HTC has ploughed its own furrow in the world of smartphones over the past year or so. While most other manufacturers have managed to produce one, two or possibly three new models, the Taiwanese manufacturer has hit us with a succession of new devices, one hot on the heels of the last.
Compatriot E-TEN looks as if it wants to follow in HTC's footsteps, and the new M800 is a direct attempt to steal some of its rival's thunder. It is, essentially, E-TEN's take on the hugely successful - at least in terms of press reaction - HTC TyTN II, aka Orange HTC TyTN II, HTC P4550/Kaiser, and T-Mobile MDA Vario III. It's roughly the same size, give or take a few millimetres, has a sliding QWERTY keyboard under the screen, and it's based on Windows Mobile 6 Professional. But is the M800 a quality cover version, full of novel interpretation, or a rotten tomato, sprinkled liberally with karaoke-night bum notes?
In many respects the former is the case. Though there's no tilting screen as there is with the TyTN II, the Glofiish M800's display is actually much nicer than the TyTN II's. Not only is it brighter and more vibrant, but it also has a higher resolution at 640 x 480 (versus 320 x 240). This not only lets you squeeze more emails and contacts on screen at once, but also gives you better resolution for handwriting recognition and scribbling notes, plus it makes browsing the web much easier, especially if you switch from Pocket Internet Explorer to Mozilla's Minimo. For the ultimate in mobile web browsing, though, nothing touches the iPhone's Safari browser.
It also has a better camera. Though this boasts the same 2.0-megapixel resolution, it doesn't overexpose images in the way that the TyTN II's camera does, and it has a light and portrait mirror as well, where the HTC has none. The front-facing VGA video camera is pretty good on video calls, picking up facial detail even in tricky lighting situations. And the design is pretty sleek, too. That large 2.8in screen is surrounded by a dark grey, brushed aluminium finish while the rest of the front fascia is clad in smart grey plastic. Wrapped around the edge of the device, however, is the piece de resistance - a subtle and attractive, yet eye-catching band of bronze trim.