Last year's HTC Touch Cruise all but slipped under the CNET UK radar, so we gave 2009's edition some sought-after face time here at Mobile World Congress. The Cruise is half Windows Mobile smartphone, half in-car GPS system when mounted in an GPS cradle.
Like other HTC phones, it runs Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 with HTC's TouchFLO 3D overlay, which adds several shades of user-friendliness to the UI. It ain't winning any 'New Innovations' award, but it's still one of the more attractive WinMo overlays on the market.
The phone uses a resistive touchscreen, and you'll need to use a stylus or your fingernail to hit the smaller menu icons. And bear in mind there's no physical keyboard for tapping out emails -- it's all done on-screen. Sadly, this is a limitation of Windows Mobile 6.1, which doesn't support more sensitive capacitive touchscreen hardware.
There's a neat new Footprints feature though, which not only lets you geo-tag any photos you take with location information, but also lets you click on any photo and be taken straight to the location the picture was taken on the built-in maps application.
The idea is that you could take a photo of a great restaurant or popular street corner for picking up cheap hoes, then tap the picture and be shown the location, and how to get there. And because the Cruise can be docked with an in-car GPS cradle, it'll give you turn-by-turn directions if you don't know the way.
It seemed to work well at the show, but this is something we'll be testing more extensively outside the pristine conditions of HTC's pre-configured handset configuration on the show floor.
Innards include a 528MHz Qualcomm
processor, a 71mm (2.8-inch) 240x320-pixel TFT LCD display, HSDPA
data connectivity, GPS, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth, a 3.2-megapixel
camera, and a microSDHC slot for media storage.
We're not blown away and this isn't one for the average consumer. But if you enjoy the Windows Mobile experience, like the HTC TouchFLO interface and want a capable GPS system for your car as a bonus -- we're thinking chauffeurs, obviously -- then this is one to check out when it's released in Europe in the spring.
More photos over the next few pages.
The Footprints application. We took a photo of a man in a suit. If we want to find him again, provided he doesn't move from the HTC stand, we can tap this photo and be shown his location on a map.
Probably best to use this with buildings -- they don't tend to move as much as a man does.
The Touch Cruise's navigational buttons. They're tactile, not touch-sensitive.
The 3.2-megapixel camera sits around the back, and there's no flash -- not even an LED photo light. Considering one of the phone's main features involves taking and geotagging photos, not building in a flash seems utterly bizarre.