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HTC Desire HD review:

HTC Desire HD

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The Good Class-leading performance. One of the largest screens around. Sense UI is packed with useful tweaks and tools. Remote backup, lock and wipe.

The Bad DLNA media sharing needs work. LCD doesn't have the same punch as AMOLED.

The Bottom Line We looked long and hard for flaws in the Desire HD, but failed to find anything significant. This handset checks all the right boxes, with outstanding performance complementing its large, clear display.

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CNET Editors' Rating

9.6 Overall

Big, beautiful smartphone

Size matters when you're speaking about smartphones, and its neither one way or the other. Some like smaller screens and will say Apple hit the sweet spot with it's 3.5-inch iPhone screen design, but many other would prefer a little more screen real estate. Dell's 5-inch Streak has been dubbed a tablet rather than a phone by many, so where does this leave the Desire HD with its 4.3-inch screen falling somewhere inbetween?

For us, the Desire HD is spot on. The extra screen size makes text onscreen more legible, helps to display images in the gallery, and makes controlling games easier than it might otherwise be with less room for your fingers. Does it look silly when you hold to your face to take a call? We don't think so, if anything it lets you show off the attractively designed uni-body chassis.

HTC has unfortunately needed to move away from using AMOLED screen technology in its handsets due, we believe, to a shortage of AMOLED screens available. Instead it opts for a an LCD display with an 800 x 480 resolution. Next to an original Desire you can see the difference in the colour contrast, with the HD appearing more washed-out look in comparison. Taken on its own merits though, the Desire HD's display is superb, with sharp, crisp rendering of words and images displayed.

The HD sports an 8-megapixel camera with its lens position at the top and in the centre of the rear casing, dual LED photolights sit just to the side. The camera lens protrudes considerably from the back of the phone but luckily the glass is recessed to prevent it from scratching from day-to-day knocking around.

A Sense for smartphones

To talk about the features of an HTC Android phone is primarily to talk about its Sense custom software. In its beginnings Sense was a user-interface shell, a layer that sat on top of Windows Mobile and acted as a series of sexy shortcuts to different aspects of your phone. Today Sense is so much more, integrating into most of the core aspects of Google's Android system and delivering a range of usability enhancements well beyond what you can expect from rivals Samsung and Motorola.

New to Sense in the Desire HD is a enhanced focus on personalisation, evident in the new shortcut on the homescreen to this list of UI adjustments. From the Personalisation menu you can change wallpapers, scenes, ringtones and widgets, but you can also apply new Sense UI skins and notifications sound packs. Both of these new settings apply changes across the system as a whole, with the notification sound packs applying a themed selection of tones to the ringtone and the accompanying message tones.

There is also a few new HTC-built apps, the HTC Hub (for downloading free new skins, wallpapers and ringtones) and HTC Likes, a portal of Android Market apps that have achieved the HTC tick of approval. There's also new Car Panel and the Locations mapping service built-in to Sense, with pre-loaded maps for Australia and New Zealand so you won't have to wait for data to download before you can see where you're standing. Locations also offer turn-by-turn navigation for AU$8.99 for 30-days, and while this is not as attractive as the free navigation on all Nokia phones, it's still a very handy addition.

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