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CNET First Look
HTC Surround (AT&T)One of three Windows Phone 7 devices to be offered by AT&T, the HTC Surround features built-in surround-sound speakers. Does it rock? Find out in our First Look video.
Hi, I'm Bonnie Cha, senior editor at CNET.com and I'm here with your first look at the HTC Surround for AT&T. You may remember this phone from the Microsoft launch event not too long ago where it was announced that along with the Samsung Focus and LG Quantum as AT&T's new Windows Phone 7 devices. Of the three devices, I'd say the Surround has the most high quality business class design. It's got a very solid construction with the steel frame around the touchscreen and a soft touch finish on the back. It's a little on the heavier side at 5.8 ounces but there's also reason for the extra weight and that's because it has the slideout speakers. The phone offers surround sound with Dolby Mobile and SRS WOW HD technology which should go along well with what this brings to Windows Phone 7. There's even a little kickstand at the bottom here so you can place the phone on a desk and just listen to your music or watch videos. The little button here on the upper left activates surround sound and you can definitely hear a difference. The audio sounds fuller and richer but I can't say that I was blown away by the overall quality. It still seems a little tinny to me and I found that when using it as a speaker phone, the volume is too low to have a conversation in a louder environment. It doesn't hurt the device but I wouldn't say the speakers are the must have reason to get the phone either. The kickstand is nice for when you're watching videos but one thing about Windows Phone 7 that's disappointing is that landscape mode isn't fully supported throughout the phone. It only works for video, photos, messages, and web pages, but if you've got it flipper over, the Start screen stays in portrait mode, so does the Zune music player so if you wanted to see what was playing next, you'd have to crane your neck and look at it. I do have to say that the Zune experience is one of my favorite parts of Windows Phone 7. I really like the interface and with a Zune Pass subscription, you can stream unlimited music and download up to 10 songs. When you buy the phone or any of AT&T's other Window Phone 7 devices, you actually get a 30-day Zune Pass along with a 30-day trial of AT&T's U-verse mobile app which lets you download TV shows to your phone. The Surround can also help you get your work done with the Office Hub. Here you can view and edit Office documents but the editing options are pretty light. You also have access to WinNote Mobile which is a pretty cool note taking app where you can add photos and voice recording to your notes. Of course, there's also e-mail and calendar but just beware that while you get a combined calendar, you don't get a unified inbox if you have multiple accounts synced up to the phone. Windows Phone 7 is missing some key basic features but, overall, I really like it. It's fun and functional and I like that Microsoft is working with numerous manufacturers and carriers to give people options. As far as the HTC Surround, I'd say it's geared a little more toward the business or high-end shopper while the Samsung Focus has more of a broader appeal. It will be available November 8th for $199.99 with a contract. I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the HTC Surround.