the Touch HD’s 3.8 inch screen.
Overall the Audio and Video capabilities are excellent, they offer easy use, and they are very comparable to other devices on the market.
From a crisp clean design factor to competent audio and visual features the HTC Touch HD is a device I’d highly recommend picking up. I really appreciated the connectivity options as well, although the lack of U.S. 3G was really a hassle I don’t think this one factor holds back the device too much, especially if you plan on using the Touch HD for emails and basic light internet searching. With the Opera Browser being equipped upon purchase and the Touch Flo 3D framework in tact the HTC Touch HD is a device that not only competes with the iPhone series, but in my opinion ties and beats the device in several areas including the all important “Reception On Calls” option which made hearing everyone much easier than the iPhone series. If you’re looking for an iPhone Alternative or for that matter an iPhone 3G alternative I’d definitely take a look at the fully unlocked HTC Touch HD, after all do you really want Apple telling you which cell phone carriers you can and can’t use? Yeah us either.