Sunday, May 10, 2009

The latest iteration of HTC's TouchFLO 3D

It's about the Touch Diamond2,HTC.

Despite being crammed full of features, smartphones are often lacking when it comes to having intuitive software.

Taiwanese handphone maker HTC knows a thing or two about this, having developed its own touch-based user interface in a bid to improve usability.

The Touch Diamond2 sports the latest iteration of HTC’s TouchFLO 3D interface and a more streamlined version of the hardware.

The first Diamond was fetching, with a piano-black aesthetic and a back that sported angular contours. Over time though, its pleasing design proved to be a burden, as the phone got easily smudged and suffered scratches on its uneven back.

The Diamond2 sports a classy hint of brushed metal on its face, a glossy screen, and a smooth, flat back. It’s thinner than before, but features a 3.2-inch touchscreen with wide VGA resolution. The increase in screen real-estate is very welcome - its predecessor’s 2.8-inch display was a tad small for some fingers.

A camera on its front enables you to make video calls, while a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus (lacking flash) on its flipside is more suited for capturing pictures and movies. The Windows Mobile 6.1 device runs on a 528MHz processor. The Diamond2 will be upgradeable to the upcoming version 6.5 of the operating system - which provides a more touch-friendly interface, among other new features - according to HTC.

Note, however, that the Diamond2 only has a microSD slot; the original’s 4GB internal storage has disappeared. There’s no dedicated 3.5mm audio port either, you still have to use an adapter to use your own earphones.

Despite running on top of a mobile operating system, the TouchFLO 3D interface is very responsive. The slick, animated 3D interface allows you to scroll through contacts, pictures and music files with simple hand gestures.

The new zoom bar works well, too, with a caveat. You can’t specify the exact spot you want to zoom into, unlike the now-famous pinch-zoom finger gesture.

Websites load fast, rendering image- and text-laden ones in over 10 seconds on average based on 7.2Mbps download speeds on a 3.5G cellular network or on WiFi. The phone also has a web-browsing feature called Push Internet, which allows you to preload websites you visit often.

HTC has tweaked its address book application, displaying a contact’s details, as well as relevant emails, text messages and history of calls in the same window. It’s a nice touch, and one I haven’t seen in other smartphones (though the upcoming Palm Pre with its Synergy feature might change that). The Touch Diamond2 is a powerful and handsome smartphone.

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