HTC ChaCha review: Status update
Usual organizer stuff plus Office doc editor
The calendar has four different types of view: daily, weekly, monthly and agenda. Adding a new event is quick and easy thanks to the keyboard, though the Calendar feels a bit cramped on the tiny screen. You can also set an alarm to serve as a reminder.
The Agenda view shows a list of all the calendar entries from the recent past to the near future. It’s a very handy tool when you need to check your appointments for the next few days.
Quickoffice isn't preinstalled on the HTC ChaCha but you can download it for free from the HTC Hub. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the viewer-only option but the full-blown editor that can view and edit Work and Excel files. Viewing PowerPoint files is supported too, but not editing them. QuickOffice can also handle Office 2007 files.
The speed isn't blazing (zooming in particular takes just over a second) but panning is rather fast and smooth and entering text is fast enough. The ChaCha isn't the best business phone, but it's certainly not shy around Office work.
There is also a calculator aboard, which uses a virtual on-screen keypad though you can use the hardware keyboard too. Still, all you get is one line of the screen for your calculations.
The HTC ChaCha features an alarm clock application, which can handle multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The Desk clock app turns your ChaCha into a… well, Desk clock. It displays the current time and date and allows you to switch off the display backlighting to save battery power or not disturb at night.
The World clock app lets you quickly check the time in different time zones, while the stopwatch and timer apps might come in handy if you plan to take the phone with you when doing sports.
The Stocks application gives you quotes from Yahoo finance. The Voice recorder might be quite useful for making audio notes and the weather app brings Yahoo’s weather forecast for your area a click away.
There is one more app worth mentioning - the Quick lookup search app. It lets you enter a query and view the Wikipedia article (formatted for easy reading), search Google, YouTube, use Google Translate or look it up in Google Dictionary.
Facebook and Twitter integration
The HTC ChaCha has quite a bit of Facebook branding but so far we haven’t really seen anything exclusive to the ChaCha in terms of software (aside from the handy functions of the Facebook button, of course).
The ChaCha comes with the standard Facebook app preloaded, so nothing exclusive on that front either. Still, the official app handles all the functionality of Facebook and receives regular updates, so it's enough we suppose.
The latest Facebook app is available, which enables things like Facebook Chat (yet another way to talk to your friends) and Facebook Places (which lets you to check into places, like Foursquare).
You also get a separate Facebook Chat app, which doubles the functionality available in the full Facebook app.
Of course, the app can be used in conjunction with the excellent SNS-savvy phone book, but again, it's the same as what you normally get from an HTC droid.
There is only one Twitter app that comes preinstalled on the ChaCha – HTC’s Peep. No worries though, it does a very good job, but in case you don’t like it, you can always download another app from the Market, including the official one.
Android Market, HTC Hub and HTC Likes
The structure of the Android Market is quite simple – featured apps on top and above them, three sections (Applications, Games and Downloads). Searching the Market is easy - you just type in the query on the keyboard and hit enter.
The low-res landscape screen limits the compatibility with some apps however. The vastly predominant portrait orientation means that not all devs will make sure their apps work properly in landscape.
The Applications and Games sections are divided into subsections (e.g. Communication, Entertainment etc.), so you can filter the apps that are relevant to you. Of course, there is also an option of displaying all apps in bulk, but you’ll probably need days to browse them all that way.
There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).
HTC Likes is an alternative way to browse the Market, which might prove to be more convenient than the vanilla app. It has tabs for Featured and Popular apps, which are presented as 3D cards.
To make finding apps even easier, you can see what apps/games your friends have commented on, which is a great way to find recommended apps. Or you can use the HTCSense.com site to browse for apps from the comfort of your computer and mark them. Later, you can find them in the Marked items tab.
HTC Likes pulls apps from the Android Market but it presents them using a fancier user itnerface. You can comment on apps, like and share them via texts or email, even over Twitter and Bluetooth (which just sends a text note with a link to the app).
Not quite an app store, but the HTC Hub is a good source of widgets, wallpapers, scenes and skins, along with sound customizations – ringtones, alarms and notification sounds and entire sound sets (a set is a whole package that brings together the other three categories). Several apps have made their way into Hub too - including Teeter, Ringtone trimmer and the Quickoffice app (they are free).
HTCSense.com offers some premium features for free. The Phone locator can be used to locate your phone if it’s stolen and you can lock it or even erase all the data on it.
And don’t worry – HTCSense.com will back up your contacts and messages (though contacts should already be safe and sound in the Google cloud).
Some other handy features include ring phone (if you’ve lost it in your room and can’t find it), toggles for call and message forwarding. The site also lets you view and edit contacts and view messages. You can compose SMS and MMS too – so you can use the big computer keyboard and you don’t even have to have the ChaCha in front of you to send a couple of messages.
You can also view your and your friends’ Footprints. Finally, HTC Hub lets you browse apps and games on the computer and mark them, which makes them easier to find on the phone later (in HTC Likes). You can’t initiate an app download from the site though.
The site is a bit heavy but if you’re using an updated browser you should be fine. However, HTCSense.com failed to load properly in Internet Explorer 9 but it worked once we enabled Compatibility Mode.