HTC Touch HD exit interview

I will be returning the HTC Touch HD I have been using for more than 2 months to HTC tomorrow, and I thought a round-up of my experiences would be appropriate.  This wont be a formal interview (there are plenty of those on the net) but rather a picture of what some-one would find if they actually bought the unit, in Q&A form.

Lets get the negatives out of the way first.

What were the major annoyances with the device?

When you first hold the Touch HD the first impression is that its a pretty large and beefy device, despite its small thickness. This is especially true if you come from a HTC Touch Diamond or Touch Pro, which may be thicker but appears much more pocketable.

In use the absence of a D-pad remains annoying for a very long time, especially apparent if you want to select items without opening, like in the e-mail account or even the phone dialler.

Talking about the controls, the proximity of the on screen soft keys to the phone dial and end keys are extremely annoying, and causes constant miss-keying. One does get used to this one over time however.

Again, talking about the phone, home and back keys, they work well, but have no backlight at all, meaning in low or no-light conditions it is impossible to know which button you are pressing.

Another annoyance was compatibility issues related to the WVGA screen, with most software seemingly geared towards the VGA screens which are more common.

What did you love?

Before our readers get the feeling I disliked the HD, the opposite is in fact true, and the positives far outweighed the negatives.

The first feature that’s most striking is of course the large screen. It creeps up on your gradually, but these days, when I look at a 2.8 inch screen, everything seems tiny and almost unusablely small. Due to the screen size in fact, even the parts of Windows Mobile which have not been modified to be finger friendly is perfectly usable without a stylus.  In fact I lost my stylus for about a month (don’t worry HTC, I found it again!) and the device remained completely usable during this period.

Talking about the screen, the screen sensitivity is amazing, and this also made using the on screen keyboard a joy to use.  A hard keyboard is still better, but I could live with this solution. Did I mention the excellent out door visibility?  Did not have much chance to need it this Winter, but its clearly great, and a throw-back to the days of the transreflective screen.

Of course on the giant screen Opera Mobile worked very well indeed, and browsing the web was a joy.

The 3.5 mm headphone jack proved to be a life saver regularly, meaning I could use any number of regular headphones I have lying around instead of the special HTC ones.

If A2DP is more your thing, you will still find the HD does not disappoint.  Unlike on the Kaiser, performance was strong, with very good range and no skipping at all. WIFI range was also very good.

I eventually switched off TouchFlo3D, going back to the more efficient native today screen, and of course then had the benefit of being able to fit more onto its longer WVGA screen.  However when showing of the device (which is pretty bragable) I would always activate TouchFlo3D, which makes very good use of the high resolution screen, and makes the device very user friendly (to novices at least).  I also found a new use for the Stocks tab, being able to use a simple hack to use it to track exchange rates, something closer to my heart.

Slide to Answer on the dialler worked well, and no screen lock software was needed to prevent accidental calls.

The meh stuff

Of course not everything is great or awful. The 5 megapixel camera worked well, but suffered from the same problem of the lens getting dirty and spoiling picture quality.  HTC really needs to include a camera cover with its better cameras. Having to navigate to the camera tab to take a picture was a problem, but that was easily solved by placing a shortcut to the camera on the start menu.

HTC’s biggest problem with the HD is the difficulty of getting media onto this clearly media-centric device. My solution, which worked very well, was the video converter Mp4HtcHD and Web Video Downloader, both of which made it easy to get content optimised for the HD into the phone.  WVD especially worked very well, especially when set to download mp4 video, as this played natively using HTC Album, which has a pretty good interface for playing videos.

Battery life was fine, but then I am never very far from a charger in any case.

In summary, over the last 3 months I have had a HTC Touch Diamond, HTC Touch Pro, Sony Ericsson Xperia and Samsung Omnia, but the HTC Touch HD will be the one I most regret giving back.

In UK the HTC Touch HD is exclusive to Orange, but can otherwise be purchased from online retailers like eXpansys, our affiliate partner, for £529.99 including vat.

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