HTC Touch HD – A User’s Impressions

I’ve been awaiting for this kind of iPhone competitor since…well…the iPhone! And there’s certainly a lot I could write about it, but most it has already been written – there are a few detailed reviews and un-boxing walkthroughs online. instead, I’m going to give a few of my initial impressions as a humble user!

  • Firstly, the screen is fantastic! You can literally view a full size webpage (it was here that i gave up writing this post on the Touch HD and switched to a shiny new Black NC10 – definitely my netbook of choice!). Even with the phone on portrait view, you can read normal size font on a webpage without zooming in – that’s impressive!
  • Secondly, the device itself is gorgeous. It feels well made, and there are some nice touches like the fact that stylus is held in place magentically, and the back of the phone has a softish matte texture so doesn’t show fingerprints quite as easily as the Touch DIamond.
  • Thirdly, although this may be specific to Orange, it came with an 8GB MicroSD card! That is a seriously nice touch.

Now…unfortunately it’s time for the downsides to this beastly device. And, there are one or two that i’ve encountered so far.

  • Generally, i get the overwhelming impression that the hardware is considerably let down by bad software. It seems as though HTC have done everything they can to improve the standard Windows Mobile 6.1 with the introduction of their TouchFlo UI, but it’s just not enough. I reckon that it is a fundamental mistake to have released the G1 with Android, and the Touch HD with only WM6.1. I could go on for a while about the little things i’ve noticed which enforce this, but i’ll save you the boredom.
  • It’s designed to be used with a stylus, but with finger-friendly usability here and there, and it seems to be slightly lacking in both departments, because it doesn’t tick all boxes as either! It’s not multi-touch enabled, so isn’t a truly finger-friendly, and there’s no ability (that i’ve found so far) to be able to customise the screen’s sensitivity…so its slightly tricky to use. But, because it’s partly designed for fingers, it’s quite difficult to use with the stylus!
  • Text input is not great. I could just have high expectations, but it doesn’t feel as good when compared to my old HTC.
  • Web-browsing is mediocre. On most mobile browsers you can’t read text without zooming in, so you can’t click links without zooming in. On the Touch HD you can read all text, but still can’t click links without zooming in…hhmm…they didn’t really think that one through!

Before i rant on for days…i’ll sum up. The phone is astoundingly good, the software is astoundingly bad. This is the fundamental cause of most of the problems i’ve found with it. Although WM6.1 isn’t the worst OS in the world…it feels like it should be so much more – and that just leaves me feeling disappointed. It feels like it should have a brand spanking new and clever user interface that is a pleasure to use, but instead feels a bit like a Ferrari with an old Lada engine! Hopefully someone will develop Android for it in the near future!

3 thoughts on “HTC Touch HD – A User’s Impressions

  1. This year we’ve seen a lot of great HTC phones that would be amazing if not for WM. Just got an SE XPERIA a couple of weeks ago (which is HTC hardware in an SE case running WM6.1). It lacks TouchFlo but does have panels which are pretty useful and similar in some respects (though lag a little when switching between them). After a couple of weeks with it I’m in love but my one big criticism is the OS, it’s completely stylus driven. Microsoft just haven’t realised that they need to do away with all the tiny buttons and give us a UI that works well with fingers. Luckily SPB are offering a free version of their Today software as a panel but that doesn’t take care of everything, I’m currently using the Touch Diamond’s Dialpad gui to text on the go which works much better.

    My hope is that with MS’s current obsession with putting Multi Touch into Windows 7 they’re going to realise that WM7 is due soon and carry the technology into that as a trademark of the 7s, though the fact that Windows 7 is due in 09 and there’s talk of a WM6.5 is a little worrying for that theory.

    What browser are you using? The XPERIA came preloaded with Opera Mini which I have no complaints about (although it’s not always very easy to stop the phone from defaulting into IE whenever it wants to go online) and there is Fennec and Skyfire on the horizon.

    Out of curiousity, do you know if the HD is capable of Multi Touch? I remember seeing a video of it demonstrated on the Touch Diamond but it only worked when some Debug mode was being run.

  2. Good to hear from you Ian,

    Yeah…it’s just a bit of a let down. TouchFlo is not bad, but the whole thing just feels like they’ve done their best to make it work…when it would be much better if they’d worked to make it the best!

    Yeah, i was using Opera as well. I understand that on most phones you need to zoom in, and i’ll probably get used to it – but i want a browser that i don’t have to get used to…i want a browser that’s clever, and intuitive!

    Not sure if the HD is capable of multi-touch…don’t really know enough about the technicality to be honest. I read somewhere that the screen they’ve chosen is not as responsive as the iPod’s (for example) because it has to be able to react to a stylus as well – something about the type of material used in the top layer being different. If it’s just a software issue to make it multi-touch then i guess it would be capable??

    I’ve not actually decided if i’m going to keep it yet! I get the impression that (like when i bought the Sony T68 (first phone with a colour screen)) there will be heaps of phones coming out with HD screens in the next few months…that will be miles better because they will be the complete package – not just new hardware with the same old software to get it out quickly!

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