HTC Touch Diamond Preview

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UPDATE 6/23/08: Brighthand has now published a full review of this smartphone. It can be found here: HTC Touch Diamond Review

Earlier his month, the wraps were taken off the HTC Touch Diamond for the first time. Although this smartphone is not yet available, yesterday I was given a preview of it by Eric Lin, Manager, Global Online Communications at HTC.

HTC Touch Diamond

(view large image)

I also had a brief time to spend with the device, and I wanted to share my first thoughts.

Hardware

Externally, the Touch Diamond is a fairly small device, and it’s easy to tell that HTC worked hard to make it look “sexy”.

The touchscreen is beautiful, and its VGA resolution makes everything look very crisp. Naturally there’s no bezel around it, so the front of the device is almost completely flat.

The most unusual thing about he design is the faceted back panel. The facets are slightly raised, and although the smartphone feels comfortable to hold, it’s going to be a challenge for hardcase makers.

Speaking of cases, Lin showed me the soft case HTC had originally intended to bundle with the Touch Diamond., but recently changed its mind. (view an image). This is too bad, as this device looks like it could easily get scratched up. Also, the case has microfiber interior that cleans the many, many fingerprints off the shiny exterior of the smartphone every time it is inserted to removed. 

Software

The cornerstone of the HTC Touch Diamond is TouchFLO 3D, HTC’s user interface that has been overlaid on Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro.

This device is primarily target at consumers, who in general haven’t warmed up to the standard Windows Mobile UI. TouchFLO 3D essentially takes over the look and feel of this smartphone, and aside from a few things like the Start Menu it would be easy to forget that it is running Windows Mobile at all.

In my brief time testing it, I’m pleased with the UI that HTC has created. It’s simple to understand, fast, and easy to use. It works a great deal like the enhanced Today Screen from Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard, where all the commonly performed tasks are grouped one above the other, so you can easily scroll between them. As you get to each item on the list, it becomes larger and more detailed. This allows you to, for example, move down to the audio player and start a song playing, then scroll up to read a new email.

I can’t go over every feature, but I’ll share some of my favorite parts of TouchFLO 3D. I like that when it shows you an icon of an email to show you that a new message has arrived, the icon has your actual email text printed on it.

And it isn’t just a fancy launcher the way the original TouchFLO was. It extends throughout the features on the Touch Diamond. There’s a finger-friendly keyboard that can be used in any application, for instance.

HTC Touch Diamond

(view large image)

In addition, spinning the D-pad zooms in and out on the screen. This works in most of the applications on the Touch Diamond, including the web browser. And this zoom state is saved; if you zoom in on a web page and then switch away to another application you won’t be zoomed into the new app, but when you switch back you’ll still be zoomed in to the web page.

Although this smartphone will be released in Europe next month, HTC is still tinkering with it a bit.  USB mass storage mode for the 4 GB of storage was just added on Tuesday, for example.

Preliminary Conclusion

As cool as the Touch Diamond is, and it is very cool, those who are looking for a high-end for business device should look elsewhere. This is a smartphone primarily for consumers who won’t need the features it’s lacking, like a memory card slot.

I’m also a bit concerned about how long it will last on a single charge, as this model has only a 900 mAh battery. Still, I’ll wait and see, as Microsoft has made the latest version of Windows Mobile use significantly less power than its predecessor.

Still, at first blush it seems to me that HTC has a winner on it’s hands.

The Touch Diamond is going to debut first in Europe, but will certainly be available in othr parts of the world in the second half of this year.


HTC Touch Diamond Specifications

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • 528 MHz Qualcomm processor
  • 192 MB SDRAM, 256 MB ROM, 4 GB internal storage
  • 2.8-inch touchscreen with VGA resolution
  • GPS and A-GPS ready
  • Tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (900/1800/1900 MHz)  HSDPA (900/2100 MHz)
  • Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 b/g), Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • 3.2 megapixel camera with auto focus, VGA videoconferencing camera
  • FM radio
  • 3.9 inches by 2.0 inches by 0.42 inches (99mm x 51mm × 10.7mm)
  • 900 mAh Battery

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