HTC HD2 review: Portrait of a rockstar
HTC Sense meets TouchFLO 3D
PocketPC regulars are certainly familiar with the TouchFLO interface. With the HD2 however, HTC have decided to go to the next level and upgrade the old but still cool TouchFLO 3D with all heart-melting features found in the Sense UI pioneered on the HTC Hero. The result is a new Sense user interface resembling the tabbed TouchFLO with more content and full of eye-candy. The only thing missing as compared to the HTC Hero are the widgets, which you could freely move around the screen, but here you have tabs.
The huge capacitive screen of the HD2 is the first of its kind on a PocketPC and HTC have put quite some effort into delivering a whole new touch experience.
All parts of the UI and the menus react promptly to your finger taps and sweeps without the need to apply any force to the screen. The transitions are fast and fluid, with nice animations. In fact, the capacitive screen, the Snapdragon CPU and the solid amount of RAM make this Windows Mobile 6.5 the fastest one around.
Another first for Windows Mobile are the multi-touch gestures. You can use the pinch gesture to zoom in on photos, in the web browser and Google Maps, as well as in numerous other places where you may find the font size too small (such as the file manager tree view). There is no lag in zooming and it completely equals the iPhone zoom speed and smoothness. But that's understandable with the 1GHz Snapdragon inside.
We've prepared a video walk-through of the HTC Sense/TouchFLO 3D mixup.
The new Sense Home screen offers a choice of full screen tabs, decked out with some impressive graphics. You can move through the tabs with a single finger sweep, or by scrolling the colorful thumbnail bar at the bottom of the screen until you hit the one you need. It's the familiar list from the TouchFLO 3D UI but with a few new additions. You get the homescreen (with a large clock and weather information and animations), favorite contacts, text messages, email, Internet, calendar, stock, photos and video, music, weather, twitter, footprints and settings.
Now, let's have a closer look at those tabs. The Home tab gives you access to the revamped calendar, world clock and alarm. The familiar HTC clock still takes center stage, along with weather information.
HTC have refreshed the Home tab by adding your home city weather info along with the same eye-candy animations as in Weather tab, so the weather can come alive on your handset. The other new addition to the Home tab is the shortcuts. You can assign nine quick links to almost any app or setting on your phone.
The Home tab has its own context menu, where you can change the homescreen wallpaper - there are both animated and still backgrounds, but you can also opt for a weather wallpaper.
The second tab is People and it’s no news on HTC handsets. This time though there are minor changes in the look and performance. Here you can set shortcuts to your favorite contacts with an assigned image or, in the absence of that, a generic one provided by the software.
The nice thing is you can associate frequently used actions to each contact (call, text or email) and your choice will be visible on the contact’s thumb. While the previous versions of the HTC UIs used to set links to the selected contact’s details you can now call or text your favorite contacts with a single tap. We find the new approach more useful.
The Messages tab shows your latest SMS/MMS, and a single finger sweep will take you to your next message. A small shortcut in the top right corner will automatically start a new SMS/MMS with the default Windows message editor. The context keys will give you access to the Windows Mobile SMS/MMS inbox.
The Email tab shows your emails as a nice looking stack of letters instead the old envelope style and, again, you can flip through them one by one.
The context keys give you access to the Windows Mobile Email inbox, as well as several commands such as Send/Receive or Email Account management.
The Internet tab launches the Opera 9.5 web browser . You can scroll down to your favorite bookmarks (maximum 10, displayed as thumbs) and launch a webpage directly from there.
The first context key displays all bookmarks within the browser, while the second one lets you manage the Favorite bookmarks. It would’ve been nice to have a shortcut to the preinstalled RSS reader or the Streaming media player instead.
At least now there is an option to change the default web browser. In the Opera settings you may uncheck the relevant box and then the Internet Explorer 6 is automatically promoted as the default one, running directly from the Internet tab. We still prefer Opera, but on the HD2 we found that only Internet Explorer has full Flash support.
The next tab is the familiar and beautiful calendar. It's nicely touch-optimized and packed with functionality. You can change the month by sweeping your finger up or down, while selecting a particular day will open the appointment view.
If your choice is a day from the next five upcoming days then you'll also get the weather forecast for it (of course that's available only if you set and updated the weather in the Weather tab).