And we've finally reached the real fun part of this review - at least for us, that is. PocketPCs have long been the target of custom modding, patching and tweaking. HTC for one have an especially wide and busy fan base that seems to be constantly poking and prodding for a new twist to their gear.
So, the HTC Touch Diamond review will not be complete without mentioning some of the achievements on the user customization and modding scene.
First of all, it's the screen auto rotation limitations that HTC have imposed on the Diamond. By default, screen auto rotation only works in the web browser, image gallery and video player.
The Gsen app for the Touch Diamond makes automatic screen rotation available almost all across the interface - except for the Home screen. An added bonus is that turning the handset down on a flat surface automatically switches it to standby. Screen auto rotation is incredibly responsive, so we are mighty pleased. You can find more about Gsen here.
Next up is the Diamond TF3D Config app that allows you to tweak the Home screen tabs - you can hide the unneeded ones or freely re-order the current setup. It works nice and deals with our biggest grudge against the TouchFLO 3D Home screen - lack of customizability. You can find more about the Diamond TF3D Config here.
The Improved Comm Manager for Diamond enhances the current functionality of the Diamond's very own without compromising looks. You can find more about the Improved Comm Manager for Diamond here.
With the SMS Tweaker you can fine tune the default messaging font size, you can toggle the threaded SMS mode on and off, or you can apply custom backgrounds to SMS boxes. Though the SMS Tweaker is not an application exclusive to Diamond but developed for WinMo 6.1, it runs flawlessly on the Touch Diamond. You can find more about the SMS Tweaker here.
With the Diamond Profile Switcher you can toggle the ringer profiles on the Diamond with the help of the built-in accelerometer. A simple shake switches between "volume on" or "silent with vibration on" profiles. If nothing else, it's a rather fun way to handle this routine task. You can find more about the Diamond Profile Switcher here.
There is a whole list of other customizable options that require you to edit the Windows Mobile system registry. For example, you can set the Diamond to wake up on an incoming SMS, enable geotagging, or unlock hidden camera modes, such as Burst or Sport. You can also control stuff like TouchFLO scroll speed or the turn-over-to-mute feature.
The list is long and it keeps growing, as more users give in to the Diamond allure and keenly mess around with its system settings.
But instead of copying everything over, here's a useful source of information that has most of the available registry tweaks summarized.
And finally, the uber-tweak of them all - the customizable Advanced Configuration Tool (or simply the Advanced Config) has received the Diamond treatment to allow easier tweaking without registry edits whatsoever. The possibilities are endless and they are growing by the day, so be sure to check those apps. The original Advanced Config can be found here, while the custom Diamond config app is available to download here. Both should be installed to run.
Well, even the best diamond specimens have imperfections, whether they are visible to the naked eye or less so. Yet, last time we checked they were still quite worth it. The situation is a bit similar with HTC's own precious stone.
The Touch Diamond has revolutionary size and design, topped with unsurpassed touch functionality among Windows Mobile devices. The VGA display, the rich communications package and the excellent software bundle make the Touch Diamond a real gem. The unique magnetic stylus and the generous 4GB of built-in storage do add to the allure of this compact fella.
But we already warned you the Diamond we're dealing with is not perfect. We expected better sunlight legibility of the VGA display. The edges of the impractical back panel started to wear off in two weeks or so. And finally, the lack of a memory card simply takes the allure away. We would have gladly traded the 4 gigs worth of storage for a simple hot-swappable microSD card slot.
A 3.5 mm audio jack would have also been welcome, as the supplied stereo headset simply doesn't cut it for music on-the-go. The camera also suffers from the back panel design, which ruins sharpness, contrast and resolution.
As you see, in diamond terms this handset is a delicate balance of high carat and imperfections. The Touch Diamond is a crossover product that will most probably convert new believers to Windows Mobile, but would probably fail to raise itself in the demanding eyes of hard-core PocketPC devotees. Most of them will probably go for the HTC Touch Pro, for its hardware five-row QWERTY keyboard, TV-out port, beefier battery and, of course, a microSD card slot.
To wrap up, HTC Touch Diamond is far from the uber device but it managed to win our hearts with its slick exterior and sufficient skill. There must be enough people out there to believe diamonds are forever and the HTC Touch Diamond delivers pretty much all there is to deliver.