Tuesday, 20 November 2007

HTC Touch fun!

Well following on from my previous post (and now that i'm a little better for the sleep!) i'll continue with my experiences with the HTC Touch over my trip to Paris.

General Features

Well i'm sure there isn't much I can say in this section that you couldn't ascertain from any review of the HTC Touch out there on the net - so i'll just have to resort to conjecture and opinion!

The device is very light and thin yet packed with features. I managed to successfully figure out how to BlueTooth pictures to my girlfriend's phone without a hitch, and use the free wireless in the hotel which proved to be a great asset - who needs long distance calls when you have free access to email? I won't venture into the world of a phone call vs email etc, but email is good enough to be able to say "we're safe, and we'll be back before you know it!".

The Touch interface proved to be more useful than I first expected. I soon learned that you could grab the interface and scroll up and down windows, as well as the basics you will have seen in any other review on the web. However I found that there were a few things missing from the interface that i'd seen on the iPhone such as full integration with Pictures and Videos, and other places. The Audio Manager was nicely integrated into the interface for easy access to the music player, and also with the rather useful HTC Today Screen addon, I found the interface sufficiently improved my experience in using the phone over previous touch screen models, such as the Orange SPV M600. There's a few things that need work so for now i'd say it's a great attempt by HTC - but will improve over the next versions.

Applications and Toys

I found the applications and tools on the Touch were as expected of a touch screen based Microsoft Smartphone but it was also nice to see that Orange had not removed any of the Windows Live components. HTC has also added to the phone it's own applications which are certainly an improvement over their previous phones that i've used. These apps include:

  • Task manager integration into the main interface. Tapping and holding the "x" button of an application terminates the process in memory.
  • "Audio Manager" turned out to be a HTC version of Media Player that was integrated into the interface. While this sounds nice, it's clear that HTC haven't managed to integrate original Microsoft components into their own interface as cleanly as we'd like. Audio Manager is pretty rubbish at Playlists and for that reason alone I ended up using Windows Media player as my music player of choice.
  • Weather application on the Today screen is a nice touch (no pun intended); HOWEVER if you're in the UK you'll find that you can only have a choice of London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Plymouth! How lame!

It's worth noting that Remote Desktop is missing. Bummer.

Camera and Photo's

As I mentioned I was suprised at how good the camera was. I grabbed the photo's off the phone using Activesync and it was clear though that I have some kind of tremor! Seriously though - in dark environents it's very easy to blur a photo because of camera shake combined with a poor lense/no flash. It's also quite easy to do the same in the light. Annoying! So great for still photo's but rubbish for action shots.

Here are some example photo's:

Notre Dame:

A night shot from the Eiffel Tower:

Shaky handedness! :

Don't buy this phone on the strength of the camera!

Biggest problems

As always i'm playing devils advocate. The following problems annoyed me sufficiently to post them up:

  • The "Audio Manager" doesn't have a very good library system. Suppose I had an album of music contained in a folder on the memory card. If I wanted to listen to that album, the library manager of "Audio Manager" adds the songs in alphabetical order rather than song ID or filename (such as 01 - songname.mp3). It means that you have to painstakingly contruct playlists for your albums. I stuck with Windows Media Player throughout - which is a great shame.
  • I absolutely hate the Microsoft Smartphone "connections" system. It just isn't intuative! This concept of "Work" and "Internet" is utter crap and I have never got it to work how I want (Or if I did, I couldn't replicate it). For instance I could be connected to WiFi but if I then tried to connect to MSN Messenger it would start off my GPRS connection! ARGH! Also a massive problem is that out of the box, I couldn't/still can't connect to my Exchange server every time. In most cases, the phone would report "Cannot connect using these settings - check your connection settings and try again". If anyone can give me a definitive fix for this, please help!
  • I can't customise the default location of "Pictures and Videos" unless I go into the registry somewhere...
  • There just isn't enough memory for me. When I syncronised my Exchange email for the first time I have 200mb of email altogether (including attachments), and without attachments I couldn't syncronize all of my email to the phone. The biggest problem? You can't (out of the box) change the default repository for standard email (you can only change the location of attachments). Grrr.
  • Sometimes the phone will continue to play music when I press the power button (which is what I want it to do so I can save battery) and other times the music stops. God knows what's going on there...

Overall though - much better than the SPV E650 - which will be on Ebay soon!


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