Verizon Wireless' V Cast video and music service bundle has long been a staple feature of its high-profile feature phones, like the LG enV Touch and the Samsung Rogue for example. But it is typically lacking in Verizon's smartphone offerings, so as not to detract from the smartphone's more business-friendly attributes. However, it seems like Verizon has changed its tune with the HTC Imagio, the carrier's first-ever smartphone to support not only the V Cast array of multimedia services, but also V Cast Mobile TV, the carrier's live mobile television service. The HTC Imagio also marks Verizon's first ever Windows Mobile 6.5 device.
The Imagio's multimedia strengths continue with a 3.5-mm headphone jack, a 5-megapixel camera, a microSD card slot, a beautiful touch screen, and even a kickstand for watching videos. We're also glad to see Wi-Fi on here in addition to EV-DO Rev. A. If you're a globe-trotting executive, you'll revel in the Imagio's quad-band GSM capabilities as well. Thankfully, you won't have to pay a premium for all this; the Imagio is quite reasonable at $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and a $100 mail-in rebate.
Though the HTC Imagio touts itself as a multimedia smartphone, it is not as flashy as other multimedia-focused handhelds. This is not to say it isn't attractive; indeed, we love the large touch-screen display as well as the smooth edges and tapered corners. But the dimpled bezel surrounding the display, which doubles as the speaker, and the thick plastic casing gives it more of a hefty industrial feel. Measuring 4.6 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing 5.25 ounces, the Imagio has quite a sturdy construction and is not at all flimsy or cheap. The back of the Imagio is partially covered in a matte-black soft-touch finish, which gives it a comfortable feel in the hand.
By far the most stunning thing about the Imagio's appearance is its large 3.6-inch WVGA touch screen. It has 65,000-color output, 480x800-pixel resolution, and a smooth glass surface, which result in beautifully crisp images and sharp text. The extra screen real estate lends itself well to Web page scrolling and video viewing as well. Also handy is the built-in accelerometer that switches the screen from portrait to landscape mode when you rotate the phone. This is only applicable in certain situations, though, like with the Web browser, e-mail, photos, and videos.
Even though the Imagio does not have the Touch branding, it does use HTC's TouchFlo 3D interface--you can read our review of the HTC Touch to get further details on it. Like that on the HTC Touch Pro2, you get additional tabs for the Calendar and Stock quotes, plus the ability to add and remove tabs on the Home screen. We also really like that the Start menu is presented in a grid view, which you can customize with different apps and settings.
The Imagio has a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive one. We usually complain about this because resistive displays require more precision than capacitive screens, but in the case of the Imagio, we were quite pleased with it. The touch screen felt responsive and easy to use, even when we were just using our fingers instead of the included stylus. We even liked the onscreen QWERTY keyboard, especially since it supports XT9 auto word complete and tapping the keys provides haptic feedback. We do prefer using the keyboard in landscape mode rather than in portrait mode, however, as the keys are a bit bigger, thus resulting in fewer mistakes.
The zoom in/out bar underneath the display helped a lot when reading and selecting hyperlinks in the Web browser as well, since you could just zoom in easily by sliding your finger on the bar. It does take a couple of seconds for the page to render when zooming in, though. Underneath the zoom controls are the Talk and End/Power keys, a media key, the Start menu key, and a back key. The media key can be mapped to any media application, like V Cast TV, V Cast Video, or the music player. The keys are flat, but there is enough delineation between each key that they weren't hard to press.
The volume rocker is on the right spine and the mini-USB port and 3.5mm headset jack are on the bottom. On the back is the camera lens plus an antenna that doubles as a kickstand; simply press the release button and it'll pop out. This way you can set the Imagio on a flat surface and watch videos as if it were a portable television. Also on the back toward the lower right is the stylus compartment. The microSD card slot is inconveniently located behind the battery cover on the right side.
The HTC Imagio came packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable,an array of international plug adapters, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
In both multimedia and business features, the HTC Imagio brings the goods. Not only does it have a great camera and access to V Cast services, it is also Verizon's first phone to come with Windows Mobile 6.5 built right in. You get all the standard personal information management and productivity tools of course, like Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, Adobe Reader LE, a calendar, a task list, a voice recorder, and more. You also get Microsoft Direct Push technology that lets you sync your e-mail, calendar, tasks, and contacts via your company's Exchange server. Verizon offers Mobile Email for your POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts as well.
Windows Mobile 6.5 brings with it new features, like Microsoft's My Phone backup service, an enhanced Internet Explorer Mobile browser, and the much-awaited Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Though the Marketplace isn't live yet as we're writing this review, the application shortcut is already installed on the phone, raring to go.
Like the Touch Pro2, the Imagio is a dual-mode phone. This means it supports both CDMA and GSM networks, which is great news for Verizon globe-trotters. The smartphone will work on Verizon's network in the U.S., but it will switch over to a compatible GSM network when it is overseas. (Do note that you can't swap it out with an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card since Verizon doesn't have roaming agreements with either of our local GSM carriers.) Since the Imagio has quad-band GSM and 2100MHz UMTS/HSDPA band support, you'll get both voice and 3G data coverage worldwide. Be careful to check roaming rates, though, because Verizon's international rates can be quite pricey in certain areas.