HTC Touch review: HTC Touch

The Touch Diamond supports Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. You can also configure the smartphone to access POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, which, in most cases, is a simple process of inputting your username and password. We were able to set up our Yahoo account on our review unit with no problem and started receiving e-mail within a few minutes. Sprint offers a download that installs three of the major instant-messaging clients--AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live Messenger--onto the phone.

Voice features include a speakerphone, voice dialing and commands, speed dial, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is only limited by the available memory and you can store multiple numbers for a single entry, as well as 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 one of 64 polyphonic ringtones. The smartphone also has Bluetooth 2.0 that supports mono- and stereo-Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, file sharing, dial-up networking, and more. If you want to use the Touch Diamond as a modem for your laptop, you will need to sign up for a Sprint Power Vision Modem Plan, which runs $39.99 per month for 40MB or $49.99 per month for unlimited.

Whether you're using it as a modem or just cruising the Web on your device, you should get some good speed given that the HTC Touch Diamond works with Sprint's EV-DO Rev. A network. The Rev. A bumps up download speeds to the 600Kbps-to-1.4Mbps range versus 400Kbps-to-700Kbps, while upload speeds will average around 350Kpbs to 500Kpbs (compared with EV-DO's 50Kpbs to 70Kbps). In short, you're going to get faster Web browsing, e-mail, and downloads--that is, if you live in a coverage area (you can find a coverage map from Sprint's site. Alternatively, you can also hop onto any available hot spot, since the smartphone also has integrated Wi-Fi.

The final wireless feature on the Touch Diamond is GPS. A utility called QuickGPS is also installed on the device to speed up the time it takes to find your position; it works by downloading the latest satellite information via an Internet connection. You can get some basic navigation tools with Google Maps but for more robust capabilities, you'll have to turn to a location-based service (LBS) like Sprint Navigation. The LBS offers turn-by-turn text- and voice-guided directions, traffic updates, local search, and more. Sprint Navigation is free for the first day of use, but afterwards, you will have to pay $2.99 per day or $9.99 per month for unlimited use.

The HTC Touch Diamond wants to provide you a nice balance between work and play, so there are plenty of entertainment features on the smartphone. To start, there's support for Sprint's various multimedia services, including Sprint TV and the Sprint Music Store. Sprint offers these services as part of the Sprint Power Vision pack, which ranges in price from $15 to $25 per month. Sprint TV gives you access to programming from a variety of channels, including CNN, Comedy Central, and Sprint Exclusive Entertainment. In addition, you can listen to live streaming music and talk radio from Sirius, VH1 Mobile, and MTV Mobile. Meanwhile, the Sprint Music Store offers simultaneous track downloads both to your PC and wirelessly to your phone. Songs cost $0.99, or you can get a six-pack for $5.94.

You can, of course, transfer your personal library to the smartphone. Windows Media Player 10 Mobile supports a number of audio and video formats, including AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, WMV files, and more. The HTC Touch Diamond also has some multimedia extras, including a YouTube-dedicated app, a streaming-media program, and a utility called MP3 Trimmer that allows you to cut and trim MP3 files and make them into ringtones. Given all this multimedia goodness, we have to say again that we're disappointed by the lack of expandable media.

On back, you'll find the Touch Diamond's 3.2 megapixel camera lens, but no flash.

Finally, the Touch Diamond is equipped with a 3.2-megapixel camera with up to 4x zoom and video recording capabilities. There are six capture modes (photo, video, panorama, MMS video, contacts picture, and picture theme). For still photos, you have a choice of five resolutions and four quality settings, in addition to white balance and brightness controls. Other tools at your disposal include a photo counter, a self timer, flicker adjustment, and various effects. In video mode, you get four resolutions as well as white balance, brightness, and effects.

We weren't too impressed with the photo quality of the Diamond's camera.

Picture quality was a little disappointing, since colors looked very dull and flat. It's too bad since objects were clearly defined and otherwise looked good. Video quality was also pretty poor with very dark and grainy clips.

We tested the dual-bad (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) HTC Touch Diamond in San Francisco using Sprint service and call quality was decent. On our end, the audio was mostly clear but at times we could hear a slight background hiss. It wasn't anything that interrupted the conversation, and we had no problems using an airline's voice-automated response system. Meanwhile, our friends had no complaints and were impressed by the clarity of the phone call. Unfortunately, speakerphone quality wasn't the greatest for either party. Volume was pretty weak on our side, our callers said we sounded tinny, and there was a slight echo. We had no problems pairing the Touch Diamond with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

The most impressive thing we noticed about the Sprint HTC Touch Diamond is how much more responsive and snappier the smartphone felt in general usage. We didn't experience any of that frustrating delay when trying to perform simple tasks like switching between menus or launching applications. That said--as with other Windows Mobile devices, the more applications we had in use, the slower the device responded, particularly some of the multimedia features like Sprint TV.

As far as multimedia performance, music playback through the phone's speakers sounded a bit tinny and harsh. There wasn't very much warmth or bass to the songs. Video quality was mixed. We watched some clips using Sprint TV and YouTube and the picture quality was pretty atrocious, with lots of pixelation and some interrupted playback. However, when watching a WMV clip from our personal library, it was perfectly fine. We used both Wi-Fi and Sprint's network to connect to the Web and had no major issues.

The HTC Touch Diamond's 1,340mAh lithium ion battery has a rated talk time of 4.2 hours. In our battery drain tests, we were able to get 4.5 hours of talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Touch Diamond has a digital SAR rating of 0.85 watt per kilogram.

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