In the year 2011 for many of us a phone isn’t just a phone, it’s a total communication and productivity center. The rise of Android and the domination of the Iphone have thrust the smartphone into the consciousness of most of today’s populous. I’m pretty sure if you aren’t using one, you know someone who is.
This past November, Microsoft returned to the smartphone arena with the introduction of Windows Phone 7, its latest attempt to reclaim a market that they used to own with its previous windows mobile platform. Of the windows phone 7 handsets that have been released, the HTC HD7 has been featured as the flagship device for the platform. As seen in our post a few weeks ago, we have had some time to play with the HD 7. Now check out what we think.
I. Phone & Interface
The HTC HD 7 sports pretty good specs, but even with its 1 Ghz processor and 16 gb of memory, the biggest draw of the device is its 4.3 inch screen. The screen size is really useful considering that there isn’t a physical keyboard on the device. Personally I never missed a physical keyboard and the software one was fast and responsive. It is definitely one to the best I’ve ever used.
Like other smartphones, it needs to be a phone first. This is something that the HD 7 does well. Calls are clear, and the interface makes it very easy to make and receive phone calls. The phone is listed as having 6.5 hours of talk time and 12.75 hours of standby time. After about a month of heavy usage, we have found that the HD 7 does meet those benchmarks and sometimes exceeds them. At one point we made phone calls, watched videos, surfed the web, and listened to music for about 4 hours straight with the battery only being depleted half way.
Texting and Messaging works well on the phone as well. Sending both text and picture messages are easy. Your texting uses the now standard threaded messaging display that can be found on most smartphones. However, like all Windows phone 7 devices the HD 7 is unable to send video messages through messaging. However, videos can still be sent using whatever email clients that you set up on the device. This lack of functionality is something that Microsoft plans to correct in future updates.
The interface for Windows phone 7 (named Metro), is a very sleek and responsive interface. The live tile format of the interface make getting to applications very easy to get to. The dedicated back and windows keys make getting back to your home screen effortless. Many of the 1st party tiles like those for your email, phone, and messaging are live. Meaning that they update in real time on your home screen. Not all tiles for third party app share this function, but apps like The Weather Channel do exhibt this function.
One of the biggest selling points of any Microsoft branded device is the built functionality of Microsoft Office . The HD 7 (especially with its huge screen) is more than able to handle the creation, editing, and viewing of word and excel files. Unfortunatly when it comes to Powerpoint you can only edit and view existing files. If your company uses sharepoint, the HD 7 will work perfectly.
Email is a joy with the HD 7! Setting up both exchange, pop3, and imap accounts are simple. Viewing and creating emails is easy and as stated above it supports no matter what type of email account that you use. the email also integrates flawlessly with your existing contacts, but it also allows to you to search your various email accounts for contacts, even if they aren’t stored on your phone.
III. Music, Videos, & Web
In many ways Windows phone 7 is just Zune with Personal Information Management (PIM) functions and phone functions and that’s not a bad thing. Its integration with Zune marketplace, makes the device a pretty robust music and video player with its ability to access all the latest movies, music, and television shows right at your fingertips. However, you can only download music directly from marketplace using your phone. For video content you have to connect your device to your computer to transfer files using the Zune desktop software. Throw in Last.fm, Slacker radio, and a built-in FM tuner, you are guaranteed to never be without your favorite song.
Video playback is AWESOME!!!!!!!!! As stated above you need to use the Zune desktop client to transfer videos to your device from both the marketplace and those files stored on your hard drive. In addition to that content, you also have full access to Netflix if you have an existing account. Also bundled with it is a 30 day trial of Tmobile.Tv and a fully functional Youtube client.
Web surfing you great. Microsoft finally got it right when it comes to its mobile browser. Explorer is a very fast browser. The only drawback is that it doesn’t feature flash support, however considering the sites that have been frequented thus far it hasn’t been noticed.
IV. Taking Pictures and Video
The HD 7 comes with a 5 megapixel camera with a double led flash. The picture quality of the camera is ok. It takes decent pictures but often times the color can be a little washed out. Using the video functions of the camera are a much better than the still functionality as it can take video in 720p resolutions. Videos taken at this resolution are very sharp and crisp.
I have to admit, the biggest selling point for Windows Phone 7 was the fact that it comes integrated with Xbox live. Not only can you update your avatar and check in on your friends list from your phone, but you can also earn achievements that add to your gamerscore.
As Microsoft has announced recently that Windows Phone is their official mobile gaming platform, one would thing that the games would be a really big deal. For a new platform the games are good but when we look at games like Infinity Blade on the Iphone, Windows phone games have a lot of catching up to do and fast. So far Ilomilo (this game is so addictive), The Harvest, and Twin Blades are some of my favorites.
In reviewing the HTC HD 7, one can’t help reviewing Windows Phone 7 at the same time. As a handset, the HD 7 is a solid device with that will satisfy the multimedia, productivity, and PIM needs that one expects from a smartphone. As a platform, Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is a quick and intuitive platform that truly makes using a smartphone simpler to use. Even with its lack of some standard functionality (that is coming soon), the HD 7 is a formidable addition the smartphone arena.