Sunday, March 28, 2010

HTC HD2 Review

This is not my first HTC smartphone. I have had a few versions already. They are always the same: Great on paper, nice in the hand, but unstable and unpredictable in use. The pros then:

1) Slim, weighty, and nice physical quality feel.
2) Fabulous screen. Large, bright and contrasty. Gives the iPhone a good run for its money in this department.
3) Good reception for phone, quite reasonable for the FM radio, loud enough handsfree mode.
4) Fantastic Wifi Router facility. I am using it now to write this on my laptop. However, O2 took this off their version. I had to download it off a 3rd party website. So beware, if you are buying from O2.
5) MP3 sound quality quite acceptable. Framerates fast enough to watch a decent video.

Now the cons:

1) The virtual keyboard and the touch screen. Simply the worst I have ever used on any device, bar none. And I have used a lot of mobile devices in my life. It is inaccurate and over sensitive. Switching between it and the iPhone is like night and day. The capacitive screen is too sensitive and not "debounced" properly. It often can't differentiate between a swipe, a hold and a press, resulting in numerous accidental calls when "swiping" through the contacts. Every other key press has to be corrected. Here is an example of an email to myself without corrections:

"Mary hsd a littlr lamb. Its fleece eas ss ehite sd dnoe. A.d every where thst msry er6 yhr lsmb eas sure to go"

And I was typing very slowly and carefully. The problem is that it registers the key as you release your finger (a cheap, lazy and ineffective debouncing trick), and if you don't lift you finger vertically off the screen, it will register the next key in the direction that you are lifting. Sometimes it will even register a key 3 keys away from the one that you hit. I text and email a lot, so this phone has been excruciating to use. I could go on and on about the keyboard, but you get the picture.
2) The atrocious battery life. Just to try and get a day's worth out of it means switching off *everything*: Wifi, Bluetooth, 3G, data services, backlight, in fact just about anything that might just make this phone useful. i never go anywhere without my USB charging lead and plug it into anything that resembles a USB port at every opportunity just to keep it going.
3) Windows Mobile stability. The complete lack of it. My son crashed it within 2 minutes of first turning it on. It requires a reboot several time a day just to stop it stuttering and freezing. However, I have to admit, I am a heavy user, using almost all the applications and every aspect of the phone all the time. This behavour is common to all the Windows Mobile phones tht I have used.
4) Speed, the lack of. For a phone with a 1GHz processor, I have laptops that run XP faster on half the CPU speed. The first few hours were fine, it felt speedy. But as the SMS and emails piled up, it slowly starts to grind. Switching between reading messages to answering them can take anything up to 10 seconds.
5) User Interface. HTC tried to overlay, and in some cases replace, the standard Windows Mobile interface. Whilst the end result looks "pretty", it is inconsistent. It looks like it has been designed by a team who never met each other. What works in one part of the inteface doesn't work in another part. Also, when they run out of ideas, they just dump you straight back into clunky black and white Windows Mobile interface.

I have spent the last few days wondering whether to send it back. But I think I will keep it for the Wifi router as I am almost dependent on it now. It work far better than the useless 3 "Mifi" router.

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