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Old 09-18-2008, 02:32 AM
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Thumbs up HTC Diamond review ...

Please note that this is NOT my review as i have yet to get my anxious hands on this epic device ... just saw it on Yahoo! and thought i would share (patiently patiently waiting ) ... mods if you would like to merge please go ahead.

I was pretty wowed when I first got some hands-on time with the Diamond back in June, especially after checking out its glorious TouchFlo interface. But after a week with HTC's touchscreen handset, my enthusiasm started to fade. Why? Blame Windows Mobile.

Measuring 4 by 2 by 0.45 inches and weighing in at just 4.1 ounces, the Diamond ($249 on Sprint with a two-year contract) makes for one of the smallest and lightest Windows Mobile-powered handsets on the market—certainly much smaller than last year's bulky HTC Touch.

The Diamond is gorgeous to look at, too, especially thanks to its 2.8-inch, VGA-resolution touchscreen and HTC's slick TouchFlo 3D interface, which sits on top of the Windows Mobile OS.

Thanks to TouchFlo, you can preview e-mail messages, browse snapshots, check the weather, play your tunes, flip around Sprint TV, launch the Opera Web browser, and more, all without having to dip into any tricky Windows Mobile menus. You access the various screens in TouchFlo via a row of icons along the bottom of the screen; just slide your fingertip to choose a function (Mail, Contacts, Music, and so on), select, and then release. Easy.

The screens themselves look great; for example, the e-mail preview features an envelope that twirls and opens, revealing a short stack of messages—just swipe to see the next e-mail. I also loved the Weather app, which boasts animated clouds, rain, and sunshine. The music app has a "Cover Flow" feel to it, complete with angled, rotating album art. Great stuff.

One note about the Diamond's display, however—it scratches way too easily. After just a week of relatively light use, I noticed several scuffs and small scratches on the plastic screen, and no amount of buffing could get them off. Had I known that the screen was so delicate, I would certainly have used the handy case that comes in the Diamond's box.

Anyway, back to TouchFlo—and specifically, my only complaint about it: That it doesn't take over the Windows Mobile OS completely.

I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to Windows Mobile, but I'll say it again—it's probably the trickiest of the major mobile platforms to use, thanks to its nest of tiny contextual menus, and the problem is compounded on the Diamond, which lacks a QWERTY keypad. (The HTC Touch Pro, on the other hand, is essentially the Diamond plus a slide-out QWERTY keypad; it'll be on Sprint next month, and I'm looking forward to giving it a try.)

At least the Diamond has a four-way control, good for navigating your way through most Windows Mobile menus without pulling out the stylus, and the Diamond's screen is sensitive enough to let you tap the Start and soft keys with your fingertips. But once I dug down a menu level or two, I found the stylus to be more or less essential—and good luck tapping those tiny Windows Mobile menu options if you're on the bus or navigating a crowded city street.

As far as composing e-mails goes, HTC does the best it can with its virtual QWERTY keypad. Unfortunately, the keys are packed in pretty tight to accommodate the Diamond's relatively cramped screen, and the touchscreen itself wasn't quite as responsive as I would have liked; indeed, slower, more deliberate taps seem to work best.

On the plus side, the Pro version of Windows Mobile 6.1 is a champ when it comes to syncing Exchange e-mail, contacts, and events, and then there's the full suite of mobile Office appsl, including Word, Excel, and Outlook. The mobile version of Internet Explorer has never been my favorite, but HTC has wisely opted to include the top-notch Opera Mobile browser, as well.

The Diamond certainly ranked as one of the peppier Windows Mobile handsets I've ever reviewed, and it also benefits from speedy data access via Wi-Fi and Sprint's EV-DO Rev. A network. HTC promises more than four hours of talk time.

Also on board: A 3.2MP camera with autofocus (pretty nice for a smartphone), along with video recording, picture messaging, GPS navigation, and voice commands. There's no microSD slot, unfortunately, although you do get a solid 4GB of internal storage.

Overall, I'd have to say that the HTC Touch Diamond makes me yearn for a true, all-TouchFlo smartphone; as it stands, however, you'll need some patience once you drill down the Diamond's Windows Mobile menus. Definitely try it first at a Sprint store before you buy; also, if a physical QWERTY keypad is a must-have for you, consider waiting until Oct. 19, when the HTC Touch Pro ($299 with a two-year Sprint contract) is slated to arrive.
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