Pros: Nice big display, Front screen customization is nice
Cons: Reception, Battery life
HTC Touch Review
Here is my review of the HTC Touch (XV-6900) with setup experience and functionality comments.
- In the box was a battery, phone, data cable, headphone jack adapter, wall charger, protective pouch, Microsoft ActiveSync software, an extra stylus, and instruction manual. The unit face and camera lens on the back was well protected with the usual offering of tape button coverings and plastic screen lift-off protectors.
- I have used many Windows-based smartphones in the past, both Mobile Professional and Standard. Given that, I already had ActiveSync set up on my main PC and was able to get my Outlook PIM data (contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes) synchronized with no issues.
- The phone uses the Windows Mobile Professional 6 interface, which is best navigated with the stylus as many functions such as contact selection and Start menu navigation use on-screen buttons that are too small to use with fingers accurately.
- The external screen covers most of the face of the phone. It features a 240x320 display with adequate brightness, clarity, and color.
- HTC includes a touch interface named TouchFLO that works well. To engage the interface, one slides a finger up from below the screen up to about the middle of the screen. By then sliding a finger from one side of the screen to the other, the interface flips between three screens. The TouchFLO interface is nice for common functions that can be launched quickly by touch, such as speed dialing or starting the music player.
The second contains buttons for email, text messaging, Web browsing with Internet Explorer, Notes (synched with Outlook Notes), the communications manager, and the voice recorder.
The third has three buttons for media... music, photos and videos.
- The unit comes with a few kinds of on-screen keyboards that use different methods for alphanumeric entry. The HTC keyboards were not easy to use with a stylus, as it takes a few tries to get double-tapped keys to display the correct characters. In addition, the keyboard often covers the edit boxes you are trying to enter things into, which means you can't see if your input worked or not until you exit the keyboard. I ended up using the Windows Mobile standard on-screen tappable keyboard as it behaves correctly by making the unit scrool the screen up to make sure data fields are visible while entering stuff.
- The home screen is customizable and comes with a few neat utilities like a Weather button. I changed some of the defaults around to include more room for my upcoming calendar items.
Dimensions and Externals
- Getting the battery cover on and off is easy, simply slide from the middle up in the direction of the camera lens and the back comes right off.
- There is no external headphone jack, which is a negative. To plug in a 2.5mm headset, one must attach an adapter splitter into the microUSB port. An external 3.5mm jack for stereo headphones would have been nice to ease hookups into audio systems for music.
- There are few buttons on the unit... a volume slider, power button, camera button, END/SEND and a directional navigation with center button are all that adorn the device. The only issue I have had thus far is accidentally hitting the power button at the top of the unit, which is remedied by training oneself to hold the unit in such a way that accidental presses are minimized.
- In most of my phone reviews I put units through the "basement test" in my house. If a phone can maintain a conversation in my basement for at least five minutes without dropping, I consider that a pass. This unit successfully completed the initial programming call, and usually shows signal but with zero bars.Indoor reception rated pretty low throughout my house compared to other phones in my inventory... even where others pick up pretty well in the "sweet spots" in my house, call reception and data both had dropouts and overall was poor.
Outdoor reception fared well though. As a comparison, the LG enV rated a "medium" with low signal strength but retaining the ability to conduct a full phone call in the basement, and and Blackberry Pearl rated a "good" with the normal ability to handle calls while showing signal strength bars. At the workplace, indoor performance was very good, so performance may vary as with any unit.
- Call quality was satisfactory, with parties on the other end expressing no complaints about how my end sounded. Earpiece volume was satisfactory.
- edit to add: I want to upgrade my previous rating of the call quality... when reception is not an issue (driving around or in an indoor spot where reception is showing okay) the call quality is really nice. It is soft, pleasant, and at a good volume. I was impressed enough to rate it on the higher end of my phone collection when it is picking up a good signal.
- Battery life is spec'd at 3.5hrs talk and 10 days standby.After playing with the unit, taking some pictures and videos, placing a few calls and taking many pictures the battery level had dropped to well under 50%, so it appears battery life with typical use would be about a day. I may look into getting an extended battery.
- The MicroSD slot access isn't intuitive. When I first found the location of the slot panel in the instructions, I attempted to remove it from the side because one end next to the camera button was loose. However the panel doesn't swing out that way and continuing the act would have broken it. The panel flips down lengthwise, and after doing that it was easy to put in a MicroSD card. It is a bit of a pain to have to take off the battery cover to open the panel, which is a requirement. The other HTC device I currently own, the 8125 (Wizard), has a slot in the top where the memory card goes and it is easily removable.
- The Touch comes with mobile Internet Explorer, which works okay as a browser. Many pages meant for larger displays will require scrolling or wrap oddly but it is functional. Bookmarks you save will sunchronize via ActiveSync, which is helpful if you are using more than one Windows Mobile device because all of the bookmarks are the same across devices.
- I installed Esmertec's Jbed for Java support so I could install Opera Mini 4, and in Opera's full-screen implementation is does a much better job than IE and I recommend installing it. To keep devices synchronized, Opera allows you to establish an account. Once done, settings between devices using Opera will have their RSS feeds and bookmarks synchronized. Opera looks VERY nice on the large-screened Touch.
Music and Video Playback
- The music player is the Windows Media player that comes with Windows Mobile. It acted the same as other Windows Media implementations in smartphones and is easy to use.
- Video playback worked okay, though I ran into some buggy problems where some of the Windows Media screen stuck on the display after the player was closed, forcing me to reboot the phone.
- The camera is launched by pressing the external camera button or by launching it using commands found in the Start menu. The camera is advertised as a 2MP unit. Picture quality outdoors on a sunny day was grainy and edges were jagged, though not quite as bad as the HTC 8125. An example is the shot below, which is cropped but at 100% resolution. It was taken at the highest quality available on the device.
The process for taking pictures is very easy... line up your subject in the main screen and hit the large d-pad button.
- Synchronizing PIM data is straightforward and easy. Copying pictures worked fine once I was able to find on the storage card where they were saved.
Unit Strengths Summary
- Nice big display
- Unit is light
- Built-in email and office utilities are very useful
- Front screen customization is nice
- Synchronization with Outlook via ActiveSync works well
Unit Weaknesses Summary
- Battery life
- Onscreen keyboards included by HTC difficult, standard Windows Mobile ones don't look as good but work better