MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
HTC Touch Pro2 smartphone
HTC's Touch Pro2 is one of the biggest smartphones we’ve reviewed this year, but a smooth interface and excellent keyboard make it pleasing to use
- Excellent keyboard, TouchFLO 3D interface, large and clear display, responsive touch screen, HSDPA, Wi-Fi, GPS, great speakerphone, integrated contacts screen
- Large and chunky design, no flash on camera, no 3.5mm headphone jack
HTC's Touch Pro2 mobile phone is more responsive and easier to use than its predecessor, but the extra weight and bulk won’t be appreciated by all. A fantastic display, a well-designed keyboard and an excellent user interface may be enough to balance the ledger.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
The successor to the Touch Pro, HTC's Touch Pro2 offers a larger display and a new design that unfortunately makes it larger and heavier than its predecessor. The good news is that this is a faster and more intuitive smartphone to operate, it possesses better battery life and it has a gorgeous display.
The HTC Touch Pro2 is larger, heavier and bulkier than the original HTC Touch Pro. The main benefit of the increased size is the larger display — the extra real estate is occupied by an excellent 3.6in touch screen that slides open and then tilts forward. Its one of the largest and clearest screens we've seen on a smartphone. The tilt function looks intuitive, but we aren’t a fan of its implementation; the slider doesn’t feel as smooth as it should, and when tilted all the way forward the hinge feels a little loose. Overall, we prefer the more compact design of the original Touch Pro smartphone. The Touch Pro2’s rounded, chrome edges and smooth finish are nice touches, but this is a thick and heavy device.
The HTC Touch Pro2 forgoes a regular navigational pad and has the same "touch zoom bar" seen on the Touch Diamond 2. Sliding your finger across the bar zooms in and out of a number of applications, including the preloaded Opera Web browser and Google Maps. Answer and end call keys, a start button and a back key sit below the zoom bar, while-side mounted volume controls and a power key on top round out the controls. Noticeably absent is a physical camera key.
The TouchFLO 3D interface looks superb, and this time it's zippy and functional. Like the Touch Diamond 2, this is a Windows Mobile smartphone that almost completely negates the need to enter the Start menu. On the Home tab, a large flip-style clock displays the time, while swiping your finger upwards allows you to view calendar appointments. A row of icons sit in a tabbed interface across the bottom of the screen. You press down on the active tab and slide your finger left or right across the tabs to cycle through the menu selections, which include a comprehensive settings menu. The regular Windows Mobile Start menu has been replaced by an HTC-developed shortcut screen that allows quick access to 24 commonly used programs — all fully customisable. The HTC Touch Pro's2 contacts screen centralises all conversations with a particular contact, including calls, e-mails and text messages. It also includes the option of Facebook integration, though as yet there is no way to do the same for Twitter contacts. This feature doesn’t seem as comprehensive as Palm Pre's synergy feature, but it remains a nifty inclusion for social networking addicts.
Text input is one of the most critical aspects of a smartphone, and HTC has got it spot on with the Touch Pro2’s excellent keyboard. The keys are slightly raised and are well spaced. They provide excellent tactile feedback and we were able to type at fast speeds after just a few messages. A minor issue is that when the screen is tilted forward, the row of number keys sits too close to the bottom edge of the display, making them hard to press. When the keyboard is slid closed there are multiple touch screen text-entry options available, including a full QWERTY keyboard, the regular Windows Mobile keyboard and a keypad with T9 predictive text input.
A cool feature of the HTC Touch Pro2 is its speakerphone. When on a call, simply placing the smartphone face down on a table automatically puts it into speakerphone mode. At full volume it's one of the loudest and clearest speakerphones we've reviewed, making this an excellent feature.
The HTC Touch Pro2 is a 7.2Mbps HSDPA-capable smartphone that also features Wi-Fi, GPS and A2DP stereo Bluetooth. A2DP Bluetooth is a standard feature on most smartphones but it's made much more important here because of HTC's reluctance to provide a regular 3.5mm headphone jack; instead a mini-USB connection has been used. The fact that this port is also used to charge the phone means that you can't listen to music and charge the Touch Pro2 simultaneously — a pet hate we've had with nearly all of HTC's recent smartphones.
For Web browsing, the preinstalled Opera Mobile browser offers a much better experience than the standard Windows Internet Explorer. The built-in accelerometer automatically rotates a Web page, and users can zoom and pan using finger gestures and the zoom bar. HTC’s YouTube application is also impressive and videos look superb — among the best we’ve seen on a mobile phone.
The Touch Pro2 has the same 3.2-megapixel camera as the original Touch Pro. Unfortunately, the flash has been removed meaning night-time photography is near impossible. Thankfully the camera application is quite fast and shutter lag is minimal. A minor complaint is the lack of a physical camera shutter button, making it hard to keep the phone steady when taking a photo.
The Touch Pro2 has a microSD card slot for extra storage. Our review unit didn't come with a microSD card, though it's likely one will be bundled with carrier-specific versions of the smartphone when it is released in Australia.
Battery life is slightly improved over the original Touch Pro, thanks to a 1500mAh battery instead of a 1340mAh, though the increased screen size means this will probably have little real world effect on battery life. We found ourselves having to charge the Touch Pro2 every night — the same situation we face with the iPhone 3G — though with Wi-Fi and GPS actively in use, this is quite a good result.
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