HTC Touch Diamond Impressions (Verdict: It's Kinda Slow)

Addy fiddled with the HTC Touch at the official unveiling about a month ago, but we've just got our own units delivered to us for extensive in-home testing. The exterior looks as nice as we've already seen in unboxing shots, and the TouchFlo is much more refined than the previous incarnations in HTC's ever-expanding Touch line. The problem? TouchFlo is slow as balls. And that's kind of an insult to balls, which are actually pretty fast from our past experience.

Even the "Tap here to launch TouchFLO 3D" intro screen that launches the TouchFLO interface is not very responsive. Here are the two biggest problems here with the interface that we can see. (Spoiler: it's pretty much the same problems as the original HTC Touch.)

One, the screen is the same hard screen that was introduced back when the first HTC Touch a year ago. It's harder than normal HTC screens like the AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II) because there's no raised ridge around it to protect the screen, and is a compromise made between using the stylus to touch the screen and using your finger. This makes it feel not ideal for your fingerpad (the way the iPhone works) and better for your fingernail (like the crazy Singaporean gal likes). Don't even try it with sweaty hands.

The other problem is that the processing power is not fast enough to keep up with natural gestures. Sweeping through the list of available applications on the bottom of the screen in the app strip often gets locked up halfway through, when some app decides it wants to slow everyone down and load up its icons. It's unclear whether it's because the Touch Diamond doesn't have the graphical capacity and processing power to keep up with the fancy 3D TouchFLO they rigged up, or if it's a problem with the touch sensor not registering inputs well enough when you use your finger. We think it's the latter, since it works fine with a stylus or a fingernail. Cycling through the same apps one by one using the hardware D-Pad is also excruciatingly slow as well, taking two seconds each to bring up the next menu item.

The good news is that the virtual BlackBerry-esque SureType split-key keyboard is much better than the built-in one Windows Mobile sticks you with, and can actually be used with your finger tip. The bad news is that it takes up 60% of the screen, so when you're sending an SMS, you've got only one line of text visible at a time. Ouch.

Other things we like are the improved dialer screen and call screen (it's very, very iPhone-like), the fancy weather app, the very bright screen, the size, the glowing circle inside the D-Pad, the magnet on the right side that grips the stylus, and the general prettiness of the UI. Look for a full review in the near future.

Update: The new UI fix is a lot faster.