Thursday, October 8, 2009

HTC Pure at AT&T in Hawaii

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I went to the AT&T store on Kapiolani Boulevard today to see if the HTC Tilt 2 was released today as the Boy Genius Report had published. Alas, no Tilt 2. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see the HTC Pure already for sale.
I wanted to test out Windows Mobile 6.5, which is supposed to be a BIG overhaul of the platform. I generally like HTC products. The Fuze had a nice UI and a great physical keyboard. But, the WinMo on the Fuze was clunky.
My general impression of WinM0 6.5 is that Microsoft is slowly catching up with the iPhone and Android OS. Now, keep in mind that my comments are very iPhone-centric since I own a 3G.
The Pure boasts a resistive screen rather than a capacitive screen, unlike the iPhone and the HTC G1. But, I found that the touchscreen responds well to my fingers when typing. That's good because there's no physical keyboard on the Pure at all. When typing, there is haptic feedback. Double taps zoom in and out. I was not at all impressed with the touch-sensitive zoom bar at the bottom of the screen. It doesn't always respond. I found that doing swiping gestures and selecting links are best left to your fingernail or the stylus included with the Pure. There's also a nice slot on the phone where your stylus can reside. Overall, the Pure is slightly skinnier all around than the iPhone. Because of that, it feels like there is less real estate on the screen.
I think I was most surprised by the way WinMo 6.5 handles video. It's very nice and smooth, even on 3G. Pictures are very nice - the Pure has a 5MP camera with autofocus. The video camera is less than impressive at 15 frames per second. There are two external speakers on the phone: the speaker where you normally put your ear to when talking on the phone and another speaker on the right side of the phone. It definitely sounds louder and clearer than the iPhone. Evidently, to use the FM radio you need the headphones plugged into the mini-USB port since there is an antenna in the headphones. I hope HTC will eventually use the standard 3.5" headphone jack. Apple learned that the hard way.
Here's where most mobile platforms just take a nosedive and WinMo 6.5 is no exception. While the OS is great at displaying non-mobile versions of websites (which is a definitely upgrade from the previous OS), it takes a while for the page to load. The Pure on 3G felt like the iPhone 3G loading a page on EDGE. The speed of the 3G network in Honolulu is quite decent too. Now, I'm not sure if the hardware or the software is to blame. Either way, browsing is not quite up to iPhone standards. Also, Flash isn't included with WinMo 6.5 stock, which is the biggest criticism of the iPhone OS.
Pocket Office
MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint come standard with WinMo 6.5. I figured this has to be the crown jewel of the phone. I opened up Word and started to type. Unfortunately, Word CANNOT go into landscape mode. It's a shame since Documents To Go on the iPhone can do it. I smell an update coming.
Even with my gripes about the Pure, it's quite a good buy at AT&T at $149.99 with a 2-year contract and a $50 mail-in rebate. Those who are familiar with the previous WinMo OS will find a more user-friendly UI and upgraded multimedia features. Those familiar with the iPhone or Google Android will find 6.5 more palatable than its predecessors.
I have a feeling, though, that the Tilt 2 will be the better phone but will be more expensive. The Pure is a pretty good starter for those who haven't yet taken the smartphone plunge.
I already have the iPhone version of Gameloft's Ferrari GT Evolution, which is one of the better racing games in my opinion in the Apple App Store. This particular Pure had the game preloaded so I decided to check it out. Not even close. It's not even in the same universe as the iPhone game. I figure games like UNO and Monopoly might fare better on this platform but it's definitely not a gaming device.

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