HTC Touch HD review: Windows almighty
Connectivity and web browsing
True to its PocketPC nature, the Touch HD offers unsurpassed connectivity - HSDPA 7.2Mpbs, Wi-Fi, and stereo Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR are all on board.
The HD has quad-band GSM and dual-band UMTS support, which make it capable of global roaming. However the 3G will only be available in the regions where the 900 and 2100 MHz bands are supported (read: Europe and the likes).
By the way if you are interested where you can find UMTS 2100Mhz or you are not sure whether it's supported in your country, you should definitely check out our Worldwide Network Bands distribution database.
USB 2.0 support is also present of course and every time you plug in the USB cable the HD prompts selecting between ActiveSync and USB Mass Storage and Modem connection. The Modem connection prompt is a new one and was not present on the Touch Diamond.
Finally, the HTC Touch HD has a microSD card slot which - given the fact that you have the right card reader around - can grant you the fastest data transfers available.
Speaking of fast data transfers, the Touch HD managed to surprise us a bit. We tested the read/write performance in real life tasks. We concluded our real-life test on a Windows XP-based PC paired with the Touch HD in USB Mass Storage mode.
It showed some outstanding results in the Write operation (PC-to-HD), but the Read operation (HD-to-PC) was almost tenfold slower. Here are the results:
HTC Touch HD copy/paste performance:
- PC to handset -> 10.0 MB/s
- Handset to PC -> 1.4 MB/s
HTC Touch Diamond copy/paste performance:
- PC to handset -> 2 MB/s
- Handset to PC -> 5.9 MB/s
Bear in mind that those figures will be even lower on a Vista-based PC for some Microsoft-only-knows-why reason. That's another story entirely and we'd rather stay out of it.
Web browser is really good
The HTC Touch HD is equipped with the latest version of the Opera browser, which makes the Internet Explorer Mobile look like MS paint next to Photoshop CS4. The Opera 9.5 browser is extensively touch-optimized and seems heavily inspired by the iPhone Safari browser. However, the Opera 9.5 mobile web browser is still in its beta stages, which alone should hint at some bugs. Luckily none of them are serious enough to ruin the user experience.
The WVGA resolution display snatches a point again in the web browsing department. When the browser loads the full website preview, the minute text is still quite readable. Almost the whole of our website can fit on the display and the content remains recognizable.
While usability falls slightly short of the Safari browser, the Opera 9.5 has full support for Flash and Java content (was it really that hard, Apple?). Besides the browser has a nice download manager and copy/paste functionality.
By default, when you zoom in, the browser wraps text, so the content fits the screen width.
As the Touch HD offers automatic screen rotation inside the web browser, the Opera 9.5 is pretty much the only place where a landscape QWERTY keyboard is available for text input.
And a few words about the Opera 9.5 interface. By default web pages are opened fullscreen free of any overlaying controls. A tap on the bottom right corner however brings up the available controls.
First, you've got the address bar at the very top. At the bottom of the screen there is a row of icons that can take you back, take you to bookmarks, bring up the tab switcher, the home page or the browser settings.
Windows Mobile offers several time-management features and all of them are easily syncable with MS Outlook. As of Windows Mobile 6.0, the Calendar allows browsing the events to come. It offers daily, weekly and monthly view. You can have the week start on either Monday or Sunday. You can also hide weekends from the Calendar if you use it for business strictly.
The To-Do list allows you to add tasks and assign them priority. The Notes also come in handy, as you can either type or directly write the text down on the screen. The Voice recorder and Calculator go without saying.
The Alarm clock has three alarm slots. Each Alarm can have its own repeat pattern. Unfortunately, due to the few customization options in the default Alarms application, we suggest you check out some free third-party alternatives.
Mobile office: managing your documents the right way
Among the other WM core applications is the Office Mobile package featuring support for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. With the latest version of the Office Mobile, you also have the OneNote application.
Once again, the WVGA display of the HD proves superior in fitting much more of the documents than other handsets.
Thanks to the Adobe Reader LE, there is also support for viewing PDF documents. We are pleased with the performance of the HD in this area, as opening and handling PDF documents is usually rather slow on handhelds.
Another application is the rather handy Search software, capable of searching throughout the whole file system and applications. You can set filters, so the application searches only in the places you need.