HTC HD2 preview: First look
TouchFLO 3D has been promoted to Sense
If you are fan of Windows Mobile devices, you're certainly familiar with the HTC's TouchFLO interface.
Well, HTC have decided to go to the next level and upgraded 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 sections and full of eye-candy animations. The only thing missing as compare to the Hero are the widgets, which you could freely move around the screen, but here you have tabs.
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 tab thumbnails 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 and includes the home screen (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.
HTC 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 live in your handset. The other new addition to the Home tab is the shortcuts. You can assign quick links to almost everything in your phone.
The two new tabs are Twitter and Footprints. They both hardly need any introduction as both twitter and the HTC Footprints service have been around for quite some time. Footprints are geo-tagged photos stored with additional information such as a note, a name, a phone number, or a website.
The huge capacitive screen on the HD2 is the first of its kind in a WinMo smartphone and HTC have put quite some effort into delivering a whole new touch experience.
All parts of the UI and the menus react immediately to your fingers without the need to apply any force to the screen. The transitions are fast and fluid and followed by nice animations. In fact, the capacitive screen, the Snapdragon CPU and the nice 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 the photos, web browser and Google Maps (so iPhonish). There is no lag while zooming and it's completely equal to the iPhone's zoom speed and smoothness. But that's understandable with that 1GHz Snapdragon inside.
There is another new feature on the HD2 as well - it's the pocket ring mode. Upon an incoming call, the phone automatically recognizes that you're carrying it in your pocket or purse and sets its maximum ringing volume so you won't miss the call. Neat indeed! It's not ground breaking functionality, but it's those little things (such as the HTC Touch Diamond magnetic active stylus) that really put the past HTC Innovation slogan in context.
Multimedia - HD playback is still a no-go
The image gallery is the standard HTC one and except the multi-touch support, there is nothing new.
The more interesting part is the video playback. As usual you will need to install third-party application to watch DivX/XviD videos.
Pretty much all videos under 720p played just fine without any dropped frames. The HTC HD2 has similar issues as Acer neoTouch and has even worse performance. While the neoTouch managed to play the 720p videos with 15-17 fps, the HD2 has an output of only 12-13 frames per second. Not that any of those is actually watchable but it gives you an idea. We guess the graphics subsystem of the Acer neoTouch has a few tricks under its sleeve and it's not a matter of pure CPU clock comparison.
5 megapixel camera with VGA video
As far as the camera in concerned, the HD 2 packs 5 megapixel snapper with LED flash. The video recording goes up to VGA at 30fps and given the hardware inside we think it's not enough. The Omnia HD captures HD videos with far less powerful CPU and less RAM. And just like every other HTC handset, there is no geo-tagging from the camera options. You will need to do this manually with Footprints.
The image and video quality are good enough and we guess, they will satisfy most of the users.