HTC HD2 review: HTC HD2

However, you don't have to look far to experience movies on the smartphone. T-Mobile ships the HD2 with a 16GB memory card preloaded with the "Transformers" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" movies, both of which have been optimized for viewing on the smartphone's display. In addition, you get a complimentary 30-day trial to MobiTV, which provides access to live and on-demand TV from channels such as MTV, NBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, and CBS Sports. There's also a dedicated YouTube app and the standard Windows Media Player that supports WMV, MPEG4, AVI, and 3GP video codecs, as well as MP3, AAC, WAV, and WMA music files, among others.

For a little more intellectual stimulation, the smartphone includes Barnes & Noble's e-book reader app with access to more than a million e-books, newspapers, magazines, as well as any content you've downloaded as a previous Barnes & Noble account holder. We downloaded a free copy of "Pride and Prejudice" and found the apps reading experience to be decent. The text was big enough to read in portrait mode, and you can swipe your finger across the screen to "turn the page." CNET editor Nicole Lee, who has written about and reviewed e-books apps like the Kindle for iPhone app, said the overall experience felt smoother on the HD2 than it did on the iPhone. She also said that the bigger display definitely made a difference in making the HD2 feel more like a small book.

Extras aside, the HD2 is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera and dual LED flash, autofocus, and editing options. The camera delivered great photo quality but what impressed us the most was the sharpness of images. The lines were incredibly crisp without any trace softness or haziness. For the most part, we were happy with the colors, though they could have been just a tad brighter for indoor shots. Recorded video looked better than on most camera phones with minimal blurriness, even during action shots.

The HD2's 5-megapixel camera took excellent photos.

The one downfall of the HD2 is that it runs Windows Mobile 6.5, an aging and clunky operating system, which is compounded by the fact that Windows Phone 7 Series devices are scheduled to hit store shelves by the holiday season and it's been confirmed that the HD2 won't be upgradeable to Microsoft's new mobile operating system. Clearly, this puts you in a predicament of deciding whether to just wait for WP7 or go with an older OS. Though we can't speak to WP7 just yet (since we haven't seen final product), we'll say that the HTC Sense user experience definitely makes a difference as far as Windows Mobile 6.5 is concerned. It brings various elements to the home screen that make it more customizable and easier to use, and it brings enhancements to other aspects of the phone, which you can read more about in our full review of the unlocked HTC HD2.

The HTC Sense does a lot to make Windows Mobile 6.5 easier to use; and does a good job of it, but it's not a cure-all. You get all the core apps, such as the Microsoft Office Suite and Exchange support, but you still have to deal with some of the notorious usability issues, such as clunky menus and poor task management. Plus, with Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile 6.5 just seems like a dead end, though Microsoft has said that it will continue to support Windows Mobile 6.5 for years to come, so you won't be left high and dry should you decide to go with the HD2.

The phone's features include quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The HD2 does a nice job of integrating the communication features. On a contact page, you can see all your interactions with that person, whether it be a phone call or text message, as well as any updates they've posted to social networking sites. From an e-mail, you can call the sender or recipient of the message with a single tap of the phone icon provided there is a number associated with that contact, and if there are multiple people in an e-mail thread, you can quickly make a conference call to all using a similar method.

The HD2 also offers Bluetooth, 3G support, and integrated Wi-Fi with a choice of both the Opera Web browser and Internet Explorer Mobile 6. Other extras include TeleNav GPS Navigator for turn-by-turn directions, HTC's Twitter app, Peep, six months free of in-flight Wi-Fi courtesy of Gogo Inflight Internet, Slacker Radio, and Activision's Guitar Hero 5.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1,800/1,900

The HD2 had no issues finding and connecting to our Wi-Fi network, but T-Mobile's 3G coverage was a bit spotty here in San Francisco. About half of the time the phone could only connect to the carrier's EDGE network, which was frustrating, and there was one occasion where we couldn't get a data connection at all. Once connected, however, we got pretty decent speeds. Using the Opera browser, CNET's full site loaded in 27 seconds; CNN and ESPN's mobile Web sites loaded in 7 seconds and 8 seconds, respectively. Though we prefer the Opera browser in general, Internet Explorer Mobile 6 has the advantage of offering Flash Lite support, and of course, the large display and multitouch capabilities certainly make Web browsing a pleasant experience on the smartphone.

Of course, the screen also benefits the multimedia experience. The "Transformers" movies looked amazing on the HD2, and MP4 videos also played back beautifully. MobiTV and YouTube clips took a minute or so to buffer but the quality wasn't the best, so we could only watch those in short increments. Music playback sounded rich and balanced through our Bose On-Ear Headphones, though we wish the T-Mobile HD2 had the same enhanced music player found on the unlocked version instead of just the standard Windows Media player. All that said, the HD2 is most definitely a worthy travel companion, whether you need entertaining on a short commute or a long trip.

The HTC HD2 is equipped with the same 1GHz Snapdragon processor as the unlocked version, but we found the T-Mobile model to be slightly more sluggish, perhaps because of the extra apps on the device. We could navigate through the menus with ease and speed, but we noticed a few more delays on this phone when opening apps and such. Generally speaking, however, it's definitely one of the faster Windows Mobile phones we've seen.

The HTC HD2 features a 1,230mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.33 hours and up to 20 days of standby time. The HD2 delivered 6.25 hours of continuous talk time in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the HD2 has a digital SAR rating of 1.09 watts per kilogram.

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