Tag Archive | "htc"

HTC Thunderbolt Available Tomorrow for $250, Verizon on Its Way to Goal of Launching Ten 4G Devices by Mid-year

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Just a few weeks ago, a series of strange rumors began floating around about the HTC Thunderbolt’s release date being pushed back. Oddly, a lot of people seemed to be upset about this news regarding Verizon’s first 4G phone, which is peculiar considering that neither HTC nor Verizon had yet officially announced a release date. It looks like Verizon actually wanted to quell the talk about rumored push back of release dates. @VerizonWireless tweeted the other day:

We share excitement about the HTC Thunderbolt! When there’s actual news, you’ll get it here. Until then, on to other topics.

htc thunderboltToday, however, it’s official (for real). The HTC Thunderbolt will be launching on Verizon tomorrow (the 17th) for $250. Verizon says that they aren’t taking pre-orders, though customers can start buying the device online starting at midnight EST tonight, and that stores will be operating during regular hours.

Verizon is on its way to making good on it’s promise at CES this year: that 10 LTE devices would be launched by mid-year. Though Verizon has launched other LTE devices (like mobile hotspots), the HTC Thunderbolt is the first phone to be using the carrier’s recently launched 4G data service. Still on the device-bench for a 4G release is the Droid Bionic, a Samsung 4G smartphone, the LG Revolution, and a 4G upgrade for the Xoom and an enhanced 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

People have been excited for the Thunderbolt for good reason. Aside from being created by the reputable HTC and supporting Verizon’s 4G data, the specs are looking quite nice:

  • Android 2.2 with HTC Sense interface (unfortunately not 2.3!)
  • Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz (Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset with LTE support)
  • 768MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory + 32GB pre-installed Micro-SD card
  • 4.3 inch capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • 8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and autofocus, 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS, FM radio

HTC Surround & Windows Phone 7 Review

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IMG_4938Microsoft wants to get in on the modern mobile OS action, and after the inevitable fall of their previous version of Windows Mobile, Microsoft has sought to restart their mobile offering, thus Windows Phone 7 was born. The HTC Surround pairs WP7 with well-built hardware and an interesting approach to phone audio, but will Windows Phone 7 be able to catch on, or is it too little too late from Microsoft?

Hardware

Here’s a quick rundown of the HTC Surround’s specs, follow by a hardware tour of the phone:

  • Windows Phone 7 OS (as reviewed, version 7.0.7004.0)
  • Qualcomm QSD 8250 CPU @ 1GHz
  • 576MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory (no expansion)
  • 3.8 inch capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • WiFi b/g/n & BT 2.1
  • 5MP camera with single-LED flash (records up to 720p video)
  • Slide out speaker with Dolby Mobile and SRS audio technology
  • 165 grams (5.82 ounces)

Hardware Tour

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IMG_4976

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Design

IMG_4927Let me start by saying that the HTC Surround feels great in the hand. It’s been too long since I tested a phone that had some real heft to it (in a good way). Recent phones (cough*Samsung*cough) have left me with a feeling of cheapness. The Surround however feels like a premium device right out of the box.

IMG_4929Metallic accents are found all around the phone . The front is a combination of brushed and polished metal and has a wide ear-piece that fits the look of the phone well. The back is rubberized much like the Droid X [review], and it has just a hint of metallic sparkles in it that you’ll see if you hold it in just the right light. The back is also home to a polished HTC logo, and above that is the 5MP camera and single-LED flash, both of which are encased in a metal accent piece with small radial ridges that emanate from the lens.

IMG_4956But this is all before sliding the device open which reveals a speaker bar that comes about 1/3 of the way out of the side of the phone. I’ll talk more about the speaker bar below, but on the design side of things I wanted to mention that the sliding mechanism could be better. I’ve definitely seen/felt worse, but the Surround’s sliding mechanism could use a bit of work to make it slide more evenly and have less wiggle.

Despite the premium feel of the phone (considering the materials used and the weight of it), the buttons didn’t seem to receive too much attention. All physical buttons on the phone, except for the camera button, don’t provide very good feedback. It’s hard to tell when you’ve pressed the power/lock button. The volume rocker is a bit better with slightly more feedback, but the camera button is the only one that has enough “click inch for my taste.

IMG_4954The bottom of the phone has a pry-slot to pull the back cover off, but it generally feels like you’re on the brink of ripping the phone into it’s two sliding halves. I haven’t found a good way to get the back cover off without stressing the sliding mechanism in a way that it wasn’t design to move. If you are a road warrior who relies on swapping batteries during road trips, be weary of this fact on the Surround as repeated removals could lead to breakage.

On general aesthetics of the device: I think it’s a good looking phone. When you make the investment to purchase a phone that will be with you for, perhaps several years, people should expect more than a piece of plastic. The Surround would feel even more solid if they rid it of the sliding segment, but despite this extra hardware, the Surround isn’t much thicker than many of it’s contemporaries.

HTC Surround Impressions and Gallery

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IMG_4938Surprise surprise, we’ve got a Windows 7 device to take a look at and it’s the HTC Surround! I’ve been itching to get my hands on a WP7 device, and I’m actually pretty impressed with the out of box experience. You know the hardware is decent, after all, this is an HTC phone, but the software is surprisingly mature for something that has been reworked from scratch and only recently released. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some areas where the HTC Surround hardware and WP7 software could use some improvements, but when you considered how new the platform is, things are looking good for WP7. I just hope they can gain critical mass to become a black hole of app development and customer attraction, instead of dwindling and becoming an ugly white dwarf.

I’ve compiled a few early thoughts and have the full gallery posted for your perusal.

Hardware

IMG_4964The HTC Surround is the first phone that I’ve tested in a while with any heft. This is a good thing! The last three phones I’ve tested (all Samsung) have all felt quite cheap with plastic exteriors. The Surround, on the other hand, feels like a quality piece of hardware. There’s brushed metal on the front, rubberized plastic on the back, and metal accents abound.

The feature for the Surround’s namesake is a sliding section that reveals a speaker bar (and a nice stand that pops out of the back). How/if/when this speaker will be useful has yet to be determined. There’s also a button on this sliding section that changes between some audio presets (even when you are using headphones). Still, my early intuition is that I’d rather sacrifice the sliding section to slim the phone down a bit and increase durability (no moving parts). But we’ll have to wait and see after some more testing.

Software

IMG_4945I’ll say it right here: I like WP7. It’s like a breath of fresh air from iOS clones (awful ones, or otherwise). The top-down concepts are similar (app driven, typical smartphone usage), but at least the GUI is really unique, and quite pretty. WP7 is the first mobile operating system that’s nailed iOS’s system-wide smooth scrolling and animation. This is a big plus for me. WP7 is also arguably more user friendly than Android out of the box. Speeds are very good and certainly comparable to the latest iOS and Android devices.

There’s still a lot for WP7 to improve upon, but at least it’s initial offering is decent.

Microsoft made a big deal about WP7’s “Live Tiles inch when they talked up the OS before release. So far, I’ve hardly seen these used. When they are, the information presented is almost always useless and just for show (AKA: waste of battery). I installed the Weather Channel app expecting to be able to see the conditions, or at least just the temperature outside on the Live Tile, but there’s nothing more than a static logo. Facebook and Twitter are the same. Facebook could show how many notifications I’ve got, and Twitter could at least show the number of how many mentions/DMs I have, but there’s no info in their Live Tiles.

The brings me to another sore point: WP7’s notification system. I tweeted earlier that “I can’t tell in the WP7 notification system is awful, poorly implemented, or just non-existent. inch Yeah, it’s that bad. I don’t seem to get any notifications through the phone expect for email or SMS which shows up as an icon on the lock screen and as a number on the Live Tiles of the respective apps.

I’ll have to leave you guys with these thoughts for now. I need some more time with the phone and software before crafting the full review. Stay with us to see how the combination of HTC and WP7 stack up to the competition! And definitely shout-out in the comments if you want to see anything tested in particular in our review of the phone.

HTC Flyer, 7″ Android Tablet Launched At MWC 2011

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Mobile World Congress is well underway with announcements and product launches coming from a bevy of manufacturers, HTC included.

flyer1At their press conference this morning they announced no less than 6 new Android devices, one of which is the Flyer, a 7 inch 1.5GHz packing tablet weighing in at  415 grams.

The Flyer has up to 32GB of internal storage expandable via microSD card, 1GB RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, 3G, GPS and both front and rear facing cameras at 5 and 1.3 megapixel respectively.

flyer2HTC plan to differentiate from other tablet manufacturers by including a capacitive stylus for handwriting, note taking and general annotation. Notes can be captured in ink or voice and have built in Evernote synchronisation. Also included with the Flyer are access to several new key services from recent partnerships or acquisitions that the company has made. Their recent investment with OnLive, a gaming service that renders 3D games and streams games to your device see’s integration with the Flyer whilst HTC’s acquisition of Saffron Digital will provide access to downloadable movie titles via the new HTC Watch application.

At first it looked pretty chunky to me in the press photos but JKKmobile has managed to get his hands on and compare it to the Galaxy Tab and the difference was fairly minimal.

Whilst its certainly got a lot of character I have to wonder about the new tablet version of HTC Sense running on a Android 2.4 core, sure there will be a lot of additional functionality added in typical HTC fashion but with Honeycomb around the corner, its a risk.

Whilst we wait for Chippy to do his thing and get some hands on time check out JKK’s video;

HTC Windows Phone 7 Meetup: Thoughts and Impressions

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Yesterday I attended a Windows Phone 7 event hosted by HTC to showcase their new range of smartphones. It was a good evening and great to get hands on time with Microsoft’s latest foray into the ever changing mobile landscape. I’ve been posting snippets of my first thoughts and initial impressions on Twitter all day so if you don’t already follow me now is a good time to start. For those who don’t follow me here’s a summary of those thoughts and impressions.

Hardware

htc_qualHTC have been in the smartphone industry longer than most realise and that experience shows in the new range of handsets. Overall quality is high, buttons have a definite press, devices look sleek and have a high end feel to them.

On display was the flagship HTC HD7 with a big 4.3 inch screen, kick stand, stereo speakers and 16GB of on-board storage. The HTC Trophy with a 3.8 inch screen, 8GB storage and 5MP LED flash camera and finally the HTC Mozart, 3.7 inch, 8GB storage and 8MP xenon flash camera.

The HTC Pro with its slide out QWERTY keyboard unfortunately wasn’t on display although we have it on good word that it will be available in Q1 of next year carrier unlocked, so if a hardware keyboard is important to you then hold fire on that contract renewal.

The LCD screens on the Trophy and Mozart have excellent viewing angles comparable to that of the iPhone 4’s IPS display, they both produce good colour, much better than the contrast rich AMOLED screen in the HTC Desire. The HD7’s display isn’t as good and at a tighter angle loses colour.

I tried each phones camera with and without flash and as per previous HTC smartphones the picture quality is nothing to write home about but acceptable for point and shoot situations. The Mozart’s 8MP sensor didn’t feel that much better than the 5MP sensor of the HD7 and Trophy but the xenon flash certainly lights a scene in a more natural manner, instead of leaving strong white areas in the centre of a picture. Obviously to see the full picture quality you would need to inspect the images on a computer with a higher resolution display.

Softwarewp7_intu

The first thing that strikes you when you pick up a Windows Phone 7 device is the slick interface, the animations between menus provide a feel of fluidity which isn’t present on any other mobile operating system. Once you have been navigating around the interface for a few minutes you then release everything you have just done came naturally without any trial and error pressing to get to where you want, it incredibly intuitive. After speaking to a number of Android fans and a couple of iPhone users, everyone was impressed by how easy it is to pick up and with no previous experience navigate around the device, something which Apple have specialised in since the birth of the iPhone.

Media format support is also good with WP7 natively supporting H.264, Xvid, Avi and of course WMV. What the phone doesn’t support natively is converted on the fly when transferred through the Zune software, available on both PC and now Mac, a feature you won’t find on Android. I watched an Indiana Jones film which was encoded in H.264 medium profile on the HTC Trophy and playback was perfect with no dropped frames.

carrypad_wp7Gaming too already feels ahead of the experience on Android. I played a number of games all of which had a very high quality feel, couple this with the tight Xbox Live integration and you make for a excellent gaming platform.

The biggest disappointment for me is the browsing experience, whilst WP7’s browser is based on Internet Explorer 7 and its rendering is pretty speedy the lack of text reflow means on a small screen you will be doing plenty of panning around with a touch of zooming in and out. Its good to know then, that the pinch to zoom functionality is good and coupled with the fast rendering should mean until the all important first batch of WP7 updates come, the lack of text reflow shouldn’t hold you back. As we have come to expect from mobile browsers, there is no native file upload support and on the WP7 devices I used last night no flash support either, this is something that will change in future as adobe have announced flash support will come to WP7.

Talking of updates, one of the interesting points HTC were keen to point out is that carrier branding is being kept to a minimum and Microsft are putting tight limitations on what carriers can modify on the stock operating system. One custom colour theme and the installation of a set number of applications is all that the carriers can effectively change which should minimise the amount of time it takes for updates to filter down from Microsoft, thus avoiding the level of fragmentation Android has seen. Its still early days yet and time will tell if that is the case or not for WP7.

Summary

I think Windows Phone 7 has a lot to bring to the smartphone market, the interface is fresh, intuitive and like nothing we have seen before and I think it will make inroads into enticing normal phone users into the world of smartphones. For the more seasoned smartphone users I don’t think its yet ready to make them drop their Android, Apple or Blackberry devices. Its a great foundation for Microsoft to build on though and if one thing is for sure Windows Phone 7 will be a key player in a rapidly expanding market.

T-Mobile G2 Unboxed and Caught on Film

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g2Tnkgrl has offered up her usual excellent gallery of unboxing photos of HTC’s G2 which are available for your perusal. If you need to catch up on the G2’s specs, check out our HTC G2 tracking page.

She also has a video version of the unboxing (below), and a first power-on video showing off the device a bit, but you’ll have to head over to her blog to see it!

HTC Incredible Unboxing Photos and Review Roundup

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htc incredible The HTC Incredible (sometimes called the Droid Incredible) was just officially released yesterday and can be picked up by a Verizon customer for $199 (with a new 2-year contract). Many people are calling the Incredible the most powerful smartphone currently on the market.

Thanks to tnkgrl Mobile, you can glimpse some great photos of the device being unboxed.

After checking out the pretty pictures, you might be hungry for a full review. Amy Zunk has a handful of them rounded up for you over at GottaBeMobile.com.

HTC Incredible Leaked, Coming to Verizon with Android 2.1

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htc incredible Pocketnow.com has gotten its hands on some images and a video of the HTC Incredible, and upcoming phone which looks quite a bit like the HTC HD2 and appears to be on its way to Verizon (the boot sequence shows a Verizon animation in the video.) Despite aesthetic similarities between the HD2, the Incredible comes with Android 2.1, which I’ve been wishing was available on the HD2 the HD2 (it uses Windows Mobile instead). The phone is equipped with HTC’s ‘sense’ UI which is a custom interface on top of Android. The Incredible has a Snapdragon chipset, presumably at 1GHz; 256MB of RAM, 800×480 3.5-3.7 inch screen which the Pocketnow tipster thinks may be AMOLED. The back of the phone has a large looking lens with dual-LED flash, no word on the megapixelage yet, but my bet is on 5.0MP. The phone looks very responsive in the video. Click here to have a look at the video.

via Engadget

HTC Android Tablet News.

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Smarthouse reports:

An Android based device which is set to be shown privately to core HTC customers at the CES Show is set to incorporate new Qualcomm processors, touch technology and new software from Adobe.

It makes complte sense for HTC to be exploring this potential. They have all the right relationships, design skills and positioning to make a good job of it.

Questions still remain about what the best size/format/capability for such a ‘tablet’ is but maybe that’s somethign we shouldn’t worry about. If so many consumer devices are going to hit the market in 2010, there’s a good chance that one of them will gel with you.

Source HTC To Launch Apple iSlate Competitor – Smarthouse.

Via Slashgear.

Slashgear unboxes a MIDPhone. The HTC HD2

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hd2video

A very warm welcome to the HTC Touch HD2 into the MID/Phone crossover category of devices. It coincides nicely with the work I’ve been doing today to update the product database with all the WVGA phones out there. I’m trying to write a summary article too but this unboxing video from Chris at SlashGear is keeping me away from doing that right now!

The HD2 is due to launch this week with availability in the following few days. Pricing is already available in Germany too with latest prices hovering around the very expensive 599 Euro mark.

Clearly though, a multitouch capacitive touchscreen with Opera Mobile 9.7 on a 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU is something rather special and with the Windows Mobile 6.5 OS and Sense UI adding to the experience, I think it adds up to make it of the most exciting ‘slate’ style high-end phones out there and definitely one that readers here should check out.

Chris will be getting into some more testing with the HD2 over the next few days and it will be interesting to see where he thinks this one fits in. Unlike the (240 Euro) Archos Android Tablet that I use as a secondary device, this (600 Euro) tablet is targeted at being a primary device. Is it really going to slot into the 24/7 usage scenario or is it designed to be used as part of a two-smartphone strategy?

More details on the HD2 here.

Slashgear have written an article that accompanies the video. Check it out here.

Is the CrunchPad the next HTC Shift?

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Does anyone remember the excitement about the HTC Shift that resulted in a series of total showstoppers that caused it to fade quickly from public view?  Battery life, screen resolution and (slow) operating system were my personal deal-breakers and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from 3 years of product blogging it’s that people are very quick to get excited about a product en masse but when it comes to the crunch, there’s often a show stopper that kills interest, en masse.

cpgraph

The Crunchpad has been at number 1 in the UMPCPortal charts for about a month now and because we’re not particularly highly ranked for Crunchpad search terms it indicates that there’s rather a lot of traffic out there for it. In fact if you look at Google Trends you see that searches for Crunchpad are in the same ballpark as for the terms ‘UMPC’ and the popular ultra mobile PC brand ‘Viliv.’

cptrends

The Crunchpad is clearly getting a good number of eyes and if it’s well executed it should sell well but the lessons of the HTC Shift have to be remembered. Battery life and operating system are the two main issues here.

Two years ago we wanted a 3hr minimum battery life on our portable devices. Now, that expectation is up to 5hrs which is going to be a tough call. It is possible with a well engineered Menlow-based design (probably not with a typical netbook-platform design) but then there’s the issue of software. Creating an end-user Linux build is extremely hard work. Whatever OS is chosen though, if Firefox takes more than 7 seconds to open and page loads average more than 10 seconds, its ‘slow.’ The iphone 3GS is in the 10-15 second range for average page load times now so there’s no excuse for slow page loads.

Finally there’s the price. Mike Arrington, the owner of the company has set a lot of expectations down at the $200-$300 level so if he misses that target by much he’s lost a lot of momentum. With well-built 8.9 inch 1KG Asus 900’s going for under $200 there’s a lot of competition.

I would love to see the Crunchpad succeed and for thousands of people to have a portable touch-based web solution available but I worry about the lessons we all learned from the HTC Shift.

HTC Shift details and links

Crunchpad details and links

MIDPhone News. Leo, Mondi, X3 and TG01

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As time goes on, more and more of my time is being taken up reading very interesting smartphone news. WVGA, Android, WM6.5 and Cortex are the important keywords and every time a device comes up it becomes clearer that the push towards the MID market is greater from the Smartphone manufacturers than it is from the Intel-based MID and ultra mobile PC market. With Menlow in a strange UMPC-like state (with no Moblin support now) there’s a long wait until consumer-focused MIDs come out on the Moorestown platform in 2010. It’s even clearer than before that ARM will have the upper hand in the MID space in 2009 by building up from existing products and brands that already sell millions of devices. Intel will have to sit back and wait for the time being.

Today has been particularly active in the ‘MIDPhone’ space.

Orange_Toshiba_TG01_SlashGear_15-540x303 As I was updating myself on the status of my Samsung Omnia order (no delivery date in sight) I took a quick look at other options that are available and the Toshiba TG01 (soon available in the U.S.) jumped up at me. With a screen size of 4.1 inch, a resolution of 800×480 and  processing power that is 2-4 times as much as the Nokia N800 / N810, it’s difficult to ignore. Pricing is now under 500 Euro for an unlocked version and 02 in Germany are selling it for 150 Euro with a 25 Euro / month contract. Add 15 Euro on top for Internet and you’ve got an interesting option that you I could walk out and buy tomorrow. Chris over at SlashGear has just finished his review and although he wasn’t impressed with the UI and predicts that the WM operating system could be an issue, I still think that the device represents great value for mobile internet fans. When Windows Mobile 6.5 comes along it could make it even more interesting, especially if Opera 9.7 works on it. I’m looking forward to seeing some browsing speed tests on this one. Note: No keyboard!

As I was finishing up reading Chris’ article a news item about an HTC Leo popped up. The Ai.rs blog has posted what they say are the specifications for this new HTC device. I don’t know who Ai.rs are but everyone seems to be following up the story. WMPowerUser (a blog I frequent more and more these days) says that the device is the HTC Firestone. All I know is that it’s rumored to have a 4.3 inch screen and run a Snapdragon platform at 1Ghz. This is definitely another one to add to the MID list. Again, it looks like there’s no keyboard.

samsung-mondi-wimax-smallOnly a few minutes later I read the news that the Samsung Mondi is launching. The Mondi is an even bigger device with a slider form factor and a 4.3 inch screen. Samsung are dropping a WiMax module inside and handing it over to Clearwire for a launch in Las Vegas. It’s an ARM11-powered device running Windows Mobile again. No pricing, No availability details. Style and feature-wise it’s not too exciting and in fact it doesn’t even support voice so this is really focused at mobile internet activities.

The Mondi’s compact design provides the user with a more mobile form factor and ease-of-use than the typical laptop or netbook. While it is small enough to fit into the user’s hand or pocket, the Mondi packs an impressive Web browser, powered by Opera 9.5, which takes full advantage of the device’s 4.3-inch touch screen.

I’d like to see this with HSPA, Android, a high-end CPU and a big fat battery for all-day mobile internet use!

Press release. Via.

Finally, in addition to all that, there’s news about a Sony Xperia X3 which had previously been known at ‘Rachael.’ Dutch blog ‘All About Phones’ found the information in an Expansys we page and it’s quite the interesting read, largely because it’s going to be running Android and will have a 4 inch 800×480 screen. As yet, the CPU information is unknown. If you’re thinking about an HTC Hero, you might want to wait for final specs and pricing on this one.

Breaking: Xperia X2 news is coming in

None of these devices represent the ultimate MID yet but you can see where things are going. The 4 inch to 5 inch space is getting very busy already. I’ll beadding some of these (if not all!) to the database very soon.

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