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Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)

Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)

HTC's Touch Dual is now officially headed to US markets, and after a brief hands-on with it, I'm a fan of the hardware. But at the end of the day, it's still a WinMo phone. The phone pairs the form factor of the HTC Touch with a slide-out SureType keyboard in a (relatively) light and thin package. And though they gave it the TouchFLO interface and WIndows Mobile 6.1 Professional, it only covers up WinMo's shortcomings to an extent.

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Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
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Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
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Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
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Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
Illustration for article titled Hands On HTC Touch Dual (Nice, but Still WinMo)
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My favorite part of the phone is the addition of a SureType keyboard, which I think is a suitable texting alternative when QWERTY keyboards won't do (for the record, I hate T9 texting on a 0-9 pad). The hardware is minimal in design, and has a stylus-based touchscreen that gets the job done.

However, I'm no huge fan of the Windows Mobile platform, and my gripes with it still stand. The camera application kept freezing on me and required a hard reset to get it working correctly. It makes poor use of touchscreen functionality and is far more complicated than it should be. While more responsive than on other HTC offerings i've used, the interface slightly lagged and was a bit choppy. TouchFLO only fixes this so much, generally bringing you back to WinMoLand within one or two screens. The thumb swipe gesture to activate TouchFLO is somewhat difficult and requires too much effort.

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In short — good looking hardware, ho hum software.

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DISCUSSION

I will admit, Windows Mobile has gotten much better (I used it when it was still Windows CE 1.0). It's a lot more stable and such but it still does seem that it's for a PDA not a phone.

However, most phone functionality seems to be tacked onto the PDA functions rather than integrated. I use Symbian on an N95 now and it's much more like a phone with PDA features rather than a PDA with a phone radio.

An example: When viewing email on my father's Touch you need to open the email app then choose "Send and Recieve" to download the email (something that confuses him repeatedly). On the N95 you just open the email account and after a second of doing nothing it asks if you want to check for email automatically. It's little things like this which make the experience much easier.

Text messaging and dealing with the camera/picture galleries are the same - most phone releated tasks seem to be an afterthought on WinMo whereas they are front and centre on the N95. And the less said about Media Player on WinMo the better.