Hands on with the HTC Touch Pro2

HTC has improved one of its newest smartphone models, the Touch Pro2, with better software for the touchscreen and a tilt screen.

High Tech Computer (HTC) unveiled two sleek new smartphones. We take the HTC Touch Pro2 for a hands-on test at HTC's offices.

High Tech Computer (HTC) unveiled two sleek new smartphones. We take the HTC Touch Pro2 for a hands-on test at HTC's offices.

High Tech Computer (HTC) unveiled two sleek new smartphones on Monday, and I was able to try one out one, the HTC Touch Pro2, at the company's office.

The HTC Touch Pro2 is a 3G (third-generation) smartphone with a 3.6-inch touchscreen that uses a customized version of Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

The design of the handset is as visually stunning as the 480x800 wide-screen VGA resolution on its screen. It looks like a business phone with its distinctive cool metal and black coloring, and the speaker on the backside runs like a track around its curved shape.

The speaker was one of the coolest features I was able to try on the Touch Pro2.

All you have to do is lay the phone face down on a table and it automatically goes into speaker-phone mode. At HTC's office, the person who called in sounded clear, and you could hear voice over the speaker very clear from the phone side.

HTC put two microphones on the Touch Pro2 to pick up sound from many people in a room, but also put a chip inside that cancels out background noise and focuses on the speaker's voice for clarity on the other end. The speakers were designed with a woofer and a tweeter, also for better clarity. I'm kicking myself because I should have played a song on it to see how it handled different kinds of audio, but I didn't.

The other nice part about the speaker phone is that even if you're already on a call and you want that person to be able to talk to everyone in the room without hanging up, you just lay the phone down and it goes into speaker mode.

The QWERTY keypad and tilt-up screen were the other highlights of the Touch Pro2 in my short time with the device.

The keypad slides out from under the screen, and the screen can tilt to a nice angle for keying in messages. I was able to tap messages quickly and comfortably, despite my big thumbs, thanks to the spacious lettering on the keypad. The raised keys are spaced apart and are large for a mobile phone. They also click when you have tapped a letter so you know the letter has been typed.

The fact that the screen could tilt up to what looked like around a 60 degree or 70 degree angle was just cool.

HTC said it made a lot of improvements on the Touch Pro2 and Touch Diamond2 via the software. While I wasn't able to test out most of that, nor claims of far superior battery life, I can say that the touchscreen function is a huge improvement.

You may not even need the stylus anymore with how nicely the touchscreens responded. Some of the annoying features of the older models appear to be gone (I'd have to use it for a longer time to say for sure), such as unresponsiveness to commands, bringing up unwanted information, such as SMSs or people's contact information due to an errant touch, and answering the handset as soon as it rings because of the answer button on the screen. The Touch Pro2 and Touch Diamond2 have different answering systems now.

The Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 both come with styluses on board, but HTC says it's because users in many countries, particularly in Asia, like to write messages with the stylus.

Horace Luke, chief innovation officer of HTC, said the software improvements are mainly in the TouchFLO 3D software, which runs the touchscreen and other features on top of the OS.

The Touch Pro2 is 116 millimeters by 59.2 mm by 7.25 mm (4.57 inches by 2.3 inches by 0.68 inches) and weighs 175 grams (6.17 ounces) with the battery. That may sound heavy but it's not, especially compared to the old Touch Pro, which felt heavier in my hand than the new one. Luke said HTC used lighter materials in the Touch Pro2 because they knew they were making the phone bigger overall.

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