For the last few years the optional choice for the professional out on the road has been the Blackberry, Palm Trio and a few other mobile devices. Then along came Windows Mobile, which had a slow uptake and some liked it.
Windows 6.5 Professional became the choice of many a professional with its seamless synchronisation with the master operating system of Vista and, more recently, Windows 7. For a professional, a mobile phone is a lifeline to the outside world and rigorously policed as the contacts and contents inside would sell for huge sums on the open market.
The hullabaloo on the launch of the new Windows 7 phones had many up in arms. Many esteemed journalists had been left off the list and had to wait for press releases telling them what to expect.
Many old road spiders didn't really bother, as time would tell if this product would stand up to all the hype. Quite happy with their Blackberrys and Windows 6.5 professional, why should people change? Mr Microsoft says you should to keep up with the times. After all we are looking at a device that will streamline your productivity with your current Windows operating systems and applications. With this in mind, let’s compare the major features of the HTC HD2 that is currently being used now against the new HTC HD7 we might use in the future.
And so to the nitty gritty, deciding if it was time to come into the 21st century kicking.
Our choice - the new all singing and dancing HTC HD7, one of the direct successors to the current HTC line - even though many claim there’s a shortage of the Windows 7 mobile beasties.
A quick recap on the press briefing and the HTC HD7 certainly looked to be the item to behold.
Our HTC HD7 arrived and within the box came the normal bits and pieces you would expect – a charger with micro USB connection, a neat set of headphones and the sound playback reproduction is good, and last but not least the smallest manual we have ever seen.
Everything else needed to be downloaded from Microsoft to get the phone sync'd up and running properly. But of course registration through your Live account (if you had one) needed to be done first. This just may put some people off straight away.
The HTC HD7 windows connectivity in both Bluetooth and Wireless we found to be really good, tying in nicely with the Plantronics professional headset and for those not in the know this Bluetooth headset runs two mobile phones at any one time - with excellent noise cancelling, and the Grand Cherokee's U Connect Bluetooth system of the car.
Contacts successfully transferred over and it was most pleasing and never dropped connection on a complete 800 mile road trip. So a major plus here. Construction of the phone is solid, the 4.3-inch screen is very sharp indeed and the font reproduction is clear.
Once the battery and SIM card are locked into place and the back secured, you are left with a feeling of security as many mobile phones have a somewhat flimsy backing that can pop off when you least expect it.
In the wireless mode within the office it picked up our own device straight away. While out on our travels within several major hotels and motorway service stations that offered free wireless connectivity it hooked up straight away and we pulled off our mail and updates.
The phone is just like having your cut down Windows 7 desktop popped onto a mobile device. Those already using Windows 7 will have no problems but others may find the interface a little bit awkward to start with. The HTC hub built into the set-up allows you to use many different features of the internet like the weather, stocks and some interesting apps. Many are free and there are a few you have to pay for.
The Microsoft Zune software interface has an array of features though at times you cannot help but feel it’s very much like something Apple would have made. You can tweak your phone settings from here and update the phones software directly from Microsoft, though the main features are fully focused upon Music, Videos, Pictures and Podcasts. Very teen / twenties orientated indeed.
The biggest push though is for gamers who wish to peruse their X-Box Live gaming. Those into gaming will find this fun and play away many hours while stuck in the airport waiting for that long haul trip.
The pictures it takes are good - we tried an extreme close up of a difficult shot and the proof is below.
Video - HTC claims you can make your own movies in HD as it comes with an 720p HD camcorder allowing you to capture film with incredible quality and detail. It’s ideal for turning your friends and family into stars. A simple 20 second video test showed very good playback on both the HTC HD7 handset and when re ran it on a PC monitor, it was very sharp and clear reproduction using the Zune software.
Some people will love this, others will wait. Many different tariffs can be obtained by the different providers for this new piece of hardware from HTC. For now there are five different variants - HTC 7 Surround, HTC 7 Mozart, HTC 7 Trophy, HTC 7 Pro and HTC HD7, though within the EU we are limited to 3 variants - the HTC HD7, HTC 7 Mozart and the HTC 7 Trophy. Those of you looking for the HTC 7 Pro in the EU will have to wait. Strange.
The Windows Phone 7 has a very fast operating system with polished animation and good performance. But a few things stand out which prevents a professional from making full usage of this bit of kit. There are some problems that will annoy many and these are:
· No multi-tasking - that means there’s a whole load of reloading and time wasting
· No cut, copy, and paste functionality
· No custom ringtone capability - to many this is the end users fun having that all important customised ringer
· Limited customisation of the Start screen
· Office apps are pretty limited in terms of what you can do from the phone - what, no Outlook?
· Inconsistency in auto rotation. Now this is a frustrating point as just when you flip the phone back expecting it to follow, it stays stuck in place. After several hard flicks of the phone it came out of portrait into landscape view.
· Fully locked into the Zune software for PC connections with no drive or file access
For now the cons outweigh the pros as the phone is lacking in many areas of simple functionality.
Too much reliance has been placed on Live interfacing which is a pain for many. If running from Microsoft Exchange then you are laughing all the way to the corporation as everything hooks up readily.
However there are a few who will say that this is a good thing - but honestly trusting your safe documents upon a server that you have no control over? And security is today's vogue Zippo really, as the investigations here could find no form of Anti Virus software etc that will protect your precious piece of equipment.
You cannot even scan the beast from your PC either as Mr Zune makes sure you cannot.
So we have a mobile phone filled with features galore, but very readily open to hacks. This does make you sit back and wonder why the anti virus companies are not ready to launch as today’s smartphones are the vogue item to have.
For those with teen children then it will be a winner with all the Twitter and Facebook interfaces in place. Though, once more, your data on the phone is too readily accessible.
For this old road spider, for now, the HTC HD7 will sit in the background and I will continue with the HTC HD2 which has all the bells and whistles we need, until something else comes round the corner.