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HTC Tattoo review: HTC Tattoo

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The Good Powerful Android smart phone for a low price; good social-networking features; ultra-customisable user interface; switchable covers that you can design yourself; 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Bad Small screen; resistive touchscreen requires the use of fingernails; sluggish keyboard.

The Bottom Line The powerful HTC Tattoo has the edge over other budget handsets. It only falls down because of its unresponsive and small touchscreen, which won't work without some pressure

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7.5 Overall

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The HTC Tattoo, a bargain version of the company's flagship phones, is like an elderly HTC Hero -- shrunken and less perky, but still with plenty of fun times left in the tank. You'll definitely notice the corners that have been cut -- the resistive touchscreen is especially annoying -- but, if you're looking to save some pennies, you can't beat a bargain handset that offers all the power of an Android smart phone.

The Tattoo is available from free on a £25-per-month, 18-month contract, or for around £290 SIM-free.

Android for all
The Tattoo offers the same powerful Android operating system and social-networking goodies as the Hero, but in a cheaper, smaller phone. That means you can have all the power of a handset running Android -- a usable, feature-packed smart-phone operating system -- at a price that would usually score you a more stripped-down phone.

The Tattoo comes with a good suite of applications pre-installed, including Google Maps, a Twitter app and a YouTube app. If they're not enough, the Tattoo will also allow you to shop in the Android Market, which hosts heaps of little programs that give the phone even more powers. Happily, many of the apps in the Android Market are free, and it does a good job of making it easy to download and install everything from Spotify to Skype.

The 71mm resistive touchscreen is the Tattoo's weak point, but the Android software is as great as usual

HTC has also iced the Android cake with its Sense user interface -- the same one we raved about on the HTC Hero. There are seven home screens, which you can customise to your heart's delight with wallpapers and widgets. These include Twitter and email widgets that show your missives as they pop-up in real-time, without requiring you to open an app, like you would on the iPhone, for example.

You can also change your whole configuration, depending on your mood, by creating your own themes, known as 'scenes'. For example, you may want to see your work calendar during the week, but avoid it at all costs during the weekend. Your 'weekend' scene might show your music-player widget instead. But the phone is also well set-up right out of the box, so you don't have to change anything if you don't want to.

Kiss my Facebook
We also love the way Sense grabs our Facebook and Gmail contacts and merges them together into our address book, so we can see the smiling profile pics of our chums on our phone.

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