HTC Touch Cruise (unlocked) review:

HTC Touch Cruise (unlocked)

As we noted in the Design section, HTC ships the Touch Cruise with a 2GB microSD card that include U.S. maps. This is great, since the first model only offered one city map for free and required you to purchase additional regions. The one trade-off is that this restricts your expandable memory. With all the maps, you only get about 846MB of user-accessible storage on the memory card. You can always switch out memory cards when you're not using the navigation features, but it's still a bit annoying. Onboard memory is 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM.

The smartphone's expansion slot is located behind the battery cover. HTC ships the Touch Cruise is a 2GB microSD card preloaded with U.S. maps.

To expand on the GPS capabilities, HTC also added a new app called Footprints. The application not only lets you geotag photos that you take using the device's 3.2-megapixel camera, but you can also add notes and audio clips to these digital "postcards." In addition, Footprints will automatically name each postcard with its general location or area, so you have all the information as you flip through the images at a later time. You can also plot a saved location to Google Maps and then navigate to it by pressing the navigation key.

The Touch Cruise's 3.2-megapixel camera did an OK job with capturing locations and other images. You get all the standard camera options, including different picture qualities, white balance and brightness controls, effects, and more. The camera also offers video recording capabilities.

Without a dedicated camera button, we had a hard time capturing clear photos.

There's no flash but by adjusting the white balance, we were able to get pretty good coloring in our pictures. Our biggest complaint is that it's hard to get a steady shot. Without a dedicated capture button on the outer spine of the smartphone, we had to use the center select key or the onscreen capture button and this caused a bit of movement while taking the picture, so we often ended up with blurry shots.

Switching gears to voice features, the HTC Touch Cruise offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, three-way calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is only limited by the available memory, and each entry can store multiple numbers, home and work addresses, e-mail, IM screen name, birthday, spouse's name, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or a custom ringtone. Bluetooth 2.0 is also onboard for use with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object push, file transfer, and dial-up networking.

The Touch Cruise is 3G-capable, supporting AT&T's HSDPA 850/1900MHz bands, while T-Mobile users will be left to EDGE since the carrier's 3G network runs on the 1700/2100MHz bands. The smartphone does have integrated Wi-Fi, however, so that provides an alternative.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC Touch Cruise in San Francisco using AT&T service and call quality was decent. Initially, we had problems dialing out but that was more of an AT&T network issue as we only had one bar of service. For the most part, conversations sounded clear but there were a couple of occasions where the audio would cut in and out. Meanwhile, friends didn't report any major issues. We also had no problem using an airline's voice-automated response system. Speakerphone quality wasn't the greatest, since the volume was a bit low, even at its highest level, so we had a hard time hearing our callers in noisier environments. We were able to pair the Touch Cruise with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

The Touch Cruise is equipped with a 528HHz Qualcomm MSM7225 processor, but we experienced a bit of the typical Windows Mobile sluggishness--no better, no worse than most. We saw a couple-second delays when trying to open pictures or e-mails, which doesn't seem like a lot. However, there were times where we'd tap an image or message, and there would be a long-enough delay where we questioned if the smartphone even registered our command. That said, we didn't experience any significant delays or system crashes during our test period.

The Touch Cruise shines where it counts most--navigation. We used CoPilot Live to plot a course from CNET's downtown office in San Francisco to the Marina District. From a cold start, it took the smartphone about 3 minutes to find our location, and then it was then able to quickly calculate a route based on the fastest preference. We set out on our journey, and the Touch Cruise did a good job of tracking our location. It would be nice if the voice prompts were a smidge louder (we had it at the highest volume) and text-to-speech directions were supported, which announces specific street names instead of more generic directions, especially since the smaller screen size made us rely on the audible prompts more.

We also purposefully missed a couple of routes along the way to test the route recalculation rate. CoPilot Live was very fast to get us back on track, but we didn't always know it. The app didn't provide any audible notification that it was rerouting us, so we weren't sure initially if it even realized we were off route. Still, we followed along and the Touch Cruise was able to get us to our destination with no problem. The local search and Send Location features also worked flawlessly. HTC Footprints also worked as advertised. More useful to leisurely travel, it's really a nice way to document highlights of your trip for later reference or for sharing with friends and family.

The HTC Touch Cruise features a 1,100mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.6 hours (GSM)/6.25 hours (3G) and up to 13 days (GSM)/16 days (3G) of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the Touch Cruise gave us 9.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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