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>> Hi, I'm Bonnie Cha, Senior Editor for CNET.com and today we're taking a First Look at the HTC S743. This smartphone was first announced at CES 2009 and it's one of the few non-touch devices we've seen from HTC in a while. The main attraction of the S743 is that it's compact, but manages to fit in a full QWERTY keyboard and a lot of features. From the outside it looks like a regular candy bar style cell phone. It's thin in terms of width, so it feels comfortable when you're holding it during a call and the back has a cool geometric shape with a soft touch finish, so it makes it easy to grip. Slightly bulky in the sense that it's tall and on the thicker side, so it's still not the most pocket-friendly device though. On the front here you get a 2.4-inch QVGA display. It's not a touch screen and the home screen isn't as flashy as the touch phone interface, but you do get access to a lot of information at a glance. For example, you can preview a new email, scroll through bookmarked websites and launch your media player. There are controls beneath the screen to help you navigate, but the Talk and End keys are problematic since they are really tiny. The alpha numeric keypad was roomy though, so I had no problems dialing numbers or composing short text messages. For longer messages there is a full QWERTY keyboard which you can access by pushing the screen to the right. The keyboard contains four rows and I thought the buttons are real roomy enough for most people. I think my only wish is that the space bar was larger because I had to stretch to reach it when I was typing messages. My other complain about the S743's design is the placement of the microSD expansion slot. It's located on the back of the front cover, which I have no problem with, but you have to remove the SIM card in order to insert or remove the memory card, so it's pretty inconvenient. Feature-wise, it offers what most other Windows Mobile devices have including the Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, Internet Explorer Mobile and Push email. You also get all the wireless options including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. However, the integrated GPS receiver took a long time to find our location and then it was about a half block when tracking my movement, so it's not the most accurate. The S743 is a quad-band world phone and offers support for AT&T's 3G band so that's great. Call quality could be better. There is a little bit of a background crackling and hissing on both ends of the call, but it was pretty snappy in terms of general performance. Overall, S743 is a solid device for mobile professionals who want to keep on top of the emails and appointments, but don't necessarily need the full power or want the bulk of a pocket PC phone. The downside is since the smartphone won't be offered with the US carrier and is available unlocked, it will cost you around $500. So, if you're willing to pay that much for the design this is a fine device, otherwise you can get similar features and comparable performance from other Windows Mobile devices for less money. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your First Look at the HTC S743.
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