HTC HD7 review: Dim the lights
Zune music player plus Dolby and SRS enhancements
The media players reside together in the Music & Videos hub, which bears the Zune logo. When you start it, it shows the History, which gives you quick access to the last two things played, or you can go to the full menu and start the music or video player, listen/watch podcasts (both audio and video podcasts are supported), start the FM radio or go to the Marketplace.
The music and video players are simple and have straightforward interfaces. You won’t have any difficulties using them. However there are some things missing, like equalizers. Another missing feature is the ability to scrub through a song with your finger – you have to press and hold on the FF/rewind buttons to simply jump back and forth.
Tapping the album art temporarily reveals three buttons – repeat, favorite and shuffle.
The players can of course work in the background and there’s another nice shortcut – when you press a volume key, the name of the currently playing track also appears along with play/pause, next and previous buttons (they can also scrub through the song).
It’s interesting (and useful) that you can pin individual items to the homescreen – like a song or video, even an FM radio frequency.
One of the best preloaded apps by HTC is the Sound Enhancer. It can apply sound enhancements to both songs and videos – there are two separate settings, so the music enhancement you choose won’t affect videos.
You can enable either Dolby Mobile or SRS enhancement and for music you get an equalizer too. It doesn’t support custom presets though.
Watching videos excites and disappoints at the same time
The large 4.3” screen with nearly widescreen aspect (it’s 15:9) makes the HD7 a good platform for movie and TV show fans. It’s even better because of the Zune Marketplace, which is a great source for buying or renting movies and TV shows.
The kickstand means you don’t have to hold the phone during the movie or episode – which is great since holding the phone for even 45 minutes (the typical runtime for a 1 hour TV show) can be tiring and awkward.
Much like the picture gallery, viewing the list of videos can be done in portrait orientation mode only. The video player on the other hand is fixed to landscape only.
Another gripe we have with the HTC HD7 video watching experience is that the loudspeaker is on the back so the sound is actually directed away from you. Stereo speakers around the display on the front would have been a much better option.
Yet another problem is that the screen is not well-equipped for action scenes – the unpleasant ghosting effect we already mentioned is visible and spoils the experience.
The HTC HD7 has no AVI or DivX/XviD support, just MP4 and WMV. However, the Zune software on your computer will automatically convert unsupported video files to .WMV (up to WVGA res). You can watch those formats on the HD7, it’s just that the transfer to the device can take quite a while (depending on your computer configuration).
Videos from the Zune Marketplace come in the correct format so they might be the easier option.
FM radio has RDS
The HTC HD7 also has a built in FM radio with a dead simple interface. You have the current frequency in very large digits – swiping left and right changes the frequency and a swipe and release automatically searches for the next available station in that direction.
You can mark some stations as favorites, which will allow you to pin them to the homescreen. RDS is on board and you can switch between headphones and loudspeaker.
Great audio quality
The HTC HD7 did very well in our audio quality test. There are no notable flaws when you use it with an active external amplifier - the frequency response is great and so are the noise level, dynamic range and stereo crosstalk readings. The total harmonic distortion is pretty low too and generally the intermodulation distortion is the only thing about the HD7 ouput that was not particularly impressive (though it's still acceptable).
As you could expect things get a bit worse when you plug in a pair of headphones, but the HD7 still maintains a very good performance. As a matter of fact the degradation is so subtle that the device ranks higher up in this scenario, than in the previous. The stereo crosstalk increases and that's about that. There's no extra intermodulation distortion or ferquency response deviations. Now add the fact that the HD7 is pretty loud too and you get the idea that the HD7 is a pretty good music player indeed.
Check out the table and see for yourself.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Samsung I8700 Omnia 7||+0.13 -1.14||-84.4||85.1||0.017||0.266||-82.5|
|Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 (headphones attached)||+0.31 -0.33||-80.5||81.1||0.016||0.311||-37.7|
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S||+0.03 -0.04||-90.7||90.6||0.014||0.019||-90.6|
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S (headphones attached)||+0.40 -0.12||-90.7||90.6||0.018||0.329||-43.3|
HTC HD7 Trophy frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.