For example, you can have several "scenes," or custom configurations, set up so that your phone looks different for work and on the weekend.
That means different wallpaper, widgets, and shortcuts on any of the seven homescreens in each scene. The lock screen is also customizable.
The Hero has location awareness so that when you land in a different time zone, your clock and weather widgets automatically update to show the local deets.
If that's not enough, you can download more Android widgets from the Android Market.
We liked the full-screen widgets showing live updates from services like Twitter and Facebook, which gave the Hero a Palm Pre-like feel and took advantage of all that home screen real estate.
Social networking is integrated all over the UI. For example, your address book not only shows each contact's e-mail, text, and call history, but also shows their Facebook updates, profile photo, photo albums, and Flickr albums.
In the photo gallery, your phone photos are side-by-side with your Facebook and Flickr photos, too.
We also saw how you can control the music player without unlocking the phone's touch screen, which is another handy feature for music lovers.
HTC says the screen also has a grease-fighting coating, although we had no trouble getting a few fingerprints on there when we tried.
We weren't so sure about the Hero's jaunty 15-degree curve, especially since we've seen it on the ugly T-Mobile G1. But the Hero feels much slicker and sexier than the G1, and the bevels and curves do feel comfortable in your hand and against your face. HTC says the curve also slightly improves antenna reception, but that it's mostly there for usability reasons.
But what about usability IN OUR PANTS? (Many of you may not get this joke, which has to do with a fortune cookie or something.) We'll have to test whether it creates an unsightly bulge in our skinny jeans when we do our full review, so stay tuned.